I was on a ferry in Denmark. It didn’t catch fire. That’s a fifty percent record for me for being on ferries in Denmark that didn’t catch fire. Not too shabby, given my past form.
Anyway, this was on the way home from CynaraeStMary’s birthday party. At which I met many of the family and survived. So far, so good. I just have to learn Danish so I know what they are saying about me but maybe it’s best I don’t know.
I liked them all, I have to say. Especially Uncle Hairy Blonde Beard from Copenhagen who could be a whisky night pal when CStM is looking the other way… Okay, I confess I don’t remember many names but it usually takes more than one meeting/mention for names to sink in.
There might be a CStM veto in there but you never know. He might like the land of whisky and he might like my biker pals. I am just doing my best to fit in here. Even though I don’t fit anywhere.
I am not a natural sailor. Rough seas might be fine for Vikings but I’m a Celt. A dry land man. Well, I’m not sure the term ‘dry land’ really works in Wales or Scotland or indeed much of the UK because it’s usually raining. Solid ground then, even if it’s a bit mushy at times. It doesn’t move around as much as the sea. Yes, I build model boats but being on one is different.
But I digress. Rather, I am way ahead of the story.
This trip started with a panic, as all good trips should. I thought last Friday was the dreaded Black Friday when shops offload all last year’s outdated crap to make room for the new crap in time for Christmas. I expected to have to contend with appalling traffic on the way to the airport so set out early. There was no traffic. It was only Grey Friday. I was at the airport far too early and their free wifi is crap. It kept kicking me out. Still, a couple of double espressos and a tuna sandwich for breakfast and all was forgiven.
I also bought a bottle of Welsh spring water in Aberdeen airport and carried it all the way to Denmark. Not that they were short of water in Denmark, it drops out of the sky there too and as any map will tell you, much of Denmark is made of sea.
The plane I was on didn’t go to Denmark. It went to Amsterdam. For a reason I cannot fathom it was much, much cheaper to go that way than to go direct to Copenhagen like I did last time. Last time the roundabout route was more expensive. This time it was an awful lot cheaper.
The plane landed in Amsterdam and after what seemed like fifteen laps of the airport it finally pulled in at a terminal. I suspect it landed at the wrong airport and taxied the rest of the way along the motorway with the pilot muttering ‘I meant to do that, honestly’.
I looked at a map of Amsterdam airport before I started the trip. It’s huge. You could fit three of the towns I grew up in inside it and still have room for a shopping mall and Cardiff airport.
I had to get to a different gate. Amsterdam tell you the gates are A, B, C etc but when you get to the letter (I had to go to C) then they tell you that C1-C50 is this way and C51-Cinfinity is that way. There are many, many gates. That airport might have more gates than there are planes in the world.
I had 90 minutes. Plenty of time as it turned out. I could have sought out a smoking area but didn’t bother. No chance of a coffee, I had British pounds and Danish kroner and not one single Euro. I should maybe get a few of those.
In the middle of my panic rush walk from one gate to a distant gate in an airport in a country I had never visited before, there was a passport check. The guy looked at my boarding pass and passport and said ‘Where are you going?’ It’s on the boarding pass. I was tempted to sigh wearily and say ‘I have no idea’ or perhaps intone ‘I am the passenger and I ride and I ride’, but I said ‘Copenhagen’ because these people have no sense of humour.
One thing in Amsterdam’s great favour is that their free wifi is easy to use. No spontaneous booting out, no complexities, just a click and you’re in.
I wasn’t there long. Soon I was on a plane to Copenhagen and then had to find a train.
Now the last time, CStM met me in Copenhagen and took care of all the train stuff. But she’d shown me the way once, surely I could be trusted to do it on my own this time?
I got it right. I didn’t end up in Sweden and didn’t have to spend the night in a shut down train in a siding somewhere. Danish trains are easy, really, as long as you realise the up and down lines are the other way round from the UK. And I have a map of the entire rail network of Denmark, as you would expect.
( CStM – shhh 😉 )
I must have been on the train at least an hour before I thought to check for wifi. It was there, so I could reassure CStM that I was not arguing with border control in Malmo nor arrested for being Welsh in a public place. Everything was under control.
The way back was a little different. It was cheaper to go by bus and took no more time but it meant a ferry in the middle.
You get on the bus, the bus drives to the ferry, then onto the ferry. Then everyone gets off the bus and goes to the seating area in case the ferry catches fire. That does happen, it happened last time I was on a ferry in Denmark. That time the ferry made it from Newcastle almost to Esbjerg before combustion stopped our trip. Lots of little boats came out. We thought they had come to help. They took photos and went away. But that was a long time ago.
This time I knew where the ferry departed from but was on it before realising I had no idea where it was going. The bus was going to Copenhagen airport so I suppose the ferry went in that general direction. All the announcements were in Danish so I just watched what everyone else did and left when they did. All well and good, made it to the bus. Which also had wifi. CStM was able to tell me where the hell I was from the clues I could see.
Back to Copenhagen, which had snow and darkness. You can check in there without ever seeing a real person. Even the bag drop is automated. The security isn’t – the queue was immense. The wifi is crap too – like Aberdeen, it spontaneously kicks you out for no reason. I had to rush to the gate so skipped duty free. Pity. I had plans for duty free. Next time…
So, Amsterdam, and another fifteen laps of the airport before parking. This was a nervous time, I had one hour to get to the next gate and it might be the other side of the airport, which you need to charter a flight to get to. The suitcase was less of a worry on the way back. if it was delayed, too bad. They’d send it to me at home. I did wonder if it might be held back because it had cherry sauce, pickled red cabbage and a big bottle of Remoulade in it. Which might be considered unusual by some people, or so I understand.
I was lucky. I landed at gate D60 and only had to get to D14. Only about a mile or so. I had time to stop off at civilisation, aka the smoking area. There are several in Amsterdam airport, but only one in Aberdeen. The Aberdeen one is behind a frosted glass door and exposed to the elements because the UK hates its people. So far we seem to be the only ones to have the Doors of Shame over the tobacco displays and our baccy prices are double everyone else’s. I bought a supply of tubing baccy in CStM’s local small co-op and it was half UK price. And that’s just a local shop, not a supermarket!
In Amsterdam, opposite gate D10 you will find Murphy’s pub. Go through the bar to the back, through another door and there is the smoking area. Indoors, fully enclosed and well ventilated and with a handy pub attached. I wasn’t in Copenhagen very long so the only smoking area I found was outside. It was amusing to see they had yellow lines painted around it to keep the smoke in. Someone will believe it works. Probably someone in high office.
Unfortunately I could not make use of the pub because I had to drive home when I got to Aberdeen. The Spiteful Nannying Party have now made it so you dare not even take cough medicine if you’re driving. I remained utterly sober the whole trip. Well, truth be told, I didn’t drink any booze at all in Denmark. I only had a few days this time so couldn’t afford to spend any time drunk or hungover. I left the whisky at home.
The departing plane only had to taxi about ten yards to reach the runway in Amsterdam, which merely reinforced my suspicion that the landing plane had done fifteen laps before getting to the gate. The buggers did it on purpose.
Well, that’s my account of my trip. Some will be disappointed at the lack of detail on anything at all in between the travelling bits. CStM will give you an account of the birthday at some point and as for anything else, I’m sure your furtive imaginings will fill in the gaps to way beyond anything that really happened.
I was happy to find that burning ferries are not a Danish tradition. They don’t always do it. Not even when I’m on it.