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Thursday, August 19, 2010

Copenhagen First Impressions

I arrived in Copenhagen around 6pm on Sunday August 15th.  However, the airline lost my luggage and, due to Denmark's laid-back culture, it took me a couple hours before I could even speak with someone at a desk to get them to fill out the lost bag paperwork.  And, because CPH is a "silent airport," they refused to use the intercom to inform my "Danish Buddy" who was picking me up that I would be delayed.  I luckily was able to track him down even after the couple hours.

My Residence (Tordenskjoldsgade 30)

We then rode the Metro to my residence which I learned is located in the very heart of the city within the wealthiest/nicest part of Copenhagen (despite being no more expensive to me than any other).  I am actually 3 houses from the water front, 2 blocks from the Kongens Nytorv square, 2 blocks from the metro station, 2 blocks from the Stroget (world's longest shopping street), and just the other side of the most notable site in the city of Copenhagen, the houses along the Nyhavn canal.  City hall is just to one side, parliament to the other, and the palace to the other.  Today (Thursday) I finally had a sunny day to take some pictures.  Below are the highlights of my immediate neighborhood (aka, central Copenhagen):

Kongens Nytorv Square

Public mattress for anyone to lay down and listen to music
Nyhavn Canal & Houses

Stroget Shooping Street


Monday morning began my Danish language crash course where I really realized the difficulty of Danish pronunciation:

Hvad hedder du?   =   "va hi(soft t)-ler du"   =   What is your name?

Tordenskjoldsgade   =   "torden-skulls-gell"   (My street's name)

It is 22:25   =   Klokken er femte minutter i halv to'ogtyvende   =   "kloggen er fem minutter ee hell toe-OH-too"
                  Litereally   =  The time is 5 minutes until half to 22

Morgenmadsprodukter = cereal

Monday evening, we had a Danish Hygge which has no translation but the best match is supposedly "cozy social gathering".  Tuesday, the evening activity was a boat ride tour of the canals of Copenhagen with a guide pointing out sites including the palace, castles, etc...  Unfortunately, the famous mermaid statue is on loan somewhere but it will supposedly be returned in Nov. 

A few notes about Danish foods:
(1) Sandwich = bagel + Philadelphia cream cheese + roast beef + lettuce + tomato + cucumber
(2) Appelsinjuice = Orange juice while Aeble juice = apple juice

1 Liter of Appelsin Juice

A few notes about Danish culture: 

1. The bicycle.  The bicycle is transportation in Denmark.  Rush hour in the morning looks like the Tour de France was dropped in the middle of Copenhagen (minus the helmets and add a bunch of rain - it doesn't stop them).  And you have to listen for the "ding-ding" of a bicycle bell if you attempt to cross a bicycle lane.  Otherwise you may either be hurt or have an angry Dane yelling a bunch of things you don't understand.  The bicycle lane, if blocked, is the only place Danes break their "happiest people in the world" persona.

Parked Bicycles
2. Speed of service.  Never expect to be able to ask a quick question or grab food on the fly.  It took, on one occasion, 25 mins for 3 employees to make sandwiches for the three people in front of me and myself.  No interaction I have had has lasted less than two minutes, including using an automated ticket machine or ATM. Danes work max 37 hours per week, get 5 weeks of vacation a year, and seem to be very laid back the hours they do work.

3. Uses of the flag.  Fun fact:  the Danish flag is the oldest current flag in the world.  Evidently it has a meaning beyond nationalism of "special."  For example, on ones birthday, you wear the Danish flag.  As a result, sales in the supermarket are advertised with about a thousand Danish flags.  Also, if you want to claim a section of the park for a private group, you stick Danish flags into the ground around your area.  It's quite interesting.

Danish Flag above Store


Cute House in Rural Iceland
Iceland's Coast Line

Unfortunately, I arrived in Iceland at 5:45am while it was raining and quite cold.  For some reason, the airport did not have us use a jet bridge but walk down stairs and into the building.  I was completely wet and shivering by the time I walked the couple hundred feet. Despite the conditions, Iceland was amazingly green and beautiful. After putting on warmer clothes, I took a 45 min bus rid from the airport to Reykjavik, the capital, and gave myself an early morning brisk but complete walking tour of the city.  The surrounding three pictures were taken on the journey from the airport to Reykjavik.

A Small Fishing Town's Harbor in Rural Iceland          

I left the bus terminal and headed out through the city.  Near the University of Iceland is Tjomin, a small but beautiful body of water filled with ducks and the below very cute houses. 
Houses in Reykjavik


Philadelphia City Hall From Love Park

Philadelphia was absolutely beautiful over the summer.   I was able to realize just how skewed a perception of a city can be if one spends only a couple seasons a year living there.  For example, it was honestly the first time I ever saw all the fountains throughout the city operating.  As you can see, they quite beautiful.

My internship consulting at the Small Business Development Center was excellent.  Primarily, this is because I learned what exactly consulting means as far as process and how an engagement plays out as well as why it's a valuable component of American business.

I was ready for Scandinavia, though, after spending a hot summer with only partial air conditioning.