In my idyll on the green island of Ireland, it occurred to me quite late to take care of my onward journey. My next destination was Iceland, but that wasn’t exactly around the corner. Before my departure I had done some research at home and found maps showing ferry connections from Scotland to the Faroe Islands and from there on to Iceland. Zero problemo, I thought…
When I finally wanted to deal with the booking of the three ferry trips, I couldn’t believe my eyes, because there were pictures with marked routes to Iceland on Google as well as on ferry providers, but no prices. Because of a bad internet connection I asked a friend in Germany for help with the research, but it didn’t help: All ferry connections from England or Scotland to Iceland had been stopped in the last years. The result: The only ferry connection to Iceland is from the far north of Denmark.
Now I was in Ireland and just quite depressed. How should it continue now? I didn’t feel like going the immense distance via England, Belgium, Holland, Germany up to Denmark. That would have been connected with a gigantic loss of time and apart from that with full 2,000 km with not exactly small costs for gasoline and overnight accomodation. Should I just stay the rest of the time in Ireland and get to know the north? Was that just an acceptable fate now?
Fortunately, I found the saving information that there was a ferry from England to Denmark. But here the good mood was also of short duration, as there was no room for my car and me in the next two weeks; and if there was, then the cabin alone would have cost 400 € for one night, which would have cost almost 1.000 € in the best case. In the end it would probably have been just as expensive if I had covered the distance by camper, but I could exclude both costs and time. So in the end Ireland?
In a forum I found a helpful info, which seemed to be my last straw: cargo ships! The DFDS Seaways sails from East England to various Scandinavian countries and now I just had to find somewhere to stay. I wrote emails, got on a waiting list at one office, I got cancellations from other offices (the ships were only for trucks) and others told me utopian prices. Anyway, I stuck to the waiting list option.
From Dublin I took the ferry to Liverpool in the west of England and then I had to wait until the office called for a place… or not. On good luck I just drove east across the island towards Immingham, where the freighter would leave. Just as I was about to bite into a delicious wrap in the middle of the idyllic Peak District National Park, my mobile phone rang: A man’s voice said briefly tied that I had to be at the harbour in 4 hours. Costs: 390 Euro for 20 hours with overnight stay in a cabin and arrival in the Danish place Esbjerg in the next afternoon.
The snack immediately put aside, I dashed through actually beautiful English places like Chesterfield and Gainsborough, but unfortunately there was no more time for them. More than punctual I stood in the harbour at a somewhat unusual assumption, whose window was intended for truck drivers and so high for me inaccessible. I felt like a dwarf in front of a giant’s house. So I had to go to an office, show my identity card and wait. For hours I stood between huge double trucks and hoped that they would not forget me, because there was no such thing as information or a cafeteria on this large, anonymous field.
But I was lucky: As the last car I was commanded backwards into the huge gorge of the 170 m long freighter and was picked up a short time later by a Russian employee in the blue man, who even carried my bags to a meeting room, where already twelve truck drivers had arrived. When the doors were loudly locked at the bottom, the Russian (carrying my bags) took us across the deck to the corridor where the cabins were. Another Russian lady led me to my cabin for the night to come, which, thank God, I could use alone despite the two beds in the room, which caused one of the truck drivers to push a curse through his teeth.
A short time later, the dining room with its attached TV room served hearty food: Goulash with sauce, fried fish, homemade fries, boiled potatoes and vegetables. Since I grew up with three brothers, I already suspected that the boys would pile themselves here fast the best on the plates and so it was then also. I had to admit that I hadn’t been able to get such good home cooking for a long time and was glad that I didn’t have to try to find a good etiquette among the Russian, Romanian and Hungarian drivers. Eleven of the twelve gentlemen were unusually shy, which was probably due to the fact that, according to a very talkative Romanian, he knew, no woman had ever been a passenger on such a ship.
In the next two hours at the dining table I got an insight into the life of truck drivers, which in my opinion is anything but rosy, but for many obviously much more lucrative than what they earn in their home country. The German police are also the most unfair in all of Europe and they often drive illegal routes with their trucks and accept a fine because some bypasses are simply illogical and cost far too much time. Following this debate, the Romanian unpacked his laptop and showed me his home country in a tough photo presentation, which gradually made me yawn more and more often, so that I could pull myself out of the affair with obvious fatigue at a late hour.
At eight o’clock the next morning I was half an hour late, in which these termites had ruthlessly destroyed the good things like scrambled eggs and tomatoes. I withdrew from further table discussions about wild adventures on Europe’s highways and the sight of Adidas slippers and balloon silk shorts and sat in the TV room. Despite everything, this was the best ferry ride I’ve had so far. Normally ferries are stuffed with masses of wandering, shopping addicted, hungry people; that combined with a deafening noise level and in the worst case a high swell is just horror. But this was incredibly pleasant.
In the afternoon I was already on Danish soil and that again for the rest of this journey in right-hand traffic. The Danish port Hirtshals as the start for my crossing to Iceland was now actually only about four hours away, but I didn’t have to stress myself, as also the booking of my trip to Iceland turned out to be more difficult than expected. The high season would have required an earlier booking and so there had to be a plan change here as well. I decided to spend the next two weeks in southern Norway and finally get to Iceland. At least the ferry to Langesund south of Oslo was bookable without problems.
But before that I could get to know Denmark a little better. My first visit was more than ten years ago and since then I had a rather expensive country in my memory, which fortunately was not confirmed. I decided to drive along the west coast and was positively surprised by the beaches. I could spend the night on huge, partly uneven meadows directly at the dunes with direct access to the beach and was happy about the once again good, albeit rather windy weather.
With a last walk on the Danish beach at Hirtshals with a view to the beautiful lighthouse I would sit tomorrow again on a full ferry, this time towards the Norwegian capital. After the exciting days at sea I was curious what the popular Norway has to offer.