How to Cope in Copenhagen

The dome doesn't really have a hat. It's a street light.

Copenhagen is the capital of Denmark. Like the rest of Scandinavia, it is very clean, very orderly, and ridiculously expensive. If you are traveling in Scandinavia, be warned that each country has a different currency called a Crown. This one is in Danish, so it's a Krone. And just like a fairytale, the old krones can turn into a beautiful swan! Or whatever else you decide to buy.

There really is something a touch magical and child-like about the city. Everything is a little bit whimsical under the long shadow of this guy: Hans Christian Anderson.

Hello, Mr. Anderson...

Speaking of whimsy, Copenhagen is the site of Tivoli, which is an amusement park that served as an inspiration to Walt Disney. I hear it's a lot of fun, so I didn't go.

Tivoli is also a place in Italy. Try to find the Italian architectural influences.

Amusement aside,
Especially at night, the whole place looks like a toy model of some kind.

It also contains laser fences.
Adding to the magic, this place has the best integrated bike paths and bike culture of any city I've ever seen. There are bike lanes with proper lights right by the roads, and unlike Amsterdam, bikers actually obey the traffic laws. Do they wear helmets, you ask? Of course not! This isn't Australia. 

You will see bikes parked in the middle of nowhere, and think, wow, these Danes are trustworthy! Spoiler: they're not. Though bikes are not locked to objects, they have wheel locks, so they are still pretty hard to steal, according to my free tour guide.

City then: vikings.
City now: biking.
But it's not just an urban bike park. Copenhagen has other cool things too. Like The Marble Church, a building so beautiful they stuck a fountain in front of it!

If the photo was centered properly, you could only see the fountain.
This is poorly framed. You're welcome.

The city is just full of statues and fountains! While walking from the above from the most heavily touristed point, you can see the Gefion fountain.


But of course you DO have to make the trek to the most touristed point. What is it? Why, none other than Hans's & Disney's heroine--The Little Mermaid!

Many tourists are disappointed with the Little Mermaid statue. I had heard some people complaining that she was too little. While she is a bit smaller than lifesize, I disagree. Being little is in her job description. But she doesn't even have red hair, so I have no idea what the sculptor thought he was doing.

Though she has fins, she is not a Fin.
Probably no relation to Huck Finn.
 And if you get tired of the nice, cute orderly side of Denmark and find yourself in search of another kind of magical city, make your way to Freetown Christiania. It's sort of a commune, with roughly a thousand people, who claimed it and made it their own. It's got handmade goods and a Green Zone, in which you can't take pictures, which is a place to escape the general laws of Copenhagen and feel yourself transported back to the sixties.

They have murals. But that's not why they call it a green zone.
They  have a common law of nine rules: no weapons, no hard drugs, no violence, no private cars, no biker colors, no bulletproof clothing, no sale of fireworks, no use of thundersticks, and no stolen goods.

Seems reasonable for laws, but what about boomsticks?


No way like Norway

When you think Norway, there is only one thing that comes to mind. Or, if you are into linguistics, maybe this too.

What you may not know about Norway: it's a Scandinavia country, way up North in Europe. It's expensive country, too. They found oil, and the cost of living went waaaaaaaaay up. If you are considering a visit--and you should, the natural beauty is beautiful--be aware that a beer anywhere will set you back at least ten dollars American.

If you are rich enough, or wise enough to make Norwegian friends to stay with, you will have a great time.

Check out Kristiansand, which is a small city on the south tip of Norway. It is a pretty nice place for some light hiking.

There are some old WWII bunkers. As my guide told me, "the Nazis used to like occupying us."
Hexagons are strategic, apparently.
 And some very pretty Nature.

Rocks and water!

 But wait! There's more. Don't feel like being around unscripted nature? Try the zoo!

Kristiansand has one of the largest zoos in Norway, which is the Kristiansand Zoo and Amusement Park, called Dyreparken. It offers a huge range of animals for your viewing pleasure, both local and international. PLUS a huge amusement park section of children's stories from Norway.

You can take a ride on Captain Sabertooth's boat.

Heave o hoy!
Oh yeah. They sing pirate songs in Norweigian.
Pirate Town.
Not pictured: the huge Ikea sign a little to the right that breaks the mood.

 Have a child (either young or on E ?) that can't seem to kick a pacifier habit? Take them to the pirate's treasure trove, and chuck the pacifier into the vault. It's a coming of age ritual. All Norwegian children go through this ceremony, unless they live far away or their parents don't feel like it.

If Pirates hoard pacifiers, do they become pacifists?
 There are also wild animals in this zoo, of course.

 And domestic. This is a traditional Norwegian house shape. Usually it is bigger and does not contain a goat. May have grass on the roof, though. For the goat.

Serious Goat is not kidding around.
 I stayed in another Norwegian place (city? town? drivethru?), called Bø. It's a college town. Like many Norwegian college towns, in is located in the mathematical middle of nowhere. This means the town is great for college parties and hiking/any nature activities. And for getting to know everyone. I was there for less than a week, and by the time I left I could recognize approximately 50% of the population by sight.

Now, did I mention that there is hiking?

Norway: contains nature.

With views.

And rocks.
The small cities were fantastic. Make Norwegian friends. They are pretty much the best.

Oslo, the largest city in Norway, I only passed through to train in and train out. It seemed much like a city. And it had a tiger statue.

Not a native Norwegian animal.
My only regret is missing the harsh winter. Kidding.


7 Symptoms of Stockholm Syndrome

Stockholm. Home of the stocks.

Stockholm, Sweden, is known for technological fortitude, pirates, and that thing where you start to feel like your kidnappers are actually pretty nice people--Stockholm Syndrome. The origin of the term is, shockingly, from Stockholm. There was a bank robbery forever ago, in which there was this stalemate between the robbers and the police, and the hostages were in there for quite some time. While at first they freaked out, the robbers didn't hurt them, and they didn't want the police to hurt the robbers either. The situation resolved itself, and the robbers went to jail, but the hostages testified to their character and pleaded with the jury to let them off the hook. Later, some of the hostages were invited to a robber's wedding.  

If you visit Stockholm, you will realize the city has a similar effect on you. While initially you stay only because you have been kidnapped, you will start to love the city, and before you know it, you're invited to its wedding.

1. The Royal Palace

The story of Swedish royalty is rich with drama. The Princess married her personal trainer. 
It's pretty much the Cinderella story, but without the glass slippers. 

Third or fourth palace of the city.
This palace was designed by a guy that probably burned down the previous palace. That's how they roll in Sweden. Also with Lions.

Give him a ring.
And more lions.
This Lion's got...poise.

2. Free Walking Tours

In every city I can, I do a free walking tour. This one wasn't great. But it does give you an excuse to walk around and check out some of the awesome scenery of this nice clean city.

From a bridge.
And as we were walking, the tour guide was rendered speechless for a moment, then segued to a different topic.

An unexpected segway.
3. Old Town

Ever get all the way to Europe only to realize you forgot to pack your confederate flags? Never you worry, there is a place in old town you can by the rebel X in hat form, flag form, belt buckle, etc. 

Otherwise, old town is a great place enjoy the old buildings.

Old town, new bike.
Not a kebab sign in sight!

4. Photografiska Museum

Haven't had enough larger than life naked women on your vacation? Check out the Photography museum. While I was there, I saw an abstract series of an artist's reactions to the Japanese Tsunami. And a huge display of Helmut, which was less abstract and more full of naked women. 

I didn't take a picture of the museum because I was afraid of drowning in the rain, so here's a building I saw on the walk back to the hostel.

Archways. Most rough-hewn thing in all of Sweden.
 5. Churches

The Stockhom Cathedral, also called Storkyrkan, has a massive statue of St. George Slaying the Dragon. This statue is totally beautiful and unique.

Look at that lens flare! Added drama.
Well, maybe not totally unique.

In case you don't want to pay to go into the church.
 6. Make a wish!

This is a fountain. If you blow the seed pods off, you get your wish. Good luck.

I hear rumors there is an identical one in Oslo.

7. Go to a Pirate Party!

Maybe you are a fan of the Pirate Bay, or the Pirate Political Party. Or Pirates of the Carribean. Any way you slice it, if you get to Sweden during the right time of year, there is going to be a Pirate party for your drinking pleasure.

Why wouldn't the Pirate Bay party have a Wikipedia Wild West Theme?
There are pirates. Just sayin.
This band of pirates was awesome.
Ye Banished Privateers.