The script of my first conversation in Denmark went something like this:
(EMILY has left the airport on a train. This train may or not be headed to Copenhagen. EMILY looks at her phone, then looks at her ticket, then back at her phone. It becomes increasingly obvious that EMILY has gotten on the wrong train system entirely.)
(Abruptly, a DANISH MAN approaches and begins speaking Danish. DANISH MAN is wearing a neon vest. It is clear that DANISH MAN will fine – or more realistically, jail – EMILY for inadvertently bumming free train rides. EMILY stammers.)
EMILY: Sorry, I’m a dumb American and don’t speak Danish and also I’m on the wrong train, sorry, and I also have a ticket but I just realized it’s wrong, so.
DANISH MAN (switches to perfect English; pretends that EMILY makes sense): That is fine! I am not collecting tickets. I am conducting a survey about customer satisfaction on Danish trains.
(DANISH MAN brings out a clipboard to record EMILY’s profound thoughts on customer satisfaction on Danish trains.)
(SCENERY: whizzes by in wrong direction)
EMILY: Actually, I think I need to get off now.
DANISH MAN: I’m sorry?
EMILY: I need to get off at this next stop. I’m on the wrong train.
DANISH MAN: Oh, this is your stop?
EMILY: I need to get off now.
DANISH MAN: You need to get off now?
EMILY: I need to get off the train now.
(EMILY jumps off and onto an empty platform.)
(THREE wrong platforms, TWO sets of conflicting directions, and ONE five minute train ride later, EMILY opens a door to a building that appears to be the hotel. She is greeted by, I kid you not, a hotel lobby filled with live trees. It smells as though monkeys might start swinging from the branches at any moment. EMILY leaves again and looks at her phone’s map app. A SECOND DANISH MAN yells to her from a window.)
SECOND DANISH MAN: YOU HAVE TO GOT. TO GO. AROUND!
(SECOND DANISH MAN slams window shut in disgust. EMILY staggers through the summer heat with her suitcase and her backpack, tiptoeing around the construction surrounding the hotel, trying not to stumble into the path of a jackhammer. On the other side of the building, EMILY nearly collapses in relief when she sees MINNESOTA ORCHESTRA MUSICIANS leaving to go to lunch. She has survived her brush with Denmark.)
*FADE TO BLACK*
I mention this story not to entertain, but to encapsulate my experience of Copenhagen, where everything was Just. Plain. Weird.