Hello again from Copenhagen! We’ve been lucky enough to enjoy three full days of absorbing Danish culture, food, sights, fun and history. And now that we get into these older European town, there is more than enough history to go around. In keeping with one of the goals of this trip, we continue to see, learn and grow just a bit more each day. For example, we know now that the Danish flag employs one of the oldest flag designs in the world. And, finally, we’re back in a part of the world that has paper towels in the bathroom. Also, I’m slowly becoming able to sort out the distinct differences between the three Scandavian countries: Denmark, Sweeden and Norway. Until now, all three unfortunately ran a bit together like a jumbled mess in my mind.
Since day one, we’ve been resting our head in a variety of different hotels and hostels, but we’ve also had some terrific luck trying out Air BnB- a handy webstie that helps travelers find paid homestays. Currenty, we’re hosted by an incredibly gracious and friendly Dane named Thais who lives a short bus ride from central Copenhagen. We’re staying in his small, airplane-themed flat for three days; Thais has been a stellar host. His dream is to live in an old airplane, but since he is currently unable to do that, he brought the airplane to his apartment. Complete with a safety card that has important information, genuine airplane seats and an overhead compartment for storage, it is clear that he is a bit obsessed with airplanes. It is certainly the biggest theme home we’ve seen in a long time, but it works really well for him! In part, because he is a writer for several European flight magazines, reviewing aircraft, airports and all things aeronautics related. Thais has provided directions, suggestions and even pointed us to a nearby park, Utterslev Mose, where we were run in the morning. Our stay at “The Aerohotel” here has been great and we are glad the weather is finally cool enough (55-65 degrees) for us to run again.
Today we began with a tour of the Carlsberg Brewhouse and Museum. Until about a week ago, I though that Carlsberg (along with Heineken) was a Netherlands based beer. Wrong again, Phil. Turns out that not only is Carsberg one of Denmark’s biggest exports and industries, they are also the world’s 4th largest brewing company with over 500 brands including acquisitions of other European beers. While not that big in America, bottles and tap heads were common throughout Asia. The self-guided eleven dollar tour of Carlsberg (the etymology of the beer’s name is the combination of the name of the owner’s son and the Danish word for hill) was well worth it. The fact that the price of admission included a few beers didn’t hurt. While most of the main brewing facilities have been moved to the Jutland area of Denmark (just don’t ask us to point it out on the map), the company headquarters go back over a hundred years with plenty of well-perserved buildings that show off an interesting history.
I found some of the exhibits on the well-organized Carlsberg tour more interesting than some at the National Museum. The tour took us through that stables that are home to the company’s remaining Jutland Horses. This stout, large and somewhat rare breed, which resemble the famous Budweiser Clydesdales, were historically used to pull beer carts throughout the city and are still used in ceremonies today. The museum also houses a collection of 22,000 unopened beer bottles from the last couple of hundred years! 22,000 glass bottles, many donated from one Dane’s private collection, placed carefully on glass shelves in one room! Good thing we’re not in an area prone to earthquakes. They also really have kept their original buildings in wonderful shape to illustrate the brewing life back around 1900. The trip out there was worth it alone to see the entry gates complete with giant elephants and to watch the modern day brewing of small batch Jacobsen’s Ale while perched from an upstairs bar.
From Carlsberg, we took a trip to the famous Freetown Christiana: an area of Copenhagen that has been occupied by squatters on an old set of military barracks for more than 40 years. Christiana is intended to be an open commune where anyone can live and designed to encourage artists and foster free thought. But our reality was that it looked more like a bunch of burned out hippies sitting among sub-par graffiti art splattered across random buildings. The central draw is the Greenlight district or Pusher Street where they sell weed- lots of weed – openly. Just don’t take out your camera while nearby. Christiana residents declare themselves as not part of the E.U and eschew taxes, but they still receive city services such as mail, electricity and water. It has a long, complicated history and apparently the city officials conduct pre-announced raids from time to time. But for the most part, everyone is allowed to just occupy this space without much resistance. Visitors are welcome and a happy community of about 900 live carefree and proud of their little neck of the woods. It’s…odd. After a worthwhile visit, we left with more quetions then answers. We have determined that squatting is handy when you have an entire complex of well kept old buildings to live in and no one is going to kick you out, but even with understanding some of the turbulent past and issues, were still surprised that this large chunk of land is just allowed to be occupied unpaid by a collective mass.
As we wrap up Denmark for now, note that starting tomorrow Brooke and I are embarking on the most luxurious and relaxing part of our round the world trip- a nine-day Baltic Capitals cruise on Norwegian Cruise Lines. Whilst we sail the open seas, we’ll have considerably limited internet access. For the next little bit, our blog posts may be intermittent as wifi becomes available. Off to Germany, Estonia, Russisa and beyond courtesy of the Norwegian Sun!