SAS is a Very American Airline

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Note: I’m posting this late, due to exhaustion and wifi issues. Get over it.

Last day of the conference today, and I had to leave a couple hours early to catch the flight to Amsterdam, so after breakfast I went to the conference and sat through a few sessions and then returned to the hotel in order check out by the noon checkout time.

I ran back to the hotel and picked up mom and we hopped on the subway and headed downtown. Given that this was really my only few hours to truly sightsee in Copenhagen we went back to the harbor area (Nyhavn) to take the boat tour.

Apparently there’s more than one company that offers boat tours, and we happened to choose the more expensive. I glanced enviously at the other boats (which weren’t covered, thereby offering better views, whereas our boat was glassed-in) trying not to regret the inadvertent choice. As it turns out I didn’t regret the choice at all.

Just as we started to board, a brief mist began falling. Intermittently throughout the ride, the rain came and went, and I was thankful to have a roof over my head. Further, although it had been sweltering when we left the hotel, by the end of the ride we were quite cold. In fact, we closed the windows near us to help temper the arctic chill. It was a nice, albeit frigid, ride, but to be honest the harbor for Copenhagen really isn’t that beautiful. It’s recovering from an industrial era, and has royal palaces intermixed with industrial wreckage. Obviously that mean some of it was breathtaking, but the whole effect wasn’t particularly beautiful — it was just very nice. Of course I grew up outside Detroit, so I really have no standing to complain.

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The canals were nicer than the main harbor, being much more intimate.

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In the end I’m disappointed I didn’t see more of the city. There’re a number of things I would’ve liked to seen, such as King Christians brew house (soldiers had the option of being paid in ale — 10 liters per day!), and I really didn’t get a chance to visit any of the museums etc. Perhaps someday I’ll return to Copenhagen and see these things. After I win the lottery. Ugh.

We had a very brief time to stop for lunch. There are a number of restaurants right along the Nyhavn canal and many of them look like tourist traps. I looked through the guidebook and one of them was mentioned as being reasonably decent so mom and I stepped in.

I went planning something light, not realizing that this was going to be the high point meal of the day. We sat down and look at the lunch menu, and I think mom was a little uninspired or wanted something that she was more comfortable with so she had the hamburger. As it turned out it was a really really good hamburger. It was served with a chive mayonnaise as well as roasted potatoes and chili mayonnaise. The chili mayonnaise was pretty decent, just needed a little something but they’re pretty close to having something really good there.

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I on the other hand went local. I haven’t had the opportunity while hear to eat one of the classic Danish dishes, something called smørrebrød, which is basically an open faced sandwich. The woman said three was the right number, so I ordered two, opting for one with Herring, onion and creamy egg salad served on rye. The other sandwich I had was leg of lamb thin sliced served on rye (they love rye here) with a plum, pear, onion, and tomato salsa.

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What did I think? They were both very good. Not great but solid good. The herring was clean, delicate, and fresh. The lamb was meaty and mated nicely with the fruit salsa. Overall this was a satisfying meal, and certainly didn’t disappoint.

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We stopped at the hotel, grabbed the bags where we caught our flight to Amsterdam. The Copenhagen airport is one of the better I have been in. Security there was thorough, efficient, and pleasant. After security, however, you are basically required to walk through the duty free store. That’s pretty aggressive marketing.

The flight was on SAS. I was looking forward to it, as the international carriers are generally so much better than US carriers. It started ominously when we boarded an MD-81. These are not my favorite planes, but fortunately it was only an hour and a half flight. They announced refreshments. There was to be no snack, which didn’t entirely surprise me (although AirFrance had done so on a slightly longer flight). We had two beverage choices – tea and coffee. I had the tea, and mom had the coffee. She described hers as dishwater. I would describe mine as the water that’s been sitting in the bottom of a vase for a week after the flowers have died. It wasn’t good. Neither was good. They were awful. After tasting the beverages we were glad they didn’t feed us.

Upon arrival in Amsterdam, I went to the tourist information desk and the woman there advised me that by far the best way to get to my hotel was to take the bus. That was brilliant, as we were dropped off about three quarters of a mile away from the hotel, in the rain, and me guiding a senior citizen with a limp. I almost felt guilty about it. Almost.

We checked in at the hotel, and at this point was 9 in the evening so we decided we need to find someplace close to grab a quick bite. Right at the corner we found a Hard Rock Cafe and an Irish pub. Neither seemed particularly Dutch, but I decided the pub was a better option. I should have read the reviews online.

Let me qualify this by saying that it wasn’t entirely awful. The beer I had was a local brew called Columbus (9% alcohol!). I actually really liked that.

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Mom was happy with the potato leek soup. She also had meat croquettes, which are apparently a Dutch thing. They had meat in a soft white matrix that wasn’t quite potato, and some asian flavors (???). These were decent but were served with a mustard that overpowered the croquettes.

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I had fish and chips, which were .. serviceable. The fish was crispy, but nothing was outstanding.

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I tried the fries with the local condiment … Which is really an unimpressive mayo. So I went back to salt and malt vinegar and was much happier.

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Well it was edible, just not great. And the service was just plain bad. We will eat better tomorrow. I hope.

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