On August 1992 I did another inter-rail trip, this time with Andrea, a friend from University. The ride was quite different from my first one, most of our trip was in North Europe, until we arrived to his most extreme point: North cape in Norway.
We arrived in Amsterdam on a Saturday evening and as soon as we got out the train, I suggested Andrea to hide our money in the underwear, because even if it did not happen to me, most of my schoolmates were robbed in daytime when I came there with the school. Andrea looked at me like I was a paranoid and I also felt I was overacting..but I was not: in the first hour in the city were attacked not once, but three times!
First it was the big black guy with the classic tricks “You hit me while I was rolling a joint”, then the italian junkie who tried to sell us every kind of dope and then simply attempt at our money, and finally the group of Portoricans armed of swiss knifes. We got away show our empty wallets, and saying we had to change travel cheques (that was the way of carrying money at the time).
Other places I recall were the three German cities of Berlin, Lubeck and Travemunde. Berlin was, with North Cape, one of the must do of our trip, since the Wall was pulled down only two years before. And walking until Alexander Platz was indeed one of the most touching experience of the trip. In Lubeck I remember his gothic-ghostly architecture, high spires, end of the world feeling and a night singing with a bunch of italian girls we met in Berlin. Travemunde is a beach place in the cold North Sea, with very strong wind and the beach invaded by ladybugs! I don’t know how we ended up there, but it was funny.
In Scandinavia what impressed me the most were the expensive prices, unbelievables for us used to a weak italian Liras, the everlasting days and really friendly people, always willing to help tourist with a map in his hand.
Unfortunately in that trip I began to have frictions with Andrea, who was my inseparable buddy during my first year at Uni. While with the experience of my first inter-rail, I was craving conversation with all strangers on the way, he was too pride, never accept help and giving confidence only when he can felt he was clearly the leader. So in that trip I understand the meaning of the popular italian proverb “it is better to be alone than in a bad company”.
I liked Copenaghen and I liked even more Stockholm, with his hundreds little islands. The hostel were we stayed was maybe the best I have ever been. Scandinavia in summer is simply beautiful.
In Norway, a country I was really attracted when I was a kid, at the point it was the one I elected for an essay in school, cost of life was simply out of this world. And since the train route was ending (and still it is that way) in Narvik, we had to buy an extra bus ticket to get to North Cape. We did not have enough money and we spent our days in Norway stealing food in supermarkets and sleeping under the stairs. That were really forming experiences.
In the little villages wehere we spent our nights on the road to North Cap, daylight was lasting 24 hours. After our first night and the cold we experienced when we attempted to sleep under the stairs, on the way back we did not sleep at all. Thanks also to the young locals, who were up with us all night long. I would never forget the energy there: when morning came and we had to get on the bus again, I felt rested and energized like I have been sleeping all night long. All night.
North Cape itself is really nothing special, to be kind. So I learned another of this popular saying that happen to be so true: when you travel what matter is not the destination, but the journey!