Denmark was lovely. Even with the awful weather – I should have brought my winter coat and gloves! – everything just was so pleasant. The people were nice, the food was good, and the museums were interesting. My pictures don’t do Copenhagen justice because of the dark, cloudy sky but the city is so beautiful and colorful and wonderful. I didn’t take as many pictures as I normally do since it was just too cold and wet to be outside for long. The first day we went on a canal tour, but the other days we mostly stayed inside at museums and castles.
I was prepared for how expensive Copenhagen was, but I didn’t think it was outrageous like Paris or London. Our hotel was 290 DKK per night, I never spent more than 120 DKK on dinner, and city hall and most of the museums had free admission anyway (National Museum & Museum of Danish Resistance 1940-45 are free everyday, but Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek is only free on Sundays). I paid 60 DKK for the canal tour, 45 DKK at Rosenborg Slot thanks to my grad school student ID that doesn’t have an expiration date, and 95 DKK for admission into Tivoli Gardens. The line to get into Amalienborg Slot, where the Royal Family lives today, was ridiculously long so we didn’t go in, but I think the price was 60 DKK. The train from the airport to central station was 34,50 DKK and the metro/S-train ticket was 23 DKK for 1-2 zones. The public transportation system was very easy to figure out and so convenient and efficient. I wish every city could be like Copenhagen.
Denmark is generally considered one of the best places to live in the world. I think I’m going to have to agree with that. It is usually ranked most peaceful and least corrupt, with high levels of income and gender equality. It’s also been called “the happiest place in the world” and it is definitely one of the best countries for women to live and work thanks to the constant fight for equal pay. Denmark was also the first country in the world to grant same-sex couples the same rights as heterosexual married couples.
The main tourist attraction in Copenhagen, The Little Mermaid, is actually in China for the World Expo until the end of 2010. However, there is currently an original copy of the statue in Tivoli Gardens.
Our hotel didn’t have a TV in the room so I wasn’t able to listen to Danish as much as I would have liked. Announcements on the train were easy to figure out thanks to similarities with German. I had never really studied Danish before, and only dabbled a little in Swedish, but I am going to make more of an effort to study the Scandinavian languages because I have yet to visit Norway and Sweden, and I want to go back to Denmark, of course!
I can honestly say the only bad part of my trip was getting to and from Geneva. I knew I should have bought my train tickets beforehand, but I waited until I got to the train station on Friday morning only to find out none of the machines were working properly and the counters had yet to open. Luckily I was able to get one machine to give me a ticket, though I wasn’t sure it was the right one, got to Geneva on time and bought another ticket for the Swiss train to the airport. Upon returning to Geneva yesterday, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that the airport offers each passenger a free ticket on the public transportation system to get into Geneva, so I didn’t have to pay another 3 francs to take a Swiss train to the main station. Nevertheless, that is where everything went to hell. I needed to buy a ticket for the French train heading to Chambéry, but I had no idea where to do that since the tracks for France are separated from the rest of the station because of customs. I had assumed that since it was an SNCF train, there would be SNCF ticket counters or machines. But no. There is a RailEurope office next to the train station, but the line was incredibly long and they charge an extra fee for using their services. The automatic machines in the station only sold tickets for within Switzerland. Finally I just waited in line at the counters when I spotted the tiny signs saying CFF – SNCF. So the only way to buy a ticket to France at Gare Cornavin in Geneva is to wait in line at the busy counters, which is a bit nerve-wracking when you only have 20 minutes and assumed that you would be able to just use a machine in 1 minute. I should have just bought a roundtrip TER ticket in advance in France, so lesson learned! Denmark & Switzerland: 937; France: 0
The best part of the trip was seeing Jessica again. She is one of my oldest friends from Michigan and she just finished her PhD, so she decided to come to Europe before moving to Australia for her post-doc. It’s always fun to discover a new country with a familiar face, and hopefully in the next two years I will be able to visit her in Melbourne.