Paris, days 1-4

As Paris is utterly spectacular and noisy and vibrant and expansive and cozy and full of cheese and baguettes and street art and epic works of art and a river and traffic jams and music and old people and children hand in hand, we are having a grand time. 

More details later, but for now, pictures. 

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the Seine

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Rue des Rosiers, near L’As du Fallafel

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St. Germain/Odéon 

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in the Luxembourg Garden  

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Les Halles

Saint-Germain des Prés  

Saint-Germain des Prés  

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La Tour Eiffel

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keys in Montmartre

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goat cheese with ash from La Petite Ferme d’Ines in the Marche des Enfants Rouge (he oldest market in Paris) 

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Les Halles

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dancing with bubbles in Les Marais

København

We arrived in Copenhagen early on the morning of the 5th and have been going full steam ahead since. The weather has been spectacular, a wonderful reprieve from the steaming pea soup we left behind in DC. 

For most of the first day we walked around getting our bearings and enjoying the Danish Design Museum. We are staying in the Latin Quarter, across the street from the University of Copenhagen. Founded in 1479, it is one of the oldest in Europe, and the main building is quite beautiful. 

the University of Copenhagen

the University of Copenhagen

The Design Museum was undergoing some (seemingly needed) renovation but we very much enjoyed the 20th century and Danish Design Classics exhibits. There was a fascinating film on Børge Mogensen, the famed Danish furniture maker, and an eye-popping collection of all the Danish chairs that inspired mid-century design and (many of which) remain beloved and revered. One of the coolest things I learned was the great degree to which Danish artists and designers were influenced by Japanese art, especially the way nature was expressed and honored through it. 

On a wall outside the Danish Design Museum: what remains after some of the ivy was stripped from the wall. I just love this.

On a wall outside the Danish Design Museum: what remains after some of the ivy was stripped from the wall. I just love this.

Dinner on day 1 was at Aamann's 1921, a warm, stylish place whose chef, Adam Aamann, has updated the humble smørrebrød, an open-faced rye-bread sandwich traditionally loaded with mayo and meat, to a refined dish with more vegetables and herbs. Now known as the King of Smørrebrød, Aamann also makes the soaps for the restaurant bathrooms, and seemingly everything in between.

Our meal was a beautiful one but not terribly memorable; most dishes, including both our smørrebrøds (see the salmon one below), needed salt. But the service was impeccable, the ambiance inviting, and two of our choices, the BBQ ribs of free-range port, new onions, and rocket sauce, and the potato compote with pine shoots, gooseberries, onion, and bacon, were marvelous. 

Yesterday we started with a three-hour bike tour around Copenhagen which was really helpful in knocking out a number of sights in a single, educational way, and it was fun. Like Amsterdam, Copenhagen is a major biking city. The Little Mermaid? Check. Amalienborg, home of the Danish royals? Check. Churches and harbors? Yep. Plus the Free State of Christiania,  excellent history and exercise. 

^The Little Mermaid (Den Lille Havfrue) and the view of Frederiks Kirke from Amalienborg.^ 

^clockwise from top left: Nyhavn (New Harbor); the amazingly cool spire atop Vor Frelsers Kirke; my first snegle; a croissant (Denmark is known for its pastries).^

^the Free State of Christiania, a commune with delineated borders inside of Copenhagen. Though residents (~800) were once excused from paying taxes, they now do. Though you are really not allowed to sell marijuana in Copenhagen, the police seem to have given up enforcing the rules within Christiania. The only thing banned on Pushers' Row is taking photographs. It's a neat place although sadly, the original hippie ideals are giving way to drug-based crime and a rather impoverished life within (according to our guide).^

Last night was dinner at Amass. But "dinner" does the experience an injustice, so I'll write about Amass in a separate post. Go there if you can!

And today was a ridiculously fun day that proved over and over again that travel is the greatest education and opportunity for truly memorable experiences, that spontaneity, flexibility, and following your nose often result in magic, and that following your passions (specifically today: design and food) is always a win.

It involved a return trip to Refshaleøen, an island in Copenhagen's harbor (and where Amass is located), to spend the day eating and drinking through Reffen, an outdoor Copenhagen street food market built from repurposed shipping containers. There are food trucks, all manner of juice and alcoholic beverage, some art and idea labs, and a delightful vintage market. Due to a major finding at said vintage market, the day also involved renting bikes to head back into Christianshavn, the nearest neighborhood with an ATM, then biking back to Refshaleøen and getting a bit distracted by the Sweden-England game which required another beer and lots of cheering, then going to the market only to find it closed but determinedly banging on the door until the delightful Danish proprietor let us in with a gentle smile and an "I'd given up on you." I then explained the bike rentals and rides to and from Christianshavn, but not the half-drunk beer in my hand (sorry Sverige), to which he replied, "Oh, that is far. Well, let's pack it up."

watching the game in Reffen

watching the game in Reffen

The rest of that story, which includes a delightful encounter on the metro afterwards, will be detailed tomorrow. But for now, some final photos from Reffen which was utterly delicious and fun in every way.

That pulled pork sandwich was one of the single best things I have ever eaten anywhere. Also, three cheers for Jacobsen IPA and also Nørrebro's Bombay IPA. 

40 in forty: Travel as much as you can

More than a decade ago, I went to East Africa. It was a remarkable three weeks in southern Kenya with a boy I loved. He spoke Swahili fluently, and I knew even then that I was experiencing a rare trip, a life-changing one I'd never forget.

In Nairobi, I ate sukuma and ugali (sauteed greens and corn meal mush) and roasted ears of maize sold from street vendors behind steaming carts. I drank cold Tuskers and shot pool. I scooped doro wat with doughy injera as an Ethiopian belly-dancer beguiled us.

On safari, I saw the Big 5. I visited an elephant orphanage and saw the wildebeest and flamingo migrations. Thousands of rickety-looking animals fording a river because instinct told them they must, even as crocs lay in wait. A whole lake turned pink by plumage. A black rhino and her darling baby. Great cats stretching and tending their young.

On the small island of Lamu, I devoured curry made from just-caught fish, vats of fresh "joo-eece" (juice) from the fruit vendor next to our inn, and chicken with fiery pili-pili sauce at a the home of a lovely Muslim woman, Hosna, the boy knew.

After lunch she invited me to try on one of her burqas before taking a stroll through the neighborhood. "Everyone knows you're white and foreign," she said, even though I was covered head to toe. "They look at your feet. Can you feel them staring?"

Was it strange? Yes. Was it a tremendous learning experience? Absolutely. Do travel and trying almost always enlarge our senses of the myriad possibilities and respect for differences in the world? Most definitely.

I remember being spat at while living in Amsterdam. An American friend (living in Amsterdam) and I were walking through a park, and a Dutch woman heard us speaking English. She spat and my friend retorted in angry Dutch, stunning the woman and relieving me. 

I remember being stuck at the horrid Holešovice train station in Prague, waiting and waiting and waiting. I called it "Holese-shit" and Tom and I laughed for days. The baths in Budapest, the disappointing Sacher tort in Vienna offset completely by the magnificent Klimts at the eponymous museum and the Muchas at his museum too.

I can still taste the rhubarb pie at that diner somewhere by Woodstock, VT. I remember the post office in Quechee, not far from the gorge. The redwoods in Northern Cal, the lunar-like beaches north of San Diego. 

I remember accidentally getting off to TGV train in Biarritz instead of San Sebastian. Shit. I spoke Spanish, not French. My friend was waiting for me so we could haul it to Bilbao to see the new Guggenheim museum there. I cobbled together a few phrases dredged from the depths of my mind, got to Spain, ate incredible tortilla and reveled in the opalescent undulations of Gehry's titanium masterpiece. The Rioja wasn't bad either.

~~~

It seems to me that as people age, they take one of two paths: the safe, familiar one, or the road less traveled. I plan to always take the latter, and I beseech you to do the same in all ways that you can. Do not close off, don't limit yourself. As best you can, speak to locals. Drive, walk, fly, train, in your own country and far beyond. Jump, ask, learn, try, be humbled and uncomfortable, enjoy something you didn't know you would. Keep growing!

Travel is a superb education, possibly the best. We leave tomorrow for Rome, and although I'm exhausted (so tired that I again forgot the correct documentation for the DMV which, naturally, I only realized once there. For the third time. I still don't have a license. I give up until we get back.), I can't wait to jump the border and fly toward a new adventure.

When in Rome...