Copenhagen and an Icelandic ash cloud: a welcome travel interlude.

Eyjafallajokull's Easter eruptions.

Back in December 2009, I struggled with finding the perfect Christmas present for my boyfriend of almost two years (now Mr Dgtl) and, as we both loved travel, I eventually opted for a surprise trip to Copenhagen at Easter. 

Yes, April 2010. When Iceland's Eyjafallajokull's volcano caused a spot of travel bother. 

But before we took on the ash cloud chaos, I had to survive keeping the secret; Mr Dgtl's Mum was terrified we'd be away for Christmas Day and asked him outright when he was going to Denmark, leaving her with a ten pound turkey.  Thankfully, I was able to indulge in some creative fibbing as a distraction.

Fast forward four months and we set off on our mini-break; four nights in Copenhagen, with a hop over to Malmo, Sweden, across the Oresund railway and road bridge. 

Source: Wikipedia

We'd both wanted to visit Scandinavia for a while, and this was our first foray (we've also travelled to Norway, Finland and Estonia) into the northern European region. 

As Denmark is the home of the actual danish pastry breakfast, we had a perfect first few days, touristing our way around the fabulous Tivoli Gardens amusement park on our first night.  In celebration of Queen Margarethe II's 70th birthday, the park offered a generous discount, too.  

The next day we pottered around Copenhagen, walking along the Nyhavn (New Harbour) admiring the gorgeous colourful buildings: 

We also climbed the Rundetaarn for views across the city centre (well, I was eating a lot of breakfast): 

Sadly, the Little Mermaid was on her own holidays, in Shanghai, but we still enjoyed a boat tour: 

Then I got a text from a friend back home, asking if we were okay.  
Erm, yeah, Copenhagen is a great city, and we're off to Malmo tomorrow. 
Had we not heard about the ash cloud?  
The what?  
Clearly not.  

We found a news channel on TV, and commenced an online search.  Although travel had been disrupted, we were only halfway through the trip, so assumed everything would be sorted out by the time of our flight.  

Yeah, we were that optimistic. 

Still, Malmo was lovely, and felt like a home from home, when we spotted a cafe that could have been teleported from Cornwall.  

And of course, Swedish cider was served everywhere.  

We spent a lovely afternoon, just relaxing.  
R e l a x i n g. 
No pressure, nothing. 
(This was definitely a pre-child mini break). 

We strolled around Malmo, taking in the terrific architecture of the Turning Torso: 

Then it was back across to Copenhagen for one more day before our flight home.  

Yeah, that wasn't happening.  

We were't catching a train or a Eurolines coach back to the UK either, although clearly I don't look that bothered by the notice advising "Busses are FULL to Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam and London until next week". 

Back to the hotel for more cider and pastries. 

Then we got chatting to a group of teachers, whose Easter break ended tomorrow and they had to return to London for class on Monday morning. Our European geography was good, so the ideas darted about.
Cycling to another town for transport was mentioned. 
I ate another pastry and waited for sense to prevail. 
We could hire a boat. 
Could anyone sail?
Think - think - think. 
Phone calls were made to car hire and coach hire companies, and then someone got back to us.  There was a coach leaving for Calais in half an hour.  Could we be ready? 
Could we....yes.  

The coach turned up.  A proper, real sized coach.  We got on, paid and thanked the driver and settled down, mesmerised.  We were the only six passengers on the 50+ seater. 
I've been into some vehicle hire conundrums in China and the Czech Republic, but nothing felt uneasy about this journey.
Then, twenty minutes later we pulled up outside a large building, and a bunch of teenagers scrambled on, back packs flying along with their chatter. 
We were paid stowaways on a school trip. 
The teachers stared at us, more out of curiosity than fear, and when all the kids were settled, we came forward with our own teaching and DBS credentials, and began the start of a beautiful 12-hour friendship, as we drove through the night and part of the next day towards Calais, through Germany, The Netherlands, Belgium and France.  

The driver left us at Calais, where we'd heard reports of more travel chaos, but we bought tickets for the ferry to Dover without any hassle, and the Danish school teacher booked their onward travel from Dover. 
Oh, yes, where were they heading? I enquired.
A little language school in Paignton, had we heard of the town? 
Once we'd stopped laughing at the irony - from having cancelled flights, to a random coach journey through Europe - we nodded. Yes, it's an hour from Plymouth.
Could we cadge a lift? 
The teacher happily agreed, and more cultural moments were shared. 

Thanks for the memories, Eyjafallajokull. 

Half the fun of travel is the journey - what unexpected travel moments have you enjoyed? I'd love to read your memories in the comments!



  1. I saw this post's title and had to read. We'd booked to go at the same time but our flights were cancelled, so we never made it - boo! Still haven't visited either... #citytripping

    1. Aww, that's a shame that you never made it to Copenhagen - it's a lovely city. And I expect The Little Mermaid is back from her holidays now!

  2. Ah that brings back memories- we were heading to South West France at the same time. I love the serendipity of travel and the memory you have which could never gave happened otherwise. Plus lovely Copenhagen too. Thanks for linking up with #citytripping

    1. It is true that I have a lot of travel serendipitous memories. We were pottering around Nice when the bad snow hit Europe flights the following year, and almost got stranded in France over Christmas :)