Saturday, August 21, 2010

Copenhagen, Day 1

Aside from getting in three hours or so late thanks to a broken plane in Newark (only a fuel leak!?), things went well today.

Of course, I realized quickly that I probably should not really talk about my research to the taxi driver if he is from Pakistan.  Led to a 15 minute conversation about 9/11.  Ug.  But he was nice enough.

What have I learned about Copenhagen thus far and the Danes?
  1. The city is like Shrek and onions--it has many layers.  The current building holding the parliament sits on top of pretty much every previous construction on that site since the 1100's!  Really.  So, one of the tourist sites are the "ruins" underneath the government center (Christianborg), which contains walls and bricks and wells from the previous forts/castles/etc.  It turns out that one of the groups acting the early Danes was the Hanseatic League.  Thanks to Hendrik Spruyt, I knew who these guys were.  On the other hand, the Danes kept burning their own palaces down through bad design.
  2. An interesting contrast with Australia.  In Syndey, it was hard to walk around the harborfront without bumping into seven weddings.  Thus far, I have seen more weddings and wedding pictures near the Kastellet (former fortress, still rocks the widest moat I have ever seen).  What can be over-read into this?  That the viking blood of the past means that they associate marriage with defense and conquest?  Surely not.  Just a pretty area of the city, but Copenhagen has plenty of those.
  3. The Danes are not as uniformly blond as one might expect, but still pretty darn blond.  They are not nearly as fit as residents of Oslo, although they seem to be less obese than North Americans (not that difficult a trick).  What was surprising to me, given all of their hoopla about Muslims, is how few I have seen thus far, compared to how many head-scarved women I see in Montreal.
  4. The 7/11's are the busiest stores, which was a problem for me since they might have sim cards so that I can use my Canadian phone with a Danish number and less $$$.  But that might just have been because of the huge crowd that showed up for some sort of gay rights/pride event.  It was good to see Batman and Robin show up, but it led me to wonder which version of B&R was more homoerotic--the original TV show or the George Clooney/Chris O'Donnell version?
  5. I do wonder about the competitiveness of Danish Dairy as both Ben and Jerry's and Cold Stone Creamery have outlets here.  
  6. The Wire has absolutely re-wired my brain.  I am in towards the end of the second season (which rocks, despite some thinking it is one of the weaker ones--all I have to say is Omar in court) and now when I see a port, I think about cans being diverted.  
  7. Oh, and I just noticed that my very basic hotel room has a bottle opener attached to the desk in the most obvious way possible--more than any other hotel room I can remember.   Hmmmmm.
I have one more day on my own to overcome jet lag and get the lay of the land here (which is flat--must find one of those free bikes) and then things get busy quickly.  It should be an interesting week.


Anonymous said...

Why exactly is your research unsuitable for people from Pakistan?

Steve Saideman said...

It is not unsuitable. It just leads to a conversation about 9/11 mythology, a topic I would rather avoid. I wouldn't mind having a fact-based conversation about the tradeoffs Pakistan faces, but given that I only slept for a couple of hours on the plane, I really would prefer not to talk about conspiracy theories. But you are right, not all folks from Pakistan buy into that bs. And this guy didn't buy into it entirely. Did enjoy his tolerating my religious background (he kept guessing, I kept not answering) compared to the lack of tolerance for Islam in the US.