Posted by: ilanasmith | September 21, 2008

Lobsters, Lighthouses and Little Red-Headed Girls

I’m an enormous L M Montgomery fan.  I’ve read many of her books at least twenty times, and not just because I was trapped in a town with a crappy library.  I best remember the day I met Charles by how much I freaked out when I discovered he was from Prince Edward Island.  It’s Anne Land!  (Though, truth be told, I vastly prefer weird snobby Emily to goody-two-shoes Anne.  And arty Teddy is so much hotter than stodgy Gilbert.)  There was no way I was passing up the opportunity to PEI it up when I was over that side of Canadia.

I went light-house spotting through Nova Scotia over to Prince Edward Island, through adorable Charlottetown up to Anne’s part of town.  Peggy’s characterisation of PEI as "so cute I could puke" is apt.  I played Spot-the-Obscure-Montgomery-Reference: Ingleside Lodge Motel and Kindred Spirits Country Inn were topped by Shining Waters Family Fun Park.  Of course, I went to Green Gables.

Maritime Canadia (4) - Peggy's Cove Maritime Canadia (2) - Peggy's Cove Maritime Canadia (12) - Green Gables

From PEI (across the Confederation Bridge!), I meandered back through New Brunswick.  I stopped in at Shediac, because I had found it impossible to believe that it wasn’t just Australians that built enormous fibre-glass versions of things – the Big Lobster set me straight. All trips must have a highlight, however, and this one was spontaneously dropping in on the incredible woman who is Charles’ mother.  She is so cool.

Posted by: ilanasmith | September 6, 2008


Ed and Sean getting hitched was a lovely excuse to visit Eastern Canada.  They picked Halifax, Nova Scotia for the deed, so Marky-Mark, Kindy, Yammy and I converged there.  Mark in Dublin was actually geographically closer to Halifax than Kindy and Yammy in Seattle.  That Canadia is damn big.

The Edding was lovely.  Ed looked like Princess Grace, Sean wore a skirt and it was a Catholic service so I knew all the words.  Apparently the modern term for a sporran is a ‘junk bag’.

There was karaoke at the reception, which was damn entertaining.  Must have been the booze.  Highlights were the groom doing Prince’s "Kiss" complete with falsetto, the bride doing Fergie’s "London Bridge (Oh Shit)", and the Croatian doing "Blame Canada".  Mark and I deafened Kindy with our homage to Nick, "Anthem".

Edding (7) - Kindy, Ed, me Edding (17) - Yammy, Peggy, Mark, Billie Sue, Ed and Sean Edding (8) - Mark being creepy

We inspected Halifax closely, and it was very pretty.  However, the most important discovery we made was at McDonald’s.

Edding (3) - No way!  Who would be that silly

Ugh!  Who would be silly enough to eat that?!

 Edding (4) - Not a good sign

Uh oh.  Not a good sign.

 Edding (5) - Mark.  That's who would be that silly.

Huh.  Mark.  How surprising.

Posted by: ilanasmith | September 1, 2008


So what did you do on the weekend?  Bumbershoot?  PAX?  Burning Man?  Nice, nice, nice.



Me for the win!

Oh, we did this too:

 Lunch at Fredensborg on Lake Esrum

Posted by: ilanasmith | August 31, 2008

City Slot

Last weekend, after a few glancing attempts, I finally made it to Rosenborg Slot to check out the castle and inspect the crown jewels

Rosenborg is a funny skinny little castle in the centre of a park in the centre of the city.  It’s a bit strange to look down a street and see the thing.  It’s really far more royal than the four identical palaces a few blocks away that the Queen beds down in.

Rosenborg Slot (5) Rosenborg Slot (3) Rosenborg Slot

This is what I learned on my visit:

  • Danes are ridiculously trusting.  I had suspected this due to the baby carriages (complete with occupants) left on footpaths outside shops and cafes while mums are busy inside.  I had it confirmed when the ticket dude told me I needed to check my bag during my visit.  (Apparently it’s not to prevent me making off with the jewels – it’s to protect the door frames.)  When I didn’t have the 20kr ($4) coin for the locker, he offered one.
  • The Danish aesthetic has improved.  I’m an enormous fan of the whole minimalist sleek beautiful Scandinavian thing going on around here, but it would seem it was a somewhat recent development.  As far as I can tell, prior design goals aimed for ugly or creepy.  There’s a lot of stuff in Rosenborg that gets the double word score, including a significant portion of the crown jewels.
  • The Danish royal family has gotten a lot better looking.  The current head of state looked alright before time and forty Greek cigarettes a day took their toll.  Half of her children are pretty cute and half of his kids are totally adorable.  Frederick III and Christian V were scary, and their wives were worse.  I figured that their painters needed to upgrade their version of Photoshop, before the terrible thought occurred to me that maybe they already had.

And then we went to Tivoli and went on all the rides.

Posted by: ilanasmith | August 24, 2008

None More Knob!

Spotted by Rohan while we canal-toured during his visit.  This was the same day we hunted ‘slutspurt’ signs. 
Then there’s this one, discovered at Central Station during Felicity’s visit
i fart at Central Station i fart at Central Station - cropped
Danish is magnificent.
Posted by: ilanasmith | August 23, 2008

Baltic States

From Helsinki, we caught the ferry across to Tallinn, in Estonia.  We spent most of the trip giggling about the sign that had directed us toward the gangway by saying in Swedish "Til Fartyget".

Tallinn has an adorable little walled old town.  We wandered around, and indulged in commerce.  Cindy scored the best Russian nesting dolls ever.  Yammy bought some gorgeous red pottery goblets that he insists on referring to as "chalices" or "grails".  I find that uncomfortably messianic.  Yammy also chickened out of the Medieval Torture Museum at the door once he realised that they’d be showing how the equipment was actually used.

 Talinn (6) Talinn (3) Talinn (5) Talinn (8) - Russian nesting dolls bought in Eastonia of Swedes

We caught a bus from Tallinn to Riga, Latvia.  It left from the main bus station in Tallinn, which seemed to be called the "autobussijaam".  Someone, who shall remain nameless for soon-to-be-revealed reasons, became overly fond of saying this name.  Our bus had Wifi and Jammi spent most of the trip exclaiming about this fact on various internet sites.  Not the Soviet Union anymore, Toto.

If Tallin is Dubrovnik-y, then Riga is more Paris-y.  Broad avenues and such-like.  We discovered that most of the old and notable buildings had been pretty much rebuilt post-war, which de-notabled them in our books.

Finally, we ventured into northern Lithuania to visit the Hill of Crosses.  I can’t do that place justice with words, but behold the photos.

Hill of Crosses (3) Hill of Crosses (6) Hill of Crosses (9)

Posted by: ilanasmith | August 15, 2008

Operaen without too much Opera

Last night, we went to see a symfonikoncert at Operaen.

Operaen is Mærsk Mc-Kinney Møller‘s 500 million dollar gift to the Danish people and sits fairly spectacularly on the Copenhagen harbour across from the queen’s house.  It’s not quite the most famous Danish-designed opera house, but it’s commanding from the outside, impressive on the inside and has an amazing view on a beautiful summer evening.

The program was Wagner, Wagner, Strauss.  The middle Wagner had a wailing woman.  She was disappointingly not a fat German in a horned helmet, but instead a hot blonde with an apricot satin dress and insecure body language.  The Strauss was Ein Heldenleben which, rather embarrassingly, I’m familiar with thanks to a Jilly Cooper novel.  The conductor was very exciting, cavorting about in a most entertaining manner, but I wish they’d given him a little platform that didn’t squeak.

During the slow bits (rare, as Strauss and Wagner seem to do really loud and really strident really well), I played High School Politics with the Orchestra members, picking the brain, the princess, the criminal and such-like.  The trumpeters who wandered off in the middle of the third piece and popped back for the end were totally the stoners.  My favourite was the emo percussionist who sat folded in on himself in the middle up the back, hating the world and being all "fuck this orchestra shit" right up until he got to crash his cymbals, when he became master of all he surveyed and more than a little over-dramatic with his flourishes.

Copenhagen - July 06 (11) - New Opera House - they obviously spent their creative wad coming up with ours mein handy 025

Posted by: ilanasmith | August 3, 2008

Final Sprint

This is my new favourite Danish word.

IMG_2959 IMG_2962 IMG_2986

I’m envisioning great fountains of promiscuity.

Posted by: ilanasmith | July 10, 2008

Hello Five Kilos!

How much does my family rock?  Why, they rock large amounts, thanks for asking.

Recent evidence: this is just the snack portion of my birthday package

Birthday Food! sm

Thanks, Most Excellent Mother and Most Excellent Sister!  (And thank-you too to Most Excellent Nephews, once I figure out what in hell you sent me, and how to stop it making that noise.)

Posted by: ilanasmith | July 6, 2008

In Which We Go To Louisiana

Copenhagen is the most amazing place under good weather.

Knowing Saturday was going to be nice, Bridget and I made some plans.  We briefly considered tackling the crowds and smell out at the Roskilde Festival, but decided instead to head up to Humlebæk and go to Louisiana.

Louisiana is named, not because it aspires to be murky and Southern, but because the original owner of the property apparently had three wives…all named Louise.  (Far worse than too many Alexs.)  It’s a museum of modern art ("museum for moderne kunst") and has a fairly nice collection including some Picassos, Pollack, Lichtenstien, Warhol, as well as many Scandinavian artists. It currently has an exhibition on the architecture of museums which, while a little recursive, was still totally fascinating.

The real star of Louisiana, however, is its location.  It’s right on the shore of the Øresund and when the weather is good, it’s spectacular.  The view even distracted me from the Rothko.

Ilana and Bridget at Louisiana Art Museum

We rounded out the day with some splashing about in the Baltic, a bicycle ride to an excellent local sushi place, and some good white wine.  It’s days like this when I wonder why anyone would live anywhere else.

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