Monday, December 30, 2013

2013: A Retrospective

Eiffel Tower (duh), September 2013

Silvester is upon us again and though I bravely and humbly admit that this year has not been one of particular blogging prowess, I couldn't not do the year in review.  Take it sort of like an apology (sorry, Dad...).

So, generally, I could split up the year pretty broadly and call it good.  If I did, it would look like this:

Spring ~ Moved to Denmark and everything was weird again...
Summer ~ Please let me finish this thesis acceptably....
Fall ~ We're just going to call this period "The Stupid Time."  I don't really want to talk about it (but if you ask me about it, I can talk about it for a looooong time so...best to just move along.)
Winter ~ EVERYTHING IS GOING TO BE OKAY!  DAGNABBIT! 


But, let's be frank, that just sounds really vague and cryptic and weird.  So, without further ado, I give you the usual format.

***
January

Mostly we just finished up all our moving-from-Germany arrangements.  I basically wrapped up my teaching at the University of Rostock and Paul basically packed up his entire lab.  

February

A house-cooling party where it was surprisingly more difficult than I thought it would be to fob off  various refrigerated condiments on our guests.  Oh, and we moved to Denmark.

March

Began our Danish courses and wondered if we'd ever see the sun again?

April

Masters coursework, new lab setting-up, Danish classes.  We went to a concert where the Odense Symphony played The Beatles; it was kind of the highlight of the year at that point.  That isn't to say our year wasn't good but more to say it was a really, really awesome concert.

May

By now you may be thinking, "But wait, I thought you guys traveled, like, every month?"  Well, see, residency permits were expensive, moving was expensive, Denmark in general is expensive, tuition is(was) expensive.  So, you get the idea.  But in May we forked out the crazy train fare to go to Copenhagen for my birthday (and for a new passport...and new expensive residency permit...).

Copenhagen was awesome!  I like Copenhagen and the canal boats and the castles and that one Mexican restaurant we found that almost made us cry with joy (we're severely deprived).  I especially like saying Copenhagen the Danish way:  KOObenHAWen.  Saying it all the way there and back on the train. Super annoyingly.

June

We saw the sun again (too...too much sun...) and went to the biggest bonfire I've ever seen.  Also, when I look at the calendar, it's completely blank except for the words "FINISH YOUR DARN ANALYSES!"   So...that was that time.

July

July was prrrrrretty much the same.  Paul had a doctor's appointment on the 30th at 1:15pm, too.  That was literally the only thing noted on our calendar.  High times.  Oh, but I did get my Masters in GIS, so that was a huge relief!

August

WE WENT SOMEWHERE!  TO LISBON!   Finally!

Lisbon was a pretty great long weekend and I will forever and ever dream of the salted cod, Bacalau (which, when prepared...not salty?), and the shellfish stews and the Pasteis de Belem...  We ate good food there.  After being in sad expensive-food Danish wasteland for eight months, it was a kind of "release the hounds!" situation for us.  Also, if ever in Lisbon, there's this one, particular gelatto place... Also, go to Sintra.  ALSO, Lisbon was part of the most recent season of "The Amazing Race" so, I'm pretty much fulfilled.

September

Paris, folks.  We went to Paris for our 5th anniversary.  And now that we've been to the "Big Three" (Paris, Rome, London)...I think Paris won?  I know!  But, to be fair, maybe we need to try London not in mid-January.  Also, Versailles is huge.  Also, I maintain that my old ipod got pick-pocketed (Paul has his doubts) and I see it as a right of passage to be celebrated.

October

I took Paul to Helsingoer for his birthday.  It's the "real" Hamlet castle.  We could see Sweden.  It was cool.  Also, I went to a family Halloween party as Pippi Longstocking and didn't realize that was about the Scandinavian equivalent of going to an American little girl birthday party as Princess Disney-Fill-In-The-Blank.  Wide, wide-eyed, whispering ("Mama, it's Pippi!") little kids all night long.

November

Paul went to Australia and saw a marsupial we didn't know existed (quokkas).  I spent the month mostly being jealous.  Also, Thanksgiving was real exciting because we could find a turkey!

December

 We went back to Rostock for the Christmas Market and to visit our "German mom," Ute.  It was real weird to walk by aquahaus, but also kind of nice and homey to be in the city again. We got our hot sheep cheese pita sandwich things and bratwurst fix.  And, of course, there was our first Danish Christmas where we tried risalamande (and decided to never eat anything else ever again) and roasted up a good ol' northern European-style duck.

***

Onward.

2012  /// 2011

Thursday, November 7, 2013

My Sister Told Me to Blog More

When we talk to people who don't live in Denmark, we invariably say something about how expensive things are.

Sometimes I get the distinct impression that they think we're exaggerating.  

But I'm here to tell you that when I say that the milkshake cost $10, it cost $10.  Just a regular ol' medium strawberry milkshake, folks.  

For further proof, I will now give you various items from my grocery list today.  As a note, we tend to only buy the ultimately cheapy brand called "Budget."  Cardboard toilet paper kind of brand.  Just FYI.

1 liter orange juice: 25.95 kroner, $4.70
1 small head of broccoli: 11 kroner, $2.00
1 Lindt chocolate bar: 24.95 kroner (on sale!  Usually 30 kroner), $4.50 usually $5.40 
1/4 lb. bean sprouts: 11 kroner, $2.00
1 toothbrush: 29.95 kroner, $5.40

Oh, and here are some other cooooool stats for ya.

1 takeout order of korma from neighborhood Indian place, no sides: $16.00
2 small, one-scoop ice cream cones from corner store: $9.00
Normal-person running shoes: $235 (I will never buy shoes again)

But...then again...there's this:

Full set of dental x-rays and cleaning with no insurance coverage: $70.00
Monthly gym membership for two people: $35.00
Monthly cell phone bill for two smart phones, incl. data: $50.00

Go figure.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Fem År


Today is our fifth anniversary.

I don't have much to say about that here because there's too much to say about it.

This year was one where we planned the celebration together (rather than taking turns like in the other four).  And we've kind of outdone ourselves this time, I think.  It will be hard to top in the future, let's just say.  At this rate, our 25th will have to be a trip to the moon.  

But, that particular part of the celebration actually won't start until next week.  For today, we just woke up together and went for a long walk in the park at 8am.  Maybe we'll rent a movie from the library.  We'll go out to dinner (mostly so I have an excuse to wear those regular-ol' boring black nylons I got at the department store that ended up costing $35.  Come ON, Denmark!).  

We'll just enjoy being together.  It's what we're good at.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

A Short Mid-Blog Reintroduction

Today I'm pretty sure that my little intro to Odense, Denmark thingamijgig posted on Janssen's Everyday Reading blog.  So, if that's the case, welcome to you potential visitors who were probably like, "Denmark?  What the heck is in Denmark?"

Bikes.  Bikes are in Denmark.

Also, licorice-flavored chocolate bars.

And blonde people.

And us!  We're in Denmark.  See!


Well, I don't know why this photo would be self-evidently Danish, but you're just going to have to trust me.  I promise.

So, I'm Heidi and my husband is Paul.  We moved to Germany in 2011 and then Denmark in 2013.  We both work at the local university and generally spend our off-hours being super interesting people, what with all our book reading and walk taking and food...cooking.

I'm also super fashionable.  Ever since I was a child...

Workin' it!
So, you know. There's that.

We do this other boring thing though, sometimes.  We travel around Europe.  Whenever we get the chance.  And we try to report about our trips here for our families and passing observers.

In a week and a half, for example, we'll be going to Lisbon ("Down that old South American way...").  To...do something mysterious because I have absolutely no preconceptions about what Portugal is like.

Also, in September, we'll be going to Paris for about a week where one of our goals is to stand in line for forever to get an official "Best Baguette 2013."  

And one of my personal goals is to figure out a way to use the word "fragonard" in a way that sounds legit to some other American tourists--even though it actually doesn't mean anything in French (it's just the name of a Rococo artist that I once studied).  But, I lived twelve years of my life somehow convinced that it meant "duck" so something's gotta go down with it when we're there.

Something like, "Oh, be sure to order the fragonard paté!  It's not on the menu, but they'll make it special."

or, on the subway, "Perhaps we can go to the Luxemborg Gardens to feed the fragonards?"

At any rate, we're here.  We're learning Danish.  We're working up the courage to try curried herring.  And we are the Hunns.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Aaaaaaaand we're back.


The thesis is done.  The week-vacation-from-everything-in-the-world-after-turning-in-thesis has passed.  And life goes on here in Denmark.

And so I thought that this first "Hello World" post since the dark times could highlight something that I remembered while going grocery shopping today: the expat experience of buying basil.

You know how in the U.S., if you want to buy basil it's like, "Here's this tiny packet of sad shriveled leaves for five dollars or a giant, giant two pound bag that maybe people use to feed horses because there is so much of it for fifty cents." And you're like, "Conundrum!"  You know that?  Am I even remembering that right?  I seem to be pulling this vague memory of basil-buying out of the mists of time (aka two years ago).

Well, here, there is only one kind of way to purchase basil: as a potted plant.   Yessir.  Right there in the produce section, a bunch of potted plants of basil.  In Germany, basil was the only potted-option but here there's potted basil and parsley and chives and (if you're lucky) cilantro aaaaaand some other things that I still don't even know what they are because...Danish...and I'm not Julia Child.

So, other than the annoying part of trying to get a potted plant home in tact when you're carrying home all your groceries in a backpack and four hand-held cloth bags (super fun), it's actually quite a smart solution.  Use as you go, you know?

Also, three more weeks to Lisbon!

I don't even know what in the world we'll even do in Lisbon, but I do know it will be hot and people, after living in coastal Oregon then coastal Germany then coastal Scandinavia (latitude = Homer, Alaska)....I'll just let you fill in the rest of this sentence with whatever the heck you want.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Pyros of the World!


It's not a huge secret that I'm pretty much a well-disciplined pyromaniac.  So, I cannot begin to tell you how gleefully excited I was for the annual Sankt Hans "Witch"-Burning four-story-bonfire event that happened here last night (yes, this is what night looks like right now).    

I'll just let the picture speak for itself.

In other news...thesis writing?  So, sorry (Dad) that there haven't been many updates happening here.  But, maybe you can start expecting more stuff at the beginning of August perhaps?  End of July?  Whenever the heck I turn in this looming, dark, evil, bain of my existence?

Until then, here's a list of summer highlights:

* This weekend we're going on a bike trip to the island of Langeland where we have been told we can literally see "flocks of wild horses."  Flocks of them!
* I had a job interview.  It was terrifying.  It also finally gave me a reason to get a haircut.  So, win.
* Paul continues to be awesome.  And he got more pet fish.
* I made Worcestershire Sauce from scratch.  There's seriously weird stuff in that stuff.  You don't want to know.  (But you do.)
* We saw the Queen.
* We both passed our first Danish tests.
* And...I guess we're just a little boring right now.  
* But if, just as a quick note, you want to eat some amazing stuff, make this or this today and it will bring you joy and peace and love and happiness all the rest of your days.


Friday, May 17, 2013

Up the Skaggerak and Down the Kattegat


"Wonderful, wonderful Cooooooooopenhaaaaaaaagen..."

Will be in our heads all day--because that's where we're off to on toget (the train) in about an hour.  I have to go get my passport renewed.

It will be my third passport, which kind of tells you how old I am...and, I guess, how long since I've been off in international lands (about 14 yrs. old, when we moved to Japan).    One time, when I was on Study Abroad in London, an old guy coming from a Duran Duran concert had a stern chat with me on the tube about how only one in ten (? Is this true?  I have no idea) Americans ever owned a passport and how that made us all really narrow-minded.  There are a few logical counter-arguments to his point, but I like to think that maybe since I've had three passports now, I'm picking up some of that slack.

Also, it seems appropriate that, since this is the 29th anniversary of when my mom was in labor with me while having a broken tailbone, I'll be seeing the original of her favorite statue in the world.  [This made way more sense when I first wrote it at 6:30am...but now it sounds completely unrelated and crazy.  Statue?  Labor?  What?  Just roll with it.]

So, "let us clink and drink one dooooooowwwn!"  To Copenhagen!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Romsø: Land of Magic and Ticks



Last week, on Ascension Day, we got on a tiny boat with twenty other people and set off into the Baltic/North Sea (I'm not really sure which one it is because we're right in between?).  For a three hour tour (a three hour tourrrrrrr).

[Not really.  It was more like a six hour tour total and only thirty minutes on the tiny boat.]

And after a little journey, the boat totally left us all alone on this completely uninhabited island a few miles off of the completely inhabited island we live on.  For hours.  Just to wander.

It was amazing.



And so we're stomping through the woods and trekking along the coastal cliffs and peeking into old, defunct village schools and cottages...



And crawling over stone fences and through windswept bushes, through tall grasses.  Keeping an eye out for pheasants and swans and the almost-tame herd of deer left on the island...


Spent a good amount of time stalking a huge group of them, trying to get a shot of the awesome albino deer with its usual entourage...


And then, after a bit, sitting down with the rest of the co-workers on the grass and enjoying a nice picnic when someone casually noticed that everyone had their pants tucked into their socks, and then someone else casually noted that there totally were a bazillion ticks everywhere on this island and, oh hey, here are two just right here on my blanket...  so don't even bother tucking in your pants because we're all doomed so have a strawberry and c'est la vie!

TICKS!  I hate ticks.  I hate ticks so much.  I HATE ticks.  And I've spent a good amount of time making sure that I never have had a tick in my life and for some reason I thought that this mystical island would never have anything as bad as ticks on it which I now realize is completely insane but, I mean, there don't really seem to be mosquitoes here so was it really that insane etc.?

When we got home, everyone reported their tick kills -- two on the back, one on the knee, between the toes!

And Paul tick-checked me.  And guess how many ticks I had on my tick-virgin body?!




Not a flippin' single one.  

I am invincible.

Monday, May 6, 2013

The Taste of Satan

Today is a gross day.

Seriously gross.  So gross because I feel like a zombie and I went to Danish class and was like, "Nope, this isn't happening" halfway through.  And because I have to wake up at an ungodly hour tonight to give a proposal presentation to the entire GIS department waaay over there in east-coast-time-land.

So, I'm a frizzy stressball that is simultaneously exhausted (and perhaps a little sick?  I can't tell if it's just being tired or am I tired because I'm sick?).  And I'm sitting in Danish class thinking, "Maybe if I eat some chocolate then I'll get some energy..."

And I go to the vending machine.  And I put in all the tiny bits of change I can find in my sad, sad, exhausted, sad pockets.  And I type in the number to get a Yankie bar (sort of like a Milky Way?).

And the Yankie bar falls, and I reach in, and I pull it out... aaaaaaaand...


NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

LAKRIDS!

The danish word that means "satan."

Okay, not really.  Really it means "liquorice" but liquorice in english means "satan" so...

Why is everything here tainted with the sin and horror of lakrids?!  Breath mints, cough drops, gummi bears, cake, gravy (?!).  

So...that's my sad story.  And yes, I did try to "give it a chance."  Nope.  Nope that was a bad idea.  

In happier news, if you're a person who is able to and actually enjoys tasting satan, then Denmark is the country for you.

And we got to go to the zoo for free on Saturday.  




Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Lisboa



It's pretty cold here still, even though the sun is up at 5am and down at 9pm.  And, we're still taking a break from our usual every-two-month explorations to make up for the beating our bank account took when we moved from Germany.

BUT, we're planning for a short, weekend trip this August to Lisbon and Evora to see us through the chilly spring.

I can't say that Portugal was on our exploration short-list, but now that circumstances have lined up to make this trip possible, we're getting pretty excited.

Portugal really is a mystery to us-- is it like Spain?  Is it like Brazil?  Is it like Greece?  Is it like...whatever Portugal is like?  And what is Portuguese food?  Is there a particular Portuguese architecture?  How did such a relatively small country stick around with such consistent borders for so long?

Has anyone out there been to Portugal?  Any tips?  We're all orelhas.


Thursday, April 25, 2013

Great Prayer Day


Store Bededag, or "Great Prayer Day," is tomorrow and it's a day-off-work kind of holiday (woo!).

The history is pretty straight forward--way back in the 17th century, Danish folks were like, "Man, there are sure a lot of prayer days around Easter...I wish that we could streamline this a bit or something."  So they did, by lumping all the prayer days into one Great Prayer day on the fourth Friday after Easter.

Since, you know, Great Prayer Day meant you were making up all your prayers in one day, everything was closed, including the bakeries.

So, tonight, the day before Store Bededag, you traditionally go out and buy some warm wheat rolls and eat them with butter and jam--because, even though you were supposed to buy the bread early and eat it the next day, who can resist a warm roll fresh from the bakery?!

So happy Store Bededag tomorrow.  And enjoy a roll tonight!

Friday, April 12, 2013

Living Small

Photo
Photo

We live in a pretty small apartment, even for Danish standards, that clocks in around 480 square feet (45 square meters).

But, then again, it's not like we have a lot of stuff.  I mean, we moved to Germany two years ago with just four suitcases.  We literally only brought clothes, one cookbook, two nice chef knives, a set of teaspoons, and a pyrex measuring cup. (Clearly, I was a little nervous about having to convert cooking measurements.)  It's not very hard to keep the stuff to a minimum when you're starting with that.

I was thinking, though, that even though I'm pretty sure most of our American friends would probably think our apartment is insanely small and too quirky to handle (bedroom light switch in the opposite corner from the door?  sure! power outlets literally in the middle of the wall?  why not?), it's not so bad.  And I kind of like livin' small.

For one, there's just less to worry about.  Two, it's hard to lose things--there are usually only two places it can be.  Three, less heating and electricity costs which pans out to one more international trip in a year.  And, living small has also made us think about what we really need, in terms of both things and in terms of space.

So, we'll probably stay put here in Hyggehus for a while.  Because living small isn't so bad.  Oh, and because of that darned couch

Saturday, March 30, 2013

God Påske!


Or, as it took us a while to figure out, "Happy Easter!"

Turns out that Easter/Påske (said like "poh-skuh") is a way big deal here.  We're talking, like, a week of national holidays, kids get two weeks off of school, grocery stores are closed for four days kind of big deal.

A few things we've picked up just from wandering around/Danish class/observing what is for sale in the grocery stores:

1.  YELLOW!  So much yellow.  Yellow flowers put in your windows and on your doorsteps, yellow plates, yellow dresses, yellow socks, yellow hats, yellow napkins, yellow tablecloths, yellow chicks that look like peeps but are actually not edible in any way, yellow candles--just yellow.  It's a thing.

2.  LAMB!  Eat it.

3.  CLEANING WINDOWS!  I don't actually know if this is an Easter thing or not, but we live on a tiny little street and so we can see a lot of people's windows and a lot of people cleaning those windows this week.

4.  EGGS!  Mostly of the chocolate or chocolate/marzipan variety.  But also, as I learned in Danish class, it's really traditional to eat this particular boiled egg dish for Easter dinner (with the "LAMB! Eat it." remember?).  So, if you'd like to add this really simple dish to your Easter dinner to add a little Danish twist, here's the recipe below (which I will translate into English language and American cooking amounts, you're welcome):

~~~

Skidneæg, or (no joke) "Dirty Eggs"

1-2 boiled eggs per person
3.5 tablespoons butter
3.5 tablespoons flour
2 (and a little bit extra) cups milk
3 tablespoons mustard (your call on what type, it's for a mustard sauce)
1 teaspoon salt (it says "coarse" salt, so maybe kosher salt is a good option in America?)
pepper

Directions:  Melt the butter in a saucepan, add flour and stir them up together nice and good and let them combine a bit (for, like, 30 seconds to a minute).  Add the milk, little by little, always stirring, to make a good thick sauce.  Add the mustard, salt, and pepper to taste and cook for about 5 more minutes to thicken.

Pour over boiled eggs in a serving dish.  Serve with optional watercress and rye bread (it's a thing here).

~~~

Happy Easter! (And sorry it's been so quiet around here recently--things have been busy and new and overwhelming.  Hopefully we'll be back to more regular updates soon.)



Sunday, March 10, 2013

5th Engageversary



Friday was our 5th Engageversary.

On March 8, 2008, we were alone on a hidden beach in Oregon.  Paul's knees were wet, I was still a little
     carsick from driving through forested backroads, but we were pretty cheery all the same.

On March 8, 2009 and 2010 and 2011 we went back to that same beach.  The first year, in a fit of romantic
     insanity straight out of some 18th century novel, I thought it would be a memorable idea to both drink a
     bit from a waterfall near the cliff where we first got engaged.
            "Come on Paul!  It's, like, a testament to our love!" I said, as the water trickled down off the edge of        
                   a giant cow pasture.  
     We didn't get giardia, so win!

On March 8, 2012, we went to Warnemunde beach in Germany.

And on March 8, 2013, we went to Kerteminde beach in Denmark.  This year won, hands down, for face-
     smacking coldness, but we still went.  We still walked.  We still took pictures.  And we still have our
     tradition!  Because when you make up a word like "Engageversary" just because you want an excuse to
     say the phrase "testament to our love" and drink cow pasture water... you have to follow through on that.


So now March 8 always means beaches.  And if we ever live somewhere that is more than a ten hour drive away from a beach, we will find a sandbox, fill part of it with water, and walk back and forth across it.  We're not crazy, we're just sort of stubborn.  And romantic.




Saturday, March 2, 2013

Integration

We took a 15 minute bike ride here today--obviously Google Maps doesn't take imagery in the winter (it was still pretty)

We have been in Odense (oh-OON-suh) nearly one month now.  And in that month I have been knock-down flabbergasted at the resources that have been offered to help us "integrate."

Really.  So much more help than in Germany.

In Germany it was like:  "PASSPORT!  FINGERPRINT! SIGN THIS!  GO AWAY!"

Here, it's like: "Heeeeeeeeeeeeeey buddy.  Have a cup of tea.  Sit right on down on this comfy sofa.  We'll get you all sorted out in no time while this string quartet plays a little music in the background."

First, the office where we registered for residency did everything in English and helped us with our tax forms (not because it was their job--just because they wanted to be helpful).  Then, they practically pounced on me to enroll in the city's international citizen "Spouse Program"** where you go to seminars about work culture, job seeking, writing CVs and cover letters in the Danish style, interview suggestions, and networking advice.  (Also, they serve cake?  It's unbelievable.)

THEN I was also assigned my very own employment case worker who has been personally contacting the HR departments of my dream companies on my behalf for international citizen internships (which is great because, you know, Danish and all).

AND THEN the international citizen program enrolled me in an intensive Danish course (14 hr/week) that is completely paid for by the city.  AND I was told that I can take these courses for up to THREE YEARS, all for free.

And that's just for me!  Paul has had his own share of Danish course enrollments, international researcher integration programs, etc.

This, of course, doesn't include the fact that, one week after applying for residency, we received health insurance cards and a friendly letter from our doctor notifying us that we could come in for a get-to-know-you and check-up anytime.  (?!)

Or the invitations I've received to join book clubs, Friday cafe meet-ups, and the "American Women's Club of Fyn."

Or the Swing Dance Club here which, seriously, made me feel more welcome than anywhere I've ever been in my entire life.

I mean!  So helpful!  So friendly!  So many bike lanes!

Sure, not everything is perfect (amiright?), but I have to hand it to Denmark--they have some fantastic things going on for expats.  If they're this conscientious towards us, imagine what life must be like if you're actually Danish!



**  I didn't think that I was going to be anything special, but I was surprised and thought it was really cool that, in the Spouse Program, I was in the bottom three of twenty for level of education.  Almost every husband and wife there who had accompanied their working spouse had a PhD.  Huh!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Valentine's Day in Denmark

We were kind of awesome to each other this year.  I "gave" Paul a professional massage appointment (that he actually needed to continue functioning--but that's neither here nor there), lasagna, and homemade chocolate cupcakes.  Paul gave me mint chocolates, flowers, and a "surprise!"

I love surprises.

And so we walked and walked and the whole time I was like, "Are we going to the library?  Are we going to the train station?  Are we going to an organ concert?  Are we going to a new grocery store?!"  And each time it was like, "No. Nope. Noooo. Nein. No."

And then after walking for a pretty long time in a strange suburban neighborhood  I saw and I knew exactly where we were going.  Because it was a place with one of the weirdest and therefore awesomest activities I'd ever seen in my life.

PEOPLE!  Paul took me to a place with the Doctorfish!

You know?  Where you sit on the edge of a big aquarium, stick your feet in, and aaaaaaaaall these fish come and eat all the dead skin off your feet!!

I mean!  It's a totally weird thing to do!

And therefore, it was the perfect Valentine's Day surprise.  Because now we have a memory together (which are always so much more important to me than gifts) of doing something spontaneous, wacky, and technically illegal in the United States.

Friday, February 1, 2013

The Ballad of Devito, the Strangely-Shaped Black Sofa

Two feet tall and eight feet wide, I swear

Waaaaaay back in...November--I think?--Paul was in Denmark for one day.  And on that one day, he had the chance to see exactly one possible apartment that would be free in February.  It was close to the main train station, which was good for our commutes.  It was only going to be around $700/mo without the usual Danish requirement of paying the first three months up front.  It was advertised as being the same size as Aquahaus.  And, it was on a charming street.

I mean, come on, that's pretty charming, right?

So, Paul went to see this apartment.  Then he had me come up to Denmark on that same day to see the apartment.  And, weighing the list of pros and cons, the pros eked out a victory and we decided to take it.

Now, there are some very good things about this apartment, a few of which I already mentioned.  But, others included things like carpet (?!), not being directly above a very cold cellar, and having access to a dryer.

But, there are some decidedly not as good things about this apartment, too.  For example?  Well, the bathroom is the smallest bathroom in the entire scope of my imagination in all possible universes of quantum theory.  

No seriously.  I'll take pictures (maybe, if I can fit in there with a handheld camera...it may be a squeeze).

Also, there is no dishwasher.  This is a horrible, horrible thing after having one here for the first time in our married lives.

Additionally, I'm not entirely sure if the oven/refrigerator/any-cabinet door can open without hitting the opposite wall.

Aaaaaand, if this apartment is the same size as Aquahaus, then I'm the same size as Sweden (fat. chance.).

Numero uno of the cons, however, had to be the fact that it is literally impossible to get anything longer than four feet into the front door.  In fact, if our mattress had not been the kind that originally was delivered in the attitude of a jellyroll, then we would be using sleeping bags for the next three years.

Let me break this down for you:  There are two staircases on either side of our tiny, skinny door.  The one on the right comes up from the ground floor and is approximately two feet wide.  The one on the left continues up to the third floor.  Our door, in this highly accurate illustration, is the red thing.  (The lilliputian bathroom is the blue postage-stamp).

The purple is the impossible u-turn trajectory one has to maneuver to get anything inside.


[Stay with me, I'm going somewhere with this.]

SO, as you can see, it is physically impossible to move something like...oh...say...a couch...into this apartment through the traditional "doorway" method.

Which left the windows.  Yep.  Getting a couch through the second story windows.

My overall point here is that this whole couch thing was REALLY STRESSING US ME OUT!  (And it made me start hating this apartment with the burning of a thousand suns).

It was also stressing out the previous tenants, who tried to get us to buy their used couch for $1,000+.

"HAH!" we said, in our semi-impoverished way.  And in that same e-mail, I wrote that, since we couldn't afford it, we'd actually just go buy an IKEA couch that we could hopefully move up in pieces and that our price was therefore around $500 instead.

Well, dangit but I should have said $50!

Because this morning, as said previous tenants were, with their professional movers, attempting to get their $1000+ weird-shaped Scandinavianly-designed (did I mention weird-shaped?) couch out the window...they discovered that a certain window replacement in 2008 made the opening juuuuuuuust about two inches smaller than before

And their psycho-priced couch was never going to leave that apartment alive!

All of this is just my concise way of saying that now we own a couch, and because Paul's personality (and mine, if we're being honest) absolutely cannot handle any sort of any kind of haggling...he paid $500 for it--

An absurdly short, fat couch that has been christened "Devito" and will live the rest of its unchainsawed days in our apartment.

Fin.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

German Juices

I will miss:

Cherry Juice
Currant Juice
Raspberry Juice
Various-Random-and-Mysterious-Tropical-Fruits-With-Spanish-Names Juice


I will not miss:

Banana Juice
Beet Juice


(No, I will not miss those one bit)



Saturday, January 19, 2013

Public Service Announcement

Heeeeeeeey.

Sooooooooooooo

We're moving to Denmark?  I mean, like, we are currently in the actual process of actually moving to actual Denmark?

Aaaaaaand, I'm taking this Lidar class?  And it's super interesting while simultaneously being super time consuming, as most interesting things tend to be.

Soooooo there's just not going to be much going on here for a bit  (maybe for a month or so?).  Thought you might want to know.

In other news, we took one final Germany trip a few days ago so I could go see this...

It's even more beautiful in person.  Also?  He's wearing a green suit?!  I had no idea.

Because, as you may recall, this particular painting holds a place of some importance in my life.

Seeing that painting at the Hamburg Kunsthalle along with serendipitously discovering that we could see The Hobbit in english (?!) just down the street made the day trip a good way to round out our German sightseeing.  I got 19th century romantic art galleries. Paul got hairy, short people with slight British accents.  Everyone was happy.

The next time you hear from us, we will most likely be freaking out in a new language.  

Bis bald!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

2012: A Retrospective

Bastai Bridge, south of Dresden.  October 2012

Happy Silvester/New Year from Rostock!  We hope you all ate a jelly-filled donut and watched this (don't worry, it goes into English right after the introduction)--as per German tradition.  We had the opportunity to watch all the fireworks across Rostock from eighteen floors up which was a perfect end to a really spectacular year.

Without further ado, I present the year in review with links to old blog posts and facebook photo albums.

***
January

I finally returned to my beloved London and dragged Paul around on a half marathon walk each day from Kensington to Canary Wharf, Shepherd's Bush to Waterloo.  

We also bought our giant map of Germany and put our first four black dots on the places we'd been already.  

February

We had a housewarming party where our map was plastered with post-it note suggestions from new friends of where to visit in Germany.  The rest of the time we spent saving up a little money for a big trip to...

March


Rome: Day one,  Days two and thre
Siena: Day four 
Florence: Days five and six
Ravenna: Day seven

April

April was another savings month and we mostly puttered around town, working on experiments and a master's degree.

May

Paul's parents, brother, sister, and brother-in-law came to visit us and Germany.  We saw Mecklenburg, Pomerania, Berlin, Leipzig, the Black Forest, Rothenburg-ob-der-Tauber, Neuschwanstein and the Alps, and Munich.  (Whoa)  The pictures are not yet edited, but that's an early goal for 2013.  Stay tuned.

June

Athens.  Holy moly.  I loved this trip like a Greek guard loves giant pom pom shoes.
And we took a trip to scope out Denmark.
And I went to my sister's wedding in Utah (see below).
Four countries in four weeks.  Boom.

Wedding Proof

July

Paul went to Canada and ate poutine.  I stayed at home and ate macaroni and cheese.

August

We went swimming in the Baltic and saw naked people.  We also saw the third of the three palaces of Mecklenburg.  More black dots for the map!

September


October

Paul's birthday, his schmancy trip to Washington D.C., and our last-minute road trip to his old stomping grounds in Saxony.

November

Well, we may have had a cancelled trip to Paris but that just means that we're moving to Denmark for three years.  And, as an additional upside, we took our Paris train tickets and traded them in for a quick trip to see Bremen.

December

We ate our fill of "hot sheep cheese" and corn on the cob at the Weinachtsmarkt during our last German Christmas.  

At the end of the year, we counted the dots on our Germany map.  On January 1 we had four.  

On December 31st?   44

***

Here's to our 2012 and the upcoming 2013 where the Hunn invasion will continue in Nordic lands.
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