311. Moulin Rouge

IMG_4137 (480x640)Walking in to the Moulin Rouge was definitely a mixed bag of feelings. At €90 per ticket, we had ummed and aahhhed over it for ages. Was it really worth that much? Was it as good as expected? Is this just the most enormous tourist trap ever? We had justified spending that much by the fact that our travel plans had been derailed somewhat, and we were in Paris for a lot longer than intended and therefore missing out on tourist destinations (and associated costs) in all the places we wouldn’t be able to go. When we arrived (a little later than the 30mins before as recommended) there was an absolutely monstrous line. We walked along beside it trying to find the end for what felt like forever. Given the size of the entrance to the building, we seriously thought that despite having tickets we surely wouldn’t be able to get in. There were multiple gaps in the line as it was so long it actually crossed in front of numerous other bars in the area. Just as we thought we would get to the end, there were more people. It actually rounded a corner! That was when we really started to worry we had made a terrible and expensive mistake.IMG_4076 (640x480)

However, once we actually got inside (and, seeing as we were the last there, negotiated some better seating as it was initially terrible), the show absolutely blew my mind. I would even consider paying to see it a second time!

From amazing dancing, to acrobatics, to stunning costumes (where there were costumes – the girls spent a large part of the time topless), it was really enjoyable and full of surprises, from start to finish. My favourite of which was when a giant tank emerged from under the stage, filled with huge snakes, which one of the girls promptly jumped into. My jaw simply could not have dropped any further.IMG_3936 (640x480) IMG_3937 (640x480)

If anything, I would say that even with all its fame and hype, Moulin Rouge is actually underrated. Add it to your budget and itinerary, and just make sure you get there early (and get the ticket with the champagne included).

297. Surprise Festival

IMG_3227On our first day in Paris we decided to take an evening stroll around the city centre, and as we came along to the Hotel de Ville, there was an enormous stage set up. It turned out to be “Festival Fnac Live” – a free music festival where there were bands and DJs playing all weekend. The best part about it, was that in true Parisian style, everyone there was picnicking! IMG_3226

Although it was technically a music festival, it didn’t at all feel like one – with no tickets or gates, and the ability to bring your own food and drinks it felt so much more low key. Later on though, once the French electro DJs came on and had far too much fun with all the lighting the vibe definitely changed, but for the most part it was really nice – what the Danes would describe as “Hyggeli” or cosy!IMG_3237

IMG_3236

Some very serious cutting of shapes going on

It was nice to see people there of all ages, most of which eventually were really cutting loose on the dance floor, and despite the ability to bring as much alcohol as you so desire, everyone was perfectly civil and relaxed. Totally different from what you’d find at music festivals I’ve been to previously, especially in Australia.
fnac 2Fnac

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!

49. Get on the Vengabus

***Update to include more puns, as requested***

The Vengaboys were back in town and they like, they like to party. The kept calling out to me, like my Uncle John from Jamaica and we spent the night together, together in one room. The music was boom boom boom booming, the crowd jumped up and down and I was still singing Shalala Lala in the morning.

Serious excitement.

When I saw that the Studenterlauget/ Student Association was putting on a 90s party, I assumed it was going to be your regular old student party with a dress up theme. How wrong was I! In Scandinavia, when they party like its 1999, they pull out the big guns.

Time for some shots!Luckily one of my friends bought the lineup of the Club K (as in Klubben, the student bar) 90s party to my attention nice and early, as it was a sell out gig. Starting with S.O.A.P. – performers of the classic 90s tune ‘This is How We Party,’ followed by DJ Sash, a Danish duo previously unknown to me called Diskofil and finally, the headliner: The Vengaboys! I actually didn’t believe it when I was first told they would be playing on campus.

Obviously too busy making sure I didn't miss any front row action to even look at my own camera...Rumours were flying around that it would sell out, so I got one of the 1500 tickets nice and early. Others, unfortunately were not so lucky. There was a great deal of excitement as we put our lip liner and loud shirts on – we could barely contain ourselves on the bus ride in! Unfortunately our excitement was slightely dampened by a giant line at the door, followed by another giant line for coat check, causing us to miss S.O.A.P. Once we finally got in, DJ Sash kindly informed us we were going back to 1997 and it was all go from there!

No time for mixers. We had raving to do.In another Danish display of non-PC drinking, the drink deal of the day was 10 shots for 100DKK (about $20) which come in little test tubes with lids so you can stash them in your handbag. Perfect for disco ravers.

Sash clearly hasn't aged a bit.After an excellent performance of every classic song of the entire decade from a somewhat ageing DJ Sash, Diskofil made an entrance. Diskofil is a Danish dance music cover band who famously ran in to a bit of strife with Los del Rios when they recorded a Danish version of The Macarena which they called ‘Margarine’. In response they rerecorded a slightly modified version called ‘Disko Karina.’ On Friday night only two out of the original five were there, but as strange as they were, they seemed to be quite a hit with the Danes! Sadly no songs in English, so I couldn’t sing along to anything. The bizarre costuming and disco beats were entertainment enough though.

Not too sure what this guy was all about...

At last, after a 30min wait (in which we acquired more shots and positioned ourselves in the front row, centre stage) the stars of the night came out! When I first heard they were going to be playing, my initial thought was ‘what could be more hilarious than washed up 90s pop stars trying to fit in Driving the Vengabusto their skimpy old costumes and perform their eurotrash hits?’ I was suprised to see, however, that although 15 years has gone by they could still squeeze in to their costumes (just) and seemed to remember their dance moves. They whipped out all of their hits and I was amazed at how many of the words I remembered. I cringed at the Cowboy guy’s discoball jockstrap whilst belting out ‘Shalala Lala’, ‘Uncle John from Jamaica’ and ‘We’re Going to Ibiza.’ I didn’t know where to look when the Sailor guy pulled a Moose on the lead singer during ‘Boom Boom Boom Boom,’ and they went up multiple points when they confirmed to the crowd that they were the “Queens of Eurotrash.” Glad they can laugh at themselves too. All in all a brilliant performance and an epic blast from the past! And of course yet another reason why University in Denmark is awesome.

Unfortunately with the rapid dance routines, flashy lighting and smoke everywhere it was incredibly difficult to get good photos, but here’s the best of:

Also, a quick search of their website confirms they have recently played at the Hooters Pyongyang opening party, Berlusconi’s Girlfriend’s Sweet Sixteen Party in Milan, the Westboro Baptist Church in Kansas, the Vatican Kids Choice Awards and a Mixed Nudist Colony in Khartoum, Sudan. Definitely all real events.

42. Fri Bar

As you may have guessed, fri = free. After the Icebar our wallets were feeling a little light, so we went in search of the mystical, magical party-animal mecca. It was a club called ‘Penthouse‘ that supposedly had an open bar, in return for a 100DKK cover charge (about $20), or 150DKK after midnight.

Being from New Zealand, which is incredibly politically correct when it comes to encouraging excessive drinking, I was firmly in the ‘I’ll believe that when I see it’ camp. We rounded the corner of the street and saw a huge line. At that stage I started to think maybe it wasn’t just a rumour. My suspicions were finally confirmed after seeing a poster outside – it was true!

The club has multpile levels and DJs, and at various stages throughout the night there were costumed dancers on a little stage on the main floor. It had a very cool prohibition era theme too, so I suspect drink deals like this aren’t the norm.

Not quite as good as a drag show at Fluffy, but the dancers were pretty good!

As expected, there were a few catches to the deal. There was an extra charge for coat check, which unfortunately is necessary with the amount of layers need outdoors in a Danish winter. The real catches came in with the open bar, however. Unsurprisingly, the free drink choice was limited to beer and shots. The surprise came in when there was a charge for a shot glass. The obvious solution? Having the shots poured directly in to your mouth.

Shotglasses? Who needs those!

A certain someone got way too excited about the free beer

26. Dance on a table

In the middle of Aarhus there is a German bar called, you guessed it, Heidi’s.

At Heidi’s, it appears that the dance floor is on the tables. After about 10pm or so, all of a sudden almost everyone at the bar jumped up on top of the tables and spent the rest of the night there! It was bizarre, but also hilarious.

Supposedly, that’s what they do in Germany, though I’m not too sure if that’s actually what they do or just what the Danes think they do.

Life can be tough for tall people, unable to dance on tables…

I’m on top of the world! Wait, no just the table…

I also had a bit of a cultural barrier issue. I got really excited when I saw Rekorderlig cider on tap. It is the most amazing Cider I have ever tasted, especially the Winter Cider, which is Apple, vanilla and cinnamon flavoured. I discovered it in Brisbane, but only ever saw it in bottles and at super hipster places like Kerbside. Imported from Sweden, it is pretty expensive in Australia, but worth every cent.

I asked for a pint of cider, and the guy behind the bar made what I thought was a ‘tall glass’ gesture. I took that to be him clarifying what strange foreign girl meant by a pint. Yet another moment where assumptions proved wrong. The lederhosen wearing bartender put the biggest Oktoberfest sized glass of cider I have ever seen on the bar. Bastard had already taken my money too!

It was bigger than my head. And I needed two hands to hold it. As much as I wanted to savor every drop of delicious Rekorderlig strawberry Cider, it was too much for me to finish and had to be shared around!

17. The Bus Stop Warm Up Dance

Also known as uploading my first ever youtube video!

For the last 5 days it has been incredibly cold in Aarhus. It snowed on Friday for the first time this year, and picked up a little more on Saturday. Since then it hasn’t snowed much more at all, but it is cold enough that all of the snow is still on the ground.

The other morning I woke up to see a whole bunch of toddlers (from the local pre-school I think) all rugged up in their bright coloured snow-suit onesies sliding down the snow-y hill on rubbish bags. They were like little brightly coloured marshmallows all over the hill outside my window! A most hilarious sight.

Obviously the Danes have been aware of their weather patterns for some time now, so most places you go are heated to an appropriate temperature and the only time the cold has ever been an issue is when standing still at the bus stop. And so came about the Bus Stop Warm Up Dance. Everyone had been laughing at a girl from Finland and I for doing ‘The Penguin’ to keep warm (I learned it at Outdoor Persuits so it must be legit) where you keep your arms straight by your side, hands out like a penguin and shrug your shoulders up and down. Fastest way to warm up your fingers! After a few wines to spur on our creativity, we decided to take it one step further and make up a little dance. Worked a treat! Though to be fair it didn’t make us look any less silly.

8. Master the London Underground

I tried to catch snippets out the window as the train whizzed through somewhere-between-Gatwick-and-London. The train was faster than any I had been on before and it was nighttime so I couldn’t see much. Just blurrs of light smudging past. At one stage I thought I could see lanterns hanging across a street, but I couldn’t be sure. I thought I would be far more excited, having made it to the other side of the world, but aside from novel bakery stalls in the Gatwick Airport train station it didn’t seem like anything I hadn’t seen before. One of the stations even looked like the Auchenflower Station in Brisbane, a big carpark behind it, exactly like the Auchenflower Hospital. Perhaps it was because I was too focussed on making sure I got off at all the right stations, diligently following the instructions printed off from the London Transport Journey Planner site.
My ticket cost me more than my flight to Denmark, but I made sure I was getting the cheapest option and the fastest route, AKA I was that annoying person asking the ticket man a million and one questions. Poor guy.

Drinks in Notting Hill and Soho

Things got a lot more interesting when I moved from the ‘overground’ to the underground. My station (Edgeware Rd) looked like something straight out of Harry Potter and I got far too much entertainment out of whizzing past stations with names from Monopoly. Maturity stepped down a notch as my friend told me about a stop called ‘Cockfosters’ on his line that makes him laugh every time.

The backpackers I checked in to gets an A+ for efficiency, with triple layer bunks in the room, but after the concierge (read:bartender) proudly let me know reception (read: the bar) would be open 24/7 and Karaoke would be going all night I made the executive decision to not even bother sleeping. I could here awful renditions of rap songs (who ‘sings’ a rap song at a karaoke bar?) loud and clear in the room. Plus I had to be on the road at 3am and allow time to either wear most of the items in my suitcase or cram them in to my pockets.

After drinks in Notting Hill (it was JUST like the movie) and a wee spot of clubbing in Soho with a friend from Brisbane and 2 friends from Uni who are now studying at Cambridge I then took my London public transport skills to the next level as I mastered the double decker

Goblet of Cider!

buses. So good, was I, that on both the buses I needed to take before getting to the Stansted airport I managed to have just the right amount of foreign naivety for the drivers to waive me on without paying! (Giant notes also help).

My final experience in London was what can only be described as the most invasive security procedures imaginable. I had to take my shoes off and put them through the scanner, my bag had to be opened up and examined because there was so much in there. In fact, I received some very skeptical looks for having a 2 phones, a laptop, ipod and harddrive. I also had to have all my liquids re-scanned because one lip balm tube fell out of the not so well sealed bag. I think I got off pretty lucky though, as the girl before me set off the detector and had every inch of skin on her body rubbed (not patted) down by Airport Security (luckily a woman). They took particular interest in the poor girl’s underwire bra – I could have sworn I was witnessing a mammogram! I would take the full body scanner over that any day.

And with that I was away on my Ryanair flight direct to Aarhus. There may not have been a movie to watch, but there sure was a lot of in-flight entertainment – an astonishing amount of advertising going on! Every seat has an ad on the back, as do each of the overhead lockers, and every 20minutes or so the air hostesses would enthusiastically read out a sales script. So bizarre.

DiscoDisco! Dancing in Soho. Ever so European of us