Flensburg to Copenhagen

By Train from Flensburg to Copenhagen – 2 July 2010
We go by train from Flensburg to Copenhagen. The German ICE train is delayed so we get a small detour in Denmark.
First to a baker’s shop for breakfast. It is hot today, very hot, sunny and still. It is 8.30am.
A walk round town. A women’s dress shop: ‘Mode für die starke Dame’. Large sizes. A large woman is a strong woman. Interesting.
The ICE train is delayed. It comes into Flensburg about an hour late. While we wait, a train comes in from Hamburg, goes off to Padborg, comes back. The (female) train manager looks very German. Youngish. There is a look: pale skin, prominent gently-sloping nose with a rounded end, and a particular mouth – need to research some more. Too embarrassing for a photo.
Her hair is dyed white-blond and is rather straggly; short but unkempt-looking. She has rings on nearly all her fingers. Her uniform pressed trousers and black socks with slightly high-heeled, wedge-heeled shoes. Around her belt her belongings pouch, which makes her look rather bellied. She stands with feet apart, straight-backed, waiting for the second-hand on the station clock to reach 12, to blow her whistle and see her train away at exactly nine minutes past twelve.
There’s a train going to Köln and its back half is going to Berlin.
At length our ICE train comes in; a four-car diesel. We find our booked seats, almost alongside a window bar but fortunately not quite. The train is quite full with people who have lots of suitcases on the racks.
At Padborg the train crew changes.
North from Padborg the scenery becomes noticeably less ordered than we saw in Schleswig-Holstein – it looks more like Belgium.
We’re a bit concerned about our connection at Fredericia, seeing as how the train is running about an hour late, though not as concerned, it seems, as a man opposite Hilary, who begins talking to us in English. Turns out he’s a Russian academic who is doing a three-month research project in Germany at a university somewhere – we don’t find out which one – and he is going to visit his son who is studying at a university in Copenhagen. He is very anxious.
The short, ginger-bearded train manager in a black uniform then announces in Danish, German and English that the train will be terminating at Fredericia and not going on to Århus as scheduled, causing frowns and annoyance from some of the Danes.
‘If you want to go to Århus, then you cannot do it with this train today. We love you all!’ It takes skill to be a manager of a passenger train.
The train manager tells us that there is a train from Fredericia to Copenhagen at seven and thirty-three past each hour, so we think, no problem, but for the Russian man it is a problem, his son is meeting him at the station in Copenhagen and he will be late and does not know how to let his son know that he will not be on the train he was due on.
Then the train manager comes and tells us that the train will be making a special stop and there will be a connecting train that is waiting to take us on to Copenhagen: ‘Only for you’. He then begins to sing to the tune of Only You: ‘Only for you-ooo-ooo’, but that’s as far as he gets. Those of us who are heading for Copenhagen get our bags together and queue at the door area. We see that there’s a child-friendly compartment on this ICE train, with a sprung wooden horse and a carpet laid out with roads on. there’s also a cubicle where you can make mobile phone calls in private. Very civilised.
We actually have plenty of time before the train comes to a station. At Lunderskov our train makes its unscheduled stop and there’s a train waiting at the adjoining platform and we walk across and get onto it. The Russian man is still anxious and asks the first person he comes across on the train whether it is the train for Copenhagen. She says yes.
Many of the seats are marked: ‘kan vere reserveret’ and we are not sure whether this means they are reserved or not, but we sit in a pair anyway as they nearly all seem to be so marked. Kan vere reserveret appears to translate as ‘can be reserved’ and so means they are not reserved. Anyway no one came and slung us out so that was good. If you type kan vere reserveret into a Danish–English translator the kan vere bit seems to be translated as ‘Can be carried out by migrants’. Of which I don’t know what to make, really. Some migrants certainly got on the train.
The train we connect with has come from Sønderborg, and the train manager has arranged for it to wait to pick up the Copenhagen passengers at Lunderskov. It travels from Lunderskov much the same route as we would have gone anyway, just bypassing Fredericia itself.
Lunderskov
Kolding
Middelfart
Odense
Nyborg (pronounced Nuborg) after Nyborg the train travels across a long sea bridge.
Korsør
Slagelse
Sorø
Ringsted (pronounced Rengsta)
Roskilde
Høje Taastrup
Valby
Arrival København H
The train fills up as we get nearer to Copenhagen, people get on and off at the stations along the way. A lot of people get on at Kolding. Not all Nordic; a Somali woman with a sailor’s hat over her headscarf. A tall very blond woman with a very black and tight-curled-hair adopted son.
As our ICE train, the one we are no longer on, got into Denmark the Russian man said the countryside reminded him of his home region near St. Petersburg, with trees, rough areas, and fields, and this countryside continued all the way to the suburbs of Copenhagen.
The suburbs of Copenhagen might be those of many cities, with poor-looking and immigrant-looking people on the platforms and escalators.
I especially like the no-smoking sign at Copenhagen. Rogfri zone.
The story continues with Costly Booze in Copenhagen.

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