Hello Copenhagen

I was awoken this morning by a text message. The truth be told, I’d heard a few messages come in throughout the night, but since I’m on holiday, and since I’m in Berlin, I hadn’t bothered to look at them. They were, of course, a series of messages concerning the latest challenge (or non-challenge) to the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard. I’m still on a “breaking news” alert system operated by the ABC, and had re-installed my Australian SIM card (replacing the Swedish SIM), so received them pretty much instantaneously. By the time I’d woken up at about 7.00am, it was all over and done with it. The Prime Minister had survived, and ABC News 24 was carrying a media conference by the Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott. A few minutes later we switched on the television to see the story reported quite extensively on BBC World.

It’s amazing to think that in the two weeks since I’ve been away, there have been two “successful leadership changes” in Australia (Victoria and the Northern Territory), one “unsuccessful leadership change” (the non-challenge by Kevin Rudd), as well as the election of Pope Francis. As one of my key roles back home for ABC Radio is to ensure good coverage and communication of major breaking news, I was feeling very sorry for Sarah who is replacing me. Sarah, I swear I had no idea it was going to be this busy.

For Sue and I, though, the day hasn’t been that busy. There were only three major things we needed to achieve today: clean up the apartment we’ve been staying in; catch the trains from Berlin to Copenhagen; and then find the AirBnb accommodation we’re staying in for the next four days. This time the accommodation is a little different, as we’re staying about thirty minutes to the north of central accommodation, and this time we’re actually staying in someone’s apartment. Over a glass of wine tonight we heard quite a bit about her pretty amazing life story, having lived in the Phillipines, Australia, and having returned to the workforce, aged forty-nine (twelve years ago) as a flight attendant.

Aside from that, it was essentially a day of travel. While Sue read a book; I listened to a number of podcasts and looked out the window. I listened to a few of my favourite tech podcasts (TWIG and Tech News Today), a couple of episodes of Richard Fidler’s Conversations (one about a woman whose grandfather who became notorious in the British postal system; another about a woman who is the Obituaries Editor for The Economist), along with something I’ve just discovered called “Stuff You Should Know”. Today’s edition was about the history of the US postal system, which faces an economic crisis. All good fodder to pass the time on the train.

As I’ve mentioned the other day, there’s been a large amount of snow fall over much of Europe over the last few days. On top of what had already been there from the longish winter, the view from Berlin to Copenhagen was essentially black and white all the way. Even though the colour variation wasn’t that great, there was certainly a lot to see as the landscape changed, as we went from town to town, and finally, as the train came to a halt.

“I wasn’t expecting this”, I said to Sue, as our train went on board a ferry. We were told, due to safety reasons, we couldn’t stay on board as the ferry crossed the water between the German mainland and Denmark. The journey took about forty-five minutes and, as we found, was best passed with a Diet Coke and a Carlsberg beer. Up on the main deck, the winds were brisk (to say the least), but we couldn’t let the opportunity pass without going outside.

After the last few days in Berlin (one of the most amazing cities in the world), we’re now planning to spend the next few days in Copenhagen (a really beautiful city). On the train from Copenhagen to Hørsholm (where we’re staying), we got chatting with an older woman who told us she had just spent a few days in London. She had two large bags from her visit. The one on the bottom contained her clothes. The one on the top contained books she had bought about her favourite Italian painter. She told us she likes to draw, lives in a beautiful location with the woodlands on one side and the sea on the other, and that her husband had died five years ago.