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Day 3 - Copenhagen

My first new country on the trip (not that I'm, y'know, counting) and a city that Matt, having passed through on the way up had sung the praises of. The Danes are amongst the happiest people in the world and those that aren't happy tend to commit suicide thus removing themselves from the statistics (or is that Swedes? I'm not sure). Certainly the aesthetic qualities of the city ought to keep a person happy, especially if you happen to be male. It is also a place shot through with cycle lanes and vast numbers of residents take to two wheels, woe betide the unwary traveller straying onto their part of the road. The way to Denmark from Sweden is a curious mix of water traversing structures. A bridge begins on the Swedish side before reaching a small island in the middle of the channel and abruptly diving under the ground to become a tunnel. Did each country take responsibility for half the crossing and simply not communicate their intentions? Does the Swedish word for bridge mean tunnel in Danish? Is it a practical solution that doesn't disrupt the flow of shipping? Only actual research can tell us the answer. James was not enjoying being behind the wheel on Copenhagen's complex road network. Surrounded by eminently crushable riders and pedestrians the car made it to the hostel without so much as a screeching brake. Denmark has a markedly different attitude to the drink than Sweden with no minimum age and a culture of public consumption. The hostel had a promising party feel to it, people reclined with giant glasses of hoegaarden in its open front or rested on the communal bed at the back of the bar, I liked it already.
If there is a sight inimitable to Denmark's capital it is the little mermaid. Gifted by the son of the founder of Carlsberg (much of this city has some connection with that family) 102 years ago she has endured a surprisingly torrid history. Beheaded twice, she has also lost an arm, been covered in paint several times, been knocked into the harbour by explosives, been made to hold a dildo and has recently taken to wearing a burqa, perhaps to protect herself from paint. After all those tribulations a person almost feels bad saying she is a bit underwhelming, you wouldn't be on form either if you'd been so relentlessly targeted. But she is placed in a bland spot, the backdrop provided by cruise ships and miscellaneous low-slung buildings. We'd hired bikes to reach her perch and looked like true locals around town, only with less stopping at red lights, more pavement riding and less consideration for other road users, ding. Matt had clothes to wash so left myself and James to bomb around Copenhagen, as much as one can bomb on a bike with a basket, handlebar streamers and spokey-dokeys (OK not the last two but I can dream). Come the evening we ate dinner in Nyhavn which is a picturesque waterfront area once home to Hans Christian Anderson, he of mermaid fame. I tried a smorrebord consisting of herring 3 ways just in case you can't decide how you like it best. We had a few drinks in the hostel bar over one or two games of 'Presidents and Arseholes', or three or four or however many games it takes before the person whom is losing (and is thus doomed) throws a strop and refuses to play the stupid thing anymore. Matt hit the sack while we hit the booze but tiring of snap we inveigled ourselves into a group of 2 American guys and 2 Dutch girls by critiquing their choice of card-based drinking games. What followed is a blur of cards, buses, kraken, i-have-nevers, ice cubes, bed, whiskey, bed and finally sleep. Good night Copenhagen.

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