That’s been the weather in Copenhagen. Friday I awoke to see the sun rise in clear skies with wisps of clouds and seagulls flying by. An hour later, clouds thickening like cotton batting, with the blue sky giving over to pale grey. By the time I left for my day of touring, I knew enough to bring both the umbrella and the waterproof coat to wear over the down coat “BellaThea” had loaned me. You know wet down isn’t a pretty or functional thing. And all day long, the skies shifted with the winds as my photos will attest.
Even though I planned a day that was more to the south and east of Thursday’s travels, I wanted to get back up to the Royal Copenhagen store. As stores and galleries don’t open until 10 am, I had a bit of time and followed the church steeples. I arrived at the city’s Catholic cathedral, Vor Frue Kirke, the Church of Our Lady, next to the main building of the University of Copenhagen. It was originally built in 1256, but fires (Copenhagen’s Great Fire of 1728 that destroyed much of the city) and battles (British invasion in the Battle of Copenhagen, 1807) resulted in several redesigns and reconstructions. Now a massive, formidable block monolith, with a graceful, gilt-free (there might be a pun in here) interior decorated with huge white marble statues of each of the twelve disciples, six on each side, and Jesus and angel at the front. It has been host to royal coronations and weddings since 1363 with the most recent being the wedding of Crown Prince Frederick in 2004.
The second church, just down the street and around the block, Sankt Petri, St. Peter’s Church, was founded in the 12th century and in 1585 given to the German speaking Danes by their king. Children on recess were playing on the grounds and given the hour, I wasn’t able to see inside.
I then began my day’s itinerary on a canal tour, the first day of the season. We boarded at the Grand Strand canal to ever thickening and darkening skies. By the time we reached the harbour in front of the Opera House it was raining thickly.
And when we reached the Little Mermaid and were given four minutes to disembark and photograph her, it was very wet snow and sleet. I ventured back and forth from the heated and covered interior, which was fogging up making picture taking impossible, to becoming drenched outside. Yet, I was grinning from ear to ear…
…Because I was in Copenhagen, on the water, and by the time we’d gone the full circuit and landed at the quintessentially picture perfect canal town of Nyhavn the sun was shining, the sky a brilliant cobalt blue and the pictures would have made it all worth while! On the bridge I met an English speaking couple who I asked to take my picture….from Kelowna…on a two week vacation of Greenland, Iceland, and Scandinavia. We Canadians have a thing for winter!
Even though the weather had turned, I was again in need of hot food. I’ve learned that good food is often found in the little cafes of galleries and museums. I stopped by the recommended Kunsthal Charlotteborg but each of the menu items was a cold plate. So I dug in and made the walk east to the museum I most wanted to visit, the Danish Museum of Art and Design, Kunstindustrimuseet, in hopes I’d find the perfect lunch. En route, a scaffolded dome signaled an important site, Frederiks Kirke, also known as the Marble Church. Inspired by Rome’s St. Peter’s Basilica, it looked most like the churches I’d seen in Italy and Germany with a light filled dome, columns, statues of saints and apostles, though more subdued, and void of the displays of richly coloured paintings or mosaics.
I hit the jackpot at the museum. A spacious hall, made warm by beautifully designed teak tables and well aged leather-cushioned chairs, a teak ceiling cover, the wall of gallery posters, and low lighting (this was a DESIGN museum) the café was self-service. As the host didn’t speak much English, she had the chef walk me through the menu. If I wanted hot, he recommended his minestrone, though not to be confused with an Italian version.
I was not disappointed. A bowl of steaming root based soup infused with olive oil, filled with fava beans, shredded chicken and chopped vegetables, a few pasta, and garnished with a crouton and freshly grated Parmesan. The house red, a French table wine, was a satisfying accompaniment. I savored a slice of homemade cheesecake, topped with fresh sour cream, with wild blueberry confit for dessert, with a coffee served in a glass served with hot milk, reminding me of Edmonton’s New York Bagel Café.
The museum features international and Danish design and crafts through the ages, and houses the biggest library for design in Scandinavia, including a fully annotated and illustrated database of all the furniture made in Denmark during the last century. To see the design sketches and prototypes of several iconic Danish designed chairs, ceramics and learn of the evolution of Danish modern design was a highlight.
A long walk home with the end of workweek traffic of pedestrians, bicyclists and cars, I had an hour until closing by the time I reached the National Museum. I walked through rooms displaying artifacts and collections from cultures around the world. I felt peculiar seeing artifacts from the British Columbia west coast Salish tribes, wooden carvings, masks, woven headdresses, and the intricately stitched skins and furs worn by the Inuit. I had to remind myself that such displays help us all make sense of our origins, who we are, how we lived, and what brings us to now.
And then I arrived back at my hotel, to now. CNN was on each of the black HD flat screen TVs as I approached the foyer with the elevators. There I saw the devastation of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. I am struck that in the three weeks since I’ve left Canada, the people of Egypt have overthrown its government. The citizens of several other African and Middle Eastern countries are poised to do the same. There has been an earthquake and lives lost in New Zealand, and now, today, one and many more lives lost in Japan. The resulting tsunami is threatening other lands in the Pacific. My dear friend’s husband of forty plus years passed. And as I read my friend Heather Plett’s blog this morning, I learn of women killed during demonstrations for change in the Ivory Coast.
This is what I wrote in response to Heather’s posting, right before I began this post:
Your story immediately reminds me that there’s a song I find myself softly singing a lot right now when walking down all the unfamiliar streets among all the unfamiliar people in all the unfamiliar countries I’m in right now (yes, privileged, too).
It’s called In the Light of Love by Deva Premal and Miten, who I had the privilege to hear live singing this song.
In the light of love, we are whole
In the light of love, we are home
In the light of love, we heal and sing
Thy will be done (http://devapremalmiten.com/images/stories/pdfs/in_concert_lyrics_chords.pdf)
I always sing “we are one” because that’s what I hear (and it wasn’t until I just checked the lyrics that I read it’s “whole”, “home” I still almost type “one” that’s how strong the impulse is for me) and right now, I need to feel that knowing inside – that we are one – especially when I’m travelling solo, especially in light of all that is happening in our big-small magnificent, hurting, healing world right now.
I also have a story about crying to the sound and sight of the trees being cut down behind our backyard…another time, over that glass of vine.
Namaste and thank you for letting us remember the healing power of anger flowing free, non-violently.
When life turns on a dime, or here in Copenhagen, on a kroner, it helps to remember this…and synchronistically, this is the song playing in the background as I write to you now.