Lord help the mister who comes between me and my sister…
March 17, 2011 § 2 Comments
On Monday afternoon my sister Rachel arrived from the States to spend her spring break (or part of it) with me in København. I went to get her at the airport around 1:30pm, and after an uneventful meet up, we went back to my kollegium to drop off her suitcase. Speaking of her suitcase, I had asked her to bring some American food to share with my friends here, and she fulfilled my wildish wishes with a huge bag of Skittles, Starbursts, and five boxes of Mac & Cheese.
Since I (correctly) assumed Rachel would be jetlagged, I didn’t have much planned for the afternoon. She needed her caffeine and since I don’t drink coffee, we went into town to a coffee shop, and we got a snack at a pastry place. (Bought a flaky pastry with a jam filling and a cinnamon pastry.)
Rachel also wanted to see a grocery store, so we went to Netto and gawked at the leverpostej, among other things. There were also these chocolate bars in the dairy section, and the picture on the label made it appear as though the bars were filled with liquid milk. We bought a pack of those and tried them after dinner—the filling was more marshmallow like, or maybe thick but light yogurt. We walked around a bit more and also went to Tiger, which is a chain-store they have here that is filled with random things. Need a gluestick? Go to Tiger. Need a cord extension? Go to Tiger. Need some candles? Go to Tiger. With the practical random stuff they also have some unpractical random stuff, like a game of golf or fishing that you can play on the toilet. Not joking.
We then ate an early dinner and went back to my apartment with the plans of venturing out later. However, Rachel was severely jet lagged and literally fell asleep sitting on couch. She called in an early night…
…and then slept over 14 hours until I woke her up at 11am the next day. We walked over to Christiania from my apartment. For those not in the know, via Rick Steves:
In 1971, the original 700 Christianians established squatters’ rights in an abandoned military barracks, just a 10-minute walk from the Danish parliament building. A generation later, this “free city” still stands — an ultra-human mishmash of idealists, hippies, potheads, non-materialists and happy children (600 adults, 200 kids, 200 cats, 200 dogs, 17 horses and 2 parrots)…
Everyone knows utopias are utopian — they can’t work. But Christiania, which has evolved with the challenges of making a utopia a viable reality, acts like it didn’t get the message… Locals build their homes but don’t own the land; there’s no buying or selling of property. When someone moves out, the community decides who will be invited in to replace that person. A third of the adult population works on the outside, a third works on the inside, and a third doesn’t work much at all.
As I biked through the ramshackle community, it also occurred to me that, except for the bottled beer being sold, there was not a hint of any corporate entity in the entire “free city.” There was no advertising and no big business. Everything was handmade. Nothing was packaged. People consumed as if how they spent their money shaped the environment in which they lived and raised their families.
The area is also visually fascinating with lots of colorful graffiti and buildings. Ever since I got to Danmark, I had been wanting to visit but I had been waiting to go since the weather has been so chilly. I thought the neighborhood to be interesting, relaxed, and generally very pleasant. Rachel was not a fan at all and wanted to leave quickly. Although she wouldn’t let me walk around, with a little coaxing I got her to stay for lunch. We first tried to go to this restaurant I found online. There was a big sign for the restaurant in the back of a building, and it appeared that you could get there by going up this super steep ladder/staircase. Rachel went first due to my severe acrophobia, and let’s just say that when she got to the top, there was no floor to step on and the room was dark. (I still don’t know if we found the correct building or what.) Climbing to her doom:
We ended up going this place called Grønsagen (“Green Matter,” so says google translate), which was in kind of a house decorated with the most cheerful paintings. (You aren’t permitted to take photos in Christiania (the previous picture was on the very outskirts). They had the food sitting out on a table, you take some, and then they weigh it. I would say buffet but it was much less formal than that. They had lasagnas, beans, grains, vegetables, meatballs, lentils, and lots of other yummy foods, all made right there. The shop also had a small produce grocery section.
We then went over to Strøget (the shopping street) and did a little shopping (mostly unsuccessfully). At this point it was around 3:30pm or so, and Rachel was getting tired, so we went to one of my favorite coffee shops, Cafe Retro. (It’s super cozy inside and everyone who works there is a volunteer– all the proceeds go to charities.) After hanging out there for a little, we went back to my apartment where Rachel napped (again!) and then we went out for dinner at this place I had found online called Atlas Bar.
Shock of the evening, at Atlas Bar they don’t charge you for water! They had an eclectic menu and a very nice interior, and, after a few birdies were flipped by my always-polite-sister, we left very well fed. (Sorry these are dark, she threw a fuss about the flash.)
We ventured on to hanging out with a few friends, but Miss Jet-Lagged was still tired so we again retired early. [Back at my apartment, we watched the 90s classic 10 Things I Hate About You, which I maintain is the best (and possibly only good) chickflick/teen movie in existence)].
The next day we went to this restaurant I was very excited about called “The Royal Cafe in Copenhagen.” I had read about the place online and they are famous for their smushi, which is sandwich sushi. The restaurant was nestled cozily in behind some stores on Stroget, and as Rachel put it, reminded her of Alice and Wonderland. The walls were painted pink with whimsical designs and paintings and the ceilings were lofty with glittering chandeliers. (The building apparently dates from 1616.)
In Denmark, a typical lunch is a smørrebrød, which is basically a fancy name for an open faced sandwich. For the meal, you could pick a selection of these and they would come beautifully presented like sushi. Only pictures can do this justice
From left to right: Camembert cheese with currents, cheeseburger with the most delicious piece of bacon, and Danish meatball with cabbage
More than content, we then took a 30 minute train (followed by a 20+ minute walk) to Frederiksborg Slot, a castle built in the late 1500s and early 1600s for the king. (On the way there we also stopped for gelato. You will see a pattern of a lot of eating in this day.) Since Rachel literally dressed like it was 65 degrees out instead of half that, she wasn’t real keen on walking around (are we sensing a pattern?). It also turned out that the interior of the castle closed at 3:00pm and we got there slightly too late, so we couldn’t see the inside. The outside was very lovely though and I would like to go back someday when it was warming and my company more accomodating 🙂
We went back to my apartment for a little and then decided to go to Studenterhuset for the early drink special. (A pregaming of sorts for the bar later… or predrinking, as you non-Americans say.) Studenterhuset is a student house that magically changes into a bar in the evenings. The last time I was there a few weeks ago, they had a one hour happy hour where everything was 10dkk (~2 US dollars). Unfortunately, once we got there, we learned they had a different (worse) promotion of 10-20-30: 10dkk shots, 20dkk beer, and 30dkk mixed drinks.
Rachel’s condition on going out was that I wouldn’t let her drunk eat anything. Keep that in mind as I go through the events of the evening:
1) We each get a shot of rum and a rum & diet coke
2) We each get another rum & diet coke and another shot. Rachel orders the drinks and gets a rum shot for herself. I asked her to get “that spicy Danish drink” as a shot for me. She reports back that the bartender says it is called “Ferabonga.” We laugh really hard.
3) I get next drinks. Ferabonga is actually in Italian drink called Fernet-Branca. According to the interwebs:
Fernet-Branca is a dark, syrupy alcoholic drink similar to an amaro, with a flavour that’s best described as being a cross between medicine, crushed plants and bitter mud. The exact recipe of Fernet-Branca is a secret but the producers, Fratelli Branca Distillerie, do say that it contains 27 different herbs and spices taken from four continents.
4) Rachel attempts to down said Fernet-Branca:
5) We leave Studenterhuset to meet up with my friends at a different (better) bar. On the way, Rachel decides she is hungry and we stopped in a schwarma place and each eat a chicken schwarma sandwich. Horrible picture because I was holding the camera with one hand, but it makes me smile:
6) We got to the next bar and meet up with my friends. Rachel and I each drink another rum and diet coke
7) Then we drink these huge Somersby ciders. (My favorite drink). Delicious
8 ) Rachel is still jet lagged to we head out relatively early. On the walk back to the train, we pass a hot dog stand. Rachel gets a hot dog. (I would post these pictures but she made me promise not to)
9) We get back to my apartment and eat some cookies, brownies I made, and starbursts.
10) We collapse in bed in a diabetic coma
Rachel left this morning to visit another friend in Europe, but it was a very nice visit 🙂