Tuesday, November 25, 2014

November Playlist ~ 1

Drops of Jupiter (Train)
Just Give Me a Reason (Pink)
Grenade (Bruno Mars)
My Way (Def Tech)
Silvertown Blues (Mark Knopfler)
Little Talks (Of Monsters and Men)
Let Her Go (Passenger)
Summertime Sadness (Lana Del Rey)
We are Young (Nate Ruess)
All of Me (John Legend)
Somebody I Used to Know (Gotye)
Walkin´ in Memphis (Marc Cohn)

Monday, November 24, 2014

2~days guide to Copenhagen

Location: Copenhagen, Denmark
My friend Julie came from Canada and stayed in Copenhagen for a week in March while preparing for our summer fieldwork in Greenland this August. In the weekend, she wanted to see more of Copenhagen and I was supposed to be the guide.

Now, after two years living close to the city, I should be familiar with tourist highlights as well as hidden spots. We spent two super pleasant days exploring the city, enjoying fantastic weather and completing quite a comprehensive tour of the main landmarks. By far we did not manage to see all that Copenhagen has to offer. An extra day for that purpose would be well-spent. However, I decided to write up the places we visited and paths we took as I think it might serve me (or others) having to show around to my future weekend visitors :)

On Saturday morning, we met up with my friend Adriana for a brunch in Café 22I discovered this place when searching for a restaurant serving weekend brunch buffet. It turned out to be the perfect place, with cozy interiors, good food (all the brunch essentials are very tasty) and the best-to-date latte I have probably ever tasted (be sure to order one!). On sunny weekend mornings, reservation is strongly recommended. The coffee has a south-facing terrace which makes it even more in demand spring coming…

Café 22, Sorterdam Dossering 22

We took a walk alongside the Lakes up to Vesterpørt where Adriana left us and with Julie, we continued to Strøget via the Rådhuspladsen. Here, we peeked into Illums Bolighus, a destination not-to-be-missed for all home decor fanatics. Here Julie got her hands on first experience with world-famous Danish design... 

I could see myself leaving with at least one of these gorgeous woolen blankets... The material, color and simple pattern is exactly according to my taste.
On our way to the Kongens Nytorv, we got ice-cream at Ben and Jerry´s, which I would recommend anytime over the Danish-loved Paradis. Oh, and we also tasted some chocolate truffles from Hotel Chocolat, of course!

Hotel Chocolat, Østergade 13

We continued to walk through the Nyhavn to the Royal Theater ( Det Kongelige Teater). If only we had more time and the temperature was warmer, we would have taken the city cruise on sightseeing boats – something I recommend to anyone visiting Copenhagen, as well as to the city residents! The tour cost 40 or 70 danish crowns (the company at the front of the harbor charges almost double then the one on the right side when arriving from Kongens Nytorv!) which is a very fair price for the 1.5 hour sailing with guide. And Copenhagen being  a city on a seashore, what could be a better way of seeing it then from a boat?

We passed through the inside of the theater, whose interiors are well worth of visit. We continued to walk along the Larsens Plads all the way to the Kastelet and the Little Mermaid. We finished the day by a tour of Kastelet mounds and took a train back home from Østerport.

DAY 2 
The second day we started a bit late – we left home at noon and took metro all the way to Christiania. First of all, we wanted to climb up the Christiania church (Vor Frelsers Kirke) which opened first time after winter in March and closes every day quite soon (with the last entry at 15:45), so we did not want to miss it. It was actually my first time after 2.5 years I got to climb it up! And the view from the outdoor spiral staircase was beyond amazing! It might not be for everyone though, as a more sensitive people might easily get vertigos from standing on a narrow staircase with quite many visitors pushing themselves up to the top!

Christiania church

Next stop was, inevitably, Christiania. I realized many tourist that come to visit Christiania limit themselves to the “touristy” part of the quarter, the one famous for marihuana being freely sold. However there is a whole different Christiania just few streets behind! The true Christiania, where cars are prohibited, houses are built by their owners and children play as in any other part of town, in gardens or special Christiania kindergarten.

We made a tour of backyards of Christiania and returned along the lakes to the metro station. As we started to feel hungry, we settled for a quick sushi lunch at Letz Sushi. Luckily enough, the owners have been  prompt with establishing sitting on a sidewalk as the sun came out that weekend and we could enjoy our sushi and rolls with rays of sun on our face.

We continued to Danish Architecture Centre – the place I truly enjoy visiting each time they have a new appealing exhibition or when I found myself nearby. Two reasons to that are: the place has such a great feel to it, being set in an ancient building but renovated with a modern yet sensitive approach. Secondly, they have a large bookstore at the entrance, which I love to browse through! All the beautiful books on architecture, interior design and travels are fantastic source of inspiration. I wrote about an exhibition I visited in DAC here.

I took photos of the books I liked - for future reference...

From the DAC, we walked on the Knippelsbro Bridge. We took turn to the Black Diamond (Sorte Diamanten) – the modern extension to the old national library. It seems to be closed on Sundays, but if you are there on another day, sure do enter inside – the contrast of black façade and white interiors is striking!

We walked behind the Black Diamond to see the entrance to the Jewish museum and through Det Kongelige Biblioteks Have, we got to the Christiansborg palace – the house of Parliament. One get´s better view of the palace is he/she enters the courtyard from the West. It is not easy to spot, but on the right side of the courtyard there are horse stables which are accessible for visitors.

We continued under the Christiansborg tower to the Christiansborg Slotsplads and back to the Amagertorv. If you are still hungry or just want to enjoy an afternoon aperitif, then take a chair at Café Norden, a really beautiful two-storey café with terrace, typically fully occupied on sunny weekends. I heartily recommend their tomato soup Norden, a truly special spicy soup with crème fraîche and a drop of olive oil, served with slices of fresh bread.
As we already had our lunch, we walked up the Købmagersgade and stopped for a macchiato at Baresso Coffee – a Danish alternative to Starbucks (but, let’s be honest, the two cannot be even remotely compared, but don’t tell that to any Dane!).

At Nørreport, there is one more place I wanted to show Julie, although at that hour, it was already closing. You can find some of my pictures from Torvehallerne here.

This completed our 2-day visit of the city. Julie and myself, we were quite much satisfied with how our rather spontaneous wandering turned into a comprehensive tour of the Danish capital. I hope that it can be useful to anyone looking for how to efficiently plan for a 2-day trip in Copenhagen!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Across Denmark in 10 days /~2007

Location: Denmark
Time for some reminiscence.
The first time I visited Denmark was in spring 2007. It was a engineering-geological excursion from my university in Slovakia and we practically crossed the whole country in 10 days. 
My memories from that time are not that fresh, so I was very happy to find these photos of mine that I believed were lost.
The remarkable fact is that sun is shining on all of the photos below - which means we had 10 days of sun during our trip! I did not quite understand at that time why our Danish guides repeated us how memorable the weather that spring 2007 was...! 

Øresund bridge


Canoeing on river Gudenå

First time at the Møns cliffs. Pictures from my second visit here.

Searching for fossils

A half-day in Copenhagen

On repeat...

I came across this song - I´ve sure heard it many times already, but never payed much attention to lyrics. Now I did, and I liked every line of it.

(link in the title and lyrics also under the video)

Let Her Go
by Passenger

Well you only need the light when it's burning low
Only miss the sun when it starts to snow
Only know you love her when you let her go
Only know you've been high when you're feeling low
Only hate the road when you're missin' home
Only know you love her when you let her go

And you let her go

Staring at the bottom of your glass
Hoping one day you'll make a dream last
But dreams come slow and they go so fast

You see her when you close your eyes
Maybe one day you'll understand why
Everything you touch surely dies


Staring at the ceiling in the dark
Same old empty feeling in your heart
'Cause love comes slow and it goes so fast

Well you see her when you fall asleep
But never to touch and never to keep
'Cause you loved her too much
And you dived too deep


And you let her go 


Friday, November 7, 2014

The 100% perfect girl

by Haruki Murakami 
One beautiful April morning, on a narrow side street in Tokyo's fashionable Harujuku neighborhood, I walked past the 100% perfect girl. 
Tell you the truth, she's not that good­looking. She doesn't stand out in any way. Her clothes are nothing special. The back of her hair is still bent out of shape from sleep. She isn't young, either ­- must be near thirty, not even close to a "girl," properly speaking. But still, I know from fifty yards away: She's the 100% perfect girl for me. The moment I see her, there's a rumbling in my chest, and my mouth is as dry as a desert.   
Maybe you have your own particular favorite type of girl -­ one with slim ankles, say, or big eyes, or graceful fingers, or you're drawn for no good reason to girls who take their time with every meal. I  have my own preferences, of course. Sometimes in a restaurant I'll catch myself staring at the girl at the next table to mine because I like the shape of her nose. 
But no one can insist that his 100% perfect girl correspond to some preconceived type. Much as I like noses, I can't recall the shape of hers -­ or even if she had one. All I can remember for sure is that she was no great beauty. It's weird. 
"Yesterday on the street I passed the 100% girl," I tell someone. 
"Yeah?" he says. "Good-­looking?" 
"Not really." 
"Your favorite type, then?" 
"I don't know. I can't seem to remember anything about her ­- the shape of her eyes or the size of her breasts." 
"Yeah. Strange." 
"So anyhow," he says, already bored, "what did you do? Talk to her? Follow her?" 
"Nah. Just passed her on the street." 
She's walking east to west, and I west to east. It's a really nice April morning. 
Wish I could talk to her. Half an hour would be plenty: just ask her about herself, tell her about myself, and -­ what I'd really like to do ­- explain to her the complexities of fate that have led to our  passing each other on a side street in Harajuku on a beautiful April morning in 1981. This was something sure to be crammed full of warm secrets, like an antique clock build when peace filled the world. 
After talking, we'd have lunch somewhere, maybe see a Woody Allen movie, stop by a hotel bar for cocktails. With any kind of luck, we might end up in bed.
Potentiality knocks on the door of my heart. 
Now the distance between us has narrowed to fifteen yards. 
How can I approach her? What should I say? 
"Good morning, miss. Do you think you could spare half an hour for a little conversation?" 
Ridiculous. I'd sound like an insurance salesman. 
"Pardon me, but would you happen to know if there is an all-­night cleaners in the neighborhood?" 
No, this is just as ridiculous. I'm not carrying any laundry, for one thing. Who's going to buy a line like that? 
Maybe the simple truth would do. "Good morning. You are the 100% perfect girl for me." 
No, she wouldn't believe it. Or even if she did, she might not want to talk to me. Sorry, she could say, I might be the 100% perfect girl for you, but you're not the 100% boy for me. It could happen. And if I found myself in that situation, I'd probably go to pieces. I'd never recover from the shock. I'm thirty­-two, and that's what growing older is all about.   
We pass in front of a flower shop. A small, warm air mass touches my skin. The asphalt is damp, and I catch the scent of roses. I can't bring myself to speak to her. She wears a white sweater, and in her right hand she holds a crisp white envelope lacking only a stamp. So: She's written somebody a letter, maybe spent the whole night writing, to judge from the sleepy look in her eyes. The envelope could contain every secret she's ever had. 
I take a few more strides and turn: She's lost in the crowd. 
Now, of course, I know exactly what I should have said to her. It would have been a long speech, though, far too long for me to have delivered it properly. The ideas I come up with are never very practical. 
Oh, well. It would have started "Once upon a time" and ended "A sad story, don't you think?" 
Once upon a time, there lived a boy and a girl. The boy was eighteen and the girl sixteen. He was  not unusually handsome, and she was not especially beautiful. They were just an ordinary lonely boy and an ordinary lonely girl, like all the others. But they believed with their whole hearts that somewhere in the world there lived the 100% perfect boy and the 100% perfect girl for them. Yes, they believed in a miracle. And that miracle actually happened. 
One day the two came upon each other on the corner of a street. 
"This is amazing," he said. "I've been looking for you all my life. You may not believe this, but you're the 100% perfect girl for me." 
"And you," she said to him, "are the 100% perfect boy for me, exactly as I'd pictured you in every detail. It's like a dream." 
They sat on a park bench, held hands, and told each other their stories hour after hour. They were not lonely anymore. They had found and been found by their 100% perfect other. What a wonderful thing it is to find and be found by your 100% perfect other. It's a miracle, a cosmic miracle. 
As they sat and talked, however, a tiny, tiny sliver of doubt took root in their hearts: Was it really all right for one's dreams to come true so easily? 
And so, when there came a momentary lull in their conversation, the boy said to the girl, "Let's test ourselves­ - just once. If we really are each other's 100% perfect lovers, then sometime, somewhere, we will meet again without fail. And when that happens, and we know that we are the 100% perfect ones, we'll marry then and there. What do you think?" 
"Yes," she said, "that is exactly what we should do." 
And so they parted, she to the east, and he to the west. 
The test they had agreed upon, however, was utterly unnecessary. They should never have undertaken it, because they really and truly were each other's 100% perfect lovers, and it was a miracle that they had ever met. But it was impossible for them to know this, young as they were.  The cold, indifferent waves of fate proceeded to toss them unmercifully. 
One winter, both the boy and the girl came down with the season's terrible influenza, and after drifting for weeks between life and death they lost all memory of their earlier years. When they awoke, their heads were as empty as the young D. H. Lawrence's piggy bank. 
They were two bright, determined young people, however, and through their unremitting efforts they were able to acquire once again the knowledge and feeling that qualified them to return as full­ fledged members of society. Heaven be praised, they became truly upstanding citizens who knew how to transfer from one subway line to another, who were fully capable of sending a special­-delivery letter at the post office. Indeed, they even experienced love again, sometimes as much as 75% or even 85% love. 
Time passed with shocking swiftness, and soon the boy was thirty-­two, the girl thirty. 
One beautiful April morning, in search of a cup of coffee to start the day, the boy was walking from west to east, while the girl, intending to send a special-delivery letter, was walking from east to west, but along the same narrow street in the Harajuku neighborhood of Tokyo. They passed each other in the very center of the street. The faintest gleam of their lost memories glimmered for the briefest moment in their hearts. Each felt a rumbling in their chest. And they knew: 
She is the 100% perfect girl for me. 
He is the 100% perfect boy for me. 
But the glow of their memories was far too weak, and their thoughts no longer had the clarity of fourteen years earlier. Without a word, they passed each other, disappearing into the crowd. Forever. 
A sad story, don't you think? 
Yes, that's it, that is what I should have said to her.

Friday Motivation

Location: Lyngby, Denmark
I am planning on starting again archery (and writing about it, so I feel pressure of really doing so!). A large archery club is just next to my university. The photos are, for now, from archives :)