207. The Pergamon Museum

With such a huge amount of war history in Berlin, we almost forgot to explore the non war related museums. There is, in fact, a whole Island of museums. The Pergamon was the most highly recommended one, so off we went. Buying tickets online beforehand would have been a wise choice, but a takeaway coffee from over the road made the line pass a lot quicker.

The Pergamon is a huge recreation of monumental buildings including the Pergamon Alter and the Market Gate of Miletus, poached directly from Turkey. The reconstructed buildings are impressive in size and detail, but at the same time it is a bit depressing that so much Turkish history has been stolen, to have permanently on show and making money for another. The sheer audacity of it is quite mind boggling, as is learning how they got it all to Berlin and ensured it lasted through the war.

There are quite a few exhibits with various archealogical finds, but my favourite was learning about how the museum itself was established and the competition between Europe’s largest museums to have the best exhibits. It seems so offensive now, but you can see how in the early 1900s that was the only way people could learn about such things.


155. Carpark Drinks

While northside may have been super cosy/hyggeli, it came at a price. And drinks most definitely reflected that price. On the Saturday afternoon, after getting there early to see The Asteroids Galaxy Tour, and subsequently realising (along with some fellow Studenterhus volunteers) that there wasn’t anything good on until later that evening, we decided to have a little break from the festival and go have a few (cheaper) drinks somewhere else. It also happened to be bucketing down with rain, which was getting a little uncomfortable.  Festival monopolies are  bad enough in NZ and Australia, but in Denmark it was truly exhorbitant and my LIthuanian/Estonian friends were even more insulted, being from countries where they might as well just pump beer through the water system, it’s that cheap. We headed to the supermarket, and sure enoguh, it seemed half of Aarhus was there too.

The covered carpark and entrance to the supermarket was just teaming with people sitting on milk crates enjoying some shelter before heading back. The supermarket was attached to an apartment complex which had a large covered area and there we joined the unofficial festival pre-drinks party. Most entertaining! I also learned a great deal about pricing in Eastern Europe and will most definitely be heading there soon for some relief from the expenses of Denmark! It also provided yet another example of how instead of local councils raising prices in an attempt to curb drinking habits (as they do in NZ), they are only going to create more problems – uncontrolled drinking in bizarre places and outragous amounts of rubbish everywhere.

139. Tits Galore

This is a post about boobs. Fair warning.

I have recently just experienced my first ever “You know you’ve been in Europe too long when” moment. It came when I saw a particularly outrageous ad, and thought nothing of it. It wasn’t until I saw it twice more that I realised just how out of place it would be in most of the rest of the world.

That’s right, just about every bus in Aarhus is currently sporting a giant pair of tits! Only in Europe! Bad enough that there is a giant campaign for breast implants all over town (or “Nye Bryster”, as I can now add to my Danish vocabulary), but the buses actually show naked boobs. Not some subtle innuendo, or a covered but large breasted woman, or even a ‘pretending to be artful naked yet covered’ photo. Blatant boobs. Not even a head featured in the image!

I don’t know which is worse, the ad itself or my lack of shocked reaction (at first). It strikes me as particularly hilarious, that the Danes, who are notoriously modest, reserved and hard to break the ice with are so complacent about nudity,  whereas the countries where people are instantly friendly and open are quite the opposite.

Then again maybe it has something to do with Denmark housing the woman with the world’s* (or maybe just Europe, I’m not entirely sure) largest [fake] breasts. Not only does she live here, but she also hosts a reality show, called Familien Fra Bryggen. I’ve seen it before, but I don’t know what anyone’s talking about, seeing as how it is all in Danish. I suspect the men of the nation view it in the same way.

*Linse Kessler, owner of (at least) Europe’s largest assets and sister of famous Danish boxer Mikkel Kessler. He refuses to have anything to do with her show. Can’t think why. You can thank me when you win the local pub quiz on that knowledge.

133. Moesgaard Parklands

The Viking Museum, or more accurately, the Moesgaard Museum, is surrounded by one of the most amazing park’s I have ever seen. Largely because of all of the untouched Viking burial grounds, viking huts and other historical treasures spread throughout. Not to mention the glorious sandy beach at the end.

It was really nice to stroll through the 100ha park, see some great artefacts, Nordic farm animals, beautiful streams, an iron-age house, lush forests, swampy patches, stonehenge-type rock formations, old style milling houses and the favourite: one named ‘Cult House‘ – where religious sacrifices and rituals took place. As we walked past it, a bunch of people were having a BBQ there. Vegans might argue they were being highly culturally appropriate.

The park area was huge, and I didn’t get through all of it despite a different route from the musuem to the beach to the one we took back again. I definitely look forward to returning next time we get a sunny day in Aarhus!

128. Teaching and Learning National Sports

It all started whilst watching a game of Handball. A huge deal in Denmark, and I made a casual comment that it reminds me of Netball, the sport I play in New Zealand. The conversation then turned to discussing the rules with my host mum, with a view to finding out whether it would be easy to teach one of the kid’s classes at school, i.e. explain the rules to a bunch of Danish ten year olds. The conclusion was no, not really. Netball is all about sticking to the myriad rules. A fast paced game, the ball changes hands between teams very quickly as players are routinely caught out on breaking the rules. Pretty tricky to explain with my lack of Danish and their lack of English we decided!

So next we were onto the possibility of teaching them Back Yard Cricket. Back yard cricket rules are simple, fun and fast paced. Unlike the full game, which bizarrely enough can go on for 5 days. Snore. Whilst looking up videos to demonstrate, I came across “that” cricket game. The most famous game in NZ history. That every kiwi knows about, even if, like me, they still don’t understand the rules because every time a kind gentleman takes it upon himself to explain them, I can’t help but zone out. Sorry Cricket fans. It’s a lost cause. Nonetheless I am still just as offended as any kiwi by this horrible display of bad sportsmanship! And probably because the offence was committed by an Australian.

Whilst sharing this important historical event, and all the drama surrounding other such sport related events in Kiwi history, like the Springbok Tour (1981 was obviously a contentious year in NZ sport), we were interrupted by a certain 10 year old’s crusade to convince the family to get a pet rabbit. (It reminded me of when my younger sister wanted a pet rabbit and my father made her fill out an application form and despite a very valiant effort, he couldn’t keep a straight face while she very seriously filled it out, attempting to prove that mum and dad wouldn’t wind up looking after it. Too funny). This lead to MY education on what is obviously Denmark’s most important sport: Bunny Show Jumping.

Apparently I caused a wee spot of offence by laughing through the entire video.

127. Ride an Elephant

I didn’t think the opportunity to ride an elephant would come around until a trip to south east asia, but sure enough, at the Danish Circus (Cirkus Arena) there was my chance!

I had to share the elephant with some random family, but it was still very exciting! Also, just a wee tip: skinny jeans aren’t the best elephant riding atire…

For a brief minute I felt a bit sorry for the poor elephant family, not only in captivity but trained up and paraded around 107 cities per year. Then I remembered I was in Denmark, so they probably have an elephant Union and an elephant minimum wage that’s higher than the average wage in most countries, despite the fact they are elephants that can’t actually spend money… and who was I to pass up the opportunity to gallivant around on top of an elephant?

I didn’t really enjoy the parts with animals so much, particularly the horses. While they were trained up to do all kinds of things, I couldn’t help but think about how they might have been trained. Particularly when the horses were directed by a girl in the middle of the ring with a whip, and you could see fear in their faces at mere motions from it, let alone actually being hit.

The rest of the circus was pretty good, although the best acts were acrobats imported from China and Romania, and a surprising amount of acrobatic children. Again I’m not really sure what the child labour laws are around travelling circuses, but the things these kids could do were amazing! There was this whole family that did all kinds of acrobatic tricks on the elephants. The boy did all the best tricks, like having one elephant stamp on one end of a seesaw-like contraption and send him flying, where he did a backflip and landed on the girl’s shoulders. The kid reminded me of my little brother, if he’d grown up in the Circus. Which isn’t too far from reality in my family!

Apparently that family, and the troupe of Romanians, have won special carny awards. The Romanian’s did all sorts of launching each other onto people’s shoulders with the same seesaw. They were awfully nimble (and apparently pants were optional), apart from this one guy. I was watching this great big Romanian hulk bumbling around, thinking ‘buddy, no-one’s catching you’, until finally the stage-hands bought out a giant pole and his role was revealed – bottom of the giant stack of humans.

I really enjoyed how every last detail was in traditional circus style (as told by the movies). From the stage hands, who rather than being dressed in black were in Victorian Military inspired jackets, except in bright carny colours, to the trucks, which looked like Dumbo-esque train carriages. The style was very much like the trailer for the film ‘Water For Elephants,’ though I haven’t actually seen the movie owing to the fact it has that Godawful twilight boy in it. But I assume the rest of the film is like the trailer!

118. Top Denmark Expat Blog, According to Internations.Org

It seems I’m not the only one that finds my jokes funny, and a nifty little website called internations.org stumbled across my blog and thought it was a bit of alright. I suspect it actually has more to do with not that many people blogging about moving to Denmark… Anyhow, looks like pretty good promo for their site as I checked it out and it is actually pretty cool. A good place to start it you are moving to a new country and feeling a little lost/lonely. I’m lucky, having been introduced to Denmark via a University exchange programme, but I can see how it could be really hard for someone who isn’t in a group of 150 odd exchange students with events and lectures on Danish culture organised for them.

If you are interested in checking out the site, and reading the interview they got me to do, have a gander here.

112. Learn the Danish National Anthem

Well I didn’t actually learn it, I only heard it the one time! A quick wee clip from Kapsejlads.

An interesting observation about Danish people, is many of them don’t seem to think they are particularly patriotic, or nationalists at all. And yet there are Danish flags everywhere, they whip the anthem out at drinking events and they love their Queen. Compare that to New Zealand, where most kiwis will tell you that without a doubt NZ is the best country in the world, but we don’t have flags everywhere, nor are we particularly bothered about royals (possibly due to the fact they are all the way over in England).

Every time I meet someone Danish and they ask where I’m from, I’m immediately met with the response “but why would you want to come here?!” and a puzzled look. While I’ve been tempted to say “Oh I just wanted to come to the country with the highest taxes and most expensive goods and services I could find, and I definitely didn’t want reliable good weather” it does make me wonder if the Danish government spends any of the money it rakes in on tourism. I happen to think its a great place to be, but not many others, even the Danes themselves ,seem to know anything about the perks of this place!

107. Frognerparken: A park full of statues

My friend Ryan who has recently moved to Oslo, is basically the worst tourist ever. He has pretty much seen nothing since he moved there. And maybe he would say that I’m the worst tourist ever because I wanted to see everything. AND take photos of it. After stopping to take a photo of yet another statue, he said something along the lines of “You really like statues huh. You know there’s a whole park full of them? You’d love it.” I guess he has seen a few places in Oslo after all.

And he was right. It was amazing. Frogner Park, designed by Gustav Vigeland in central Oslo is probably one of the most amazing parks I’ve ever seen.

As you enter the park there is a huge pathway that crosses a statue lined bridge and leads to a huge fountain and then monument in the centre. The pathway, fountain, monument and their surrounds are all covered in statues, mostly of people, in various forms. From intertwined lovers, fathers playing with children, ones that I honest to God could not work out what they were doing, to more creepy ones that appeared to depict spousal abuse.

Wikipedia describes the statues in a most hilarious way: Most of the statues depict people engaging in various typically human pursuits, such as running, wrestling, dancing, hugging, holding hands and so on. However, Vigeland occasionally included some statues that are more abstract, including one statue, which shows an adult male, fighting off a horde of babies.

101. The Best Beard in Finland

Scandinavians and facial hair… an entire topic in itself for someone from New Zealand. I must say, I do enjoy how when boys have facial hair in this part of the world, it is a whole lot more styled and well kept than kiwi boys. Even the ones going for the ‘Thor’ look (long blonde hair + long blonde beard) seem to look far more styled.

I also really enjoy that no-one is doing that stupid ‘ironic moustache’ thing. It’s no longer different and ironic when everyone is doing it so I don’t really understand how it became a trend at all. I mean, the gave Stanley Tucci a moustache like that in “The Lovely Bones” for a reason. In case my implication isn’t clear, its because he played a rapist. It really is beyoned my why any boy would want to look like a peadophile, but hey, it seems to be on the way out, thank God.

Of all the nicely trimmed stubble, or manly-yet-still-stylish (important in a country where people look a lot younger than they really are) beards, or the Finnish guys with hilariously comical beards the absolute hands down winner has to be this guy, spotted in Helsinki: