Monthly Archives: October 2008

The Movies

After a long Friday night (who knew a potluck dinner could turn into a bar crawl) my roommate, Helena, and I decided that going to see a movie on Saturday night would be a nice healthy and relatively cheap evening activity.  We went to a nice theater by Tivoli.  When we purchased our ticket a man at the ticket booth showed us a computer screen with a seating chart and asked us where we would like to sit.  ASSIGNED SEATS!  They have assigned seats at the movie theater.  No more “excuse me could you scoot down a seat so we can sit together?”  Crazy right!?!?  We select a nice pair of seats in the back and center.  After, we head to the theater passing through a nice cafe.  People can buy popcorn, any type of candy you can dream up (barrel style like the old Giant), and any kind of beverage.  I’ve never seen a fully stocked bar at a theater.  In the cafe people sit and enjoy a beer or coffee. . . why shouldn’t they . . . it’s not like they have to rush off and save a seat!  This whole process is so funny to me.  I’m going to start a petition for American theaters to do this.  

We saw the new Cohen brother’s movie, Burn After Reading.  It’s weird. . . as expected. . . but really good!  I highly recommend it.  I bet its even better without Danish subtitles across the bottom.  (Although I have to admit I was trying to read the Danish subtitle to see if it matched up with the English I was hearing and to see the what foul language I’m not learning in class.)

Pubs, Drugs, and Prostitutes – Amsterdam

Beyond cheese, tulips, wooden shoes, and windmills, Amsterdam is also known for it’s tolerant policies with regards to prostitution and soft drugs.  The Dutch have taken a unique approach to fight hard drugs and human trafficking.  I learned all about this on the various tours of the city I took.  My traveling companions and I took a walking tour of the city, a canal tour of the city, and yet another walking tour just specifically in the Red Light District.  We examined the city from every angle possible and learned a great deal about this beautiful place.

Our first day in Amsterdam we joined the free walking tour run by New Europe.  If you ever find yourself in a major European city, look for these tours.  They are free, well run, and highly entertaining.  Anyway, we met at Dam Square around 11 am to start the tour.  Our guide was energetic and humorous as well as educational.  We began the tour in the Red Light district.  Before actually entering this neighborhood our tour guide advised us to keep our cameras in our bags.  Apparently the working ladies in the windows do not appreciate photos and have a laundry list of responses to even seeing a camera out.  If you are lucky the woman will step out of her window, grab your camera and toss it into the canal.  Some women will throw high heeled shoes, sex toys, or possibly even urine at you.  Not really wanting to smell like urine or have anything that resembles the male anatomy thrown at me, I kept my camera tucked away for this portion of the tour.  We wandered through the streets past the windows with scantily clad ladies standing in them.  I just kept thinking, “Normally at 11:30 am I’m thinking of a second cup of coffee.  The thought to hire a prostitute rarely enters my mind at this hour.”  The red light district looks like any other part of town, only with the addition of ladies in the windows.  This part of town is clean and has beautiful canals that run through it.  We even find ourselves at a beautiful church right smack dab in the center of the Red Light District.  I guess back in the day, the sailors needed to be forgiven for their sins too.  We get some information about how the Red Light District works, but I’ll elaborate later.  

The tour continued into the Jewish Quarter.  It looks remarkably new compared to the rest of town.  Our guide tells us about WWII and how this part of town became abandoned after Jewish families fled or the Nazis detained the people living here and sent them to concentration camps.  It became a literal ghost town.  The winter of 1945 was one of the coldest in Holland and reparations from the war had not yet started in this country.  The Jewish Quarter remained largely abandoned so many people used wood from the floors, furniture, ceilings in these buildings to keep their homes warm.  This part of town was not rebuilt until the late 1960’s in which it was supposed to look very modern.  Now it just looks like something built in the 1960’s.  We did learn many interesting facts pertaining to the Netherlands tolerance for all religions and therefore it had one of the largest Jewish populations in Europe.  This conversation lead into the not only the country’s religious tolerance but also their tolerance of many other issues.  

At this point our tour guide began to comment on the legal status of soft drugs (i.e. marijuana and other natural substances).  The sale and consumption of Marijuana is actually illegal but not punishable in the Netherlands.  Which seems silly to even write.  Basically, the government allows licensed coffee shops to sell 5 grams or less of marijuana to customers so long as they don’t advertise, serve alcohol, serve minors, and don’t sell hard drugs.  The government then taxes these businesses so they are actually making some money off of people smokin’ doobies.  So strange.  Our guide informs us of the reputable coffee shops that will sell you “good product” and warns us to stay away from anyone selling anything on the street.  I’ll have to say this is definitely the first tour I’ve ever been on where pot recommendations are given verbally as well as marked on our free maps.  Only in Amsterdam.

The tour continues throughout the city and ends at Anne Frank’s house.  We tip our guide and decide to go wait in line to go inside the museum.  It’s actually very well done.  There are a few short videos with Anne’s father speaking and some of  Mr. Frank’s employees.  As we wander through the house it is quite a sobering experience.  None of the rooms are furnished any longer, but you can begin to picture the two families living in this small space.  It seems unimaginable that they could see out the windows but were never allowed to go outside.  If you find yourself in Amsterdam the Anne Frank Museum is quite worth it.  On a side note, I’ve never seen a more interesting gift shop.  They basically only one item, Anne Frank’s Diary.  I’ve never seen so many copies written in so many different languages.  

The next day we venture off to the Van Gogh museum in the morning.  I’ve never considered myself to really appreciate modern art, but this museum was fascinating.  The man painted in so many different styles.  It was amazing to see how his techniques progressed.  The museum also does a good job of telling a story about his life as you view his work.  Although, it’s kind of depressing when the last sentence you read after viewing all of these masterpieces is, “And then he shot himself in the chest.”  Way to go Debbie Downer. . . I was just starting to appreciate art.  

After Van Gogh we decided to see the city by boat and bought tickets for a canal tour.  It was interesting because all of the facts that were given about the city were stated in four languages.  First in Dutch, then German, then French, finally English.  I was a bit jealous that my French Canadian friend could here the tidbit of information moments before me.  We learned that as the city grew more canals were built along with the expansion of the city limits.  We also learned there is a housing shortage in this city so many people live on house boats in these canals.  Some of these boats were quite fancy with little floating patios out front.  Others looked like the boat had been dredged up from the bottom of the canal and forced to float again.  I can almost picture these boats struggling to stay afloat.  

The next night we took a guided tour of the Red Light District.  Once again, our cameras were filed away so to avoid any trouble with the working gals.  So before the tour begins we get a little lesson how this business works.  Prostitution is legal in the Netherlands but streetwalking is illegal.  So ladies must pay to rent a room or work out of a brothel.  Pimping and trafficking is illegal and these laws are strictly enforced.  Work permits are not issued to be a ‘working lady’ so all of the women in the windows are EU citizens.  Health care is provided and once again, the government does tax these services.  (Is it sad that prostitutes in Amsterdam have healthcare but I might not come February???)  Anyway, ladies rent a window with room attached for an 8 hour shift for about 100 – 150 Euros.  The steep prices for window rentals is supposedly to keep drug addicts from getting into prostitution.  Women who have the money to rent the room are thought to be more likely to be clean since they can manage their finances.  From there ladies sit in the windows and try to entice potential clients.  They get to call prices and who goes into the room.  They can say no to whomever they want.  There are panic buttons for the girls by the door and by the bed.  When a panic button is pushed, more than likely other girls come to the rescue even before the police.  Our tour guide tells us he’s seen men who’ve broken rules and have been severely beaten by the prostitutes. . . he bets they wished the police had arrived first.  Ok ok ok – it’s strange that it’s legal.  Especially when we are walking around.  We walk past window after window with girls in their underwear.  I find myself smiling politely with each window we pass as if to say “I’m not judging, I’m not judging.”  

Our guide also tells us about a conservative group trying to shut down the Red Light District.  They are buying windows and placing mannequins in the display with something called “red light fashion”.  Apparently the group has bought so many windows up that there once were 700-some odd rooms to rent and now there are only a little over 235 left.  We are told that the buildings that are bought are only used to place mannequins, much like the Macy’s store windows at Christmas.  Remember that there has been a housing shortage in Amsterdam, so this seems like a huge waste of space.  We are told all of these facts about the conservative group aiming to shut down the district and go against Amsterdam’s historically tolerant approach.  I find myself secretly hating this group.  It’s as if I’m watching some sort of Disney movie and I’m routing against the Cruella DeVille’s of the world.  And then I think to myself . . . am I pro-prostitution?  I’m not sure.  There isn’t a clear line in my head.  In someways this system seems safer for the women who are involved.  If it was illegal prostitution would still exist. . . and most likely without the protections and rules in place here.  I am torn.  It almost seems sad when our tour guide says that the Red Light District wouldn’t exist in 5 years time at this rate.  I’m not planning to advocate prostitution as a possible career choice to the young girls of the EU, but for some reason I’ve decided this system is ok.  Maybe you just have to go take the tour for yourself.  

Finally we head to explore a few pubs in this city.  Nothing was exceptionally extraordinary by my standards, but we did find one place that I just loved.  It was called De Zotte and was a cute little bar serving over 100 Dutch and Belgian beers.  This bar was off the beaten path, away from the loud tourists of the Red Light District and Leidseplein.  The beers were great and cheap and the people there were friendly.  Being in this cool little spot made me think of alot of my friends and family who would have loved this place just as much as me.  I pictured us sitting in there for a few hours, trying different beers, and talking.  If you find yourself in Amsterdam, yes check out the ladies in the windows, yes visit a coffee shop to see with your own eyes people who are comfortably smoking pot above ground -in public – and not in their parent’s basement, walk along as many canals as possible, but seriously visit this pub.  I think it was my favorite part.

Amsterdam – The Hostel

The name of our hostel is The Flying Pig.  One of my first challenges in Copenhagen was to find The Happy Pig.  So I’m beginning to sense a theme or sign or something.  I just don’t know yet if it is to buy a pig, stop eating pig (although I could never give up bacon), eat more pig (yeah that’s the ticket), or name my first born after a pig.  I’ll have to keep looking for pig signs to know. . . ok ok ok sorry I digress.  Our hostel is called The Flying Pig.  That is the name on the fluorescent sign out front, what is printed on the maps, as well as what is printed on my key card.  I would later come to refer to The Flying Pig as The Stoner Orphanage.  I feel that is a more accurate description.  

We arrive and descend a set of stairs that pour us into a psychedelic lounge where a man with dreadlocks is there to assist us with checking in or pouring us a drink at the bar.  The bar/lounge is kind of cool.  Half the room is a sitting area on pillows and bean bags near some windows.  The other half of the bar has nice wooden stools and tables for people to sit and have a beer or a toasti.  A toasti is the only food the bar served and is essentially some version of a ham and cheese toasted sandwich.  As dreads is checking us in I notice that the windows in the “comfy” section also serve as a door to the sidewalk.  Several people come in and out by window instead of taking the stairs up and out onto the front street.  We are given our key and directed to our room.  We will be sharing a 12 person room.  It’s the cheapest way to stay, but also means I’ll have to make 8 new best friends outside of my immediate traveling party.  In our room someone is sleeping in my bed.  It’s midnight so I decide to take the bunk above my assigned bunk.  I climb up to my new bed and settle in for sleep.  On the wall I can count marijuana leaves if I have trouble falling asleep. . . as they are painted all over the room.  I guess it’s just their version of counting sheep.  

In the morning I wake up to the first person trying to get to their luggage in the metal drawers under each bed.  These drawers have some serious need for some DW40.  One small movement of the drawer and a horrific screech sounds to let everyone else in the room know “HEY I’M GETTING MY STUFF NOW OUT OF THIS DRAWER IN CASE YOU ALL WERE WONDERING”.  I decide it’s time to wake up.  I go to check out the shower situation.  I never thought in a million years this thought would cross my mind but I immediately wish for my crappy shower shared with 10 people in Copenhagen.  I decide to be on the every-other-day shower plan, get dressed, and go to check out breakfast.  Here I find cereal, breads, hard boiled eggs, and coffee.  I make a plate and sit with a few people from Australia.  One girl tells me she’s been staying in the hostel for two weeks.  She’s checking out today.  I’m happy for her. . . because she looks tired.  I’m guessing she was on the every-other-other-day shower plan.  The conversation over breakfast is nice though.  The Australians are really friendly and I find out that Amsterdam is just one of many stops on a four month trip they are taking.  Crazy.  

The people at the hostel are all really nice.  Everyone is very mellow (shocker) and laid back.  Most people congregate in the bar/lounge for breakfast and then the afternoon or evenings after being out all day.  The bar pumps tunes in ranging from Pink Floyd to Wilco back to Bob Marley and forward to Spoon.  Britney Spears has no place in this bar. 

On our third day (I’ve got one shower under my belt) we have a new roommate from Australia.  I ask him how long he’s been staying at the hostel.  He tells me that he was supposed to be here for three days but missed his flight home and has yet to be proactive enough to book another ticket.  That was two and a half weeks ago.  For me three days and I was longing for my bed or even just a room with 6 people sleeping near me instead of 12.  The next night I’m woken up to some door slamming, giggling, stomping around, and not so whispery whispers.  I crack my eyes open and notice three girls who couldn’t be older than 18.  They’ve taken it upon themselves to turn the lights to the room on at 1:00 a.m.  They each put on more makeup and change from one shirt that’s two sizes too small to another shirt that looks as if the dryer finally won a bet.  I think to myself “who invited the Pussy Cat Dolls”.  (For those who don’t know The Pussy Cat Dolls they are a group of girl pop singers.  I’m not sure if they possess any actual talent.  Well unless you consider lip singing to songs while sitting in a car, strutting one’s stuff, or dancing – all of the above in less clothing than is on a cabbage patch – “talent”.  So that’s who I refer too.)  The door slamming continues into the night as they stomp back and forth from the hostel bar to the room to gossip about who’s cute and what Dylan’s doing with his hair these days.  The Pussy Cat Dolls quiet for a few hours and then arise to use more makeup and hairspray than I thought was humanly possible.  I’m worried now about the rain forests and baby seals now purely because of the shear volume of products these girls go through.

 I know I sound bitchy, but I feel I should give a full picture of hostel life.  I can take the gross showers, the pot leaf walls, and the unorthodox crowd.  But I don’t think these girls realized how much they stood out or where they were.  Here they were donning their tall boots and little skirts with freshly sprayed hair to go into the next room where half the people haven’t owned a brush or comb in probably years.  I wanted to point this out to them but fortunately the Pussy Cat Dolls were moved to another room the next night.  I heard another person at breakfast talking about them the next day.  They were “ruining his vibe.”  

Again, the hostel treated us well.  This little stoner orphanage is needed in the world.  It’s a cheap place for poor students like me to stay while trying to see the world.  It’s home to all of the Australians who miss their flights or decide to travel the world.  It’s a place of refuge for those who can’t stand pop music and just want to smoke and eat a toasti.  This little stoner orphanage was good to us. . . but after 5 days I was ready to get back to my women’s prison cell and 10 person bathroom.  

More to come on Tours, Canals, Prostitution, and Drugs. . . I did leave the hostel after all. . .

Amsterdam – Getting There

Last week was CBS’ fall break.  Everyone I knew was planning trips to Spain, Greece, Italy, Germany, Poland, Russia, and Portugal. . . to name a few.  I decided to jump on the bandwagon a few weeks ago and bought plane tickets to tag along to Amsterdam with my friend Kristen.  She and another girl from her residence were planning to go for 5 days.  One of my roommates, T, joined the trip at the last minute when the Russian embassy wouldn’t process his Visa in time.  Apparently the Russians have something against French Canadians. . . who knew?  Anyway, T rounded out our party and planned to go to Amsterdam with us for the 5 days as well.  

T and I took the metro together to the airport last Wednesday.  The other two would meet us in Amsterdam.  Standing in line to board the plane I ask T if there is anything he is looking forward to seeing while in Amsterdam.  He tells me he didn’t do much research about the city since it was such a last minute trip.  Come to think of it, I didn’t either.  In line we determine that between the two of us the only things we know about Amsterdam is that marijuana is legal, there is something called the red light district, and I know how to get from the airport to the hostel.  Awesome.  Hopefully Kristen or her friend Mary Kay has done more planning than the two of us.  

We get off the airplane and board a train heading to Amsterdam Centraal station.  The train is easy to find and comfortable.  Once at Centraal station we head to an information desk to purchase a tram ticket.  My written instructions say we should take the tram from Centraal station to Leidseplein.  Outside the station a large public transportation craft of some sort flys by the two of us.  We thought we were walking on a sidewalk so we were suprised that we were almost killed by this unidentified vehicle.  I turn to T and ask, “Was that a tram or a bus?”  T responds, “I have no idea.  Did it have wheels?”  My only response is, “Ok we can’t even identify what a tram is. . . we are soo screwed.”  

After dodging a few (what are in fact) trams, we board the right one and make it to Leidseplein.  We walk past a lively square with restaurants and bars and music.  We cross a canal bridge, pass a casino, dodge a few more trams and bicycles (seriously you can’t tell if you are walking on tram, bike, or car territory here) pass a park (Vondelpark), and walk down the longest street ever (Vossiusstraat – say that three times fast).  The small fluorescent sign for our hostel is our beacon of hope in distance.  The Flying Pig. . . Amsterdam we have arrived.

Kultur Natten

Last Friday was Culture Night in Copenhagen.  Meaning, beyond the normal European culture I can see on a normal Friday night, all museums, churches, city buildings, and old abandoned prisons would remain open until midnight for folks who buy a Kultur Natten button.  For 70 kroner (about $13) my friends and I could tour the city and soak up as much culture as humanly possible.  

Our night began at the Carlsberg Museum.  I’m not sure if any of you have done a beer tasting or factory tour in the United States, but Carlsberg takes this to a whole new level.  The museum documents over 150 years of history, how they have made beer over the years, and how they have developed new brands.  Along the way you can even stop to pet some horses.  (I’m still unclear as to why there were horses at the factory.  The sign explaining it was in Danish.  hmm)  After the museum, the tour ends in a pub where you can sample the beer.  So far we are off to a good start!

Next we hopped on a train to head back to City Center.  The buttons we have purchased for Kultur Natten also allow us to take any train, bus, metro, boat in the city for free tonight!   Anyway, we get off of the train and started our journey towards the sweet’s factory.  We head to Sømods Bocher, a small sweets factory that has been providing sugary treats to the good people of Copenhagen for four generations.  Here we came across a barbar shop quartet in the courtyard outside of the factory as well as a smorgasbord of candy and lollipops.  The line to see how the candy is made in the factory was too long so we bought a few lollipops and headed to our next destination.  (I had a banana flavored lollipop in case you are curious.)

A few blocks down the road we found ourselves in line to see an old abandoned prison by city hall.  While we waited in line there is a man who is dressed like an organ-grinder from a circus.  He was cranking out typical music for a circus.  On normal circumstances I think circus music is kind of creepy.  In front of an old abandoned prison I found this music down right frightening.  I was convinced that I was in some sort of horror movie and with each step in line I would be one step closer to being the unsuspecting victim.  (Also please note the picture of the organ man below.  Should my dad ever want to retire and take up providing the world with circus music he may look like this.)  Once inside, a kindly old prison guard explained the history of this particular women’s prison. . . in Danish.  Thankfully one of my friends could translate.  The prison once housed a women who killed 9 children.  That was the only story about a prisoner they told.  They should visit an American prison.  I’ll see your one crazy woman and raise you prisons full of nutty women in the US.  After taking the obligatory pictures of ourselves in the prison van, prison cells, and isolation rooms we headed off to see the underground ruins.  

Unfortunately the ruins were a popular site and the line was monstrous.  It appeared everyone in Copenhagen wanted to see this as well.  We decided to go to the Orlogsmuseet in Christianhavn to see the inside of an old submarine cabin.  On our way there we saw a few art exhibits and heard plenty of music being played on the street.  At the museum we found the inside of the submarine and pretended to live there for a bit.  Again many pictures were taken of us in the bunk beds, in the submarine bathrooms, manning the helm, and being the look out at the telescope.  

Around 11:30 pm we tired of our new submarine lifestyles and decided to call it a night.  Our little feet were tired from soaking up all the culture we could possibly stand.  On our walk home we passed many people who were still out darting from museum to church to city hall.  There were many families out and about as well as young and older people.  It appears that culture night was a success.  People of all walks of life came out to admire and enjoy their city.  It truly was a great night!

Daily Architecture

I was sitting at Kilen, one of the campus buildings, studying the other day and I remembered my surroundings all over again.  The first time I set foot in Kilen or Solbjerg Plads to attend class I remember a feeling similar to seeing NYC for the first time.  If you’ve never been to New York City you can’t help but look up and feel a bit overwhelmed.  Well I guess the same goes for modern architecture.  I’ve never seen such interesting buildings before.  In their own right, they are works of art.  And this is where I spend my days attending class, catching up on reading, and having group meetings.  Since the initial awe had worn off I have become quite used to my unusual surroundings.  But today I figured I’d snap a few photos and share. . .

Hallway at Dalgas Have.  This is where I have Danish Class.

Hallway at Dalgas Have. This is where I have Danish Class.

 

 

Library at Solbjerg Plads

 

Library at Solbjerg Plads

 

Library at Solbjerg Plads

Library at Solbjerg Plads

 

Library at Solbjerg Plads

Library at Solbjerg Plads

 

Kilen Lobby and Entrance to Classrooms

Kilen Lobby and Entrance to Classrooms

 

Elevators at Kilen - Oatis has outdone himself. . .

Elevators at Kilen - Oatis has outdone himself. . .

 

 

Outside of Solberg Plads

Outside of Solberg Plads

 

 

Outside of Kilen

Outside of Kilen

Copenhagen Ice Bar

On Saturday, a group of us made reservations to go to Copenhagen’s very own Absolute Ice Bar.  This bar is made entirely of . . . you guessed it. . . ice.  The walls are ice, the tables are ice, the chairs are ice, the bar is ice, the glasses are even little ice glasses.  The room itself is kept at 5 degrees below 0 Celsius, meaning it’s COOOOOOLLLLLLLD.  Upon arriving to the Ice Bar the friendly staff gave all eleven of us fashionable blue parkas, which are required in order to enter.  We journeyed down the stairs and through two sets of doors into our igloo, where would be spending the next 45 minutes.  Oh and you can only be in the bar for 45 minutes.  That along with the parkas are some rules that most bars don’t have.  

The first 10 minutes in the ice bar consisted of everyone taking as many pictures as possible and deciding what to order.  The menu was a collection of various Absolute Vodka mixed drinks.  I ordered something called a “Flirtini”.  I think I left a little bit of my dignity at that bar as soon as that word escaped my mouth when ordering my drink.  Oh well, I just really wanted the drink that had champagne in it.  Anyway, my Flirtini was served in a glass made of ice and despite its stupid name it was delightful.   After drinks were received, the following 10 minutes were used to enjoy our drinks, talk about if we liked our drink or not, and take even more pictures of one an other in these unfashionable parkas.  The following 25 minutes everyone danced around to the music because we thought it was insanely funny to see each other dance in these “sumo -costume-like” parkas.  The funniest, by far, was Giulia, our tiny roommate from Italy trying to dance in her giant blue sumo suit.  

After about 20 – 25 minutes of dancing everyone’s feet began to get really cold.  I think they should make little blue parka shoes for your feet, but I guess that suggestion hasn’t made it into the suggestion box yet.  If only I knew how to write “little blue parka shoes” in Danish. . . guess we haven’t had that class yet.  Anyway, the ice bar was fun.  It was definitely worth the experience.  I can now say I’ve been there!  But I think for me, I enjoy spending time with my friends and drinking a beer in temperatures that are a bit warmer.  

I weekenden skal jeg i byen

With the limited amount of Danish that I know, I can only speak in one tense so far.  I can only say what I will do instead of what I’ve done or am currently doing. . . useful huh.  So I’d really like the title of this post to say “Last weekend I went out on the town.” instead of “This weekend I will go out on the town.”  Small technicalities for any of you checking up on my Danish skills.

Last Friday in an effort to explore some new neighborhoods in Copenhagen a few of us figured the best way to get to know a neighborhood is a bar crawl.  You know, stop in, say hi, make some friends, order a beer, and move on to the next place.  This particular Friday we’ve decided to explore a neighborhood called Nørrebro.  A little place where the beers are cheap and the tourists are scarce.  In other words, heaven.  Five people from my floor and a few others met up at our friend, Kristen’s residence hall in Nørrebro.  Here we discussed our game plan.  It turned out our game plan was to meet up with some of Kristen’s Danish friends who live in the neighborhood and leave the planning to them.  Excellent.  

Anyway, we headed out around 10:30 to meet up with our new Danish friends Brian, Morton, Morton, and Morton.  (This vaguely reminded me of that Bob Newhart show – “Hi I’m Larry, this is my brother Darryl and this is my other brother Darryl.”  Apparently Morton is just a common name and I was not in fact on a sitcom as Bob Newhart didn’t pop out of any corner as the lovable owner of a small B&B.  Shoot.)  We started at a cozy bar that had a few big booths open and Ella Fitzgerald playing on the juke box.  I decided to try out my Danish skills and I tried to order three beers.  The bar tender looked confused and then asked me if I really wanted 60 beers.  Three = tre.  Sixty = tres.  Apparently I need to brush up on my pronunciation.  After successfully (depending on how you define the word) procuring three beers, one for me and two for other friends, we sat and enjoyed the atmosphere.  Thirty minutes later we were on the move to the next destination.  Guess I have to learn to soak up the atmosphere and beer more quickly for this evening.

We ventured to three other bars that were quaint and had their own feel and character.  A few people decided they were tired and headed home.  I decided that since I was out I should continue to see where this night leads me.  Kristen, her friend McKelland, my roommate Will, and two Mortons decide to head to another neighborhood, Vesterbro.  Sweet two neighborhoods in one night!!!  The destination was the Ideal Bar.  Literally, that was the name of the place.  It was pretty ideal.  Good music, cool ambiance, very attractive people (at least in this lighting after four beers).  We spent some time here until the Danes we were with got antsy and wanted to go to the Meatpacking District.  I figured I should go for the trifecta, so Will and I headed to the Meatpacking District with our hosts.  

Now I don’t know too much about New York City’s Meatpacking District (since I’ve only been there once. . . at night. . . to go to a gay bar with friends. . .) but I do know that there isn’t a lot of real “meatpacking” going on down there.  I did a bit of research and of the 250 slaughter houses that were in business in 1900, only 35 of them are still operational.  The rest of that prime real estate has since been filled with high fashion boutiques, fancy restaurants, exclusive clubs, and trendy bars.  Last Friday, when I was asked if I wanted to go to Copenhagen’s Meatpacking District this is the image I conjured up in my mind.  Oddly enough our taxi pulled up to a strip of warehouses with refrigerated trucks parked outside.  Instead of walking past pricey boutiques and fancy restaurants we strolled through a parking lot with a hint of fish in the air to get to Karriere, a new club built to bolster the development of this area.  Inside the club was pretty sheik and the music was good.  The crowd was extremely fashionable and lively.  Will and I stayed and danced for a bit, until I noticed it was 4 a.m.  We decided to call it a night and headed home.  We thanked the Mortons for a lovely evening and caught a nice BMW taxi cab.  

The night was a success.  I’m glad we got out to see other parts of the city.  Although it is extremely nice to have so many restaurants, cafes, and pubs close to home.  I think we’ll definitely head back to the Meatpacking District, however next time I’ll go with proper expectations and be ready to dodge a refrigerated truck or two. . .  All in all it was a good night out.  Thanks Mortons, each and every one of you. . .

Halloween Movement in Denmark

Are you looking for a way to make a difference in some foreign student’s lives?  May I offer a suggestion for a great cause that has plagued the young adults of Europe?  Many of my fellow Danish and European classmates have been deprived of an upbringing that includes the celebration of Halloween.  (gasp – I know)  Oh the tragedy, oh the horror (quite literally), oh the inhumanity.  I have decided to start an informal foundation that will bring some halloween joy to these deprived young adults in Denmark this year.  

If you care to donate any old, unused, or even dollar store costumes please mail them to:

  Amanda Sawyer 

  Peder Skrams Gade 23, #104

  1054 Copenhagen, Denmark 

I know that I may only make a difference in a few lives this year. . . but I hope the joy and happiness brought to those few on Halloween this year will spread and they will pay this gift forward to their friends and loved ones at home.  You can make a difference.  You can change a young European’s life on October 31st.

Welcome Event at City Hall

I received an invitation a few weeks ago to have pancakes at the City Hall as part of a welcoming event hosted by, well I guess, the city for all foreign exchange students.  I’ve been here 8 weeks so it seems a bit strange to attend a “welcome” reception at this point.  I got to thinking about it and I’m not sure I’ve ever lived in any city where they invite the “new kids” to a free lunch as a formal welcome.  When I moved to Washington DC I believe I received a copy of the yellow pages on my door step.  On a smaller scale, when I started back to the University of Maryland I think they gave me a free pen and added my email address to the list-serve for crime alerts from the police captain.  Nothing says “welcome to our school” like 5 crime alert emails a week discussing how unsafe it is in College Park.  

Anyway, I picked up my ticket along with some other exchange student friends and last Friday we walked over to City Hall to be officially welcomed.  It was quite nice.  City Hall is absolutely gorgeous.  It reminded me of someplace Donald Trump or Oprah Winfrey might get married.  Grand ceilings, detailed floors and walls, it really was a beautiful building.  We made our way to the third floor where Lord Mayor Ritt Bjerregaard gave a lovely welcoming speech.  She offered words of kindness and hoped that we enjoy our stay here and feel comfortable in our new home.  After, we were served the “world famous City Hall Pancakes” for lunch.  Our hostess had expressed that in the past people who have achieved great things in life have been offered these same pancakes.  I feel honored, all I did was enroll in school and show up to class.  I’m thinking she has a more elaborate version of “achieving great things” than attending my courses.  I’m sure she just wished to express this is a special treat that has been extended to us.  

The pancakes were wonderful.  They were thin and rolled.  Inside the pancake was some sort of creme.  Drizzled over the top was a sugary syrup.  As pancakes go, I couldn’t complain.  This welcome event was a lovely gesture.  I think more cities, institutions, organizations, should implement a welcome wagon like this.  I will start writing letters to the mayor of New York City now.  That way by the time I move there I’m sure there will be some sort of “world famous pizza” or “world famous cheesecake” or “world famous street nuts” welcoming event hosted by the city of New York to make me feel at home!  I can’t wait.