Sunday, October 11, 2009


Copenhagen, Denmark, Thursday, September 24

Remember that scene from Ingmar Bergman's Fanny and Alexander on Christmas Eve (and by the way, Bergman's name was everywhere we turned around in Sweden, in bookstores, on posters - I had to remind myself that he was gone) when the grandmother sits on a sofa in her formal dress, accompanied by a samovar of coffee and an old friend? And she says it's so late I'll need to get up to go to church in a couple of hours; we might as well stay up and talk?

It's kind of like that. When I first saw the film, I couldn't imagine the feeling of giving up beautiful sleep. Today, I only catnapped on the overnight flight but joy held the fear of a bad day at bay.

It wasn't the roughest day I've had by a long shot -- the fatigue sat on me, but the skies were glistening. The skies (when not a solid overcast which truthfully does often have texture and a burnished sheen of its own) have that English sea quality -- limpid light, great clarity in the unclouded sky and beautiful colors. It's the ocean air, the absence of smog, the deeply angled sunlight that looks like morning all day.

"We get between ten and thirteen percent of our power from wind," the taxi driver proudly informs us. We could see wind farms in the Sweden-Denmark strait as our plane approached the airport and there are enormous modern white windmills near town.

"I hope Daley sees this," I told Randy, marveling at the clean smell in the air.

Our hotel Bertrams room was as tiny as I expected, but a little more shabby. Its appeal will grow while we are here. We lucked out with a big deep tub in the bathroom. No shower, just a handheld nozzle in the tub.

Randy went right to work. I plotted a walking route with the girls that took us next door to Emery's, a pastry shop next door for some phenomenal hummus and pumpkin seed rolls. Nora tripped on the doorstep - I was sitting on the doorstop, holding my crying girl in my lap as the cab arrived to take Randy away. "Don't worry, we'll be fine!" I urged him and I meant it. I do fear her getting mowed down by one of the speedy bikes that whisk by in their own designated lane between the street and the sidewalk. The cobblestone streets confound the girls' feet too -- we haven't yet found our sea legs.

Everyone speaks excellent English and legible signage is everywhere. "I may be a BITCH but at least I'm good at it" says a sticker in a car window.

We hiked through the "formerly working class now up and coming" neighborhood of Vesterbro and found the tiny toy store past the addict park. The kind clerk explained kroner coinage to me.

On past succulent greenmarkets - I had to stop for some incredibly fresh carrots and apples for the girls. The smell of the strawberries and raspberries was as intense as their color.

We walked west, into a kind and shiny sun until Mia cried, "my violin bow!" She'd dropped the world's smallest bow for the world's smallest violin that we had bought along with some tiny worry dolls and a red tin Danish mailbox. We searched around the sidewalk bricks and scaffolding until I spied it! It was that kind of a day.

The playground was behind an amazing 40 foot brick fortress wall topped with turrets and revealed through a tiny door cut in the larger wooden one painted with stars. A beautiful spot with swings, a pirate ship and a rope swing. Later I'll learn this is Shooting Gallery Park. The Royal Shooting Society practiced here and the wall protected the neighborhood behind.

Pizza dinner. We'll eat much pizza on this trip and it is always freshly made, the dough hand tossed before our eyes.

Mia plays with her worry dolls while Nora and I fall asleep.

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