A cluster o’ Eurotrippins

Posted by jswt | Posted in Denmark - Copenhagen, Finland - Helsinki, Norway - Oslo, Sweden - Stockholm | Posted on 22-03-2013

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So I’m currently in Finland on a train from Helsinki to Turku, and I’m realizing that I’ve been horrendously neglectful in keeping my posts up to date, so this is going to be a quick run-through of the cities we’ve been visiting in the past 5 weeks: Copenhagen, Oslo, Stockholm and Helsinki.
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2012-01 – Malmo and Copenhagen

Posted by jswt | Posted in Denmark - Copenhagen, Sweden - Malmo | Posted on 29-01-2012

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Hopped back over the ocean and flew into Copenhagen, where I met up with a couple good friends from the UK who were popping out to join us for a few days… We grabbed the 20 minute train to Malmo, Sweden and set into catching up.

Met up with Chris at the hotel, freshened up, and went out to grab a bite and a few beers while the four of us caught up on 1.5 year’s worth of stories, and missed gossip – hadn’t hung out with them since Field Day in London a couple years back… C&J had been together for quite some time, and I’ve known J since we were wee lads and he came to Canada on an exchange trip (“I’m in Regina. Please tell me there’s more to Canada than this?”).

Malmo was cute, clean and full of gorgeous people, but overly polite, expensive, and uptight in proper Swedish form, so the next morning we woke up slowly and just after noon caught the train back over to Copenhagen for some more interesting wandering in one of my favorite cities.

It’d been almost 3 years since I’d been in Copenhagen last (spent 2 weeks there), and I wondered if my rose-colored memories would be changed with a lot more euro-tripping under my belt, but I was happy to find that it still resonated in my heart and made me feel well at home almost immediately. I’ve always described Copenhagen as feeling like Vancouver in 300 years – when Vancouver stops being uptight and trying to force itself to be something, and just relaxes into itself, gets comfortable in it’s strengths, and realizes that it’s all good just as it is… Unbelievably hot people on bikes filled the “second sidewalk” bike lanes, and scurried about on their way to fill their heads with knowledge, have beers with friends, or design fantastic home accessories that are both functional and cozy… Seriously – the danes have a word, “hygge’ (pronounced hewge) that loosely translated can be considered “coziness” and includes the presence of and pleasure from comforting, gentle, and soothing things. Hygge is described as a deep sense of place & well-being; a feeling of friendship, warmth, contentment and peace with your immediate surroundings. I dig large on a culture based around being cozy.

We had a good day wandering the city, with some time spent in the Danish Design Museum and the archeological museums (that had fascinating egyptian and roman collections), strolling along the canals at sunset, wandering shops, and having a great dinner at a little cafe (where we got the last non-reserved table for the evening).

After dinner, we ended up doing some sleazy bar hopping, and had a blast doing shit-pop kareoke to backstreet boys in a jail cell in some weird fetish club, making friends with random danes and their girlfriends, impromptu navel lint competitions, and being generally much too silly while having an exceptionally fun time. Greasy kebabs on the way to the train, and it was back to Malmo for some sleep in Sweden.

The next day, Chris was off but we let C&J have the day to wander while we lazed about and took it easy while Chris shook off work and I worked through jetlag. We met up with the guys later that afternoon, went for some tapas at a great spanish place, and then took them to their very first hockey game where they were confused at “rugby on skates”, but got quite into it.

Chris worked the next day, so I wandered some shops with the guys and had some lunch before they had to catch their train, before which some sad farewells were hugged out and plans to meet up again somewhere along the road were laid.

Back to the hotel, and I finished up the week in my standard work/gym/sleep routine while doing my best to avoid overpriced swedish food ($40 for a ramen and 4 pieces of sushi! seriously!), and saving my energies for more exciting places along the way.

Malmo would have been a pretty boring place, but thankfully the proximity to Copenhagen and the company of good friends made it a more than tolerable week…

Copenhagen wrapup

Posted by jswt | Posted in Audio, Denmark - Copenhagen, General | Posted on 07-11-2009

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So, I’m pretty sure looking back on it that Copenhagen is my new favorite city that I’ve visited… as someone said the other day: “Copenhagen is one of those cities that you’re allowed to be an adult. If you want to go have a beer, go right ahead. No one’s going to tell you not to, because you’re responsible for your decisions. Be a grownup, and have fun”. That pretty much sums it up.

The halloween party was pretty fantastic and epic… 31,000 people all in white… good tunes… a fun night out fo’sure.

Favorite set of the night went to Axwell and Sebastian Ingrosso(download the set here), which had the place bouncing something silly.

Party ended @ 3am, cabs were impossible and it was about an hour walk back to the hotel but it was really cool – wandering the streets as the sun came up while clusters of white dressed people floated around in the darkness like spirits…

Yeah.
I liked Copenhagen a lot, and hope to get back there one day.

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!