If I’m going to be a part of the tribe that is Denmark, a proud clan of flag-waving Viking has-beens, I’ve got some studying to do. The harbor in downtown Copenhagen is called “New Harbor” (Nyhavn, in Danish). It’s a century older than the United States. The world’s oldest monarchy presides over the country, and names of towns and streets still pay homage to deities worshiped more than a millennium ago. Scratching the surface of this extensive cultural history would likely take a lifetime, but in the last week I’ve been giving it the old college try. First up was Roskilde, about 20km (80,000 miles? something like that) NW of Copenhagen. I visited the Roskilde Cathedral, the burial site of every Danish monarch since before the Danish monarchy- the Viking king Harold Bluetooth was buried at the site at around 960 AD. Dozens of decadent marble caskets now lay thoughtfully scattered around the ever-expanding cathedral. Different wings of the building have been constructed throughout the thousand year history to accommodate centuries of revered royalty. I have heard on multiple occasions that 70% of Danes support having a monarchy, even though their power is symbolic and their taxpayer burden real. Tradition seems to be the most often cited reason for its retention, and it was nice to feel momentarily “in the know” about this particular part of Denmark’s history.
A one-night trip took me to Odense (named after Odin, a Viking god) and Aarhus, Denmark’s third and second largest cities, respectively. This also got me off of the island of Zealand and onto the other two regions of Denmark: Funen and Jutland. Hans Christian Andersen is Odense’s (pronounced oo-en-suh, I’m just as confused as you are) claim to fame, as he was born and raised in the poorer sections of the town. Both Odense and Aarhus are centered around a pedestrian-only walking street, twisting and turning through shops and cafes, in a very similar fashion to Copenhagen’s walking street. Only Odense, though, houses this lovely lady:
Another Odense highlight was one more striking reminder of the overbearing regulations the welfare-state government has placed on Danish citizens:
Aarhus is a city huddled around a rather pleasant canal. At the end of said canal is this exceedingly friendly-looking sculpture. It rotates around silently wherever the wind pushes it.
During the week, I had a three day field trip with my Environmental Science of the Arctic class. We went to an island in south Zealand (Zealand being the larger island that Copenhagen of which is a part) and saw the power of the sea in creating massive cliffs over the rocky and chalky beaches. Here’s some chalk right here! Funky stuff:
The island is called Møn, giving me a much needed opportunity to practice my pronunciation of that bizarre crossed out o. It’s pronounced like “oo”, or more appropriately “œ”, though replacing one weird letter with another doesn’t help much. You kind of pucker the lips a bit and fall and then rise in tone.
A police officer was shot a couple hours ago just north of downtown Copenhagen, and I am interested in watching the aftermath of this event. More on that next week, probably.