|Where did I leave my bike?|
Wednesday, August 10, 2011
Nice to Copenhagen: Challenges & Lightning
Monday was travel day. Although our flight was not until 1:40pm, we left the condo at 9:45 to give us plenty of time to top off the rental car with diesel, return it and get to the SAS checking counter at the Nice Cote d’Azur Airport. We returned the car at Terminal 2 but SAS was located in Terminal 1, 1km away. We hopped on a shuttle bus like we knew what we were doing and rode over to where we needed to be. When we found SAS we learned there was a flight delay but we were able to check in and go find MA’s favorite airport lounge using her Continental card. Finally we took off with a reluctant goodbye to the south of France.
The flight to Copenhagen was unforgettable, but not how you might think. For one thing SAS charges for everything. I had wanted to bring some snacks from the lounge but MA presumed that, based on the great Lufthansa from Frankfurt to Nice, SAS would be serving us lunch. Wrong! Not only did they charge for snacks and lunch, but when we asked for some water we were told that they did not serve free water but would sell us a bottle for 3 € (Euros) – that’s $5 USD. We could have afforded that of course but it was the principle of the thing.
As we got closer to Copenhagen the clouds began to turn dark and we found ourselves flying through a major thunderstorm. Suddenly there was a brilliant flash followed by a loud boom. Sure enough, the plane was hit by lightning. The captain immediately came on the intercom to reassure everyone that all was well. The landing was no fun, even for my experienced former flight attendant spouse but God was in charge and we arrived safely at Copenhagen. Now all we had to do was figure out how to buy train tickets to town, find the right train and haul the luggage and ourselves aboard. We did it just like natives, and when we got to town, it was only a 3-block walk to the Clarion Mayfair Hotel.
The hotel was a great choice. Included in the room price was a dinner buffet and hot breakfast. The earlier rain had stopped and I wanted to get some photography in. I had a destination in mind, Nyhavn, a canal lined with sailing ships and colorful home. MA wasn’t so sure going out to a strange city at night was a good idea but I assured her I would be fine, would be back by 10pm. I was!
The next morning we were up early. We had breakfast and set out on a 3km walk. I showed MA the Nyhavn canal and the outdoor pedestrian mall.
Bicycles rule Copenhagen, and not just Tour de France type cyclists, but locals, shoppers, vendors and commuters. Almost everyone rides one. Many of the riders were women in high heels, dressed for the office. Others had coffee cups in hand, the obligatory MP3 plugged in and they were all ages, young and our age!
There are specific bicycle-only lanes on all the major streets. I saw people hauling all sorts of stuff too, stuff like: babies, dogs, people in bicycle cabs, hot dogs carts, even a maintenance tool boxes. For the most part, everyone obeys all the traffic laws; stopping for red lights, hand signaling, and staying in their designated lanes. There are bicycles parked outside every building and only a few had locks on the front wheel. My question is how you find your bicycle amongst all the others. Take for example, this bicycle lot in front of the train station!
It started to rain on the way back from our walk, but we made it, packed up, and grabbed a cab to the Princess cruise terminal. Cruise card in hand we boarded our ship. We knew we had been upgraded from our “obstructed view, no balcony room” but we were quite unprepared for Cabin R304 which is bigger than any bedrooms in our home, bigger than most hotel rooms. Turns out it is outfitted for wheelchair passengers but was not needed for that purpose, thus our upgrade. After unpacking we went to the customary emergency drill, had dinner and met some new folks.
Our first port of call was to be Warnemunde, Germany (for Berlin). We are up early this Wednesday AM in order to be ready for our tour but the captain has just announced that due to 30-40 knot winds there, he could not safely navigate the ship to port, and “to stay tuned for Plan B.” MA’s not too unhappy. She likes days at sea and the mysteries she reads on vacations. And we may get an unexpected new shore experience from this weather detour.
Until tomorrow then, God bless.