thoughts of a deviant
  entry created: Saturday 24 September 2005, 3:17am (NZ time)
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Location:  Märjamaa, Estonia
Local time:  Friday, 6:18pm

Denmark was a blast. In some ways Copenhagen (pop. ~1.5 million) reminded me of Amsterdam, with the cobbled streets, tall, grand buildings, canals and boats, and thousands of bicycles, like I've only seen in Holland. (Indeed parts of Copenhagen were apparently designed by the Dutch). Also, Denmark is the only other country I've found so far to have a word describing an atmosphere and a feeling all in one. The Dutch call it "gezellig", while the Danes have "hygge". It loosely translates to 'cosiness'. Imagine sitting inside by the fire with a hot coffee and a playful kitten, on a dark rainy night. There you have it, I think.

I found Copenhagen to be not quite as photogenic as I had hoped. Other than the brightly coloured Nyhavn area, it was relatively drab and unexciting. Not to mention flat. And they've done very little to light it up effectively at night - they should take some lessons from amazing St. Petersburg.

We visited Christiania (aka 'Freetown') - a kind of self-governing social experiment within Copenhagen city. Apparently it used to be pretty much anything-goes here (hash was sold openly from stalls lining 'Pusher Street'), but today it seems a shadow of its former self. (Maybe partially due to the fact that the day before we went, 200 riot police stormed the place and arrested 100 people - Denmark's biggest mass arrest ever. Seems the cops are finally cracking down on the Christiania).

We took the train west from Copenhagen city (on the island of Zealand) across the island of Fyn ("Foon") and to Denmark's mainland (Jutland - pronounced "Yooland"), where we met Krista's sister Reelika and her boyfriend Tarvo. They took us to their home in Yding ("ooding"), the tiny one-horse town where they work on a lettuce farm. From there we drove all over the mainland - out to the western-most island of Rømo, right up to the northern-most tip of Denmark - Skagen. We even visited Legoland! It was expensive, but I actually had a great time. A huge place and, err, lots of lego.

Useless fact #143: Denmark was the first country in the world to have a national flag. Legend says the first flag fell from the sky during a battle against the Estonians in 1219.

I also took the train to Holstebro to visit my old friend Morten, whom I'd met in the Caribbean two years ago, when I was kind've down and out. (Sleeping on somebody's floor for two months will either make or break a friendship, but luckily we made it through ok.) We just hung out and drunk loads of Carlsberg. His parents were fantastic and very welcoming, and I was treated to some traditional Danish foods, including rød grød med fleøde (I won't bother explaining how to say that), which means "red pudding with cream" - basically a thick plum jam with cream on top. Not bad. And the Danish potato schnapps ('akvavit') that came out on my last night there went down well too.

One thing that struck me was how different written Danish seems to be from spoken Danish. Still, it's a smooth and bouncy language that I enjoyed listening to, and much prefer it to that of neighbouring Germany. They have this very throaty, guttural 'r' that made me crack up with laughter every time I heard it on TV, like they just swallowed a golf ball.

Anyway, I took so many photos that I think I'll spread them over two diary entries...

An antique market in Copenhagen, surrounded by similarly antique buildings.

The changing of the royal guard outside Amalienborg -
the official royal residence of Queen Margrethe II.
Denmark is the oldest royal kingdom in the world.

Marmorkirken - the marble church (1894). Part of the Royal Palace.

Nyhavn ("new harbour") - how it was a hundred years ago.

And how it is now. Not much has changed. Except for colour photos.

A great place to chill and down a few Carlsbergs.

Den Lille Havfrue - the Little Mermaid. In 1913, the Carlsberg brewer
Carl Jacobsen was inspired to donate money to a sculpture after having seen
'The Little Mermaid' fairytale by the famous Danish poet Hans Christian Andersen.
So Edward Eriksen sculpted her in bronze, using his wife as the model. This
is Denmark's national symbol and one of Copenhagen's most famous landmarks,
a supposed 'must-see'. But prepare to be disappointed by it's size and drabness!

A sunset shot of the 2km-wide sand beach on the island of Rømo, connected to the mainland by a 15km causeway.
Yep, two kilometers from the road to the water. You have to REALLY want a swim!
(fortunately though you're allowed to drive right up).

The beach was full of people making use of the wind and flat sand for miles around.

Legoland... yay!

The Legoland version of Nyhavn. Nicely done.

The Statue of Liberty, made from over a million lego bricks.

Rows and rows of lettuce of all kinds, in Yding. Krista spent four back-breaking days working with these little suckers.

Snap snap snap!

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