Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Day 11 - Copenhagen

Day 11
- Quotes of the day
- Visiting the ghost of the Quote of the day
- Art done right
- Dinner with friends

O! what a rogue and peasant slave am I!

How many times must a man look up
Before he can see the sky?

It is glorious out: clear, breezy and cool (it stays that way all day, clarity of air matches Patagonia!). Decide to walk to the church near us with a famous spiral staircase on the outside of the spire. Get there a bit after nine, and along with three Brits, find out that access to the spiral isn’t until 11am. See graffiti being cleaned off store sign (see pic of truck) Walk back to house and decide to take bike ride to see some unusual buildings near the beach near us. Ride over, the main street we want to take is under construction, they are building bike lanes. Take the detour, can’t find the buildings we’re looking for, bike back using a shortcut we learned about while driving out of our hood.

Lunch is top shelf, and then we drive off to look at a Scandinavian furniture store, Paustian, not easy to find as it is behind some other buildings on a wharf just north of city centrum. After overshooting once, we find it (and the pic of a sign saying don’t let your car fall into the canal, something our exchangers would not treasure). Walk through the store, DB will have to eventually report, didn’t seem all that special to me.

Aside: DB is not reading the blog before or after publishing, guess she doesn’t want to taint or mislead the author with details that match reality, after all this is a strange and not-so-true adventure story. Or is it just a (very) long sad tale? She’ll catch up when we are back in E-ville.

We continue north to meet up with Soren, whom we met with his son Simon (Simone, as in Nina, in Danish) while we were touring Viet Nam, on two different stops. Drive up, and get a tour of his townhouse. He and his wife Michala got married within 4 weeks of our date in 1969. They also lived in a large house (which Michala designed, we see it later after dinner and it is very nice and a bit different than a lot of the traditional houses), and decided to downsize a few years ago.

Michala is out golfing (she’s a jock, Soren is not and he was in a serious accident 6 or 7 years ago and has residual back problems as well). Off the three of us go (see pic of THB and Soren) to visit:

• Frederiksborg Slot (see pic) (a royal castle in a spectacular setting basically in middle of a town, HIllerod, north of Copenhagen We tour the church and the large main room, full of crests made up for visiting royalty and personages of fame. Three levels of crests, the elephant ones are for royalty, ranking ahead of crests with crosses, wonder if the third level is a pastry and if so, is that ahead or behind the elephants?
• Soren shows us the beautiful plot of land that his father owned, on a lake and now mostly fields of wheat (used to have orchards also). Soren sold it shortly after they were married because he had to make a choice of being a farmer and a fruit broker (like his father) or just a fruit broker. Now you can see the makings of a fabulous summer place just a short car ride from where they live now.
• Fredensborg Palace Gardens, where Soren sweet talks us in for free because we are just looking at the gardens and not taking a tour (in Danish) of the Palace. Note the similarity in names and what a great job THB has done in notating them 100% accurately. Since the kings have alternated being called Frederick and Christian for the last 20 generations (they have a Queen now, and I am pretty sure she doesn’t go by either Fred or Chris, is it Marguerite?), saying the name of the place is something like Frederick-whatever or Christian-whatever gives you a 50% chance of being damn close).

• On to Helsingor (ell-senor, with a lilde over the n), the (faked) ancestral home of the lead character and name-sake of the greatest play ever written. Some guy with the name tag of Fortinbras makes sure that we have a handicapped card before allowing us through the main gate in Soren’s car. Just across the water is Helsingborg, Sweden. Back in the 1400s, ell-senor was a fortress and there was a duplicate fortress on the now-Sweden side that could, with cannons, command the entire strait and thus collect taxes before allowing any boat to pass. Every other year a British theater comes and performs one of Willy’s finest, though not always Hamlet, on the inner courtyard. DB and THB pay appropriate homage and have picture taken.

• Then to Louisiana (Loo-ees-ee-anna, maybe that didn’t help, the stress is on Loo), a tremendous art museum. They don’t break any rules: well lit, art well-attributed, no Hirst. Like Berlin’s Modern Art Museum, they also have a room with photographs of famous painters. The art looks great, sculpture outside is terrific, overall effect is stunning. They have a great Oppenheim puppet piece, see pic. The building itself is very well designed and the vistas over the water towards Sweden are magnificent. Soren leaves us alone while we tour the first half, then we join him for a mid-game snack, and the three of us finish touring. One of the better museum shops (not that THB has any clue as to what is a good shop vs. a bad shop other than a place with wide aisles and no people is a good shop), they have so much stuff the store is on two levels.

We tour the coastline south to a restaurant where we meet up with Michala and Simon. Very easy conversation, food is very good: three men have 3 course menu, with first course cold salmon (with a lot of flavor), venison and veggies (and of course, nye potatoes) and strawberries with ice cream. Michala has soup, DB skips first course to share with THB, and they both have red fish over noodles, also quite good. GOOD Chilean sauvignon blanc, and Soren graciously picks up the check. Lovely all around.

Back to Soren and Michala’s place, where we get an intimate tour of the bathroom so we can discuss Michala’s design (she did the interiors here, the exteriors are untouchable because of the local architecture board designating it so), particularly the bathroom, then coffee and biscuits (British cookies?) and we drive back in what passes for darkness here.

The part I have left out: last November, Soren, Simon and daughter/sister Katrina (yes, they have a daughter with same name as Katie), were on a S.American tour, first Quito, then Amazon for boat tour, then Quito, Galapagos, and back to Quito and Machu Pichu. (I doubt I have this sequence right). They get to Galapagos, do a bit of sightseeing, then get on boat for touring. First night on boat, a few of the tour members stay up chatting, and then decide to take a dip. Katrina dives in, feels something, and then realizes she has been bitten by a shark, near her calf and ankle.

She is flown to Quito where for 17 days the hospital puts her back together including transferring a bit of her thigh to her calf. Soren goes back to Copenhagen after a few days, Simon stays for duration. Katrina is in and out of anesthetics every day as they handle the repairs. Hospital care is terrific, Simon is communicating regularly via Skype and e-mailing pictures (we see a subset, not pretty yet fascinating because it is someone you know (of)). Katrina is very lucky and has made a full recovery, though she still has signs and scars of the attack.

We drive back without consulting maps (hey, it seems dark out), when we get close to centrum we follow our bike route, works perfectly.


  1. seriously? a shark attack?

    and very timely graff picture- i just posted a book review of best book in a long time. i don't think you'll like it, but it's a scholarly look at graffiti in nyc (the hub). perfect!

  2. Yes, a real shark attack, must have been one of the few in the world last year. Send along the graff book, I'll give it a once-over

  3. please dont tell eric. i just learned he is scared of the ocean. THANKS!

  4. Is he reading the llog, may not be able to keep it from him