Tuesday, August 27, 2013

19+20 August: The night train to Denmark

It has been quite silent on my blog previous week before my departure to Estonia, but that doesn't mean that I haven't done anything exciting. Monday I took the night train to Copenhagen to visit Astrid, my first roommate in Kaunas. I didn't want to make that public yet since Melissa from Germany (from the same semester in Kaunas) would also come over to Denmark. I wanted to surprise her and I can say already now that it worked out perfectly fine! 

Just a little bit about the start of my exchange... Sunday night I arrived in Tallinn and yesterday I participated in the first introduction day. It was quite overwhelming, so many foreign students, so much new information. I'm a bit confused about everything, having quite a to-do list. I have to apply for an Estonian ID card, arrange my public transport card, get my tenancy contract and most important, draw up my own study plan in a rather complicated looking system. I guess in a week or two I'll feel a bit more settled. More about my start in Tallinn later! Let's first have a look at what all happened last week when I left my lovely home country and headed towards Denmark!

Monday August 19, 2013

Monday August 19, 14.19 o'clock at train station Emmen-Zuid. The start of yet another adventure. Off to my first night train experience. At Utrecht I met an elderly couple from the Netherlands on their way to visit a family member in Copenhagen. They told me that the 18.14 train to Warsaw is the one bringing us to Copenhagen too. They were quite surprised when I told them I didn't book a bed and wished me lots of luck for the long night I was about to spend in a small cabin with several others and a non-adjustable chair. There is always such a special atmosphere in the air when being on a train station, especially when an international train is on its way to arrive. The night train consisted of several compartments which would be split somewhere in Germany. One part headed to Berlin/Prague, another to Warsaw and one little wagon in between would have the Belarussian Minsk as its end destination. I hopped in the Copenhagen section where two Australians joined me straight away. They were middle aged, had a strong accent but happened to be reliable travel companions. Actually our place was already packed with luggage when a young well perfumed German young man stepped in with a gigantic IKEA bag and some more 'I have been away for a semester' looking travel bags. I felt like being squeezed into a little luggage storage room with three men.

We kind of had an interesting route. Instead of crossing the German border straight ahead we first went southwards to Eindhoven and even Venlo. The window in our compartment was such an old fashioned one you see in movies when people hang half out of it, waiving with their white handkerchiefs. It was lovely to lean on the opened window, feeling the wind going through my hair while enjoying the landscape to the fullest. When the sun had just set we arrived in Cologne, Germany, which is pretty much the complete wrong direction when wanting to go to Denmark. I guess there were some construction works on the train rails what made us having to take this unusual track. In Cologne our cabin became even more full. An Asian looking Turkish young man stepped in. He told me he is half Turkish, half Tartar and that the meaning of his name is strong soldier. He was very talkative so during a three hour break in Hannover at 03.00 in the night we kept on chatting about paragliding, ballooning, studies and traveling through Europe. When I offered him a piece of liquorice he suddenly didn't talk that much anymore. He was obviously struggling with the extraordinary taste.

It was a long night and I didn't manage to sleep longer than half an hour in a row. It got very chilly and besides that I got some massive stomach pain. Luckily as soon as it was getting light again I started to feel better. When we passed by Neum√ľnster the sunrise looked oh so breathtaking. Denmark was slowly getting in sight. At the border in Padborg a Danish train conductor hopped in. It wasn't really the most friendly welcome since she started screaming at one of the Australian passengers straight ahead. "You fool, don't you see it's raining, close the window!!", even though the fresh air was actually pretty refreshing. So, there we were, in Denmark. It reminded me a lot of the Netherlands, even though the concrete houses are build in a slight different way and from time to time some wooden Scandinavian accents can be spotted on the houses. We were delayed for almost two hours so basically it took me an entire day to get from Emmen to Copenhagen. But, it was surely worth it. When I stepped out of the train I met the Dutch couple again who were curious if I survived the night without bed. "She is still smiling!", I heard them saying from a distance. Yes, I survived, but maybe next time I should allow myself to spend a little more for the comfort of a bed. Nevertheless, another experience to cross off my list. 

Tuesday August 20, 2013

As soon as I got out of the train I realized it was Tuesday already again. Time to find Astrid! She was waiting for me for a while already. After a big welcome hug we took the train to Hellerup, the area where she lives. Together with her sister she has a cozy apartment filled with an impressive collection of DVD's. We brought back a lot of memories from our time in Kaunas and of course I also had to inform her about all the gossips. After I took a warm shower I noticed my need for a nap before being able to do some sightseeing. Late noon we filled our stomachs with tasty Danish bread and brown Norwegian cheese. Then we headed towards the city centre on our bikes. I could luckily borrow the one from Astrid's sister. It must have looked a little strange since I was way too big for it. When cycling down to Copenhagen's city centre there were a few things which caught my attention. First of all, a lot of bikers use helmets. That's not common at all in the Netherlands. Second, people on a bike give a stop sign, raising their hand, when they are about to slow down and stop. That should be introduced in the Netherlands as well! Obviously the cyclists seem way more respectful in Copenhagen. Astrid told me she was rather shocked by the aggressive biking style in Amsterdam when she visited the Netherlands a few weeks ago. The third thing I noticed was that the bike lanes were very spacious, so that was very comfortable. Fourth, I spotted a lot of dog crap on the pavements. That's something I didn't expect to be honest. Then, the fifth thing I came across is that there are so many handsome people in Copenhagen. Just naturally beautiful. So many discoveries...

Near the Russian embassy we got off our bikes trying to spot something of a demonstration that was held there. Unfortunately the big manifestation just ended but we could still see a lot of rainbow colored flags and people wearing anti-Putin t-shirts to show they're against the 'gay propaganda' law in Russia. The atmosphere was peaceful. Then, Astrid's friend invited us to come and see a choir concert in Copenhagen's beautiful Marmorkirken. One hour long we enjoyed the heavenly voices of the choir members. It was great to see so many age groups represented on the church seats (which were surprisingly comfortable). Again, also here the atmosphere was very cozy, like no single evil in the world would exist.


Back home I settled on my new bed, the couch. In between Scandinavian design pillows and under a Micky Mouse blanket I went off to dreamland.

Curious for the rest of my activities in Copenhagen? Stay tuned! I'll upload some more blog posts in the course of this week.

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