Thursday, March 15, 2007

Copenhagen and Madison

Yesterday we arrived in Copenhagen and walked around and had lunch and enjoyed the sunny weather. According to our cab driver, the sun appears only in August. He was a little bitter about it. He's from Pakistan and when we asked what brought him to Copenhagen he said that his parents made a mistake. Danes like foreigners, but only as tourists.

By the way, I am traveling now with only 4 other people who I met only on March 8, exactly one week ago. But, having spent all day together for that long, having drunk many beers and wine (they serve wine at lunch and dinner in France) with them, you get to feel pretty close. Fortunately, they are all friendly, hilarious, and seriously smart people. More about that later.

So, we are staying in a hotel in the old part of Copenhagen, near the canal with all the colorful houses on the water. Turns out that the rest of Copenhagen does not look like that. It looks like old Europe with marble buildings, statuary all around, etc. There's a pedestrian only street not far from our hotel with many shops and restaurants on the first floor and flats above. My traveling companions and I have said that we would like to come back with our families.

Cultural lesson of the day: Danes eat in several courses and don't mix food. They start with some kind of dish I don't remember, then there's the poultry course, then the dark meat course, then the fish course, and dessert. They have a different plate each time and find it strange that Americans mix all that together.

Juvenile moment of the day: Here in Copenhagen, we have a guide, Kristina, an older lady who's done this before. She said that she heard we were a partying group. Our reputation precedes us. For lunch today she took us to a traditional Danish lunch place, which serves fishballs. Michael, a professor, practically lost it. I thought he was going to start giggling at the word fishballs.

Then in meetings about climate change and international environmental policy, he's all into the topic, asking all kinds of questions. That makes sense, it's his field. But at other meetings, about the economy, or immigration, or health, or whatever, he asks totally serious questions and sounds so knowledgeable. At his environmental meeting (we're going to all the meetings together) I contributed the word 'cartography' and 'artificial reef' when the speaker didn't know the word in English, and I asked about biodiversity. The rest of the meeting I kept my mouth shut.

The last meeting of the day was very interesting, about immigration in Denmark. I was absolutely floored to learn that Denmark did not start admitting immigrants until the 1960s. As an American, and as a child of immigrants, immigration is normal.

At the last meeting of the day, one of the speakers is special counsel to one of the governemental ministers and he did the exchange trip to the US a few years ago. It turns out that he went to Madison, Wisconsin and arrived the day before Halloween. Madison is known to have one of the largest, if not the largest, Halloween street party in the US. Certainly, the University of Wisconsin in Madison is among the top party schools in the US. If we had time, I would have liked to ask him more about his experience and what he did in Madison. But he had to go home to his wife and four kids. He said he was interested in Wisconsin since he was a little kid and first read Laura Ingalls Wilder and the Little House on the Prairie.

In knitting news, I did finish the yellow Malabrigo yarn pillbox hat on the plane to Copenhagen. I haven't needed it, but it's supposed to get cold and possibly snowy over the weekend. I'm working on a blanket for my husband and after I finish blogging, I may start my lace fichu.

I've been traveling of just one week. It feels like much longer because in that time have been to Washington DC, Paris, and now Copenhagen, and have been getting very little sleep. I think I'm finally changing that pattern.

1 comment:

Stacey said...

Maybe Hamlet suffered from Seasonal Affective Disorder if there is so little sunshine. I laughed out loud about the fishballs. I'm enjoying reading your posts.