The colourful buildings of Nyhavn are as I remember them in 1981, but now it is crowded with pavement cafes and tourists.
A new experience: marinated herring. Delicious!
With a glass of elderflower.
I came upon a Ballantyne-style department store with a display of ballet shoes:
I was in search of a bookstore I’d researched at home, and found it in an interesting maze of streets.
More Scandinavian design:
And an old favourite:
Glimpses of courtyards gave a sense of calm and coolness on this very hot day.
With seven hours to fill in before I could check into my hotel, I stored my luggage and set off to explore.
Road works, noisy machinery digging up roads, cigarette smoke…but then green spaces, a canal, a riverside walk, a pavement cafe and, best of all, a wonderful bookshop, restored my equilibrium.
I came upon the Christiana neighbourhood by chance as I walked a riverside path. I’d read about it – a self-governing community, into sustainability and various other activities beyond the law.
I’m finishing the hot afternoon with a gin and tonic and a tall glass of iced water in the Library Bar of my hotel, great jazz playing.
The Glyptotech Museum was my last treat for the day. Etruscan artefacts and impressionist paintings…a Monet for Mum:
and a startling Rodin: the Burghers of Calais.
I’ve walked 15 kilometres, according to my Health App. The hop-on hop-off bus gave respite and I briefly met a woman from NSW and a couple from Miami who were on a massive cruise ship. I prefer these ones:
My lovely colleagues did a surprise Viking-themed party after school on my last day.
Flags, a slide show of Scandinavian scenes (to which we provided our own commentary), flags and general fun all helped me to start to relax and anticipate my two months of holiday.
My Viking helmet (not historically accurate!):
When I expressed impatience at the time I had to wait until departure, a member of my book group said it would give me plenty of time to research, and she was right.
I have read Paris by Edward Rutherfurd which was worth every one of the 809 pages. I enjoyed the way he uses fictional characters to bring history to life, particularly when the generations of each family link throughout the book.
Next, I dipped into The Portuguese Seaborne Empire by C.R. Boxer. This was one of my history text books at Otago University in 1975. I loved it then – and its companion volume The Spanish Seaborne Empire – and read both books cover to cover when I should have been studying for exams.
Now I am reading The Scandinavians by Robert Ferguson. I am astounded by how much the English were involved in quite distressing events in Scandinavia, such as the blockade of Norway around 1809 which resulted in 100,00 Norwegians starving to death – over 10% of the population of the time. I think I’ll be careful to say I’m not English, but a New Zealander, and of Irish descent!
The Scandinavians, like Paris, is an engaging read. It doesn’t have fictional characters, it is non fiction, but uses many of the author’s own experiences as he travelled in Scandinavia, and reflects on its history and culture.
I had already heard of King Harald Bluetooth whose name is used for that connection you can make with your device. Another amusing name is that of the Icelandic chieftain, Thorstein Codbiter.
I will read on, Norwegian guitarist and lyricist Oystein Sunde playing softly in the background; an artist recommended by Ferguson.
The holiday plan happened too quickly to seem real. Now it is two weeks away. Starting a blog seems a good way of keeping family and friends up-to-date while I’m away.
We are moving towards winter, but I will be heading for summer – although what that is like above the Arctic Circle will be interesting to see! In the meantime, my desk is where I sit to plan, make lists, set work for the relieving teacher, leave the house ship-shape and manageable for Mum, and quietly panic.
Note: this photo was taken about a month ago. Only a few roses remain.