Wednesday, March 3, 2010

You can dress up as a Viking if you like

So we set out for the Viking Ship Museum at Roskilde and eventually found the right train at Copenhagen Central Station. This was much more of a struggle than we had anticipated and we made very heavy weather of it indeed. I just don’t know why it was so hard and am going to do an event reenactment to see where we went wrong.

I think it may have been because we did not have Gwenyth with us as she is a superb organizer and when dealing with Cate and I displays all the finest qualities of an Australian Kelpie.

We got as far as Høje-Taastrup and the train stopped. There was a series of announcements in Danish and everyone else got off – so we did too. (Who wants to sit on an empty train?)

We waited for the next train. It never came. Every 10 minutes there was an announcement in Danish but we had no idea what was being said – except that Roskilde was mentioned a lot.

There are actually (unsurprisingly) many similarities between Danish and German but the spoken Danish was quite beyond me. Eventually a Danish lady recognised our plight and took pity on us. She explained that there had been a ‘bomb scare’ at Roskilde and this meant that no trains were going to Roskilde at all.

Bomb scare in Denmark? I know that any number of Muslim fundamentalists want to kill Danish cartoonists - but Roskilde? Do Muslim fundamentalists have a problem with dead Vikings?

If you have some hours to kill at a railway station I recommend that you do not do it at Høje-Taastrup - which is a singularly uninspiring place. I had a look around outside and the entire town seemed to be deserted. The station of course was heaving as every train coming from anywhere disgorged its passengers and then returned to the place from which it had come. But outside there were no signs of life. Vast blocks of apartments and empty streets. Almost no cars – weird.

The only really exciting moment was when a railway café patron – clearly affected by the lack of café and train service – took temporary leave of his senses and started shouting and throwing things – but this was only a very short interlude in an otherwise dismal wait.

There was a diversion in the waiting room when a small child – who was being taught (very successfully) by her parents to shriek – hit a note so high that my ears popped and stopped working and all I could hear for the next few minutes was a fizzing, crackling noise like static on a radio - or the noise an old vinyl LP makes when there is no music.

I heard the faint ringing of bells, a strange whistling and a few bars of Calendar Girl by Neil Sedaka before I recovered and moved some distance away from the child before it shattered my iPhone.

Finally some buses arrived and we fought our way through the seething mass of humanity to catch a bus to Roskilde. From there we took another bus to the museum – which is just brilliant and is a must see!

Viking Ship Museum

Briefly – in the 1960s the Danes discovered some Viking Ships that had sunk in the 11th Century. They spent 25 years recovering and restoring them. The results are fabulous. They built the museum just to house these five ships.

You can – if you wish – dress up as a Viking to see what you would look like. There was no need for me to do this – I know what I would look like as a Viking – just as silly as I look now – but furrier.

Weirdly – there is an Australian restaurant in Copenhagen called REEFN'BEEF

We saw it advertised at the airport and when we arrived at the hotel discovered that it was directly opposite. So we went there for dinner. I have no idea how it got there – it is not a Mary thing as it has been there since the early 1990s.

The waitress who served us was actually Australian. The dishes all seem to have authentic Australian ingredients. A very strange business indeed. To get rid of the feeling of surrealism I had two Mango Daiquiris and this numbed my senses so that I no longer worried about it too much and tucked into the best steak I have had for a long time (in fact – since Elmo’s in Peoria last year).

But the best cocktails I have ever had were at the Lê Lê Vietnamese Kitchen. Mr. Bartender had a special called ‘Memories’ which consisted of Rum, Cointreau, Sugar Cane Juice, Banana and Lime.


So good I had three. This gave me a warm glow – so warm I might even have hugged a Republican if there had been one I could identify. Cate had to hold my scarf so that I did not float away on the way back to the hotel.

Well…actually…on the way back to the hotel we stopped in at Nimb at the Tivoli. Nimb is a hotel so exclusive that you have to ask them by email for their room prices. We went to their bar – which is sensational – wood – Danish – open fire – that sort of stuff.

This time the young lady serving us was from Cornwall – and spoke not a word of Danish – and why would she – all Danes speak English at least as well as we do – and we discussed how my great-grandparents came from Cornwall.

She managed to tear herself away from this riveting conversation to make us two drinks – the names of which I cannot remember – but they were both suitably alcoholic and made my lips numb.

By this stage we both would have hugged John Howard so we thought it best to go back to our own hotel and help the young girl at the front desk with her arithmetic lessons - she is apparently up to the six-times table. I took her a cocktail swizzle stick for show-and-tell.


  1. I think I'd like to go to Copenhagen. I could put Anna to work at a hotel and we could live in (near) luxury.

  2. Did you go to the Tivoli Gardens? I went once at Christmas time. They sell glog (hot wine) for 1 krona a shot, and an additional krona for an added shot(or multiples thereof) of rum . I seem to remember spending a fortune...

  3. Did you happen to try the licorice? It's very hard and salty--no sugar at all. As a kid I loved it.

    (Did you try any Danish beer? It's good!)