Jazz and Murals

There were tons of trees, benches, water, etc., all around the city. Made for a pleasant walking experience.

Hey folks, Peter here. I’m going to put up just a few pictures of all the walking around I did in Copenhagen while Anna was hard at work. The main attractions were murals and a jazz festival… and stay tuned for the Poopman conspiracy.

These swans are prettier than the earlier swans. There were also tons of them. This was just the best close-up shot I got.

First of many paintings / graffiti on the buildings. This was vaguely a reflection of the pond (previously shown, with swans) across from it. And it had other green things in it.

For sample two, we have Poopman's tag, as well as birthday wishes. Not sure who the mysterious Poopman is; we can only imagine.

Ah, it all comes together. Clearly, Operation Copenhagen is a conspiracy by the mysterious Poopman to cover the walls of the city with paint. It has apparently succeeded in winning the hearts and minds of the locals, as seen by the birthday wishes previously.

Of course, what would Copenhagen be without bicycles? We now know how Poopman gained the support of the locals: by showing his solidarity with their main mode of transport. This work, as we can see, was done by Poopman's lieutenant, Tomcat.

Change of gears: the Copenhagen Jazz Festival. This is the Someone-or-other Trio. Obscured: the drummer. Not shown: animation of the bassist showing the true amount of his jammin'. (He was really fun to watch.)

And finally, we'll close with the winner for Best Company Slogan: Denmark. (Also: Poopman resurfacing?)


Hamlet’s Castle

One thing that must be appreciated about Denmark is how quickly one can reach the other side.  The first weekend outing to Roskilde and the second weekend outing to Hamlet’s castle were both reached within an hour by train.  This is mainly due to Denmark’s small size, but I like to think it’s more about a very long history of effective transportation: from Viking ships to high-speed rail.  We left for Hamlet’s castle late Sunday morning, arriving in time to eat brunch on the adorable stone streets of the adjacent town.  Certain members of our touring astronomy team ate fish on toast with beer and schnapps for brunch.  They will go unnamed.  I ate a chicken (faux) panini.

Danes are very patriotic. Or maybe they just realize that their flags are attractive and conducive to traditional Scandinavian exterior design.

After brunch and scouting out all the ice cream shops, we headed out to the castle, a mere 15 minute walk away on the edge of the ocean.  The castle was actually constructed in part to keep pirates out of the bay, since the route was popular for trading ships.

Model of the castle with two moats. That's right, two moats. Sounds pretty effective against pirates.

Since we were not pirates, they let us in.  The more interesting part of the castle was actually in the basement, where military troops used to live; the rooms were kept very dark to let their natural creepiness come through.  One particularly dark room that was in a lower level of the basement (only reached by narrow dark stairs) had a mannequin of a soldier that, I believe, was supposed to look like he was keeping watch.  Unfortunately the mannequin was held up by a rope to the ceiling, so it looked more like the soldier had tried to hang himself.  It all added to the creepiness, so I didn’t mind.

The castle and inner moat. Past the ice cream stand and towards the ocean (I have very practical direction pointers).

The upstairs of the castle was slightly less depressing, especially if you ignore the fact that the castle often went unused back in the day.  The museum displays tried to emphasize this fact by showing little dollhouse-like recreations of what the castle looked like inside when the king was and wasn’t visiting.  Apparently the castle was so empty normally that the king had to bring his own pots and pans.

In the courtyard. I wish everyone had to dress up when visiting the castle. Imagine the pictures then!

Inside the castle. There was one painting on the ceiling that involved a Greek god eating his baby. Somehow I always imagined Greek gods eating their babies whole, but oh no, this baby was ripped apart by the God's teeth while it was still alive.

The great hall where dancing, eating, and general hardcore partying went on.

The outside of the castle was just breathtaking, a combination of old stone, green beach grass, and blue ocean bay.  We sat on the edge of the beach and dangled our feet in the chilly water.  The water was warmer than in Santa Barbara, but I guess that isn’t saying too much.  I foraged for tiny seashells and watched a couple of young boys try to ride their bikes into the water until a group of slightly older boys told them off (for what, I don’t know).  The sky was blue, the grass was green, it was time for a lie-down, but instead we ate ice cream.

View from the castle wall, or one of them at least. I had to resist the urge to roll down the grassy hill, which was good, since it is actually a high stone wall on the other side.

The crystal clear ocean water, seaweed, and rocks.

That's Sweden on the other side. And boys riding their bikes into the ocean.

And last, but not least, some wild flowers growing in the rocks by the ocean.

Surviving in Copenhagen

Here is the second installment of Copenhagen pictures.  I’ve also learned a couple things in the last two weeks; they are in absolutely no particular order:

  1. It is gorgeous here.
  2. But, the weather only behaves when visitors are in town.  In the first week it didn’t rain once and threatened to rain almost every day.
  3. It’s better not to ask if someone speaks English.  If they do (95% chance), they’ll be offended, and if they don’t, they won’t understand you anyways.
  4. Forget about converting Danish Kroner to USD when it comes to eating out, since a $10 coffee drink is just absurd, but so is having a sleep-deprivation induced meltdown.
  5. You will wake up at around 5am every morning whether you like it or not (sunrise is at 4:30am).  The eye mask may let you fall back asleep until your alarm goes off, but it refuses to stay put until after 5am no matter how much tape you stick to your face.  Just kidding, I have no tape, but now I’m tempted to try using bandaids.
  6. Adding to a tendency towards sleep deprivation, you will not notice that it’s time for bed until the sun finally goes down at 10pm.  Unfortunately you will always be at least a half-hour walk from your hotel.
  7. Cafeteria food is just as bad here as in the US, and perhaps even more unrecognizable.
  8. I never really left California: the temperature is still 70 degrees, it hasn’t rained, the bikes run you over if you don’t look both ways when crossing the bike lane, everyone is blonde and in excellent shape, and the architecture has a coherent theme.

Path to the ocean in Roskilde.

On the canal tour through Copenhagen. The sides of the canal were lined with old ships converted into houseboats (the low-bridges separating the tall sailboats from the ocean gave them away).

View over the lakes while eating dinner.

Royal guard by the palace in downtown Copenhagen. Unfortunately the royal family wasn't home (their flags were not out).

The King's garden of pretty hedges and tree-lined paths.

Home of the crown jewels by the King's garden.

Danish pastries. Amazingly not called danishes. The one on the right has a buttery crust covered in chocolate and a puff of whipped cream that is then bejeweled with strawberries.


Sailing on a Viking Ship

In an effort to stay busy over the weekend so that I could adjust to the 9 hour time difference from California, a group of fellow astronomers and I headed out of Copenhagen to Roskilde, home of a large church, famous music festival (that is scheduled for this weekend), and the Viking Sailboat Museum.  The result?  Within 25 hours of arriving in Denmark I found myself on a modern Viking ship.  The plans of the sailboat were taken from wreckage found in the Danish fjord, the ropes made from various animal parts (the large rope is made from seal skin), and the sail handwoven from sheep wool.  We had to row the sailboat out into open water from the harbor using long thin oars that we failed to row in unison.  The wind was strong and a couple times I was sure that the boat would tip over; the only thing that seemed to be keeping us upright was the layer of rocks at the bottom of the boat to lower the center of mass.

I didn’t realize you could have a seafaring people that were not proficient swimmers, but apparently the Vikings used round rocks in the bottom of their boats so that, if the boat flipped over, the rocks could roll out and they could use their boat as a flotation device.

I was pretty hopeless at staying in sync with the lead rower, although this was not entirely my fault: he appeared to being rowing at random, and when he wasn’t, the tweenage girl in front of me couldn’t keep up.   My only real contribution was attempting to raise the sail.  After 30 seconds I had the sail half raised before our guide got impatient and took over.  I was very proud of myself, if only because I didn’t hit my head on anything (just ask my mother what happened last time she took me sailing).

The rest of Roskilde was a bit less exciting, but at least the $10 cappuccino came with a little square of dark chocolate.  The chocoholic in me was also pleased to see that a hot chocolate also comes with a piece of dark chocolate, in case you need some chocolate with your chocolate (also known as an Anna trap).