GT4's motto...

Now read on...

Despite my sojourn in Copenhagen, I planned GT4 essentially as a holiday of movement, of motion; travelling from place to place - mostly by train - to see new landscapes and new towns.  And to meet new people - as many as I could start a chat with.  To re-invent myself, to be whoever I wanted to be, which is what you do if you’re travelling alone on an epic journey like this.

All of which rendered my first experience of Danish trains unsatisfactory - at least for the first few minutes.

The problem was the automatic internal doors that were intended to allow passengers access from the entrance space to the seats.  I stood helplessly while the sparkling glass doors on the 1028 departure from Copenhagen Central to Esbjerg stared back at me - locked, it seems, against ageing and aching English voyagers.

(My legs were still refusing to co-operate with anything I wanted them to do, peeved after my exertions of the day before, when I’d climbed up the seemingly endless spiral, and quite steep, slope that leads to the top of Copenhagen’s famous Round Tower. 
 The sloping spiral that leads to the top of the Round Tower...

 ...and the view from the top, looking west

The view of rooftops and spires is amazing - but they should install a lift.  Perhaps even a paternoster lift.)

Where was I?  Ah yes - the 'automatic' doors on the first train journey of GT4...

A lady sitting inside the carriage started waving her arms frantically, as if fighting her way through the kind of cobwebs you only find in the movies, like an extremely animated Miss Havisham.  Eventually I got the message.  She obviously wanted me to do the same.  So I did.

Advice for boarding Danish trains.  The ‘magic eye’ which is meant to detect your presence and open the internal doors will only work if you make extravagant and unseemly gestures - wave your arms flamboyantly above your head like a demented ballet-dancer and the doors will open.

Thanking Miss Havisham profusely, I flopped down into a seat and waited for the train to take me on the first, real ‘travelling’ part of Skaggerak/Kattegat…
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Danish countryside is often unfairly represented as utterly flat and dreary.  But, although much of it is level and low-lying, it’s very far from featureless.  Amongst the many woodlands and forests, shimmering brightly with new-flowering hawthorn and carpeted with yellow, star-like aconites or white scurvy-grass, were farm-buildings - squat and big-roofed - and attractive small villages. 

From where I was sitting, Denmark looked very attractive indeed; and after yesterday’s efforts, my legs agreed.  ‘What’, they bawled, ‘is wrong with flat and level?’

The further west we went, the sunnier it got.  A ‘Magritte sky’ of scattered, pillow-shaped, high white clouds looked down on a landscape that gradually became more undulating; it heaved and buckled gently under the villages, farms and copses, now emblazoned with drifts of wild daffodils - still emerging here.

I’m almost ashamed to say that I was heavily distracted from this reverie by Miss Havisham herself.  I wanted to engage her in conversation but she was studiously and steadfastly busy.  Knitting.

At least, I think it was knitting - although it was unlike any knitting I have ever seen.  For a start, she was using four needles.  They were much shorter than conventional knitting needles, were pointed at both ends and she was using them with a machine-like dexterity such that my eyes couldn’t easily follow what she was actually doing.

The garment she was constructing was yellow, green and circular - and looked big enough to be an elephant’s trunk-cosy.  Each time I looked over at her, it seemed to have grown by several centimetres.

So it’s Miss Havisham’s fault that I saw only a glimpse of Roskilde (it looked charming) and nothing whatsoever of Odense, the birthplace of (you guessed it) Hans Christian Andersen.

Sorry, Hans.  Maybe next time.

I did, however, notice that we stopped at a station called...
Sorry about that.
* * *
Here’s a list of things you may not know about Denmark.

* On average, every human being on Earth owns 560 pieces of Lego, which has been in continuous production here since 1932 - but the allure of which has always escaped me completely…

* To give old Mr Andersen his due, his books have been translated into more languages than any other book on Earth, except the Bible.  So there.

* Traditionally, Danes differentiate Summer from Winter by saying that, in Summer, the rain’s a little warmer.

* They also proudly declare - to their credit - that Denmark hasn’t been a threat to anyone for over 1,000 years.

* Danish men are the oldest in Europe to marry - on average, they wait until they are 32.

* Danes have the lowest income inequality in the world.

* There are 443 named islands in Denmark, 76 of which are inhabited.

* The flag of Denmark - ‘Dannebrog’ - is the oldest state flag in the world still in use by an independent nation. It was adopted in 1219.

* Denmark was the first country in the world to legalise same-sex marriage - in 1989.

* Time and again, Danes are reckoned to be the happiest people in the world.  My view from the train went some way to explaining why…
* * *
Random memories of Copenhagen...
McJoy's (!) Scottish pub.  I didn't go in...

The memorial to all the Danish sailors who smoked themselves to death in World War Two

In Denmark, 'Hereford' means best quality beef - quid pro quo for all that Danish bacon...
* * *
After my night in Ribe - quaint, polite and comfortable - I made my way north to Aalborg; big, brash and very lively indeed…
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Val said...

Hilarious - especially the image of you trying to get through the train doors!
Did you keep a straight face when you looked out at Middelfart?
Did Miss Haversham's knitting look like a tube - like a sock? You knit socks on 4 needles, or even 5.

Bentonbag said...

Knitting on circular needles or four pins means you don't have to sew as many seams - and you can put your knitting down without worrying about getting to the end of a row.

Bentonbag said...

She could have been knitting a sleeve or possibly the body of a Scandinavian style sweater - or as Val says - socks.