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.

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