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OXBOW
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During my travels newspaper columns were published weekly in the Dutch daily newspaper
Dutch newspaper Spits

This project has been supported by these great and warmhearted companies:
Netherlands: Paping Buitensport, ODLO, IPtower.nl, AVRO Dutch Broadcasting Org., Travelcare, TunaFish, Book A Tour, StadsRadio Rotterdam; UK: Lazystudent, KissFM, The Sunday Times, The Guardian; Isle of Man: SteamPacket/SeaCat; Ireland: BikeTheBurren; Belgium: Le Temps Perdu, Majer & PartnersAustria: OhmTV.com; Norway: Scanrail Pass, Hurtigruten, Best Western HotelsSouth Africa: eTravel, British Airways Comair, CapeTalk, BazBus Spain: Inter Rail, Train company Renfe; Australia: Channel 9 Television, Bridgeclimb, Harbourjet, SeaFM Central Coast, Moonshadow Cruises, Australian Zoo, Fraser Island Excursions, Hamilton Island Resort, FantaSea Cruises, Greyhound/McCafferty's Express Coaches, Aussie Overlanders, TravelAbout.com.au, Travelworld, Unlimited Internet, Kangaroo Island SeaLink, Acacia Apartments; Malaysia: Aircoast; Canada: VIA rail, Cedar Springs Lodge, BCTV/GlobalTV, St. George Hotel, VICKI GABEREAU talkshow, Ziptrek Ecotours, Whitler Blackcomb Ski Resort, Summit Ski & Snowboard Rental, High Mountain BrewHouse, Cougar Mountain Snowmobiling, Whistler Question Newspaper, Snowshoe Inn, First Air, Nunanet.com, Canadian North Accommodations by the Sea, DRL Coachlines Newfoundland, The National Post and Air North.


Reports

Monday, 6 August 2001
Ealing, London (UK) --> Copenhagen, Denmark

Today was a big day again. After travelling over two months through the United Kingdom (=England+Isle of Man+Northern Ireland+Scotland) and Ireland, I am heading to Denmark today.

Why Denmark?

As my flight is sponsored by Linda Majer & Partners (ticket handling service) in Brussels in cooperation with Virgin Express, I had several options to choose from. I could have gone for Malaga in Spain or Rome in Italy, but I thought it would be much too touristy out there and also very hot.

I choose to go to Denmark, because it’s summer in northern Europe now too, with fewer tourists and in the wintertime it can be pretty cold up here.

And, I have never been to Denmark before…

For the third time I woke at the same address in Ealing again. Dan and Karen Hawtrey have been two great hosts of me and we had some interesting talks while I was there.

As they had to go to Brighton today, Dan dropped me off at near the M40 motorway, towards Heathrow Airport. I thanked the couple very, very much for letting me stay three days. A few days later I read their posting on my messageboard:

“We just waved off Ramon to the airport today - he's been here for three days. He is neither lazy nor a confidence trickster as described in the post below. I think a better description would be to call Ramon a free spirit - you would have to be to do this project. Ramon was a good guest and was fun to have around. He has interersting opininons and principles and is very switched on. His character will allow him to learn a lot from his travels. You are welcome back any time Ramon.”

My parents warned me in an email another day and wrote me they are almost getting sick of all the positive and admiring postings on the messageboard – ironic of course. “Don’t forget to keep your feet in your shoes,” they wrote. But I am not worried about that, because I will always be the same person.

Dan and Karen asked me in the pub a few days ago: “Would you remember us when you are famous?” I had to tell them that I have no idea of the difference between my personal presence at this moment and me as as the celebrity the media makes of me.

I am Ramon and I travel around the world, no matter what happens or how the media launches me as The Columbus of the Internet. It’s nice to hear and read about those reports, but they will never change me in a way that I’ll lift off from the ground.

I am totally not going for success, because there is much more in life than only that. A lot of people forget about something called happiness. It is something very special and you can't buy it, but only find it somewhere inside...

The people I meet everyday, they change me in a way that I learn a lot off this world, of its different cultures and views of other people on the world. That’s the most inspiring thing of this whole project.

It wasn’t that hard to get a lift from the place where Dan dropped me off. Dan had made me a cardboard sign so people would know what my destination is and within thirty minutes a Spanish man stopped for me.

He had to pick up a friend at the airport and we ready to lend me a hand to Heathrow. In the car we had some small talking, but the radio was pinned on 100FM, better known as KissFM and the volume was on a level that talking wasn’t really necessary. While looking out of the windows I had my enjoyed my last views of England and enjoyed the very last time of listing to KissFM, the station that launched me in this country.

The driver dropped me off at the departure gate of Terminal 1 and when I got inside it was crowded! I searched for the right check in desk and found out I had to wait until 2.30 pm, while my watch beeped for noon.

So I walked around with my backpack in these easy to push carts and spent some time in a bookshop. At this moment I am jealous of everybody who has to time to read books. I see so many of them on the shelves and so many of them are so interesting, I almost want to take them all with me.

But next to the fact that I travel without any money, I won’t be able to find the time for it. I currently have 3 pocket books in my ruckpack, which were gifts from several hosts, and I have started all of them, but haven’t finished one of them yet.

I read a free edition of the Financial Times and noticed how this paper was able to provide me with the news from almost every country. I got informed about this North Korean leader who wants to continue his missile project, about how Egypt devaluated its currency and noticed that the president of Bolivia had resigned after being diagnosed with cancer.

In which other newspaper would I read about those subjects? To which newspaper does a prince from Niger write a letter to state his concerns about the negative view people around the world get about his country, while he also expresses his support for the Nigerian Space Programme? I think only to the Financial Times. Great paper.

At 2.30 I joined a little queue at the check in desk and after only calling my name I got this free ticket, which would take me first to Brussels Airport followed with my destination in Denmark.

The plane departed around 3.45 and it took just about one hour to arrive in Brussels. Just before my departure I made a phone call to Sophie, my ex-host in Brussels, and let her know that I will be landing in her city today. She told me that she’d come over and pick me up for a while, as my next flight from Brussels would depart at 8.40pm.

In Brussels she was waiting for me at the arrivals and we had a fun drive around Brussels, showing me the NATO headquarters and had a stroll through the city. After driving through a drive-in restaurant it was already time to get back to the airport again.

The plane landed pretty late in Copenhagen. All the tourist shops were already closed and it occurred to me that it looked like the complete airport had dimmed the lights.

After I picked up my rucksack at the luggage arrivals, I walked through customs and walked into Denmark.

A slim man with a raincoat awaited me and introduced himself as Søren Pors, my host for tonight.

With the email contacts I had since last week, he offered to pick me up at the airport as it wasn’t that easy to hitch from the airport south of the city of Copenhagen into the centre of town. And it would be too late to make the walk.

Søren paid for the train tickets and took me the Nørreport train station (Nørreport = North Gate) in the city. It was a little walk to his two rooms apartment in an neighbourhood known for its cultural varieties, as Søren told me.

Once inside I became aware that he didn’t really use lights in his apartment. So one little spot on the floor lit the complete room where a wooden table took care of a computer. In a corner I saw a very old piano and I could not really figure out if it was under construction or deconstruction.

It was for me very difficult to understand what Søren’s occupation was. It wasn’t his English (as Danish is something completely mysterious for me), but more or less my tiredness or this day of travelling and his way of telling things.

Half an hour later I found out he was a graphic designer at Danish Radio, the big public radio, television and Internet company in Denmark. As the corporation started of in 1940 with radio only, the name Danish Radio (DR) stayed the same in a time where media got more evolved. Even the two public Danish TV-stations are called DR1 en DR2.

Next to his work, he doesn’t do very much and he admitted that had quite a boring life. He likes to read, write memories and philosophises about life.

He read about my project in an internal email, send around at DR, and invited me in the end of May. He works with the internet almost all day long, so when he visited my website, he thought “Why not help this guy out” and filled out his address.

But when I took out my digital camera to take a picture of this host, he asked me “Is that really essential?”. I told him how I report about every host that invites me, included with photographs and he didn’t really know anything about my project.

So I told him how my website got hyped in the media all over the world and that I currently have over 1700 invitations from 66 countries, all people who invited me over to stay for a day (or even more). And a lot of people seem to enjoy my website and are interested to read about the people I meet.

“I didn’t know that your project is that big” he said. “I am just not really used to have pictures taken of me, that’s all.”

As it was already getting midnight, I mentioned my tiredness and really had to rest my head down. Søren thought the same about that and offered me to sleep in his bedroom, while he would sleep on two wooden benches moved together, covered with a airbed and a sleeping bed. I tried to let him sleep in his bed and that I’d go for the sleeping back, but he insisted on his version of the idea. “You are my guest, I don’t let you sleep in a sleeping bag.”

I haven’t seen anything of Denmark yet, it mostly was too dark on the streets. What I saw could easily be the centre of Vienna, where I have also been only one day during this project (see day 37).

But I won’t stay only one day in this capital city and much more would be discovered later this week.

Good night København!

Ramon.





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