Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Wonderful, wonderful [supply missing city]

En route to Silver Spirit Norway cruise
More photos to follow when the wifi is faster
Really, this should be the entry for 12 June but, as per our usual national ex-colonial deprecation impulse, I've dated this Northern hemisphere-wise. So, after the usual fairly exhausting pre-trip, pro-housesitter menial work to leave the place in the condition I would wish to find it on my return (still waiting for that to happen), I set off, OH in tow, for the long haul to the other side of the planet. From Auckland to Dubai via Emirates A380 is 16+ hours, with two on the ground, and then another six hours to Copenhagen. Officially the main reason for this junket is to join (yet another) (sorry!) Silversea cruise, this time an 18-day round trip along the Norwegian coast; but there will also be some significant add-ons (teaser!).

I was flying, you may be gratified to read, economy, which I'm ok with - though certain other people I'm acquainted with (namely the one who happened to be accompanying me) consider it more of an insult than a means of transport. For me, the absurdly inflated price of business class means there is no way, no how I will pay for that - though I am naturally very happy to enjoy its undoubted pleasures if provided free, gratis and for nothing. Which, in compensation for the peanuts that a travel writer earns for the words, is a very welcome occasional compensation at the front end of the trip. Though not this time.

So, we both paid extra for our personal preference of seat (window, and aisle - not, you'll note, contiguous, but since the invention of noise-cancelling headphones that doesn't matter one whit). Unfortunately, one of us (not me, yay!) managed to break a bone in the foot and be saddled with a moon boot two days before departure. Now, I've been there, done that - and, immediately afterwards, and unassisted by any sort of medical aid, completed an Outward Bound course including a 15km run through the bush - but we're all different. It turns out. So the travel has become more of a challenge, for us both. 

First difficulty was becoming immediately ineligible for the exit row extra legroom seat, which requires physical fitness (er,,,). Now, Emirates was sympathetic and helpful, and supplied instead a bulkhead row seat with generous legroom. Turns out, though, that this row was (probably) still free at checkin time because there was a fault with the electrics that meant nothing worked. Not the screens with their tantalising 2500 channels of entertainment, not the light for old-school reading, not even the recline button (who knew?!) So that was a disappointment. The cabin staff tried to fix it, failed, and then found inferior substitutes and promised a refund, but the shine was gone. It was a long trip.

The next leg was back up to Emirates' usual high standard, and we arrived in Copenhagen in good shape. The Radisson Blu is a real eyesore, totally out of scale with this old city - but the upside is that, when installed in your 26th (top) floor room, happily on the right side, the view is spectacular - city, harbour, canals, parks, and lots and lots of spires. The closest of these was at the Church of Our Saviour which I had climbed first in 1980 and was up (ha!) for again. So I set out on a sunny afternoon, crossed the canal, walked through a pleasantly green bit with trees and blackbirds singing, and set off up the tower of the church. First it's regular stairs up inside the tower, then they get steeper and steeper as you rise above the huge 3-tonne bells, and then the higher belfry with its 48 assorted carillon bells controlled nowadays by a computer, where the steps get so very steep they're ladder-like. Finally, you emerge to the outside where, today, a brave, height-afraid Auckland girl was clinging, and then spiral up the copper steps that go right up around the outside of the spire to the bulb and cross at the top - further than any normally-sized human could possibly go (there was jamming involved). Total is 400 steps one way, since you ask.
The view is spectacular: not in the sense of being especially far-reaching, but allowing a fabulously detailed view of the city below, with all its roofs and roads and canals and churches. Glorious, especially in the sunshine, and very inviting. So I trailed down again, and wandered through the streets and along the nearest canal, giving in with little resistance to the temptation of a beer at a bar built like a boat over the water. The ambience was great: everyone relaxed and enjoying themselves in the sunshine, the odd boat gliding past, more used as private bars, people dangling feet over the water along the canal edge, trees, bicycles, cobbles, neat buildings... It was worth all that air travel.

So I dragged the OH back out and we did the classic tourist thing of going to super-pretty (but genuinely historical) Nyhavn for dinner alongside the canal. Erdinger Weißbier and pork meatballs with berry sauce and mustard - perfect. Welcome to Denmark!

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