09 October 2012

Catching Up: Denmark

I know it has been awhile since I've update the blog. Can I just say the last couple months have been busy? Here is what has been happening since the beginning of August:
  • My first international trip -- 8 days in Denmark!
  • Crystal Palace Moonshine yarn to be made up into a project.
  • Dragon*Con.
  • Vincent (shaggy black cat ball of love) sick with pancreatitis.
  • Georgia Alpaca FiberFest at Callaway Gardens.
  • Me meeting some nasty virus and being sick for more than a week.
  • Me cleaning house so book club will fit in my living room on Friday.
I don't know how much of this I'll write up in the next few days, but I do know I need to catch up.

Visiting the Little Mermaid
First things first -- Denmark!

At the beginning of the summer, Cuddly Hubby came home and said there was a chance he would be taking a business trip overseas to Denmark in the summer of 2013 and would I like to go along? Sure! And then about a month later he came home and said that instead of the trip being in about 12 months it would be in about 6 weeks. Ack!

This was my first international trip. There were lots of details -- airline tickets, several different hotel reservations, cat sitter, finance (informing the bank that Danish transactions would be legitimate), new luggage, guidebooks, itinerary planning, downloading maps for the GPS. I don't know how people who travel a lot do it. We were in Denmark for eight days -- three of those in Roskilde and the remainder in Copenhagen. Things I observed:
  • You don't understand what is American about America until you travel abroad. Especially if your return flight brings you in through Newark, New Jersey.
  • It is amazing how thoroughly trashed the inside of an airplane can be after an 8-hour overnight flight. I don't know how flight attendants deal with it.
  • Trains are an efficient means of transportation! Trains are awesome!
  • You don't understand the concept of walkable communities until you travel somewhere that was settled hundreds of years before automobiles.
  • There is something about a landscape that has been settled and tamed for hundreds of years. I can't quite say what it is that is different, but somehow you feel the wildness is gone.
  • Satellite GPS systems do not like narrow urban European streets with five-story tall buildings on each side.
  • Compared to Europe, Americans are prudes! No wonder the pilgrims left -- I'm not sure whether they were glad to leave or whether their neighbors were glad to see them go, but I'm sure they were misfits.
  • No wonder the Danes have a high standard of living. They eat a huge breakfast each morning, and there are ice cream places everywhere. With a big breakfast to greet you each day and a stop for ice cream each afternoon, you have already laid the groundwork for a good day.
  • I could not find drinking fountains in Denmark.
  • Denmark has a great tradition of building with brick.
  • In Denmark, it is okay to exhibit a common pit viper (or other animal) in an open air exhibit. If you are unwise enough to stick your hand in there, then you deserve the consequences.
  • Reindeer antlers look much larger in person than in pictures.
Qiviut on the hoof at København Zoo.
I wasn't able to speak the language, but I could read some of it because I know some basic German. A lot of the Danish sounds are not the same as German or English, but the letters are the same. Lots of people in Denmark, especially the young, speak some English. And English is used as a second language for communication with people who don't speak Danish. Many of the signs in tourist locations were in Danish and English. So finding our way around wasn't too bad.

We did eat several excellent meals, including one incredible meal provided by my Cuddy Hubby's boss. Eating well in the European way really does take up all evening. So the pace of life is different from America, where you might eat dinner from 7 to 8:30 PM and then be off to another activity. If you show up at a good restaurant in Denmark at 7:30 PM for dinner, you will be there until at least 10 PM.

One note about money. We were told we could just use our ATM cards to get money, and that worked fine. Credit cards were another matter. At least in Denmark, credit cards either have a chip or a PIN. Some merchants could process our cards for signature, but some couldn't. This kept me from shopping much. Debit cards worked fine. If we had known this, we would have shifted money from savings to checking and used the debit cards. I know now that you can set up a PIN for a credit card. So if you are going to travel overseas, contact your credit card company so you are ready.

Tomorrow: Yarn Crawling Copenhagen

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