Day 1: Arriving in Copenhagen, August 9

I arrived at CPH at noon on a Saturday, and went through customs with surprising ease: life in the European Union, I suppose, is a little more open. When I walked out into the main part of the airport, I was greeted (well, they didn't actually greet me) by a large crowd of people dressed head to toe in Muslim style gear. Exactly the first impression of Scandinavia one expects, right? It was, though, less odd than coming across a group of 50 or so Hasidic Jews on our way through baggage claim when we returned to Copenhagen twelve days later.

That afternoon, Elaine (who got in a few hours before me) and I met up with my high school friend Gabe. Gabe spent the summer in Copenhagen studying furniture design, and fortunately the last two days of his time in the city overlapped with our first two. We had a bite to eat with Gabe and his friend Oskar, who were complaining about the brutal heat. It was maybe 30 C (86 F) - a cool summer day in Philly, and nothing unusual in Palo Alto, but obviously quite warm by Scandinavian standards. We would enjoy the warm weather while we had it.

Gabe (a landscape artitecture student) and Elaine (an architecture student) then dragged me through the expected architectural tour of Copenhagen. This was not a surprise: I knew what I'd be getting into. We went up to the top of a tower, and could see over the very short city. I think we spent more time touring a library than I ever did studying in one when I was in school. I did my best to smile and nod. Elaine and I neglected to bring the camera, but being the architecture dork she is, of course went back later on to get some pics of the Black Diamond building.

Day 2: Biking up the coast to Louisiana

Our second day provided more beautiful warm weather, just to be sure to allow us a nice contrast to the torture we would later endure. Gabe, Oskar, Elaine, and I rode bikes up the west coast of Zealand to the art museum Louisiana. Copenhagen, and Denmark in general, have an interesting bike setup. In most places, they've set up a section in between the street and the sidewalk as a bikes only lane. They have lots of signs, and even individualized traffic lights, set up for cyclists. That means that the city is easy to navigate on bike as a commuter, and especially because the country is so flat, many do so. On the other hand, lots of bikes actually makes things difficult for a hard core cyclist: passing 30 Grandmas (literally) going 9 MPH would get frustrating after a time.

Alas, on this day, I was definitely not a hard core cyclist. Finally, the pictures:

Gabe and Elaine resting.

This lovely concoction was the only bike I could rent. Elaine's was slightly better, but mine was a three speed, weighed about 100 pounds, and was set up Granny style (no offense, Mom) so that you had to sit up completely straight in order to ride. Moreover, it has the "feature" where if you pedal backwards, the bike brakes. I thought they'd gotten rid of those things in the 1980s, but apparently Copenhagen is a little behind. Seriously, though, I realize that's a price you pay: if you want to popularize cycling as a means of transportation, you're not going to have everyone in spandex, cruising around on custom-made racing bikes.

Noting quite like that hot Scandinavian sun... Actually, I think I got burned more on this trip than I did in Thailand. When you're way up north and it's cold and cloudy, you don't think you can get burned. But if you're out in the sun all day, and up high in the mountains, it's possible. Normally, I'd make some "if you're as white as I am" remark, but that would encompass a lot of people in Scandinavia :)

I stole Gabe's helmet for much of the day, but otherwise, would not have had one. The bike store didn't bother renting them: other than a few more competitive cyclists, and some (not all) children, no one wears a helmet while riding in Denmark. Another side effect, though probably a more preventible one.

I'm gonna give Lance a run for his money...

The Louisiana, looking out onto the Baltic Sea.

One of Denmark's biggest hills (the biggest is still to come).

Modern sculpture.

I'm not sure what the point of this picture is. Maybe Elaine took it? :)

Gabe and Oskar tanning (with sunscreen of course!) on the beach near Louisiana.

The water was still chilly.

Elaine was very pleased that I wanted to take her picture. This is her imitation of herself in a moving vehicle: (1) make self comfortable; (2) fall asleep.

I think she's doing situps here, but maybe she's just trying to get me to stop taking candids.

Out over the sea. In the distance, you can see the southwest coast of Sweden.