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 -