09 August 2009

Copenhagen

Our third day in Sweden we drove over a very impressive bridge to to Copenhagen, or København if you are Danish, OR Köpenhamn if you are Swedish, as you can see in this Swedish sign. View from the car window. Here's the bridge from above. Obviously I did not fly up in a helicopter and take this picture myself, but as you can see half of the bridge goes underwater, and the other half spans above. This is to allow ship to pass. When you are driving, it just looks like you come up to a big island of land, and then go into a tunnel. From the road, you can't tell you will be driving underwater. Then you pop out right next to the airport in Copenhagen!

We drove around for a while looking for parking and went right by this store! Montana is EVERYWHERE! Mwa ha ha ha! We found parking in the Embassy section of town. We walked through an old army barracks which is still in use, although if it's used by the military or just civilians I am not sure.We happened upon a lovely Danish wedding, and yet ANOTHER band prepping to play! This was actually the 3rd band we just came upon during our time in Scandinavia. Looks like being a band nerd is something that translates cultures too! I really heart this Groom's sharp hat and fancy plume! Think he'll let me keep it after he says his vows? In a clearing by the barracks we found this amazing old windmill. I have decided I want one. It'd be like living in a yurt, only windier and more awesome! I thought this column/art installation was really pretty next to these cherry blossom's. They bloom about a month later in Copenhagen then they do here in Seattle! We walked to Amalienborg Palace, which consists of four symmetrical buildings. The Queen of Denmark lives in one of them and when she is home a flag flies above her roof. By luck, we were walking through as a changing of the guard was happening. This is the best picture I could get and only by standing precariously on suspended chains and holding Ryan's VERY expensive camera above my head and taking rapid-fire pics! There was quite a crowd, as you can see! Here we are in front of the grand fountain that stands in the centre of the palace square. And now, what you've all been waiting for, the spectacular photos of the main drag in downtown Copenhagen known as Nyhavn. I would definitely consider living here too, if it didn't cost $10 for a tiny pint of beer! Speaking of food, we did stop for lunch at a place about as nice as Applebee's (no offense Applebee's - you have deliciously cheap lunch specials!) and it cost over $80 for lunch for four people!!! Ryan and I had beers, they just had soda's, and the serving sizes were what we give to children here in America! Again, cultural food differences that ultimately contribute to the growing American waistline...but I digress. Here is the pretty square we got to look at while we were eating! We walked off our "heavy" meal by exploring the rest of the city on foot, mostly walking along Trøget, which is 1.1 kilometres in length and the longest pedestrian only street in Europe. Also it's the premier shopping area of Copenhagen. These Storm Troopers from Star Wars were walking around too (for those of you who think I may have jumped the shark by knowing this information, don't worry. I had to ask what they were and which movie they were from)! Handing out flyer's for the recent movie as publicity I suppose. He must have just come from battle too, cause man that suit is DIRTY! Ryan took this artsy photo in another main square. Then we saw our HOMEBOY from UW! Okay, we didn't know him, but I stalked him for a while hoping to strike up a conversation before eventually giving up. But I mean LOOK AT HIM! Decked out in UW gear from head to toe! He was practically BEGGING me to stalk him! We ended our day with a boat tour through the canals. I would recommend this kind of tour to anyone visiting Copenhagen. You get to see a lot of neat places in a relatively short amount of time and you get to sit down the whole time. There is even an opportunity to take a nap, not that I would EVER do that (okay, FINE, I did nap, but only for like the last 5 minutes before the pro-marijuana protesters woke me up!).

Here we are on the open-air boat. Our tour guide said each item in three languages: English, Danish, and German. Of course we only understood the English, but Tobi and Carolina had a good laugh at his German, which he was allegedly struggling with, and at his Danish, because, according to the Swedes, it sounds a bit like speaking Swedish with marbles in your mouth. I, however, never make fun of ANYONE, and was simply impressed with his apparent mastery of the three languages.

Here is Nyhavn from the water. You can see how here that some of those sailboats are massive inside that very wide canal. The Opera House A very impressive sailboat. Just after this sailboat we floated past an old military war-ship, which had never been used in war, but at one point accidentally fired a torpedo at the city. No one was injured, but a huge new condo complex was leveled and the ship was retired - for good measure. The Amalienborg Palace Traditional Danish architecture This is The Little Mermaid of Copenhagen Harbor. She is quite famous although I have no idea why. And she's not even a Mermaid - she totally has two legs! I think that's false advertising! After all of this boat touring we decided we'd had our fill of Copenhagen and headed home. Well, after some over-priced Ice Cream of course! After eating another very lovely meal, our hosts took us on a tour of their neighborhood. Tobi and Carolina's home is very close to on of the smallest national parks I've ever seen. However, it's completely quaint and only a five minute walk from their house, so we went to check it out. Lovely. The countryside was breathtaking at sunset. Radiant Sunset Hopefully you can see why I would move to Sweden now! If anyone knows someone with EU citizenship who wants to get married - let me know!

As always, thanks for reading. Hope you enjoyed my latest European adventure and I apologize for my extreme tardiness in posting everything!

Sweden

I have to be honest - before this trip I felt close-to-zero desire to ever go to Scandinavia. But, now I am a true believer! Hello, my name is Kristina and I am in love with Sweden! Seriously, I could (and would!) move there!

We arrived by the skin of our teeth (see end of previous post for barely-making-it-to-the-Berlin-airport story) into the Copenhagen airport, where we easily found our train into Lund.

We settled in nicely but then at the second stop a flock of 18 year old-ish ladies, dressed like they were headed to a bachelorette party, collapsed on the train next to us. Along with their giant purses full of makeup and perfume and who-know-what, they were each carrying very large grocery bags that were bursting with alcohol bottles. Seriously, between these 8 ladies they could have filled a wheelbarrow! We didn't' know what to make of it, and since neither Ryan or I speak Swedish/Danish/Dutch, we just continued our train ride, trying not to be distracted by the one especially scantily-clad girl who kept inadvertently flashing us.

We arrived in Lund and were greeted by our very gracious hosts Tobi and Carolina! They took us by car through Lund and toward their home in the countryside. En route, they explained that this night was the "Witches Festival" and many, many teenagers would be out all hours of the night drinking and partying. Finally, the flashers on the train were explained!

Tobi and Carolina own a lovely 3-level home in the Swedish countryside. We slept very comfortably on the lower level, with the living room and kitchen being on the main level, and 3 more bedrooms up top. One thing I really love about European beds is everyone has their own comforter - this was the same in South America too. For anyone who has ever slept with me, you'd certainly appreciate this, because I am an unapologetic cover hog!

Our first night we stayed in and made BBQ. For the most part, it seems like BBQ in Sweden means food on skewers. My favourite (notice, my European spelling, because I'm worldly!) skewer food was a fig wrapped in bacon! Seriously, try it!

However, in order to cook these tasty morsels of goodness, the men had to first assemble the DODGE BBQ! That's right, you read that correctly, DODGE! Here are the boys beginning assembly in the living room. Finished! Just imagine the wicked grill patterns you could grill into a steak! Men - so proud whenever they build something! After dinner we swapped stories, comparing how things are in American vs. Sweden (Swedish women get up to a year and a half for maternity leave!), and shared our pictures from recent travels. When I fell asleep during pictures of Tobi & Carolina's recent ski trip to the Alps, I knew it was time for bed!

The next morning we enjoyed a traditional Swedish breakfast! Eggs, rolls, cheese, meats, and pate. Plus different yummy juices to drink! Now, speaking specifically to the cheese - let me just say that it comes in a tube and it is DELISH! Tobi & Carolina had the cheese with ham in it, but as you can see from this picture we took later at a grocery store, there are many, MANY different meat-infused cheeses to pick from. My favorite choice from this cheese-wall: Cheese with chunks of Lobster! Awesome. After breakfast the four of us headed into Lund, which actually reminded me of Bozeman, insofar as it's a college town. Carolina kept apologizing for the "mess". A fair number of beer cans, etc, were overflowing from trash cans, due to the festivities the night before. Many people were up walking around but we did also see some over-indulger's laying passed-out on the ground still. Hope they remembered to put on sunscreen!

On Campus there was this beautiful building proudly flying the Swedish flag. Some sort of big celebration was going on as well. There were speeches, singing, and further down the walk we saw this little band! Go Clarinets! Although I have to admit, those outfits are BAD. I take back any whining I ever did about my various marching band uniforms! After enjoying a few songs of the impromptu concert, we walked around a very beautiful park that was blooming with tulips! I was trying to practice some photography skills with this one. We continued our walk and happened up on this traditional old Swedish house with a thatch roof. If you've never smelled it, it's difficult to describe, but the roof had it's own very distinctive, earthy smell. This is one of the more famous (read: expensive) streets to live in Lund. These houses are hundreds of years old! After all of this walking - boy were we famished! And where does one go to eat in Sweden you ask? Why, IKEA, of course! Look at all these signs in Swedish! So authentic! For those of you who have had Swedish Meatballs in the states you know how good this is! To be honest, it tastes almost the same in Sweden, just a little better, because, well, you're in SWEDEN! After stuffing our bellies (only Ryan and I actually, Tobi and Carolina showed self restraint and didn't order the giant plate of meatballs, another different between greedy (fat) Americans and Swedes) we headed into Malmö. Malmö is the third most populated city in Sweden sits just across the water from Denmark.

While walking through the town centre, we happened upon a classic American car show. Apparently, collecting old American cars is very popular in Sweden and the collectors resemble and old-school biker gang, clad in heavy leather jackets and accompanied by inappropriately dressed biker-wannabe girlfriends. You have to hand it to them though, some of these cars are in great shape! Just past the car show, we came upon these little marching band statues. They had a clarinet, trombone, trumpet, and of course drum major! I couldn't resist showing off my seasoned high step! Here's Carolina and I, enjoying some sunshine, even though it was chilly that far north! Finally, we headed towards the water to check out the most expensive real estate in Sweden. I don't understand why anyone would want to live here because this walkway was super crowded, there was no parking, and everyone walking by can see right into your house! Here's looking across the water to Denmark. Behind us is the "Twisting Torso" building - quite a feat of engineering! Here's the whole group, great long arm photo Tobi! After our big day we headed home for another lovely evening feast of shrimp and BBQ, wine and ice cream. Let me just say again that we could not have had more lovely, gracious hosts!

Now, off to Copenhagen!