Flying into Kastrup, Copenhagen’s International Airport, I was impressed by the svelte line of proud windmills, straight and tall, waving fair welcome to our approach, boasting efficient use of a wind that never seems to stop.
Middelgrunden is an offshore wind farm which seems to sprout from the sea, delivering an estimated 4% of all the power for Copenhagen.
The architecture is eye-catching from the get-go, mixing quaint and modern-esque, futuristic and surreal in its lack of symmetry. It seems to reflect the attitude of the Danes–old enough to have earned the right to express a determined individualism.
The language is strange to my milk-toast ears but not harsh as the over abundance of consonants might imply. In fact, as the stewardess made her announcements, I wondered if she was deliberately trying to be provocative with her soft, whispery Marilyn Monroe delivery. But as I grow used to hearing it, I realize this is their way of speaking what is touted as the most difficult of the Scandinavian languages, with only 5 million people in the world speaking it. Their English is nearly impeccable without a hint of accent; switching between the two seems effortless, reflecting how they become bilingual (at least) from a very early age.
I have yet to hear native music– American oldies drift in the air, making me a more comfortable stranger in a strange land.
I marvel at the lack of traffic even during rush hour. In Copenhagen 50% of all citizens commute by bike every day and there are more bikes than inhabitants! Unlike some countries, bike riders follow traffic rules and they expect pedestrians to do the same. Motorcycles are curiously lacking and traffic flow is remarkably quiet without noxious emission smells–never marring the delightful ambiance and flavor of my street side cappuccino.
It’s old. It’s new. It’s fascinating.
People are tall! Bikes everywhere, no traffic jams in sight.
It feels clean and efficient with wind-mills turning in greeting to the airplanes gliding towards Copenhagen.
English is spoken flawlessly. Their manner is breezy and matter-of-fact, soothing to my straight-talking Virgo soul. It feels organizationally sound somehow.
I found the metro easy to use and the food was tasty–coriander is the spice that we brought home. (We like to look for signature flavors from each country or area that we visit.) Did you know that coriander comes from Cilantro? Coriander is the plant and cilantro refers to the stems and leaves. When we use coriander, we are using the plant’s seeds.
We were told that we must see Christiania–so I sought it out, hopping the metro to Christianshavn St, I asked until I found Pusher Street. Everyone knows. Christiania is an evolved community stemming from counterculture values expressed in the 70’s when squatters took over government buildings that had been abandoned. It is an indication of the liberal attitudes of the country and is tolerated if not accepted. It has its own flag, schools, cafe`s, shopping kiosks and eateries. There is a “no-tell” feeling of keeping Christiania discreet. I felt like I must be flashing back to Haight-Ashbury in the 60’s.
Definitely take a boat tour of the canals–it’s an amazing view offering the feel of transportation old-style, more convenient than winding through streets and traffic.
And the icing on my Danish (pardon my metaphor) was the Street Food Court! What a hoot. People gathered around a fire pit on the dock, watching water traffic and birds sailing in and out. Beer stations are sprinkled throughout and kiosks of food crowd a warehouse of hungry patrons. If you aren’t hungry when you get there, the smells of delicious offerings will rapidly whet your appetite for more.
We had a hotel close to the airport, convenient for our early morning flight. Across the street was an adorable open air Colombian restaurant, where party lights twinkled from the low pitched, thatched roof. Salsa music was in the air and Ellioto and I wanted just one more night of South American flavor.
Medellin, a city of 3 million filling a valley and sprawling up the encircling foothills of the Andes Mountains. During the day, the colors are warm orange, foliage green and light baby blue. On the eighth floor, our room is level with the distant mountains, offering a birds’ eye view of the lush growth filling all the available space between and above the teeming array of terra cotta apartments, tenements and shacks. Thus far I have not seen 1 solitary home. They are tucked away somewhere, out of view.
I love the coffee, I love the I love the coffee.
Not being a meat eater, I may have missed much of what Colombia is famous for but the day I went venturing alone, I happened upon a Colombian treasure–the Arepa.
Wandering into an outdoor cafe, I was feeling pretty proud of myself for having successfully taken the Metro to the end of the line in northern Medellin to shop at one of their big (3-story) malls for SnaZZy finds. Looking at the menu, I realized the items were completely unfamiliar me– even the English version! So I ordered the only familiar food I saw– something with cornbread and cheese sounded like a good red-wine companion. And I was delighted! The waiter nodded his approval, saying, “Ah, Arepa”. It seems that I had chosen one of the signature Colombian foods.
1 cup arepa flour (precooked cornmeal)
Toss together arepa flour, cheese, and 1/8 teaspoon salt in a bowl, then stir in water until incorporated. Let stand until enough water is absorbed for a soft dough to form, 1 to 2 minutes (dough will continue to stiffen).
Form 3 level tablespoons dough into 1 ball and flatten between your palms, gently pressing to form a 1/4-inch-thick patty (2 1/2 to 2 3/4 inches wide), then gently press around side to eliminate cracks. Transfer to a wax-paper-lined surface. Form more disks with remaining dough in same manner, transferring to wax-paper-lined surface.
If you get to Medellin, you must get Pablado in the evening, a magical place to hang out. Venturing down side streets lined with banyan trees where there are outdoor cafes aplenty. Beckoning party lights strewn through the trees pull you towards tantalizing restaurants and enough night life to keep you entertained until the wee hours.
We found several vegan and organic restaurants in Medellin– and they were fabulous. Quinoa has reclaimed its rightful place as a nutritional grain–a complete protein it was a staple of the Incas for 3-4,000 years. The Spanish introduced European grains and it has taken several hundred years for it to regain is popularity.
On the coast of Cartagena, seafood was a good option. The shrimp were both tender and firm, delicious with ginger, garlic and lime.
Within the Walled City, we found an organic salad/wrap shop and loved the taste of spearmint in our green salad– something I had never tried before.
Papayas are everywhere–as sweet as they are tender.
Colombian food was plenty flavorful but not hot like Mexican food. In fact, we often asked for extra picante to add a little heat and spice.
I will try my hand at making Arepas for the next SnaZZy Threads Open House so come get a taste of Colombia for yourself!