BootsnAll Travel Network

Denmark The land of the Vikings

After saying goodbye to Brian and his roomate, I took the last train of the night to Charles de Gaulle Airport. When I arrived, I had to go to all the terminals before finding out from which one I would fly. I finally learned this from a guard as the computer screens were inaccurate. Around 2:00 am I finally settled on a spot on the hard floor to try to get some sleep. The spot I picked was near some very loud Italians, but I decided to go with security (the airport was nearly deserted and I figured they would let me know if someone was rifling through my pockets while sleeping) instead of ease of sleep. I probably managed about half an hour and finally gave up around 4:30 am. At 5:00 am, the electronic ticket machines came on and I checked myself in. I then went through security and got on the plane at 7:00 am. I managed to sleep most of this flight. I landed in Copenhagen at 9:00 am and took the train into the city. After arriving at the central train station, my first action was to buy my train ticket to Thisted for April 10. As I was supposed to meet my next couchsurfing host later in the day, I next put my bags into a locker and got my first sticker shock. (Scandanavia is very expensive. So this whole blog won’t be about how expensive it is here, I will make a comment now that I often feel a bit lightheaded when walking into the shops. With the weak dollar and just the normal high prices here some things are about 3 times what I would expect to pay as opposed to double in Paris. I hope that I don’t go into a catatonic state by the time I am through with Iceland which should be 4 times more expensive. ) The locker was 30 krone (4.7 krone = 1 US dollar). To be fair the locker rental was for 24 hours (you can only open it once) but I only needed it for about 4.

Baggage free, I headed out of the train station to try to find something to eat. I was in particular looking for a hotdog. Just before arriving in Denmark, I had learned that Denmark is known for its hotdogs. Sure enough there were stands everywere. I bought a 7 dollar hotdog to go with my 3 dollar bottle of water. The hotdog was very good, big, and messy. Finishing the hot dog, I set off for a wander around Copenhagen. The weather outside was not so good. It was cold and drizzly. My first stop was the nearby tourist office for a map. With the map in hand I wandered around the streets near the train station and out to the island of Christianshavn. The architecture of the city was quite different from Paris. Whereas in Paris most of the buildings standing now come from a building project under Napolean in the 18th century and are very uniform and beige in appearance, Copenhagen is much more diverse. Many of the buildings are red brick and the ones that aren’t come in a variety of colors. The city is full of canals and sort of reminds me of Venice. I was also able to make some other interesting observations:

1. Many people are indeed blonde here.

2. I feel short.

3. Did I mention it’s expensive? (Last comment I hope.)

After walking around for about 1.5 hours, I decided that I needed to find some place to get warm as my hands were going numb. (my gloves and hat were in my bag that I couldn’t access without paying again). Out of the cold and mist came a sign from heaven. It said Free and was attached to the national history museum which is housed in an old palace. I walked in and spent about an hour going through Danish history exihibits. They went through the Middle Ages and modern history. The exhibits prior to the Middle Ages were undergoing restoration. The museum was quite good and had replica rooms of churches and typical homes during different periods. By the time I finished, it was time to go back to the train station and meet Thomas my next host. He is a 22 year old electrician. We met at the train station and went back to his house. We spent the evening watching TV and visiting as the weather didn’t improve any.

The next morning the weather was greatly improved and the sun was shining though it was still cold. I headed out to do some more sightseeing. This time I was wearing my fleece, rainshell, and hat but was soon stripping them off as it was hot while walking. My first stop was the little mermaid statue based on Hans Christian Anderson’s The Little Mermaid. It’s one of those things like the Mona Lisa that somehow got super famous, but you are not exactly sure why. I had to walk across an old fort to get there. The fort is surrounded by a star shaped moat and is today open to the public even though it is still used by the military. On the fort grounds was an old windmill. It looked like one just out of fairytales and had huge wooden vanes attached to a squat concical structure with windows. (as opposed to the ones in the US which are usually just wind vanes attached to a wooden skeletal frame.) It reminded me of ones I had seen in pictures of Holland. At the edge of the fort was a very striking Anglican church made of grey stone. I finally found the the mermaid sitting on a rock at the waterside. As it was surrounded by a Japanese tour group at the time, I sat and watched all the little blonde Danish children draw pictures of the statue while the Japanese filmed and took pictures of them. When the statue was clear, I went down and tooks some pictures. I then headed over to the royal palace to watch the changing of the guards. A military band came out and played while another group did drill with guns. They were dressed in old fashoined blue uniforms with very large black bearfur hats (like the ones worn by the guard outside Bunkingham palace, but these hats seemed bigger). The guards were then relieved one by one.

My next major stop was the free city of Christiana which is on the island of Christianshavn. The area was founded in the 1970’s in an old military/industrial area. The area has semi legal status and is inhabitated by people seeking alternate lifestyles (hippe, anarchist, etc.) Property here is owned communally and the right to live here is only allowed if current members vote to let you in. Throughout its history there has been controversy surrounding the area due to the open sale of marijuana which is illegal in Denmark. The open sale ended in 2004 after stories of a massive police raid spread. The area is full of interesting painting and buildings including a Buddhist Gompa in Tibetan style. There is a picture taking ban in the area I guess to allow people to fill comfortable doing whatever alternate things they feel they need to do. I did find a very good falafel shop for lunch. It was at this point that my camera batteries finally gave out so I couldn’t get any pictures, even if I wanted to.

I walked back into the city and down the main shopping streets of the city which were kept car free. Clouds started rolling in so I decided to head back to the apartment before the rain.

My next day was almost completely spent on public transportation and was a little rough. When I left for the train station, I locked the door to the apartment and dropped the keys into the mail slot only to realize that I left my camera inside. With no way to get back without breaking in, I had to leave it. ( I am now trying to arrange to have it mailed home. I will rely on one time use cameras for the rest of my trip. All my pictures are now on the Internet, but I will lose all the videos I took of my trip if I don’t get it back.) I went to the train station and boarded my train for the six hour trip to Thisted. The trip was uneventful but passed through very nice scenery consisting of lots of farmland, small towns, and modern power generating windmills. Parts of the trip took place along the coast which was also nice. Upon arrival in Thisted I waited for bus number 23 as instructed for a ride to the hostel. I got on and told the driver the name of the hostel which he repeated. We then set off and before long we passed the hostel and the bus driver didn’t stop. Just to make sure I wasn’t mistaken, I wrote the name of the hostel down and showed it to the bus driver. He looked at me and said that’s not what I said. Then started a yes it was, no it wasn’t argument, which I quickly decided to end as it was not helping me get to the hostel. I asked him how to get back and at the  next stop had to get out and wait for another bus. The next bus came along and this time I showed him the name of the hostel instead of telling him and got dropped off a the right place annoyed that I had waste 24 krone on the wrong bus fare. At the hostel the owner upgraded me to a single room for the dorm price as they weren’t full anyway. He was also nice enough to let me use the hostel bike for free instead of charging me the 50 krone per day fee. After dropping my things off in my room, I pedaled back into town (the hostel was about 3 kms outside of Thisted.) to a grocery store. The ride wasn’t too bad as there was a dedicated bike lane though it was cold. After shopping, I returned to the hostel, cooked supper which was a frozen rice and pork dish, and then went to bed. I had thought about actually cooking something, but it was too hard in the grocery store to try to decipher what all the different things were.

The next morning I rode the bicycle back into town to look around and try to find the disposable cameras. Thisted sits on the coast of Denmark. It is a town full of single story wood and stone buildings. There isn’t much to do there in and of itself. The whole area is made up of rolling hills most of which is farmland or heather. Denmark’s first national park which was just recently formed is in this area. I looked in some of the shops on the main shopping street and went into an old wooden church there. I found the cameras in a super market and bought two of them. Then I walked along the coastline for a while looking at the clear water which was very cold. It started to cloud up toward the afternoon and looked like it might rain  so I went back to the hostel. I spent the evening watching television while it rained quite heavily outside.

Friday, I caught a 9:00 am bus to Hanstholm where I was to board the Norrøna for the trip to the Faroe Islands. I walked outside the hostel and flagged the bus down as it passed by. Once in Hanstholm, the bus driver dropped me off at the port. As the ship wasn’t leaving until 5:00 pm and I couldn’t board until 3:00, I found some lockers to leave by bags in at the Smyril Line Office (Norrøna) and set off to look around the town. The port was an artificial one and sat on the edge of bluffs upon which the town was located. I climbed up some stairs to reach a lookout over the port. I stayed there for a while watching another very large ferry unload cars and passengers. While I was up there my ship came in (not the cliche, literally). It was very big (800 cars, 1900 passenger capacity) and had to back into its slot. It had a large back door which lowered down to allow the cars to exit. After watching this for a while, I headed to a lighthouse that I saw in a distance. Around the lighthouse were numerous walking trails through small, windblown, stunted trees and hills overlooking more heather. I most enjoyed watching some small horses on a farm nearby. They were the furriest horses I had ever seen just perfect for cold weather.

After walking around, I headed back to the Smyril Office, retrieved my bags, and read brochures until it was time for me to board the ship. I checked in and was given a boarding card and lock for my room. I had booked a shared four bed cabin with a window. I entered the ship on the fifth deck. I should digress here to describe the ship ( if anyone is really interested). The ship has four decks which are used for passenger and about two decks for cars. There are other decks off limits. The fifth deck is the main common area. Here they have reception, a tax free shop, small casino, nightclub, cafeteria, and cinema.  The sixth deck had a fine dining restaurant and casual bar. Deck 7 where I was staying was solely cabin as was deck 8. There was access to the outside promenades from deck 8. I found my room which had four fold down beds, bathroom, TV, and refrigerator. There were only two beds made up. Sure enough a little while later a Polish man going to Bergen, Norway showed up. He didn’t speak much English, so after exhausting the words he did know, I headed outside to watch the preparations for leaving. The cars were loaded up and then cargo loaded onboard. When this was finished the rear doors were closed, the ropes thrown off, and we were off into the North Sea heading for Bergen which was the first stop.

I spent the afternoon on the ship looking around and talking to people. As this is the low season (I got what I considered to be a very good rate.) the ship wasn’t that crowded. Most of my time was spent outside under the covered area as it was very windy and rainy. At time small pieces of ice also fell. The weather changed rapidly as we moved in and out of cloud cover. The waves weren’t too bad, but I did feel a bit under weather when I stayed inside the ship for too long. After it got dark, I went to the casino and watched people bet large sums of money at the blackjack table. I got into a conversation with one guy who was about 20 and was living in the Faroe Islands. I went to bed about midnight (it didn’t get dark until about 10:00 pm.)

In the morning I was woken up by a loudspeaker announcing that we were arriving in Bergen. To reach the port we had to sail through a fjiord. The town was full of brightly colored houses set up against some low mountains which had snow on the top. The weather was cloudy and overcast. In Bergen people and cars were discharged and new ones boarded. I got a new roomate. This time a Norwegian going to Denmark. It appears he understood Engligh, but I couldn’t understand him when he spoke English to me. Leaving Bergen and the Norwegian coast behind, we set off across the North Atlantic to the Torshavn the capital of the Faroe Islands where I would be getting off. The waves picked up as we headed out over the open ocean. This time I really did have to spend most of the day outside to avoid getting sick. It was amazing how fast the weather changed and you could often see a rain storm coming from way off. Between bouts of watching the weather change and visiting people outside, I took naps in my room and watched TV. I went to bed early that night as I was not feeling well by the end of the day and the waves were really picking up.

We arrived at Torshavn at 5:30 this morning. The guy from the Faroe Islands was being picked up by his father and they offered me a ride to my hostel which I accepted. The hostel reception didn’t open until 8:00 am, so I had to wait outside for two hours. I did have some brochures to read and a map with which to use to plan my Faroe Island trip. I was a bit annoyed to discover that even though I was back on land it still felt like I was on the boat. It sometimes felt like the ground was moving. At 8:00 am I checked into the hostel. I was once again upgraded to my own room even though I paid for the dorm as the dorm was full. Putting down my bags and eating a breakfast of bread and Nutella (I ran out of peanut butter and haven’t found anymore.), I went to the tourist office to get some information on how to spend my week here. In the tourist office I picked up some maps and asked about some places to visit. The islands aren’t that big but have lots of nooks and crannies to visit. The main activity available this time of year is hiking as most things aren’t open yet. There is still snow around on the hilltops to watch out for though. After the tourist office, I went to the transportation terminal and got a bus schedule. I then headed the library which has free Internet to finish this blog entry. As the weather is nice, I will spend the afternoon doing a two hour walk over a mountain to another town and take the bus back. I am not in too much of a hurry as it won’t get dark until after 10:00 pm.


1. It seems  that the last days of my trip take place in a similar manner to the beginning. At the beginning of my trip I stayed in hostels and travelled almost solely in British Commonwealth countries (e.g. once part of the Brithish empire) . Now I will once again be in dorms, in hostels, and this time traveling through countries that were once or are currently under the umbrella of the kingdom of Denmark.

 2. Paris pictures are up on the website.

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