Wednesday 21st August
We take the train to Copenhagen, €134.00 ($238), leaving at a reasonable hour of 10.50am. We have breakfast and pack a lunch for the trip. It is going to be “fun” working out what cash we need, as we have two nights in Denmark, then travel through Sweden to Norway, for two nights there, and back to Copenhagen for three nights before flying out. We are planning a day trip in Sweden as well. Despite being in the EU they all have their own currencies, and cash is preferred. Euros can be used, but not widely accepted, and if they are accepted, it is at a terrible (rip off) exchange rate from the shops to discourage the use of Euros, and change is given in local currency. What fun… not, haha.
Antoine calls into the kitchen to say goodbye, Cynthea gets up to hug him and knocks the table. A pot of yoghurt hits the floor, bugger, and a fair dollop of it lands on Antoine’s foot. Just as well he was heading for the showers!
We take the metro to the Central Hauptbahnhof train station, only one stop, €1.70 ea, so it is quite expensive for such a short journey. When we get to Central we cannot find where to go to the main train station, it is not very clearly marked. We head off in the wrong direction, but it is soon clear we are going the wrong way. We ask a couple of people who kindly point us in the right direction, though the signs still do not mention Hauptbahnhof. At least we have allowed plenty of time.
The ticket is easier to understand this time round, we are in carriage 81… we wonder how big is this train??? We are given a rough area to stand in to wait, and will only know when the train arrives where our carriage is. Turns out we are right at the front, and it is a wee bit of a hike to get to that end of the platform. It doesn’t help that we are going against the tide of people heading for their carriages, which are behind us. Numbering system is out of whack, 81 at the front, next is 82, followed by number 72… past trying to figure this out, as long as we have our seats organised. It is a very nice train, and for a moment we thought we were in a first class carriage, so if this is cattle class, we wonder what First class is like! We are seated thinking we will be facing the direction of travel, but we are not, only able to see where we have been, haha. The fine weather doesn’t last, and rain on the window spoils photo opportunities (focus is out of whack). Pretty countryside though.
Around 1pm we arrive at Padborg, where passports are checked. We are in Denmark now people! And the rain has cleared. Hopefully we still have a decent amount of time to change at Fredericia St.
We change at Fredericia St, “somewhere in Denmark”, the ticket gives no other information, turns out Fredericia is the name of the town. We have a whole seven minutes to get from Platform 3 to Platform 10, assuming that the train is on time, and that they don’t change the platform number in the meantime. No pressure then!
It is a bit of a shambles, we arrive on Platform 10, and the signs tell us the train is going to Copenhagen, and then change to show something else. Passengers are running about trying to find which platform we need, no one knows where the train to Copenhagen is leaving from. Finally we find a staff member who does know, we are lucky it is from number 9, straight across without having to mess around with stairs. There is no sign giving the destination, and the railway people are telling us to hurry (not our fault we didn’t know they had chaned everything). There is not a lot of time to get on board, and we are off again within moments of boarding.
The trip through to Copenhagen is amazing, great scenery and a massive road and rail bridge across the Great Belt. The Storebælt Bridge is 18 km long, and it links together the eastern and western parts of Denmark. It is the third-longest suspension bridge in the world.
We arrive just after 4pm. The hostel in Copenhagen is a couple of kilometres from the centre, a short bus ride away. Strangely for a country that is actively promoting a cashless society, their buses take cash only. It takes us a while to work out how things operate, and Cynthea goes to an ATM to get cash so we can buy bus tickets.
The hostel is a short walk from the stop, the main danger is being run over by a bloody bike. There are wide cycle lanes, but they are not marked in a different colour, so sometimes we forget that they are there, and nearly get bowled by cyclists. When we arrive at the hostel we have to walk downstairs to enter it, the entrance is below ground level. Globalhagen Hostel is expensive, €133 ($236) for two nights, plus sheet hire, which we didn’t realise when we booked, it was in the small print at the end of the web page. At DKK100 ($24), we could have bought the bloody sheets for that price back home! Guests are not allowed to use sleeping bags, nor are we allowed to use the silk liners we have. We tell them they should just include the sheets in the price of the room, but they tell us that then they would not be able to compete with other hostels. They say they are not for profit, because they donate their money to worthy causes. We call them out on that, because they are making a profit, it just isn’t going to a corporate business, as far as we can tell. They also have a lot of volunteers to help to run it. From what we can see so far it seems to us that they are creaming it from tourists to make money for their causes. We are not very happy, although the staff here are all very nice.
There is a small kitchen on the third floor, and a large communal dining room, which is largely empty whenever we are using it. The world map on the dining room wall, make of cut out pieces of wood, is not very well done. NZ is totally screwed up – the North Is is north of Australia, and the South Is is upside down. Down by reception is a café and bar, and a large social room, café tables outside as well. We find the prices for drinks expensive compared to other places, again fleecing the tourists to get a profit for their causes.
We are in a nice enough area, it is nice walking by the river, or is it a canal? After dark Tony heads out for a wander down the street and along the canal/river (we had a look at the map, and it does not appear to have an inlet, nor an outlet, so not sure what it is? A long lake?). There are not quite as many bikes out after dark, but we still have to be careful! We arrange the bus trip to Norway, Flix bus to Oslo, via Sweden, costs us £70 ($136).
All the rooms are named after countries where Mellemfolkeligt Samvirke (ActionAid Denmark) works, which fights to strengthen human rights and solidarity in more than 45 countries across the world. We are in “Palestine” (a map on the wall shows the political state over the past however many, 50 years? – can’t remember exactly). There is a double bed (ours!), a set of bunks, and for some reason a camp stretcher (even though we booked a four bed room). An Aussie girl joins us and chooses the camp bed rather than the top bunk, we don’t see much of the guy that has the bottom bunk. Sam is also a bit pissed off at the extra charges, this place is expensive enough without having to pay to rent bedding at that rate. The whole outfit seems very political, and we don’t feel too comfortable with the set up.
We have an electronic key card, which we have to use on the entrance to the hostel, the door at each floor, and to open AND close our room door. There is a notice outside each room telling people how to use the card, if you don’t follow the instructions, your room door does not lock, or even shut. Late that night Tony heard a lot of banging of doors down the hallway, and went to investigate. Some dozy woman is trying to shut her door, but she does not have her room key on her. Tony tells her she needs the key to lock the door, but she tells him that she doesn’t have it on her, and continues to slam the door to get it to shut. Tony tells her to stop doing that, and she gets nasty, and carries on slamming the door. Tony gives up, and heads down to reception, but there is no one there, and there is no sign of her when he returns to the floor.
Our room is on the first floor, so that puts it just above street level, and with the café tables outside smoke drifts in our window if it is open. There is supposed to be no noise (or tables) outside the rooms after 10pm, but no one enforces that, and we are able to hear every conversation, whether want to or not.
It is a bit noisy when we try to sleep, there is a group of students staying here , high school age by the looks of them, and they seem to be unsupervised. As there is no one at reception Tony has to settle for banging on their door and telling them to shut up. We are tired enough and soon fall asleep despite the racket.
Thursday 22nd August
Sleep wasn’t too bad last night. The other guy in the room has been and gone, checked out without us seeing much of him.
After brunch we go for a walk to the botanical gardens. First challenge is getting there, after walking several blocks we find the gate on that street closed for renovations. We could have gone on further to another gate some distance away, around the corner from where we are, but we were concerned we would find that closed too. So we go back the way we came and head for a different one. We ask a couple of people, but have trouble understanding each other. There is another gate in the opposite corner, and it is in the direction of the city centre, so we head there and hope that is what they were trying to tell us! If that doesn’t work out, we can just head into town.
It takes us an hour all up, just as well it was a warm, dry day. Entry is free, with the exception of a couple of exhibits inside. There is a plant shop at the entrance raising funds for the gardens, they have cheap (cough) oxalis for sale, DKK30 to 35, NZ$7 - $8. If we had known we would have brought some over, could have paid for our trip!
It is a pleasant walk around the park area, and we find the smallest, hardest kiwi fruit we have ever seen growing. We hope that they are getting plenty of water! It is great to see that there are a lot of people in the park enjoying the sunshine. We are there just over an hour, before heading into town. We need to find the bus station to see if it close to the railway station as it is supposed to be. If it turns out to be too far away, we will need to get a cab. We are in luck, it is around the corner as promised, and an easy walk from the railway station bus stop. Now we just have to work out where to catch the bus from the hostel, to get us to the railway station in the morning.
We spend time wandering the city centre, admiring the buildings and catching glimpses of the Tivoli, a theme park in the city centre. We go to a food hall, which is part of the park, but security is tight, and we won’t have a hope of sneaking in without a ticket. We will not be visiting there, the place is on the pricey side. We shop for tea and tomorrow’s bus ride at the supermarket and walk back to the hostel.