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The Little Mermaid
The Little Mermaid in Copenhagen's harbor. Max Hartshorne
photos.

Blogging From Denmark: Compact, Cozy and Well Designed

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Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Copenhagen & Oresund Sweden is Our Next Destination

I am a bit nervous and scattered. That's because ahead of me is a four-hour drive to Newark Airport, then a 5:50 pm flight on SAS to Copenhagen. Paul Shoul and I are going on a trip that is billed as "A Thousand Year Odyssey." It will include the Danish city and then a trip over a very long bridge to the Oresund region of Sweden.

We will see ancient Viking boats, and enjoy the 24-hour sun of summer in Sweden. It's a short trip; we fly back Sunday. But it is always taxing and anxiety filled when I have to depart in the morning of a trip. So many things to wonder about. So many things I gotta do.

But when we sit back on the plane and sip white wine, and laugh about our fortune of being on another junket to a strange and marvelous place, we'll be relaxed and begin to unwind. Then we'll begin blogging, and note-taking, and pretty soon we'll be able to share our trip with thousands of others who tag along reading the blogs or read the articles on the website. Good bye soggy rainy New England -- hello Little Mermaid!

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Wonderful Copenhagen: How to Eat Herring

Our friendly and outgoing guide Henrik Thierlein told us that herring is the Scandinavian sushi. And that the proper way to eat herring was on a piece of buttered whole grain brown bread, with a fork.

We toured this lovely city filled with canals how else? By boat. There are even boat bus stops, and the canals wind their way in and out of the old city. We passed by the house once lived in by Hans Christian Anderson. We had lunch at 'The Black Diamond,' an architectural gem in modern black glass and angles that make you seasick.

Tivoli Gardens
Tivoli Gardens. This shows a paper model of a new building
going up that will look like this when it is completed.

We passed the famous symbol of Copenhagen: The Little Mermaid statue. It was surrounded by Japanese tourists, snapping photos. Our ferry boat guide told us that the head had been sawed off twice. But she looks fine today.

Henrik took us through the Tivoli Gardens, another icon of this place, it is so much more than gardens. It is towering amusement rides, swinging chairs a few hundred feet up in the air, it is a gracious towering theater, and it is a paper facade that shows where a new gigantic emporium will be built soon. Today the facade marks the exact shape of things to come.

After a rest in the cozy Hotel Bertrams I am recharged. And ready to join my fellow writers Jenny, Lisa, Heather, our guide from NYC, and my favorite shooter, Paul, at a Danish dinner at Tina Baungaard Jenson's home.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Tina Sums Up The Four Elements of a Tourism Campaign

Tonight we met a young family who live just outside Copenhagen's city center. The house was a perfect metaphor, in some ways, for how the people here live. Small, compact, cozy and well designed.

Tina Baungaard Jensen, who works for Visit Denmark as their international press officer, told us the goals of the country's marketing, summed up in four words: Simple. Pure. Design. Perfection. The design aspects were everywhere in her little three-story house: elegant orange chairs with a perfect curve, designed by Jacobsen. A tiny black, round wood stove, only about two feet wide, with a full glass face and a little log storage area below the firebox. Wooden exposed beams in a bedroom that added a natural and outdoorsy look.

The appliances in the house were all compact, much smaller than anything you'd see in the U.S. In the finished basement, a tiny corner bathroom with a Liliputian sink in a corner. Tidy stacked halfpint washer/dryer. The small yard had a little greenhouse, and inside, herbs stood ready to pick for cooking, and a tree produced a berry called hyldebomst that Tina made into a refreshing drink, that tasted like lemonade and apple juice.

Her children were delighted to welcome the strange-talking guests from America. Her five-year-old boy named Asgar showed us his bunk beds and his three-year-old brother happily proclaimed, 'Good night' in English, (it's nearly the same in Danish, unbeknowst to us).

Tina's roast chicken was free-range, and the aoli sauce was a savory dip for the breadsticks. It was a treat to be able to have a family meal here, and learn what daily life is like for a typical Danish household.

The Ales Stenar, or Ales stones
The Ales Stenar, or Ales stones

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Over the Big Bridge to Scania--Southern Sweden

The sun poured into the room at an ungodly hour, so my wake-up call at 7:15 was redundant. It gets light at about 4:30 am here, a long day. We drove over the 16-kilometer (10-mile) Oresund Bridge, a combination of tunnels and graceful sweeping spindles, and drove along the flat green fields of Scania, Southern Sweden.

Our guide, Jessica Jonsson, told us that this was the country's breadbasket, here most of the lovely white potatoes, rapeseed, and other crops are grown. Windmills slowly twirled in the distance as we drove in the van toward Ales Stenar, all the way on the eastern coast.

Here we saw the stones. We parked next to the rich fishing harbor of Loderup. Up a hill, at the end of a windy path, the Ales Stenar, or Ales stones waited for us. These are 59 boulders standing on end, a sort-of poor man's Stonehenge, with all of the same mystery and ancient intrigue.

The position of the stones on either end lined up with the locations of the sun on the longest and shortest days of the year, the all important solstice. It's a stone ship and with us were a crowd of teenagers smoking, joshing and kicking a soccer ball outside next to the stones.

We learned that people in Sweden are taxed far less than their brothers across the bridge in Denmark. And they get paid more due to the higher currency value in Sweden. So many many Danes live over in Sweden, and commute using the railway over this bridge to their jobs in Copenhagen.

It's becoming one region. There was not much of a customs check. We just drove through. By the side of the road, I saw two deer standing in an open wheat field.


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