0455 First impressions of Scandinavia (Denmark 001—new)

Copenhagen Travel Blog

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I’ve visited 10 countries over the last 25 days.  I’ve had a lot of new experiences and made a lot of new discoveries… But so far I haven’t visited a single country for the first time… All these countries have been “revisits” and trying to add something new to what I’d already discovered.


But today is different.  Today is new country day.  My first “new” country in… damn… 18 months!

 

And it’s not just a new country, it’s a new sub-region: Scandanavia. 

 

Scandanavia is one of the world’s wealthiest regions where people are also known for their simplicity and love of bicycles.  So I should really connect here.  However, after my inspiring day in The Netherlands, it might feel a little bit anticlimactic…

 

And I know it’s very expensive here, which puts a bit of a damper on how much I can enjoy a place…

 

I reach Hamburg, Germany early in the morning and switch buses.

  Soon we are crossing the vast treeless plains as we near the Baltic Sea… after weeks of exploring crowded Central Europe, it feels like we’re reaching the Edge of the World…

 

We get on a very modern ferry to cross the straits… Off in the distance the very flat landscape of Denmark is barely visible…


I soon reach Scandanavia.  As we cruise across the countryside, I keep an eye peeled for town or villages that might be worth revisiting, but don’t see many towns of substance at all…

 

And then we reach Copenhagen.

I must admit, I was kind of expecting perfection here, I was a bit disappointed.  After all, Scandanavia is the “Crown of the Planet” isn’t it?  Isn’t everything supposed to be perfect here?

We cross over the ugly remains of an old industrial sector and stop near the train station here.

  No bus station… no ticket stand… no shelter from the rain even a bench to sit on…

 

I head into the train station to find out where the Eurolines ticket office is.  I go to information, I ask 5 or 6 people, but nobody seems to have a clue as to where you buy a bus ticket in this town…

 

Starting to feel I bit flustered, I wander out to the rather ugly downtown area.  The skyline is dominated by a horribly ugly green skyscraper… No magnificent structures or landmarks anywhere, just a random mix of old and new buildings… And an amusement park right in the middle of downtown?  That just seems strange…

 

I find the tourism office where finally I’m able to get a map and directions--  and a list of hostels and their prices… I head out once more looking for the bus ticket office.

 

I find it down a side street in a very bad neighbourhood right near the train station.  Trash everywhere… Nasty looking drug dealers lurking on the corners… a cluster of alcoholics that look like they’re about ready to keep over from liver failure staggering about on another corner…

 

I tell you, after my day in the Netherlands, this place feels like the post apocalypse--  not Scandanavia! 

 

And then, another disappointment.  The buses to Oslo and Stockholm are booked up well in advance… Suddenly, my plan to explore Scandanavia for free goes to pieces.  I’m going to have to turn around and go back and leave Norway and Sweden for another time.



Technically, I could run across to Malmo just so I could say I was in Sweden, but I decide against it.  I might as well save Sweden for when I can explore the country properly.  It looks like scruffy Copenhagen might be all of Scandanavia I’m going to see for now…

 

I go ahead and book a ticket to Berlin for tomorrow night and trudge out to look for a hostel not far from there.  I find an ugly one for 20 Euros and drop off my stuff in a room that looks more like a large, prison dorm than a hostel…

 

I sit on my bed for a bit collecting my thoughts… Hey, every day can’t be perfect… I’ve had a lot of great days lately… let’s just head out there and make the best of it…

 

So I trudge out, heading north… Once I reach the edge of the old city, and the lively pedestrian area, I start feeling a bit better.

  There area a couple of beautiful plazas… some very creative buskers, including a guy taking the “human statue” thing to a whole new level… he’s turned himself in to a human fountain!  Then there are the Roma guys trying to pull their same old centuries old trick of shuffling bowls with money under one of them…

 

Another plaza has an international food festival going on, and another plaza has a bunch of displays of different energy saving inventions of the last couple of years…

 

Then when I reach the edge of the harbour area, I start to get the distinctive Scandanavian feel with tall colourful old buildings crammed together along the dock where fishing boats and old sailboats are docked back to back…

 

I head on down to the peaceful harbour edge, past palaces and fountains--  and industry visible on the other side… I decide to check out one museum that holds hundred of replicas of many of the most well known Roman, Medieval and Renaissance statues--  and the entrance is free!

 

Nothing really Danish about it, but it’s still fun…

 

Further up is a beautiful multi-level fountain with a statue of a chariot being pulled by 4 bulls on top…


But of course, the tour isn’t complete until I reach “The Mermaid”…

 

Not really impressive at all… but, hey, she’s the symbol of Denmark… so I had to see her and take her picture…

 

I head on back, up along the rim of an old earth fortress with another beautiful windmill at the top… and a military band playing for a small audience in the center…

 

Then I head on back into the Old Town area… wander around for a bit, then across the main canal to a more modern residential area on the other side, where I watch the sun set over the city to the music of a clarinet…

I guess I’m not the only guy who likes to play music at random locations…

 

Finally I head on back to the hostel… But first I figure I should brave the ugly neighbourhood I had seen earlier… So I wander around the south neighbourhoods for a bit where you have a very ugly red light district/drug selling area  and then some relatively pleasant neighborhoods…

 

So what can I say?  What grade will I give Copenhagen?  I have to admit, that despite our bad start, Copenhagen redeemed itself in the end and did show me a good time… Maybe not quite what I expected of Scandanavia, but still a very interesting city with a lot to see…

tj1777 says:
Sounds like you stayed somewhere around Istedgade - not the best neighbourhood of town :D And your ammusement park would be Tivoli - the biggest attraction of town along with the little mermaid for some reason.
Posted on: Dec 22, 2009
canuck_downunder05 says:
Hey, great blog! Kinda makes me smile, because Denmark was the begining of our euro trip early this year and boy was it a shock when we got there. Hostels were booked up, buses and trains were booked up. We spent more time trying to find a place to sleep for the night or a ticket out of there, that we hardly got to enjoy the city. But luckily we did make it to a TB meet up and saw a few sites and it made up for it! But yes travelling scandinavia, requires some advanced planning.
Posted on: Dec 09, 2009
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