Train Etiquette

In the life of the average Dane, public transportation plays a prominent role. Copenhagen is home to one of the best public transportation systems in the world and the Scandinavian “train culture” is famously unique. The funny thing is most Danes complain about their high-functioning system of trains…a lot.

I am sympathetically asked how I am managing. (“Aren’t the trains just awful?”) I assure them that I am adjusting and navigating them just fine. I also remind them that if I do miss one or mess something up there will be another arriving in 3 minutter, 2 minutter, 1 minutter…

For their sake, my only hope is that they don’t have to take a Pierce County bus anytime soon. It will, more likely than not, be late, travel at inconvenient increments, and above capacity of loud passengers. Should I inform the Danes of how good they have it? Because, so far, my experience on the trains has been positive. They are timely, frequent and clean. When something gets confusing I’ve found my fellow passengers to be very eager to help. All they need is someone to engage them and break the silence for which Copenhagen’s trains are famous. As long as you follow some simple, but strict rules no one has to get hurt. They include the following:

1) Be Quiet
2) Oh, you’re on the phone? …Be quiet.
3) Keep your feet off the upholstery
4) Push the green button when it blinks
5) Don’t sit next to me…Okay, fine, but be quiet

As long as you aren’t guilty of major train faux-pas and dress stylishly, they may just think you’re a local. Fail to do so and they’ll use their icy blue Scandinavian eyes like lasers to silently warn you to move your damn cykle out of the path.

No hard feelings from this uninformed tourist. I accept these lessons with grace and humility. Someday (hopefully within the next four months) I too will be able to rock a Euro haircut, ride my bike in a dress and heels, and make my voice amazingly soft. That’s why I’m here in the first place, right? To soak up some Danish swag…

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