With the morning chill heavy in the air and the windows still frosted over, we found ourselves in front of a tiny electronic ticket booth at the train station. Having missed the opportunity to do significant travel during the previous holiday week, S and I were determined to get out of Almhult, even if for just a few hours. Now, only if we could figure out how to operate this machine to purchase tickets down to Copenhagen, Denmark so that we could visit the zoo there.
After receiving some friendly assistance from fellow passengers, we stood out on the cold platform ready to board our train. Following a 30min delay, we scrambled onboard the car dedicated to those with bicycles, strollers, and luggage. Final departure time was 9:25 and after a pleasant ride through the Swedish countryside, we flew over the Oresund Straits and into Copenhagen with an arrival time just shy of 11:30.
I have traveled by train before, but primarily in South and Southeast Asia. The stations there tend to be more or less a chaotic jumble of colors and smells in an angular cement block enclosing with hawkers and beggars plying their trade. In contrast, the Copenhagen Central Station was a beautiful old European wood and brick structure with vaulted airy ceilings speckled with windows letting in the sun. Stained-glass windows rose above brick and mortar archways, and the merchant kiosks were neat and orderly, lacking the chaotic flavor of other lands.
Following a quick trip to the bathrooms we easily got a cab and headed to the oldest zoo in Europe. By noon, we had arrived. While we waited in the short line to get our tickets, a very nice stranger came up and gave us a free ticket!! Thank you sir, where ever you are and who ever you might be. In short order, K was seated on a pull-wagon, M strapped in his stroller, and we were off to find the hippos (K’s favorite animal at the moment.)
The Copenhagen Zoo is not very big, nor modern at all. It has retained an antiquated old-world feel, little more than a large park with some decent enclosures. I would say that the zoo reminded me more of the Yangon Zoo (an old colonial zoo built in 1915 and not updated since) than the San Diego or Singapore Zoos in their larger than life feels like the wild habitats. We were not there for an all day leisurely affair, nor did we intend to see everything knowing that we had to catch our return train by 5pm. But, come 2:30, we realized that we had seen most everything, and honestly our nap free children would not last much longer. We raced to the train station to see if we could catch the 3:12 train back to Almhult, and luckily made it in time.
At 4:45, we were disembarking from the train and heading home, boys both still nap free…not good. Ignoring the monumental breakdown that took place a few minutes later and the excruciating nighttime routine with two incredibly over stimulated and over tired boys, our impromptu trip to the zoo was a success.