#GoingNorth Day 2 … Of ice-skating and drug controls

11.10am, Amsterdam. Travelling through the Christmas and New Year’s period not only makes it difficult sometimes to arrange meetings with friends along the way, but also makes it harder to come across the necessary travel information. With the librabry closed over the weekend, I find myself a couple of hours from a completely unknown Copenhagen, without a guidebook or even a map. Luckily there is always wikitravel, allowing me to quickly download some information before heading for Utrecht. A nice reading assignment for on the train!

2.30pm, Utrecht. Christmas is in town, so I’m meeting Liset Meddens (@LisetMeddens) and Mariana Orozco at the open-air ice-skating ring on de Neude. Both are active youth in the Dutch sustainability scene, Liset as Dutch youth representative on sustainable development and Mariana as intern with SustainUS, an American ngo. Over cups of steaming glühwein and hot chocolate we discuss about campaign ideas to get our leaders in Rio de Janeiro for the UN Conference on Sustainable Development, ways of cooperation between Dutch and Belgian youth and how to increase youth activation towards Rio+20. The skating in between discussions reminds us of the times before global warming, when it wasn’t 10 degrees at the end of the year and you could just take your skates to the nearest river. Yes, you can pay for artificial ice, but it never leaves you quite satisfied like the real thing.

4.15pm, Utrecht. Last time I was in Utrecht, it was for the UN Millennium Development Goals Conference, organised by AEGEE-Utrecht in November 2010. This time I’m here to organise another Green AEGEE event, namely the yearly meeting of the Environmental Working Group. With members from across Europe, we are working online most of the time, but for a couple of face-to-face meetings throughout the year. For 2012 the choice befell the Netherlands, giving Utrecht a headstart with its experience and motivated team. Marleen Dijkhoff, one of the organisers of the conference last year, and now president of AEGEE-Utrecht, joins us for some drinks  at the skating ring and we discuss the details of the meeting, which will hopefully be confirmed soon!

9.10pm, Duisburg. A mix of cheap tobacco and Dutch grass meets me as I enter the train to Kopenhagen. In the compartment an East-German greets me with complete indifference and a half-empty look in his eyes, breathing heavily as he sits low in his chair. At every stop he jumps out of the train, a sigaret already waiting in his hand. Barely at the German side of the border, a routine patrol checks our IDs, frowning their eyebrows at the state of his papers. Half an hour later, a four man squad, complete with drug dog enters the train and heads straight for our side of the car. They interrogate the man, while searching his belongings and almost tearing the seating apart, looking for Dutch souvenirs. They leave with nothing to show for their efforts, and he rolls back onto the bench, leaving me to my compelling tale of Baekelandt, one of the most notorious outlaws ever to have roamed the forests of Flanders.

11.50pm, Dortmund. My silent companion startles back to consciousness just past Cologne, as the conductor comes by to ask for his ticket and he realises he is going to Berlin instead of Kopenhagen. He leaves for another part of the train, ceding his place to Peter, a young boy from Trier #GoingNorth to visit his girlfriend in Hamburg. They met on the internet about two years ago and have been dating for over eight months now, crossing the country to see each other every couple of weeks. In Wuppertal we are joined by Georg, a metal-loving archeology student on his way back to his exchange place in Arhus, Denmark and for the first time in years, I’m chatting the night away on a train with perfect strangers. Tales of love and family Christmas traditions, old Viking lore and contemporary German authors, all is possible when sleep is not an option.

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2 Responses to #GoingNorth Day 2 … Of ice-skating and drug controls

  1. Precisely how much time did it take u to write “#GoingNorth
    Day 2 Of ice-skating and drug controls | Munironthemove’s Blog”? It possesses plenty of fantastic knowledge. Thanks a lot ,Don

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