Copenhagen: Land of Many Contrasts
August 19, 2009
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.
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!
The Jane, puttering through the harbor. Popeye’s boat, surely. Table for two set with white cloth and comfy chairs.
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.
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.
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?
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!”
Next up: Ultimate Visby.