Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Blue skies in Copenhagen.

The second day of wandering around Copenhagen was less directed.  What I did accomplish was a haircut and a trip to the Statens museum, their national gallery of art.

My visit with Gerti the hairstylist came from a stroke of luck.  Everywhere else I stopped in was booked for days.  Gerti had a slot open an hour later and was a block from the hotel. We chatted for an hour about Trump, kids, hair, Obama, movies... She showed me photos of Nyhavn when it was being filmed for "The Danish Girl" and her shop had its sign removed and she "became a fish monger." I learned one of her sons is the Danish voice-over for Batman... the regular Batman, and the Lego one... and is currently in South Africa working in the next Tomb Raider movie. A friend of hers stopped by and absolutely had to show me her clothes, clothes she'd made herself. I had a delightful time, and forgot my credit card in the machine on my way out. A block later back at the hotel I noticed and returned, where she was standing with my card.  I recommend Gerti at Nyhavn 6, 1051 København K, Denmark.

Beautiful blue skies.
The rest of the day I really did wander, until Ian was almost done with work, and I wandered to the Statens museum of Kunst.  The State Art Museum. With only an hour to check it out, (my goal had been the Hirschsprung Collection, but it closed an hour earlier), I visited the Danes. The audioguide is free and only covers the main pieces, but it was enough.

A kind of art I'd never seen before, death
stealing a child from its mother.

In the French and "general European" sections down the hall I didn't see much that grabbed me. They do boast a couple Matisse, but even those... not a huge fan.  But the Danes really have something going on, akin to the Dutch and I'm sure that's not a coincidence. There is something remarkable in their story-telling of day-to-day lives that isn't completely judgmental, mythological, or other-worldly. Normal people doing normal things in a brilliantly rendered way.

That evening we had dinner at the home of one of Ian's A100 classmates. Thank you Rebecca!

Saturday was another gorgeous day, and one I was able to spend with Ian wandering the streets.  We followed the noontime marching band to Ameliasborg Palace and watched the changing of the guard, or the moving of the flag, or something (never did figure it out, haven't looked it up), and made our way to the Strøget where we had a delightful lunch outside, people-watching. As it was outside, our waitress told us the house policy was to charge folks immediately for their order.  We had a good chuckle at that, and asked how they managed dessert... in a separate bill? We didn't care one way or the other how they managed their billing, but after that question she asked her manager and came back with the announcement that our bill would come at the end of the meal.  I guess we didn't sound like we were going to make a run for it.

The Strøget is your typical pedestrian tourist trap, if there were cars driving across it and parked through it. Kind of annoying. I brought him to my old haunts (I was there the day before, I can say that), and that's when we saw this place.

Oh yes we did!
I'm not sure if I recommend getting your feet chewed on by fish or not.  I'll admit that my feet came out quite nice, but is it worth the 20 minutes of tingling like they've both fallen asleep? Is it worth knowing that, according to the words on the wall, the fish magic comes from fish spit? Is it worth sticking your feet into water that also has fish droppings? Seriously, these fish have a diet of dead skin on people's smelly feet? Isn't that considered animal cruelty? Glad we did it, don't think we'll ever do it again.

With such lovely weather, and it being a Saturday, the city was teeming with people. We ambled about and returned to the hotel to collect our bags, but not before taking the typical Nyhavn selfie.

The sun ruined it!
And we discovered that on the pier next to our Admiral Hotel (look it up, it's AWESOME), was a sauna and hot tub set up.  My coat smelled like burned sauna fuel (oil? wood? peat? horse hair?) for days afterwards.  And those weren't your average every day hot tubs.  Oh no.

Next time... better than fish, I'm sure.

We'd recommend spending some time in Denmark.  Truly, before I went up I looked on Trip Advisor and wasn't all that impressed. Maybe people just don't rave about it? Are they calm and serene people? But I had a great time and there are things I still would like to see (Kronborg Castle aka the inspiration for Elsinore Castle in Hamlet) and that Hirschsprung Collection, and the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art.

Thank you Denmark for a lovely time with lovely people.

Friday, March 17, 2017

A couple days in Copenhagen

Ian's travels aren't all to the hot spots of Bangui and Yaounde. Sometimes, rarely but sometimes, he gets to go somewhere I want to tag along. Say, Copenhagen.  An easy 1-hour flight from Frankfurt (vs a 9.5 hour drive) and a world-away, he had a week's worth of work and I had a couple days of wandering. Yeah, he worked, I wandered.  It's all good. Arriving around midnight on Wednesday gave me full days on Thursday and Friday to see everything I wanted to see.  Starting with her.

She's not imposing, she's small and almost insignificant.  She's not whimsical, she's lamenting. I guess the weather cooperated for my visit with her, a sad gray day. A minute was enough time and I moved on to the Citadel next door.  The Citadel is a still-functioning military establishment, though it looks like it was pulled from the military ranks in Williamsburg.  The path along the outer rim had plenty of joggers and walkers taking in the brisk air.

And a moat!
I walked about 21K steps on that Thursday. It didn't rain, but it wanted to. I wandered with a general plan of where I wanted to go and what I wanted to see, getting lost(ish) only once because I didn't look at the map and headed towards a building that wasn't what I thought it was. Eh, it's how you find cool other places. Walking along a canal, I came across this raft puttering along.  What you can't see attached to the front of the raft and hanging from those crossed bars is a scuba diver. Scuba diver dude was talking to the folks on the raft via underwater microphone or something.

I guess the Danish aren't that great of bicyclers. Or maybe those are all the results of clumsy tourists or teen shenanigans. The raft folks with their strapped on scuba guy were scanning the bottom of the canal for wayward... things. Bicycles, traffic cones, and whatever else they could pull up. It's a dirty job, but someone has to do it.

When I finally made it to the walking/shopping zone, the Strøget, I stopped to warm up for a bit in the Helligåndskirken, and caught the noon music prayers.  Have to say that no one plays the organ like my dad does, and this person had none of the style or heart I expect to hear when listening to a beautiful instrument in a gorgeous building. It was pleasant and the organ itself was physically lovely, but it didn't translate.

Along my way around downtown, past Tivoli gardens (how did I not know that it was an amusement park?), and to the Black Diamond and main library, I went looking for the permanent and free exhibit that included originals by Hans Christian Andersen. I never found it.  I did find Mermaid #2 who looks quite appalled she can't get back to the sea because some nimwit locked their bicycle to her. Maybe that's why so many end up in the canals. Mermaids get tired of being bicycle stands.

Right, so I got lost(ish) when I found myself at this place, the Church of Our Savior. That twisty spirally thing on the spire... you can walk up it.  On the outside.  And the steps get smaller and smaller up to the top. No thank you.

I snapped my photo of the twisty stairs of doom and finally made it to my final destination of the day, the Thorvaldsens Museum. He was really into mythology, and my favorite piece was the love story of Cupid and Pysche, which of course I didn't take a photo of, so here's the only cat in the whole museum.

Cupid taming Cerebrus

Nicolaus Copernicus

A very dead fleece

Gutenberg's typesetting bits.

Thor's medicine box.  Not one of his work's of art. He didn't
really take much, but he carried it with him.  Which could explain
why he died of a heart attack while sitting at the theater.
 What, you don't call him Thor?

The Greek owl... Good old Athena.

The practice room.
So I didn't know how sculptors, you know, sculpt.  I guess I thought they get a big slab of marble and it speaks to them and they have at it with a chisel.

This is wrong.

Outside the practice room (I'll get back to that in a second) was a step by step guide of how a piece comes into being.  No wonder it took years.  From the first sketch to the finished product in marble, there are more sketches, funky models, plaster casts, etc. And if you're doing something like a giant person on a giant horse, I'm in awe that any of them were ever completed.

But before you ever get to do a piece that might one day become famous, you have to practice.  I thought they get a big slab of marble and it speaks to them and they have at it with a chisel.  Yeah, still wrong.  Way back, to study with a master meant having the access and the means, and you know, a master who wanted you. Students practiced by copying the masters.  If you had a master in town, great! If you didn't, you moved to be near one.  If that wasn't going to fly, you found masterworks somewhere to study. Still not happening?

There was a break-through in the ability of students to learn from masters when the masterworks were created in easy to transport plaster copies, or at least parts of them.  Need to practice a hand?  Here's a hand.  Need to practice a shin?  Here's a shin. No matter the body part, they were available.  So the Thor Museum (yeah... still calling him Thor) has a collection of these training pieces, and you can literally.... literally... have any body part to study. Or a horse head.  If you're into horse heads.

Thor thought quite a bit of himself.  The last room in the museum has this piece, a self-portrait.  He's taller than he was in real life (no, I'm not including the pedestal), and the statue his statue is working on is considerably smaller in stature than most of the pieces he created.

OK, so that was day one while Ian was at work.  We went out to a great dinner in Nyhavn complete with mussels and escargot and salmon and a dessert sampler, with a little Irish coffee on the side.  It was actually nice going out in the cloudy gray day as the other tourists were hiding or something.

Friday was a different beast.

Friday, March 3, 2017

As quickly as we left Garmisch, we returned...

This time it was due to Jonathon having his "Ski week" break, and what does one due during a ski week?  One snowboards, of course.

I never realized how much sitting is done in snowboarding. I should probably remember that from when Katherine tried it oh-so-many years ago, though Jonathon had quite a bit better luck with it.

He's the one standing near the top of the bunny hill.

And down to the bottom of the bunny hill.
He had a one-day lesson (we didn't stay for the whole week) and it was the day of persistent rain and warm temperatures. He was nearly soaked through, what with all that sitting in slush and being rained on. But still good, and good enough he wants to do it again, so we're thinking maybe when all the kids are home in the winter time we'll go for a full week and have them all do lessons of one sort or another.

We did the night sledding, thing time with ski goggles, but all that rain meant that even the first time down the hill was a mushy sloppy mess.  We didn't upgrade to the wooden sleds, and we should have. Another note for next time when we choose to hurtle 1.5 km down a mountain.  It's only 6€ for the 3 hour rental. We stopped at the "shack" half-way down the hill for dinner and the self-proclaimed best currywurst in Germany.  It was warm and dry, so... claim whatever you want.

The next day, sore all over, we visited Neuschwanstein Castle.

It's kind of... small.

The Castle is easy enough to get to, until you get there. Parking is at the bottom of the hill, buy your tour time tickets, then trek up the hill 1.5km. This did not help the soreness. We seem to like 1.5km though, up and down mountains.  There is an option to take a horse carriage up, but hey, exercise is good. I did wonder how many times they have to use the defibrillator at the waiting area though.

None of us take a good selfie, do we?

In celebration of all the calories we burnt
on the way up.
We drove to Garmisch this time, rather than the train, so we stopped in Stuttgart on the way home to see some friends from Amman. No photo, just forgot. Thanks Dan and Riyadh for a great tour through the San Francisco of Germany, and awesome dinner!