08 June 2012

Final Goodbyes

My return flight left from Copenhagen, so I had to fly back from Spain to Denmark for one last night with my host family. It was a bittersweet evening of chatting and attempted packing. In the morning, we went to the bakery for, you guessed it, my last danish for breakfast.  

Jeg savner mine Dansk familie!

06 June 2012


Seeing as I was in Europe, my sister came to meet me and tour Spain when my semester ended. We did a tour of Malaga, Seville, Cordoba, Granada, and a few other smaller towns along the way. The main purpose was to explore the Moorish influence on Spanish architecture, something I knew very little about before. The tile works and stucco plasterwork was incredible! I had never seen anything with quite as ornate details as the palace interiors.

 Real Alacazar, Seville:

While in Cordoba, it happened to be the Fairea de Mayo, a huge celebration of Flamenco. Basically, there are rows and rows of tents, each with their own bar and music. We danced the night away and by the end, I think I almost had the hang of some Flamenco moves!
 Tenting tonight- in the middle of an olive field!:

 Alhambra, Granada:

Fun fact: The Spanish word “Granada” means pomegranate. It is also the origin of the word “grenade” because a pomegranate smashed against the ground will splatter the staining seeds in every direction. According to Jewish legend, Eve was tempted to eat a pomegranate in the Garden of Eden. The city of Granada uses the symbol of the pomegranate on their street posts and other governmental hardware throughout the city.

I couldn’t get The Clash unstuck from my head the whole time:

04 June 2012

The Final Weeks

When I realized just how quickly my time in Denmark was running out, I made a bucket list of must see touristy things that I simply had to do before I left:
1.       The Spiral Tower of the Church of Our Savior: Rumor has it that the architect threw himself from the top when he realized spiral was built counterclockwise. It was intended to spiral so intruders would have to hold their swords with their left hand on their ascension giving them further disadvantage.
2.          Malmö: It’s just a half hour train ride under the sea and over the bridge and welcome to Sweden. The city is rather small and not super touristy, but it still has a very old feel. We visited a castle turned museum. There was a special exhibit graphically depicting torture methods- curious as I am, I looked into a peephole on a door and blood started squirting out! All and all though, it was a lovely afternoon filled with gardens, gelato, and shopping.

3.       Vintage shops of Copenhagen: after my last final, on my last day in Copenhagen, a friend and I set out to explore the CPH second hand scene. While they range from last season’s channel to, well, junk, trash to treasure is very a very trendy way to fill in a Danish wardrobe. 
4.       TIVOLI!: The famous amusement park that I passed every day in the winter, all boarded up, finally opened. Every Friday they have a concert, so I went to see the Danish queen of pop, Medina. Not necessarily my style of music, but she put on a good show. I was back a few days later to test out the rides. We went on a Tuesday so there weren’t a lot of people or long lines. This being the case, we hopped aboard one, The Dragon, without having the time to see what it does. We got all strapped in and then thought, “Wow this has a pretty secure head brace…” The ride began easy enough- gently rocking up and down as we went in a circle. However, it accelerated quickly and we realized that the little cars were on individual hinges and we ended up going upside down 11 times!

5.       Christiania: The famous community of anti-establishmenters gets a bad rep for drug usage, but I found it to have a very peaceful, down to earth vibe. There is incredible street art and sculpture and a whole neighborhood of little, bohemian houses. Their only rules: Have fun, don’t run, and no pictures.
6.       Bakken: Denmark’s oldest amusement park in home to the clown Pjerrot and many dancing woodland creatures. It is surrounded by a beautifully green woodland area, complete with horse drawn carriage rides. My host family met up here for a goodbye dinner during my last week. It turned out to be the opening night of some performance or show, so all the famous Danish actors, politicians, and musicians (including one we had been listening to in the car on the way there) were parading around the park.

Alas, I have yet to complete a few crucial things (canal tour anyone?). All the more reason to return!

07 May 2012

Au Revoir, Paris

On Sunday, I began the day with morning mass at Notre Dame.  
For the afternoon, we completed a scavenger hunt through Le Marais, the area of Paris untouched by Haussmann’s 19th century restructuring. It encompasses the Jewish quarter and the world’s best falafel.

But in true DIS style, our final event was a dessert tasting at Le Pub Saint Germain.

Au revoir, Paris. We’ll meet again.

Paris: Saturday

Saturday morning was museum morning. We began with the Musee de l’Orangerie which was designed to house Monet’s water lilies. While it is really just two rooms and eight paintings, I could have spent hours with them. Because the rooms are lit naturally, the paintings change depending on the weather. It amazes me how they can look so abstract but evoke such concrete feelings. I’ve seen pictures and studied them in class, but nothing compares to being so close that for a few minutes I was actually inside, surrounded by water and light and the magic of a carefree summer day…

To complete the impressionism tour, we went to Musee d’Orsay which boasts the largest collection of impressionist works in the world. After a while in there, I was pretty well on my way to an art overdose, so it was time for me to experience Paris as the Impressionists did: flaneuring wherever my senses took me.

To complete the evening, we went on a dinner cruise down the Seine. DIS treated us to a three course French meal:

But the night was still young! So I went to the top of the Eifel Tower!
 Every hour on the hour, the tower lights up in a paparazzi of flashes. Seeing it the night before from the ground, I thought it was dazzling, but seeing it at the stroke of midnight from the top: absolutely magical.

Bonjour Paris!

On a whim a few months ago, I signed up for a one credit DIS course entitled “Impressionism in Paris.” After six classes learning about the origins of the impressionist movement, distinguishing between Manet and Monet, and how social factors of the late 1800s influenced art, we finally made our way to Paris for the weekend.
We began our trip Friday with a bus tour of Paris that ended with a tour of Versailles, the palace built for King Louis XIV as a display of absolute power. You have to put yourself in a 17th century mindset to really appreciate the scale of the structure and intricacy of design.
 The Hall of Mirrors
 Marie Antoinette's Bedroom

Can’t you just imagine a group of corseted women in wigs wondering through the garden as a group of men in tights and heals look on?

Future Resident?

After the tour, we were set free to explore Paris. The city is charming. There are gardens every few blocks and trees line the boulevards of uniform “Haussmannized” building complexes. The street cafes are positioned with outdoor seating for optimum people watching and the food they serve is simply delicious! Of course, there are a lot of tourists, but it is easy to find a quiet park bench in a secret courtyard for some peace. 
 Luxemburg Gardens

And an hour before it closed, we made it to the Louvre (Going places at night/just before closing is actually very efficient because most tourists have gone to bed and the lines are much shorter). Yes, I saw the Mona Lisa. But I think I was most impressed by the infrastructure. The palace turned museum is huge! It would take days to see all the art! Because it used to be a palace, the ceilings house frescos and the walls are marble. These baroque features are juxtaposed most interestingly with the modern glass pyramid in the courtyard.

02 May 2012

And then I stumbled upon a castle...

And other greats from the week in pictures:
 Blossoms in the back yard
 Black Diamond Library, Copenhagen
Roskilde Cathedral, resting place of the royal families. Here is King Christian IV:

 Lunch in the King's Garden (above)
 I went to visit a friend in Helsingør, got on the bus headed in the wrong direction, and ended up at Kronborg Castle, the set of Shakespeare's Hamlet (Though I don't know how he came up with the line, "There's something rotten in the state of Denmark." False advertising.):

 FCK (Kobenhaven) vs. AAB (Aalborg):

 And finally, the May 1 celebration/protest/festival at Fælledparken. It was originally the day for worker's protests in the park but has evolved into a sort of labor day filled with music, picnics, markets, and fair rides with only a hint of political undertones:
I can't believe how time has flown! After this weekend, I only have two weeks left in Denmark. That is, for this trip anyway...