|Bedroom, Hotel Kong Arthur, Copenhagen|
I had good vibes about Denmark from the outset. Their language for starters. A country which has the word Hej (pronounced Hi) for hello, Hej Hej (Hi Hi) for goodbye and the word Tak for both please and thank you, has got my vote. The words are so sweet and happy-sounding they induce a smile on the listener in an instant.
The currency proved more problematic. I’ve started to get the hang of Euros but the Danish Krone currency conversion flummoxed me to begin with, until I plumped for the rather unscientific ‘take off the last number and add a little bit’ strategy. Dougie keeps tight hold of the foreign currency anyway as he thinks I treat it like Monopoly money. A fair observation.
A short 90 minute flight and with good visibility I was able to point out Copenhagen to Rory as we came in to land. The magnificent Øresund bridge between Denmark and Sweden could be seen shooting across the sea and plunging into the depths as it became a tunnel. It was at that point I realised the city I was oohing and aahing at was Malmo, Sweden, not Denmark’s capital after all. My Geography degree showing its value yet again.
We took the unusual step of eschewing a taxi from the airport when we arrived in Copenhagen. Over the years we seem to have paid over the google-recommended fares whenever we arrive in a city. With metered taxis you would presume we couldn’t be ripped off in European cities but it would seem the driver takes us the scenic route to our hotel every time. In hindsight I suspect the Danish taxi drivers may have been more honest, such is their attitude about laws in general (heaven forbid you should cross the road on a Red Man).
We knew we had to take the Metro just a few stops and that we needed the yellow M2 line. Plans went awry when we unknowingly walked past the ticket office and ended up on the platform to face a machine instead. In what was to become a rocky relationship with the ticket machines for the remainder of the week, we stared at the screen and I jabbed at it a lot. Thankfully help came in the form of a Peter Schmeichel looky-likey who ambled over and guided us smoothly through the operation, speaking English with the consummate ease of a man comfortable in flipping languages like a linguistic pancake.
This ability of the Danes to speak English so extraordinarily well shamed us the whole holiday. The best example came two days later when we were lost, having chosen the wrong fork in the road after leaving Hellerup station on the hunt for the Experimentarium. We walked down a suburban street and spotted an old couple trimming their hedge. I said ‘undskyld’ (‘excuse me’ in Danish ) then ruined the attempt by asking if they spoke English….in English. The chap beamed at me, tucked his shears under his arm, and said, with utter charm, “Yes, of course. We speak French and German and Dutch too. Would you like us to speak in any of those languages?”. No, English will do just fine. Dougie reckoned if we’d asked him to speak Scottish he’d have managed that effortlessly too.
Back to the story. We rattled our wheelie-bags over the cobbles on the short walk to Hotel Kong Arthur and, on arrival at reception, I waved my email confirmation of one suite with interconnecting standard room for Rory. The receptionist was extremely friendly but told us that Rory’s room wasn’t connected to ours. In fact I’m not even sure it was on the same floor. Cue immediate indignation. They were aware their reservation assistant had put a note to the effect of ensuring our rooms were connected but had no excuse as to why they had ignored it. After some very civilised argy-bargy and, aware it was after 6pm and the hotel was full, I suggested they offer us the closest room possible for our teen and then rectify matters in the morning. The room diagonally opposite ours would be available tomorrow. For tonight our boy would be at the far end of a long, rambling corridor: not ideal but he’s a big lad and he seemed unconcerned.
The rest of the evening was rather fraught with much schlepping down the corridor to pass chargers, adapters and whatnot which we had hoped to share. Immersing ourselves into the Danish culture, we turned up at La Rocca, the Italian restaurant next door, and enjoyed pizza, pasta and a very large gin, not knowing whether to say thanks, tak or grazie but soaking up the bonhomie nonetheless.
Rory was settled in his room for the night, MTV and iPod Touch as room-mates, and we started to relax in our very chocolate-mint coloured room.
Midnight. Phone rang. Rory wasn’t feeling very well and couldn’t sleep. One for the doctor, I thought, pushing Dougie out of the bed and turning over into the squashy pillow. Dougie rang me a few minutes later to say Rory was okay but he reckoned being so far away on his own wasn’t ideal so he would stay with him. So I spent the first night in our romantic suite on my own, until 6am when Dougie came tumbling back to bed. Apparently Rory was fine now, but was sick of his dad snoring so had told him to bugger off. That’s gratitude!