Aalborg, Denmark

Time of Visit: 28 – 31 December 2012

I visited Aalborg to visit my friend (see: Christmas Parties). He lives in a city center, literally! His apartment is among the main stores around Aalborg’s city center. He lives in a shared apartment with other young people, and every time people are just come and go to that place. I found it very nice because I got a chance to know new people everyday.
Fjord in Aalborg

Remaining of factories
And because of that reason, I don’t really go out much in Aalborg. But Aalborg itself it’s not a big city. The main attractions of Aalborg, such as castles and museums, can be reached within walking distance.  I think walking around the main attractions will only take half day.

My favorite is walking around the fjord in Aalborg. In the past, there were a lot of factories around. Nowadays since they all have been collapsed, they have to be shut down. By walking around we can see the remaining factory, the renovated factory for other purposes, the open public space in place where factory was, or completely new building. It’s like walking along the history line.
Part of city center

New Year in Copenhagen

The Plan
For 2013 New Year celebration, I chose to celebrate it in Copenhagen, Denmark. Why? It’s a bit long story. In late November – early December I planned to celebrate it with my two other friends. They were on tight budget and one of them even had visa problem, couldn’t go outside Germany. So we thought Denmark would be a good decision because it’s not expensive to go there, we can go by train. In addition, going by train means less likely to get visa checked.

But when the date got closer, the two walked out due to some reasons. At that time I had contacted my friend in Aalborg for paying him a visit before the New Year celebration. So there I was, traveling alone to Denmark. I went to Copenhagen by train from Aalborg. It took about 4.5 hours to reach Copenhagen.

Hostel in Copenhagen
Arriving in Copenhagen, I went straight to a hostel that I had booked. The hostel was called Generator, the only one available when I looked for online in early December. The hostel is big, clean, and hip. It doesn’t look like ‘traditional’ hostel where it is small and packed. It seems this hostel has been industrialized, it looks like a hotel but with hostel concept.

My bed at Generator Hostel
View from female dorm
Female dorm at Generator Hostel 
New Year Celebration
I arrived in Copenhagen at noon on December 31st. After put my bag at the hostel, I searched the iconic place for celebrating the New Year where normally the fireworks show be held. Some people told me that fireworks show is held in the City Hall Square. So I went there to survey the location. This was also to know the route that I have to take from my hostel to the location, so I won’t get lost during the celebration.
Me at the New Year celebration

When I reached the City Hall Square at around 4.30 PM, the square was empty. There were no signs of preparation of a big celebration. No stage or any property at all. I wondered whether I got the right information about the celebration. But nevertheless, I knew how to go there, so I went back to hostel to rest a bit.

At 10 PM, I started to go from the hostel to the square. People were flocking the street and they also went to the square. When I arrived there, then I know what it means by fireworks show. Apparently the square was full with people playing fireworks! They lighted the fireworks as many and as crazily as they can. There was no ‘coordination’ on lighting the fireworks. Few even hit the City Hall building!

Fireworks at City Hall, Copenhagen
During the change of the year 
This reminded me of Ied celebration in Indonesia where people just play fireworks in the street. Even my father still passes the tradition to my nephews and nieces! So nothing special in this Copenhagen’s fireworks show. I thought it’s gonna be a professional fireworks show, like when the fireworks form a particular shape or word like “2013” in the sky… Nothing!

So other people who didn’t have fireworks just watch the ‘show’ around the square. But surely the area was jammed packed with people. It was hard to move around. However I managed to change places. In the beginning I stayed across the square but after 11.30 PM I tried to go closer to the square. When I walked along the square, there was one firework exploded near me and the sound was so loud, it made my ear hurt!!! Argh, this is the price in having unprofessional show… I wonder whether fire has been involved in the celebration…

Me, among the New Year crowd 
I was very curious on what happened during the changing time from 2012 to 2013. But apparently I hoped too much. If the fireworks show was sporadically and there was no stage around, there wouldn’t be any official celebration. So there was no countdown or anything. People just went crazier in lighting the fireworks and screamed by themselves. Weird! This is the capital city of a Western Europe country. But the New Year celebration was far behind the developing countries…

After the Celebration
I went back to Germany on the 1st of January. I checked out from the hostel at 8.30 AM and went to train station. The waste from last night celebration was still all over the streets. The smells were so bad. It was really different than my experience in Berlin when at 8 PM most of the streets were cleaned already. But yeah, now I know the difference between two big Western European capitals in celebrating the New Year.

Christmas Parties

This year I am lucky enough to have three Christmas parties, two in Germany and one in Denmark.

Christmas Party with my Research Department
The first party I attended was with people in my research department. We celebrated it in a restaurant near our institution. Before the party, we agreed to play ‘Secret Santa’. Our names were written in a place, and then each person withdraws a name. The person who withdraws must give a gift to the person whose name is written. The maximum price for the gift is 10.

X Mas party with my research department
So during the party, we exchanged gifts. I got a nice pillow from Nicola. While my gift went to Dani, a six-pack of Indonesian instant noodles ‘Indomie’. We drank for a while there then we went to bigger Christmas party at the institution.

I got pillow
With Nicola, my secret Santa

My gift goes to Dani

Christmas Party at my Institution
On December 18th my research institution organized a Christmas party. All the researchers gathered together to eat, drink, and chat in Christmas spirit. The foods were self-provided and we had to collect some money to buy the drinks. The party was so nice, I ate a lot that made my stomach almost exploded…

X Mas at my institution

Christmas Party in Aalborg, Denmark
On December 28th I went to Denmark for a vacation. The first stop was Aalborg. I went there to visit my friend who I knew around two years before, when he surfed my couch in Berau.

My friend lives in a shared apartment with five other people. These people were just back from their own hometowns to celebrate Christmas. So when I came, it was time to celebrate Christmas among them.

I was so glad that I could be part of it. I can experience the Danish Christmas dinner, which consisted of a lot of fish! I felt like in heaven already! To honor my hosts, I cooked spicy fish soup for them.

Fish and bread, Danish X Mas dinner

Spicy fish soup, my contribution to the party

Danish X Mas dinner

What a nice experiences!

German Railway Service for Delayed Schedule

The Germans are known for their punctual time. The transportation schedule is very reliable with rare delayed up to five minutes. So when the delayed is longer than ‘normal’ for sure they have mechanism to cope with it.

It happened to me when I traveled to Frankfurt one day. It was early December and the snow was pretty thick. My travel to Frankfurt was still on time but on the way back, the chaos started to happen.

All trains were delayed due to the bad weather. Frankfurt train station filled with people and their luggage, wandering around to find their adjusted schedules and trains. At first I could see my train would come in specific platform, but after waited for almost an hour in cold weather, there was another train coming. It wasn’t my train…

I tried to look at the big board that said that my train would come in different platform. But then it happened again, the train that came wasn’t mine. When I looked again to the big board, my train wasn’t even there on the list. Of course it made me panic: will my train come?

I then tried to ask the information center, but the queuing line was so long. I queued there while thinking how if I had to sleepover in Frankfurt. I prepared for the worst. But while I was queuing, I saw my train was appeared on the big board again. I ran away directly to the specific platform and after around 10-15 minutes waiting in uncertainty, my train finally came!

What a relieved. But it wasn’t over, the trip took longer than usual. The train had to stop in the middle of nowhere due to the bad weather and probably for adjusting with other trains. In the end, my plan to arrive at 7.30 PM in Bremen became 11 PM! I was mentally exhausted…

The good thing is, the German Railway gave the passengers a refund form. One has to fill in that form and post it to German Railway office to get compensation money because the train was delayed to more than an hour. The compensation money is 25% from the ticket price. I got the money three week after I posted it. Now this is what I called a good service J

Evidence of paid compensation money