Category Archives: Denmark


NOT HAD a filling in years. Imagine my shock at being told my one remaining wisdom tooth was decaying and needed to be fixed. Equally shocking was the price of a Danish dentist. DKK 1400 to get it done. But hey ho, at the very least, I thought, I’ll get my money’s worth. As the kindly dentist went to work, she kept taking photos of my dodgy tooth. “I’ll have those,” I thought. So, here for your delectation, are the three stages of my gnasher:

Tooth decay

Stage one - decay












Tooth decay

Scraping out the damage

Tooth decay

Filled and fixed

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Mr Spil

There is a Danish gambling site called Mr Spil, which I like for obvious reasons.

Needless to say, its logo is a top hat cocked to one side with a silver-topped cane.






>The truth about buying international train tickets in Denmark


ICE TDImage by kaffeeeinstein via Flickr

THE OTHER day, I was at Copenhagen Central Station to buy some tickets to Frankfurt.

The first time I tried, the international sales desk was closed. I duly came back later in the day and asked for  the price of a 4-berth cabin from Copenhagen to Frankfurt and back in August. The conversation went something like this…:

Sales clerk: “I can’t tell you. I can’t, unless you want to buy the tickets. That’s the only way I can tell you how much it will be.”

Me: “But I spoke to a colleague of yours a few months ago and he told me a price of 4000 Danish crowns.”

SC (signing, and picking up a clipboard, which she scans): “It would be around 1200 crowns each.”

Me: “Is that for a cabin?”

SC: “That’s just for the basics. No add-ons!” she snapped.

Me: “So you can’t tell me the cost of a cabin?”

SC: “Not unless you buy the tickets.”

Me (shrugging): “Ok, I’ll buy the tickets.”

SC: “You can’t.”

Me: “I can’t?”

SC: “I am too busy right now,” she answered looking over my shoulder at the queue behind me.

Me: “But I waited for 15 minutes in the queue.”

SC: “I have to serve these people first.”

Me: “So even if you could tell me the price of the tickets, you wouldn’t sell them to me?”

SC: “That’s right.”

Me: “Wow. What a great system you have.”

SC: “I didn’t design it. Try our website”

I left. Subsequently bought my tickets on Deutsche Bahn‘s website. Denmark‘s had no online facility. It did, however, have the email address of their CEO Søren Eriksen. I sent him a mail about my experiences.

Strangely, no reply at the time of writing.

Update 11/8/2010:

“”We sincerely regret the circumstances on the 6th of July, when you went to inquire about a ticket fare for Frankfurt.
It is not usual practice that our passengers should feel forced to buy a ticket just to be informed about the fare, and we are very sorry about the treatment you experienced when visiting our ticket office.
We thank you for your e-mail to us and promise we will make sure this will not happen again.
Yours sincerely,
xxx xxxxxx
DSB Customer service”

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>Buying an iPhone in Denmark – the truth


When I complain about the lack of matte finish...Image via Wikipedia

YOU can’t buy an iPhone from a 3 shop in Denmark if you aren’t Danish.

Let me explain. Just the other day I went into my local 3 shop to join the iPhone bandwagon. As usual I had done weeks of research because I was buying some that cost more than a Pepsi and needed to be sure what I was doing.

Matey behind the counter remembers me from a previous investigative visit and smiles knowingly – “Ah ha! I have you!” he thinks.

And he does. He gets my phone and we begin the tedious paperwork process. But before pen hits paper, he asks, “Do you have any Danish picture ID like a passport or driving licence?”

No, and no. I’m English, see, so I have British passport and an EU driving licence.

“I can’t sell you the phone,” he says. “Our system needs that information for the subscription.”

“Do you lose a lot of business?” I asked. He nodded sheepishly.

Anyway, I left the shop, went home and bought it from 3’s website (for less, I might add) with the only inconvenice being a two-day delivery wait.

What a strange company.

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{{en|}}Image via Wikipedia

THE LOCAL COUNCIL here in Copenhagen has started a nifty scheme for bike owners concerned about theft.

Free of charge, they’re issuing microchips you place inside your bike. In the event your bike is stolen, you report it and the chip’s ID is tagged as stolen.

Kindly traffic wardens walking the streets carry a gizmo that beeps when in range of a bike containing a chip tagged as stolen.

So while it’s not quite a tracking device, it’s a sort of alert device, giving you some hope of getting your bike back.

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British American TobaccoImage via Wikipedia

DROPPED the car off for its first ever service this morning and was walking back to the train station when I caught the aroma of cheap cigarettes. Not burning fags, no, but the slightly sickly smell you get when a fresh pack is opened – that unpleasant prelude to the always nice niff of a just lit one, which only last for a few seconds before it starts to cause gagging.

It was then I saw I was right next to the Danish HQ of British American Tobacco, and I thought, Christ, what must it be like working in there? (I might have once found out, sort of, when I applied to their London office years ago for a web editor job before coming to Denmark, but that’s not even another story so I’ll stop this digression forthwith.)

I carried on my way to the station when the following, mildy arresting image caught my eye. ‘Bilvask’ is the Danish for ‘carwash’:

Quite why, then, the chappie was scrubbing away baffled me. Of course, I twigged it in a second. Kindly Danish petrol station owners give you a bucket and brush to get in to the tight spots on the wheels.

I myself have used a bilvask on two occasions. The first time, I noticed the previous user standing outside. I bought my ticket (impossibly digitised, the way techno-obsessed Denmark is – if they could find some way of frying an egg over a LAN network, they would) and asked if I stayed in the car or got out while it was being washed. The attendant shrugged and said either was ok. I drove my car in, shut the door and went to the control console where I had to scan this and pin-code that to start the wash. An Australian cyclyed by and explained he’d heard my conversation with the attendant and advised me to stay out of the car. “It’s starts up real quick, mate” he didn’t say (well, did, just not with the sterotypical embellishments). Sure enough, the water started spraying and a metal shutter door rolled down, sealing me off.

As a kid, I remember sitting in the car wash and loving it. So when I went the other week, I bought the boy with me, started the machine, ducked under the rolling shutter and slammed the door just as first suds hit the windscreen. We had a great time. I am 39 and he’s 3. A great father-son experience.

Beats crouching outside the bilvask with a brush.

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>Johnny on the spot


Photograph showing rolled up condomImage via Wikipedia

MILLIONS, I know, have been waiting for my latest post.

Sorry about the delay. Been busy launching the new site but have finally got the damn thing out. Yes, I know there are some mistakes and we’re working to fix them.

Much has been through my head since my last scribbling. I’ve been wondering which of many subjects to waffle about – how the wife’s iPhone broke when she dropped it onto grass; football, inevtiably; new Google Labs stuff. But what have I settled on to mark my entrance into 2009?

Rubber johnnies. Condoms. Sheaths.

I’ve been in Denmark for nearly three years now and it occurred to me the other day that I have not seen a single discarded johnny on the streets. They seemed to be everywhere back in Croydon, withered and dying, tossed (boom-tisch!) in kerbs, phone boxes or in parks.

Such a disgraceful way to dispose of one of life’s semi-necessities. Just another form of litter.

Danes, it would seem, don’t just chuck their used rubbers into or onto the nearest convenience. I can only guess they bin them somewhere more discreet.

But then, they are a clean people. Swimming pool changing rooms display large posters instructing where exactly you need to wash yourself both before and after you’ve stroked a few lengths (boom-tisch-tisch!). Do it or die. I’ve never been anywhere where so many men honk of not aftershave but sickly body sprays. You go to a work meeting and choke when some fella walks in smelling worse than a 13-year-old boy who thinks Lynx is the key to success with the ladies.

The message is clear: “We are clean.”

I myself, am not. Not to their level. I shower daily (though sometimes not at weekends, to be honest – mostly if we’re having company), I brush my teeth and get a haircut every 10 or 12 weeks. True, I follow the warning posters in the swimming baths, mostly out of the fear of being lynched by sudds-up naked men should I ignore their fearsome commands. And they provide good scrubbing equipment – even for kids: special shower attachments, plastic tubs in a variety of sizes, hot water – they’ve got the lot.

So why do people in England through spent condoms away in the street? I think it’s an English humour thing. I think the tossers (boom-tisch-tisch-tisch!) snigger inside at the thought of someone finding their mess and being repulsed by it. And a part of me finds that funny and repulsive in equal measure.

Danes often say to me, “We have the same sense of humour as you English,” (usually followed by, “I love Blackadder“). Maybe I’ll put that claim to the test.

I’m sure I’ve still got some Mates that could help me.

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