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Goodbye Copenhagen! – by Renee

Today we picked up our rental car (a nice, but small Ford Station wagon) and headed out of the city.  Along the way to Aarhus (a medium sized city on the mainland part of Denmark) we made three stops.  The first was at Roskilde where they have a very famous Viking Museum.  Why so famous?  Well. believe it or not, in Viking times Roskilde was the most important city in the country, and they created barricades of their shipping lanes by sinking boats filled with rocks (they only left the most difficult-to-navigate route into town open, making it harder for invaders).  In 1962 divers discovered 5 of these Viking ships in the mud at the bottom of the bay and have built a museum and workshop (where they make replicas of the ships using tools and techniques that the Vikings used).  All in all, very interesting…esp the movie (in ENGLISH!) that explained the ships and what each of them would have been used for.  Apparently one of the medium-sized ships could sail to England in only 7 days and could make it to the Mediterranean in only 14 days!  Most impressive was the “war” ship that could carry 80+ warriors and their shields off to capture land or treasure.  The Vikings were the pirates of their time.

We enjoyed the “Viking Lawn Games”.  Anna proved to be very good at throwing the line to tie up the ship!   

They even offered a one hour cruise on a replica Viking ship — but we had a lot of miles to cover so didn’t want to wait till sailing time (did I mention it was COLD, windy and raining off and on?).  This will be on our list of ‘next time we visit we must do’.  Today the local Viking Sailing Club went out on the ship.. the rowing looked hard!

Our next stop was in the town of Odense…the birthplace of HCA (Hans Christian Andersen, but here he is known by his initials).  Most famous for his fairy tales, he has been fully embraced by his home town.  Here are some photos of us with him and his characters…all over town.

Our third stop was the town of Jelling.  WOW!  This was the headquarters of the first Viking king, Gorm the Old.  In addition to creating a HUGE fort/HQ/palace (I use this word lightly) he also erected a Rune Stone to his wife Thyra — creating the first written record of his kingdom and on the rock, the first recorded mention of the name “DENMARK” .

His son, Harrold Bluetooth went on to conquer all of Denmark AND covert all Danes to Christianity…and yes, he too erected a rune stone.  These stones are set next to a church (originally built in 1000 and then rebuilt in 1500).  Also next to the church is a beautiful cemetery where each plot is its own perfectly manicured garden.

The entire place is lovely!

There are two large burial mounds (Cousin Rachel – don’t these look just like the ones we visited in Ireland??), and also a the outline of a giant stone “ship” that would let you sail to Valhalla to be with the gods.

All along the way today we were driving through beautiful, green, lush countryside with rolling hills and skirting the Baltic Sea.  Really pretty although a bit cold and windy!

One of the few things I don’t love about Denmark is the prevalence of smokers.   Coming from California we don’t have many smokers – but here it seems that every young person old than 15 is a smoker.  And most of the adults too.  Anna’s allergies are not loving the smoke as well as the grasses — glad we brought Zyrtec and her inhaler with us.

We are also having a hard time finding good food.  As it turns out, the traditional Danish Smorrebrod isn’t something the kids or I really like.  Its an open faced sandwich, cold, with a mayo/pea/tomato sauce on it.  Alex did try it and “COLD FISH?” was his comment.  David ate some with a big smile but I think he was teasing us.  Add to that smoked herring and its not something that we are loving.  Also due to the high taxes in Denmark, food is crazy expensive.  You can easily spend $40-50 per person on lunch…which we have done a few times with mixed results.  SO…we are eating a lot of pizza/kebab with fries which appear on every block.  Who would have thought Denmark would be harder than China to get food we liked?

Tonight we tried the Aarhus “Street Food”… they had this in Copenhagen as well but we arrived as everything was closing at only 10:00pm!  Street Food is a warehouse space (indoor, which is important) with a bunch of shipping containers that act like food trucks.  All very funky with many young people and the beer flowing freely.  Tonight’s dinner was really good (Alex had spaghetti, I had Thai, David had Jamaican and Anna had Mexican).  In fact, with over 25 places to choose from and indoor seating that keeps you out of the wind and rain, we may go back  again tomorrow night!

Last thought on Demark — buy 7-11 stock.  I realize that in the US we don’t think much of 7-11, but here in Denmark they are literally on every block.  In fact, at the Norreport train station in Copenhagen (near our apartment), they have them on 3 corners of one block!  They look similar to what you would expect on the outside, but inside is more Starbucks — salad bars, hot foods to take away, fancy coffee drinks and designer juices.  If we see as many of them as we progress through Scandinavia, I am going to buy some stock!





Yesterday – by Anna

We skipped blogging yesterday because we got in too late, so here’s how we spent our day:

Today we had a late start. By not setting an alarm, we didn’t leave the apartment until 1:30.  Alex was up at 6:30 but he let the rest of us sleep which was nice.  We had gone to bed at midnight the night before, so getting a full twelve hours of sleep was really nice. 

The first thing we did after finally waking up and leaving the room was visit the Rosenberg Palace. We walked to this one, because it is right down the street.  It was a summer house so isn’t that fancy, but we did see the Crown Jewels which are very pretty.

One of the most interesting things we learned at the palace is about the Danish and elephants. When Denmark became Protestant after the reformation, they had to rename their knighthood “Order of the Virgin Mary” to something less religious sounding. They had never seen an elephant mate in Denmark, so they thought elephants were virgins so they decided that it would be a good icon for this order. In the paintings we saw of kings and queens they all had the elephant on their necklace.

Then we took a bus and train ride to Sweden on the Oresund Bridge across the Baltic Sea strait.  This bridge is a big deal because it provides a rail, car and internet link for Norway, Sweden and Finland.   It was foggy and the bridge is very high so we were almost in the fog. We saw Malmo, Sweden which was not very active.

Then we took a (very late) canal boat tour around Copenhagen.  Everyone was out on the canals to celebrate St John’s Feast Day or Midsummers Eve. They all make a pile of wood, put a doll of a witch on it, and burn the wood and have a party.   

We saw lots of these, and also lots of happy people who weren’t walking very straight.  Alex didn’t like them, he thinks they should drink less.

We saw the Little Mermaid…. she is very little and not a big deal.  Copenhagen people think the is boring.

The Danish Rain

Today, we went to two castles. The first one that we went to is the Kronborg castle. This is the castle that the shakespearian play Hamlet is based in. The castle’s biggest claim to fame is Hamlet, and it showed. They had a shortened version of the play with different parts in different rooms. They also made it interactive. As you can imagine, Dad loved the interactivity. I had only every seen one Hamlet interpretation, The Lion King (anyone know the lyrics to the first part of the first song?). I found it interesting that the plays at the castle were in English with no Danish translations. I was expecting Danish translations. It was interesting getting to see the story and understand it better.

We also saw the World’s Largest Supported Lego Ship. It was made by shipping company DFDS, and allowed anyone who worked for the company to contribute to building it. IMG_4244.JPG

We then went to Fredricksburg Castle. This castle is ornate. They have gone to extreme lengths to bring obnoxiously baroque architecture and design to this castle. The church had very intricate designs. Apple and this castle both pay “attention to detail,” but for different reasons. Apple has a nice single brick of Aluminum, while this has every square centimeter covered in decoration. Look at the slider below for examples.

Overall, it has been an interesting but tiring day.

Here are some notes about Denmark:

  1. Similar to Scotland, at 10:00, all restaurants turn to bars
  2. Public transit is virtually useless if you are in Central København. You can walk almost anywhere
  3. Almost all signs are in English
  4. Everything is super expensive (due to high tax rates)
  5. Bikes are very popular; There is almost no car parking
  6. People tend to be nonconfrontational; the one exception are guards
  7. No showers have curtains; They flow straight into the bathrooms
  8. Almost everyone (including the queen) smokes
  9. There is (unfortunately) tons of partying, screeming, and drinking; McDonalds has guards to stop people from partying in the McDonalds.
  10. It rains for about three seconds before stopping; It is not worth wearing a rain coat

A really long day in Copenhagen – by Renee

Today was a really long day — because it started at 2am when we were all awake and unable to get back to sleep, and it’s currently midnight.  While we can attribute most of this to jet lag, the fact that our perfectly-located apartment is on a busy street filled with lots of happy graduates celebrating their graduations until the wee hours (and wearing old fashioned sailor hats with their school name on them) did contribute.  We took a mid-day nap hoping to reset things a bit.

Today we did one of our standard “first things to do in a new city” the 3-hour walking tour.  This covered a lot of ground (literally a few miles) and we learned about Danish history, the Danish royal family, and about a surprising number of catastrophic fires in Copenhagen’s history.  The first raindrops fell just as the tour was ending.

Here we are at the most famous photo spot in town:

We also got lucky and when we were at the Town Hall, it was time for the weekly winding of the famous clock.  This precision timepiece (over 15,000 parts) tracks not only time, but also the position of the planets, the Gregorian calendar and the 25,000-year cycle of of the precession of the earth’s axis. (Since the clock was built in the 1950s, that particular dial hasn’t moved much)

The predicted wet evening weather failed to show up, so we decided to head to Tivoli Gardens, the second oldest amusement park in the world.   Their summer celebration is in full swing with lots of music, theater, and dance in addition to all the rides (and of course the funhouse mirrors)

We had a fun surprise when we asked people what the commotion was in the audience for the ballet production of Cinderella that we were waiting for, and it was the Queen….. Denmark’s Queen Margarethe and her retinue.  (She’s the one that everyone is looking at, and her husband is in purple)

After the show Anna and Alex sat on the very same cushions the Queen had just graced with her bottom:

So now we’ve seen two queens and one prime minister on our travels…..I guess when you’ve seen one you Haven’t seen them all.
 Our FitbBits say we walked over 11 miles today… we’re going to sleep well! 


while(traveling){getSetUp();tour();leave();} (by Alex)

Before we begin, I would like to apologize for the blurry photos. We downscale the images to conserve space.

It is our sixth year of traveling! In our six years, we have developed a process. We always go to the airport super early. This year, traffic getting there was bad. We left from Oakland, as Oakland had a direct flight to Copenhagen for a relatively low cost. Highway 92 and 880 both were not moving, so it took longer than we expected. Norwegian Air Service also had a very long bag drop process. They had three flights leaving (and a new check in area), so as you can imagine, it took a while. We did get through with time for dinner. We chose Chinese food, as it was the only to go food in the airport. Our plane was a Boeing 787 Dreamliner.


Thanks to our relatively cheap upgrade to business class, our flight was comfortable. The 787 also is incredibly quiet and smooth, which made the flight even better! The one issue… there was a certain Dad that was hogging my seat when I was trying to sleep. Overall, it was a good flight.

Once we get to the city, we get on the train to our apartment and get settled in. I get the Microsoft ‘Unusual sign in activity’ message.’

Image 3

The WiFi password is also crucial to get at the first possible second. Once we get settled, we tour our neighborhood.

Copenhagen is an awesome city. It is moderately laid back, and the architecture is really beautiful.

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We have a tradition in the Beaver family of unintentionally having a horrible first meal in a city. This was not the case. Facebook’s weird stalking algorithms that utilizes knowing everything about you and everybody else combined with your current location to recommend restaurants that locals tend to go to near you (like I said, weird stalking algorithms). We had a great meal of burgers and oven-baked potatoes (which is what every restaurant in Copenhagen serves).

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Another necessity is going grocery shopping. We found strawberries that mom loved


and this… thing


Sense my enthusiasm.

It is as bright as day at 9:09, and here is proof (thanks to Snapchat).


We have had an amazing first day and are going to bed now.

Here are some photos that Mom wanted me to post.

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Away we go…. v 2017

Welcome back to our travel blog.  This year we’re going to Scandinavia… where it’s cool. (We all agreed to this plan last year, in Beijing, in August… where it was not cool).  Stops will include Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Estonia and Russia.  This trip will be a little shorter than usual… we’re back at the end of July (so Anna has time to practice driving, work on Girl Scout project, build a robot, and practice taking the SATs…. life is getting busy)

Look for our first post, probably on Wednesday, from Copenhagen.

Heading home – by Renee

Oops… I didn’t realize that Alex had blogged.  No harm in having 2 blogs of our last day…

We spent our last day of this trip at Tokyo Disneyland.  It was hot but not as crowded as we feared.  They had most of the usual rides although Country Bear Jamboree in Japanese is quiet different.  

Probably the best thing was the Electric Light Parade which was the best we’ve seen at any park!  Lots of new (to us) floats including the Genie, Nemo and a really spectacular Cinderella.

Fireworks and a projection display on the castle was a perfect end to our trip.

Oh. And the kids played a little Pokemon GO at Disneyland too 

Our next post will be from Portola Valley!