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Sunday, 26 August 2007

Last few days in Copenhagen

On 23rd, of course, we arrived in copenhagen. That night, we saw the index award exhibit. This outdoor design exhibit included lots of awesome stuff, including cool bike technology. It had an improved helmet design, a kind of city folding bike where the lock is an integral part of the bike (called the puma bike) and an awesome blinky light design. Often, bike lights either take batteries or they have a dragging wheel generator which creates power, but tons of drag. Some brilliant person came up with the idea of putting magnets on the spokes and using them spinning to power an led. super low drag! And there was a portable wind turbine, which is too perfect. And a solar cooker for backpackers. I wonder if it would work for instant coffee in the morning? Set it up, take down camp, have cofee before setting out. I don't think it would have been reliable for this trip, but i don't know.

I woke up on the morning of the 24th and started making  phone calls, trying to find a cheaper hotel. There was nothing. The bed and breakfast booking guy told me not to come to copenhagen this weekend. Oops, too late.

So i extended our stay in the phoenix hotel. Apparently, this posh hotel was built on the site of the former headquarters of the danish communist party. Like a phoenix rising from the ashes . . .. They should definitely have a star confiscated.

We got breakfast and then i went to sleep some more. If i'm going to pay for a nice room, i might as well spend some time there. Nicole went on a long walk. She came back in the afternoon and woke me up, so we biked over to chrisriania, the hippie island.

Some time in the early 70's, a bunch of young idealists moved into empty military baracks on the island and set up a hippie village sort of thing where they did art and sold pot, etc, etc. Amaxingly, this has persisted until present day. But the cops have decided to quit tollerating soft drugs and other minor vices. There's a lot less dope for sale now than there was when i first visitted 6 years ago.

Have i mentioned how i feel about cops? Why can't they ever let well enough alone? Over-controlling pigs. But, of course, they obvoiusly have the support of the city government in these actions, which implies that the voters and therefore the people of denmark have decided that the era of ideals is over. By coincidence, i will mention that denmark has a lot of military going on now and even troops in iraq.

But despite the whole world going to hell in a fascist handbasket, christiania still lives now (may it always) and there's a bike store there that i wanted to see.

There's an old danish design for a city bike with a suspended saddle. It is really light, because the metal parts only experience compression stress, they can be really thin. Aso, the floating saddle was clearly made for cobblestones. It's like levitating over them. It's just really comfortable and would make a great city bike, good for potholes and smooth roads alike. However, it cost a bit more than i anticipated, so i'm not coming back with one, alas. Imay yet order one, depending on what birmingham is like to bike. This kind of bike is called a pedersen bike, i think.

Ayway, christiania is full of nice cafes and offleash dogs, so a good time was had by all. As we were walking around, i noticed that the thing to do seems to be just to set up your tent around the edges of the hippie settlement. It's too bad that i had already asked for more nights at the hotel. I would he been funny to go from 4 stars to wild camping, squatter style.

We got dinner and i was still tired, so we went to sleep really early.

The morning of the 25th, we decided to go to the other bike shop that i wanted to see, but we walked over because my knees just couldn't deal anymore. The brompton seat post is just a bit too  short, so i never got full knee extension, which gets to be hurty after a while. Also, folks in copenhagen bike really fast, especially in comparison to the dutch. It's fun zipping around the city, but, yeah, my knees.

We walked to the bike shop, which, by cooincidence, was next to the hotel that i had slept in my first night in copenhagen 6 years prevoius. In fact, all those years ago i had gone to the same bikeshop because it was a bromtpon specialist and i thought they might be really good for the kind of city-to-city-by-train travel that i was doing then. They turned out to be pricier than i had expected then, but i had been wanting one ever since, at least until i final got one in may. And then, without remembering, i rode it to the place where i had first seen one.

So we went in the shop and  looked at the dansk cyclist forbund (Danish Cycling Federation) merch, which includes a kind of nice long sleeve sweatshirt which i didn't get. And i noticed that half the bromtpons had seat pole extenders!! I talked to the shop guy and he told me it would be easy to put one on my bike that very day! So we went back to the hotel and grabbed our bikes and now my knees are very happy. Yay!

After making me love my bike again, we went across the street, where there was a goofy soccer festival. A bunch of teams of few women were playing on tiny fields, marked out on the asphalt. Al of the teams were wearing funny costumes. One team had painted themselves blue and were dressed like smurfs. Others were dressed like pirates or housewives or cheerleaders. There must have been a hundred tiny teams, all in silly uniforms.

We observed this for  a while and then decided to bike along the tourist walking route. We came to the latin quarter, by the university, which was full of students and gay bars! There was some sort of street festival going on. So we stopped for lunch. The cafe had soy milk! It was great.

Then, we continued on to the city hall where gay pride was happening! (And, it turns out, also at the festival whicch we had just left.) No wonder there were no hotel rooms. We parked our bikes and watched the parade. Hooray! I love a parade. This one was especially great because it was small and not commercialized. It was also campy as hell. (I looove camp!!) There were drag queens galore, drag kings, folks in togas, a guy in a leather california highway patrol uniform, bears, lesbians dressed like pirates. It was great fun. Afterwards, there was live music and we got some beer.

Lesians love xena. Well, to be fair, everbody loves xena. It was nice having her because lots of folks talked to us. But a big part of the fun of pride is bumping into old friends and exes (or making new exes), but this wasn't happening for us, so we eventually continued on the tourist route.

We came to a mcdonalds that i suddenly remembered that i had peed at six years prevoius. I decided to repeat the experience. Somebody told me that i was in the wrong toilet. I think that also happened last time. It was funny going from being recognized by lesbians to being wrong-bathroomed. I always have mixed feelings about that in general. But it doesn't really mean i've been taken ffor male, it just means that i've been deemed insufficiently girly to enter the holy temple of feminity. That same person wouldn't likely call me sir in any other context.

Anyway, we finished the tourist circuit and decided to get dinner. Timeout reccommended a place called "Pussy Galore's Flying Circus." James Bond + Monty Python = lots of vegetarian options! (I would have assumed the answer to that math problem to be Barbarella, but there was a bit of her in the decor.)

We went back to the hotel to abandon xena and go to the giant lesbian party, but we weren't sure where it was. The internet yielded no clues and then i fell asleep, so no giant dance party.

This morning, we awoke and went to the train station. As i am writing this, i am on a ferry from denmark to germany. The train drove right onto the boat! Nicole has never been on this sort of ferry before. Xena seems confused. I think it's great. I am very fond of ferries.

Our baggage is somewhat unmanageable while the bikes are covered, so depending on rules on future trains (some want bikes to be covered), we are in real danger of missing a transfer. Will we be home by the time you read this? Or stranded in Munster? Stay tuned! Same bat blog, same bat channel!

Finally, in closing, i really like copenhagen. Danish bikes are really great (light and with gears!) and the city seems very livable. Denmark is my favorite scandanavian country, with more livable weather and with out crazy high alcohol taxes. I hope i can find an occasion to visit again.

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