Last-night was the second time I visited Mesonespana in Copenhagen and came away thinking…. everything else would be somehow be dull thereafter. Traditional and modern tapas, every kind of meat, cooked on the bone for hours and each dish soaked in a gravy of contrasting flavors. Most customers seem to be regular’s and order the 10 tapas /300 DKK option for 2 persons, along with a bottle of something special. This restaurant, tucked way in a side street of Vesterbro is well worth a visit. If you don’t find a table, you can always try Casetas Espana down the road which provides the same food as takeaways!


Saturday morning Copenhagen

It sodden outside. Not in a bad way. Just a constant, light patter on the pavement and the sound of cars and cyclists plowing through 1 inch puddles.

There is a baby carriage in my back yard. Inhabited. Confined to the outside and the elements. What, outrageous! cry the baby activists!

This phenomenon bemuses visitors. But somehow it makes them jealous for the Danish sense of security, trust and naturalism.

Another blogger domicile, also describes this Copenhagen baby boom  and the habits of outdoor conditioning. Note that this Danish custom is not transferable overseas however. (In 1997 a Danish woman was arrested in New York for leaving her baby in a stroller outside a bar in the East village…more.)

Dean and Britta

Tonight the US duo called Britta and Duo play at Studenthuset in Copenhagen. Here is a little track with the intriguing lyrics reading ‘Spoons come from Denmark, and Knives from Bavaria’. Mellow but comforting, lyrical and folky.

There is more….. myspace profiles some of their more recent tracks which include those they composed for the score for the movie ‘ the squid and the whale’.

music to the street

Manu Chao is a popular man in Copenhagen and news travels fast in Copenhagen.

In the space of a Friday afternoon, text messages circulated and people from all walks of life assembled, or rather, crammed into Blågardsgade, for a chance to see his impromptu concert.

The fans, and ungdomshuset supporters alike even ascended to the rooftops.



cultural exchange

Next week I will undertake a long-winded flight to visit my home country New Zealand. I’ve done this a number of times now, and it occured to me there is always a regular exchange of Danish-NZ nostalgic tit bits – which I distrubute among the masses.

to take:

Marcipan (anton berg); plastic clips from Ikea to seal packets of opened food stuffs; peper nødder (little danish biscuits usually eaten at christmas, but have already appeared in stores now); Lakrids, spunk and lakerol (licorice sweets); tea from AC perche; tom’s thin chocolate slices for eating with bread; stripy t-shirts.


to bring back:

Cadbury chocolate; manuka bush honey; wine; berocca (vitamins); vegemite; raro (cordial or the equivalent of saft for children), minties, books books books; potato peelers; sunglasses and shells from the beach.

Anything else I have forgotten?

Stelarc is at it again


Stelarc is at it again. The first time I heard about this Australian, Cyrus-born artist (Stelios Arcadiou) was back in undergraduate art history classes. We were learning about performance art, embracing the technological age and audience interactions in art. Stelarc has been a controversial performance artist, breaching accepted boundaries by using his own body as a medium. His prosthetic arm and prosthetic head are examples of works where Stelarc lends himself, or part of himself to virtual automation at the push of a button, almost like an interactive museum piece.

Even within the context of art, Stelarc’s work is considered self-mutilating, provocative and shocking. Watch this video below! But it raises intriguing questions about art and the relationships of the artist to their audience.

Now Stelarc has found a surgeon to graft a third ear onto his forearm. Although it doesn’t work, he hopes to have a microphone fitted to allow other people to listen to what his third ear picks up.

I predict a riot

I should have posted this song by The Kaiser Chiefs as a prelude to the events yesterday. The band from Leeds, UK, play in Copenhagen November 8.

‘I predict a riot’

fight for your rights…continued

In Denmark yesterday, there were few people preoccupied with the demoralizing world cup rugby matches. There was a battle closer to hand. Up to 4000 ungdomshuset supporters took to the streets and attempted to take over a derelict house near Fugleparken station in Copenhagen. They were met with riot police. (See the related bbc article here)


Due to the suburban location, most city dwellers probably didn’t notice the clashes between police and demonstrators that inevitably turned violent. Police used teargas and protesters threw smoke bombs. There were 437 arrests, 100 of them under 18 years of age.


This time they were unsuccessful in their quest for a new home. The squatters and left-wing activists, had been looking for an alternative venue since their eviction from their previous venue in March 2007. (refer to previous writing on this)


Copenhagen remains alert for more anti-authoritarianism to come. The photographs are taken from online.

Blueberry boy

small.jpgThis week ‘Den Elektriske Barometer’ (which I have written about previously) features a nice song called ‘Blueberry boy’ by an electronica band based in Copenhagen called SMALL.

The band, previously known as ‘Harmony boys’ have a recently release EP “Someone” that is out in stores around Denmark now.

Thomas D. Kennedy; writer in Copenhagen

tekcarlos.jpgSometimes it takes an expat to highlight the cultural and social characteristics of a country. This is because ‘they’, who are initially ‘outsiders’ in that country, are used to viewing life relative and contrary to where they came from.

Today I came across an essay titled ‘Life in another Language’, by the writer Thomas E. Kennedy. It is a witty and concise account of life in Denmark, as seen by an expatriate living here for three decades. Kennedy touches on aspects of Danish mantality, and cultural quirks in the Danish language that demonstrate how people think, and believe. He also describes the good life, the bad life, social rituals, irony, the Jante law ( a Danish way of thinking that can otherwise be interpreted as the ‘tall poppy syndrome’) and contradicts this with aspects of life in New York city, where he lived previously. I found myself nodding in agreement at every paragraph to this essay and simultaneously learning more about the place I have lived in, for the past three and a half years.

Kennedy is the also author of four interconnecting novels, The Copenhagen quartet, linked by structure, and each set in a different season. For this work based on life in the Danish Capital, Kennedy has been likened to ‘James Joyce’s Dublin’. Kennedy draws on the impact of the changing seasonal light in this Northern country, that is something everyone feels profoundly. The moods of each season can be contradicted, and can lead from one to another with hope and yearning.

Here is an excerpt from ‘Bluett’s blue hours’ Book II of the Copenhagen Quartet:

‘Tightening the fur collar around his throat, he steps up onto the embankment, tries to stamp warmth back into his soles, crosses to the Front Page Café, nearly empty at this hour. L’heure bleu comes charitably early at this parallel in winter. Eyeglasses steaming and nose running in the sudden heat, he strips off his coat and scarf and gloves and Kangol, mops nose and lenses with a clean white handkerchief, and proceeds to the bar.’

The moon on the lakes

The moon was full and underlating last night in Copenhagen, a fitting tribute to Chinese moon festival.  Peering through a thin layer of clouds, above sparingly lit buildings, I watched its changing face. 

Chinese moon festival cakes: commonly filled with sweet beans, salted egg and nuts.


The lakes (Sankt Jorgens So, Peblinge So, and Sortdams So) provided the perfect viewing spot. This famous Copenhagen landmark, that spans the border between inner city Copenhagen and the suburbs beyond (Vesterbro, Nørrebro, Østerbr0), is host to joggers, dog walkers and late night strollers.

After the rain, puddles accumalate and are hard to avoid. As are acorns that cover the path and roll under your feet precariously.

It certainly one of my favorite places in Copenhagen because of the quiet expanse, and space, combined with inner city bussle. If you want a sense of this, a fellow blogger Flemming takes wonderful panoramas here.


There is something about seeing Copenhagen through a bubble. A recent exhibition at Kongens Nytorv (in central Copenhagen) shown in the picture below has got me seeing things. My view of cobbled streets and cyclists is hazy and distorted.

I often wonder if being a foreigner outside your country of origin puts you inside a bubble. Inside the sphere there is a parallel life, sometimes exciting, rewarding, sometimes demoralising…. You are forever trapped with the knowledge that someone thinks you don’t belong. Does the bubble ever pop and allow you to disperse?

The Cat Empire

In November The Cat Empire plays at Vega in Copenhagen. They are an Australian band of huge energy, optimism, a fusion of jazz, ska, funk, rock and heavy Latin influences. (Good company on a recent road trip I took last summer in New Zealand). Their music is full of moral and political messages, a rejection of materialism, war and intolerance and an enthusiastic embrace of cultural diversity and a simple, carefree life. Thank goodness they chose the darkest month of the year in Denmark to come and cheer us up! They have recently achieved fame outside Australia, including a debut on network television, on the David Letterman show.

Below is ‘sly’, and something more wistful, ‘no longer there’ (I must be getting softer with the accumulating years). Also check out myspace, especially since the sound recordings seem to better there.

Copenhagen International Film Festival

Here comes the Copenhagen International Film Festival.

In the next few weeks, Copenhagen’s numerous independant cinemas will be buzzing with activity and the serious film goers clutching their programs.

This year highlights a number of German, French, Spanish films, and pays tributes to old masters. Although the best ones usually make it back to general distribution, this is your only chance to see these movies in English subtitles. This is perhaps a crucial issue when your Danish reading skills are a lacking in speed and fluency.

Moreover, making it to just a few of these screenings requires considerable premeditation and planning, as more than often they are sold out. So you might need to pop out at lunch time and buy your tickets in advance!


Danish apples


Where I work in Copenhagen, Danish apples have been the talk of the week. And as the nights turn chilly, we conquer up images of hot apple pie, (ideally accompanied by warm flowing custard), a hearty affair to bring comfort to our weary bones. They are unequivocally the sign of Autumn and of the shades of darkness to come.

On a brighter note (and to avoid being too presumptuous), our university canteen demonstrated its support for local produce by selling various self-plucked varieties. To my surprise and delight; apples and pears fresh from the gardens of Vedbæk, north of Copenhagen, or Funen, an Island to the west of Copenhagen. I’m told that there is more to be found down at the harbor at Nyhavn, where the boats sail over from the Island of Fanø, South of Copenhagen.

Look for the Danish varieties ‘Discovery’, ‘Guldborg’, and ‘Clara Friis’ – in store now.

Grape genome


A group of French scientist revealed last week that they had sequenced the grape genome. A Pinot Noir to be more precise.

The Full analysis  of the more than 30,000 genes contained within the sequence, have revealed many that are responsible for flavour (tannins and terpenes) and could be useful for altering the taste, aroma of wine and increasing the resitance of grape vines to disease.

There lots of interest for the plant scientist here, but what about for the rest of you? Is there fear, distrust and scorn about the revolution of this age-old tradition? 

Wine is well on the way to being a ‘functional food’ that is designed and engineered to meet your requirements. So you better think about flavours you want on your palette now.

burn baby burn


(Last night encounters) 

There were fires and carnage in the streets of Copenhagen last night to mark the 6 month anniversary of the demolition of Ungdomshuset, a squatters house that has been the subject of much public debate since the mid 1990s because of the conflict between the municipal government of Copenhagen, and activists that occupied the premises.

Unsuspecting party goers, returning home from a night out in town caught clouds of teargas which is rarely used in Denmark. It hurts like crazy, unfortunately I found that first hand.

Despite living close to the main scene of action, I have never really written about this event on this blog before, so here is a little shorthand history for those of you who were not in Copenhagen then, or are now;

Ungdomshuset (literally ‘The young house’) has functioned as an underground music venue and symbol for anarchist and leftist groups from 1982 (Nick Cave and Bjork have played there). However after a lack of cooperation from occupants to renovate the building for safely reasons, it was sold by the municipality to a Danish evangelical Christan group called Faderhuset. A move that couldn’t be more provocative. The riots that began in March 2007 in protest to the eviction of the occupants and demolition of the building, hit the news headlines around the world and have continued at a dissipated level since.

There is a vacant lot where Ungdomshuset once stood at Jagtvej 69, sandwiched between the cheap German supermarket ‘Aldi’ and ‘Saxons’, a bar and pub that does decent brunches. I pass it everyday on my way to work with a sympathetic feeling down deep inside.

Cycling induction

0102095076900.jpgI could have done with some cycling lessons when I first came to Copenhagen. The last time I cycled, was around a safe suburban lawn on trainer wheels and I was unsteady as a beginner type-rope-walker.

Coming down Nørrebrogade in Copenhagen on rush-hour morning was my first induction into cycling and it quickly (with a jolt) pulled me up to speed. ‘Foreigner with innate tenancies to veer to the left-side, just about causes collision with passing commuters one fine Autumn morning and receives verbal abuse for disturbing the general flow’.

For hesitant cyclists arriving in Copenhagen there is a solution. Free cycling lessons are offered by the Danish red cross to teach foreigners how to participate in the fundamental norms and values of Danish society. Its called ‘creative integration ‘according to an article in Speigel Online (thanks to an observant friend here in Denmark who pointed it to me).

role playing

rollespils-icon.jpgThis weekend I have spotted numerous kids on their way to the forest.

Boys frighten damsels with their plastic swords and their goblin-like masks. Girls learn how to be princesses.

Hide and seek with added accessories. Nostalgia and medieval dress-up. Runes, dungeons and dragons.

Roleplaying, it’s organized recreation taken seriously in Denmark. Just type ‘rollespils forenings’ into google and find a group to join. I’m sure if would bore me to tears, but then again I have never tried.


In view of an impending trip to Helsinki next week. I have begun pondering over the meaning of ‘Scandinavia’. What geographical and cultural areas does this term actually encompass? Apart from an association with blonde hair, blue eyes and liberal (lack of prudishness) attitudes to nudity, it seems there are no real official borders in using this term. Lingistically, it seems to encompass areas where Old Norse was spoken and where the North Germanic languages are now dominant. Thus in addition to the three kingdoms, Denmark, Sweden and Norway, Scandinavia also includes Iceland and the Faroe Islands. The name Scandinavia could actually mean “dangerous island”, which is considered to be a reference to the treacherous sandbanks surrounding Scania.

However despite obvious linguistic differences, many sources also include Finland under the Scandinavian umbrella. Furthermore, Åland (an autonomus province of Finland since 1920), Jan Mayen (an integrated geographical body of Norway), Svalbard (under Norwegian sovereignty since 1920) and the vast continent of Greenland ( self governing Danish territory since 1979). Until now, some of these are places I have never heard of.

Despite extensive web searching and investigations, there is no real conclusion on ‘Scandinavia’ and what it encompasses. It could be, and its my suggestion, that it is a term invented by settlers and immigrants that traveled to distant lands. Dislocated from a usual familiarity, they united together as ‘Scandinavians’ to gain a sense of home. The small differences between Nordic relatives that were normally the brunt of jokes back in the homeland didn’t matter anymore to the lonely settlers out on the vast frontier.


wear sunscreen

I was recently moaning about the expectations and disappointments of everyday life to a friend. He told me to listen to this song by Buz Luhrmann. It has stopped my complaining for the time being. 

hvor er min computer?

Your most treasured possession, your primary source of information, your link with the outside world and bridge to communication. Without it, you are nothing, you are unaccountable and fuddled-up seagull that has forgotten how to fly.

After loosing my trusty laptop and six months of work to a diligent thief one evening in July, I’m learning how to return to essentials. Its a steep learning curve but not without the benefit, all of a sudden, of being more self aware.

Danish mood of the day

Today, the news in Denmark seems to be remarking on a more global way of seeing things. Traditional domestic spirits such as Gammel Dansk and Akvavit are being replaced by liquors of ‘foreign’ origin. ‘We want to drink in a more sophisticated manner’ said a researcher interviewed in the Copenhagen post this week.

Furthermore the primeminister Anders Fogh Rasmussen returning from holiday, has proposed a loosening of immigration policies to allow a wider range of employees access to Denmark’s labour market. ‘I don’t envision a Denmark where everybody is the same,’ said Rasmussen. ‘It’s exciting to have a society where people with various backgrounds are here as long as they work, provide for themselves and contribute to Danish society.’

So this is the Danish mood of the day.

Salmonella dub – Ease on by

Whilst on the subject of the warmer days, Salmonella dub springs to mind. Here follows the story of the wandering goat, in search of better pastures…..

Summer days

We have had a small window of sunshine in Copenhagen the last few days so there has been a mass migration to the parks. When I got there too, I spyed through my bicycle spokes.


Flickr Photos

Copenhagen Weather Pixie

The WeatherPixie

‘here I collect thoughts and images of Copenhagen, things in the news, share experiences and explore identities; the sorts of things that come to mind when you live abroad and adapt to new surroundings’

Add to Technorati Favorites