June 30 – Copenhagen to Esbjerg
Another leapfrog day. With one eye constantly on the calendar and our July deadline, we made the decision to do another leapfrog by rail. We are making our way towards The Netherlands and to do that we have to head South. We didn’t want to backtrack, we want to see some more of Denmark and different parts of Denmark. So…we loaded the wagons…well, train carriages at least and headed west, so we could ride south, along parts of the west coast, having ridden to Copenhagen up the east coast. It was another day to tackle the stations.
During our roaming day in Copenhagen, we took ourselves to the train station to see about tickets with the bikes. We were served by an utterly lovely and helpful British man by the name of Benny. We told Benny we wanted to travel to Esbjerg, with two bicycles.
“Well,” he said with the friendliest of smiles, “let’s just pop the details in and see if we can squeeze you on.”
He typed into the computer and sorted us out with tickets for us and tickets for the bikes and seats for us and reserved spaces for the bikes, all the while chatting to us and smiling away. It was everything I remembered of the people we encountered in England…completely delightful and friendly.
“Just out of interest,” I decided to ask, “what sort of train is it? Can we walk the bikes on loaded with our panniers or will we have to unload them and hang the bikes?”
“Well,” he said, “it’s what I’d call an old fashioned train. One of those that has the three high steps to climb up to get in.”
“Yes,” I said, “I know the ones you mean.” I was already getting that sinking feeling.
We thanked him for his help and he gave a parting smile, along with, “You have a lovely journey on Sunday.” We were set, but then…
…after buying the tickets with a departure from Copenhagen Central Station, we had a look at the details of the train we would catch. We assumed it would be leaving from Central Station, but it turned out, it was actually leaving from another station in Copenhagen and only stopping briefly at the main station to pick up passengers. The timetable told us we would have three minutes to get the bikes on and we now knew it was one of the trains that we’d have to climb up into. Could we improve on our situation?
We took ourselves for a walk to the other station, thinking we might ride to that one and catch the train from where it started, so we could arrive early and have time to get on, rather than rushing with a time limit at the main station, with the challenge of getting up the steps into the high carriage. The first thing we saw at this different station was a flight of steep steps. Not looking good here either then, because we didn’t want the hassle of a mountain of steps to climb or descend. A walk around the station and the platforms though and we found an access from a different street, up a ramp and then an elevator down to the platform we could catch the train from. This was looking better. We waited until the same train we would need to catch arrived, so we could get a look at it, see how long it stopped and do some reconnaissance. The train stopped for 10 minutes and we thought, even with the high steps, with that extra time up our sleeve, we could get the bikes on loaded, with Steve lifting from the front and me lifting from behind. New plan sorted and time well spent on preparation for another rail challenge to eliminate as much stress as possible.
Today was time to say goodbye to Copenhagen. What a great city. It has something for everyone, with beautiful buildings, streets, squares, parks and gardens, with the water to walk beside. It also has a relaxed atmosphere, nice and laid back, but a vibrant, social vibe as well. We were there during what must have been the end of the final university semester, because army trucks loaded with students shouting, singing and blowing whistles made their way through the streets day and night, partying and celebrating the end of their studies. So the city was both a relaxing, casual, beautiful place, as well as a party place at the same time. It was great, just fun, happy and joyous. A fantastic place to visit.
This morning we implemented our new plan, rode to the station, up the ramp, down the elevator, and waited in the position that we knew would have the bike carriage stopping right in front of us. The train arrived, the carriage was right where we needed it to be, we had plenty of time to lift the bikes on, get ourselves settled and we were on and away! When the train left and we went through the next station and picked up passengers and then stopped at the main station and picked up more, Steve made the comment, “I’m glad we got on early.” The train was filling up and if we’d had three minutes, with a crowd to get through and passengers to squeeze past as we tried to lift the bikes on, it would have been a blood pressure raiser for sure. As it was, we’d done it easy.
We settled in for the three and a half hour journey, watching the scenery go by, stopping at different stations to pick up and drop off passengers, then crossing over the water as we travelled from one Danish island to another.
Arriving in Esbjerg, we were winners agin, discovering the platform was at street level and we could simply walk the bikes from the train, out of the station. No steps or even elevators to navigate. Fab! A short pedal out of the city and we were at our accommodation. The ride was short but I had more than a few wind swerves along the way. The wind was blowing as strong as ever and I gritted my teeth as I swerved towards gutters and edges of the bike lane, with the wind shoving and pushing me this way and that.
After gathering supplies, we took a short stroll in a park next door and then settled in to prepare for our onward ride.
From here we will head south. We have left the region of Zealand and are now in Jutland, on Denmark’s self described “wild west coast”. We’ve already seen the difference in the weather, with the next week seeing temperatures of 14-16C, a bit different from the high twenties and thirties we’ve been experiencing. There’s also going to be rain apparently, so we’ll have to get used to that again. Steve is already making his feelings known about the prospect of riding in the rain and cold again, while reading of the current soaring temperatures in some of the places we’ve been.
“We can’t go being complete sooks,” I said. I mean, it’s not as if we aren’t completely ready, acclimatised, trained, prepared, got the t-shirt, wearing the badge, all set for being wet and cold on the bikes. It’s kind of our thing! The beautiful hot weather we’ve been having is most unusual for us and has been fabulisimo, but we may make a return to chilly days and being a bit soggy. We shall see. Tomorrow we ride from our new starting point in the west, making our way south, to explore a new part of Denmark. The legs are ready to battle the wind…the face is ready to pull some weird and wonderful expressions as I wobble and swerve my way along in the gusts and the head is ready to turn this way and that to take in the new and amazing sights. So…we are ready! To the south we go!
Distance ridden: 5.9 km
Time in the saddle: 27 minutes
Weather: sunny, windy, 29C in Copenhagen and a tad cooler in Esbjerg, 21C