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 in 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’s 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 I 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.