Friday, August 24, 2012

Denmark diary - day 10

In theory we could have gone into central Copenhagen for our final evening – it was only about fifteen minutes away – but we just stayed in the Hilton. It actually worked out very well – the food was terrific, especially a dessert created out of wheat and beetroot. We’ve concluded that the distinctiveness of Danish cuisine is more about the vegetables than the meat (some sources had described stuffed puffin as a common delicacy on the Faroes, but unsurprisingly, we never came across any sign that people eat such a thing – I expect it’s just done in intimate darkness). The waiter chatted to us a bit, mainly about the wonders of the Hilton chain, and gave us two free glasses of wine, always a sign of potential magnificence. In the morning we had breakfast there also – yet another awesome selection, although does a breakfast buffet really need to include a carrot cake? (presumably most people think not, since it was untouched).  In the lobby, there's a chair signed by luminaires who’ve stayed at the hotel, including Al Gore, Cherie Blair, Jacques Rogge and (the piece de resistance) Bonnie Tyler.

The cash we brought with us ran down pretty effectively over the course of the trip, and we didn’t need to take out any more, but all this really means is that Denmark seems better advanced towards becoming a cashless society and that it was very easy to keep using the Visa. Copenhagen was much more expensive than the Faroes – the bill for one night at the Hilton exceeded that for three nights at the Foroyar -  but nothing about the trip was cheap, and I probably literally mean nothing. We bought nothing at all to take home except some cookies at the airport, and that was just to use up the last of the cash. We would have purchased some permanent souvenir of the trip, but we never saw anything that ever seemed to need to belong to us.

It was a wonderful trip – we loved every day of it. Many people seem to view Denmark as an odd choice for a vacation, in the absence of any family tie or suchlike, and I can see why they'd think that – it doesn’t have the classic, mythic standing in Western culture of France or Italy, while yet not seeming quite as self-defined as Norway or Sweden (it’s certainly more culturally diverse than either of them). If you don’t know the country’s history (and nothing about it really pushes you that much to learn) it might seem like little more than the connective material between other countries, “European” in all the ways we view that as being a good thing, but perhaps too small and quiet to tell us much about the ways in which it isn’t. But this is largely why we liked it so much – we took the country as we found it, and it completely held up its end of the bargain. I’m sure it’s not a perfect place by any means (although in the recent past unemployment was in the very low single digits) – I guess all that teenage drinking must have some sinister side, no matter how indulgently you’re inclined to view it – but it doesn’t even remotely force its rough edges and neuroses upon you. Copenhagen is simply an ideal place to spend some days simply walking and exploring – it’s just thrilling to us that a place we’ve vaguely known about basically forever is now such a tangible presence in our memories – and the Faroe Islands, while it would perhaps be an odd choice as the centrepiece of a trip, worked perfectly as a complement. Although I think we’ll likely go to a different part of the world next time, we’re already discussing our next Scandinavian visit (most likely to Finland, even though we couldn’t count that as a “new” country, as we did once spend an afternoon in Helsinki).

We were checked in and through security within about twenty minutes of leaving the hotel – hard to know if that’s luck or a final example of Danish awesomeness. I finally finished my magazines on the way home, although it seemed like hard work at the end. Ally watched The Best Little Marigold Hotel; even though the Air Canada movie selection nowadays is truly quite admirable, I still stuck with my own inventory and watched L’Avventura on the laptop. The flight was pretty much on time, but it took over an hour for the luggage to appear. I think people complain about Pearson airport too much, but this one aspect of things does seem to be, how would you put it, sub-optimal. Anyway, we got home around 5 pm, and shortly afterwards I went to get Ozu. He was just thrilled to see me, and dragged me all the way home. He usually takes me a bit for granted, because we spend so much time together, and he treats Ally as being more special when she’s around, but when we go away, I guess he realizes how much he depends on me, and he was just all over me, following me everywhere, staring lovingly at me – just like Ally used to do (or at least that’s how I remember it). Eventually he tired himself out and went to sleep, and then there was no doubt we were home.

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