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Danmark 🇩🇰

Upon arriving in Billund, I was greeted by Liv (a danish exchange student who came to Ottawa) and Henrik (her boyfriend). While we were in Billund, we took the opportunity to do the only other thing there is to do there other than going to the airport: LEGOLand. While definitely very expensive to get in, we very much enjoyed the mini cities and famous buildings built to scale in LEGO bricks. We found however that the rides were too tame, as they were mainly for kids. We all agreed that the park would be much better if they charged maybe 200DKK (CAD $40 / 25€) for only admission and excluded the rides. Overall, I still enjoyed the park, and the company. We also ate some chocolate in the form of LEGO bricks and saw a mini jousting event 😊 Around 18h, we left and drove to Århus (read oh-rooss, with a guttural R, like the one in French). In Århus, we walked along the waterfront and ate at a diner. I had a typical danish fast food dish: bøfsandwich (ø corresponds to the French œ and the German ö, so it sounds like uh in English). It’s like a sloppy joe, with some vinaigre gravy sauce, pickles. Liv had another typical danish fast food dish: it was fries with a curry ketchup, which tasted so amazingly good.

The following day, Liv took me to the ARoS museum, famous for its rainbow rooftop and Boy. We saw a few exhibits: some weird stuff in the basement relating to art taking the form of an entire room. Another one on porn (did you know Denmark is the first country that legalized it? They’re very proud of their liberalist values) which was surprisingly Caucasian centric. My favourite exhibit was on the 19th century romantic period where danish artists wanted to show their pride for the beauty of their country. Some beautiful paintings of various danish landscapes, some of which were surprisingly dry. We finished by going up to the top floor with a panoramic view of the city, tinted by coloured glass windows (hence the rainbow mentioned earlier). Liv then had choir rehearsal, so I biked around the city, where I saw the old village 🤩, some kayak polo by the water, and some of the sights around the city. The day was wrapped up by going to a German pub with Liv’s choir and Henrik’s barbershop quartet for a beer. In all, I think there were about 15 of us in the group. The barbershop quartet sang and I was positively impressed by their singing 👌, but they’re all world class: Henrik‘s choir won first place in a world championship in Tokyo this summer, and the other guys were equally accomplished. I should also note that that morning, I learned that Danes typically eat toasted rye bread for breakfast. We ate some with leverpastej** (read lee-oooh pes tie) which is like pâté (it means liver paste). Tasted good 👌

The following day, Liv and I took the train to Aarhus (Å is the modern way of writing aa, so it’s pronounced oh-rooss), where her mom and brother picked us up. We then took the car to drive all the way to Skagen (danish is annoying with its pronunciation… skayn), which is called the branch of Denmark, because it’s the very northern tip of the peninsula and looks like a branch extending out into the sea. We visited a lighthouse, with a really windy panoramic view of the branch and then went to the very tip. I didn’t know this, but it’s where the North and Baltic seas meet in a mildly violent way: the waves crash into each other when there is enough wind and the meeting point of the seas is clearly visible. We enjoyed a barefoot walk and chat on the beach and then headed back to Liv’s parents place, stopping by an old church that the sand is progressively swallowing up: it’s called Den Tilsandede Kirk (literally the **** church). That evening, Liv’s mom prepared a typical danish Christmas dinner so that I could try the food 😍 there was pork roast with crispy fat, potatoes and gravy, smaller potatoes with a deliciously sweet glazing, pickled cabbage, some sweetened pickled ** and beetroot . For desert we had homemade *** with hand crushed sweet cookies. It‘s a combination of buttermilk, milk and **. It tastes a bit like homemade yoghurt but has a liquid consistency. Amazing dinner 👌😍

The next day, we went horseback riding through the countryside to a beach, drove to a German bunker on Bulbjerg. The drive there was really pretty, which you’ll see in the pictures. We then drove to Thorup Strand to see the beached olden days fishing boats (which are pulled in and out of the water by cable onto the beach). That evening, I finally trimmed my six week beard down to a one week beard, much to Sandrine’s pleasure. I also find it looks better on pictures, and definitely cleaner.

The next morning, Liv hadn’t noticed because “I now looked more like myself” 😆 I took a bus to Odense, where I was hosted by some of Liv’s friends for the night. Danish pronunciation for this city is again fairly frustrating: they say something like Oolensay/oothense. The danish d in this case is soft, and is a mix of an L and English TH sound. I couldn’t get it right unfortunately 😞 Pronunciation aside, the town is very cute and pretty. It’s Hans Christian Anderson’s birthplace, who wrote many of the known Disney fairytales like the little mermaid. The city has some 400 year old homes and the prettiest part of town is down by the H.C. Anderson Haven (parc) and the church.

The next day, I took the train to København without any idea where I’d be staying that night. My hosts from Odense tried to find friends that could host me during my train ride, but none of them were available, so I sent out some last minute couchsurfing requests. At that point I figured I’d just walk around the city and wait for people to respond. I’ll admit it was kind of stressful and my backup plan was to rent a car and sleep in the car on a campground (you can’t sleep just anywhere in Denmark, only in designated areas). I’d walked about an hour when I got an SMS from my hosts’ flatmate from Odense that they had actually found a friend that could host me. I was overjoyed 😅… as pride week was going on in København, plus an Ironman marathon, on top of the peak tourist season, absolutely every hostel was booked and only expensive hotels at 100€ a night were available. My host, Adria, a Catalan living in København for 4 years, was celebrating at pride with his friends, so I figured I’d keep walking around the city until we could meet up. I ended up visiting the Rundetaarn (round tower) with a panoramic view of the city, Konge Have (King’s parc), saw Frederiks Kirk, and saw the royal guards at Amalienborg (the royal residence). I then walked to Amaliehaven, and North towards the Den Lille Havfrue (the little mermaid of Copenhagen). I then walked around Kastellet, a fortified bastion with its windmill still intact, and walked back to Konge Have. At that point Adria messaged me that I could meet up with him and his friends at his place, so I took the metro to get there. Adria was super chill, and lived with Mathieu who ended up being from Montreal. I also met their friend Laura. After dropping off my stuff and snacking, we headed out to the Pride street party, where we danced from 20h to 24h. At twelve sharp, the music stopped abruptly, and people started looking for after parties… ourselves included. We ended up waiting in line to get in to a club, to then find out it cost 140DKK (CAD $28 / 19€) which was a little bit on the expensive side for us. We ended up finding one slightly cheaper at 100DKK. We stayed until about 3 or 4 and biked home (I sat on the newspaper stand over the back wheel, and Mathieu pedalled).

The next day, Adria lent me his bike as he was too hungover to leave the apartment. I climbed all the way to the top of the spire of the tallest church is Christianshavn just as it started raining, and almost slipped when walking down the slick smooth copper steps and almost died 😬. I should note that Christianshavn is called Denmark’s Amsterdam because it was built by the Dutch, with a canal and boats. It’s very pretty. I biked until I stumbled upon Christiania, which I had heard of but had no idea what it was. It’s an abandoned barracks that was squatted by hippies as an experiment on living as self-sustaining and self-governing anarchists in the 1970s. It’s a really amazing neighbourhood with a chill vibe, it’s pleasant, calm, close to the water, and completely covered in street art. I could see myself living there if it wasn’t for the smell of pusher street (where they illegally sell weed), and the weather 😆

On Monday, I took the train to get to Roskilde, where I saw the Cathedral (which is more like a mausoleum for the royal family, given that 22 tombs of reigning monarchs are here, not counting their family). It also has a cute neighbourhood with typical danish houses. Overall, it wasn’t really worth the trip. However, I tasted typical danish fast food: hot dogs. This one had a sausage wrapped in bacon, with ketchup and rémoulade sauce, and fried and raw onions on top. It was absolutely delicious. Once back in København, I walked around Nyhavn with Mathieu. The colours of the houses during sunset was gorgeous. I also learned that jaywalking in Denmark carries a highly expensive fine and that people look at you like a madman if you cross the street on a red. To finish off the day, Adria, Mathieu, Laura and I drank on one of the bridges over one of København’s lakes. A drunk Dane in his late 50’s accosted us. He first talked to us in Danish, which we didn’t understand at all, so I told him we spoke English, to which he responded in English “I don’t speak English” then continued chatting with us in English. 😆 This guy had a ukulele and played a few tunes for us. Funny guy, very drunk, good times.

The next day, I visited Rosenborg Slot (castle) which houses the Crown Jewels. The castle was very nice, but was really dated, with rooms decorated by specific monarchs, according to the style of the day. Some rooms were stylish, some really dark and depressing. The basement held some treasures, some of which were incredible: a ship carved entirely in ivory (must have been at least 30cm by 30cm), and other ivory carvings (see pictures, one was taller than me). After the museum visit, Mathieu and I did the Christianshavn free walking tour. I appreciated learning about what I had previously seen and surmised, and some new tidbits.

That pretty much wraps up my tour of Denmark 👌 I could see myself living in København if it wasn’t so cold there 😆 Thanks again Liv (and your family), Henrik, Kaspar, Jakob, Adria, Mathieu, Laura. Like I said, whenever I find a place to live, you’re all more than welcome.