There’s no place like home.
Except when two places feel equally at home.
I’ve been meaning to post about the last two weeks we spent in Denmark before flying back home, but… I just haven’t. I don’t want the trip, the excitement… I don’t want it to be over. And none of that, don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened bullshit. I don’t buy it.
Friends, family, silver wedding anniversary, a baptism, favorite sights and old hangouts. At times it felt like one long continuous day, meeting one person for lunch, another for dinner and little time to sit back and relax to enjoy it all. We spent two weeks eating and drinking our way around the country. Although it’s not “known” for it’s food (how many legit Danish restaurants in Seattle), food in Denmark is amazing. It’s more than just hotdogs (I guess) and there are several favorites that you just can’t get around here. One of my favorites as the weather heats up (and it was plenty warm while we were there) is koldskål med kammerjunker and strawberries.
A cold, sweet/tart buttermilk (??) dairy soup which is fantastic for a warm afternoon snack. Unless you are my dad (obvs. not a real dane) who doesn’t like it. I guess he’s more of a meat and potatoes kinda guy (ok, so maybe he really is danish). But we had open-faced sandwiches which are really a shame to eat as they tend to look more like something you’d see in a culinary art book, rather than something you’d want to cut into and eat. Shrimp and egg, liver pâté with bacon, cheese with jam, roast beef… the options are endless. Oh, and my forever-favorite, mackerel in tomato sauce with mayo. Strawberry season was in high swing with all the warm weather and countless grocery stores had them right outside the front door, the earthy-sweet smell tempting me everywhere I went.
It was great to catch up with friends while in town. When I first came to Denmark on my own, it was for a semester of Danish language at a ‘boarding school’ in Rønde, Denmark. Located in an old farm (shared with an organic farming school). I have enough memories to probably write a whole series (oh the secrets I could share…). That’s a whole different post. Moving on. But one of the friends I managed to catch up with was Frederikke, from Greenland. We said our goodbyes in December 2003 and were lucky to meet 6 months later at a little reunion at the school (she stayed an extra semester). May 2004 was the last time I saw her. Until now! I’ve kept in contact with several from that school (I saw Dorte while in town too), and have been lucky enough to catch up with those living in Denmark over the years and Trond who I get to see once a year or so. But I just haven’t been able to connect with those living in Greenland (it’s on my bucket list to visit though). We met for brunch (at one of my favorite cafes) and then wandered the city for a few hours after. It was just like old times, laughing and having a good time. I hope it’s not another 14 years before I see her again.
I also got to catch up with ‘the guys’ from university. Helgi (JFC, your name keeps autocorrecting to ‘hello’) and Anders (pictured) both went to RUC and we did a couple projects together. While we all tease each other mercilessly, they are pretty chill to hangout with and I’ve always had fun with them. Back in 2008 (I think?) we took a trip to Prague together and still laugh about how Helgi was a little bitch about holding his liquor, yet instantly puked his second shot of Absinthe (Anders and I knew that one was enough). Sure, he could drink me under the table any day, but I’ve never puked in the middle of a bar… so that’s something, right? We beer-hopped (drank a beer at a cafe, moved on to drink beer somewhere else), had an ice cream, dinner and then went our separate ways. We’ve obviously grown and matured (mostly) since our college days, but in someways it’s funny to see how things never change. Even though we’re not in contact as frequently these days, it’s nice to know that we can meet up, drink a beer and chat like it’s been three weeks, not three years. Definitely friends that I am grateful to still have in my life.
I also had to see some of my favorite sites/sights around the city. I love taking the bus around Copenhagen. It comes frequently enough (esp. during the day, downtown) that you don’t have to worry about a schedule. Hop on, hop back off, walk a few blocks and hop back on again. If I had the time, I would catch the bus from my cousin’s house and rather than take the train in (much faster) I would switch to another bus and take the longer route into the city. Old buildings, crazy bike traffic, random block parties and cafes that spill out onto the sidewalk. Taking a canal tour from Nyhavn is a great way to get the basics on some of Copenhagen’s history. With a cool breeze coming in off the water, as long as the SPF is lathered on thick, it’s a great way to spend an afternoon. I wandered past the Queen’s palace – if I circle enough she could at least invite me in for coffee, right?
And of course a day in Roskilde, my old hood. Stomping grounds.
The main pedestrian street seems to be lacking in the shopping department. Several stores that I used to enjoy aren’t there any longer (apparently I really was boosting the economy), but my absolute favorite stop in all of Denmark remains (it’s also been there for 840+ years, so… doubt it’s going anywhere anytime soon) the Roskilde Domkirke (Cathedral).
This place is my jam. And I can’t even tell you why (like, I would if I knew, but even I don’t know). Even as a kid, I loved coming to this place. Maybe I was just embracing my inner history nerd, even as a little kid? Maybe I was creeped out by all the dead people or the sheer magnitude of this place? I don’t know, but I seriously love this place. It’s old and holds so many stories (and the stories of the kings and queens buried here). And for the first time, I got to go upstairs to a small museum with things that they found around it (old shoes, stuff from the royalty, etc). I felt like a kid in the candy store, touch touch touching the old door knobs, the metal railing and brick walkway built so that the bishop didn’t have to walk outside and across the street from his residence. Phew, I could go on forever.
And of course, family.
With the popularity of facebook, instagram and snapchat, it’s easier than ever to keep in contact with those that live halfway around the world.
But it just isn’t the same.
And it sucks.
Nothing beats sitting in the back yard, drinking coffee and just chatting. Sure I know my cousins bike a lot (I’ve seen the pics) but now I know routes and times and distances and it’s nice to be a part of the conversation. Not just liking a post. Double-tapping a picture.
One of the main reasons we chose May/June (certainly wasn’t due to cheap airfare), was my cousin Michael and Pia’s 25th wedding anniversary. We woke them up (“surprise”) with a few songs (and a band), after which they just happened to have breakfast for 40(?) people. And then later that night was an amazing dinner party to celebrate.
The Danes do birthdays, anniversaries… really any reason to party, right. Songs, speeches, dancing. It’s not just some sit down dinner with quiet chatter, it’s a loud, rambunctious affair that everyone takes part of. And when the restaurant shuts down and kicks you out at 1am, you better believe you are going to sleep tight when your taxi finally brings you home.
So in a nutshell, I had an amazing vacation. A vacation that I don’t want to end, despite the fact that MY suitcases are empty (can’t speak for others…), I’ve already been through a few cycles of laundry and half my Danish candies are gone. So I’ll just dream about the next adventure (or job offer in Copenhagen – put the word out, please hire me) and hold on to the sweet memories I was able to make.
Until next time, skål!