First Day in Scandinavia

May 4, 2013 02:42 – 02:42

Note: this is long and has a lot of pictures. I can stay here and edit it or I can go down and have breakfast. I’m opting for breakfast. I’ll come back and edit later… maybe.

I’m at the Comfort Inn in Malmö, Sweden. The fellow next to me on the plane is from Malmö. He’s a statistician for a Danish pharmaceutical company on the west side of Copenhagen. He was at a statistic convention in the DC area. We briefly discussed our favorite statistical packages… because, that’s what statisticians and retired econometricians do.

The plane arrived in Copenhagen a little after 7 yesterday morning. I had about 2-3 hours of fitful sleep on the plane. The seating was comfortable enough—I was in business class. But, the temperature was a little too warm to sleep. Usually, I get a little cold on flights and need a blanket… which then helps me sleep.

So… is business class worth it? Huge seats that let you lie down completely without having your head in the face of the person behind you (nobody was immediately behind me in any case, but the seats are fully enclosed so that when you recline, the only seat affected is your own). The picture doesn’t fully show the effect, but here’s an idea of what the seats in business class look like.

Free wine? A full crew of flight attendants? A/C socket at every seat? Expedited lines at check in, security, and for sitting on the plane? Plenty of overhead storage? No screaming babies (not guaranteed, but certainly less likely than in economy)? And, they’re rolling in wifi on SAS, but it wasn’t available yesterday. So… maybe it’s worth it. Certainly makes an 8 hour flight a lot more endurable. I should’ve looked more closely at the economy plus seats. For all this, however, I found that I was every bit as apprehensive as I usually am in the days leading up to the flight. So, I know now that the prospect of cramped seats isn’t my only source of apprehension.

In any case, after getting on the ground, there was an expedited line for passport control, which again was due to business classiness. Finally, I was through the Nothing to Declare line and found my way to Avis. Long story short… I have a nearly new Audi A3 TDI, which just fits my luggage and should average above 50 MPG on the highway. For my stop-and-go excursion around Copenhagen and Zealand yesterday, it averaged 47 MPG. My last trip to the continent, I rented another A3, which also got spectacular fuel economy. In Europe, because ULSD diesel fuel is cleaner than gas, it’s a lot cheaper than gas… I think this is because it has lower taxes. In any case, this should be so in the U.S., too… but it’s not.

“It has a navigation system,” said the clerk. Yeah, right. Good thing I brought my own Garmin, though, because the built-in system says “Navigation Not Installed”. In any case, I bought a micro-SD containing Scandinavia and put the chip into my Garmin 3590… and it works great. My only other gripe about the car (so far) is that it doesn’t have cruise control. It does have this fuel-saving feature where when you get to a traffic light, put the car into neutral, and take your foot off the clutch, the motor turns off. A/C and other systems keep going. The moment you depress the clutch, however, the motor automatically re-starts. Very cool… but, worrisome the first time it happens.

I spent about half an hour in the Avis parking spot discovering features about the car before venturing out. This is the first car rental I’ve ever had that actually has a manual to explain the features! And, best of all, it’s in Danish, which means if I were Danish, I’d actually understand it. But, I’m not. So, my perfect track record of not having a rental car manual I can understand is unblemished.

Leaving the garage, it was about 8:30, and my first tourist destination didn’t open until 10, so I set a course for a grocery store, hoping to find an ice chest, ice, and some libation. I found libation, but no ice or ice chest. Those, I ultimately found at an ICA Maxi here in Malmö last night. I then went to a 7/11 to try to buy a Copenhagen Card. Either Mr. 7-11 didn’t understand, or they don’t sell them. So, I thought I’d try the tourist/visitor center in Copenhagen. The problem with downtown locations for those, however, is that parking isn’t easy. I didn’t find a place to park there, and ultimately gave up and headed to my first tourist stop, having given up (for now, at least) on the Copenhagen Card. I wonder if I’ll be able to find/buy a Stockholm Card, which also helps with some attractions here in Malmö.

I getting to Rosenberg Slot, however, road construction thwarted me. I ultimately did find a place to park within the University of Copenhagen. It’s an urban campus that isn’t clearly delineated from the rest of the city. I haven’t mastered the parking system, though, and ended up with only an hour’s worth of parking—not enough time to see Rosenberg Slot (Castle), but enough time to stroll through the Botanical Garden of Copenhagen, which was also on my list. So, I did. After Sweden, if there’s time, I’ll go back and see the slots (castles).

Things here aren’t nearly as leafed-out as they are in Virginia. For me, this means I get to re-live my early tree pollen season! Fortunately, I brought the allergy pills with me. And, I only sneezed about 15 times. But, that’s okay. It’s par for the course, and the temperatures here are perfect (50s and 60s). Here’s some of what I saw. I think this might be part of Rosenberg Slot.

After strolling around the UofC and the Botanical Garden, I made my way back to the car and decided to drive to Roskilde, which is a little west of Copenhagen. At this point, it was close to noon and I was ready for lunch. I set my Garmin to include a stop at a chicken & burger joint en route… but when I got there, it wasn’t. So, I gave up and had a chicken Caesar salad from, yes… McDonald’s. I think the only times I ever eat at McD’s is when Garmin-roulette fails when I’m abroad. The salad was good. Onward to Roskilde.

Roskilde is known for its ancient and beautiful architecture. I was able to park in the main square. There’s this parking disk on the windshield where you put your arrival time. That way, whoever’s monitoring the system can see when you arrived and knows whether you’ve exceeded the 2 hour limit for your parking space. From the main square, it was an easy walk to Roskilde Cathedral, which I wanted to photograph. And here’s some of what I saw in Roskilde.

The water in the background is Roskilde Fjord.

Real live Danish pastries!

Some of the jugs here are enormous!

Here’s a closer look at what’s inscribed at the jug on the right.

It would’ve been rude of me to take a lot of pictures of the local females in Denmark, so I didn’t. But, their dress seems somehow noteworthy. Many of them seemed to be wearing shorts of some kind with dark tights or pantyhose. This style seems all the rage here in Sweden, too. Fortunately, the men are mostly dressed like I dress… some kind of shirt and jeans. Some of the females wear jeans, too, mind you… but I think those would be the ones who aren’t as fashion-conscious as the hot-pantsed hotties. Some had a compromised way of dressing—I’m not really sure what this woman is wearing. Spanks, maybe? Usually, the shorts are a bit baggier than these.

After Roskilde, I took a look at the map with an eye to driving to the Baltic coast before looping back towards Copenhagen to cross the expensive bridge into Sweden. About 5 k from the coast, however, I found that I had literally fallen asleep for maybe 15 seconds at a traffic light, so I decided it would be prudent to pull off the road and doze. When, wot to my wondering eyes did appear, but a free commuter Park & Nap. So, I pulled in, parked, and napped for an hour. It was wondrously refreshing. It might’ve been a Park & Ride, but it just said Parking, so I felt safe.

After the nap, I continued down towards the coastal town of Køge, which is on the Baltic. But, after a brief Baltic glance, I decided that really didn’t want to get caught in Copenhagen’s Friday evening rush hour, so I set a course for the Comfort Inn in Malmö.

I decided to stop at a rest plaza for some coffee. Having been warned that Danish coffee is weak, I opted for regular coffee with a shot of espresso. I had a nice chat with the beautiful barrista. Outside the plaza, I snapped a picture of this. I don’t know what it is, but I think it’s supposed to be pornographic.

The room is okay… not small and cramped, but also not very well lit. The only “desk” is a glass thing that doesn’t have room for my external keyboard, and which really doesn’t put the laptop monitor high enough for ergonomic viewing. Here’s my solution.

The box under my laptop? That’s the box that my water kettle came in. Once I saw that the room didn’t have a kettle for heating water, one went onto my shopping list. The kettle and other essentials were acquired last night from the ICA Maxi hypermarket. I also bought some meat and cheese to make a sandwich for dinner. When I’m traveling alone… fancy dining isn’t high on my list.

Here are some views out the Comfort Inn windows, by the way.

Those weird things in the foreground are decorative. Here’s what they looked like last night.

Oh… and here’s another room view. I didn’t notice the mouth until this morning. That’s how tired & sleepy I was.

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