Wednesday, December 19, 2007


Julefrokost...Christmas a Danish tradition mostly to celebrate with family and friends over the Christmas holiday, but the tradition has spilled over into offices having Christmas lunch. We had our big Maersk Christmas party last Friday and then had our department Christmas lunch today. Christmas lunch starts mid-afternoon and has a tendancy to last though the evening.

First, we had a great setting at a restaurant called Traktørstedet which is located in Rosenborg Slot (castle/gardens in the middle of Copenhagen).
Components of a typical Danish Christmas lunch...

Beverages: Plently of beer (especially Julebryg - Christmas Brew), wine, and akvavit which is a vodka-esque distilled liquor. There were many...too many in my opinion!...toasts of akvavit which I'm told is part of the tradition. Skål!

1. Herring....two different types
2. Salmon
3. Pan fried white fish
4. A chicken salad type dish with mushrooms and bacon
5. Pork with cabbage and pickles (super typical danish dish)

6. Beef with mixed vegetables

7. Brie with grapes

8. Ris à l'amande - boiled rice in whipped cream and vanilla, mixed with chopped almonds and served cold with a hot cherry sauce. The tradition is that these is one whole almond hidden in the dish and the lucky finder of this whole almond receive the annual 'almond gift' This is a very typical Danish Christmas dish and I was a big fan!!

CIS Hawks

I am the proud coach of the Copenhagen International School's middle school girls basketball team. My friend Don is starting Young Life up in Copenhagen and CIS provided some perfect opportunities to start getting to know the kids through sports and clubs. Don asked if I would be interested in coaching the basketball team and it took me all of about 2 seconds to say yes!

They only practice twice a week (which makes it do-able to manage with work) and only have 2 tournaments where they actually have games. So it is more like an "afterschool club" in my mind then the competitive basketball that I grew up with...which makes deciding how tough to be on them a little interesting at times...but overall it is really fun.
I had them over for brunch a few weeks ago which was a great chance to get to know them a little better and see their personalities come out. I learned that most of them have already lived in 3-4 countries by now and one has already lived in 7 different countries! On my teams I have at least 9 differnet nationalities that I can think of off the top of my head right now...Danish, Swedish, Canadian, American, Croatian, British, Chinese, Gambian, German....I think I might be forgetting one or two.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Stacey's Visit - CPH, Tallinn, Stockholm

I was lucky enough to have another friend (#5!) come visit me in Copenhagen. This time it was Stacey Chamberlin from DC! Stacey arrived on a Friday afternoon, and after taking a nap while I was finishing up some work, we headed into the city for goodbye drinks for Ali and Oyvind (friends of mine who have moved to London) and dinner at a quaint Italian place.
I decided that the combination of nighttime and jet lag might not go well with Stacey's first bike ride through we held off until Saturday. After doing a couple errands, we were off to see some of the sites - the Lakes, Rosenborgslot (gardens pictured above), the Little Mermaid, and Nyhavn which was already all decked out for Christmas. Then it was off to dinner and drinks in Vesterbro with Jason, Asa, Mike, Jeff, Katie, Grant, and Nikki - thanks for organizing Jason!
The highlight of Sunday was Tivoli which has opened for Christmas! It is filled lights, Christmas decorations, glogg (spiced wine), and plenty of holiday cheer.

After a day of work for me and a day of relaxing and shopping for Stacey we were off to Tallinn, Estonia. Estonia was under Soviet rule until 1991 and though you can still see traces of it, Estonia was recently ranked in the top 10 worldwide for economic freedom and is rapidly advancing. We spent most of our time in the medieval Hanseatic part of town which is wonderfully preserved.

We spent most of our first day exploring all the cobblestone streets and colorful buildings. Had lunch at a great Russian place and dinner at "Grandma's Kitchen" which was excellent Estonian food and you really did feel like you were at a grandmother's house. Tallinn has some great overlooks of the city...this one was taken at about 4:15pm...not started getting dark around 3:30. On our second day in Tallinn we had 2 big 'adventures' -
1. I got my haircut! Nothing major...just a trim. Why Tallinn? a. I never can seem to find the time in CPH b. WAY cheaper in Tallinn!

2. On the advice of Rick Steves (Stacey's trusty travel guide) we headed outside of the main tourist area and to a local Estonian market. We literally felt as if we had stepped back in time to Soviet rule...people standing in long times to buy bread, old ladies in selling nearly rotten apples and beets, and people that looked completely oppressed. I bought some honey from one of the ladies so that we wouldn't feel so guilty about Stacey taking pictures (though she still got yelled at). It really is amazing how a 20min walk can put you in a completely different world.
And from was off to the Romantika - our overnight ferry between Tallinn and Stockholm. Think of every stereotype you can when I say "1970's Loveboat" and you might come somewhat close to the Romantika :) I think the 'highlight' - or at least the point of the trip where Stacey and I were laughing so hard our stomachs hurt - was when the Estonian Dance Factory performed on the main stage...lots of pink boas and silver sequins.

Stockholm is located on 14 islands connected by bridges. We spent most of our time in Gamla Stan...the preserved medieval city centre which is similar to Copenhagen, but with more hills, twists, and turns.
We visited the Vasa...aka the LARGEST VIKING SHIP EVER...or so we were mis-informed by Jeff! While the Vasa is an enormous ship, it was not a viking ship. In 1628, the Vasa - the largest warship ever built at that time - set sail from Stockholm and sunk in the harbor (the cannons were too heavy and the hull was not big enough). 333 years later (1961) she was exhumed and a museum built around her. What's amazing is that 95% of the original ship is preserved.

We then took a train back to Copenhagen (how about that for using all modes of transport on the trip - plane, boat, city bus, taxi, and train) and had a great dinner with Nikki.

Saturday we celebrated Thanksgiving with friends from church (separate blog on that...) and then Stacey was off on Sunday morning (tear). All in all a fantastic vacation with one of my most favorite people :)

I haven't gotten my pictures loaded yet, but Stacey has some great shots -

Saturday, November 17, 2007

J Day!!!

"The first Friday of November from 8:59 pm the Tuborg Christmas Brew (Julebryg) is released all over the country and free samples are given out at several Copenhagen cafés and pubs. Tuborg Christmas Beer has been part of the Danish Christmas tradition since 1982."
J Day is quite an experience...somewhat similar to St. Patrick's Day...but with it's own unique flair. Bars that are "participating" in the festivities all have huge flags out front that look the the label of the bottle. The Tuborg crew goes around the city in santa suits...busts into the bars playing "Julebryg, Julebryg" and passing out song sheets (sung to the tune of Jingle Bells...chorus sounds like 'Yule-E-Brew...Yule-E-Brew") and free beer.

Katie had some friends in town (still waiting on the pictures and will add them soon!) so we headed out with them and met up with Jason, Jeff, and Mike for a glimpse at the festivities. Truth be told...Julebryg is pretty strong...I'm not a fan...but it was still a fun night!

New Furniture!!!

While Leslie, Melanie, and I were exploring Christiana (the hippie village in Copenhagen) I found and purchased this fantastic orange ottoman!!!

Thank you Jan for helping me collect it and for lugging it up 6 stories! And also thanks for helping hang the picutres I got in Paris!!! Next up...a TV stand :)

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

More visitors!

It's hard to get too homesick here when fun friends stopping by so often!!! This time it was my traveling buddy Leslie and her friend Melanie. Leslie and Melanie live in San Diego, Leslie went to WFU with me and we also studied in Spain together. Melanie is South African...which was especially exciting because they visited during the Rugby World Cup in which South Africa beat London. We had a great time watching the match surrounded by some very excited, my friend Grant used to play Rugby in the land down under so I actually somewhat understand the game!

Leslie and Melanie arrived on Thursday while I was still in Moscow and explored Copenhagen until I returned on Friday afternoon. We headed to Tivoli for their Halloween celebration and I must say I was extremely impressed...those Danes really know how to do Halloween! Hay and pumpkins and jack-o-lanterns everywhere!!! We met up with Julia, Cecilia, Jan, and Raimondas and enjoyed the hay mazes, mulled wine, and pumpkin carving.

On Saturday, after exploring a few of the highlights of Copenhagen, we decided to head to Sweden for a few hours. We took the train to Malmo which included a slight mishap where we got on a train going to nowhere! We thought it was a little strange when no one got on the train with us...but figured that Malmo wasn't a popular saturday afternoon destination...or we just weren't paying attention!!! The train got about 10min outside of Copenhagen and just stopped for about 15min, during which time the conductor came through and told us that this train was out of service, but would be heading back to CPH in 5 not too much damage done...just about a 30min delay in our travels :) Above is the sign we should have read the first time around!!!

Leslie and I calculated that Sweden was our 11th country traveled together (USA, Mexico, Canada, Spain, England, Scotland, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, Denmark, and Sweden!)....can't wait to see where we end up next!!!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Crowded, Crazy Moscow!!!

I was in Moscow for a few days this week - again a work trip so not too much time to explore but enough time to make it to Red Square and to get a taste of the culture. I arrived on a Wednesday afternoon at 2:00 and asked the driver approximately how long it would take to get to the office. He said it was "medium traffic" so it would take a little over an hour (apparently it is 30-40 min with no traffic, which is hardly ever). One hour and fifty minutes later we arrived at the office. Seriously, I have never seen anything like Moscow traffic - complete chaos, no rules, and crowded crowded crowded! My coworker told me that it once took him 4 hours!!!
After a few hours preparing for the workshop the following day, Daniel and Ann took me to dinner and Red Square - which was fantastic!!! This was also the night when Moscow upset England in a football match (soccer) so the city was alive with celebrating fans!
In front of St. Basil's Cathedral....
Lenin's Mausoleum where the embalmed body of Vladimir Lenin lies....

GUM, one of two large, posh department stores in Moscow, GUM (pronounced 'goom') is right in the middle of Red Square.

Overall, I think I would recommend going to Moscow - Red Square is really impressive and it is so different from anywhere I have ever been - but just a few days is enough to get the flavor. I've heard that St. Petersberg is beautiful so hopefully I'll make it there soon!

Quick Trip to Hamburg

I went to Hamburg for 2 days last week and loved it! Two days were definitely not enough and hopefully I'll make it back soon.
There are lots of great canals and green parks. I was there for work so I really don't have any interesting stories, just a few pictures and an endorsement that if you have the chance to go, do it!

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Congratulations Mary Claire and David!!!

I was fortunate enough to be able to pair a business trip back to the US with a trip down to North Carolina to take part in celebrating Mary Claire and David's wedding!

After spending the beginning of the week in NJ for some meetings I headed down to Charlotte where I got to spend some quality time with Kristen & Jonathan Rogers (and their dog Heidi!); Cynthia, Kate, & Caroline Illingworth; Emily & David Rietz; and Katie & Scott Thompson.

From there it was off to Winston-Salem...and no trip to Winston is complete without a visit to Wake Forest University!

Mary Claire and David had a 'good ol' fashion' Texas BBQ for their rehearsal dinner at Tangelwood Park and we were treated to a gorgeous sunset.

The following day there was a wedding brunch at the Zevely House in Winston.

And then the big event! After a beautiful ceremony at Reynolda Presbyterian, we headed to Graylyn for an absolutely gorgeous reception.

It was great to see so many friends from Wake Forest! I guess there are only two things left to say..

Sunday, September 23, 2007

A Perfect Day in London!

I had meetings in London last Monday-Thursday, so I headed over on an earlier flight on Sunday in order to be able to enjoy London for the day...and that I did!! It was a gorgeous indian summer day...sunny, blue skies, 75 degrees...perfect! I met up with Steph and Dave, friends who live in both London and Copenhagen due to a recent transfer to CPH for Steph, for a fantastic brunch in the Farringdon district, followed by a lazy mid morning trip to a local pub.

I then dropped by bags at the hotel, near the Tower of London, and headed out to enjoy the weather with a run through the city. I took to tube to Embankment, ran along the Thames to Big Ben/Parliament/Westminster, then headed up through St. James Park, Green Park (Buckingham Palace), and into Hyde Park. Everyone was out enjoying the day, lounging on the thousands of lawn chairs set up in all the parks or on picnic blankets.

After retracing my steps and getting back to the hotel to shower, I headed out to Convent Garden for a fantastic dinner and then walked along the Thames where there was an insane festival going on...imagine Madri Gras or Carnival taking place in London and you've got the Thames Festival!

All in all, a fantastic day to enjoy London and get ready for a week of meetings!

Saturday, September 22, 2007


Well, here is something I don't think I'd ever see in the US....they have turned my neighborhood into an environmental project.

I live on the corner of Strandboulevarden and Marstalsgade...and the city has recently turned Standboulevarden into a "Green Project." This means they have shut down the northbound two lanes of Strandboulevarden and created a mini street festival complete with a sandbox (aka a bunch of sand dumped on the street), basketball court, soccer field, huts for food and clothing vendors, bands, etc.
Apparently this is going to go on for 2 months. Since there is another north/south street nearby that traffic can use, apparently they are trying to prove that Strandboulevarden could permanently be transformed into a public park...ahh, the crazy liberal Danes!!!

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Kara comes to Scandinavia!!!

I don't know if Scandinavia was ready for both Kara and I...but they didn't really have a chance. After a not so fun connection through Amsterdam, Kara arrived in Copenhagen on Saturday...without her bag....but with the fantastic news that she and Chris had just become engaged - tillykke (Congratulations in Danish... pronounced "ta luka")!

We spent Saturday and Sunday exploring Copenhagen...a Canal Tour, the Little Mermaid, Christiana, Nyhavn, Radhusplatsen, to name a few. Then I put Kara to work in helping me prepare for a Mexican themed going away party for a friend of mine who is moving back to the States...she certainly did not disappoint with a huge batch of her now world-famous guacamole!

On Monday we were off to Norway and luckily found Kara's bag at the airport! A quick plug for the Oslo airport...definitely one of the most efficient airports I have ever been to - we hopped on a train and in about 25 minutes were at Oslo main station. After dropping off our bags ,we walked up to the Vigland Sculpture Park.
The Vigeland Sculpture Park features 212 sculptures in what is like the Central Park of Oslo. Kara and I did our best to imitate a few of the sculptures, including the Angry Baby which is the park's most popular feature.

After the park we headed to a great dinner at one of the oldest restaurants in Oslo...where I got my first taste of reindeer!

On Tuesday it was back to Oslo Main Station and we were off to the Fjords! We took a 4.5hour train ride from Oslo to Myrdal which was absolutely gorgeous.

After a quick stop in Myrdal to transfer trains to the Flamsbana...which is a 20km train ride that takes about an hour due to the steep gradient (the gradient is 55/1000 or of the world's steepest) and due to the stop we made at Kjosfossen Falls (free fall of 305ft).

We made it to Flam...which is 800meters lower in altitude than Myrdal...and were not disappointed by this serene town located at the tip one of Norway's largest fjords.
After a quick bike ride and hike through the Flam valley we were off to the highlight of the trip...a Fjord Safari! We suited up in our cold weather gear...sure we looked like fools, but when you're racing through the nordic waters they are definitely appreciated. Our guide Luna took us on a three hour tour through the fjords, which at some points are 800m height and 1000m deep, to include seeing porpoises and harbor seals. We stopped in a small town of 85 people (and 450 goats!) for a cheese tasting, where our 'cheese master' Leif taught us about how the Norwegians make cheese using both the curd (normal white cheese) and the whey (norwegian brown cheese).

After spending another morning exploring Flam and the Norwegian trolls we were off to the Fjords again, this time for a two hour ferry to Gudvangen. From there we took an hour bus ride (up a really steep mountain pass of many switchbacks) to Voss, where we had a little time for a cup of coffee and a walk over to the Voss harbor before getting on a train to Bergen.

Bergen is perhaps most famous for its Hanseatic seaside buildings which are medieval structures from the 15th century. While in Bergen we toured the local fish market which was filled with fresh and smoked fish and shellfish...we even sampled whale which is legal to hunt in Norwegian waters. The city is at the bottom of 7 mountains...supposedly there is a great view from the top of a funicular tram up one mountain...we headed up but unfortunately were subject to our only bad weather of the trip and found ourselves in a big cloud.

Norway is home to 26 remaining stave named for their architecture with timber and beam construction. The cross placed outside of this one dates back to the 10th century when Christianity was spreading through Scandinavia and they would plant crosses while they raised money to build a church on that site.

On Friday we were on our way back to Copenhagen and went to Ida Davidsen's for lunch. Ida's is Denmark's most famous smorrebrod place. For a much better explanation of all the food we had at Ida's see Kara's blog: Good Eats in Scandinavia. From there we headed to Fredriksborgslot...a castle about 30min outside of Copenhagen. Then it was back to the city to meet Grant and Nikki, two great Aussie friends of mine, for happy hour and dinner.

On Saturday, some of my friends from work had organized a "champagne day" and we joined them for brunch and dinner followed by karaoke!

It was a fantastic trip and hopefully many more visitors will come to visit (anxiously awaiting your visits Leslie and Stacey!!!).
There are PLENTY more pictures of our adventures on Snapfish...if you're interested use the link below...