qatsi (qatsi) wrote,

There were one or two things rotten in the State of Denmark ...

On the whole, I enjoyed my holiday in Copenhagen, but kharin and I did feel that it was rather more effort than might have been expected. Of course, the current travel situation didn't help, but at least there were plenty of people on hand guiding the 90-minute queue for security at Heathrow, and I never felt that there was any danger we might miss our flight, for they were frequently polling the queue for specific flights and/or departures before a certain time. SAS do not earn any points for not providing a meal in economy on their 2-hour flight; if I wanted that level of service I would have booked with RyanAir (and would have delighted in checking my luggage in to the hold while I was at it).

You might expect that, as a Scandinavian country, the Danes would pay attention to environmental concerns. Unlike previous trips to the continent, however, there was no note in the hotel room telling us about unnecessary towel changes; the room was always almost uncomfortably warm (or noisy if the window was open, being a couple of blocks away from the Tivoli gardens); the tap leaked and the plug wouldn't seal, so you had to have continuous running water to fill the wash basin. All minor defects that did not really give a positive impression. Of course, had we been Americans, we would have complained, but as Englishmen abroad, I observed, we already felt self-conscious, at least until hearing American voices, at which point we knew there were people almost certainly less culturally articulate than ourselves. Like most northern Europeans, the Danes seem to adopt a very matter-of-fact approach to life, which can seem rude to Brits; but they probably see our courtesy as meaningless, insincere or even mendacious, which sometimes it is, but I think it's mostly well-meant.

It appears that every day in Denmark is a Sunday: at least, the opening times of most museums and galleries seemed to be 10-4. The Glyptotek was interesting; I enjoyed the National Museum's ethnographic collection (a bit Pitt-Rivers-esque, including a Peruvian mummy, a Javanese shadow-puppet theatre, and a completely unlabelled - not even in Danish - Siberian collection). We did the Botanical Garden and Rosenborg Slot in a morning.

The literature explains that Greater Copenhagen is split into 95 travel zones without any sense of irony or the suggestion that this might be a bit overwhelming. In fact the fare model is straightforward enough; though as with most other things, it's more expensive even than London (though not for a single journey in the city centre). I opted for the go-everywhere Copenhagen Card, which allowed me to travel out to Helsingør, where the famous Kronborg Castle (Hamlet) is situated menacingly on the coast.

On Friday we both took the train out to Roskilde to see the Viking Boat Museum, which was fun. Weather-wise it was probably the best day too; most days were a bit grey and there was moderate rain. Serendipitously, we also had the opportunity later that afternoon to attend a free recital by Dame Gilliam Weir on the organ at the Helligåndskirken. On Saturday we headed over the Øresund Bridge to Malmö, where we were thoroughly soaked in a thunder-storm, but fortunately after we had meandered around Sweden's third city.

Kastrup Airport was a nightmare on Sunday: we queued for almost two hours for check-in, where I did think there was a fair possibility of missing our flight (in the event, we arrived at the gate about 10 minutes before boarding, like most of the other passengers). Unlike at Heathrow, there were no guides to help or calm passengers, and the mood could frequently have turned ugly, not least when a French party tried to barge into the queue, or an elderly Danish couple against whom we had to strategically deploy our suitcases to prevent queue-jumping (If they had a good reason for needing to get to the front, better than everyone else's, couldn't they havd said so, like the polite people who asked to move forward in the security queue, showing us their boarding cards?). I suspect - though no-one was around to explain it - that the check-in fiasco may have been an attempt to manage the queue for security, which was obviously rather shorter (as every economy passenger in the whole terminal was queueing for just four check-in desks). I could have throttled the woman opposite me on the plane who was heavily engaged in conversation on her mobile, or the passenger who turned up for his window seat at the last minute, leading me to bash my head on the door for the overhead locker, or the bloody SAS shop that seemed to be parked in the aisle right next to me for most of the flight, or the guy who picked us up and gave us a white-knuckle ride back to the car park whose wife wouldn't stay off the phone. At least something in the man's face at immigration control said "Welcome back to Blighty" as we exchanged fed-up looks.
Tags: europe, exhibitions, music, places, travel
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