In the summer of 2006 I was utterly broke. Since October 2005, I'd been travelling or dossing, watching my bank balance dwindling and living more and more frugally. Finally in June I got some temp work, but it was only for two weeks to cover for someone who was on holiday, and after that I went on holiday again. By July I was well into the red, but I had to go on one more trip: it was my birthday, and the last time I was in London on my birthday I fractured my skull, so these days I make sure I'm out of the country.
I found some cheap flights to Malmö. I'd been there three years previously, so this time I went straight from the airport over the Öresund to Denmark. It was drizzling when I arrived, but by the evening it was clearing up, and I walked down to Nyhavn. The Copenhagen Jazz Festival was on, and at Nyhaven there was a New Orleans jazz band playing. In late evening sunshine, I joined the crowd lining the water's edge and listened to the band.
I went to Humlebæk the next day to visit the Louisiana contemporary art gallery. It was a beautiful day. Louisiana is right by the Øresund, and it was easily clear enough to see Sweden across the water. I wandered through the gallery, breaking out a couple of times to sit in the sun by the sea. There was a lot of good art on show, and even apart from the art, the gallery itself was impressive.
In the evening I went out to try to find somewhere to watch the world cup final. Four years earlier I'd watched the final in a bar in Sanlitun in Beijing, where some expat Germans almost got into a brawl after someone tried to take the seats they'd marked out earlier in the classic German style. This evening there were no such problems. I found a cafe in Norrebrø that was showing the game. Earlier in the competition, the Italians had utterly robbed Australia by diving to get a last-minute penalty, so I was very much supporting France. With extra time running out, there was suddenly pandemonium as the cameras showed an Italian on the ground and Zidane being shown a red. From the Danish commentary it was not easy to tell what was going on, so I assumed that the Italian had dived. Disgusted, I watched them eventually take the win on penalties. Later, I had to grudgingly admit that it was probably not totally unfair to have sent Zidane off for headbutting Materazzi.
I was right at the bottom of my bank balance, and I could only just afford to re-cross the Øresund to catch my flight home from Sweden. I had an afternoon to kill in Malmö, and I wandered out to Västra Hamnen, where upmarket new flats overlook the straits. New since the last time I'd been here was the Turning Torso, the new tallest building in Scandinavia, which spiralled up over the city.
I sat by the sea in the warm sun. I looked back over the past ten months, during which I'd been to South America, Bulgaria, Turkey, France and now here. It had been awesome, but I knew that there could be no more holidays for now. I was in urgent need of a job. As storm clouds gathered over the Øresund, I headed for home.