Thursday, April 20, 2017


They take Hans Christian Andersen awfully seriously in Denmark. He's most famous for his fairy tales and I can guarantee if you haven't read one, you're familiar with the stories: Thumbelina, The Little Mermaid, The Little Match Girl, The Emperor's New Clothes, The Ugly Duckling, The Princess and the Pea, The Snow Queen, and many others.
We found references and statues of him all over Copenhagen. Ava chose not the stovepipe hat, but his signature pipe to mimic.

There were several of his homes pointed out to us. I kept wondering which of them had the windowsill from which the little bird in Thumbelina tells Andersen the story.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017


After our visit to Carlsberg, we journeyed through neighborhoods and woods in search of the cisterns. Cisterns are an ancient method of storing public water supplies. City-sized cisterns aren't in use anywhere at this point, I don't think.

When Ava and I traveled to Istanbul, we found the cisterns there to be a cool relief to the summer heat, filled with beautiful, old, sculptured pillars to meander through.
Copenhagen's cisterns are a bit different. We entered through that glass pyramid and discovered that there was an art exhibit in the cisterns. The theme of the exhibit was peace, or in Danish, fred (just like Norwegian). There were several areas where moving images were projected onto the walls. Symbols like poppies and doves abounded.
The moving images were accompanied by sound. Children's voices as they played on swings echoed around faintly. Doves taking flight, to me, sounded just like bats in this dark, dank place.

I held Zsa Zsa's hand and said, "You know, we don't need to stay down here if you get scared."

After a few more minutes, I said, "Just squeeze my hand if you get scared."

After a few more minutes, I said, "Mommy's going to go upstairs now." Let's just say I wasn't feeling the fred.

Monday, April 10, 2017


It was a rainy day when we went out in search of the Carlsberg brewery. Some helpful locals directed us to find it in and industrial neighborhood. Once we passed the warehouses and such, we discovered enormous brick buildings for several blocks: its own little world.
Carlsberg's elephant tower is topped with a twisted chimney because Carlsberg wanted to prove that a factory's chimney could be beautiful. "The elephants symbolize Carl's four surviving children. Jacobsen chose the symbol of the elephant because it represented strength, loyalty and industriousness..." (From the Carlsberg website.)

Zsa Zsa had to reach in to see if she could find some peanuts.

Someone was quite relieved that all this travel finally involved beer.

Saturday, April 08, 2017


In Copenhagen, we stayed in a cute little apartment around the corner from this cool building. It's a movie theater.

Kurt thought it would be nice to cook breakfast, so he went to a local grocer to find pancake mix. He asked for assistance and a young man pointed him to an unappealing smallish plastic container filled with a fine yellow powdery substance. 
He thought this container of powder might work but would need to be bulked up with some heartier, coarse-grained flour. 

Apparently Danes like a variety of flours. And the packaging was all written in Danish. He figured he couldn't go wrong, as long as he didn't choose something with an off taste like rye flour. He picked the one called rugmel. It was rye flour.

Our pancakes were, um, edible.

And after that, Ava and Kurt wouldn't stop shouting "Rugmel!" in the streets.

Thursday, April 06, 2017

the little mermaid

Although we floated by the famed Little Mermaid statue while on our canal boat tour, we wanted to see her up close. And since she was north of us and all the buses seemed to run east/west, we took a very long walk.

We wandered through some beautiful parks along the way.

And spotted some interesting sculptures, like this David replica.
Ava told us that the Danish flag is the oldest in the world. I liked this one because it looked like one that would've flown over an old castle. And because my Dane is long and thin as well.
We passed by the Kastellet, without realizing what it was. It's a pentagram-shaped, or star-shaped fortress. And it's made of mounds of earth, so you couldn't really tell from the outside that it's a fortress.

The Little Mermaid statue was smaller than we expected. She was commissioned by someone at the Carlsberg brewery back in 1913 due to Hans Christian Anderson's fame.

Before we began our travels, the girls and I read an early version of The Little Mermaid. What a great opportunity to discuss what real love is, versus tales that involve giving up everything for someone you've only seen at a distance.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017


My favorite neighborhood in Copenhagen is Nyhavn. I think the name means North Harbor, basically. Colorful buildings, boats, tons of restaurants with sidewalk tables. It's pretty much a neighborhood party every weekend. While Ava loved it, I can't say this was also her favorite neighborhood; that will come later.
She definitely enjoyed the energy of the people and the festive atmosphere.

We had lunch at a sidewalk restaurant and ended up meeting a fascinating couple. He was a very creative dreamer from a South American country I can't remember and she was an elegant and subdued Romanian. Well, perhaps she wasn't so subdued, but next to him, it was hard not to be.
I find that next to this guy, it's hard for me to not seem subdued.
For some reason, wherever we went in Denmark, there were female Asian tourists walking with selfie sticks in front of them. They weren't always taking photos, it seemed that they were merely looking at themselves as they walked.

Just outside of the Nyhavn neighborhood we found a very cool Art Deco building called the Standard which, to me, looks like a submarine.
And next to the Standard were trampolines built into the sidewalk. This is an innovation that needs to spread. SO. MUCH. FUN.

Monday, March 27, 2017

canal tour

We ran into a little travel glitch upon disembarking from our cruise boat as it wasn't clear exactly how to get from the dock into Copenhagen. Luckily, a kind woman saw that we were looking lost and stopped her bike to guide us. This happened several times in Scandinavia, friendly strangers going out of their way to be helpful.
Once we checked into our apartment, we headed out for a canal tour. We would've preferred to take a day on land first, but the weather forecast told us to take advantage of the sun while we could.
While in line for our tour boat, we met up with an American software team with one Danish coworker showing them around. They'd come prepared: bottles of wine and champagne, cups, and snacks. And they were willing to share.
We sat near the back and heard more of the highlights from the Danish software guy than the tour guide who was speaking in four languages. The modern architecture is such an interesting contrast to the more traditional European buildings. Highlights were the national theater, the national library (nicknamed the Black Diamond), and the opera house.

The houseboats were also fascinating. We saw a hotel houseboat that I wish we'd known about in advance. Wouldn't living in a home that's constantly rocking in a soothing way be fabulous?
I had no idea that Copenhagen had such an extensive canal network. Seeing a city by boat is such a different perspective.