Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Dad in Copenhagen!!

Friday night after practice, Jo and I loaded up our rental car (the same one from our trip to Lund) for our trip over to Copenhagen. We had to stop and fill up with gas, something neither of us were quite sure of how to do. After a quick phone call to Daniel and a search through the Swedish user’s manual, we found our car’s gas type and went to the Shell station. We bought a few road snacks, punched my friend Chelsea’s address into the GPS and were on our way. The roads were a little wet from rain and it was really foggy outside, but we managed to make it all the way to Brøndby safe and sound where we would spend the night with Chelsea and her 4 roommates – Jo and I are SO glad that we are living in a 2-person apartment.
For those of you who don’t know, Chelsea and I played together in club volleyball at JJVA our sophomore and junior years of high school. We played against each other for 3 years in high school (me at Nease and Chelsea at Bishop Kenny); I went on to play at Tampa while Chelsea went to play at West Florida (one of my regional rivals). Now she is playing on a Danish team with one of Jo’s friends, Emily. Emily played two years at North Alabama (one of Chelsea’s conference rivals, thus one of my regional rivals as well). Small world, huh?
The next morning we were up bright at early to head over to the Copenhagen airport to pick up my dad!! Despite him only sleeping for 3 hours on the plane, and it being 1:30am to his Florida-time zone regulated biological clock, he would have no time to rest as we were hitting up the sightseeing as soon as we found some free parking. One of Chelsea’s roommates had told me about an area that would have 2-hour free parking, so the whole day we were able to find similar places around town that we could just use our time-table in the car to park. I had set up a trip itinerary that listed an idea of places that were considered Copenhagen’s “must-see” spots, so we had a general idea of where we would begin. Making our way towards Tivoli Gardens, we crossed over the street and began our walk down Stroget, Copenhagen’s main shopping street. This area starts near the Tivoli Gardens and Copenhagen’s main train station and would lead us all the way through the city to Nyhavn.
Dad at the start of Stroget by the Town center
Before we began walking too far, we decided it was best to get some breakfast and coffee to help refuel us all for the long day that lie ahead. Dad’s wonderful jokes came out when he stated to Jo and I that he was about to enjoy his first Danish danish. Unfortunately, these are referred to simply as “pastries” in Denmark; talk about a killjoy. The streets slowly filled with people as the day progressed, and before we knew it, the pedestrian walkways were jammed full of locals and tourists. We walked down the coastline from Nyhavn towards the Little Mermaid statue. This is definitely one of my FAVORITE places in Copenhagen: a little park right on the Baltic coast plus my favorite Disney character. What more could I ask for? 
Us with Little Mermaid!
Realizing that we were getting close to our 2-hour parking time limit, we started walking back to the car. Jo was planning on taking the train out to Vordingborg to visit her friend Tara for the night, so we decided to take the car over to the train station and help get her travel plan all figured out. This would mark the longest time that Jo and I have been apart since our arrival in Sweden on August 31!! As we were leaving the train station, we saw a huge crowd of teenage girls wearing purple with giant “Justin Bieber” posters and homemade banners. We paused to take a picture, of course, before we headed out towards the Round Tower church and observatory.
In the Round Tower Church
The Round Yower was about 125 feet high, and instead of staircases, they have a ramp that make 7 and a half corkscrews around to the top. The view from the top was a bit cloudy, but still allowed us to see a great view of the city. We emerged from the staircase to hear screams and shouts…the BieberParade (this is not the first time hosted in Copenhagen, check YouTube for some videos) had officially started and the purple-outfitted teens were shouting and screaming out their love for JB. Neither of us could beliebe (sorry about the pun, I couldn’t resist) that we were over 5 blocks away and could hear these fans so clearly. Everyone atop the Round Tower were amazed when we informed them of the parade; a few younger guys decided they should probably head over and see what the fuss was all about…creeps.
We continued our journey, now heading for the Carlsberg brewery. Last time in Copenhagen, we arrived just 30 minutes late for the final tour, so Dad and I aimed to get there with plenty of time to spare. We parked, for free, and wandered around the Carlsberg factory in search of the visitor’s center so we could get our tickets for the tour. After wandering through the gift shop and visitor’s center, Dad noticed that the horse stables were just outside. Thinking this was part of the visitor’s center, we walked in and started looking around; a little further into the stables, we noticed that there was a small courtyard outside. Curiosity got the best of us, so we ventured outside. At the end of the courtyard, we saw a building and decided to go in. I’m pretty sure by this time we had already started our own self-guided tour, also for free. With no one to stop us or check for tickets, we just kept on going throughout the different brewing areas. The entire tour was pretty interesting, and I think it gave me a much better perspective on how much goes on behind each bottle or can of beer that gets made. I had absolutely no idea how much scientific research and agriculture was needed in order to get the perfect brew. Upstairs of one of the buildings, visitors can see the entire Carlsberg collection of unopened beers from around the world; it’s a Guinness Book world record amount!!! There are over 20,000 in the collection, but only 16,592 on display.
Us with the Carlsberg beer collection
From here we decided it was time for some lunch before continuing on our sightseeing tour of Copenhagen. Two pizzas and a shared 1.5-liter of coke later, and we were heading to the botanical gardens. Unfortunately, the gardens (which is free of admission) closed at 4pm, so we were not able to visit. Instead, we parked and headed to the Tivoli Gardens for a Russian Christmas. 
Tivoli Gardens!
Dad was slowly beginning to fade, so I didn’t keep him out too long in Tivoli. It was really fun to see all the different light decorations and displays; we were a little disappointed that there weren’t more shops that we could check out – they mostly just sold food and beverages at the different booths. We did, however, see a Santa that the children were taking pictures with, so I posed from afar and Dad worked some iPhone camera magic to get me next to the big guy. Around 5:30, we decided to head out to the car and make the drive back to Brøndby so Dad could shower and rest after his long day of sleepless travel. He started fading on the couch so Chelsea offered him her room for the night.
The next day we drove over to Fredriksborg to meet Jo and watch her friend Tara, and our mutual friend Jessica, play against each other. We tried to make a comparison for Dad between their two teams and ours, but decided it was best for him to wait it out and decide for himself which team was better. 

Jo, me, and Dad at Vordingborg vs. Fredriksborg VB Match

We planned to stop at the Kronborg Castle on our drive back to Ljungby – a request from Dad, as this is the castle of Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Dad brought a newspaper from home, The St Augustine Record -- they allow people who travel to get in a section of the paper if they have the newspaper with them.

Hamlet's Castle!! (this one's for St Aug Record)

We arrived a little after 4pm, which is apparently the closing time for EVERYTHING in Denmark, but managed to luck out and get our own private tour from one of the security guards who was locking up. Jo and I were able to help him take down the Danish flag!!

Me helping lower the flag
We got a few good photos before we decided to leave and head to the Helsingør port to take the ferry across the Baltic Sea to Helsingborg, Sweden. An hour and a half drive later, we were finally arriving in Ljungby. Dad was relieved to be at our apartment and ready to unpack his things in my room. We had some kebabs for dinner and called it a night.
Hamlet's Castle!

Expect plenty more random stories from Dad’s adventures in Sweden!

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