Cycling around few more blocks on the Aarhus free city bike. Having another go at the buffet in the Vietnamese restaurant. Coming back to pick up the bag I forgot at the said restaurant. Deciding at the last minute to buy a newspaper for the road. Trying to pay for the newspaper while in line behind a very drunk Danish lady who had no clue what she was doing in the store anyway. There were many factors that contributed to me missing the train to Kolding, where I was supposed to board my CityNightLine back to Holland. But they all boiled down to one simple fact – I was an idiot. I had some 5 hours in which I could have taken 5 trains to Kolding to kill some time there before nicely and easily boarding the night train home. There I was – staring at the back lights of the last of these trains as it left the Aarhus central station.
The view from my hotel window in Aarhus – through the window I could climb to the roof, if I wanted to!
This was not the first time I was an idiot, nor was Denmark the first small European country I was being an idiot in (my followers might recall the story about the wrong airport in Belgium). However familiar the situation felt, I still had to try and resolve it. I bravely boarded the first train in the general direction of Kolding. The poor conductor and his poor English buckled and grumbled under the barrage of my questions. His general attitude was, and I can’t blame him for it, “you’re the idiot – you work it out”. I, however was relentless. The guy was my only lifeline and I wasn’t about to let go.
Danish rail – this is what I was up against
The train I was in was heading to Kopenhagen, not even passing Kolding. I could catch a connecting train, which would bring me there exactly 5 minutes after the CNL would leave, which was quite useless. Sure, even if I’d miss the train I would get home eventually, but it would cost me both time and money and I’d be damned if I wouldn’t try my best to salvage what’s left. Just as I was about to grow desperate I spotted an opportunity – I could try and catch the CNL by taking a taxi from Fredericia. Finally, I had hope. The Danish conductor was not that encouraging. With infinite easy and brevity, he smashed my joy upon the discovery of this opportunity by a dry “too far”. He was a man of few words, but the ones he used made direct hits. His colleague, apparently more sympathetic to my despair, suggested I could try from Vejle – it was closer and I’d have a better chance. However slim, the odds were better than zero.
As the train pulled into Vejle, I jumped off and hit the ground running. “To Kolding!” I called, plunging into the waiting taxi. A slight Sherlock Holmes-ish feeling got hold of me. I felt as if I was pursuing Professor Moriarty making his escape to France, chasing him to the ferry in Dover. The taxi driver was absolutely not playing the role of Dr. Watson though. Contradictory to the hell-raising Belgian from that other time I was an idiot, this one seemed to be giving a driving lesson. He followed all the signs and drove at the EXACT speed limit. It would be a close call – we had 20 minutes to cover the 25 kilometres, mostly through towns and villages.
Fortunately, I had a back-up plan – if I’d miss the CNL in Kolding, we would drive on to Padborg, where I’d surely catch up with it. Unfortunately, I was scared to even think how much that taxi ride would cost. As I shared my plan with the driver, I suddenly thought that perhaps it wasn’t such a great idea – what if he’d let his foot off the gas just that little bit so that I’d miss the CNL in Kolding and he will get a big ride to Padborg? But he just kept driving, sticking to the cursed speed limit, not making any cunning plans but just transferring me from A to B.
As we drove up to Kolding train station, I swiped the card in the pay machine in the taxi, swiped it again, cursed, swiped it in the right direction, frantically punched in the pin-code, rushed out of the taxi, hit the ground running again, ran into the station, onto the platform and jumped into the train barely seconds before the doors slammed shut behind me. The whole ordeal cost me 70 Euro and a nerve-wrecking hour. Denmark turned out a cheap country to be an idiot in.
Blessed be the night train – if you can catch it, that is