Farewell to Denmark…and a rant.

Often, while traveling, I am so utterly enamoured with the experience that I don’t feel like anything can bring me down. Other times, I have my period, and I turn into CrankyPants McGee. Today is one of those days, which is a shame, as it’s our last day in Copenhagen! We’ve still seen some nice things though, which I will detail below. I have also received news from Australia which has made my blood boil, and I will also detail that below.

After a night punctuated by various inconsiderations from the dude in the bunk below me, we got up, checked out, did battle with the machine that was going to store our luggage for the day, won (with help from staff) and made our way to the Central Station where I had discovered the best chai lattes in the world a few days ago. They came through for me once more, and I had green tea chai and felt my blood pressure slowly return to normal. It was also insanely affordable – only 15 kroner for smørrebrød (delicious Danish sandwiches). Unfortunately, Paulina’s flight was delayed and she was unable to join us. I am sure we will catch up soon though! Then we went to print our boarding passes and went to the National Museum of Denmark. This museum was crazy huge. You could easily spend two full days there – and I fully intend to the next time we’re in Copenhagen. It was also completely free – handy for today, as we are rapidly running out of money. So much so that we decided not to do the walking tour of Christiania, and will save that for next time also. Instead, we found more delicious smørrebrød for lunch, and the extortionate price was made slightly easier to swallow by the fact that it was AMAZINGLY GOOD. I know I’ve said this about everything we’ve eaten here but UGH. Seriously mouth-watering. We found a little second hand bookshop and I blew too much money on a lovely old Danish copy of Peter Pan (yolo) and ate ice cream, spending pretty much everything I had left. We wandered through Christiansborg Palace (but didn’t pay to go inside), and I’m typing this at the hostel while we wait to catch our train to the airport. It’s a shame we’ve run out of money, but we’ve saved so much anyway by staying with Julie and her family – I shouldn’t complain!

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BUT SPEAKING OF MONEY. READ THIS. http://www.artshub.com.au/news-article/news/grants-and-funding/deborah-stone/62-arts-organisations-lose-funding-from-australia-council-251271

The list is being updated when more news becomes available. 65 arts organisations in Australia who previously received government funding from the Australia Council have had that support pulled out from under them. So that’s no more Red Stitch Actors’ Theatre, no more Meanjin, no more Black Arm Band, no more of so many brilliant, innovative, creative, inspiring organisations that have supported and nurtured talent in a country that needs art. I shouldn’t get ahead of myself. No one has closed yet, but it is a steadily increasing threat for many of these organisations that simply can’t exist without financial support. Of course donations and subscriptions are useful, but I can’t help but feel that the vast majority of people who would love to throw their monetary support into all these organisations are the same people who just can’t afford it (mainly because they work in the arts themselves. Ironic.) One of the most tragic cuts (certainly the organisation closest to my heart) is Express Media. This organisation exists to support young people in writing and media and have countless opportunities for budding writers to get their work out there. I have been reading Voiceworks, their flagship publication, for years. I wrote reviews of Fringe shows in 2012 for Buzzcuts. I’ve been to events and entered prizes that the organisation runs and in 2013, I was published in Voiceworks and paid for it. This led to me being asked to read my work at The Wheeler Centre, an event which I was also paid for. Do you know how brilliant and validating that was, for a kid like me who never let anyone read their work? And the fact that Voiceworks contributors (who have to be below 25 years of age) are PAID is so rare and wonderful in a world that increasingly devalues the efforts of artists and the work they do.

Instead of putting money back into these organisations, the government has decided to spend our money on a same-sex marriage plebiscite we DON’T NEED that could cost more than half a billion dollars. JUST CATCH UP WITH THE REST OF THE WORLD AND MAKE IT LEGAL FFS.

And don’t even get me started on the cuts to the health sector. Scott Morrison was an abysmal Immigration Minister and he’s not improved much as Treasurer. Bah.

So yes, Denmark good! Australian arts news bad.

I need to eat some chocolate now.

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From one end of Denmark to the other!

I am writing this in Copenhagen, on the top bunk in our hostel dorm. It has been a long and lovely day, beginning with waking up in wonderful Skagen. We wandered into the town centre after breakfast and poked around in the shops. Like the Mornington Peninsula, there are plenty of little galleries and shops selling local handicrafts that are simply beautiful – stupid RyanAir and their baggage restrictions! I could have spent a fortune there. Afterwards, Torben made us rødspættefilet for lunch (delicious breaded plaice that the Danes do as their standard fish and chips, eaten as an open sandwich with the dark rye bread and some remoulade). I ate way too much, but it was impossible to resist!

We said farewell to Torben and took the train back to Aalborg where we picked up the rest of our luggage and said farewell to Julie! We have been so, so lucky to have Julie take us around. Her parents and grandfather and roommates were all lovely, opening their homes to us and cooking us delicious food, and all this because we met at a hostel in Tokyo! This is why travel is the best thing in the world. It’s only a temporary farewell though – we are sure to be back to Denmark, and we have insisted that Julie come to Edinburgh (and Melbourne when we are home!)

We bussed to Aalborg airport where we took the shortest flight of our lives (30 mins to Copenhagen), before we took the train back to Central Station. We grabbed a bite to eat at a place called Sunset Boulevard (I know, right?), and made our way to the Copenhagen Downtown Hostel. It seems to be a nice enough place. If I had a touch more energy (and money) I’d go down to the bar for a drink. But it is time for sleep, and tomorrow we have one last day in Copenhagen before we fly back to Scotland. We have to be up to meet Paulina, our mate from Sweden! She lives in Melbourne now, but by pure coincidence, she is headed home temporarily and will be stopping in Copenhagen tomorrow! (We originally met Paulina on a tour in Sydney, once more proving that travel is the bomb). Nighty night xx

Copenhagen!

After a…somewhat typical but not overly devastating experience with RyanAir, we landed in Copenhagen on a balmy Friday night, and the wonderful Julie and her dad, Palle, picked us up! We met Julie and a couple of her Danish mates in Japan in August, and she has been absolutely invaluable in planning our week in Denmark. Her and her family and friends are extending their hospitality and showing us around their country and it’s the most busy but exciting itinerary!

We arrived back at Julie’s parents house in Hillerød (about 30km north of Copenhagen) and met her mother, Henriette, and her cats, Eddie and Svend! We stayed up until the wee hours eating delicious raspberry tart and some Scottish chocolate we had bought, trying different Danish booze, and playing an incredibly stressful and fun Danish board game called Play Prop. And Palle and Henriette gave us our own version of it! Now I can perfect my skills, because I was woeful at it.

This morning we tried a smorgasboard of sweet Danish pastries for breakfast as well as a national delicacy – fresh bread with butter and thin slice of chocolate on it. SOOOOOO GOOD. Denmark has turned on her best weather for us, and Palle drove us the ‘scenic route’ to the station so we could see beautiful Hillerød. I’m very much looking forward to seeing more of this town tomorrow!

While not cheap, the train into Copenhagen was clean and comfortable, and we hopped out first to see the famous Little Mermaid sculpture! I’ve been told so many times not to get my hopes up – that she is a lot smaller than you expect. Well, my hopes must have been efficiently crushed, because she was bigger than I imagined! Bigger, utterly beautiful, and surrounded by people taking photographs.

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We walked along the water and through some beautiful parks, then took the metro to a popular shopping area, where we got delicious hot dogs for lunch. I’m not a hot dog fan, but a sausage wrapped in bacon and covered with ketchup, mustard, onion, and pickles was pretty delicious!13177677_10153455031801269_9050962137130200060_n

Then we headed to the Town Hall square for the trusty Sandemans free walking tour. Because of the brilliant weather, the tour was PACKED, but we did see some beautiful parts of the city including the canals (filled with boats full of shirtless picnickers), the Magasin du Nord (formerly the Hotel du Nord and residence of H C Andersen), Nyhavn (famous 17th century waterfront with its brightly coloured buildings and historical wooden ships), and finished up at Amalienborg (the four individual palaces of the Danish Royal Family, including our very own Princess Mary!). We also learned a very important Danish word – hygge. There is no English equivalent, but it basically means the Danish rituals of enjoying life. Friends and family, good company and good food, cozy times together – its no wonder Danes are thought to be the happiest people in the world.

After the tour, we stopped for the greatest chai latte I’ve ever consumed, and then headed to the Tivoli Gardens, world famous amusement park! This was AMAZING!! Once you get over the cost and enjoy yourself, it is like being a kid again. I am a massive wuss and can’t stand scary rides. Also, what I perceive to be scary is often quite tame to most thrill seekers. Julie and Sean went on the scary rides while I took photos and read my book, but I was proud of myself for going on the worlds oldest rollercoaster (Rutschebanen, twice!), and there were two other rides, the Monsoon and the Fatamorgana, that Julie and Sean took me on insisting they would be fine and I kept my eyes closed and silently freaked out for the whole thing (actually I swore loudly at Sean on the Fatamorgana but he took it well).

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But I also did good old bumper cars (twice!), The Flying Trunk (a HC Andersen fairy tales inspired ride!), Dragon Boats (easily the tamest of the bunch, but so sweet), Nautilus (giant, gently flying octopus tentacles) and The Mine (little boats with oddly pointless lasers). We had wagamama for dinner (just as delicious as every other country’s wagamama, and I discovered my impressive sunburn in the bathroom mirrors), before heading home around 10.30 with some beer and ciders for the train, cos that’s how the Danes roll. An utterly full and wonderful day!