Thursday, October 23, 2008


Kirstin and I got back last weekend from our junket to Copenhagen, where I was giving a talk. Grandma watched the girls and we explored Scandanavia when I wasn't "working". Here are the impressions of Denmark and Sweden:

- An almost movie-set quality to Copenhagen. Exactly what you think of as "European", 5-6 story old stone buildings lining twisty streets and surrounding open squares filled with outdoor cafes. The only drag is that almost all the storefronts look like places I could visit in the U.S. at a nice mall.

- In the main square they had set up a number of large tables, piled with white Lego pieces. People just wandered by and built towers, houses, etc. at all hours. It must be in their blood.

- The canal tour was exceptional, a great way to see the city (and the little Mermaid statue without being hassled by other tourists), and Kirstin and I were able to give our poor American feet a break.

- We established that there is a physical limit to the number of pieces of art I am capable of looking at.

- The food is good, and the best part is that most places go with a "Tapas" like approach. Lots of little portions of different items. That makes for more fun eating, and you aren't stuck with something you don't like. Especially when food has names like Smoorgenbroodenhvok.

- Any country that fries pork with the skin on is alright with me.

- Surprisingly, the coffee in Denmark blows.

- People are very friendly, and they all speak perfect English. Which reminds you what a rube you are for not sticking with the language that you learned in high school (which was 6 years too late, anyway).

- When we lived in Chicago, I remember how every nice day in the spring thousands of pasty-white people would evacuate their apartments and head outside. In Copenhagen, there is a similar phenomenon. Regardless of the actual temperature, if the sun is out so are the Danes. Most cafes have stand-up heaters and blankets available for each table. But if you can see the sun, then the cafes are packed.

- Staying for 6 days is precisely the *wrong* amount of time to be in Europe. Just when we got used to the time zone, we left.

- If you thought Bush's approval rating was low in the U.S., you should see Europe.

- You could improve the opinion of the U.S. in Europe solely by shutting down MTV.

- Despite sounding terrible, the curried pickled herring was actually kind of good. The Danes love a good pickling.

- Bikes, bikes, bikes. Everywhere bikes.

- Disappointingly, the Lego factory/hometown is in Billund, about 3 hours from Copenhagen by train

- By the way, I forgot how much I love travelling by train. It really is so much better than any other alternative.

I'm sure there are a million other things I've forgotten already about the trip, but overall it was an A+. We'd happily go back through Copenhagen, and I'd suggest it as a non-obvious place to visit if you're in Europe.

No comments: