Okay. So cruises are crazy.
Did you know that people come onto these things and just, like, make a new life on the boat? For years at a time?
How is this even a thing?
Tonight my mum and I decided to partake in a little pub trivia, and the two couples who joined our team had already been living on the boat for sixteen days! SIXTEEN DAYS!
I feel like they that might be able to lay claim to some sort of squatters rights.
Also, full disclosure: Team “The Queen Is On Our Money” claimed top spot. We were originally two Canucks and two Aussies, and we had little time to accommodate our last minute New Jersey draft picks, who, luckily, remained unperturbed by the royal reference.
This morning I was again up at 4 AM, awoken as I was from my sweet bed of rest by the evil triumvirate of: a rocky engine start, a mid-night spectre looking for her lost bathrobe, and the sweet sounds of said spectre’s symphonic sinuses.
I beginning to think I will never sleep longer than five hours ever again.
I tried my absolute hardest to stave off wakefulness, but in the end acquiesced and resigned myself to the day. I stole about our darkened stateroom for an hour, ordering (and devouring) a coffee and a cheese plate – the only thing on the 24 hour room service menu that wasn’t a burger, a dessert, or a Caesar salad – and just generally feeling like the depraved Gollum figure that I am.
What’s in my pockets? Oh yeah! It’s my sense of majesty, ready to be incinerated in the fires of Mount Doom.
After satiating myself, I threw on some workout garb, and again found myself exercising at the crack of dawn with all of the other crazies.
The saving grace? That I was able to watch the sun rise over the water as I sprinted my cheese-coated guts out for forty-five minutes.
By the time I arrived back to the room, my mum was ready to motor. We got ourselves ready, and at 8:30 AM we were heading to the beautiful and quaint seaside town of Helsingborg, Sweden.
We knew that we wanted to rent bikes to explore the city, and were nervous that it may not happen. Today was the holiday after the shenanigan and booze-heavy Midsummer celebrations and absolutely nothing was open.
Luckily, we were able to find a small bodega inside of the central bus terminal that had two low-rise bikes to rent. Call it serendipitous, or call it weird as heck, but somehow we made our way to the most random of renters and we were able to procure our rides.
Thus, we spent a glorious four hours peddling around Helsingborg and its different environs.
The town is itself a study in contrasts: long stretches of seaside, punctuated by art installations and pungent sea salt air; its roadways flanked by octogenarian bathers and million dollar (turn of the century) mansions.
The main cycling path is approximately 20 kilometers long and takes you from beach, to town, to university, to industrial wasteland, to quaint sea side village. It’s a veritable personality disorder of aesthetics, and yet at the root of it all, everything is grounded in a simple beauty. A red brick and ancient stone; areas that once stood for so much more than e-commerce parks and paper packaging plants, that despite it all, remaining standing.
We visited parks, and castles, and ponds. We dipped our toes and hands into the sea, and we burned our arms in the bright, blazing sun.
We laughed until we cried over pistachio cannoli and blood orange spritzers. I bought Swedish candy which we ate as we marvelled at all of the flags waving in the late afternoon breeze.
After returning our bikes, we continued to explore the downtown core, traipsing about cobbled sidewalks and sun bleached piers.
When we arrived back to the ship, we stole away to the library, where we ensconced ourselves in another world of make believe.
Because isn’t that so much the root of travelling? Letting everything go that has come to define your day to day? Your character and your arc? What you need and want (and what you think and want?)
We are nothing but small bit parts, showing up at a Swedish beach town, ready to rent bicycles and steal away into the sunshine.
Everything else is but a dream. And what an exquisite dream to be.