May 25, 2017

Los Angeles to Copenhagen on Scandinavian Airlines (LAX to CPH)

Only cellphone photos in here, I apologize in advance!

I booked a ticket on Scandinavian Airlines through Hopper. It wasn’t too bad - I ended up flying United (boo) on a quick layover in San Francisco, where I had to weave my way through to the international terminal.

I knew I was at the right gate judging by the amount of blonde hair I saw waiting there patiently and quietly!

Flying international with a domestic layover has a nice perk, since I have Global Entry: the ability to use TSA precheck. LAX non-precheck was a madhouse as usual, with the usual people grumbling and wondering if they would make their flights. TSA precheck, on the other hand, had a queue in front of me that I could count on one hand. Already this Global Entry is paying off!

This flight allowed me one free bag to check, but I ended up with just carryon baggage. I learned a while back that it’s handy to get a big canvas shopping bag (such as those at Trader Joe’s) as the “personal item”, which allows you to stuff a ton of stuff inside. I managed to stuff my smaller Camelbak backpack into it, along with other stuff, including snacks and headphones for the flight.

I brought snow shoes on this trip because they’re waterproof. I’m not sure if I’ll actually need them, but they pack too large, so I opted to pack up my smaller tennis shoes and wear the snow shoes onto the plane - maybe looking like a dope, but I knew what I was doing! And After the plane is in the air, I take off my shoes anyhow.

The in-flight dinner was actually decent, definitely one of the better meals I’ve had. Highlights included a really delicious dessert, some interesting trendy Acacia crackers from beverly Hills, and some Tillamook cheddar (you can never go wrong with cheese, even though we Americans have strange orange cheese…).

Scandinavian Airlines dinner meal
Scandinavian Airlines dinner meal

In-flight entertainment was pretty standard and decent, with an ok selection of movies and TV shows. I ended up watching The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and a Japanese film called My Dad and Mr. Ito.

There were two landscape cameras which were super interesting to watch. One of them pointed toward the front of the aircraft ended up being the most interesting only on landing.

Scandinavian Airlines breakfast meal
Scandinavian Airlines breakfast meal

Copenhagen Airport was pretty crowded, but I figured out my way through. Passport control ended up being super easy - no forms or anything. You just wait in line and walk up to the window and tell them what you’re up to in Denmark, then you’re in.

Figuring out the trains and metro was way more complicated for some reason. Here’s somewhere where I didn’t do the research and ended up paying the price, as few of the train staff were helpful in discussing ticket options. Most of the folks I chatted with seemed interested in pushing the 24 hour to 72 hour passes, but as I’m here for 5 days (then a half day at the end), I wanted a card that I could load up with money.

For the time being I bought a paper ticket into downtown. There were only two tracks, one of them going to Malmo in Sweden, so it was pretty easy to narrow down which train to get on.

The trains were decently clean (of course nothing like Japan), but there seemed to be a lot of graffiti problems inside tunnels and such.

I got off at Copenhagen Central station and finally changed out of my snow shoes on the platform, looking ridiculous.

For some reason I thought it would be a good idea to wander around, so I found myself west of the station. Apparently that’s the red light district…

I found a nice coffee shop and was happy to drop in for an ice coffee and a break. It turned out to be a sunny and slightly humid and warm day, and I was wearing some thermals! I needed to cool down, and that ice coffee did the trick.

When the time came to head back to the central station to get to my hotel, I ran into a strange problem. Using the exact same red machines I’d used at the airport, I tried to get a paper ticket to take me a few stops away to my hotel near Valby station. I tried the same credit card as before and ran into an error: “Invalid currency”. What?

I tried again with all my credit cards, and they all displayed the same error. Well that’s super helpful and makes no sense… Why would the card work at the airport and not at the central station, using the same type of machine?

My next plan was to find an ATM, but before I found one I found some machines that said “Rejsekort”. “Kort” kinda sounds like “card”, as in prepaid card, which is what I was looking for in the first place. I used a nearby McDonalds Wifi and researched the card. It wasn’t perfect, but it’s what I’m looking for!

Annoyingly, like the Caltrain in San Francisco, users have to use the card every time to tag on and off, and there are penalties if they forget to tag off. What makes it even more complicated is that there are separate badge readers for “getting on” (green) and “getting off” (red). Took me a few tries of looking like an idiot before I walked around to the green side and tagged on successfully.

On the way to the hotel I stopped ny a 7-11 and grabbed some fruit, a sandwich, and a bagel. All stuff that turned out to be super good! Why is it that all the foreign 7-11s have the best stuff?

Denmark 7-11 bagel, sandwich, and fruit
Denmark 7-11 bagel, sandwich, and fruit

I’m typing this in bed now! I’m charging my batteries of all sorts (including my own bodily batteries), and looking forward to heading out tomorrow.

Incidentally, not long before I typed this it was still light outside, because we’re up in the higher latitudes.

Not a pretty shot at all, but it’s a strange sight seeing this at around 10:40pm, in the middle of magic hour:

Copenhagen magic hour at 10:40pm on May 25, 2017
Copenhagen magic hour at 10:40pm on May 25, 2017

© David Calhoun 2017