Thursday, September 3, 2009

Sweden and Denmark

A very quick update before I head out for another day on the town. Stockholm was amazing. An absolutely fantastic city, beautiful and vibrant. It was especially fun because my university friend Anna and I rented a studio apartment for a few nights, so not only did I get to leave my towel, toothbrush and soap in the one place for several days, I got to hang out with a friend! Yeah! Friends are definitely what I miss most on this trip. (Oh, and family, Mum.) Anna and I didn't do anything particularly touristy - no museums or anything - just wandered the town, ate amazing food and got a feel for the city. We had a picnic on the garden island (Stockholm is spread over 14 islands), had drinks at an indie club called Debaser (where they had shots named after lyrics in the song Debaser by the Pixies - Girlie So Groovy, sliced-up Eyeballs et cetera) and ate amazing ice cream and pastries. Everyone in Stockholm is terrifyingly beautiful and obscenely trendy, so my self-esteem was very happy when I caught a train to Copenhagen.

Going over the bridge from Malmo in Sweden to Copenhagen in Denmark was surprisingly exhilarating. The train was thundering through a tunnel, and then suddenly burst out into sunlight. We were high above the water, looking out at the ocean. There's an enormous wind farm out to see, and it took more than five minutes to cross that enormous structure. The whole train trip was pretty spectacular: Sweden looks like a fairytale, full of dark forests that are by turns enchanting and intimidating.

Copenhagen has been even more social than Stockholm. My friend Chris lived and worked here for a year or so, and when I asked him about hostels and so on in town, he sent an email out to his friends to see if anyone could host me. His friend Anders has kindly put me up, and been a most excellent, host. He collcted me at the train station with a bag full of maps and books and brochures about Copenhagen, and has invited me to all of his work-related social functions. (He facilitates social interaction between Danes and American exchange students, so I've been drinking lots of beer and eating lots of pizza with a variety of foreigners.) Yesterday, I wandered the city, and visited the Danish Design Centre (like Stockholm, this did nothing but highlight my own deficiencies as a person), took a tour of the canals, saw the disappointing Little Mermaid statue (but I knew it was reknowned for being disappointed, so I wasn't disappointed), visited the ruins of two castles underneath the current Christianborg Palace and went to see I Morgen Om Et År (Tomorrow In A Year), an electro-opera written by The Knife and Planningtorock that is really the reason I'm in Europe. Pitchfork Media posted information about the performance, saying something like "If you happen to find yourself in Denmark..." and I thought "Well, why not?" It really was that simple, which is quite alarming, because I'm not usually so impulsive. Anyway, the show was okay. I couldn't follow what was going on - the lyrics were in English with Danish subtitles, but being sung in an opera style, I was most confused. The music ranged from very distorted industrial noise to the echoing, tribal sounds exhibited on the Fever Ray album. I wasn't too impressed with the dancers - they never worked as an ensemble, always kind of doing their own thing separately. But I was very glad to have seen it.

Well, I've banged on for long enough now. I'm about to go and visit the National Museum and the Freetown of Christiania, an enormous, decades-old squat in the middle of the city. Not sure what I'll do tomorrow, but in the evening, I'm going to a dance party in the National Library, a beautiful and modern building on a canal that is being transformed into a nightclub for the evening. Fancy. Then up to Århus in the north of Denmark before flying to London on Tuesday. Woo!

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