Friday, April 29, 2011

BBQs, Bornholm, and Double Posts!

So today, the family, and Viktor, and I (I'm kind of included as family) had a bbq, because basically it's summer/spring here and we're so excited for it. The boys (Rasmus, Peter, and Viktor) decided today was the day for grilling so we had a little outdoor dinner. Though we live in a large flat building, they have little nooks jutting off from the parking areas for picnic tables and a grill and a shady area; it's like a pretend backyard. It was fabulous, we had ribs and grilled veggies and fresh from the bakery bread. And I decided to finally get a picture of them, I don't think I've taken any and well I think I'll want a few when I get home, so it'll have to be one at a time.

(Karina in black, Rasmus in red, Peter in white & Viktor in the plaid)

Also, I'm going to be on a biking trip this weekend in Bornholm, it's another island in Denmark. We'll be taking a night ferry to the island (lame, I want to sleep, but what can you do) and then biking all day tomorrow and on Sunday. I'm so excited, apparently this is one of the best trips and the island is known for its smoked herring, ice cream and glass making. A super combo minus the herring but it will be eaten, maybe. I've got my backpack packed, hopefully I'm bringing enough options depending on the weather, islands tend to be windy which could mean cold, even if its not that cold out. So I decided to bring two pairs of shorts and two pairs of pants, just in case. I'll make sure to take a bunch of photos, because it's apparently really pretty. And I hope all of you on the other side of the ocean have a good weekend!

SB 2011: CPH with the Bergs!

So on Tuesday the 19th (of April, yes a long time ago, but you'll finally be caught up real soon) the Berg clan arrived in Copenhagen to see where I've been leaving while on my European adventure. It was great to have some of home here with me, because even though I study with mostly other America students, home seems far anyway sometimes. It was nice to have them around but I'm glad I still have two and a half weeks (??!!?!?!?!?!? it's that soon, gosh darn) left to have fun here.

So the night we arrived, I fumbled around at the airport to make sure we got on the right train to get to there hotel. Of course, I'd found the hotel on google maps before I left but that was more than a week before and I had kind of forgotten the best route. It ended up being really simple; Karina was going to meet us at the airport and drive us to the hotel (she's a really nice lady) but Rasmus decided to come so we met them in downtown CPH instead. From the train station, we found the hotel and had some after dinner drinks with them (even we hadn't had dinner, flying got in the way). Anyway, I was glad they were able to chat because Karina was leaving the next morning to meet Peter in Greenland and Rasmus was later in the afternoon for a handball tournament in Prague, so it was crunch time. Anyway, the hotel had a fabulous view of the island Amager and Christiania (not the island I currently live on, these happen to be very close unlike the other 305 or 405 (I've obviously forgotten, but it's a lot)).

The next morning, I brought the family back to the flat. It's about 15 minutes by S-train north of the city center; the walk from the train station is much more fun with people, but I am getting to like my time in the morning now that it isn't hellishly wintery and cold out. Anyway, I decided we should go to Helsingor and the Kronborg castle, like I had done in my first weeks here, and of course Papa Berg was totally into it and recited Hamlet lines the whole time. Of course, they loved the drive up the Danish coast, I highly recommend it; however, you do need a car and to be in Denmark for it to work, but I'll let you sort that out for yourselves. Anyway, we had a fabulous tour guide, seriously she was amazing, so funny and actually took over an hour for the tour. It was a good deal for our money, especially because she loved the topic so much. After the castle, I took them into the city square (it's small, I mean small, but really cute) and had afternoon snacks of hotdogs and beer. Classic Danish snack, they do polser (sausage) very well with their own special ketchup. Then after spending almost the 4 hours they let us free park, we drove back down the coast back to the flat. (I took them the coast again because it's easier, plus they were only going to do the drive once, might as well enjoy the view again) We dropped Karina's car at the flat and made our way back into the city. We had time to walk around the part of the city I take classes in and they got to see the facilities. It is much different than an American university; they isn't a campus, there are classrooms scattered in a couple different buildings on a city block. (And they don't have a gym and the same facilities like at home; it's weird, but it becomes normal pretty quick) (I think I'm going to go into shock when I return to the CU Norlin library in the Fall, I may get to stressed out in the huge thing now) So, we walked around Norrebro some and got to see the gym I go to, along with some of the restaurants I frequent. We went to this fabulous place for dinner Dalle Valle; I was introduced to it by some Danes and I couldn't have them miss out. It is so good and they have this awesome frozen lemonade drink that is sooo delicious. Of course, they all loved the food and then we headed back to the hotel for some dessert and some rest time. I don't know if my feet have been more tired, walking around Europe is a huge ordeal.

The next day, we traveled to Sweden. I had really wanted to see Malmo before I left and my father loves going to different countries so I thought I'd add another to the trip for him. It's a super easy trip, seriously hop and the train and go. No weird checks like they'd have back home, where you basically have to take your clothes off to go leave the country. So we walked around Malmo for the morning, went to a chocolate factory, a castle, a cool looking church, a cool park, and this Folk and Roll (Folk Rock) cafe for lunch. We had sandwiches and made our way back to the train station. It was a good, full morning, but you don't need much more than a morning to see that part of Sweden, Stockholm on the other hand is much further away and would take you a little longer to exhaust. After that I took them around Nyhavn and Christiansborg, the canal area and the Parliament buildings. I took them around with my guide book to all the places I was shown the first couple of days in CPH. But this time I knew a lot more and hated bringing out the tour book, because I like that I'm a local now. I don't need maps to get around any more, except of course we trying to find the most direct routes to everything for dad. They got to see Magasin and the Royal Play House, where I've gone to a couple of ballets. We then sat down to a nice dinner on the canal and got to watch the young Danes that we out drinking by the canal because of Easter Break. Seriously, CPH has come alive, once spring hits everyone flees their houses to be outside; it's great! After that we headed back to the hotel and hung out with a CU Alum and looked out over the fabulous view. I also slept over so I could run with the mother in the beautiful spring CPH.
Turning Torso building in Sweden

Malmo castle

Dutch style wind mill

Oh sweet CPH

So after the morning run, I decided we'd do the classic CPH tour; we hadn't hit some of the crucial sights so we had to get a move on. We went to see the Little Mermaid and the Kassellet (old military barracks) and Amaliesborg (the Royal residence). We got there for the changing of the guards, sadly I didn't realize the Queen was away for EAster so the royal band didn't play but they enjoyed it anyway. We also wen to the Marble church and Rosenborg castle and gardens. I wanted to take them to a traditional smorrebrod lunch but I didn't anticipate them all being closed for Good Friday, oh well. We went to this awesome restaurant called Stella instead, I love that place, if only I had more time. Of course we went to the Round Tower after that and then got Danish Danishes (a big hit, duhh because they're so good). I also got the family some Danish candy, yes it is very different from back home, they love licorice here. They we hung out at the hotel before deciding to venture to Christiania, which is the hippie area of CPH. Really hippie area, it was a bit alarming so we left. And got some dinner instead and hung out at the hotel catching up because they were leaving early the next morning. I was sure to give a load of things to mom to take back before they left. It was such a good break and I loved having them, most people I know here already had their parents come so it was nice to have mine finally get to see everything too.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

SB 2011: Paris!

So NBD but I had my 21st birthday with my parents in France, Paris to be exact and it was freaking awesome. I have wanted to visit France since I took my first French class in the 4th grade and finally, at age 21 I was able to go!! Papa Berg got me champagne to at the top of the Eiffel Tower (I'm trying to be modest but it's really hard, when this was like a once in a life time experience) Anyway, getting to Paris was not as easy as I had hoped. There was a strike on an airline and then my flight got canceled because somehow my airline was also involved, I'm not quite sure, but basically I had to buy a new, more expensive ticket for the next day and chill by myself in some random hotel in Venice. And I was not on the main cool island of Venice, I was at a hotel that had a farm next door, so it smelt like poop the whole time I was there. So instead of getting to Paris on time, I went on a run, nearly got hit by several cars because apparently Italian drivers are not used to runners in those parts, maybe it's because there were hardly any people around, and got trail mix and fruit for dinner at a convenience store because the two restaurants nearby looked closed. It was really a fabulous time, then I watched a bunch of French crime shows because I only had four channels, one was in Italian, one in Spanish, one in French, and one was car racing. So I watched the French channel and thankfully I sort of could understand what was going on and I'm into crime shows so I wasn't totally bored. But it was not a great time, the only solo guest at the place and probably the youngest. But on the other hand, breakfast was delicious, chocolate croissants with cappuccinos and it was included so at least the morning started off right. And going with the things aren't going right theme, I got to the airport and my flight was super duper delayed, I was supposed to leave at 12:20 and the airport didn't show up until 14:00, so stupid, I've never been to Paris and this was the prime opportunity and everything went so not how it was supposed to. But enough of the half page of complaints already, I got there! And it was everything I wanted, I want to go back and get the day and a half back that I missed out on.

So this is the real fun stuff; I met my parents at the train station and we went to the hotel so I could freshen up and tour around the city. Sitting in an airport for half a day does wonders for your hair, really, wonders. So we walked around Paris, I got to see the Seine, Notre Dame and its flying buttresses which I've been dying to see, a couple of gypsies, Pont-neuf, the Eiffel tour from a distance (it was really pretty once the sun set, they light it up and its just really nice against the dark sky) we got to walk by the Luxembourg garden (I have to brag here too; my mom and I went jogging there everyday and it was so pretty and refreshing). We got dinner at a little place in the Latin Quarter and had some more traditional French meals, I do love a good pomme frites. After dinner, we walked around some more just exploring Paris at night. I like to pretend that I'm a native and just walk around like I know where I'm going.

Notre Dame!
Proof I was in Paris!

The Eiffel Tower, so pretty!

Me and the pops at the Louvre

The rest of the family (minus E)

For Alex: random dance off, thought you'd appreciate this group of Parisians.

The mini Arc.

We went to the Louvre the next morning and i got to see EVERYTHING. Like the Seated Scribe and the Venus de Milo, I mean everything I learnt about in my Art History courses freshman year; it was so exciting. As I posted earlier, you don't always think you'll be able to ever see some of the works in person and then you do! Anyway, to all of those who haven't already heard the Mona Lisa is small and people swarm around her, go in expected it to be portrait sized. I did this, and was not underwhelmed, it was actually larger than I had expected, which is saying something, so just be prepared. Don't get me wrong, it is a beautiful piece, just don't expect to see a real life Jesus or anything. After being totally exhausted, because all the things I wanted to see were all over the place, we got crepes in the gardens right outside the museum. And let me say, my my are they delicious; I don't know why French women aren't fat, they say it's the walking but I also do a lot of walking and don't seem to turn into a size 0 overnight. Anyhow, it was so beautiful and I loved being able to order in French; after all those years of Madame Flynn and her terrible accent, I was finally able to use my French and in real life. (only if you think I'm living in real life right now, this could be fake life). I GOT TO SEE THE CENTRE DE GEORGE POMPIDOU!!!! For those who don't know this has been the only thing I could talk about when discussing my trip to France. I've talked about this building like it's my job and well I finally got to see it. And there was a street actor doing a little show with the audience right outside. It was awesome, the building is so cool. Saw a pretty freaking sweet church also, I found the shoes of my dreams also, but didn't buy them-epic fail. We also went to the Arc de Triomphe, which also goes highly recommended, but all guide books do. We got dinner at this little cafe; I love in Europe that they expect you to sit and chat for a really long time and never pressure you with the check. It's really nice because you don't feel awkward staying long after your meal is over.

Yup, small.

Veronese! Love it.

The view from upstairs

Take art history, you'll appreciate this dude.

Outside the Lourve, on our way to crepe eating.

Random acting


The tomb of the unknown at the Arc.

My Birthday! So I turned 21 in France! After an awesome breakfast at our now regular place, with fried eggs and fresh (I mean like an orange in my glass fresh) orange juice, we stood in line at the Eiffel Tour and I worked on my tan for 3 hours. Then we were finally able to go up, thankfully the had just reopened the summit, so it wasn't crowded and we got to go up without a wait. IT WAS GREAT; the view was awesome, awesome, and I don't even like heights. I think since I've climbed all these super tall buildings/churches in Europe, my fear of heights is nearly gone. Plus I got champagne at the top and toasted my dad for my 21st and of course took a million photos. Then of course we had to go on a sightseeing boat on the Seine, a total necessity. Plus the boat tour leader spoke like 5 languages fluently, also a must see. It was amazing weather, nice and sunning so I also got to see a lot of speedo-ed French men, which is yet another highlight. After that we went to dinner with a view of the top of the Eiffel Tower, it was a must for me. I also got some champagne at dinner because now I'm old and wise enough to drink it :) The food was super delicious and i had this mind blowing apple tart for dinner; it was like a baked apple but squashed, weird but so so good, and my dad had them put a candle in it which was sweet. They al wished me a bonne anniversaire and I ate happily. ALSO, greatest dinner ever, because there was the most pretentious lame LAME American guy at the table next to us and I basically listened to him the whole time. He owns a bunch of chateaus and wanted to have worldly, cultured children with his study abroad girlfriend, who he was obviously trying to impress. I was underwhelmed, there are only so many times you need to mention how you own more properties than your mom, or how beautiful this girls eyes are in the sun; it's just way way to nauseating.

Isn't the view awesome from the top; it is DEFINITELY worth it to go all the way up.

I live there!

I also live here.

From the Bateaux-mouches

Really awesome architecture piece (I've forgotten what it is, but it's near the tower, go)

Our last day, sadly, in Paris, we spent the whole morning in line for the Catacombs. Who knew so many people wanted to see a bunch of bones. Okay, I'm being over critical, it was actually awesome once you got down there, it just wasn't my choice of activities. But years ago, cemeteries were dug up and al the bones were arranged underground, way below ground. They had the skulls and femurs stacked in a design, it was really crazy. Also before we made it inside, when we were stuck in line I decided to go shoe shopping. I found the most amazing pair of shoes in Copenhagen for nearly 70 dollars and not in my size and I loved them and saw a similar pair in France, didn't buy them and should have, so I found a totally different pair that I also like instead. A pair of black ballet flats, that look a little like gentleman's shows, basically no one will recognize me when I get home because I'll be so posh and European, just you wait. I think I've said too much/actually I think I just want to go to bed, but I'll be sure to update about the parents in CPH soon. EVERYONE SHOULD GO TO PARIS, ASAP!

Inside the catacombs, it was a model craved into the stone; I didn't take pictures of the bones because that's weird, but I promise they're organized in a cool way.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

SB 2011: Venice!

So our trip in Florence was freaking sweet and I so wish I could go back already, well sort of the weather in CPH has been more than fantastic. Spring is finally here! and I'm so so glad because winter was brutal and this is so worth it. I had a run in with the Danish coast again; I run by an open area and people were out tanning. It's not really warm enough to tan but it is sunny enough so I suppose if being a bit chilly is okay with you, go for it. I thought about trekking into the city to go to the gym, but thought all I'd do is run on the treadmill anyway, so why waste the commuting time and the weather. Anyway, I also realized today that I live pretty much right up the street from the Polish and Swiss Embassies/residences; it was weird I looked up and there it was, I suppose I'm to busy looking down at my feet so I don't trip on cobblestones and never really noticed it. Back to the point, Venice; Taylor and I arrived in Venice Tuesday afternoon and somehow found our way to our hostel. Seriously the directions they gave us were so wrong, it did not take 8 minutes to walk to the first bridge so we got all confused, plus Venice is already a confusing mess if you aren't familiar with the streets and addresses. So our hostel was a shitty mess, no offense to anyone who found the dirty, law bending hostel great, but it was seriously a dump. When they kick you out and make you store your luggage at the train station because they can't have excess luggage there when they're being inspected and the 32 beds that were there the night before were reduced to 12, you know there is a serious problem. Thanks Hostelworld, you're the best. But in all seriousness, 32 people with 2 bathrooms is not normal. Enough complaining, the price was right, the people were nice, and we only had to stay there two nights so it could have turned out a lot worse. Plus I ran into several NOVA kids that I'd never met before but we played sports against each other and knew some of the same people! Isn't that crazy? What a small world, and I ran into a couple from Oakton at the airport, so crazy. Anyhow, we got there and immediately started exploring, we were bummed because St. Marks is half covered up due to cleaning, how lame. But besides that it was so so beautiful. We adventured around for the rest of the afternoon and found the coolest invention ever! A Frulala, it's a smoothie shop with parfaits, etc. that also does Sangria and alcoholic smoothies, so awesome. It was nice to have a really delicious cocktail for a change. We took more and more pictures, then headed back to the hostel for group dinner. I was surprised that they cooked for us and all the people, it was actually a delicious pasta dish. We ate late, so we pretty much just hung out with all the other hostelers.
So Venetian!

Daily offloads, they don't have big trucks like back home, no roads!

Silly St. Mark's

Some tourists, not like us at all.

Day 2: So we headed out and got coffee like the Italians do, small and super strong. We also got to taste how the Venetians did pastries, which was a must. (I promise I'm kicking my butt at the gym after the vacation.) Then we headed to the Academy Gallery, an art museum. I got to see the Tempest and The Feast in the House of Levi, SO GREAT, I studied a bunch of the works in my Art History class and was so excited to see them in person. it was funny while taking the class I was like oh I'll never see them in person, blah, blah, BUT no I did really get to experience them. We made sure to do some Murano glass shopping and looked into the cute Venetian boutiques. It's crazy to think that other people actually live in the places I've vacationed to, for me it's just a trip but those are their real lives. Anyway, we did a ton of exploring and getting ourselves lost.

From the top of St. Mark's

The Feast in the House of Levi, so awesome!

Day 3: We did the Peggy Guggenheim art museum and I loved it. I love Alexander Calder and Picasso and they were both there, plus its garden is so awesome. We went up the top of St. Mark's to look at the mosaic ceiling and the views from outside. It was so awesome and it was bright and sunny; I loved it. We made sure to get a lot of sun; we hoped to return with a little tan (it didn't really happen, but there is a little line on my arm). So we hung out near the Rialto and tanned a bit with a bunch of Spanish kids. Oh and we got strawberries from the local market, they were tasty and we felt untouristy.

We stayed at the greatest hotel on Thursday night, Taylor's dad hooked us up because our hostel, the law bending one wouldn't have us for another night. So we stayed at the Danialli, it was the most beautiful hotel ever.  

Inside the Guggenheim garden

View from the Rialto 

Day 4: We're leaving Venice today (and I'm supposed to be off to Paris today). At the hotel, they had the most amazing terrace restaurant that we had breakfast at. It was amazing! Like super delicious and it was included in our room so I had several cappuccinos. Also, we met Bob and his rich American friends at breakfast. Some guy named Bob had his birthday in Florence and he and his friends ventured to Venice. They were super posh-ish, wearing their Chanel, but they were impressed with our worldiness and we weren't that impressed with them. Anyway, the views were amazing and awesome and well worth the trip in the elevator to the top floor :). We went to the Doge palace after that, we bought tickets for a different museum the day before and it included the palace. And it was gorgeous, people we having their wedding photos taken there too. It was the King's palace and government rooms and prison all in one. Of course, it's now just a beautiful tourist destination, but a while ago it was quite the location.We made sure to do a cheap gondola ride, 50 euro cents and 2 minutes, but it was necessary and I didn't have 80 euros to spend on a boat ride. We got to see the Rialto fish market, a must just because it smells so fishy, plus it's cultural and they recommend it in all the books. We also had a really cool water taxi ride to the airport, of course I didn't end up leaving until the next day, but I'll fill you in about that later.
Our luxurious room

The terrace view! We were so so lucky.

Doge Palace

Wedding pictures, NBD.

My first and (most likely last) gondola ride!

Riding in style