Ribe

Ribe  29.08.16

‘What a heavenly place! An extraordinary mixture of old and new with the emphasis on old old old. My room i had booked via the internet is gloomy, a sky light for a window, no vista, no light or spaciousness, the shower room is huge with a lovely view, i could have slept in here but I cannot stay in a gloomy room more than one night. I pay for one night and go walkabout, explore.

I am sorry to have arrived immediately before two festivals start, without even knowing any festivals were happening. I seem to be chasing festivals on this trip. Aarhus happened just after i left, Tonder Folk festival is ongoing, i cant say i wasnt invited for Benny was looking for someone to go with but i declined his invitation!.  And now, Vadensee…. tempting but unavailable and a Wine festival coincides with it which means all accommodation for the weekend is booked.
I will pretend to just be a tourist and not know the festivals are about to arrive. Alternatively, i might use the next few days to try to connect with locals, even offer to volunteer, see if i might find a rat hole in a corner somewhere, to stay for the weekend… Rejecting my prebooked room i have found myself a decent room for 5 krone more, will move in tomorrow. 
My encounters this afternoon have been on three levels. 
One. Counter assistants in the cafe i have booked to stay at. 
Functional. My room has no view, only a skylight offering limited stars. I cannot stay for four nights in a room without a view. The girl is powerless, consults to see if im allowed to stay one night. Once in, i check airbnb and begin to understand why i booked here through booking.com.
Two. Jesper, friendly accommodation i happen chanced upon.
From the outside his property looks tawdry, tatty notice in a flaking window, but a nice guy, gorgeous courtyard, light and airy, spacious rooms, a kitchen, a much better option and just a fiver a night more. I move in tomorrow. Sadly, his festival weekend rooms were booked a year ago.
Three. Jake, was it Jake? Doesnt sound Danish but an old guy, interesting chap, easily in his 80’s?
Lives next door to the pub i stopped at, told me his life history and engaged in philosophical conversation about being dutiful and being free, about icelandic sagas and morality. His mothers ill health ended his chosen life in Vancouver and after she died, his heart bypass operation prevented him sailing around the world alone. Regrets.

I misjudge. He’s another man who just needed me to listen, not contribute. He was not ready for me to say that i tell my daughters its far better i die doing something i want to do than live in the knowledge that i didnt give it a go. I lose my first friend here, he goes home, full of his own regrets.  

must try to forget the vadensee arts festival but this is nevertheless a good place to be. I order a kebab and go to the loo, discover im in herren not dammen but pee regardless and no one distrubs me. I wait for my food and wonder how much aloneness i have had, yet how little loneliness i have felt. Perhaps i just dont need to be a social creature. 
Its bizarre, i equate cobbled streets with pedestrian priority but despite no road markings and no signs, pedestrians and cars seem to equally confuse each other here, neither knows which way to go and i include myself in this but am pleased other pedestrians and vehicles seem equally adrift. This was also true in Aarhus, cobbled streets looking pedestrian, no road markings to spoil the cobbles yet cars everywhere. 

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