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My Fail in Odense

A few months ago, I travelled to the Danish city of Odense, which was supposed to be a charming old town that was the childhood home of author Hans Christian Andersen. But even as a seasoned traveller, I had a massive, epic fail.

The first fail came because of my allergies. I guess going from a super hot October in DC to a much cooler autumn in Scandinavia really did me in, and I completely forgot how sensitive my body is to the environment and its changes. I was congested, my throat hurt, and I could barely sleep. I ignored it until I got to France later, when I was truly miserable, but because I was so sick, I missed my morning train to Odense and ended up buying another ticket later in the afternoon. If I remember correctly, it was not a super cheap train ticket, either. Money lost.

Lesson #1: Health first! Things happen, but always pay attention and have a plan of attack when illness – especially illness you get rather frequently – comes into play.

Lesson #2: Plan carefully. If I learned anything during my trip, it’s that I have to add in days where I’m exhausted and days I may be sick into my itinerary. Since I’m a sickly person, that’s something I should’ve foreseen and thought about. From now on, my itineraries include lots of time to be lazy or sick or whatever so I don’t have to worry about seeing everything in a short amount of time and can take the extra time to go to a doctor or do whatever I need to.

It was a fairly big burn but I did make it to Odense after sitting on the floor of a train with a bunch of other determined travellers. I finally got there, which is when I started to realise – but not quite fully – my second big fail.

For many years before, I hadn’t a Smart Phone, and this was my first travel experience with data and the iPhone 7. Before then, it was lists and maps and everything old-fashioned, and I’d have a list of things to do and a map to locate them all. The only thing I had issues finding was Amy Winehouse’s home in Camden, but really, I wasn’t super surprised that it wasn’t marked on a tourist’s map.

(FYI, I used Maps.me on my old iPod and it worked really well! Would definitely recommend. Update: I added Maps.me to my phone and I love it!)

This time, since I had a smart phone, I thought I could wing it. At home, I find places to eat and things to do with my phone all the time, so instead of making a list of things to do in certain cities, I went and then looked at my phone to see what was around me. It had worked fairly well in cities like Stockholm and Copenhagen, so I had no doubts that it would work for a smaller city like Odense. It was also a great idea, or so I thought, because it saved a lot of prepping time beforehand. Right?

Well, let me tell you, prepping beforehand is key in making the most of your vacation.

So I got to Odense and looking at the smart phone, it was like nothing was there. I got pretty irritated but set off from the train station to the right since on the map, it seemed like there were more restaurants there. That must be downtown, I thought. So I skedaddled over and saw an old church, a nice park with a small river, and after wandering down some fairly modern streets, I stumbled upon the house of Hans Christian Andersen. It was a pretty small museum, so even though the home had historic significance, I was a bit disappointed with how little it was.

I walked around some more and went past a tonne of closed businesses and not that many historic areas. I looked up “Hans Christian Andersen,” “museum,” and more on my phone, only to get “No results.” I thought it was weird considering I found the HCA home, but after walking around for about an hour, I bought an early ticket back to Copenhagen (more money) since I couldn’t wait 3 hours for the ticket I’d previously bought.

Hans Christian Andersen's Childhood Home

When I got home after that whole vacation, I was writing a short blog post for my fashion blog and part of it was writing about how boring Odense was and how I didn’t think it was worth the visit. So, after consulting Google for about 10 minutes, I found out that Odense wasn’t boring at all – my phone just slacked on the job! I was incredibly disappointed in myself!

Can we talk about how I went all the way to Odense, Denmark and I didn’t actually see the city, at all?? Apparently the old part of the town is around Overstræde – which I didn’t go by – and there wasn’t only a Hans Christian Andersen museum and birthplace but an open-air museum and castle! An effing castle!! I went on several planes and trains to go to a place thousands of miles away, was several meters from these sights, and I just left?? How could I??

Lesson #3: Plan ahead! It’s always worth it to look up places to go and even their addresses to help . It also wouldn’t have hurt to have asked someone at the HCA home where to go next.

I’m so embarrassed that I failed that much, but I really learned my lesson about relying on technology. It’s something I’ll never do again and I’m hoping my readers will learn from my mistakes, as well.

Do you have any similar stories to share?

Posted on Sunday, September 23, 2018 in Stories

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