Whilst in Flensburg we were taken to a ‘duty free’ store very close to the border. I question whether the duty free description was merely a slight translation error, as at no stage did anyone ask for a passport or ticket. It seemed to me to just be a cheap supermarket. No flash perfumes here!
It is, in fact, a very Danish thing to cross the border in order to stock up on booze, coke/soft drinks, chocolate, lollies, even seemingly normal groceries like meat and bread, and most importantly, more booze. The reason, of course is the exceptionally high taxes in Denmark. And their love of the drink.
It was like driving out to bulk buy at Pak n Save Petone, only on a far grander, international scale. On second thought, the difference between Denmark and Flensburg, or Copenhagen and Malmo in Sweden was far less than that between Wellington Central and The Hutt Valley…
I wondered if the fuel costs would really be worth it, especially for people coming from Aarhus, where the trip takes two and a half hours each way. In another round of my favourite game show – ‘Ask A Dane,’ I was informed that people will group together and hire a bus to save costs. This information wasn’t passed on, however, until after I saw the luggage storage underneath a bus being loaded up like tray-of-beer-Tetris. I was absolutely astonished at the lengths people were going to for their cheap beer! I couldn’t help but think ‘how on earth do you get all that home from a tour bus,’ until I discovered that it wasn’t a tour to germany, it was just extreme measures for a discount.
The Danish/German border really was a bit of a farce. To be quite honest I had no idea if we were still in Germany or back over the border as we approached the store. My Danish cellphone had reception again and the store sold everything in DKK, but the pricing surely suggested otherwise.
As I was only there as part of a tour I only bought a few things as I still had to get home from the bus. The rest of the customers, it seems, had very different ideas! A few of us were discussing how much of a shambles the place was and wondering why they didn’t restock at night like every other supermarket instead of getting in everyone’s way. On reflection, we realised they didn’t really have a choice in the matter – when each of your customers is taking 6 slabs of Coke or beer and clearing half the shelf there really isn’t an efficient way to keep them stocked without getting in everyone’s way!
All in all an enlightening experience, even if the prices didn’t seem to be that much cheaper to merit to two hour drive and feeding frenzy in a grocery store. At least in my opinion anyway! One step closer to becoming a real Dane…