When in Copenhagen...
Trip Start May 14, 2010
15Trip End Jun 08, 2010
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Where I stayed
My TGV was on time and boarding was this time not complicated by an express train restricting the already limited platform space. I enjoyed the space and relative emptiness of my first TGV premiere classe experience. However, like 2nd class the seats failed to satisfy. They were comfortable enough but the default setting was at their full recline and the electric seat control seemed to mainly move the seat upwards, rather than reduce the recline
Upon arrival at Paris Montparnasse I was greeted by my friend Olivier, an engineer who works in Paris on rail and other infrastructure projects, that I'd met when he was visiting Perth earlier in the year. Meeting him was actually a bit weird because we had first communicated online at Australie-Australia, an online French-Australian penpal website that we'd registered for as part of learning French at high school. We caught up over breakfast at the station, with Olivier expressing his disappointment about the weather in France and not being able to go surfing in Brittany (where he's from) due to falling off his bike requiring stitches recently. Next time I'm in France I'll need to organise a proper meet-up, as this was too short an encounter, having been arranged after the trip had been mostly planned.
Olivier accompanied me on the the Metro and RER for part of the way before he had to connect to get to his work at La Defense. The RER B trip out to Charles de Gaulle Airport was uneventful and was even devoid of buskers and beggars which seemed a bit abnormal
My SAS flight to Copenhagen was departing from the funky original 1960s Terminal 1 so I had to take the relatively new CDGVAL Siemens people mover from CDG 1 Station to the terminal itself. There were some Americans travelling at the same time and they clogged up one end of the platform while waiting, making it difficult for the public transport literate ones among us to get to the other end of the platform and spread the load.
Terminal 1 is a cool architectural concept and has a pretty functional design, although the current set up is less than ideal. Security checks are not done until passengers reach the end of the piers where the gates are, taking up a lot of space so that the departure lounges are very restricted and crammed. They also just say that individual flights are leaving from any of the gates on the pier, without specifying which actual gate until the entire pier is full of wandering passengers.
The flight had been upgraded from originally being operated by an MD80 to an A321 and, besides the airport staff trying to bring the wrong airbridge to the aircraft when it arrived, departure was delayed by the schedule not being adjusted for it taking longer to board the extra passengers
As I'm not that familiar with the A321 and there are no decent SAS A321 seat maps anywhere online, including the SAS website, I instinctively chose seat 8A, the furthest forward in economy. As it turns out this seat was in front of the first exit row (A321s have extra doors for emergency exits; one before and one after the wing instead of the standard wing window exits) and this had no window! Thankfully the flight was short and I could just see out of the window in front so I could cope.
Copenhagen airport was nice enough and terminal was noticeably larger than Paris or Oslo. Due to my seat allocation I was one of the first off the plane but this only meant that I got to arrive at the baggage carousel to see it estimate the arrival of bags from the flight in 21 minutes rather than a lower number. It's cool that they have an estimated bag arrival time, but not so cool that the number was so high.
Once free from the whims of baggage handlers the airport isn't bad – the train station is just under the entry and trains run frequently to Koebenhavn H (Copenhagen Central). A train was waiting on the platform for me so I hopped on and travelled non-stop to ěrestad station (skipping the 1 other station), from where my hotel was a 300m walk
Even with low rates WiFi was free so I took some time to get updated, do some of this blog and then power nap to ensure that I lasted the night. There was still some time to quickly explore the other new development around the hotel on my way to the station to head into town.
Tivoli, or Tivoli Gardens as it's often known in English, is just across the road from Koebenhavn H and as such I've seen it every time I've been in Copenhagen. The difference with this visit was that the park is actually open at this time of year, making this large part of central Copenhagen much more active and engaging than in winter time. I had preordered an all-inclusive ticket online which included park entry, an unlimited ride wristband, dinner, a free onride photo and free entrance to the Tivoli Aquarium
First up I headed to Vertigo, one of the newest rides and arguably the park's most unique. It's basically seats on the end of a large 360 degree pendulum with the ability for the speed and rotation in 2 planes of the seats to be controlled by the passengers. Therefore the ride can be as fast, slow and intense as you desire. As the capacity is low and the appeal high queues can be quite long and I had about a 20 minute wait ahead of me when I joined the queue. As I was nearing the front of the queue it started to sprinkle. I hadn't brought any rainproof clothing, anticipating that the sunshine of earlier in the afternoon would continue despite coolish temperatures. This soon turned into rain but I was still willing to stay in the queue and get on the ride. My outer layers started to soak through and then the hail came. The ride was closed and it was time to quit, which involved everyone in unison running into the nearest cafe, which was already quite full of people sheltering from the weather.
I could see my plans washing away like the torrents of rain down the windows of my shelter
By this time I was in a queue for dinner at one of the venues that accepted my all-inclusive package. When in line I started chatting to a nice young Danish couple who and due to the rain making dining a popular option we were offered to share a table, along with 2 others who I think were Dutch. The Danes assisted by translating the menu and explaining the ordering system to me. As it turned out tables became available so we were all given our own, however it wasn't long before I was asked if I would be happy to share my table for 4 with a dad with 2 kids, to which I obliged
With my stomach full there was around an hour until the open air concert in the centre of the park and crowds were starting to crowd around the stage. I took the opportunity to ride some rides and try to squeeze some value out of that part of my ticket. One of these included an on ride photo so that was also my opportunity to get my free photo. With 20 minutes before the concert and the sun setting I found a space amongst the crowd of beer drinking locals in front of the stage. It's a great atmosphere in a concert where there are lots of people drinking calmly and being friendly without simply getting drunk and stupid.
Alphabeat, a local Danish band, were giving this night's Fredags Rock (Friday Rock) concert, which was included in the Tivoli entry price. Although unknown and pretty much unreleased in Australia, Alphabeat are a big deal in Denmark, where their song DJ was the most played song on the radio for a few months earlier in the year
At the conclusion of the concert it was slow going to get out of the park but it didn't matter because everyone was on a high from such a fun gig. I ended up travelling to the airport by train and returning from there to the hotel on the metro due to the trains from Koebenhavn H to ěrestad running irregularly at that time of night. This was my first outing on the metro and it's not a bad system but there's potential for improvement, mainly in the trains. It's driverless and runs 24 hours a day, the stations are architecturally interesting, but the trains are a bit spartan, noisy and prone to irregularity. I had to change lines halfway through my journey but at the change station the train just sat there without openning the doors. Everyone that wanted to disembark had to travel to the next station where the train did decide to open the doors. I guess that I should be happy that the train even ran, considering that it was made but the notoriously dodgy company Ansaldo-Breda in Italy.
It was time for another time-reduced sleep back at my cheap, functional and clean CABINN hotel (think a Danish Etap) ahead of the anchor and highlight of the trip, even if it would be hard to top the gig I had just experienced.