Imbibe Hour


Sunday, March 22, 2015

Imbibing through Europe again. Traveling Denmark and Germany and the drinks in between Part 5 of ?

Train station in Helsingør
The breakfast went down quick.  Everything though as expected went like clock work.  We ran down the street, bolted to a bus stop.  It was there on time.  Then the bus raced out as Friday morning commuters bustled in.  Speeding away, we were dropped at the Østerport station to figure out how to get tickets for the train to Helsingnør.

"Well that was easy", I remarked but my wife who was furiously looking at the time knew our train was coming shortly and we had to quickly get tickets.  We had maybe 10 minutes.

"Well that shouldn't be a problem.. let's go to the ticket office."

As always when traveling, you often rely on the friendly desk counter, a human interaction, the ability to meet your fellow human being face to face to give you the answer that you need.  A simple stroll to the front desk would do, and as we knew from experience being here for awhile everyone spoke English pretty well.  We find the ticket office... it's about 9 in the morning... and..

it's closed...


on a Friday morning... in a train station... with hours on the door that say it should be open like... what 8:30.

"what the hell?!?"

Katerine had mentioned later when I told her this story that one thing that had been cut in public areas were services.  I just figured that in a major train station on a Friday there might be just one... just ONE human being working there.  Hours on the door said the times they were open, which meant... right now... but as always in Europe like I've always said... opening hours are only a suggestion.

"Well it's time to play spin the wheel then on the kiosks... lets go!"  We hit the electronic machine and were trying to figure it out with maybe 5 minutes left before the train was to arrive.  It was like being on a game show,,, spin that wheel!  Ok English... YES that one.. ok first question easy!  Push that button!  3 minutes before your window closes... tick tock tick tock...

With a few backwards and forwards screen selections, our lucky new credit card for Europe at the ready, we got it done...  clock time...

1 minute...

RUN!!!!  and of course don't drop anything, get your receipts, and then figure out how much you paid later with the conversion... heck this short ride could have cost us $400 bucks... who knew?  (it of course didn't)..  but you can not keep a good plan down from us!

The train would head North from Østerport station, and arrive in Helsingnør where the plan was to visit a famous castle named Kronborg, or as it also known as Hamlet's Castle.  My wife had the idea for a small day trip, and then a museum later.  I was perfectly fine for this as another day of beer drinking/visiting could come later.  Some new scenery and some other interests was totally the right thing to partake in now.

We ran on to the platform... clocks everywhere I seemed to notice.  Very quiet strangely, a few people.  Everything in this country seemed to shuffle and work orderly, but sometimes it also appeared very empty.  I thought back to the kiosk how we could at least find any combination of times and schedule for the train we wanted, but had to navigate a certain way.

It was eerily quiet.  Where was the bustle?  The hustle? the noise even?  The excitement?  Is this Friday?

It occurred to me while I stood for only about 30 seconds before the train came that this country had an almost Orwellian like feel to it.  There were almost no surprises, or at least very few ones and they seemed like they could easily be explained.

The train pulled up, we got in, and headed to small town Denmark for some sight seeing.

The town of Helsingnør is tiny, but we wanted to explore the castle first.  The train station is small, and as soon as you get out, the Kronborg castle appears just to the North which you can see easily.  You certainly wont get lost, and you can't miss it. However, our first impression wasn't the castle from a distance, nor the water that separates Denmark from Sweden, but a piece of artwork that was hard to miss.

I quickly nicknamed it... the Frankenfish.

Sitting just outside was this statue of a fish made out of trash.  The trash was surprisingly colorful, and made me wonder if it were items that were recovered from the actual nearby waters.  It was really cool, I love public art things like this, I wish more cities had them.  This one was particularly creative, large, visually appealing up close and even from a distance.  Another passerby took a glance and seemed horrified, not sure what to think.

Kronborg castle known as Hamlet's castle is the main attraction and draw for the town.  Shakespeare referred to this famous castle as the setting for his play Hamlet, and for centuries one of the most famous plays still gets performed here.  The castle also has history going back to the 1400s, as a strategic location where for years the country collected taxes for any passing ships known as the Sound Dues, thus making the surrounding town a magnet for international shipping, and extremely wealthy.  Also every year actors perform Hamlet here on location, festivals are held, and many famous actors have graced its presence.

We worked our way into quite a cavernous tour.  They were broken into themes, One was about the early history of the castle, guided by a Swedish historian which we took.  Another was about the history of the play of Hamlet, accompanied by of course a tour guide draped in poofy pants and garb of the era.  Still on this somber rainy day, our enthusiasm remained, and there is lots to explore, including my favorite THE SLEEPING VIKING WARRIOR WHO WILL AWAKE SOME DAY AND KICK YOUR ASS!!  Otherwise known as Ogier the Dane.  So fucking metal....  \m/...

We had a blast.  It was also during times between tours in the courtyard I found a surprising rare animal.  A free Wi-Fi connection.  While we waited between tour times, my email and Untappd check-ins were coming in at a furious place about the Cantillon beer I had the previous day.

"I am so friggin jealous" one follower wrote, another wrote "HOW MUCH DOES IT COST!".  Beer fans can't keep boundaries and enthusiasm down, and rightly so I might add!

 The castle was poked and prodded from as many angles as we could, another rainy day, tankers coming through the old strait that separated us from the municipality of Helsingborg, only by an icy breaths touch.  Turns out there is a side that is appealing to Swedish citizens to Helsingnør that surprised me.  Katerine told me that many Swedes come to Helsingnør because the tax rate on alcohol is cheaper and flood the town to buy lots of cheap booze.

Really?!  As a good imbiber this had to be inspected and verified with a walk through the small town's shops.

We made a break from the castle to check out the small berg.  It was obvious that stores were advertising prominently in places for their alcohol selection.  However, compared to what I saw in Copenhagen the selection wasn't considerably different, or for that much fact, even cheaper from what I saw previously. What I will remember though is that for one fleeting glimpse the sun was breaking out.

Holy shit, it's the sun! What is this rare beast that I haven't seen in such long as it suddenly squeaked in between the small nooks and crannies of this small town?  It did seem like it was toying with us, but it made an unbelievable scene between the alley ways, colored painted walls, and wood angular frames of the houses nearby.  It made this place look beautiful. Then there was the hunt for lunch,

My god what was that glorious smell?  We were still taken back by the costs of food, and coveted our packed sandwiches still through small little quiet streets, and few citizens present.  There were though a few out, one who was also quite enthusiastic, but it was the memorable walk into what looked like a small market stall, filled with fresh baked bread and cheeses that took our breath away.  Oh my god the aroma that came from this place was indescribable.  Fresh baked bread and dough punctured the air, and the ripe smell of soft warm cheese and earth was smashing you straight in the face.  We still didn't purchase anything, once again... sticking with our grocery manufactured aluminum foil wraps of goodness to get us by.

We made our stamp of approval, and took our next adventure to one of the most impressive places I've ever visited.  I've been to many museums in my life but have never seen one as spectacular as Louisiana located in the area of Humlebæk.  A quick distance between Copenhagen and Helsingnør stands this incredible museum.  While I haven't been to many grand ones in my life, I have been to some spectacular ones, and this place by far, is just a mind blowing experience in it's design aspects, location, and presentation of art that I have ever seen.

A wonderful building nestled on the coast, it is full of sculptures, excellent paintings, hallways that cascade with light and wood beams that mimic the forest surroundings.  The location and rooms are in themselves works of art them selves, and provides a sensory melancholy viewing experience that just can't be duplicated.

Walking around outside and finding the numerous amount of sculptures and even hidden artworks is like a fine treasure hunt of modern weirdness, quirky, and wicked finds that you wont find anywhere else in the same way as your ordinary museum.  Exhibits of course come from time to time, and while we visited we got to see quite an interesting one.

We entered the exhibit, neutral white for the template of course then ready for the artists colors ready to put their stamp of approval on.  Or in this case, a chance for the artist to unload the dump-truck.

Situated in the museum, and cascading room to room, where piles of rocks and gravel.  It was an indoor expression I guess of "land art" perhaps, within the confined spaces of what should have been something very familiar.

Holy crap what is this?  The rooms were filled to the brim with gray stones and gravel, an almost lunar landscape and a cutting stream that ran between the exhibit punctuated the rooms from end to end.  It was very hard to figure how this was planned, but it obviously was in some fashion that seemed hard to fathom.

This was a piece called Riverbed, that was made by Olafur Eliasson.  A homemade inside outside version of a neighboring brook or perhaps desolate area, one that rips your eyes with it's whitewashed and bleached appearance, it breaks your ideas of normalcy, perception, and beauty.

It was also a complete blast to walk through.  Normal doors were crunched with 3 feet of gravel, forcing you to actually duck between rooms to see the continuing piece at times.

"Wow" I said to my wife, I can honestly say I have never seen anything like this before, and as a younger brother of an artist, having watched my sister go through art school, gone to numerous openings, I have seen lots of obscurities.

The museum as far as I am concerned is an absolute MUST see, if you are visiting the country.


We made it back to Copenhagen to spend one last night with Katerine and Magnus.  We had to take her out to dinner, there was no way we were not going to thank her for her hospitality and at least give her a break in the kitchen.

It was a little later that we set out, I forget why, perhaps because we were packing, but we ended up searching quite a bit for a restaurant, Magnus in his pram ride in tow. our stomachs ready.

We found a good busy place nearby (Cafe Bopa), lots of outside tables, very busy, which were good for Katerine to sit aside with her pram, and an unforgettable experience involving Magnus that I must retell here in its full glory.

Magnus was a little restless, he was out running around a bit, and playing with two other slightly older kids with a soccer ball.  This sort of had me nervous, since it was dark out, and I felt we were loosing sight of him at times.  Still it was a good way for him to burn off energy, and give Katerine a break.  This way at least he would get good and tired, after all we all love our kids but you just want them to sleep so we can have some quiet adult time.

My wife and I looked over the menu, noticed it was filled with a kind of French bistro like items, Cassoulet, Steak and fries and so forth.  I nestled a Bohemian Pilsner, but she wanted wine and couldn't figure out which one to order per glass.  The great waitress we had, actually came out with a few ounces of each three in tumblers for her to try on the house.  Excellent above the call service, especially for Europe might I add...

While we had an appetizer of sorts, and waited for our mains, Magnus came running back to the table. Without missing a beat, he grabbed one of the white wine tumblers, probably thinking it was apple juice while Katerine was distracted, and took a big two handed gulp.

These are the moments that you know in life you will never experience again, so you dare not miss  them.

It wasn't long until we realized what was happening, and that meant we were too slow and powerless to stop it before it started.

A clunk hit the table as Magnus clumsily put the glass back down. No! Katerine said, but it was too late.

The look on his FACE.. after that sip was unforgettable.  His eyes literally BULGED out.  He stood there completely motionless, in utter confusion, as if paralyzed by a combination of stupid and just out right fear.  All that energy and fidgityness suddenly evaporated as he stood completely motionless like a frozen statue for once, in a state I have never seen before.

My wife and I just burst out laughing really hard.  I can only imagine what must be going through that kids head right now.

"Well someone I think is going to sleep well tonight!"

"Yup sorry kid that is not apple juice!"

I am sure this is going to be a story Magnus is going to here later in life, over and over again from his elders.  That story... remember way back when... sort of thing.  I guess we got him started off young like a true Dane you could say.

It was our last time in the country, and we were getting on a train to Germany tomorrow.  The forecast actually called for once a clear sunny day, but we would not get to experience a full one in the country anymore.  After tonight the journey and good drinks were going to be held elsewhere, but sorry Magnus..., you wont be coming.

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