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Flying Solo, One Day More

Not a bad sight to wake up to.

West coast of Norway, complete with glaciers and fjords.

The last day of the holiday is usually the occasion of the shortest report in these records. So it will probably be again, but this holiday was a little unusual. For all that it’s a short break, it’s really three holidays in one: a day trip to Copenhagen to meet some friends, three days in Iceland with another travelling companion, and today: one last solo trip to Copenhagen as I return home. As always seems to be the case when I travel solo, a good portion of the trip involved climbing very tall things.

Dr. P and I would have been up at the crack of dawn in any normal country, but this close to the Arctic Circle in summer, dawn is hard to nail down. The grey clouds had returned overnight though, and sleepy as we were, we had packed and prepared well enough to have time for breakfast before heading down to BSI for the bus to the airport again (the tickets were a promotional gift as part of the previous day’s car hire).

Once again we passed through the lava fields that led to Keflavik, glimpsing the steaming geothermal plant beside the Blue Lagoon, a reminder of where all this had begun. In Keflavik Airport though, there was none of the relaxed vacancy of three mornings previous: the place was jammed. Unsurprising really: Monday morning has the cheapest flights, so everyone was leaving while the price was right.

Having bags to drop, Dr. P joined the queues, whereas I, with my carry-on, browsed the shops and changed my money. We met again before too long—Scandinavian efficiency is the same everywhere—but having already eaten there wasn’t much to do but say our farewells and head to our separate planes. After the briefest period of waiting, I was once more aloft, once more solo and swiftly asleep.

I snoozed for half the flight, timing my waking to coincide with the first view of western Norway. Site of another trip, some years back, this was a view I hadn’t previously enjoyed: the now-clear skies revealed a landscape of deep fjords, rocky mountains and distant glaciers. That and a few episodes of Journey’s End kept me going until we touched down safely in Copenhagen Airport.

Once again, the plan was to spend my four-hour layover in Copenhagen, so I passed swiftly through the airport, hopped on the Metro and into town. It was, if anything, even warmer than it had been on my previous visit, so I needed a plan. Stage one: return to Norreport station and find myself a pastry shop. One caramel-filled, nut-encrusted fløldebolle later, I was ready to go and still making my plan up as I went along.

Second stop: the round tower that once served as Tycho Brahe’s observatory. Even with my luggage in tow, I had no problem making my way to the top and decided I’d well deserved some ice cream as I lounged on the upper parapet, doing some observing of the city myself. It was only about then that I came up with a finalised plan: make my way south across the river to Christianshavn, using up the remainder of my time in the city in exploration and then jumping on the Metro back to the airport.

It all worked out very well, despite the heat and the efforts of city cobbles to destroy my luggage’s wheels. The palace and the stock exchange with its wonderful dragon steeple passed by on my right, and hordes of cyclists passed me on my left. By the time I got to Christianshavn, I had added one last item to the agenda: the spiral tower of the Church of Our Saviour.

This time, I dropped my luggage at the ticket desk, and just as well. To get to the base of the steeple itself, you have to climb 65 metres up steep and narrow wooden steps, dodging tourists going the other way. All this in stifling, non-air-conditioned heat. It didn’t get any less hot once outside either, just sunnier. The steps that corkscrew around the steeple get narrower and narrower as they ascend, so much so that there was a queue to see the very top. Not that anyone can reach it—in the end, the climb is too narrow for anyone to fit. The view, though, is spectacular.

Having worked off my pastry and ice cream in sweat, I descended briskly, picking up my luggage and heading for the Metro. After that, it was pretty smooth sailing, to the airport, through security and onto the plane, pausing only for a hotdog to keep my spirits up. Then, as always, the very last trip of all, into the air and back to Dublin, another journey at an end.

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