Daily Archives: November 29, 2008

Americans in Copenhagen

On Monday, we all awoke. . . a little foggy from the massive quantities of red wine consumed the night before. . . and sat for a nice breakfast around 10 am.  After breakfast my mom, aunt, and I accompanied Bjørn to the grocery store.  We wandered about the store and tried to be helpful in gathering groceries for tonight’s dinner.  I think we may have hindered instead of helped since I still don’t quite know my way around a Danish grocery store and my aunt and mom were a little less knowledgeable than me.  We return back to Mama’s Hotel and everyone piled into Mama’s bus to head into downtown Copenhagen.  Today’s lunch will be served at Ida Davidson’s, a famous Danish treat known for their smørrebrød.  At Ida Davidson’s we peruse the counter of smørrebrød delicacies and pick out what we’ll eat for lunch.  The table was covered with herring, shrimp, smoked tuna, poached eggs, caviare, and an assortment of other treats.  (For a few though, this was not the ideal meal after the previous nights wine and beer.)  

After a good lunch I got to play tour guide and Bjørn and Irena returned to work.  First we walked to the Marble Church and the Queen’s house.  We observed the guards on duty and wondered how long they had to stand there in those funny hats!  We couldn’t come up with a solution so we wandered to the Little Mermaid statue.  I tried to explain to my family that the statue really isn’t that impressive. . . but they insisted on going.  I guess it is mandatory to come to Copenhagen, walk to see the Little Mermaid, cock your head to the side and say “Is that is?”.  Just as I predicted my family had the very same response.  We took a few touristy pictures and walked along the canal towards Nyhavn.  Along the walk it began to snow.  By the time we reached the Nyhavn Christmas market it was a full fledged winter snow surrounding us.  We decided to duck into Nyhavn 17 (picture below) to warm up and enjoy a hot chocolate, irish coffee, and beer.  From the inside of this cute pub we watched the snow fall over the Christmas Market and canal while listening to Christmas carols. . . some in english. . . other’s in danish.  (We heard a version of “I saw mommy kissing Santa Claus” and “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” in this pub.)  We finished our drinks and wandered over to my apartment a few blocks away.  I had to show them the penitentiary I’ve been living in with the model UN.  (It really isn’t that bad. . . but still.)  

Back at Mama’s hotel we had a light dinner and settled in early.  I headed back to my apartment in Copenhagen because I had class the next day.  It was nice to get an early sleep and finish up some work.  The next morning I awoke refreshed and ready to go to my last day of class.  I went to Negotiations in the morning and then popped on the metro to meet my folks and aunt and uncle for lunch.  We ate at Hoppe’s.  Everyone enjoyed a beer and good hearty sandwich.  My family continued shopping and I returned to school to attend my last danish lesson!  

After school on Tuesday I met my family and Bjørn at Tivoli.  Tivoli is the world’s oldest amusement park.  It is normally closed during the winter, however it opens back up for Christmas.  In the summer the park has many rides, beautiful gardens and is beautifully light at night.  During Christmas I believe that anything standing still is covered with Christmas lights.  I have a theory that if you stop and stand still too long someone will come, cover you with Christmas lights, plug you in, and you become a part of the park.  We didn’t test this theory. . . we kept moving through the park at a quick pace.  We passed beautiful gardens, trees, castles, rides, christmas booths, and stopped to enjoy a Swedish traditional warm red wine drink called Julegløgg.  We then met Irena and their son, Jacob at a nice restaurant inside the park.  We started to discuss if the rides were open at Christmas over dinner.  Jacob assured us that they were and he wanted to ride a few after dinner.  Aunt Trish and I agreed to ride the big roller coaster. . . after we finish our enormous dinner!  Sure enough we walk through the park (Jacob skips and runs because he is so excited) toward the roller coaster.  My aunt can’t remember the last time she has been on a roller coaster and I’ve never ridden a roller coaster at night. . . in the freezing cold winter.  Needless to say the two of us were a bit nervous.  We board the roller coaster . . . front row at Jacob’s request.  Jacob takes his shoes off first.  We ask why and he says that sometimes people lose their shoes on this ride.  To which my aunt replies, “If Amanda’s boots blow off we are in deep doo doo”.  The ride starts and Trish tells me she loves both me and Jacob. . . we head down the first hill and the screaming begins.  Poor Jacob, I feel Trish and I may have cause major damage to his ear drums.  We survive and it actually was really fun!  I would have gone again, but it was getting late and cold and I don’t think my vocal cords could take another ride.  

Stacie, Trish and I walk back through town to pick up my stuff while the others head back to Mama’s Hotel.  The walk was beautiful with the city decorated.  It was a bit chilly but just right for a brisk walk.  We pick up my stuff and take the train to Gentofte where our shuttle service picks us up and takes of to Mama’s hotel to reunite us with our guests.  Another great two days. . . smørrebrød, Christmas Markets, snow, beer, Tivoli, roller coasters. . . no one can accuse us of not vacationing to the fullest!

The Americans Arrive in Denmark!

Saturday, November 22nd – Bjørn picked me up from my apartment at 2:30.  We headed to the airport to scoop up the Americans that are arriving.  Irena, Bjørn’s wife, met us at the airport.  We arrived before they land and watch the “Arrival” monitors with anticipation as the status of their flight changes from landed to the waiting for luggage countdown.  Finally my mom, dad, sister, aunt, and uncle appear and the American invasion for Thanksgiving has begun!

We hug and kiss and talk about their flight and eventually pile everyone into the two cars.  We head to Mama’s Hotel.  (This is what Irena has dubbed their house in Gentofte – complete with welcome mat to confirm their home’s new name.)  We get everyone settled in Mama’s Hotel and make ourselves comfortable in the living room while enjoying cocktail hour.  Most family holidays in the states are spent at my Aunt Trish and Uncle Mike’s house in Annapolis.  It is so different and yet so familiar to be settled at another relative’s house in Denmark.  Our cocktail hour consists of the normal Gin and Tonics accompanied with peanuts and good gossip. . . just like home.  For dinner we have salmon and potatoes. . . already I’m eating better than my normal grilled cheese or pasta!  After dinner we sit and talk for a bit over a few glasses of wine.  The battle of sleepiness begins to take hold with the jet lagged Americans.  My mom is the first to throw in the towl, followed by my sister and then uncle.  My aunt and dad are battling out to see who will be the last one standing, when my aunt finally gives in.  My dad wins and retires to bed at the grand hour of 10:00 pm.  Everyone calls it a night so they are ready and fresh for their danish adventure.

The next morning we wake and have a lovely breakfast.  After, we all pile into two cars and head to Sweden.  We drive down and take the bridge to Malmo.  The day is sunny but cold.  The sun looks beautiful over the snow in Denmark and Sweden!  We drive up to Helsinborg in Sweden.  We then take the ferry over to the other half of the city, Helsingør, which is located in Denmark.  On the ferry everyone enjoys their first Carlsberg beer while saying goodbye to Sweden and hello to Denmark again!  We then head to Kronborg, otherwise known as Hamlet’s castle.  Kronborg is a beautiful castle that looks out over the narrowest part of the Øresund.  The castle dates back to the middle ages and for almost six centuries the king’s men monitored the ships passing through toward the Baltic Sea.  Over the years the castle has been pillaged by the Swedish, served as barracks, and served as the setting for Shakespeare’s Hamlet.  Now you can wander through the historic rooms and even host a party in on of the expansive dining rooms. . . let’s hope none of those brats on “My Super Sweet 16” ever find out you can rent out this castle.  Most entertaining done in the castle is for political events with the royal family.  I learned that the Clinton’s had the privilege of eating at Kronborg.  Once we are done exploring the castle we pile back into the family busses and head back to hotel Mama.  

Back at Mama’s Hotel we enjoy happy hour and help prepare dinner.  On this evening’s menu we had amazing racks of lamb.  The table is set with giant wine glasses for red wine.  We gather to the table and drink and eat. . . for the next 5 hours.  After millions of conversations, a few spills of coffee and wine, tons of laughter, and seven bottles of wine later we decide it may be a good idea to teeter off to bed.  What a wonderful end to a first day!  If asked what we did this day I could truthfully say, “Well I woke up in Denmark, went to Sweden, rode in a car and ferry, explored a historic castle, and then drew the day to a close by personally finishing off a bottle of red wine and a rack of lamb!”  Not too shabby if I do say so myself.

The First Snow in Copenhagen

Last Friday, the day before my family was scheduled to arrive, it started to snow in Denmark.  I was trying to be productive and get some school work done before the onslaught of Americans arrived the next day.  I was studying diligently (aka playing on facebook) when I looked out my window to see snow!  Right now all of Copenhagen is covered with Christmas decorations so it seemed like something out of a Burl Ives or Bing Crosby Christmas movie.  

Around 8 pm that evening I ventured out into the snow to meet up with some Canadians.  The Canadians were planning on checking out Tivoli this evening, but decided to enjoy the snow from the inside looking out.  I met them at Student Huset, a small student pub for the Copenhagen University students.  We had a cozy little corner looking out onto the main walking street while drinking some Christmas Beer (Julbryg).  We sat talking until a Danish band took the small stage.  This band was so funny because they were all dressed in black suits with white shirts and skinny black ties. . . very Quentin Tarantino.  Their first song even sounded a little like something from Pulp Fiction.  The band was especially funny because three of the band members were tall, blond, and strikingly similar looking.  The fourth band member was a tall black man with a huge afro.  The three native danes seemed to rely on him to bring the soul to stage because they all were quite stiff when playing.  It was a fun band to see until we realized that all of their songs started to sound the same.  So we gathered our things and headed back into the snow to another favorite local. . . Byens Kro.  Here we filed in, found a cozy booth and had a good pint.  We talked with some older Danish men who were at their monthly dinner/drinks night.  They were school friends and had kept this appointment for years.  These men were quite funny and really loved to share their experiences from ‘the good ole days’ with us!  After our pint we headed home around 12:30.

Upon returning home I heard some people in the kitchen of my apartment.  It was my Dutch roommate, Will, and her friends who were visiting.  They were sitting around talking and having martinis.  I sat with them for a bit to dry off from being out in the snow.  After about an hour or so they convinced me to come back out with them for a bit of dancing.  I knew this probably wasn’t the smartest idea since it was almost 2:00 am and I’d already come home once and my whole family would be arriving tomorrow!!!  But when else do you get to go out dancing with a bunch of dutch people at 2:00 am?  We headed to cut little club near Nyhavn and danced to some funny American 80’s music.  The second song that came on when we were there was Whitney Houston’s “I wanna dance with somebody”.  I was so excited about the song that I started dancing and singing in the middle of the dance floor like I was the only one in the room.  As it would turn out this song is not as much of a crowd pleaser among danes and the dutch as it is with my friends from home.  I really wished Julie, Melanie, Missy, and Christopher had been there since this song has a pavlovian response over us.  The song would come on . . . we would go crazy dancing and singing into our imaginary microphones.  Apparently this hasn’t caught on in DK.

After a few more good songs I realize it is 5:00 am.  I run home because it is way past the time when my stage coach turns back into a pumpkin.  I climb into bed thankful for the snow, the Canadians, the Dutch, Whitney Houston, and that my family will be jet lagged so I won’t have to stay up late the next day!