Saturday, June 02, 2007

In the land of Vikings

Hi all,
This time I write from the most north I have ever been in the world. Denmark! Yep, Copenhagen. I was very curious about this city ever since Aniek stayed here for 6 months and totally fell in love with it! I am here for a PhD course on evolutionary biology of communication. The course itself did not yet start, but my introduction to Danish life, has. First a stroll around the city at 9 am after a very early flight departing from Amsterdam at 6h55, told me that:
a) on a Saturday morning you are more likely to find late birds coming out of pubs than early birds going out to work
b) no self-respecting place will be open before 11… and it will close at 15h00.
After this first encounter with the Danish way of life, and a few caffe lattes later, I was received by a PhD student here at Copenhagen University, guess where from… Amsterdam! So for a few moments, he thought he could speak Dutch to me, since I was coming from the Netherlands, then quickly understood he couldn’t and from there on greeted me with Dutch hospitality in English, and no, no sarcasm implied.
In the afternoon, I went for another stroll in the city center, and discovered that Copenhagen would be a dangerous city for me to live: far too many interesting shops, with far too high prices… I keep having the experience of giving huge notes and getting back very small coins. Don’t know why. But I also noted the extremely beautiful architecture, relaxing spaces and very fashionable people. Danish design? I guess so. Also, the ease with which you get around is quite amazing… Public transports are efficient, clean, and even not so expensive… But still, lots of people go by bike, which is also a nice way to go around, since the city is pretty much flat and biker friendly, with bike paths everywhere.
Then later I joined the same PhD that received me and another student of the course, an Italian, for dinner. It was actually a nice and cheap meal (note to self: ask where to go in Copenhagen…), in a very cute little place. And then, the true Dutch nature of our “guide” was revealed, as he took us… beer drinking. Turns out it’s also quite a Danish habit, and so I felt very much at home, specially when a german couple, also working here, joined us. Boy, it feels like Groningen. A stroke of destiny made it so that this very same night Sweden and Denmark had a football match here in Copenhagen. Everywhere, people with crosses painted in their faces, either red and white or yellow and blue, poured beer down their throats, to celebrate defeat or victory, according to nationality and/or alcoholic state.
A few beers later, I was back in my room, feeling sleepy and happy. Tak, København!