Monthly Archives: June 2014

Constitution Day in Copenhagen 5th June 2014 (day 4/5)

I celebrated Constitution Day by not getting out of bed until 10am. It was only right and proper, and showed the appropriate level of respect to whoever had declared it a holiday in the first place.

Anine had a bit of work to do, so we all sat around the kitchen table chatting during the morning. That is a perfectly lovely way to spend your time; in my house, I tend to live largely in a 6ft square area which includes my PC, behind security shutters where no natural light can get in. I am seriously going to have to review that when I get back, because I have seen that there are far more pleasant ways to exist.

In the afternoon we headed into town, to Tivoli Gardens. I could happily live out the rest of my life there, it is absolutely beautiful.

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Can this be my house, please?

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Apparently, this restaurant gave Robbie WIlliams the shits. Good effort!

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Bewbs!

I am pretty ambivalent when it comes to boobs. Lots of people have them. I have a couple myself, in fact. I don’t spend an excessive amount of time looking at boobs, but neither am I distressed if they make an appearance. I was however really quite surprised by the amount of boobs I saw in Copenhagen. Granted, the city is quite famous for having a naked fish-girl statue sat on a rock, but still. The first time I was stood on a curb and a bus swished past with a big black and white photo of a naked pair of breasts on it, I was quite taken aback. I just stood blinking for a bit, before remarking; “There’s tits on that bus…” In England, the sight of boobs turns us all into 8 year old children, which means either the Danes are more sophisticated than we are, or they just hide it better in order to see more boobs.

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I am a big fan of Oriental style architecture, furniture, art; for some reason it really appeals to me visually. In fact, my forearm tattoos are the dragon and the phoenix from Chinese mythology. Needless to say, this particular section of Tivoli Gardens had me nearly wetting myself.

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Seriously, amazing. I love this.

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Props to whoever designed this place.

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I don’t care if it means I am turning into my Nan, I love a good water feature.

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There are little quirky touches everywhere.

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Aw come on, a pirate ship too?? You really don’t want me to leave…

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How do you get a job as a gardener in a place like this?

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Really pretty…apart from the scratty, turkey-faced bird at the front.

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Some sections felt almost like they were out of a fairy story.

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Arse end of a pirate ship. Incidentally, Willow trees are the best trees ever.

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[insert lupin joke here]

At the end, there was a shop full of tat, a perfect opportunity to buy something to clutter up my sister’s house. In fact, I ended out buying myself a convection-powered rotating Moomins candle holder, which I was ridiculously excited about.

I left Tivoli gardens in somewhat of a reluctant daze. Next stop, Christiania.

I have very limited interest in reality and as such, history and politics don’t make much of an impression on my memory. However, the salient points that I have able to gather about Christiania are as follows. The site was previously the former military barracks of Bådsmandsstræde (abandoned between 1967 and 1971). What started as some minor trespassing of homeless people escalated until the fences were broken down and the whole area declared open; a community of hippies and anarchists built up over time with the intentions of becoming a self-governing entity and generally being lovely to each other.

I am going to quote directly from Wikipedia here;

“[Jacob] Ludvigsen was co-author of Christiania’s mission statement, dating from 1971, which offers the following:

The objective of Christiania is to create a self-governing society whereby each and every individual holds themselves responsible over the wellbeing of the entire community. Our society is to be economically self-sustaining and, as such, our aspiration is to be steadfast in our conviction that psychological and physical destitution can be averted.”

 While that is all peaceful and positive, since 2004 the authorities have been way less tolerant of illegal substance sale and usage in Christiania and have been somewhat more heavy handed about addressing it. From the stories Jesper and Anine had been telling me about drug sales, police raids and fire bombs, I was expecting to walk into a scene out of The Wire.

The-Pit

Mildly disappointing.

As it happened, it was more ‘teatime at Glastonbury’ than ‘downtown Baltimore’. One minute you’re walking down a normal residential street, and the next you are ducking through a gap in the bushes into some kind of cheese dream.

That photograph is not one of mine. Very quickly as you walk through Christiania, you come across Pusher Street (“Welcome to the Green Light Zone!”) and are greeted with big signs everywhere that give you some brief guidelines on expected conduct;

Have Fun, Don’t Run, No Photos

Running – quite understandably – creates panic amongst those who are openly (and still illegally) selling weed on the streets. Taking photos is a surefire way to earn yourself a kicking into the bargain, so any pictures of Christiania that I drop in are ones I have found online, taken by people braver than I. Where I can find someone to credit for the photo, I will.

Pusher Street did exactly what it said on the tin. Scrim net, tarps and camo cloth provided cover over little stalls selling all manner of weed and smoking paraphernalia. I didn’t make a lot of eye contact, but the people manning the stalls looked less like the hairy hippies I was expecting and more like slightly twitchy hardcases.

As we walked past Pusher Street, there was a square full of A-frame tables, in what appeared to be a kind of food court. Most of the people sat at the benches were smoking joints that could easily have been mistaken for baguettes.

The big chunk of Christiania that wasn’t Pusher Street was just peaceful looking, rural, held together with duck tape and twine, a bit run down but well-loved, with a generally happy festival/commune/agricultural vibe to it. Despite this, the whole place seems to be regarded as being synonymous primarily with selling weed. I get the impression that what started out as an idea about a new type of society and way of life, has been hijacked by dealers and stoners who have jumped on the bandwagon, because it’s a bloody good place to get wasted without getting hassled by the Police. Mostly.

Christiania is full of vibrant art and intense colours. Some of it was really quite beautiful and moving, but most of it was like watching a mosh pit full of My Little Ponies and Care Bears.

Besides the eclectic art, the place was full of people riding bikes with boxes built on the front. Apparently, these are native to Christiana and are sold all over the place, for transport of anything from trade goods to small children.

There was evidence everywhere of a recent drive to complete repairs and renovations on the buildings. Apparently there are reasonably strict regulations about the geographical footprint of buildings, so the majority of the extensions and additions to the buildings were all built upwards, or sprouting out sideways from second and thirds floors like mushrooms out of the trunks of trees. There was definitely something organic and actually quite appealing about the way the place appears to have evolved.

On the outskirts of Christiania you could see blackened trees and street signs, evidence of the retaliation against previous police raids. I really don’t feel in any way qualified to express an opinion, but apparently since the police started cracking down on drug activity in the 2000’s, there has been an unwelcome overspill into other areas of the town… I’m not saying that I believe the police should turn a blind eye to people who are acting against the law which they have been employed to protect, but one can’t help but wonder if there mightn’t be a better way forward.

After we left Christiania, we walked along the canal towards Luna restaurant where we were going to have dinner. For some reason, the cobbled street, the water and the bridges all reminded me of Stormwind. If you don’t know where that is, that’s probably a good thing. If you DO know where it is, please don’t judge me.

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Stormwind, before Deathwing did a number on it, at any rate…

If you are ever in Copenhagen, please make a point of going to Luna‘s. It has a warm, comfortable atmosphere, the staff are great, the food is AMAZING (best stir-fry I have had in a very long time), but the thing that has permanently pushed them into my affections was this;

75cl. Yes, yes I think so.

75cl. Yes, yes I think so.

I have gotten used to asking for the largest beer available when I am travelling, since the default seems to be less than a can of soft drink. However in Copenhagen, they are Doing Beer Right. I asked for a large Tuborg and that is precisely what I got. It really doesn’t take a lot to make me happy…

Moar Copenhagen – 4th June 2014 (Day 3/5)

It occurred to me when I got up on Wednesday morning that out of the past 9 days, I had actually only drunk on 3 of them. That must be how normal people live. I think it’s healthy to drop in and pretend to be part of normal society every now and then. I felt somewhat pleased with myself.

After the day’s obligatory starter coffee (required for firing up brain function and central heating, but primarily for preventing migraines) I nipped out to the local døgnNetto to get some breakfast. I am fascinated by supermarkets in different countries – I like comparing and contrasting how everything is laid out, seeing the different ways of doing things and local priorities, and also checking out what kind of food is available. Well, the answer to the last point was in fact “not very much”.

I spent a good 10 minutes wandering backwards and forwards in what was quite a small store, trying to decide if there was anything I actually wanted to eat. After eliminating cakes, biscuits, dried chocolate products and salami, I had narrowed my options down whatever was left in the remaining 5% of the store. I ended out settling on a croissant and some raspberries. The only other realistic contenders for the title of Something I’d Like To Eat were hummus, and frozen peas. I found out later that I wasn’t just going mad or being fussy – apparently Danish supermarkets are not renowned for their wide range of products, unless you go a high-end establishment and pay a lot of money. On balance, I’d stick to the raspberries.

After breakfast, whilst sat at the kitchen table making notes about my wandering thoughts, I caught a glimmer of movement out of the corner of my eye. I didn’t make a fuss, stayed very still, and very soon afterwards, this happened…

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“…what is you?”

I don’t think we’ll ever be best friends, but I was delighted with the progress.

The plan for Wednesday was to get the metro into the centre again, but this time carry on to Nørreport, the second of the two central stops, and then work my way back towards the bit I had explored the day before.

It’s worth noting here that I am not very good at shopping… largely because I fucking hate it. Some girls like nothing more than spending hours browsing through racks of goods and trying on armfuls of clothes. Personally, I would rather carve bible passages into my thighs with a dirty Stanley knife. Most clothing that you find in shops is awful, subject to the whims of people who think skinny jeans, primary colours and bold prints are all Great Ideas. Add to that the fact that women’s clothes never fit me properly anyway, and mix in the generic bland pop music soundtracks, giggly idiot girl patrons, obnoxious lighting and staff that are too enthusiastic for their own good and it comes together to create Nightmare in Kzzinsky-ville. As far as clothes are concerned, if i can’t order it off the internet, I’m not buying it.

However! I was determined that on that particular day, I was going to go into town and buy something other than comics.  I was in a new city, with a pocket full of money, lots of shiny shops and hours to kill. There had to be something I could buy, even if it was just some tat for my sister. I was on a MISSION.

As it happens, I did buy something that wasn’t comics; books…from the other comic shop.

Never let it be said that I am not consistent.

Never let it be said that I am not consistent.

I did LOOK at clothes shops. They didn’t look like a lot of fun. Wandering around in the rain and looking at buildings was way more appealing. Speaking of which…

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Cute. I love this style of roof, really pleases me, visually.

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Wolf vomiting water into a downpipe. Of course.

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Tugging his tail and pinching bums? No idea who this is but he looks like a cheeky chappy.

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Weeping Angel anyone?

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The architecture everywhere is so grand, I love it.

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You know, it’s no Northampton, but it’ll do…

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No idea what it is, but I LIKE it.

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Really lovely, but as it turns out, not a patch on what’s inside.

I was curious about Tivoli. It looked awesome from the outside. Jesper had mentioned that it was a bit expensive, but frankly after paying £10 for a pint in Bergen, nothing really seemed expensive any more…

For anyone planning on travelling to Copenhagen, there is something that I feel it is vitally important to warn you about. Danes are fucking lethal with anything that has wheels.

The least dangerous combination of person and vehicle that I experienced in Copenhagen is the Car. The Car – as a rule – tends to be big enough and loud enough for you to notice it coming, and thus to take steps to avoid it. By far the most dangerous things out on the streets are the cyclists. They absolutely do not give one single fuck.

Everything is geared up quite nicely for cyclists; between the pavement and the road proper, there is the cycle lane. It’s not just a 12 inch painted stripe like you occasionally get in the UK if  you’re lucky – it is easily the same width again as the pavement and even has its own cute little mini-curb. For the love of all you hold dear, do not wander into the cycle lane; they will take your legs off at the knees.

The cyclists in Copenhagen behave like any other species that has no natural predators. They blithely barrel about with a complete lack of interest in the fact that anyone else might be occupying the space they are about to plough through the middle of. It’s nice they don’t have to wear helmets and other safety gear just to be able to move around, and it’s pleasant that they don’t have that persecuted expression and grim set to their jaws… it’s just that one can’t help but think that if there was a bit more of a threat of actual danger, cyclists might not be such out and out cocks.

It’s not just the cyclists. The same mindset has spilled over into the mobility scooter users and pushchair…pushers. If they don’t fit through a space first time, they just reverse and keep repeatedly slamming into whatever obstacle is in the way until something gives. It’s quite terrifying, especially when you add into the mix that everyone is on the wrong side of the road there. I regularly found myself stood for minutes at a time on completely empty streets, waiting for the crossing light to turn green because I was petrified of some Nana coming screaming round the corner on a bicycle and taking me out.

That evening, Anine got back from working away. She [Norwegian] proceeded to inform Jesper [Danish] that the reason they were off work the next day was because it was Constitution Day in Denmark. It’s reassuring to know that the British aren’t the only citizens who don’t give a rat’s arse as long as we’re getting a day off.

That evening, we ate pizza (which I don’t do nearly enough of) and watched The Hunger Games. Firstly, the girl-cat who made an appearance at the table and observed me earlier came and curled up between my feet, which was nice. I hadn’t realised until that point how much I missed my own cat. Secondly, I genuinely liked the film.

I enjoyed the darkness and the sense of being powerless in the face of an awful society that’s bigger than you are…and that people weren’t afraid to stand up anyway and take the consequences. And there WERE consequences. For a teen book, it did not at all shy away from any of the more horrible elements and wasn’t afraid to kill off a good guy or two when necessary.

Also, Lenny Kravitz would get it. Hard.

Lenny Kravitz

“I like the beard, gives me something to hold on to. WOOF!”

Copenhagen – 3rd June 2014 (Day 2/5)

Tuesday morning, and I allowed myself the luxury of a lie in. Jesper had already left for work so it was just me and the cats.

Ahh, the cats. Beautiful. Also mental. This was the closest I got to either of them in the first two days. 20140604_091841

Just for reference, cats normally love me. If I go to someone’s house and they have a mardy cat, they’ll say “Oh don’t mind him, he doesn’t like people…” and 5 minutes later the cat will be sat on my lap, having a lovely time.

Not these two cats though. They are Bengals, and you can tell in their looks and demeanour that they are a step or two closer to being wild than your average domestic feline. They are more sensitive to the world around them, they move more like big cats, they SOUND more feral…and they really didn’t like me in the slightest. They panicked whenever they heard or saw me, and disappeared like little hairy ninjas. 9 times out of 10, I genuinely couldn’t work out where they had gone.

In the end I gave up trying to be friends, and just made a point of walking around quietly and avoiding eye contact.

The night before, Jesper and I had reviewed a map of the centre of Copenhagen, and he had pointed out the significant streets through the shopping area and which metro stops I needed. Confident in my own internal GPS system, I skipped down the 100 stairs from their apartment, down to Amagerbro metro station and jumped on the next train past Christianshavn, stopping at Kongens Nytorv. I spent a fair few minutes orientating myself, and then took a walk down Strøget, which is one of the main streets that runs past all of the shops.

I of course made a beeline straight for the high-end fashion boutiques… Wait, sorry, I meant the comic book shop.

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A little slice of geek heaven

Copenhagen itself is truly an architectural triumph. All of the buildings were so grand and beautiful, I spend most of the time I was walking around just staring up at them.

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They also do a good line in fountains.

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I had no idea what the fuck the last one was meant to be, but I liked it. I have since been reliably informed that it was probably supposed to be a crocodile, before anyone knew what crocodiles actually looked like…

There were a couple of establishments that caused me to raise an eyebrow. Either this one doesn’t really translate very well, or someone has a sense of humour and a devil-may-care attitude to his profit margin;

...mmhmmm...

…mmhmmm…

Direct. I like it.

Direct. I like it.

But of course, it is nice to see that some things are consistent across Europe.

It's a higher standard of graffiti in Copenhagen.

It’s a high calibre of graffiti in Copenhagen.

In the evening, I had the privilege of being invited to an after-hours visit to Copenhagen zoo in Anine’s absence. As we stood outside waiting for everyone to gather, I spotted a depiction of a chimp above the front entrance. It made me laugh because from the angle I was looking at it from, there was a definite cockney hardcase expression on its face.

"Do you know what nemesis means? A righteous infliction of retribution manifested by an appropriate agent, personified in this case by a 'orrible cunt; me. "

“Do you know what nemesis means? A righteous infliction of retribution manifested by an appropriate agent, personified in this case by a ‘orrible cunt; me. “

We got to walk around the zoo, and one of the keepers spent ages talking to us and telling us stories about all of the animals. Which was awesome, but would have meant a little more to me if it wasn’t all in Danish. Jesper translated the more salient points, and I focused on gawping at the animals.

Giraffes are massive. As they were wandering about, I was blown away by the sheer lump of animal in front of me. Yeah, you know they are tall, but you truly do not appreciate the sheer power contained within them until you are stood in front of them. From what the keeper was saying, they can 1-shot a lion with a kick from their back legs. Respect.

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This bear caught a whiff of something, and climbed up onto to the top of this pole (which was apparently vertical when it first went in). He was snuffing about, and I genuinely thought he was going to make a break for the wall and the enclosure next door.The keeper was quite insistent that he was unlikely to get out, but frankly I didn’t have much faith in that.

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I managed to zoom in on the only one of the wolves who was visible, but as a testament to its eyesight and instinct, it seemed well aware that I was looking at it, and it very quickly fucked off after I took this photo.

…I’m watching you.

The elephants have recently been relocated to a larger enclosure. This would presumably be a good thing, but one female was not having a very good time. She was throwing things about and was generally in a bad temper. I think from what Jesper was saying, she was the 40 year old matriarch of the group, and had previously been in a place that was considerably larger and where she had been more active (possibly she had been put to work before? I can’t remember). Whatever the difference in her circumstances, she wasn’t very happy about it.

“Fuck you and your stupid tyres.”

The previous male lion at the zoo had apparently been attacked and killed by the females. Not sure what he had done, said something snide about their fur perhaps… In any case, they tore his throat out. I wasn’t aware female lions could or would, but fair play to the ladies. It backfired somewhat though; he was replaced by a young male who has turned up, and behaved like a abject cock. It seems that he has spent his time since arrival kicking the crap out of the females, to the point that they head straight up the trees whenever he is around. I would suggest that given their history of tolerance towards males, he might want to review his approach for the future… This is the females being left on their own for a bit of peace.

Zero Fucks Given

Zero Fucks Given.

I’m not sure what these leggy birds are called, but apparently most of them are thick as fuck. There was some really heavy rainfall a couple of years ago, and most of the zoo’s population of these birds just stood in the rising waters and drowned, rather than just go inside. Idiots.

One of the smart ones.

We couldn’t hear much of what was said about the flamingos because they wouldn’t shut the fuck up, but it would appear there is an optimum number of them required to perform a synchronised dance, without which they won’t breed. This group was apparently too few… which might explain why they were complaining so loudly.

Flamingos are noisy bastards

According to the keeper, the anteaters used to share their enclosure with some guinea pigs who did a bang up job of keeping the grass down. However they kept disappearing. It turns out the the anteaters were slashing them up with their claws, shoving their snouts into them, and drinking up their mushy juices like a meaty Slush Puppy. They don’t keep guinea pigs in there any more.

Sadistic motherfucker.

Sadistic motherfucker.

We saw some Zebras who were cavorting about with the Impala like they were on something, a baby Musk Ox, a Seal (no Polar Bears; I think they had a headache), a Tasmanian Devil who wouldn’t stand still, some Llamas, a Hippo (which was bigger than my car) and its baby and a handful of other wonderful things.

All of the animals behaved a little differently to what I had experienced in the past – I assume that because there were fewer people around, they were behaving a bit more naturally. They were all a little more feisty, more active, and frankly more intimidating. Far less passive than you normally see behind a pane of glass, presumably way closer to normal wild behaviour, and it was a really strong reminder of the sheer power, aggression and untamed nature of the world around us. We cannot bend it to our wishes, it will do as it will, and while it might behave the way we want it to for a short period of time, under the surface there is always something we cannot control mere millimetres away from breaking loose.

I was slightly spaced out by the impact of what I had experienced anyway, but on the way out, there was a children’s play area. As if to add a human punctuation point at the end of the tour, it was really rather sinister.

A rabbit's head, on a stick. Of course.

A rabbit’s head, on a stick. Of course.

Off to Copenhagen – 2nd June 2014 (Day 1/5)

About a month ago, when I decided I was nipping off to Bergen, one of my friends who had relocated to Copenhagen from Stavanger suggested I should go out and visit her some time. So I did.

My flight out from Stansted was at 7am, and working that backwards it would have meant leaving home at stupid o’clock in the morning. My sister had originally offered to drive me to the airport in the morning, but you could see the gradual dawning realisation as she worked out how far it was to Stansted… I made an executive decision to drive myself, and stay at the hotel on Sunday night – £80 for one night and 8 days parking, which frankly I think is pretty reasonable and cheaper than I was expecting.

Props to Premier Inn; really nice room, and there was actually a proper bath in the bathroom! I also had a chaise longue under the window which was perhaps a little excessive but pleasant nonetheless. Incidentally, the window did its job and kept out the road noise and the curtains even blocked out the light from outside – two things which cause me big problems when I’m sleeping. My favourite thing about the room had to be the air conditioning – which worked! I’m finding myself gravitating more and more towards colder temperatures these days, and having a nice cold breeze in my room was ace. I did consider moving in permanently, but then I realised that would put me a step closer to becoming Alan Partridge and I am not entirely comfortable with that.

I am going to take this opportunity to introduce you to three new brilliant things in my life;

Anker portable charger, Maplins USB power point, and Rekorderlig Apple and Guava cider.

Anker external battery, Maplins USB power supply, and Rekorderlig Apple and Guava cider.

The first and most important is the Anker external battery. After having read about my battery life issues on my trip to Bergen, one of my friends suggested that I needed one of these in my life, and he wasn’t wrong. You charge this bad boy up, and it contains enough power to fully max out the battery on a smart phone 4 times. It doesn’t lose power once it is fully charged, you can connect your phone up anywhere that you happen to be, and it fits nicely into your pocket. Well, into MY pocket at any rate, and that is all I really care about. I cannot recommend this enough if you travel around a lot. It charges off of a USB cable, which you can either plug into a PC or into the mains, which brings us neatly to…

The second new brilliant thing; the Maplins dual USB worldwide power supply. 1 plug, 4 interchangeable adaptor fronts for different areas of the world. Genius.

Last but not least, Rekorderlig Apple and Guava cider. Available from the bar at the Premier Inn. Nom nom and thrice nom.

Monday morning dawned. My alarm went off at 3:30am and I was genuinely regretting my decision to stay up and watch Resident Evil: Extinction. Damn you Milla Jovovich, encouraging me to make bad choices. Despite being tired and having a disappointing bacon experience at breakfast, parking was straightforward and well organised, and that pleased me. I drove over to Long Stay parking, dumped the car and fervently hoped that it would a) still be there when I got back and b) actually start again after 5 days of inactivity.

Sunrise over parking zone K

Sunrise over parking zone K

While I was waiting for the shuttle bus to the terminal, the sky was beautiful and I could feel the familiar fizzy-belly of travel excitement starting to build up. That wasn’t to last. Now, it might be fair to say that tiredness and the early hour had emptied my Patience Tank before I had even started, but I was not responding well to being surrounded by other people. I became aware of a current of underlying irritation during the trip to the terminal when it turned out that someone had leaned their bag – or themself – against a Stop button. The intermittent but constant beeping on the 15 minute drive scraped across my nerves like a small child playing a violin, with a hacksaw.

When we reached the terminal, Departures was way busier than I expected it to be for 5:15am. The queue to get through security snaked right the way back to the entrance, and everyone seemed to be determined to take up as much space as was humanly possible – which included wherever I happened to be standing at the time. After 30 minutes, stood watching for gate announcements, it felt as if my hair was stood on end like an angry cat’s tail, and the next person that walked into me or dragged a rolling suitcase into my ankles was going to get chinned. Thankfully they began announcing the departure gates for all of the flights and the crowd thinned out quickly.

According to the details on my boarding pass, the gate for the flight was due to close at 6:30am… At 6:25am, we were all still waiting in line to go through, and I was really beginning to raise an eyebrow about whether we were going to take off on time. Normally, I wouldn’t really care as long as I got on the plane, but since Jesper was going to meet me at Copenhagen, I didn’t want him to be stood around waiting, and I was starting to get even more irritable.

Eventually they started boarding people onto the flight, and it all felt hurried and chaotic, especially by comparison to my previous experience flying with Norwegian. I understand that there were more people on the flight to Copenhagen, but surely Easyjet had been doing this long enough to have developed a more efficient system?

…I was prepared to bet they didn’t have free Wifi on the flight either…

On top of everything else, they ran out of space in the overhead storage compartments, and were holding people in the aisle while they took their bags and boarding passes to move their hand luggage into the hold. The sense of disorganisation hung in the air like a bad smell, but despite the problems, they managed to pull it all together and we took off at 07:12am.

I have never really had any issues with Easyjet before, but that was when the only other airline I could hold up in comparison was Ryanair. Ryanair frankly are about the cheapest, bolted together Meccano set of an airline, and they pretty much stuff you into the plane and launch you into the air in the manner of a bored looking Medieval drudge yanking the lever of a trebuchet, while picking his nose with the other hand.

The overall experience began to improve once I was able to get my hands on some coffee. It was an interesting set-up; coffee in a bag. It was a bit odd, and took forever to brew to an acceptable strength, but perfectly drinkable and a much needed caffeine boost.

Coffee in a bag. Not, in fact, a carcass.

Coffee in a bag. Not in fact a carcass, as it might first appear.

There was not a spare seat on this flight. As I looked around, it struck me that a lot of the people were wearing suits or tapping away at laptops. I assumed that a decent percentage of the folks on the flight were travelling for work, and just as I had been on the train when I was heading to Gatwick, I was surprised. I never really consider working structures outside of my own, and I am amazed at the lengths that some people commute. I have a 12 minute drive in the morning to my own place of employment, and I find it mind blowing that other people will go through all of that on a Monday morning, just for work. I sincerely hoped that they were getting paid a shitload more than me.

One thing both Easyjet and Ryanair have in common is a somewhat loose understanding of geographical locations, to the point that after the first time I went to Norway, I created this;

Easyjet

Copenhagen didn’t suffer this problem, the airport was actually in the city where it was supposed to be, and that was in fact REALLY close to the sea. So much so that as the plane came in to land, all I could see out of the window was an expanse of waves, getting closer and closer. I trusted that they weren’t going to pitch the plane into the water but there is always a part of my brain that is imagining the worst possible outcome and playing it for me in HD.

Copenhagen airport itself was delightfully empty of people, an abject relief after the meat market that was Stansted. Jesper was waiting for me in arrivals, and it was great to see him again after 5 years. 5 YEARS. Seriously, where does time go? He didn’t look a day older either, which frankly made me more than a little jealous. He marched me off to the metro station attached to the airport to catch the train, which was all a bit of a weird experience for me; I would normally have fully researched all of the public transport links and timetables, and would have known where I was going and how the tickets worked. This time, I had abandoned all of that and just trusted in Anine and Jesper to point me in the right direction.

As it turned out, it was exceptionally straightforward; there were two lines that ran through the centre of Copenhagen, and everywhere I needed to be was along the line that ran through Øresund. All I needed to remember when getting on the metro was “Not the other one” – which was so simple that I was bound to fuck it up at some point. The public transport in Copenhagen was nicer and better organised than in Bergen, which I had been really impressed with. The roads however were a different matter entirely, but I will come to that later.

There wasn’t really all that much to see on the train, since the sides of the rail line were built up and shielded by massive metal sidings. What I could see however was really, really flat. The view stretched out in the distance for miles and miles uninterrupted.

I was staying with my hosts in a 5th floor apartment just off of the Amagerbro metro stop – and it was STUNNING. The 100 stairs up were a bit of a trial, but their apartment was so beautiful, it was worth it every single time I got up there. There was such a sense of lightness and space and serenity that I really started to review my own cave-like living arrangements, and wonder if there might be room to make some improvements.

I want this kitchen

I want this kitchen

Both Jesper and Anine had to work the first few days of the week, which worked out really nicely for me, because as much as I love my friends, I am an anti-social bastard at heart and quite like mooching around and discovering things on my own. As it happened on Monday however, I was so tired that I ended out staying in the apartment until they got back, I napped for an hour or so and also ended out terrifying their two Bengal cats. More on the cats later.

I was so pleased to see Anine when she got home from work, and we sat and chatted for hours. She had brought some Danish pastries back with her, one kind which was fairly typical cinnamon pastry baked with nuts inside (awesome) but she also brought a kind of cake called Brunsviger. Brunsviger was AMAZING and I ate way too much, but really couldn’t help it. It was like a kind of doughy bread, with a buttery brown sugar topping. Interestingly, everyone in the world calls this Danish Pastry…except the Danes, who call it Vienna Bread.

Pastries and Brunsviger. Shit-hot baking, right there.

“Hey, blame the Austrians; we’re not taking any responsibility for the diabetic comas.”

Anine had to leave in the evening to fly off for work for a few days. This left Jesper and I to take in a healthy evening supper (…KFC…) and catch up, talking the evening away until I was about ready to pass out from exhaustion. It’s amazing to me how tired I get when I am not drinking beer. There’s probably something worth thinking about in that…

The view from my 5th floor window

The view from my 5th floor window