Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Travelogue 3 - A Random Walk

, traveMonday I set out primarily to find the Thorvaldsen Church, but made a rather large loop of it to see the rest of downtown Copenhagen and whatever interesting sites were marked on my hotel map. All in all, it took 2.5 hours to wander through the streets following my highly non-linear path. Here are a few of the more interesting pictures I took at semi-random intervals, along with my best guess as to what they are. If you've got a better, or more entertaining, guess, please comment. (Note: Even though I did take pictures of things that are actual "sites," this appears to be a highly flaneuristic view of Copenhagen, with very few pictures from the city tour proper. My Flaneury teacher might be proud.)

I like buildings with interesting roofs. This was one of the more chaotic of the green roofs (why isn't that word spelled rooves?) along my route. This particular one was seen from across the canal, just south of the impressive Danske Bank, turn right at the green statue of Niels Juel. I know it's not the town hall, because I identified that building much later on and it was one of the ugliest buildings in Copenhagen. (Please, Derrill, don't equivocate. Tell us what you really think of it.) My whimsy tells me that this is a factory for producing flying monkeys.

In the same location, this building with the fascinating script caught my eye. It had other unique carvings and statues along the gateways. My first thought was a Jewish Synagogue, but the rest of it doesn't really look much like a place of worship. The detailed doorways and archways are all around the wonderful old buildings in this section of the city. There are plenty of more modern (circa World War I) multistory buildings, but unlike in East Germany, they have been well-maintained. There's a wonderful mix of vibrancy and history in Copenhagen that I haven't really found anywhere else.

There are a LOT of statues of random men on horseback. This one is cool primarily because he's a Viking. Our host at dinner told us that he was once invited to a friend's Sunday dinner while he was a student in France. He walked up to the elegant Matron of the family, and greeted her with his name and title: "I'm a real Viking." Apparently the dinner was a solemn, silent affair and made him feel incredibly out of place. While driving home, though, the family members he was with burst out laughing. Apparently they had been treated every Sunday for over 20 years to a rehashing of the family history, climaxing in that all-important moment when the Vikings came and plundered the family estates. They were silent throughout the luncheon because they knew if they said one word they would never be able to stop laughing.

Across the street from the Thorvaldsen church is an obelisk depicting the Danish Reformation. The moss has pretty well filled in most of the carved letters on the ground, but I've made out the primary names of some of the reformers and am looking forward to looking them to find out about them. According to this side of the obelisk, their message was not always well received.

Across the other street from the TC is part of the University, complete with busted heads along both sides of the street. I got their names down too. This building is currently used for law and economics students. There's an eagle on the main door (which was locked) over a Latin inscription, which I believe reads, "I ascend to the heavenly light." Wish MY economics building had an eagle ascending to the heavenly lights! Ours is probably a more appropriate monument to the dismal science, though....

A lovely park stretches through several streets, with well manicured dirt paths lined with statuary. After an hour and a half in the cliched concrete jungle, a bit of natural green is a nice thing. Though I haven't spent much time in either, I'll take this park over Central Park for its more peaceful atmosphere. The paths meander and stroll rather than speed you to the other side.

Strolling along Hans Christen Andersen Boulevard, we come to a wide plaza with a majestic hotel ... bestrewn with advertisements. If you look closer at the picture, you'll see Mickey-Dees on the hotel itself and Burger King and KFC in the bottom left. 7-11 and Burger King were also the first businesses to welcome me to the Copenhagen airport. Across the street from here a building had a giant thermometer on one corner, as well as some of the largest beer ads (written in English) I ever hope to see.

How could a Flaneur not notice the big pink building down the intersection? It's certainly built to stand out. My concerned guess is that it's a gambling place. No one else tends to be that gaudy.

Along the same street are a goodly number of statues, including Hans from a couple posts back, and these two soldiers. I couldn't make out what war they commemorate, but the two make a heroic pair: the one carrying his wounded comrade through the mud (wars are always fought in the mud, right?) while the other, though wounded, sounds the victory blasts on his horn. Go team.

This was easily the most picturesque spot along the canals that I found. The rest I saw looked like sewer control more than romantic canal. This spot, though, flows by a large palace, complete with the compulsory man on horseback statue. I ate the Donerkebap from the Turkish shop I found along the way in the left tower. Boy, I miss those things! (Hooray for the Turks!)

If you crane your neck a bit while looking at the picture of the Royal Theater from Travelogue 1, you'll see a skinny little passageway on the left that leads to my hotel and our next picture: This is part of the grand archway in that teeny passage, with many similar scenes depicted on it. This is mostly for contrast to show that not everything old and artistic is green.

This is an average building across the street from the hotel. An average apartment building with an above average door. It's just one of those moments of "why don't WE have cool carved doors in our downtown areas?" envy.

Any preferences for future Travelogues? The food was good and noteworthy. More scenes of Cobenhavn? Did I actually do any work there? Or should I stick to what I do best: brag on my son?

1 comment:

CrymsonFox said...

We just returned from Copenhagen. Actually, the very pink building you thought was a casino is a movie theater. "Kung Fu Panda" was showing when we were there. A really gorgeous building. Maybe it was painted pink during the Pink Rebellion. I have three photos of the theater if you'd like to see them.