Tivoli

Posted by jswt | Posted in Denmark - Copenhagen, General | Posted on 31-10-2009

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This morning (Saturday, Oct 31st) the group Chris is touring with was invited to come for a tour of Tivoli. As our tour guide explained, it’s not really an amusement park, and not quite a theme park, “it’s more of a pleasure garden” that has concerts, restuarants, rides… “but not in the tacky traditional sense”.

They’re currently closed until they reopen for a couple weeks in late December, and it was really cool to be wandering around an abandoned theme park. It’s over 160 years old, and it’s a wonderful collage of styles, themes and eras that all fit together well. Of course, some of the rides and amusements look frighteningly ancient, but that’s kind of what gives it a unique charm.

Every single thing there was covered in lights and it would be wonderful to see it lit up, especially with some snow cover at Christmastime, but spending the dreary grey morning wandering through an abandoned amusement park with the only sound being that of feet rustling through orange/yellow/green piles of fallen autumn leaves was a suitably unique and eerie Halloween experience 🙂

Just wanted to get these pictures posted before heading down for a nap and packing before wandering off to the Halloween party we’re going to tonight… Thanks to my new favorite energy drink (Yay to 40z of malt liquor w/ caffiene, and mad respek to their saucy advertising campaign too) I’m not sure how much sleep I’m gonna be getting before flying to Sweden early tomorrow morning 🙂

Christiana

Posted by jswt | Posted in Audio, Denmark - Copenhagen, General | Posted on 31-10-2009

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(Note: Recommended listening for this post is the Raz ohara and the Odd Orchestra mix called Oddpod from Allez-Allez that I listened to while watching sunset.)

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Friday afternoon after finishing up some work, I strapped on the headphones and wandered off into Copenhagen… I’d heard about the Christiania area, and pointed myself in that direction.

Essentially, Christiana is a part of Copenhagen that exists unto itself as a free republic. Back in the early 70s, squatters took over an abandonded military base right near the downtown core and turned it into their own commune with it’s own tenets and laws. They’ve got europe’s largest organic food store, some really cool restaurants and bars, a unique bike company, and amazingly beautiful trails with houses tucked along lakefronts. And of course, there’s the bustling open air hash market in the centre of town that gets the majority of attention.

When Christiana started having problems with hard drugs and junkies, as a community they dealt with it: they told the junkies and hard drug dealers that they either had to quit or take it out of town. Since then, they’ve successfully limited the drug problem in town and created a thriving soft drug market. Interestingly enough, when the recently elected conservative government tried to crack down on and reduce the Christiana soft drug market, it caused an unexpected ripple effect. Where once everything was concentrated in one area, the market spread across the city, and where it was once soft-drug dealers working alongside eachother, it changed the market to biker and middle eastern gangs who dealt whatever would turn a profit without consideration for the damage. As these gangs have started battling for turf, there’s an incredibly violent gang war sweeping the city that has so far been unstoppable by the police, the damage from which would have been strongly reduced if they’d just let the hippies be.

But, the drug issue aside, Christiana is an amazing place if you look beyond Pusher Street. It reminds me a lot of the gulf island communities or places in the interior of BC where the freaks and the freethinkers disappear into safe havens and do their own thing. It might be a bit of a sore point for the Danish government, but everyone here seems to be kind of respectful of it – it’s kind of spoken about like it’s admired, and that the rest of the city understands that want for living outside the norm and is cool to see other people doing it. It’s like they all wish they had that anarchist spirit inside them, and are happy that people are resisting amongst them.

I didn’t take any pictures from Christiana as I know Pusher Street has a heavily enforced no camera policy and I didn’t want to be out of line taking pictures around the rest of the area, but I found a set on Flickr that are along the lines of what I saw and can give you a little taste of the vibe:



I left Christiana around 4:20 on a Friday afternoon, and was walking past a church with a giant belltower and a spiral staircase leading up the spire, so I cast aside better judgement and enjoyed an amazing sunset from far above the city skyline.


Came back to the hotel, knocked off a few hours of work, and then went out for a lovely late night tapas dinner with a few fine folk, en route to which we passed by this shoe store which had the most deliciously trashy onomatopoeia in untranslated form.

Went for a bit of a wander to see the chaos that ensues from what the local brewery has turned into a defacto holiday: The night of the year that Carlsberg released their CHRISTMAS BEER! Yes, the entire city was going mental and getting completely loaded thanks to a rather creative, patriotic and well purposed marketing effort. Smart.

Earlyish to bed to get up early for the Tivoli tour…

Copenhagen is my mistress.

Posted by jswt | Posted in Denmark - Copenhagen, General | Posted on 29-10-2009

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So it’s Thursday night, and I’m in love with Copenhagen… she’s my sexy, sultry mistress, and today she shone thru with a sunny demeanor for the first time.

Past couple days were a mellow but deliciously satisfying routine (work/wander/gym/pub) and while it’s been pretty grey and dreary, I’ve been taking every chance I can to get out and wander around this city — it’s really, really fantastic. I’ve kinda been thinking of it in the context of Vancouver back home… If Vancouver was a freshly bottled wine, Copenhagen’s what it’d be like if it were perfectly aged for 300 years. It was pretty much left intact during the war, so the architecture is all 1600-1800s beauty, and the city is made for wandering and socializing.

It’s flat, and they’ve built a brilliant bike system into the roadways so there’s literally thousands upon thousands of bikes everywhere … people biking to the market to fill up the basket, to and from work, home from the pub with friends… It’s the best use of and the most bikes I’ve ever seen in a city, and is entirely responsible for the light vehicle traffic and the clean smog-free air. (Note: sidewalk beside bike path beside road = look twice before stepping out).

Today Chris had the day off work, and the sun came out for the first time so we spent the day wandering the city… Strolling aimlessly along canals, through parks, and investigating the endless little shops… Lunch and coffees, churches and galleries, statues and fountains… Mmmmmm.

We also spent almost an hour in a town square where this amazing photo/info installation was set up. It was called 100 Places To Visit Before They’re Gone and featured photos, histories and issues facing 100 places threatened by climate change and environmental concerns. It was seriously beautiful, moving and depressing… I highly recommend you take a few minutes to check it out @ http://www.100places.com/en

So after we walked over 11km (thanks google!), had a nice dinner out, hit the gym, we’re back here, just catching up on some work and chilling out .

This trip’s been even better than the last so far — I’ve got jetlag figured out better, without the distractions of homelife my work hours in the hotel room are way more productive than at home, and it’s just really nice to be here…

Looking foward to what the Halloween weekend brings 🙂

Copenhagen Glam-o-rama

Posted by jswt | Posted in Denmark - Copenhagen, General | Posted on 26-10-2009

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So I flew out of YVR on Friday, and ended up in Copenhagen on Saturday afternoon, and had a lazy evening pushing thru to a ‘normal hour’. Sunday was grey but not raining, so we explored the city a bit. It’s a beautiful old city — winding mazes of 4 story 1600-1700s architecture along canals and cobblestone streets with vaulted windows aside carved faces peering out from stone fronts. It feels direct and strong – kind of like dutch forthrightness, and you can tell everyone’s partied hard but are bluntly polite and caring.

Sunday night was Chris’ work party, where they’d rented out a bar and kicked out a glam-rock theme. The venue was cool – it was a concept bar owned and run by an artist who didn’t care much for subtlety (there was a big neon vagina on the sign out front and the artwork inside was… direct.) My favorite piece by the artist was an emaciated black kid holding his Ugandan ID that showed his name was the same as the artist. Ends up the guy donated clothing and supplies to a starving african village with the clause that everyone in the village change their name to his.

Seriously.

I was both disgusted and awestruck – which I suppose is the sign of good art.

Of course the party was fantastic, and I got to DJ what ended up being a really sick set of glam rock jams that popped the party pretty damn well. [A reminder to myself reinforced towards the end of the set last night – don’t take f’n requests… the drunk people might want to make recommendations, but they rarely have any sense of flow, and trying to make them all happy will just mangle the set – stick with what ya know and just play a good set.]

Many cocktails and energy drinks into the night, the lights came on and we stumbled back to the hotel around 4am and slept in till early afternoon.

It’s now 4pm on Monday, and I’m lying in bed having a fantastic picnic of fresh bread, pate, almond stuffed olives, shrimp, sugarsnap peas, and a few types of cheese. It’s a great way to be spending Chris’ day off on this grey, rainy afternoon.

YVR -> Copenhagen

Posted by jswt | Posted in Denmark - Copenhagen, General | Posted on 23-10-2009

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The Jet Set White Trash stirs once more… off to catch some flights towards Copenhagen!

Oslo, exeunt…

Posted by jswt | Posted in Audio, General, Norway - Oslo | Posted on 10-10-2009

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Thursday: The sun was out, and it was another fine day in Oslo, and when I finished up my work around 2pm, I succumbed to the sway of one of my favorite bad influences: There’s a couple bikes in the hotel lobby that are available for use, and I figured that Dave’s blog makes hopping on a bike and riding across continents sound so easy that I would spill the metaphorical 2-wheeled 40oz in his honor, and go for a ride. I mean, I don’t know the rules of the road here, I’m not accustomed to pedestrian overload and unexpectedly windy streets, I haven’t been on a bike in traffic in a good 15 years… So with the mantra of “Safety Third” running through my head, I put on some headphones and pushed blindly out into traffic. It took some time to properly orient myself, figure out that riding on the rail lines wasn’t the smartest idea, and then just sorta relaxing and meshing into the ebb and flow, but I found a groove. It was a lot like driving in Cuba – there aren’t really rules, but it just works. North American drivers are domesticated and completely reliant on structure when it comes to their driving – without a sign telling them exactly what to do, they panic and lock up (see: round-abouts). Here, everyone’s awake – aware of what’s around them, looking over their shoulders because there could be something coming, totally swarming with bodies and cars and trains and busses and construction in tight little roadways and alleys… but everything just becomes a big circulatory system that pulses and works as a whole.

So I threw on a fantastic Prins Thomas swave disco/funk mix and pedaled across the better part of Oslo. Rode up the main downtown greenway to the palace in the centre of town, and then just kept going beyond through residential neighborhoods weaving and wandering semi-aimlessly until I came to Frogner park (aka: The Sculpture Park) Words don’t really do justice to the hundreds and hundreds of amazing sculptures that dot the park and spring up out of the landscape everywhere you turn. It reminded me a lot of burningman playa wanderings – just mosey’ing around on a bike from artwork to artwork, and chilling at each for a while.



Rode back to the hotel, grabbed some dinner (mmm – catering!), bashed my head on a few hours of frustrating work, and when Chris got home, it was quickly realized that we needed to get outa the hotel room and pour some beers down our necks. I’d come across mention of an Oktoberfest being put on at the university, so we randomly threw ourselves on a train that luckily went towards where we were heading, and tracked down the Thursday night warmup of the campus Oktoberfest party. Walking up, we thought there was some sort of football game going on, but it was just the sound immense noise coming from one of the beer tents (complete with lazers shooting up into the sky). Once in, we bought our tickets (norwegian translation = “bongs”… as in, I’d like to buy 10 bongs please!”), picked one of the 20 bars each featuring a different brewery’s selections, loaded up and plunked ourselves down at one of the big long tables in the main beer tent.

Now, it’s been a long time since I’ve been in university, and tho I wasn’t the only one over 30, the majority of the few thousand sloppy drunk messes climbing over and under tables and eachother were students in their early 20s. I have no idea how to speak or decypher Norwegian, but I believe the Ooom-Pah-Pah band kept playing their favorite national anthem called “Stand up, sing along, and drink more f’n beer, bitches!” (or maybe it was a remix). The band would step off every 2 minutes or so and the DJ would strike up the weirdest mix of german sing-songs, norwegian metal, happy hardcore rave anthems, and oddball english tunes (seriously: They played ‘We Are the World’ and the whole place turned into a happy lovey arms-around eachother to hold off the gravitational onslaught singalong). It was a zoo. A big, crazy, sloppy drunk, retardedly messy, and wonderfully fun zoo.

Again had it hammered home that… Europeans are just plain better than us. I mean, take a few thousand North American students, and plunk them shitfaced in a tent. They’d be able to sing along with the regional songs, but play them a Norwegian song, and they’d have stares as blind as mine were. But here, they all speak flawless Norwegian *and* understand english perfectly. I mean, as I was getting beer, one of the clusters of drunken Norse hipsters asked Chris where he was from, and then said in flawless english “I believe it was Daniel Adams who once said that America is like a petulant 5 year old, while Canada is more of a mature 35 year old woman”.

Friday was a really productive work day for me, and I managed to get all of the pieces of the system I’m working on completed, and all that’s really left is to make it purdy and tie it together for a launch (hopefully by late next week – woohah!). Had dinner at the venue again, as the food *kicks ass* and it’s a lot cheaper to eat there than get killed by Oslo prices. Came back to the room and chilled out till Chris got off and brought back C for a drink.

“A drink” ended up the 3 of us finishing off a bottle of really really really tasty spiced honey polish vodka, and while C said she needed to crash out, we’d livened up enough to need some adventure and went out in search of a sleazy fagpub, and drank $20 beers and Jagers until we stumbled back to the hotel via a random block-long John Denver singalong.

Today’s my last day here, so I’m going to head out and do some more wandering, but since Chris works late, am anticipating a chill night of packing and relaxing before my 7am flight home.

This leg’s been a slice. I learned how to balance fun and adventure with a real-life, work-enabling routine on the road. Got a real feel for 3 different cities in 2 countries. And most imporantly, managed to eat bacon at *every single breakfast since I’ve been here*.

Looking forward to coming back and hitting up Copenhagen in 2 weeks, I do gotta say.

As I wind down and start my packing for home, here’s a nice song (via Mickey Moniker) from Brian Eno called An Ending (Ascent), and some random shit 🙂

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Settling in…

Posted by jswt | Posted in General, Norway - Oslo | Posted on 07-10-2009

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Yesterday was a day off for both of us, but it was rainy so instead of going out and seeing the city like we’d planned, we went for breakfast and then came back to the room and spent the day in bed watching movies while the day drizzled away outside.

Today was the first day I’ve felt I’ve really managed to fall into a proper life-routine, but it’s rocking now. Breakfast, a few hours of work, snuck out to enjoy the afternoon of what looks to be the last sunny day for a while: wandered around the harbour, watched the junkie-zoo, ended up at a castle/fortress, and then back for sunset on the roof of the harbour before coming back and finishing up all of my programming tasks for the day.

Had a moment at sunset that was kinda… neat. I was listening to one of my alltime favorite mixes and all of a sudden it just felt like everything in the world was perfectly on beat and I was exactly where I was supposed to be, and perfectly on track for whatever it is I’m heading towards. A nice glow inside to match the sunset on the outside.

Oslo-some!

Posted by jswt | Posted in General, Norway - Oslo | Posted on 05-10-2009

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First off, holy *shit* is Oslo expensive.
Everyone warned me about it, but it’s clear now there’s a reason it’s been ranked Europe’s Most Expensive City.

Cost aside, the city is amazing… it’s kind of got a bit of a Vancouver vibe to it: a lot more laid back and casual than Finland, but still with a sophistication that dresses it up, and an intellect that makes it worth the conversation.

Slept in, grabbed a late breakfast, got some work done, and then had a fantastic wander. First off was harbourfront opera house, with it’s beautiful interactive architecture (you can walk right up it and all over the roof). Then we checked out the junkie zoo (this spot under a caged in pedestrian bridge where the junkies do their squirmy little dance while health workers shoot them up with clean needles). But that was as dank as the city got – the rest of it was fantastic and beautiful. Imagine a classic oldy worldy San Francisco with endless streets and crisscrossed laneways, each one it’s own adventure of unique shopping, cafes, venues, and styles/cultures. Ran into random pods of crew, had a fantastic lunch of duck in orange sauce with melon and mango, caught the changing of the guard at the palace, drooled over window shopping, celebrity spotted and just wandered aimlessly between caffeine chillouts on cafe patios under a clear blue sky.

Sitting back in the hotel room having a pear cider, watching the sun set behind a castle while reflections cast themselves across the nearly still water in the harbor.

So far, Oslo is happymaking.

Helsinki -> Oslo

Posted by jswt | Posted in Finland - Helsinki, General, Norway - Oslo | Posted on 04-10-2009

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Sitting at the Helsinki airport waiting for a plane to Oslo. Took until yesterday for us to realize that though Norway is in Europe, it’s not part of the European Union. Knowing is half the battle (and luckily not requiring and special visas is the other).

Standard issue Saturday for the most part – we both worked all day, packed and chilled out at night… I guess “weekends” are sorta variant when you’re organizing a schedule around the requirements of the entertainment industry. We’re both going to have Mon/Tues off (a midweek weekend!) to explore Oslo and settle in, so that should be interesting.

Feeling a little homesick today, as my trips are usually one week long and my brain’s already heading back to my bed at home, while my body’s headed to the land of Vikings… Sure it’ll change as soon as I get on this flight, and of course once I get home I’ll be bored and itchin to pop back out, but right now I miss my cat 😛


When ABBA attacks…

Posted by jswt | Posted in Finland - Turku, General | Posted on 03-10-2009

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So last night we got back to the hotel around 11 and decided a glass of wine was called for. We’ve been here almost a week, and since we have a rule to try and avoid hotel restaurants/lobbies and see the city, we’d failed to realize that we’re staying on top of a labyrinth of an entertainment district. It’s seriously a cruise ship buried under the hotel. Endless bars, pubs, restaurants, a nightclub that leads into another bar, and even a full on casino we didn’t know was here.

We settled into the first lounge with our glasses of red, and ran into a couple of Chris’ coworkers. It was mere moments thereafter that we were descended upon by a dozen blonde, blue eyed Swedish and Finnish girls that were so perfectly aryan dream that I felt we were under sexbomb attack from Hitler’s Harem. The four of us were each matched up with 3-4 blonde vixens who were fantastically vapid, and hornyagressive enough that they wouldn’t stop buying us drinks… Of course, in my duty of getting the guys we were with laid by Abba clones, I was more than happy to play the role of flirtatious wingman (and maybe flirting with the open tab had something to do with it too – heh).

Of course, straight men don’t dance, so when we all ended up in one of the nightclubs, I was sacrificed as the designated dancer. Music was good, club was packed, but after a few drinks and a couple remixes of Sexy Back, I was surrounded by a sea of blonde sharks. Scandinavian women are rather agressive and forward, and one after another I was being savaged on the dancefloor, and ground up against to the point that I’m going to have to find a dry cleaner to wash them off of my jeans.

It took a few tries, but the Russ Meyer’s casting call finally let me go to chat up my friends, and I decided it was time to escape while I still had my decency (and relative sobriety) intact. The guys we were with were still surrounded by their own blonde clusters, so we bid them farewell and crashed out around 2.

It does strange things to your dreams to be woken up at 9am to an Oom-pah-pah band playing in the square across the street, but that left enough time for breakfast and this post before heading off to the venue for double shows today.

And maybe even time to find a laundromat…