Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Upside Down and Inside Out

Greetings to all from Kobenhavn, Danmark.

I made it here without any broken bones or scary stories. Just a smooth flight on SAS Airlines and a distant cousin awaiting me at the airport.

Its been raining on and off the last two days, but its nothing a New Yorker can not handle. In fact, its a bit warmer here than in NYC. It has not snowed yet and the temperature is hovering in the mid-40s.

After assembling my bike on Sunday morning I took myself out for a 5 hour ride around the town. Kobenhavn is a beautiful place to be situated and has been constructed to allow bike riders the greatest convenience possible. Unlike Montreal, which I visited two weeks ago, Kobenhavn has bike lanes on EVERY single street. Car, Bike and Pedestrian make up each rode (both ways).

The fact that there are up to six lanes of possible movement per rode makes for some interesting traffic. Not only do I worry about hitting pedestrians, but also bike riders (who are old ladies, moms, children, the elderly, etc.), cars and people entering and exiting from buses. Motorcyclists also share the biking lanes, so there is seldom a dull moment.

The bike lanes are just wide enough to fit two riders comfortably. Passing is a bit crazy, since a quarter of the bike riders are also casually talking on their cellphones (hmmm sounds familiar to car drivers). On top of the forward progression, there is also the need to abide by all traffic laws. For once I am actually taking the time to stop at each red light. Considering that this country "gets it" about biking I feel its only right for me to follow their rules. Everytime I come to a stoplight I practice my track stands. They are getting pretty good, so who knows, maybe next spring I'll win an event at one of these alleycats.

There appears to be two main bike messenger services in town: The Green Messengers and those guys who wear black. The Green Messengers have green spandex racing outfits, which is pretty neat. I think they have customized Ortlieb weatherproof backpacks as well.

Monday I cruised around town with Lis, my retired psychiatrist cousin. We bought a styrofoam sword for her 7 year old grandson. This shop, Faraos Cigar, reminded me of nerdville. It was stocked with plastic swords, shields and Dungeons & Dragons gear. Most of this stuff is made in Germany. The only people I see wearing/carrying chain mail nowadays are the bums in the East Village and those Goth kids. Apparently its a cool thing out here.

Having seen Christiania I was not really too impressed. This area is near the harbor and composed of old military barracks that have been taken over by hippies and vagrants. The area sees high levels of drug abuse/sales and is tatooed by oft grotesque graffiti. Punk kids and artsy types hang around the spot hocking "Bevar Christiania" (Save Christiania) wares.

It reminded me of Berkeley and Haight Street in San Francisco. A bunch of free loaders, doped up and fighting against "the man". In Christiania they refuse to pay taxes or rent (from what I have been told), although I saw many with satellite dishes. Hippies need to watch football.

Today, Tuesday, December 11th I spent the greater part of my day exploring the Glyptotek Museum. It was originally founded by the Carlsberg Brewing Company and now houses an exceptional collection of Greek and Roman sculptures. In addition there are sections devoted to French Art and Sculpture and Danish Arts.

More to follow...