Round About Rungsted

 Scandinavia, Uncategorized  Comments Off on Round About Rungsted
Aug 032010

Our final days and nights were in Rungsted on the Oresund coast, eighteen miles from Copenhagen. Positioned in a six to eight mile radius of the final highlights for our trip, Louisiana, Karen Blixen Museum, Frederiksborg Castle and Kronborg Castle. Rungsted is a tourist coast hamlet for Danes with lots of sailing and affluence. Menus are not in English so we ate with locals or Danish visitors and huddled under umbrellas or dining canopies when it predictably rained every night at dusk. It was a very relaxed atmosphere which was a perfect way to end our glorious trip.

Our bodies are tired and our grateful hearts are headed homeward. We have been deeply affected and inspired by what we have seen, experienced and learned.

Aug 032010

Arhus is Denmark’s second largest city and like Copenhagen, it too melds contemporary architecture with the rich historical heritage. An attraction for us to come to Arhus was Den Gamle By–“the old town”–a living history museum founded in 1909 to depict Danish urban history and cultural development. We have visited other open air museums but their focus has been on Danish agrarian life over the last one thousand years.

Here in Den Gamle By buildings and interiors have come from all over Denmark and are clustered together to recreate and demonstrate the development of a typical Danish market town. Most of the buildings are timber-framed Renaissance structures from a period of rapid economic growth when specialty “industries” were established in the downstairs with living quarters above. The joiner,tailor, apothecary, distillary, tobacco merchant and weaver are all here in wonderful and accessible detail enriched by “people of the period” delightfully interacting and sharing details of daily life of the period they represent.

Tomorrow we have the grand finale with a visit to Louisiana,  Denmark’s lovely modern art museum and Isak Dinesen/Karen Blixen Museum.  Both are very close to where we have been staying on the Oresund coast.   

Castles, Castles Everywhere…

 Uncategorized  Comments Off on Castles, Castles Everywhere…
Aug 022010

Kronborg Castle, as a visitors destination, is in stark contrast to the rococo pompous magnificence of Fredriksborg Castle just “down the road.” Kronborg lacks the layer upon layer of carving, paintings and furniture and extensive restoration that are present in Denmark’s answer to Versailles, Fredriksborg Castle. Yet we found it a delight in understanding how castles sprinkled all over Europe functioned for royalty in their time. We were reminded that they basically remained empty with only a skeleton staff for a good part of any year until the royal family descended on the castle and the local nobility and landed gentry with retinue and furnishings and demands for local vassals to outfit, supply and support for the duration of the royals’ stay. Such a “request” was viewed as both a burden, an honor and a demonstration of loyalty.

Various rooms in Kronborg are “representatively” furnished or equipped but the castle is a fabulous experiential learning environment for families and children.

Pew People

The Chapel is the “jewel space” in the castle with a beautifully carved and colorful interior consecrated in 1582. The chapel escaped damage in the devastating fire of 1629 so we visitors have a sense of the brilliantly colored magnificence that originally characterized ALL of Kronborg Castle but is lost today.

Bergen or is it Bryggen?

 Uncategorized  Comments Off on Bergen or is it Bryggen?
Aug 012010

The thousand year history of Bergen could be summed up in “Bergen burns again and again and again.”  Today  visitors see a reconstruction of the five or sIx brick buildings erected in 1900’s and a compact cluster of historically accurate wood reconstructions (circe 1950s) in the Hanseatic mode of dual tenements—living quarters, commercial offices, warehouses, assembly room and a church. A very active archeological site, research and new discoveries continue. Bergen’s Hanseatic Museum chronicles the 500 year period in which a tight league of German merchants and their ecclesiastical counterparts dominated Bergen to the benefit of both.

Apparently Danish and Norwegian crusaders wrote about Bergen as early as 1191 describing stopovers in a rich town overflowing in stockfish (dried fish) as well as wine, honey and wheat, good cloth and silver. As a high school student or even as an undergraduate, I never really comprehended how something so prosaic as dried fish could influence the course of history of an entire region. Certainly I viewed it as less interesting than the battle of 1066 or the British influence on our developing nation.

Now, after visiting these Hanseatic Baltic capitals as well as the countryside between plus living in an age where we are experiencing the blowback of colonialism as a painful reality, the specifics of their rich historical landscape is unendingly fascinating.

There is more to Bergen than Bryggen–the dockside Hanseatic corporate offices and their tight knit communities for profiteering in Norway. Many neighborhoods are lovely and the countryside is gorgeous.

On our final Bergen day we took a light rail out to visit Edvard Griegs home and saw a lot of the Bergen “burbs.’ Then topped the day off with a great meal in our neigborhood and a ride up the funicular.