The Danish Rental Dilemma

If you plan to rent a car in a foreign country, it’s best to do your research ahead of time, particularly if you have any sort of driving restrictions. Teresa and I, for example, are inadequate drivers of standard four wheeled vehicles (motorcycles are a little more manageable for myself). Out of all the cars in Denmark, there are a small handful of automatic options. If you are lucky enough to find one available for rent, be prepared for inflated prices in a country where everything is already far more expensive than what most of the world is used to.

The privilege of having friends abroad is remarkable. Not only was Maria pouring all of her time into looking for the cheapest price, she was also struggling to find a company or individual owner who had what we were looking for in the required time frame we needed it. We had about a week left in Denmark before we were on our way out, back to Amsterdam and onwards to Toronto. But it wasn’t just Maria, Teresa, and myself grinding it out online in search for an automatic. Her friends at Café Navnløs put their studies to a halt in order to help us out. It was incredible, this lovely group of people who didn’t really know us going out of their way to make our stay in their beautiful country that much better. They knew how excited we were to explore the countryside and did everything in their power to make it possible for us.

Maria told us about an app called GoMore. For those familiar with Uber, it’s a similar concept, but for car rentals. Individual owners sign up and whenever they can or feel like it they make their vehicle available for renters who simply meet up with the owner, go over the details and complete the transaction. It’s a good way for vehicle owners to make a little extra money off of a car that they have but don’t use very often, or won’t be using for a particular span of time. It seemed we’d found a good option through this app and it took a whopping three hours in the café to make it happen. We breathed a sigh of relief, perhaps a little too soon.

That afternoon, Teresa and I ventured off on our own for a little bit to explore some of Copenhagen’s parkland and to let Maria get some of her schoolwork done for her MA program. We walked along past the Carlsberg brewery, a large chunk of the area closed down for construction, and headed over to Søndermarken, a large area of parkland with great trails, some ponds, and a very peaceful vibe. Adjacent is the larger Frederiksberg Have where, on the southwest corner rests Copenhagen Zoo. Teresa and I didn’t venture here; we aren’t big fans of zoos. We did enjoy the spanning park, however, heavily inhabited by a variety of birds as well as some small mammals. We could have spent hours here had we a mind to.

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In the evening, the two of us met up with Maria and Margus once again. We decided to enjoy some all-you-can-eat sushi at a place called Fuji Sushi, very close to the two parks on the corner of Vesterbrogade and Pile Alle. It was a really neat concept: the food encircled the middle of the restaurant on small conveyor belts encased in sliding glass doors. Along the sides of the belts are the booths. If you see something you like, you simply slide open a glass door and take it off the belt. Available was the standard a-u-c-e Japanese food varieties, including deep fried scallops, sushi, seaweed salad, chicken wings, sashimi, dumplings, and so on. Fuji Sushi is one of Margus’s favourite spots and he had a really enjoyable time here with us.

We crashed at Maria’s for what was supposed to be our final night in Copenhagen before picking up our rental early the next morning. When we awoke, we walked about two kilometres through town to the apartment of the gentleman who owned the car. After he came down, showed us the car, and went over all of the specs, he finally asked us if we comfortable driving standard. I thought he was joking. It turned out that GoMore made a mistake in our booking and eliminated the criteria that specified we needed an automatic car. In order to stop myself from swearing at the top of my lungs, I just turned around and sat on a nearby bench for a minute, collecting my thoughts. Maria was infuriated and soon after, called the rental company to give them an earful. The man was very nice about the whole thing, ensuring us he would refund the money (which was on Maria’s credit card because you needed to have a Danish address to make the reservation). We apologized for wasting his time and made our way back to the café where we thought we’d confirmed the whole thing the day before. It was back to the drawing board.

We were supposed to have been on our way that morning, out of Copenhagen and heading northeast to the old Viking town of Roskilde. It wasn’t happening today, though. We spent several more hours searching again, finally finding a lady who had listed her car as available. We wound up meeting up with her at 8 PM that night. The car was actually a semi-automatic, something I didn’t even know existed, but was very easy to drive. The main difference with a typical automatic was that it didn’t have a gear for park, you simply put it in neutral and activated the hand break. Also, the gear changes were done automatically, but not smoothly. So every time the gear shifted, particularly upward from one to two to three to four, you could feel and hear it in the car, the same as I would when I change gears on a semi-automatic motorbike. It was quite manageable, however, and we made it work for us. That night, we parked a bit away from Maria’s place and walked back. She was out for the night, having dinner at the home of an academic colleague while Margus took off with his grandmother, Maria’s mom. We had the place to ourselves, so we just chilled out, happy we finally had a car to explore with.

The following morning, we had breakfast with Maria, lugging all of our gear to the café before trekking to our parked car and taking off. It was sad to be leaving her behind and we missed her from the moment we parted. She and Margus showed us an incredible time in their beautiful home city and we couldn’t be more grateful for everything they’d done for us. She doesn’t have Facebook so Teresa keeps in touch through WhatsApp. As sad as the partings always are, it’s got to be on to the next for the two of us. We had more adventuring to do and Denmark’s beautiful countryside surprised and mesmerized me like no other.

12 thoughts on “The Danish Rental Dilemma

  1. Haha, never thought that car rental would be that difficult for people coming to Europe. But yeah, I think 95% of the people are learning with a manual here. My wife will start soon driving school and they have one out of 20 cars in their fleet with automatic as in the last years more and more older people try their luck with the licence but dont want to learn the manual :p

    Liked by 1 person

  2. In my family, I am the only one who can drive a stick-shift car, so I have done ALL the driving in every foreign country we have visited! I tried to teach my husband when we first got married and that was almost the end of being married – haha. My biggest regret is not forcing my kids to learn to drive a standard for this very reason. My dad forced me and I’m eternally grateful. My biggest challenge was driving a stick on the left side in the UK, Australia, and New Zealand, not only shifting but doing it backwards, with the “wrong” hands and feet!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I learned to drive stick-shift in traffic on the way home from buying my first car. It was scary, but I learned really fast. I had to! Your trip and your agreeable friends all sound so wonderful to me.

    Liked by 2 people

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