A Day Near Copenhagen

I’ll tell you what’s fun; using Faroese bank notes in Denmark. Which is, I hasten to add, perfectly legal, but apparantly uncommon.

The thing is this. Faroese weather has a reputation for being capricious, and unsure of the Vagar/Copenhagen flight I decided to spend an additional day in Copenhagen before heading back to Canada. Uninterested in spending the day in the city itself, frankly, I have pretty much had it with anodyne European cities, I booked a couple of nights in the resort town of Dragǿr, a rather lovely village nestled snuggly against the southern perimeter of the airport.

I rather like resort towns in the off season. They often show their true colours, relieved of thousands of tourists plunging into the sea, hustling for ice-creams, waving, laughing and generally having fun. No, the off season with its slightly bemused patina is the season for me.

And as a stopover option for those transiting Copenhagen airport, it is absolutely terrific.

The Dragǿr Badehotel is just fine. A modest three-star property that has clearly seen days of grandeur, does the job. The rooms are all smallish but clean and comfortable, and fitted with a most eccentric showering system that requires imagination and agility to extract the maximum benefit. It is currently being refurbished, a touch annoying for us, but given the count at breakfast this morning, four – including my colleague and I, it was probably a good time to have the artisans in.

The town is really lovely. Founded over seven hundred years ago during the Great Herring Years, the town has always traded and provided pilots and seafarers to the rich maritime heritage of the Baltic coast. Today Dragǿr still exudes history and prosperity in equal measures, and the old part of the town, and its unique environment, is simply a delight. The community is quite obviously a resort, with many summer homes and prosperous retirees balancing its permanent residents, yet there are few of the obvious trappings of many seaside towns. The community offers small and apparently local shops, museums (although they are closed in the off-season), galleries, restaurants and a wonderful environment to explore.

Its old quarter is simply lovely. The traditional yellow houses dot small twisting roads, back lanes and lovely open squares, and tell of a history that still connects the past with their present. The town has not become a caricature of itself, a fate so often befalling lovely coastal villages, and has retained an earthy charm. It is a fine place to wander, explore and wait for a plane.

It is quite clear to even an untrained observer that beer is a rather popular drink in this neighbourhood. Gallons of the stuff seem to be consumed with men and women sitting and enjoying buckets of the stuff for quite protracted period of time. This I know not because I stayed to watch, but when I returned to a cafe for a restorative after a walk in the somewhat bracing weather, time had stood still. Their earlier clientele remained in place, smiles fixed on their faces, and so I joined in.

And it was at this moment that I realised that Faroese banknotes are not regularly proffered at Dragǿr cafes, particularly by English speaking tourists in December. It caused consternation at first, it did strike me as a particularly good counterfeiting strategy, and finally merriment and the owner was summoned and confirmed that odd as it was, it was legal tender. This reaction was duplicated by a taxi driver, who was unlikely to have actually heard of the Faroe Islands as he grewup in Somalia, and finally by a delightful young lady who finally exchanged our last banknote for a couple of cappuccinos; admittedly, as we had finished the coffees by this point, she really had little option. We wondered later whether any of the recipients would join the fun, and palm them off as change to their regular customers, and how long they might whizz around the town before finally ending up in the bank, and back on an Atlantic Airways flight to Torshavn.

Dragǿr is lovely, and well worth considering as a Copenhagen stop-over town. Accessible from the airport by taxi ($30) or by a simple, twelve-minute bus ride ($5) it makes a fine alternative to the city centre. Hotels start at around $60 for a single room, and there is a variety of properties to choose from; all in all, a convivial, interesting and very convenient place to be.