Sunday, June 15, 2014

Part Three: Iceland

DAY THIRTEEN (continued):  For some reason, I was given a thorough pat-down as I went through security at Kastrup (and again when we left Keflavik).  Were we sitting in first class?  We sure had lots of legroom.  I didn't ask, but just enjoyed it.  I even had the aisle seat.  It was a short flight (under 3 hours) to Keflavik.  I didn't see any trees as we made our approach or landed.  Marina, Lance's former coworker, picked us up at the airport and we headed out to see as much as possible in the few hours we had before our next flight.  We went to the ocean, saw some thermal hot pots, and went to the Blue Lagoon--Iceland's most famous tourist attraction.  (Their two biggest industries are fishing and tourism.)  Here we are at the Blue Lagoon.  We opted to not go in the water.  (Marina told us later that had we gone in, it would have taken us 3 days to wash the mud out of our hair.  They sell the mud in many shops.)  Homes are heated with thermal energy in Iceland (at least most of them are).

Lance and Marina:

I'm sure I had some really nice photos of the coast and ocean, but something bad happened to my camera, and they didn't turn out.  I must return here, too.  Eight hours wasn't enough time to spend in Iceland.  I must say, though, that I had one of the best salmon meals of my life in Reykjavik!  Reykjavik was quaint, lovely and fun, too.  Marina was a very good tour guide.  Her Land Rover comes in handy in a place like Iceland.

I bought a few Icelandic souvenirs, and then we headed back to the airport.  Good-bye, Marina!  Good-bye, Iceland!  I hope we can visit again some day.

And that, folks, was the end of our trip after an 8-hour flight home.  We were tired, dirty and grateful!!!

Part Two: Denmark

DAY EIGHT (continued):  Dick and Vivianne drove us to Vejle, Denmark.  I mean, really!  Simply put, we were spoiled!  We crossed two BIG bridges, wormed our way through the Malmo and Copenhagen traffic, and made it to Vejle just as the GPS quit working.  We called Dorte, and she met us in a parking lot.  (It was a blessing in a way that the GPS failed because the probable route we would have been given was flooded due to a big rainstorm.)  Dorte led the way to her house where we were greeted by Peter and Nikolaj and fed a delicious Danish lunch!  Gotta love the Danish meatballs, cheese and everything else!  Dick and Vivianne joined us for lunch, and they left shortly thereafter to visit their Danish friend in another part of Jutland.  It was hard to bid them farewell.  I hate saying good-bye, especially to people I love.

Dorte didn't let us wallow in our sadness for long.  She gave us a walking tour of her garden.

We soon embarked on a motor tour of Vejle.  It was so much fun to see the school where Dorte teaches chemistry and cell biology to 17-20 year-olds.  Here she is in her fabulous, state-of-the-art lab.

We walked a couple of blocks to a pedestrian street and shopping area.  It was very important to get some chocolate, so we did.  There is really no way to visit Denmark without getting ice cream and/or pastries--preferably both.  There are even gluten-free options!  By the time we finished our sweets, it was raining.  The umbrella display was too high for us to reach one, so we kind of high-tailed it back to the car.

After seeing a bit more of beautiful Vejle, we went back to Dorte and Peter's.  As much as we enjoy becoming acquainted with new areas, we love becoming acquainted with new family members.  Dorte fixed a delicious (all the meals we had on our trip were delicious--especially the home-cooked ones) salmon, potato and salad dinner with the most scrumptious rhubarb/berry Danish pudding.  It was so much fun chatting with Peter, Nikolaj and Emilie.  What a great family!  Emilie let us stay in her room while she bunked in the office.

DAY NINE:  Dorte made a big Danish and American breakfast.  We were well-fed.  Nikolaj opted to stay at the house while the rest of us ventered to Den Gamle By ( in Aarhus (Denmark's 2nd largest city).  The buildings in Den Gamle By are actual houses and buildings taken from various Danish cities, deconstructed and then reconstructed at that site.  It was a very lovely and fun place to visit.  (I will be using those adjectives a lot to describe things.)

Here is Emilie trying a coffin on for size.  Fortunately, it wasn't her size.

After enjoying our visit, we went to the large shopping/pedestrian street in Aarhus.  It's a good thing we parked a long distance from the restaurant, because we ate a lot at the buffet.  It is now that I realize I need more photos of Peter, Emilie and Nikolaj.  Here is a photo of that great family!  I must return.  

After another sad farewell, Dorte drove Lance and me to Odense (Denmark's 3rd largest city)--home to Trille (Dorte's mother) and Henrik.  We were so excited to see Trille again, to meet Henrik, and to see where they live.  

We took our belongings to the bedroom we'd have for the next two nights and then went out to the garden patio to eat dinner.  We had pork, potatoes, asparagus and cucumber salad.  Strawberries and cream were served for dessert.  Dorte and Trille told us more stories about my family history, then Dorte returned to Vejle.  (She had to vote in her hometown Sunday.)  Henrik and Trille live 1 block from an idyllic countryside--stream, hills and meadow.  We took a nature walk there and toured the surrounding neighborhood.  I could see myself living there, too.  (It would be hard to choose one place to live in Sweden or Denmark.  I loved each and every place we stayed!)

After the walk, we had to have a late-evening snack.  Trille had made a gluten-free rhubarb crumble.  Of course it was super tasty!

DAY TEN:   Sunday.  We had breakfast on the garden patio again.  Such a beautiful setting.  Trille served homemade gluten-free bread.  I couldn't believe bread that good could be gluten-free!  Sunday is our day to email Zachary on his mission.  Lance's computer wouldn't connect to the internet, so we had to use Trille's.  It was a bit challenging given that she has a keyboard with Danish letters.  Dorte returned from Vejle and we set out for the Iron Age village in Naesby (one block from Henrik and Trille's).  The village is there year-round, but they have an iron age market and reenactment once or twice a year.  We were lucky to be there during one of those times.  We saw roof-thatching, "fighting," cooking, weaving, craft-making,  birds of prey demonstration, etc.  Dorte stone-ground some grain.

Dorte, Henrik and Trille

My lunch at the village consisted of elder flower juice and ham, feta, onions and honey in a wrap.

That evening, we had more time to talk in the gazebo.  We talked about family and how miraculous it was that Dorte found us and how we felt an instant connection the first time we met.  I also told her more about the Swedish relatives and how we connected with them.  

Henrik and Trille served dinner.  It was a delicious (there's that word again) concoction of chicken (with garlic, ginger and curry paste), lettuce leaves, black rice and rhubarb compote.  I'm waiting for Trille to send me the recipe.  We had to say good-bye to Henrik that night.  He would be out the door to work before we got up the next morning.  Henrik was so kind and attentive to us strange Americans.

DAY ELEVEN:  After breakfast we (Trille, Dorte, Lance and I) loaded our belongings into Trille's car and embarked on our journey to visit family history sites.  It was a whirlwind day, and I tried to take it all in.  Here we were walking the same ground (as we did in Sweden) where my ancestors lived.  We visited Glumso, the birthplace of my great-grandmother, and where my great-great-grandfather as a teenager worked for the parish priest.  (In 1980 our train traveled through Glumso, and my mother squealed with delight when she saw the name of the town on the train station.)  The town had a pastry shop.  We went there, of course.

Such a lovely little lake!

We stopped at a grocery store to get water and fruit.  We can't get out of our eating habit!

We drove all around the countryside, and Trille and Dorte pointed out places where our ancestors lived and worked.

We had lunch in a churchyard which doubled as a cemetery.

We don't have churches this old in the U.S.

If I remember correctly, this is the church where my great-great grandparents were married.

After we had visited several rural sites, I realized that my cellphone was missing.  There was no way I was going to ask Trille to retrace our steps.  I chalked it up to a loss.  However, as we drove back towards Glumso, I said a prayer that if it was easy to find my phone I would be able to find it.  We were near Glumso, and I had the thought to return to the grocery store where we'd bought water and fruit and ask if they had seen my phone.  No sooner had I told the clerk, "I lost my phone," than she said, "Yes!  Someone picked it up off the street."  She handed my me my phone.  The screen was bit scratched and messed up, but it worked.  I thanked her, and then said a prayer of thanks!  God is good!

We drove to Dragor, Amager, where Trille used to live.  We visited her 91-year-old mother, Bittern.  I was surprised to learn that she speaks a little English.  She is frail and failing, but seemed happy to meet us.

Trille took us on a walking tour of her childhood village.  It was quaint, lovely, and had good ice cream!  We saw a "guard" chihuahua on our walk.

These are campaign posters.  They're practically identical except for the photos of different candidates.  I wish we did it this way in the U.S.

We checked into our hotel:  Wake Up Copenhagen!  It's a "budget" hotel, but fun, funky and clean.  The rooms are tiny, but we loved it!

We were just a few blocks from Tivoli so, of course, we had to go there.  I knew it was great because I'd been there twice.  The only unfortunate thing of the evening is that the light show on the water didn't work.

We ate at a Japanese restaurant.  The temperature dropped, Lance got cold, and Trille loaned him her coat.  We walked back to the hotel and dropped into our beds.

DAY TWELVE:  Lance and I were awakened at 3:00 am by a phone call from Mark.  He was at the airport and reported that he made it safely back from Costa Rica.  He had forgotten that I had told him his ride (Molly) would pick him up at curbside.  It was nice to hear that he had a safe and fun trip.  We ate breakfast at the hotel and set out on foot to explore Copenhagen.  We went to the church that houses the original Christus by Torvaldsen.  That church also contains statues of the original twelve apostles (and Paul).  

We went to other churches, saw government buildings, other places whose names I can't remember.  We also went to the palace and saw the royal horses being exercised.  

We visited the Round Tower.  There are no steps inside.  You get to the top by walking up a fairly steep circular stone ramp.  There is a kissing bench part way up.  We used it.

View of the city from the top of the Round Tower.

The tower contains a hat museum.  Lance was a little freaked out by the mouse hat.

Lunch consisted of Danish hot dogs.  Lance had to eat two.  Mine was gluten-free which meant that it was served without a bun but with a root vegetable mash, beets, and ketchup and mustard.  Quite tasty.

Next we visited Rosengarde Castle and saw the royal jewels.

The throne room was impressive.

This is the Marble Church.  I don't think they worship marbles.

A real palace guard.  I first saw one of these 34 years ago.  I think it's a different guy this time.

In my opinion, Nyhavn is the most beautiful place in Copenhagen.  It means "new harbor."  We took a canal tour there.  Of course, it was very scenic and fun.

Hans Christian Andersen lived on this street.

The Little Mermaid in all her glory.

The "world's best restaurant" is housed in this building.  Bottom floor.  Live ants is on the menu.

No trip to Copenhagen would be complete without a visit to Denmark's most famous pastry shop:  La Glace. They had a couple of gluten-free options, too.  (Fortunately, I have a copy of their cookbook that Dorte gave me.)

Since we were hungry (well . . . ), we took the metro and a bus to a different part of the city--the place where Trille and her grandparents lived.  We met our Greenlandic relatives--Pipaluk and Nete--at a nice Italian restaurant.  On our way there, we happened upon the "Fish Kiss Spa."  You put your feet into an "aquarium" loaded with tiny fish.  The fish eat the dead skin from your feet.  I was tempted to try it.

Here are Nete and Pipaluk.  Aren't they cute?  They're nice, too!

And this was my dinner.

Lance's dinner.

Quite an eventful day for our last day in Denmark.  We returned to the hotel and went to bed.

DAY THIRTEEN:  We awoke at 3:45 am and quickly got ready and packed our bags.  Trille and Dorte drove us to the Kastrup airport.  It was another sad good-bye.  Sad.  Sad.  Sad.  But I kept thinking that it's possible to be sad that something has ended and glad that it happened.  We got to the airport in plenty of time and boarded our plane bound for Iceland.  Stay tuned for the last leg of our journey:  Iceland!