an afternoon in Copenhagen: trains really aren’t that scary

On Tuesday, Emma and I decided to attend a dinner put on by our scholarship foundation. We both received a scholarship that funded a portion of our study abroad costs from ScanDesign, a Danish furniture company with ties to UW – Madison. The foundation was based in Copenhagen, and they had planned several events throughout the semester for us as a way to create connections with other scholarship recipients and visit parts of Denmark that we may not get to see otherwise. We agreed to go to Copenhagen for the day largely because we both wanted to give those anxiety-inducing trains another try. This time though, we had a bit of help. Ella, a Danish student at Aarhus who spent a semester studying at UW – Madison, met with us for coffee at a cute bakery called Lagkagehuset, a few minutes’ walk from the train station. She explained how to use an app on our phones to track all the information about our train and helped us navigate the departure screens on the train platforms. She assured us that we had all the information we needed to take trains in the future, and with that, Emma and I were off to Copenhagen.

All the nervousness I felt about the train seemed to melt away and I actually enjoyed my time looking out the window at the green grass and rolling hills. The sun was out, a rare occurrence in Denmark, and I welcomed the warmth on my face. We crossed over the ocean and I watched the water beneath the bridge, we went through dark tunnels and weaved between highways. We stopped in cities along the way, and people got on and off the trains. I even had some time to work from my laptop. I was content.

A little over three hours later, we arrived at the Copenhagen metro station. Unfortunately, the sun was short lived, and it was back to awful winds and pouring rain. Emma and I walked through the street of Copenhagen, stopping to take cover in building entrances a few times, until we made it to a coffee shop near the restaurant we would be eating at with our scholarship group later that evening.

We learned early on in our first week in Aarhus that Espresso House had some of the best coffee and chai in Denmark. So, when we spotted one in Copenhagen, we went inside and waited out the weather until it was time for our dinner. Because of the poor weather, we spent most of the time inside the coffee shop warming up and watching the people outside.

When it was time to meet with our scholarship group, we headed a few minutes down the cobblestone streets to Solbjergvej 6, a cozy restaurant with amazing food. After meeting with everyone and talking for a bit, we ate an assortment of cheese and meat as an appetizer, chicken and carrots in red wine sauce for our main dish and Denmark’s version of an apple pie for dessert.

Emma and I had to leave a bit early for the half hour walk back to the metro station. We wanted to be there early in case we ran into problems. It was much easier than we originally assumed, following Ella’s instructions we found the right platform and waited for the train. When it arrived, we chose our seats and waited to depart.

It was about 8:30 p.m. when we got on the train at the Copenhagen metro. This is when I learned that taking the trains at night meant there were lots of different types of people boarding. As a side note, passengers are also allowed to drink on the trains. Another side note, Danes usually keep to themselves… unless they are drunk and on a train. So, just as a heads up, be ready for some interesting interactions on trains later in the evening if you’re planning on using them as a regular form of transportation.

We made it back to Aarhus and to our dorms around 1:00 a.m., and although the day seemed never ending, we gained a better understanding of how the trains work and got to spend some time in Copenhagen. Both of which I would consider a success!

So, I take back what I said about trains in my first few posts. They take a bit to understand, but once you do, the process is pretty seamless and sometimes you might even enjoy it.