June 28, 2022

Pre Copenhagen Disaster at Heathrow

We'd been reading about all the airport melt-downs in Europe this summer, with Heathrow and Schiphol being the ones most "in the news," but since we were just transiting Heathrow, we hoped we could escape the dire reports.  However, our plane from Toulouse arrived at Terminal 3 and our flight to Copenhagen departed from Terminal 5, and even though we never left the secure area of Terminal 3 to get on the bus to Terminal 5, they make you reclear security again once you get to the new terminal.  We thought 1.5 hours would be plenty of time; it was not.  It took about 30 minutes' wait to get on the bus to T5, then a 15 minute drive to T5 where we had to follow a slow-moving baggage cart the whole way, and about 45 minute wait to reclear security.  We missed our flight to Copenhagen by about 15 minutes.  They were able to book us on the 5pm flight and we hung out in the Aspire lounge while waiting; we get a Priority Pass membership free through our Chase Sapphire Reserve cards. We didn't end up departing until 7pm due to a late incoming plane, putting us on the ground in Copenhagen at 10pm.   Luckily, our Air BnB host, Jens, was very understanding.  The best thing we got out of this ordeal was a photo of Eli using the only payphone we've seen in at least the last 10 years.

June 29, 2022

We spent the day getting our bearings in Copenhagen.  We started with a trip to the small market closest to our house to pick up essentials, breakfast and lunch food, and some items for dinner.  We then walked down to the Nordhavn neighborhood which has been converted to mostly residential after having been working docks many years before.  We're going to catch the water taxi here and ride down the harbor a bit and see what we can see. As we arrived at the dock, we saw the massive and impressive Copenhagen International School.  It was so large it was hard to see all of the campus building, but the most impressive was the series of glass greenhouses on the rooftop.  We're assuming those are for a rooftop garden and also probably the rooftop pool.  Having worked in public education for the last 30 years, Stephen was in awe at the facilities; he's never seen a school quite like it.  

We hopped on the water taxi and took a 30-45 minute ride down the harbor.  Along the way, we saw many Danes lounging on the docks, catching some sun, and taking dips into what we assume is water about 60 degrees F....  and this was mid-day on a Wednesday.  Something about work/life balance seems to be right here.

We got off the boat in Christianhavn and walked around a bit.  It's a nice area of cute residential buildings and cafes/restaurants.  It is right next to Freetown Christiania, which is a self-governed bohemian enclave.  It developed in the 1960's and has it's own rules/culture.  Housing in the area is ramshackle and self-made.  It's not really clear how many people actually "live" here or how many come just to hang out.  Weed and other drugs are available, though they are still illegal in Denmark generally.  The police leave the enclave to do their own thing.  With that said, they are very private and do not allow any photography while in the enclave.  In fact, Eli was addressed by a community member to put away his phone, even though he wasn't recording.  He said, "We're criminals here, so we can't have you recording us."

June 30, 2022

We spent some more time today getting acclimated to the city.  One of our tasks was to track down what would make the most sense for transportation for us.  Public transport in the Copenhagen area isn't very cheap, actually. It's zone based (1 to 99 zones and that's just in the central city area) and the monthly pass options didn't make much sense for us because they're really made for commuters who go back and forth between the same 2 locations for work.  A single ride ticket in the central zone is about $3.40 and an unlimited day pass in the central zone is $12,  so we went searching for a place that would rent bikes by the month.  We had even considered buying bikes and then selling them when we're done but the bike market here is crazy.  The most simple, single gear with pedal brakes bikes that are new go for over $600 dollars.  We stopped into a bike shop in the Osterbro neighborhood; they didn't do monthly bike rentals themselves, but the helpful desk agent new of a place that did so he sent us there.  Swapfiets  has locations in a number of cities/countries around Europe, but they are busiest in Denmark.  Renting a bike for the month will set us back about $120 for the two of us, and we won't be able to pick up our bikes until the 5th, but it should be fun to commit to this form of transportation.  Denmark has done a remarkable job of incentivizing bicycling (partly by making car ownership so difficult).  It's amazing to see how free the streets are from vehicles generally, even on the big boulevards.  Their cycling infrastructure, in our humble opinions, is even easier to use than in Amsterdam.

We cooked our first real meal in the apartment tonight.  Stephen made stuffed portobello mushrooms, roasted potatoes, and salad.  It was good to know we could recreate a full meal as we would have at home while we're on the road.

July 1, 2022

France has followed us to Denmark.  The Tour de France is holding a number of speed and distance trials outside of France, and Denmark is hosting them today and tomorrow.  The route goes right near our apartment and the park near us is hosting the festival grounds with family friendly games, music, and a jumbotron that will broadcast the events.  We chose to spend a couple hours at Christianborg Slot, the former royal palace and current house of government in Denmark.  The was an original building on the grounds from the 13th century, and the foundation of this original structure is visible as part of the tour.  It was reconstructed in the baroque period but then not to long later burned in a fire.  The current version is from the early-mid 18th century.  The ceilings are beautiful in every room, but the most interesting items were the contemporary tapestries hanging in the great hall.  Each one represents a period in the history of Denmark and invokes the artistic style of the period.  It includes events from 20th century history as well, including  WW2 and the Nazi occupation of Denmark.  You can tour different aspects of the building, including the kitchens and the stables.  We loved poking around the kitchen which is set up similar to what we see in Downton Abbey. 

On our way back from Christianborg, we stopped to watch a little bit of the time trial.  I don't think either of us would say it was very interesting to watch; every so often someone would ride by on a bike followed by a car.  People would cheer.  We guess if we were invested more in who was competing that it might have made a difference, but it was good to at least be able to say that we watched it for a little while.

Eli made dinner tonight: lettuce cups stuffed with chicken.

July 2, 2022

Today we got a "large" city pass on the DOT app and headed out to Frederiksborg Slot and Kronborg Slot, both UNESCO world heritage sites.  Each is separately about 1 hour from Copenhagen, by train, but they're only about a 1/2 hour away from each other, so we decided to combine both into the day trip.  Both of us have had challenges with the DOT app (the app used to purchase transit tickets and passes) over the last few days.  Eli couldn't get his credit card to work in the app, and Stephen couldn't get the verification SMS message to go through.  Today, though, everything worked out and we were able to get the large pass bought.  Because we're visiting 2 different cities today and then coming back to Copenhagen, it made sense to get the 24 hour pass rather than buying individual transit tickets for the journeys.  It saved us about $15 a piece.

Frederiksborg castle was built in the renaissance style and was later remodeled in the baroque style.  What you see now is a reconstruction completed in the 19th century because the original building was destroyed in a fire (are you starting to catch a theme?).  You can definitely identify the difference between the 2nd floor rooms designed in the renaissance style and the 3rd floor rooms designed during the baroque period.  All are beautiful.  From Frederiksborg, we hopped on a train.

Kronbog castle, at the very north of the island that is grater Copenhagen, is most famous as Shakespeare's inspiration for the setting of Hamlet.  While the exterior setting of the castle, right on the ocean, is quite stunning, the interior had most of its ornamentation removed in the period after the Swedish conquest in the 1650's.  It houses a "museum" of sorts of period furniture, but we found the interior underwhelming and would probably suggest skipping it.  There is the quite well reviewed M/S Maritime Museum hosting exhibits on the history of Danish seafaring and trade.  After a long day of touring castles, though, we decided to skip it and return to Copenhagen.  The most interesting thing we saw around the castle were the party buses, complete with loud banging dance music, similar to the ones parading around Nashville in the U.S. carrying drunk groups of women (we assume bachelorette parties).  

We rested a bit and headed out to dinner.  We had been warned that the restaurant scene in Copenhagen would be expensive, but we've been doing well so far.  Partly, this is due to the fact that we're travelling in Europe while the dollar is strong against most currencies; we're getting about 18% better value than we would have a year ago in Denmark.  The food, here, as in most metropolitan areas is pretty diverse.  Tonight we went out for one of our favorite cuisines, Ethiopian and Eritrean.  We visited Hidmona Eritrean restaurant about a 20 minute walk from our apartment, and the total cost was no more that we would have paid in the US.

After dinner, we headed out to an open air jazz bar we had passed by on one of our walks during the day.  We're here during the yearly Jazz festival, but had missed the opportunity to get tickets to some of the big names like Gilberto Gil and Herbie Hancock, who were all sold out by the time we had our plans finalized.  We got to the bar, the band was just packing up, and there was not going to be another one for the night, so we just stayed for one beer.  While we were there, we chatted with Miles, a Dane who had recently returned from a post-graduate study in clinical psychology in Austin, Texas (with a cowboy hat to prove it).  Stephen and Will compared notes and talked a little bit of shop.  Then we left to go have a drink at the oldest still operating gay bar in the world, Centralhjornet.  We didn't stay very long, though.  Most of the gay bars in town allow smoking, and since they are mostly small, poorly ventilated spaces, the stench is overwhelming.  You'd think they could smoke outside given Denmark's winters have nothing on winters in Minneapolis; winters here are moderated by the ocean, jet stream, and gulf currents.  It's disappointing, though, as we would have liked to have stayed longer and people-watched.  There are a couple of other bars we would have liked to have visited, too, that are supposed to be cool spaces.  This is one area where the US is much more "civilized" that Europe.  It's hard to believe that we used to go out all the time prior to the indoor smoking bans and not even think twice about coming home with our clothes stinking.  

July 3, 2022

Today we took a break from sightseeing to focus on culinary pursuits and checked out the farmers' stands outside Torverhallerne, which is the local food hall.  We got one in Delray about a year before we started our adventure, but this one is even better, with a diverse range of stalls selling produce, meat, breads, and also prepared foods.  Maybe it's just our imagination, but we think it's much easier to get produce that actually tastes like an actual fruit or vegetable here.  That's not to say that's been the case everywhere (we were kind of disappointed with the fruit we got at Monoprix in Toulouse), but so far we've had a lot of good fortune.  We both remarked to each other that the romaine we got actually tasted like something, rather than just tasting like crunchy water.  We were excited to pick up some rhubarb, as it is not often found in Florida, so Eli made a Danish rhubarb trifle,  in addition to a zucchini and eggplant bake.

July 4, 2022

A quiet day today.  Stephen went to work out in the morning and stumbled onto a local traffic school.  We visited the "Little Mermaid" statute and walked around the park there that contains the military barracks.  As most have said, the statue of of the little mermaid is somewhat underwhelming, but it's worth a photo.  We got stuck in the rain on the way back, so we ducked into a coffee shop and got some cappuccino and some pastries. Stephen made lemon dill chicken tonight with the fresh dill plant we got.  We haven't been watching much news, and certainly not local Danish news, so it's been hard to get a sense of how the shooting at the local shopping mall has been covered.  The frequency of these occurences in the US is clearly still markedly different than anything Danes have to deal with.

July 5, 2022

We had a busy day today, doing some sightseeing in downtown Copenhagen as we kept ourselves busy before picking up our bikes at 3:30pm.  We started at the botanical gardens, then went to Rosenberg Castle to see the interior and the crown jewels.  We were pretty impressed with the crowns, the bejeweled sword, and the necklaces.  We'll have to see what we think of the British versions.  The two most interesting rooms at Rosenberg were the king's toilet room (we had always assumed they used chamber pots) and the mirrored room.  The toilet room drained directly into the moat.  The mirrored room, unlike the room at Versailles, clearly had a more personal purpose.  It had mirrors not only on the walls, but also on the ceiling and the floor.  We were speculating on the king's proclivities until we didn't need to any longer; the guidebook mentioned that the king's room where he stored his collection of erotica was next door.... we bet.  We picnicked in the park behind the castle and then went to pick up our bikes.  Eli is adjusting to bike riding better than Stephen, who hit the curb and took a little spill (but wasn't hurt at all).  Dinner was split pea soup made by Stephen.

July 6, 2022

Today we rode out bikes out to Frederiksberg (not to be confused with the Castle we saw last week about an hour outside of Copenhagen) to a nice park nearby.  There is a contemporary art museum in the underground cisterns that were originally on the grounds of the park.  The installation was outstanding and such an interesting place to see art designed with the space in mind.  Check out the photo of the little ramp coming out of the water.  We clearly think that is for waterfowl so they have an easier time getting in and out of the water.  Dinner tonight was burgers and brussel sprouts courtesy of Chef Eli.

July 7th, 2022

It was rainy this morning, so we spent the morning in our apartment.  We biked into downtown again to see the changing of the guard at noon and to spend some time in some indoor haunts in case the rain started again: the housewares store, Illums Bolighus, and the Torvehallerne.  We couldn't get enough of the Danish design featured at Illums, but we are traveling light these days, so didn't pick up anything except photographs.  Besides, everything was super expensive.  We'll wait for the knock-offs to come to Target (pronounced Tar-JAYE).  We went to Tervehallerne to get some Smorrebrod; Smorrebrod are open faced sandwiches with different combinations of ingredients on top.  Our first experience with them at a different restaurant we went to on one of our first days here wasn't that great, so we didn't post pictures.  Our second experience, while yielding more 'gramworthy photos, didn't excite that much either.  Dinner tonight, courtesy of Chef Stephen, was lamb chops and roasted potatoes.

July 8, 2022

Today was jam packed full of experiences.  First, we got up early (pastry chefs get up way early) and had a Danish pastry baking experience with Chef Frederic.  We had a great time with 5 other baking pairs making all kinds of Danish pastries.  You can see the results below.  We've been trying to keep to one a day, and at that rate we won't even finish our stash before we leave.  Danish pastry making is a lot like croissant technique.  Frederic was an exacting coach, but the results were well worth it on our tastebuds.  We came home in a food coma, napped, and then headed out toward center city again for dinner and a dance performance.

Dinner was at Union Kitchen, a cute little place with 3 locations around the city.  They do brunch, and small plates and cocktails for dinners.  Their small plates are vegetarian options plus an assortment of international meatballs.  Everything we had there was really good and filling.  The cocktails, while delicious, were a little pricey at about $20 a pop.  We also learned about orange wine, which is processed like rose, but with white grapes instead of red. 

We then went to the docks in front of the Ameliaborg Palace and across the canal from the Opera House for an outdoor performance of Dansk Danseteater with their special invited guests, Miami City Ballet.  It was a good thing we bundled up because it was quite windy on the dock, but the way the dancers moved, you never would have guessed.  There were three pieces-- a modern, a contemporary, and a balletic (we can't quite call it traditional ballet) performance by Miami City Ballet and choreographed by the artistic director of Dansk Danseteater.  Our favorite was the contemporary piece that used the conceit of kissing to structure the piece.  The other two were wonderful as well.

July 9, 2022

We took a day trip today to Malmo, Sweden, which is across the Oresund bridge from Copenhagen.  As we were walking to the castle in Malmo, we noticed a lot of locals heading in that direction, and many of them with various queer pride flags; we randomly happened upon Malmo Pride!  We hung around for a little bit at the park to watch the festivities.  Malmo, while the 3rd largest city in Sweden, has a population of only about 313,00 people and so the pride celebration definitely felt like much more of a home-grown affair than the big European pride celebrations.  It felt much more like the one we went to in Lake Worth back in March before we left Delray.  The DJ was a grandma-looking person rocking out tunes, no less.  Our favorite part was the fire rescue band playing polka-inspired disco tunes (maybe it was just the tuba that gave it a polka flair).  Also of note, there were many cis/straight appearing families bringing the kids and celebrating as a community.  There is certainly some of that in the US, but clearly not as much as it is here.

We stopped at the Malmohus Slott, which is a castle/museum of sorts.  Entry was only about $8, and you get an aquarium, a natural history museum, a contemporary art museum, a craft and design museum, a maritime museum, and the castle rooms-- something to please everyone.  We walked through the new residential district, Fullriggaren, to see the Turning Torso-- the tallest building in Scandinavia.  It is does feel very Scandinavian in its design (Santiago Calatrava was the architect), but also feels very out of place given the scale of the rest of the city.  The center of Malmo, like most cities in Europe, has a nice, walkable old city.  There were a few buildings (and not palaces/castles) that looked to be dated from the medieval period with their timber and brick construction.

Malmo as a town, while cute enough, was just okay for us.  We definitely felt like there was more to see and do in and around Toulouse, for example.  Toulouse is about 150,00 more people than Malmo, though.  We did, however, get the obligatory Swedish meatballs at a cute little place called Spoonery.  They have a strange mix of food options, but everyone was eating everything and seeming very happy.

We were kind of beat tonight, so just had leftovers, and stayed up to get on the Google Meet to celebrate a baby shower with our cousin, Billie, and her husband, Andy.  Tomorrow we're going to give ourselves a resting day to do not much of anything (other than get caught up on blogging).  

July 11, 2022

Copenhagen has its own Mt. Trashmore.  Well, not really.  It's actually a state-of-the-art biomass energy facility.  They take compostable garbage and turn it into energy.  And they built a sloped green roof covered with lots of native plants on top of the facility that you can go skiing or tobogganing down, climb the rock wall up, or just use the old fashioned stairs (or elevator) to get to the top and have the highest view of the city.  It's called Copenhill.  We walked up the stairs (and took the stairs down).  As environmentally friendly as this plant is, we still got a whiff of some kind of methane or other noxious gas every now and then.  The building, though, was very cool.  We biked there (Stephen is getting better at bike riding, and Eli is getting more patient with Stephen).  From there, we took the bikes on the metro down to Amager Nature Center for a bike ride on well paved trails through the marshland and out to the sea.  For dinner, Chef Eli made Spanish style chorizo chicken and rice.

July 12, 2022

There is something to be said for being "captain of your own ship," so even though we had taken the water bus down the main canal the first day we arrived in Copenhagen, since it was such a beautiful day we decided to rent a boat from FriendShips and go out on the water again (we had debated getting kayaks, but decided after exerting ourselves on the bikes yesterday, we'd go battery powered today). They are really battery powered; they take a small trolling motor and put it where the regular motor would be.  There's another company that does this, but looking at their boats and looking at ours, we're glad we went with FriendShips.  With that said, we probably barely eked out 4 knots.  That's not a problem on the smaller side canals, but it barely felt like we were moving when we got to the main canal.  Overall, it was a good excuse to share bottle of rose and it was great to see the city again from the water... It definitely make the city seem much more impressive.  Dinner tonight was courtesy of Chef Stephen: potato leek soup.

July 13, 2022

Since it was going to be another nice day (we really seem to be lucking out), we decided to take a day trip to Roskilde.  Roskilde has a UNESCO world heritage site, the eponymous Roskilde Cathedral, and was the site of a discovery of a number of Viking ships from the late 10th and early 11th centuries.  It is also famous for the annual rock music festival held there in late June/early July.  

The cathedral is interesting because it is where many of the former monarchs of Denmark are entombed.  Most of the side chapels are really mausoleums.  While the decoration was not extensive or very ornate, it's still amazing to marvel at the height they were able to build these buildings, even early in the 12th century.  

The Viking Ship Museum, was also enjoyable.  There are archeologists and volunteers who studied the finds and then set themselves to recreate the ships using period tools and materials to demonstrate their seaworthiness.  The largest of the boats found was about 30 meters long.  That's actually longer than the Nina, Pinta, and Santamaria that Columbus used.  The museum offers much for all ages of visitors.  You can also go out on one of the recreated ships and be a sailor/rower.  We highly recommend visiting.

The Roskilde Music Festival has been going on since 1971.  It is one of the largest music festivals in Europe, attracting over 130,000 people across 7 days.  You may remember, if you grew up in the grunge rock period, that Pearl Jam played there in 2000 and there was a tragic crowd accident during the performance where a number of people died.  They have a museum called RagnaRock about the local Danish rock music scene and the festival.  We went in, so you don't have to... we wouldn't recommend a visit unless you have a defined interest in Danish rock or the festival.

July 14, 2022

Today was a catch-up day.  We did laundry and putzed around the apartment.  Eli made a rhubarb tort and pork loin with dill sauce (apparently a Danish recipe he found online).

July 15, 2022

Today we rode our bikes back to the center city area and took in a few buildings/museums.  We started at the Design Museum (you know how the gays love design).  Lots of really interesting stuff here in the permanent collection.  The temporary exhibit was all about futurism.  We thought a lot about how the exhibit captured the optimistic and dystopian views of future and how that impacted the designs exhibited, also about how design is really focused on fulfilling a need vs. just pure "art for art's sake" (whatever that might be).  We also saw some originals of the furniture we saw for sale at Illums Bolighus....  This museum was well worth the visit.

Next was a quick stop to grab lunch at District Tonkin for pho and banh mi and then on to the Danish Architecture Center.   There was much less to see here than at the Design museum; the building is noted for having a slide that you can take from the 3rd floor to the ground floor once you've finished viewing the exhibits.  One of the current exhibits is about the project of the center designing modules for lunar habitation.  You can learn more about the project here.  We walked into the space where the architect/astronauts spent 60 days together.  We both decided we'd have killed each other or gone crazy after 60 days in that space.  The other exhibit was about women in Danish architecture.

On our way home, we stopped by the public library.  They built a brand new addition onto the original building; the new spaced is dubbed "the black diamond."  It's more like a parallelogram.  We thought there would be more to see here, but we got some good shots.

July 16, 2022

The meal we've been waiting for... lunch at Amass.  Amass was started by a former chef de cuisine from Noma, the storied trendsetter in new Nordic cuisine.  We had a great meal of 10 courses (they offer a smaller 5 course sampling at lunch, but we went whole hog), and we got the smaller wine pairing that would have gone with the 5 course meal.  Amass sources all their ingredients locally, and many vegetables come from their garden out back that you are free to roam through after your meal.  We were seated right up near the kitchen, so got to see and hear the chefs at work and got to check out the vegetable garden through the window.  For those of you that know, Stephen is not a big lover of fish since the age of 3, but he did really well with the courses involving fish... and one was even mackerel.  The flavors were definitely Nordic; some sour and pickled notes in most of the dishes.  They were all well balanced, though, and we both thoroughly enjoyed the meal.  Amass also has a sister restaurant, AFC, that does fried chicken.  We'll be back to check that out.  Update: AFC officially closed for good before we could get back there (literally the Sunday after we ate on Saturday).

Amass is located in a primarily industrial neighborhood, filled with old warehouses (and not too far from the CopenHill).  This neighborhood also contains the Copenhagen Contemporary which we stopped in after our meal.  They were doing a retrospective on Light and Space, artists from the 1960-1980s in Los Angeles.  It was surprising to us how much emotion these objects evoked in the space.

We came home for a quick nap, and then headed out to Tivoli Gardens to walk through the park, eat some food, ride some rides, and see the fireworks display.  Tivoli was first constructed in the mid 19th century, and even in its contemporary incarnation, it retains much of the flavor of the late 19th century... very much a Jules Verne meets Orientalism kind of vibe.  We think it works visually if you can ignore all the problematic aspects of that period.  It is said that Walt Disney was inspired to create Disneyland after a visit to Tivoli.  We can definitely see that.  Add to it that you see the actual historic buildings in the background surrounding the gardens and it definitely makes you feel like you're at Disney's EPCOT World Showcase... and the fireworks set to music!

July 17 and 18, 2022

On one of our first days here, we stopped by an ATM to get some Danish Krone in case we needed them.  Until today, we haven't encountered a single place that did not take credit cards, and in fact, we hadn't seen anyone anywhere pull out cash ever.  We stopped by the Norrebro farmers market on Sunday.  This one only happens once a month in the summer.  They didn't have as many veggies as the stalls near Toverhalle, but they did have more locally produced products like jams and honeys.  We picked up some salad greens that looked good.  The stands here only took cash.  Then, Stephen went to get his first international haircut on Monday.  He forgot, though, to ask if they take credit cards, and he realized it as he was waiting and saw the guy before him pull out cash.  They didn't.  But the owners of the barber shop, Franky's Frisor and Barber Shop, couldn't have been more gracious. They cut Stephen's hair first, and then said he could run (or bike, actually) home and get the Krona that were at home and bring it back.  Stephen added a tip onto the price of the haircut, and they returned it.  That would NEVER happen in the U.S... any of it.  Dinners Sunday and Monday were Chicken Cordon Bleu courtesy of Chef Stephen and pasta courtesy of Chef Eli on Sunday, and Sasaa Pan African in Norrebro on Monday.  A couple of notes: don't believe google when they say a cheese "tastes like swiss;" it will not.  Sassaa had a good mix of East and West African foods.  It was our first time having some of the typical foods from West Africa; they were very subtly spiced but really good overall.  

July 19 and 20, 2022

We've been spared some of the scorching heat that the rest of Europe is experiencing right now, but it is hotter today than it has been since we got here... 81 degrees F.  Since we arrived in Copenhagen, we've been very focused on what's right in front of us as far as doing activities and seeing sights, so we haven't done much planning beyond having our housing in London and Paris secured for August and September.  We took these last couple days to do some planning for the future and to stay cool inside the apartment that has thick stone walls.  We decided on visiting Croatia and Greece for the month of October, as there is a cheap EgyptAir flight from Athens to Cairo, and our 2 weeks in Croatia will keep us out of the Schengen zone for enough days so that we won't have overstayed our 90 days total in 180 when we leave for Egypt on November 2nd.  We've made most of our reservations for that next part of our trip as of today. Update: As of January 1, 2023, Croatia is in the Schengen Zone and now subject to the 90 days in 180 total.

We also now have broad outlines for our travel from January through April.  We'll start in Chile and visit Patagonia, the Atacama desert, and Easter Island.  We spent a good 6 hours today trying to figure out how to get to Easter Island from Santiago without braking the bank.  LATAM is the only airline that flies there.  Google flights was showing one price by booking on the LATAM US website while a much cheaper price was showing if you booked on the LATAM Chile website using pesos.  We figured, since we speak Spanish, that we would go to the Chile site and buy the tickets there.  Unfortunately, we couldn't get it to go through.  We then called the LATAM customer service number in the US, and tried booking it with them using pesos, and they couldn't get it to work either.  They first said that it was because our US card wouldn't process a payment in another currency (which we knew wasn't the case because we've been charging up a storm since arriving in Europe).  Then they said we needed a credit card issued by a Chilean bank to get it to process.  Then they suggested we go to a LATAM office and try and pay in person and that would probably work, but there are no LATAM flights to Copenhagen and therefore no desk here, so we were left to try to do it on the day we arrive in London to find the LATAM desk at the airport before our reservation expires.  As a last thought, we looked for a Chilean online travel agency, and luckily that did the trick; we were able to get the flights booked using our US credit card an paying in pesos.  The one we used was Atrapalo.

After Chile, we'll head to Mendoza, Argentina, for Vendimia, the wine harvest festival, and Vendimia para Todxs, the LGBT festival that is the following weekend.  Then it's off to Ecuador for a cruise in the Galapagos islands and visits to Quito, Cuenca, and Guayaquil.  From there, we'll head to Lisbon to meet Stephen's family and Eli's mom and to tour Lisbon, Andalucia, and to make a pit stop in Toulouse to see Larry, Evelyne, and the cousins.  And then, who knows?

Update: And no sooner do we post this entry, we get an email that our Easter Island flight reservation has been cancelled.  We looked at a number of different options, including contacting an old colleague of Eli's in Chile, but now we're focused on deciding to not go, stay a total of 7 days instead of 5 and pay $2,500 to go (twice what we would have paid if we had gotten the price in pesos), or go ahead and suck it up an pay $5,300 for the original booking.  Interested in hearing readers' thoughts....

July 22, 2022

Today we went out about an hour and a half outside of Copenhagen to Odense, the birthplace of Hans Christian Andersen.  There is a brand new museum that opened just last year that surrounds the house where he was born (the house where he spend his childhood is just a few blocks away and you can tour that as well).  The museum takes inspiration from Andersen's stories, and while the technology might overwhelm and get a little hokey sometimes, it is a really cool experience... very immersive.  Another interesting thing to note is how both his male and female romantic involvements are treated as not requiring any specific note; they're just a part of the story.  Well worth the visit.

There is also a museum of local history that is included in your admission to the HC Andersen museum, and in addition to all kinds of artifacts from the pre-historic era to the Viking era to WWII and beyond, it answered a vexing question that Eli has had since we got to Denmark.  When we first arrived in the last week of June, he saw many people walking around in what, to us, looked like a Danish naval or sailor's cap (see picture below).  Eli really wanted to get one as a souvenir, but we were unable to find them anywhere.  After visiting the exhibit at the history museum, we learned that these are graduation caps, and that all the people wearing them were just recently graduated (which would make sense since it was the last week of June).  Note that none of the ones we saw had tassels.  We much prefer this style to the mortarboard style we use in the US.  Who EVER thought that was a good look!?!?!

The town as a whole has a really beautiful center with lots of shops and restaurants.  We preferred Odense as a town to Malmo by far.  The architecture is varied and it gives the center a very unique vibe.  There are many timber framed buildings from the 18th century and earlier, and there is a whole section near the museum that is lovingly restored.  You can't quite get it from the pictures, but the walls of most of the timber framed buildings go all kinds of directions... worse that the leaning tower of Pisa.  One of the things that both of us took note of were the strange mirrors on the windows of the 2nd stories in many of the homes on the restored block.  We speculated that they were there so that residents could get a view of the activity on the street for gossip while not appearing untoward.  Eli stopped someone else on the street to ask, and they confirmed that that was the case.  

We ambled about town a bit and then stopped at Kosmos for a vegan lunch.  After lunch we stopped by the Train museum.  Eli's stepdad, Bobby Joe, would have a field day here.  We enjoyed looking at the trains, but if that's not your thing, then definitely skip it.  All in all we spent about 6 hours in Odense and we would definitely be up for coming back.

See that black box on the 2nd story window... that's the mirror.

July 23rd through 25th, 2022

Getting Ready to Leave Copenhagen

Since Copenhagen became our home about four weeks ago, we are taking time to pack up all the things we unpacked to make it our home.  We did laundry, tried to use our leftovers, and checked out a couple of remaining things we wanted to see and do in town that we hadn't gotten to yet.  Both revolved around industrial spaces taken over for food and socialization.

The first was the Meatpacking District.  These buildings were built in the 1930's and have a very modern functional aesthetic.  They've repurposed the spaces for restaurants and bars, and it gets quite lively at night.  We ate at WarPig, which was created by a Texan living in Copenhagen.  Best ribs we've had in a while... tender, juicy, and lightly smoked.  Then there's Reffen, which was basically an empty field in the industrial section of town near Amass, which we went to last week. They brought in shipping containers, electrified them, and put street food venders in them of all sorts.  The "town" sits right on the water, so it's nice to grab food from your favorite stall and sit down at a table or lounge chair (provided) to sit by the water and eat your meal.  We ended up getting tacos al pastor, and Eli said they were the best al pastor tacos he's had outside of Mexico.

We finished our stay in Copenhagen the same way we started (this time, though, with our bikes in tow).  We took the ferry from Reffen to Orientkaj near the Copenhagen International School, repeating our trip from the first day.  Our overall impressions of Copenhagen are that it's very much a place to live.  We can see why it makes the top 10 lists of livable cities so frequently, although it might be another thing to experience biking in near freezing temperatures through the long, dark winter.