Saturday, September 23, 2017

the inspiration for Disneyland

 I spent the day along the water. People go on boat tours, but my transit pass also included unlimited rides on the Harborbus aka superspeedy ferries.
 Everyone was out on the water today, including lots of tourists in these cute GoBoats.
I got off in the most touristy part of town and headed to Copenhagen's most famous attraction.
I was almost going to skip the Little Mermaid statue, until I read it had been a target for attacks over the years: doused with dye, beheaded. What kind of sick person politicizes a mermaid? Then I felt I had to go, as a feminist act.
There were a million people, with selfie sticks and worse. It was sad and hilarious at the same time.

I continued walking into Kastellet, the military compound, with its grassy lawns, windmills (just when you thought you'd finally gotten Danish vs Dutch straight!), and wedding photos.


It really is a lovely compound. Not a selfie stick to be found.
 This was one of two weddings I ran into.
I hopped a bus over to Stoget, a popular pedestrian mall. 
It was mobbed. People posing, shopping, singing.

Feeling overwhelmed, I ducked into the world's cutest cafe. 
Service was slow, but the tea was good, and besides, they had blankets.

Tivoli Gardens is the second oldest amusement park in the world, opened in 1843.
It was the inspiration for Disneyland, in case you're wondering about the Matterhorn, or the Hans Christian Andersen doll ride.

Tomorrow's the end of the summer season. After that, they switch to special events.
It's a pretty fabulous place, with more junk food than even I could eat. 
The sections are themed, with small cafes and gift shops and terrifying rides.
There are charming surprises too. 
I found a couple playing a marimba, near lights put up by Olafur Eliasson. And I loved the fact that this tea shop had a chandelier, right under the rollercoaster.
They have bands and a sound and light show and firepits where in true hygge fashion, you can gather with your friends and roast marshmallows. And just before midnight, spectacular fireworks.
 Like Beyonce concert fireworks.
 Truly dazzling.
 We were a really happy crowd, celebrating the last Saturday night of summer.
Change is in the air. Tomorrow I fly home to the States. I have a few last stops before I go, a few more thoughts on this question of happiness and which country does it best. But for now, just for tonight, let's savor the awe and wonder.


Friday, September 22, 2017

wonderful, wonderful Copenhagen

Is smørrebrød really a sandwich if it only has one slice of bread, and you eat it with a knife and fork?
Thanks to my Uncle Jim (who also famously made us all sing "California, Here I Come" the first time I rode over the Golden Gate Bridge), I've got Danny Kaye in my ear.
 Here's Hans Christian Andersen, to get that out of the way.
I felt like wandering around, to get the feel of the city, so I headed for Norreport and the King's Garden, which for hundreds of years really was just for royalty. Stroll and pretend you're a member of the Danish royal family.
This castle and the gardens were built in the 17th century. The gardens are full of fruit trees. A giggling group of 20 somethings was munching on fruit as they left. I smiled at them, and a young woman ran up to hand me a giant quince.
 Rosenborg Castle is pretty sweet too. It was named for the King's horses.
Afterward, I checked out Torvehallerne, which is the gourmet ghetto, only with bicycles. Like the Ferry Building but much much cooler.


 You can buy anything you want. Jackfruit, salteñas, sea urchins.

These people are good at marketing. The Danes never just sell a product: they sell a lifestyle.

 Choices, choices.

It was bicycle rush hour. Stay in your lane takes on a completely new meaning.
Don't drive into the canal.
Not an ugly town.

This is the circular bridge by Olafur Eliasson. I first discovered his work at an amazing show at SF MoMA. (We'll come back to it later.)

I treated myself to the season opener by the Royal Danish Orchestra, the oldest orchestra in the world.
They perform in the world's most expensive opera house.
Based on tonight's performance, it was worth every penny.
Here's the program: from Mahler to Strauss to Tchaikovsky's 5th symphony.
Birger told me the giant balls are designed by Olafur Eliasson. 
Of course they are.
To emphasize how safe Copenhagen is, here's where you leave your coat. Hanging up, like you're at a friend's house. Hundreds of bicycles are left outside on the street. Unlocked. I wish I lived in a city that safe.

My biggest complaint on this trip is the number of people who smoke. It's especially bad among young Danes. I had a pretty bad allergy attack and remembered that before the smoking ban, I couldn't go to bars. This pack costs $7.

Strolling back to my apartment after the concert, I found the circular bridge lit up.
 It's pretty cool. And unlike earlier, you could look at it without getting run over by a bicycle.
Across the river, the new royal library is illuminated too. It's known as the Black Diamond.
 Everything is illuminated.
When I got back, I climbed the 5-1/2 flights of stairs (!) almost without huffing and puffing.
Birger: Have you heard of hygge?
He was surprised.