Tuesday, December 23, 2008
I did get a nice surprise in Amsterdam and found out that big DK sticker in my passport has it's advantages! Because I have that sticker in my US passport, I am now able to go to the EU passport line rather than the ALL passport line - woohoo! If you haven't been there, the EU line is much, much faster, so today I am thankful for my pretty sticker in an entirely new way.
We sat in Amsterdam for a short while, awaiting the boarding of the US flight. The way they do these checkin procedures for the US Flights mean that you are stuck in a small space with far too many people for far too long. I fear that in a few years, the check-in will actually take longer than the flight itself.
The flight to New York left about 30 minutes late, but that wasn't a big deal. The big deal came when we reached the shores of the US and had to land that big bird at Newark. I have landed hundreds of times in that airport but I never experienced the landing we had yesterday. Holy air-sickness, batman! Every turn we made on approach had a nice air bubble drop to go with it so the plane was bouncing all over the place. The stewards were running up and down the aisles handing out air-sickness bags, passengers were running for the restrooms at a time when getting out of your seat is NOT a good idea, etc. I was never so thankful as when those wheels touched that tarmac. There was actual applause by some (those who still had the energy left to applaud!) and a big sigh of relief from the rest of us. Just before we hit the ground I had to laugh at the flight attendant who suddenly made the announcement.. "If you are in the restroom, you must stay there at this time for the landing - do not attempt to return to your seat." Those poor people!
On the flipside of my DK sticker, being married to me has it's advantages for Ole, as he can now proceed through immigration in the US, with me, in the US citizen line. Again, much, MUCH faster, and needless to say, he thinks that is very cool.
We grabbed our rental car and headed into NYC. When I lived in nearby Weehawken, NJ, for 10 years, the toll at the Lincoln tunnel was $4. It is now a whopping $8. I'm still in shock over that one!
We had booked the whole trip through expedia and we are thrilled by the hotel we chose. We are at the Hilton Garden Inn on 8th Ave and this place rocks. Very clean, very huge rooms (by NYC standards) and an awesome internet connection - woohoo! What more could a girl want!
So, today, we will explore this city - it's a wee bit cold out there, but we'll figure out a way to survive.
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
So yep, this is what I had for dinner last night. It's no Stouffer's French Bread Pizza mind you, but it wasn't horrible, and not nearly as awful as the local pizzaria's death by pizza (it's that bad). Fifteen minutes from freezer to plate - that's my kind of cooking! Snuggled myself onto the couch, pizza in hand, and watched some TV with the pups.
One thing I love about product packaging in Europe is all the languages that must be squeezed onto the box. There's not much room left for these companies to do any kind of fancy promotion on the package - the entire box must be covered in instructions unless they choose to make separate boxes for each country, which I would guess could get kind of expensive. Sorry about the shaky picture - it's not easy to hold the camera steady enough to capture that detail!
Finished eating, let the dogs drag me around the block again, played some games on the old PC and finally, snuggled in to bed. I must admit, I slept quite well after having woken up sooooo early!!
Monday, December 8, 2008
So, I'm alone. Well, as alone as one can be in a house with 2 dogs and 2 cats, but as far as those who walk upright, I'm alone. And, I'm tired...
Woke up at 4:30 this morning to say goodbye to Ole - he and his boss are off to Poland for the next few days. Long drive - bah, better him than me!
It's just me and the 4-legged creatures, 2 of whom are incredibly confused about why their daddy has not yet come home from work! See, in their book, I'm the boring one - the one who is here all day and as a result, am not nearly as exciting as that other one who leaves for soooooo long every day and then takes them to all sorts of fun, smelly places when he comes through the door!
I did take them out for a walk - which is a rather funny site and would look much more appropriate if I had my feet on some sort of sled. They're strong - and they pull - at least if I was on a sled it would look like they were pulling with some sort of purpose!
Long story short.. I now have to feed myself. Since the only time that I normally cook is Thanksgiving Day, or when I find some exciting new thing I want to try, feeding myself is something I consider a bore, and a chore. There must be something oven-ready hidden in that freezer somewhere!
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
Eating the turkey like a true Viking!
Yep, we did it, we had Thanksgiving dinner in Denmark!
This was the 2nd year that I decided to do an official Thanksgiving feast - American style. All of my recipes are for more than 4 people so we end up with lots of leftovers, but that's just fine by me.
I pulled out my heirloom china and Ole's wonderful parents, Anny and Bruno, joined us again this year to have traditional dinner - Turkey, Sweet Potatoes (found in Denmark - finally!), mashed potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce, creamed spinach and to top it all off.. A real, honest to goodness, pumpkin pie. Yummy!
We all ate way too much, of course!
Thursday, November 27, 2008
I want something red - fits the whole 'danish' theme, and I don't want that skinny little writing space that most of the templates offer, so now I'm streched and modified and we'll see how it goes.
I may change it again - be forewarned!
I'm not actually going to cook the turkey until tomorrow because tonight, I have school. It's okay, this actually gives me an extra day to prepare my feast. Tomorrow evening Ole's parents will join us and stuff themselves silly on foods they only eat once per year.
May the grocery store gods be kind to me today!
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
As you know we have two incredibly sweet, innocent dogs who never get into any trouble at all!
And, as you also know, I recently traveled to Las Vegas for a week.
These sweet dogs, therefore, had to spend their first whole day 'home alone'. Zoe had done so before but this was a first for Lexi, and the first time they would spend the day together.. by themselves.
Ole put them in the entry way and guest bathroom area with one of their dog beds, several things to chew on, and their water bowl. Apparently the things that were left to chew on either didn't last long enough, or were simply not exciting enough. The following will give you an indication of what he found when he arrived home that first day...
Sunday, November 23, 2008
Unlike the states, where we have yellow lines that indicate a separation of traffic, all the paint is white here. You would think it wouldn't matter but I have to admit that initially, it was quite disconcerting. I grew up being told that if there was a white line separating your lane from another lane that meant that both lanes were traveling in the same direction. What they do give you are lollipops. No, not that kind of lollipop but a little white thing sticking out of the ground on either side of the road. On one side of the road the pops have yellow reflectors and on the other side, they have white. I can't remember which is which, which probably tells you how helpful they are.
The above refers only to the roads where someone actually bothered to paint lines. There are many, many roads in Jylland where they felt it unnecessary. And, along that same theory, there must have been a pavement shortage at some point because they also felt it unnecessary to make the road wide enough for two vehicles - even though it IS a two-lane road. I hate these roads. Everytime a car approaches from the other direction I want to close my eyes. It's frightening! There actually IS enough space to get past one another, but it definitely doesn't feel that way. It basically feels like you're in someone's driveway.
The roads are dark - VERY dark. While studying for my danish license, the translation referred to the headlights as either in 'dipped' position or in 'main' position. The weird thing about that, to me, was that 'main' position translated to what I had always called my 'high beams'. Now I know why they call them 'main beams' here. Driving in Jylland means you will use your 'high beams' more times in one evening than you would in an entire year in the states. You will have them on ALL the time - you will switch back to 'low beams' only for oncoming traffic - hence the term 'dipped' beams!
Trivia time! What bizarre, outdated driving law still exists on the books here? Get this - by law, when passing other traffic at night, you are to first slow your car to approximately 30 mph and only after you have slowed down, you are to dip your headlights from high beams to low beams. HUH???? In fairness, the law was written back in the days when low beams could only illuminate a short distance - I guess not being able to see far ahead when driving at fast speeds was a more critical issue than blinding the approaching traffic. While this is still law, I highly recommend breaking the law on this one or you'll probably get rear-ended.
For the most part, the Danish roads are designed to keep traffic moving. Perhaps brakes were or are too expensive to fix, and therefore, the laws are designed to never actually apply the brakes. Just a theory.
Traffic lights exist only in the cities, and only because some road engineer hasn't yet figured out how to tear down the surrounding homes and businesses so he can stick a round-about in there instead. Round-abouts are everywhere! Weee... ! When riding in the passenger seat it can feel a bit like you're on an amusement park ride - wooosh to the left... wooosh to the right. Okay, granted, this probably has something to do with the actual driver. ;)
Watch for cyclists in round-abouts. You may think you can just go around in the circle and turn to the right when your street appears. I highly recommend you look over your right shoulder before doing so, as that cycle next to you may need to continue to the next exit of the round-about. Yeah, it's pretty easy to forget they're circling around in the same circle!
In addition to the round-abouts, you will find little patches of pavement on the shoulder wherever there is a place off the main road that someone may wish to turn to the left. This little patch of pavement is there so that you, the driver behind the one turning left, will not be required to slow down or stop because of the one turning - simply swerve your car into the patch and keep going. Remember, whatever you do, do NOT ever stop moving.
Now, in contradiction to the 'keep moving' theory, is probably the most non-sensical thing about the roads here. On the main roads, you are permitted to drive 80kph. However, anyone pulling a trailer or driving a truck may go only 70kph. This is not a road with two lanes of traffic in the same direction; this is a freaking mess! You can just be cruising along and wham, there it is, the long line of cars behind the guy driving to Plant-o-rama with trailer in tow to pick up his 15 bags of sphagnum - everyone stuck behind him until the next really big passing area appears at which point everyone tries really hard to get around him but inevitably, you won't be able to. Why? Because there will always be someone in that line of traffic who just doesn't want to pass, causing logistical issues for everyone else.
And even those who do wish to pass have problems. Cars are small here. Lots and lots of 4-cylinder, 0-60 in 10 min, cars. These are not well designed for passing other cars. These are road cloggers but oooo, they get great gas mileage... grrr.
80kph doesn't really mean 80kph. Ole likes to say that since everything in Denmark is taxed, you can add 25% tax to the speed limit too and as such, you can drive about 100kph in an 80kph zone. Sounds good to me!
The danes like to be prepared and they like to be forewarned. Before a passing section ends, the dotted stripes in the center get longer and longer before becoming a solid white line. Before a traffic light turns green it first goes from red, to a combination of yellow and red - I call it the 'rev your engines' setting. I must admit, however, that I rather like it - quite handy when you're approaching the intersection!
So, there you have it, driving in Denmark. I'm sure there is more, but I'll give you a chance to absorb that first!
Saturday, November 15, 2008
This morning I tried Kelli's sopapilla cheesecake. It's done, but we haven't yet tried it but I have to say it certainly looks good! It just seemed a bit heavy to have immediately after eating our scrambled eggs :)
But, the point of this post is that I wanted to share an extremely helpful site that I found awhile ago. This site is awesome - someone took the time to translate the names of all sorts of ingredients from English to all the Scandinavian languages, and to Russian. So, here's the link:
Multi-lingual Food Glossary
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
I am finished with my monologue in Danish. This evening, in language school, I had to do a monologue on a subject of my choice. I would like to say Thank You to Kelli as she inspired me to choose the Danish flag (Dannebrog) as my subject.
Friday, November 7, 2008
I then loaded everything into the car and headed for the moving company's warehouse, where they would then load my car into the remaining space in the container that they had taken from my apartment the day before. The car had to be dropped off early to meet the customs schedule, etc., but I now had nearly 6 hours left before my plane would leave. The woman who was coordinating it all was kind enough to then squeeze me, the suitcases and the cat carriers into her little car and drop us off at Seatac.
When we arrived at the airport, she helped me get everything onto 2 of those smartcarts and I then sat and waited. I was apparently a very entertaining site in the airport as I sat there with my carts full of cats. I had tons of visitors stop by inquiring as to where I was headed and why so much stuff! Following are some photos I snapped at the time:
Oscar and Coal on top, Mr. Pete on the bottom
A closer shot of Mr. Pete, the 20 lb. wonder cat
Oscar, with Coal hiding out behind him
It was about 2 hours into our wait when Oscar just couldn't hold it anymore and proceeded to pee inside their shared carrier. I couldn't bear to leave them like that so I then proceeded to attempt to wheel two smartcarts from the place we had parked ourselves, all the way across the upper level of the ticketing area, to a restroom. Thankfully there was a HUGE handicapped toilet, big enough to wheel both carts into. And then, without actually removing the cats for fear they would dart off into the airport, I did the best that I could to dry out their cage and make their journey as comfortable as possible. Poor, terrified Coal!
Eventually, after several hours, I made my way to the SAS check-in counter and decided I would just park myself at the front of the line and wait for the first agent to appear. At 3pm, SAS opened check-in and thankfully, upon site of me, the agent didn't have a heart attack or run screaming out of the building. She kindly checked me in, took my payment for all the cats, and was very sweet to not charge me extra for my overweight suitcases. I'm pretty sure she felt sorry for me having to pay so much for each cat, and I think she was entertained as well. After we made all the arrangements, she then asked me if I would like the cats to stay with me until it was closer to flight time - call me a bad mommy but I said.. 'nope, they're yours now!'.
Next stop, cat check security! I had given up my bags but I now had to be escorted over to a special security area where they would check to make sure I wasn't smuggling anything with the cats. The officer put on these big rubber gloves, which I told him was probably a good idea, considering the pee and all that. I had to be present in case they needed me to actually remove the cat from the cage while they checked it out. For Oscar and Coal, and for Squirt, he was able to check the cages without their removal. But, for Mr. Pete, on the other hand, well, my big guy had to come out. When I pulled out Mr. Pete he clung to his bed .. so there I was holding him up while he hung onto the bed that had been lining the bottom of his cage, which lead the officer to thank Mr. Pete for making the job easier!
Now the cats were in the hands of the SAS and I was able to get myself to the gate. As I sat at the gate, several people asked me.. "aren't you the one with all the cats?" - I had been at the airport so long, and so noticeably, that I was suddenly some kind of cat lady celebrity. Ahh, my greatest ambition achieved ;).
As I was boarding, I heard the agent on the radio confirming the cats on board, and we were all officially on our way....
Thursday, November 6, 2008
(Notice in the picture above what I insisted would be the LAST thing packed?
(That's my brand new couch all wrapped up in packing paper!)
Somehow they then, magically, took all of the stuff you see above and managed to fit it into one end of a container so that eventually, it looked like this:
And once they drove away, I was left with a vacuum cleaner that I wasn't taking, some cleaning supplies, the 3 very full suitcases that I would take on my flight, 3 cat carriers, and the 4 cats who would occupy said carriers.
I will confess, however, that I left the 4 cats in the apartment and spent the night sleeping at a local motel!
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
First and foremost - getting that Danish driver's license is no easy feat! Especially if you believe, as I did, that you can simply read the Driver's Theory Book and that doing so will sufficiently prepare you to take the theory test. Let me warn you now - it won't! This is the 3rd such theory test I have taken in my driving career and by far, the most obscure and most difficult of the three.
Test 1 - In all honesty, I have no recollection of the first written test I took. All that I do know is that I was 17 at the time, and I passed on the first try.
Test 2 - When I moved from New York to Washington, I waited one day too long to convert my license. My NY license had expired the day before I visited the Washington DMV and because of that one day, I had to take both the written and driving tests in Washington state. To take the written test you must show up, take a number, and wait. Everyone had told me, "just read the book while you're waiting and you'll do fine." They were correct. I mean, really, I already knew how to drive, it was just a matter of reading whatever little weird things Washington had in their law books that perhaps NY did not. Read, passed, done. Took the road test and passed that as well.
Test 3 - Ahh, Denmark. When I arrived here in November 2006 we were told that I simply had to convert my US license over to a Danish license. We went to the proper place, filled out the paperwork, gave them some money and waited. I was given a temporary driving permit to be used while awaiting my 'real' license. Sigh; if only it had been that simple.
Approximately two weeks later, we received a letter in the mail letting us know that whoever let us fill out that form had been wrong. It was no longer possible to convert a US License and that I must undergo the full battery of driving tests if I wished to obtain a Danish license. (Subtext - You people from the US cannot drive, your tests are too easy, and we don't want you on our roads until we take half your pay and subject you to all kinds of strangely worded questions in the hopes that you'll fail and never drive here.)
At this point in my Danish life, my knowledge of the danish language amounted to less than 10 words, which meant that there was no possible way to take the test in Danish. After several phone calls, we were told it was possible to purchase the theory book in the English language. So purchase it we did. And then I read the book - twice. My initial impression of the book was that whoever was paid to translate the book into English did a very poor job of doing so. I have since learned that apparently I'm the moron. I guess in the UK a curb actually is a 'kerb' and a tire actually is a 'tyre'; I just thought the person doing the translation couldn't spell!
All that aside, in order to take the test, we had to hire a police-approved interpreter who would read the test to me in English - at our expense, of course. And, because I would be taking the test in English, I had to reserve a test period for myself rather than joining 10 other people in their test taking time slot. To do so, you have to go look the big book of test taking times, find one that no one is in, take the book to the desk and let them know that you'll be taking the test at that time. But, before you can actually do so, you have to coordinate with your interpreter to be sure that the time also works for them. And, since no sane Danish teenager is going to take the 8 AM time slot - that is pretty much the only free spot you can reserve. We were able to get the logistics all worked out and we scheduled the test.
I re-read everything in the book that I was sure they would quiz me on - legal drinking limits, obscure size and shape rules, weird safety rules like how many meters back on the road you are to set your warning triangle if your car becomes disabled, etc. With the help of my hubby, I did several random practice tests online. They were in danish, so he had to read (translate) quickly so that I could pick an answer quickly, etc. We didn't do so well on these practice tests, but part of that had to do with 'how' to translate certain words and the fact that we were racing against time when attempting this. In hindsight, I was a total fool to think I was prepared for this test. But really, how hard could it be?
Really, really, hard. The way the test works is that you'll be shown pictures, 25 of them. For each picture shown there are 2-4 questions. They are all yes/no questions, however, the tricky part is that 1 question wrong out of 4 means you fail that picture. You're allowed to have 5 of the 25 wrong; get 6 wrong and you have failed.
If you want to see a sample (it's in Danish) you can look at this link (http://www.dku.dk/Teori/B/default.asp). The hardest part of the whole thing is figuring out what they 'mean' and what their tricks are. In each picture, the photo is from the perspective of the driver, as if you're in the car. So, for example, you'll be shown a picture looking through the windshield at the road ahead. It will begin by saying something like..
"You're traveling at 60 kph, what should you be particularly aware of here?"
a. The course of the road
b. The direction of the road
c. The use of the road
d. I will reduce my speed
That's not a great example, but it's an example! It's not multiple choice; for each of those you have to say Yes or No. So, you may say 'a' is yes and 'b' is no and 'c' is yes and 'd' is yes, but if you get 3 right and 1 wrong, you failed that picture. The words they use such as "course", "use" and "direction" are seriously where you will pass or fail this thing. It's all a matter of learning what they mean by those words.
So, on my first try, I got 6 pictures wrong and failed. I figured they would show me where I went wrong so I would know what I needed to study. No such luck. They give you back a piece of paper that says you got picture #5 wrong, but not which part of picture 5 was wrong, nor do you have any memory of what exactly was in picture 5 - you don't get to keep a copy of the picture itself. They do tell you that the subject of picture 5 was, for example, intersections, but that's all the help you'll get.
When you're 'converting' they'll give you the first theory test relatively inexpensively. If you have to take it again, you pay more, and each time you take it, the price goes up, and we're not talking 20 Kr. either. And, if you're doing it in English, you have to pay your interpreter each time as well, obviously.
We scheduled another test taking time, and I went home and studied more. I did everything possible to prepare for the silly thing the 2nd time, and I just KNEW I was ready. Or, so I thought. The result of the 2nd try was that I ended up getting more of them wrong than I did on the first try. It was humiliating and frustrating and caused me to have one of my moments.. the cry my eyes out, swear at my new country, tell my husband to 'fix it' moments.
We were finally referred to a local driving instructor who had apparently spent some time in the US and would be able to help me prepare. My new instructor then managed to hook me up with practice tests that were actually in English - eureka! There were 25 practice tests, each with the full 25 pictures, and I think I took every one of those tests at least 3 times. He also helped me figure out what the heck they meant by things like "the road's equipment" and some of the little tricks they use in the test that I should be prepared for. I felt like I finally knew where I had probably gone wrong on the previous attempts and alas, try #3 was scheduled.
Luckily and most happily, I finally passed it! I whooped and hollared and wanted to give the grumpy old policeman a hug, but thought better of it and gave my husband a hug instead! Then it was on to the road test. Which must be taken in an official driver instructor car and since I had taken the theory test with an interpreter, my interpreter also had to be present for the driving test. She had to sit in the back seat while the policeman sat in the passenger seat.
I spent a few sessions in advance driving around Viborg in the instructor's car so that I could get used to everything and remember how to drive a stick shift! (If you cannot drive a stick-shift car, learn that first as it's the only way to take the test). On the day of the actual driving test, we all met at the police station. The officer who would administer the test turned out to be a nice young guy who had no issue at all speaking to me in English; so my interpreter basically went along for the ride! I must say it's a bit of an odd feeling to drive a car with 2 passengers and yet no one is speaking other than to say 'take the next left'.
Short story long, despite my 3-point turn becoming a 4-point turn, I did successfully pass the test and obtain my danish driver's license. WOOOHOOO.
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
The trip began on a Tuesday morning when I left Billund on plane 1...
I made my way through Minneapolis airport and finally boarded plane 3, bound for Las Vegas. Even though I had purchased my tickets approximately 5 months ago, I still ended up sitting in the 'you mean nothing to us' row near the back of the plane. I always choose window seats so I can lean on the wall; getting up normally isn't an issue, as those in the aisle seats tend to wander anyway. But just my luck, on plane 3, with my body already feeling somewhat pretzel-like, I had the pleasure of the 3-seat configuration beside a couple, bound for Vegas, that felt absolutely no need to leave their seats for the entire 3.5 hour flight. Of course, by this time, it was approximately 2:30 AM back in Denmark so I was barely conscious.
However, somewhere between the two cities, the sun set, providing this beautiful view..
Las Vegas at last! I hadn't been here in many years but I do recall that in the past, there was this feeling of giddyness upon arrival - the ding ding ding of the airport slot matchines always did it for me. But this time, not giddy, just incredibly tired and happy to be on solid ground.
I didn't notice the complete lack of humidity until day 2 of the trip. Suddenly, no matter how much moisturizer I applied to my skin, it constantly felt like I needed more. And, no matter how much water I consumed, I wanted more. It was the most bizarre feeling - and I'm sure the combination of jetlag and desert air only made it worse!
Thursday, October 16, 2008
When I landed at Minneapolis I was supposed to use my fun new danish cell phone to send a text message back home - problem is that the fun new phone wanted a pincode before I could get back into it - and umm, you guessed it, I didn't have said pincode with me. Sigh.
So I figured, okay, when I arrive in Las Vegas, I'll send an Email home and get the pincode that way. Minor problem - the 'wireless' connection that is available in the hotel, doesn't work! I hate being disconnected from everything! I couldn't use the phone and I couldn't use the internet - this is a sure way to cause me a nervous breakdown!!
I had to use the room phone to call home so I'm sure that will be an extremely frightening phone bill, but I got the pin code and was able to check in with my wonderful hubby. :)
After 3 phone calls to Lodgenet and over 2 hours of my time wasted on the phone, I finally decided to use some other wireless network that was appearing in the list and voila, here I am. I have internet again - happy dance!!! The most frustrating part is that this particular network is actually cheaper than what the hotel was offering - go figure.
My google reader is now bursting with unread posts and updates from around the globe - don't know when Ill get to them all but I am very happy to just know that I actually can get to them!
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
See you on the other side of the planet!
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
Thursday, October 2, 2008
Where are you?
WHAT are you?
What is your issue??
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
Friday, September 19, 2008
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
I started work at 7:55 AM, only to find out that I made a mistake in something for which I'm responsible, and I caused a big mess, and yeah, it can be fixed, but I don't like being the person responsible for the mess. So I felt like an idiot, and still do.
Last week we received my official notification that I can still live here for the next 2 years (okay, technically less than that because my passport expires in 2010, but whatever). To finish off the whole process, I have to go to the police station, in Viborg, bring them yet another passport photo, and get my new sticker. Why they need another photo is beyond me as they not only have my previous photo, but I also had to submit one with my application, so they should have that one too, but yep, gotta bring another one. Luckily, I still have one from the last time I had them taken. Okay, paperwork, passport, photo, ready. Sign out for Lunch and off to Viborg I go.
From Karup, there's only one way to get to Viborg and it's your typical Danish two lane road. Well wouldn't you know that today is the day they decided that the lines on the road needed painting. I would agree, they desperately do need some new paint, but is it really necessary to lower the speed limit to 50 Kph (30 mph), no passing, for a 3 Km stretch of road when the machine doing the painting fits in a 5 meter space? I was past the painting dude in the first 20 meters of this reduced speed zone and had to continue, slowly, behind 3 other cars, wondering when it would ever end.
Eventually it did end, and then I got stuck behind granny, who refused to bring her little zoom zoom mazda up to the actual posted speed limit. Get out of my freaking way lady! Sigh - these things have a tendency to irritate me.
Finally made it to the Politi in Viborg. Got inside, and then I see a nice sign on the desk of the immigration service. They're open between 10-12 on Tuesday, and between 2-4 on Thursday. How nice. Nevermind that 'min mand' assured me that I could go at anytime. No sticker today - must return tomorrow.
Drive home again - again through the reduced speed zone. This time the car ahead of me decided to ignore the zone, so yeah, I went along with the flow. Sue me. We finally caught up to painting dude in the last 20 meters of the zone - basically in the same place he was when I passed him on the way out to Viborg. Painting is a slow process apparently.
The moral (point) of this story? Call first.
So, I know English, and now I know a bit of Danish. On a daily basis, I deal with customers from all over the world. For the most part, these dealings are all via Email. The customer sends in a mail written in their own language, I throw the text into the wonderful world of google translations, and between my own knowledge of what the customer probably needs, and the translated version of their text, I can figure out what to send as an answer to their inquiry. This works fairly well and has never really been a big issue.
But then, we also offer our customers other means by which to contact us. One of which is via Skype for those outside the US who don't want to pay for a call. Just as my day was ending yesterday, the Skype rang and since I didn't want to be rude and make them call again to get someone else, I went ahead and answered it. The woman was speaking Spanish. I don't know Spanish. I can tell her, in Spanish, that I don't speak Spanish, but that's about it. She didn't speak English and kept trying to speak to me in Spanish. This is when my brain short circuited a bit...
Something up in my head decided that if this woman didn't understand English, then we must switch over to the only other language stored up there. So suddenly I find myself saying to the woman.. "Nej" and "Jeg kan ikke forstå". Hmm... me thinks that perhaps this may have confused her even more.
When I finally got off the call, I just had to laugh at myself, and at the way my brain worked in this situation. I knew somewhere in my head that she didn't know Danish either, but another part was taking over and spouting out little Danish phrases in the hopes that something would stick.
Maybe it's time to start learning language #3. Rumor has it the 3rd one is easier than #2!
Sunday, September 14, 2008
Saturday, September 13, 2008
The day I bought those Reese's, I was chatting with the clerk about how shocked I was to see them. And he kept saying, we have 'gaadaaaraaada' also. Having no clue what he was actually trying to tell me, I just gave the little grin like I knew. It was at that moment that my classmate said to me "He said, 'gatorade'". Woah - when good pronunciations go bad! I hope that's not what my Danish sounds like to them.
Anyhoo, I'm babbling and probably making NO sense at all, blame my cold. And about that, I dug through every single suitcase we own, unzipped all those little hidden pockets, and managed to find packets of Dayquil stuffed in one my suitcases. Whew! "Vaek I Morgen" was a big fat lie! The cough syrup was okay, but a bit of an odd taste. The vapo-rub stuff.. well.. it basically made Lexi want to lick me - which wasn't really the plan and probably not good for the pup!
Am I healthy? Nope, wouldn't go that far. But, I'm alive, and I'm feeling a wee bit more human, so it's a start! And, oh yeah, took my module 3 test in this condition so we'll see if I managed to write an 'opslag' and 'svar et brev' well enough to actually pass the darn thing. I'll find out Tuesday.
And now I must go find something to do with myself (which will probably involve downloading some new game from BigFish and using up the free hour in well, an hour).
p.s. Please forgive the most non-sensical post I've ever written.
Monday, September 8, 2008
I am married to a man who doesn't do pills. He suffers through the cold. I don't like to suffer through it - I whine.. alot. Knowing that I wouldn't be able to drop into the local gas station or supermarket for any cold medicines, I knew I had to get myself to the local apotek before closing time. So, when Ole got home, I convinced him to go with me so he could help me pick something. Well, there isn't a whole lot to choose from.
The only 2 things I recognized on the shelf were Benadryl and Visine, neither of which really fit the bill. I asked about cold remedies and/or cough syrup. The first suggestion was something you dissolve in water, like alka-seltzer, but for your throat - or something. That didn't seem to be quite what I was looking for. I asked about cough syrup again, there was some chatter in danish and a gesture from the apotek woman running her hand up and down from her throat to her chest and I nodded thinking maybe we were getting to what I was hoping for. They had a small bottle and a big bottle, so Ole, fearing my whine, chose the big one. I whined a little and asked her if it was cherry flavor - no such luck. I took the bottle anyway.
So, from there, we stopped into Rema (it's next door). Now I wanted some fruit juice. I really wanted grape juice but it appears you can't get that here, which I find odd as I always figured that to be rather universal. So, then I chose some other berry juice product that came in a milk carton. Well apparently, it's a concentrate (1 bliver 5!). Found that odd as well - I'll get over it.
As we were leaving Rema I was commenting on the fact that I was missing the full aisle of cold remedy choices typically found in a US grocery store. We then noticed a couple things in the toothbrush section - one called "Vaek i morgen" (gone tomorrow) and the other was a mentholated rub (like Vap-o-rub!) so he grabbed one of each of those.
So here are my defenses against the common cold for the next few days. Maybe one of them will make me feel a bit better!
Sunday, September 7, 2008
Is it some kind of enchanted forest? Nope! It's a hundeskov in Ikast and we spent a really nice afternoon meeting some new friends - Kelli and Mads, and Albert too!
This is what happens when you attempt to photograph 3 dogs who won't stop moving!
Lexi doing her best tricks for the camera...
We made our way to what was supposed to be a picnic table with benches - except one bench was broken and laying in the forest so we all stood around and chatted for a couple of hours. This appears to be a very serious discussion, but I have a feeling it was probably just soccer talk!
And this is how two extremely tired pups on the ride home look after spending 2 hours in a Hundeskov...(not so easy to get a picture from the front seat!)
It was tons of fun finally meeting Kelli and Mads! Hopefully we can all get together again in the near future. :)
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
The new school is in a more industrial area but I had noticed that there was a gas station a short walk away and that the gas station had one of those little markets. So today during break I decided to go check it out and much to my delighted shock, I found something that I thought I would NEVER find in Denmark. Ladies and gentleman, I present to you.. REESE'S!!
Ahh, a little piece of heaven in my Danish world. Don't get me wrong, I'll be the first to admit that European chocolate is much better than what we're used to in the states. But, this is Reese's, and for me, this is the equivalent to Ole's obsession with Anton Berg marzipan bars. I love these things. But.. I'm scared to open it. Hvorfor?? Well, Reese's peanut butter cups can be really good, or really really bad, depending on how fresh they are upon purchase. Old Reese's cups are disastrous, the peanut butter gets all dry and gross. But a fresh one? Det er dejligt! If you're ever in the US in October, when the stores stock up for Halloween, this is the absolute best time to purchase Reese's - all those special Halloween packages were made specifically for that shopping period, so there's no risk that it's been sitting on a dusty candy rack for too long.
Probably more than you needed to know. Time now to open that package - wish me luck!
I now buy stuffed doggie toys ONLY when they clearly state they are designed for dogs tough on toys, etc. I have found that the animals sold under the 'American Kennel Club' name in the states are by far the most durable. Zoe has had a stuffed duck from them since she was 3 months old and it still does not have any ripped seams. Compare that to a stuffed pig purchased at Super Brugsen - it was torn to shreds by Zoe in a matter of hours.
I digress. When we picked up Lexi they were nice enough to include a stuffed toy that all the pups had been playing with so she would have a familiar scent to take home. It was a very cute dolphin and it was holding up rather well.. until this weekend, when we found this in our living room...
The fabric carcas hanging from Zoe's mouth is what used to be a dolphin, now visible inside out :)
Saturday, August 30, 2008
I took particular interest in this because I am still at a level of Danish that makes it quite difficult to read the 'normal' news. Having a newspaper that's a bit more simplistic may just be the perfect solution.
And, the best part is, the new site does have an RSS feed! If you're interested, you can find it at
Thursday, August 28, 2008
The party had a bit of a theme. The invitation was written much like a personal ad would be stating that Ellen was seeking a 'date'. Each person was to wear a hat of some kind to the party, the crazier the better. I would've been happy to be part of this bit of the party but alas, my husband failed to read and explain the invitation to me, so we were hatless, but that's neither here nor there.
There were 8 tables and each table had to nominate a person with the best hat at their table, and another person to 'introduce' the hat wearer to Ellen, ultimately ending up with 8 folks adorned in crazy hats, from which Ellen would choose a 'date'. Even though I had trouble following the introductions and understanding them all, I still was able to catch on to some of what was being said and to laugh at the hats and enjoy the antics.
I tried to get pictures of some of the craziness but it was tough to get a decent shot inside the party and by the time I started taking pictures, most people were no longer wearing their hats, but I did catch some of them during the nomination process.
This guy had the good old American style beer cap "thirst aid". He originally was wearing beer cans in the cap but apparently when he finished those off, he switched to the plastic cups. I just kept thinking.. "hope he doesn't have to tie his shoes". While this nomination was taking place, a very funny joke was part of the nomination - I missed it entirely but everyone else at the party thought it was the funniest thing said all night - as you can clearly see from the reaction!
And finally, this was the winner of the 'date'. If you can't see the picture clearly, it's a chicken hat. Absolutely hysterical. When he was introduced he came around the corner bent over bobbing his head so that it appeared that the chicken was feeding; he then produced an egg. His prize? Two bottles of champagne and a box of chocolates, which he then shared with those around him. :)
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
The good old canteloupe to be specific. (Reminds me of one of my dad's all time favorite jokes.. "Canteloupe tonight, pop's got the ladder!")
Back to the melons. Canteloupe is plentiful in the US. This is the canteloupe I'm used to seeing:
However, everytime I see something that looks like that picture in a Danish supermarket, it's not a canteloupe, it's a galia. Since I'm not a big produce buyer, I can't say that I've ever eaten a galia and therefore, have been hesitant to purchase said melon. I've heard of them, but that's about all.
Now this search for canteloupe has been going on for awhile. I always check what's there, and they are always all labeled 'galia', so I try again next time.
Lo and behold, upon entering SuperBrugsen late last week, I checked and again and there, among the usual galias, were some melons with a sticker clearly indicating that these were indeed 'canteloupe'. They looked like this:
Hmm. So I had a little internal debate in the grocery store. Doesn't look like a canteloupe. SAYS it's a canteloupe. Price seems okay, do I try it anyway? What if I buy them and it's not something I like? Is this going to be another grocery experiment that sits in my fridge until I just throw it out? But I really, really want a canteloupe. Smells like canteloupe. Okay, Okay, I'll give it a shot. So I bought two.
YUMMY! It appears the Spains do indeed know how to grow canteloupe and while it may look a bit different on the outside, the inside is just right and quite tasty. Now that I've found them, I'm sure on the next trip they won't be there any longer.
Thursday, August 21, 2008
Bid to Reconsider Drinking Age
Taps Unlikely Supporters
The entire concept of not being able to drink legally prior to the age of 21 is very strange to the majority of Europeans. It makes me wonder what some of the students from Europe and elsewhere, who attend colleges and universities in the US, think about it all.
To me, it all comes down the forbidden fruit concept. The moment something is forbidden it suddenly becomes more desired. Speaking from experience, the moment I arrived on my college campus, the idea of going out to a big party and drinking and NOT getting in trouble for it was the most exciting thing ever. I remember that first weekend on campus - we drank, we stayed up all night, and we generally felt like - "cool, this is what it feels like to be an adult". A rather naive point of view, of course, but when you spend the first 17-18 years of your life under the rules of others, you must test your limits as soon as you are able. Trust me, I was always more fearful of my parents than I was of 'the law'!
My personal opinion on this debate is, that while it may be a step in the right direction, I don't think lowering the drinking age to 18 solves everything. I grew up under the '21' rule. However, by the time I was actually 21, and could drink legally, I was over it. Drinking had lost it's appeal. It's not that I stopped drinking alcohol, it's just that it wasn't quite so exciting. Been there, done that. Perhaps if the drinking age had been 18 at the time, I would've bought a six-pack and decided it wasn't such a thrill - but it's hard to know what I 'would have' done looking back on it now.
I do believe that the European culture does raise more responsible attitudes towards alcohol. That period of testing your limits, which I think is an inevitable part of growing up, regardless of the drinking age, seems to happen a bit earlier here. Is earlier better? That I can't say, but I can say that I would rather have teenagers testing their limits under their parents supervision, than on college campuses where they are on their own for the first time in their lives. That first weekend for me, I was out running around in the streets at 4 AM and no one was wondering where I was. Had I been 16 and drunk, and still living at home, my parents would've found me long before 4 AM. A safer scenario, in my mind.
I doubt the college presidents in favor of lowering the drinking age will get their way. The puritan ideals of the US, and the influence of those who react based on emotion, rather than logic, will insure that the drinking age remains at 21. It is refreshing, however, to see that there actually are some willing to stand up and put the idea out there.
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
We spent some time making all kinds of fun arrangements and I am very excited to say that Ole and I will be spending 2 days in NYC and then 5 days with friends and family in upstate New York. Time to load up those extra empty suitcases so we can fill them up for the return trip !!
Monday, August 18, 2008
I am pleased to say that my belt-buckle yielding friend returned to my home again to inspect my chimney and make sure we are ready for yet another year of keeping the home fires burning.
I am even more pleased to say that, for the most part, I managed to speak Danish with him this time around! Poor guy had two pups jumping all over him this time, but he didn't seem to mind. I missed a few sentences here and there, hopefully not anything of vital importance, but I managed to communicate with him, and that, my friends, was pretty exciting.
Saturday we opened our mailbox only to find that same envelope had arrived here. How nice of the Danish postal service!
Many complain about the US postal service but honestly, I believe, the USPS does it's job. The mail gets where it's supposed to go - they figure it out. The same cannot be said for the danish equivalent. The envelope was, or course, a little window envelope. If you've ever used them, and I'm sure you have, the little papers inside the envelope can tend to shift around and maybe the address isn't fully readable instantly. You do the shake down to the inside pieces of paper and the address magically reveals itself, etc. Apparently this is too difficult for the danish postal service.
Postal employee A.. "I cannot see the address"
Postal employee B.. "There's an address, there, in the upper left hand corner - send it there"
Postal employee A.. "Ahh yes, perfect!"
Morons - the upper left hand corner is called a "return address" - you don't just send the mail there thinking that's where it's supposed to go! Had they done that with something written on the original such as "Unable to deliver, return to sender" then I would have been slightly less annoyed. At least then I would KNOW why it showed up in my mailbox. But there was nothing - they sent it to the return address apparently because it's an address they found, and that somehow equaled where it was supposed to go.
I was going to take a picture of the envelope for this post, but Ole has now taken the envelope off with him this morning to resend the whole thing in a proper Danish envelope, or something.
p.s. It can't be easy to be married to me. I, of course, in my ranting, took out my frustration for the Danish postal service on my dear hubby - as a Dane, he inevitably gets the blame for any frustration I feel at anything that goes wrong in HIS country. Ooops.
Thursday, August 14, 2008
I have school every Tuesday and Thursday evening for what feels like now to eternity. While I do get encourages every now and then and feel like maybe I'm actually getting somewhere with all of this, I still, for the life of me, cannot understand my own husband when he speaks Danish. One of my teachers says that it's probably Ole's accent that is the issue - I don't know, but I know I can't understand him :(
School isn't horrible, but it definitely takes a strain on my brain! It's the constant concentration that gets me. If I let my mind wander for even a moment, I have missed something that my teacher said and at that point, my brain sort of switches over to that 'huh???' setting.
I'm sure going to miss my free evenings!