Our trip to rainy, rural Sweden was almost at an end and decisions had to be made about how to get ourselves back home to Edinburgh. Unlike on the way, we had most of the day to make our way to Copenhagen airport for a 17:05 departure to Edinburgh. We settled on using the Helsingborg-Helsingør ferry as a variation on the direct train. It is possible to buy a through ticket from the bus driver when boarding at our local stop all the way to Copenhagen – and by either the ferry or bridge route. Our driver hadn’t sold a “via ferry” ticket before, but it didn’t stop her from doing so! You even save around £2 per person by buying the ferry option. So, we joined the 08:41 to Halmstad, which is fairly busy bus – including passengers going to Halmstad Airport for flights to Stockholm. Despite several passengers needing to top up their travel cards onboard (ourselves included), we made good progress to town and arrived at the bus station just 3 minutes behind schedule.
This gave us ample time to loiter at a rather grey, chilly Halmstad station. What do you do once you’ve consumed your coffee and bun from the ubiquitous Pressbyrån? Why, you wander around the platforms watching the other trains come and go. Halmstad is where the fast SJ services bypass the slow Öresundståg services – and it is quite impressive to watch it happen. The SJ train arrives just a couple of minutes behind the stopper, and manages to be away in around 90 seconds (no platform dispatchers in Halmstad either, so this is all done by the conductor).
Eventually, our train, the 10:12 turned up. It was pink! (In Helsingborg, they join a second set on which was green on this occasion!). We managed to secure seats, which isn’t always a given on these trains. The journey was unremarkable until just north of Helsingborg, where there remains a stretch of single track – we had to wait for a delayed northbound train, and the minutes ticked away. So much so that we did not make our connection to the Scandlines Aurora in Helsingborg.
On the upside, this gave us the opportunity to poke around the departures area for a few minutes. It is an overwhelmingly exciting place, as can be seen from the photos.
Instead of the fancy Aurora, we ended up with the former HH Ferries vessel, the Mercandia VIII at 11:30. It is much smaller than Aurora, and rather less shiny. It was by far the choppiest crossing I’ve had in several years, and even the coffee was poor (almost unheard of in Scandinavia). The silver lining is that upon arrival in Helsingør, foot passengers disembark through the front of the cabin, providing the below view. I particularly like the juxtaposition of the prominent Danish flag and the Swedish flag-coloured markings on the car deck. In short, the Mercandia is much boatier than the other ferries plying this route – but there is little else going for it.
Upon arrival in Helsingør, there was an outside chance we could catch a train with a very short connection, and we duly paced our way along the corridors from the ferry. Unfortunately, an obstructive fellow passenger – also rushing but not quickly enough – stopped us from making it. Nevermind! A chance to poke around Helsingør station instead. Seen below is our train on the right, bound for Kalmar on the Baltic coast of Sweden, next to a local service bound for Hillerød.
Our train made good time into Copenhagen and we got off at Østerport to change onto the Metro, which we took 3 stops to Amagerbro station where I had spotted a lunch opportunity. No decent photos of the metro to share, but I remain impressed by Copenhagen’s interpretation of a metro system, which seems to work very well and has consistently decent ridership. Bear in mind that we were still travelling on the ticket bought from the bus driver in Haverdal at this point! It was about 13:10 when we arrived at Amagerbro, meaning it had taken around 4.5 hours from Haverdal. We might have cut 30-40 minutes off that journey time if we had gone on the direct train from Halmstad, but it would have been far less interesting.
After a rather good lunch at Halifax, the sun had come out, so we decided to walk the 5.5km to the airport through the Amager suburbs. Once we reached the airport, we headed for our usual hang out, the Aviator Lounge, for a quick cup of tea. Normally, it’s been a favourite for the wonderful views of aircraft on the apron and lots of daylight. As it was, the work on the new extension to the terminal meant that the lounge was very dark and that when secured one of the few seats by a window, this was our view…
Nevermind! We only had 20 minutes to spare, so we set off for the charming F gates shortly after we had finished our tea. Apparently feeling the urge to hurry things along, ground staff were already pushing the Final Call button when we appeared despite the absence of an aircraft, which turned up 10 minutes after we did. It was a decent example of how EasyJet can get it right when they try – the plane spent 28 minutes on stand between arrival and pushback – and both flights were full.
It was an unremarkable flight, but we got some wonderful views of the Scottish borders and Edinburgh as we approached our destination. Seen below is the Port of Leith.
We decided we’d take the tram to the city centre on what had turned into a beautiful evening – and it even ran quicker than usual! A quick change onto the number 33 on Princes Street had us home at 19:20 – a door-to-door travel time of just 12 hours (including a leisurely lunch and walk in Copenhagen).