30 years ago today: Copenhagen, and the calm before the Clash of the Titans.

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Me and him both.

Previously: 30 years ago today: We say goodbye to Ireland with hurling and Guinness on a Sunday afternoon in Rosslare.



Day 116 … Monday, August 10
Le Havre → Paris. Via Paris, couchette for Hamburg

Day 117 … Tuesday, August 11
Hamburg → Copenhagen. Meet Kim, unconsciousness (with Urq)

It’s a shame I wasn’t more effusive with my descriptions, but I’ve pieced most of it together.

Back on high-test continental Eurailpass turf, we’d have traveled by train from Le Havre to the St. Lazare rail station in Paris, rode the subway to Gare du Nord, then purchased couchette tickets for the overnight trip to Hamburg.

At first, this didn’t make sense to me. I didn’t think Hamburg was so long a trip then, but this 1991 schedule probably is close to the one we experienced in 1987.

Leave Paris at 9:35 p.m., arrive in Hamburg at 7:54 a.m.


Leave Hamburg at 8:11 a.m., arrive in Copenhagen at 1:20 p.m.

From my 1985 account of taking the train to Copenhagen my very first time, there’s this reminder of a watery link:

When boarding the train in Brussels, it never once occurred to me that Copenhagen is located on an island, Zealand. To this very day, Zealand is the only part of Denmark I’ve ever visited.

When the train halted around 6:00 a.m. in Puttgarden, Germany, and the conductors began rousing passengers, I groggily started to grab my bag.

“Not necessary,” I was informed in English. In fact, the entire train was about to roll onto a ferry boat with its own tracks built into the hold. Passengers were required to exit the rail cars and walk upstairs, where they could have coffee, beer and breakfast while viewing the 12-mile crossing to Rødby in Denmark.

Following border pleasantries there, we reached Copenhagen in about an hour.

Danish tour-leading superstar Kim Wiesener was well aware that Barrie was coming to stay with him for two nights prior to flying home from Copenhagen. However, although Kim surely mulled the possibility of chicanery, he didn’t know I was coming, too.

When last we’d seen each other in Poland, it had not been my intention to travel to Denmark, but I chucked the old plan, and a new scheme had been concocted over pints of Guinness along the Ring of Kerry.

There was an InterRail Center in Copenhagen’s central train station, accessible by anyone with a rail pass, and organized to be helpful to travelers. It had showers, phones and multi-lingual assistance. From this oasis, Barrie called Kim, learned which buses to take to find Kim’s pad, and so we set out to find it.

At the time, Kim had a small studio apartment in a 19-century residential building on the street called Øster Søgade, facing Sortedams sø, one of the lakes that form a semi-circle to the north and west of the city center.

Location

When you look at a city map of Copenhagen you will recognize “søerne” easily because they form a characteristic crescent shape and stretch from “Østerbrogade” in the east to “Vesterbrogade” in the west.

By the 16th century, a stream through the area had been dammed and excavated into these bodies of water, which nowadays form a recreational network of sorts and improve already huge property values.

During the bus ride, I was in a nostalgic frame of mind. Copenhagen had made a deep impression on me in 1985, and now I had a friend there. My impressions of the city remained much as they had been two years earlier.

Bricks
Sea
Carlsberg beer
Girls
Bicycles
Girls on bicycles
Efficiency
Tuborg beer
Friendliness
Hot dogs
More bricks, more beer, more bikes, so many girls

As I tried to blend inconspicuously with the landscape around the corner, Barrie rang the intercom and was ushered inside. I was to wait ten or so minutes before repeating the process. When I did, Kim seemed surprised, though also a bit confused, perhaps worried about where two Texas-sized Americans from Indiana were going to sleep in a flat as small as Vatican City.

We caught up with things, worked out bunking arrangements, and walked to the other side of the water to buy a crate of beer at a shop. I’m not sure is meant by “unconsciousness (with Urq),” because I’m not sure how anyone can consume Pilsner Urquell while asleep.

Something tells me we found oversized 750 ml bottles of the Czech nectar somewhere nearby. It might have been where we ate dinner, of which I have no recollection whatever.

Next: A visit to the Carlsberg Brewery and the Altercation in Copenhagen (Clash of the Titans).

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