Monthly Archives: September 2008

Mexican Fiesta – Danish Style

Last Saturday we celebrated one of my roommate’s birthday’s.  Helena, the birthday girl, picked the restaurant.  She wanted to eat at Chico’s Cantina, a mexican restaurant located a few blocks from our house.  We made reservations for 11.  Everyone on our floor went plus some Italian visitors.  We arrived at Chico’s around 7:30 to be greeted by a Danish hostess standing in a jungle-like atmosphere.  Already this is different from the mexican restaurants we have at home.  

The entire group is escorted through the jungle to our private table.  Each table in the restaurant is situated within a private gazebo that is decorated with jungle greens and white christmas lights.  The table is a large round one that easily accommodates all 11 of us.  In the center of the table is a large lazy susan along with a tap to a keg beneath the table.  The hostess informs us that the lazy susan is for when the food comes – it’s served family style – and that we can serve ourselves from the tap at our own leisure.  I haven’t tasted the food yet, but I really like this place so far.  Interesting atmosphere – check.  Enough elbow room – check.  Magical beer spout in the center of the table – check.  

As a table we decide to order the Fajitas paired with nachos. . . all in all a completely healthy meal.  Everyone is served an individual plate of nachos as well as a plate of chicken wings for the table.  The main dish is served and for the most part its pretty good.  This isn’t the best mexican food I’ve ever had.  That title is still held by La Lomita Dos in Washington DC – oh and that’s not counting actually eating in Mexico.  But I remember I’m in Denmark where really fish and open-faced sandwiches are their specialty.  So I believe that Chico’s Cantina has done a pretty decent job!  

After diner we all head to a club down the street to continue to celebrate Helena’s birthday in good fashion.  The club is called Kulørbar.  If you are a student you can pay 80 kroner (roughly $16) for entrance and there is free beer from 11:00 pm to 1:00 am.  This sounds like a good idea since we are all poor students.  Especially after paying to eat out at a restaurant, this idea seems genius.  So we head to Kulørbar and enjoy our free beer and dancing and head home around 1:00.  A few of us stay up a bit to hang out in the kitchen and talk while enjoying a cup of coffee.  All in all it was a great night.  Good food, good company, and great atmosphere in the jungle gazebos of Denmark.

I Almost Forgot. . .

I almost forgot the other part of the friend’s faces on chopsticks story.  (Man how often should a person type a sentence like that???)  Some of my friends here in Denmark went to Lego Land for a field trip.  While I was out snapping photos of some old friends in pubs, my friend, T (“T” is the nickname I’ve given a roommate because I can’t pronounce his name.) was kind enough to take a few candid shots of my old friend Melanie at Lego Land.  Seriously folks, this trend is going to catch on.  Before you know it, attendance will not be required for important moments in life.  Just send a kind friend with your face on a stick to the occasion.   

In other news, T has volunteered to take some faces to Russia.  I’ll start the bidding now for those of you who would like photographic evidence that you’ve been to Moscow.  

Make New Friends But Keep The Old

About three months before leaving for Denmark I was telling a few friends a story about the life size photo versions of my Uncle’s face that happened to be situated on popsicle sticks.  One of these “likeness'” of my uncle had made its way into the photographs for my college graduation.  It started with his 50th birthday.  My Aunt Trish had made up many of these life size “Mike Masks” to surprise my Uncle Mike on his birthday.  Since he couldn’t make it to my graduation in person that same year, his head on a stick would have to suffice.  Looking at some of the pictures it really does look like he was there on the big day.  This story gave my friends the best idea they’ve ever had.  At my going away party three of my friends came marching in with copies of their own heads on chopsticks.  They also had copies of about a dozen of my friend’s faces with them as well.  The grand idea was that I should take them to Denmark and make sure they all make it into some photographs along the way.  

I didn’t want these precious gifts to end up lost or ruined in my luggage so I packed them in my carry on bag for the plane.  When going through security of course they picked my bag to randomly search.  The security personnel unzipped my bag and sitting right on top of my laptop and neck pillow were 12 copies of my friend’s faces attached to chopsticks.  Not knowing me, it probably looked like I was some sort of strange puppeteer or possibly this was the new version of putting out a hit – life size pictures of your target so not to get confused with someone else who looked similar.  The security guard looked up and me, puzzled.  My only response was to say, “What?  That is completely normal.  I don’t like to travel alone?  I bet you see stuff much weirder than that on a daily basis.”  He shook his head, not amused, and zipped my bag shut.

After a month of living here I’ve made some pretty great friends with the people I live with.  So great that I finally got to the point where I could introduce my new friends to my friends from home, or at least their photos.  My new friends have a great sense of humor and therefore I figured they wouldn’t consider it weird that I wanted to bring some pictures of my old friend’s heads out with me for a night on the town.  They already think I’m strange so no worries in blowing my cover with this assignment.  Giulia, Helena, Will and I head to a tapas restaurant for a nice dinner out.  Julie, Steve, and Missy (from home) came along in my purse.  The four (well seven) of us enjoy a wonderful meal out.  We pay our bill and then ask the waiter if he can take a picture of us.  Giulia, Helana, Will and I all gather together on one side of the table, each of us holding a photo of my friends from home.  Thank goodness I’m making a good impression for the Americans on the people of Denmark.

After dinner we head to a pub up the street.  Once again we fish Julie, Steve, and Missy out of my purse for more photo opportunities.  The photo shoot caused some attention and a few Danish patrons asked us what we were doing.  I explained the assignment and they were quite amused.  One gentlemen seemed so impressed he vowed to do the same with his friends.  So here I was, out for the evening with my new friends and a few familiar faces from home.  I would say from the photos, it looked like my friends from home had a great time.  They were drinking, dancing, even starring at the couple making out in the corner of the bar.  Helena had said to me, “it’s so great when your new friends get along so well with your old friends”.  I couldn’t have said it better myself!

My roommates, Giulia from Italy, Helena from Sweden, and Will from Holland, have decided that we should make copies of our faces and attach them to sticks upon leaving Denmark.  The three of them will come home to America with me for the holidays and I will end up getting to travel in Italy, Sweden, and Holland.  I just hope they use my face for only good things while my head on a stick visits other countries.  But all the same it’s still funny.  Thanks Trish and Mike for the inspiration.  You’ve started a trend!

Some Things I Miss

Obviously I miss my family and friends.  The following is a list of peculiar things I didn’t realize I had an attachment to before this experience.  

1.  Baby Carrots – I’m not sure who is behind the baby carrot, but he or she is a genius.  I used to have baby carrots on hand at all times.  I would never go as far to say that I had a well stocked fridge in DC.  But one thing is for sure, I always had baby carrots on a shelf to snack on or pair with some hummus.  That is not the case here.  Apparently the Danes have not been exposed to the amazing idea of bite sized, no peeling involved, no cutting boards needed, carrots.  They don’t know what they are missing.  I’ve purchased a bag of carrots, but refrain from snacking on them as often.  I’ve tried to love the parents and inspiration of the baby carrot, however the relationship just isn’t taking off.  It’s too much effort, too much work.  You shouldn’t have to dirty a cutting board, knife, and peeler just to enjoy a carrot.  And this paragraph makes me realize that I will rebound to the baby carrot upon my return to the states. . . please prepare my intervention and possibly even the need for therapy. . . ?

2.  Pretzels – In the same vain as the baby carrot, there are no pretzels here.  No pretzel sticks, jumbo, soft, sourdough, or (my personal favorite) the nugget.  I know America has too many snack foods. . . but seriously, what has the pretzel ever done to Denmark?

3.  A Sofa – My living situation affords me the choice of three different sitting options.  Bed.  Chair.  Floor.  Since there is no living room we have no sofa.  I truly miss having a couch.  I’ve decided its my preferred method of sitting, watching tv, reading, napping. . . nothing could replace the sofa.  I didn’t realize my love for the sofa until I was killing a few hours at a campus building.  There are a few couches in the hallway where students can wait, read, nap. . . what well maybe I misunderstood the assignment, but I had the strongest urge to nap between two classes once my butt hit those sweet sweet cushions.  But I refrained since I was in a hallway with a number of other students coming and going to class.  Also who likes the girl that hogs the one sofa in Denmark?

4.  Fashion Do’s & Don’t’s – Anything goes here.  I thought New York City was bad.  One of my good friend’s in NYC has told me she could wear a trash bag down the street with heels and it would be considered fashionable so long as she made that “this just came off the runway” face while strutting.  We joked that she should carry this joke out to fruition. . . but we feared she would find herself on the last page of Glamour magazine with a little black box shielding her eyes and the word “DON’T” written below her photo.  The trash bag scenario is totally plausible here.  I’ve seen girls wear what I would consider a shirt as a dress, knee highs suffice as pants, and all colors, patterns, textures go together.  There would be no such thing as “clash day” as we had in my elementary school.  Everything works, just look confident.  I’ve decided to go with the “when in rome” philosophy so I’ve purchased a pair of leggings (seriously everyone wears them) and paired it with a long sweater.  I unconvincingly strutted to dinner and after a few glasses of wine and the fact that no one was pointing and laughing at me, I got my “this looks good” game face on to walk to the bar.  I’m ok with adopting new fashion trends but I seriously do wish there were at least a few hard fast rules that my friends or even Glamour could prescribe to let me know if I’ve crossed the line from looking fashionable to looking homeless.

5.  Old Bay – It would seem I’m more obsessed with food. . . but you can’t argue with missing Old Bay.  I’m going to start some sort of telethon to end the Old Bay shortage in Denmark.  Please send donations to Peder Skrams Gade 23, 104, Copenhagen 1054 DK.

I’m sure I miss other things, but I don’t want to seem whiny.  Life is good here.  I should embrace different and develop attachments to things in Denmark that I will miss when I come home.

Wading in the Baltic Sea

Last Sunday I woke up at 7:30 am to take the metro out to the Airport.  This is not really a typical Sunday morning for me, but I’ll get up early in the name of a good old fashioned field trip.  I had agreed to go to Møns Klint with some friends for the day so we took the metro out to the Airport to rent a few cars.  Møns Klint is a public park on the southern most part of Sealand in Denmark.  Eleven of us set off in our two VW rental cars to explore the coast and go hiking.

This is a link to the park’s website: http://www.moensklint.dk/  It’s in Danish – but click on it and watch the intro.  This is where we went hiking.  (Although the music on this website makes the adventure seem more intense than it was in reality.)

After driving south along the coast for two hours we started by hiking along the top of the cliffs for a while.  The coast was beautiful and the cliffs were extremely impressive, dropping 128 meters into the Baltic Sea.  The wind was incredible along the top of cliffs.  Stopping to take pictures was almost comical with scarves and hair blowing in everyone’s face.  No one could hear each other speak unless you were yelling in the person’s ear next to you.  “WHAT DID HE SAY?”  “I THINK HE SAID TO SMILE.  HE’S TAKING A PICTURE.”  It was difficult to get a group shot up there. 

At some point we reached a set of wooden stairs.  I can’t imagine the work that went into building these stairs since they found their way down all 128 meters along the edge of the cliff.  No one counted the exact number of stairs we traversed down to the sea, but my legs and butt estimate about 5,467 steps.  Our group hung out at the base of the stairs for about 45 minutes skipping rocks, chatting, eating our pre-packed sandwiches, or just marveling at the greatness of the sea.  Then we decided to procrastinate climbing the never ending staircase and decided to walk back to the main entrance of the park along the base of the cliffs.  The views were incredible.  The plan was almost full proof until we arrived at the second set of stairs we needed to negotiate in order to get back to our rental cars.  The tide had risen and the stairs were washed out.  

After a few minutes of debate, we all shed our shoes and socks and rolled our pants up past our knees.  It looked like today would be the day that I’d be wading in the Baltic Sea.  Mind you it was about 55 degrees that day, so the Baltic Sea wasn’t exactly refreshing.  One at at time we carefully waded about 30 feet to the stairs with shoes and socks in hand.  We reached the stairs, waited a few minutes for our feet and legs to dry, and then redressed ourselves.  Challenge one complete:  made it to the stairs.  Challenge two: climb up 5,467 steps.  

We made it back to the cars and drove to a small town outside the park.  We ate at a small restaurant with an all you can eat buffet.  Perfect.  We all eat our money’s worth and return to the rental cars to drive home.  Most people nap all the way home, probably exhausted from the combination of wind, stairs, and eating.  All in all a good day.  Now I can check something else off my list of things to do in life.  Walk in Baltic Sea.  Check.

Carlsberg Beer Festival

Carlsberg seems to have a monopoly on the beer market here in Copenhagen.  Every bar, pub, restaurant, and cafe I’ve been to offers Carlsberg or Tuborg.  And guess what. . . Carlsberg bought Tuborg out a few years ago so, yep it totally seems like a monopoly.  In an attempt to try other Danish and Scandinavian beers I went with a few friends to the Carlsberg Beer Festival – desperately hoping the name of the festival didn’t mean they were serving that beer exclusively.  

Much to my pleasant surprise, this year’s festival marked the first European Beer Festival as opposed the the Danish Beer Festival that has run the prior 10 years.  Jackpot.  Beers from all across Europe.  Is there a better way to spend a Saturday afternoon?  

After waiting in a massive queue we finally make our grand entrance into the festival.  The six of us have been equipped with tokens, a tasting glass, and a directory book to guide our tour through Europe’s beers.  My first stop is a Danish microbrewery named Aarhus Bryghus.  I try the Rød Ale which is their Red Ale made with a bit of cowberries.  I thought the Aarhus representative who handed me the beer said cranberries.  But upon consulting the directory I see it is actually cowberry and even though I haven’t a clue what that is. . . I enjoy the beer and savor the taste.  

The second beer I try is from the British Pavilion.  I ask someone from the brewery to help me select a beer.  He picks out a stout.  The British fellow who helped me select my beer asks me how I like it.  I reply that the beer is good and thank him for his help.  He holds his hand out.  I stare at the gentlemen’s hand for a moment and then shake it and thank him again for his help.  This is not what he is looking for. . . crap.  Beer two and I’ve forgotten the drill already – they give you a beer, you give them a token.  I shuffle through my bag and sheeplishly hand him a token.  My friends are dying of laughter.  I’m a moron.  From here we wander around the display hall to consider all of our choices.  We decide to go for a range of beers from different countries.  We try beers from Belguim, Germany, Sweden, Italy, and even the Czech Republic (Staropramen – it was one of my favorites).  We even try a warm beer from Germany.  The choices are endless.  

After a few hours of wandering, tasting, talking about what we like and don’t like, we decide to call it a day.  On the way home we find a shop that has falafel for the equivalent of $3.  Seriously, days don’t really get better than this.  European beer festival was a huge success.  

Subway Party

I’ve become addicted to Facebook.  For those of you who don’t know Facebook, it’s an online networking site (aka the best way to procrastinate and suck time right out of your day).  Since I’ve arrived to Copenhagen, Facebook has served as a great way to keep up with the new people I’ve met, share photos, and most importantly – find out what’s going on in Denmark.  I checked my Facebook account on Friday morning in order to avoid being productive and I find an invitation entitled “Subway Party”.  Of course this sparks my interest so I open the event invitation to gather more information.  

If you had to a take a guess as to what exactly a “Subway Party” is – well folks think literally.  The following are the instructions given on the event invitation:

After our gorgeous, crazy party in the Subway of Paris we have decided to organize the same thing in this fantastic city of Copenhagen in collaboration with two residents : Sune Gamst and Frederic Dille

Friday 12 sept at 21H30 rendez vous at a metro station of Copenhagen (secret for the moment), we will give you a signal everybody come in the train and the party will start it’s like a collective performance….All arty, crazy, funny, surprise, performance, clothes are welcome…

We will bring a little sound system and we will broadcast the music with a radio emettor so YOU HAVE TO BRING YOUR OWN RADIO, for each new radio that you will bring we will multiply the intensity of the sound…

in case that the police decide the time of the last skål (last drink) we will have a plan B, in another Special place….

SO BRING YOUR DRINKS AND YOUR RADIO

INSCRIBE TO THE EVENT TO RECEIVE THE INFORMATION

this is a non political event, we will have to respect the people, the place should stay clean…
——————–

Um. . . this would never happen in the United States.  Never.  First of all, in Copenhagen you are allowed to roam about the city with an open container.  You can find people drinking beer outside in public parks, walking along the sidewalk, or even on the metro.  No one cleverly disguises their beers with brown paper bag costumes.  You would think the liberal attitude towards open containers in public would cause mass pandemonium.  In reality it is quite the opposite.  I’ve yet to see someone out of hand in public.  

So after reading the invitation I scour the responses to see who else is on board.  I find a few of my friends among the 1,352 “yes” RSVP’s.  I think to myself “you only live once” so I decide to also respond “yes” to the invitation.  Friday night arrives and the “secret location” is revealed.  Everyone is supposed to meet at the Nørreport Station at 9:30.  (excuse me 21:30)  So we gather our things and head to Nørreport Station around 9:00.  We definitely don’t want to be late.  I would hate to miss the party train. . . a literal party train.  

Sure enough we arrive to find 1,000 of our fellow party guests, most sporting costumes and radios.  The signal is made and everyone takes to the escalators and heads down to the train platform.  We board the first train and the party begins.  Someone has had the foresight to bring decorations and begins hanging them from the hand railings of the train.  Radios are playing.  People are dancing and drinking.  The one metro security guard assigned to this train just hangs out and watches.  The situation is just a bit crazy. Looking up and down the train all you can see are people packed in like sardines.  As we approach the end of the line we have to switch trains.  Everyone gathers their decorations and (surprisingly) garbage.  We change trains and venture to the opposite end of the metro line.  

The activity reminded me of my days in College Park.  The students of the University of Maryland had a tendency to riot when we lost basketball games. . . well we had a tendency to riot when we won as well.  Now when I use the term “riot” I mean many students gathering in one place and about 6 fraternity guys would burn their furniture in a trash can outside.  Nothing extremely out of control.  The only real consequence of “rioting” was that a few dudes would wake up the next day wondering why they are sleeping on the floor and where to get a new bed . . . to burn for the next game.  While sitting on one of the subway benches, taking a sip of beer, I told a few friends sitting around me about when UMD won the NCAA championship.  I recounted the story and described thousands of students parading to route 1 and the dozens of police officers who showed up in riot gear.  (riot gear = all black attire, gas masks, bullet proof vests, and pepper pellet guns.)  Telling this story made it seem like the United States was an overreactive and hostile society.  Students celebrating in the street warranted full blown riot gear and shooting students with pepper spray.  Here in Denmark, students taking over a metro train didn’t warrant any response.  

After riding for a bit, a large group of us decided to exit the train and find out what was happening above ground.  As we exit the train I began thinking that the Subway Party, while it was fun, wasn’t as crazy as I expected it to be.  Normally the equation goes: 1,000 young adults + beer + liquor + small confined public space = property destruction, many citations, a handful of arrests, and a sudden loss of common sense.  I look around and people are just happily dancing and hanging out on the train.  There’s no girls gone wild, no male bar brawls, not even a bit of liter is evidence of a Subway Party.  As Subway Parties go I believe this is the most respectful and tame party I’ll ever attend.  Thanks Facebook for keeping me posted on the random happenings of Denmark.

Lost in Translation

I have never doubted my oral English skills as much as I do now.  I know English is my first language, but I fear I have abused and gravely distorted the language over the years.  I have become accustomed to casually tossing out slang words or using improper verbs without giving it a second thought.  This isn’t a problem in the United States, but I could be doing the international students I live with a severe injustice if I continue to speak improperly.

My first night in Denmark I met one my roommates who was from Germany.  We were talking about the other people on our floor and if they’d moved in yet.  I replied, “I haven’t seen anyone else today, but I’m sure we’ll all bump into each other at some point.”  To which my German roommate informed me “I don’t fight.”  I was confused, why the sudden confession about being a pacifist?  I realize that “bump into” was not the right way to word that sentence.  I rephrase my thoughts “Oh no, I mean I’m sure we’ll run into each other at some point.”  Again this didn’t really translate well.  I try for a third time and use the proper word.  “I’m sure we will all meet each other eventually.”  

On another occasion I found myself in a debate among friends as to the definition of apathetic.  I start to define the word, but then become worried that I’m giving the wrong definition.  I have to go and look it up on the computer before reporting back that the word means “disinterested or indifferent”.  All at once I feel like I’m studying for the SAT’s again.  I second guess myself time and again about my sentence construction and proper use of vocabulary.  

I’ve also noticed that I’ve been using words that apparently aren’t taught in a classroom.  No, not foul language, but it would appear that my speech patterns aren’t proper.  In talking about a television show with a great deal of nudity I jokingly used the word “racy”.  One of my roommates thought I was talking about ethnic race.  I try to explain that “racy” means “risqué”.  (Who uses this word? – I guess me when trying to confuse people even more.)  I’m at a loss when trying to define “racy” so I just start listing words.  I believe I even threw “scantily clad” into the mix.  I’m not helping anyone over here.  One day in the future my current roommates will be sitting in a boardroom telling their business partners they hope to “bump into” one and other some day in the near future.  They will then use some other words that are sprinkled throughout my vocabulary that may or may not be made up.  

I’ve only had one occasion to help a non-native English speaking student with the English language.  We were talking about how crappy (shitty? run down? poorly taken care of? old? dirty?  oh I give up – crappy) our apartment is.  We are allowed to request new items to a gentlemen that runs the building, Inspector Jan, if what we have on hand isn’t adequate.  My roommate says “I am going to request a new coffee pot, real knives that cut, marble counters, oak furniture, and a golden shower.”  Now I know he was only making a joke that he would like a shower made of gold to spruce the place up, but in the back of my mind I think “golden shower” is not the right way to phrase this.  Thanks to the many pointless years of watching MTV I know that a “golden shower” is known more commonly as a type of sexual fetish.  I decide to inform my roommate not to use that particular phrase in mixed company.  “You wouldn’t want to give anyone the wrong idea.”  I could further elaborate, but I feel my duty is done here.  I’ve saved my German roommate from a potentially awkward situation where the person he is conversing with would thing he is some sort of sexual deviant.  Two other people involved in the conversation agree with me and for the first time, I feel I’ve taught a valuable lesson in English.  Job well done Amanda, job well done.

I’ll Do Anything To Be Entertained. . .

Have I mentioned we do not have a tv?  I know I am here to study and explore a new city and meet new people, but seriously, we do not have a tv.  I haven’t seen a television in three weeks.  That means no waking up to Al Roker, no Law & Order marathons on Sundays, and no Project Runway (or any reality tv for that matter).  In a weird way I’ve started to miss the lovable characters that NBC, CBS, and Bravo dreamed up.  I miss the complicated plot lines and 30 – 60 minute blocks of time to escape.  I can sense the new episodes being aired in the USA and I’m not there to view them!?!?  I am beginning to think I will  just have to create my own reality show.  

A few people in my building have joined the gym that is a few blocks away.  I am on a tight budget so I’ve been walking and running outside.  I figure I’ll hold off on joining a gym until the weather turns.  This was my logic until one of my roommates informed me that the cardio-equipment has individual tvs built into each machine at the gym.  I ask a few other people in my building to make sure this isn’t a myth.  It’s true.  For the price of 300 kroner (about $60) a month I can watch tv whenever I want. . . well so long as it is in the upright position and I’m putting forth some effort.  

So I’ve joined the gym.  It’s my first week of membership and so far I’ve been everyday.  I hop on a treadmill and watch from a limited array of shows.  Still it’s better than nothing.  Earlier in the week I watched a stellar episode of 90210.  I’m sure I can learn something from Donna and Dylan’s rich-folk dilemmas.  After all, how else will I know how to act after I’ve made my first million and buy a dune buggy.  I consider this educational.  Yesterday I watched an episode of The Late Show with David Letterman.  I was brought up to speed on the Republican’s plan for the presidential election as well as Dr. Phil’s new season of talk shows.  Again, totally educational.  Today I watched new music videos for an hour. . . ok ok so no educational relevance there but at least I ran for 60 minutes.  

It’s sad when my exercising regimen directly correlates to my need for television.  Although I figure this is a vast improvement from the way I used to watch tv – laid out on the sofa, one hand in a wheat thins box, the other firmly on the remote, thumbs poised to find any sort of television marathon so I could settle in for the day.  At least now I’m getting in a good work out and my television viewing time is limited to how long I can run.  It’s really a great deal if you think of it. . . the better shape I’m in, the more tv I can consume!  See, win – win.

Weekend in the Country

My Uncle’s Cousin live in Denmark.  That’s the most simple way to put it.  Earlier I told a roommate that my mom’s sister’s husband is from Denmark and his cousin lives here.  She just nodded her head probably thinking “um what?”.  Bjørn, Irena, and their son Jacob meet me at my apartment on Saturday morning.  It’s lovely to see them.  The last time I saw everyone was at my parent’s 50th birthday party when they happened to be visiting the United States.  They each give me a hug like no time has passed and we pile into their car.  They were kind enough to invite me to join them for the weekend at their house in Gilleleje.  

Before heading to Gilleleje we stop off at a nice furniture store just outside of Copenhagen.  The store is contained in two beautifully old homes separated by a lovely courtyard.  The furniture is exquisite and the courtyard contains a table with a beautiful array of food and wine.  This may trump my Ikea experience.  We walk around and test all of the modern style chairs and couches and then we enjoy some snacks and beverages.  All of this was very classy.  If I owned a store like this, I would just live there.

We head off to Bjørn & Irena’s home in Gentofte to collect their things and a dog for the weekend.  And then we are off to Gilleleje.  Gilleleje is located at the northern most point of Sealand, the island in which Copenhagen is located.  Across the sea you are looking at Sweden.  We arrive to the town of Gilleleje and make a few stops to the local fish market to pick up some items for lunch and dinner.  After, we drive to their home.  The house is lovely.  The yard has is covered with rose bushes.  There is a lovely view of the sea and if you look closely you can see Sweden in the distance.  Once we arrive, Irena begins to prepare lunch.  I attempt to help, but since I can’t identify half of what we are about to eat, my assistance doesn’t count for much.  I set the table.  I notice the placemats say “Annapolis” on them.  I begin to notice many small touches around the house from my Aunt Trish and Uncle Mike’s previous visits.  

We sit down to a wonderful lunch.  On the table we have several plates of Herring cooked in various styles.  There is also a flat fish, radishes, bread, something that looks like a meatball but is made of fish, beer, and aalborg (a danish liquor).  I try everything.  I like almost everything except the aalborg is very strong and one of the sauces for the fish is very mustard-y.  To my surprise I like the herring with egg yolk and onions over it.  Woo hoo, I like something danish!  After a nice long lunch I decide to go for a walk.  There is a nice path that leads you back to town following the sea.  It’s lovely.  I walk and admire the ocean and the architecture of the homes here.  There are little houses with grass roofs.  

When I get back from my walk I find Bjørn and Jacob playing an intense game of chess.  I read my book and relax.  Bjørn makes me a Gin and Tonic which reminds me of my own family’s happy hours.  More and more this trip reminds me of being with my immediate family up in Maine.  A beautiful view, relaxing, and good company.  

For dinner we have a flat fish.  Irena is kind enough to show me how to eat this fish without eating any of the bones.  I appreciate the help.  Dinner is accompanied with great conversation about Bjørn & Irena’s most recent travels to South Africa as well as Danish tradition and customs.  In return I offer up comical stories about my first three weeks in Denmark.  At the end of dinner I’ve been informed that I’ve passed my Danish introduction since I tried everything that was put on my plate.  

The next day we head back to Copenhagen and drive down the coast.  We pass through the most wonderful small towns each with their own respective harbors.  We pass Hamlet’s castle in Helsingor.  The drive is great.  I can’t wait to go back to the country.  It’s quiet and beautiful and spacious.  Copenhagen is great, but there is a lot to be said for the countryside of Denmark.  Thank you Bjørn, Irena, & Jacob.