Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Day Tripper

We interrupt this reminiscent broadcast for an important update: my first trip to Copenhagen! (No, going to the airport to pick up Max didn’t count.)

Lucky me – today I got to hang out with my mom’s cousin Conni and her husband, Charlie, who currently has a guest professor gig in Denmark. They also lived in Denmark in 2003, so they used some of their insider knowledge to show me the city. We had lunch at a great café (an old favorite of theirs) and then Conni and I took a walking tour (Charlie had to go to a conference, sadly).

Talk about great first impressions – what a wonderful city! As Charlie said today, “Lots of bikes, good beer, beautiful sights – what’s there to complain about?” Certainly all of those things work in the city’s favor, but there is something else that made this visit special – my favorite childhood book, Number the Stars, took place in Copenhagen!

I have probably read this wonderful book over 30 times. The author, Lois Lowry, tells the story of Annemarie, a 10-year-old girl who is growing up during World War II, in Nazi-occupied Denmark. I realized that the majority of my knowledge about Copenhagen comes from that book, and walking around Copenhagen, I saw Annemarie’s hometown and story come to life before my eyes: the Amalienborg palace and stories of King Christian X, Tivoli, the Østerbrogade…

And by chance, I spotted an advertisement on our tourist map for The Museum of Danish Resistance – and we made that our next stop. No other sight in Copenhagen is more connected to Number the Stars than this museum. There, I found more bits and pieces of the book's story on display: the Danish Resistance, young people with immense courage; the story of 7,000 Danish Jews who escaped the Nazis, many of whom fled to Sweden by boat; the complex political decisions made by the Danish government and King to protect their people from the Nazis. It was a very powerful museum.

Afterwards, we made our way towards the famous Little Mermaid Statue, but first we stopped to admire an enormous, imposing fountain (the largest monument in Copenhagen) called Gefionspringvandet, or in English, the Gefion Fountain. It features the legend of the Norse goddess, Gefion, who was promised by the Swedish King Glyfi all the land she could plow in a day and a night. She turned her sons into oxen and went to work. As legend has it, all that earth was then thrown into the sea to become the island, Zealand, on which Copenhagen is located.

After snapping a shot of Den Lille Havfrue sitting on her rock, we walked through the Kastellet, a fort from the 17th century, and then back through the city to the train station to meet Charlie.

We had a delicious Carlsberg beer and called it a day! I'm already looking forward to going back.

Oh, and I also picked up a small souvenir:

More on the final stages of my Tour de Sweden coming soon.


Sally said...

From purely a tourist's viewpoint, how would you compare Stockholm with Copenhagen? There are lots of stereotypes of how the Swedes and the Danes differ---did you pick up on any of that?

Linnea said...

They were distinctly different cities, although I've been having trouble describing how -- maybe another visit will help understand more. On the surface, there were TONS of bicycles (more than I have ever seen in my life) and Danish does sound like garbled Swedish.

In terms of the atmosphere, I got a sense that Stockholm (and Swedes) are more formal somehow (more polite, even?) and Copenhagen felt much more casual and against the grain.

According to Google, I'm on the right track (for stereotypes, at least): Swedes and Danes find mental gap hard to cross