Copenhagen Tourism

•May 5, 2010 • Leave a Comment

I spent the last week being a tourist in my own city, which is really convenient because I realized that I hadn’t really done too many touristy things in Copenhagen itself and in two weeks I’ll be heading back to the United States! On Monday my grandparents arrived and I got to the airport to pick them up. They had just come off of a two-week cruise across the Atlantic and as a result had five different bags, one of which was reserved just for hair care supplies.

We got off of the train at Copenhagen Central and headed to their hotel. We hung out in the really nice hotel room and then headed out to take a bit of a walking tour around Copenhagen. We started at rådhuspladsen, walked down strøget, and headed toward amalienborg palace but I guess I had overestimated the length of the walk and we stopped early and headed to the restaurant. I had intended to take them to a restaurant I had heard about called Den Tatoverede Enke (The Tattooed Widow) but I completely forgot that it was Monday and practically every restaurant in Denmark would be closed. Instead we headed to an Italian restaurant and had a bit of a miscommunication with Nan ordering a Martini (we’re pretty sure she just got some dry vermouth in a cup). After dinner we walked back to the hotel.

I had a class the next afternoon and couldn’t meet up with Nan and Gramps until about 5pm.  When I asked them how their day went they told me about how they had slept in, took a bus tour that took them pretty much on the same route I took them they day before, and they boozed it up in a pub called “The Irish Rover,” a popular Irish pub that I have ended up at a few times with DIS students. We took a taxi to a restaurant recommended by the concierge, but there wasn’t enough room so we decided to take a short walk and give The Tattooed Widow another try.

We sat at a nice wooden table in a small room surrounded by Danish people imbibing in this restaurant’s famous selection of Belgian beers. We started dinner with carpaccio, moving on to a fantastic piece of Danish beef for the main course. When Gramps asked Nan what she wanted to drink she decided that she would sample the local fair and have a glass of beer. We drank a really dark Belgian beer to go with our steak and then a bit lighter Belgian beer after. We headed back to the hotel after a short stop into another Irish pub for an Irish coffee.

The next morning we headed up the Danish coast to the “Danish Riviera” to a really famous museum called Louisiana. We spent the afternoon admiring the modern art. Gramps admired the art out loud, while Nan preferred to read the written commentary.

When we headed back to the city we decided to go to Tivoli, the world-famous amusement park/gardens right in the middle of Copenhagen. Nan and Gramps enjoyed admiring the rides and I offered to take them on, but they declined. We walked around trying to choose a good restaurant (we decided against the $150 a head Michelin star rated restaurant) and found one called Cafe Ultimo. We made reservations and continued to walk around the park. At one point we saw a mass of people being frisked by some angry-looking guards with white gloves. Simultaneously we saw television crews start to arrive and a helicopter hovering overhead. We asked one of the cameramen what was happening and he explained the queen and Russian president Dmitry Medvedev would be heading from their restaurant to a concert hall in Tivoli to see a Russian ballet. I was excited because I had yet to see the queen and waved at her when she walked by. She waved in our general direction and Gramps was sure she was waving back at him. Some delicious pasta and another terrible Martini later (apparently they just don’t know how to make them in Denmark,) Nan and Gramps were packing up for their flight back to the United States the next day.

I dropped Nan and Gramps off at the airport just in time to pick my friend Mike up who was coming to visit from Bologna for the weekend. I tried to give Mike the complete Copenhagen experience, which means drinking lots of beer and eating lots of Danishes.

I showed Mike the sights of Copenhagen, including the free town of Christiana. Christiana is a town located in Copenhagen an old military base. In the seventies a bunch of hippies were squatting in the base and instead of kicking them out the police decided to just leave them alone. Nowadays Christiana is full of small stands selling marijuana and drug paraphernalia out in the open. Sometimes the Danish police come into Christiana and destroy all of the pot stands, but for the most part the police leaves them alone. After a quick tour of Christiana we climbed a tower of a unique church where the stairs up the tower are on the outside of the tower, and get smaller and smaller as you reach the top until they just disappear. It was really cool.

I ate really well with Mike. We had breakfast each day with BACON, eggs, and toast and one night we made gnocchi. For a first attempt it was really good.

Mike headed out on Sunday to continue on to Berlin and I started studying for my finals. It isn’t long until all of my classes will be finished and Emma and my dad will be coming to Copenhagen to visit and then head home with me. I really enjoyed touring around Copenhagen with my guests and I can’t wait to do it again with my dad and Emma.

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Hvad Lavede Jeg På Min Påskeferie

•April 17, 2010 • 1 Comment

(What I did on my Easter Vacation)

Wow keeping up with the blog is a lot more difficult than I thought it would be!  Last weekend I returned from our two-week spring break.  DIS gives us this long break to either join their organized trips or venture out and travel on our own.  I decided on the latter and took a flight to Paris where my friend Rebecca is studying abroad.  She was nice enough to host me, my partner in crime Sarah, and six of our friends from Brown.  With Rebecca and her roommate we were a party of ten people sharing an extremely small two room apartment.  So how do you fit ten people in such a small place?  You have to get creative.

Close Quarters

Paris was fantastic.  We ate baguettes, croissants, coffee, and jam for breakfast every morning.  I also like French and pretending that I can speak it.  To top it all off Rebecca was a great tour guide and took us out every day to show us the sights.  We visited all the big ones: Notre Dame, the Eifel Tower, the Louvre (that I got into for free by showing my European residency permit, and Sarah got into for free by showing her bus pass…no idea how she managed that one), the Arc de Triomphe, etc.  Our dinner one night was at a fondue place where you had two options, cheese fondue or meat fondue, and red wine or white wine.  I choose cheese fondue and red wine and was both surprised and happy when I learned the wine was to be served out of baby bottles.

The next morning we got up to visit the Palace of Versailles.  After taking a short detour (read: taking the wrong train line) we arrived in Versailles which was of course extremely beautiful.  Included in the tour was a free audio guide with which I learned that French queens used to give birth in public!

After a great weekend in Paris Sarah and I said goodbye to the large group and flew north to Glasgow, Scotland.  Glasgow is a lot less touristy than Paris and it was a nice change of pace.  Sarah and I learned quickly that we both much prefer chilling in a café to museum hopping and we found a lot of nice cafés to enjoy.  We decided we wanted to wake up early and take a tour of the Scottish highlands the next morning so I booked a tour for us.  When we woke up the next morning a bit later than we originally planned and after forcing Sarah to run to the bus pickup spot, I learned that I had accidentally booked the tour from Edinburgh instead of Glasgow and I thought Sarah Mack was going to kill me.  Thankfully after a few hours in a café Sarah decided to spare me and we pressed on.  That night in Glasgow we took the subway, consisting of one circular line around the city, to a comedy club and had a really good night enjoying some amateur comedy.

We took a train to Edinburgh, Scotland the next day where we would be staying for three nights.  In Edinburgh we climbed a mountain, ate sandwiches with chutney in them, ate fudge, did NOT eat haggis, went to another comedy club, went on a tour of the highlands, and saw the movie Kick Ass, which was absolutely fantastic.  We both really liked Scotland a lot.

Loch Lomond

After Scotland we flew to Amsterdam and stayed in a nice hostel slightly outside of the center of the city.  I didn’t get a good impression of Amsterdam when I spent a night there with my friends when we were backpacking through Europe after high school, but that might have had something to do with staying in a hostel right in the middle of the red light district.  It turns out if you venture slightly outside of the red light district Amsterdam is a lovely city full of cute canals and delicious food.  We visited the Van Gogh museum and enjoyed some really sunny weather (and more cafés) while we were in Amsterdam.

Canal in Amsterdam

After a few nights in Amsterdam Sarah had to head back to Dresden to gather her things up so she could head back to the US the next day.  I ventured out alone and took the subway outside of the city to a small town called Abcoude.  I stayed in a hostel that consisted of a bunch of small trailers on a lake.  I hired a bike and went biking around the picturesque Dutch countryside on a bike path system that could rival the one back here in Copenhagen.  I read my book, listened to music, saw windmills and got a bit of a sunburn and I really enjoyed it.

My Trailer

My final stop on the trip was Bologna, Italy, where I visited my friend Mike who is studying there.  Pretty much from the moment I landed in Bologna and met up with Mike he started showering me with all of the details of the history of Bologna.  I met his Italian roommates, who preferred to speak to me in Italian (which I don’t speak) and watch me nod and smile back at them rather than trying English which was actually a bit of a surprise to me.  In Denmark and Sweden at the first sign of the fact that you are not speaking Danish or Swedish perfectly, they switch to English, which is helpful unless you are trying to learn the language.  We ate some delicious food in Bologna, including some of the best gelato I have ever had, and some homemade pasta from a stand at an amazing food market.   The last night of the trip one of our friends that we hung out with in Paris arrived in Bologna and we went out to a really cool restaurant.  I finished my trip with a three-hour train ride from Bologna to Milan, where I could take a much cheaper flight back to Copenhagen on easyJet.

Now that I’ve arrived back in Copenhagen the days are getting longer and longer and the weather keeps improving, although it is still pretty cold.  I’m really looking forward to my last few weeks in Copenhagen as the semester wraps up.  We just finished group spring cleaning of the kitchen in my dorm building and the kitchen is so clean!

I posted pictures from my trip to my flickr account and there are more on facebook so check them out if you get a chance.

লন্ডন (London)

•March 11, 2010 • 2 Comments

“Why, Sir, you find no man, at all intellectual, who is willing to leave London. No, Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.”
— Samuel Johnson

So I’ve been getting a lot of crap lately about not updating my blog frequently enough so here it is.  I should really be writing the three essays that I have to do for Monday but whatever.  Since my last post I took an awesome tour of a Danish microbrewery, applied for a bunch of different internships for this summer, saw the Danish band The Rumour Said Fire, saw the opera The Magic Flute in Danish, and spent a week in LONDON.  It was a really busy and awesome month and I can hardly believe that we are already studying for our midterms and getting ready for our two-week travel break in two weeks.

As part of the Biotechnology and Biomedicine program in which I am participating we have two planned study tours during the semester where the other students in the program and I spend some time in another part of Europe visiting some academic and cultural sights.  Earlier in the semester we visited Denmark’s second and third largest cities Odense and Århus which were really cool.  Last week we hopped on a plane and headed over to London for our longer study tour.

I could tell pretty much right away that I wasn’t in Denmark anymore when I stepped of the plane.  Apart from the glaring lack of Danish on the signs when I accidentally bumped into someone in the airport I heard a delightful “Excuse Me!”  Danish people do NOT apologize if they bump into you and it definitely takes a little bit of time to get used to.

We took the Gatwick express from the airport to Victoria station where I was met by my friend Brad which was an awesome surprise.  He is studying for the semester in London and it was great to have a friend that knew the city to show me around the less touristy areas.

Before I could hang out with Brad, though, it was off for the requisite ‘flight’ on the London Eye.  My high school friends and I backpacked through Europe after high school and when we ended the trip in London we also did the London Eye.  Unlike last time, though, we were about to go on the London Eye at night, which provided cool new views of the city and I was excited.  While we were walking to the London Eye we were all so happy to be out of frigid snow-covered Denmark and we were praising the 40 degree temperatures when all of a sudden it started hailing hardcore.  We ran for cover in the London Eye crap store and I played with the over-sized pens until it was our turn to get in line.

After the flight we ate some dinner and headed to our first English pub.  I handed over my £2.50 ($3.76) for my imperial pint of beer with unreasonable joy thinking of all of the 48 Danish krone ($8.82) beers I had been paying for over the past two months.

The next morning we took a bike tour of London and it was awesome.  We learned about how Winston Churchill’s statue has an electrified head so no pigeons will land on him and after some physical abuse from an old Thai lady ate some decent Thai food.

Another cool area of London that we visited was Brick Lane.  Full of Bangladeshi immigrants (hence the Bengali “লন্ডন” title for this post) the Brick Lane area used to be the slums of London.  It’s slowly being converted to a hip artsy area of London and apparently has a really excellent market on Sundays.  There are tons of Indian restaurants (run by Bangladeshi immigrants) lining Brick Lane all claiming to have the best curry in the world.  As you walk down the street the shop owners scream their specials and beckon you frantically into their restaurants.  We haggled a little bit to get ourselves a couple of free orders of rice and got some very good Indian food.

Our tour of London also included evensong services at St. Paul’s and Westminster abbey, Avenue Q, a trip to Oxford, and a few late nights partying it up in London.  While the tube is great, trains stop running at about midnight which makes getting around London much more difficult at night.  Thankfully there is a whole system of night buses that I took full advantage of.

After getting back from London I have definitely noticed that the days have been getting longer and most of the snow has melted, although we’re supposed to get some more this week.  Spring is on the (distant) horizon in Copenhagen and I’m getting excited.

Fastelavn

•February 14, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Happy Valentines Day!  Last night a few friends and I went out to the movies to see, appropriately, Valentines Day which might be the absolute worst movie that I have ever seen in my entire life.  The entire theater was full of Danish couples enjoying a nice Saturday night date before the big day today.

Valentines Day actually shares the date with a very interesting holiday in Denmark called Fastelavn.  Fastelavn is a bit like Halloween in the states.  Kids everywhere dress up in crazy costumes and there are parades in many of the cities and towns across Denmark.  My town, Albertslund, actually had their celebration yesterday but I missed it.

Along with dressing up for Festelavn Danes take part in a tradition affectionately called “slå katten af tønden,” or “hit the cat out of the barrel.”  Back before the concept of animal rights people used to hang a wooden barrel from a tree and put a cat in the barrel.  They would then take turns beating the crap out of the barrel until the cat died.  The superstition was that by killing the cat the village or town would avoid the plague.  Today the real cat has been replaced with a picture of a cat on the barrel and the barrel has been filled with candy, piñata style.  The kid that breaks open the barrel is called “Queen of the Cats” for the rest of the day.

Along with the celebrations come Fastelavnsbolle, my favorite danish pastry to date.  It’s basically a normal Danish, sliced in half and stuffed with cream.  Despite the fact that I will not be dressing up for Fastelavn today, I couldn’t resist the temptation to get a few of them from the local bakery today and they are delicious!

Hurra for fastelavn!

My First Week in Denmark

•January 31, 2010 • 1 Comment

When I sat down to begin writing this post I made a list of all the things that have happened since my last update and I realized just how much I have done in a few short weeks.  After my week in Sweden I said goodbye to Ed and headed over the bridge and finally ended up in Copenhagen for the first time.  I transferred from the Øresundstog to the incredibly clean and driver-less Copenhagen metro and got off at the University of Copenhagen where I was to meet DIS and register.  After a short presentation about living in Copenhagen and getting a crapload of packets and lists and other information, the other DIS students and I headed by bus to the kollegium in which we will be living.

A kollegium is like the Danish version of an American dorm.  It’s a building with many single person rooms and some suites, private bathrooms in each room, and a common kitchen.  Kollegiums are, however, not associated with a specific college or university as American dorms are and so students from many universities live in a single kollegium.  My particular kollegium has sixteen separate two-floor buildings of dorm rooms, housing about 500 students.  Also here at the kollegium is a laundry facility, a SAUNA, a TANNING BED, and a café/bar area called ‘Krousten,’ which means ‘pub’ in Danish.  It was in Krousten that we first met up with Stefan, the Danish student that runs the kollegium.  He took us over to buy our train passes and gave us a really short tour around Albertslund.  When we got back they had ordered a huge amount of pizza and beer for us and I enjoyed talking to all the people I will be living with for the next four months.  It was definitely a big change to be drinking beer paid for by my parents tuition money (thanks mom and dad) but I could seriously get used to it.

The next morning I had to wake up freaking EARLY to get to Copenhagen for the welcoming ceremony scheduled for 8.30am.  I’ve lived in luxury for the past two years at Brown being able to sleep literally until 15 minutes before my first class and roll out of bed and still be on time.  Albertslund is about ten miles from the center of Copenhagen and I have a thirty minute commute every morning.  After the welcoming ceremony came a meeting about living with Danish people.  They continue to warn us that Danish people are hard to get to know, have a bizarre sense of humor, and are very direct.  These sorts of Danish stereotypes have been repeated over and over since I arrived and to my surprise most of the Danish people who I have met so far pretty much fit the mold.

Next up was survival Danish which included a scavenger hunt through a grocery store to teach us how to distinguish buttermilk (‘kærnemælk’) from skim milk and to teach us some of the crazy Danish food words that will definitely come in handy.  Kartofler (potatoes), gulerødder (carrots), løg (onions), and hvidløg (garlic) were a few of my favorites.   Also during orientation week we went on a larger scavenger hunt through the entire city of Copenhagen.  DIS had set up certain checkpoints with guides to tell us about some of the major landmarks around the city.  Both scavenger hunts were a lot of fun and I got to meet the students that I will be taking Danish with this year.  They seem like a great bunch of people and our Danish class will definitely be a lot of fun, despite the fact that Danish is absolutely impossible to pronounce.

On our third night at the kollegium in Albertslund something very unfortunate happened.  Two men broke through a DIS student’s window and stole her laptop and cell phone.  The same men then walked down the hall and went into another girl’s room to do the same.  While they were going through her things the girl came back from the kitchen where she had been preparing dinner and caught the men in the act.  They pushed her and escaped through the window but the girl decided that she would try to RUN THEM DOWN.  She chased them all the way to the train station and then decided that it wasn’t worth it and turned back.

Almost instantly after the break-in DIS staff arrived at the kollegium to make sure everyone was alright.  DIS offered to put anyone who didn’t feel safe in a hotel for the night and scheduled two meetings the next day to talk to everyone in the kollegium about the break in.  At the meetings (which had more free food and beer) they explained that Albertslund is a safe place to live and that the break-ins were an unfortunate freak event.  DIS took the time to hear everyone’s concerns about living in the kollegium and offered to move anyone who didn’t feel safe to another housing option as soon as one became available.  A few kids did move out but most us have stayed here in Albertslund.  Personally I do not feel unsafe here and I really think that a lot of the kids that did decide to move may have used the break-in as an excuse to move closer to the city.

Now everyone has settled in and life at the kollegium is much more calm.  I’ll try to write another post as soon as I can.

Farvel!

Trains, Trams, and a Turning Torso

•January 20, 2010 • 6 Comments

I’ve spent my last few homework free days exploring the different cities around Lund and having a few last adventures in the city before I move to Copenhagen and start the DIS program next week. I decided to take a trip to Malmö, Sweden’s third largest city. It’s a short 15 minute train ride from Lund and is right across the water from Copenhagen.

After leaving a bit later than expected I arrived in Malmö and walked to Stortorget, or the large square. There was a nice Christmas tree and cool statue of King Charles X Gustav on a horse in the square but also in the square was a Swedish institution that I have been meaning to try ever since I’ve learned of its existence, Max burger. Max burger is a really popular Swedish hamburger chain that has actually outperformed McDonald’s in Sweden in the past. I checked my watch to make sure it was an appropriate time to eat a hamburger. It was 11 o’clock, so I was good. I ordered my hamburger and the woman taking my order asked me if I wanted ‘plusmeny’ and I had no idea what she was talking about. I looked guilty for a few moments and realizing my guilt she switched to English. “It means do you want extra big meat.” Ummm, yes I do want extra big meat. Thanks. The burger was delicious and there was free wifi at the restaurant, so I was really happy.

MAX Burger

Extra big meat

After the burger I decided to take the long walk to the Turning Torso, a really famous and cool looking skyscraper in Malmö.

Coolest building in Malmo

Curves are Sexy

After the turning torso I went to another Swedish grocery store.  It’s really fun and good for my Swedish to wander around a grocery store and try to read all the crazy names for things.  Skinka (ham), köttbullar (meatballs), senap (mustard), and gurka (pickle) are a few of my favorites.  This grocery store was bigger than the ones I have previously been to in Sweden and there was a pretty large book section so I was suddenly struck with a fabulous idea.  I found the children’s section and picked myself up a copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (Harry Potter och de vises sten) and I look forward to reading it in the future.  I also visited a really cool museum in Malmö called Malmöhus which was originally a castle in the 1500s, which was converted into a fortress, and is now an extremely diverse museum.  The exhibits ranged from Swedish history to Chinese pottery to a small aquarium in the basement.  I also saw a life-sized stuffed Moose and holy crap was it big.

My next big excitement was going to the movies in Sweden.  Thinking I was arriving way too early I got to the movie theater about thirty minutes in advance.  It turns out the rest of Sweden also had the same idea of going to the movies that night because the line was nearly out the door.  The movies in Sweden are expensive and the theaters actually price movies based on how cool they are.  Movies that have been out for a long time cost less where new releases cost more.  Also on the ticket board there is a counter counting down how many tickets are remaining so one can plan appropriately if one of the movies is close to selling out.  I went to see The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (I paid 100 SEK, or $14.12, which was in the middle of their pricing scale) and I liked it, although it was quite bizarre.  It was the last film Heath Ledger was in before he passed away and he actually died in the middle of shooting.  In some of the scenes Heath Ledger’s character is actually played by Johnny Depp, Jude Law, or Colin Farrell which may seem strange but in the context of the movie it does work.  Also at the Swedish movies you get an assigned seat.  The woman at the counter, who I spoke to completely in Swedish, asked me if I wanted to sit längst baka (in the back) and I said ja.  I was so proud of my understanding of this unexpected question that I nearly spilled my entire popcorn walking back to the theater.

In an effort to get out of Ed’s way while he was studying for his exam I decided to take a day trip to Gothenburg the next day.  Gothenburg is Sweden’s second largest city and happens to be the hometown of one of my favorite Swedish musicians Jens Lekman (although he doesn’t live there anymore because he found it too depressing.)  I took the high-speed X2000 train to get to Gothenburg and it was very nice.  I arrived quite early in the morning so I decided to ease into the day and stop off at an Espresso House (Sweden’s Starbucks) for a mocha, a pastry, and some more Swedish practice.  I got a kanelbulle, which is Sweden’s version of a cinnamon bun and holy crap it was freaking delicious.  If you are ever in Sweden, definitely get yourself a kanelbulle as soon as humanly possible.

Kanelbulle 'If heaven were bread' <- rough translation

Kanelbulle 'If heaven were bread' <- rough translation

After my coffee I got a day transportation pass and got on Gothenburg’s famous tram system.  I was headed to a Cultural Museum that had free entry.  I had the place to myself and enjoyed a cool exhibit on Bollywood and a slightly less cool, but still interesting, exhibit on Peruvian pottery.  After the museum I took a tram ride to the boring suburb in which Jens Lekman used to live, took a picture of a Bingo parlor to fulfill some kind of uber-fan fantasy of mine which you will understand after listening to this, and then headed back to central Gothenburg.

Two acres of field and a gast station

Friday Night at the Drive-in Bingo

I wasn’t in a very museumy mood so I started walking around the city.  I kept stumbling on really cool old churches which are always a cool thing to visit while traveling.  They are pretty much always free and they are always really cool.  Here are some pictures.  For more pictures check out my flickr stream.

Gothenburg's Cathedral

Göteborgs domkyrka (1643)

Oscar Fredrick Church

Oscar Fredriks kyrka (1883)

Masthugget Church

Masthuggskyrkan

I’m actually settled into my room in Copenhagen now but I have one more blog post I want to write about Sweden before I write about my orientation here in Denmark.

Vi ses snart!

So What, is Your Favorite Beer Budweiser or Something?

•January 10, 2010 • 1 Comment

Location: Lund, Sweden

My flight over to Europe was on time, efficient, and I had no complaints (unlike a certain other world traveler friend of mine that also writes a blog) and I was excited to finally be in Scandinavia.  Despite the fact that my flight was into Copenhagen, I immediately met up with my friend Ed and took the Øresundsbron over to Sweden.  Our destination was Lund, a city founded around 990 when southern Sweden was still under Danish rule.  The centerpiece of the town is Lund Cathedral, a huge cathedral that was built around 1085.

Lunds domkyrka - a cool old cathedral.

I spent the next two days exploring Lund.  Lund University is one of Sweden’s oldest universities and was founded in 1666, 98 years before Brown!  The city itself is an excellent city for pedestrians and a great example of Sweden’s commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.  45% of commuters use bicycles to get around the city’s small streets and the public transportation is great.

Ed unfortunately has to study for his finals coming up in the next couple of weeks so while he was studying I went out to explore the city on my own.  First stop was a quick peek into the local H&M.  I got really good at dividing by seven ($1 USD is roughly equal to 7 Swedish Crowns) as I checked the prices on the clothing.  Next stop was a candy store named, appropriately, ‘Candy People.’  Swedish people definitely have a sweet tooth and this store obliged.

Candy People

Candy People - Crazy Cool Swedish Candy Shop

After the candy store I wandered around the city finding cool shops to explore.  The city is full of Thai, Japanese, Vietnamese, and other Asian food places that look interesting.  One of the more bizzare restaurants is a Thai Food/Pizza place combination.  I stopped into a cafe for a cup of coffee and was determined to look like an ordinary Swede.  After deciding to order a Mocha Latte I stepped up to the counter and said (quite sheepishly I’ll admit) “Kan jag få en mocha latte, tack?”  The coffee man responded “ja” and I was excited by my success.  I waited patiently while the man went to go make the coffee but before I could get my money out to pay the man came back and said on of my favorite Swedish words “tyvärr” which means “unfortunately.”  While I do like the word this is not what I was expecting and I listened hard as the guy started to explain that they close in three minutes and that they had already turned off the espresso machine.  He said that I could have regular coffee if I wanted.  I asked him to repeat himself which in this town full of exchange students usually causes your everyday Swede to try again in English, but this guy tried again in Swedish.  I responded that coffee would be good but I must have looked a little nervous because another worker, who I think was British, said “just regular coffee?” to which I nodded.  I was discovered!  When the first coffee man returned he had switched to English and I said “thanks” as I walked away.

While I would have preferred to keep the entire conversation in Swedish I was happy that the conversation progressed as far as it did before the coffee guy switched to English.  Swedish kids begin studying English in their first year of school and just like I want to practice my Swedish in these opportunities, they want to practice their English when this type of opportunity arises so I understand.

On Saturday night Ed and I decided to make a taco dinner and invite REAL LIVE SWEDISH PEOPLE to the party.  I was excited.  We hung out and watched Ed make the tacos.  The Swedish guys were very friendly and topics of conversation included USA geography (no, Philadelphia is not on the west coast), American politics, Rushmore, Swedish TV, and of course Swedish women.  When the food was made we sat down but before we started eating one of the Swedish guys said “but where is the ketchup?”  Despite the lack of ketchup for the tacos we pressed on and the meal was delicious.  Since Ed and the two Swedish guys are in a secret society about Swedish Punsch we decided to make the American equivalent of punch with cranberry juice, sprite, and vodka.

We finished that punch quite quickly and went on a mission to find more beverages to enjoy.  On our travels we met several other Swedes who I talked to for only a few minutes.  One guy asked me if American college students really drink out of red cups like they see in the movies and I was happy to tell him that we indeed do.  He then asked whether or not my favorite beer was Budweiser (it’s not) and he came upstairs with us to hang out some more.  It was a great night and it was cool to meet so many Swedish people.

The next day we went to visit another town in southern Sweden called Helsingborg.  We took the Øresundståg which is the commuter rail train that runs between Denmark and Helsingborg.  The trains are awesome and put the Boston Commuter Rail to shame.  Helsingborg is a larger city than Lund and is located on the water.  Across the sound you can see the town of Helsingør, Denmark which lies a quick ferry ride away.  We hung out with Ed’s mother who lives in Helsingborg and walked around the city.  Because it was Sunday every single store without exception was closed so we just enjoyed the nice views of the water and took a lot of pictures.  One of the coolest things in Helsingborg is Kärnan, a medieval tower that used to be part of a larger Danish fortress in Helsingborg and can be dated back to the early 13th century.

Kärnan

Kärnan

Plans for the rest of the week include a day trip to Malmö, seeing a movie in Sweden, trying the Mexican Meal at the Swedish Burger King, and more Swedish practice.

I’ve been posting all of the pictures I have been taking on my flickr account that you can access over in the right column on the blog under ‘pictures’.  Also if you have twitter, definitely follow me!

Hej då!