Sunday, April 3, 2011

Staying Awake in Cobenhavn

I'm in Copenhagen for a work conference starting tomorrow. I'll be presenting some work tomorrow and need to be well rested ... but I didn't sleep on the plane and need to stay awake now so I'll be able to sleep tonight. So I'm going to keep myself awake by putting you to sleep with a little gratuitous blogging.

Copenhagen is cloudy today but ever so much warmer than Ithaca. I visited here once, long long ago at the beginning of my postdoc with Per. That was the beginning of my involvement with the textbook on global food policy that will be published this Oct-Dec. Now we're at the beginning of another project on the political economy of government food policy, working with researchers from over 17 different countries.

This time I don't have a camera. I'm hoping to remedy that situation before Hy goes to Disneyworld in two weeks. If you would like to see my pics from the last time I was here (funny, it seems it was cloudy then too. Psh, Europe!) try here and here is where I hid the pictures of Thorvaldsen's statues of Jesus and His disciples.

I somehow managed to lose the directions to my hotel. I asked around, got directions to the wrong one that got me directions to the right one. It was a comfort to me during my wandering around to suddenly realize I had been in the area before! Despite the construction going on downtown, I recognized a lot of the buildings (oh, yes, I remember taking a picture of that building to show everyone Americanization ... and that's where the statue of Hans Christian Andersen is, though I can't see him just now behind the construction wall....)

When I was in Germany, the exchange rate was about 1.6 DM to $1. Over here it's 5kroner to $1 and it takes some real mental effort to tell myself, "No, it does not cost 24DM=$18 to ride the bus, only 24K=$4.80. ... No, you did not just spend 100DM=$60 for food, only 100K=$20...." and on and on.

Getting around in Denmark is quite easy because just about anyone I bump into speaks English quite well and they are rarely shocked when someone walks up to them and starts speaking in English. A lot of the signs are in English too.

My advisor, boss, co-author, mentor, and friend Per warned me that the hotel rooms at the CabInn really are cabins and quite small. I'm impressed someone of his height can sleep on the bed, myself. The room is just a smidgen larger than my old dorm room, but is smaller than the double rooms. There is a second bunk that can be folded up against the wall and that's how two people could share the room. While there's always hotel-culture shock for me, I remind myself that this is closer to par for the course in Europe.

My room's bathroom is something else. Imagine you are standing in a small bathtub. To your immediate right is the showerhead. To your immediate left is the toilet. In front of you is the sink. Take one step and you've either run into something or you're out of the room. There's a curtain you can use to wrap around yourself and close off the toilet from the shower. I decided to move the toilet paper out of the room to make sure it didn't get soaked. In its defense, the shower was wonderful - excellent water pressure.

I wandered down the road after a nap to a local grocery store for lunch and dinner fixings. It being Sunday (and my naturally frugal nature) I dislike the thought of wandering into various the cafes and spending 80-100 ... (not dollars, kroner) for a bit to eat. At least with a grocer I won't have to bother anyone for dinner. So now I have my usual German feed: full kernel bread (which my still-growing kidney stones don't like so much, but they'll just have to tough it out for a day. They didn't seem to mind on my mission.), with cucumber, "Bondehus" cheese, and frikadella open faced sandwich, plus bananas, carrots, and juice. Bondehus apparently translates as cottage or farm, but it's not cottage cheese like we know it: it's hard and low fat.

For the record, the Danes and other Germans never take kindly to my reminiscing about my time in the former East Germany. Germans are none to popular anyway, much less east Germans. Last time here when I fondly recalled how many things reminded me of my time there, a west German made it clear that it was a distressing comparison. Of course, since all I knew at the time was east Germany, that's all I could compare it to. By now I've visited a fairly large swath of west-central Europe (Italy, Slovenia, Austria, Germany, Italy, Finland) and can differentiate a bit better between common Europa, typical German (typisch Deutsch), and distinctly Ossie (east German).

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