Day 101 - Wed Jul 13 Copenhagen
(Chris) We arrived in Copenhagen late, around 11am, due to some train delay. I must say I slept pretty well on that particular train, once the AC kicked in properly. We once again paid the extra dough for a room for just the two of us. The city was partly cloudy and warm.
(Jen) Chris is tired of writing so now it's my turn. Upon our arrival in Copenhagen we quickly visited the TI and then checked-in to our Marriott hotel which we scored on Priceline.com for the bargain price of $100 USD. We had an awesome room facing the canal with a king size bed and lots of room to throw our junk. The best part about a big hotel like Marriott is the bathroom (nice shower and tub) and the general comfort of the bed (six pillows, down comforter...). Given that I woke up this morning with a bad sore throat and am feeling a bit sickly, I'm happy to be a bit pampered. We both took showers -- the worst part about overnight trains is not getting to shower either before bed or upon wake-up. As we were both hungry and had eaten only fast food the day before (pizza and MickeyD's), we opted to visit the hotel restaurant for a healthy, albeit expensive, lunch. We both ordered a chicken Caesar, our first of the entire trip. It was satisfying but not nearly as good as Daniel's. I also had lobster bisque which tasted like the ocean floor, so I only ate a tiny bit. (Chris: food is very expensive here, probably 50% more than the rest of Europe.)
It was 2:30 by the time we hit the streets for some sightseeing. First on our list was the royal palace, but Reeek had the English tour time wrong and we missed the only English tour of the day at 2PM. As neither of us had a prayer of understanding any Danish, we skipped the site altogether. Next on the list was a one hour cruise of the canals with a barely audible guide in 4 languages. I most enjoyed seeing the Architecture of some of the buildings (very modern) and the harbor where the locals lounged on their boats (which hadn't left their moorings), drinking beer and relaxing. (Chris: Copenhagen is beautiful from the water. It has some canals, like Amsterdam, but not nearly as many. It has cyclists too, like Amsterdam, but also not as many, and it has more cars.)
Last tourist site of the day was the Danish Design Center which I had hopes of being sort of like a Dania - wrong. It was super modern and just plain weird. The most interesting bits were (1) a music video which talked about the facts of life and just spewed tons of weird factoids (the average age for sex is 15.6 years, the average person swallows 8 spiders / year, etc) and (2) the best inventions over the last 40 years which included 2 Apple computers, the Coca-Cola bottle, and the Dyson vacuum.
We returned to the hotel to grab our dirty laundry and headed to the only Laundromat within walking distance. Unfortunately it was in a pretty seedy part of town, so we accidentally learned where the strip clubs, S&M, and general sex related shops where. The laundry was run by a 60-something Danish fellow with a dog named Lucky. He seemed eager to please and held our hand through trying to figure out Danish laundry instructions. Before we put our laundry in the dryer, he showed us how to use the Centrifuge to get the extra water out of the clothes so they would dry faster. We thought it was way too full, but he just kept stuffing our clothes in it. He took my favorite pair of North Face pants, folded them, and put them on top "to keep everything inside". Unfortunately this plan didn't work because they got caught in the mechanism and where shredded six-ways to Sunday. He gave Chris back 50 kroner which is about $8 USD. We didn't bother to tell him the pants where worth about 10x that much. Hopefully I can replace them, but most frustrating is that I'm now down to 2 pairs of pants as I also sent one pair home with Christophe. Oh well, only 7 days left...
We tried to get into a Reeek recommended restaurant but they were booked for the night. We browsed a few menus as we passed other places but nothing looked enticing so we headed back to the hotel bemoaning my lost pants. Dinner was quite good although service was ridiculously slow. I had asparagus soup and asparagus risotto. I like asparagus Chris had salmon with pistachio cream sauce.
Finally it was off to sleep in our big comfy bed. Yeah!
(Chris) I must say, I feel some guilt, because this is a very un-Reeck way to see a city. We leaned on the Mariott so much today that we really saw more of it than the city. But this is not the norm for the trip and hopefully we'll do better tomorrow!
Day 102 - Thu Jul 14 Copenhagen, to Stockholm
(Chris) Another overcast & warm day. Hopefully I can wear shorts from here on out.
We checked out bags at the train station and grabbed a Reeck-recommended guided tour with a guy dressed like Hans Christian Andersen. He's one of the most famous Danes (the other most famous being Neils Bohr). He walked us around town, and while the sites were decent, his insight into Danish culture was more interesting. He says that you should associate Denmark with 2 things: trading of fine goods, and welfare. They apparently have a 51% income tax, and a 180% car tax, but also provide extensive benefits including medical care and 1 year of maternity leave to all citizens. They also have a state religion (a brand of Lutheran), but most folks don't actually go to church. It was a good, informative tour, though not quite as fun as the Night Watchman in Rothenburg!
After the tour and lunch, we wandered down their main shopping thoroughfare, which is on a bunch of different streets but tied together with the overall name Stroget. There were hordes of people and lots of high-end goods. This is common in Europe, to have a large pedestrian-only area in the middle of large cities, and I wish more American cities had the same. No, Bellevue Square does not count.
After some time in a large internet room (probably 80 stations), we went to Tivoli amusement park. This is a large amusement park right across from the train station that was opened in the 1800s. Reeck indicated that it would be uniquely Danish, but to me it seemed just like any American amusement park or fair, packed with thrill rides and junk food.
At 6:30 we were scheduled to board the hi-tech high-speed X2000 train to Stockholm, but it didn't arrive there. We were told to catch a different train to Malmo (South tip of Sweden) and catch it there, which we did. But due to something breaking, we didn't leave the station for over an hour. We were scheduled to hit Stockholm at midnight as it was, so this should prove interesting.
Rural Sweden is beautiful, mostly flat with small rolling hills, lots of lakes, fields to the South and more forests to the North. At least along our train route!
I also just realized that we aren't going to be in another Euro-using country again this trip, which is unfortunate as we have about E400 on us. Now we get to play the old-fashioned game of changing currency with each country. I'm not fond of the game, and typically end up with worthless change at the end. It also makes figuring out how much money to take from the ATM quite challenging!