Scenic Scandinavia and its Fjords – Travel Day

Scenic Scandinavia and its Fjords

30-31 May 2015

There’s something to be said for having a flight that leaves at 10 pm….you end up spending half the day twiddling you thumbs. I managed to squeeze in a lot. I went to the travel store to buy new compression socks (given that my sister just adopted my other pair to deal with swelling feet) and found a nicer pair. Then I got my car washed, summerized my snow-blower, finished staining my fence, took my sister’s dogs for a walk, cleaned the kitchen, did three loads of laundry and packed. And then we went shopping. And I was still there 3 hours before my flight. Can’t break that 3 hour before an international flight habit.

I sat down by the gate and surfed for a while and noticed that the gate was still sans an airplane by 9 pm. Sure enough, it was an hour late from Toronto. No worries though. I have 3 ½ hours in London. They managed a quick turnaround after the plane got in at 9:50 and we were in the air by 10:30. On this flight, I bought a preferred seat for $45. It’s in the emergency aisle and a window seat, but it has no seat in front of it. And with no one showing up in the middle seat, I had it better than everyone squeezed into business class. The moment we were airborne, I stuffed in my earplugs, hauled the blanket over me and donned my cat eye mask. The flight is not even 5 hours long and I have no idea if I slept though I know I did. Just no idea how long. It was a very bumpy ride all the way across. I know at one point I thought I heard a screaming baby but I had to take out an earplug to be sure.

Yeah. Earplugs. Don’t get on an overnight flight without them. (The foam ones shaped like a barrel, not the ones shaped like an ice cream cone)

We did a couple of circles over London and landed in the rain. My SAS flight is departing from the same terminal, so after walking halfway to London I found myself in the gate area and needed only to pass through security and show my boarding pass. They didn’t want the landing card.

I am pretty sure this is my first time in Terminal 2. I don’t remember it at all. It’s not as busy as I remember the other terminal. I took a walk around and had breakfast at a sit down café. My server was either Russian or had a very strong rural British accent. I honestly have no idea what she said first nor last. I got what I ordered – full breakfast with toast and a nice hot Yorkshire tea for 15 Pounds (incl tip).

Then I picked up a Coke and found a solitary bag of mint M&Ms.

They are alone no more.

The gate opened at 9:20 and there was no order to boarding the A320. This one is one of the “squeeze as many people inside a tin can as physically possible” versions. Not bad on a short flight but I can’t imagine doing an overnight in one. The guy in front of me didn’t recline, which is a good thing. I still have all my teeth.

This aircraft is so new, the no smoking light on the ceiling has been replaced with a “Turn off your electronics” message.

The flight leaves on time and we expect to get to Copenhagen early. Once we get to cruising altitude, the pilot gets on and gives his usual spiel and mentions that he would suggest that even when the seat belt sign is off, that we keep our belts on. He added…just like you do in a car speeding down the highway.

Don’t hear that every day. But he has a point.

I managed to take a nap and we landed 15 minutes early. My first thought is that I can catch the transfer at 1 pm. So, I get off the plane and to immigration. I hand the passport to the officer and he asks where I’m going. I say I’m going to Norway and Sweden.

He looks up with a face that really wants to roll its eyes and he tosses the passport back to me. “That’s no good,” he said.

My first thought is “did I forget to sign the passport again?”

Then he smiles, takes back the passport and says, “you should stay here. Why would you want to go to Norway or Sweden?”

Then my memories of the Contrasts of Scandinavia tour come flooding back. These guys love sniping at each other. If I remember correctly, our guide was Danish and when we got to Sweden, the jokes going on between him and the local guide were hilarious. (That was when I started taking notes on my tours…I had to write down as many jokes as I could).

I tell the passport guy that I’m staying in Denmark a couple days and he relents. He stamps my passport and waves me off with a smile.

I get into the baggage area and there’s a board telling us which conveyor and how long before the luggage will arrive. It’s 12:40 and it says 15 minutes. So, I connect to the airport wifi and email Amanda to say I’m at the baggage and I should be out for 1 pm.

At 12:58, my luggage comes out and I make a mad dash for the exit. I get out there and don’t see a TT sign anywhere. I find the Insight crowd, but no TT. So, I take a closer look at her email.

Oops. The transfer was at noon, not 1 pm. I have no idea where I got the 1 pm from.

So, I email her back to say “Oops” and tell her I’ll take a cab. A two and a half hour wait just wasn’t in the cards after so little sleep. I needed to be out walking, so a $50 cab ride later, I pulled into the Marriott, the same hotel I was in on the other tour.

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Inside, Amanda was dealing with the people she had picked up at noon. So I come up and say hello and we laughed about the two emails. She offers to check me in and as we are, I ask about wifi. It’s free in the lobby, but like a million dollars to get it in the room.

Yup. Hasn’t changed in five years.

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I got checked in and after I changed, I went out for a walk to Tivoli Gardens. It was about $20 to get in and I did the circuit that I had done five years ago – though I couldn’t find the ferris wheel I had taken…unless I walked under it without realizing it.

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I picked up an ice cream, watched a parade and spent about an hour in the gardens before heading out.

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I picked up a couple of souvenirs and headed back to the hotel. On the way, I found the new boardwalk they had installed in an attempt to rejuvenate that side of the canal. When I was here five years ago, I could take the canal boat ride from the steps right outside the hotel but no longer. They call the boardwalk “the wave” and it looks like it has wooden slides and kayak rentals and other activities.

I got back to my room and had an hour to spare before our welcome reception. I surfed in the free lobby wifi and went back to my room to find that I was still connected. Slow, but free.

At 5:30, we got together and got aboard the bus. We were still missing some people, so a few seats were empty. It is the tightest fit I’ve ever had on the bus but it’s not uncomfortable. We have a total of fifty-two on the tour.

Yeah, you heard that right. This is a popular tour!

Amanda started off with a quick orientation tour by taking us to the Opera house. From there we could see Amienbourg palace and the marble church. On the way, we passed Christiania, a former military base that was taken over by squatters who eventually declared it a state within a state. There is a sign at the entrance of the community that says “You are now leaving the European Union.” Those who live on the 84 acres are considered the ‘hippies’ of the modern era. They pay no taxes and are essentially left alone by the police who seem to feel it’s better to know where the drug issues are rather than forcing it out of the community. Apparently, the residents only come out when it’s time to collect welfare payments. On that day, they’re Danish.

We stopped at the Opera House which is built on an island next to the waterfront. It’s actually 14 stories high but 5 of them are underground. (Or is that underwater?).

DSC00131ffThe Opera House was built by the owner of the Maersk Empire who wanted to give it to Copenhagen as a gift. It cost over $500 million in USD and is very extravagant including huge chandeliers that look like massive balls of gold.

From the outside.

It wasn’t open but from the front of the opera house, we could view the palaces.

DSC00015cfAmanda noted that the area along the waterfront there was being restored and renovated to include benches and walking areas. Which she expects they’ll be able to use like 2 days a year.

It started to rain, so Amanda asked who was hungry. That’s one way to get everyone back on the bus. We headed back to the hotel for our welcome snacks. Everyone got a drink and as we feasted on the finger food, Amanda went around to ask if we had any food restrictions and to find out who wanted to do the optionals for tomorrow. Since I got to Tivoli today and since the forecast for tomorrow is good, I opted to redo the castle optional and hope for sunnier weather. (It rained the last time I was there and I remember thinking that it would have been a great photo op if it had been sunny.)

Before she tells us the wake up time, she asks if we want to see the Little Mermaid. Everyone nods, so she says not to blame her for the wake up time as we need to get there early to beat the cruise ship crowds which can be in the thousands.

No problem we say.

Six-fifteen she says.

We finished up chatting and by eight, I was back in my room sorting through my stuff….but not before dropping by the front desk and changing my wake up call to 6:45.

I need every minute of sleep possible.

 

Go to Day One

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