Copenhagen/København, Denmark to Marrakech/مراكش/ⴰⵎⵓⵔⴰⴽⵓⵛ, Morocco/المغرب /ⵍⵎⴰⵖⵔⵉⴱ– 697 km this section (Total Mileage: 13,705 km/40,075 km)
I was in Copenhagen when I finally got my pass to this year’s UN climate conference in Marrakech. Then I realized that I would have only two and a half weeks to pick up my bike in Budapest (long story) and cover the 3,000 km (1,900 miles) that separated the two cities.
The lowest emissions path would be to bike, but that would require doubling my daily mileage. I could fly, but flying has strong, immediate impacts on the climate, and I was determined to find a land route if I could.
Using Rome2Rio, which aggregates transportation options to find the best route between cities around the world, I found a bus that would take me and my bike from Romania to southern Spain, and with that knowledge, I plotted the following route:
Day 1-4: Bus Copenhagen-Berlin, visit cousins, Train Berlin-Budapest
Day 5-9: Bike Budapest-Arad, Romania
Day 10-12: Bus Arad-Sevilla
Day 12-14: Bike Sevilla-Tarifa
Day 15: Ferry Tarifa-Tangier, Bus Tangier-Casablanca
Day 16-18: Bike Casablanca-Marrakech
Late autumn light blankets Copenhagen.
Jute sacks cover a building in Copenhagen’s Nyhavn district, in an installation by Ghanan artist Ibrahim Mahama that is meant to evoke the impacts that distant humans have in each other’s lives and societies.
The Butterfly 3-way bridge south of Nyhavn. I’ve dreamed of city streets like this, but I was amazed by the extent to which different modes of transport changed the city landscape. We take for granted the noxious fumes of gas-burning cars and their noise, but we don’t have to. Copenhagen is a preview of the way many cities are headed–quieter, cleaner, and healthier.
The city of Copenhagen is powered on wind power and burned waste. The new Amager waste-to energy plant (left) uses new technologies to raise the combustion pressure and temperature, helping the plant to translate 28 per cent of the trash’s chemical energy to electricity (which, believe it or not, is a high number). It also pumps waste heat into a city-wide heating system, giving the plant a 99 per cent energy efficiency.
Heat from burned waste certainly isn’t perfect–it still has relatively high carbon emissions compared to wind and solar, and it isn’t renewable–but with plastic pollution making larger and larger swathes of ocean uninhabitable for marine life (an important carbon sink), it could be worth the cost.
Looking down from the tower of the Church of Our Saviour, the highest point in Copenhagen, the city’s clean energy infrastructure forms an integral part of a city landscape that drives towards a sustainable human life on this planet.
Budapest is beautiful. St. Stephen’s Basilica towers over Budapest.
The interior of the basilica.
Memorial of the Murdered Jews of Europe, on an October day in Berlin.
Invisible from the surrounding streets, the memorial sinks below ground level, creating a space that is simultaneously eerie, contemplative, and playful.
The following is a video I cobbled together from clips I took with my phone while traveling from Budapest to the southern tip of Spain. I’ve still got a lot to learn on the videography front, but I think it captures some elements of those weeks (48-hour bus ride from Romania to Spain, Andalusian winds) that I couldn’t communicate otherwise:
I was blown into the ditch six times over the course of that last day, but made it to Tarifa in time…to find the port closed, due to high winds. Still made it to Marrakech on time, though :).
It turns out oil production in Hungary has been declining for years–all of the pump jacks I saw biking through the southern part of the country stood idle–but its infrastructure still defines the society’s landscape.
Fall colors along the highway, right near the Hungarian border with Romania.
There were no spiders in sight, but these thick, tensile webs hung off everything during my final days in Hungary, sticking to my bike and legs and arms.
The old medina of Fes, nominally the largest vehicle-free urban area in the world.