It’s All Yoga

By Stephen Ewashkiw | August 23, 2013

5922 km so far.

Yesterday I was offered a spot teaching yoga at the Copenhagen Yoga Festival on Saturday. This is a big deal for me. It is my first yoga festival, it is in a city I really want to teach in, and I would really like to take part in the fantastic event they have put together. However, we are 170 km north of Malmö (which is then just a 30 minute train ride to Copenhagen) and we couldn’t ride our bikes fast enough even if we tried.

Train, Train

For the first time since our trip officially began on Italy’s west coast, today we got on a train. This is huge. I have not wanted to take any unnecessary transportation on this trip. We have only been on boats and our bicycles so far. However, you have to learn to be flexible, to make the right choices, and, yes, sometimes compromise when it is for the best.

There is a special train car on the Swedish local rail lines set aside for baby prams, large luggage, wheelchairs, and bicycles. However, when we got on the train, this car was filled with people without any of these. A conductor came along and asked people to move to make room for our bikes. Only a couple did. A few minutes later he came back, and made people move. He was quite forceful (vocally) and then stood there making sure they followed his instructions. Thank you kind train conductor!

It was frustrating that people wouldn’t move as the train wasn’t full and they could easily find a seat elsewhere. Swedes have been so friendly and courteous so far that I think this self-centredness seemed more shocking than it was. However, it was just a chance for us to breathe deeply, practice our internal yoga, and let it go.

Tea Time

Once we got our bikes leaned up against the wall, it was incredible. In one hour on a train we travelled the distance it would take us all day to ride. Why did no one tell us about train travel before??? It’s much easier than cycling.

We made a stop at Koppi, a micro coffee roaster in the town of Helsingborg. I have been told by many people that this coffee roaster is the bomb, so we just had to visit. Like most good roasters, they were extremely friendly, and very busy.

koppi coffee helsingborg sweden

Koppi is not the best kept secret in Helsingborg.

I started with an espresso that was a Columbian roast they’ve made especially for the MAD Symposium. It was absolutely delicious. Then I had a pour over of a really nice Ethiopian. It was full of great flavours and had very low acidity. Initially it was complex but then the flavour dissipated quickly.

I don’t mind trying something different. In fact, I love it. I am glad that roasters are doing interesting roasts, playing with different brewing techniques, and evolving the culture.

There seems to be a trend in Swedish coffee right now to give the beans a more tea-like bouquet. It is interesting, but I prefer a deeper, longer-lasting flavour. I also read that Swedes drink on average 4 cups of coffee per day, so I can see why you might want to prepare the beans to be a less acidic, less intense, but still full flavoured roast.

barista pouring coffee at koppi helsingborg sweden

Practicing the art of coffee at Koppi.

I bought some Kenyan beans, Thunguri, which were recommended by Charles, who founded Koppi, and the Canadian barista who also helped me with my selections. I look forward trying those in the next week.

Sixteen Coaches Long

We had planned on riding our bikes from Helsingborg to Malmö today after visiting Koppi. But, the train ride earlier had pulled me in. I realised that instead of riding for 4 hours, and arriving at our friends’ house late, exhausted, and hungry, we could hop on a train for 30 minutes and be there. I couldn’t resist.

Jane wanted to ride, but quite easily gave in to my suggestion. Part of a good yoga practice is knowing when to stand up for what you want, and knowing when to say when.

Also, Helsingborg was quite vibrant, with lots of people around and fascinating art and architecture. So, this gave us a chance to do a bit more than just go to Koppi, and actually see the town a little.

old building helsingborg sweden

Castles and kings, Helsingborg.

And then we got back on the train. This time it was even busier, and no helpful conductor came along to move people. Knowing the rules, I asked people to move, and only two people did. This still didn’t leave us enough space for our bikes to lean, so we stood in the aisle, one hand on the brake, one eye on not falling on other passengers.

Meanwhile, we were offered a good chance to practice more yoga. It is easy to get frustrated by people’s lack of sympathy, lack of awareness, and lack of getting the fuck out of the way so I can put my bike in the spot that is assigned for it. With practice, you can learn to not let these situations bother you (as much), so each time is an opportunity to practice.

Jane’s note: I could excuse most of the passengers for their selfishness, except for two. They were obviously cyclists, and had taken up most of one doorway with their two huge bike cases. If they had moved, there would have been room for both of our bikes to lean against the wall. This solution was obvious, but they didn’t budge. Cyclists should (and usually do) take care of each other and help each other out, so I couldn’t find it in myself to forgive them.

Home, Sweet Home

We are now in Malmö and at the home of our good friends Sara and Markus.

Peace gun, Malmo.

Peace gun, Malmo.

Because we took the train, we got here in time for a delicious dinner and vibrant conversation. Sara and Markus have had two children since we last saw them, and the house is a bundle of energy. We are excited to be visiting them, and plan to spend a few days here, catching up with our friends, recuperating, exploring the city, and getting ready to ride to Berlin.  

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