Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Finale: Copenhagen

To see photos corresponding to my last post, Fall Break Part III: Berlin, click HERE.
To see the photo album corresponding to this post, click HERE.

Before I get into the subject of this post I just wanted to point out something that was forgotten in the previous post.

The photo above was taken on the train ride from Prague to Berlin and somehow was missed when I was uploading photos into the appropriate post. While the image is partially out of focus and taken through a grimy train window, the blues and oranges and smoke somehow combined and it ended up being one of my favorite pictures from the trip. I just wanted to make sure that those of you who don't get a chance to check out the photo albums got to see it.

And now for the last push:
We really wanted to visit Copenhagen and some point while in Europe and since Michael's sister's boyfriend (confusing, I know) Jon is spending this semester of college there, and we already happened to be in that general area, what better time than this trip? So we hopped on yet another train bound for Denmark on Wednesday afternoon. The train ride was pretty long and boring except when our train was driven onto the bottom level of a ferry and crossed the water border between Germany and Denmark, that was pretty exciting. We did manage to make a friend in Albert on the last leg of the journey. He was probably close to my dad's age, a native German but had been living in Copenhagen for 3 decades. As per usual, we had no map of Copenhagen, no clue where our hostel was, and were getting in at 11:00pm, long after any tourist offices were closed. After looking at the address and phone number of the hostel he told us exactly what bus to take and where to get off.

The hostel was an experience that I hope to soon forget. In general, the Scandinavian countries are more expensive than the rest of Europe, which was a shock to us after being in Berlin and Prague, so the hostel was immediately more expensive than any of the others on the trip. But since we choose one of the "cheap" hostels in Copenhagen, it also wasn't very nice. There were 32 beds in each room (the most we had seen so far was 10) and although the room was split up with partial walls to mini 4-bed rooms, when half of the room is taken up by boisterous Australian girls those dividers weren't much  help. Secondly, it is apparently customary to charge extra in this part of the world for pillows and blankets. Each person is given one sheet (Michael had a fitted sheet while I got a flat) and that's it. And since we were being frugal and the hostel was already pricey, we refused to "rent" pillows or blankets (not to mention, they didn't think they would have enough blankets and pillows to go around even if we did want them), so the first night we spent freezing in our own separate beds. Michael even ended up sleeping under his fitted sheet with a sweater and pants on. The second night we disobeyed hostel ruled and slept together which was much, much warmer. The only positive side of the ordeal was the fact that the Aussies were up so late partying that I never had to fight anyone for the the one shower in the morning.

Thursday morning we were happy to be out of the hostel and managed to have one of the best pastries we've had since moving to Europe, a danish! Unfortunately it had been raining for the past 3 days of the trip and my non-waterproof warm shoes were currently soaked and the remaining pair were not very insulated. So despite the fact that it was beautiful and sunny out, it was still very cold, which left me kind of miserable for the day, fighting Michael to let me go inside any nearby public building so I could regain feeling in my feet. Without any word from Jon, or any inkling as to what we should see while in Copenhagen, we picked up a few maps and followed it along a self-guided walking tour through downtown.

 We were lucky that we just so happened to be walking through the palace area at noon and were able to see the legendary changing of the guards. Unfortuantely, the Queen was out-of-town, so we didn't get any music to accompany the routine.

The only famous person that I know from Copenhagen is Hans Christian Anderson so we had to visit the statue of the Little Mermaid, which happens to be one of my favorite all-time Disney movies.

After we finished our walking tour of the downtown area and unable to get a hold of Jon by phone we decided to do the walking tour of the Christiania area which was once a neighborhood primarily of naval barracks which emptied out after WWII. It has since been inhabited by squatters and is now self-proclaimed as an autonomous neighborhood. The wikipedia entry on Christiania is very interesting if you have a few minutes to spare; it's full of drug wars and clashes between the people and police.It was a very interesting walk though outlandish architecture and a park where vendors sold marijuana on card tables (unfortunately, no photos were allowed). I'm sure there were much more shady things going on in alleyways or other areas of the park but Michael and I aren't really the daring types so we stayed to the more heavily populated areas. The only picture we managed to get from that side of the city was this one looking over the water to the downtown area at sundown.

We finally managed to get a hold of Jon that evening only to find out that the e-mail I had sent 3 days prior  had never made it to him, most likely due to poor Wi-Fi reception at one of the hostels. Thankfully his host mom was incredibly gracious and said we were still welcome to come to dinner despite any prior notice. We made our way, with the help of Jon's directions, into the outskirts of Copenhagen on the tram system. He and his host mom met us at the last stop we drove another 10 minutes to their house. After the obligatory house tour we got to sit down and talk with Jon in anticipation of a home cooked meal after eating so many sausages. We were not disappointed, Jon's host mom made some incredible pork loin, roasted root veggies (which I had 3 servings of in an attempt to balance out our horrible vacation diets) and rice accompanied by white and red wine (another plus after a week of beer) with ice cream filled crêpes for dessert. Not only was the dinner wonderful but it was very nice to get the opportunity to talk not only to Jon but also to his host mom who is an incredibly sweet woman. Just as we were getting ready to leave we were able to meet his host dad who, unfortunately, had been out of town for work for the day but we were happy to at least have met him. And here is our memento from the evening, I am so short!

After saying goodbye to Jon, and expressing how much we all wished Michael's sister, Laura could have been there, we headed back to the hostel for another cold and noisy night. Originally we had planned to stay in Denmark for another day but upon realizing that our train ride back to Metz would be an entire day's endeavor (and me secretly longing for our bed back home), we decided to start back on Friday to allow ourselves the weekend to get back into Metz life before Michael had to go back to school.

After 12 hours on trains, and without any supplies for Friday night pizza, we were forced to make pizza pasta for dinner, which was sad but we had enough pizza through the week that it wasn't a big deal. Saturday (Halloween) we celebrated the holiday by finally buying me a mop (very festive, right? at least I no longer have to clean the floor Cinderella-style) and making this delicious pumpkin chili with bloody cocktails (blood orange orangina mixed with vodka).

1 comment:

  1. Michael's sister Laura is thankful for the shout-out. :p Wish I could have been there too!