The next journey was one that I had keenly anticipated because of my heritage. I couldn’t possibly have gone as far north as Berlin, without inching my way across to Denmark; for the curiosity of my ancestor’s stomping ground and for fear of being walloped by my Nana, from beyond her grave. She was born a Hansen, adding some strong Scandinavian genetics to my DNA cocktail.
Although I knew barely a whisper of Nordic Knowledge, I do recall her saying that the only Danish she was subjected to, was hearing her father call her a ‘putsketter’, which she told me meant ‘a little sh*t.’Profanities aside, Mr Hansen’s culture was not filtered through to my generation; which was most probably due to my angelic qualities.
To leave Berlin by train was less romantic than I’d thought. No one to wave a white sopping hanky to, no one to help hoist The Beast up the steps – just me, with no idea of what to expect. I had chosen the train because after boarding enough flights, the clouds didn’t reveal the lay of the land. It was also nice to just wile away most of the day, looking out the window.
I was set to arrive in Copenhagen, via direct train. I should’ve learnt by now that public transport is synonymous with surprises and anomalies. The first were the stern Immigration Officers checking passports, that caught me out while I was covered in pretzel crumbs. I had no idea how or where they got on board, or if we were actually in Germany or Denmark.
The second was a direct train actually meant having to change trains.
The third, was realising that the train had parked in a giant ship and that we had to leave our seats to clamber up to the deck and admire through the wind whipping at hair, as we were ferried across the chilly sea. Can you believe it? A train on a boat! That has exceeded all of my transportation expectations.
Once back on land, I tried to keep my newly found ‘train in a boat’ amazement face under wraps, by pressing it up against the glass. My seat companions , a group of middle-aged frau were popping the cork on a bottle of champagne. They offered me a disposable cup and I stupidly politely declined. I had images of trying to haul myself out of the carriage in Copenhagen while navigating the unknown with a swagger in my step. I had also looked down and realised that I wasn’t classy enough to be sippin’ the good stuff, as my sitting stomach had decided to expose itself for much of their company.
I was glad that I had foresight on this one occasion and hadn’t imbibed, because the Copenhagen train station was a labyrinth of ups and downs, to find an exit. As that was a mare, I decided on taking a taxi, to my hostel. My driver’s name was Malik, who gave me the low down on Copenhagen. “It has no culture” he said.
Fantastic! That titbit was worthy of a vote for Denmark’s Next Top Ambassador.
Another city, another abode, and another set of the United Nations of roommates. There was a friendly guy from the US who had sold his house to cycle across Europe, there was a student from Switzerland who had been doing some research in Sweden, an Italian guy who practiced his yoga poses in very tight pants, and a Chinese chick who was living in Austria.
Initially there is always some introductory chitchat.
“Where are you from?”
“What do you do?”
“Where have you been?…….. Woah!”
I was on my top bunk, settling in, when Swiss asked China if she was travelling around Europe.
“Are you sleepy or are you are you just drunk?! I said I was living in Austria!”
I happened to catch the moment with Swiss, whose eyes were about to pop out from his head. I bit my pillow to restrain the laughter and Swiss had to turn the other way, because he was about lose it, too. I’m not very good at keeping the ‘snort’ under control, especially when I hadn’t had a belly rolling laugh in a long time.
From trains in boats to characteristic roommates, Denmark was already setting me up for some memorable moments. There are plenty more amazing stories to indulge, from my three night affair with Copenhagen. Until then, X