Summer in Scandinavia

Denmark

Denmark

The question of when to visit Copenhagen had been playing on our minds for several months. We didn’t want to do winter travel and weren’t sure we wanted to witness the superstitious witch burning during the summer solstice. We discovered, by accident, that our chosen weekend in early June was the same weekend as Distortion – a city wide, 3 day block party. Rearranging our travel plans so we weren’t hauling suitcases through the thick of the festivities was a wise choice and we were happy to arrive with no problems the day before. The apartment we were staying in (yay airbnb!) was 2 stories above the mayhem that started around 3pm the next day.

Underground toilet

Underground toilet

Toilets are interesting. I think we could fill a coffee table book with pictures of various toilets we have seen over Europe. For the street festival the town set up port-o-potties as well as urinal stands. A set of four urinals per unit. A bit odd for an American woman to witness, but it got the job done, and more importantly meant that men weren’t peeing all over the port-o-potties, which were reserved for the ladies.

Distortion promo

Distortion promo

Brian and I happily sampled street food, drank in the streets and danced to some loud house music. One of the bands we stumbled upon was a rapper with a full back up band – including an Accordian player. They were all dressed in white suit shirts with black pants and ties and almost all of them had long, un trimmed beards. And the rapper was angry. The only English word we could make out wasn’t something I’d feel comfortable sharing with all the demographics who read this blog. The best moment was when this little old Danish couple (around my grandparent’s age) stopped to listen, licking their ice cream cones and nodding their heads. It didn’t take to long for them to move on, and we followed. After rocking out with the pissed off Amish band we meandered through the crowds hoping to find something a bit more up our alley taste-wise.

Staple of Danish life

Staple of Danish life

The next day we somehow managed to make it the Sandeman’s walking tour on time.  It seemed poetic to us that our 15th tour with the company – and our last for this year, was our tour guide’s first tour. The first thing I noticed about Copenhagen was the number of 7 Elevens. Maybe it’s just that it was the first city we’ve seen one, but there were at least 20 in the city. The Danes must love their Big Gulps.

The walking tour headed to the neighborhood of Nyhavn – truly adorable. Massively infested with other tourists and crammed with over priced cafes, but still adorable.

In Nyhavn

In Nyhavn

After the tour we wandered through an old military barracks turned into housing and past the Little Mermaid statue (Hans Christian Anderson was Danish).

We also stopped over in Christania, which is a mini anti-establishment establishment of hippies and anarchists. Having come from Amsterdam we weren’t shocked at some of the items available for sale but I didn’t know that other cities participated in the accepted pseudo legalization of soft drugs. Our souvenir was an umbrella as it started raining rather heavily before we left.

Brian and his favorite plant, hops.

Brian and his favorite plant, hops.

Brian and I have grown considerably this past year, but I didn’t realize just how much until we ate at a traditional Danish restaurant. Brian bravely ordered the pickled herring while I opted for the safer fried alternative. When the waiter set Brian’s plate in front of him I was sure he would grimace and say “never mind”. However, my adventurous husband picked up a slice of hearty bread, copiously spread a lard paste over it, applied the raw pickled herring and added a bit of red onion on top for good measure. And then he ate it. I think I’ve accurately described what it looked like, and I’m sure most of you, like I was, gagged a bit reading that sentence. But my worldly husband pressed on, swallowing the first bite and even taking a second, mumbling something about “not as bad as expected”. I was so impressed that when he offered me a bite I couldn’t very well back down and let him win this challenge. I can’t say it was terrible, because it really wasn’t that bad. But I’d probably never order it again. While he didn’t finish the whole plate Brian did eat a considerable amount and I have never been prouder of him.

Oresund Bridge in the distance

Oresund Bridge in the distance

The next day we rented a car and made it to Malmo, Sweden across the Oresund Bridge. The tolls for the bridge were astronomical ($75 one way!!) but the bridge was pretty impressive and we got to cross another country off our list. Although we were only there for lunch we felt like Malmo was a fairly good representation of Canada. I mean Sweden…. It was hard to tell which country we were in because every bar was moose-themed. I guess the vikings that were scattered around made it seem more Sweden-esque.

My new home

My new home

We jumped back in the car and headed to southern Denmark in search of some castles. We drove by a few that seemed like just large estate houses but there were others that were straight out of a movie set. I can see where Hans Christian Anderson’s inspiration came from as he grew up in that area. We paused at Funen Village for a walk around an old timey settlement.

After driving through the Danish countryside we ended up alongside the Baltic ocean and stopped for dinner in a cute fishing town. There’s something about seeing boats that gives Brian’s eyes a little more spark. Sitting across from him, piles of sea food in front of us, the ocean to our left and our love surrounding us I sighed contentedly. Yet again experiencing a perfect moment.

The further we progress in our adventures the more we push ourselves to do things a year ago that we would have balked at. The herring experiment was only one challenge we conquered. The second was climbing 400 steps up the spiral staircase of the Church of Our Savior. The last 150 of those steps were outside, hugging the spire and corkscrewing around towards heaven. Brian and I both have a mild fear of heights and we have climbed many towers in the past year but this one… was a doozy. After 250 steps I started to feel a bit dizzy and then I crawled up a tiny wooden ladder and poked my head up into thin air, towering above the city below.

No big deal, just an outside spiral staircase

No big deal, just an outside spiral staircase

As I emerged, I hugged the inside railing, praying that some little old lady didn’t come in the opposite direction – requiring me to be courteous and move to the outside edge of the stairs. When that inevitably happened I felt first, like a fool because granny looks just fine, and second, completely terrified because there is almost nothing between me and a 25 story drop. Brian was visibly shaking when we neared the top and quickly turned around when it looked like we couldn’t go any further. I didn’t make it to the top either, there was a group of 5 people hanging out in the 1 square foot of space that made up the peak and I had no intention of elbowing through a crowd 300 feet above the ground. As my foot hit the last step on the way down I couldn’t help but say a prayer of thanks, both for our safe ascent and descent and for the strength that Brian gives me. I feel brave when I am with him.

See the full photo album from Denmark/Sweden here

One thought on “Summer in Scandinavia

  1. Dear Bonnie,
    Walt joins me in wishing you a very happy birthday on July 21st!
    I hope you have an exceptional day.
    I hope you have happy days and sunny skies! :-)
    We love you and send our very best wishes.
    xxooxx
    M.

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