København to London

I booked a sleeper on the Copenhagen to Cologne night train, transferring there to a Brussels train in the morning and, from there, to the high speed Eurostar train through the Chunnel to London. P1010257

Before my evening departure I took my younger son’s advice and bussed it to Nyhavn, which I liked a lot. There is a small yellow foot ferry that I jumped on and rode around the inner harbor to the striking Copenhagen Opera House and back again. Nyhavn has many picturesque residences along its main canal and, because the sun was out, the outdoor cafes and bars were full of pale Danes and tourists.

I happened onto a restaurant called Told og Snaps on Toldbodgade in Nyhavn that was full of Københavner on a Friday afternoon at 2 pm, and enjoyed a warm welcome from the staff. They serve artfully prepared and presented smørrebrød, beer brewed on site and homemade snaps. “Snaps” is basically akvavit flavored P1010274in various ways. The British author of the unhelpful 1903 book Danish Life in Town and Country bemoaned the Danish working man’s affection for snaps. I ordered the smørrebrød with excellent amber beer and lemon snaps, which was poured into a small flute from a bottle that was ice cold from the freezer. Nobody was in a hurry to get back to work, and many of the tables were taken by groups of well-dressed older women enjoying a prolonged lunch with multiple rounds of beer. A group of four of them recruited me to take their picture toasting each other. I liked the restaurant a lot and was sorry to have discovered it on my last day in town.

I shared the train compartment out of Copenhagen with two worldly Indian men in their 20’s, engineers by training, who were working in sales for an Indian firm that safeguards intellectual property in the software industry. They were both whip-smart, funny, and interested in music and books. One of them was reading The Grapes of Wrath. Both were excited about Saturday’sP1010280 Cricket World Cup match between India and Sri Lanka in Mumbai, and were carefully planning where they would be in order to watch the historic match. (I later saw that India won “by six wickets,” although I regrettably don’t know what that means, but I was glad for them). They brought several tall cans of Carlsberg with them along with Indian curry and rice, all of which made them sleepy. One of them was married and the other was reconciled to the idea that he would eventually be part of an arranged marriage back home in Mumbai, although he expressed a general preference for the women of Stockholm. Definite Team America material.

In the morning I was again up early and found coffee in a small dining area on the train. While I was settling in a Dutchman almost exactly my age, who was travelling with his cat, moved his seat next to mine and talked about his past and future hip surgeries. He was clearly lonely, having lost his Polish wife to cancer a couple years previously. The cat had scratched his hand up; it seemed like a nasty animal to me, although he doted on it.

The Eurostar train from Brussels to London is fast and comfortable, although P1010288I was too tired to care much. It is either remarkably understaffed or they just hide out somewhere on the train. Although the train is expensive there is no one to help with bags or seat assignments. The first worker I saw was when we were within 15 minutes of London’s St. Pancras Railway Station. He checked my ticket and asked me to take an electronic survey regarding my experience.  I was in London by 10:30 am, in all about a 16 hour trip.

I decided to walk the mile from St. Pancras to my hotel, a Doubletree makeover of an old London hotel. It is in Bloomsbury, just a couple blocks from the British Museum. It was a glorious Spring day and I got my second wind, and so spent the afternoon in the museum and the small neighborhood parks. (The museum has a sign up announcing a – you guessed it – Picasso exhibition in the near future). The hotel wants £ 15 per day for Internet access but I found a shop that sold a 3G mobile broadband dongle for less than half what that would cost over 4 days.

About Saint Expedite

Retired early, then took a trip across the Pacific from Seattle by container ship. From China I stopped in Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Turkey, Greece, Italy, France, Holland, Denmark, England and Ireland before heading home to Puget Sound. This blog is an account of my travels. Write to me at SaintExpedite@frozenheads.net
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5 Responses to København to London

  1. Dan Berg says:

    Enjoy my home town!

  2. dj says:

    Your time in Denmark sounds lovely. I especially like the architecture on the canal. Regarding your judgmental evaluation of your travelling companion (“nasty animal,” indeed), I refer you to the words of your countryman: “Can you arch your back, purr or give off sparks?” If not, “you had better keep your opinions to yourself” (H. C. Andersen).

    • Maybe I was a little judgmental – it wasn’t the cat’s idea to get into a box and onto a train. As for Andersen, I can do two of those things and it hasn’t insulated me from criticism.

  3. Herb Jepko says:

    http://travel.nytimes.com/2011/04/03/travel/03Cover.html?ref=travel

    Paul Theroux on why we travel.

    I’m still suffering from jet lag, just back from Ireland. Or maybe it’s just a massive hangover.

    • Thanks for the link. As usual, Theroux is worth reading. I particularly liked this part about Hue:

      “My clearest memory was of the shattered Citadel and the muddy streets and the stinking foreshore of the Pearl River in Hue, up the coast, the terminus of the railway line. Now and then tracer fire, terror-struck people, a collapsed economy, rundown hotels and low spirits.

      “Thirty-three years later I returned to Vietnam on my ‘Ghost Train to the Eastern Star’ journey, which was a revisiting of my ‘Great Railway Bazaar.’ I went back to the royal city of Hue, and saw that there can be life, even happiness, after war and, almost unimaginably, there can be forgiveness.”

      Like Theroux I was astonished that the Vietnamese don’t hate us.

      His writing about Ulster is also quite good. The recent murder of the Catholic police officer in Omagh, presumably by IRA diehards, is a reminder that things aren’t settled there yet.

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