This spring break my five friends and I decided to get out of the record breaking cold winter in Syracuse and drive down to New Orleans. Between driving (and singing) we took stops in Ohio, Nashville, Birmingham, Salem and Charlotte. We visited a ton of thrift and vintage stores, tried alligator hot dogs and po-boys and befriended our airbnb cat, Snack. The days in the beautiful, bright garden district and nights on Frenchmen street of New Orleans were a much-needed change of pace.
I can't believe my four months in Copenhagen are over. Between traveling a ton the last few weeks and finishing finals and projects, the end of the semester flew by.
I'm sad to say bye to the beautiful neighborhoods and buildings, my favorite bakeries (Meyers and Saint Peters) and my new Danish and American friends, but I'm excited to get back home for the holidays. Maddy and Jill saw me off my last morning in Copenhagen. They brought me a hot chocolate and a last cinnamon Danish and helped me grab a cab.
Copenhagen taught me a lot about different cultures and the European lifestyle. I compared Copenhagen to the US a ton and noticed differences - from huge, fundamental things- like Denmark being a social welfare state to small things- such as not tipping at a restaurant. I learned a lot about the Danish lifestyle and want to bring some of the ideas back with me to the US (Maybe not biking or the tax on peanut butter, but the concept of hygge and the colorless wardrobe.) I've noticed Danes have a lot healthier work/ life balance. They work shorter hours and their family and close group of friends are very important to them. It also seems like women have a lot more equality than in the US. Fathers and mothers seem to be equally responsible for their children.
I'll miss how safe Copenhagen is, and the hilarity that was seeing baby strollers on the street unwatched. I'll miss the adorable narrow streets and coffee shops (albeit overpriced) atmospheres. I'll both miss and not miss how everything in Copenhagen is simpler and slower than New York. From the pace that people walk down the street to the service at restaurants, Europe in general moves slow. I'll miss the super stylish Danish design everywhere, in the furniture, the restaurants, bars, stores and museums. Overall I'll miss exploring and talking to new people, but hopefully I can come back to Europe soon and in the meantime explore new parts of the US.
The Danish word hygge may have become one of my favorite parts of the Danish culture. There is no direct English translation of the word hygge. I've asked A LOT of Danes about how they would translate it. After they get past my terrible pronunciation, (it sounds more like huggah than hygiene as I had been saying it) they told me it's basically the concept of coziness.
Toward the end of the semester, the days got very short. The sun would set around 3:30 p.m. Hygge was everywhere. There were candles in all the windows which emphasized the Christmas vibe. Danes seemed to love candles and lights. Another Dane described hygge as what you do when you don't want to go out at night. Instead of going to a bar you may "hygge" and stay in and watch and movie.
These cultural differences seriously amazed me. I thought it was so interesting to learn about these core parts of Danish society.
For my second travel break, my three friends and I spent the week in Spain.
Between eating countless tapas and paella, and frequenting Federal Cafe every morning for breakfast, Barcelona was delicious. Bar Lobo was probably the best meal we had, where we ordered a ton of tapas. We also started our quest for the best churros in Spain but were pretty disappointed with Barcelona's selection.
Other than the food, Barcelona was an awesome city, right on the beach with a mix between new and old architecture. We followed the 12 hr guide to Barcelona pretty closely. I loved the atmosphere, especially that of the older neighborhoods. And although the ocean was freezing, I did put my feet in and collected some sea glass.
We hit some of the big sites including the unfinished cathedral, la Sagrada Familia and Park Guell, both designed by Antoní Gaudi. We also went to the Picasso museum, which had a lot of Picasso's older works.
I had no idea how tropical Seville was, granted we were lucky and had amazing weather. It was a great break from gray Copenhagen. The alcazar gardens were absolutely beautiful. It was like a tropical version of a French garden. Seville has a really cool Islamic vibe in its architecture which was great.
Seville also has a relatively new structure called Las Setas, which look like giant mushrooms. It was really beautiful to climb them right at sunset — you get a great view of the city. I also loved the markets which were extremely authentic. It seemed like a place locals frequent regularly.
We ate tons of tapas including amazing paella. I probably had the best gelato in my life in Seville. Seville was also ridiculously cheap. We got five tapas one night for 15 euros! This is pretty much the polar opposite of Copenhagen where eating out is extremely expensive. We continued the churro tour in Seville. These were definitely a step up from Barcelona, but the chocolate was more like hot chocolate than dipping chocolate.
Madrid was definitely the most metropolitan of the the three Spanish cities. It reminded me a lot of both New York and Paris actually. New York because it was so lively, and Paris because of the beautiful architecture. We went to Madrid's Central Park, Parque del Retiro, which was gorgeous and huge.
We went to an incredible museum, Museo del Prado, where we saw Goya's "Saturn eating his children" and Hieronymus Bosch's "The Garden of Earthly Delights."
Finally, we successfully found the best churros in Spain, with help from some friends' recommendations at San Gines. They were absolutely perfect. When we finished the churros, I continued to drink the chocolate.
We averaged walking 10.02 miles a day, which means in total we walked about 80 miles all week!
By trains, boats, buses and planes, my brother and I explored Oslo and Bergen, Norway. We were there in the beginning of December so the sun was already setting around 3 p.m. each day. Despite this lack of sunlight, Norway was gorgeous. Highlights included the seven hour train from Oslo to Bergen that is known for being one of the most beautiful train rides in the world. I would look down for a second and then out the window and was constantly shocked by how amazing the views were. The scenery ranged from country-side to polar-express-like mountains to snowy scenes within minutes. I also loved the Fjord tour we took to Flam. The cliffs were breathtaking. It was crazy to see the tiny houses on these huge cliffs. The people who live there must have total isolation especially with all the snow.
In Oslo, we went to the sculpture garden or Vigelandsparken, designed by Gustav Vigeland. Although we didn't have much sunlight in Bergen, it was a really adorable small town. I did a little christmas shopping at cute authentic stores.
Recently The New York Times ran a story about Berlin’s trendy, highly exclusive nightlife. Though Lindsay and I missed out on clubbing till 8 a.m., the city offered a ton. It had a much more edgy/punk vibe than I imagined. The street art gave the city a diverse feeling. From walking along the East Side gallery, to the Bauhaus archive to the Jewish museum, Berlin was very historically rich.
During our short trip we must have gone to five Christmas markets, the city was filled with them. They offered hot mulled wine, or glögg, and currywurst, which I tried for the first time. Our last day we went to one that had a live band playing the Saints Come marching in, the atmosphere was a lot of fun and got me in the holiday spirit.
We also did some window shopping at Ka de we the largest department store in Europe and Bikini Berlin- this alternative style market/ mall. Berlin’s style was like Copenhagen.
After our time in Berlin was up I got to show Lindsay all around Copenhagen and we celebrated Thanksgiving together with a very traditional dinner of sushi.
Between crepes and chocolate croissants Rachael and I were able to squeeze in some sight seeing during our weekend in Paris. After meeting up with my cousin my the Eiffel Tower, we had a very romantic evening one night where we went up to the very top. Stepping off the elevator I was shocked at how high up and windy it was. With all the monuments lit up, if possible, the city becomes even more beautiful at night.
We opted for a day trip to see Monet's gardens and house over Versaille because Rachel is a huge Monet fan. It was nice to get out of the city for a bit the lily pads, pond, and flowers were gorgeous. It was the last day it was open for the season so the leaves were fall colors. We completed the Monet tour of Paris with Musée de l'Orangerie where we saw Monet’s eight Water Lilies murals.
Some other highlights included Angelina’s hot chocolate- which we are convinced is literally melted chocolate. Also this hidden away wine cellar- Chez George's, which a local told us was the best bars in Paris. Aggressively squeezing into the crowds to see the Mona Lisa at the Louvre- Where it would take 3 months to see all the works without stopping for a break. Le Marais, the Jewish corridor had amazing shopping and food from the authentic Jewish bakeries. I loved the narrow streets and window shopping.
Overall a weekend was not long enough in Paris. I never made it to see the catacombs among other things, but it was a great introduction to the city.
I started my first travel week off by showing my parents around Copenhagen. My mom and I saw the highly anticipated Little Mermaid, which in fact is very little. We got a whole lesson on licorice at Karamelleriet in Nørrebro- apparently the Danes love licorice because they eat it from childhood on. We also took a trip to the Louisana art museum where we saw an exhibit on Emil Node in addition to Riverbed by Olafur Eliasson. Riverbed was basically an instillation of a functioning river into a wing of the museum.
After parting ways with my parents I flew to London for a few days before going to Holyhead, Wales and Dublin.
London exceeded my expectations by a long shot. I got a really good sense of how diverse the city is going from window-shopping at Harrods and Top Shop to exploring the more edgy Camden markets. The two days I was there I covered as much ground as possible, hit up as many major monuments and sites and mastered the tube (thanks to Anna for letting me use your Oyster Card). While I’m at it, thanks so much to Chase and his roommates for hosting me and for Anna and Emma for racing me around the city. My favorite neighborhoods were Covent Garden, Notting Hill and Marylebone. One of the best parts of London was being by the Thames and on the bridges, monuments, (and skate parks?) at night.
We took a train in the morning to Holyhead, starting the day with a traditional breakfast, I avoided the black pudding on the menu but enjoyed the Welsh style bacon. From there we trekked to a lighthouse we had heard was one of the top lighthouses in the world and the view was absolutely incredible. To make matters even better, when we reached the top there was an ice cream truck. Though, I am about seven years old, it couldn’t have been any better.
Hard to compete with London but Dublin was a fun city with a lively culture. The long room library at Trinity College was like something out of Harry Potter. Apparently George Lucas saw the Long room and though they wouldn’t let him film there he liked it so much he recreated it for the Jedi Temple scenes in Star Wars. The other main attraction in Dublin was clearly, beer. We saw how it was made at the Guinness factory- or what Keegan called the Disneyland of beer, and tried others at the oldest pup in Dublin and on a pub crawl. Dublin had some really interesting street art and architecture including the “millennium spike” which was supposed to be completed in 2000 when Dublin was in a great financial state but wasn't completed until 2003. Another great part of Dublin was the live music. We heard not one but two live renditions of Take Me Home, Country Roads.
Getting back to Copenhagen after a week of traveling reminded me how lucky I am to be here. Copenhagen has the perfect combination of history and charm while also being a modern, trendsetting city.
In typical DIS fashion, my design class fit in as many museums, design firms and other stops as possible during our weeklong trip to Amsterdam and Rotterdam- the second biggest city of the Netherlands. I was amazed by how beautiful Amsterdam was- the canals lined with flowers gave Copenhagen a run for its money in terms of cuteness. I was also very excited about the Dutch love of cheese and chocolate. Apparently it’s normal for Dutch children to put chocolate sprinkles on their toast in the morning, I could get behind that.
Some of the best exhibits we saw included “Tentoonstelling," Anthony McCall's Solid Light Films at the Eye museum and Yayoi Kusama’s mirror room at Museum Boijmans.
The highlight of Rotterdam was spending a day doing a workshop with Studio Dumbar. With no explanation, we were told to gather trash all week and on the day of the workshop in groups we had to organize the garbage and think about it in creative, innovative ways. Each of the groups came up with very different uses for the trash.
In addition to Dumbar we saw Lava’s design studio and the office of Frame -who publishes Mark, Frame and Elephant magazines. We also took a stop at the 3D print canal house in Amsterdam which was great to see. I was able to wrap my head around all the possibilities of 3D printing and see the cool projects they are working on. I didn't realize how sustainable it was. For instance, the material they use to print is made partially out of potatoes.
Throughout the trip we were wined and dined quite a bit- we tried Indonesian and Moroccan food- though nothing topped the first night’s dinner at De Culinary Werkplaats in Amsterdam where we helped to plate a five course experimental meal. Each plate had a different theme relating to the Dutch hills and landscape. I kept getting yelled at for making the portion sizes too large… think I may have missed my calling.
I can’t forget to mention that my 21st birthday fell during this week. I celebrated with a Mexican birthday dinner pretending to turn 21 in the US and a full day of sight seeing including the Van Gogh museum and a nighttime canal ride.
For my core course week the graphic design program took us to various towns across Western Denmark, or Jutland. We visited Kolding where we went to the Trapholt Museum and Koldinghus, a gorgeous castle that reminded me of something out of Harry Potter. That night our hostel was right on a lake and we made the Danish version of s'mores, which is virtually just bread on a stick... couldn’t really get more Danish. It reminded me of camp in New Hampshire, canoeing and spiders included.
We also stopped by Århus where we went to the ARoS Kunstmuseum. The entire museum is based off of Dante's inferno, so the basement had "hell" themed rooms and at the top was "Your rainbow panorama" by Ólafur Elíasson. The museum also hosts a pretty shockingly realistic 15-foot tall "Boy" sculpture by Ron Mueck. We had a traditional Danish dinner in Odense with some questionable meat.
The last day we went to Nordatlantisk Hus, a cultural center for people from Greenland, Iceland, and the Faroe Islands. We had amazing Nordic fish for lunch. The building was modern with a cute eskimo-themed wayfinding system.
So, I've officially been living in Copenhagen for two weeks and can safely say that yes, I understand how Danes are often considered to be the happiest people. Copenhagen is beautiful, well designed, safe, green, surrounded by water, all with a never ending supply of chocolate croissants.
Some of the highlights have been jumping into the jellyfish infused water at Amager State Park- not too far from my apartment, watching MØ preform at Tivoli, the charming amusement park Disney was based on, and seeing some Danish art and design at places like the National Gallery of Denmark.