What a time to be and Englishman travelling in Europe.
After the referendum results, every person I speak to wants to know about bloody Brexit and smiles condescendingly at me just for being British. Brits always mock 'crazy' Americans for their aggressive foreign policy, overflowing prisons and complete lack of gun control or health care. However, I never pre-judge American people. Yes their country is different but I never assume that they hold all of their country's worst views.
In a Hostel bar a French girl completely dismissed me because I was English. She didn't even ask my name or want to say a word to me, she just loudly declared that Irish and Australians were alright, but not British.
I realise that this tiny bit of prejudice is nothing compared to the horrible racism that is becoming more open in my country, but it is a terrible insight into the future. Those who voted Leave will not be any happier with the immigration system in 2 years, 10 years or 50 years - so why make the rest of us miserable. And spare a thought for poor old Gibraltar.
The Road to Roskilde:
Waking up with a fuzzy head to discover that over half of my country are seemingly bonkers was not the best introduction to a place. Maybe Amsterdam will treat me better next time.
It was rainy and a little underwhelming although I don't think my choice of hostel helped. It was more like a huge budget hotel out of the town centre and filled with a mixture of school trips, stag dos, and displaced families. It was actually well run and effective, but Euro-hostels are just so clinical and soulless.
Amsterdam seems like an interesting place to live if you knew where to go, and what to avoid. I did all of the cliché tourist attractions (canals, red light district) and even found a Maoz, an old falafel haunt of mine in London.
I visited the Heineken experience (a kind of brewery tour in a building that isn't the brewery any more) and discovered H41 a limited edition version made with Patagonian yeast which makes it taste fresher than an Argentine glacier.
After leaving Holland, I made a stop in Bremen after having no luck finding a couch surfing host in Hamburg. In fact I had a terrible time finding couch surfing hosts the whole trip, although I know I will have an avalanche of requests to stay in Pamplona come September. Bremen is a working city and although it was a little rainy, there were various riverside festivals and classic car shows the weekend I was there.
After a lot of panicking about tents, and confusion over the address, I managed to get packed and arrive at the festival with a Norwegian girl who was also visiting mutual friends. We set up shop in Silent and Clean (a safe haven from huge Sound Systems and general festival filth). We hung out with a camp of her friends who were cool and mostly insisted on plying me with blue liquorice alcohol and endless beers. Here is my festival diary.
Day 1 - I arrived yesterday and immediately went to work drinking. Drinking to forget being English. I set up the tents with Maron, and we joined the bigger camp of Danes for the afternoon. Most of them arrived on Saturday and will drink for 9 days straight, it's impressive.
So many of the camps have everything - chairs, tables, gazebos, huge speakers. It is a wonder how they transport it all. They must plan all year. I was sick from Fireball whisky and Blue Demon yesterday and discussed Nordic MMA with two chaps wearing "Sons of Daiquiri" motorcycle denim jackets. We watched a feminist Icelandic hip hop collective, which was odd.
Day 2 - Woke up to a wet world this morning and trudge into the East City to get some boots, they are foot breakers, so I hope it doesn't rain again! I went to the camp at twelve and endured the usual Brexit jokes:
"We thought you left? Now you want to come back to our camp?"
We all headed in to watch Damon Albarn and the Syrian Orchestra which is a nice story. I lost everyone due to not having a Danish phone (although they spend most of the day queuing up to charging them anyway).
I saw the distinctly below par Chilli Peppers, and then headed to Slayer which was high energy and really impressive. I am still surviving on black lead bread and tinned mackerel, but it is harder to sleep without all of that whisky in you.
Day 3 - "Chairball" is like a national sport for the Danes at Roskilde. There is a real drinking culture amongst the campers, and one way to get drunk fast is chairball.
You set up four camping chairs to form a football like pitch on the walkway between camps. Then the teams take it in turns to roll a football and try to knock over the can in the middle of the 'goal' between the chairs. If the can falls, the opposition must down their drink. Games are often interrupted by rogue cans and passers by, but they always result in intoxication.
Yesterday was D-Day. D was for Daiquiris. We spent all afternoon drinking jugs of the red stuff adding our own rum. Amazingly we didn't manage to meet the Sons of Daiquiri as they we busy watching metal. I watched Grimes (Canadian electro pixie), Macklemore (tepid white guilt rap) and Birdy Nam Nam (DJ trio a bit like the Blue Man Group).
Day 4 - I feel quite fresh after my 'double day' yesterday. I went to camp at mid day, had some drinks and went to watch Anderson Paak (funky California), and then went back to my tent to reboot. When I woke up I switched to coffee and finally met up with Trine at Foals (the band BTS always wanted to be).
We watched Mac Demarco (Canadian stoner love pop), Damily (african beats) and then went to Neil Young. His band is really something, and his voice sounds exactly the same as it did fifty years ago - truly awesome.
After Tame Impala (psychedelic Aussies), I met my friends at the now ubiquitous Gringo bar and helped them polish off some vodka. It is nice that you can bring your own drinks, chairs and almost anything into the music area too. We ended up in a very polite mosh pit of some Swedish metal band.
Day 5 - This festival really has its own identity. It has been going since the 70s and the same people keep coming back. Everyone told me about the famous "Alien shagging a cow" inflatable which has been seen at every major performance at the festival.
In the Dream City area, people created themed bars, boats and houses which must have taken a week to build. On the last day, the festival winds down as people go early to avoid the rush and the destruction of the last night. I began to lose my resolve as the first few beers didn't sit very well, but I employed the double day strategy and it worked out OK.
I watched Danish 90s rockers Dizzy Miss Lizzy, saw a fantastic set from the timeless New Order, and sampled a little of the huge range of acts that played on the final evening. I can see why people come back to Roskilde. As the Danes would say 'It's been nice and cosy."
While in Copenhagen I stayed with Eva and Trine, two housemates from my time in Buenos Aires. They have a nice flat share in a posh part of the city and extended 'hyggle' hospitality.
I also did a day trip across 'The Bridge' to Sweden humming the TV theme song the whole way.
The city of Malmo is just 30 minutes from Copenhagen and has a nice old town and a lot of parks. The shops seemed to be almost exclusively gyms, cafés, and sushi joints, along with hundreds of shops called Tiger (a famous clothing brand and a discount store).
After all of that time at the festival my legs were pretty dead, but I decided it would be a good idea to walk the whole city, then walk back from Osterport in Copenhagen too. Here are a couple more shots from Sweden's third city.
Well, the time has come to go back to work where Summer school awaits. It's the first time I have worked in the UK for five years and I hope to catch up with friends and acquaintances galore during my brief stint there. It might be another five years before I come back if things keep going like they have been.