My (Kelly) parents started a 7-week trip touring Europe in late August. Since it had been 1.5 years since I had seen my parents, I decided to meet them in Copenhagen for the 5 days they were visiting. Plus, Denmark is so close to Norway that I figured I should take the opportunity to add country number 16 to my list of places I’ve visited.
My parents lined up a flat to rent on Airbnb.com and the owner said it was okay if I stayed on the couch for an extra fee. When my parents arrived, they learned that there wasn’t wifi or a washer as the ad stated. We were able to strike a bargain and my lodging was free. This is very unusual for hosts on Airbnb to be dishonest or misrepresent the accommodations. Every time we have used this site, the accommodations have been incredible and much more cost effective than renting a hotel room.
Our flat was located by the Valby train station which is only two stops from Copenhagen H, the city center. We quickly found the tourist information and picked up some free maps with walking tour directions so we could see a large portion of downtown easily without paying exorbitant prices for the “hop on hop off” bus tours. The map also makes the city look very big but in reality, it was relatively small so we were happy we opted out of the tour buses.
My dad, Brian, looking at a map to get himself oriented.
The canal is one of the most unforgettable features of Copenhagen; it pulses like a major artery through the city. You find tour boats chugging along, people leisurely drifting by for a day trip and scores of house boats lining the docks. It’s very relaxing just to sit by the canal and people watch.
We visited the National Museum because it’s free of charge and has an excellent variety of artifacts from Denmark and other Scandinavian countries.
We visited the Viking exhibit which displayed with artifacts and remains what life was like during those times. I found the monetary system the most interesting. They based their monetary system on what they learned from the middle east and the designs on their coins represent their teachers.
Later, we were a little tired so we decided to take a motorized train car around the Latin quarter to take a break but still sight see. Like so many of the tours, you can hop off and hop back on when the train comes around again.
My parents, Brian and Dale by the University.
Copenhagen is a bicycle oriented city. Unlike the US, a large majority of people use their bicycles as transportation and not just for leisure. It makes the city safer and far less noisy.
So many of the houses are painted vibrant colors. This photo was taken on our way to King’s Garden.
This is one of the oldest royal gardens in the country, created in the renessance style by Christian IV in the 1600s.
My mother and I thought this willow tree was spectacularly beautiful. We spent a long time just admiring the tree while my dad roamed around taking more pictures.
This castle has a vault under it making so they have armed guards surrounding it.
Later, we saw the Bolivian Embassy and my dad suggested we pay them a visit to apologize on behalf of Americans who think that forcing the Bolivian president’s plane to land in Austria to could check if Snowden was on board was an illegal and aggressive act of air piracy. We, like so many others, believe that the American government influenced countries such as Spain, France, Italy and Portugal to forbid his plane to use their airspace. Sadly, the embassy was closed.
Right down the street from the Bolivian embassy we found a Danish furniture store, which my mother, Dele, fell in love with. Every time she sat down she would jokingly say, “this can be my birthday present.” My mom has always had an eye for finding antique Danish furniture in thrift stores and garage sales in the States. She says recently it has become so popular that people are catching on and she can’t find them at such low prices anymore. When my parents moved to China in 2008, she sold a lot of her furniture to make more storage space in the garage. I think she that regrets now.
I liked the wooden toys the most.
These are the Kastellet Military Barracks. It is one of the best preserved star fortresses (fortresses shaped like stars) in Northern Europe. Recently this entire area of the city flooded so they are restoring it to its original design.
Close to Kastellet Military Barracks is the famous statue of the Little Mermaid. Hans Christian Andersen was a Danish writer and poet and one of Denmark’s best known celebrities. Everyone wants a picture with this statue. We found it very anticlimactic so we asked someone to take a photo of us but didn’t bother to wait in the disorganized crowed to get a picture right next to her.
By the statue is St. Alban’s Chuch and Gefion fountain. We found the fountain to be brilliantly designed.
Notice the water is spouting out of a man’s mouth.
After a long day of sight seeing, we waited for a public ferry to take us to the Opera House.
From the Opera house, we took a bus to Christiania.
Christiania is an 84-square acre area was originally a military zone before it was abandoned. In 1971, during the Squatters Movement that swept through Europe, a group of individuals in need of housing and in want of an alternative culture began to occupy the space. There have been many times where the government has tried to revoke their squatting rights but by and large, it still holds strong as Denmark’s “Free Town.”
There are approximately 900 residents and numerous businesses such as pubs, restaurants, shops, and cannabis booths. The community used to allow the sale of heroine and cocaine but later decided that these drugs caused too many problems and voted to only allow marijuana sales.
We were not allowed to take pictures in Christiania’s “green zone” because of the sensitive activity inside.
Before coming to Copenhagen I had not done any research as to what I might want to do. My dad, who has been in NA (he is open so it’s okay that I out his participation) for 32 years, was really excited to see Christiania, even it’s “green zone.” Both of my parents declared that this was their favorite part of Copenhagen. They did not encourage me to buy anything from Christiania but said they would not be angry or judge me if I did. My mom, Dale, even said that if she lived in Copenhagen, Christiania would be the area where she would want to live. We spent at least a couple hours there wandering around.
Later we headed back downtown and we learned that it was the first day of Copenhagen’s Gay Pride. My parents may have been even more excited about pride than I was. They wanted to walk around all the booths and watch the performers.
It’s so nice to go to places with my parents that most children would never imagine going to with their parents, like Christiania (let alone with a parent who is 32-years-old in NA time) and to gay pride to celebrate gayness openly with the people who raised me to know that being gay is not a choice but the way someone is born. Their support has always been a key reason I have been able to accomplish so much in such a short amount of time. Thanks, mom and dad!
In my later visits to gay pride, I noticed that a lot of straight parents were celebrating with their children. Sometimes, the parents were with their teens who were obviously queer, while others were with toddlers and young children. Parents bought their children rainbow flags and danced around together. It was such a refreshing sight; how natural it is for people to take part in gay events even if they’re not gay or with anyone who they know to be gay.
By the end of their visit, they went to the Tivoli while I spent the day at home recuperating from a bug I caught when I first got to town. Being on the go the entire time wore me out. My parents left the next day on a cruise that would take them up to Norway. I spent a few more days in Copenhagen reading, finding vegan restaurants and enjoying myself.
There are not many pictures because my dad took a lot that I have not copied from his computer yet and after they left, I didn’t take a lot of pictures. I’m not very good at taking “selfies.” I did take this one below of me enjoying the one purchase I did make from Christiania before heading out for the day. It took me the entire time I was in town to consume it. Man, that stuff is powerful!
After my trip to Copenhagen I came home and was so happy to see Mi. My parents also docked in Bergen so we spent the first day I was home with them. Again, my dad has all of those pictures. I will update this blog entry when I see him next.
We made ourselves fried green tomatoes, red and green peppers to celebrate my homecoming.
I also bought two bottles of wine duty free from the airport and Mi bought a variety of English ciders and Norwegian beer. The Norwegian beer was a treat because it was unpasteurized, unfiltered and naturally fermented. It took us almost a month to finish all of this alcohol mostly because they were all so strong and I am exercising so much that I never want to drink and lose all of my hard work!
On a parting note, my time in Copenhagen was so much fun and it was so good to see my parents. The one thing that was really hard about going to Copenhagen was being separated from Mi. We have been together for more than 26 months without a day apart. It has been hard to imagine spending a couple years apart while studying in Canada for my master’s program starting in January.
My original plan was to stay in Bergen until October 1st, then head back to the States in order make arrangements for school in Canada. Due to student permit hold-ups and our desire to stay together, I decided to reapply at the University of Bergen and turn down the offer of admission in Canada. Even though I bought insurance on my plane ticket, I was still going to be charged an outrageous amount to change or cancel the trip. I have decided to go home and visit my family for about 2 weeks then head to Mexico to study Spanish and work on an organic vegan farm until December. The University of Bergen did state that I am qualified for the program I applied for but there wasn’t enough space to admit me, so I hope my time in Mexico will better my chances of being accepted for the next academic year.
For the next few months you will see individual entries from us. Mi will be in Norway with a possible trip during a 2 week break of class and I will be in Ventura, CA and Cuernavaca, Mexico. We have one more entry together before I leave. Stay tuned!