Commuting Copenhagen to Lund

There are several ways to travel from Copenhagen to Lund and back. The prices of which depend on how fast you want to travel and what time of day your travel times are. The fastest is by rail and, depending on the the traffic, the slowest is by bus (or by foot, if you dare!). In the past, travel to Sweden could start from anywhere in Copenhagen, but due to the recent security measures that the Swedish government has put in place, there are passport controls at the Copenhagen Airport and at the Helsingør ferry terminal. This means that if you bought a rail ticket from Copenhagen Central Station to Lund, you will have go down at the Copenhagen Airport, transfer across the platform, have you documents checked by Danish immigration officials and then board the train to Sweden. Swedish immigration officials will board the train at the first stop after the Øresund Bridge to check travel documents.

NB: If you’re traveling around the Sound (and not just Copenhagen to Lund and back), it might be worthwhile to look at the Sound Card. It gives you 48 hours of transportation access for just 249 DKK. This is totally worth it if, for example, you’re thinking of going from Copenhagen to Lund to Helsingborg to Helsingør to Copenhagen. The only catch is you can either go clockwise or counter-clockwise using the Sound Card. You cannot backtrack. You can also cross from Denmark to Sweden by taking the ferry from Helsingør to Helsingborg. 

Rail

The fastest and most common way of traveling from Copenhagen to Lund and back is by rail. Rail takes around 50 minutes to an hour of travel. Tickets can be purchased on the train station (I’ve purchased tickets at the Østerport Station, Copenhagen Central Station and Copenhagen Airport) or online (check out SJ TrainsRejseplanenScandinavian Rail, ACP Rail, or Go Euro) for 15 – 20 EUR each way.

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Making sense of your online ticket, if you don’t speak Swedish

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CPH – Malmo ticket bought at Østerport Station in 2015

Bus

Several buses travel from Copenhagen to Sweden and back. Wizz Air has a transfer shuttle that goes from Copenhagen to Mälmo and back for 40EUR. Check My Bus provides comparison bus prices from Copenhagen to Lund, and if you’re lucky, you’ll find one that is 5EUR cheaper each way than by rail. Travel by bus takes around an hour and 20 minutes, longer if the buses stops by Mälmo or some other city/town on the way to Lund.

Car

Of course, there’s always the possibility of renting a car and driving all the way to Lund or carpooling. For the former, you might want to check out Drive Now or LetsGo if you don’t want to pay massively for insurance and if you’re thinking of using the car for just a few hours. For the latter, there’s Carpool World and Ride Finder.

I hope this has been helpful! 🙂

May 14, 2017 | Copenhagen, Denmark

From Hven

I wrote in an earlier post that I was going to Hven (see here). Well, I’ve been there. Just arrived actually. Sweaty, tired and extremely satisfied. So… before my short term memory gets replaced by “things of importance”, let me write about my experience. Ahora mismo.

There are many ways to get to Hven from Copenhagen. Google maps recommend traveling up to Helsingor, crossing to Helsingborg, traveling down to Landskronna and then taking the ferry to Hven. An easier alternative – which is what my department and I did – is to take M/S Jeppe from Havnegade 39. M/S Jeppe leaves Copenhagen at 9:15 am every day in the summer and sails back back from Hven to Copenhagen at 4:30 pm. They serve breakfast going to Hven and Danish pastries coming back. Since one-way travel time is around an hour and 30 minutes, that leaves 5  hours of galavanting.

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M/S Jeppe at Havnegade 39

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Abroad M/S Jeppe to Hven, and having brunch

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Limestone cliffs, as seen during our approach of Hven

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Bäckviken

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Boats docked at Bäckviken

Upon arriving at Hven, we walked up a hill to claim our yellow bicycles. The yellow bicycles that Hven is famous for is the cheapest among the available bikes. It costs 90 SKK and only has 1 gear. There are, of course, other types of bikes available (click here for more info on bikes in Hven and their corresponding prices); but since we were in Hven, why not. To be perfectly honest though, it was a pain biking with just one gear and my pride suffered a blow each time I pushed my bike uphill.

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Yellow bicycles for rent

We biked from the bike rental place to the Tycho Brahe Museum. There, we had an hour long guided tour on the life and works of Tycho Brahe, followed by a champagne on the lawn right beside Stjerneborg. Lunch was less than a 10-minute bike ride away, at the Spirit of Wine. We had a buffet lunch with a salad bar, herring, pork and a bottle of local lager. After lunch, we took our bicycles and rode it along the island’s coast. Unfortunately, I have no pictures of that, but I have for everything else. I guess, on that last leg on the island, we had too much fun to stop for photos.

I really, really wanted to take photos of the fields and the scenic views we saw while biking. But time did not permit. Neither did taking advantage of the downhill speed to make the uphill easier.

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Tycho Brahe’s measuring instruments

Bottomline, Hven was an amazing experience. If you haven’t been there, I would most definitely recommend it for a day trip. The island is very small. Some colleagues of mine were able to bike around the island in less than 2 hours. I would definitely love to visit Hven again. Maybe, next time, for some much needed rest and relaxation.

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The port at Kyrkbacken

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Gorgeous views at Kyrkbacken

August 26, 2016 | Copenhagen, Denmark

To Hven

I’m going to Hven for a faculty excursion in a few days; and other than the information provided by the excursion organizers in my department, I have absolutely no idea what to expect from this little island off the coast of Denmark, right on the Øresund Strait. Hven is a contested territory (still is, according to my Danish colleagues), despite legally belonging to Sweden. The Swedes took control of the island in 1658 when Scania was ceded to Sweden under the Treaty of Roskilde. However, many Danes at that time claim that Hven was in fact not part of Scania but of Zealand and therefore, was still under Danish rule. On May 6, 1658, Swedish troops were sent to the island to defend it against the Danes and on 1660,  the official transfer of Hven to Sweden was made under the Treaty of Copenhagen. My Danish colleagues seem to enjoy calling Hven “technically” a Swedish territory.

According to Google Maps, this small, 7.5 square km island with just 715 inhabitants is closer to Denmark than to Sweden. Other than national pride, I cannot think of any other reason why Sweden wanted it enough to send troops. Neither can I think of any other reason why Denmark wanted it enough to reject Sweden’s ownership of it after signing the Treaty of Roskilde. It makes for a good historical site though. Danish astronomer, Tycho Brahe, built two observatories here – Uraniborg and Stjerneborg. Many also think that Johannes Kepler spent time on the island.

SO. Being the mastermind planner that I am, I have made a list of interesting things to see and do in Hven. There won’t much personal time during this trip, but we do get a few hours in the afternoon to do whatever it is that we want to do. So, while my colleagues go for a swim on warm summer waters [ahem!], maybe I can do a mini-historical/cultural tour of my own. Here’s my list:

  1. Tycho Brahe Museum which houses a Rennaisance garden where Brahe’s reconstructing the garden at Brahe’s Uraniborg Castle, the Stjerneborg Observatory, and an interactive weather station from the 16th century.
  2. Church of Saint Ibb, a 13th century church whose front altar was designed by Tobias Gemperlin and donated by Tycho Brahe
  3. Spirit of Hven Backafallsbyn for food and drinks 🙂
  4. Beaches and the yellowish limestone cliffs the island is famous for.

I also created a Pinterest board for Hven (click here). We shall see how much I can see and do from this list, shall we? It’s not a long list, but I don’t have enough time either. And it’s a small island. I must remember though to bring sun block and withdraw a couple of Swedish crowns. Until the next update. 🙂

August 24, 2016 | Copenhagen, Denmark

The Temptation of Cheap

I was searching for cheap flights to Morocco and Turkey to join a couple of friends who were vacationing in October. While doing so, I made the mistake of checking RyanAir, knowing fully well that RyanAir does not offer tickets as far into the future as October. I was in shopping mode, so what the heck. One of the reasons I took a job in Copenhagen was because I wanted to be in Europe for travel, so travel I must. If my wallet can afford it.

Not surprisingly, I saw a 36 DKK (6 USD) one-way ticket to Stockholm. Having never seen a flight this cheap before – well, ok, except for the 1 PHP flights that CebuPacific used to have, which did not last long enough for me to avail -, I decided to book a weekend trip from Copenhagen to Stockholm Skavsta and back. The catch? Stockholm Skavsta is not the nearest airport to Stockholm City!  Bromma Stockolm Airport and Arlanda Airport are closer. And it takes 159 SEK and 2 hours by bus – Flygbussarna Airport Coaches – to get from the airport to the city!!! But, I reasoned to myself, it was the weekend, my flight was early in the afternoon and I was not in a hurry. I can handle a 2-hour bus ride.

I have never ridden RyanAir before, and I have heard horror stories about how terrible the service is. A colleague told me that they don’t even serve water for free. Another colleague reasoned that if the flight was as cheap as this, chances were high for a rickety plane and a substandard pilot. I felt like a cold bucket of water was being poured over me, and I wanted to back out and get a refund for my 36 DKK. But then, I realized that I will never get anywhere if I let the fear of the unknown rule my life. I have not heard of RyanAir flights crashing or suddenly disappearing from tower radars. So I rallied every little drop of bravery and asked the opinion of yet another colleague. This colleague used to date a RyanAir pilot and used to frequently fly RyanAir from Copenhagen to London. According to her, RyanAir pilots are trained much better than other pilots in Europe; and because the airline is a cheap flight, no-frills airline, they follow regulations to the dot for fear of being completely shut down. This alleviated my fear of dying from a RyanAir flight a bit but also left me at a limbo. Do I still fly; and what on earth I am going to do there when I get there, if I get there?

Come March 05, I flew. I booked a cheap hotel near the city center, searched for ways to get from airport to city center, “starred” all places I wanted to visit in Stockholm, and printed my RyanAir boarding pass (I was told there was a huge fine at the airport for not printing it yourself). Come what may. This was going to be one great adventure!

So, off I went. Airport, security check, a long walk to my boarding gate, a long line to boarding, a boarding gate with hardly any seats, and then onboard a fairly nice looking plane. The RyanAir staff were all very professional; I did not bother asking for water. Everything was going great.

Until landing.

The skies were gray. The pilot tried landing the plane 3 times, the plane shook hard, and through the speakers, the pilot informed us that he could not land the plane because visual was difficult. We flew overhead the airport for an hour until the pilot decided that instead of landing at Stockholm Skavsta, we’ll land at the further Norrköping Airport instead. Crap! This was not something I foresaw. To make things worse, I did not exactly know how to get from Norrköping to Stockholm city center. My phone was also running low on batt, and there were no charging stations onboard! I toyed with the idea of making friends with fellow passengers, asking if they have portable cellphone chargers, and following them around — maybe secretly –, hoping they were going to the same place I was.

My paranoid musings of being left in the middle of nowhere without GPS access was cut short by an announcement from the flight stewardess. To make up for the inconvenience, the airline was providing everyone with a coach from Norrköpping to Skavsta. The 40-minute coach ride basically ruined my plans of a late afternoon walk at Gamla Stan and dinner at one of the quaint cafés there, but – what the hell -, it’s free and it’ll get me where I want to be without much worry. By the time I got to my hotel, the longer than expected flying time, a bus ride that totaled 3 hours, a couple of unexpected rushing and running, a migraine, and a forced withdrawal from cellphone use left me nothing but pure exhaustion. I was so tired that all I wanted to do was have a hot shower and a big mac burger from the closest McDonald’s store.

I stayed at Alexandra Hotel, one of the cheaper hotels that Expedia offered. I specifically chose it because, according to Expedia, the hotel rate included a breakfast buffet. And being the grumpy late morning riser that I am, not having to worry about my first meal of the day seemed like a good plan. Unfortunately, when I checked in, I was told that breakfast cost an additional 50 SEK. Thoroughly exhausted from my unexpected flight adventure, I decided to not make an issue of it even after the hotel staff told me that it was a fairly new hotel policy. Now, looking back, I should have argued and brought up the point that an additional payment for breakfast was not the package I signed up for. But I didn’t, I paid 50 SEK, rushed to my room for my well-deserved shower, and silently fumed.

Come morning. Breakfast was disappointing. The options at a nearby 7/11 store were so much better; so I did just that the morning after. At the very least, I learned my breakfast lesson. And more lessons: comfort comes at a price; and more often than not, you get what you paid for. True, I saved money; but I lost time — time I could have used to have more fun in Stockholm.

My flight back to Copenhagen was two days after, at 7am. It was the same far away airport.  I decided to miss it. The night before my flight back, I went online and bought a rail ticket to Copenhagen. This meant that I would not have to spend 2 hours on a bus ride to Stockholm Skavsta, which implied longer sleep hours. Yipee!!! I even got work done during the 6-hour train ride and arrived at Copenhagen feeling like I had a good vacation. The rail ticket was, of course, extremely costlier than my 6 USD flight, but I think it was money well spent.

There is a lesson here somewhere. I had a great time in Sweden’s capital and revisiting is definitely at the top of my list. But when I do revisit, I should do a better cost-benefit analysis and spend more time researching. I should also learn to resist the immediacy of a “today-only” flight sale.

Noted by self.

Until then.

August 20, 2016 | Copenhagen, Denmark