Out of Copenhagen, Monday August 5
J arrived on Saturday morning and we spent a couple of hours walking before a very early dinner, 6pm, as he hadn’t slept on Friday night, sitting up on an overnight flight. I, on the other hand, the previous evening had found a wonderful Italian wine bar and restaurant, an easy 15 minute walk from my hotel. Had their tasting menu, which featured as the Primi, a wonderful roasted tomato risotto and grilled cod for a Secondi accompanied by a couple of glasses of very pleasant Barbara d’Alba. The restaurant, interestingly named d’Alba, was charming, the service prompt and helpful and the food very good.
As a contrast J and I had our early dinner at an Argentinian steak restaurant and that tells you all you need to know, still, a rare steak, always welcome. Early night needed in preparation for our trek to Blue Clipper on Sunday as she is berthed in Aarhus, about 200k from Copenhagen. Without doing much research I had pre-booked an early train from Copenhagen and we met at the station at 8:30am ready for our run to Aarhus. As the day unfolded we came to realize that the choice of a train rather than a bus was not a wise decision and as we learned on arrival at the boat, we were the only ones who had chosen that mode, everyone else having arrived unscathed by bus.
Won’t bore with all the details but if you are ever in Denmark and traveling by train, be prepared. Admittedly, many of our problems were self-inflicted, not the least of which was the fact that between us we had 2 large duffel bags filled with sea clothes etc, mine weighing in at 24k, as well as backpacks, camera and equipment bags, the list goes on. I had counted on there being trolleys to get from the taxi to our track, but no trolleys and no porters, am I a fugitive from the 19th century? Compounding this was the fact that our destination did not appear on the train schedule boards, so no track and time information, there was not a ticket office, all automated ticket machines and not a train information kiosk, in short not a living soul to turn to for help. I finally managed to waylay someone wearing a train badge who was obviously going off duty and not keen to be kept from his breakfast, who however gave us two critical pieces of information, the first was the track number and departure time of a train that would begin our journey and the second explained why there was no train on the scheduling board going to Aarhus, since as we learned, there was no train going to Aarhus. A large portion of the track between Aarhus and Copenhagen is under repair and we were going to have to take a train to an intermediary town about an hour away, leave the train, hike about 1/2k to a bus that would then take us about an hour closer to Aarhus, to another intermediate town where we would board another train which after an hour’s journey would deposit us in Aarhus. The second piece of his information was correct, the journey unfortunately was as described, the first sadly was not, as we discovered when we dragged our bags and selves to the platform where we were told that the train was waiting to leave, only to discover that there was no train. A passing train worker took pity on us and guided us to the proper platform, up and down stairs again, while calling his co-worker, who had steered us to the wrong track, as well as his ancestors and family every colourful and vile name that he could call up and did it in english so that we could all share in the experience.
Thus began an eventful and exhausting day, each transfer from train to bus to train all seeming timed to give a window of 5 or 10 minutes between stages before the next one departed, requiring the two of us slung with bags and sacks, like Ironmen participants, jointly carrying our two duffel bags piled on each other, each of us desperately clutching a handle and knowing that to stop running would be the end of all of our hopes, mark us out as failures in life and possibly lead to the fall of western civilization. A little over-dramatic maybe but while in the moment, those appear to be the only options, success or abject and everlasting failure, completely disregarding the fact that there would certainly be another train or bus and that the boat would not leave without us.
The coup de grace was delivered when we were running the 500 or 600 metres between between the train and the bus when my phone rang and since stopping was not an option, it rang itself out and no sooner had the call ended then it rang again and yet again. Arrived at and safely on the bus, I checked my phone and could see that the calls had come from somewhere in Texas so I put it down to a spam caller and was thoroughly grateful that we had not surrendered to iPhone’s siren call. However, J on checking his phone saw that he too had received calls and from the same phone number and since the coincidence was too unlikely without a reason he determined to call the number to see what it was about. I thought it a good idea but would have been unable to make the call myself since I was trying to get my hear rate below 200 bpm and with no breath to speak. During the call he kept looking at me and explaining to the caller that he was with me, I was ok, I really was there and there was no emergency. You should know that the satellite tracker that I take with me on these trips and that shows my position on the blog site is equipped with an SOS button that requires a recessed slide to be pushed from one setting to another and then an appropriately name button held down for a set period of time, followed by a response on the tracker to indicate that the SOS is genuine and requesting help. These trackers are designed to be taken on mountain climbing expeditions, back country hiking, etc and are taken very seriously by the Assistance group who backs them up. I can only assume that in throwing our bags around, running up and down stairs with them and bouncing them around that the tracker must have been knocked about enough to do all the required things to trigger the SOS. What then became a problem for the Assistance people was that they could not reach me on my cell nor could they reach my emergency call list and I was not responding to the communications link on the tracker requesting confirmation that there was an emergency. Once we had it all straightened out they were gracious and charming but there certainly was the potential to have begun the trip with a never to be forgotten moment as Coast Guard choppers descended on our bus.
We did arrive in Aarhus and we did find Blue Clipper but that required another and very unexpected trial, but enough for today.
Stay tuned, more to come!