Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Shop Hours, Credit Card Chips & Pastries
There are two things that US Americans usually find really annoying when they visit Denmark. First, everything closes really early, and many (most) shops aren't open at all after 6pm or at all on Sundays. Second, for the most part, Danish businesses require that credit card transactions are made with a card containing a chip, and if you are lucky enough to have a card with a chip, you'll still be charged a 5-7% fee for using a 'foreign' credit card. A quick Google search will find many ex-pat blogs bemoaning the fact that they can't participate in normal Danish life until they get a Dankort, the ubiquitous danish credit card that incurs no fee and has the required chip.
To prepare for your trip to Denmark, don't plan on shopping from 9am to 9pm like you would in most big American cities, if you do, you'll be disappointed. Also, prepare to take out lots of cash from the ATM and use that to pay. You'll get a better price in the stores and in some cases this will be your only option. (And don't bother trying to explain that it's actually impossible to get a credit card with a chip in it to anyone at a store in Denmark, they don't want to hear it.)
These are two issues I've known since I first lived here in the 90s. But today, I discovered a new one. You can't buy contact solution in the pharmacy or grocery store. Yes, New Yorkers, you heard that correctly. That one product that we're always buying at 3am on the way home from a bar, cannot be purchased anywhere in Denmark except (are you ready for this?) at an Opticians shop. That's right, you have to depend on the opening hours of a glasses shop to get contact solution.
Of course, these aren't big deals, and as long as you're prepared, they won't get in the way of enjoying the worlds best bicycling country and I might add, the worlds best pastries. I had one today at Jakob's Bageri (Holmbladsgade 9) on the way to Amager Strand Park. It was unreal how good it was, and no matter how many times the lovely girl at the bakery tried to help me say the name, I couldn't. I should have bought six.