Denmark Trip - June 2005

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Brooklyn, New York

Wednesday, June 8, 2005

I'm in the car service heading to JFK. On the Conduit we are stopped in traffic. Alongside us is another car from the same livery firm. My driver points out that the other driver is Jackie Chan. He says that Jackie drives for them part time.!?

At JFK the check-in is fairly quick at the Alitalia counter. Then security is even quicker. On my way to my gate I see a woman carrying an inflatable neck pillow. I forgot mine! I guess there always has to be something forgotten when you travel.

I wander back to the start of the wing. I buy another inflatable neck pillow.

Boarding was quick. A variety of newspapers were available from Alitalia. I grab a NY Times. The plane is a new Boeing 777. Legroom is generous. With individual seat back TV screens. The plane is almost full, but I lucked out and the middle seat was empty. An Italian businessman had the aisle seat. He spoke some English. We pull back from the gate a few minutes early. Then we sit. After 20 minutes we slowly make it to the end of the runway and take off. We get a nice view of the south shore of Long Island.

Over the Atlantic

I'm hungry. I eat a pemmican muffin. Then my dinner comes. I get it first, being a special gluten-free meal. It comes complete with a wheat roll on top. In airplanes it is quite common for them to plop a wheat roll on a gluten-free meal. The amount of food isn't much. So it was good that I also ate a pemmican muffin. The regular meals come. Ravioli is the side dish for them. But they had a much better salad! I got iceberg lettuce, one cherry tomato, and two slices of cucumber. They got some nice lettuce, some prosciutto, and green beans.

Earlier they passed out free earphones. But neither I, nor the fellow next to me, can get the video or music to work. In the row in front they are watching a movie. We have a choice of 10 movies, and it appears that they play on our schedule. I ask for help. They are too busy with the beverage and food service. So I try to sleep instead.

Thursday, June 9, 2005

I don't think I actually slept. I end my sleeping attempt when a flight attendant brings me two rice cakes and a tiny cup of orange juice. That's it for breakfast. Also this is the stingiest airline I have ever flown when it comes to beverages. The cups are tiny. They only fill them 2/3 of the way. And no cans to give you. I eat another pemmican muffin.

I did find that hidden in the armrest a handset that controlled the TV. Very complicated, but I did figure out to get a movie started. But it was unwatchable. The kid in front had his seat fully reclined. The TV screens can only be viewed straight on and cannot be tilted up much. Sitting normally all I can see are ghosts. To see the images I had to slump way down in the seat. Not possible for more than a few minutes. But then as I write this he brings his seat up. I can try to figure it out again.

I get a few minutes of The Incredibles. Then they shut it off. They are preparing to land. But we still have a long time to go. So I go back to reading my NY Times.

Milan, Italy

A disadvantage to using frequent flyer miles is I do not have direct flights. Only SAS flies one (one per day) between New York and Copenhagen, and they are not a Continental partner. I watch the Italian countryside below. All of the houses are clustered together, then they stop and it becomes farmland and forests. If this were the US all the farms would have been chopped up so each house could have a yard, a driveway, and a garage.

Almost everybody getting off the plane is transferring. I have two hours between flights. The airport is filled with shops, but I don't shop when I travel. I find my gate and wait.

In contrast to the new plane that brought me to Milan, this next one is an antique MD80. It is a narrow body with five seats across. It pulls away 10 minutes late, though not from the gate. Most planes here are parked on the tarmac and we are bused to and from them. Rather quaint.

The pilot announces our arrival time. 30 minutes after scheduled arrival. I will miss the train I had hoped to get. The next is an hour later. They pass out muffins. I decline and instead eat my third pemmican muffin. I brought 11 along.


We arrive less than 30 minutes after schedule. I walk towards the train. I see the station and it is 12:36. The local train to Århus was 12:35. I wait for information and then find the cash machine. Then at the train station I realize that the train was 12:40. The 12:35 time included a five minute walk. Had I not gotten cash, not had to wait for a ticket, and gone to the correct track, I could have made it. I will now arrive in Århus 40 minutes later.

Having lots of time to spare I spend it in Copenhagen Central Station instead of the airport. The train arrives late. It leaves late. A woman announces a 10 minute delay due to signal problems.

Århus, Denmark

We arrive in Århus. Along the way we lose a few more minutes. It is now a little more than 19 hours from when I left my house in Brooklyn. I head straight to the tourism office [now appears to not be an office, but touch screen kiosks scattered around instead]. It closed at 5:00, though the guide book says 6:00. (I later realize that is summer hours and it isn't summer yet.) I walk to my room. I check into The Cabinn. I find where the free bikes are [No longer]. One can tide me over until I can rent in the morning. I also find where the Indian restaurant is. The receptionist also suggests trying the travel agency for maps. So I make that my first stop. No maps. Only at the tourism office he says. Having been hungry for a while I head to Pearl India for food.

The food was fine, but the amount of meat was small. A huge mound of rice though. I go bicycling around. I head to the tourism office. Not open until 9:30. I find the bike store. Usually open at 8:00, but not until 8:30 tomorrow. I stop in a park to look at the map and seeing an "18" nearby I look at the legend. Another Indian restaurant! I go check out Indian Curry House. It has a buffet for slightly less than what I paid for my dinner. I go in and chat with a fellow, telling him I'll be back.

I bike around some more. Then I return the bike and walk the canal behind my hotel. This is where all the outdoor cafes are. All have outdoor heaters to keep their patrons warm. I still have a couple hours of light left, but I head back to my room for an early night.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Having gone to bed early I'm up early. I get to breakfast right at 7:00. But I'm not first. I have an apple, apple juice, and orange juice. No limit on the ham, so I make myself full with that.

It is very gloomy outside. Getting weather forecasts while on holiday isn't easy. I had checked the TV the night before, but none of the stations were weather channels. I turn on the TV. There are news programs in Danish. I catch a weather forecast. It looks like the rain is heading to Sweden. I see a high of 15°C today and 17°C tomorrow. I think.

I head towards the MM Cycle Shop. I get there at 8:00, but as they won't be open until 8:30, I wander around. I get back to the shop a little before 8:30. The fellow says he has no bicycles to rent! But he will on Saturday. Though they are not open on Saturdays he will meet me there at 8:00.

I head back to my room. Tourism isn't open for an hour. I don't feel well, so I take a nap. Then I head there. I buy the recommended cycle map for the area. It's okay, but not as good as the Dutch topographical ones. My next stop is Århus Cathedral. I pay the 10 DKr to climb the tower. It is a very nice photo opportunity.

Then I head to the Vor Frue Kirke (Our Lady Church). In front is Frue Kirke Plads, a park where the drug addicts hang out. Then I head to Den Gamle By (The Old Town). It has 75 restored buildings. I end up there for some four hours. For lunch the chef at the restaurant was able to create me a special salad with roast beef slices.

I then wandered around the Botanical Gardens. It was now 16:00, too late for a museum. Anyway, I head to the ARoS Kunstmuseum. But 70 DKr ($12.07) for only 40 minutes was too much. Leaving I came across the Spot Festival, a music festival showcasing new bands in many locations. Some 30 that night!

I go looking for a free bike. I pass a fruit store and see cherries. So I buy some. Then I head to my room to wash and eat them. I see two bikes at one of the stands and hope they will be there when I get back.

I head out for dinner. A bike has appeared at the stand closest to my hotel. Using it I head to the Indian Curry House. He's just starting the buffet. I eat a fairly quick meal. The place is filling up. He doesn't want to give me my check. But I insist. He charged me 6 DKr for tap water ($1.03).

I plan on spending the evening exploring part of the green belt below Århus. So I head towards Marselisborg, the north section of it. Along the way I pass a church, Sct. Paul's Kirke, and stop for a picture.

First stop is the Marselisborg Lystbâdehavn. I found a few restaurants and lots and lots of sailboats. Then I found Tivoli Friheden, but as I had no lock for the free bike I didn't go in. I then bike around a lake. Then I head towards the Marselisborg Slot, the castle summer home of the Danish Royal family. I bike around some, but not having a detailed map of the grounds I miss much. I then try to find the arboretum noted on my map. It doesn't seem to exist. I later find a map and inside the royal grounds at that location is a relatively new rose garden. But it is too early for roses here. The lilacs and wisteria are still in bloom. And the tree peonies are still small buds. [Later in Copenhagen I see some opening.]

I bike across to the Mindepark. I bike around it and its gardens. I then bike through the woods to the north end of Marselisborg. Having plenty of time I head back south along the outside of the park, which is along the water. I only go a little past Marselis, which is only as far as I'm allowed to take the free bike.

I head back to my hotel. I make a small diversion through the port. I leave the bike and head to my room. I'm ready for sleep.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

I get up at 6:00. Breakfast isn't until 7:30 on the weekend, but she was serving earlier than the schedule on Friday. I get there at 7:00. She opens at 7:15.

I make it to the bike shop at 8:00. He has a nice lightweight bike for me. I head back to my room to get my things. For the second time the cold cut breakfast does not agree with me. I tried a different cold cut, but who knows what chemicals and fillers they have. I lose an hour. I will skip breakfast for my last two days in Århus.

Today's trip is to the Lake District. I follow Cycle Route 11 west of Århus. I head towards Silkeborg. I stop and watch some people learning to row at Århus Roklub in Brabrand Rostadion. I sit for a while. Then I eat the pemmican muffin I brought along. As soon as I started putting something in my mouth all the ducks head towards me!

I bike on. Many hours later I arrive in Silkeborg. First thing to do is to get lunch. I had forgotten to bring along my write-up in Chinese saying no wheat. I stop at a Chinese restaurant. She speaks no English. I try the Brasserie Belli, which got a nice mention in my Lonely Planet. He completely understands my gluten-free request, but says they can't make anything for me.

Next is another Chinese restaurant. He speaks a little English. It took a while, but I get him to understand no soy sauce. He recommends the curry sauce. It comes out. It looks a little funny. I have him show me all the ingredients. It includes milk! I wasn't expecting milk in a Chinese restaurant. He makes me another without milk.

I walk out. While I was inside the sky become overcast. I head to the boats. A one way trip on one of them would cover a chunk of my itinerary. I get to the boats at 3:10. The last boat was at 2:45. Had I not eaten lunch I could have gotten it. Or if I had not lost an hour in the morning I could have. I ask about rain. One of the women there says it is only stop and go. If continuous I could have simply taken a bus back to Århus.

I start off following Cycle Route 7. It starts to rain. I get to Virklund. I stop under a tree to look at the map. A woman also standing there tells me to go to the top of the hill and I will see a sign to go right. I make it to the top of the hill, but the sign is for Route 13. I get under another tree and look at the map again. Route 7 turned off the other way back at the bottom of the hill. I head back down. The turn is clearly marked, were I looking.

It begins to rain steadily. It is no longer dry under trees. I can no longer look at my map. A sign says Gammel Rye 9.5 km. I am now in a forest. I pass a sign saying Gammel Rye 8 km. The road turns to dirt. I come to a gate that is locked. There is a pushbutton there. I don't know what the label says, but I push it anyway. The gate opens. I'm in some sort of protected area. After a ways I go through a gate at the other end. There is a sign for Route 7. I bike on. No more Route 7 signs. I come to forks. No way to know which way to go. I look at the handlebar compass I brought along. It isn't very accurate if it isn't level, and I wasn't paying attention to its levelness. No sun to help me. I bike on the dirt roads for a long time. Finally I see a Route 7 sign. I follow it. I didn't check where it was saying it was heading to. I go through the gated area. At 5:00 I come to a Route 7 sign. It says Virklund 4 km and Silkeborg 11 km. For more than an hour I was going in a circle! Now it was too late to try to find my way to Gammel Rye. It is shorter to go back to Silkeborg and from there to Århus. And I could take a bus.

I bike quickly and get to the bus station at 5:30. Next bus is 5:47 and bikes are allowed (for 20 DKr extra). As I wait for the bus the rain slows to very light. A drunk comes by. He says something in Danish. I say only English. The first Dane that doesn't speak English.

I get on the bus. It goes around and into small towns. As we approach Århus I see that is has never rained there.

I get off the bus. It is very cold; much colder than back in the Silkeborg area. Had I biked back, with my totally soaked pants and shoes, I would have been very cold.

It is a short bike ride to my hotel. I get credit for the two next breakfasts that I prepaid for. I go up and change to dry clothes.

As I have no other plans I decide to walk to the Indian Curry House, and have another all you can eat buffet. My last, as they, and most other restaurants, will be closed on Sunday night. I eat slower than the night before. Looking out I see the pavement and cars are now wet. Will it also be warmer? It is now 8:30. Too late for a trip south.

I walk out. It is still cold. I walk down Møllestien, the quaintest street I've seen here. I've already biked down it, and I got a couple pictures. I pass the restaurants along the canal that are below my hotel. I find one that is open on Sunday with a reasonable buffet. Back inside my hotel I chat with the receptionist. She says I can check the weather on the free Internet terminal in the lobby. I find that Sunday and Monday, the same as today, rainy. High will be 56-57°F, low will be 43-44°F. Tuesday will get better. I head up to my room.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

I awake at 4:00, which is too early to get up. I try to get back to sleep. I can hear drunks below my window until 6:30 (bars serve until 5:00). Then I awake at 8:00, which is later than I had hoped. I'm out by 9:10. I stop at the Internet terminal in the lobby to check the trains returning from Randers. Then I'm off. Today's trip is to Djursland. I miss a turn and do a side trip into the Risskov Park.

Back on course I find a bench and stop in the town of Risskov to eat my pemmican muffin. They are disappearing fast. I wish I had brought more. I continue on. I stop for a panorama picture of Løgten Bugt. I then pass a restaurant. It was closed, but the café was open. I stop in. Nothing for me, the kitchen is closed, but he lived for a while on Long Island and so we chat. He says no way can I make it to Randers if I hug the coast. There are too many hills. If I bike the entire trip I will have to turn around in Ebeltoft. We decide that I can make it to Grenaa and then take a bus back. He gets a bus schedule book and I write down the bus times. He suggests getting food in Rønde. It is along the planned route.

Following the route I turn onto a dirt road. I stop at a bench and enjoy the view. I check the map. The route I am following is cutting off Rønde. So back I go and I head into Rønde.

I stop at a small café. The fellows are East Indians. They speak enough English. They suggest one of their curry dishes. It was expensive, but generously proportioned. This time I was charged 8 DKr for tap water.

I get back onto the route and head for Ebeltoft. There are lots of rolling hills covered with farms and some patches of forest. Despite the size of the lunch it didn't satiate for long. So I stop for a bag of potato chips and a bottle of water in Lyngsbæk Strand.

As I arrive in Ebeltoft there are a few rain sprinkles. This was my only rain for the day. My first stop is to look at the Fregatten Jylland, the biggest wooden ship in the world. I pass the Glasmuseum. I then find the old part of town, a very long cobblestoned street. It is very picturesque. And on a cold and cloudy Sunday it was completely devoid of people.

The map has a cycle route down to the ferry dock south of town. I don't realize that on the back of the map is a detailed map of Ebeltoft. I try to find the route, but instead end up on some bike paths going through the bogs. Then I go through some forests. Afraid I'll end up wasting time I decide to head back to Ebeltoft and get going to Grenaa. I'd like to get there by the 18:49 bus, as the next one isn't until 20:49.

As I head back I come across the route to the ferry, but I pass.

There was more lovely countryside to bike through. I stopped at the beach near Holme for a look. At times the route signs were confusing, and in one place they were pointing backwards. But I make no wrong turns.

As I approach Grenaa I bike faster to be sure I make the bus. I follow the route. It takes me to the harbor, but the center of town is some 3 km west. I had just come from the west. So back I go, this time through the town. I arrive at 18:35. I see there is also a train that left at 18:32. I wait for the bus.

It comes. I get on and chat with a fellow. He says the train is every hour. I'm thinking the train would also much quicker, as this bus is stopping all over. I saw nothing of Grenaa. If I realized the train schedule I could have checked out the pretty old town, and maybe even arrived back in Århus sooner.

We arrive in Rønde. We take on passengers from another bus. There is a delay. There is a couple with two bikes. But there is no room for three bikes underneath. They are very upset. Much discussion ensues. One of the drivers gets on the radio of the other bus. The woman also gets on the radio. We pull out leaving them behind.

Back in Århus I stop by my room and write my journal. I'm not that hungry, so I didn't need to rush to a restaurant. I had a very successful 100 km day, except that I forgot to put on suntan lotion and have a slightly burned nose.

I head to CuCos restaurant for their buffet. I ask what is gluten and dairy free. She understands (so far everybody that speaks English does), but wants the chef to come out. He's English. He goes over the dishes. All the major ones are fine. I settle in. By far the best meal I've had. And it was only 109 DKr ($18.79). No extra for the tap water. Lunch was 96 DKr ($16.55), and no comparison at all. The Indian buffet was 105 DKr, and it was not outstanding Indian food. Too bad this is my last night here. Had I found it the first I would have eaten all my dinners here.

At 10:15 I'm in my room. No one is drinking along the canal tonight. Most are closed, and the ones open have everybody inside.

Monday, June 13, 2005

I awake early. But I don't get up for a while. It is steadily raining. Finally at 7:35 I leave to try to find breakfast. I wander around. No restaurants open yet. I stop in a 7-11. He has nothing for me, but he recommends a place around the corner (not on the main promenade). I find Emmery's. Yes, they can cook up something for me. So I order four eggs, smoked ham, a fruit cocktail, and a large orange juice. It comes to 114.50 DKr ($19.74). My most expensive meal! The orange juice was fresh squeezed, and the ingredients mostly organic. But still way overpriced. Next trip I need to bring two pemmican muffins per day and skip buying breakfast.

I take the bike back to the shop. I have time to make the 10:02 train.

I check out of the hotel and head to the train station. I try a couple of ATMs to see if I can get my maximum. Each was limited to 3000 DKr. I pass a McDonald's which appeared to be open for breakfast. I'll need to study and see if a gluten and dairy free breakfast is possible there.

At the train station I find an ATM from another bank. This one gives up to 6000 DKr , and it also let me select the amount. I select 5500 DKr and it goes through. I phone the hostel in Tønder and ask that she leave the key in an envelope, so I can arrive mid-afternoon when her office is closed. I wait for the train.

The train trip requires two connections. I have the printout from the web showing me exactly what I have to do. It was indispensable. The rain continues.

During the trip there were some periods of no rain. Like when I had a 20 minute wait outdoors at the Bramming Station. But my stay in Bramming was delayed another 22 minutes, as we had a sick passenger and we had to wait for an ambulance. However, we arrived in Tønder only 10 minutes late.

Tønder, Denmark

When we arrived in Tønder it was back to a steady light rain. The bike shop, ToP Cykler [appears to be closed], was near the train station, so I stopped there first. Not as good a bike as in Århus. On the phone they said I could have a seven speed bike, but this one is only three. The store's convenient location was also useful, as I had a long walk to the Danhostel, and I was able to walk the bike with my luggage resting on the back rack.

I found the envelope and dropped my luggage in my room. As it was still raining I leave the bike and walk to the tourist bureau. She gave me plenty of materials, plus the all important bike map. With the Kristkirke (church) closing at 4:00, that comes first. The decorations were extravagant. Then I head to the Tønder Museum, which closes at 5:00. This also includes the Sønderjyllands Kunstmuseum. Also they have a tower with panoramic views from the top. With the rain I asked for a rain check, so I could return and get a picture on a sunny day. She wrote all over the back of my receipt. I wandered around the museum. I saved the tower for last, hoping it would clear up. It didn't. While the views were lovely, and panoramic, the windows were so dirty (cobwebs and all) that even on a clear day a picture would be poor. The problem is a large overhang, which keeps the rain from cleaning them. The windows don't open, and being so high up one would have to build scaffolding up from the ground.

The third thing listed in my Lonely Planet is Det Gamle Apotek with its 1671 Baroque doorway. I go in and find endless rooms of gifts.

I go back to the hostel to check in. There are only a half dozen cars out front, but an entire wing seems full of people that are physically and/or mentally handicapped. I later learn they came as a group from Kolding, Denmark. The woman in charge of the hostel says their breakfast has nothing for me, but there is a kitchen I can use. So my next stop is a grocery store. I get there before I remember that bags cost money in Denmark. So I go back to my room to get a plastic bag. Then back to the store again. I load up with ample eggs, bacon, and fresh squeezed orange juice. Plus some ground beef and cashews for dinner. As I leave a woman at the checkout hears me speaking English. She wants to chat. She has some sort of worldwide business. They don't meet many Americans here. Mostly Germans come to Tønder, as it is so close to the German border. We exchange e-mail addresses.

I go back and eat the cashews while waiting for a frying pan. Then I eat the ground beef. It really wasn't a big enough meal and later I'm hungry after everything in town has closed. [Or so I thought at the time.]

The weather has now cleared up. I have three hours of light left. So I bicycle to Møgeltønder. I take a gravel bike path through the fields. The most direct route, but slow going. I won't use it again! I find the Møgeltønder Kirke (church), but I can't go in. I'll stop by in the morning. I find the picturesque street, but with the trees lining each side it isn't photogenic. I find the small Schackenborg Slot (castle), but it is so surrounded with trees one can barely see it. Tours of the grounds are so infrequent that I won't be on one. I bike around the park across from the castle, then I come home by a different route.

Back in Tønder it is only 9:30 and I still have daylight left. So I bike around the now deserted streets. I find a couple of parks to bike through. Then back to my room at 10:00. Still some light left, but I've had enough.

I write my notes and make my bed. Generally at a hostel you bring your own sheets. I rented them. And when I leave I have to clean my room.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

I had set the alarm on my watch for the first time. I set it for 6:00. It does not go off. I'm awake anyway. But I will need it for my last day, as I will have to take a 7:00 train to the airport. I open the curtains. It is completely overcast. Hopefully it will burn off, but the sun has already been up for hours.

I make it to the kitchen a little before 7:00. No one is there. I'll try earlier tomorrow.

45 minutes for breakfast and I'm off before 8:00. (Or maybe it wasn't. My watch loses time when I set the alarm. So really a little after 8:00.)

I head to Møgeltønder. I try to get a look at Schackenborg from the front gate, but again too many trees. I stop at the Møgeltønder Kirke and see one of the most lavish church interiors in Denmark. It was nice, and not as Baroque as some others. I note how different cemeteries are here in Denmark.

I head to Højer, but not directly. I follow the cycle routes, which doubles the distance. Lovely countryside, of course.

In Rudbøl I am next to the border with Germany. So I biked across. No border crossing anymore. Just as well, as I didn't have my passport with me. The signs were different. The words were different. And the pub looked different.

In Højer I stop at the Højer Mølle, the Dutch windmill museum. It covers items and history from the local area only. I try to follow the Højer walking tour on my bike. I give up about half way through it. I head a little south and take a local cycle route, and then over to the dike. This is an area of reclaimed land. At a cafeteria restaurant next to the Vidå Slusen (sluice gate), I stop to buy a bottle of water. He charges me 20 DKr for a half liter! ($3.45)

I get back on Route 1, the North Sea Cycle Route. I bike through a rough gravel area. Along the way the sun had came out, so I had put my Goretex windbreaker on the back rack. The vibrations had loosened it, and the hood was dragging on the bicycle chain. It was now covered with grease. I continue on. I'm getting hungry. I should have still brought along some pemmican, despite the big breakfast. At Husum-Ballum I make a side trip looking for a snack. But the only grocery store is closed from 12:00-1:00, and it was 12:15 now. I continue on. I come to the causeway to Rømø. I have 10 km of monotonous biking into a stiff headwind. First gear does not work on the bike. A red and a blue bus pass by and one touts his horn. They are the buses from the hostel that are with the group from Kolding. It was nice that they recognized me (from my hat, no doubt).

When I got across I was starving. So I stopped at a gas station and bought a bag of potato chips and a bottle of water (only 10 DKr for the water). I stood by the side of the road eating most of the bag.

I headed to the north part of Rømø first. I missed the Kommandørgården (a circa 1748 sea captain's house) and the whale jawbone fence and ended up at the top of the island, overlooking the military zone. No shooting going on that day. I bike back down and carefully follow the map to find both of these. Pictures taken.

I bike down to the causeway intersection and then head towards the sea. I make a stop in the Tvismark Plantage (a heathered moor?) and take a walk around. Then I head on to Lakolk Strand (beach). I get a bottle of water there for 12 DKr. (This is what the earlier one should have cost.) Then I bike out on the sand. It is hard and expansive. Then I head towards the harbor. Along the way I stop at the Rømø Kirke and see the unique Greenlandic gravestones. Then I continue on to the harbor. It was very disappointing. I found a few new hotels and restaurants scattered about. I stopped at Holms Røgeri. Lonely Planet mentions their buffet. But it doesn't mention that it is only on Friday night. I buy some clams in their deli for a snack. I chat with the fellow. He says the town is inland some. So I head that way. I find nothing but modest new homes. I turn north. (Later looking more closely at the map I see I should have gone further, and I think I would have found an actual town.)

I've decided I would not bike back to Tønder, but instead take a train from Skærbæk. I get there and find in the evening the trains skip hours, and there is a two hour gap. The next would be in 1 1/4 hours, plus a 30 minute train ride. I chat with a young woman waiting there. She says I can bike on the road to Tønder. It is straight down. In the evening the wind dies down, and the winds shouldn't be so strong. Plus they are not straight on. So off I go. Some parts have a dedicated bike path, and for some I am on the highway. I did miss a short stretch where a bike path ran along the train tracks. But not being able to read Danish I didn't understand the signs telling me of it. And I wasn't closely following the map.

I make a stop and finished off the potato chips. I continued on. The train I could have waited for and taken beat me by a few minutes. I estimate 120 km (75 miles) for the day.

I bicycle through a strip park and at the end find Brede Kirke.

I decide I want a real meal. I first stop at the Chinese restaurant. The woman speaks no English. That's what I expected. But when I showed here the Chinese write-up on no gluten I found that she can't read Chinese. I left. I then stop at the Torvet Restaurant. I get a steak. The waiter gives me an extra baked potato. (It was nearing closing and they'd have to toss it out.) Plus I had a second serving from the salad bar. I chat with the waiter a while. He was 20, had just spent a few weeks in Minnesota, and of course spoke fluent English. We discussed many things. Being a smoker himself he didn't think smoking should be banned in restaurants and bars. (In Denmark it is permitted everywhere.) He thinks drinking should be allowed for people under 21 years old, so people can get the newness of it out of their systems when still young. Then by the time they are ready to start a family they will have learned how to handle it. In the tourism booklet he points out a few bed and breakfasts that are in town. One I pass on my way to the hostel. He closes up and I head to my room.

The two buses are there. Yes, they made a trip to Rømø. Apparently there are about 30 of them, and they are staying until Friday, the day that I also leave.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Having not gotten to bed until 11:30 I didn't want to get up so early. But I still made it to the kitchen by 7:15. The Swedish couple whom I had met a couple days earlier where there. They had a long drive into Germany and wanted to get an early start.

It is getting warmer. Shorts would be fine in the middle of the day, but still cool now. But I do change into shorts. So I don't get off until 8:30. It is a little cool at first. All I have for the day is shorts and a polo shirt.

I head north following Cycle Route 9. At Løgumkloster I stop at a cycle shop to see if he can fix my gears, but he is old and doesn't speak English. I then stop at the church. I've missed a turn somewhere before the church, so I spend a few minutes getting back on the route. It was a little tricky, as the route went under the road I was on and I couldn't see it. But on my way back across the road I followed a bike path that led to it.

I continue on Route 9. I biked through farms and woods. Near Arrild I left Route 9 and switched to local Cycle Route 84. Initially I had a little difficulty, as I found a gravel road where there should have been a paved one. I biked a ways on it, then knew I had to be wrong when it turned to the right. When returning I found a side road that looked like it led to a paved one. It did. Had I initially gone just a little further I would have found the paved one in the first place.

I bike on. I did bring a half pemmican muffin. At the first hunger pangs I ate it. I continued on Route 84 only for a ways. Then I just took local roads through Holbæk. This missed the church in Vodder, which in hindsight would have been worth a small detour. Then I pass through Roager. I bought a water at a supermarket for only 5 DKr.

On my way into Ribe I pass the Ribes Vikinge Center. So I stop in and spend 45 minutes there. It took me five hours to bike from Tønder to Ribe. Maybe it was 75 km? When I get into town the first thing I do is to stop at the train station. I find the times (19:41 and 21:41) and how much coin I need for the ticket machine. Then I head to the Tourist Bureau to ask about Indian restaurants. None, but there is a Mongolian one and a Chinese one, she says. I stop at Peking House, the Chinese one. They, like the one in Tønder, are mostly into fried foods. All are battered, of course. They do speak some English. Their curry offering has milk in it. They say there is only one dish I can have. It has oyster sauce. They call it chop suey. It was fine.

I tried to find the small museum in the town hall, but I went to the wrong building and couldn't find it. Then I head to Ribe Domkirke, where I walked the 248 steps to the top. I took some pictures which I was able to stitch. Then I head to Sankt Catherinæ Kirke. Then I tried the Ribe Kunstmuseum (art museum), but it was 3:45 and they close at 4:00 in June. Then I tried the Viking Museum, but they also close at 4:00. I then biked the walking tour. It was rough going over all the Belgium block streets. Some buildings were not easy to find. I then biked around and biked over to the Riberhus Slotesbanke, the site of a moated castle that was long ago dismantled for its stones. I then stopped at Antik Gaarden [closed?], an antique shop, and admired some antique cordial glasses. But I already have enough, which I don't use anyway. Having almost an hour to the next train I went for an early dinner at the same Chinese restaurant. I ordered the same thing. A new Danish waitress was there now. She asks if I want a glass or a pitcher of water. When paying I find the price of tap water has increased from 3 DKr to 5 DKr. She says that is because it was a large glass. (Tap water is expensive here!) I protested that I wasn't given a choice of glass sizes, so she reduces it to 3 DKr.

I head for the train. I have saved up the needed coins. I ask a young fellow to help with the machine. I wait for the train.

Back in Tønder I buy some more orange juice and treat myself to a can of cashews. Then back to do my laundry and to decide what to do for the next day. There is much pondering over what to do. What looks logical on a normal map doesn't when you want to follow the cycle routes. And my left knee is a little sore, so I don't want to push it. If I can get a 7:52 bus to Aabenvaa, I'll bike to Sønderborg, Gråsten, and then Tinglev. From there I can get a bus back, but the buses are only every two hours in the evening. That won't repeat any roads, and should be about 100 km.

Eventually the laundry was done. While waiting for it I did find a bus stop across the street, and I did make a short ride to check out a nearby park. I found the campground that everybody knows is here. But only three campers were in it! The other camp grounds I've seen have been full. [I later learn that the camp ground is in four sections and many more were in the other ones. I guess these three here were the unsocial ones.]

Thursday, June 16, 2005

I wake up at 4:30 to the sound of rain. I go back to sleep. At 5:30 it has stopped, but it is overcast. I'm out at 6:30 for a test bike ride. My knee seems fine. The kitchen is open, so I get breakfast. A fellow guest says it will be 28°C. I have lots of time to catch the 7:52 bus.

I head to the bus. I see posted a print out of the weather report. Only 20°C is forecast today, slightly cooler than yesterday. I go back to get my flannel shirt. [Good that I did. It was cool without the sun, and often there was no sun.]

I arrive in Aabenraa. As soon as I started bicycling my knees became sore. I also learned that if I held down the gear shift lever I could get it to stay in first gear. I wish I had known this when crossing the causeway. I had the direct headwind for 10 km using what was effectively a one-speed bike. This was the same thing that aggravated my right knee in Holland. Now it is both knees. And after Holland I vowed to not rent one-speed bikes.

My planned itinerary was overly ambitious. There was a point where I could turn off and go directly to Gråsten. I debated what to do up to that point. Then I turned and headed to Gråsten. Good that I did. There were lots of rolling hills. I walked up some. Entering Gråsten I came across the Gråstenskovene, a lovely park with woods, fields, and lakes. I bike through part of it. I arrive in the town around noon. I first head to the Turist Bureau for a map. And I pick up lots of other literature to lug! She tells me where a restaurant is. I go to the shopping street. There is only one real restaurant. The others were pizza places and a bagel shop. I go into Den Gamle Kro, the real restaurant. Neither of them speaks English. They were not old. The young woman does not know what wheat is. They go for a dictionary. I leave. I pass a bike shop. I go in. He doesn't know much English, but I am able to explain I have no first gear. He adjusts it. I return to the tourist bureau. She tells me of a second restaurant in nearby Alnor. She says they know English. I bike to the Alnor Kro B&B. They do know English. But they are closed for a private party. I head back to Gråsten. I see what may be a supermarket. It isn't, so I ask a fellow walking by. He says there are three of them just across the street, but all facing towards each other and not towards the street. I go over and pick one. I buy a bag of potato chips. I find a bench overlooking the water to eat it. I did have a pemmican muffin with me, but I am becoming stingy with what I have left.

I've decided not to bike anymore. I return again to the tourist bureau to discuss going to Copenhagen instead of my planned Helsingør. No info on the Cab Inns there. I learn no coin phones here. Only phone cards, which cost 30 DKr. I then stop at the train station to get the times, and how much coin I will need. I ask for help. One train is about to arrive. The next is in two hours. I pick up a bottle of water nearby and head to the major attraction: the Gråsten Palace Gardens with the Gråsten Slot. They were lovely. They were designed in the informal English style that I prefer. There is also a chapel there, but only open limited hours. When near the palace I see a bunch of grey haired ladies (seniors here don't dye their hair, but the young, if not naturally blond, often give themselves blond streaks) walking away. And I saw some other people going in and out an unmarked door. I go over to it. Inside was the chapel! It had been opened for the group and the fellow was still chatting with a couple. It had a most interesting ceiling. It was a treat to see. After I and the others leave he leaves and locks up.

I do a little more wandering in the garden and I then head to town. I have time. I walk into Imerco Gråsten, a shop to browse. It had George Jensen things, which I have always liked. I see a wire paper towel holder which I buy. Only a half kilo more to lug home.

At the train station there is a different type of ticket machine. It was more complicated. So I ask for help. The train will only get me to Tinglev, where I have to switch to a bus. There was a train all the way, but they discontinued it. I check the bus schedule which I brought with me. Only a 15 minute wait.

I arrive in Tinglev. I spend a few minutes biking around. Rather unexciting. Buying the bus ticket I mention how much more it is to bring a bike on a bus versus on a train. (25 DKr vs. 10 DKr). Learning that I just got off the train, he sells me a zone upgrade instead of a full ticket. I could have bought a straight through ticket when buying the train one. (And how would the bike surcharge have worked?)

I'm back in Tønder at 5:20. Early for me! Except that I broke the back reflector when pulling the bike out from under the bus. I write my journal for the day. The woman at the front desk gets me the phone number of the Cab Inn in Copenhagen and sells me a phone card for 30 DKr. I only bought it as she says I can take it into a TDK shop and get the balance refunded. Otherwise it expires in two years.

I head to the Torvet Restaurant again. I take my bicycle. I should not have, my knees are very sore, but it makes me decide that I will do two nights in Helsingør and then two in Copenhagen. No more bike rentals. At the restaurant the chatty fellow wasn't there. It was an efficient woman instead. I ordered the same dinner. Like before the main course came quickly; before I finished my salad. Then I went for a second salad. As soon as I finished it she whisked it away. No doubt to be sure I didn't go for a third. The bill comes. She charges me 10 DKr for water (apparently the fellow forgot). She says they have to pay for water and to pay to take it away. Hey, I pay for water and sewer also. But I don't pay 10 DKr a glass. If water was so expensive why do they have such grossly water wasting toilets? I head back to my room.

It is only a little after 8:00. In cleaning up my papers I realize I haven't done the walking tour. I head out--on foot. I get a little ways away from the hostel and it starts to rain. I go back for the rain jacket. The number of times I have walked out of my room, only to return and get or change something, is beyond counting.

I do the tour in a little more than an hour. It is hard to find some things. I took pictures of most, though in low light I doubt all will come out. This Nikon 8400 I have is brain dead in low light. Back in my room I watch the mallard ducks on the lawn outside my window. There is a pair, plus two other males that are trying to move in. Both the male and female peck at them to make them keep their distance.

Friday, June 17, 2005

I get up before 6:00. The pair of mallard ducks are still together off to the right. The other males are nowhere in sight. I leave my room at 6:40. No reason to eat breakfast so early. So I take a half hour walk along the canal in a nearby park. I pass a school. Many bike sheds, with many bikes. But school hasn't started. Kids leave their bikes at school? Here all the kids bike to school. This is something I did when growing up, but is now no longer done there. (And where our bike sheds were is now car parking.)

I come across three male mallards chasing a female. I guess she doesn't have a mate, or he isn't around. I get back and make breakfast. I then return the unopened phone card. Now to pack and clean the room.

I head to the bike shop. I balance both bags on the back rack and walk the bike. I only balanced one on my way over. The sky is still overcast, and the ground wet from the rain during the night. At the bike shop the fellows (they look like brothers) accept the broken reflector. I tell them about the lack of first gear. It is a short walk to the train station. I am leaving an hour earlier than the print out that I have from the web. I learn I can't just subtract an hour from all the times, as one of the trains in the middle is only every two hours. He suggests taking the bus to Tinglev, then it will be about the same 5:10 long journey and I will arrive at 2:45, exactly one hour earlier.

On the train I read my guide book literature. While I could spend all my nights in Helsingør, having two nights in Copenhagen gives me two evenings to walk around that city. I have only 13 minutes between trains in Copenhagen Central Station. That is not enough time to find a room.

I have to change trains along the way. A few of us get out of the no-smoking section. A mob emerges from the smoking section. Lots of people smoke here.

In Odense, while stopped at the station, I see an endless row of parked bicycles across the tracks. I take some pictures for a panorama through the rainy window.

I learn that trains from Copenhagen to Helsingør are every 20 minutes. I could run over to tourism and catch a later one. In the station I see pay phones that take coins. I try calling the Cab Inn number that I have. It was busy. I hop on my scheduled train.

Helsingør, Denmark

I find my hotel, the Hotel Skandia, across the street. I check in. My room smells of cigarette smoke. When making the reservation I asked about no smoking rooms. She said they don't have them. I stop by the tourist bureau [may no longer exist]. They tell me where the coin phones are. Between the tourist bureau and my hotel is a sound stage with sound checks taking place. At 9:00 a band will be playing. While I face the back, I am on the top floor. I bet I will be hearing them. The tourism women also point out the two places that rent bikes (which are not in my Lonely Planet). Good to know for next time. It is lightly misting, so I get my rain jacket and head to Punjab, the Indian restaurant listed in Lonely Planet.

The lunch menu is in effect. No curries. Curries start at 5:00. The fellow sort of speaks English. I explain no wheat and no dairy. He doesn't know what dairy is. ["Milk products" is a more understandable term.] He suggests their fish, fried in a pan, not the deep fat fryer. I explain about the frying oil contamination is why I can't have the French Fries. So we switch them to rice. The plate comes. The fish is breaded. I explain that is what I have been saying that I can't eat. He then suggests one of their stuffed breads. With this I leave, saying I will be back after 5:00.

I head to the Kronborg Slot. I have 1 ¼ hours to see the four things. I pay for all four. This gets me to the royal chambers, which includes an enormous banquet hall. It can be rented. The guard says Elf, the large Scandinavian insurance company, has 400 coming on Saturday night. I get to see the chapel. Then I see the dungeons. I now have 30 minutes left for the Maritime Museum. This was only enough time for a quick walk through. After she rips off the corner of my ticket I realize that it is undated, and I could have returned on another day. As I leave—I made it through in 25 minutes—a guard offers to get me a ticket to return. But the ticketing system is already down.

I go for a walk around the grounds. I hear a canon. I know the sound of a sailboat race starting. I scramble up the embankment to see a race start. I get a picture. This weekend is the start of the annual three-day Round Zealand yacht races. I did know about this. Also when I was in Punjab, a dozen sailors entered for lunch.

I continue walking around. Then back to Punjab. There is now a waitress instead of a waiter, but again Danish. So she has no idea what the ingredients are. When I explain no wheat she sort of understands the diet I'm on. She comes back from the kitchen. Almost all curries have dairy. Only the "curry" and "spinach" ones can I eat. She asks if I want basmati rice. I say I want "rice." I note in the menu that the small water is 5 DKr and the large is 10 DKr. She brings me a small pitcher. The portion of rice is generous. Good thing, as it cost me 25 DKr ($4.31). And I was charged 10 DKr for the water. I said it was only a small pitcher. The host I'm paying checks, and then he confirms that I am right. It was still an expensive meal. I leave to investigate places for breakfast. A woman in the hotel next to mine recommends a couple places. The first isn't open for breakfast, but they recommend another.

I'm getting a reaction from my meal. There must have been a milk product in it. I make a stop at my room. Then I go back to investigating breakfast places. I stop at Madame Sprunck. The fellow immediately understands my diet. He even knows that Danish cold cuts have lactose. So much more articulate than the kids at Punjab. They have brunch, but not until 10:30. I tell him I will be back for dinner tomorrow. Then I check my Lonely Planet. It is a recommended place, but it won't be cheap.

I go to check out the other place. Brunch is at 10:00. I walk around and find one with brunch at 9:30. That's the earliest. At least for on a Saturday, though the best for a weekday would be 9:00.

I head to the shopping center which I know has coin phones. I call the Cab Inn. He connects me with the one closest to Central Station. Fully booked, is the reply. His system is down, so he can't check the other two that are there. A fellow there loans me his cell phone to try the other two. I keep pressing 1 or 2, but it rings and returns me to the same voice menu. I decide I will just go and have tourism get me a room.

I wander around the streets. I find the two churches I want to visit tomorrow. I walk up to the Marienlyst Slot. I walk around the grounds and the park above it. I don't think I will bother to come back during the day to see the inside. On my way back I find the park with pond that is in front of the library. It has the usual water birds. I watch a pair of swans with their four goslings. I've seen other pairs with up to seven. And there were two mallard males chasing a female. Plus a heron, or something like that.

I visit the ferry dock. There are two ferry companies. I pick up a schedule for Scandlines, the biggest. At HH Ferries [now ForSea] there is no schedule, but a fellow waiting says they are every half hour, plus they are cheaper. He also tells me that at 11:00 tomorrow morning there will be another Round Zealand race start.

I go back to wandering the streets. The band is starting. Tonight it is Beverly Hills Orchestra. You can hear them all over. Some songs are in English. Some are in Danish. Young people pile into the place. Back in my room I tightly close my windows, and the ones in the hall across from my door. It wasn't too bad.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

I first wakeup at 5:30, but I keep dozing off until 7:00. I'm not in any big rush. The bed was a lot better than the foam mattress at the hostel. But the place was noisier. At 3:00 a fellow was persistently knocking and kicking a door to get in, and he was repeatedly yelling "up." But on the bright side the sun is out!

I decide I'll go for the 8:00 ferry to Helsingborg, Sweden. I open a window. It seems warm enough to not bring my flannel shirt. This was a mistake. It was rather chilly in the shade. And even in the sun with the relentless wind blowing.

Tickets for the HH Ferry are from a machine. There are no instructions in English. I try to buy a return ticket. I put in a 20. Out comes a one-way ticket worth 15. I buy a second one-way ticket and I'm out 5 DKr.

Excluding the people in cars, hundreds get off the boat coming from Sweden. Only two of us get on to go to Sweden. There is some running race in Denmark that they are coming over for. We cross over.

Helsingborg, Sweden

I walk towards town. Some 15 minutes away. Few people are up this early. At the train station there is a McDonald's. I ask about gluten and dairy free. She punches away at her terminal. It has all this information. She does have gluten-free bread, but she says it isn't very good. I settle for hash browns, a fruit pack, and orange juice. While she will take my Euros, I get Swedish money for change. This is fine for now, as I get 1 SKr in change. But the rest of my Euros are big bills.

It is now past 9:00. Some things are opening up. I head towards the center of town. I see the city hall, but it is all covered with scaffolding, so I don't take a picture. The tourism office should be open. I try to find it. It isn't where my Lonely Planet map says it should be. I walk up to the viewing bridge and get a picture of the town. There is some old section, but most of the town is new. I go check out the Mariakyrkan (a church). I wander around. At where the tourism office should be I ask in a hotel. I find it moved a year ago, which is after my couple year old Sweden guide book. I head towards it.

I find the tourist office. The woman sells me a cycle guide for the country. (I use my single SKr and charge the rest.) I can use it to help plan a future trip. There are also five or so cycle maps that cover the country. I have no need for them now. I go check out the Telegrafen pub-restaurant. Of what Lonely Planet lists, it is the only one that might have gluten-free food. Only pub food is listed on the menu board. So I go back to the tourism office. She tells me of Taj Mahal, the one Indian restaurant in town. I go look at it. Since it wasn't lunch time yet, I head to the Dunkers Kulturhus (museum). The only permanent exhibit is the town museum. Part of it is a completely uninformative multi-media extravaganza. Then I see a more normal exhibit giving the town's history. The other three exhibits were "art." One was photographs of fashion models. We were expected to be into the clothes they were wearing. Then an exhibit of fashions from today's clothing designers, all showing very strange and useless outfits. Then I went to the new installation. It has a large white ball (only one, as initially only I was there) rolling around an enormous track. Rube Goldberg like, but nothing extra, only the track and the ball, and on a much larger scale.

I wander along the waterfront. People and cars are now all around. I go to climb the Kärnan (the tower), as it is now open. As my left inside ankle, for some unknown reason, has been sore today, I go check out the elevator to the viewing bridge. It costs money! I walk up. At the Kärnan there is admission. This is not noted in Lonely Planet. He will take only Swedish and Danish money. He'll give Danish money parity. This means that paying with Danish will cost 25% more. I pass on principle, plus with the sore ankle it wouldn't be a good idea to climb all the steps. It is now time to head towards the Indian restaurant. On the way I find a band playing. I get a picture. Then I get to the restaurant. Yes, they are open, he says. He ignores me and keeps vacuuming. I ask again. Only five more minutes of vacuuming, is his reply. I see no indication that they take credit cards. They only take Swedish money, he says. I leave. I go check out the Telegrafen. She says they closed the restaurant. They have only pub food now. They have nothing that is gluten and dairy free. She mentions a couple places. At one, Wayne's Coffee, I could only get a salad, as everything else has gluten. The other is a restaurant by the water. I find it, but the chicken special has cheese in it. Only some rather expensive dishes could they make gluten and dairy free. I pass, and head to the train station, which has several restaurants on the second floor. I check out two. The first I don't remember. At the second, again I could only get some rather expensive dishes, but without all the fancy sauces, which are normally included. I head over to McDonald's. The fellow is upfront with their gluten-free rolls are really only low gluten. So, a couple orders of fries, four tiny hamburgers, and orange juice, do for lunch.

I head towards the ferry. HH is a ways around. Scandlines, the more expensive one (but not that much more for pedestrians) is right there at the train station. On the way I stop at "First Stop Sweden" tourism center. They have nothing general on bicycling. They just have the various maps. I head to the ferry and wait a few minutes.

Helsingør, Denmark

Back in Denmark I am still freezing. I must not be the only one, as I see others with short sleeves, and some even wearing shorts. I want to stop by my room for my flannel shirt, but it is 2:30 and the Karmeliterklostret closes at 3:00, so I head straight there. In addition to having lovely cloisters, it is a monastery. Then I stop at the Helsingør Bymuseum. It is free today, though it doesn't cost much normally. I wander around a very interesting history museum, though almost none of the explanations are in English. Then I go to the Sankt Olai Kirke, but there was a small funeral taking place and one could only look from the door. Then to get off my ankle I head back to my room. I pass hordes of Swedes buying up beer and liquor to take back. Apparently most of the traffic across the sound is Swedes visiting Denmark.

After a long nap I head out for dinner to Madam Sprunck's. They can make anything gluten and dairy free. And the rather expensive dishes already are. I select one of the cheaper ones. It came with a nice peppercorn sauce. This place has fine food with expensive ingredients in an informal setting. This is a good combination. The waiter comes over. He asks if I'm still hungry. They discussed in the kitchen what they could make me for dessert. He suggests a fruit compote with rhubarb and mango. I order it. It comes. It was very nice. It had a variety of fruits prepared in different ways. The place has a versatile chef that presents his food in decorative ways. He clearly has culinary training. I write he, as there is no Madam here. All guys run it now. Apparently she lived some 300 years ago and the place has been a restaurant or pub ever since.

As my ankle is worse than ever, I just head to my room. I had planned to visit a couple of distant parks. No doubt walking all day around Helsingborg wasn't good for it.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

I don't get up until 7:30. I look out. The sky is covered with clouds, but it doesn't look like rain. It seems like it always becomes cloudy at night. I can't tell how my ankle is without walking on it, and the room is too small for a test walk.

At 8:40 I head out looking for "brunch." I recalled one place that opened at 9:00. My ankle seems fine! I find the place. On Sunday it doesn't open until 10:00. I do have an extra pemmican muffin. I can eat it on the train to Copenhagen. I return to my room. I pack and walk across the street to the station. A fellow helps me pick the train and buy a ticket from a machine. I can take a 9:16 train.


I arrive in Copenhagen at 10:00. I put my luggage in a locker. I head over to the tourism office. It is closed! It is only open on Sundays in July and August. Someone in front says rooms are hard to get as it is graduation. I head over to the hotel district west of Central Station. Some hotels have signs saying they are fully booked. I walk in some others. At an Ibis she says she can give me a room for tonight, but not on Monday night. There is a congress [a convention] taking place. I walk over to Fredericksburg to inquire at the two Cab Inns there. Both are fully booked. I return to the Ibis Copenhagen Star. I ask if they have a room at the airport for Monday night. No reason why I can't stay there my last night. No he replies. I have now lost an hour and a half, so I book a room for the one night. He doesn't take my money.

I head out to wander. I realize that I could save money by going back to Skandia Hotel in Helsingør for both nights, and take the train to and from Copenhagen. Their phone number is in my luggage in the locker. But it is unlikely that they will fill up. I could just return late at night.

I have thrown away all my Lonely Planet photocopied pages for Helsingør and North Zealand. I only have the Copenhagen pages left.

I pull out my Copenhagen pages and start one of the walking tours. I keep an eye out for an Indian restaurant. I walk the Strøget. Then I go through Kongens Nytorv Square. Then I walk the Nyhavn. Then I walk around Amaliehaven. Then I pass through the Amalienborg Slot courtyard. Then I get to the Marmorkirken. If I wait 15 minutes, and pay, I can go to the top. But it isn't very high. I head on. On Store Kongensgade I stop in a café and ask about an Indian restaurant. He suggests Gothersgade, which is a slight deviation from the walking tour. As I head there I pass a Lai Hoo, a Cantonese restaurant. I go in. They speak English, plus a Danish fellow with his Chinese wife helps. I end up with chicken in a garlic sauce. It was fine, but expensive (with water and rice: 118 DKr, $20.34).

Then back to the walking tour. At Kongens Have (a park) I find the Rosenberg Slot. I pay to go in. This is an early 17th century castle, plus where some royal crowns and swords are stored. It is all very grand.

As that ends this tour I find another that ends nearby. Lonely Planet calls it "Going, going, green." So I do it backwards. I pass the Statens Museum for Kunst (The Royal Museum of Art). Then I go into the Botanical Gardens. I wander around, but it is past 3:30 and I can't get into the Palm House. Then back to Kongens Have. It then takes me through Nyboder, a collection of 17th century buildings that once housed 2200 naval personnel. It is now mostly public housing. Then into the Kastellet, a citadel built in the 1660's. Then I reach The Little Mermaid. There are mobs of tourists around it. Buses are coming and going. And all the canal tour boats are pulling up alongside. Then I head to the Gefion Fountain and St. Alban's Church. This is an Anglican-Episcopalian Church, and it is the first church I've seen here with the pulpit up front and down low. In all the others it was in the middle and high up. Half the people wouldn't be able to see the minister giving the sermon. Then I go past the Frihedsmuseet (Museum of Danish Resistance), now closed as it was past 4:00 (now 5:00). Then at Churchillparken I'm at the walking tour start.

I look for another walking tour. I walk a kilometer to the start of "Waterside Wander." It starts with a walk up and down Nyhavn, which I skipped, as I already walked down it. I walk under the footbridge on Tordenskjoldsgade. Then I go over the bridge to reach Christianshavn. I find lovely renovated warehouses which are now housing. Along with canals filled with boats. I pass Vor Frelsers Kirke, which has a 95m-high spire one can climb. I will come back tomorrow. It is one of the three things I plan to climb. Then I pass Lille Mølle, a museum closed for the day. Next to it are many people enjoying a drink at Bastionen & Løven [now closed]. Then I make my way through the island's battlements to reach the Langeboro Bridge.

I then head to Central Station. It isn't too far away (1.5 km). I've decided I will spend the night in Copenhagen. Going back to Helsingør, with the two train trips, only saves me $15. I'll spend one night here hanging out in Tivoli Gardens. Then I can go back for Monday night, where I can walk the two parks I had planned to walk to the night when my ankle was bothering me.

I get my bags and check in at the Ibis Star. I dropped my bags in my room and headed to an Indian restaurant that I remembered was down the street. I find the Indian Monsoon. It was a decent meal, and reasonable, as I didn't order anything to drink. I ask about lunch. Not now, he replies, but maybe soon. I ask if another serves lunch. Yes, there is one a couple blocks further down the street. I walk to check it out. I find two more Indian restaurants. One open for lunch, the other not.

I go back to my room to drink some water. I check out my room. It is the nicest (and most expensive) so far. It has opaque curtains. They had been getting thinner and thinner as my trip progressed. In The Netherlands I recall opaque ones, but not here, until now.

My legs are a little sore. I figure I walked 12 miles in the 8 ½ hours I was wandering around. And I was on my feet most of the time. I had no problem at all with my ankle. An odd one day thing.

A head out around 8:30. I want to find the bike rental place tonight. On my way out I comment to the desk clerk about the bike in the stairwell and ask do they rent them. Yes they do, was the reply, for 100 DKr a day. She said they are one-speed. I head out looking for the rental place. It is not where Lonely Planet has them. In trying to find them I come across the Turist Hotellet. I inquire. A single room with shared bath is 300 DKr/night. That's $50 less than what I'm paying! It is too late for this night. I reserve for Monday. He says it is clean. I will check tomorrow before paying.

I find the rental place underneath Central Station. They open at 8:00. Good. Lonely Planet has 9:00. I head over to Tivoli Gardens. I enter at 9:00. It takes two hours to wander around and look at everything. There are lots of restaurants at all price points. There are rides for different ages. There are games of skill and chance. Then, at 11:00, timed just right for me, I got to see the half hour skit on ten of Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tales. The Danes really push him as a tourist attraction. It is now 11:30 and I head for my room. Another three hours on my feet without sitting down. And it was late for me. As my dinner was eaten early, and not all that big, I eat a half of a pemmican muffin. I don't need to keep all that many, as with four hours in DeGaulle Airport I should be able to stuff myself before my flight back.

Monday, June 20, 2005

I'm up at 6:40. The sun is shining already. I get ready and eat a pemmican muffin. The hotel does have breakfast for 65 DKr ($11.21), which does have boiled eggs and pineapple, but I passed. I'll stop at McDonald's for a hash brown, a fruit pack, and orange juice to round out the meal.

I get to Københavens Cykler, the bike rental place, at 8:05. But they are not open yet. Two other fellows are already waiting. Not until 8:25 do they show up. Ten minutes later I'm on the streets in a brand new bike.

I head to the McDonald's that I knew about. It was closed for breakfast. [I later discover one in Central Station that is open for breakfast.] Then I head towards Christiana. I first bike the long way around it to get to it. I go around a development of very modest homes in a park-like setting. I bike through Christiana some. Then for a long ways I bike on a path along the water's edge of the bastions. [I later realize that I missed most of Christiana.] I then head to Vor Frelsers Kirke (The Church of Our Savior), but it doesn't open until 11:00. I chat with the sexton. He shows me the shed in back that they let the graffiti artists paint. Every couple weeks they come and paint something new. I then head to the Rådhus (City Hall) to see about climbing their clock tower. One can go up only at 10:00, 12:00, and 2:00. It is now 10:15. Ascent is now only in guarded groups, as they were having graffiti problems. I then head to the tourism office. After a long wait—it seems they help the information people before a booking person—I find that the cheapest single room they have is 2000 DKr. Of course I pass. Then I head to my room to check out. No singles have become available at the Ibis for that night. I change to shorts and pack my flannel shirt. I leave my luggage in their luggage closet.

I head back to Vor Frelsers Kirke. I climb up to the top of the tower. You can't walk around for a 360° panorama, so I get two of say 240°. As it is approaching noon I head back to the City Hall for that climb. I get there at five minutes before 12:00. I'm at the lead of the pack. I'm the first one to get to the top. One young kid is on my tail, but everybody else falls behind. No 360°, so I get 180° from each of the four sides. But we are no where near the actual top of the tower. I then head to lunch. I find Restaurant Shezan, the Pakistani one (I learn it isn't Indian) that is open for lunch. A fellow was finishing his lunch. Only I am eating there. They charge for rice, but no charge for a pitcher of water. A first, I think.

I head over to the Turist Hotellet. I check out the room. It is okay. I chat with the fellow. Maybe he is Iranian? They have an import business in NYC, so he knows my city well. They bought the hotel a year ago and cleaned it up, buying new beds, linens, etc.

I head towards the Rundetårn (Round Tower). Along the way I pass Vor Frue Kirke (Our Lady's Church). I go in. The pulpit is again in the middle, but the pews in front of it have benches both front and back. So those people can turn around and watch the sermon. I make it to the Round Tower and walk up. They put up an iron fence that keeps you many feet from the edge. I took pictures to make a 360° panorama, but it will only be a narrow strip of buildings. The three towers I've climbed that day have been declining in quality.

The Church of Trinitatis is next to the tower. So I go in. Again the pews that are in front of the middle pulpit have benches front and back. I ask the woman there about why the pulpit is in the middle. She says the king used to sit in the balcony in the middle, so the preacher would be facing the king. But later the king sat in the front row. Maybe this is true, but most of the churches I've seen only had balconies in the rear.

I had been planning to bike the remaining walking tour in Lonely Planet. It is easier to do the tours in the documented way, so I bike to the beginning. Along the way I pass a fruit seller. She has some raspberries in the sun. I buy a carton. It was maybe a half pint, except this is metric. Being warm accentuated their flavor. Delicious.

The tour is named "Vintage Vanguard" and features the Latin Quarter. After a wrong turn or two I make it to the start at Sankt Hans Torv, the hippest square in the area. Then it goes through various streets in Nørrebro. I then make a side trip to Ørsteds Parken. I bike around the lake. A well kept park. Then to finish the walking tour I bike to Israel Plads, the city's main market. I buy some cherries to eat when I get back to my room. Then I see there is a park behind Statens Museum for Kunst. I bike around its lakes. What a poorly maintained park. Weeds were everywhere. Goutweed is taking over. Phragmites is taking over the edges of the lake. This weed blocks the view of the water and is particularly hard to get rid of.

My time is running out. I have to start heading back to return the bike, I walk down parts of the Købmagergade and Amagertorv pedestrian streets. I see a green patch on my map west of where I am staying (which is west of Central Station). I sort of reach it. It doesn't seem to be a "park," but a green setting for some hostels and the Bymuseum. Then to return the bike.

I then try to buy a ticket to Kastrup Airport for the next morning. Nope. You can't buy them in advance. She tells me how much change I will need for the machine. I then head to the Ibis to get my luggage and carry it to the Turist Hotellet.

I go out for a walk. I start walking down Sonder Blvd, but then I decide to eat first. I look at the menu of Indus, across the street from where I ate lunch. But then I decide to return to Shezan. The owner waits on me. I learn that his brother owns the Indus. We chat about no smoking laws. There are none in Denmark. He says his brother charges for water, but he can't see doing it. I have extra cash, so I splurge and order a meat dish and a vegetable dish. I'm stuffed.

At 8:00 I head out to explore the parks west of me. I first find Enghave Plads. It was small, and the fountain and pool were dry. Then I walk to Enghave Parken. It was formally laid out with a big fountain in the middle. People were barbequing and picnicking on the grass. Then I walked through the Carlsberg Brewery [now being converted to Carlsberg Byen], on a sprawling piece of land. Many of the buildings are very old. Then I entered Søndermarken Park. This is a huge park. It would really be better explored on a bike. It reminded me of Prospect Park, but this had some formal elements, which Prospect Park lacks. Then across the street I enter the Frederiksberg Have. This is more like Central park, as it was better groomed than Søndermarken/Prospect Park. It has a lake meandering through it. At one place there were birds nesting way up in a tree (herons?) and creating quite a racket. It was like they were fighting. The sounds were like growling. Then leaving Fredericksberg Have I stumbled on a garden that was not labeled on any map I have. It is a formal garden with many species of the same things. With no map to help I had to write the name down: Det Kgl. Danske Haveselskab. (I later learn this translates to The Royal Danish Garden Society.) Then I returned to my hotel by walking down Fredericksberg Allé, a grand tree lined street. I pass the Københavns Bymuseum and see the miniature setting of old Copenhagen. It was 10:20 when I got up to my room. More than two hours of almost non-stop walking.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

I didn't sleep that much. I woke at 2:00 and had trouble falling back to sleep. I got up at 6:30 and was out of the hotel at 7:10. I had lots of time to make my 9:55 flight. I stop at McDonald's in Central Station to supplement my pemmican muffin. I just missed a train, but only eight minutes to the next. It gave me a chance to eat my McDonald's food. At Kastrup Airport I exchanged my remaining Danish money, or most of it. They only stock US paper currency, so I get left with less than $1 worth of Danish coins. The line at the check-in counter is fairly short. I only had a 10 minute wait. I ask about getting an earlier flight out of Paris. She sends me over to the Air France counter. No. Both earlier flights (JFK and Newark) are full. But the check-in line has now grown considerably! I now have more than a 30 minute wait to check-in. Then after I made it through security I had to wait for the gate to be announced. There was no advantage to getting to the airport two hours and 10 minutes before flight departure.

Waiting for the flight I grab complimentary copies of all three English language papers (International Herald Tribune, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today). I have since read all the reading material that I had brought with me.

On the flight to Paris I sit next to a retired couple returning to Houston. I chat with the husband for a while. He sold technical services to oil refineries. Politically we weren't very compatible. They were big Bush supporters, along with believing everybody should keep a handgun under their bed. But then Houston is a bit different than Brooklyn.

Paris, France

At DeGaulle Airport I have to take a bus to a different terminal. They have many terminals with non-stop buses going between them. When at my terminal people have to take an escalator up to the level where security is. But there was a backup from the security checkpoint. There wasn't enough queuing space. So people were getting up to the top of the escalator and had a hard time getting off with all the people in the way. Then the queue was standing in front of a solid closed door. An airport employee comes flying out and whacks a passenger standing there. Then more came out, but by this time people knew not to stand in front of it. Then there was congestion at the security machines. Each end of the machines are near walls, especially at the machine ends. So it was hard to get past the people taking their luggage off the conveyor belts. Then in the waiting area there is more congestion. The waiting area for each gate is shallow. So when people line up to board it is hard to get past them and get to the other gates.

I look for food. There are no restaurants. There are only packaged sandwiches and the like. I was getting tired of paying for water, so I looked for a water fountain. I found one at my end of the terminal. I buy a banana and potato chips to supplement a pemmican muffin. I eat them all. Then I discover that the water fountain is unusable. The water barely comes out. I figured there would also be a fountain at the opposite end, so I take a hike. I make it past the congestion of a gate boarding. Then past a woman who is standing smack in the middle of the narrow aisle making a cell phone call. But alas, that fountain was also unusable. Though, if I had a cup, I could have gotten water out of this one. So I return to my end and buy water. It was a liter, so I'll bring it aboard and have it for the flight.

I make it through the Wall Street Journal. I join the small crowd in front of my gate. They have also been waiting for a while. As the boarding time approaches, people just get up and start standing in line. Air France does not board by rows. Those that stand and wait the longest get on first. I wait until most have boarded and the line is short. I find I'm in another 777!

We wait on the runway. We pull into the air more than 50 minutes after our scheduled departure. But our little touch screen TVs show arrival on time. (The electronics provided by Air France are not the same as on Alitalia. For example, on Air France you can't start the movie on your own schedule.)

Over the Atlantic

We have footrests, but they are best for people with short legs. If you don't want to use them, you have to just let then rest on the top of your legs, or squeeze your legs over them.

My dinner comes. It is gluten-free, and also dairy-free, which I didn't ask for, but is nice. But except for a small slice of prosciutto with the melon, there was no meat. My main course, labeled GFML, was steamed spinach and steamed carrots. It was very strange. But on the positive side, when the fellow came down the aisle with the rolls, he remembered I was gluten-free and did not offer me one.

I try to fill out the immigration card, but despite my showing my US passport, the Air France person gave me one in French. I try my best, based on what I know of French and having filled them out many times before.

I finish the International Herald Tribune. Then I watch two movies: Million Dollar Baby, and Présenteur Vedette. Both are American movies. [It took some creative seaching to find that the real name of the second is Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy.]

I then try J'adore Huckabees, the third movie that has an English track (the other two of the five were French only). [I later figure out that the real name of this one is I Heart Huckabees.] But I get the tail end. Then it did not restart right away. And later when I checked again it was static. Then later I missed too much to figure out what people's relationships were. So I went to reading my third paper. One problem was I had to read from the light of my window, as no way could I get my spotlight to point anywhere near me.

Our snack comes. I get a full cold meal. It was with fish and chicken. There is my meat! The meal was completely sealed. The label said it was diabetic, gluten-free, and lactose-free. I was impressed. Other people got some cookies, a small cheese sandwich, and a small package of fromage frais (low-fat cream cheese).

I get up to go to the lavatory. One of the waitresses who is serving the other aisle, Angeline, was real nasty to another passenger. Then she was nasty to me and another fellow. Seems she has a nasty disposition.

Queens, New York

We land. I get to immigration. The immigration fellow doesn't read French. But I explain to him that the question that I said yes to was the one about being on a farm with cloven feet animals. So he sends me to the Agriculture Dept guy. I tell him I was bicycling around sheep. He asks if I have dung on my shoes. I don't, so he lets me through. Then I get to the exit. There is a cluster of taxi drivers in front of the revolving door trying to solicit my ride. I say I am going to the taxi queue. They reply that I will have to take a bus to it. I push past them and get outside. The queue is right there, with no people waiting. Knowing that taxi drivers won't always take the shortest route I tell him exactly what roads to take to get me home. He suggested an alternative route, to which I agreed to. It may have been a little quicker; though with the taxi fare increase since I last flew out of JFK, it was much more expensive. Next time I will try using the car service that I use to get to JFK. I arrive at my home 18 hours after I walked out of my hotel.

© 2005 Don Wiss. All rights reserved.