Excursions and Sightings

We leave Humlegaarden tomorrow. Farewell to Humlebaek and the Baltic Sea, the chaotic doctors and cancer cohorts, the blue herons and the bathrobe people*….  and i just was thinking… what kind of a tourist would I be if I didn’t make a post about some of the local sites before I leave here?  I suppose I could write about the radiology waiting room at the University Hospital in Odensa, or how to get from the dungeon to the penthouse in a single night at Riggshospitalet in Copenhagen. Right. Not exactly blog material.  OTOH, there are a few local tourist-y things I can share…

Every morning we walk down by the Baltic Sea, each day walking a bit further.  Last Sunday, we took an extra excursion and walked a bit further to the Louisiana Art Museum, which we had been hearing about.  The grounds are beautiful, and overlook the Baltic Sea, great picnic and “just hang out here in the sun” spaces (when there is sun!)  The art museum itself was nice – not being a big fan of Andy Warhol, the main exhibit, I was not overly enthused, but there were a couple of other nice exhibits.  My favorites: a series of photographs of missing monuments, photos of the places they used to be, with written descriptions by people who remembered them; and a photographic narrative in which the artist found an address book and recorded his experience contacting each person listed in the book in order to find out about the owner… that was interesting!   The only photo I have from the Louisiana excursion is the one to the left here….  happy rocks in the garden.
Carmelite Monastery
Helsingor is about 7 kilometers away from Humlebaek – an easy ride on the bicycle on a sunny day if you are feeling strong, or a quick 10 minute ride on the bus if its raining, and you’re not quite up to a bicycle.  The Carmelite Monastery and St Mary’s Church is a medieval monastery dedicated to the Virgin Mary. Only the west wing of the monastery remains, and we were able to walk through the corridors and visit the chapel.  Beautiful – some photos here.

Kronborg CastleCastles are plentiful in Denmark, and I reckon I couldn’t leave without visiting at least one. The Kronborg Castle in Helsingor dates back to the 14th century, and besides being an actual castle, it is the setting for Shakespeare’s Hamlet.  Located on the sea, and surrounded by moats, the grounds are beautiful.  The castle is large, and it takes longer than the time I had to wander through the entire thing, but I did get to see the royal chambers and palace ballroom, the chapel, and the (very dark and scary) casemates, otherwise known by me as the creepy, dark, dank dungeon.  You can see a few photos of the castle here, as well as a view of the sea from the grounds.

Speaking of the sea, and walks along it, I can’t end my (admittedly limited) tourist blog without mentioning the many sightings of a local species that we call *The Bathrobe People.  Yes, really.  They come to the sea, every morning, no matter how cold.  They arrive at the shore, every morning, in bathrobes. Red, yellow, blue, black, white.  Big, thick bathrobes.  They come in cars, on bicycles, by foot.  They carry a towel over one shoulder, and on their feet are sandals, or thongs, or sometime…. dress shoes.  It does not matter how cold, or how warm.  Every morning… rain, wind, sun.  They walk to the enBathrobe Peopled of a dock, disrobe (sometimes a bathing suit underneath, sometimes not) and jump into the sea. Just for a dip!  Rarely do they stay longer than a couple of minutes.  Some will swim, but mostly they are in, fully submerged, then out.  Dry off, don the bathrobe, and off they go (Presumably home for hot coffee!!)

Hardy folks, these Humlebaek Danes. I wonder if they do this all through the winter too?  Brrrr….. Don’t think I want to stay to find out.

So, we’re off.. Copenhagen to Paris tomorrow, where (so the weather report says) it is warmer and sunnier….

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Miscellany

I can’t seem to write much, my words are missing….mixed up, or confused, or fuzzy, or something.  So, instead of a regular post, here’s a “random things i’ve learned in Denmark” list:

I am writing this in København, which in English is known as Copenhagen.

The Danish Monarchy is the oldest in the world.  The Queen’s husband is not a King, he’s a Prince.

A Danish breakfast consists of yogurt, muesli, bread, butter, and cheese.  Every morning.

Cheese is fresh, butter is fresh. Real.

Rugbrød is a dark rye bread, really heavy, that is served at breakfast. Often with cheese, or with loads of fresh, real butter. I think it is probably served at all meals, unless you happen to be in the hospital.

Hospital food pretty much sucks wherever you live.

There is a lovely park that surrounds Rigshospitalet (the state hospital), and is used by runners, bicyclists, walkers, soccer players, moms and dads pushing baby buggies.

No one uses strollers here…. babies are pushed around in baby buggies.  Dads are as likely to be pushing them as Moms.

Danes are having babies.  Baby buggies are everywhere.

Nine out of ten babies (age 3 and under) have red hair, although red is not quite the right word. (my unscientific observational statistics only)

Nine out of ten Danish adults have blond hair.  Today’s nurse has very dark hair…. her father is Italian, she explains, and she has relatives in Hoboken, New Jersey.

It is not uncommon to see baby buggies being pushed by people running.

Runners are common.  As are bicycles.  There may be as many bicycles on the road as cars.  There are bicycle parking garages at train stations, and long lines of bicycle racks at shopping areas and hospitals.

Bicycle lanes are built into the infrastructure, and at major intersections even have their own traffic lights.  Traffic lights are well coordinated, even from a pedestrian perspective.

Light rail train is a great mode of transportation.  Combine it with metro and bicycles and you’ve got a darn good system. There are no SUVs, the cars that are on the road are small.

We in the US need to get with the program, and improve our means of environmentally sustainable transportation.

Legos were invented in Denmark. They were originally made of wood, and the name comes from the phrase “leg godt,” or “play well.”

Playing well seems like a good way to live.

Danish (or Dansk) is a really difficult language to learn (for someone who is not a native speaker.)

“Tak” is the Danish word for Thank You.  There is no Danish word for please.

The Danes are informal – they do not use Mr or Mrs or Dr.  They just use first names.

If you smile at someone you pass by on the street in Denmark, you typically get a blank look in return.

In spite of all of the above, people here are very kind, and helpful.

and today’s great discovery:
There is an Astanga yoga studio on Blegdamsvej, near the hospital, for which I am very grateful.  🙂

Published in: on August 25, 2010 at 13:48  Comments (3)  
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