Monday, June 23, 2008

La Tour Copenhagen

Sylvia and Adriana ready to start the days' adventure.

Here are some random scenes from my visit to Copenhagen. It's by no means a collection of visitations to the city's great tourist spots. Hell, I wouldn't know where those were anyway. In fact, if it weren't for the girls, I probably wouldn't have visited half of these places and would have ended up hanging out at some coffeeshop or restaurant shooting the shit with the staff.

On one day, the plan was rent some bicycles and hit the streets. One problem: a couple of the girls had never ridden a bicycle before. Even though Copenhagen is a very bicycle-friendly city, it's still a city filled with cars, trucks and buses hurtling down the streets and the possibility of getting smushed by one of them when you're balance is dodgy and that you might forget to brake in a panic is very high indeed. Happily, we decided that by foot we would travel.

And a good thing too. Because the other idea was for me to pedal a tandem bike. And while I certainly would have given it a heroic effort, we might have been killed too.

Holger and his machine at Kontra.

The first couple of days were spent touring the various coffeeshops of Copenhagen. It's nice to go to any city and find one place that makes quality coffee. In Copenhagen, there are a couple of choices: Coffee Collective, Estate Coffee and Kontra. Well, Kontra is more of a roastery slash retail shop, but it's a good place to hang.

In front of Coffee Collective

Troels and Beer.

Not a smart way to start your day.

The difference between hanging out with the girls versus hanging out with the boys is that the girls drink far less. Usually when traveling, the mornings start out with freshly ground, French-pressed coffee. On one morning, we headed over to Shane's room where they were flowing the absente. Not the smartest way to start your day on an empty stomach. Luckily, I made it over the girls' hotel without getting run over and I don't think they could tell of my condition.

Ana and Adriana by the lakes.

Bisecting the city is a collection of lakes. They're pretty large and we spent an afternoon walking along its' banks. Overall, Copenhagen is a nice city. It's a bit monotonous in its' seemingly Cold War Era apartments that continue in never-ending rows of sameness. Add to the fact that it's pretty chilly even in June and it's just not a place I would choose to live. I'd like it to be just a few degrees warmer. It would make strolling by the lake perfection.

The Queen of Denmark arrives for work. It was quite anti-climatic.

As we toured the city, we came upon a group of well-dressed soldiers and tourists (not so well-dressed) waiting for something to happen. Evidently, the Queen of Denmark was coming to work and this was her official welcome ceremony. I envisioned her chariot arriving and the Queen stepping out and waving to her constituents before ascending the stairs into the palace.

Instead, a couple of Bentleys came zipping by and sped through a gate and into an inner courtyard. We didn't get to see the Queen and the soldiers saluted.

It was grandly anti-climactic.

Obsessed with Mermen: look closely in the water.

It seems that Danes are obsessed with Mermaids and Mermen. Along the canal someone has sunken statues of a merman and his six sons. I don't know why. It's kinda cool. Interesting to say the least. I wasn't sure if we were supposed to throw money in for good luck.

Team Mexico - Adriana, Felix, Ana, Sylvia and The Opera House.

The Changing of the Guard. Neat.

The Changing of the Guard happens every day at 11:30am. Don't be late. Not because you might miss it (it takes quite a bit of time for them to actually change all of the guards) but because you'll have to fight hundreds of other tourists for a good viewing spot. All around me are other tourists fighting, straining and elbowing to get a better view so they can shoot their photographic memories with long zoom lenses. It's one reason why I only use a 20mm prime lens. I don't have the ability to zoom. If I want a close up, I have to move physically closer. If I can't then I don't worry too much about the image.

This typically means that I get to enjoy the moment more rather than viewing life through a viewfinder (I've done enough of that in my lifetime). I've also come to realize that my friends don't want to watch a slide show. Hell, even I can't stand viewing numerous photographs of my own trips. I mean really, how many photos of the Eiffel Tower does one need to see before they believe you visited it?

Maybe it's just me, but I was slightly disappointed by the Changing of the Guard. It could be my penchant for perfection, but I expected to see these razor sharp soldiers in perfect marching unison and everything aligned. The steps were slightly off and even a couple of their big hats were slightly tilted. It ruined the effect for me.

The Little Mermaid and Felix - I really didn't want to know.

At one point we're arguing (and with a woman it's less about "arguing" and more about "being told") about how some of these expectations are only in fairy tales, while we're traveling to the other side of the city to see the statue of The Little Mermaid. I'm living in a Faerie Tale but we're going to visit The Little Mermaid??? There's something ironic in there somewhere.

The Little Mermaid was a lot smaller than I expected. Faerie Tales must have something to them because there were a lot of people visiting Ariel (but where was Eric?). Somewhere I was expecting a funny crab to jump out of nowhere singing "Under The Sea."

Hiding from the elements on the open seas.

About to get hit in the head in Nyhavn.

From there, we jump on a boat that takes us out to a fort in the middle of the harbor. The trip there is the downwind leg, which means the trip back is the hairy one. The city of Copenhagen is pretty chilly to begin with. Get out on the water and into the wind and it's at least a ten degree difference. The trip back is fun but miserable. Fun because the spray in my face reminds me of my days sailing on the Chesapeake and along the Molokai Channel. Miserable because it's cold as shit and I'm without my foul weather gear.

Sylvia points the way for more hot dogs.

Evidently, Danes are obsessed with hot dogs. And so too is Sylvia. Danish hot dogs are pretty interesting fare. I've tried them and while they're good, I can't get crazy about a hot dog.

The spiral steepled church. Nice.

At one point, we made our way down to the Free Town of Christiania. It's kind of like a glorified shanty town where cameras are not allowed but marijuana is. It's an artist/hippie community and everyone seems pretty laid back and easy going - even though it looks like the roughest part of Denmark. Perhaps that old saying is true: alcohol makes nice people into assholes and marijuana makes assholes into nice people.

Not to say these people are assholes, just that they're laid back and unlike the violent masses I suspected from the news reports.

Ana in Christianshavn.

It was a good week reconnecting with friends in Copenhagen. Lots of parties. Lots of drinking. Lots of fun. But of all the photos I shot in Denmark, this is my favorite one. It's slightly out of focus. It looks sad and bittersweet. The blocked sunlight from the buildings, along with the graffiti gives it a grey and dirty look. The wide angle of the lens gives it a distant quality. All of which seemed poignant for that day.