Thursday, May 16, 2013

Vi ses, København!

Well, here's my last post in Denmark before I leave! The last month here has been a blur, and I can't believe it's time for me to go home yet. Thanks, loyal blog readers, for keeping up with everything I've done here! Here's an assorted list of things that I've been up to the last few weeks!


Tivoli is Copenhagen's number one tourist attraction, and I can now see why! Tivoli is the second oldest amusement park in the world (Denmark has the oldest one, too), and it's a classy cross between Willy Wonka and Dr. Suess. It really feels like you're in another world there, and I wish my pictures could do it justice! 

The first day I went to Tivoli (I've been quite a few times since because it's so amazing!), they had a Danish Elvis impersonator. It threw me off a bit because he would sing in English and sound like Elvis, then speak in Danish in between songs. A bit of an odd mix. He was a great singer though! My last time there, Matt and I braved the Dæmon, the giant roller coaster there, which was a ton of fun! Lots of loops and turns, so I couldn't walk straight for a while afterwards. 

Tivoli also has gorgeous gardens with some of the strangest and most beautiful flowers I've ever seen. They really do look like something straight out of a Dr. Seuss book!

May Day!

May 1st is Worker's Day where people get the day off and go to Fælledparken and hear music and speeches from politicians. Of course, no one really pays attention to the speeches and just enjoys having the day off in the sun, which was finally out for once! It was the first day I was able to take my jacket off in Copenhagen! 


I sailed a Viking ship with my Nordic Mythology class in Roskilde on May 4 (may the force be with you), which was more of an adventure than I was expecting! We only had small boats, which was probably good because those were hard enough to row! I have a new respect for Vikings now. 

We rowed out of the harbor and then switched to sailing, which was nice and easy...until the sail broke and fell on me. Thankfully, the mast missed me! We were pretty far out at this point, so it was harder to row against the waves. 

We barely made any progress in the 30 or so minutes that we were rowing, but thankfully a tug boat came and rescued us, like what would have happened in real Viking times. 

Church of Our Savior

I made the climb (over 400 steps) to the top of the Church of Our Savior tower and survived! It was a beautiful day, and the view was gorgeous! It was also terribly windy, so it was impossible to get a picture without my hair in my face. 

F.C. København

Matt's host brother got free tickets to an F.C. København game because some of the players visited his class, so I got to tag along! The game was really fun, but F.C. København lost 2-0. They have a section of fans behind one of the goals that reminded me a lot of Duke's Cameron Crazies. They chanted, sang, and jumped in unison the ENTIRE time! Other than that, all of the fans were pretty much silent unless something exciting happened. Quite a different experience from games in the U.S.! 

Most of this last week has been spent studying for exams and finishing up final projects, so I didn't do as many exciting things as usual. 

I've grown to love living in Copenhagen (especially since it's warmed up!), and I'm going to miss it! I've had a fantastic semester here and made many new friends, seen so many amazing places, walked so many miles that only duct tape and super glue are holding my Converses together, and made more memories than the 3,000 pictures I've taken can show! Vi ses, København, I'll be back! :)

Sunday, April 21, 2013

A Day in Oslo

I still had a few days of our travel break left, so I decided to venture to Oslo for the day to see the Viking Ship Museum. I had originally wanted to study in Oslo to research Viking ships (specifically the Oseberg Ship in Oslo) for my thesis, but there wasn't a program there so I ended up in Denmark (definitely not complaining though!). 

I caught an early flight and headed out to Norway! The Viking Ship Museum is on a peninsula called Bygdøy, which is a little ways out from the center of town. I got off at the wrong bus stop (I'll never learn, apparently) but finally found my way. The first thing I saw when I entered the museum was the beautiful Oseberg Ship! I'm pretty sure I looked like a kid in a candy store.

The awesome thing about the Oseberg Ship is that it's completely intact. A queen (believed to be Queen Asa) was buried in it with many belongings, and though while it was plundered by grave robbers, the clay it was buried in preserved the ship and what was left of her belongings. Things like silk cloth and gold rimmed buckets were preserved and helped archaeologists discover more about the life of the Vikings. For example, the pattern on a piece of silk cloth was a rose from a certain part of England and some gold came from the Middle East, which helped archaeologists determine some trade routes the Vikings had. 

There were two other ships in the museum: the Gokstad and the Tune Ships. Both were buried with chieftains but were plundered by grave robbers, and the majority of the items were stolen or degraded over time. 

After examining the ships to my heart's content, I explored the peninsula. It was an absolutely gorgeous sunny day, and I even got too hot in the sun with my jacket on (even though said it was only 48 degrees) and had to strip down to my short sleeves! (It's been way too long since my skin has seen the light of day). I walked down to the beautiful water and watched the boaters enjoying the lovely day.

I still had some time before my flight, so I went back into town and walked around the busy pier for a bit.

I wandered over to the Nationaltheatret, and there seemed to be a sort of children's talent show going on, so it was really busy. There was also a market with free samples (at least I hope they were free; everything was in Norwegian), so I loaded up on delicious cheese, meat, and jams while kids were singing "Mamma Mia" and "Hey Jude" in the background. 

I spent my last bit of time soaking up some Vitamin D in a park until I had to catch my flight back to Copenhagen. 

Thursday, April 18, 2013


I just returned from spending six glorious days in beautiful Iceland! I went with my Vikings and Sagas class, and here's what we did!


We arrived in Reykjavik around 9 p.m. local time (11 p.m. for us) and headed out to see if we could catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights. It was about 20 degrees but 10 degrees with the wind chill, but it was absolutely gorgeous outside. I've never seen so many stars in my life, and we could actually see them twinkling! Instead of just looking up and seeing the stars, we were actually surrounded by them on all sides. It felt like we were at the top of the world, which we almost were being so far north. 

We waited and waited and waited, until we finally saw a glimmer of the lights around 1 a.m. (3 a.m. for us). The lights grew and stretched across half of the sky. They were a very faint green and I couldn't get a good picture, but some of my classmates could (the picture I posted is my friend Liz's). Even though they were so faint, it was really neat to see them dance around and grow! We ended up staying out until 2:30 a.m. (4:30 a.m. our time) and we headed back to our hotel. I think everyone fell asleep as soon as our heads hit the pillows!


Our professor was an angel and let us sleep in a bit, and then we headed on a walking tour of Reykjavik. We were walking down the main street, which looks like a typical street anywhere, when we turned to look down a block, and saw the most stunning view of the harbor and mountains. Our professor was completely casual about it like it was an every day occurrence, but it was the first time my class had seen mountains in months since Denmark is so flat! 

We kept walking and saw the Harpa, Reykjavik's opera house. They started building it right before the financial crisis hit, but continued building and finished on time. Now they see it as a symbol of overcoming the crisis and maintaining the strong country that they are.

For lunch, we had hot dogs from a stand that Bill Clinton ate at (they're very proud of it) and went on to some museums. The first one was 871, and it's built around an excavation site of a longhouse that they think was built in the year 871, hence the name. It also has the oldest standing wall in Iceland.

Afterwards, we went to the National Museum and learned about Iceland's history, which was pretty neat. And we played dress up, as any mature college students would.

We had some time on our own, so I walked around the city with a couple of classmates and took tons of pictures, as I always do!

For dinner, we went to an Icelandic restaurant, and I had a Viking beer and tried whale meat (you can see my reaction to it below). It tasted similar to steak, but it was more chewy and had a bit of a fishy taste to it. I'm glad I tried it, but I don't think I'll be ordering it again! We also had an Icelandic dessert called skyr, which is a low fat cheese that tastes similar to yogurt, but it's thicker. They usually top it with fruit or sugar. 


We got up bright and early and headed out on a Golden Circle Tour. We started at Thingvellir, which is where their Parliament first began over 1,000 years ago. The Vikings would all gather for about two weeks in June, and the Lawspeaker would recite the laws on the Law Rock (they didn't have any written laws), and disputes would be settled. Fun fact: this is where Erik the Red murdered a man he had a dispute with and was exiled from Iceland, so he left and discovered Greenland. 

Thingvellir is also where the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates meet, so we got to walk on the continental rift! It was pretty neat to stand on two different tectonic plates at the same time!

Our next stop was Geysir, a geothermal field with geysers and hot springs. I can't even begin to describe how incredibly windy it was. If you stood up straight with your feet together for two seconds, you would be knocked over! It made for some pretty funny pictures though!

After lunch (no whale meat this time!), we went to Gullfoss, Iceland's famous waterfall. Again, it was horribly wind, but the view was absolutely gorgeous! Part of the waterfall was frozen because it was so cold, so that was neat to see.

We stopped at another waterfall on our way to the next location, but they didn't tell us the name so I'm not sure what it's called.

Our final stop was Skaholt, which was a church and the center of learning for over 700 years. The original cathedral and village were destroyed by an earthquake in the 1700s, so the church there today is much smaller.

We had the evening on our own, so half of my class and I went to a Thai restaurant that Emma Watson has been to three times! It was really good, so I can see why she went there so many times.


We started our day riding Icelandic horses across volcanic fields! My horse's name was Lysingur, and he loved going fast and hated being behind the other horses in a line. After a break, he decided to be first in line and kept trying to pass our guide. Icelandic horses are fairly small (they would be considered ponies, but Icelanders get really insulted if you call them ponies instead of horses), and they have an extra gait called a "trolt." It's similar to a canter, but it's much smoother because of the way the horses step with two legs at a time. The best horses can tolt with the rider holding a glass of water and not spill any. An instructor demonstrated it for us, and it was really cool to see! 

We had the afternoon off, so I went window shopping and exploring with Jen. We stopped in a cafe called the Laundromat (they have some in Copenhagen) and had amazingly delicious hot chocolate!

We met our class at the University of Iceland for a lecture on the performance of eddic poetry, which was pretty interesting. His theory is that since a lot of the poems from the Viking age were written similar to a dialogue but without specifying who was speaking, they might have been performed and passed down orally and people later put in names for who was speaking.

We went to dinner at an Italian place for dinner with the professor and some of his students, so we got to talk more with them about sagas and mythology (we're all a bit nerdy). On the way to the restaurant, we passed by a church with Leif Eriksson's statue outside that the U.S. gave to Iceland.


We had another bus tour, but this one focused on locations we read about in the sagas (mainly Egil's Saga). First stop was a wool outlet store, completely unrelated to the saga tour but really neat! Icelandic wool is really really warm and very durable. My professor told us that she's had an Icelandic wool sweater for 40 years and it's still in perfect condition. Pretty much everyone in my class bought sweaters, and I found an awesome one on sale! Later on our tour we were outside at a location, and some people happened to be standing together wearing their new sweaters, and it looked like an ad for the store. We took lots of pictures of it, of course.

We then stopped to take pictures at Whale Fjord, Hvitanesi in Icelandic (please don't ask me how to pronounce it!). It was a breathtakingly beautiful view of the mountains and fjord! The water in Iceland is similar to what you would see in the Caribbean with light turquoise and changing to a deep sapphire, which was gorgeous! 

We continued our saga tour with stops at Skallagrim's grave and a museum with exhibits about the settlement of Iceland and Egil's Saga. There was another awesome view of the mountains and fjords outside the museum. If it wasn't for the cold, I would love to live in Iceland and see all the beautiful sights every day! 

We visited Borg, which is where both Skallagrim and Snorri Sturluson lived, and a church now stands there.

We visited Snorri's later home Reyholt and got to see his 800 year old hot tub that still has the same pipes that connected to a hot spring near by. 

We had our last dinner at the Viking Village, an ornately styled Viking restaurant. Our waiter would randomly pop up and sing songs in Icelandic, and he anointed four of my classmates as Vikings. My class played a game where we wrote down something interesting about ourselves and everyone would try to guess who it was, which was really fun! Mine was actually the only one that no one could guess. When we left the restaurant, there was a gorgeous sunset over the water! Sadly, my camera couldn't capture all of its beauty. 


We ended our wonderful trip with a stop at the Blue Lagoon. Since we had a fairly early flight, DIS got the resort to open early for us, so we had the lagoon all to ourselves for an hour! The water was absolutely glorious! It was the perfect temperature with warm steam rising from it, and it was beautiful turquoise colour. I think we all could have spent the whole day there if we had the choice!