Copenhagen: A Perplexing Start

 

Tom had a perplexing start to his day. While we were waiting for our lattes at a table, we noticed a giant Rubik’s Cube right next to us. Obviously, being the engineers we are, we started solving it piece by piece. Ironically, neither one of us could remember how to solve the last layer, so we had to leave it behind with only 2 out of 3 of the rows solved. I also learned that my boyfriend is a nerd; Apparently he attended Rubik’s Cube club meetings while he was in college. 

 Our first stop was the National Museum of Denmark. Housed in the Prince’s Mansion, one of the earliest Roccoco buildings in Copenhagen, the National Museum has the largest collection of Danish cultural history in all of Denmark. Its  exhibition covers 14,000 years from prehistoric times to present-day lives. It would have been easy to spend our entire day there, but Tom and I had a lot more to see (not to mention, we’ve pretty much had our fill of museums for this trip). My favorite part was their collection of dollhouses, I always wanted one as a little girl. The scaling of each piece of furniture and the detail associated with it has always fascinated me. Tom couldn’t share my enthusiasm, because well, I’m pretty certain that he has never been a little girl. 😀

 We grabbed some Smørrebrød for lunch, a traditional open-faced sandwich of meat, fish, cheese, or spread, on a buttered piece of rye bread, before heading over to the Parliament building. Officially, the building is called Christiansborg Palace,  a metonym meaning, “Castle of the Realm.” It is the only one in the world the houses all three branches of the government, the executive, the legislative, and the judicial powers. We took two elevators to the top of the tower, the tallest tower in Copenhagen, and were greeted with some scenic views of the city.
 After returning to ground level, we took a closer look at the Børsen, the old stock exchange. We passed by it yesterday during the walking tour, but I wanted a closer look at its spire. Built by Christian IV between 1619-1614, the building is known for its  the Dragon Spire which consists of four dragon tails wounded together reaching a height of 56 meters. I really admire the expressive artistry that older buildings have. It’s a tradition that has been lost and overtaken by a desire for modern, sleek shapes. At the same time, it would be unrealistic to build elaborately carved or scuplted details into structures these days since I’m sure the cost would be astronomical.

 We stopped by a few historical churches and then took a stroll along Nyhavn. Nyhavn is a man-made port dug between 1670 to 1673 by Swedish prisoners of the Dano-Swedish War. It was constructed by Christian V and served as a gateway from the sea to the old inner city, Kongens Nytorv the “King’s Square.” The harbor area was notorious for beer, sailors, and prostitution. On our walk yesterday, Benjamin mentioned that the first tattoo parlor in the city was opened here, and the artist had a two sided machine. Back in those days it was common for sailors to put their names on their lady-friends, but it was also bad business for the woman. So if the woman handed the artist a few extra bucks, a wink, the tattoo artist would us the semi-permanent needle on his machine, allowing the name to wash away a few days later rather than being permanent. The famous fairytale author, Hans Christian Anderson also lived along this street for 18 years. 

 Our last stop today was to the Rundetaarn, or “Round Tower.” Originally built by Christian IV in the 17th century, the cylindrical tower is made of masonry with alternating yellow and red bricks, the colors of the Oldenburgs. It also has has an equestrian ramp rather than a staircase; this design was chosen to allow a horse and carriage to reach the library and for heavy and sensitive equipment to be transported to the astronomical observatory on top. Tom and I walked up the 7.5 turn helical corridor, and I couldn’t help but ask, “Are we there yet?”

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Travel: Streets of Napoli

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Right outside the San Lorenzo Maggiore is the Via San Gregorio Armeno a quaint street that has gained notoriety as the ‘Christmas Street.’ The shops lining this alley are overflowing with artistic takes of the traditional italian nativity. Even today, the setting of a presipio is more important in Napoli Culture than a christmas tree.

Much emphasis is based on providing a thorough and comprehensive Nativity Scene that not only presents Christ in his manger along with his doting parents and the wise men, but also illustrate the everyday life of the population.  Scenes include the preparation of a meal, a bartender at work, or even a craftsman honing their art.

It then took me a few wrong turns to locate the Capella San Severo a building dating from 1590 when a private chapel was built for John Francesco di Sangro, Duke of Torremaggiore after recovering from a serious illness. It houses a large collection of sculptures that were crafted by some of the leading Italian artists of the 18th century.

Veiled Christ

Veiled Christ

Although there are three emblematic structures that express the  emphasis of decorating in the  late-Baroque style, two particularly caught my eye. They are composed of a marble-like substance developed, partially or solely, by Raimondo. In the words of the all-knowing Wikipedia:

VeiledMary

Veiled Truth

“The Veiled Truth (Pudizia, also called Modesty or Chastity) was completed by Antonio Corradini in 1750 as a tomb monument dedicated to Cecilia Gaetani dell’Aquila d’Aragona, mother of Raimondo. A Christ Veiled under a Shroud (also called Veiled Christ), shows the influence of the veiled Modesty, and was completed in 1753 by Giuseppe Sanmartino (1720-1793).”

 

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At this point, my lunch was much overdue, and I stopped for some traditional Napoli Pizza. It is in this city after all, where this classic italian flat bread was invented.

 

The Associazione Vera Pizza Napoletana maintains strict guidelines concerning what can be characterized as “Genuine Neapolitan Pizza Dough.”Ingredients are as follows: wheat flour (type 0 or 00, or a mixture of both), natural Neapolitan yeast or brewer’s yeast, salt and water.”

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Castel Nuovo

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Palazzo Real

After a thoroughly satisfying eating experience, I took a leisurely stroll down Via Toledo, enjoying some spectacular views of some eye-catching architecture. I spent the last few hours of my day strolling along the port, pausing to explore the three castles that dominate the Napoli coast (Castel Nuovo, Palazzo Reale, & Castel Sant’Elmo), and hike up a hill.

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Castel Sant’Elmo

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Travel: Pirate of Hamburg

I will leave you with an interesting tale about the infamous Pirate of Hamburg.

Klaus Stortebeker was originally a simple fisherman hired during a naval war to break the blockade that the Danish had besieged upon the Swedish capital of Stockholm. After the war ended however, he found that he enjoyed ‘pirating’ so much, that he continued to capture rich merchant vessels for their wealth. He was a fair man, however, and is known as the only Captain that split the loot equally with all his men, whereas most Captains tended to take up 50-60% of the goods, and left the rest for his men to squabble over. Klaus was even liked by the poor, he was seen as a ‘Robin Hood’ of sorts, and contributed his earnings to help fuel their meager living.

Unfortunately, in his overzealousness, he continued to capture the merchant ships of the Hanseatic League. They were never able to capture him, due to the speed of his ship. Instead, they played upon his character, by paying a spy to play a stranded seaman, Klaus, being the good man he was, welcomed the stranger on board. In their sleep, the spy arose to pour molten lead into the ship’s rudder, thereby rendering Klaus’s ship useless, and unable to escape capture when they saw the Hanseatic Navy on the horizon.

After being sentenced to death, him and his crew were marched naked through the streets of Hamburg. On this route, he tried to think of creative ways to avoid the fate of those that befell the guillotine. Upon crossing the Bridge of Sorrows, he shouted,

“Wait! If you let my men and I free, I will give you a gold chain that can wrap around the city twice!”

The magistrates did not believe him, and decided that even if this was plausible, they would find this treasury of gold after he died. Therefore, they rejected Klaus’s first proposal.

Klaus was running out of time, and as they reached the execution square, he mad a final attempt.

“Wait! If my headless body can walk past my men, let them go free.”

The magistrates replied that they would be more than interested in seeing his headless body march, and agreed to free as many men as he walked past. To the dismay of the executioner, after the severing of the head, Klaus’s body began to stroll past his men. Not 1, but 11 men were passed, before the executioner, in his rage, tripped the the body by throwing the executioner’s block in front of it’s feet.

When asked if he still had the energy to execute the remaining men, the executioner replied in jest, “Not only do I have enough energy to kill all of them, I have enough energy to kill all of you as well!”

In a rage, the senate sentenced him to death as well as Klaus’s men, including the 11 that his headless body had walked past.

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Klaus’ Skull

That was an interesting story, no? I certainly enjoyed how it brought me back to a childhood in which such Myths and Legends seemed plausible. ^_^

Travel: Childhood in Hamburg

Trust me, you will appreciate this post when you read the posts to come. I feel a deep need to lighten the mood at this point in time, since the bulk of my future travels have an air of darkness about them.

I went to Miniatur Wunderland!! 😀 It is currently the largest in the world, and seeks to present a geographical, atmospherical, and socially accurate “mini-world”. It also holds the current World Record for the longest model railway tracks. Although it is not yet complete, 8 sections were available for me to scrutinize.

Honestly, I did not think I would be so fascinated, but the program allows for little secrets hidden within each world that you have to find. Like a dead body in the river, or a skiing accident, or a couple making love in a field of daisies! (I didn’t have all day, so I didn’t nearly use such precise scrutiny for each region). It’s like I got to travel the world in 2-hours without leaving the comfort of the building!

Here’s a game!

  • I will list the regions that are currently on exhibition:
  • I will provide one iconic picture for each nation:
  • First two to pair all 8 correctly, I’ll send you a postcard from my next destination ^_^ (Provided I have an address of course :P)
(1)

(1)

(2)

(2)

(3)

(3)

(4)

(4)

(5)

(5)

(6)

(6)

(7)

(7)

A) United States

B) Austria

C) Germany

D) Hamburg

E) Knuffingen

F) Switzerland

G) Bayern

I then embrace my tomboy side by going to the Prototyp Museum to gawk at famous cars from Formula One racing history. (One of the many sports I wish I had time to pursue as a hobby, not to mention my bucket list includes restoring an old car and tricking it out).

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