Wednesday, March 18, 2009

London I

This morning I went to the Southwick cathedral and wandered a bit. Walked by the Clink and the Globe but didn't go in 'cause I'm too cheap. I spent most of the morning at the Tate Modern, which is pretty incredible. As much as I like abstract impressionism for an aesthetic appeal, I think I'll always prefer classical enlightenment/renaissance for intellectual appeal. The Tate is nice, though, in that the captions for each work explain the symbolism and what it's trying to accomplish. Really helpful for people like me.

Met Emma for her lunch break and took a walk along the Thames. It seems all of London is under construction. So many cranes! We walked from London Bridge to the Eye. Danced with street performers and played games in the book market.

..London to be continued

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Køpenhaven IV & Stanstead & Suzy B

Wednesday morning Arden and I went to the Carlsberg factory. They have the world's largest bottle collection, and they were not kidding - it was pretty crazy. There was a self-guided tour through the history of brewing etc. At the end there was this neat smell test where you smelled samples of beer flavoring ingredients and market your favorites. Then a sheet told you which Carlsberg beers you ought to like. My favorite scent was the prunes, which is apparently only used in the Christmas beer. I could go the rest of my life never smelling the corn or licorice ones again. So, for one of our free drinks, Arden and I split the last bottle of the Semper Ardens Christmas beer. It was easily the best beer I've ever had - complex with a citrus aftertaste. For my second, I got a Tuborg originally produced for Children. It was really sweet, but I liked it. It was based on caramel flavors and you could tell - it tasted like candy. Girliest beer ever - I was clearly judged by the bartender - but I'm ok with that.

Then I rushed back to the hostel and got my stuff, made a quick iconic stop at a hot dog stand (bun with the fixings, actually a normal, numbered order - my kind of hot dog cart), and then hauled to the train station. Just made my flight, off to London.

Stanstead is about a 45 minute train ride from teh city surrounded by idyllic farms. Super cute. Small airport - I had to walk on the tarmac. I was a bit panicky because there are legit no payphones in the Stanstead airport, but I hedged my bets and hoped Tony and Emma would think to find me at Liverpool.

Eventually found Emma at the train and went to her family's house in West Wickham. A bit far from the city - 20 to 30 minute train ride - but beggars can't be choosers, and I love them. Oh, Suzy B!

Køpenhaven III: Danishes are delicious, better in the sunlight.

Lots of stuff today! Slept in till 8:30, which was nice. Did some internet and then left in search of weinerbrød, ie danishes, for breakfast ('cause clearly - about time!). Took me a while, but I found a place. Usually I don't like danishes, but it turns out I don't like American danishes. This one wasn't sticky, it was flakey and buttery and delicious. Like a creme filled version of those croissants I love from the farmer's market.

I caught the first canal tour boat at 10:15. It may be hokey, but it really is an excellent way to see the city. The weather today was finally sunny and gorgeous, so I'm sure that helped. It really was lovely out. I saw Nyhavn, the opera house, the sea barricade, the mermaid, Kastellet, Amalienborg, Christianshavn, the black diamond, Slotsholmen and H.C. Anderson's house. Not to mention there were pretty good views of some more distant places as well.

Then I waslked over to Amailenborg and the Marmokirken to redo my photos in the sun before lunch at Ida's. This place is apparently famous for having the best Smorebrød in all of Denmark. It was a bit fancy/pricey, but necessary. And delicious. I had boiled eggs with tomatoes and cucumber and hollandaisesque sauce. Danish food - definitely not good for you.

After lunch I walked through Kogens have to retake my photos of Rosenborg and then went to the State Art Museum. The museum was pretty amazing. Some of the paintings were absolutely breathtaking. It's too bad I couldn't stay longer.

I was supposed to meet Arden when she got out of class at 2:45 by the Rundetårn, so I figured I ought to climb it before she came so she wouldn't have to do too many things twice. The tower has a wide ramp all the way to the top, which is a bit odd, but much easier to climb than stairs. It was built as an observatory. The view from the top was fantastic! You could see all of Copenhagen and because it was so clear you could even see the bridge to Sweden! But, it was insanely windy. I'm pretty sure I was physically blown into the iron railing (thank God it was there).

Met up with Arden. We tried to go to the erotica museum, but it was closed indefinitely - sad times. Then we tried the Theater museum, but it closed as we walked up the steps - lingered too long chatting with the crepe stand guy. We went souvenier shopping instead and then sat in a tea house chatting for a few hours. From the tea house we were lucky enough to catch the saddest St. Pat's day parade I have ever seen. So somber!

Note: before I forget, I saw a Danish girl wearing grey tights with blue jean pockets sewn on the back! Best pants as tights attempt, ever.

As it was St. Pats, we went out with Arden's friends to the 3 obscenely crowded Irish pubs in town. It was funish, but mostly awkward, as everyone was in a couple, and while one extra friend that was brought along was a perfectly nice guy, I didn't appreciate the sneaky (unintentional?) setup (sorry Heinrich). Eh, weird.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Køpenhaven II: I wish I had a monarchy so I could dance along with the parade music

This morning I got up and walked to the Mermaid statue. I knew it would be anticlimactic, but it was even more so than expected. She wasn't even in the water really - I could have climbed on her - and she'd been grafittied. I couldn't find the sad, weird picassoey version. Glad I got to see her though - Thorbjørn says she's off to the Shanghai world expo soon.

Then I walked around Kastellet. It's a military barracks built within a star shaped moat. The blaustrade is a grassy hill. Absolutely adorable, and it had nice views of Christanhavn, the mermaid and the Marmokirken. Too bad it was cloudyish.

But, MORE amazing, was the changing of the guard. I can't believe they do this every day! I want a monarchy! Starting at probably 11:30, the guard starts marching from the barracks at Rosenborg arriving to start the ceremony at Amailenborg around noon. This march is really a parade. They're led by the military marching band, and the music is fantastic! Everyone following was a tourist, but it was so jovial (for lack of a better, less nerdy term). Wont lie, I made movies. At Amalienborg, there's a lot of ceremonial marching, a whole concert worth of songs, and a good ton of face to face staredowns. I particularly enjoyed one of the crowd control police who was really getting into it. He was dancing and singing along, glorious.

Then I went to go meet Arden at the Black Diamond. Along the way I was prostheletized by a Mormon missionary who prayed for my trip and my soul. The Black Diamond was crazy ridiculous looking, both outside and inside. But the real gem was the original library, which looked like a palace from the outside, and a gorgeous scene from an ivy league movie on the inside - mahogany desks and green lamps galore.

We got lunch at RizRaz, a vegetarian buffet, and then went own the Strøget and pointed out all the famous/important buildings. Clearly we went shopping in all the Danish versions of H&M. Then we walked up to see the King's Park and Rosenborg Palace. It was beautiful! It's just too bad it was so cold. Rosenborg is literally THE perfect place for a picnic. That's all I could think while we were wandering.

We walked around a bit more and Arden showed me her school, which is literally mere blocks from my hostel. Then I had her take me home so I could see her dorm. She lives pretty far out of downtown, about a 15 minute bus ride. It sounds short - but I can walk across the entire downtown/main part of Copenhagen in about 20 minutes. She and her roommate live on a floor of al American students from her program. She says there are 500 people in her program, which I found really surprising, since I've never known anyone else who studied in Denmark.

Sunday, March 15, 2009


This morning I woke up when Mike, one of my roommates, fell on me. His bed folded back into the wall with him in it, and he fell through the crack onto my bed - where I sprang out causing him to fall through the crack yet again. No one was hurt, so it ended up just being a pretty hilarious and confusing way to wake up.

Roskilde was far, far closer than I had imagined. I guess Denmark is just simply a smaller country that I'm used to. I walked a pretty decent distance to the Viking Museum, which was really informative, but a bit smallish/disappointing. It's clearly intended for the summer crowd. Wandered through neighborhoods and marveled at how Danish homes are so similar to ours (minus the lack of garages, or detached car ports). I know that's a bit silly, but there it is. Climbed the gigantic hill back into the center of town.

Town center is really cute. Roskilde was the medieval capital of Denmark, and you can tell. At the top of the hill is Roskilde Cathedral. It was started as a wooden church by Harald Bluetooth (who the technology is named after) and has been expanded upon ever since. Now, it's really really impressive.

Ever since the reformation, all Danish kings, and most queens, have been buried there, which is pretty neat. Their tombs are amazing! They are works of art, and they're surrounded by works of art. Even Mr. Bluetooth is buried in the cathedral - in a pillar. The church has several medieval tombs as well - the creepy kind interred in the floor that you walk over. Those always make me feel so disrespectful, but I suppose it can't be helped.

I walked around downtown a bit longer, and then headed in search of a cafe where I could get a cup of coffee. Ended up at a falafel stand watching Denmark's top youtube videos on a TV show. Several were 13 year old boys who reminded me of Clayton's Jackbutt crew. Caught the train back to Copenhagen. Double-decker! - it's the little things. Hung out at a cafe and checked out the Køpenhaven cathedral and the university on my way to the S Tog.

Tonight I had dinner with Maria and Thorbjørn, some students I met who study civil engineering. They made me "traditional" Danish food for dinner - "traditional" because I know they had to go through a lot more trouble than they admitted to make it vegetarian for me. We started with 3 kinds of smorbrød (penultimate danish), all on rye bread squares. one had smoked cheese with radish, another had egg salad and the third cabbage and potato. Then for the main course we had green beens with cheese and garlic, small baked potatos, red cabbage salad/slaw and apple and green cabbage salad. They made meatballs (ultimate danish), but they somehow made the gravy vegetarian so I could eat it. For dessert we had layers of applesauce and crumbled ginger cookie topped with whipped cream.

I learned a ton of stuff just from our random conversation. We compared holidays. Seems the Danes are adopting a bunch of U.S. holidays, including Halloween (even though they have their own version of Halloween in February) and even Thanksgiving! I guess in Danish Halloween you traditionally dress up and trick or treat for money, and then hit a barrel like piñata, and while today you fill the barrel with candy, traditionally they put a cat in it! Another silly Danish holiday they taught me about is the day you eat a duck (I forget the name). I guess there was once a man that everyone wanted to become a bishop, but he wasn't really feeling it so he hid in a goose coop. Unfortunately, the geese made a huge fuss and ratted him out. So from then on he declared that everyone must commemorate that day by eating a goose - although it has since evolved into a more easily available duck - in order to punish the loud geese.

We compared schooling systems - all universities in Denmark are free and they're in a consortium with all the Nordic schools, so Swedes, Norwegians and Danes can all attend each other's schools. They take "exotic" courses in primary school, including baseball. They have a big problem with grade translation (teachers can only give out one A a year) so it's hard for them to study abroad, or even go to the other Nordic schools. They also talked about how there's a huge trend of Swedes coming to Danish med school (because it's better) but there are only so many spots. Then they go back to Sweden and Denmark has no doctors. But, the Swedes are always accepted and the Danes can't go to Sweden because of the grade translation problem - Swedes always appear super smart, and Danes relatively stupid.

We talked about a bunch of random stuff, not sure what else I can remember. Nice, nice people. They even made sure to play only Danish music in the background. Oh! I asked about the bikes, which I thought weren't being locked. Turns out they are - with those sneaky back wheel locks that are built in. You can't get bike insurance (which is required by law) unless you have a lock. They were shocked taht we have to buy our own bike locks, and that we can't get bike insurance. Theft is still a problem though - Maria said she has had her bike stolen 4 times. Apparently there is a big issue with people from Eastern European countries coming to train stations with big trucks at night and taking anything unlocked.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Køpenhaven Pt I: Whateva Girrrlfriend! and a trashcan campfire.

A quick summary of what I've been up to. (Quick not for lack of things to say, but because I don't want to be that girl using up the internet).

Friday was rainy and I was exhausted. So, instead of taking pictures of all the touristy things per plan, I went to the National Museum instead. Which actually turned out to be a good idea, as it is no longer free every day (so going Monday morning would have been a bummer), but it is free on Friday. The museum was quite good, although there was a really awkward section on foreign cultures.

This morning I went to Malmö. I was very excited to go to Sweden, but sad that no one looked at my passport, much less stamped it. They didn't even check my train ticket. I sat with a Swedish family who chatted the whole time, and I clearly understood nothing, but every once in a while the absolutely charming 13ish year old daughter would do the 'snapsnapsnap whateva girlfriend!' while telling some story that apparently required attitude, and a few times she made an L on her forehead and called her sister a loser. So, I don't speak Swedish in the slightest, but some things are universal.

Malmö was adorable, and small enough to fit into a few hours. I went to the biggest art exhibition space in Europe. I walked the entire town. I roamed the King's Garden, saw the castles and windmills. Every castle in this area has a moat. It's awesome. I had lunch off the main square and then hopped on the train back to Køpenhaven.

I made it back by 2:30, which was earlier than expected, so I got really excited about being able to go see the Marmokirken, which is this really beautiful church downtown. At 1pm and 3pm sharp, only on weekends, they open the tower for what are supposed to be awesome 360 degree views. I didn't think I was going to be able to see it, since I had planned day trips for both Saturday and Sunday. I didn't want to chance a walk, because that was cutting it close, so I decided to take the bus. I knew the number 15 bus took me there, but I didn't know which direction I should take it in. So, one of them pulls up to the train station and I get on and show the driver the address, photo and name of the Marmokirken, and attempted to pronounce it. I also asked him if I should take his bus, or the number 15 in the opposite direction. He responded in English, saying that the bus would take me there, but I would have to walk a bit. I figured that would be fine, and asked him to let me know when to get off. Turns out he lied, because we went in the completely completely wrong direction, which, since I don't read or speak Danish, I didn't realize until we were way out in the suburbs. Naturally I assumed that he would just loop around, and I should stay on. Again, incorrect, as we got to the end of the line and he kicked me off. So I had to wait for the next one to come, and then by the time I actually got to where I wanted to be it was 3:30. Like a slap in the face, I was just in time for all the tourists to be coming down from the tower, talking about how that was 'the most awesome view ever ever!' The first English I hear in forever and I didn't want to hear it at all. So annoyed still.

Instead, I walked over to Christiania. Google it. In the 1960s, the neighborhood was a bunch of abandoned navy barracks, then the hippies came. Now it's a giant clusterfuck of ramshackle houses made of everything from busses to boats to random bits of tin to the original barracks to barns to pretty much everything concievable. Everything is covered in grafitti, hippies and junkies, in a good way. Google it, because I couldn't take too many pictures. There were a bunch of signs that said no photo zone, and I was afraid of the hippies crouched menacingly around their trashcan campfire. I went to a vegetarian restaurant there for dinner, which serves one dish a day and everyone sits at communal tables - so appropriate. I sort of chatted over dinner with this crazy, old hippy, and then walked back. Now I'm here, attempting to awkwardly make plans to go out with the random Persians in my dorm.

Tomorrow I'm going to try to go to Roskilde, wich is where all the Viking ships are. In the summer you can pretend to be a viking - get dressed up and row the boat and everything. Unfortunately, I think I just get to see the museum - boo. Then tomorrow night, I'm having dinner with a Danish couple at their apartment so I can learn the true meaning of hygge.
I hope everyone is having a lovely spring break!


Friday, March 13, 2009

How do I pronounce æ and ø?

And, why is there no at sign on my keyboard? Makes logging into things difficult.

Anyhow, my forever long journey to Copenhagen is complete! I can't log into my hostel until 2, so that'll mean approx 48 hours with no sleep, but thats fine. God invented coffee for such situations.

It's pretty dismal out here, but I'm going to do some wandering anyway. It's just too bad that all my photos will look so sad. I need to walk after sitting in that plane for so long next to the champion knitter (the woman created an entire cableknit sweater!)

Copenhagen observations thus far:
Keyboards are frustrating.
There are so many bikes! My bike would love it here. There are bike lanes on EVERY street (not just randomly Q street NE, coughDCcough), and bike parking is EVERYWHERE. A lot of people don't even bother to lock up their bikes, or if they do, I'm not clever enough to figure out how.
It kinda looks like Switzerland. I'm prepared to be knocked out by adorableness.
The money is a bit heavy on the coins. I have so many coins now. I've been here 2 hours, and my wallet has gained about 20 pounds, and not in a *I have so much money* sort of way. Deceptive.
I either don't look American, or people are kind enough not to point it out, since everyone speaks to me in Danish. Which is scary, because I made flashcards, but I don't know how to pronounce them. Seriously, what kind of guide book comes with no pronunciation key? Valiant attempts to blend in with my 5 word vocabulary: fail.

Ok, I'm off to get my obligatory mermaid photo. Happy Friday morning!


Wednesday, March 11, 2009


It's about time that I revamp this blog. I don't just travel to China, and it seems a waste not to document those other journeys. The title has been changed appropriately.

I'll be leaving for Copenhagen in two days. Check back for adventuring!