The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.
- Saint Augustine

Monday, August 8, 2011

Bikes, Braids and Bratwursts

The bicycle, the bicycle surely, should always be the vehicle of novelists and poets.  ~Christopher Morley

Perhaps Christopher Morley is correct. If that were the case, I'd have some competition in Copenhagen in the writing game. After the hassle of looking for DAYS walking around aimlessly for HOURS and MILES to go from one overpriced bike store to another, my two friends and I wandered into a small bike store off the main drag of Norrebrogade- the second hand area of town. 

The store couldn't have been bigger than twenty square feet. Upon entering it I was sure it existed only in Harry Potter world- it was too perfect to be walked by so often- it had to somehow have been hidden to the untrained eye.
Also, disclaimer: I know nothing about bikes
I know they should have a chain and a break and that's about it. I was fully prepared to get ripped off. 
A kind Iranian man and his son help us. "This one just came in, it's about your size." I was skeptical because it was the lowest price in the store. I think the canary yellow sent some people in flight. But I took it out for a spin just to see. It was perfect. Road wheels, good breaks, seat adjusted to my height, three gears, a place in the back for my bags and a bell. I was used to American bikes from Costco whose tires stayed full for half a mile and whose gears caught with each revolve. Europeans know bikes.
I bought a heavy duty lock, front and back lights and a bike all for 850 DKK or about $170. Not too bad.
The ride back was pretty "poetical" if you will (Morley was on to something- this could also be that bikes are the only form of transportation those in literature can afford)

After the literary and physical stimulation I locked up my new prize in the bike room of my building just as the fat drops started to hit the pavement. A thunderstorm brewed. Up in my room, my housemates helped me create what I like to call "The Danish 'Do"- two braids on either side of the head with the ends gathered and pinned at the top. I could be mistaken for a Dane yet! (Either that or Princess Leia- there certainly are enough "Hans'" here- or even Zuzu from It's a Wonderful Life -compare for yourself below)

Lastly, I went to Stella Polaris yesterday afternoon. Stella Polaris is a free outdoor electronic music festival that is considered the "Chillest" Danish festival.
In the queen's park just off one of the main Metro stop a good 2000 people were lounging on bean bag cushions set up around the park, eating their picnics, drinking beer and listening to DJs. The headliner was "Moby" an electronic producer/ artist. He opted for a more relaxed line up for the out door setting but still put on a pretty good show. 

At the concert with puffy white clouds. Who'd think those sweet little clouds will turn black and shoot lightening by the next afternoon?

Time for noting a Danish cultural phenomenon: Public Drinking
In America this means bad news. Always. But that seems to be one of the strange things about Denmark- things just tend to "work out"

There is a level of trust that comes from the government when dealing with the people. They'll let you drink in public if you're smart about it. And they are. The entire day I didn't run into one drunken mess (although the wine and beer was plentiful) because people didn't see the need.

This same principle manifests in many other ways. People play by the rules here, whereas in America, it feels like we are always trying to get away with something. For example, the other day I was at a coffee shop and I went to put sugar and creamer in the drink. I saw they had my favorite creamer and (being a cheap American and a college student) I went "Score!" and went to grab five more to put in my purse. Then I stopped. No one else does that here. Suddenly I had a moral dilemma. Do I deplete this coffee shop's creamer supply or grow a pair and go buy my own? This had never been a question before in Santa Cruz, where some bum is trying to make hot chocolate out of his free hot water and chocolate spice next to you. He's mooching so why can't I?
The same goes for almost everything. Danes don't cut in line. They don't jay-walk. Ever. If someone is jay-walking they are a foreigner. Even in a deserted street, you wait for the green walking man. It's that serious. 
My friend and I were talking about the differences in government policies here, and we discovered this golden rule

"In Denmark it's all about maximum pleasure, in American, it's minimum pain" 

The Danes are provided with everything to be comfortable but very few things to rise above to the top. Where as in America, they only help you to minimize you're discomfort- meaning you have to be in pain to begin with. Which is better?

Anyways, drinking in public is legal. 

Therefore I thought it only fitting to experience Stella Polaris the way that the locals do, with a piping hot Bratwurst and a mojito. It was a great Sunday.

(A side apology to my parent- I am both drinking alcohol AND eating red meat- I believe it's time to tell you, Monk-hood is not in my future)

And ANY time a Bratwurst is mentioned... I had to link the clip- go to 30 seconds in


  1. YES. love the 10 things reference. and the rest.

  2. Dea Princess Zuzu. Very funny post. Nice bike.


  3. These are a pleasure to read =) you're pretty good at this blogging thing.

  4. Nice post, its a really cool blog that you have here, keep up the good work, will be back.
    electric bikes