Copenhagen, Denmark • May 2018 • Length of Read: 5 Minutes
Going to Copenhagen and not visiting Tivoli Gardens is a bit like visiting Paris for the first time and not seeing the Eiffel Tower; a complete travel faux pas that you don’t want to make. Opened in 1843, Tivoli is the second-oldest operating amusement park in the world and the fifth most-visited in Europe. Situated right in the heart of the Danish capital, directly opposite the train station, the park has attractions for all the family, and as the summer sun shone high in the sky Ieva, Iza, Jason and myself spent the day riding roller coasters, licking ice cream cones, and lazing about on the lawn of the pristine gardens as peacocks wandered around nibbling on leftover lunch scraps. It felt like we were kids again; full of excitement, carefree, naïve and innocent (until proven guilty).
Leaving the park after a lovely, chilled-out day, the girls retired back to the apartment whilst a ravenous Jason and I went in search of some dinner. Stumbling into a Hard Rock Café, more out of logistical convenience than anything else, we ordered a couple of beers from Anna, our Icelandic waitress, and opted for her suggestion of the Jack Daniel’s infused beer burger. A far cry from the traditional Danish smørrebrød cuisine, but sometimes you just need to fill the hole in your stomach.
I noticed something fishy about the two guys at the table parallel to ours as Jason and I clinked pint glasses and reminisced about the good old days, their loud and argumentative dialect the first indicator that they were rather drunk, the empty shot glasses and half-finished plates of food on their table the second. Conversing in Danish, I couldn’t make head nor tail of what they were discussing, but from their frequent glances towards the window behind us, I took a guess that they were itching for a cigarette.
My suspicion was soon confirmed as they got up and burst out onto the narrow balcony through a catch-window which just looked in no way like it should be opened; neither by staff, nor patrons. Anna came rushing over, her Scandinavian blood beginning to boil, and ushered them back to their seats with a stern warning. It was clear that they had been a handful ever since arriving in the restaurant. In retaliation to this, as soon as our waitress had departed to attend to another table they legged it down the stairs and out of the restaurant.
“Have they just done a dine-and-dash?” I gasped towards Jason, who laughed in agreement. One of my favourite ‘doing a runner’ stories is told by my best mate’s father, and occurred whilst he was on a gentlemen’s golfing holiday in Spain.
The twelve ‘Divots’, as their tour group was self-titled, had received the cheque for a rather lavish and boozy meal only to find themselves in the uncomfortable predicament of being unable to afford it. Before any suspicion amongst the staff arose, a Chinese whisper was quickly sent around the table indicating that, on the count of three, they would all get up and do a runner. When the call was made, however, eleven of them hustled out of the restaurant whilst the remaining member of the group, perhaps misinformed of the plan or perhaps out of sheer stupidity, ran straight into the male restroom, trapping himself. Only after spending the rest of the evening washing dishes in the kitchen did the maitre’d eventually allow him to leave.
“Unfortunately, for those two guys, however, they’ve left something rather important behind,” said Jason, lowering his tone and snapping me back to the present. “What’s in the bag?”
A Hard Rock Café-branded gift shop bag sat propped against a leg of the abandoned table, clearly having been forgotten in their haste to leave. Kicking it across to our table, I opened it to find three Copenhagen-designed souvenir white t-shirts and a credit card receipt for 650DKK; an amount far greater than what their meal would have cost.
“Let’s take them away,” said Jason without hesitation. “It serves them right and they will make great gifts for the girls.”
“Who do you think you are?” I chuckled. “Robin Hood?”
“A modern-day version,” chuckled Jason. “There’s a receipt, so who’s to say that those guys didn’t gift them to us?”
We deliberated the morality of the situation for a while as a few of the tables around us caught wind of what we were planning. “A heist in which the good guys win,” I reasoned. “It is great when the good guys win.”
Polishing off our food and beer in an effort to remain inconspicuous, we then asked Anna for the bill and she recommended we go to a bar called No Stress for some post-dinner cocktails. Thanking her, we arose to leave and as Jason picked up the contraband she gave us a sly grin. “Have a good night, boys,” she chuckled, giving our table a wipe. Having previously abstained from clearing the two drunk guys’ table, an attempt to confirm her false belief that they had genuinely gone out for a smoke and would at some point return, Anna was happy to play the Maid Marion in our little Sherwood Forest routine.
We headed up the street in the direction of No Stress and, lo and behold, stumbled upon the very two dine-and-dash dudes. They were standing outside a bar and in the middle of a heated, but spirited debate about ice hockey, the Swedish national replica tops of their opposition indicating that they had travelled over to Denmark for the Ice Hockey World Cup that was currently taking place. Keeping our heads low, Jason tucked the Hard Rock Café bag under his arm and we marched on past.
No Stress was a cool, underground, Norwegian hangout, and as we perched atop a pair of bar stools and ordered some fruity cocktails from the islands I looked around and took stock of the environment. A group of guys were huddled around a box TV and playing Mario Kart on the Nintendo 64; squads of young people from diverse nationalities sat around high tables, chatting in their common language; and the DJ in the middle of the room set the atmosphere with chilled-out beats. It had been a wonderful three-day city-break to Copenhagen with Jason; catching up with old friends, recharging the batteries, and planning future escapades. And to top it off, we’d pulled off a heist and got away Scot free.
Pour me something tall and strong, make it a hurricane before I go insane. It’s only half past twelve but I don’t care, it’s five o’clock somewhere.