(Post from Thursday, 7 March 2013)
Getting to Greenland for this trip was quite the journey! However, I should give the disclaimer that it was entirely due to my own choosing. Last summer, I traveled to Greenland via the Iceland route, as most Americans would, and spent a few days in Reykjavik before going on to Greenland. This time, I wanted to travel to Greenland via the Copenhagen, Denmark route to see what the Europeans tourists experience. I have never been to Copenhagen, but I heard so much about it in conversation last summer. And Denmark, in general, seems to be an important part of many Greenlanders’ lives because they studied here, or have friends and family here, or moved from here. So I wanted to be able to say that I have experienced some of it, too.
As keeping transportation costs low was important for me, I booked a really cheap one-way flight to Copenhagen, but the consolation was that I had to make 2 stops – Washington, D.C. to Boston, Massachusetts… to Reykjavik, Iceland… and finally to Copenhagen. It did add considerably more time to the trip, and perhaps a little bit of concern about making quick transfers and whether my bags would check all the way through, but in retrospect I preferred it. I was quite happy to have the breaks and be able to get up and move around after so much sitting!
I arrived to Copenhagen at 1:30 PM yesterday, Wednesday 6 March, after approximately 26 hours of traveling. I was smart and actually forced myself to sleep on the flights even though it was like going to sleep at 5 in the afternoon for me! Last year when I took the red-eye from the US to Iceland, I did not sleep a wink and consequently got quite sick from sleep deprivation.
I am staying in a really nice little boutique hotel – Bertrams Hotel Guldsmeden in Vesterbro. It is such a lovely place with great service, free Wi-Fi, and a delicious breakfast… and the canopy bed is like heaven! Not to mention, it is perfect walking distance to everywhere I need to go. It is just fantastic – like staying in somebody’s home, really!
I should mention that in addition to having never been to Copenhagen before, I have also never been to Europe before! So this was a first for me in many ways! I suppose many people wonder why on earth I would want to travel alone to a new country – a new continent even – all by myself. But really, since I grew accustomed to the Danish language and culture while in Greenland, when I arrived in Copenhagen I felt very comfortable. I think it would be a much different experience if I knew nothing about the place. For holiday, I would, of course, prefer to travel in company with others, but when it is ultimately a business trip, you can always use that as the “cover” for why you are all alone in a foreign country.
Yesterday, I went to Nørreport and the student metropolis area to visit with the Ace & Ace Productions crew who film the Taste of Greenland series for Visit Greenland. They gave me the grand tour of the office, and we also went for coffee and a bite to eat. It was nice to see them in their ‘natural habitat’. Now I really feel like I have a full understanding of the Taste of Greenland series from witnessing the raw filming on location, to seeing their home base in Copenhagen, to seeing the final product on TV and DVD. It really is quite special for me to have been able to foster a relationship with the crew because it is their filming and handiwork that virtually single-handedly sold me on Greenland! A tourist said to me a few days ago, ‘When you see Greenland, you either love it or you hate it,” and Ace & Ace’s cinematography definitely made me love it!
For dinner I went to a restaurant called Falernum on recommendation of the hotel front desk. It is a cozy little wine bar with Italian-inspired food, and just around the corner from the hotel. I was surprised to find the place fully packed on a Wednesday night, but I think that must be the European lifestyle. They are not so squeamish as Americans (or Washingtonians) are to go out on weeknights for fear of having to wake up extra early to sit in a few hours of traffic!
Today, Thursday 7 March, I did a grand citywide walking tour – over 10 miles / 16 km in total!
I had a meeting in the Amager Øst area, so I made the 4-mile walk from Vesterbro in the brisk Scandinavian air J Once I got out of the city center, it was a very residential area, and the streets were interesting because they are all named for countries of the world. On the eastern coast there is a man-made beach with a clear view of wind turbines and some new business and residential development, so the area is up-and-coming it seems. Then I walked 3 miles to Christianshavn, where the Copenhagen office of Visit Greenland is located, to do some work in preparation for traveling to Greenland. The area is very quaint with cobblestone streets and canals for days, and bakeries around every corner, but again, I suppose that is the European way! After work, I walked 2 miles toward Østerport and Kastellet past all the royal palaces and up toward the famous The Little Mermaid statue, and then went back a little more than 1 mile toward the student metropolis. My feet were most thankful for a rest at that point! I actually had planned to walk a few more miles to and from Nørrebro as well, but I thought that might be too much…
For dinner, I went to my friend Maia’s house in Nørrebro. Maia and I were both interns at Visit Greenland in Summer 2012, and while we only knew each other for about one month’s time, we had stayed in touch through Facebook. She is a fantastic vegetarian cook, and she served a spicy vegetable salsa appetizer, pasta with almonds, garlic, truffle, and cheese for a main course, and homemade licorice ice cream for dessert! She and her friends often do small “supper club” dinners where they cook delicious new food for each other, so it was really special be a part of it! I generally find Danes to be extremely welcoming and open, and it was so nice to go to a foreign country where I have never been before and feel welcome! It was a fantastic evening of seven girls sitting around a table eating good food and drinking wine and laughing!
Finally, I am back to the hotel to pack my bags and get ready to head to Greenland! Of course I am not able to sleep a wink! It is quite an odd feeling to lie here feeling like there is something else I should be doing, but in actuality, everything is done – everything is set in place for me to take this trip that the only thing left to do is get on that plane tomorrow morning! I have been thinking about this second trip to Greenland since before I even left the first time, and after so many months of thinking about it and telling people about it, it actually became a rehearsed thing I said more than something I really reflected on. Also, the last couple weeks have been so extremely stressful between school and work that I hardly had time to think or do anything for myself. So despite lying here in Copenhagen, I still have not even stopped to realize that the tomorrow I will be back in Greenland after five months of dreaming about it!
Good night 🙂