Sometimes strangers offer the best advice. Rick Steves, travel guru and a stranger, recommends subtly in his Scandinavia tour book that if time does not permit one to visit both Frederiksborg Castle and Kronborg Castle, also known as the “Hamlet” castle, in Denmark, then pick the former as it is the more adorned of the two. I arrived in Hillerød via train and was dropped off by a local bus somewhere near the palatial complex’s side entrance. Frederiksborg Castle, built by King Christian IV in the early 17th century, unveiled itself like the Taj Mahaj did years ago – somewhat abruptly. In an instant it became my favorite man-made structure on Planet Earth! The environ was surrealistically serene not only because the summer tourist season had yet to commence but also because only an hour earlier I toured the buzzing, cacophonous Copenhagen, which of course possessed its own charms. Moreover, I am partial to all things and all phenomena Scandinavian.
The majestic castle was not my home so I could not linger forever. My plan to take the same bus to the train station evaporated the moment I reckoned all that yesteryear opulence had erased my memory of the bus stop’s exact location. A stylish lady offered guidance in an authoritative tone, “You don’t need the bus. You just turn there and walk through the town.” “But it’s far,” I commented. “It is not far.” I ruminated on not only Scandinavian stoicism and reticence but also terror of getting lost in a town with probably zero crime rate while treading the entire block to the next intersection, where I turned around and saw the lady, no longer standing alone, in a passionate embrace with a man in military uniform – such change in scene is almost always cinematic.
Hillerød residents need not venture out far and much, for the lovely town center is laden with essential establishments: cafes, convenience stores, boutiques, etc. I quickly traversed the aisles inside a spacious shop called Tiger, which seemed to have re-named itself to Flying Tiger Copenhagen globally a few months ago. Without the teapots prominently displayed on one shelf I would not have noticed the white tea and green tea in colorful containers. Danish, a North Germanic language, is quite different from English, a West Germanic language. The tea’s price, not the label entirely in Danish, suggested that there were only tea bags, not loose tea leaves, inside the canisters. I would rather pay multi-fold for Lakrids Liquorice, which I eventually purchased at the airport before leaving Denmark.
One certainly could find and drink good teas to heart’s content in Copenhagen. On the other hand, why would tourists seek out tea in this cosmopolitan city? I would not have noticed tea products had I not encountered that lady in Hillerød, who gave me some of the best advice I have ever received from strangers.