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...

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Adios Austin

The time has come for another expat to return back to his home country...a somewhat common occurrence when you're living abroad. This time it is Austin, who has been in Copenhagen for about a year working here and touring around Europe. Austin is headed to Missouri to work for Kanakuk as a director of their outreaches on college campuses.

We couldn't let the opportunity pass to throw Austin a proper Mexican themed fiesta...complete with poncho and over sized sombrero supplied by Raimondas, margaritas and tequila shots, tacos, burritos, and quesadillas, Catch Phrase (and I really can't emphasize enough how much fun it is to lay Catch Phrase with an international crowd!), and the Three Amigos.

Adios Austin...tak for hygge!

Friday, September 7, 2007

Opera in the Park

Opera season is about to start in Copenhagen and they held a free concert in the park to kick off the season.
They preformed a few songs from each of this season's performances. The Danes arrived early and had full picnic spreads. We arrived a little later, but with plenty of food and enjoyed a fantastic evening.

Afterwards...Julia, Cecila, Nina, Raimondas, Jan, and I went to Cafe Bopa for some hyggeligt coffee!