Monday, September 12, 2011

Bornholm Dukketeaterfestival, Copenhagen and one bad photo of Sweden

So. I've been out and about. Lighting and puppetry brought me to Denmark this past week. A quick flight got me and the cast of the show I was working on to Copenhagen, and after a few hours of aimless wandering we hopped aboard the night ferry to Bornholm. This little number was equipped with quite comfortable and spacious cabins for a 6-hour trip, with loos And showers.  On the top deck you can see the shipping containers that accompanied us from the mainland being efficiently but slowly pulled to the pier. This ferry only does one trip each direction per day and is usually only ridden by a few lorry drivers. The trip back via Ystad, Sweden was only about an hour and was full of passengers and private cars.

A sample of typical Bornholm fare. These mackerel and herring were smoked on the island by a traditional smoke-house and donated by them to feed the puppet festival folk.  It was amazing--seriously, the best fish I've ever eaten. Delicate and perfectly balanced smoke and salt. I had a few handfuls, along with some cheese and some structural bread.

It is tasty. It is beautiful. It weighs about two kilograms per loaf. It is Danish Bread, and you will not forget it.

A typical Bornholm home behind Svaneke's community centre, Svanekegaarden. A group of highly talented children performed a fire show and some acrobatics for us out here the first evening we were in town. In addition to smoked fish and a variety of white cheeses, the Danish eat sausages as part of their daily routine, usually shoved into a baguette in a rather humourous way. Use your imagination.

Another Svaneke home.  My camera refused to capture just how vibrantly yellow most of the houses are. I think it's so the locals can find their homes in the snow.

The Svaneke harbour. It looks like there used to be a bit more of it. For non-Danish speakers, the closest phonetic equivalent is "Sffan-uh-kuh", with an a like in alcohol. If you pronounce it Sven-eekie you will baffle residents. Just FYI.

Ketch Tecla.  Probably 90' on deck, iron hulled. Cute as a button. In Svaneke harbour.

This house was moving very fast.

A medieval lamp on display in the Middelaldercenter, near Østerlars. (Eustah-laas). The staff of the Center very kindly allowed us to sleep in and around their grounds, from the office to the cinema to the log cabin covered in medieval-style paintings. Everyone was amazingly nice and patient with all of us lunatics invading their space and sleeping in their workplaces.

One of my cast (taking a picture) who was hanging out with one of the creatives behind the Hesbjerg Dukketeater's Tommelise, or Thumbelina.  This show was a very small, very short, very brightly coloured finger-puppet story for children that we didn't arrive in time to see, but they very nicely allowed us to play all of their musical instruments while we chatted afterwards--including the thumb piano, the bugle, the conch, and one of those nifty single-string instruments that you change the pitch of by squeezing. I didn't ask to play his clarinet though--that just seemed intrusive.

One of two cockerels who live on site at the Middelaldercenter. A costumed staff member informed me that so long as there are plenty of lady chickens to go around, dude chickens don't fight. So these guys were fit.

Me in a chain mail hood.  Yes. I particularly like the way it fits over my glasses.

A view of the Middelaldercenter and surrounding countryside from the central tower. We tried to play Rapunzel but nobody could jump high enough to reach my hair. Alas.

Cockerel number 2.  This one had lovely blue plumage but even creepier feet than the others. Bleh.  Feathery dinosaurs.

Wild mushrooms in the forest.  No, these were not woods.  It was a forest, and you could tell, because of all the fairies and the children dropping bread crumbs and the witches and the wolves in grannies' jammies.  No, I did not lick the mushrooms. It was all real!

Give puppeteers objects, and they will give you puppets. Nice folks. At the Bryghuset i Svaneke. (Brewery)

The only decent photo I managed to take out the train window on the way from Ystad to Copenhagen. This, dear reader, is in Sweden. The route was a short ferry from Bornholm to Ystad (Uh-sta), Sweden, then an hour's wait (in which I bought some salted liquorice-flavoured chewing gum just for the ew factor but did not get my passport stamped, sadface), then a train to Malmö (Mal-meu), then another train across the Øresund (Eur-sun) Bridge back to Copenhagen, a trip of roughly the same duration as the first from Køge (Cuue) but not nearly as comfortable or convenient.  I discovered on this high-tech train that something ugly happened in regard to Cairo and the Israeli embassy, but couldn't figure out who was out to get whom on account of the Swedish news reporting.

A shot of the Danish Parliament tower and a few state-esque buildings. I thought it was nice.

This drawbridge between the Copenhagen city centre and the neighbourhood of Christianshavn is pictured on the 200 kroner note. Interestingly, aside from the 50 kroner note (worth about £6.50 or $9 and will generally buy you one pint of beer) and the 10 and 20 kr coins, there are no people on Danish money.  Even the watermark on the 100 and 200 kroner notes is a boat.  I found this interesting.  And extortionate.

Someone's front stoop.  Sorry person who's house I spent five minutes crouching in front of.  I swear I was only admiring your nifty handrails.

A typical Christianshavn street. Bright colours, neat middle-road streetlights, and a delightfully eclectic mash of buildings surrounded by militant cyclists who defend their raised and well-paved bike lanes with terrifying (though polite) enthusiasm.

An older, quiet street in Christianshavn, near Christiania. I appreciated that this cyclist thoughtfully bought an antique-style bike to lean against her home for just this sort of photo-op.

At the end of the same street, second story.  Squee.

This was a really neat neighbourhood, apparently self-governed (provided everyone behaves, I think) that was populated with equal parts stoners and nervous middle-aged people in tour groups. Because everyone is free to sell and smoke light drugs on the streets here, they have a strict no cameras rule. I took a couple of photos away from the populated areas, but resisted temptation otherwise. Which was a shame, because there was some really beautiful street art and other things going on in there.

We stayed in Christiania for several hours during the interim between our train arriving and our plane leaving. I haven't mentioned yet that we did all of our travel--trains, ferries, boats, buses, cars, walking--carrying a 7' long muslin bag filled with the dismantled components of the puppet show's set. We named it Denise and considered it the most obnoxious and bitchy member of the ensemble.  Thankfully for the time in Copenhagen we were able to check Denise and our suitcases into the luggage lockers at the train station or we wouldn't have had nearly as nice a time as we did. I have no idea what this spire goes to but I really liked it and took about 80 pictures of it.

The Danish Parliament at dusk. It is difficult to tell here, but the ground floor is actually about three stories high--a disconcerting scale-twist that makes the building appear menacing and heavy. It appears to be only about four or five floors high, but is easily triple the height of a normal five-story building. We decided that the reason the Danish government is so nice and good to its people is because they fear the wrath of this building if they screw up.

Moments before we went back to the airport I noticed this weird anachronism--neat old buildings dotted with flashy-trash LED adverts.  I found it very telling of the relationship the Danes seem to have with their neat old buildings--they like them enough to keep them, but they don't find them remarkable enough to not decorate them with ugly contemporary tat.

I really enjoyed my time in Denmark and would love to go back, perhaps after I've learnt a bit more Danish and stocked up on some fruit and vegetables. The regular meals of bread bricks and cheese were always tasty, but after a while I was desperate for some vitamins. The beer is excellent, the fish to die for, the people friendly and happy, and the houses are YELLOW.

Yay Denmark!