mercredi 18 novembre 2009

18 Novembre 2009 - Montpellier

Get ready for a long one! Pret? On y va!

The following is a summary of my venture to the land of the Danes:

Saturday, the fourteenth of November, I awoke early (5h30) to finish labeling the Aigues-Mortes photos, to get ready, and to double check that I had tout ce qu'il faut. I then walked to the gare and got on the 8h26 train to Aeroport CDG. For four hours, I watched Night at the Museum and listened to music on my ipod.

When I got to CDG, I went from the train station to the terminals, checked-in, and went through security. I then killed another three hours. (Note the emphasis on time killing. I realized this trip that it takes all of 20 minutes tops to get from the terminals to the train station and that there is no reason for even the most paranoid about missing connections, comme moi, need not allot more than one hour to accomplish the journey.)

I got on the plane at 15h30, and proceeded to sit in the wrong seat two times--correct row, however I had issue with the letters it seems. The flight took about an hour and a half. It was awesome because we literally flew into darkness. It was midday bright when I left Paris and middle of the night dark when I arrived in Copenhagen. So, I arrived at 17h10 or something and was going to be meeting Rachael there, in the airport, when she got back from her class' Russia trip at 20h. So, again, I killed three hours. In the Copenhagen airport, however, this is not super hard to do because the airport is more or less a high-end shopping mall, already decorated for the holiday season. I simply wandered around for some hours. I had time to note that each stall in the bathroom had its own sharps disposal container which I found to be both comforting (reduced risk of accidental needle prick) and unnerving (I was never before aware there was such a risk. What are people doing in airport bathrooms?). I also got out some kroner during this time. Kroner coins are weird. Some have holes in the middle and hearts appear on many. Also, the 5 kroner coin is larger than both the 10 and 20 kroner coins.

So, I meet up with Rachael at 8pm and we take a metro followed by a train back to her dorm/apartment thing, and despite both being already a little tired from traveling, determine to make the most of my time there. So, we first went a little ways from "kollegium" (that's what her dorm complex was called) to get "shawarma" which is what the French call "kebab" and is basically shredded, greasy meat in a bread pocket with lettuce and tomato. Needless to say, it's delicious. Our dinner was accompanied by a product of Denmark, Somersby apple cider, which tastes exactly like sparkling apple cider from home despite being alcoholic. From there, we took a train back into the city, and though it was 11pm at this point, I was told this was the usual time to start going out on a Saturday in Copenhagen. Apparently, the vast majority of people in my age range do not proscribe to my 10:30pm to 7:00am ideal sleeping pattern, surtout a Copenhague.

In getting of the train, we made the acquaintance of two guys--both originally from Cameroon, though one now lives in Stockholm and was merely visiting his friend who works at Rachael's school in Copenhagen. As we were still waiting for Drew, another friend of mine from school, to let us know where he was going to be, we accompanied our new friends, Prisco and Jude, to a sort of salsa/hip-hop bar/club. It was actually really fun there and we got to dance some. Jude asked me, en francais, if I spoke french and I responded, "Oui. Un peu," and we proceeded to have part of a conversation in french. He told me he was impressed because "you don't meet to many Americans who speak another language." I found this funny and sadly all too true. I was also happy to speak french a little because I had been fighting the urge to employ the language since my arrival. I knew that the language of Denmark was not English, and this knowledge, combined with the fact that I've habituated myself to speaking French to strangers (cashiers, waiters, etc.), drove me to have to constantly remind myself that the Danes would understand English sooner than French.

We left that bar shortly after 1am to go meet Drew at a place called the Happy Pig. The line to get in, however, was too long and Rachael and I, weary travelers that we were, decided to return to go to bed rather than stay out until 5 or 6 am as evidently it is quite usual to do.

The following morning, we slept in and then leisurely got ready and left, arriving in the city between 10 and 11. Over the course of the day, we climbed the observation tower to look out over Copenhagen, and we visited gardens, buildings, and squares of varying degrees of importance. The city is beautiful, and it's old and modern at the same time. I loved the adorable brightly colored houses! I tried "warm chocolate" (really, it was "varm chokolade" in Danish) which is steamed milk into which you place a stirrer with a chunk of chocolate on one end, and the chocolate melts into the milk. It was the best! We also walked passed a creperie which I would not have noticed had my attention not have been grabbed by who other than Asterix and Obelix painted on the the doors! I was perhaps overly excited about this and may have questioned aloud, "What are you guys doing here?" to a pair of inanimate cartoon renderings. We watched the sun setting by the water for awhile--this was around 3:30pm. Then, we had hot-dog snack because hot-dog vendors are partout and they have cool buns which are simply a cylindrical roll with a hole in one end into which one places the condiment followed by the hot dog itself. We killed time and warmed ourselves between that and dinner time by wandering through "Magasin," Copenhagen's equivalent to New York City's Macy's which was egalement lit on the exterior for the holiday season.

For dinner we went to a restaurant in Nyhavn, a fairly expensive tourist trap, but a beautiful one with great food; typical Danish brightly colored restaurant fronts; Christmas lights and decor; and a view of the canal. It was awesome as well because we ate (salmon steak and Carlsburg--mmm!) outside despite the cold and darkness, grace a patio umbrellas equipped with heat lamps and chairs accompanied by fleece blankets.

After dinner, we were tired from the day, so we went back to Rachael's dorm and pajama-ed up, only to be invited to watch a movie in the common area of her building with a group of about 7 or 8 Polish students. They were really nice and funny, as they joked during all the difficulties they had setting up the computer, projector, and speakers. One of them tried to get a game of charades going every time we had to wait for someone to get something or what not, and when others lacked his enthusiasm, he resorted to puppet theater with the projector screen, recounting the tale of bunny (his hand) and his three parrot friends (the logo of the ViewSonic projector). We ended up watching, with minimal interruptions, Gone Baby Gone which was a good movie (I mean, it had Morgan Freeman, so obviously). The interruptions consisted of a kid tripping over a wire, bringing the laptop crashing to the floor, and resulting in a few minutes spent getting it to work again; and what the shadow-puppets kid, Simon, dubbed an "intercultural experience," c'est-a-dire, polish vodka. In sum, it was a good day and night.

Monday we got up early as Rachael had class. I wandered the city alone for an hour, watching the morning commute on bikes which involved a newspaper man passing out the free paper on the roadside in a Tour de France feeding station manner, and I then met up with Rachael to say goodbye before taking the metro back to the airport. My flight to France fed me delicious pasta salad which was a welcome surprise, and after waiting much longer than necessary in the airport train station, I boarded the train back to Montpellier. I got into Montpellier at 10pm only to find that I was practically hot walking home.

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