Denmark 2012: Aalborg

On my last day in Denmark, I didn’t really have time to go far. My flight was at 7.10pm so I thought I’d have a look at Aalborg. I’d spotted the fjord on the bus on the way back from Skagen and the route seemed very simple so off I went, all my luggage on my back.

June 5th is a bank holiday in Denmark so everything was closed. That was ok. I’d been in a few shops and I had enough food to last and the 7Eleven at the station would be open for bits and pieces. I walked up the road and along Westerbro to the bridge that crosses the fjord. It was a cold wet windy day and I knew that I’d timed my trips in Aalborg well – I’d have had to cut Skagen very short if I’d gone on the Tuesday and the beach wouldn’t have been so nice in this weather.

I looked at the fjord and I looked at Elbjørn, an icebreaker that is now a floating restaurant and then I discovered a swimming pool built into the side of the fjord. It was unsurprisingly closed but I bet that gets busy on hot summer days.

From there I went back into town, via the English pub. It seemed I’d stumbled on the older, and therefore prettier, part of the city. I walked down the deserted high street, down long wide alleyways until I reached the junction with Lokkegade where there was a map. It seemed there was a park only a few streets away. That seemed like a good place to head, so off I went.

Just as I reached the park, there was a whooshing noise and I looked up in time to see five display planes shoot over my head, trailing white smoke. I couldn’t get my camera up in time to get a photo of them but I managed the smoke trail. That was exciting. Behind me was the park – the Aalborg Tivoli, apparently. It was closed, which meant, oddly, that it was open. Presumably when it’s officially open, all the rides and stalls are open and you have to pay to go in. When it’s closed, the gates are open and you can go in. So in I went. The planes flew over my head again but I still couldn’t manage any photos. They looked a lot like the Red Arrows but I couldn’t imagine that the Red Arrows were in Denmark over the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.

There actually wasn’t much to do in the park. I followed the road back through the industrial part of Aalborg to the station square. Sat down on a bench at the station to rest because my bag was getting quite heavy and then decided I wanted to video a train going out because you can actually hear them going up through the gears as they get going. In the process, I discovered the underpass under the station so once I’d got my train video, I went through to the park on the other side. There were far too many statues. I couldn’t take photos of them all so I sat down and finished off the Prose Edda. The earlier parts were interesting, the parts about the Norse Gods but it soon got into “Giueuhesg son of Gouejng son of Gowtiuhn” etc and “why is gold called the [noun] of [person]?”, which mostly was just ramblings that made no sense other than that there was an object made of gold at some point. It also went into “how should I refer to Odin/Thor/Loki/Ull/Baldr” etc and apparently, you can say one god and mean another. One of Thor’s titles is the Charioteer, so apparently whichever god you say, if you tag “the Charioteer” on the end, it means you’re referring to Thor. Baldr the Charioteer is not Baldr, it’s Thor. This seems like the most deliberately confusing thing in the world. Why not just say Thor? And the same goes for all the other gods and their titles.

By now I was hanging around Aalborg killing time. It was time to think about getting to the airport. I enquired at the bus station and was told the bus goes to the airport every fifteen minutes from stand E out in the square and it’s 20kr. I went to stand E. I left stand E because stand E is for all Line 2 buses but there are at least five variations of Line 2 and only 2C goes to the airport. I went back into the shopping centre again, because it’s warm and sheltered from the wind and sat in the bus station’s waiting area with my tablet and some chocolate before venturing out again. This time the correct bus was coming. Unfortunately, a 2B crept in and blocked the stand so when the right bus came, we all had to run into the road to get it and I’d hardly got beyond “Can I have a-” before we took off. At the next set of traffic lights I managed to get my ticket and off we went into Aalborg. Through the town centre, through the older bit that I’d seen earlier, across the fjord and into the suburbs. Soon enough I began spotting signs to the aiport and realised we were going in a different direction. It didn’t worry me too much – I assumed the driver knew where he was going. He did. Thirty seconds later we were there.

Aalborg Airport is quite small and I’d managed to arrive quite early. I found an upstairs lounge with a big window over the runway and settled down there when it occurred to me that a lot of people were standing with their noses against the glass and I could hear a lot of whooshing.

It turned out that by arriving three hours early, I’d got myself front row tickets to a free air display from what I can only assume is the Danish equivalent of the Red Arrows. There was free wifi but I couldn’t for the life of me identify those planes, only that the underneaths were red with white chevrons. There was an airshow in Aalborg on the 10th so this presumably was a rehearsal. It was spectacular. They zoomed around in various formations, they flew at each other, they dived, they rolled, they put on quite the display. It was even more fun to have seen when I learnt that the Red Arrows, who were supposed to be doing a display in the UK for the Queen, had been grounded that very day because of the weather.

At long last it was time to check in. This time the passport scanner worked first time – when I self-check-in with an automatic passport scanner, it never ever works on the first machine I try. I decided it was probably best to go straight through security. There was a long queue and besides, I’d seen everything the unsecure area of the airport had to offer. The stunt planes were long gone. Time to investigate the hidden parts of the airport.

There wasn’t much. The best thing to do really was to find a seat in the shade and enjoy the free internet. The plane was delayed for fifty minutes because of a late arrival in Copenhagen but we managed to land at Gatwick only ten minutes late. I hadn’t even bothered to try out the inflight wifi. I’d mostly just tried – and failed – to sleep.

Passport control at Gatwick was busier than I’ve ever seen it. Never before has the queue actually gone out of the hall and up the ramp but fortunately, it was constantly moving so we got through surprisingly quickly.

I got the bus back to the long stay car park. A busy, packed bus. I found a seat next to a luggage rack and thought if I leaned back, my bag would be more or less in the luggage rack. And then it occurred to me that I could slide further back and just sit in there, which seemed both entertaining and a much more efficient use of space. I did quite enjoy my ride in the luggage rack but it was a bit of an effort to haul myself out of it when we reached my stop. I’d had the sense to park in Row 56 which I knew I’d remember a week later and I also remembered it was Zone C and I’d even remembered to change my tax disc before I left so I wouldn’t have to worry about it on the way home. Despite turning up ten hours early last week, my ticket let me straight out of the car park – so ten free hours parking for me!

Now came the hardest part. I’d had directions on the way up – Salisbury, Winchester, Petersfield, Petworth, Five Oaks, follow the signs to Gatwick. Unfortunately, there isn’t really an opposite to that last step – there are no signs to where the signs began. I knew I had to go on the M23 but I hadn’t looked at what junction I’d joined. I recognised the roundabout where I came off because I’d driven round it twice in the hope that there was a non-motorway option to get to the airport but I had no idea where I’d come onto that roundabout. There were no obvious signs to the A272. I wasted quite a bit of time driving around Sussex looking for that road, finished up on the A23, coming within fifteen miles of Brighton and convinced I was in the wrong place (still think I was) before spotting the A272. From there it was fairly easy, apart from the bit at Petersfield where I accidentally sailed past the Winchester sign and finished up heading the wrong way up the A3 towards Liss before I could find a way onto the other side and back, but that was only a minor problem because I knew I’d done it and I knew how to fix it. The drive got easier as I got closer to home. It stopped raining, it stopped being dark grey and became proper night-black so all the lights and the signs shone nice and bright and there were no other cars around and I was soon onto roads I recognised and then onto roads I knew and at 00:45 I finally got home.

Denmark 2012: Grenen

On Monday morning, I started with breakfast of as many rolls as I could eat, a bowl of cereal and more apple juice than a human being should be able to drink and then went to the station. I planned to go to the beach and that required me to go to Frederikshavn. I thought the trains were quite regular but according to the board, I’d have to wait an hour and a half for one. Either that, or take a rail replacement bus and given the choice, I thought I’d look at Aalborg for a while and then get the later bus.

The best I could come up with about Aalborg was that it’s inoffensive. I had disliked Copenhagen pretty much the second I arrived and loved Odense the second I arrived but I was fairly indifferent to Aalborg. It was pleasant enough. Wide streets, clean, modern-looking in places, easy to wander around. I stuck my head in a few shops, including a toy shop that turned out to be a games shop, which had more dice varieties than I’ve ever seen in my life. I stood there for a little while before buying a purple-blue-space-sparkly one and a green and gold one just because it was interesting and unexpected. Having gone into town via the back streets, I followed the main road back to the station, made an idiot of myself by not being familiar with Danish coins when I bought a drink and when the train arrived ten minutes early, I boarded.

It turned out that despite the screens all over the station and all over the train itself saying the train was going to Frederikshavn, the train was in fact not going to Frederikshavn. The guard told me to follow the red line painted on the platform, which would lead me to the bus station and get on the bus at stand 1. This I did, got on the bus and then actually got my ticket checked, which was something no one bothered with on the last bus.

I sat quietly on my own at the back, watching the scenery and trying to decide what to do at Frederikshavn. Did I want to get the ferry to the little island in the harbour and go amber-hunting on the beach? Or did I want to get the bus up to Skagen and see the seas collide? I mused on it for a while before deciding I really wasn’t in the mood to go on a ferry for an hour and a half and also that I really didn’t have the time. I’d not got out very early and then had time in Aalborg and now a ninety minute bus ride, so that was settled. Skagen it was. But then a problem popped up. I had no idea what Frederikshavn looked like so when the bus stopped and almost everyone got off, I joined them. I already had a funny feeling this was the wrong place, and besides, I have a habit of getting off public transport in the wrong place – see Transylvania and the way I kept getting lost in Norway – so the first thing I did was run onto the railway platform to look at the signs which very unhelpfully all faced away from the road. I was definitely in the wrong place. Fortunately, I’d suspected as much and the bus was nowhere near ready to go so within thirty seconds I was back on it, back in my place.

In Frederikshavn I had a little bit of a wait for my train so I went down to the harbour front where there was what even I could see was a huge scientific vessel, the Ernest Shackleton and two smaller submarine-like things, one being hoisted out of the water. I wandered down as close as I dared and took photos then went back up to the station, stopping to look at a huge chunk of rock left on the pavement that seemed to have been lifted out of the harbour.

The train to Skagen is on a semi-private line and like all trains in Denmark, offers free wifi internet access. I tried it out, found I couldn’t understand the terms and gave up and watched the view instead. At first I could see beach and sea behind houses and as we got further north, we began to get into the sand dunes I’d read about in my guidebook. There are two of them, creeping their way across the peninsula. One is on the west side and just beginning its journey – by 2020 it will cover the main road, and the other has made its way to the east side and is now blowing out to sea. I was looking forward to seeing them because the guidebook made them sound enormous.

The more southerly one is too far from the railway line at the moment to see but I could see the northerly one. I was expecting a huge pile of sand. What I actually got was a mile or so of heathland-topped sand dunes of average height. It was odd and not quite as dramatic as I’d expected.

At Skagen (which is pronounced Skane but imagine you’re saying the G and you get somewhere near how the Danish say it), I knew I had to head north to get to Grenen, which is the northernmost point of Denmark. It’s where the two seas meet and can be quite dramatic. It’s also known apparently for some weird lighting effects. I concluded quite quickly that if the town has a yellowish tint, it’s because all the buildings are painted yellow, not because the sunlight is yellower than anywhere else. Grenen is four kilometres out of town and you can get a bus every hour. Given that it was already about 3pm I decided to walk because that’s only two and a half miles, that’s not far.

I walked up through the town and fairly soon had reached Grenen campsite, where the signs said 2km to Grenen. That meant I’d walked halfway and within a few minutes I was off the main road and walking onto the beach. It seemed very easy, so there were three options there. Either I’m just really good at walking or I wasn’t nearly there or the guidebook was wrong about the distance.

The beach was great. It was sandy and there was a little bite-shaped bay perfect for paddling in and apart from one family who’d clearly come from the campsite, it was deserted. My shoes and socks instantly came off and I went into the water. Not for long, though. I had a goal. I wanted to get to the tip of the peninsula to see the waters meeting. I walked up the beach and very quickly decided that if I actually wanted to walk along this beach, my shoes were going to have to go back on because away from the little bite-shaped bays, it was very stony. Remembering the tale of amber washed up on the beaches of the island at Frederikshavn I decided it was entirely possible amber could be washed up on this beach so I collected stones as I went, anything orangey.

It was a magnificent beach, with those little round bays all the way up it, like the edge of an enormous stamp. But the novelty soon wore off because walking on sand is hard work and gradually I realised that the 2km was actually quite a long way. Eventually I reached a lighthouse. This had to be it. As soon as I rounded that, I’d be at the peninsula.

Not even close. I could see it stretching out in the distance. Not deterred, and indeed determined to get there after this much effort, I carried on. Sand is really hard to walk on. It felt like I’d walked eight hundred miles. A girl came cantering down the beach on a horse and that looked like the ideal way to get around on that sand.

But at long last, I couldn’t take it anymore. There was a road and a car park and I decided to dart across the dunes and onto solid ground. The moment I stepped onto the dunes, I was terrified of a snake. This was snake land and this was snake weather. I jumped at lizards because they rustled in the sand and I thought about my trail shoes and my jeans – no match for any snake. And just as I thought that, there was a snake – a big brown one all of two feet in front of me, slithering away into the grass. I shrieked and leapt in the air in the girliest way imaginable, right in front of a group of schoolkids who all laughed at me but it was the biggest snake I’d ever seen and it was right there. I ran back onto the pavement quivering.

At the car park, it turned out that I had to go back onto the sand to get to the peninsula – half a kilometre of sand between the car park and the end of Denmark and now I was so close I could almost smell it.

It was worth the walk to finally stand in wet sand and watch the waves crash. The sea had crept onto the peninsula and made a lake and I’d walked over the water running into it, unaware that there was an expanse of dry sand on the other side. I certainly wasn’t paddling here. Partly because there were signs up saying it was dangerous and partly because I could see that for myself. I could see the water drop away within feet of the beach and I could see that the waves were quite strong. I stood on the tip and took photos and jumped away when water rushed towards my feet and then borrowed some Danish tourists to take a photo of me there.

Eventually I supposed I’d have to go back. It was nearly five o’clock. I’d had sort-of plans to go and see Snow White and the Huntsman, since Denmark was intent on bombarding me with posters all over the place and with the trailer ever time I went near a shopping centre and as far as I could understand, it was on at 6.45 in Aalborg. However, if I had to choose between being on the beach and hurrying back, the beach was always going to win. I knew it was at least 45 minutes Skagen-Frederikshavn and an hour and a half Frederikshavn-Aalborg and I’d known at 4 when I was still on the beach at Grenen and nowhere near my goal that I wouldn’t get back in time and had cheerfully abandoned the idea.

I started the walk back along the sand and suddenly I remembered just how much I hate walking on sand. I also remembered just how long it had been since I’d had a drink and how hot it was.

After twenty minutes I turned round to see how far I’d come. Not nearly far enough for ten minutes trudging. I looked at how far I had to go. Probably another twenty minutes before I was even at the car park. I wanted to fall on my knees and yell at the sky that I couldn’t do it. It occurred to me that there was no reason not to. So I dropped onto the sand and sat there for a while, wondering why I hadn’t stopped to just enjoy being on the beach earlier.

When I finally made it back to the car park, the first job was to empty the sand dunes out of my shoes. They have a breathable mesh in them and it took a while to get used to the sensation of a breeze on my feet. Unfortunately, on a beach that mesh allows the sand to get in very easily. I wished very much that I’d brought my sandals. And I really wished I’d worn my brown trousers and not my jeans because my brown trousers are lighter and they also zip off and turn into shorts and that would have been ideal.

While I was there, I went into the little shop. Denmark is as much into its amber jewellery as Lithuania, I have learnt. I was expecting more silver, more Viking-style but no, it’s all about the amber.

Walking back on the road was much quicker and easier than walking on the sand. It didn’t take long at all to get back to the campsite where I’d moved onto the beach and I knew it hadn’t been far from there. I stopped for some cash in the town centre – there were no ticket machines on the station platform, only on the train itself and I’d had a look at that machine on the way up and knew it didn’t take cards and I’d run out of cash. Danish trains tend to inspect tickets.

The train wasn’t coming for nearly an hour. I sat down and got out the Prose Edda again. It had been hot on the beach. I’d spent the entire week in a t-shirt with my big checked shirt over the top but the shirt had gone on the beach. Now, sitting on a platform in a breeze, the shirt went back on and then a fleece.

I was interrupted from my reading by some Americans asking when the train was coming. I could answer that easily but I was a little more dumbstruck when they said they hoped it was going the right way. This was very clearly an end station and we were sitting feet away from the buffers. Where did they think the train was going to go if not back down south? They asked what on Earth I was doing in Denmark when the Queen was having a Jubilee and what she would do to me when I got back and I asked what they were doing here. They were from Utah and had come on a cruise around the Baltics and had spent the last month just travelling around by train.

I got back to Frederikshavn no problem, got my bus no problem. This time it was an express Frederikshavn-Aalborg bus rather than a rail replacement one, so it went around the town a little at first and then went straight back without any stops. It was gone nine o’clock by the time I got back to my hotel. I wanted food, a shower and sleep, not to write a blog.

Denmark 2012: Odense to Aalborg

It has been a very long day.

I started off quite late, all my luggage on my back, wandering Odense, looking for the canal where you can go on the boat. Not because i wanted to go on any boats but i wanted to find it. That took a while, wandering the back streets and then following the river. By the time I reached the lock (where there was a sculpture of a horse in the river, a horse with frilly fins, a river-horse, therefore an actual hippopotamus, I’d realised a small bowl of cornflakes and an equally small glass of orange juice was a totally inadequate breakfast and that I really needed to find some food – not an easy job on a Sunday morning in Denmark when all the shops, even the 7Elevens, are closed.

Fortunately for me, there was one supermarket open in the whole of Denmark’s third largest city and I stocked up before traipsing back through the pedestrianised town to the bit of river behind Knut’s Cathedral for a picnic.

My feet were starting to ache so i headed back up to the other end of town to the station, bought my ticket to Aalborg and killed time for 59 minutes – I’d timed my arrival well, to get the absolute maximum waiting time.

The trouble with the journey was that for some reason my Danish is not equal to, there’s a rail replacement bus between Vejle and Horsens during this long weekend. I got a train from Odense to Vejle, then onto a coach for the next bit – and i really do kind of hate coaches – just in time to catch the next train from Horsens. Only the next train wasn’t going quite as far as Aalborg. It was in fact only going as far as Aarhus. There I had a half hour wait before getting on a small train nowhere near up to carrying the number of people whose travel plans had been disrupted and had ended up all needing to get the same train to the same place. It was packed. I found a seat and perked up suddenly when I heard the words “-to get you in and the cable out.” Even having only heard half the line, I knew that was Mission Impossible 2. A woman opposite and her son were watching it on a laptop. I settled down for an hour and a half of listening. I couldn’t see the screen but i knew exactly what was going on, my mind could supply the pictures. It finished ten minutes before we reached Aalborg and it felt weirdly like I really had watched it.

What would normally be a nice peaceful easy three hour train trip had taken more than four hours and involved three changes. I didn’t even look at Aalborg. I wanted to get to my hotel, put my bag down, collapse onto a bed and then have some food. In the continuing lesson of ‘look for something more than ‘cheap and near the station'”, this hotel is lopsided. At first I wondered if the reason the bathroom made me feel a little seasick was just because I’d been travelling for so long but some suspicion made me put a bottle on the floor and it rolled away. My floor really is on a slope.

My sort-of plan to go and look at the town after I’d eaten sort of didn’t happen. It was a long day and besides, I have two almost full days here. And it doesn’t start to get dark until 10.30. Google Maps says I’m no further north than Aberdeen but i seem to be getting the nearly-perpetual daylight Scandinavia is known for. It was bright light by 4am in Copenhagen and this is further north than Copenhagen so it might be light again in an hour or two (it’s now 23:07)

Denmark 2012: Copenhagen to Odense

I was woken at just after four this morning by a crashing noise and what I took to be a bright flash of light, convinced a bomb had gone off. It hadn’t, of course – strange noises happen at night and there had been no flash of light, just very bright sunlight through thin curtains far too early in the morning. It was only as I was leaving that I discovered there are blackout blinds on the windows.

I got myself to the station, managed to navigate the automatic ticket machine, bought a croissant for breakfast and got my train. Denmark, it turns out, looks ever such a lot like the train trip between Poole and Waterloo. I sat and read more Prose Edda and then daydreamed at the view.

Copenhagen is on an island called Zealand. Odense (Odin’s Lake, pronounced “own-suh”, according to my guidebook although I still can’t get used to that) is on a different island, called Fyn and the two are connected by a big bridge over the North Sea, so I got a good look at deep blue sea and big waves as we crossed.

I liked Odense instantly. Copenhagen had reminded me instantly of Bucharest, which is quite the first impression to get over. But Odense was bright and warm but with a cool breeze, quiet and there was a big green open park right by the station. My hotel was less than a five minute walk away but it wasn’t ready for me. I left my bag at its sister hotel, where you check in, and headed for the wilds of Odense.

There’s not much in the way of tourist sights here which is pretty much why I chose it – it’s supposed to be rural and relaxing and just plain pleasant. I wanted to find the lake, Odin’s Lake. As far as I could work out, it’s on the other side of the railway, so i retraced my steps, stopped to admire a weird statue and a drain cover depicting, to my huge delight, Sleipnir – another figure from the Prose Edda. Sleipnir is Odin’s eight-legged horse, the son of Loki:

“But Loki’s relations with Svadilfari [a giant horse owned by a mountain giant] were such that a while later he gave birth to a colt. It was grey and had eight feet, and this is the best horse among gods and men.”

Loki is a shapeshifter god but is usually in the form of a male humanoid, so yes, this is weird. But things like that happen in myths. I am enjoying seeing bits of these myths appearing around me. Gefjun, of the four oxen, also turned up again today, this time in the railway museum.

I succeeded in finding the harbour, where there was an anchor wearing a stripy jumper – and I do mean that literally. Putting jumpers on inanimate street objects is apparently totally normal here. I saw it in Copenhagen as well. I enjoyed the view of the harbour for a while, took myself round the other side where all the yachts were moored and enjoyed the view more.

Next stop was back into town. I found a bench and debated going into the Danish National Railway Museum. My guidebook had described it as “more interesting than you might initially think” so in I went. It is indeed interesting. It’s a big crescent shaped museum containing steam locomotives, Royal carriages, a replica of the carriage that apparently ended WW1 and a minitrain. I took photos of absolutely everything and borrowed a passer-by to take a photo of me with the biggest engine – a monster with wheels as tall as me. I had a ride on the minitrain, had a look in the shop and then went in search of Odense’s other treasures.

I walked through the Kogens Have park, past the castle and into town. To Odense Cathedral, out to the east somewhere, the very long way back round and finally, when my feet could take it no more, back to the hotel. I checked in at the Domir, reclaimed my bag and went to the Ydes where the receptionist appeared on a webcam, presented me with a keycard via a slot in the wall and i dragged myself and my luggage up to the third floor. This room, unsurprisingly, is smaller and less luxurious than the last, although the hotel itself, the street and the area are all much nicer and much less intimidating.

Denmark 2012: Copenhagen Day 2

Despite the drunk Danes outside the window and the tap completely drying up before I’d brushed my teeth and the pillow being too puffy, I did manage to sleep last night.

My plan for today was to get up to Rosenborg Slot. The sun was bright through my windows when I woke up so I put on my light trousers, rolled up, and just a t-shirt, smothered myself in suncream and went out. Only to find that because Denmark is in Scandinavia, it really wasn’t too hot outside. Actually, it was quite chilly and within minutes I wanted to find somewhere quiet to find the shirt I’d thrown in my bag just in case. I had decided my route to the castle was going to be via the canal that’s just across from my street.

It’s hiding behind a planetarium and Imax which appears to mostly feature animal films and it’s pretty. On the map it looks like one canal crossed by four or five bridges. In reality, each section seems to be a self-contained rectangular lake. I spent a long time walking up the side of the canal-lakes, taking lots of photos of baby birds. There were at least four families of coots, which have red and yellow heads when they’re babies, two or three families of fluffy ducklings, some young grebes and geese and finally, some genuine Copenhagen ‘ugly ducklings’. You’d think, seeing how crazy everyone is over the Little Mermaid, that a few more people would notice the cygnets but no. I also spotted trees, benches and signposts wearing neon knitted jumpers. Copenhagen can be weird like that apparently.

It finally dawned on me that I’d got carried away with the fluffy baby birds and forgotten to keep an eye on my map. I’d gone too far. Rather than turn back, I did a circuit of the final lake before heading inwards towards the King’s Garden. Only I got lost. Partly it’s because i didn’t pay enough attention to the map. Partly because i kept folding it up properly which meant the actual map bit was on the inside and it’s quite windy here. Trying to unfold a large map on a bench by a major junction mostly just results in an embarrassing map-face collision.

I took a guess. I walked past a bit of university, through an underpass (equally terrifying with or without sunglasses – either too dark to see what those shapes are or too blurry. I will not be going under any more roads) and into a park with a lake in it.

That was nice. I walked through the park for ages and finally emerged in a quiet bit of town I couldn’t find on my map. Being completely lost, I followed schoolkids in the hope they would lead me to a main road. They did. And as I walked along that main road I realised I recognised the junction ahead of me. I’d done a big circle.

This time I used the big map on the side of the road, helpfully labelled with a You Are Here dot. I’d gone down the right street but thought it was the other right street. Turning right on Sølvgade would have put me in the right place but I’d thought I was on Gothersgade and turned left, putting me in the wrong park entirely.

I walked down the road to the true Sølvgade and finally made it into the botanical gardens, which are currently undergoing major renovations and are more building site than garden at the moment. It seemed this was not going to be a shortcut to the King’s Gardens. I made my way back to the gate, accidentally stumbling on the palm house, which is huge round greenhouse, supernaturally hot and humid inside. I had to just have a look. Instantly my glasses and camera misted over. I saw spiral staircases and really, I had to go up.

The staircases led to a circular gallery right up in the tree tops, where it was even hotter than at ground level. Leaves and creepers trailed over the railings and I began to wish I hadn’t gone up. I held very tightly to the railing and tried not to feel like the whole structure was horribly unstable and overgrown. Once I’d done a circuit of the gallery I reached the other staircase, descended – feeling the temperature drop with every step down – and escaped through another greenhouse into cool fresh air.

I soon discovered that the easiest way to get out of the gardens was back through the palm house. I didn’t intend to even stop but as I went through, I began to feel a bit ridiculous. My glasses had adapted to the heat and i wanted some less hazy photos. Up I went again, this time running into someone else coming down.

I took my time circling the gallery, taking photos, running into people coming the other way. I stopped on the staircase to take photos of the other one, all spirally and covered in greenery and of course, that meant people wouldn’t stop going down it. One woman waited at the top, out of shot, until the last person on the steps had stepped off and the moment I raised my camera, decided to go down. Five minutes on a spiral staircase in the treetops of an indoor rainforest is a long time.

Outside, before I’d gone more than thirty seconds from the palm house, it began to rain. But the sky was blue to the east so i carried on. A dumper truck came towards me so of course I took a photo of it before getting out of the way.

Back on the street, I got my map out again and turned it round several times before I could work out how to get to the King’s Gardens and to Rosenborg Slot.

The castle and grounds turned out to not be the sort of free park you could just wander around which was just as well because my feet hurt. My shoes are great but lack cushioning. I took a photo of the castle and started the trek back.

This mostly involved guessing and staring uselessly at the map. I followed shops until I reached a square, which I couldn’t find on the map. I followed more shops until i found a church which i also couldn’t place on the map but i could find the crossroads of the two pedestrianised streets. I turned the map round until it made sense and followed yet more shops. This time i went in some. I looked at genuine Danish Lego and couldn’t find any plain ordinary building bricks. I went in three souvenir shops, all selling the same stuff – glasses and mugs etc with Danish flags on, silver cartoon Vikings, Andersen and Little Mermaid statues and I Heart CPN t-shirts.

At last my tour of Copenhagen’s shopping street led me back to the Town Hall, which i recognised. From there it’s two minutes to the station and from there it’s five minutes to my hotel. Or longer, if you stop for food. I stocked up on bread and cheese slices and various chocolate and decided to make use of my shiny armchairs to sprawl sideways in one with my hurty feet on the bed to eat a cheese sandwich.

This part of town gets a bit noisy in the evening but hopefully it’ll go quiet by midnight again tonight. I’m off to Odense in the morning. That will be nice. Wish me luck with the ticket machine at the station.