Saturday, September 19, 2009

The end of a great trip

I think about how wonderful it would be to live in a city where everyone bikes. Groups of adults bike together and it seems perfectly normal whereas at home the oldest group of people on bikes would be under age 16. And they would probably be considered a menace. Then again, part of the allure has been the perfect early fall weather. I would prefer not to solely rely on a bike for transportation if it were 40 degrees and raining.

Today we went to Christiania, which is a hippie commune on a small man-made island. At one time the residents has seceeded from Denmark. Now they are supposedly moving towards rejoining Denmark, but it is still an enclave where outsiders are welcome to visit. One can view their art and buy their beer and hash and hang out, but no photos are allowed at all, which of course drove me nuts.  

The craft beer loving folk in Copenhagen is a small community. We keep running into the same people. I love that. I also love that both times we've gone to Olbaren (which translates to beer bar) people have been so friendly. 

In case it is not apparent from all I've written from here thus far, Copenhagen is a GREAT beer town. The best part? I don't think most people in the US realize that, so our fellows are not flocking here. 

But I assure you, if you come here for beer, you will not be disappointed. Just save up plenty because it's every bit as expensive as you've been led to believe.

Many places serve dinner prix fixe only  and the prix tends to be around $40 for an entree only. A local subway ride costs $4. A cup of tea costs $5. A delicious consomm√© that Jeff ordered was $20. Anyway, you get the picture.  

I'm so glad we came on this trip. When I was on my way here I was almost apologetic about why we were coming. And now I feel guilty about that. Copenhagen is great and I'm even a little teary-eyed about departing.   

Oh and ps: Tivoli really is just an amusement park. We have those at home.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Eating, drinking, biking aka day 3 in Copenhagen

It turns out that all the bikes we thought were not locked up actually have little locks that stick a bar through the spokes on the back wheel. When we went to retrieve the bikes we had rented from our hotel we could not figure out where to insert the key until we were shown. A woman, a fellow guest, from South Africa was in the dark about it as well.

She said she was on her own for the day while her husband went to a conference, so we invited her along with us to get smorsbord I think they call it here. I'm unclear on whether it's the same as smorgesbord because here it means simply small open-face sandwiches. 

Jeff got the herring and I got a selection of three: chicken with crispy Parma ham, herring, and roast beef. All were exquisite. We also shared a big bottle of local beer. The menu did not specify the types of beer sold because, the waiter said, it depends on what they brew and send over. The beer was brown and a little sweet and apparently is it's own style. 

I have only seen two people wearing biking gear. Everyone else is on a city bike, wearing heels, trousers, skirts, etc.

Our hotel did not have enough helmets for everyone and they did not seem too concerned about it. 

The bikes have higher handlebars and a cover over the chain -- perfect for city riding. The bike lanes are fairly pervasive, but not completely. There are even turn lanes for bikes. I am not certain where bikers are supposed to go when the bike lane turns into a car turn lane and the bikers wish to continue straight.

Last night we went to a brewpub for dinner where all the food is made with beer. We then went to a local pub where we arrived at 11:30. The place seemed pretty dead and we expected it would be closing soon. The bartender was incredibly knowledgable and told us all about the Danish beer selections. Anything similar to Belgians he frowned upon, though. He said in Belgium he only drinks Lambics (and yes he's had Lambic and chocolate stout and he likes it). 

We mentioned that we were on our personal beer tour of the city. He said, "hold on, then. I'm going to call a preeminent Danish brewer and a guest brewer from Vermont." He was on the phone briefly and then said, "okay, they said they'd be here in 35 seconds."

At 2 am, long after Jacob had shut he door to any new entrants, the group that had magically appeared at Olbaren started drifting homeward. Shaun, the guest brewer from Vermont, is starting his own brewery in March, which will be called Hill Farmstead Brewery. He doesn't like Belgian beers either though. 

He and Jacob were quite fond of a 2.5% smoky sailor's beer, which Jacob insisted I drink one of (on the house) before I was allowed to order another beer. It started growing on me but the smoky burps later on were horrible. I wanted to try a large bottle of Mickeller Beer Geek Breakfast, which is made with weasel shit coffee, Jacob told me. I said I would need to split it with someone, though. Jacob said he would be happy to. I don't know how trustworthy my palate was by then but i remember it being an excellent and full-bodied beer.

Tonight we will hit a few more places, including plan b, where Jacob says he'll be working. Oh crap... we researched all the bars but no restaurants. Now we must find somewhere to eat before tonight's pubcrawl.    

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Copenhagen day 2

I'm not sure if I have mentioned quite how expensive it is here. It is really expensive. Local beers are $10-12.

Our hotel key is made of balsawood instead of plastic.

When people go into restaurants, schools, bars, etc. they leave their bikes and baby carriages leaning against the outside wall, mainly unlocked.

Maybe 5% of adults wear bike helmets. About 75% of kids wear them when riding with adults.

Three-wheeled bikes with a box in the front seems to be an ideal method of carting around several small children plus groceries.

I'm guessing that because it's a good bit cooler in the shade, this is why on the same day I have seen women wearing shorts and sandals and another wearing a jacket and gloves.

Most everyone is nicely dressed, except for the old dude wearing leggings and a crop top with his belly hanging out.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The weather is gorgeous, at least

In Copenhagen, the baby carriages are all old style: gigantic cribs on gigantic wheels. One baby I saw was wedged in using what looked like those removable dividers that came with my Crumpler camera bag (although these dividers were slightly larger). Another baby I saw was sitting up on his knees, leaning over the far end of the stroller, peering down at the street in front of him. As he passed me by quickly I did notice a harness on his back, but I didn't grasp quite how he was strapped in securely.

As nice as everyone seems to be here, some jerk out there has my wallet and spent $400 of my money right here in Copenhagen. Luckily Wachovia is crediting the funds back to me. But it did put a bit of a damper on my day today. I arrived at noon and spent until nearly 4 trying to straighten this all out. It didn't help matters that I had gotten myself to the hotel when I realized it was gone and then had no way to go retrace my route to the airport to ask at various lost & founds. One of the hotel workers very kindly loaned me his train ticket, but my search turned up no leads. And then the call to Wachovia confirmed that my wallet was definitely not going to turn up. Must not forget to tip Lars for his generosity.

After all the cards were cancelled I found a credit card that I had for some reason put in a different place than in my wallet. But it was too late. It was already cancelled.

I got a bit weepy when I called Jeff to tell him the bad news, but I am now realizing that it's really not that big of a deal. I'll have to replace my driver's license, of course, but the cancelled cards will come to me in the mail soon enough. And Jeff will be here in an hour or so with money.

The hotel has a lovely spread of free fruit on the check-in counter and a woman was giving away samples of Wasa crackers, which she offered me both times I walked by and which I did not refuse. So, I have not starved.

Amsterdam, briefly

In the Amsterdam airport I have seen: 2 cheese shops, a wall of meat, 2 flower/bulbs shops, a ride-on mop, a casino, a one-legged woman and a woman in a wheel chair, sticking her legs straight out in front of her.  

I ate a $10 panini for 2 a.m.sies (or whatever mealtime it is now here, breakfast I guess), which was admittedly delicious but damn. Ten dollars. 

The airport is rather large. It took me a half hour to walk to my gate, not that I minded. But I did not notice any other way to get around besides on feet.

I got zero sleep on the plane so I'm not sure what fumes I'm running on right now but by the time I reach Copenhagen at noon I fear I will be crashing. 

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

First world problems

Usually packing for trips does not stump me, but packing for a month in Singapore followed by a week in Japan in late November has me lying awake at night and making lengthy to-do lists on my iPhone while lying awake.

I've always been partial to keeping lists for packing, but this is extreme, especially since I don't leave for 6 weeks. Ahhhhh! Six weeks is so soon! How will I get it all figured out before then?

The deal is: I'll be in Singapore (where it's hot) for 4 weeks working. And then I'll be in Japan for one week for vacation (where it's supposed to be pretty much like it is here in November). If I were packing for only one climate I think I would be a lot less stressed out about this. Especially since I'll be working, I'll need multiple pairs of shoes and that sort of thing. Not the way I normally pack.

And then there is the whole toiletry situation. Do I buy shampoos and whatnot there? What about toothpaste? Lotion? What am I very particular about that I must have brands I know? (face cream, curl encourager, band aids, stuff for my time of the month) For the stuff that I do bring, how will I know that I'm bringing enough?

See, this is what keeps me up at night.

Then there is the audio situation. I will certainly miss listening to Pandora and NPR. I can still stream NPR on my laptop, I presume. I have all my CDs on my ipod, but to play it, I will need to bring portable speakers. That seems a little unnecessary, though. My work laptop has none of my music on it and I don't want to spend hours and hours putting music on it, really. So that is a dilemma to still be worked out. I want to take 30 Day Shred, but my laptop's CD-ROM is detachable and I don't intend to take it. I am seriously considering recording myself announcing what exercises to do. This is how bad it has gotten.

Then I need The Perfect Bag for everyday use. I think this bag will be a satchel type bag. It will be cute, but functional. It will have some pockets inside and out. It will fit my laptop if need be, in its own sleeve, so a built-in pocket is not necessary. It will fit my camera and all of the usual junk that I carry around in my purse on a daily basis, including a water bottle. It will be comfortable to carry and it will not be too large. Every time I look at eBags I think I have settled on a different one.

Too blah?
Too young? The reviews say mostly 10-year-olds use this bag.

It goes on and on. Even now one of those I am listing here is one I had not noticed before. Too much choice!

And I haven't even gotten to the suitcase situation yet. The one I tend to use is good for a week's vacation. Ten days requires reeeeally careful packing and a lot of rewearing and washing of things in sinks. This one suitcase is not going to hack it. Traveling with two suitcases seems like tourist failure to me, but most tourists don't travel for five weeks, so I guess I get a pass this once. I hope.