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Copenhagen: Land of Many Contrasts

Dear Kay,
So we made it to Copenhagen, on a flight stacked to the bulkheads with attractive co-passengers. One gorgeous mom mesmerized us all by walking up and down the aisle with her downy-headed tot in her arms, fresh as a daisy at 3 am, her tiny bundle of Danish DNA smiling delightfully or snoozing in a picturesque way. As I endlessly adjusted my Saran Wrap blanket and wondered whether I was getting the flu, I thought, What is this strange land we are flying to?
Well, Portland, Oregon, when you grow up you’re going to be Copenhagen. All the things that make Portland adorable are magnified in Copenhagen by ten. The amount of cuteness we saw during our brief stay left me certain that Copenhagen is the cutest place on earth.
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The Church of our Saviour, with a curlicue spire that lets you climb to the top! With friendly wind turbines in the distance. This batch of 20 turbines, the Middelgrunden Offshore Wind Farm, provides 4 percent of Copenhagen’s electricity. It’s right there, about a mile offshore, visible from many places in town. Strangely, I found this one of the most moving landmarks of our trip. And cute!
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The Jane, puttering through the harbor. Popeye’s boat, surely. Table for two set with white cloth and comfy chairs.
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This is where my teeth started to hurt, it was so enviable. Bicycles everywhere, bike lanes that actually function, and terrain so flat that the bikes all had one gear: GO.
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And to cap it off, a visit to Tivoli Gardens, the amusement park begun in 1843. So charming that Walt Disney is said to have used it as inspiration for his Disneyland. This place, so small in scale and so digestible, gave me flashbacks to our trip to Disneyworld–remembering how unmanageably huge it was, how overwhelming.
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If you really want a free mindtrip, go to an amusement park when you’re seriously jet lagged. Everything is hilarious, and terrifying. The six-bucket Ferris wheel left Clif and me plastered to our seats. I thought I was going to die.
We didn’t even get to the Little Mermaid statue, but I was fascinated to read that Hans Christian Andersen was a conflicted kind of guy, and that made me like Copenhagen all the more. If you haven’t read “The Little Mermaid” recently, here you go–I forget how dark his fairy tales really are. Not so cute, when you get right down to it. The fact that he is a national hero–and Kierkegaard! and Hamlet!–makes me wish I had more time in Copenhagen. What lies behind all the adorableness?
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A word on knitting: I have never left for a significant trip like this so poorly armed for distance knitting. In a desperate, last-minute gambit, I decided to go with (from left) Lynne Vogel’s brilliant handspun, Alpaca with a Twist Fino laceweight, and Rio de la Plata kettle-dyed sock yarn. No patterns, just needles, with the secret plan of trying to squeeze in a yarn shop or two when the fellas were off staring at some historic place. Or TV.
We arrived the port to find our ship, the S. S. Gargantua of the Seas. No wait: it was Immensity of the Seas. Or the Majesty of the Vistas? The DreamSong? The Song of the Husky? Aw hell, it was a big, white cruise ship, smaller than some, bigger than others, but certainly a vessel that on a daily basis probably sucks up the 4% of electricity that all those winsome wind turbines generate. I’m not going to go into the issue of carbon footprint guilt here, but please know that I was suitably conflicted as we sailed past the Middelgrunden Offshore Wind Farm. “Copenhagen, I’m sorreeeeeee!” I yelled as we headed out to the Baltic. “I promise I’ll blog your turbines when I get home!”
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Next up: Ultimate Visby.
Love,
Ann

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29 Comments

29 Comments

  1. Must get one of those Jane boats! The kids will have to stay with some aunt or other, and the hub and I will cruise around in a cute little boat with white tablecloth! Knitting!

  2. Trivia: I share a birthday with Hans Christian Andersen, albeit 164 years apart.

  3. Erstwhile Copenhagener here. I fled three years ago. Copenhagen is cute and adorable if you are the right sort of person: white and middle-class. Sigh. But, hey, it’s a pretty city and it does have its highlights – more than fourteen yarn shops for instance..

  4. SS Buffet, indeed!
    Glad to know what Portland will be when it grows up. I can’t wait. So cute! And I love that curlicue spire.

  5. Awwww, thanks for liking our city ;) The facets are many and faults not few, but yet I think it is a very very cute city as well!
    There are MANY yarnshops to visit, so your pattern lust should be possible to satify another time ;) (I’d be happy to lead on a yarn-crawl!)
    Looking forward to hearing about the rest of the trip.

  6. hi Ann & Kay! I’m looking for some knitterly expertise/advice. I am going to knit a blanket for my son to take to college with him (a year from now) ~ so I need to get started! LOL I’ve got both your books of course! Can you recommend/suggest a favorite?

  7. hi Ann & Kay! I’m looking for some knitterly expertise/advice. I am going to knit a blanket for my son to take to college with him (a year from now) ~ so I need to get started! LOL I’ve got both your books of course! Can you recommend/suggest a favorite?

  8. You absolutely are a magnificently cute writer. If I can’t be Copenhagen, can I be you when I grow up? The writing part, I mean. I don’t want to take your family or anything.

  9. Thanks for sharing your adventures with us!!!!

  10. As in “Warren” or “All U Can Eat”?

  11. Almost too much charm for one post! Love it all. I think the Jane boat has to be my favorite. I want to be on it. . .

  12. I too loved Copenhagen when I visited with my mother and sister. There are fantastic yarn stores there btw.
    But, your mention of Tivoli Gardens reminded me, we all decided we had to ride the roller coaster there, and my mom was wearing her typical clogs. And, yup, you guessed it, one of her clogs went flying off the roller coaster while we were on it. She had to walk back to the hotel barefoot (fortunately it was only a couple of blocks). The amazing part is that when we went back in the morning, they had found it!
    Those Danes, good looking, good natured, and good at corralling clogs.
    Thanks for reminding me, I hadn’t thought of that in a long time.

  13. I too loved Copenhagen when I visited with my mother and sister. There are fantastic yarn stores there btw.
    But, your mention of Tivoli Gardens reminded me, we all decided we had to ride the roller coaster there, and my mom was wearing her typical clogs. And, yup, you guessed it, one of her clogs went flying off the roller coaster while we were on it. She had to walk back to the hotel barefoot (fortunately it was only a couple of blocks). The amazing part is that when we went back in the morning, they had found it!
    Those Danes, good looking, good natured, and good at corralling clogs.
    Thanks for reminding me, I hadn’t thought of that in a long time.

  14. I thought only the cruise ships in the Caribbean are named for Jimmy Buffet. Parrotheads, anyone?

  15. I’m going on my first cruise in October, and I’m a little alarmed by all of the food I’ve heard is available. I do not need to roll all the way home at the end!
    (in other words, I really love your last picture. It made me laugh.)

  16. Did you climb the spirally-spire? It’s the kind of thing I would find irresistable going up, but coming down…not so much.
    About HCA? Whoa, yeah. I remember some tragic plots very well.
    Thanks for sharing your family holiday! Carry on having fun :)

  17. From another commenter who adores Denmark, surely the world’s most child-friendly country:
    Regarding HCA, may I recommend Striking 12, a GrooveLily musical that updates “The Little Match Girl” It contains the profound (yet jaunty) song, “Screwed Up People Make Great Art,” a paean to Andersen.

  18. your pictures are so sharp and clear
    the sky is so clear and blue
    thank you for my bed time storey
    tis a very good one

  19. Now, about that “secret to feeling young”, was it brought about by attending all those extensive shipboard buffets? (oh please, oh please, oh please…..)
    ;););)
    LoveDiane

  20. I’m so jealous, we had a fabulous weekend in Copenhagen back in 1999 when we were living in London – but Tivoli was closed for a month between end summer and before winter season. Consoled myself by buying a lovely light blue denim jumper (sweater) that I was wearing yesterday, and going to the ballet in wonderful old theatre near the waterfront. We did get to see the Little Mermaid – surprisingly modest little statue, just a few feet offshore. Enjoy the cruise

  21. What a great post! It helps me remember my trip to Denmark so so many years ago (can I be that old?. Did you visit any yarn shops? We hope to get to Denmark next year, but just in case will you stop by and say hello to my relatives? Thanks!

  22. Almost 20 years ago I was on a college trip to England and Paris. We had a layover in Copenhagen. We got a bus tour, I still remember the guide pointing out Sweden across the water…so I’ve seen Sweden. We went to the “walking street” and looked at the shops. The hotel was decorated in Danish Modern and they had a huge breakfast buffet that included fish. It was charming and I’ve always wanted to go back. Oh and I remember the airport bing full of tall blond people. I’m tall, yet they were taller. I’m not blond at all, it seemed so alien. Now that I have a tall blond son with some Scandinavian heritage from his dad’s side I want to take him to see if he would fit in.

  23. I love the Jane, and the sock yarn. As for the cruise ship, I work in lower Manhattan, and now some of the ships are so huge that they can’t park in the Hudson, so they dock in Brooklyn and I can’t believe how huge they are.

  24. As a milbrat growing up in Europe in the 1960s, we spent some time in Denmark and a couple of weekends at Tivioli Gardens. As a result, even going to college in FL and living briefly in Orange County CA, I have never visited a Disney. After Tivoli – with real music, real food, real gardens and trees and a monumental lack of marketing tie-ins? I knew I would have the total hates for a Disney.
    Footnote – of all the places we lived and visited, I loved the Danes and the Italians the very best.

  25. My first ever visit to a yarn store was in Copenhagen and I wasn’t even aware of it! I saw a beautiful sweater in a shop window and went in to inquire about buying it. When I was told that the sweater was not for sale, but that I could buy the yarn and instructions to make it myself, I thought the nice lady must be on drugs. All the time I lived in the Nordic countries and traveled there a lot, I was not a knitter. What a waste. If you’re still in Copenhagen you must eat bread, especially the lovely rolls they make. Even the airport has great bread. Too civilized. Oh, and beer…

  26. Nice to see you arriving over here. Copenhagen is a nice place and my birth city, but after 10 years (week! has it been that long) in Aalborg in Jutland, I wouldn’t go back.

  27. Oh, and in my not so humble opinion, you didn’t miss much by not see the Little Mermaid. I’ve taken friends there and so gotten that “Is that it?!?” look afterwards.

  28. Copenhagen, I’m sorreeeeeee!” I yelled as we headed out to the Baltic. “I promise I’ll blog your turbines when I get home!”
    Too funny, as is “SS Buffet”. Welcome back.

  29. Love, that so many of you love Denamrk – or Copenhagen, as many of you have been there.
    I grew up in Greenland with my littlebrother, a danish Mom and a greenlandish (is that even a word?) Father.
    When we moved to Denamrk in 92´, I thourght Copenhagen was big and loud. Too many people and too many cars squeezed in a small place.
    Now I live in Odense and this is the right size of city for me to live in for the moment.
    If you all wanted to see cute-ness in Denamrk – come to the smaller cities here. I would gladly show you where HCA was born and all the LYS here in Odense.
    /Julia