I apologize for my delay in posting this – apparently finals are a thing that one has to do, even if she is abroad. rats!
This past weekend was the last trip of my semester, that is, until my family comes in 11 days (!!). For some reason, I found myself a little nervous for this trip. I was feeling apprehensive about travelling because I feel like I have been on the move non-stop for far too long. I know, that sounds horrible and spoiled to say that I am over travelling, but to a certain extent, I am. Please don’t misinterpret me here, I love to travel and I am so grateful and feel so lucky to have had and to continue to have all of the experiences that I have had this semester, but I find myself putting pressure on myself to get out and do something in a way that I don’t when I am home. And to be “on” like that, consistently, for 4+ months is hard. Especially for someone like me who needs those days where you become one with the couch and the ratty sweatpants that remain in your closet for those particular days. The other reason I was a little nervous for this weekend was that I flip-flopped between Prague and Copenhagen for months when I was deciding where to go and I think a part of me was afraid that if I fell in love with Copenhagen, I would regret making the decision that I made.
This trip was supposed to be an easy trip travel-wise. I wasn’t missing any class, I know how to get to and from the airport in my sleep at this point, and it’s only an hour-long flight. And yet, this was the worst travelling ever. At least on the way there, it was 100% my fault. On Friday, I came back from class and busied myself doing my usual putterings, prepared to leave for the airport at 4pm for my 6:50 flight. More than enough time. At 4, I began walking to the metro and about half way there decided randomly to double-check what time my flight was at. 5:30. holy shit. Instantly, I ran to CHP, which was about 2 minutes away, and pounded like a crazy person on the door to get the attention of Petr, our director. He pointed me to a taxi station and I took off like a mad woman. Panting, sweating, and crazed, I rapped on the window of a taxi and in the best Czech I could muster, asked for the airport. It might cost me more than the public transportation, but it was the only way that I was going to make that flight. Once at the airport, I threw money at the driver and leapt out of the car as he laughed at me. Flustered again, I managed to check in, make it through security, and make it to my gate in time, only to find out that my flight was delayed. Did I mention I’m a little tired of travelling? But, I made it!
I think I forgot to mention who I was seeing in Copenhagen. One of my close friends, Jon, is in Copenhagen for the semester, and spur of the moment I bought a ticket to visit him. Our other friend, Gavi, is at Oxford for the semester and she came for the weekend also, which was amazing. Jon lives in a folk high school on a farm about 30 minutes outside of the city. Of all of the different housing options that DIS offers, I think that the folk high school is the coolest. There are about 45 kids ages 18-26 who live together in a dorm/house and learn and live together. 12 of these kids are Americans on DIS. Jon has all 3 of his meals provided for him, there are parties thrown at the house so he can avoid the snow / the absurd prices of Copenhagen whenever he wants to, and he is living with people from all over the world. Really cool.
On Friday night, his folk high school had a Christmas Dinner. During dinner they played a game which I have come to understand is called White Elephant. For those of you who don’t know the rules, here is a quick explanation. Everyone brings a gift to dinner and places them on a table. Then, in smaller groups, a di is passed around. When you roll a 6, you can go and pick a present from the table. This then continues until all of the gifts have been selected. The di then continues to be passed around, this time, however, when you role a 6, you go and steal a present from someone else! After about 15 minutes, this ends and you can open whatever presents you have left! It was so much fun – and I didn’t even play! (I felt guilty playing after I didn’t bring a present). The Danes have a word, hygge, meaning “cozy” which completely sums up the feeling of the room. Warmth, laughter, friends, and lots of holiday spirit and cheer.
On Saturday, the three of us hopped on the train and headed into Copenhagen. Jon was truly incredible; Gavi would point to a random statue, building, or sign, and ask him what it was and Jon was always able to give a full history of whatever ridiculous this Gavi had pointed out. I am in 3 walking classes and couldn’t give a history like that of anything in Prague.
Our first stop in town was the Round Tower, which is precisely what it sounds like. A round tower. We were able to walk up the winding pathway all the way to the top. For those of you who are curious, the pathway corkscrews 7 1/2 times around the hollow center. The tower used to be the university library as well as an old star-gazing tower. I am pretty sure that the pamphlet used a fancier word than star-gazing and it may or may not still be used for such purposes. Unfortunately for you guys, you’re stuck with me as your source of information. Half way up the tower is the old library which is now an art space which had a really neat exhibit about baskets. Jon makes books and other inspired crafts and my secret dream is to have a store on Etsy (although god knows what I would sell there), so we really enjoyed the exhibit. If you want a slightly more factual description of the tower, take a gander over here.
We also stopped in at the church below the tower.
The Queen is a pretty funky lady. Like England, the Queen of Denmark is a figurehead position. And Queen Margrethe busies herself by illustrating books. Also, whenever people come to stay in her guest house (i.e. huge mansion across the courtyard from her huge mansion), she decoupages them a personalized garbage pail to make them feel at home.
On our way to the Marble Church, we got to walk along this street which was positively adorable.
The Royal Courtyard (ok, I’m not sure if that is the actual name, but that is what I am calling it) is where Queen Margrethe lives. She lives in one palace, her son, the Crown Prince lives next door to her, and on her other side, lives her daughter, the princess. Across from her is her “guest house”. All 4 palaces match. The Royal family purchased then a while back when they were living further north in Denmark, but they liked them so much that they decided to stay there. When we entered the courtyard, they were doing the changing of the guard ceremony, which meant that Gavi and I stood awkwardly close to the guards, who were our age, and giggled and took pictures and made everyone feel uncomfortable, haha. Unlike in London, with this ceremony, they march around to each palace and change guards, which is kind of cool to be able to be up close to the guards, rather than vying for a spot to see through the gate.
After a delicious lunch of street kebab (seriously, it never gets old), we headed to one of the funkiest, most bizarre places I have been all semester: Christiania. Christiania is an artist commune on one of the islands in the center of the city. It views itself as a sovereign state within the city and is petitioning to buy the land from the government. It is also the only place in the city where pot is “legally” sold. There are only 3 rules within Christiania. 1) No taking pictures (the sale of marijuana is still technically illegal) 2) have fun and 3) no running (it causes panic). There was some really cool art all over the place, which sadly, I was not allowed to photograph. People take these rules seriously – if you were to take out your camera, someone would run by and throw it to the ground. The art was cool, but not that cool.
Our final stop of the day was at Tivoli Gardens, the oldest amusement park in the world. They had a huge holiday market up as well as tons and tons of Christmas lights and it was just beautiful to walk around. We only went on one ride, the Hans Christian Anderson ride, but walking around was much, much more fun. They had different sections decorated for different parts of the world, including Russia, Asia, and I’m sure there were more, but that’s all I saw.
Sunday morning we woke up to a huge ongoing blizzard, and after a mini panic attack on my part about whether or not I would make it home, we opted for the obvious hygge option, being snuggling in the warmth of Jon’s room. We then headed into the city to walk around the Glass Market (referring to the building material rather than the commodity where we consistently cleaned out various stall’s sample platters and then had the most delicious duck sandwiches ever, ever created. And for our final stop of the weekend, the Jewish History Museum, which was designed by Daniel Libeskind (who is perhaps better known for the Jewish Museum in Berlin). The Berlin museum is famous for being the shape of a Jewish star, and the Copenhagen museum is no less interesting or innovative. It is shaped to spell the word mitzvah, meaning obligation or good deed, in reference to the Danes working to save the Jews during WWII. To be completely honest, I didn’t see it, nor do I see it in the floorplan below, but maybe I am just being thickheaded.
And with this last stop, my time in Copenhagen was up and I was off to the airport for round 2 of the most stressful travelling ever. After 2 hours and 20 minutes of delays, a gate change at the last minute, and extreme paranoia that I was going to miss the last metro home and have to pay for another taxi, I finally boarded, landed in home-sweet-home Prague, and made the last metro of the night.
In the end, I had a wonderful, wonderful weekend with 2 of my close friends. Copenhagen was a great city to visit, and while I wish I had a little bit more time there, my trip solidified the fact that I did in fact choose the right city for myself.