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;
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.
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.
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;
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.
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.
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…