Wednesday, 11 September 2013

My Aarhus nightmare

my hotel in Aarhus
You know, it isn't everyday that I am invited by important people in the European Community to attend a three day conference. I've been keeping it a secret for months in case there were accusations of junketing but I was away for most of last week in Aarhus which is a city in Denmark. It's a little larger than Aberdeen but not by much - maybe only 100,000 more people.  I have to say that this trip was an absolute nightmare. Still my hotel was okay (pictured above) but I couldn't stand the Swedish food and opted for the Burger King!

I flew to Copenhagen with SAS and then travelled by rail to Aarhus.  I was very disappointed that we were not reminded to use our own passport (rather than someone else's) to get on the plane and that it had to be open at the page with the photograph on it. Easyjet remind you to do this properly on every trip - it's the modern idea about service which recognises that a lot of people who travel these days are completely stupid. In fact they shouldn't be allowed out by themselves.
Glasgow Airport's excellent safety video
As soon as I arrived at Copenhagen's Airport I realised that things were going to be tricky. The first incident was walking to the arrivals hall with my tartan roller bag and having to use an escalator which had no instructions on its safe use whatsoever.  Luckily I knew to hold onto the handrails as the nice lady at Glasgow Airport always says, but I had to judge the exit point with great care.  There was no announcement that we were coming to the end of the escalator so I had to use my initiative and leap to safety.  When we reached passport control no one was there to shout out instructions as to which desk we should go to - very confusing - unlike the UK Border Agency which is so great.  All the foreign types seemed to know what to do though.

The next set of problems were to do with the trains. Neither the metro into Copenhagen or the proper train out to Aarhus had Passenger Safety Information Notices and there were no announcements about when to get off. Very confusing after the devoted care and attention that we get on Scotrail. They haven't invented diesel trains over there yet so we travelled on an electric train - almost completely silent and very disorientating.  You could hear other people talking and I fair missed the roar of the diesel units and their distinctive smell.  Looking around the carriage I was appalled at how thin everyone was - we are led to believe that European countries are prosperous and advanced but judging from what I have seen, most people are starving and emaciated.  You could search high and low for a fat burd without success.

A polite young skateboarder on the metro offered me his seat which was a bit of surprise to me. I got the impression that the cheeky wee swine was taking the mickey. Maybe not - we Scots are so used to insolence from the young folk.

No 'deep water' safety notices or hand rails on the right
We eventually arrived in Aarhus and got a guided tour of the centre. Frightening! The first thing I noticed was that there was water everywhere but no safety railings or notices advising people that deep water can be dangerous.
near the Conference Hall - dangerous open water

The conference centre was beside the sea - nice enough - but again I was terrified that someone less able than myself could easily fall into the ocean.  I simply cannot understand why this sort of thing is allowed to happen in a civilised country.  I'm fairly certain that if some of our best Scottish designers - like the great Sir John Halliday of Halliday Fraser Munro or anyone from Keppies - were involved in these designs it would turn out much better - safer for everyone.

So it's with much regret that I say to Europe, "You have got it wrong!"  Scotland is by contrast a caring nation that looks after all of its stupid people - young and old.  Let's celebrate that!

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