Thursday, September 27, 2012

Bornholm and My Birthday!

Well, I'm exhausted. This weekend wore me out, but I probably had the most amazing time so far in Denmark.

**Also this post is really long so bear with me...I will start updating more regularly I promise**

Friday night around 10:00pm I left for the Bornholm Bike Trip. I didn't really know anyone that was going, so I decided to strike up a conversation with the first people I met at the buses and go from there. I ended up making a bunch of new friends and we formed a little bike troop for the weekend! If I hadn't made that single, conscious decision to put myself out there and meet new people, my trip would have been COMPLETELY different...and definitely not as fun. Getting out of my comfort zone created new friendships that I hope will last and grow beyond our semester in Copenhagen.

Bornholm is one of Denmark's islands located in the middle of the Baltic Sea (it's actually closer to Sweden than Denmark). Bornholm is known for its beautiful bike trails, microbreweries, white sandy beaches thats sand is used for hourglasses, glass blowing, iconic smoked herring, delicious ice cream, and 500,000 pigs... We took an overnight ferry to the island, playing cards and trying to sleep for a few short hours, and eventually arrived at our hostel-by-the-sea in Gudhjem (on the eastern coast). We could literally throw a rock from our hostel into the water. The entire island is sprinkled with quaint seaside towns and farmhouses, it reminded me a lot of Maine and Massachusetts, but much more relaxed. Our little town was so relaxed in fact that on Saturday night, everything closes at 6pm...except the ice cream parlor that's open til 8pm (because it's obviously the most important establishment). However, earlier in the day we had found a small cafe/bar right by the harbor whose owner, Lukas, decided to open up late for us Americans so we could have a few beers and play cards by candlelight with classical and blues music in the background. #1 Hyggeligt experience so far...I'm starting to find it!!

But getting back to the real reason for the trip, not just drinking and sweets, we biked a TON. Saturday we biked about 33-35km and went to see the Baltic Sea Glass store/glass blowing facility, the oldest Round church in Denmark, a cool forest and pond, and a couple other side stops including horses and a berry stand. The weather was pretty...disgusting: cold, windy, and rainy, so instead of leaving bright and early at 8am, my group decided to nap until 10:30 and avoid most of the rain :) Some people might say slacking, but I would call it smart.

Where they have demonstrations!

Glass mushrooms...I bought the littlest one, how could I pass up a yellow mushroom?

 Biking up the hills with the Baltic Sea in the background

 My two new horsey friends :)

The Round Church built in 1150AD

Look-out windows up in the church tower

 Rolling fields of Bornholm

 Taking a break at a peaceful lake

 A berry stand!!

 Most delicious raspberries ever.

Obligatory flower picture. Note: they have dandelions in Denmark too.

On Sunday we were planning on doing the Killer Tour...65km...buuut after one long day of rain and uphills, all of us were feeling a lot less ambitious. Instead of going to the beach, we decided that seaside cliffs and caves were a lot more exciting, and I think we made the right choice!!

Pathway to the cave!

Snack time on the rocks

Beautiful cliffs

The cave!! It goes about 50m back and stays this narrow the whole way. A little eerie but extremely cool

On our way back, we were going to check out Svaneke (possibly pronounced: svankey, swankey, swanska, etc.), another seaside town, but I totally wiped out on my bike and that kind of threw a wrench in the whole situation. I only have a couple of bruises and scrapes, but of course oblivious me would crash right after I said I've never crashed on a bike before...karma. So Sunday's bike total was probably only 12km...but it was a fun day nonetheless. We got lunch at an awesome seafood bar, and I tried the famous smoked herring! The day ended at our favorite spot, Lukas' cafe, where we let the weekend soak in with some "hyggeligt" chats and Irish coffees :)

My classy lunch: smoked herring, a heaping portion of french fries, and a Tuborg

The remains of my Irish coffee

The beautiful windmill in Gudhjem

The Bornholm trip was the PERFECT pre-adventure to my birthday that was on Monday, September 24th!! The big 2-1 isn't all that exciting in Denmark since teens can legally drink at 16 and buy beer at 18...but I would rather be celebrating in Europe than back home at some cheesy college bar. And since it was Monday, I decided not to go out, but rather have a super "hygge-filled" evening with a few friends and my host family. The weather was terrible...rainy and very cold...but that made the evening even more cozy, and the wine and coffee were very much appreciated :) My host mom, Winnie made a typical Danish feast:

The table setting. Notice the Danish flag...that's typical for Danish birthday parties, flags everywhere!!

1. A toast of champagne- of course!

2. The fish- we had a version of smørrebrød with salmon and white asparagus

3. The main course (aka the meat)- my host parents made roasted pork loin stuffed with smoked pork and onions, and side dishes of baby yellow potatoes and peas...yummmmm

4. Coffee and tea- to warm you up :)

5. Cake or "kage"- Winnie made a three layer cake, filled with whip cream, and topped with melted dark chocolate with a thin layer of strawberry jam underneath the top layer. Talk about decadent. I'm not exaggerating when I say it was the best birthday cake I've ever received.

Also a fun little extra on my birthday...there's an international market going on just down the street from where DIS is for the whole week! I bought some birthday British fudge and cheese...just because, and I had paella too!! I can't wait to go back later this week and check out some of the French pastries...uh oh.

International Fair in Gammel Torv

Sooooo much fudge!!

Yum yum yummy paella :)

Well to end another ridiculously long blog post, here are a couple music videos that I found:

1. These guys are Norwegian...but the hilarity and relevance to Nordic v. American cultures is really funny. And the Norwegian alphabet is the same as the just pretend they're Danes :)

2. This is a song called Drømmer Jeg by Johnny Deluxe. It's kind of a "love story" about the relationship between Sweden and Denmark. I just like the music, kind of a pop rock feel... reminds me of my punky high school days...

Hej hej,

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Six Reasons to Explore Copenhagen

Six Reasons to Explore Copenhagen

This CNN article, written yesterday, talks about different places in and around Copenhagen and how awesome it is. Good to know the U.S. is paying attention!

Also, I got a care package today from my momma! I was in desperate need of Cheez-Itz...

Hej hej,

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Touristy Saturday and Family Sunday

This past weekend I invited a couple of my friends to go see some sights around the city! I've been in Copenhagen for about a month now, and even though I feel adjusted to local life, I still have some sightseeing to catch up on. It's time to go full-on least for a day.

First stop: Amalienborg Palace

Obligatory picture with the Royal Guard...I wonder what he does on his days off?

Second stop (and the main attraction for the day): The Little Mermaid

 She's a lot smaller in real life, but still beautiful.

Look at me, I'm a mermaid! I really had to muster up all the strength I had to not burst out Disney songs...

Third stop: Rosenborg Slot and Gardens

 Unfortunately the castle museum was closed...

 But we still had fun with the interactive art around the park! And look at the leaves on the ground... I think it's officially AUTUMN!!!

I had to get a picture with my hand in the lion's mouth for good luck!

This one is my favorite though, it looks like he's smiling!

Fourth stop: Wandering around the city...

 Frederik's Church from the other side. It's very normal to turn a corner and see a beautiful piece of history, even next to modern construction.

 The Golden Pretzel!! This is the national symbol for the old Royal Bakeries. There aren't many of them anymore, but whenever you see this sign, you have to go in. So many delicious pastries and danishes!

 A random street in Copenhagen...I can't decide which house I'd want to live in! (Probably the orange one)

 Fountain and cathedral in Gammeltorv (The Old Square)

The Round Tower right next to the Studenterhuset (Student House). DIS and University of Copenhagen students spend a lot of time at the Studenterhuset working on homework, drinking beers or lattes, and listening to live music. I sometimes forget when I'm walking down the street how much history is all around me.

Fifth stop: FC Copenhagen Football Game!

About an hour and a half before the game, my friend Carrie and I were sitting at the Studenterhuset and thought...what the heck, let's go to the FCK game!! We got super cheap tickets, and the best part is that they were in the third row!!

So close to the action...

Got my Danish hot dog and Carlsberg. Ready for the game! We won 2-1!

On Sunday my host family had a birthday brunch for my host Dad's mom (technically my host grandma). She turned 80, and the cake had all the candles!!

We sang the Danish "Happy Birthday" song and everyone got together for a family picture.

I'm really starting to feel at home :)

Only six days until my 21st birthday!!!! I'm so excited!!

Hej hej,

Friday, September 14, 2012

Lazy Friday

Rainy days suck the energy from me.

I woke up this morning with every intention on going into the city and doing some sightseeing, but when you look out the window and you see rain, and then you look at your phone and it says its only 55 degrees outside, all you really want to do is hit the snooze button and snuggle up. And that's exactly what I did today. I don't have any classes on Fridays so I decided to have a "Me Day" and do everything (at home) that I wanted to do.

1. Finish getting caught up on How I Met Your Mother...the new season starts on my birthday!!

2. Instead of going on a long run like I planned, do ab/arm/leg workouts in the house...while using my international humanitarian law book as a make-shift weight

3. Read my HC Anderson stories for my short analysis due Monday and starting working on it...well, at least I read the tales (it's Friday, give a girl a break)

4. Make lunch! I had a delicious spinach, tomato, and avocado salad that I forgot to take a picture of until I was halfway through...not so pretty looking then

5. Watch Lilo & Stitch...yes I know it sounds COMPLETELY random (and it is), but I have had the urge to see this movie for months now, so today was the perfect day to do it :) Extra bonus: There's a mention of The Ugly Duckling in the movie so it totally related to my Danish studies and wasn't that random

6. Email potential internship summer I am thinking about interning at either The State Department to work with government human rights programs, or intern with a law and human rights organization in South Africa! Cambodia is also an option, but I think South Africa is going to win (for now at least). My friend Stephanie is probably going to be there next summer too working with marine biologists so it would an amazing opportunity if we could go together!

7. Make dinner! My host parents were out this evening for different work-related commitments, which meant that I had to fend for myself. I decided to chop up as many vegetables as I could find and make a delicious stir-fry! Since I again forgot to take a picture, I will just describe it: red bell peppers, onions, broccoli, zucchini, button mushrooms, and small yellow potatoes all tossed together with some olive oil, salt/pepper, lemon pepper, and balsamic vinegar...YUM. It was nice to go vegetarian for once since every day I've had some sort of meat with dinner. I'm all porked out.

7 1/2. Make dessert! What the hell, I'm on a roll with the cooking so I might as well make something sweet (with chocolate duh). I looked up "easy microwave desserts" and found this delicious looking chocolate-mug cake. I measured everything correctly, however I think I overcooked it just a little...and by a little I mean it was hard as a rock. But have no fear! I was determined to make it work, and what makes everything better? Chocolate chips and ice cream. So this was the final creation:

(It tasted a lot better than it looks)

I'm going to have to practice more, but it was nice cooking again. I forgot how much I like to whip up spontaneous dishes (most of the time without any recipes). I can't wait for Thanksgiving so I can cook for my host family. Back home, it's turned into somewhat of a tradition for me to find the recipes and do most of the cooking for Thanksgiving dinner...which has been a blessing for my Grandma. I don't know what they're gonna do this year, but I'm hoping to bring a little bit of one of my favorite American/family traditions to Denmark.

I think I'm going to turn every Friday into Foodie Fridays and start posting at least one thing I make once a week.

Hej hej,

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Program Study Tour: Denmark and Sweden!

Little wisdom from my host parents today: "There's a saying in Denmark that if you can eat, you're not sick." I guess that's true for me since even though my nose feels like a water balloon (not a good image?), I was still able to eat and get a long run in today.

So anyways (after that awkward introduction)... here's Part 2 of my study tour week:

I got back from my study tour to Hamburg around 9pm on Sunday, and then I had to get back up at 6am for my Justice and Human Rights short study tour around Denmark, yay!

First stop: Danish Navy Military Police Headquarters

This place was so cool...we met with Senior Chief Petty Officer Klaus Lund who explained to us Denmark's NATO mission in the Gulf of Aden to fight piracy off the coast of Somalia. And before the image even pops into your head, these aren't Johnny Depp pirates...these guys have AK-47s and RPGs (Rocket Propellor Grenades)...not so comical, eh? A couple of highlights to the trip were:

1. Got to hold both Danish military police weapons and confiscated pirate weapons

(and try on gear)

2. Take a tour of the newest ship in the Naval fleet being sent to the Gulf in October
(it looks like a giant toy boat)

After the tour, I was so amped up on patriotism and fighting the bad guys and secretly wishing I was in the Navy so I could wear the really cool berets (and spend months on a boat with attractive Danish soldiers), but our next visit reignited the girl in me: Egeskov Castle

Can you say fairy tale princess?

This castle is on the island of Funen (Denmark's second biggest island and the home to HC Anderson!). The family who lived here for hundreds of years still owns the property, but it is now used as a museum. Here are some pictures of the castle, its gardens, and a few surprises:

 Pretty gazebo in the gardens

 Sooo many flowers

 Just some peacocks wandering around...casual

 This picture doesn't do the dollhouse justice, but a hundred years ago, the Duke who owned this castle had a dollhouse built for his daughter's fairy queen friend. The house, or mini-mansion has every room you could think of: a ballroom, dining room, a chapel, a toy room, a music room, etc. And every room is fully decorated with handcrafted furnishings for the fairy family. It took twenty years, and you can see why. Absolutely no detail was spared.

 This is exactly what you're thinking: a creepy doll that's haunted in the attic. Legend says that if anyone were to move this doll, it would come to life and murder you on your birthday...just kidding, but seriously if you move the doll the castle will fall into the moat on Christmas Day. I still think the evil, possessed doll story is better.

 A maze that I totally thought I would ace and definitely failed. We gave up halfway through and got ice cream...

And then we found a high-rope bridge maze thingy!! This was the coolest part of the castle by far.

We ended the day in Aarhus, Denmark at our hostel, and with the night on our own, some friends and I decided to explore the city and the Aarhus Music Festival that was going on the week we were there! 

 I love these walls! There are a bunch of lines and people write, "Before I die I want to ___"

Blues Brothers, anyone?

Day 2 of the trip began with a visit to the Danish Navy Fleet Headquarters. We learned more about piracy and Naval operations. I'm basically an expert now. After a long morning of talks, it was time to relax...or kind of. I had never been kayaking before, so when my partner decided to jump out of the kayak into the water, three different times, I was definitely not prepared. Needless to say, I was soaked. I needed some warming up, and that's what bowling was for!! Following dinner we all went bowling at our hostel (professors included). I love bowling. My friends and I go all the time back home...and I get really into really. My professors, Ulrik and Nicolai, and I had a contest to see who could get three strikes first. Ulrik however was booted from the competition because he's a strike-machine and it wasn't fair to the two of us... so technically I won :)

Moral of the story: When you play a game with your Danish professors and win, they will buy you a beer (or in my case, I wanted ice cream)

Day 3 of the trip started with a guided walking tour on the beach of Ringkobing of Hitler's Atlanic Wall. During WWII the Nazis built concrete and steel bunkers all along the Atlantic coast of Europe, and because of hardcore German engineering, they still exist today. I have never seen anything like this...

 The dunes of Western Denmark

 Looking over at the North Sea!

 One of the bunkers

 So apocalyptic...shifted in the sand over 70 years

Plus I saw one of the prettiest and BIGGEST German Shepherds ever...I need one.

Our second trip of the day was to the Jelling Stones! The Jelling Stones date back over 1000 years ago, during the Viking Age. King Gorm the Old (the first king of Denmark) and his son, Harold Bluetooth (yes, same as Bluetooth technology), are honored with naming the kingdom of Denmark and Christianizing the nation.

 The actual stone with ancient rune carvings that has a picture of Jesus on it

 The actual stone King Gorm had inscribed for his wife that has the first mention of the word "Denmark"

One of the ancient mounds Harold Bluetooth built...totes rolled down it

So that concluded my adventure around Denmark, but the week wasn't over yet! On Thursday we went to Lund, Sweden to visit the Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, and afterwards we got to explore this little college town.

 Beautiful Lund Cathedral...later I found out was built by slaves (downer)

Amazing astronomy/astrology clock inside the cathedral

And finally FRIDAY!! We went to the Danish Resistance Museum that explains all about the Nazi occupation of Denmark in WWII. It was a small museum, but we learned a lot about how Denmark was the only country in western Europe to save the majority of its Jewish population (around 90%).

I'm so grateful that I had the opportunity to see so much of Denmark because of this study tour...otherwise I probably would have never even thought to visit Jutland and see the North Sea. The Danish countryside is gorgeous, even in its flatness.

Glad I got this shot while riding in the bus, playing hearts, and watching Black Hawk Down...

Now that this extremely long post is out of the way, I'm ready to get back into the regular swing of things and make smaller posts :) And least until my next adventure...

Hej hej,