Published: September 30th 2011September 21st 2011
The next day, we were back at Heathrow again, this time, headed to Copenhagen. The flight wasn’t too long (fortunately, because the seats were SMALL!) and we were soon at the airport. The airport is quite beautiful, with these dark wood floors – how often do you see that at an airport?
We got all of our luggage and found a taxi. And that’s when the trouble started.
It turned out that there was a huge championship bike race holding their time trials in the center of Copenhagen (why, I don’t know). They’d blocked off most of the center of town…you know, where our hotel was. And with four big bags (hey, we had a lot of conference material!), there was no way we could walk a long distance to the hotel.
So we drove. And drove, and drove some more. It took us 90 minutes and over $150 to reach the hotel by taxi. And we couldn’t actually reach the hotel, since the time trials were being run literally right in front of it. The driver dropped us off about a block and a half away, and we dragged our bags over to the hotel.
Sure. But what was downright infuriating was that not only did the hotel not inform us as guests – we later learned that they alerted all conference groups arriving on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday – but despite having worked with the hotel closely for several months, and even more so in the last few weeks, my contact there said nothing. Their answer to why they didn’t tell us? “Well, it was on the website.”
Once you’ve booked a room, how often do you check a hotel website out? Particularly when everything else you’re doing is being arranged through an events planner. That’s right, never. I’m not sure why they could contact all the guests staying as part of a conference, but not their regular guests. (Our guess is that it was because they didn't want to have any of those guests cancel)
At any rate, my dad gave them what for, and they were less than helpful about resolving it. We did get our rooms right away and headed up there, though less than stellar service would prove to be the norm at the hotel from then on. (By the way, it's the Admiral Hotel in Copenhagen)
I had a quick rest and unpacked a few things before it was time to head downstairs to meet with our events planner. We had a productive meeting with her, and I felt a bit more confident about our social program – though I still found it fascinating that for the first time in my seven years of events planners, the planners didn’t organize to have staff with us at all times. Very odd, and we ended up having to request them for most of the events – considering the majority of the group were not native Copenhagen-ers (even most of our hosts, who are mostly from Jutland), I guess the events planners just thought we would figure our own way to various events.
Then, it came time to meet with the hotel. They’d been difficult with me in organizing a meeting (also a first), but I thought we had one set for 4pm. Um, no.
We talked to the reception, and they were really confused about who we were. I explained that we had a big group coming to the hotel the next day, and I wanted to talk with the banquet manager about the details. I
said that I had been informed by my contact that this was who I was supposed to speak with, and apparently, she doesn’t even work at the hotel (but in another building), so I couldn’t meet with her. After several conversations with reception – it was really a festival of idiots – we finally had a banquet “inspector” join us. He had no idea of what was going on with our program, despite having an events order for it. He wasn’t sure of the details, the timing, the arrangements, any of it.
I didn’t consider this to be his fault, but if my contact wasn’t planning to meet me, she should have briefed someone who would meet me. Very frustrating. So I ended up having to cut short the meeting with the inspector, as it was pointless to have to go through and explain the details to him, and I instead sent a very strongly worded email to my hotel contact, saying that we needed to meet the next day first thing, because I wasn’t confident that the hotel would handle our group competently. Ugh.
At any rate, we decided that we would go out for dinner –
my dad explained that Nyhavn (or New Harbor), was just nearby, and it was a great place to wander around and have some dinner. If you’ve ever seen pictures of Copenhagen, they’ve probably been of Nyhavn – it’s a very iconic image, the attached buildings of all different colors, right along the harbor.
We wandered down there and ate at Gasten & Galionen, a restaurant that my parents had dined at when they were last in Copenhagen. My mom had noted it was one of the best meals she’d ever had. We got a table inside because it was grey and chilly (I haven’t mentioned it, but I was SO excited to go to Europe and get some fall weather! It’s been so humid in the northeast!) – but Danes are hardy people. Even at this time of year when it’s a bit cold, and I’m sure it continues for even longer, they dine outside – every table had heaters and even blankets there to keep their diners warm.
I started with a warm goat cheese salad (delicious) and then had beef with a strange béarnaise sauce and potatoes. The highlight for me was dessert though – Danish pancakes
and ice cream. The pancakes were essentially crepes, and the creamy sweet ice cream was a perfect pairing – it was SO good!
Afterwards, we were pretty tired, so we wandered a bit further along Nyhavn, and then returned to the hotel for the evening.
Despite not loving the hotel service (and that continued throughout the conference), the hotel itself had quite a lot of character. It was built from an old warehouse, so they kept all of the huge wooden beams throughout the building – pretty much every room had one. The only danger was possibly beaning your head on one as you walked around your room! Despite my general klutziness though, I managed to avoid this the entire time!
I was fortunate that my room overlooked the harbor and the opera house – it was quite the lovely view, especially first thing in the morning, as the sun was coming up. It was even more impressive when a Danish war ship rolled into port on Friday morning!
But I had a little balcony, so I could open the sliding door and let fresh air in when I wanted, and I was just happy that the bed was fairly comfortable.
I had to call the hotel for an iron and ironing board – I hate when that happens – and I spent two hours ironing and watching the only thing I could find in English: the news. It always depresses me when I go to a country where English isn’t the native language, and they only put news programs on in English. Other languages get regular entertainment programs, but not English – hello, world, some of us don’t need 24/7 news!
At any rate, later in the week, there were some subtitled programs in English on the Danish channels, so I was watching whatever I could find – Poirot, strange documentaries, etc.
I got a bit of a late sleep because I had a migraine come on, but soon it was off to dreamland, and just about conference time!