SEE ONE OF DENMARK’S MOST DARLING VILLAGES IN DRAGØR
Need to escape the hustle? Put aside the bustle. Do yourself a favor and get out of the city for a day. Make it a day date. Or an overnight. Enjoy an authentic Danish village less than a 30-minute drive from the capital Copenhagen. Do you know darling little Dragør? Every time we visit, I can’t believe how close we are to the city. It feels a world away. And while I love it in summer when the warm, shallow water of the sound beckons a swim, Dragør holds its appeal throughout the year.
Swans and seagulls greet you in the harbor of Dragør, outside Copenhagen
You can’t beat the brilliant blue Baltic Sea here at Bellevue Beach
Soak in the scene on this swath of sand in Klampenborg
Today I took the long way round after dropping my youngest at school, the older two having already made it on their own for their early starts. Not having finished my morning coffee when the wee lass wanted off to catch her friends before the bell rung, I put it in a flask to take along. (No, not an alcoholic flask. Flask = thermos; my UK friends might be rubbing off, can you tell?) Repositing the lass with friends at school, I kiss goodbye and head off on my bike. I make my way via the neighborhoods that skirt Copenhagen’s northeastern suburbia to my destination – Bellevue Beach on the water in Klampenborg. You can also get here easily by train, but it is unbelievably beautiful weather this week and it feels good to be out of the rain. (Forgive me – my son is learning how to play America on his guitar and it just seeps in.)
Some days, life has a funny way of reminding you of important lessons. Things we should know, but often our requisite daily minutiae occludes access to the personal database. Today was one of those days.
It’s Monday. Mandag in Danish. Mandags are beginnings – love them or hate them. For our family, the beginning of this week was a wee lethargic after staying up late (Copenhagen local time) to watch the Seattle Seahawks clinch the NFC Championship sending them on to Super Bowl XLIX. (From hereto forward known as Super Bowl “CLICKS”.) GO HAWKS! Watching NFL with Danish commentators is always interesting. At least they don’t translate “TOUCHDOWN!”
I decided to take the beginning of this week by the proverbial horns. Got up, rallied kids, got myself dressed, actually put on gloss, made lunches, found socks, found shoes, found backpacks… found car (no parkering ticket!), deposited them at school and was on my way. I was going to get my kunst on today. That’s right peeps. Kunst. It’s ART in Danish. Those who know me, know that this is my happy place. If you don’t know me – two second background… studied Art History at University of Washington and more currently: was part of a team running the Art Literacy program at our elementary school back in Oregon, recent former member of public art committee in my “home” town. 2 seconds. I would love to become more involved in an art community here in Copenhagen, but for now – I will enjoy playing the student again.
Today’s lesson was to be in modern art. In Louisiana. WAIT. Record skips. Louisiana? The state? Oh no you sillies. Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, in Humlebæk, Denmark. I had read about it – it looked amazing. Why hadn’t I been there yet? It isn’t exactly IN Copenhagen proper. It’s 35 km north of the city. They have an Alexander Calder sculpture that overlooks Øresund (where we went fishing). I am dying to compare it to his Eagle that stands bright red in the Olympic Sculpture Park overlooking Puget Sound (also known as “the sound” by locals) in Seattle, Washington. So. It’s Mandag. I am beginning my week with Danish modern art. Or so I think.
Lesson reminder #1. When venturing afield, remember to check the opening hours AND opening DAYS. I knew that Louisiana opened at 11 am. I had no problem with the 90-minute gap between repositing the children at their skole and finding my way north to the museet. I found a cute coffee shop in Helsignør, got my handcrafted double latté and enjoyed the wait. Watching rain turn into snain and then almost into snow from the window of the café; inside warm with candles and people and wafting coffee (dare I say – hygge?), it was difficult to leave. But – I’ve got art to see.
Parkering was easy. And FREE?!? Did I miss a sign? Nope. All good. Why isn’t anyone here? One of the largest modern art collections in EUROPE people… come see it! Oh. It’s lukket. Just my luck – it is closed on Mandag. What a beginning. Somewhat deflated, I debate returning to home and battling Fran or the parkering meter or the grocery store, all still requisite minutiae for today. But no. I came out to see something. I don’t have a sick child at home. My requisite minutiae is actually not too troubling today, and I’m already out here. I put gloss on, for Pete’s sake. I want to see something. How about that slot that I saw a sign for driving up here – that didn’t seem too far back. Yes. That’s what I’ll do. I’ll go visit a slot. In my head already making checklist for slots that I can physically check off as I visit them. Yes. That is what I will do.
Meander through Danish countryside (which I can relate feels somewhat like rolling Hillsboro sans Evergreen trees); albeit the Danes are very nice at labeling all direct intersections – fairly easy to find my way to Fredensborg Palace (slot). I will admit that as an American, the Royals are still a baseball team to me. We ditched our king hundreds of years ago. Happy 4th of July. We’re independent. Sort of. Politics aside, I am beginning to understand the fascination with these Royals here. They have very lovely and very fancy houses with very gorgeous gardens and tons of sculpture. KUNST. Oh happy girl. So the palace is only open in July and August because apparently they use this one a lot. A lot. As I roll up, the Royal Guard is changing again. How many of these guys are there? A lot. Lucky for me – the Palace Gardens are open to the public alle dage. Every day. Sure, why not. Let’s take a stroll.
IT IS BEAUTIFUL. And seeing as it is the middle of winter truly might have made it all the more amazing. Really? I can hear you. Across the interweb. A garden in the middle of winter? Nothing alive, nothing blooming, no leaves on the trees? I feel your scrunched nose and questioning eyes. I’m telling you … it was BEAUTIFUL. Did you hear me? Like 300 acres of my own private baroque frenchy garden beautiful. I literally saw 4 people in the 2 hours that I wandered. FOUR PEOPLE. I could get behind this. I see why these Royals like to be royals and use this slot a lot.
It’s on a lake. Esrum Sø. Sø means lake. So there. The snain had stopped and I made my way down to the Sø. (After watching another changing of the guards on the back porch of the slot. As if just for me. But don’t get too close. You aren’t allowed EVERYWHERE here. You aren’t ROYAL.) But the rest of the grounds – where you are allowed – are lovely. And quiet. And contemplative. Best to be experienced in the quiet I think. Solo. It was surreal. Like a movie set. Like a twilight zone movie set. 300 acres by yourself. Birds. Snain melting from the trees … dryp, dryp, dryp. Feet crunching on the path. Just me. (And the birds, oh and those random other 4 people.) Luckily I took a picture of the map at the beginning because I did have a destination for my wandering.
“The Valley of the Norsemen.” Sounds epic doesn’t it? It’s about as far away on the map as I’ve started from. Good thing the snain has stopped, cuz I’ve also got a camera with the big lens, no umbrella and my new (vintage) fur on. (Remember I was going to a Kunst Museet to begin with.) After serene views of the Sø and a charming path along the lake, I find the path to the Norsemen. Nordmandsdalen is home to 70 sandstone sculptures of Norwegian and Faroese working class people – fisherman, bakers, teachers, mothers, shop keepers, farmers. You and I. Ok, I don’t know you per se – but I related to these life size (isk) peeps. More so than the palatial property up top with the furry-hatted-gun-toting-heel-clicking guards on watch. Norwegian though – did you read my last post? Norwegian Vikings were the enemy I thought? But this was commissioned by King Frederick V and Queen Juliane Marie between 1764-1784 when Norway and Denmark were a common territory. Hunh. Who knew? Not me. What I know is that I was really taken with this valley. Of common Norse men AND WOMEN. Not just a few women either. Every other sculpture was a woman. And with child some. Very progressive. And not nudes. This wasn’t idealizing beautiful female figures with art. This was real valid appreciation of their roles in the Norse everyday. I appreciate that. I appreciate that now. In my everyday.
And so I come to the second lesson (that I already knew, but needed to be gently reminded by the universe every once and awhile)… more than “one door closes, another opens”… But … be ready. Be open. Be willing. One says no. Another says – try this. And you do. And it is good. And valid. And worthy. Happy Mandag. Man, what a dag.
Enjoy the dag’s galleri (click on the first pic and a slideshow will pop up) – it was epic. Even though not as planned. Skål from Denmark.
Ubiquitous Danish Royal Guard
You are not allowed HERE per se
Snain to snow route through palatial grounds
Need “kunst” – how’s THIS for one-point perspective?
Put a bird on Denmark
I see faces – Royal edition
I adore Danish vinter palette
Like blowing ink through a straw these trees
Valley of the Norsemen
Mor = Mom
Her face from the front. So valid.
Rub a dub dub. I found the butcher, the baker AND the candle stick maker here.
Cherubic in her key mastery – one of my faves.
Caught ‘gramming. (Again.)
Me. Mandag, anyway.
Congrats! You did it. You made it to the end of this blog post and galleri!
I don’t like New Year’s resolutions, but can’t deny that the turn of the calendar definitively promotes fresh starts. 2014 was a year full of opportunities seized, plans made and challenges faced. Moving from Portland, Oregon to Copenhagen, Denmark was definitely one of those opportunities that has fulfilled and challenged many of our best laid plans. We left Oregon mid-November and after a brief tour of Barcelona and Madrid, spent the remainder of the year attempting to set up life in Denmark – not so easy as it turns out. (More on those comedies later).
It is a new year. Godt Nytår as they here say in Denmark. Here we are. In a semi-IKEA-furnished flat in the middle of Copenhagen. Seizing opportunities and making new plans. One of my goals for 2015 is to be creative daily. How that creativity expresses itself is up to me, the day, and what I have access to. This is supposed to be an attainable goal. Resourcefulness – using what is around me. In that vein, today I used the fruits of our family’s fishing endeavor yesterday – namely 13 frisk torsk. Fresh cod!
We woke in the wee hours and boarded Spar Shipping‘s “Skipper” skib in Østerbro Harbor yesterday. It was a 5+ hour tour of Øresund – just known as “The Sound” around here. It is the body of water between Denmark and Sweden. Cod is in season now – plentifully swimming in schools not too far from shore gorging on crabs near the bottom.
Despite the cold, it is pretty easy fishing – throw your rod and lure overboard, gently jig the line up and down and wait for the strike!
Success! We brought in thirteen nice cod. Not as big maybe as some of the others we saw, but for a first go – pretty satisfied.A quick lesson in gutting and heading your fish on board makes teenage son feel important while wielding a large, sharp knife and into a large plastic sack our fish go.
Home now with 13 friske fisk.
A bit of background, I’m not actually the fisher-person per se in my family. My dad endeared us as children to the wonders of baiting and casting and waiting and CATCHING. He was also the one who cleaned the fish. I have never actually cleaned a fish myself. Oh dear cod! So catching cod is conclusively easier than cleaning, filleting, and skinning said cod. What to do when you would like to use all the recipes that friends so charmingly forward to you for usage of the cod you advertised? Why you YouTube how to fillet a cod of course. So I watched this one “Passionate about Fish – How to Fillet a Cod” … maybe 17 times. (It is quite difficult to hit pause and rewind when you are covered in fish slime and scales.)
My first attempts were not pretty and did not afford the beautiful presentation NOR the fishmongers yield. BUT – after nearly two hours – I now have eleven (we baked two whole last night) cod all cleaned and ready! They still would not fly in any master cooking show – of which we have been watching a lot because TLC is one of the few channels in English here in Copenhagen, but they will be utilized in a myriad of ways.
Here is last night’s attempt at baked whole cod:
Rubbed with olive oil, S&P inside and out, placed with sliced lemons and rosemary sprigs into oven at 200C til separated easily from skin. Not family’s favorite application, and I see that the bones were an issue, but easy and quick whilst still slightly wobbling from Baltic boat tour.
This was deliciously easy and quick lunch fashioned today – which I can highly recommend:
Steamed filets with S&P and dusting of ground ginger, served over baby spinach and refrigerator pickled red onions and a little bit of olive oil on top. So delicious. Fish and chips to come for littles tonight. Will let you know how it goes! Feel free to share ideas on how you are creating your new year. Skål!