Church goings…

The mindful observer would have noticed the picture of a church in the last post. Yesterdays destination.

I grew up in a non-religious family. My brother and I are not christened or baptised, just given a name. This does not mean that we do not have a relationship with the church, though I would probably have challenged that before yesterday. Yesterday was the christening of my friends little girl and I was thrilled that I was able to make it to the event. Christenings are always happy events but it surprised me was how moved I was by the whole deal. Not in a particular religious way, but in a ‘recognition of culture’ kind of way. As a teenager I sang in the church choir, mainly because I liked to sing and it was the only option I had (I grew up in a very small village in rural Denmark). I therefore know half the psalms in the book, plus all the ritual answers. So there I was, sitting in the church, recognising both the rituals and the surroundings as a deeply engrained part of my cultural belonging. There is no doubt that the feeling was enhanced by being together with people I love, have missed and am thrilled to see again, but I have learned something about myself that was deeper than that. Not that I will be throwing myself into the baptismal font any day soon.

This is Birkerød Kirke. It was built in the beginning of the 16th century; the first priest started work some time before 1532. I haven’t looked up any information about this particular church, but from my knowledge of Danish history I’m pretty sure of the following: Denmark was catholic at the time the church was built, which lead to heavy decoration on the inside. In this case (as in many others) it was with chalk painting. When Denmark became Lutheran protestant (which is our state religion, written into the constitution) austerity became the norm and the church covered all the decorations with white paint. My guess is, that Birkerød kirke has uncovered the old paintings in half the church and left the protestant ways in the other. You wouldn’t otherwise see this much colour in a Danish church.

Yesterday was the third Sunday after Easter, which of course means something in the protestant calendar. They remind you as you walk in; just in case you forgot. Another funny feature in the Danish protestant church is that ALL churches have a ship hanging from the ceiling. Seafaring nation and all.

In case you have no clue what’s going on and what you are supposed to do, there are instructions left at every seat. The asterisk is for when you are supposed to stand.

As you can see, we had quite a program to cover. It included singing 11 psalms. Can’t say we aren’t thorough.



Cold Spring

It is amazing how many things you are able to observe when visiting your own country. My brain is working overtime reflecting on culture, language and relations. In my everyday life I don’t have too much trouble translating between languages, but yesterday took the prize as the worst in a long, long time. Good thing most Danes understand English.

So far the worst experience is the weather. It is colder than I thought it would be and I’m running around with my shoulders attached to my ears. My whole body is aching from being tense all the time. BUT it means I get to see the beginning of spring; the trees are just starting to pop and the bulbs are coming up everywhere. Have a look at these tulips, daffodils and hyacinths for example, planted by a municipality for all their citizens to enjoy. It was just beautiful and the smell was amazing. Even on a rainy day.

Rolling into the night

With all the eating I’ve been doing since arriving, you would think that I am at risk of returning to Australia with additional polster. But guess what? I have been brave. Day two and I have already ventured into the world on the Danes most favorite mode of transport, the iron horse. Look at this black beauty trusted upon me. Flowers and all.

Yesterday I rode across town to have dinner at my brother’s house. And I rode back too, without creating any accidents. It is an absolute miracle. I had prepared a sign to put on my back, which read “Australian mate, new in traffic, have patience” but I don’t think I will need it.

To put some proportion into this, last time I was here (three years ago) I never made it into traffic in/on a vehicle on my own. Neither car or bike. It was WAY too scary and thus bus and train all the way. This time, I’m out there on day two. With a jetlagged head, sporting total confusion. If you need to be reminded of the miracle proportion of this, go back and watch this video.

And it was AWESOME! The freedom. The control of speed and movement. No wonder I missed it the first many years away.

One thing I would like to show you from yesterday is two Danish icons, which just happen to be the next door neighbour to my brother. The Royal Copenhagen factory, which now also houses Georg Jensen. I had forgotten how beautiful these buildings are.

The last picture is just a look down the road, around the corner. Look at how different the light is. It’s the light at 7pm, when the sun doesn’t set before 9.30pm. I had forgotten how wonderful it is, when the day doesn’t end till late. There is so much time to see it all. Roll into the world on a bike and do it all. That ‘s what I will be doing.

up and running

As I told you yesterday, I didn’t quite arrive with a small bag. Despite my supposedly 26 kilos, I didn’t bring a computer. Mainly because the one I have is not easily brought around the world. Fortunately for me, my brother is a modern day superhero, a green screen wonder, and therefore showed up in the airport with a laptop for his sister. It has taken me a few days to move into this wonderful thing and now I’m ready. With pictures. The first one being of that insulting piece of red paper I was made to flag everywhere I went on my journey over. Have a look at my bag! There is no way! The brown bag is hand luggage!

The next thing I want to show you is my first evening meal. It’s called ‘stegt flæsk med persillesovs’ – a fat piece of fried pork with new potatoes and parsley sauce. It is not just a classic, it’s a ‘bring-tears-to-your-eyes-it’s-so-good’ classic.

I cannot tell you how good the potatoes tasted. I have been pretty content with our potatoes since we moved up north and get fresh potatoes from the Tablelands but oh. No wonder the world’s best restaurant is in Copenhagen. With potatoes like these, you could get away with anything.

It is time for breakfast. All I can say is dairy heaven. Last time I returned to Australia from here I couldn’t eat yoghurt for three months. The only way I can describe the taste is ‘pure’. No extra funny taste of having been processed or pasteurised or homogenised or whatever it is they do to yoghurt in Australia. It’s a clean, pure taste. If people knew how good our yoghurt was, there would be hordes at our borders screaming to be let in. Best of all? It’s all organic.

Now off to eat. Eat, eat, eat, eat. I wish you were here. I would SO share it all with you!

The sun is shining

I am in Copenhagen, which is so weird to write.

I intended to write a post about how horrible it is to travel for 36 hours. I even took notes on the way in a little notebook. But it really was quite uneventful and I’m remarkably fine. The only slight drama was at the journeys beginning, in Cairns airport, where I was met by the most sour man at the Virgin Blue counter. When these things happen to me, I cook up a scenario in my mind, where I imagine that something really terrible happened to the person, which makes them unable to respond in a curteous way to people. Maybe he was fired, but has to finish his shift? Maybe his colleague ditched his roster and now he cannot go to see Depeche Mode live in London? Or his partner broke up with him?

I really hope for him that something on his mind clouded his ‘good-service’ gene, because he takes the price for the worst service I have received in years. Chicken ass mouth and a ‘your bag weighs WAY too much, it is now categorised as inadequately packed, I need you to sign here. You are signing away all of our responsibility for your things’ – tart face, indicating it was a personal insult, which he really could have done without. I weighed my bag 3 times before leaving the house, the scales said 23.1 kg (which is a lot, I agree, but we could bring 30kg in one bag according to the instructions from Emirate air). He then smacked a sticker on the bag which said 26 kg. My puzzled face got no sympathy. Then I was instructed, like a naughty child in a playground, on how to change plane in Brisbane, how I had to let everyone know that I had packed 26kg and that he really was not responsible for my bag. He had me convinced that it was going straight to the dump. You could see the surprise on my face when it appeared in Copenhagen, I’m sure.

After the encounter with this man-in-a-life-crisis, I was sure I was in for something bad. But that was it. I got to check-in at the counter with the super-smiling lady at Emirates, I got discount on my coffee in the airport just because she felt like it, I met lovely people on the plane, all transfers were easy, all planes arrived early, I came through customs easy and was picked up by my mom, dad and brother, which was just so good.

Now I’m at my friend Katie’s house, where I’m staying while I’m here. She received us with Danish lunch on the table and a classic Danish dish for dinner (more to come later). We went for a long walk through places I know like the back of my hand, to keep me awake. It gave me such comfort to walk through those streets. Like I was here yesterday. I went to bed at 9pm and slept through the night. I woke at 7.30 this morning like a normal person. Not feeling the jetlag.

I could not have asked for a better passage across the ocean. This trip has started well. And I have this gut feeling that it will continue this way. The sun is shining and it is a beautiful day.



See you in Denmark!

I woke at 6am and almost did a somersault out of bed. I’m ready! Normally on an early morning like this, I would turn on the computer and start working. My mornings are always very productive. Instead I decided to go back to bed to spoon Mr Husband. Five minutes later he kicked me out of the bed. Apparently I’m so agitated that, even when I lie completely still next to a sleeping man, he gets stressed.

I have a severe case of what we in Denmark call ‘travel fever’ (rejse feber). Nervous jitters and excitement. I would probably be better off, if I ran around the complex three times very fast. And did 1000 jumping-jacks. I was going to go for a swim, but I packed my swimsuit. There is no coffee for me this morning, that’s for sure.

It will be at least 48 hours before I’m back online. When I am, I look forward to telling you all about my trip. I’m actually quite excited that you are coming along on this journey. This will be my first adventure where I process everything in writing as I go along. I’m wondering if that will change the experience – I’m thinking it will. Already, I somehow feel as if we are in it together. Just a little bit. That is a good feeling.

See you in Denmark!




Lesson learned!

So what did I do with the extra 24 hours given to me because I cannot read an itinerary?

Short answer: I did all the things I should have taken time to do, had I given it more serious thought. Mr Husband and I both woke at 7am, but stayed in bed till noon, just talking. After breakfast we went for a long walk on the beach, went to Palm Cove to check the fish (important stuff!) and I kissed him before he headed to work. Now I can sit quietly and enjoy my evening and re-pack my bags if I want to. I can also just leave them (of course I can’t, who do you think I am?).

This has been the best day I have had for months. Calm and connected, back on the ground. I’m ready to go now. And really looking forward to it!

And honestly? Everyone should do this; take the last day off before travelling far away for a long time. Pack everything so it is ready 24 hours before and then: just be.  I think I just learned an important lesson. I do not intend to forget it.