Sunday, February 24, 2008

Denmark Day 24

I had to go back to NH for 10 days, so up to this point I've really only been living in København for a couple of weeks. My main accomplishments (outside of work) have been to find a place to buy some decent fresh bread (not that difficult), have another great dinner with friends, download Skype, and talk to my daughter. Oh yeah, and sample some of this year's Påskebryg ("Easter Brew"), which, according to the Carlsberg/Tuborg web-site, "is a well-loved part of the Danish Easter. Its launch day – which is always a Friday in early March (I do note it's still February, so the web-site appears to be mistaken about the "always") - is widely known as P-Day or Påskebryg Day." Okay, I'm not a beer connoisseur, but it was reasonably tasty; if it's good enough for the Danes I know, it's good enough for me.
Aside from that, I'm starting to get used to checking the streets for bicycles, not just cars, when I jaywalk. Forget the cars, man, when you step off the curb here, the first thing you are stepping into is the bike lane. Before you get onto the sidewalk on the other side of the street, there is the bike lane going the opposite way. They come fast, sometimes they come in flocks, and getting hit by one or several is definitely going to hurt.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Denmark, Day 2

Oh, by the way, I've just moved to Denmark. I now live in København, the city of Søren Kierkegaard, Hans Christian Andersen, and Niels Bohr. In fact the apartment I'm renting is in Nørrebro (Northbridge), a couple of blocks from Assistens Kirkegård, where all three are buried. I made a pilgrimage to this cemetery years ago, never dreaming I would one day be living little more than a stone's throw from Kierkegaard's grave. Aside from my Danish friends, when I think of Denmark I think of people who refused to give up their Jews to the Nazis during World War II, sheltering them as long as possible, then ferrying almost every one of them (~7,000-8,000) to Sweden virtually overnight between 29 September and 1 October 1943. One of the evacuees was Niels Bohr, whose mother was Jewish. Bohr, one of the founders of the modern theories of atomic structure, quantum physics, and the interaction of matter and energy, was soon thereafter flown to London to join the UK effort to develop a nuclear weapon, and subsequently, as part of the UK team sent to Los Alamos, served as a consultant on the Manhattan Project. Bohr was an admirer of Kierkegaard, though he disagreed substantially with his philosophy. As a chemist, I'm familiar with Bohr's contributions, and now find myself in another undreamt of situation, being newly employed at Københavns Universitet (University of Copenhagen), where he worked, although I'm in a different department and another building. More about that some other time.
Day 1 was yesterday, which started with my arrival in København airport. The trip from Boston took a mere 10 hours, including a 2 hour layover in London Heathrow. I can't sleep on a plane, so I was kind of tired, but after some brutal trips to Japan and Australia last summer, I now consider flying from the northeast coast of the US to the southernmost country in Scandinavia child's play. So, after a brief stop to check in at my new living quarters, I had no problem reporting to work by noon. Since my excellent planning of the transition from University of New Hampshire to University of Copenhagen accidentally resulted in forgoing a paycheck in January (while bleeding money profusely from numerous fiscal wounds), the most important thing for me to do was start the salary clock on my new job.
After my first day at work, I had a great dinner with old friends, drank too much wine and got home late, so today, Day 2, Saturday, started late and is now 5 minutes from over. My main accomplishments were exploring the neighborhood, getting some food in the fridge for Sunday, then finding a nearby Indian restaurant (Indian Corner, Nørrebrogade 59, 2200 København N), to fill up on Samosas, Dal Soup, Chicken Vindaloo, and Nan, all of which were excellent (but not free).