Late yesterday afternoon I arrived in Copenhagen…via a train from Waldkirch, a bus from Freiburg, a plane from Basel, another train from Copenhagen airport to its central station, and a walk to my hotel, WakeUp Copenhagen, the epitome of Scandinavian modern minimalism – high function meets exceptional design, with a minimum of space.
Coming to Denmark was a response to emergence. “BellaThea,” my German host, has a dear friend in Denmark who wants to come down to visit. As “BellaThea” left the “fasnet frenzy” to ski in Switzerland, why don’t I come to Denmark for a few days, Copenhagen and then Arhus, and then take the train back to Germany with her friend? Sounds like a plan.
It’s been cold, windy, with intermittent wet snow and rain. Not great for picture taking as the light is so flat, but fine for museum and gallery touring. After navigating through puddles, construction, rain and streets with names a mile long, that change at every intersection, I arrived exactly where I wanted to be, the flagship stores for Royal Copenhagen fine porcelain, and Georg Jensen silver, and the sophisticated department store, Illums Bolighus . As a teenager I’d worked in a Scandanavian gift store that featured among other fine items, Royal Copenhagen porcelain, Kosta Boda crystal and glassware, Iittalia tableware, Georg Jensen flatware and Swedish clogs. I enjoyed the fond memories evoked by being in the midst of such exquisite, timeless Scandinavian design, and realized how perfect this design is to our home, designed by an architect with this same sensibility. Hmmmm…what next?
While the streets winded like those in Bologna, instead of motorcycles, bicycles lined up in parking stalls. I missed the porticos, having here to find door stoops to get my bearings and read my map without it becoming tattered by rain. I walked to the Rosenborg Castle, the renaissance summer home of the King Christian IV, built in 1606. Given the low light and wind outside, I really had a feeling for castle life among the sumptuous royal family treasures and crown jewels. With pearls the size of walnuts, emerald, ruby and diamond necklaces, and the King’s bejeweled crown dating from 1671, I wondered aloud, “Are they real?” And was told most sternly, “most certainly.”
The highlight of my day was lunch, fit for a queen, as I sat at the white linened table in the Traktorstedet cafe on the royal grounds. I’d intended to have something traditionally Danish, like the herring or smoked salmon, but it was a “soup day,” and I’m glad I heeded my mother’s wisdom. A sublime cream of Jerusalem artichoke soup, into which rested two lightly grilled sea scallops, that, when I bit into, gave the perfect salty sweet balance. A streak of pesto, and a garnishing of well toasted croutons and crisp onion. A glass of Riesling. I was in heaven. “The Scientist” noticed years ago that I have a well-honed gustatory memory, linking favourite and meaningful experiences with meals, recalling every detail of a superbly, deliciously prepared and presented dish. So far this, and my traditional Bolognese pranzo, are neck in neck.
Not without hesitation, I left to face the elements to head across to the Statens Museum for Kunst, the Danish national gallery that houses a collection of Danish and international paintings, sculpture, graphics and installations from the 14th century to the present. The attraction, Bob Dylan’s “The Brazil Series,” a collection of paintings he did in 2009-10, specifically for the exhibition here in Denmark. Dylan’s use of colour, his intensity of brush stroke and subject matter, and perspective, together with his accompanying words, created a powerfully energetic impression in contrast to the cold and leaden skies outside, and enlivened me to find my way back to WakeUp Copenhagen in the midst of chaotic thoroughfares filled with homebound traffic.
Tomorrow I hope for a bit of sunshine and to take in some more galleries and a canal tour to see the iconic Little Mermaid.