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Published: July 23rd 2016
Today we start what is a long journey across Denmark through Germany,Holland,Belgium to get to Connelles near Giverny,France where we have a couple of nights before taking Peggy back to Peugeot and flying off to Ireland for a week.
We aren’t attempting to do this journey of over 1500km in a day but rather with two stops along the way making it three days of driving.
The day has dawned, like yesterday, beautifully fine and sunny although we expect that won’t last and the ‘typical European summer day of 2016’will return before long.
And dark clouds were soon to roll over the BBA V3!
It was a typical start to the start, breakfast first and a cleanup of the place as we do before we depart for the next overnight stop.
As usual we went through the check list of all the sundry things after the suitcases and boxes of groceries were stored in the car.
We usually check that we have cameras, watch, tablet, kindles, moneybelts and passports on our person or already stored in a bag or the car.
Everything ticked off EXCEPT where was my money belt which contained Euros and Sterling cash plus my passport.
We searched everywhere in the small apartment and then checked everything in the car. Nothing turned up!
Now a money belt is designed to wear around your middle, close to your body and keep your valuables hidden by clothing from anyone likely to want to thieve it from you. And it had done a great job up until now.
For the first 2 months or so I had been wearing the money belt around my middle every time we were out and about and did it without even thinking. Then the weather was cool and having the money belt against my body wasn’t noticeable as it became when the temperatures started to warm up as summer came closer and we got into warmer places.
Then I took to carrying the money belt folded up in the pocket of my trousers that it closed with velcro.
Complacency was creeping in on one of the members of the BBA V3.The other member did say from time to time that I should be wearing it around my middle.
After turning the place upside down and emptying everything out we sat down and thought what we should do next.
First how did it go ‘missing’?
I retraced our steps home from the train and where I had taken things off and put them down when we got home. Nothing.
Then it struck me!
When we had got onto the packed subway train coming home last night there was a guy of solid build, well dressed and hanging onto the rail above our heads to get balance as the train moved. He kept edging into me and I reacted by moving more to the right where another person I didn’t actually see was standing firm on their spot on the train. I never actually saw this other person as I didn’t even have enough room to turn.
Two stations on the guy who had been edging me to the right got off with I suspect his partner, the pick pocketeer!
At the time I hadn’t noticed a thing, no sensation of someone’s hand unzipping the Velcro and feeling inside that side pocket, nothing!
I was blissfully unaware of what I am now 99.9% certain had gone down as I found a seat now that the train had emptied out somewhat.
Back to today. What to do next. All sorts of things race through your mind when you have had stolen a Travel pre loaded VISA moneycard, a credit card, an ATM card, cash and most importantly your passport.
We checked out New Zealand representation in Denmark to find it was just a consulate so an emergency travel document which we were aware might be able to be provided wasn’t going to be on offer in Denmark.
Then a call to New Zealand’s representative to Denmark at the NZ Embassy in the Hague, Holland to see what we could do about an emergency travel document.
Despite it being Sunday my call went through to a woman who was very helpful. After some discussion and because she had to advise us not to try and cross any borders without a valid passport her advice was to wait in Copenhagen and tomorrow she would be able to check with the British Embassy here to see if their emergency travel document could be issued to me as a Commonwealth citizen. Thank goodness for still being in the Commonwealth we say as our spirits lifted even though she wouldn’t be sure until tomorrow when the embassy opened.
We should also report the stolen passport to the Danish police and that was to be our next action after we contacted our hosts who offered us accommodation with them as the apartment we were in was to be occupied by more guests from tonight. They also checked which Police Station to go to and make the report and told us where to park close by.
We completed packing the car and said that we would be in touch after making the police report as to whether we would take them up on their offer of accommodation.
Downtown Copenhagen wasn’t nearly as busy on Sunday morning as it was yesterday and we found a car park easily and walked to the Police Station located within the Copenhagen Rail Station.
It seemed the main task for this Police Station was to accept reports of lost or stolen passports and reports of pick pockets.
We had discussed on the way driving in as to whether we should risk it and make a ‘run at the border ‘and override what the NZ Embassy in Holland has advised. We would wait to see what happened after the report to the Police was taken and filed.
To get into the Police Station you had to be given a ‘look over’ by the female police officer and you could enter one person at a time through two sets of doors waiting in between the doors to be looked at again. Gretchen went first only to be told that only the person making the complaint would be allowed entry. The police woman looked at me waiting on the outside and had a change of heart and let me in too.
As it was, in the half hour that we were there, we seemed to be the only complainants that were treated this way as others came in straight away in two’s.
Report filled out we were given a number to wait for the next available person at the counter.
The more friendly police person we saw was sympathetic to my plight, which was nice for me, as I was feeling a big enough twit as it was!
In discussion she said that we wouldn’t be checked leaving Denmark and going into Germany and that it was only traffic coming into Denmark that was being stopped and travel documents checked.
With that we left the Police station and walked down to the Canal Boat Pier to see if there had been some remote chance that the money belt had been handed in there as that was the last place I recall it might have been out of my velcro pocket to pay for the trip.
No luck, although we didn’t hold out high hopes anyway.
On the way back to the car we made the decision, we were going to run the Danish/German border and pick a lesser road to cross other than the main highway to reduce the chances, we thought, of being stopped. There was a border crossing that was part of the suburban area of Flensburg and our thoughts were that people would be crossing backwards and forwards all day and that checks might be less if at all.
Back at the car we fired Peggy up and took to the E20 heading west towards the major bridge that connects the island of Zeeland, on which Copenhagen stands, and mainland Europe.
As we drove we discussed what could go wrong in trying to get across the border without a passport. I did have the photocopy that we took for this purpose which we hoped would never happen and I did now also have a Police report with an official stamp.
The worse thing would be for Gretchen to see me arrested and led away to the cells.
We could also be turned around and told to get a replacement passport which was of course an option but likely to take a few days even though they do issue them in London after they receive documentation.
If that was the outcome of us trying to run the border we thought the risk was worth it.
Had this been in mainland Europe it wouldn’t have been quite the challenge as you cross borders and sometimes don’t even know it.
It was now just after 3pm and we were still in Denmark. We had at least 5 hours of driving ahead which would make this a long and exhausting day given all that had gone before.
We put the music from the USB on to pass the time and distract us from thinking about the border crossing and to also relieve the boredom of the same old scenery of flat land going past.
Even driving over the 20km massive suspension bridge and then low bridge between Svenstrup and Nyborg which would normally have bought out the video to record the experience didn’t happen as we were purely focused on the border crossing.
The E20 melded into the E45 just after Middelfart (where do they get these names for towns from!)and our direction swung south.
With the border just 15km away we diverted off to the D170 which would take us across a quieter, residential border crossing and into Germany.
The traffic on this road was much less than the highway we had been driving on.
It had been hard to tell on the GPS unit in the car where exactly borders between countries had been as the coloured line sort of melded in with other lines for roads on the map.
We thought we must be close to the Danish/German border as we passed an industrial estate but as yet no housing which we thought would have been around where the crossing was.
Then around a corner and there was the sign stating that we were about to leave Denmark.
It was down a short hill and we could see ahead that the checkpoint was only set up on the side of the split road that led from Germany into Denmark.
A huge sigh of relief came from both of us and we weren’t going to have to test as to whether a photocopy of my passport plus the police report would have got me out of Denmark into the more open border territory on Europe.
Neither was I going to be clapped in handcuffs and led away to prison, at least not yet!
In an odd sort of way it was like being released from the nightmare of being stuck without a passport even though I still didn’t have a passport and couldn’t yet be sure when I would be able to get one or a travel document that would allow us to continue onto Ireland. It wasn’t as if Denmark was like say North Korea where I am sure I would have been thrown in prison for trying to cross the border without documents. It was just an odd sort of relief to know that we had passed the first challenge and we gained some confidence that we would keep moving.
On the other side of Flensburg we went back to the E7 satisfied that our running of the border had been achieved and now it was onto the small village of Berkenthin just south of Lubeck for our nights’ accommodation.
We had hoped that the restaurant at the hotel would be open and we could have dinner there rather than have to cook for ourselves after such an exhausting day.
However, this wasn’t to be the situation as the restaurant had finished at 8pm and it was now 8,30pm.
Good heavens! elsewhere in Europe you are only starting to think about going out to dinner at 8.30pm!
Luckily we still had two of our boxed meals that we had bought in Germany and had taken them to Norway but not eaten them.
So it was into the microwave with them and as we waited we consumed all the beer we had left and finished off the wine with the boxed meals to celebrate ‘the running of the border’
Before we called it a night I left a message on the phone at the NZ Embassy in The Hague that even though we had been advised not to leave Denmark without a valid travel document we had done so and were now in Germany. I did add that the Danish policewoman I had reported the stolen passport to had thought we would not be checked and that by getting to Germany we were getting closer to either The Hague or Paris to present myself in person for an emergency travel document at the least or if possible a full replacement NZ Passport issued from London and sent to say Paris, from where we fly to Ireland, to pick up.
We had run our Euro Travel Card balance down and it needed topping up and that was one last task before we went to bed.
With the internet connection inconsistent I finally managed to get our Bank account open only to find that a simple process of purchasing the Euros online and having them immediately show up in the account didn’t work.
The transactions happened but then reversed with a pop up saying that I had purchased more than the daily limit of NZ$9500 and that I should try tomorrow or reduce the amount.
Well there was no way I had tried to purchase NZ$9500 worth of Euros unless something drastic had happened to the NZ$ vs. Euro rate.
I tried the transaction three times just in case it was a temporary error at Loaded for Travel but each time a reversal and the same message.
Time to telephone Loaded for Travel as this in itself will be a problem as we had been told the secondary card could still be used but it was not going to be any good if we couldn’t top up the balance in the account.
During the first call to Loaded for Travel I was told that the code placed on the account when I had reported the primary card stolen had had the effect of stopping both cards.
This couldn’t be so I replied as we had used the secondary card to buy petrol a couple of hours earlier on our way from Copenhagen to Berkenthin. This had the young woman very perplexed but she would need to look into it and could I hold. We had already used a fair amount of money on the travel sim phone and I asked for her to ring me back or email a response to which she agreed.
We went to bed at least pleased we had been able to continue to travel south towards Paris but somewhat perturbed that we couldn’t load more Euros onto a card that according to Loaded for Travel shouldn’t be working for us.
Now not only did we have the passport situation to sort out but we needed some assurance that we could still access the Travel Card.
Tomorrow could well be another interesting day to challenge the BBA V3.
PS:yes OK the song is really about Mexico but you get the idea with the 'south of the border'theme because that was what today was all about,getting south of the Danish border without an official travel document.Enjoy on Youtube as usual
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