The Most Expensive Free City

Trip Start Mar 01, 2012
Trip End Apr 30, 2012

Flag of Denmark  , Zealand,
Monday, April 9, 2012

April 9:

Once again, the train ride to Copenhagen made the director's cut for its slightly interesting performance.. On the train, there are these cups that have various cafe drinks labeled on them: Cappuccino, Expresso, Expresso, ect.. Upon further inspection, Bridge and I find tin-foil mounds at the bottom of these cups, much like an Alice and Wonderland kind of experience.. You carefully pull back the tab of the tin foil and out pours powder concoctions of the drink identified on the front of the cup.. You then pour hot water that is conveniently located in a thermos below the display of the magical drinks and wa-la!! You've got yourself and instant hot treat!! Was quite tempted to steal a couple but then we realized we were taking these same trains back to go to Hamburg and since local hot springs is not a typical tourist attraction in Copenhagen, we decided to be patient and wait a whole 48 hrs until the next magic show…

Walk 22 minutes to hostel (luckily no rain, thank you Irish ancestors) and then we layer up and grab our umbrellas to start our hunt for the Ariel, the little Mermaid.. For all those who don't know (including me about ten days ago) Copenhagen was the city where Hans Christian Anderson created all those infamous childhood stories--the little prince, thumbelina, the little mermaid, beauty and the beast (I recommend wikipedia the rest of them to save time on my end).. And in this city, there lies a statue of the little mermaid in the harbor which Bridget and I were determined to find. After an hour and half of wandering around, checking out the local attractions, we finally stumble upon the marble mermaid (and small--which makes sense since "little" is included in the title).. Since there was a tour bus parked right in front of Ariel, she was also adorned with a plethora of asian tourists snapping excess photos
**I would like to note that while searching for the statue, a nice couple approached us (apparently having a map in front of you with your head looking towards the heavens is a cry for SOS) asking what we were looking for.. I swiftly reply, "For a husband, have you seen any walking around?" and he says "Oh you're looking for Christian Anderson?"… No matter what country you're in, sarcasm is the universal language

Since Denmark is quite an expensive place, Bridge and I decide to live off of breakfast with a midday snack and thus anticipate dinner over-enthusiastically. I drag her to this place on the harbor, that according to trip advisor was moderately priced, so we dodge in around 4:30 (once again, the level of how pathetic we are is rising) and are greeted with a lunch menu that has questionable Denmark-style sandwiches… Bridge says she will take the tomato one (which is the only choice on the menu that does not have a viking style meat lathered on top) but since I have this issue where I cannot order the same plate as someone else (immature is the word you are looking for) I choose a dish that says it has lamb pieces with asparagus and onions--which doesn't sound too daring… As our anticipation tanks fill up with tea, we finally are each greeted with a 2X2 (inches) piece of bread, hers with several tomatoes and one piece of mozzarella on top, mine with two asparagus, 1/19 of an onion (diced) and about 1/4 a pound of cold-cut thinly sliced lamb (comparable to proscoutto)… After about a minute of cutting the 2X2 into 1 inch cubes and attempting to savor our over-priced meals (I was too weak, I had to scoot the meat off to the side), we start discussing how far away the local grocery store is and where we can find some candy.. As we sit there, plotting our second and third dinners of the night, the heavens open up right next to our table and a Denmark Angel steps through the kitchen doors with harps playing and a slight breeze blowing her white/blonde hair (even an atheist would question their faith)… In her hand she is carrying trays full of freshly-made slices of carrot, berry, and apple-pound cakes, chocolate and vanilla mousse-filled champagne glass, five different cheeses on a board with caramelized nuts, and poached pears boiled in sugary water accompanied with a melting cinnamon and carmel spread.. My heart stops, the room dims except for the spotlight painting this dessert buffet, and I force Bridget to go and peruse the situation since my legs are too weak to move… After coming back with a little more detail and a selling price (which could have been $100 and I would have argued that they were giving us a deal), I sit in agony, fighting between the voices of my heart and wallet… As I go back and forth, asking opinions from anyone who would offer--Bridget, the waitress, my stomach, the little mermaid perched 10 blocks away)--and finally after deep contemplation and literally half an hour of sweat and struggle (there were drops forming, I kid you not---whether it be the result of my warm beanie and 4 four layers or being forced to make the biggest decision of my fat-kid-european life, who knows) I literally scream "YES"! and I'm off to the races.. Let me paint a better picture here… It is currently 5:30, no one that is a reasonable citizen of Denmark eats dinner till 6-630, and we are the only two customers in the entire restaurant--allowing me to stuff my face shamelessly and peacefully.. I scan the selection, and immediately open the steaming, untouched pot full of pear dumplings just waiting to be bobbed out by a beautiful candidate (played by me, myself and I in this beloved fairy tale).. I then paint/drench it with carmel, grabbing plate number two with the right hand and filling that up with two selections of cheese and two cakes with nuts on the side… Without embarrassing myself too much further with a detailed account of my second dinner/first dessert buffet of the evening, lets just say the conclusion came to this: three poached pears with drizzled cinnamon/caramel, a handful of roasted nuts, three cheese slices, three pieces of different cakes, a chocolate covered strawberry, and one helping of vanilla and one helping of chocolate mousse… Judge all you want people, I can hear all those worried/frightened thoughts as we speak and I assure you those ran through mine as well prior to my diabetes buffet… But to be honest, by the end of my sugary consumption, the only worried thought that ran through my head was "Why I am not full?".. My jeans were loose, my stomach was gearing up for round four, and if it weren't for the waitress taking my plates away (she probably assumed that the entire buffet could be annihilated before dinner service even started, so it was in her business' best interest to halt the hoover that was perched in the corner), I sadly could have fit in even more… While my insatiable hunger worried me, I luckily had the fortune of self-control and a distressed server to kindly cut my gorging at the right moment, ending just at the cusp where one sip of water would have gone down fine but a glass would have burst a button… With a few pat on the backs, a couple snapshots of my gluttonous victory, and the payment of the bill, we casually left the restaurant, completely blase about the historic event that just occurred… I would like to say that this day will receive an entire chapter in my novel "Diaries of a Mad White girl", commemorating the achievements that took place within that Denmark pub on April the 9th, 2012….

An important part of the story is that it was only I who took the buffet challenge, while Bridget coached me throughout the entire event (dabbing my forehead, reorganizing my plate so that I could maximize the food:surface area ratio, and of course taking pictures)… Nevertheless, she was doing this noble task (probably just as, if not more difficult as me shoveling sugar in my body) so by the time we left the restaurant, her tank was riding on empty so we went hunting for her second meal.. After arriving at a candy store that was charging around 11 dollars for three pieces of candy (I kid you not), we immediately shift gears to search for a local supermarket… We find one near our hotel, and it is of course closed.. However, we were fortunate enough to arrive at the vacant market with a guest from our hotel, who shared our disappointment and agreed to join our hunt for another store… A mother of two from Italy, she similarly expressed how expensive everything was here and insisted on us trying a local chinese food restaurant that sold three boxes of entrees for $7, a bargain that no tradesman could argue with (except for any intelligent person that knew saving money was not worth spending a day of misery in a bathroom).. Finally we arrive at our second closed supermarket, along with even more tourists who are upset by this 7:00pm closing time… We then decide just to go to the local 7/11, where Bridge grabs some food for the night (and some granola-type bars which I suggested we save for tomorrow since I don't want to pay for two over-priced meals, but she must have missed this bit because five minutes later she was casually nibbling on our bars, telling my buffet-filled belly that I really needed to try this rare decadent treat found at the exotic Copenhagen 7/11)… Needless to say, this was a day where we didn't see much, but obtained a handful of memories.

PS… shower head was broken, so as I was attempting to screw it back on, the knob bounced off of every wall and magically in to the toilette… I took a deep breath, withdrew the screw, and borrowed my laces from my tennis shoes to install a makeshift handle for the shower head--which would later fall to its demise after 10 minutes of Bridget being in the shower…we are only working with half of my mom's genes, so we only got a china-made version of McGyver which spared her at least a good shampoo wash.. Im just going to holdout for Germany, thankfully I have deodorant

April 10:

Wake up, open the window, still gloomy so we layer up while mentally preparing for the wind and rain… I personally summoned images of beaches and humidity, using visualization to avoid hypothermia.

We run off once again to our free walking tour after breakfast and are shown the beautiful harbor city in 3 hours, learning all about the Denmark Vikings, the citizen's grand attempt to save all the Copenhagen Jews during WWII and how the Denmark Prince met his Princess (it was a local bar situation, where he picked her up in Sydney, just a normal girl falling in love with the  prince… I think the story might be more enchanting than Charles and Kate). Our guide was Filip, who took us to his company's headquarters after (conveniently located in an Italian restaurant) where we were given discounted food that tasted much better than previous Denmark meals except half the cost and twice the size (excluding my dessert buffet from this competition, no contest there).. We were joined by a solo traveler from Munich who just finished her final exams (she is an automotive engineer in the city where BMW was founded and currently dominates the market…smart girl).. Filip and two of his colleagues (one from Portugal and the other from London) sat next to us while we dined and we had a splendid conversation about different cultures, focusing on views of Americans… They all agreed that our country became much more attractive the minute Obama took office, saying that they were all cheering in the streets when Bush finished his term..

After lunch, we walked over the river to a little Island which is home to the "Freetown Christiania". Here's a little history:
Civic authorities in Copenhagen regard Christiania as a large commune.. The people of this commune have developed their own set of rules, independent of the Danish government. The rules forbid stealing, violence, guns, knives, bulletproof vests, hard drugs and biker's colors. Famous for its main drag, known as Pusher Street, where hash and skunk weed were sold openly from permanent stands until 2004, it nevertheless does have rules forbidding 'hard drugs', such as cocaine, amphetamine, ecstasy and heroin. The hash commerce is controversial, but since the rules require a consensus they cannot be removed unless everybody agrees (thank you wiki). 

To say the least, both Bridget and I walked into the gates of this controversial town and attempted to act like we knew exactly where we were going, avoiding looks of buyers who could see tourist written on our foreheads.. We did one big loop in about 10 minutes and saw enough illegal bargaining to sentence about 100 people to jail.. But since there were "no picture" signs posted all over the place, there is no documentation of this event.. Even though I feel like we could have snapped a few shots and risked getting chased after by individuals high as kites who probably are lacking some coordination, taking the chance was not worth it. 

On our way back to the hotel, we stopped at the famous library, about 7 stories tall and containing isles and isles of endless study zones.. Both Bridge and I let our Inner-nerd dance around this place, envious of all those hovering over books and notecards, doing something productive while we just took pictures.. It was a brilliant piece of architecture and made both Bridge and I contemplate reading a book in Danish.

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