May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your rivers flow without end, meandering through pastoral valleys tinkling with bells, past temples and castles and poets’ towers into a dark primeval forest where tigers belch and monkey’s howl, through miasmal and mysterious swamps and down into a desert of red rock, blue mesas, domes and pinnacles and grottos of endless stone, and down again into a deep vast ancient unknown chasm where bars of sunlight blaze on profiled cliffs, where deer walk across the white sand beaches where storms come and go as lightening clangs upon the high crags, where something strange and more beautiful and more full of wonder than your deepest dreams waits for you---beyond that next turning of the canyon walls. ---Edward Abbey (thanks Trudy Hall)

Friday, August 12, 2011

In Denmark rain or shine

hostel room

August 9
It was raining when we finally got out and wandered until we decided to take a bus through town to just witness what was what.  It took us farther than we thought into a Muslim area, and around through the Christianshavn area that had some wild neighborhoods—what looked like houseboats on land, long graffiti’d fence with lush trees and bohemian homes.  It also housed the schools of theater, dance and design.  At the end was the modern glass and wood opera house.  From there, you could see the national theater, with a big glass square around it’s midsection, and a circus tent set up on a promontory.  We went back to the middle of the action, had coffee and some bakery goods before we caught the boat transport that goes up and down the long channel through town (these tickets that give you free access to all public transportation is VERY cool!).  We got off at the castle on the north of town and discovered we were at the Museum of the Danish Resistance.  At first it seemed so small, but they packed so much of the history of those resisting the Nazi takeover of Europe and the world.  They had printing presses, videos of interviews of those who took part, uniforms, stamped silverware with the swastika, banners, photos, helmets with holes in them, an old radio scene, codes, secret things (hats, pins, the coins were soft enough to add your own sentiment like “Down with Hitler” that you could pass around, or stickers printed with anti-Nazi phrases) that indicated you were with England, videos of newsletters falling from some high window and people snatching them up from the street, uniforms of the Jews and gays from concentration camps, and so much more that we didn’t get to examine because it closed.  From there, we walked past the castle where “the Little

Les afraid of sea snakes!

Mermaid” resides by the ocean to catch the transport to the Ballet up in Klamponborg.  We found the theater by a beautiful beach where men were playing volleyball and the life guards were testing someone in a surf rescue.
Jack at the Copenhagen Theater
The ticket office for C. Theater
Jim!  See how often the trains come?! Better than London!
The water was cool and green; people were swimming for exercise and fun, crewing boats and sailing.  Sweden was in sight.  When we found someone in the theater, it turns out it’s not outside, and it’s not free, and tonight is sold out.  I said I was going to be gone on Friday and said I was a choreographer from the US.  She made a call and we got tickets that had been cancelled for ½ price because it was a dress rehearsal.  The program was interesting, with a fantastic flamenco/contemporary/tap dancer that followed a singer singing Orbison’s “Crying” in Spanish (the theme of the show).  A love interest showed up who turned out to be the link throughout the show.  The second piece was nice in concept, but the unison phrases didn’t make sense and didn’t suit the man’s technical ability. It did have an impressive curtain made of silver beads on which they projected video and split it open to enter, and used as a scrim to have dancing going on behind the curtain.  The third piece was entertaining with fantastical costumes with capes that had both heavy elements and silk that shown in the black light.  I got irritated at the long legged long-haired street dancer who couldn’t hold her focus, but the rest were tight and well done with elements on a bench.  After the intermission, a man started his dance on the highest chair of 7 rigged on the wall stage right.  He slid from one to the other, when the flamenco dancer showed up and spurred him.  The last section was a mishmash of sections we had seen before, and people showing the best of what they do in their genres.  It was colorful, chaotic like a party, and featured large tables that they could stack precariously, open like doors.  At one point the Flamenco dancer came in on the tables with a red dress with a train about 45 feel long.  At the end they projected onto the silver bead curtain a live feed from overhead to show another layer of the chaos—that of the flamenco dancer getting lowered into the square hole that the tables made center stage.  We enjoyed it very much.  The women next to us took us home.  One was an American who does choreography for gymnasts; one whom she hopes will go to the Olympics in Brazil.

August 10
Expensive coffee in our favorite MoJo café and off to free museum day!  We walked past Tivoli to the Carlsberg museum, and oh my, was this an impressive collection!  I spent the whole time looking at ancient Egyptian and Greek artifacts including mummies, miniature scenes of people in kitchens, boats, breweries, weaving studios, etc. to put in graves.  The rest were statues of people and animals with wonderful explanations of how the hairstyle changed, or the techniques in the carvings.  Les finally found me after looking so long and took me to the Degas and Rodin section where we saw the little ballerina and the thinker, along with the big piece about the losing men taking the key to the city to the winner that Pat Knowles choreographed from.  These artists did so many trials of their work!

I saw 6 or so of the same dancer doing penché, then others looking at her foot, and more with leg devant.  

 Soon I was famished and wanted to find the restaurant that Hollis said was her favorite in the world.  As usual, we walked indirectly to it, but found the French Bistro and made a reservation for tomorrow, and devoured a little sandwich on hard Danish bread and fresh apple, ginger and raspberry juice.  Time to go to the free ballet in yet another village. We stamped our transport tickets and went way out to Roskilde.  It started sprinkling when we took our seats in the amphitheater.  The ballet dancers were having class on stage.  After a ½ hour sitting under our umbrellas, they announced that it was too wet to perform.  We went home and had a Carlsberg beer on the second floor of the hostel.  I probably shouldn’t have, since I have a sore throat developing…  Oh, Les got me laughing—he had some really stinky socks, and when I came back from the bathroom, he started rubbing those skanky socks all over my bed and pillow.  I was so disgusted and gave him that “look,” but he kept going and going!  When I protested, he showed me that he was using a clean sock and I laughed for hours at his joke.  I’m still laughing.

August 11 
We got out in time to get to our reservation to Hollis Johnson’s favorite restaurant of all time: “L’educacion Internacionale.”  Indeed it did not disappoint.  Their lunch of the day was salmon in a butter sauce, oh yeah, yum.  Also there were tiny potatoes and a stack of vegetables including a scrumptious tomato and some eggplant.  It came with several sprigs of thyme, which Les and I played a little charade game with the word time; like he hovered one spring of thyme over another, and I was to guess “overtime.”  It was in a cute shopping area, and no Dane seemed to notice that it was raining.  We found a bus that circled the city and took the long way home.  I worked out how much money we had spent so far and it’s been about $2800 each for the past six weeks.  Europe is expensive!  I also repaired some clothing items that had holes, rips and worn spots.  Tomorrow we go to Amsterdam on the night train.   One funny thing was that there was a machine with a red cross on it and a big hole in the middle.  Les said we should get our blood pressure taken, so I stuck in my arm and a little alarm went off and the far end of the hole started to rotate.  It wasn’t blood pressure, it was a bottle recycling machine!!
Fred's Church

August 12
We took the walking tour with a huge group (40 people?) but our guide rolled with it.  She was from Vancouver with an opera singing major, and sang us a little aria outside the opera house.  Nice tales of the Danish 007, the resistance, the first castle, the many, many fires, the red light harbor that was taken over by good citizen boats to keep out the partying sailors only to have the swing gate swell shut in the heat and trap them for days.  It ended up that the city liked that look and the boats were kept as an open air museum.  There are many 3x3x3’ decorated elephants around the town to help raise support for saving the Indian elephant.  We learned about bishop Absalon who built the first castle here and who won a whole war by knocking over their images of gods.  It was a nice tour; she works only for tips, so we gave her 50Kr.  My cold is progressing, but I’m eating better and sleeping well.  I hope it abates.

Monday, August 8, 2011

On the way to Denmark

August 5-6
Expensive Pad Thai
A travel day, and nothing to talk about.  The hostel is fine, with 8 of us: 2 French, 2 Dutch, 2 Swiss.  It was rainy so we took a nap and then shopped for food after getting a plate of pad thai for $20 a plate.  Yikes. 

dog on the sled
On the 6th, we went to the Viking museum.  The ships, sleds and very elaborate tools, chains, bowls and ceremonial carved things were preserved in blue clay for about 800 years so that people could put them together again with pretty amazing accuracy.  I loved the carvings that were very knotted together: a serpent would hold onto a man, holding a woman, on a horse, with a dog, holding the sleeve of someone else, etc., etc.  The carvings were intricate and the metalwork was detailed in such a beautiful way—even the chains
that held the pot off the ground were artistic.  These ships were retired as burial ships.  In the mound there were 50 horses,
maids, pets along with things they would need in the afterlife: tents, sled, cooking supplies, weaving tools, furniture, etc..  Everything was so beautiful and some from time BC.  All that wood was preserved to give us a real picture of the boats way back then.

Then we went for an Indian buffet for our one meal out a day for 90NOK each.  The coffee was sour.  How strange!  The waitress told us about the free “Sofa Festival,” so we went searching for that, passing the Peace Prize museum and lots of street performers.  I hoped to increase the tips of an accordion player by dancing next to him, but alas, no one came by while I was there.  The Festival costs $20, and we were feeling like we had spend todays rations, so we walked along the water toward the opera house.

We climbed up a rampart and listened to music from below as we gazed over the bay and watched ships go in and out.  The castle there was interesting too, in that there were layers that indicated different building techniques, one guard that walked his beat, smartly turning when at the end of his walk, and very high walls to protect the rest of the innards.  


Finally, we zigzagged the roads to the sensational sight of the Oslo Opera House!  When they said in the book that you can walk on top of the roof, I didn’t imagine that the roof slanted all the way to the ground!  Lots of people were up there for the sunset, with families and just being on this huge white wide space.  I bet it’s astonishing to see when it rains.  You could see the inside from the huge glass panels, and it was filled with tiers of wood slats, not unlike our EMPAC center in Troy.  I noticed similar acoustical patterns on the surfaces too.  It was finished in 2008, and is an impressive contemporary edifice that invites people to engage with it.  Also, the exit dumps people right out to the trains, busses and metro.  Very well planned in terms of flow! 

August 7 

Les as Gargoyle
We caught an early bus to a train to the airport and flew to Copenhagen.  We’re still clunky when we arrive to each new place, but now we have a pattern.  We go to tourist info, get maps and things and get some local money—which we spend far too fast.  We always walk around a bit before we head in the right direction on the right metro or train.  We found someone going to our hostel that was “right next to the metro station,” which here means 3-4 blocks away.  It’s an impressive hostel with the whole second floor being a hang out area with lots of couches, TV, music playing, patio, bar, café, game area and free wifi.  At night the place swings with youngsters drinking beer and flirting on the dance floor and in the bar.  I think it’s a great idea, so they aren’t in the streets looking for a good time.  (Well, they are there too.)  The hostel is brand new and they did it up right.  Our room of 8 has bunks with 2 plugs and a light and a little privacy glass at one end, huge trunks that you can slide out and lock under the beds, 2 showers and 1 toilet in the room with a sink in the open.  The place could use a kitchen though. 

We decided to get the 3 days of transportation rather than a card that would give us free access to the museums and sites.  We found out that Hamlet at Elsinore Castle was sold out, but tonight they were playing Richard III.  We chanced it and went on the train up the coast to see if there were tickets.  We got there around 5:30 and tickets went on sale at 7:00, so we walked around the estate with a huge moat (that used to be the toilet for hundreds of years), took a gander at Sweden across the channel and read the fascinating history of the place.  We got tickets, and as we waited we received blankets to keep us warm during the show that was in the inner courtyard.  I talked with one of the crew who loved her job helping out the cast and also as a volunteer in the street helping the drunken teens get on their feet on the weekends.  She told me stories of all the haunting images she has seen in Elsinore Castle in a room where she was a part of lots of Germans  having a feast, wore historical garments in the gardens and enjoyed the company of historical characters of the place.  Past lives?  Connections to the spirit world?  I LOVED the play.  Les was less impressed, but really loved seeing an actor he respected and knew from his previous work.  The whole piece was so gory that they added a layer of dark humor that made it in some way relieving and in other ways even more disturbing.  Fake blood was used to the max and all the magic of the theater helped to make it seem real enough that I winced: the pulling of entrails out of one, the drilling of another through the head, chainsaw-ing yet another to pieces, and the regular stabbing and shooting and pummeling of others.  After each killing, the men in (bloodied) whitish masks and coats would sing a little gay ditty as they cleaned up the remains.  Oh, and the whole cast was male; I enjoyed seeing the ladies played by men, and not hiding the fact that they are men; they even wore a skirt with a matching jacket, feminine in the front and tales in the back.  Richard was pretty disturbed, and was animated in all the forms that show pathological irritation.  Upon exiting, they had big cannonball type lamps lit along the walk to light our way.  I imagined how dark castles would get with only lamps in them.  We got home late, and slept in late.  
I’m afraid that Monday the 8th wasted our free transportation card, as it was rainy and we spent it indoors and at the supermarket.  We found out that tomorrow the ballet is giving a free outdoor concert in a nearby town, and there are some potential jams for me to go to throughout the week.  Wednesday is free museum day at several places.  Catch up on the blog today for me, but when I went to steal Les’s photos and videos, the ones before the castle were all gone!  GONE!  That was when his camera started speaking Spanish yesterday for no reason.  It must have reset itself somehow.  I feel so bad for him.
Harry has an even more different name in Norway