Saturday, June 26, 2010

End of Germany/Denmark

Alright, so to tie up any loose ends from my last post: we had a giant celebratory party with a ton of Germans after the US won. Germany won too, so the streets were slightly crazy afterward. Since about 4 PM (Germany played at 8:30) the entire area around the public viewing was crawling with riot police, but everyone we saw was very orderly.

The next day, we hopped on an early-morning train to Copenhagen. This train was unique in that it drove onto a ferry boat in order to make the crossing into Denmark, and we got to disembark and get a great view of the North Sea. On the top deck, we ran into a group of three kids from Yale who are doing the exact same trip that we are--same concept, same countries. We hung out for a while and broke down the U.S. performance, and during the course of the conversation found out that we were actually staying in the same hostel in Copenhagen. We'll probably meet up later today to watch the US' Round of 16 match--with 7 people, we have a better chance of not being a minority in whatever bar we go to.

The city of Copenhagen is very Danish. I know that's a complete truism, but that's the only way I can describe it. Everyone rides around on bicycles, I feel like 75% of the population is blonde, and the architecture looks exactly like I would imagine a Danish city. There's an amusement park 200 yards from our hostel and a pastry shop every 20 yards. So far, we've walked around the city to get our bearings, visited the royal palace, residences, and the national arms museum. The arms museum was kind of weird because only the section on artillery was open, and it really showed that the basic concept of using big guns to shoot things hasn't changed for 800+ years. We also spent a decent amount of time in Christiania, which is a section of Copenhagen that seceded from Denmark in the seventies and has existed autonomously ever since. It was really surreal because the whole place seemed stuck in the late 60s--the art, the people, the lifestyle, the political messages. It was also very strange in that the place started off as an anti-establishment collective (and a glorified drug enclave) and has since ended up as a major tourist attraction, with vendors hawking cheap t-shirts in the most capitalist way possible. I'm sure this parallels the death of the hippie movement somehow, but I don't know enough about that history to write about it now.

Overall, Denmark has been great, though. The average level of beauty in this city--architecture, people, fashion, food, and anything else you can imagine--is staggering. It's also by far the most expensive city we've visited, because Denmark is not on the Euro and its kroner has stayed relatively stable during the financial crisis, while the dollar has lost a lot of value. The only reason we haven't gone broke in the rest of Europe is because the Euro actually collapsed more than the dollar (thanks, Greece!). But a small cup of coffee at the cheapest place we could find is still the equivalent of $4, which is somewhat absurd. As a result, we've been eating more at places like 7-11 and the European equivalent of Chipotle instead of nicer restaurants.

Today we might splurge on day passes to the amusement park before the U.S. game, but I don't know if my stomach can handle it. I'm already a little physically ill from the butterflies I'm getting about the match tonight. Watching this game is going to be a trying experience for me. I'm really counting on Dempsey, Donovan, Altidore, & Co. to come through on offense, I think if we can turn this into an offensive rather than a defensive battle we should prevail. Anyway, I'll be on pins and needles and depending on how things go, I'll be happily exhausted or depressed and tired for our flight to Madrid tomorrow morning (why we decided to book an 8:30 AM flight, I don't remember, but I certainly regret it now). Anyway, I'll have more in Madrid. It's hard to believe we're already close to the final city, but I guess time really does fly when you're having fun. Until next time, good night and good luck to the USA.

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