Monday, August 16, 2010
40. Visit Denmark
The end of summer makes me sad for all kinds of reasons. I hate it that the days are getting shorter, and that soon the temperatures will be getting colder, and of course, as an academic, I am in the position of being a perpetual first-grader, knowing that once that first day of class happens there's no backing out for another year. So, before I turn my attention to the fall I want to do two things -- finish the record of all the places I went this summer with this post on Denmark, and try to get in as many summer activities as I can before school starts (so if anyone else does too, please check out the Coming Attractions at the end of the post).
This summer was the most travel-filled of my life. I visited seven new countries (Dominican Republic, Jordan, Israel & the Palestinian Territories, Egypt, Uganda, Denmark and Sweden) as well as two new places (the Isle of Skye and Cambridge) in the UK, a country I've already visited, plus the Pacific Northwest (Washington and Idaho). Denmark is the only place I haven't written about, so here is a bit about travels in Denmark to round out the rest.
When we arrived in Copenhagen we were in good shape for two reasons. One is that the city, like the whole country, has a wonderful public transportation system, and the second is that I had a great former student, Joey, who sent me a message in advance letting me know how to use it. So, we bought our "20 click" passes for two zones and used up the first two "clicks" on the train from the airport to the main train station in town, which was very close to our hotel. Awesome.
Joey met us the next day and took us for our first wholly Danish eating experience of open-faced sandwiches, and gave us a bit of orientation to the city. The next day he met us in the morning and took us on a tour of a slightly alternate reality, Christianshavn. Going there is kind of like stepping onto the set of a 60s musical. Depending on your perspective it's an anarchist/commune/collective with its own rules (literally posted near the entrance), art, morals and of course, characters. I have only two pictures here -- one of Joey near the waterfront, and one of a former church sporting a typically-visually exuberant tapestry -- because the most colorful section of the community doesn't allow any photography at all. It's apparently been going since the 1960s, and although it's often entered by more conventional types in search of soft drugs (hard ones are prohibited in the posted rules), there is a whole community of residents of all ages that runs cafes and open-air markets within. Part of it sits on a lovely waterfront area, and the whole place is one of the most interesting I've ever visited.
We never did visit what are probably Copenhagen's two most famous sites, the world famous amusement park, Tivoli, in the middle of the city, and the statue of the Little Mermaid (dismissed by Joey as "the little disappointment") which is on display in Shanghai right now. But we did continue our tour of the castles and palaces of Europe, and visited two pretty remarkable ones. The first, the Rosenborg Slot (Palace)is a beautifully-preserved palace that housed generations of the Danish Royal Family. Unlike lots of other major palaces, things inside are remarkably accessible, allowing visitors to get very close to the furniture and art work crammed on the walls. I've included a picture of one of my favorite spots -- the throne room, with the king and queens' thrones guarded by three lion statues.
The other palace we visited is one of the most famous in the world, thanks to William Shakespeare. On our way back from Sweden, we spent an afternoon in Helsingbore (usually anglicized as Elsinore), the home of the famed prince of Denmark, Hamlet. As you can see from the photo, the castle really does sit right on the ocean. It also played a very important role in the rise of Denmark as a regional power, because it allowed Denmark's monarchs to control the waterways and institute tolls on shipping in the area that heavily enriched the coffers of Denmark.
The last picture I added to this blog, one taken by Jerry holding my camera in front of Joey, Jerry and me the night before we left, was actually the last photo of my collection from the whole summer of travelling. And I like it because it reminds me of what made both my trip to Denmark, and all my travels of the summer, special and memorable -- the chance to go to beautiful places with a variety of good friends -- some colleagues, some former students, some current ones and some new friends I met at these new places, and see and learn all kinds of new things. I may not ever travel so much in a single summer again, and I'll always be grateful for the opportunities I had over the last four months.
52 Ways to Say I Love You...
in Norwegian, with many thanks to Ida, the ultra-helpful clerk at the hotel we stayed at in Helsingborg, Sweden.
Goodbye Ha det
I love you. Jeg elsker deg.
May I have two beers, please? Jeg skulle nye bestille to 0l -- taak!
Classes start at school on Monday, August 30.and between now and then, I hope to get in some activities that I haven't had much chance to do this summer.
Camel's Hump Dawn Hike Saturday, August 28, 3 am. The hike that was supposed to take place in July has been rescheduled for the early hours of the morning of August 28. Siham is coming to town for it, Josh is in, and still waiting to hear from the rest of the crew that had been planning on it the first time (and any new people who are interested, obviously).
Biking, outdoor rock climbing, ice skating, kayaking on Lake Champlain and Adirondack hike. None of these have been definitely scheduled yet, so I hope people will let me know which of these they'd be up for, and when. The rinks cut open skating times pretty severely in the summer, so Sunday afternoons and Wednesday evenings (4-6) are the main options right now. As for the Adirondack hike, initially Luke and Ashley were both on board, so we can still see if we can schedule that. And there's a bunch of possibilities for the others, so I'd love to know what people are up for.