Tuesday, July 31, 2018

EuRoad Trip 2018: $175 Dinner, a Theme Park, and Some Drug Dealing

Let's Denmark!

Popped into a little bakery that was near the hotel. I thought it was a nice family place but...

I was very offended by these Napoleon Shat pastries. What a ghastly name.


We all packed into the car and headed back over to Sweden to visit a Viking village thing they have there. Moving between most of these countries has been no big deal. Although now that I think about it when I told a customs agent in Norway that I had 20 beers and 2 fifths of rum in the trunk he made me pull over and show him. Anyway we crossed from Sweden to Denmark two days ago with no border presence and no fuss.

This time was different. The border people wanted to see our passports. Lydia and I whipped ours out and presented them but... Mom and Tom left theirs back at the hotel. We were forced to pull over while possible international diamond thieves Mom and Tom had their Illinois driver's licenses inspected. Notably all of the border agents were women.

Mom and Tom sweated profusely in the Swedish sun, murmuring to each other trying to get their stories straight. If those two had some sort of Interpol warrant out I wanted them to get a move on being brought to justice because I had a Viking village to attend to. Eventually our documents were returned and we were waved through.

Fotevikens Museum was kind of like the Viking version of Lincoln's New Salem but set during the late Viking age in the early 12th century. There was a small traditional museum with artifacts in glass cases but the main draw was an authentic style village with reenactors doing their Viking thing.

One thing I learned was that Vikings didn't even wear helmets, let alone helmets with cool horns on them. Which is kind of sad for them and for me because these helmets are pretty awesome. The museum was serious enough in their hate of the helmets that they offered you a free ice cream if you checked your helmet at the front desk. Next time I come to Sweden I'm packing my ice cream helmet!

"The Viking-myth

You can see them at every football-game that a Nordic team plays - the football fans wearing plastic helmets with horns. The Vikings did not have horns on their helmets - most of them didn't even have a helmet because it was too expensive. Richard Wagner was one of the first that used a viking-helmet with horns; in the 1830s! All to make the opera singers more impressive on stage!"

I liked the lone Viking guarding their little fort.

One dude had a toothache so soldiers dragged him to the blacksmith who ripped it out. He even had a good blood pack in his mouth to spit out afterwards. History came to life.

This guy was making beads with a foot powered contraption. This was the most high tech thing in town.

Anyone who tried ripping my teeth out with pliers was going to get javelinned real nice.

The myth that the Vikings were dirty savages seems to be just sour grapes invented by the monks getting all of their golden goodies pillaged. The present Danish word for Saturday is lørdag which literally means "bath day", and dates back to the Viking custom of washing themselves once a week. Which was a lot back then.

We smuggled Mom and Tom back into Denmark without incident.

Giant Hans Christian Andersen.

When planning our Copenhagen trip I was racked with indecision. On one hand there was Dyrehavsbakken(visited yesterday), oldest theme park in the world and on the other there was Tivoli Gardens, second oldest theme park in the world. I couldn't decide so I chose both. Hurray!

Tivoli is fun because it's right in the middle of city. Bakken was out in the suburbs. We approached a side door to the park and bought our tickets from a vending machine. You were then supposed to scan your ticket and push through one of those big turnstile doors to get in. Well the first of us to try this maneuver, who will remain nameless, somehow managed to scan her ticket but not operate the door correctly. So we all had to walk around the perimeter of the park for a while to get to the main entrance and hope the humans at the gate believed our story.

It was a long, crabby walk.

But eventually we made it inside without having to buy another ticket.

Tivoli's main mascot seems to be Pierrot the clown.

The Pantomime Theatre has a fun giant Peacock whose feathers unfurl to form the stage's curtain.

I saw this cool video where people rubbed ink on manhole covers then pressed shirts onto them to make a print of the design. I've been obsessed with cool looking designs on manhole covers lately.

Greenland, Danish territory, had a fun little area with different crafts for sale.

Funny Greenland-related aside: Denmark and Canada have a polite disagreement over who owns Hans Island.

As you can see Hans Island is a half mile wide islandy situation between Canada and Greenland. Well being polite countries they took the territorial dispute to the Permanent Court of International Justice of the League of Nations in 1933, which ruled in favor of Denmark. Well the Permanent Court wasn't quite as permanent as they'd hoped, as the League of Nations closed in 1946 and was replaced by the United Nations.

After that things got downright passive aggressive.  In 1984 the Danish planted a Danish flag on the tiny island and left a bottle of schnapps next to it. Then the Canadians showed up, posted a "welcome to Canada" sign and left a bottle of Canadian whiskey. And so the Liquor Wars have proceeded ever since.

The Tivoli's website had some good info on the Nazi terrorist attack at the park:

"Tivoli managed to remain open throughout the occupation. However, the Gardens did not survive the war unscathed. On the night between 24 and 25 June 1944, the Schalburg Corps' Peter group forced its way into Tivoli and planted bombs which caused a great deal of damage. 
Many of the buildings burned down or were completely destroyed: The concert hall, Glassalen (The Glass Hall Theatre), Arena, Dansehallen (The Dancehall) and almost all of the buildings at the back of the gardens which were designed for either rides or amusements. Rutschebanen (The Roller Coaster) was also damaged but The Pantomime Theatre escaped due to the fact that the bomb was a dud.

There were several reasons why Tivoli was chosen as the target for the action. On the one hand, Tivoli was a popular favourite and, therefore, the attack on Tivoli touched a nerve in the Danish people. On the other hand, while Kjeld Abell was director, Tivoli had become a modern, indeed almost cultural-radical, enterprise, with PH as the head architect and Leo Mathiesen as the conductor of The Glass Hall Theatre where people danced the jitterbug and to jazz. Moreover, Tivoli's finance director, Victor Lemkow, was of Jewish descent.

In spite of the massive destruction, the Nazis were not able to wipe Tivoli off the map. The Gardens closed for 14 days; they were tidied and new, temporary buildings were erected. Then, Tivoli opened again. Ironically, this is probably the reason why Tivoli remains true to its original concept. Tivoli's popularity was on the wane between the wars; Danes felt that the Gardens were old-fashioned and unsuitable for a modern metropolis such as Copenhagen. There were many suggestions as to how the site could be used for other purposes and it was proposed that Tivoli should be moved to a location outside the city. When it was time to rebuild Tivoli after the war, the mood had changed and people were interested in recovering what they had lost."

I read some more about this and the bombing was in retaliation for the torture and deaths of some Danish Gestapo collaborators.

The cost of the rides was not included in the ticket we bought, which was a bummer. The only ride that I regret not riding is the Roller Coaster. The wooden coaster was built in 1914 and is so old school that a human brakeman rides with each set of cars to make sure you don't go too fast. "There was energy rationing during the Second World War. Therefore, roller coaster cars were pulled up the first hill by strong men operating a winch installed on the roof of the ride."

"We drank beer, my friends and I, boys and girls. Yes, we drank beer."  - Brett Kavanaugh, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States

The beer was decent, but half the fun was returning the empty cup for a refunded deposit.

The people at the Tivoli were pretty serious about their ice cream sprinkles.

"I'm going to need an ice cream cone this big."

We went for them krokant kugler sprinkles.

Tom was jelly and had to get one for himself.

When we left we got re-entry stamps just in case.

We hadn't done enough walking today so we took a tour to Freetown Christiania, a drug addled hippie town inside of Copenhagen.

They had the King of Beers at a convenience store.

The Børsen is a 17th-century stock exchange in the center of Copenhagen. The spire on top was super cool, being comprised of the tales of four stone dragons.

Rikke the tour guide. While the destination of the tour was Christiania, the hippies inside the shanty town won't let outside tour guides do tours there. So once we got to the den of scum and villainy we were on our own.

The Church of Our Saviour had a fun carillon that played pop music.

None of us recognized the song this time but it was still fun.

These cargo-carrying wheeled contraptions are known as Christiania Bikes.

We finally made it to Christiania.

You know things are going to get real when the tourist photo board cutout thing depicts a drug dealer. Pretty much the only rule in Christiania was no photos so I don't have too many. Drug dealer's lane was the most blatant drug selling I've ever witnessed. And I've been to Amsterdam. It looked just like my picture, with a ton of tables lined up with bricks of hash on them being sold by scary looking people with tattoos. I guess the police shut down the drug trade here at one point but the gang violence over drug selling turf in Copenhagen got so bad that the government reversed course and let them sell here again.

As I mentioned a couple days ago we wanted to go to incredibly expensive, 20 course meal mecca Noma but it was all booked up. Sad. Luckily Noma has inspired a whole constellation of New Nordic restaurants foraging, fermenting, and doing other weird fun things. A solid consolation prize was a reservation at Michelin Guide Star winner 108. The guide describes it as:

"A former whale meat warehouse with floor-to-ceiling windows and water views; bare concrete and a semi-open kitchen give it a cool Nordic style. There's a Noma alumnus in the kitchen and plenty of pickled, cured and fermented ingredients on the 'no rules' menu, from which you pick as many dishes as you like."

Mom and Tom were scared of the deliciousness and we parted ways outside the restaurant.

Yet again, even with the menu and pictures of the food it's hard for me to tell what's what. Anyway we went with the set menu.

"A Taste of 108

In eight servings we offer our summer menu. The menu is served to the entire table.

with salted green strawberries

with roasted seaweed

with white currants

wrapped in perilla leaves

with smoked egg yolks

with summer flowers

with hazelnut milk

with 6g of Royal Belgian Caviar

1150,- per person"

1150 Danish Krone is about $175. What a steal!

You know I walked into a $175 per person restaurant in a St. Louis Blues t-shirt. Take that, aristocracy!

Lobster claw with white currants.

This was for sure the raw lamb wrapped in perilla leaves.

Courgette is just a fancy French word for zucchini.

This was my favorite part of the experience. It was the "Rausu kombu ice cream with 6g of Royal Belgian caviar." Rausu is a city on the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido. And kombu is kelp. I don't think I tasted the kelp so I'm not sure why it was there, but the ice cream was kind of caramelly, and the caviar was nice and sea salty, so the combination was a nice, really expensive salted caramel ice cream. It was a fun way for me to have my first taste of real caviar.

The bill was a painful experience but it was worth it for a fun and unique dining experience.

And that's the story of how Lydia tricked me into eating ice cream twice in one day.