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Sunday, October 28, 2012

My Further Adventures or There's Something Rotten in Denmark and It's Not the Fish

Literary stop 2 was Hellsingor / Elsinore which is a little north of Copenhagen. The castle of Kronborg is reputed to be the place of inspiration for Shakespeare’s Hamlet. A production of Hamlet is held annually. From the castle, you could see Sweden across the strait. Hello, Sweden! Anyway, we got to the castle just as it was closing. We found out, though, that the one night we were in town is the annual Kulture Festival, so the castle was for evening hours as were most of the shops in town. Just like that. The clerk at the gift shop suggested a hotel in the old town we could stay at. It happened to be right in the middle of the festivities in town. Every bar and restaurant had musical acts playing. There were bands playing on the cobbled streets. There was a theater with a concert that sounded that an American Idol type show, all pop music. We checked in, went back to the car to get the luggage and when we came back, the front desk was closed. We had made it just in time. Just like that.

We would not have even known about the town, but my brother made the connection and when we looked it up, knew we had to make it a stop. Our hotel had an autographed picture of Derek Jacobi as Hamlet in the lobby for crying out loud. This is serious stuff. Everything was working out perfectly. The timing was spot on. We had a dinner of a traditional Danish cold sandwich called Smorebrod. It's basically stuff piled on an open face slice of crusty bread. And get this, with dinner, we got a pilsner beer called Wiibroe which is brewed and bottled in Hellsingor. For all you Strange Brew fans out there (Bob and Doug Mackenzie. Take off, eh), you guessed it. We had ourselves some Elsinore beer. Brought a bottle home, too, just to prove it.

After dinner, we headed to the castle for an evening adventure. I was taking some pictures outside when the battery completely died on me. I forgot to check and charge the battery. So while everything else was timed perfectly, this is the one thing that did not go according to whatever plan we had. That and me falling off the curb on the way back to the hotel and scraping up my hands, forearm and knees. But anyway, we had access to any of the interior that was open and even some places not accessible to the public normally. The dungeon was not really a dungeon, just a gigantic labyrinthine basement, but the lights were off and we could only see by the light of the LED light my husband carried. And while Hamlet did not exist and the castle is a more modern construct, it was still really cool to go traipsing around in the dark. Sadly, though, no proof that we were ever there, no photographic proof anyway. I'm over it now.

As we headed back to town, we took a different route and found something amazing I had never seen before. Hellsingor is a UNICEF city, and the proceeds for all the charitable events were going to UNICEF. One of the events was a floating lantern armada. I believe it was 20 euros to purchase the lantern and they were sent up into the sky. The seemed to hover over Kronborg castle in the distance. Very cool to see. I had only seen this in the Disney movie Tangled and while there were not as many lanterns as there were in the movie, these weren't animated. They were real and it was a sight to behold.

I really loved Hellsingor as a town, but let me tell you. One night a year that everything is open late? The Danes really know how to party. The party raged on until at least 2am which I could hear out the hotel window. I guess they have 364 days to make up for. Which is why I guess I was awoken around 2am by two rather inebriated Danes arguing very loudly. Their voices were echoing off the buildings and the cobblestones. It sounded like they were in the room with us and the argument was getting very heated. They carried on for about 15 minutes or so until they were finally out of range. No idea what they were arguing about.

We stopped at another Viking museum on the way to our final stop in Denmark. This Viking museum was completely dedicated to seafaring. The remains of 5 Viking ships were found and after excavation, the remains were on display in the museum. There was also some living museum displays as well. The main attraction was that you could take a boat ride out in the bay in a Viking vessel. My hubby had visions of standing tall with axe and shield in a Viking long ship. We didn't get there are everything was shutting down as you might assume. However, when we requested two tickets for the boat ride, we were informed they only had one ticket left. As it turns out, though, it was not one of the long ships they were riding in and it wasn't any ride. The lucky seafarers were actually going to be manning the oars. After we realized that, the idea wasn't quite so attractive.

Gratuitous baby cuteness.

Stay tuned for the next installment: The Road Goes Ever Onward or What Would You Do for a Magnum Bar?

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

My Literary Vacation or How I Stopped Worrying About the Cost of Coke in Denmark

So, I just got back from vacation. When I travel abroad, I basically purchase the plane ticket, rent a car and see where the wind takes me. I set no itinerary because I never know what I might find and I am always pleasantly surprised by what I do find. This vacation was no exception.

I started off with the plan of visiting my brother, sister-in-law and new baby nephew who is 3 months old in Germany, which we did do, but somewhere in the middle of the two weeks, it morphed into a literary journey which was not at all expected.
My brother lives in Kiel on the Baltic Sea where he is studying for his PHD in physics. He's a clever lad. Kiel is a University town, population very diverse, but not a whole lot of activities to do. Oh sure, there is any number of restaurants and bars to spend time in. There is lots of shopping that can be done, lots of International chain stores. Not surprisingly, there are also a lot of book stores. But this is not where my literary journey began.

We arrived on Saturday the 22nd. We spent the first two days jetlagged and napping a lot. And while the primary reason to make the trip was to spend time with my brother and his family, still we wanted to get some traveling in. My brother took us to a city named Lubeck, which was really beautiful, but it rained, as it did most of the time I was in Germany on the Baltic Coast.

We wanted to get a few days of travel in, though, so on Wednesday, we bid them all a fond adieu, but only for a few days, and headed off to Copenhagen in Denmark. Before crossing the Danish border, though, we stopped at a viking museum, which had a living museum. You know, artisans dressed as vikings living the dream and it was really interesting. We thought to make a stop in Flensburg almost to the Danish Border, but arrived just as all the shops were closing, which was apparently a theme for the entire trip. Aggravated and unable to find a hotel where we were, we decided to drive into Denmark and stay where we could find something that was not a truck stop. We found Christianfelds, but didn't see anything of it. It was supposed to be a picturesque town, but we arrived after dark, stayed on the outskirts and forgot to check out the town in the morning. But this is not where my literary journey began.
We pressed on into Denmark and it was in front of the Rathaus that my journey truly began. In front of the Rathaus is a statue of Hans Christian Anderson, who holds a special place in my heart as I associate his stories with my youth. Little did I realize that one statue would start a chain of events that began with his place of death and ended with his place of birth.

Copenhagen has always been like a dream for me. Wonderful, wonderful Copenhagen! One of my favorite movies growing up was Hans Christian Anderson starring Danny Kaye. He was so excited to travel to Copenhagen and begin a new life that I was completely swept away by the movie. I was also fond of his stories when I was a child, so given the chance to go to Copenhagen, I felt like I was embarking on a grand adventure just as HC Anderson did.

I knew nothing of his life, except what was portrayed in the movie and while not entirely accurate, a lot of it was based on actual events in his life. I must say, though, that Copenhagen looked nothing like it did in the movie.

But back to the statue. One of the landmarks I wanted to see while in Copenhagen was the statue of the Little Mermaid. It is reputed to be one of, if not the, most recognized landmark in all of Denmark. Who wouldn't want to see it? It turns out my husband was not too keen as it was a pretty far walk just to look at a statue in the harbor. I felt giddy, though. We had walked through Nyhaven and had dinner there the one night we stayed in the city which is, as it turns out, where Hans Christian Anderson was living when he died.

The city itself, while beautiful, was a bit aggravating to navigate by car. We stayed at one of the cheapest hotels near city center which was little more than a closet the space was small. It must have been a renovated attic because we were on the top floor and the windows were the dormer type windows angled about 45 degrees up. Not much of a view. The shower was merely a shower curtain to pull around a drain in the floor of the bathroom and when closed, the curtain was actually touching the toilet. So it may have been possible to go to the bathroom and shower at the same time. I didn't test that theory. We were told the room had the best shower available at the time. If that was the best, I'd hate to see the worst. We did some of the walking trail hitting the majority of big hot spots, saw the changing of the guard, walked up the Round Tower for a panaromic view of the city and lots of walking. In one day and out the next.

 Stay tuned for more adventures or There's Something Rotten in Denmarkand It's Not the Fish...

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

I am alive!...Alive!!!!

I am back!!! Unfortunately, I have to make this a short post as it is after midnight now and I am exhausted.

First, I was on vacation for two weeks visiting my baby brother, sister-in-law and new, shiny nephew in Germany. More on my vacation later this week. I have been working on that post, but every time I sit to write, I get really tired.

Anyway, add in a couple days of jet lag, trying to squeeze in 15 hours overtime when I haven't been able to work on the weekends and still trying to deal with the box-gate fiasco, I've been very bust. Still that is no excuse.

Second, I went to the New York Comic Con two weekends ago. I went with my friend Terri over at Alexia's Books and Such on Friday. Terri, I apologize profusely for telling you you didn't need a suitcase, but I did figure out that last year I only went on Sunday and there are not many autographings or giveaways left on Sunday. So you can understand the source of my misinformation. I'm not sure my shoulders have recovered...or my feet. I also went back on both Saturday and Sunday. Yeah, I'm a glutton for punishment. More on that...and pictures...coming soon...I promise.

This past weekend we had my niece, Brianna, over from Friday night to Sunday night. Still trying to squeeze those 15 hours OT into the actual work week, I still had to un-clutter her room as I was using it as a staging space. The last 10 boxes of comics I had to go through were in there and there were a ton of boxes. I had to tidy up and move things into the attic for future sorting just so she'd feel like she has a room. I still have a bit of clutter in here, but I will get it all cleared up eventually. What I really need are a couple of steamer type trunks and some shelves for the wall. But I digress. 
I can't get anything done when she is over, so I vegged with her watching the Addams Family and Addams Family Values until she finally told me she wanted to go to bed. How do you like that? A kid telling a grown-up that it's time to go to bed. Anyway, Saturday, we took her and went with another couple and their daughter to Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow for fun filled Halloween activities. We went to Sunnyside, the home of Washington Irving, for a family fun day complete with story telling, ghost stories, puppets, singing, making your own scarecrow, lawn games, etc. Then we went to a dramatic reading of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow in the Old Dutch Church and capped out the evening with the Great Jack-o-Lantern Blaze which reports to have 1,000 carved pumpkins. It was a great day, but we got home well after midnight.

Yesterday, we had to take Brianna home, but got caught up at the in-laws. Yesterday was supposed to be me getting rid of the rest of the boxes downstairs so I could decorate for Halloween. My hubby took care of the outside decorations, so at least to the world we seem festive and prepared for Halloween. I was not able to get everything cleared up yesterday. Sometimes I feel like I never will.

We have a friend of ours coming in from Scotland and he will be staying in Brianna's room for the week and a half he is here. We are going to see Social Distortion on Friday. Naturally, I still have to tidy up her room a bit more for a guest. I still have 15 hours OT to try to squeeze into this week's weekdays. However, on the bright side, I got almost all the boxes stored away. I have one with some things to take to work, so I'm not concerned about it and some paper type recycling I need to get rid of. Terri is my witness as to how bad the downstairs was, but now I mostly just have the boxes with the Halloween decorations which I now have to put out tomorrow. We thought Lee was coming in Thursday night, but he is actually coming in Wednesday afternoon and I have to pick him up at the airport, take him home and log back onto work.

It has been a really rough few weeks for me. I have been getting very little sleep, but I feel like I've accomplished something. Now, some of those boxes I will need to go back in and finish sorting. And the sad truth of the matter is that the storage facility is not emptied yet. As it turns out, we are most likely not going to sell any of the stuff in bulk as we will get very little for any of it. We are most likely going to try tables at flee markets, eBay, and other things like that. Of course, that means that we have to move everything from the storage facility into the attic and the basement of the house.



It's not over...It will never be over...and I'm going to lose my mind. But for now, I have at least freed up some time so I will be able to start my regular posts.

As it's no longer Monday, I am not going to review Dengeki Daisy 6 this week. It will have to wait for next Monday. I have about 5 or 6 book reviews to do. And I have contests coming up.

I am so sorry for not being here and missing everything going on with everyone for the past few weeks. I've missed reading every one's posts. I will start to catch up now, though, well, tomorrow.

So, soon to come...vacation, comic con, reviews, pictures...lots of pictures and contests. Now that I got the rest of the books sorted out, I find I had enough books to fill a semi to give away as well as other swag. So, please be patient, forgive me for my absence and come back soon. I'll be here.