Dateline: 16.43 19 Aug 1996
Location: Denmark, København, Somewhere in a hay field in Amager

I just trudged through a hay field, following what looked like a tractor's path through one end of it. After a hundred meters or so, there was a crossing and a sign facing the wrong way so that I couldn't read it. "A-ha", I said to myself, "that must be another 'Cyclists' Route 6' sign", since I had seen one such animal at an earlier crossing, the one from where I went into the hay field in the first place. But I was wrong: the bottom part of the sign was almost indecipherable Danish gibberish, but the top part was the international symbol for "things go boom" (as a friend would put it), more commonly known as explosives. And the sign was clearly warning people not to go into the zone I just came from. On a second look, "livsfarlig" suddenly resolved into "lethal danger". The logical conclusion was that silly old me had just walked through a minefield, a most pleasant thought indeed. Understandably I altered my course a mite and as I was walking along, a not-too-distant "BOOM!" was heard. "Poor cow" was my first thought, but I then realized that the field had obviously not been grazed in a long time and was quite unused, with the minor exception of being a firing range for the artillery. Which made me feel much better.

The subsistence budget of a solo backpacking Interrailer in a Nordic country: 50 DEM/day. Do not expect to get by on less than this; do not expect it to be sufficient, either. And subsistence means elementary hygiene (one shower a day), elementary nutrition (all 4 food groups) and elementary transportation and shelter (not including the IR-ticket). Anything extra - café visits, admission fees, souvenirs, alcohol - and bam, you're over. The financial drain comes from the most unexpected sources: lockers, showers, toilets, local transport... you name it, you pay it. And the 50-DEM limit assumes you'll travel (for free, of course) for a bargain: you'll go 7 stops on a subway to get to a cheaper supermarket and you'll cross your legs on the way back to get to a free urinal. Never buy anything at the train station (except maybe train tickets), since everything costs up to twice as much as normal. Always carry a water bottle and swig on that when the urge for a lager hits and if you absolutely must, buy it at a supermarket and not a kiosk, never mind a pub or café. Search for bargains and use them when you find them. København's IR Center will get you a cheap breakfast, a half-price shower, free toilets, almost-safe storage and tourist info if you flash your IR card... and you just saved 50 DKR. Ask for student and IR discounts everywhere. Did you know local trains in København are free with IR? You just saved another 50 DKR. And do your homework beforehand or at least upon arrival spend an hour poring over the available data before setting out. Tomorrow's lecture: fun with food.

Skip to tomorrow's lecture

I've already mentioned cyclists a few times in passing, since in København it's impossible to take a step without running into one. And usually that should be taken literally. Granted, most countries have cycle lanes and with luck even people using them, but here every road not only has a cycle lane, but a veritable army of pedalers on it as well. No fuzzy distinctions here, if you step over the line separating pedestrians and cyclists you had better step right back as they honk and yell at you, since if you don't the next kamikaze cyclist outracing the car traffic will take you down. Even otherwise so mellow Christiania the bikers whooshed past at hazardous velocities. But with all other modes of public transport with the exception of feet banned, the rush is understandable. To plagiarize Tom Cruise, they feel the need, the need for speed.

The day's budget
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