Posted by: ilanasmith | January 23, 2011

The Fifth Stage of Grief is Acceptance

Some trips may never get written up.

I finally got around to posting some photos from some trips.  I’m now all caught up…to mid-June 2009.  I was so good for so long about posting accounts of all my adventures.  And then I got to sucking at it.  One day, I may need to reconstitute it all from bitchy Facebook comments.

I finally posted my two-year-old Egypt photos about a month ago., to join Syria and Jordan, which were much more timely   That very awesome trip through the Middle East is never gonna get written up.  I’m sure I thought up all sorts of snarky quips at the time.  Wasted.

Egypt (14)JordanSyria

Now I’ve added my April 09 England trip (Dean’s wedding), some photos from buying and moving into the house (April/May), a weekend in Victoria complete with whales (May), and my June 09 trip to Ireland (Mark’s wedding).

Northern England (12) - Whitby AbbeyIMG_4294
Ireland (21)IMG_4355

At some point in the next decade, I might finally make it all the way down to Indochina.

Posted by: ilanasmith | November 16, 2010

Pretty Phobia

I have a phobia.  I’m fine with snakes and spiders and other crawly or slimy things.  But I can’t bear infestations.  A mass of something.  A colony.  Seething.  Writhing.  Ugh.

I can’t even bear those pictures of possums with their young on their back.  Ugh ugh ugh.

Even when the infestations are benign.  Even pretty.  Like the below.  Creeps me. the fuck. out.


This is totally awesome, because now I’m never going to be able to look at this page.  But seeing as it has been about a year and a half since I posted, maybe that was unlikely anyway.

Posted by: ilanasmith | April 2, 2009

Meet My New Car

I’d like to introduce my new car.
It’s blue, so it needed a C name (like Claudia the Jetta, Camille the Focus and Clarisse the Audi).  It has a one-litre, three-cylinder engine, so I’ve named it after the donkey I rode in Egypt. 
Meet Colin the Smart.
Here’s the thing: it’s not that smart.  It’s ridiculously impractical and for that, it’s not that cheap, the fuel economy is not that great, it’s illegal in Seattle to do the cool Smart perpendicular-to-parallel parking, it lacks essential features, it’s slow and has weird shifting, and its safety is debatable.  Also, it’s French.  Frankly, smart would have been the Honda Fit.
It has a single redeeming feature, and that’s the one reason I bought it.
Looking at it makes me laugh.
Posted by: ilanasmith | December 17, 2008

The Secret Life of the Danes: Neighbours

There’s this cute little sidebar in my Time Out: Copenhagen that just cracks me up.  I always insist on dragging it out and making people read it (even Danes and Swedes).  To facilitate my ability to do this via Google, I’m totally ripping it off and shoving it in right here.

The way in which the Danes rub along with rest of their Scandinavian brethren is coloured by one simple, historical fact: they used to rule all of them, had a fight, and then lost everything in the most humiliating way possible.  As a result, relations with Norway and particularly Sweden (who really rubbed the Danes’ noses in it for a while), are understandably more complex than may at first be apparent.

No matter how nice they are face to face, and no matter how many splendid bridges they build across the Øresund, the Danes still gripe ceaselessly about the Swedes.  They love, for instance, to point out the drunken Swedish day-trippers from Malmö who stagger around Nyhavn’s pubs and bars at the weekend ("They’d never behave like that at home", goes the Danish chorus), or the Swedes who booze cruise form Helsingborg to Helsingør in their Volvo Estates (rumour has it the cars are built around the dimension of 10 crates of Tuborg.)  The Danes take great delight in mimicking the Swedes’ singsong accents, and require little encouragement to dish the dirt on what a bunch of dull, law-abiding party poopers their fellow Scandinavians are.

For their part, the Swedes still look down upon the Danes as chain-smoking, underachieving, woolly liberals, with similarly lax attitudes towards drugs and sex as the Dutch. They have an unshakeable sense of self-belief that the Swedish way is the best.

Even more damning within the Scandinavian fraternity is the accusation of ‘being too much like the Germans’, an insult that is hurled with equal conviction from all sides of the ramparts.  The Danes cite the Swedes’ regimented social behaviour as evidence of their Teutonic mindset, while the Swedes point to the Danes’ closer cultural links with Germany, not to mention their sausage fetish.  The Norwegians, meanwhile, stay quiet, grateful that no one is being horrid about them for once.

Norwegians know their place, and are more than content with it (as anyone would be with their balance of payments).  The relationship between Danes and Norwegians is more one of brotherly affection than regional rivalry.  Though the Norwegians are significantly richer than the Danes (make that, ‘than most of the planet’), thanks to their North Sea oil bonanza, the Danes think of them as rather naïve, innocent, virulently nationalistic and, if we’re really honest, mentally disadvantaged country cousins.  However, the spectacular Norwegian scenery is much envied by the Danes, who only have a couple of cliffs and a sand dune to keep their amateur photographers happy.  Danes feel at home with Norway’s modest, inward-looking traditionalism and, secretly, covet their national costumes.

All credit to Time Out and the author, Michael Booth.

Posted by: ilanasmith | December 16, 2008

What’s the Danish for “Earthquake”?


I’m not very good at earthquakes. 

The first I ever knowingly experienced I thought a truck was driving past.  Then I remembered that I was in the Highlands of Papua New Guinea, it had taken four planes and a helicopter to get me to where I was, and that the closest truck was a couple of hundred kilometres away.

About a month before I moved to the US (the first time), a 6.8 earthquake hit Seattle.  Fissures opened up in the ground and buildings buckled.  My mother rang me and told me I wasn’t moving anymore.

Then there was that Icelandic one that I completely failed to notice.

This morning, I was woken at 6:20am by the earth moving.  I did what any reasonable person would do: I googled "earthquake Copenhagen" on my phone.  At least half the first page results were using the word metaphorically, so I figured that this area was seismically uninteresting, and that one of my neighbours must have been breaking the building in some new and interesting manner.  But apparently, I was wrong – it was 4.7, and the epicenter was 65 km away in southern Sweden.  The word is that it’s the largest one to hit the area since they started measuring.

Posted by: ilanasmith | December 14, 2008

Goodbye Denmark

Hello Syria, Jordan, Egypt, Israel.  Hello Seattle.

I don’t think the news that I’m moving back to Seattle is really news to anyone.  I’ve lived here in Denmark for two years and loved every minute of it, but it has felt a little like a holiday from life, and I need to try to be a grown-up.  So it’s back to Seattle to work on that small operating system product we have.

In my time here, I’ve managed to see just about all of Europe that I was interested in.  (Southern Italy and Portugal are the only ones to elude me, but I’ll be back for at least two weddings next year and I still might snag them.)  So when I leave Copenhagen at the end of the week, I’ll spend a month travelling through the Middle East.  I’m going to try to post photos to Flickr during the trip so keep an eye out over there if you’re interested.

I’ve mentioned before that George Bush was actually a small factor in deciding to leave the US, so it’s going to look like I carefully planned to arrive back so close to the day he gets evicted, but that one is probably a coincidence.  Probably.

Posted by: ilanasmith | October 23, 2008

En Dansker i USA

How’s your Danish?  Anders is blogging about his move.

(Incidentally, lest you be concerned his hallway-mates will hate him as much as Danny and the upright piano, his office "drum kit" is about 15cm tall.)

Posted by: ilanasmith | October 6, 2008


Got asked at work "Can you go to a conference in Germany next week?"  I appreciated the copious quantities of advance notice and so acquiesced.

I’d never been to Munich (and had a hankering to see Bavaria) so went down a day early.  Munich failed to impress.  It was a rainy miserable day and Hofbrauhaus smelt funny.

But the next day, we hopped on a train and went out to Füssen.  I was very disappointed for about three quarters of the journey, but finally sighted alps.  Füssen was cute, but just a lunch stop on the way to Neuschwanstein Castle.

Disney ripped off Neuschwanstein when building Sleeping Beauty Castle, so it’s all spires and romance.  Ludwig of Bavaria wanted a "real" Middle Ages castle, so he cleared an actual medieval castle to build it there.  Mainly, it was to impress his friend Wagner.

Neuschwanstein (11) Neuschwanstein (6)

Posted by: ilanasmith | September 28, 2008

Buda and Pest

Two thumbs up for Hungary.  Budapest very cool.  Pretty buildings.  Scary Terror House.  Tasty goulash.

Got to see the Red Bull Air Race from Buda Castle.  A gorgeous day, a view over Buda and Pest, the Danube meandering along, all apparently insufficient.  Also had to see planes flying underneath Chain Bridge and in and out of big floaty witch’s hats and loopdilooping in the air. *mrowr*

Budapest (5) Budapest (14) Budapest (18)

Posted by: ilanasmith | September 22, 2008


Danes are unreasonably fond of their flag.  Granted, it’s quite pretty (and doesn’t have a mess of someone else’s flag taking up a significant quarter – always a plus in my book).  It’s the world’s oldest national flag, and apparently drifted down from Heaven and helped win some battle.  But they’re unreasonably fond of their flag.

It’s weird.  It doesn’t really seem to be about patriotism.  There’s a deep streak of irony through the Danish psyche that wouldn’t allow that level of uncoolness.  It really truly seems to be about the flag.  They fly it all over the place and print it on all sorts of things and use it as a decoration.  In a key piece of WTF, it’s apparently the way to indicate a birthday.  The damn thing is everywhere.

That said, this seems a bit extreme.

pretty poo 2

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