Friday, December 21, 2007

Merry Christmas from Copenhagen

That last post was a bit of a whinge, and just ‘in cases’ I don’t get the Internet on before Christmas… (What are the chances, do you reckon? Shall we place bets?) I’ll start the festivities on a more positive note from Denmark.

What can I say about my new home and it’s countrymen and women?

For a start, they’re a very friendly bunch.

I’ve already made some good mates at work, especially in the office I share with three others. Danish humour is very similar to Australian humour – surprisingly so and we all need at least one laugh a day, especially at work.

We had our Christmas party, ‘Julefrokost’ last Friday night. I’d had a very busy week – so much for the workindenmark site saying Danes mainly work 9-5pm. Should I sue? ☺

I almost cancelled out at the last minute due to exhaustion and the fact I had a gazillion things to do on the weekend to get the flat organised for NQDII and the dog this weekend. But, I thought I better go, at least for a while. So, off I went. I told myself I would not have a late night, and anyway, being one of the newbies I probably would feel a bit of an outsider anyway.

I’m a tad ashamed to publish this globally but the fact is I arrived home at 0830 the next day, very, very, very drunk – at least by my standards. It was a very fun night but I hadn’t realised just how much Danes liked to drink. Not only drink but also mix those drinks (read, ‘Try everything’).

Consequently, I spent the entire day in bed with some seven trips out of bed to satisfy a newfound, sudden desire to look very carefully into the toilet bowl.

I have never been so sick in my life.

It took me until midday, Monday to feel human again.

How do they do it? It must be some genetic ‘thing’.

It will be a much quieter Christmas for me.

I love organising things like the Internet...

I apologise to the untold legions around the world who’ve undoubtedly missed me updating this blog over the last couple of weeks. I can imagine the disappointment! The sad fact is I’m having a lot of trouble having the Internet connected at home.

Here’s the situation:

Conversation 1 with Telia, early last week.

“Hi, I have my mobile phone with you and want to have the Internet connected as well.”

“Sure! What’s your address?”

I tell him.

“Yes, we can connect to that address. Which plan would you like?”

I tell him.

“Okay, that’s all I need to know. We’ll send you out some papers to sign and it should be on in around ten days time. If you want to ring to inquire about the progress, please do.”

“Thank you. I will.”

Conversation 2 with Telia, last Thursday night.

“Hi, four days ago I ordered an Internet connection and was told some papers would come out for me to sign and send back. Nothing has arrived yet.”

“Okay, what’s your customer number? I’ll check what’s happening.”

“Umm, actually I don’t have customer number…”

“That’s okay. Your address then.”

I tell him and he comes back shortly after…

“Umm, I think you have received no papers yet because we don’t connect Internet to Frederiksberg.”

“You don’t??”

“No. I’m sorry.”

“Oh. Okay. But the guy I spoke to…”


“Hmm. Okay.”

I hang up. I just want the Internet! I feel cut off from the outside world – well, my old, regular outside world.

As luck would happen, I turned on the TV in the living room when I woke up the next day (Friday), et voila! An ad for an ISP. I frantically jot down the number.

Later, at work, I give them a call.

Conversation 3 (I forget their name, will update later)

“Hi, I had booked the Internet with Telia…” And on I go, relaying the Telia saga.

“That’s fine. We can have it on for you by next Friday and we do connect to Frederiksberg. Now I have all your details, I’ll have it mailed out to you. It’s easy to install and you don’t have to wait for papers to be signed etc.”


I am over the moon to think I’ll be able to catch up with people in seven days time! And this guy was very friendly and organised.

Then I came home Monday night to find the Telia papers had come in the mail. It was too late to ring.

I arrived home Tuesday night (late) to find a note from Danish post saying I had a parcel from Telia to collect.

OMG. How insane. This is turning into a circus.

Do I keep Telia or go with the new place? If I do decide to keep Telia, will it actually work????


I’ve yet to ring Telia. I have too much on but I am hoping the alternative Internet provider ‘stuff’ will arrive tonight.

But can you see the next drama? I shall be stuck with both, paying a squillion crowns a month for the privilege.

I should also advise newcomers to Denmark that none of the ISP sites in Denmark are translated into English, so keep your dictionary handy!

Friday, December 7, 2007

Life as a pedestrian in Copenhagen

To myself, I’ve been questioning how safe it is to be a pedestrian here in Denmark since I arrived.

Of course, I’m already at a severe disadvantage because I automatically tend to look the wrong way when I cross the road, which isn’t a perfect start.

Then there are the bike tracks on almost every road. They’re a fantastic idea and a great incentive to cycle everywhere but they do get some getting used to when you’re a pedestrian. I’ve already been abused once after looking the wrong way when I crossed the road…

But I have to say Copenhagen is not a city where pedestrians are every driver’s first concern. Drivers don’t stop if you’re just about to step onto a crossing. You have to be at least a metre out before they’ll consider slowing down. I’ve even had a couple of cars speed up to get through before I crossed!

I thought it was just me, until this morning when I had a conversation with a work mate.

“How’s your morning?”

“Better now, but it didn’t start off too well. I had a collision with a car.”

“Really? How awful. Was there much damage to your car?”

“Not my car. I was walking.”

“Crikey, what happened?”

“I was crossing at a crossing and a car came through and hit me. Next thing I was up on the bonnet and my head and hands hit the windscreen.”

“Good grief! Are you okay?”

“Oh yes,” he said, matter-of-factly. “It’s happened before. My legs are a bit sore.”

“I’m sure. But I can’t understand… Aren’t drivers meant to stop for pedestrians?”

“Oh yes.”

“But they don’t…”

“No. They don’t want too.”

- “Obviously.” I thought as my work mate limped off with his coffee.

So, there you have it – straight from a Dane’s mouth and the pragmatic way it’s obviously take for granted that drivers should stop for pedestrians but…they don’t want to! ☺

Thursday, December 6, 2007

I know some famous people!! The Home Song Stories

I don’t know many celebrities but I do know the partners of a film company in Melbourne. They’ve made some really lovely productions that are very human and poignant.

One of their films, The Home Song Stories, just picked up three Australian film awards and I’m beside myself with happiness for them because I know how hard they work.

The story is based on the life of the writer/director Tony Ayres and his partner in crime Michael McMahon, makes it all happen.

The film stars, amongst others, Joan Chen, who people may remember from, films like The Last Emperor and The Sent Down Girl (I think it was called – someone correct me if I’m wrong). She’s gorgeous to look at and an excellent actor. I’ve never seen a picture of Tony’s mother but now I guess I don’t have too.

What I find most fascinating is I’ve never known anyone who’s made a film about their own life. Consequently, of particularly interest to me is the boy who plays Tony because, although I’ve not spoken to Tony about it, I presume the character must, in some way, reflect him as a child.

Tony has a talent for writing about sensitive issues people face in life and usually tend to colour up but, in his case, characters are always very... real.

Anyway, if you get a chance, wherever you are, go and see it. I find it fascinating getting glimpses of ‘real’ people in life and I can guarantee you the makers of the film are good, decent people without any Hollywood affectations.

As a temporary immigrant, I can’t help but feel what it must have been like for this family from ‘somewhere else’ stuck in a strange land…

Sunday, December 2, 2007

My brilliant big day!

I woke up to very grey, wet clouds and teeming rain. Some of those wet clouds were also in my head and coming out my nose. But that’s not enough to deter someone from the colonies. We’re made tough. I was back in adventure mode.

And, I had absolutely no fail-proof plan – I really had no plan at all.

That is until, as if by Divine Intervention, there was a rattle at the door and another hundred junk mail brochures were shoved through. This is my daily equivalent to, “Oh, you’re home! It’s so good to see you again!” I toddled over holding a tissue to me streaming nose and peered down in the dark. Turning the light on, what do you think was on top? A brochure from a place called “Jysk”.

If royal warrants were handed out by me, one would be firmly perched atop their front door. There was no address on the brochure but I looked them up on the web to find they had an outlet, not just on the other side of Copenhagen but also in Vesterbro – walking distance!

It was too early for a champagne but I found it hard to contain my excitement. After a quick call to Australia to inform NQDII about my find, I shot into the shower, dressed and left.

It was a good walk but not exhaustingly so and there it was, right in front of me at Vesterbrogade 65.

In no time at all, thanks two helpful assistants, my VISA card held a bed, mattress protector, sofabed, coffee table, pillows and shower curtain. It didn’t worry me that they would only deliver the big stuff and I was quite happy shuffling my way over to the new flat with two gigantic bags stuffed full of bedding. The rest is coming between 1500 and 2100hrs on Wednesday.

I’d not seen the flat before in the daylight and was surprised at how bright (as well as empty) it is. It will be good living somewhere without pit helmets being mandatory.

I found some dental floss at the mall nearby and, as I walked back here also came across a fantastic little supermarket not that much further from the other but in the opposite direction. It had everything and all very good quality. I bought some gravladlaks, organic vanilla bean ice cream and some delicious spreads. Hmm. I wish I’d found this place a few weeks ago…

Ahh… What a relief! I think I’ll have a wine.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

My big day goes bung!

Yup. Total disaster.

I should have known when I developed a cold late yesterday and woke up (early, thanks to my alarm clock sister-in-law ☺ ) with a nose like Angel Falls.

But that didn’t deter me. No way. I was on for an adventure of the Ikea sort.

I never shop at Ikea. I avoid it like the plague in Melbourne – see the post about people in shopping malls.

Like taking sides in a divorce or whacking all your Christmas shopping on VISA Card, it seemed like a really good idea at the time. It’s cheap, pretty stylish some of it and, apart from the dicey job of putting it all together, it’s theoretically the perfect way for an expat to furnish a house.

I’ve always been a tad apprehensive about Ikea for two reasons. Firstly, I have my doubts about the sanity of the guy who owns it because, despite having more money than god he still flies economy and secondly, I once had a very bad experience with a bookcase that took seven hours to erect.

Undeterred today, I set off by train/s to Gentofte and bus to HELL...sorry, Ikea.

Armed with a list, I made my way around the very busy people magnet writing down styles and sizes and then wondered what I was meant to do.

What you’re actually meant to do is grab a form on the way in, write everything on that, along with the row and spot number where you drag the larger stuff from the warehouse on the way out. This meant another complete tour of every section so I could complete the form properly.

Anything big, you have to go to the section counter and get a printed docket which includes the row and place of that item.

Two-and-a-half hours later, there I was with 400 forms for sofas, beds, desks, coffee tables.

Was I doing the right thing?

“Yes,” said the girl at one of the area counters. “Now you have two choices. You can either get the Green delivery to take everything home for you once you pick it up here or you can take the expensive delivery, so that the items come from Sweden in 7-10 days.”

“I have to move out next weekend and I’ll at least need the bed. I think I’ll take the green delivery then.”

“Okay,” she said happily. “So you take these forms, get your items from the warehouse area, check out then go to Level (something) where the green delivery is located.”

“Easy.” I said. “But will I be able to manage all of this on my own?”

“Oh yes, you can take two trolleys.”

“And also, where do I get things like doonas, pillows, lamps, Manchester?”

“That’s downstairs.”

“Fantastic. Thanks.”

As I leisurely strolled around the home-wares section, choosing shower curtains, bedding etc, I checked my watch. 1600hr. Hmm. I better get a wriggle on.

Off to the warehouse I go. One shopping trolley full and one, quickly filling, ‘big thing’ trolley.

Parts for the bed (many). Check.
Mattress and top mattress. Check.
Manchester. Check.
Kitchen crap. Check.
Lighting. Check.

Now, that rather nice three seater sofa.

At Row 2, which is nowhere near Rows 3 & 4 I should add, I find said sofa. I also find a father and daughter trying to manhandle a two-seater next to mine, which I help them with. They try to help with mine but IT’S JUST TOO BIG. I leave trolley number two (as the sofa has collapsed on it so it won’t move) and head to the 'help' counter.

“Ah… Can I get some help with loading a sofa onto a trolley?”

Smarmy guy: “Yes, if it is heavy but we can’t take it around for your. It’s self-serve. You have to do that yourself.”

“Oh really? Well, that’s just great… You know what, you half smart Danish dickhead with an ‘I love myself’ flagpole shoved so far up your bum you can’t even walk properly? I hope you get crabs. Big ones. I hope you’re children are born with 11 fingers each, in total, and I also hope you’re granny slips on some of the slime that oozes from your arse when you walk and breaks her hip three days before Christmas!!”

- Actually no. I said nothing.

I smiled, so very politely, and walked straight out of Ikea and caught the bus and train back home. Yes, I left the heavily laden trolleys, and I guess Mr Ikea might just have to take the economy flight from Zurich to Nice this weekend.

Four and a half hours of my precious life gone, to no avail.

But, I have a plan.

Tomorrow, I am going to walk Frederiksberg and buy a bed. (First Sunday of the month so shops are open). I don’t care if it costs more. Then, I am going to shop at Ikea online and get everything else, like the three-seater sofa delivered from Sweden, as I should think Dronning Margrethe does.

Cold aside, I bought a nice bottle of French chardonnay from the local Cold War-esque supermarket on the way home. (Last week, they had pre-prepared lasagne too - this week they don't...)

I have a glass of it now and I’m looking fondly at the bottle.

I’m getting drunk and going to bed.