Photography / Travel

Day 28-29: Perstorp, Copenhagen, and Back

from Photographs of Europe, May-June 2002 by Tim Darling     (Click on the photos..)

Friday, June 14 - Perstorp, Sweden and Copenhagen, Denmark

I had my first Swedish breakfast, an oat cereal with a thin yogurt that comes in a milk carton. Lina took me on a tour of the factory she was working at for the summer- she went through a security gate by swiping an ID card and I had to go through a gate a few feet away that was swinging open in the breeze.

We bought some food from a local store (or rather, the local store) and made my first Mexican lunch in Sweden. Polenta, guacamole, and nachos. I helped make the guacamole but carved an avocado too many.

We walked down the railroad track to a lake in the woods near her house. She was supposed to go to a party that night and she said since not many people had cars that it took a lot of phone calls to make sure everyone could get there. She was mad that no one had called her yet which meant that she would probably have to make the calls when she got back. She also said it took a lot of work because you couldn't go to a party without alcohol and that was hard to get without a car and expensive in Sweden anyway. According to her, parties among the Swedes could last for 10 hours: from 7-11 was a pre- party when everyone drank. Then from 11-1 the real party took place with dancing and music (it seemed a little short to me). And from 1-5, the after party where everyone relaxed and talked. She pointed out that not everyone was invited to the pre- and after- parties, but I thought maybe if they did welcome everyone for the whole time then arranging the car rides might be easier.

At the lake, we emptied a boat of the 6 inches of water in it with the blue trash bag / superhero cape I'd bought in Budapest. We rowed the boat out into the lake and tried to avoid clusters of water lilies. She rowed at first and I said it was funny that she was wearing a blue and white striped shirt that was almost identical to the ones I'd seen the gondoliers wear in Venice. Then I rowed for a while and she took a photo of the lilies with my camera.

I stared wide-eyed at the solid dark blue of the summer skies and told her how lucky she was to have skies so blue. "I would move to a country just for skies like that. The summer skies in DC are white and hazy with humidity and pollution."

She was amused at that: "I'm glad you came- it's good to be able to see all the things I take for granted through the eyes of someone who really appreciates them." And then she laughed at how fascinated I was with her factory- I'd never been in a factory before.

She bought me some Swedish licorice and handed it to me with a warning not to expect anything sweet. It was salty and sour but I kind of liked it.

When it started to get late, we walked to the train station. We stopped at a grocery store and she filled up a bag of Swedish candy for me: every kind of licorice they had, orange chocolate, pink and white marshmallow mushrooms, and some others.

Interesting random candy fact: Hitsville USA in Detroit, MI was the studio where most of the major Motown artists got their start and recorded many of their biggest songs (the Supremes, the Temptations, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, the Jackson 5, James Jamerson and the Funk Brothers...) During a visit there in 2008, I learned on the tour that the candy machine inside the studio's control room (which has since been moved into the hallway) always had Baby Ruth stocked in the third handle from the right so Stevie Wonder would always know where it was since it was his favorite.

On the same tour, Martha Reeves from Martha Reeves and the Vandellas was nearby and heard my 2 month old daughter screaming. Martha, a famous Motown artist with songs like "Dancing in the Street" and "Nowhere to Run", claimed she's got some good singing lungs...

"I'm sure we'll meet again," she said by the railroad tracks, "but it'll probably be somewhere weird."

"Yes - Paris, Perstorp - the next place will probably be Paraguay. I've got a good feeling about Paraguay." We hugged and I got on the train. I caught her eye as it passed away, we waved and the train moved on. It crept on through green fields and I watched the my reflection superimposed over the bright blue skies and long lines of white clouds running along the horizon. I guess I was sad, OK? I was sad to leave.

I stood on the deck of the ferry and leaned my head over the side during the crossing back to Denmark. I thought: Yeah, life is a lot like this.. being blown by a hard 100 mile-an-hour wind as you stand on the deck of a Scandanavian ferry in a t-shirt.

As I got off the ferry in Denmark, a large group of people passed me going back to Sweden stumbling with large crates of alcohol for the Friday night. I laughed because Lina had always said how the Swedes go into Copenhagen just to buy beer there because it's cheaper.

I met Phil as I got off the train and he took me around Copenhagen. We sat on a dock near the center of town in the last minutes of sunlight the town would see for another 5 hours. He said it's the other way in the winter: only five hours of sunlight on some days.

We walked up to Christiania which I wanted to see: it's a part of town surrounded by the walls of an old army barracks that's sort of self-sufficient and exists very much separately from the rest of the city. We had dinner back at his house and walked around the town for a while. A very drunk girl bumped into me in a bar and started talking to me, but the only thing she seemed to be able to say in English was 'it's crowded in here'.

Saturday, June 15 - Copenhagen, Denmark and Back

My last few hours to walk around Europe: Phil and I went to see more of the city, including a statue of the Little Mermaid which sat somewhere along the river.

I had enough time to see some of the Denmark-England World Cup game on a large TV at the stadium. The stadium was packed with football fans in painted faces cheering loudly at every kick of the ball even though Denmark fell behind early in the game. We had to leave early, but knowing how seriously Europeans take football games, it may not have been an entirely bad thing.

I said goodbye to Phil at the train station and then was on my way back to the US via Paris and Hamburg.

On the ten hour night train from Hamburg back to Paris, I shared a sleeping compartment with a guy and 4 women (lucky me). I had a middle bed on one side- the man slept below me and the cute young girl who spent the whole ride in her underwear slept across from me at the top (lucky me).

I listened to the three girls who were above and next to me talk for half an hour trying to decipher what language it was. It sounded like Swedish, I recognized a couple words, but I was sure it didn't sound like the Swedish I'd heard in Sweden.

I made a guess at a pause in their conversation: "Are you from Finland?" "Yes," the oldest of the three replied.

"Finnish?" I pressed. "No, Swedish with a Finnish accent." Ah ha.

And, finally..

They went to sleep and I lay awake in the dark, watching the white and orange lights outside flash through a gap in the curtains and spin around our beds like a disco ball. And then it struck me why I love photography so much. It's because with a camera, we have the potential to capture all the joy and beauty that flashes by momentarily in some small point in this universe and immortalize it through all the trash that the rest of time brings. I don't know how those moments come together, or how we sometimes find them. But I do know this: you have to surround yourself with as much beauty as you can, create as much beauty as you can, and share it with as many people as you can, because those small moments are all we have. And they're enough for me.

So if you're thinking about traveling, Go! Travel books won't be able to show or tell you anything about what you'll find or who you'll meet. There's a whole world out there running through these passing days with moving gears and waiting faces. Go now before it all changes, or before they all move on.

The End.


Your Comments

Comme toujours, tes photos sont incroyables.

-- Lindsay, June 27, 2002
Wow... you can write too! (Just don't forget there's a lot of living to be done around here too..)

-- Mark, June 28, 2002
This is beautiful, Tim. I'm glad you had such a wonderful time.

-- Rachel, June 28, 2002
How are you able to travel so much??? Are you rich or something, or do you work really hard for a while and go off on your adventures for the summer??? What kind of job let's you do that?? I want to do the same!!!

Let me congratulate you on the excellent pictures you have taken of Europe. I have been to some of the places that you have visited and seeing your pictures brought back nice memories.

Hope your next adventure is as good as the European one seemed to be.

-- Javier Lopez, June 28, 2002
That was great! You should try to publish what you do; your writing and pictures are so interesting. Tack sa mycket!!! Go to Finland too.

-- Inger, June 29, 2002
Great page Tim, but I'm sure everyone is wondering about this "thin yogurt" you've written about! Well, for their and your information, it is a typical swedish product made out of processed sour milk and containing a culture of acidofilus and bifido bacteria. What most people don't know, is that this milk product is actually the secret behind the Swedes legendary white teeth, healthy skin and tall slender beauty...:-)

-- The girl under the rhododendron bush, July 7, 2002
Tim - it seems you had a wonderful trip. You really did meet a lot of people. I noticed that since I travel with other people, I don't meet any other travelers or any other people at all for that matter. Or maybe I'm just too introverted around Europeans. Sometime I'd like to see your other pictures that didn't make it to this site.

-- Kim, July 9, 2002
Wowzers. you did a great job on the page. wonderful pictures and great story.

-- julie, July 12, 2002
Just wanted to say that I enjoyed visiting Europe again through you and that I thought your photographs were gorgeous. Thanks for the trip!

-- Lisa, June 19, 2003
Sounds like you had a great time, fellow Darling! Next time you're in Europe look up my clan - myself in Paris, my brother, also Tim, in Munich, and my sister in Madrid! Loved the Darling quotes on the homepage...

-- Neil Darling, June 28, 2003
Your pictures and adventure has inspired me to go to europe, I have never wanted to see something so much untill i stumbled across this site, thank you.

-- Tara Garland, Feb 22, 2004
Tim! I wanna see the other pictures too (the ones that didn't make it to this site) - have you been anywhere else since?? Plz plz email me, maybe next time we can travel together:)

-- Anna, Jan 22, 2007
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All text and pictures copyright © 2002 Tim Darling.