Monday, August 11, 2014

Copenhagen Public Transport

Waiting for the bus, since the last one had 2 strollers already. In Copenhagen, strollers don't have to be collapsed, but there is a limit to how many a bus can hold. 
The best way to nimbly get around with kids is to ditch the car seats while traveling. Though there is a limitation to traveling by public transportation, it can actually be much easier to explore a city so you don't have to worry about driving and parking, or taking taxis without car seats. Copenhagen had an AMAZING network of trains and buses that made getting around very easy. We spent a week here and were able to get around easily, and even took a day trip to Roskilde.

Also, I cannot emphasize this enough for people traveling with kiddos and wanting to use public transport: GOOGLE MAPS. When I was a younger, more adventurous traveler, all I needed was a map to the city and I enjoyed navigating a place I'd never been. I would actually enjoy the experience of finding myself lost when I wandered off the beaten path, knowing that I could always get to a main road and catch a taxi back if all else failed.

Not so ,when someone is clinging to your leg and another person is physically strapped to your chest, the priority is to get there now.  The urgency is compounded by the fact that the bus/train/subway is the only option since walking for miles in the summer heat isn't feasible with little ones (though we did do that too). This is where Google Maps really saved us. In Copenhagen, since all the public transport information, e.g. routes, what bus and time tables, was incorporated into Google Maps, it was a life saver. We had neither the time or bandwidth to process how to get there and rather only the impulse that we should go immediately. Note that bus/train information is not always available in Google Maps, such as the case in Paris, and it made traveling significantly more challenging that we had to map things out ourselves by staring at a mop the old fashioned way. 

Getting Into Copenhagen via Train & Bus
I'll regale you of the adventure we had when we had to take the train into the city to meet our Airbnb host. When you land at an airport and need to get to your accommodations, the priority is to figure out the following 1)how to buy a ticket 2) how to use your ticket and 3) how to get where you are actually going (most importantly).

Uh. Lost again. In the Main Station
Maybe #2 on the list seems a bit odd, but in Copenhagen and in some other places I've gone, certain thingsmay be stopped and asked to show your ticket or be subject to a fine.  Similarly when we later bought a Copenhagen Card, your job is just to carry the card with you and show it if necessary, but we didn't know this so again we were spending extra time wondering where we should validate the cards. They actually trust you that you've paid to get on the train. That was odd but actually very comforting that the responsibility is placed on the rider.
are on the "honor system." For example, once we bought a ticket, there was no where to stamp it. But I didn't know that, so we're trying to beep it up against the validating machine that is only for passes. Apparently ,we found out there is only the policy that you

Then onto #3, when we finally get to where we're going, turns out there is maintenance on the end of the line. We had to talk to a friendly red-headed Danish woman helped point us to the transfer bus. Thank goodness that Denmark is 90% English speaking, a helpful advantage when you're coming off a 15 hours of traveling with lots of luggage and trying not to forget your kid on the bus. She was so nice that she waited for us to get off the elevator since she took the stairs and when she accidentally pointed us to the wrong direction, she came back, and directed us to the right bus. Yes, that was an adventure and midway through Derek was so tired from inadequate sleep on the plane that he fell asleep. So we were pushing 2 big luggages, backpacks and we had to carry his stroller on to the bus. Another nice cultural norm, that unlike in the U.S., strollers do not have to be collapsed on buses. 

24/7 service. En route to airport @ 4am.
Finally we get to the right station, but we have to walk further now since I got turned around. We're about to have a major meltdown as we are lugging everything and Dek who has now woken up from his short nap. Luckily, Quinn at this age will sleep through anything as long as she's strapped to me.  So maybe here a taxi would have been nice for just the transfer into the city, but given it would have probably cost over $100 (Copenhagen is one of the most expensive cities in the world, only second to Tokyo, I've heard) and the no car seats... here we are. Lugging it all with us. The city is relatively flat so many people choose to walk and bike, which we would have done more of, if Quinn wasn't so small. 

Overall though, the buses, metro and trains are really top notch. Everything is clean, runs regularly, there is signage everywhere so its easy to find your way and very family friendly. More later on "pram culture" in Copenhagen, but most people with a baby have gigantic carriages that fit onto buses and trains without issue. Our AirBNB host was kind enough to share ours while we were there for the week so we could enjoy our truly Copenhagen experience.

Napping on the go

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