I just spent the last week doing a crazy reporting tour around Europe, going to Dublin, Lund (Sweden via Copenhagen Airport), London and then back to Berlin late Friday. I’m not eager to do something like this again for awhile, given that my first day started out with an 11-hour delay, but it was definately an interesting trip. With the caveat that I had very limited experience in some of the countries, here is what I discovered:
Dublin: It’s a charming city, and the Guiness here is really that good — it’s the only glass of beer I’ve ever had where I’ve finished the whole thing. My Irish companion, whose father used to build Guiness breweries around the world, swears that it’s highly recommended for pregnant women because it contains lots of iron. However, their bathroom doors have no coat hooks to hang your purse and their airline, Aer Lingus, sucks. Not only was the delay unacceptable, they were horrible at keeping you informed of what’s going on. My flight that should’ve landed at noon, landed at 11:30pm. The only thing that can make it worse is traveling with a plane full of patient, cheery Irish people. I waited for a U.S.-style riot in vain.
Copenhagen: Even more precise then Germans. I was informed at baggage claim that bags would arrive in exactly 11 minutes, and on the way back out, there was a sign at security that said the wait in line would be exactly 7 minutes long. Their bathrooms, thank god, did have coat hooks, and they’ve got pretty decent airport shopping but on the minus side, they don’t sell Danishes at the airport. I looked. I can’t really tell you any more than that because I only saw the airport. (Question: does this count as having been to Denmark? Is it kosher to mark Denmark as “been there” on my Facebook map?)
Lund: This is a town on the southern tip of Sweden. We were warned that there was absolutely nothing to do here, but we found Lund to be a lovely university town — a bit like Northampton, Mass., but without the hippies. I also actually had one of my best meals on the trip here, which I’m ashamed to admit was a surprise (When I think Sweden, I think Ikea and their yummy Swedish meatballs).
London: So insanely expensive that converting everything into dollars can make you physically ill. I paid about $70 for a round-trip train ticket to and from Stansted airport into the city, $12 for a quick lunch of a Cornish pasty (meat filled pastry) and a diet coke, $20 for a disposable camera (though they were on a 2-for-1 sale), and nearly $300 for a plain hotel room. I treated myself to tea at the Ritz, and I can’t even think about how much I paid for that. Bathroom doors here also have no coat hooks, which makes going to the bathroom with a coat and a purse a challenge if you don’t want to set it down on the floor. I’m also convinced that British keyboards have an extra key on the second row because I kept hitting the percent key or something when I wanted to hit return. I guess British fingers are longer? All in all, it was a beautiful city, but I don’t think I can go back unless we become multi-millionaires. Which would also be important because I would need to get cosmetic surgery to lengthen my fingers.