Wednesday, February 29, 2012

It is almost Spring

On this leap year day it is wonderful to see the first signs of Spring after a long, if mild, winter. The sun is rising earlier and setting later, there are more sunny days and the buds on the plants hint at a new beginning.

Today's word is the word for Spring which is forår, literally translating as "before year".


Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Just for love

"I love you!" is one of the earliest sentences which people want to learn in almost any language.

In Danish it is "Jeg elsker dig!"


Monday, February 27, 2012

Getting around in the winter

In the winter it is not unusual for the canals of the city to freeze up completely, even the ones leading to the sea from which most of the well-known pictures of Copenhagen are taken.

Even during the harshest winter public transport has to run and the waterbusses operate on the canals. These are a worthwhile alternative for tourists anytime of year as the same tickets you use for your metro, bus or rail transport is valid on these.

Today's word is is which means ice and also ice cream!


Sunday, February 26, 2012

Frederiksberg Castle

In Copenhagen there is a commune called Frederiksberg and in the centre of the commune is this impressive building built on the highest point. Today it is the Royal Danish Army Officers Academy but this Baroque palace served as the royal family’s summer residence until the mid-19th century.

The Danish word for palace is slot.


Saturday, February 25, 2012

Who let the cows out?

On many Danish farms cows are kept in barns over the winter period. In early Spring the cows are let out and many farms open to the public over that weekend to celebrate this.

This photo was taken on a farm near Frederiksund which has organic farming practices.

Today's word is ko and it is the Danish word for cow.


Friday, February 24, 2012

A word I first heard in Scotland

In Scotland people refer to a church as a kirk. I wondered about this and found that it seems to be a loan word from old Norse.

It shows how far and wide the Viking languages' influence can still be felt. Today the Danes use the word kirke and pronounce it not too dissimilar from the Scots.

This photo shows the St. Alban's Anglican Church in Copenhagen. This is the only Anglican church in Denmark and affectionately known locally as “The English Church".


Thursday, February 23, 2012

The "King" in "Konge"

The place Kongens Nytorv and Kongens Have both show geographical points with a royal link. Konge means king in Danish. Both these areas are close to the current royal winter palaces situated at Amalienborg a few hundred metres away.

This photo is of the equestrian statue of King Frederik V, founder of Amalienborg Palace

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The bus

The Germanic languages have the tendency to contract concepts quite a bit. In English one would say "the bus" when using the definite singular form but in Danish bussen means exactly this.

This photo was taken on a recent walk up Vesterbrogade with Christopher. This walk might feature later on this year as part of an upcoming series planned to showcase the diversity of the city. I hope you pop around to have a look at it.


Tuesday, February 21, 2012


When you first come to a country, probably as a tourist, you see the beauty of the country superficially. When, however you have a bit more time or spend time living there you get to understand its mythology better.

So it was for me with this statue, that of the goddess Gefion, which is situated near Churchill Square in the Nordre Toldbod area next to Kastellet and immediately south of Langelinie.

In Norse mythology is a goddess associated with ploughing the Danish main island of Zealand out of a piece of Sweden which is a lake with a similar size and outline as Zealand. She is also associated with foreknowledge and virginity.

Gefion appears prominently as the allegorical mother of Norway, Sweden, and Denmark in the forty-page Swedish Romantic poem Gefion, a Poem in Four Cantos by Eleonora Charlotta. It seems to have been the inspiration for the fountain statue by Anders Bundgård.


Monday, February 20, 2012

Little Mermaid alert!

Now what would a photo taken towards the eastern side of Nyhavn (known as the "Sunny Side" by locals) have in relation to the world-famous statue in Langelinje?

Well, H.C. Andersen the writer of the tale lived on this side of the harbour for quite a while and, the word on the blue building on the right hand side of the picture Havfruen means The Mermaid in Danish.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Danish Halloween

One Sunday two years ago I came across swimmers who had cut a hole in the ice in among the boats in Nyhavn.In a country where people take pride in swimming all year round I didn't think much of it. That is, until I saw a small barrel being strung up and the participants hitting at it with a stick!

And so I got to know about Fastelavn, a Nordic tradition similar to Halloween. The day, which always occurs seven weeks before Easter, is sometimes described as the Nordic Halloween as children dress up in costumes and get treats.

What I saw was ‘hitting the cat out of the barrel’ (slå katten af tønden). In old days there was an actual black cat inside the barrel, and beating the barrel was superstitiously considered a safeguard against evil.

Today, the cat has been relaced by oranges and sweets. Other Fastelavn traditions include eating the special Fastelavn bun with cream inside and icing on top, and also making a ‘Fastelavnsris’, a kind of whip made out of twigs that you decorate with paper cats and other things.


Saturday, February 18, 2012

The "New" Harbour

This 17th century waterfront, canal and entertainment district in Copenhagen is one of my favourite places in the city, especially in summer. However, on a sunny winter's day the colours of these beautiful buildings come to life!

Today's word is "Nyhavn" which means New Harbour and makes me smile considering its four hundred years ago that it was called that and the name stuck!


Friday, February 17, 2012

Not a load of cobblers

On Amagerbrogade there are many tradesmen and this sign shows a shoemaker's shop on a autumn afternoon.

Sadly, with consumers opting for replacing rather than mending shoes fewer cobblers are around nowadays.

So, does the cobbler always wears the worst shoes? We are not so sure!


Thursday, February 16, 2012

Still in Business

The old Stock Exchange is a building on Slotsholmen in central Copenhagen, Denmark. It was built by Christian IV in 1619–1640 and is the oldest stock exchange in Denmark. It is particularly known for its Dragon Spire shaped as the tails of four dragons twined together, reaching a height of 56 meters. If you search for it on this blog you will find a few great photographs of the building elsewhere.

This is the street view.

Today's word is "Børsen" and means The Stock Exchange.


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Standing out from the crowd

In a city where there are almost three bicycles for each inhabitant people go to extremes to ensure they stand out from the crowd. This lady's bicycle is painted yellow and decorated with flowers and certainly makes a change from the ordinariness of some.

Today's word is "cykel" which means bicycle. -RS

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The air transport hub of Scandinavia

Copenhagen International airport is the 14th busiest airport in Europe and carries about 21 million passengers annually. It has 63 carriers flying to more than 110 destinations.

The Danish word for an airport is a direct translation from the English and is lufthavn. - RS

Monday, February 13, 2012

Where the elders met

This circle of stones can be found near the station in a suburb of Copenhagen named Valby. The plaque near it refers to it being a Folketinget. I was surprised as this is also what parliament is referred to and looked up the word and its meaning: Folk refers to people and ting (et) means assembly and is an old Norse word. Clearly, in the olden days, this used to be an important place now commemorated with these stones. - RS

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Danish love of good design and green technology

On a recent visit to Viborg (an ancient city with a strong link to Danish kings) two things struck me about my time here: I have noticed that Danes love good design and seem obsessed with being green.

I came across the new municipal (in Danish it is called a kommune) offices. This beautifully designed building forms the centrepoint of the community. The roofs of the parking area has been planted so as to ensure a smaller carbon footprint. - RS

Saturday, February 11, 2012

The first Danish word I learnt

I cannot believe that it is almost four years since I first came to Denmark! It has been a exciting journey and in the process I have met many wonderful people like Christopher who has become great friends and who has shared their country's history and culture with me.

During the next few weeks I will retrace some of my experiences and in the process try and introduce you to some Danish words.

When I first came to Denmark I noticed these streamers or pennants on flag poles wherever I traveled. And so I learned my first Danish word: "Vimpel". - R.S.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Last stop: Sinnheim Technikmuseum

A great way to end the road trip was our (last) stop at Sinnheim Technikmuseum, a fabulous technical museum with a multitude of cars, planes, tanks and lots of other stuff on display. Among the top items are these two, the Concorde and the Russian version called the Concordski. It's the sister museum of the one in Speyer, which we saw on the way south, so this one was the right place to finish off a great trip.

From tomorrow and the next few days Ricco Scheepers will be guest writing on the blog.

Thursday, February 9, 2012


On a road trip like this you sometimes decide just to find a hotel in a convenient town on the way to another place. And when you get there you realize that you should have allowed for more time as it's actually an interesting place. Besancon in France was one of those times and places. We arrived late in the afternoon so the Citadel was closing, it was raining and we were only thinking about our next stop in Germany. They did have a nice restaurant though so it wasn't a waste of time.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

A beautiful view

Driving through the Alps calls for stops to enjoy views like this of the lake Lac de Serre-Poncon.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Driving through the Alps

The drive through the Alps was an interesting one with narrow roads, tunnels and cliffs on both sides. The goal was to reach the ski resort Saint Jean Montclar where a very nice and very cheap hotel awaited.

Monday, February 6, 2012

On the way to the Alps

When driving around in unknown territory so to speak, you often come around something that you hadn't expected. This is such a case. On the way to the Alps we suddenly passed these stone formations at Les Mées and had to stop to get a few shots of them.

Sunday, February 5, 2012


On our way from Sanary-sur-Mer we stopped for a few hours in Avignon. As luck would it, it was during the theatre festival so performances and ticket-touts roamed the streets. At the square in front of the papal palace this group made a performance of dance. A few hours was way too short a time to spend here, so that is a town that begs for a revisit.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Le Castellet

Just outside of Sanary-sur-Mer is the little Medieval town of Le Castellet. Perched on top of a hill and a maze of narrow and twisting streets this is a perfect place to stroll around, enjoy the calm atmosphere and take a lot of photos.

Friday, February 3, 2012

What a view

The view from the guest house just outside Sanary-sur-Mer where we stayed, had a spectacular view over the sea. We stayed at a friends house, or rather at the mother of a friend, and had a splendid time there.

Thursday, February 2, 2012


After the glamour of Cannes it was time to go to a more quiet place and Sanary-sur-Mer certainly fit that description with its small and picturesque harbour and town center. There were tourists but it was the relaxed and down to earth ones.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

For the rich and famous

Walking along the Boulevard de la Croisette in Cannes is a glimpse into the (holiday) lives of the rich and famous as the big hotels here are not for the ones without a lot of means. Luxury cars park outside the right shops and the stylish air their latest acquisitions. This is truly a town of glitter. But staying at hotels on the fringe of town is not expensive so there's a lot of ordinary people here as well.