15 May 2010

Dear Diary: The News from Denmark

Dear Diary,

In dreary, rainy Copenhagen we have an ultra-modern hotel room with the latest in Danish design. It’s very cozy. When you plug in the telephone it boots like a computer. When you take a shower the slight glass door over the bathtub is too short to keep your shower from hitting the black tiled floor. We are not complaining, just suggesting.

For me, the 12 day Natl Geo/Lindblad tour of the outlying British Isles had it’s moments... we went to places we’d never otherwise be able to visit. I did get tired of the non-stop chatter of guides and the tight daily schedule. Met a couple of interesting souls, saw a LOT of sheep, and old stones. Took lots of pictures. Talked to a NGeo pro photographer. The cabin shower did not leak, as I remember.

Later, on Aero Island with cousin Inky (Phd) and Finn (double Phd), had a relaxing day and half with the ducks, the fairytale houses and the occasional smoked eel. Bath down the hall, and the shower did not leak, but there was no shelf for soap or shampoo or conditioner or body gel or Dr Bronner’s Godlike Soap or a face towel or face wash or razor or shaving stuff or soap.

We discussed family issues over good local Aero India Pale Ale. Finn responded to my questions about the ontological proof for the existence of God, noting that being than which nothing greater can be conceived (cough) and that existence is not a predicate. We talked like that for more than an hour, then he hit me in the jaw, which was a good thing, and we drank more Aero Pale Ale.

At the Tivoli Gardens, Copenhagen’s 20 acre downtown back yard, if a back yard can have a dozen bars and cafes, lakes, a pirate ship, ducks, a copy of the Little Mermaid, a roller coaster (scream!) a rotating WWI fighter plane on huge circling poles that resemble the Danish windmills, a mock rock band on a blue-smoke smoking stage, a small orchestra, horse races won by our cousin Inky because she got more balls in the 3-hole faster than the other jockeys, and much, much more. Chocolate, popcorn, herring on a stick, what-the? We had dinner at the most traditional of the Tivoli eateries. Groften. Out in the smoking garden tables was the Mayor of Copenhagen. At another table, a white-haired skinny talk-show host who looked remarkably like me, if I spoke Danish and had a history of short-term marriages to stunning Danish delights, which, apparently, he has.

The food was mixture of old (all the veal-infused mashed potatoes you can eat, plus endless helpings of pickled beets) and new (green salad, baked egg plant, grilled chicken on pasta). And beer. Don’t forget the beer.

All beer in Denmark is made by Carlsberg, even if the bottle says Tuborg or anything else except Aero Ale. Artisan breweries are popping up, but in the years after WWII Carlsberg bought and shut down all the other breweries in Denmark, retaining a few famous labels such as the prior main competitor Tuborg. The story goes that one day about a million bottles of Carlsberg were accidently filled with Tuborg beer, AND NO ONE NOTICED ANY DIFFERENCE.

Now we venture into the rain for a shopping spree (batteries, toothpaste, lens cap, contact lens solution and more) and another dinner, this one in a typical Danish restaurant that features vegetarian fare (lots of vegetables!) and steak. Something for everyone. From their web site: “We hope you will find delight in our new, more fat and poor vitamin rich buffet.”

That’s all for now. Sunday: Venice and language school, and rain.

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