My Attempt to Find Chocolate and Brave the Transit System

This is post #7 of our 2016 Copenhagen-Stockholm 2016 trip.

7Scandiskip_1chocolate3Tuesday morning I had my passport, my receipts from the Marimekko store (for my VAT refund) and the idea that I would find chocolate at the Magasin store, and so I descended into the Metro station, determined to figure this out.  I was in the elevator with a nice young woman and her buggy-with-a-baby, and she explained it all to me as we descended.  Which went really well, until she said, “to get on, you just swipe your pass here,” and indicated the place, only I had no pass.  She smiled and I waved good-bye as I went up one flight of stairs to the convenience shop, which I’d been told would sell me a ticket.

Nope, so I went up one more level to find the ticket machine, where I had my escapade mentioned in the last post.  But finally getting my ticket, I went back downstairs three levels and got on the nice shiny new Metro car and went one stop to the Magasin Department Store, which is kind like our Nieman Marcus, or equivalent, I guess.  When I got out, it was raining –or– misting very heavily, and of course, the forecast said no rain, so my umbrella was at the hotel.

I always check for earrings, or some other costume jewelry to purchase, but all they had was real gold and real silver, so I asked where the VAT refund was and they said top floor.  I found the place, but there was a line.  I’d read somewhere that you have to take a ticket whenever you stand in line, so I grabbed one from the ticket dispenser and waited my turn.

It was all for naught, as apparently there are two VAT refund companies at work in Scandinavia and the one Marimekko used was not the one that could refund money at this place.  But I could show it at the airport, she said, which sounds great until you’ve done it once, and I had, so I realized that I’d just donated to their tax-dollars-at-work system.  But I could investigate the chocolate!

7Scandiskip_1chocolate2 7Scandiskip_1chocolate1The chocolate, according to the woman I met at Nyhavn, was in the basement, which was under construction, but I found the rows of shelves, and immediately started to try to calculate the prices.  The bars at the top run about $14 and the one at the bottom is $17.  I found a young woman to help me, and she steered me to Guld Barre, the ones at the top of the post.  They were around $1.50–much more affordable.

I was going to walk on further, but because of the rain and the anxiety about finding my way around the Metro and their convoluted ticketing system for tourists, I decided to head on back to the hotel.  I could buy a 24-hour pass, but the price was around $20 and I didn’t think it would be cost-effective, given that the bulk of the area I was going to move in was away from the two Metro lines.

Copenhagen Transit MapIt wasn’t until I found this map (full-size here, in case some else can use it) that I began to survive the Copenhagen Metro system. I downloaded it onto my phone and continually pinched it larger to navigate around town.  But for now, I just wanted to head home.

7Scandiskip_17My ticket was good for one full hour anywhere on the system, so I descended three levels below and waited in their nifty little place for you to wait: tucked inside that line where it says “Vent”  (which means “Wait).  And of course, the doors line up perfectly with the dots.  I was supposed to meet Dave back at the hotel, but when I came out, I saw this:

Stoff 2000 Fabrics_1I knew what Stof meant: fabric! Since the sun was now shining, I took that to be a sign, so I went in and explored.  It was on two levels, small, with similar fabrics on the second floor as on the first, with variations.Stoff 2000 Fabrics_2I purchased a half-meter off two of these rolls of cotton.  “Small suitcase,” I explained to the woman, when she asked “only a half-meter?” and who was most helpful.  Stoff 2000 Fabrics_3 Stoff 2000 Fabrics_4I also purchased some buttons, shown here in their tubes (right).

7Scandiskip_7When we met up again, Dave showed me this great snapshot of a man carrying chair on his bicycle, snapped while Dave was walking back to the hotel.7Scandiskip_9cWe went over the Food Hall and gazed at the sandwiches.7Scandiskip_9d 7Scandiskip_9b We ended up with three: the potato/onion/crispy onions (above), the roast pork with watercress, bacon and berries (below), and…7Scandiskip_9a 7Scandiskip_9…roast beef with shredded horseradish, crispy onions and mustard pickles as well as dill pickle slices.  7Scandiskip_10 We sauntered over to the chocolate that I’d seen before: filled chocolate frogs.7Scandiskip_10aWhen I asked the saleswoman “why frogs?” she just shrugged her shoulders and said, “We see them a lot in Spring.”  I translated this to mean “I have no idea–they are just what they are.”7Scandiskip_10bAcross the way was this small shop: Summerbird, with its chocolate-enrobed almonds. 7Scandiskip_10dThey let us try a few, and we liked the mint the best.  It’s coated in rhubarb powder to make it pink. 7Scandiskip_10cThe lemon and the chocolate frogs came home with us.  Time for a break, so Tuesday afternoon found us trying to ignore all the sounds outside our open windows, while catching a few minutes of sleep, a tourist’s prerogative.

Street Level Sights

This is post #6 of our 2016 Copenhagen-Stockholm trip.

I can’t resist it any longer.  Here are all the manhole covers we saw in Copenhage and Stockholm.  Just to give this a lofty air, manhole covers date back to ancient Rome and were made of stone.  There’s even been several books written about them; one title is “Drainspotting.”  Clever.

manhole cover scandinavia_1 manhole cover scandinavia_2

Look carefully at this one. . . and then the next one.manhole cover scandinavia_3

It’s one of Hans Christian Andersen’s stories “The Brave Tin Soldier.”  In the lower manhole cover, he is in the water (remember he only had one leg) about to be eaten by the great fish.  I don’t know what happened to the top manhole cover, but the tin soldier is missing.  Obviously these are from Copenhagen, Denmark.manhole cover scandinavia_4

Another grand symbol of Denmark was the Elefantordenen, or “Order of the Elephant,” a royal order to which a limited number of people can belong.  (I guess one has to die before another can be added.)  And upon the death of that Knight of the Order of the Elephant, they have to return their insignia; however, there are two exceptions: one is in Paris in a museum, and the other is on display at Dwight Eisenhower’s presidential library.  I’m guessing that’s why there are elephants all over this cover, found near Rosenberg Slot (castle).manhole cover scandinavia_5 manhole cover scandinavia_6I’d been reading about an artist that is one of Copenhagen’s native sons, Poul Gernes, and he seemed to grab circles out of the air and put them into his art.  When I saw this, and a few hundred other dotty motifs in Copenhagen, I could see where his art was coming from.  Here’s one example, a poster from his exhibit at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art (another one of those things I wish I could have gone to):

Poul Gernes_1I was sitting beside sleeping Dave, trying to shake off his illness, browsing Things to Do in Copenhagen, and found news of this exhibit.  I then did multiple searches on him, finding his quiltish motifs irresistible, like visual catnip.

Poul Gernes_2Here’s some of his works installed at the Louisiana, a complicated train ride away.

How do I know that it’s complicated?  That morning, when I’d tried to buy a Metro ticket to the Magasin Department Store, a couple from Italy showed me their paper with the directions (train connections) out to the Louisiana, written in English.  So I tried to help them.  They had a credit card, and it appeared that this machine would accept it (that was our problem in the airport–the machine “didn’t like the card” according the to man helping us, so we had to try a different machine).  So that morning, the Italians (the woman spoke very limited English) and I selected what we thought was the ticket, only it didn’t like that, and cancelled the selection, without any information about why.  We tried again, but now it showed they were buying four tickets, not two, and we couldn’t find a way to have it be just two tickets.  Of course, there is not an agent in sight, only a line-up of tourists behind us.

So I tried buying my ticket, which went through, and now which creates another problem.  Once you buy a ticket, you have one hour to use it or lose it, so now the clock is ticking for me.  I turn to the couple behind me, who were from Britain, explained the situation and they took over, as I scampered down three flights of stairs to catch my train.  So when another day presented itself to head out to the Louisiana, I’m afraid I chickened out.  I found out only LATER, that at my station, upstairs, before you even go to the train-ticket-buying level (which is NOT the same level as the train-taking-level) there is a person there who can help.  I guess I just didn’t want to be that far away from Dave.

Now back to the manhole covers.

manhole cover scandinavia_7 manhole cover scandinavia_8 manhole cover scandinavia_9 manhole cover scandinavia_10 manhole cover scandinavia_11 manhole cover scandinavia_12

This one is from Tivoli Gardens, as the motifs on the upper left and lower right are the main entry gate, shown below:


manhole cover scandinavia_13I think UPONOR does sewer, drainage sort of things, but I did love the way the cobblestones are set in a circle around this one.

And to further enrich this post, here is a section from Wikipedia that bears re-reading:

The question of why manhole covers are typically round (in some countries) was made famous by Microsoft when they began asking it as a job-interview question.  Originally meant as a psychological assessment of how one approaches a question with more than one correct answer, the problem has produced a number of alternative explanations, from the tautological (“Manhole covers are round because manholes are round.”) to the philosophical.

Reasons for the shape include:

  • A round manhole cover cannot fall through its circular opening, whereas a square manhole cover may fall in if it were inserted diagonally in the hole. The existence of a “lip” holding up the lid means that the underlying hole is smaller than the cover, so that other shapes might suffice. (A Reuleaux triangle or other curve of constant width would also serve this purpose, but round covers are much easier to manufacture.)
  • Round tubes are the strongest and most material-efficient shape against the compression of the earth around them, and so it is natural that the cover of a round tube assume a circular shape.
  • A round manhole cover has a smaller surface than a square one, thus less material is needed to cast the manhole cover, meaning lower cost.
    The bearing surfaces of manhole frames and covers are machined to assure flatness and prevent them from becoming dislodged by traffic.
  • Round castings are much easier to machine using a lathe.
  • Circular covers do not need to be rotated to align with the manhole.
  • A round manhole cover can be more easily moved by being rolled.
  • A round manhole cover can be easily locked in place with a quarter turn (as is done in countries like France), which makes them hard to open without a special tool. Lockable covers do not have to be made as heavy, because traffic passing over them cannot lift them up by suction.

Honestly, I’ve never thought about why they are generally round (some are not), but I just enjoy them when I see them!

An Evening Stroll to Nyhavn

This is post #5 of our 2016 Copenhagen-Stockholm trip.

5scandiskip0Monday afternoon, I meet Dave at the hotel and we head out the back way to dinner.  This bright pink hollyhock is by a stoop, and I think I photographed it everyday.  We head down Nansesngade Street, turn right on Vendersgade, walking towards Torvehallen, the Food Hall.5scandiskip1We ended up here and after ordering at the counter (they have a limited selection), they handed us our utensils and napkins in these paper bags and we found an empty spot (most tables are shared).5scandiskip1aThey brought our salad with our meal.  We shared everything (how could we not?).

5scandiskip1bRoast chicken au jus with corn on the cob.

5scandiskip1cRoast potatoes sprinkled with fleur de sel: a winner.  The buttery juice underneath had whole cloves of cooked garlic floating in it.  Dave said these reminded him of the time we were in Lyon, buying food at the street market (marche); the rotisserie chicken sellers would rack up their birds, letting the juices drip down below to a catch basin, which was full of potatoes, being basted by the chicken drippings and juices.  Agree.5scandiskip1dThis was porchetta (stuffed pork chop) with those delectable tomatoes on a vine that you can find in Europe, but not so much where I live.  The tomatoes were lightly cooked, so they were warm and juicy, but not mush.

About halfway through the meal, two young women join us at our (communal) table.  Usually, because of the language barrier, it still feels private, as we are speaking English and whoever is next to us is speaking the language of the country.  While that was still true here, I realize that in Denmark (and found this again to be true in Sweden), just about everyone is fluent in English, so our veil of privacy is dropped.  I am careful about what I say in public because of this.5scandiskip1eEl Mercato’s tables under their umbrellas.

5scandiskip1fNow that we have been here a day, we are starting to get familiar with the little touches, like these winged bird balustrades alongside the steps leading down from the street.  We head out the back of Torvehallerne, turn right on Fredericksborgade, and arrive at the Metro station. (If you thinking typing the names of the streets is tough, try saying them.)5scandiskip1gThe bicycles!  This time we come at the mass from another angle and place; these bikes are all contained in a depression at the station, perhaps to keep them corralled.5scandiskip1hWe walk along the backside of Rosenborg Slot, where the guards maintain a walk back and forth from one guard post to another, the sweet little heart cut-out just visible.  I never dare get too close, but it’s an interesting touch to have a heart on a guardhouse.5scandiskip1iHans Christian Anderson’s profile on the street covers.  Is this one water?  Electrical?  No matter–they have quite a collection of them.5scandiskip1j 5scandiskip2This older house has shifted: notice those crooked windows in the middle.  We turn right on Gothersgade (does “gade” mean street?) and continue walking.  I show Dave all the red brick buildings I saw earlier.

5scandiskip35scandiskip3At the Kongens Nytorv square is another telephone box, but this time with different gilded designs.  5scandiskip4And ahead of us?  Nyhavn, a 17th century “waterfront, entertainment district, and canal in Copenhagen, Denmark.”  Dug by dug by Swedish prisoners of war  in 1660, “it is a gateway from the sea to the old inner city King’s Square (Kongtens Nytorv), where ships handled cargo and fishermens’ catch. It was notorious for beer, sailors, and prostitution. Danish author Hans Christian Andersen lived at Nyhavn for some 18 years”  (Wikipedia).5scandiskip4a 5scandiskip4b 5scandiskip5All I know that it is on every To Do List for tourists who visit Copenhagen.  Because Dave isn’t feeling well, we avoid the left side of the canal where it is mobbed with people, and instead walk on the right side, which we feel gives us better photos, anyway. We’re all about the photos.  We bump into a jovial trio of women, who ask us where we are from (America?  don’t we look like it?).  Apparently two of the women have traveled in to meet the third woman, who lives here.  She asks us how we like Copenhagen, and I say it’s great — except for the fact that I can’t find any decent chocolate.

Ah, she says.  You need to go to Magasin, the big department store at Konger Nytorv.  Go into the basement, and they have lots of chocolate.  I make a mental note to do that tomorrow, as I also have to go there to get my VAT tax back from Marimekko.

5scandiskip5aWe go back to strolling and realize that the lavender house on the left does angle out to the right as it moves back from the street, invading the space of the yellow building.  At first I think it’s an optical illusion, but no.  It really is all stretched out of shape.5scandiskip5bNyhavn 17 is a restaurant, and I saw an earlier version at the Lego Store.  The oldest house, number 9, dates from 1681.5scandiskip6 5scandiskip6a 5scandiskip6bWe rest on a #copenhagenbench, and enjoy the sight of the bicycles whizzing past us, as well as the reflection of the old buildings.  Two young women whoosh by it, coming to a stop at the light to our right.  I realize then that one young woman is on the bicycle seat, steering and pedaling, and her friend is behind her on the sturdy fender, holding down her short fluttery dress for her as they ride along, laughing at jokes that only young teens know.  5scandiskip6c5scandiskip7Time to head back to let Dave rest.  5scandiskip8We turn right on Havnegade, coming up at Holmens Kirke, a church built for Christian IV in 1619.  Now as I sit here at home, writing this all up, I wonder, why didn’t we ever go inside that one?  I’ve found many sights I want to see again, so I guess I’ll have to come here another time.  See that twisty spire to the right of the church? 5scandiskip8aThat is on the steeple atop Boursen, the former stock exchange from the 17th century.  It has four dragons with intertwined tails. 5scandiskip9We walk past the Parliament Buildings, up Kobmagergade Street, which turns into a pedestrian and shopping zone.5scandiskip105scandiskip11When the sidewalk stars come out at night, and the planets begin to shine in shop windows, you know it’s time to go home.

Further Exploring on a Monday Afternoon in Copenhagen

This is post #4 of our 2016 Copenhagen-Stockholm trip.4scandiskip0

Leaving the Vor Frue Kirke where the Christus is seen, I come upon another of Copenhagen’s signs.  They seem to have these erudite quips all over the place, and in English, too.  I complimented one young woman on her English, and she said “Well, we are a small country.”  The juxtaposition of vulnerability, truth, defensiveness and the realities of America’s Might in the World (of one kind or another) was contained in her simple statement.4scandiskip0a

When I saw this window, I thought of my sister Susan, who regularly knits small sweaters for her grandchildren.  Another friend, Susan in Australia, also came to mind as she is a superb knitter as well.4scandiskip1

It was right around the corner from this passageway that cut through from the street where the Vor Frue Kirke is on, to a courtyard, to somewhere else.  I didn’t follow it, but loved the ceiling (below)…4scandiskip2 4scandiskip3

…and the rosette bricks.4scandiskip4

I made my way down to the shopping street and this line-up of mannequins, all in clothes that didn’t remotely look like what I was seeing on the Danish women, told me I’d arrived.  From my observation, most of those who looked like they belonged here wore neutral-toned clothing in somewhat boxy shapes, many with leggings and sandals.  Comfortable, stylish clothes, not these fussy ones.  I remarked to Dave that all a good Dane needed for her wardrobe was a simply cut jacket in an amazing fabric, with spectacular buttons.  4scandiskip5I walked up the street and noticed these two characters: a Poirrot and a man with white gloves and a cap.  Not your usual tourist.4scandiskip5a 4scandiskip5bIt was a parade of a marching band of soldiers and a few dressed-up characters from Tivoli Gardens, leading everyone to. . . Tivoli Gardens, a short distance up the road.  After they all passed by, there was, indeed, a crowd of people following them.

When I asked the guy manning the Lego Store doorway about this, he said it happened everyday at 4:30 p.m.  Knowing the reputation for punctuality here, I don’t doubt it that it was exactly at half-past four.4scandiskip6 4scandiskip6aMy guidebook said that the Lego shop had a special character, available only in Denmark, so I stopped in there to see what it looked like.4scandiskip6bHowever, the young man inside said there was no such character at all, perhaps only the Little Mermaid keychain (looked like a spinoff from Disney).  I told him that two guidebooks that I’d read mentioned this special character, and really?  there wasn’t one?  He had this funny expression on his face when I said this and then he exclaimed, “So that’s why everyone asks me about this!”  I guess the people in the shop didn’t know that it was printed in more than one place.  Above is their rendition of Nyhavn, a street along a canal that I hadn’t seen yet.  I purchased my Little Mermaid, and left.4scandiskip7I came along to this (quilt patterns!  quilt patterns!) and looked up to see the Fountain of the Three Storks.4scandiskip7aOkay.  I know where I am now.  I turned left at a big store, and walked up the street.  Time to head home and I know it will take me a while, as there doesn’t appear to be any busses running through this section of town, which probably means no real Danes have a need to be over here in Touristland.4scandiskip8I love the blankets at every table.4scandiskip9 4scandiskip10(Quilt patterns!  Quilt patterns!)4scandiskip10aI’m using the GPS on my phone to figure out where I am, as it seems to work even when I am offline.  I recognize the half-timbered house as “old Copenhagen” construction.4scandiskip11This is about the third little cafe I’ve seen where people are all outside having an afternoon drink and a snack. 4scandiskip11bThis is the top of that building next to the cafe.  This whole area seemed to have a lot of red brick construction, with some using patterns in the brick.4scandiskip11cIt’s not like other countries with painted front, stucco flourishes.  Just sturdy red brick with a hint of ornamentation.4scandiskip11d 4scandiskip12 4scandiskip13Until I get to this.  This is serious decoration, but I can’t find any information about this building, other than it was built in 1904.4scandiskip14I turn and walk along the side of Rosenborg  Slot (which is the name for Castle).4scandiskip14aThis building faces the castle.4scandiskip15Design is everywhere, even on posters at the Metro station.4scandiskip16I’m out of the red brick neighborhoods, and back to my Belle epoche area.4scandiskip17I finally have learned to come in the back way, instead of walking an extra block, up and around the hotel.  That’s our room, by the lantern, where you leave the windows open all night long and never cool down and in the morning the smokers wake you up with their morning cigarettes.  We’re learning to live with its quirks.

Christus • Vor Frue Kirke, Copenhagen

This is post #3 of our 2016 Copenhagen-Stockholm trip.ChristusExterior1

The Vor Frue Kirke, or Church of Our Lady in Copenhagen, sits on a small street in the center of the old town, and has a fairly plain exterior with few garnishes and flourishes.ChristusExterior2

Statues of David (above) and Moses (below) flank the front entry.ChristusExterior3 ChristusExterior4 ChristusExterior5

Across the street is a small plaza with an obelisk, with this bas relief at its base–a detailed counterpoint to the simple lines of the church.ChristusExterior6Christus Interior1

The architectural lines inside are simple as well, with the central nave flanked by the twelve apostles, each holding its attribute.  No stained glass here, and the main altar lies far in front, the gilded wall behind the Christus the only brilliance, so the eye is drawn there by the use of light and color.  Whether this plainness is by design, or the result of the Protestant Reformation (which stripped the original church of its original ornamentation), it still has power and impact.Christus Interior2Christus InteriorOrgan

View to the rear organ loft. Christus InteriorS1 Christus InteriorS2 Christus InteriorS2a

Peter’s keys.Christus InteriorS3 Christus InteriorS4 Christus InteriorS5 Christus InteriorS6 Christus InteriorS7 Christus InteriorS8 Christus InteriorS9 Christus InteriorS10 Christus InteriorS11 Christus InteriorS12Christus InteriorAngelMedallion

Each statue has an angel medallion overhead in the upper wall of the nave.Christus InteriorHallwaySide aisle.Christus Interior4 Christus Interior3 Christus Interior5FinalI stood there long, looking up at the Christus, then slipped into a bench to think about the Savior beckoning me to him, his arms outstretched, his hands showing his the wounds he received while mortal.  As in the beautiful Sagrada Familia Cathedral in Barcelona, a quiet upwelling of gratitude caused me to acknowledge the reality of the Atonement, and once again, to recognize that Christ needs to be at the center in my life.  All of this sounds so trite and cliched.  No matter.  Even though I can’t always express in words how I feel when I speak of spiritual things, I trust the feelings inside that bear a sweet witness of Him.

Later I would come to know that this church where I sat was built and destroyed several times, and in the last construction, in order to save money, the builders incorporated elements of the surviving walls.  That felt right to me, knowing that who I am has been rebuilt many times as I’ve gone through hardships in my life — and that the person I am now is built with fragments and pieces of what came before.

Other visitors came quietly in, the sounds of the street far away.  Finally it was time to go.  I took one last photo, one last long look, and left, carrying some of His peace with me.