And as a sidenote, my 100th post. Coming just a few days after my blog’s 1 year anniversary. I’ll need to have cake at some point soon to celebrate. You’re all invited.
Anyway, so the content of this 100th post: a tripartite summary of my preceding 9 days:
Reel Big Fish*
While normally my borderline hipster tastes (see: Portlandia on youtube, rather amusing) drive me to semi-obscure artists (that you’ve probably never heard of unless you’re as cool as me) singing in a folk-indie style, my music tastes are much more diverse than my CD collection of with hand-drawn album art might have you believe. I have a whole other Spotify playlist dedicated to Ska-Punk-Pop-Rock, don’tcha know. So when a friend found that Reel Big Fish were coming to Strasbourg, and that we could get tickets for a trifling 5€50, I jumped at the chance. I was not disappointed.
The venue was really small for such a good and relatively well-known band, and hard-core punk-rocker that I am our group was in the very front row. The gig in itself was an experience: the band was really good; but as well the French concert experience was interesting: no barrier to separate the audience from the band, stage about knee-height, no security guard banning crowd-surfing, and, very happily, noise levels which were perfect and didn’t leave your ears ringing for hours afterwards.
I was handed one of the copies of the setlist by a band member (my friend got their plectrum – that was how close we were) so have constructed a playlist of what went down for your auditory delight: click if you have spotify.
And the kangaroos? Well, a group of German guys were there with maybe 7 of them dressed in kangaroo onesies. Ours is not to question why, my friends and blog-readers.
*(Reel as in what you do to a fish when you’re fishing… get it? I didn’t for years and it was only when someone told me that I understood…)
Church Snow Weekend
I was told I sounded English.
By an English person.
So not even the excuse that American / French people don’t know what a Scottish accent is meant to sound like.
I have also been influenced by the Americans so much that “school” for university and “sledding” for sledging are creeping into my vocabulary.
I’m sorry, all.
Clearly I need to hasten back to the motherland.
Other than that, the weekend was sweet, and not just because of the copious amounts of sugary substances consumed.
God gave us a chalet in the mountains, transport to get there, and running water (it was touch and go for a while beforehand). Main focus was on the youth group in the church: focussing on our relationship with God (John 15: abiding in Jesus as he abides in us) and through that building relationships and serving (“willingly inconveniencing ourselves”) for other people. Touched a little on the story of the 3 Little Pigs (links with 1 Corinthians 3, duh).
Still not quite sure why there were flies that did not die in the cold.
First, a note: people (at least, people with whom I speak) are apt to say “Oh, but did you see how sad the non-Disneyfied Little Mermaid Story is?”. Actually, I beg to differ, and wonder if they have actually read the story for themselves as penned by Hans Christian Andersen and typed up lovingly by an internet minion (example here). Yes, the eponymous character does not get to marry Prince Charming and live happily ever after… but she does become transformed into a “daughter of the air” with the opportunity to work to gain an eternal soul. However twee you may think that sounds, I reckon it does probably beat living the 300 years of a mermaid then bursting into the foam on the sea. And anyway, as Sebastian says:
The seaweed is always greener
In somebody else’s lake
I’d argue that she wasn’t actually in love with the Prince at all, more in love with (1) the idea of being in love – as Taylor says:
‘Cause when you’re fifteen and somebody tells you they love you
You’re gonna believe them
When you’re fifteen and your first kiss
Makes your head spin ’round
And the little seawoman (as the Dansk translates) was only 15 after all; (2) the thought of having an immortal soul, which she could also have gained by marrying the prince; and (3) the idea of adventure after having 5 years of her sisters rubbing in the things they’d seen above the sea.
The morality bit at the end of some versions of the original is, however, admittedly way over the top.
Anyway, so I had 3 days more or less in this city. I felt like an awful stereotypical self-important Brit, but the truth of the matter is that everyone speaks English here. It’s apparently not even worth the bother of trying as the prononciation’s so different. As far as I’ve got is hi for hello, hi hi for bye, ya for yes, neye for no, and tahk for thank you, plus oondschool for excuse me / sorry (these spellings are phonetic if you hadn’t guessed).
Let’s break it down:
Actually arrived on Tuesday, but didn’t have time to do much beyond getting confused in the airport and meeting my friend Joan for the delightfully Danish dish of pizza (with potato and aubergine as toppings, however, so the sarcasm has some truth to it). Think I’d been reading too much Danish history as I had a dream in which I was a teacher cooperating with Hitler.
I didn’t have much of a plan – or a map – for today, other than meeting Joan for lunch at half 3. We’d metro’d back to her halls on Tuesday so I decided to wander using an interestingly turreted church as my goal and meandering along a canal (just like Strasbourg!) en route. I went to the Naval Museum – it had a pirate’s flag on it and Wednesday was free admission day, what more could you ask for? – where I was able to enter a mock-submarine (interestingly, women are allowed on Danish submarines and have been since 1997, which I don’t think is the case on British subs on the basis that if you find out you’re pregnant after a couple of weeks, you’re still stuck until the sub’s finished its tour. There wasn’t anyone to ask about it though, as there were 2 visible attendants for the whole museum, both manning the front desk. So I had all of the submarine and then the torpedo-ship to wander through as I wished). The pirate exhibition was sadly not enthralling and there was a school group in the “children’s museum” so I wandered on through and back to the canal.
A few streets down and I came across the guard in the process of being changed. Figuring they were probably going somewhere interesting, I followed them. Their fur hats were amazing. Their march tune changed to “Consider Yourself” from Oliver. “Rather odd” thought I, but continued walking, singing along under my breath. I was then approached by a chugger / charity mugger / whatever you call them for Unicef who enquired as to whether I was stalking the guards. Fortuitously the fact that I was a tourist and not in possession of a Danish bank account precluded it being worth his while trying to convince me to sign up; however, on hearing my denial and explanation that I thought they might be going somewhere interesting, he took it upon himself to direct me to a more interesting place. “OK so you start by going to Central Station…” “Euhh [French gap-filler, hard to lose once acquired], not sure where that is?” “Come on, we’ll walk this way” and so we walked up the main shopping street. His big plan? The Maetdistrikt (not sure of spelling), “just through the red light district”, where there are some lovely shops and things in the old slaughterhouses. After some niceties about his studies and ensuring I knew the plan of action, we parted ways. Having no better ideas and still no map, I figured I might as well follow his suggestion and walked up the shopping street, past Tivoli Gardens (shut for spring), found a tourist office and a map, and then got further directions.
I am a firm believer in the maxim “It’s not the destination that matters, but the journey by which you get there”. That’s not just because I am wholly directionally dysfunctional, honest. It was 2.35, I was about half an hour away from where I was meant to be meeting Joan at 3.15, and I still hadn’t found this place… at least I’d got out of the red light district and was among some gorgeous buildings and had had a lovely strawberry, apple, and ginger freshly squeezed juice (the customer before me had somehow recognised the shopkeeper who was in the process of working out his family tree, and they worked out they were 2nd cousins… from Tel Aviv. So the shopkeeper was in a weird and excited mood!). But then suddenly I located Slagterboderne and the old slaughterhouses, and though my time was brief there was a lovely tea show and a gorgeous chocolate shop where I was encouraged to sample the goods. Nom.
Then had “lunch” at Cafe Mormor, which served some nice and reasonably priced sandwiches, of which I had Laks or salmon. Popped into the Danish design museum after having been told it was free on a Wednesday – it wasn’t, but free all the time for students – and it was not my thing at all, so I was glad I hadn’t paid. Then got very, very, very, very lost on the way home, even with the aid of my map. But made it back eventually, where I collapsed on the bed, feet aching!
Wandered up the other side of the city and through a cemetery. Read The Little Mermaid and the Ice Queen in a very ironic fashion. And because my feet were hurting too much to do otherwise. Up past the Little Mermaid, down to the Resistance Museum, then visited Christiania, the anarchic “free state”. Which translated into a grubby place you could buy cannabis and pipes to smoke it. Though apparently there’s a great jazz night on Sundays.
Visited the Danish Museum which was really interesting history of the country and also an exhibition on the history of Europe. Apparently Scotsmen are old-fashioned, proud, stingy and congenial; Englishmen are old-fashioned, proud, congenial and drunken; and Frenchmen are charming, proud, charming and elegant. Then had a plate of pickled herring and a Danish pastry in one last touch of irony before leaving the country.
(Wednesday was probably the most eventful day, in case you hadn’t realised)