Paris: Sacre Coeur, Moulin Rouge, Picasso, et moi.

Paris. It was a long time ago now. Even though I got back just over a week ago, so much has happened. But let’s leave that for another post. It’s PARIS TIME. C’EST LE TEMPS DE PARIS. (Oui, je parle un peu français.)

So Paris began with an overnight bus trip from Dortmund, which wasn’t nearly as horrific as I’d expected. Sleep didn’t really happen, but it meant that I arrived at my hostel at 6am. A little too early to go sightseeing and WAY too early to check in. Day one I spent all by myself, mostly wandering. I went to Sacre Coeur, a beautiful (but not Europe’s most beautiful) cathedral, which was delightfully close to my hostel. Wandering down a lot of streets full of semi-sketchy formal-wear boutiques (it was weird), I ended up feeling overwhelmed and hungry in Le Galleries Lafayette, which is a big big big department store. I even cracked and went to a Starbucks in the store (my first American chain restaurant since going to Europe).

The view from my hostel room!

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The rest of the day was a bit of a blur. I had hoped to meet up with my friend Nancy but it’s hard to meet up with people when you’re just kind of hoping to run into them. So I saw La Place de la Concord, the jardin du Tuilieres (a big garden in front of the Louvre), walked along the Seine, saw Notre Dame, bought a book at Shakespeare and Company, and went to the Pompidou Center. It ended up being about 11 hours of walking with few breaks.

Sacre Coeur before climbing the stairs

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The view from the top– the highest point in the city is Sacre Coeur

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Dome at the Lafayette Galleries

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Tapestry at the Pompidou Center

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Robert and Sonia Delaunay pieces

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Start day 2. Taking it slow in the morning, I met up with Nancy and Deena at the start of a free walking tour (can’t speak highly enough of New Europe free walking tours), and we went on a long walk with a lot of other tourists, then sat and had a long lunch, before meeting up with the tour guide again and doing a walking tour of Montmartre, the trendy, arty neighborhood which is home to Sacre Coeur, Moulin Rouge, Picasso, et moi (it’s where my hostel was). Deena and I got a nice dinner in the artist’s square (a really cool square full of portraitists) and I went to bed.

Le Louvre est mon chapeau.

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Le lock bridge

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Nicole Kidman’s place of work

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Picasso’s apartment (above “The Laundry Boat”)

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Jour trois. I took another stroll through Montmartre in the daylight before heading into the city, the LONG way, stopping along the way to eat my apple watching old men do tai chi in a park, and and another to eat the best pain au chocolat the world has ever known (fresh and still warm). Then I saw the Arc de Triomphe, walked some more down back roads, and came upon the Eiffel Tower. It’s still way too surreal, but there was a lot of ear-to-ear smiling. Nancy and Deena and I had planned to meet at a McCafe near the Louvre before going, but we missed each other and none of us got to go to the museum. So we met up for dinner and then climbed the stairs up the Arc de Triomphe! It was a great view of Paris without the lines that the Eiffel Tower had. We walked down the Christmas market on the Champs d’Elysees, which was great and we had potato pancakes (when in France?)

It’s a little smaller than a typical Parisian lamppost.

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Is it just me, or is it a little crooked?

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Champs D’Elysees lit up like a French flag

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Day four, clearly time is getting away from us– it’s the last day of 2013! We met up in the morning south of the downtown part of the city, and waited in what we thought would be an hour long line for the Catacombs. The day crawled by as it rained and we waited for QUATRE HEURES, and I still managed to get a pretty substantial sunburn. Then we got into the tunnels under the city full of millions of human skeletons which was mad creepy but definitely really cool (except for the fact it was about 70 and humid down there).

Flash photography was forbidden.

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Then Nancy left to try to go to Hotel d’Invalides, and Deena and I walked to the Jardins du Luxembourg (SO PREETTTYY) which quickly became one of my favorite spots in the city. It had statues of ONLY women– French queens and influential French women (sadly not Eleanor of Aquitaine though). Tres cool. We walked through the Latin Quarter and met up with Nancy, and ate some foodstuffs served by a really rude French lady (when in France!) and walked over to the Eiffel Tower, where crowds had begun to gather– there are no official fireworks in Paris, but the Eiffel Tower sparkles on the hour every hour in the winter , so this night was no different. We did a lot of posing as Nancy struggled with some nasty food poisoning. At midnight, we shared a group hug at the base of the Eiffel Tower while eating Nutella-drizzled churros. It was quite the night.

#SparkleTime

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In the morning, I went back to the Luxembourg Gardens, did some reading and drank some expensive hot chocolate. We met up a final time in the afternoon and ate some tasty tasty crepes (mine was egg and cheese :)), walked around the Montmartre Christmas markets, then we- went to the metro Trocadero stop to go to the Christmas markets over there (last day!), I bought some final souvenirs before we said goodbye.

I was over it.

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In the morning I said goodbye to Paris as I headed to Orly airport, after which I went to London, and because British Airways wasn’t flying to Boston because of the storm, I was rerouted to Montreal, where I spent the night trying to to adjust to the time zone and relishing being an adult (first time in a hotel by myself). My flight wasn’t until the evening, so I sat around, packed again, and hung out at the crowded airport (everyone trying to get home). I luckily hopped on an earlier flight, and before I knew it, I was back in America.

So there’s good news and bad news. They’re the same. My adventure has come to an end, and this marks my second to last post. See you soon.

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Who Can Say? The short version of two crazy weekends

HI WORLD. It has been a crazy week. Just a week ago, I’d just thrown Rachael on a train and another train and plane to go home to Madrid. So. There’s that part, then the boring school part, then the this weekend part.

So, Rachael got into Copenhagen from Madrid on Thursday evening (Rachael’s my roommate from last year and a dear dear friend for my rare reader who doesn’t already know that). Unfortunately, her flight was really testing the public transportation system by being so late. Because trains kind of wimp out after midnight on a weekday. In that way, they’re a lot like me and Rachael. But we did get home, we just had to take a rather pricey taxi. Which Rachael kindly and unnecessarily paid for.

Then on Friday morning, set out to do Copenhagen, but first did a walk through Fredensborg Slotspark, which is the park behind the castle near my house. I know a fair amount about the royal family and the grounds so it was fun to see that and be a tour guide. It was actually pretty great being a tour guide all weekend. In Copenhagen, there were just some things we HAD to do, like see Strøget (Europe’s longest pedestrian shopping street) which also included a venture to Magasin (see my post “Less Ironically Good, More Actually Good”); a Danish interior design store I’d meant to hit up, Illums Bolighus; went to a very old, amazing bakery near DIS called Sankt Peders Bageri (I’ll bet you can translate that); The Round Tower (but our picture at the top has inexplicably disappeared from my camera), went to a Christmas Market; rode the water bus (great, free experience); The Black Diamond Royal Library; The København Bibliotek (main branch); Nyhavn; saw Amalienborg Palace and the Opera House from across the harbor; got super-lost, and ate some Chinese-ish food. It was a busy, busy day. And then we went home and had dinner with the host fam. Who loved Rachael, obvi.  I hate saying and then, and then, and then. But… I have to. We do a lot. What can I say. After dinner, we skyped Elana (a mutual friend and my future roommate) and watched Michael Cera’s masterpiece “Youth in Revolt.” A great movie, but we were really tired. Did we finish? Who can say?

Nyhavn (pronouced Nu-haun)

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The Opera House from across the Harbor

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Day two was day of castles! We went up to Helsingør (translates to Elsinore in English) and saw Kronborg, Hamlet’s Castle. It was a very quaint little town but a scary and forboding castle, and we walked around and hit up the gift shop and some shops around it. We also both enjoyed some laks (smoked salmon) sandwiches at KulturHus in Helsingør. We headed back south to Hillerød to see Frederiksborg Slot, which is crazy pretty, but sadly was closed. There was a wedding happening in the church there and we could hear a choir and saw a beautiful car to come pick up the happy couple. It was great, but would have been a little greater if we could have gone in!

This strange but cool shiny boy statue (Hamlet? Is that you?) and Kronborg in the background.

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Kronborg with a model of Kronborg in front of it.

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This picture came out cool (well, the car is in focus and the back isn’t, say what you will, it was an accident). A great wedding day for some people!

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Some call us RachaEleanor.

Some call us Ghost Cat.

Some call us crazy.

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It came to be snack-time, and we went to a cafe that advertised cake and coffee for around $10. Which sounds like a lot, but is actually a great deal in Denmark. We went in and asked the waitress for whatever that special was, and she looked at us with a dumb stare. She even went outside because I guess she’d never seen the sign before? Even the manager was confused. I guess no one had ever asked…? Anywho, we ended up getting it and then going home to a big family dinner and eating some chocolates Rachael brought from Spain. We then watched similarly stellar film “Me and You and Everyone We Know” by Miranda July. She’s a genius. It’s so funny and so real. That’s all I’m going to say about it. And this: ))<>(( Rachael got on a late train and and early plane and before I knew it was back in the land of Espana. Sad. But it was a great time. Rachael brings out the goofy in me in a way that few do.

Then there was school blah blah blah no one cares. Except I did see a great exhibition of Barbara Probst at the Black Diamond Royal Library. She’s very talented and has a great conceptual mind. Look her up.

Then this weekend, weekend of culture!

On Friday, I got a cheap ticket to a ballet called “Come Fly Away” which was a lot like the music of Sinatra set to the dancing from Guys and Dolls. It was good but not the best dancing, costumes, or music. It didn’t blow me away (though there were a few sets of abs in the cast that DID blow me away).

View from the nosebleeds (I could touch the ceiling while sitting)

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Saturday was the Hunger Games: Catching Fire with Bonnie. The movie was really fantastic, and at $20, it was the most I’ve ever paid for a movie ticket. The theatre was the biggest I’ve ever been to, also. And clean. And in Danish movie theaters you buy your specific seats. We had great ones. I’m team Peeta, and Jennifer Lawrence can do no wrong. That’s what I have to say about the Hunger Games. I’m ready to see it again.

Sunday SUNDAY (today) was the Royal Opera with an old buddy who I haven’t seen since September (sad). We went out to this kind of famous restaurant called Grød (pronounced kind of like gruel) which is a new nordic cuisine restaurant specializing in porridge! I got rice porridge with tarragon sugar, toasted hazelnuts, and Asian pears. I like to eat things I’ve never eaten before because I know I won’t hate it. It was beautiful and interesting, which are great words for a lot of things, but not the highest compliment to pay towards food items, if you get what I’m saying.

The green stuff is sugar.

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Then we booked it across the city to the opera where we saw Verdi’s Macbeth (in Italian with Danish subtitles).

That opera house from before but sunny and close-up. Sunny-side up?

Apparently Danes think it looks like the grill on an American car. Huh.

 

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These beautiful lights.

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There were only maybe 4 people in the cast of 50 who I actually knew who they were (the characters, I mean.), but the show was conceptually very strong, innovatively (that’s a word, right?) executed, and haunting. Lady Macbeth was a stunning soprano (side note, her name is Anne Margrethe Dahl, she’s Norwegian, and she’s 53!!! An incredible lady). She stole the show, but then again, so did the sets and costumes. To see it all, here’s the link. Really though, go look. The only bad part was an inexplicable topless pole-dancer at the beginning of the 2nd act. Wait. Another bad part was that someone took my scarf home with them. It wasn’t there when I got up to leave the theatre. It was probably a cheap scarf, but I got it from my mom at a really hard point in my life and it was special. Hopefully it will turn up but I doubt it.

That was my CRAZY week, and I have another one coming up with will culminate in Saturday Thanksgiving! Yup, not Thursday because I have school until late on Thursdays. Happy Thanksgiving team!

P.S. Enimen just came up on my “Upbeat Work Mix” on 8tracks. Um, no.

Cheeky and Posh: Winning London

What do torrential downpours, a bevy of charming accents, and the most confusingly wonderful department store in the world have in common? London. Obvi. It was a very easy question.

Day 1 (Sunday): Skipping the fluff, we arrived in London and headed over to Kensington for a bike tour. Our Australian tour guide was wonderful and we got to ride through the parks of London, seeing Kensington Palace (home of my favorite royals, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, and Prince Harry), Buckingham Palace (Prince Andrew, snooze. The Queen apparently only lives there about 3 nights per month), Big Ben, and Westminster Abbey.

Fun fact, “Big Ben” is the name of the bell inside the clock tower.

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Not Notre Dame, but Westminster Abbey, home of royal weddings!

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Buckingham Palace and bikes!IMG_3601

Oh look!

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Less exciting, but more likely to be home of royals you love (Will, Kate, Harry, and formerly Princess Diana)

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Then the rain started. Pouring rain, worse than in Rome, torrential downpour for a solid 30 minutes, while we rode back. I was wearing a poncho, but my boots took three days to dry.

We were all supposed to go to the Churchill War Rooms, but people were miserable, so they made it optional. I went, which was a great choice: 1) The war rooms were really cool, and I learned a LOT about the war 2) I ran into my family’s closest family friend in the bathroom. I was thinking “that woman has an UNCANNY resemblance to Kay.” And then I said hi and we both started shrieking.

A happy pic in front of the Blitz made the guy taking the picture cringe.

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This was all followed by dinner at an English pub and drinks with our prof (the most awkward man in the world) and seeing 10 Downing Street.

Day 2 (Monday) : Started with a relatively routine site visit at Saxo Bank which is a pretty cool Danish bank, which, as far as I can tell, helps people trade stocks (but not like, professional stock traders) and went out to lunch, where our prof made fun of us when they served mac and cheese and we were all taken aback with shock and delight. Because Danes don’t like the best food? Idk.

In the afternoon we visited the BBC. The tour guide was amazing and from “the Midlands” which to me meant she sounded like the coolest British person (it’s not a “posh” accent). At the BBC they still have radio dramas, like I would imagine were only popular back before TV. But we got to perform one, it was pretty cool. I’m definitely going to try to find some radio drama podcasts.

British Broadcasting Company

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Europe’s largest newsroom

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Love me some Matt Smith

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That night I went to see Billy Elliot the musical by myself because no one in my class was cool enough interested in seeing it with me. I sat in the very last row, which meant the actors were pretty little, but I was so impressed. The songs were really great and the dancing was truly fantastic, with the cast about a 50/50 split between young girls and middle-aged men (it’s about ballet and a miners’ strike) plus a few young boys. The kid who played Billy was so wonderful (his name is Elliott Hanna), but Playbills are not free in London (in fact they’re about $13) so I went without. I highly recommend the show. There’s this song in it called “Merry Christmas Maggie Thatcher” which seemed to make all the British people around me very uncomfortable, but is super catchy.

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Day 3 (Tuesday): We went to see PR firm Ketchum, which was international and nice and gave us tea and I ruined my shirt but nothing too special. I had been experiencing a lot of pain in my ear and a swollen and painful lymph node and just feeling really poopy, so this wasn’t my best day. After Ketchum, we had lunch and did some shopping at Spitalfields market (which I immediately recognized from ANTM) and I bought a Christmas present for a friend who I will see before Christmas and after Christmas but not at Christmas. So she might get it at her birthday, who cares if it’s nearly 5 months away…

Then we went to Wimbledon. It’s a tennis tournament I’ve watched before, but it wasn’t like the most exciting thing, going in, but I realized they are incredible at their company and branding and just being a fantastic place to play tennis. In the museum after, I watched clips from two GREAT tennis matches and realized I’d watched both with Harry (mon frere <–brother in French) and Gram (min bedstemor <–Grandma in Danish translates to “best mom” which is perfect). The matches were mens singles: Federer v. Nadal and women’s singles: Williams v. Williams. Some epic matchups right there. The tour guide there was very handsome and had a “posh” accent and so it was lovely.

Press room

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me and Wimbles

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These are the real thing. Even the winners only get to HOLD them

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Serena being sassy and classy

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They never changed the sign

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I got a good seat

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Then me and two girls from my class went to dinner in Picadilly Circus where NATALAY (aka Natalie Portman) and Chris Hemsworth were having the British premiere of Thor 2. But the girls I was with thought they were too cool for it, so I missed it, unfortunately. I could hear the screams of rabid fans from a few doors down the block where we were having dinner. Then we went to a mediocre comedy show, thanks to DIS.

Wednesday: Dreams came true and I went to Stonehenge. Pictures ensued as I was baffled.

Stones as tall as giants, in a perfect circle (Children of Eden song reference)

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What’s the meaning of Stonehenge? (Ylvis song reference)

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Then we went to Bath, which is the home of the Roman baths at a hot spring when England was part of the Roman Empire. I walked around with Mickey and Chris, two cool people who also have not found Strat Comm to be a particularly hospitable community.

A nice cathedral

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Me and the bath

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Mickey, Chris, et moi

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Another cathedral

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BEANS ON TOAST BEANS ON TOAST (that put me off beans and toast for life)

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We went shopping and drank tea and ate pasties (THEY’RE PIES GET YOUR MIND OUT OF THE GUTTER). I bought some mittens.

Day 4 (Thursday): Small group site visit to Three Fish in a Tree, a small and cool graphic design firm. After the visit the group walked over to the London Bridge, and when a woman asked to read my map, the group ditched me. SO then I was free of them and hit up platform 9 3/4 at King’s Cross Station (very different than I expected) and ate another pasty (If you need to be hasty, I recommend a tasty pasty) and went to Harrods, a giant an maze-like department store which I’ve read about before. I bought some more Christmas presents.

So real.

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Not so real

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Then it was time for a traditional afternoon tea at Fortnum & Mason (like Harrods but more Christmas-themed). In business casual, I was very underdressed, but the food and atmosphere were magical. I can’t imagine how expensive it was (DIS paid) but I highly recommend it.

Tea!

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Finger sandwiches!

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Scones!

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Sweets!

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I met up with my friends from AU, Kim and Kathleen, and we went shopping for a few minutes at Fortnum & Mason before getting Chinese food and froyo (at a place cheekily named “Snog”) and caught up and it was so happy and nice to see them.

Snog mood lighting

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Hehe

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Silly

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Kathleen, Kim, froyo, and me!

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I then went to see “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time” which is a play based on the book of the same name. It was a great play, with talented actors (Mike Noble starred), and innovative staging. It was one of the most captivating plays I’ve ever seen.

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The stage/set when I leaned forward in my partial-view seat. A grid blackboard with lights and projectors

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Day 5 (Friday): My last day in London (you must be happy, because this post is essay-length). After a visit to the Chelsea Football Club Stadium (a stadium roughly the size of a small college’s in the states and conveniently located 50 feet behind the hotel, I convinced Mickey to hang out with me. I was dead-set on my schedule so I was a little surprised and very happy she was up for joining me. We walked across the Millennium bridge (better known as the dementor bridge from Harry Potter) and visited the Tate Modern (aka one of my lifelong dreams) we spent a total of 2 hours which was about an hour less than I wish I’d spent, and several weeks less than I could have spent, but we had to get back to good ol’ Copenhagen. I got the last S-tog AND the last lokalbanen home from the airport, which if you live in Fredensborg (hi Linea!) you know how wonderful that is.

St. Paul’s Cathedral

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St. Paul’s Cathedral and the Millennium Bridge as seen from the Tate

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Me and the Tate

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Art, but I don’t remember whose.

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Nefertiti Shades of Grey (Black Version) (a race commentary)

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Really cool quilt against Thatcher for the Falklands war

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I recently got into Cy Twombly

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I’m all about this (not joking). It’s a white paper octagon

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Robert Delaunay

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Well, that was London. I really liked it, as a British version of New York City. It was fun (cheeky), fast-paced, and obviously a world capital. I definitely will go back, and now I can watch movies set there and be so happy. If only I’d gone to Downton Abbey (next time!) Cheers!

Which in Spain Means You’re Insane

I realized two important things today. 1) I haven’t posted in a week! Time to start writing! 2) I haven’t told y’all about Barcelona yet. Which is definitely the most important thing that has happened that I haven’t gone over in detail.

October 1:

We resume the adventure flying from Rome to Barcelona. This was my first experience with picked RyanAir. I really cannot complain. I paid $35 for a flight. An unreal price. It also encouraged forced me to pack lighter for the whole trip, which overall was probably a benefit.

After the worst landing I’ve experienced (already my least favorite part of flying BY FAR) all the people start clapping. It was soo unexpected, and so funny. And so real. I was grateful we made it too.

And make it we did, meeting our friend Drew (Bonnie’s friend from Smith, my friend through DIS and Bonnie) at the hostel at midnight, as prearranged. The hostel was lovely and we had some beers with some guys in the kitchen before going to bed. (Maybe worth noting: Said guys were a Canadian IT guy and two German prison guards. A motley crew it was).

October 2:

We have a breakfast at our hostel and walked a couple miles towards La Sagrada Familia. Even in the heat, it was but really nice to take in Barcelona, which is much more chill than Rome. We also split a very cheap, pretty good paella. Because there are some things you just have to eat.

La Sagrada Familia is a FEAT in architecture. It has been in progress for almost exactly 100 years, and will not be done for another 20. Cathedrals take a long time, but if you consider the advancement in building technology in that time, it’s… a freaking long time. This place is unmissable.

La Sagrada Familia, from the front.

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There are two distinct sides, the “Passion Facade” and the “Nativity Facade.” I believe this is the latter.

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Tree-ColumnsIMG_3280

Windows.IMG_3281

The Ceiling. European ceilings are just so good.IMG_3282

Godly.

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Over the pulpit.

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Me and a window.

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A very attractive selfie of the three of us and the Nativity Facade.

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After La Sagrada, we made our way down the widest streets I’ve ever seen to the most narrow ones, then back out again. The old part of Barcelona has winding alleys unlike those in Rome. Much narrower, and curving, so you never know where you’ll end up.  We ended up at La Rambla, a very famous shopping street, and possibly the European Capitol of Pickpocketing. So I clutched my bag close and we walked. Drew is practical and destination-oriented, setting goals, reading maps. I read maps, but I’m content to mosey and wander for a while before I do. Bonnie does not read maps (well), but usually is game to wander or find the destination. A good in-the-middle. So, we spent less time on La Rambla shopping and meandering than I would have alone, but it was still good. We also found a very famous food market, and luckily for me, all of us were down to eat some free samples and look at food stuffs. I got a Horchata and struggled to tell the others what it was. Just did some research to better explain it, and the word Horchata is actually Orxata, which is Catalan, the language most widely spoken in Barca. It is a sweet, creamy drink made from Tigernuts in Spain (google it) and made with rice in the U.S.

When we got back to the hostel, we ate a dinner cooked by the hostel staff, and played some pool in the basement. A great hostel, it was. Then the three of us, plus another DIS kid, Kenny, went out clubbing. We did not realize 1am is WAY too early to go out in Spain, and we were greeted by a sad, empty dance floor, and we left before anything exciting happened. The club we were at played the following songs twice in the hour and half we were there: Ain’t No Mountain High Enough and Call Me Maybe. Make of that what you will. We walked about an hour to get back between 3:30 and 4:30am, all the while having a raucous sing-along of Taylor Swift, Rent, and Mika, to name a few. It was the most fun I’ve had in a long time.

October 3:

Destinations of the day: Park Güell and the beach! We picked the right times to do both because it rained in the morning for a bit, when we were exploring the beautiful architecture, landscaping, views, and very talented street performers of the park.

Drew pointed out that one time the ANTM finale was here! Caridee’s season!

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But like, woah.

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Barca, the Med, and oh yeah, La Sagrada on the left.

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Stand up base is my weakness.

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Parchitecture (see what I did there?) and the city

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By the time we got to the beach the weather had cleared and it was perfect. My toes were loving the Mediterranean, and Drew and Bonnie relaxed on the sand.

Oh look, the perfect non-touristy Spanish beach (the trick: get off the Metro at Via Olimpica)

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A goal of mine. So perfect.

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We headed back into the city for a Tapas Tour we were going on. Tapas were great, and our tour group was rather excellent. We went to three different tapas places, and, we learned, you have to order drinks with tapas (by custom, not law or anything) so we had some traditional style apple cider, beer, and sangria, which was served in a jug that you pass around and pour from a distance into your mouth (or not from a distance if you have terrible aim and care about your clothing, like myself).

Yup, this thing.

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We then went back to the hostel, and one of the hostel staff was giving a lesson in making sangria, and it was the most sensual demonstration of basically wine and fruit salad that you could possibly imagine, from a Brazilian Johnny Depp lookalike, again, if you can imagine that.

Because Spain, we went out clubbing again, this time me and Bonnie with two guys who were also staying at our hostel. After walking around and going to a bar, we got to the club around 2:15am, aka PRIME TIME in Barcelona. Bonnie and I got in for free because we’re girls (sometimes sexism is kind of ok) and inadvertently ditched the guys in order to get this deal. We danced and danced and danced and went home in a taxi around 3:30 with significant hearing loss. Oh well. It was really fun.

October 4:

Drew went to Geneva early in the morning, so it was just me and Bonnie hanging out once again. We went to MACBA, which translates to the Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art. The museum was one of the best I’ve been to, and the art was all from after 1960. Which even in a contemporary art museum, is rather contemporary. Impressive.

I really liked this one.

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Wedding trunk, I think? With army men coming out.

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Some really innovative music composition

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YES, TOUCH IT. (no, not all of it)

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A poem on the wall in English, Spanish, and Catalan. (I think “majeure” is supposed to be “major”). I really like this poem.

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This is not art, but just a sign as we were leaving. But I really liked it.

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Then I really wanted to go shopping, so Bonnie humored me and we walked around La Rambla again, until I finally found something worth getting: stud earrings, which are black stones dipped in silver paint. Fairly cheap because Spain, and handmade in Barcelona.

We got back to the hostel to pick up our bags, and asked for directions to the airport. It was 5:00 and our flight was at 9:30, which in Spain means you’re insane because everything is relaxed and runs late. The Jonny Depp guy at the hostel told us we should stay another hour, and to get us to, he bought us a chocolate cake, and then made us and another guy who worked at the hostel lattes. We went up the the roof and ate and chatted, and the guys smoked and it was fun. The topic changed to acro-yoga (acrobatic partner yoga) and they told us they were learning it and did we want to see their routine? (they were definitely not smoking tobacco). We said yes, naturally, and they showed us this amazing routine in which Johnny Depp was holding the other guy with his arms or legs the entire time while lying on his back on the ground, and the other guy balanced. Then they finished, and asked if we wanted to try. I did.

IT. WAS. MAGIC. Bonnie tried, and then we split for the airport, all smiles, and when we got back to Copenhagen, we put on all of the clothes we brought (Copenhagen is COLD) and went back to her place, where I crashed on her floor. It was quite the week, needless to say. But I’m glad to be back in Copenhagen. At least for another week.

Stay tuned: London is next! No city is safe from my tourism!

What Does Cactus Even Taste Like?

My week in review. It’s been another long week, with me posting once already, and I have another post about a certain dessert item that may or may not make it to the interwebs before this one. Stay tuned.

I have this journal, which is something I’ve never really done consistently before, but was inspired by the coincidence of seeing this post on Pinterest around the same time I got a journal for Christmas from my cousins Mike and Nicole (Hi Nicole!). So since December 23, 2012, I’ve written a sentence about every day. Just a sentence of the highlights. I’ve never missed a day, and I’m pretty proud of that. I also picked a good year to start because I got to write about seeing my Gram in a casual way right up to when she died. So that’s something that’s nice. ANYWHO, I sometimes use it to see what I did in a week, but the problem is that I sometimes have boring days and then I have nothing to write and have no idea what happened that day, when I look back.

For example:

Saturday Sept 14: “Made brownies and watched Dr. Who with Maria.” Here are some pictures. To all those who have told me to watch Dr. Who over the years, you were right. Love love love.

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From those slutty brownies I said I’d make

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How they ended up looking. Oops, the brownies crushed the cookies, making it more like a cookie crust. Also, yum!

Sunday Sept 15: “Lazed around, went into Copenhagen, and did some creative writing.” I’m actually pretty happy with the writing I did last Sunday. So that’s good, right? I won’t post it here, though. Not for a while.

Monday Sept 16: “A humdrum rainy day featuring good food and a walk with Gabby” (hi!) But seriously, what did I do all day? I bought a luggage/locker lock for my upcoming trip to Rome and Barcelona! That’s all I can recall.

Tuesday Sept 17: “Finished The Only Good Thing Anyone Has Ever Done [by Sandra Newman] and met with HopeNow.” I wouldn’t say it was the only good thing anyone has ever done, but it was good. I would definitely recommend it to a creative writing professor or student. There were some BEAUTIFUL sentences. Sentences I read and reread. Wow. HopeNow is an anti-trafficking organization based here in Copenhagen which I’m working with with my advertising class to give them a communication campaign, as basic as they may be. They do really good work.

Wednesday Sept 18: “Got a book out of the library, went to the Louisiana, and ate a butt-ton of food.”  First, yes, I wrote butt-ton in my journal. When I look back on this when I’m old (or next year) it will seem so embarrassing hilarious that I ever though that way. The book was Jodi Piccoult’s Handle with Care. As I write this on Saturday, I have read 400 pages. That’s approx. 100 pages per day. I mean, it is the standard formula Jodi Piccoult, tugging on heartstrings in a New England courtroom, but I can’t put it down. I went to the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art again to see YOKO ONO: HALF-A-WIND SHOW and write about it for my art history class. It’s actually very interesting to read about her, and realize that she’s not just some artist who got famous because her husband was (John Lennon, for those of you who live in a pop culture-free hole somewhere) but is actually an artist in her own right. Who happens to take advantage of her husband’s influence, name, face, and money. 🙂

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We are all water.

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A slide to get into the show. Also, my classmate Sasha’s face.

Thursday Sept 19: “Read a lot and watched Rent– also there was a guest speaker about Sophie Calle.” Like I said, I read about 100 pages per day, so… yeah. I also watched Rent for the first time since high school and cried quite a bit at Angel’s funeral and burial and at the end. It’s like seeing old friends… die. SAD. In my art history class (Women, Art, and Identity), a program assistant at DIS came in and spoke about Sophie Calle, an AMAZING French “surveillance artist” look her up, she’s the coolest. Her show “Take Care of Yourself” and her book “The Address Book” are especially impressive and creepy. Take a google at them. I might be purchasing The Address Book later, when I get back to the states, if I can’t find it at a library first. SO COOL LOOK IT UP.

Friday Sept 20: “Saw some great bands at Hillerod Kultur Nat with Breanna.” Says it all. Me and Breanna (a third friend from Smith. Seriously, maybe I should have gone to Smith. kidding. kind of.) walked around Hillerod and saw

A gospel choir: They were fun and I’m thinking about joining them. It was hilariously obvious that English was their second language, unlike in the other groups we saw.

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A “Rock Choir” singing Coldplay, among other things. A women’s chorus called “Hot Notes” singing classical Danish music. And this nice view of the castle (plus me, wearing this new vest/leather jacket combo I just discovered doesn’t look stupid)

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The MOST AMAZING SWING BAND EVER. They’re called Overjive, and they were attractive and Danish but sang in English (because swing/big band is in English mostly). People danced. People here can dance, I say, dance! I took a video of people’s feet at one point, but wordpress won’t let me upload. Remind me to show you sometime.

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Cute, right???

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All cleaned up! (The other pic was from their sound check. We were a little early)

A pop band singing American and Danish pop music called The Donut Brothers. Cuteness in bowties.

I ate this perfect sandwich (and I know how to order in Danish “Jeg vil gerne have en vegetar sandwich” SO THERE!)

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And we bought these beautiful apple ciders with a hint of CACTUS, of all things. “But what does a cactus even taste like?” we asked ourselves and each other.

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Today: I have yet to write in my journal, as I always do it before bed. I wrote part of my Yoko Ono paper and baked. There will be a post about the latter.

A week in the life. Do not expect a post from me next weekend, because I’m going to 1) English: Rome 2) Italian: Roma 3) Danish: Rom ON SATURDAY and then 1) English/Spanish/Danish: Barcelona ON WEDNESDAY and then I’ll be coming back and be sleeping and doing incredible amounts of homework next weekend. Just saying,it might be a while.

It’s Not Like We Were Exploding

So. It seemed like the day by day thing went pretty well last week, so I’ll do an encore, and maybe it’ll become a thing (or maybe I’ll get more busy and you’ll never hear from me again!). OOh, and before I forget, I want to plug my AU friends’ blogs, all of whom are studying abroad and whose blogs I check on the daily (I could stand to be more busy): Rachael of “Tertiary My Dear Watson” (TeMyDeWa is a group blog and she posts one day a week), Kevin of “Kevin Visits Spain”, and Bekah of “Red Runs Madrid” are all in Madrid; Hannah of “My Semester Down Under” is in Sydney; Kim of “Winning London” is in London; Lizzy of “Lizzy in Kenya” and Val of “Valerie in Kenya” are both in Nairobi (surprise!); Paige of “My Study Abroad Adventures” is in Florence, and Gabrielle of “A Danish Adventure” is in Copenhagen with me! Yay buddies traveling! I’m not sure if my other friends abroad have blogs. Thanks to Hannah for this idea!

Sunday: I don’t usually post about Sundays, or haven’t the past two weeks, but it was an exceptional day. It started out with a brunch in celebration of my host dad’s grandson’s second birthday! The party was really big, with all four sets of grandparents of the birthday boy (yup, divorce on both sides), aunts, uncles, and cousins. And friends! (Me and my host sister’s boyfriend…) The brunch was outside, and over the course of the morning it was every kind of weather. It was all very happy and we had a shelter, but wow, I did not bring enough coats. There were a bunch of cute kids at the party, including Otto (birthday boy) and his three-month old brother Frede, and their cousins Emil, 7, and Isabel, 4. Isabel is the cutest and came wearing soo much eye-makeup, like a true Dane. Including a star out of eyeliner on her forehead. Her mom definitely was not the one with the pencil in hand…

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We got to the brunch around 10 and started eating breakfast stuff, so I filled up on homemade bread, cheese, jam, eggs, fruit, and tea. Then they brought out the “American” pancakes, which were conventionally shaped and served with mapley syrup, but weren’t actually American. Then they cleared the table and I though it was all done. Nope. They brought out two beautiful cakes.

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When they cleared the cakes they brought out beer, nuts, and cookies. I was so full (which actually is the word for drunk here. But drunk I was not, at 1pm on a Sunday, thankyouverymuch). When we got home, we left after putting on more layers, to go to a party for all of the host families, which was long and fun and I won’t go into much detail here. I met some peeps who hopefully I can hang out with later in the semester.

Monday: I got up super early (5:25) for my core course week short study trip. We hopped on a roomy coach bus (not sarcasm– 22 on a bus made for… 55? spacious) and went to Odense! We got a tour of a quaint area of town, part of Hans Christian Andersen’s life, as he is the most famous Dane and from Odense. We also visited TV2, which is a big news station here in Denmark. Our teacher, Christian, used to be a news anchor there, so we got a real behind-the-scenes look. This guy was literally introduced to us as the “hot weather man.”

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Then we went out to dinner at a local brewery and everyone got burgers, except the two vegetarians, who got a plate of veggies, and our drink of choice. Some people order wine at breweries (why?), but not I!

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After dinner, the class went to the local student union and caught a Danish band rocking outside on a Monday night. After, a lot of girls stuck around and had beers at the union, but were sitting in a circle as a group of loud Americans and it was not my scene at all. So me and my friend Mickey went back to the hostel, and during the trip back: 1) We stopped for candy and 2) A couple frantically asked us for directions to a bar. We didn’t know where it was, but we asked if we could join them. And we went with them to Dexter, a jazz club in Odense with no cover charge and band members who were young and attractive and playing instruments and looking very jazzy. We befriended the two German exchange students that the couple had been running to meet (the couple was Dutch exchange students) and hopefully we’ll meet up with them in Copenhagen later this semester. They were both grad students studying Middle Eastern Studies. Tres interessant.

Tuesday: We did a crash course in TV production, the 10 of us (half of our class) producing a 10 minute news segment in 5 hours (harder than it sounds). This was at a media museum called Brandts. Anywho, I was a journalist and camera-woman, filming for both the man-on the street segments and operating camera one during the studio shoot. It was really fun. Like, change majors and switch to broadcast journalism fun, maybe.

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Then we drove to Aarhus and went to this AMAZING design firm called DeisgnIt. They design everything: insulin pens, train cars, websites, advertising campaigns, and apps for banks. SO many creative people. Audi is their biggest customer, along with NovoNordisk, a huge pharmaceutical company. Also, their Paulo Alto office just got its first call from Google. So, big news to be in their HQ.

Wednesday: We went to Jyllands-Posten, a major newspaper in Denmark and one that was made famous in 2005 because of a very poorly thought out publishing of 12 cartoons depicting the prophet Mohammed. Google it. I’ll just say that the most infamous cartoon’s cartoonist is still under 24/7 security (because of death threats and murder attempts) and the newspaper building itself was super secure, more so than the Copenhagen airport. Afterwards, we went to the ARoS art museum, which is themed as Dante’s Heaven and Hell, with the most beautiful, heavenly art at the top, and the scariest at the bottom. It was super creepy (a lot of it) and so beautiful (a lot of it). The museum is famous for the spectrum of light/rainbow room installation on the roof.

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And for the statue “Big Boy”

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He’s big.IMG_2600

Then we went to Danske Commodities, an energy-trading firm, which was really cool and like a mini-stock market, and drove home.

Thursday: We split into small groups and each interviewed a comm director at a major company or agency. My group went to Dyrenes Beskyttelse, which is the Danish version of the Humane Society. Then we had to write an article about it, and I ended up doing a feature about the fact that the agency is privately funded. It was more interesting than it sounds, I think. Also, I ate a poppyseed and marizpan pastry called Thebirkes. Which reminded me of The Berks, a place I will likely be living when I return to DC.

Then I went to the thrift store near school and made my second, third, and fourth purchases. I justify that by saying I under-packed. Which I totally did, I promise. I brought 4 t shirts for 4 months. WHO DOES THAT? Also, you can’t beat the prices. The Røde Kors Butik (Red Cross Boutique) is definitely my favorite store in Denmark. So far.

Friday: Site visits at NovoNordisk and F.L.Smidth, two huge Danish/international companies, where we talked to their heads of communications about corportate internal communications. Snooze fest. I ate a cookie called Chokorye, which was pretty much just a heavy rye bread bun with chocolate chips. Then we had a class social, which was fine, but what I was really looking forward to was my plans to go out with friends after their socials, which ended at 8. So I had two hours to kill. I found a bench on a busy pedestrian street and read and people-watched for a while, but then I got cold. So I ventured around, trying to find stores that were open (I’m passively shopping to replace a pair of boots that are totally wrecked). And I found the MOTHERLODE of stores. It’s called Magasin, which means store in French. It’s basically a department store, but it’s also kind of like a market… major clothing, accessory, book, cosmetic, etc… vendors have stalls which are individually staffed and I guess run indepedently of each other. This store is at least 4 floors in downtown Copenhagen and just amazing. Definitely going back.

When my friends showed up, we had some beers and listened to a cool electronic band at the student house, and we chatted about real things: gender pronouns, our generation’s drinking habits, and Israel. It was so nice to meet new peeps and have good convo. Also we had falafel. When I started home, it was around midnight, so I figured it would be 1:30 before I was home. When I got to Hillerod around 1:50, where I change trains, I realized it was too late for the train, so I would wait for the night bus. And so I waited, about an hour and 15 minutes for it. It was a situation in which I swore I would never go out without a coat again. A COAT. IN SEPTEMBER. I finally got home around 2:40.

Saturday: Slept in… kind of, until 10. My host family was hosting a big family party, so I knew cleaning was a top priority. Luckily my room here is small, so it didn’t take as long as it would have at home. Also, I have significantly less stuff. When I got up to have breakfast, my host dad told me he wanted me to bake a cake for the party. And I was all “Hell yeah, I’ll bake a cake” and went back to cleaning. I decided it would be a blueberry upside down cake, so I had to go out and buy blueberries. When I got back and started cooking at around 2:15, Ole told me the cake should be done around 3 when the guests arrived. UM, what? That simply was not feasible, and it was for dessert, right? Nope, I forgot Danes eat cake BEFORE the meal, like we drink and eat cheese and bread, and olives. My cake did end up out of the oven before the cake-eating time was over, but for the sake of my posts getting longer and longer, I’ll just list the courses of this beautiful dinner.

1. Coffee, licorice tea, and cake: strawberry creme cake, and blueberry upside down cake (Danes were fascinated by it)

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(then we went for a walk)

2.Chips, peanuts, white wine, and sparkling apple cider

3.Italian bread and zucchini stuffed with a mushroom cream filling.

4. Rice, green beans, sugar snap peas, red wine and a pork stew. For me it was a pork-free stew.

5. Fruit cup with white chocolate topping and port wine. The little kids and the older kids (aka me and my host sister) also roasted marshmallows over a fire.

I mean, it was a 6 hour dinner. So it’s not like we were exploding with that much food. What surprised me most is that Jytte, my host mom, made the whole dinner herself. I helped a lot because it’s really hard for me to sit in a room where no one is speaking English, and my sister Maria helped too. But in the U.S. (or at least in my house) there would be a point where guests would filter in and out of the kitchen, helping to open wine, fill up plate, chop veggies, and generally take direction. There was none of that, which I found really odd and a little sad. Jytte missed part of all the courses except the last two and didn’t come on the walk all because she was cooking. Another cultural difference, I guess.

And now it’s Sunday again! Holy moly. I thought of two ideas for future posts 1) Two posts per week. This one is so long but when when I edited, it all seemed really important to my life… 2) A food-dedicated post. I eat a lot and take pics.

See you next week, folks!

Exercise or a Nap was in Order

Good lord it has been a long week. And lord, if you exist and are reading this, keep ’em coming. It was really fun. (laughing at myself for writing that. As if God would read my blog?)

So, with that start, I think it would make the most sense to sum it up day by day because even though I posted Wednesday, it didn’t really encompass the epic-ness that was this week.

Monday: Normal day of classes. I had Women, Art, and Identity; Designing Communications Campaigns, and Strategic Comm. On the train on the way home, I ran into this guy who I had talked to on the train late late on Friday night, so I chatted with him for a bit. It was mostly awkward…

Tuesday: I got up and got on the 8:39 train as usual to get to my 10:05 Danish class. A very important class. I switched trains in Hillerød, when I change from the Lokalbanen to the S-tog. (Sounds so official, right?) Basically, when I change from the local train to the commuter rail, in America-speak. There are 12 stops between Hillerød and Nørreport, when I get off, not including those two stops. It’s kind of long. But between the 2nd stop and the third stop (Allerød and Birkerød) the train stopped. There were some announcements, but all in Danish. The only announcement they ever make in English is “The train will begin as soon as possible.” We waited in the train for about 25 minutes, and I texted my friend telling her I would probably be late for class. They finally let us off the train, but rumor had spread that a tree had fallen on a nearby electrical line, and we would need to be bussed to the next station, Holte, from which we would resume as usual to Copenhagen, and actually the train continues southwest past my stop 18 stops. So it was kind of important. I met up with about 10 DIS people waiting for the bus, all of us complaining loudly in English (the American way) about missing class, and we ended up waiting for the bus (with hundreds of other people, as the trains emptied at that stop) for over an hour. When we finally got to Holte, it was clear we were ALL going to miss class. I did have a nice long chat with a very nice Danish grad student getting ready to study abroad in Manchester, England, and a nice short chat with two Mormon missionaries who were very excited to meet other Americans in the land of gnomes and trolls (actually, that’s Norway. I hope some of you get that joke). I missed class, running up the stairs to find another class going on in the same room. Oof.

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I ride the purple line (just line home <3) coming from farther north than the northern-most train stop to Norreport (one of the stops that has a full rainbow)

But then I had lunch with my friend Emily at the Botanical Garden, and it was so pretty and nice and we are both going on this trip called the Czech Trek and we talked about post trip-travel. YAY Central Europe, maybe.

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These were at the botanical garden and so pretty. Called Amaranthus Caudatus (Mom? Any layman name for that?) [edit: as Kate pointed out, one of the names for this is “love lies bleeding” a super dramatic layman name, but I like it a lot]

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Beautiful sky and botanical garden greenhouses

Wednesday: We normally have field trips on Wednesdays, but I didn’t. So I tried to hang out with people, but it didn’t work. I hung out at my house in the morning, and had a quiet lunch with Jytte. But then I got a little cabin-fever and decided to seek out a larger cabin. Namely, a castle in Hillerød called Frederiksborg Slot. AND OMG BEST CHOICE EVER. First castle of my life, and it was beautiful. Downton Abbey, Harry Potter, The Buccaneers, and other castle-centric movies and shows prepared me a little, but it was totally different to walk around by myself, often alone in small, dark rooms filled with old art and furniture. But it was amazing, so I’ll put some pics here. Wow.

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Exterior of the castle. Woah, right?

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I hope some of you enjoy this: Possibly the strangest statue I have ever seen. Boobs.

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Stained glass in the palace church

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French tourists in the Great Hall. That’s actually the name.

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When this is your ceiling, who needs floors?

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Exemplary hallway.

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Other side of the castle, as seen from the garden. Yup. I went there. Soo pretty.

Thursday: My first class met at the Statens Museum of Kunst (that means art) with my art class. A beautiful, huge, free museum. I realize this post is getting mighty long and I’m not close to done. There was a ton of variety of the permanent collection, so I feel like I could go back at least two more times and still see new stuff, from early art to contemporary.

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The part where the old wing meets the new.

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Contemporary kunst.

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Even the cat glares at you. Love this.

Classes, classes. Then I met some people at this coffee shop/bar/hangout called Studenterhuset (student house) to talk about going to ITALY and SPAIN over our first travel break. It was very exciting, and I re-met someone I already knew who was down for Rome and Barcelona so we made plans to meet the next day to buy plane tickets. So real.

Friday: I made it to Danish! Hooray! But first, it was my host sister’s 17th birthday, so in Danish tradition, we all had to wake up before her, and barge into her room and start singing (first the English birthday song then a Danish version) then went downstairs where there was bread and chocolate and pastries and coffee and juice and presents! She got money for the computer she wants and some tights. Very practical.

Then I had Danish, then I met with Bonnie to buy tickets. We got some crazy cheap flights and it was great. I was very stressed out and we went to buy candy to de-stress, but she ended up with a donut, and I ended up with a chocolate iPhone (yes, that’s a thing) for Linea’s birthday. Then I had Strategic Comm, and we talked about what we’re doing on our short study tour (Monday-Wednesday next week). We’re spending 2 nights in Odense, the birthplace of Hans Christian Anderson, and a day in Århus. Still very curious about how that will work out. Then I bought a pleather jacket at the Red Cross thrift store dangerously close to the school. It was pretty cheap and made me feel Danish. I went home and made brownies for Linea’s birthday, and Ole made frikadeller, which are meatballs. Both were a success, and I ate a tiny bit of meatball. Which reminded me that I’m not vegetarian because I don’t like meat, but I’m going to continue to be vegetarian.

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Mm, brownies.

Saturday: Me and my friend Gabrielle from AU went into Copenhagen to explore and because of the unpredictable weather, we ended up back at the Botanical Gardens and SMK (that means art) then went walking down Strøget, the Europe’s longest pedestrian shopping street. We found a flea market in an alley (less sketchy than you would imagine), pizza, Lego Corporate offices, a store that sells American candy (and pancake mix, canned pumpkin, and peanut butter) and gelato. A great day… but not over yet.

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In the window at Lego, a lego mural of the Nyhavn area. Yes, that’s legos. And the reflection of a car…

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Strawberry chocolate sorbet and mint chocolate gelato. Noms.

When I got home, Jytte had made a ton of cake for a party tomorrow, and we ate some–banana, and a kind from her small town where she grew up. Kind of chocolate/coffee/plain cake. I don’t know how to describe it. What with all the dessert, I felt like exercise or a nap was in order. I hopped on my bike and ended up going on a 7 mile ride, and I rode past the beautiful lake near my house, a field of horses, a golf course, and I stopped to pick wild cherries. How Danish am I? (You are correct if you answered “maybe trying too hard”) Then I came home, had dinner, and now this post.

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Cherries swaddled in my new jacket in my bike basket.

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By the cherry tree, horses graze idyllically in the sun.

And what a week it was. Also, bless those who got through this long, vaguely religious themed post. May it not have been in vain.