"Old" Zealand

In a huge anti-climax, it turns out to be incredibly awkward trying to run with my two packs on and I settle into a hasty walk, find my train no problem and hop on. It takes me another 10 minutes or so to find my cabin - the ticket is in german and I can't work out what each number means (carraige? cabin? bed number?). I ask several people for directions but end up walking back and forth through the train until a security officer steps out of her office to accost me, and leads me to my cabin.

It's a 6-bed sleeper, and I step into what appears to be a family - an older woman and girl probably about my age on my left, and two older men on my right. One of the guys shifts over to give me space to sit in the middle, and I attend to the delicate maneuver of swinging my large bag off my shoulders in cramped quarters without smacking anybody in the face.

I'm a little flustered, which is not helped by the fact that they are speaking fluent german. They are not unfriendly - smiles all around - I just feel a bit of an intruder, holding up their train and not speaking their language and all. After composing myself I pull out my notebook and start a bit of writing.

Eventually the older woman gets my attention and asks what sounds like a question as to whether I speak german or danish, to which I shake my head sadly and respond "Only English". "Oh, that's OK", she replies, and we exchange travelling information. They're not a family as I suspected, the older couple are heading home to Copenhagen and the younger girl is headed to somewhere in northern germany - she has to wake up at like 5am to get off at her stop so she is pushing for the beds to come out. Works for me, 20 minutes later we are laying down and I discover that my hat and scarf combine powers to form a comfy pillow.

I sleep soundly and arrive in Copenhagen. I amble about until I find an internet cafe, which costs me like 30 donkey kongs for an hour. I mean, danish kroner. I haven't worked out the exchange rate yet, and am later disappointed to find that it was like AU$6.80. Anyway, I spend the time obtaining crucial information, such as what everyone has been up to on facebook and whether anyone has commented on my blog. Oh right, and working out where I am in relation to my hostel and the inspiration for my visit: Copenhagen's parkour park. Finally I check for a tourist information centre and find there's one just around the corner >_<

However, the internet visit paid off anyway. I had chosen the hostel because it was close to the airport (my exit point), as well as the parkour park. Usefully, the map I obtain from the information centre includes NONE of these landmarks. Apparently Ørestad, the area of the city they are in, is a somewhat recent development and they can't give me any sort of map for the area.

Oh well. The lady at the counter tells me I can get the metro to Vestamager (pronounciation: the danish g is silent) to get close to the parkour park. Armed with this information, a vague recollection of google maps and my hostel's address, I head toward Ørestad.

I get off the metro and wander about midly disoriented. My bearings are off - I'm still not used to the sun being south instead of north. Also, the area is under development and the map on the metro is not detailed enough to be useful. I begin to wonder whether this half constructed building is actually the parkour park when something in the distance catches my eye. A bird? A plane? No! It's the unmistakable shape of someone konging a wall!

It's hard to describe my feelings at this point. On the other side of the world, alone, in an unfamiliar culture, ignorant of the native language... and people still enjoy jumping over walls. Such a simple delight. In fact, as I get closer it becomes evident that quite a lot of Danish folk enjoy jumping over walls, especially the younger generation.

I have to admit I'm a little underwhelmed. I've been given the impression that this is the largest parkour park in the world, and to discover the little that it entails is a bit disappointing. Nevertheless, I drop my bags and start stretching.

I had imagined myself being more social, but using the percieved language barrier and the presence of so many younger folk I manage to make myself feel a little out of place and self-conscious - as usual.

Before long I decide to go and find my hostel. I remember from google maps I just have to go east (apologies to the Pet Shop Boys). The map at the metro gives me the location of Vejlands Allé, which I'm pretty sure ran into the hostel's road, Amager Landevej. I'm not quite sure how far it is, but I catch the metro a couple of stops north and start walking.

As it turns out, it is 2km before I hit Amagerbrogade. Which is not the street I'm looking for, but I seem to recall that it becomes Amager Landevej - saw it on one of the transit maps or somesuch. 1.5km later my memory proves correct, and in another 500m I find the Copenhagen Airpost hostel, aka The Flying Viking.

Looking at the map now, the metro was a complete waste of time. Would have been quicker to walk straight from the parkour park.

Anyway, lugging my sleeping bag around finally pays off when I check in to the hostel, as they charge extra for blankets + pillows. I soon run into Twan, an Irish bloke who has been living in Denmark for some time. He gives me some pro tips including don't bother paying for the metro - it's a fully automated system and they pretty much don't police the tickets. He also invites me out to some place called Christania where he is headed with a couple of other blokes at the hostel.

Not like I have any other plans, so off we go! Turns out Christania is the place to go if you want to get high in Copenhagen. Marijauna is not legal in Denmark, but in Christania you will find many booths openly selling it. I gathered that they have a certain independence from the rest of the city, and the police aren't interested in messing with them. I make them sound really dangerous with that statement, but they have ground rules for the area including things like "No Weapons" and the atmosphere is generally friendly.

We start the night playing chess and backgammon at a pub, and I learn how to say one through six in spanish from my opponent, who thrashes me thoroughly - I think he won sies games to my uno. Following the games we head to another pub which is playing some recognisable music. Me and Twan bust out some epic beats on the table to accompany Guns 'n Roses and Metallica, much to the amusembarrasment of our companions.

Eventually that pub closes and we head back to the first. I'm starting to fade but the other guys seem keen to continue so I let them know I'm going to head home. Twan is a little worried about me finding my way and the like, so encourages me to hang around. And by "encourages" I mean "buys me a non-alchoholic beer to keep me there for the round".

We meet Nikolai there, a middle-aged guy who we ran into earlier in the night. Turns out he is about to leave though, and bound for the same metro as me. I let him know I'll accompany him, and now Twan is really worried - he's not as quick to trust Nikolai as me. But he comes around after a couple of minutes and me and Nikolai head off.

The trip home is unremarkable... Nikolai gives me a metro ticket and tries to put me on the wrong train, but I am of course still sober so I wait for the next one that is actually going in my direction :)

Lovely welcome.