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Dictionary Dansk – Sigisk

Contents

Dictionary Dansk – Sigisk ............................................................................................................. 1


Contents ...................................................................................................................................... 1
Introduction................................................................................................................................. 2
Format of the dictionary .......................................................................................................... 2
Some notes on language .......................................................................................................... 2
Dictionary text A – Å .................................................................................................................... 3
#.................................................................................................................................................. 3
A ................................................................................................................................................. 3
B ................................................................................................................................................. 4
C ................................................................................................................................................. 4
D ................................................................................................................................................. 6
E ................................................................................................................................................. 7
F ................................................................................................................................................. 7
G ................................................................................................................................................. 7
H ................................................................................................................................................. 8
I .................................................................................................................................................. 9
J ................................................................................................................................................ 10
K ............................................................................................................................................... 10
L ............................................................................................................................................... 11
M .............................................................................................................................................. 12
N ............................................................................................................................................... 12
O ............................................................................................................................................... 13
P ............................................................................................................................................... 14
Q ............................................................................................................................................... 15
R ............................................................................................................................................... 15
S ............................................................................................................................................... 15
T ............................................................................................................................................... 16
U ............................................................................................................................................... 17
V ............................................................................................................................................... 17
W .............................................................................................................................................. 18
Z ............................................................................................................................................... 18
Æ .............................................................................................................................................. 18
Ø ............................................................................................................................................... 18
Å ............................................................................................................................................... 19

© 2009 Sigi Vandewinkel


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Introduction

Format of the dictionary

This brief dictionary Dansk – Sigisk, or Danish – Sigic, is a thematic and idiosyncratic condensation
of my experiences in Copenhagen in the six days between 6 and 11 September 2009, including a
one-day excursion to the Swedish town of Malmö. Many of the entries refer quite straightforwardly
to existing places, people or concepts (e.g. ►Nebo Missionshotel, ►Sandra ►pølse); but others
deal more with memories and personal experiences than with factual information. These are
introduced by a lemma that is connected to the memory in question by mere association (e.g.
►new words, ►queue, ►historical linguistics, ►anarchists), and they usually deal with things I
thought memorable, funny or interesting enough to jot down.
Words preceded by a pointer ► are elsewhere included as a separate entry. It should be noted that
the Danish alphabet has three more letters than the regular Latin one: these are æ, ø and å,
pronounced [e̞], [ø] and [o̞]. In dictionaries and other alphabetical orderings, they follow the letter z;
and I have adopted the same practice here. This means, for instance, that the entry for ►Nørrebro
follows that for ►nyhed, and that ►pølse follows ►public transport and ►pytt i panna.
Most of the basic, factual information is contained within the following lemmas: ►Copenhagen;
►Nebo Missionshotel; ►Istedgade; ►city bike; ►Malmö, ►Annelise and ►Sandra. Some of my
more personal experiences have been documented as ►parks; ►Danish; ►nyhed; ►Starbucks;
►exploitation; ►personal responsibility; ►ice cream; ►new words; ►life is literature; and ►motifs.

It will be apparent that I have judged the items in this list quite idiosyncratically – whether or not
they conformed to my admittedly narrow view of what constitutes fun, entertainment or fascination.
No descriptions should, therefore, be considered more than my personal opinion. This means, for
instance, that items dealing with bars and restaurants and the like include a general indication of
the atmosphere, as well as the price of one pint of beer (food and beer are too basic to waste
much money on). Taken together, these two criteria offer a quick and easy reference point.

Some notes on language

Where necessary I have translated any ►Danish or ►Swedish words or expressions used in the
dictionary, but a number of names (such as ►Istedgade, ►Halmtorv, ►Frederiksberg have) might
make more sense if you knew what one or more morphemes means. The box below presents
some Danish / Swedish words which recur throughout the dictionary.
A point of grammar worth mentioning here is the unusual position of the definite article. While en
park in both ►Danish and ►Swedish means “a park”, parken means “the park”. That is why the
ending to some words, ►Søerne “the lakes”, for instance, or Istedgaden “the Isted street”, is
sometimes left off and the forms Søer “lakes” and Istedgade “Isted street” are used whenever
grammatically appropriate. A similar distinction underlies the alternation between Nationalmuseum
and Nationalmuseet.

Danish/Swedish words Translation


• gade / gata (often as part of a compound) street
• have garden
• kirkegård / begravningsplats cemetery
• torv / torg (often as part of a compound) market, square, plaza
• vej / väg (often as part of a compound) way, street

© 2009 Sigi Vandewinkel


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Dictionary text A – Å

1 One Danish krone is the equivalent of about 12 one-off purchases, and as night shops. They can
Euro cents. Conversely, one Euro is worth about usually be found on a corner. When on my first
7.7 kroner. The Swedish krona is much easier to night in Copenhagen I entered the one on
convert mentally: one krona roughly equals 10 ►Rådhuspladsen to find something to eat, I was
Euro cents; and one Euro is a little less than 10 privy to a truly Babylonian language confusion
kronor. (see Grillpølse).
4 The number of prostitutes who addressed me in 95 Sometimes prices in Denmark will not be
the ►Istedgade area at night. It seems as if their entirely round: for, say, a pot of chocolate spread
store of pick up lines is extremely limited: they or strawberry-flavoured yoghurt at a Købmand
usually try Let’s go for good time. Some add Let’s “grocer’s”, the price tag will sometimes read
go fucky-fucky. They’re a far cry from classy and 11.95Kr., but you’ll have to pay 12. This is a
educated female companions à la geisha: It would cheap marketing ploy. The Danish krone used to
be tremendous fun if one could hire them for, say, be worth 100 øre, but, apart from a rarely-used 50
an extended reading of, why not, King Lear. øre coin (half a krone), and an even rarer 25 øre
coin , the øre has, in practice, long ceased to be
7-11 This supermarket chain is omnipresent in
valid or even relevant currency.
►Copenhagen, serving as groceries for quick,

Anarchists It seems as if the subculture of “Allow blasphemy”? Or what am I to make of the


anarchists is thriving in ►Copenhagen. The best sign Vi vil vinde “We shall overcome”? On one
example is, of course, the Freetown ►Christiania, occasion, a slapdash mobile attached to the fence
but there’s a house in ►Bjelkes alle, at the had an essay hanging from it that argued for the
Nørrebro Park side, which is unmistakably general adoption of the skirt as a unisex clothes
inhabited by anarchists. Their back yard is an item. The argumentation went along the lines that
overgrown mess of long grass, broken gardening it was much more practical than a pair of trousers,
implements and unkempt bushes; but the fence is and that it would promote equality. Furthermore, if
truly a marvel to behold. It’s simply covered in everyone wore a skirt, then elderly people would
scraps of paper, plastic tubes, quotes, extracts, be less dependent on others in bringing a visit to
book covers, news paper clippings and garlands. the toilet to a satisfactory ending, and they would
There seem to be a number of interconnected soil themselves less often; thereby taking away a
themes running through the selection of texts on source of humiliation and trepidation. The
offer: individual rights, state influence, and anarchists’ garden also has a pitiable reddish cat
individual freedom would seem to be the most that, sadly, has to go through life without its tail
obvious ones. One quote by Nietzsche went (see Cats).
“Where the state ends, there man begins”; but a
Annelise One of the people who were kind
great number of quotes were by Oscar Wilde,
enough to show me around. She is fluent in
such as this one: "Selfishness is not living as one
Spanish, Portuguese and Italian, but it’s
wishes to live, it is asking others to live as one
impossible to mistake her for anything other than
wishes to live". Newspaper clippings likewise deal
Danish: quiet, careful, observant, and a bit
with excessive state intrusion, for instance when
withdrawn. She’s also very Danish in her sense of
children have been taken into temporary social
humour, which can be delightfully black. If her
custody because the parents couldn’t legally
face shows emotions at all, it’s usually on the left
prove they were capable of taking proper care of
half. Geese and swans scare her, though she’d
them. Other texts seemed less amenable to
tolerate them provided it resulted in a dramatic,
coherent interpretation: what, for instance, is the
grandiose and stirring end. She’s a fan of ►lakrids
meaning of a sign proclaiming Tillad blasfemi
and ►fruit (see also Æble), as well as an admirer

© 2009 Sigi Vandewinkel


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of Thorvaldsen’s sculptures – the main museum many poets and artists, as well as Søren
of which is located on ►Slotsholmen. Due to the Kierkegaard (whose last name, indeed, means
Danish lack of a café culture, she displayed a “church yard” and is merely an older spelling of
curious ►unfamiliarity with her city’s alluring bars kirkegård). I’m told that it now is a hangout of
or restaurants – and so did ►Sandra. See also young artists and wannabe cultured younglings.
Time; Chopsticks. Unfortunately, the cemetery was closed on both
occasions I was there, so I went for ►beer instead
Assistens Kirkegård A large cemetery in the
►Nørrebro
(see Gauβ & co).
district. It is the final resting place of

Beer Or øl (►Swedish. öl), as it is called in Biking Copenhagen truly is a city of bikers.


Scandinavia. Denmark has very few speciality They’re absolutely everywhere – I’m told about a
beers, but their lagers are drunk by all layers of full 36% of all Copenhageners commute by bike –
the population, men and women alike. They taste and most of them wear bicycle helmets. The
quite good, and they have as a major advantage omnipresent cycle paths are broad and run along
that they come in pints. The standard pilsner in both sides of all main roads, and sometimes
Denmark is either Tuborg or Carlsberg, and the there’s separate traffic signs for bikers. One
going rate lies somewhere between 35 and 50Kr, feature of the Danes’ fondness for biking is the
which is really too much for what you get in return. surprising number of ►Christiania bikes and
However, on promotion nights in ►Streckers or ladcykler ►”cargo bikes” (see also New words)
The ►Viking House, the price goes down to 30 riding around. See also Dit fjols.
and 25Kr, respectively. There is also some
Bjelkes allé Little street between Nørrebro Park
yellowish liquid called ►Royal classic, which is
and Jagtvejen. At one end, there’s a curious
rotgut, as far as I’m concerned. In Sweden, I had
house presumably inhabited by ►anarchists; at
a pint of Pripps Blå, which was decent; but the
the other there’s the pub ►Gauβ & Co.
restaurant also served delicious Staropramen. See
also Fucking expensive.

Cargo bike Omnipresent in ►Copenhagen. ideal for make-outs, and a worse drawback,
Used for transporting goods, and, most perhaps, is that you can’t take the subway here:
commonly, children. Sometimes called Christiania you’ll have to take an S-tog, a commuter train, to
cykler “Christiania bikes”, because they’re one of the relatively nearby Nørreport station.
►Christiania’s more prominent products (apart
Children Maybe it’s just me getting older, or
from the weed, that is). One of the more
maybe it’s because I visited a disproportionate
noticeable features of the Danish penchant for
►biking.
number of ►parks, but I’ve come away from
►Copenhagen with the distinct impression that
Cats As a cat person, I couldn’t help but notice a there are many children in this city. Plenty of
reddish cat whose tail had been cut off in the pregnant women, too, even at ►Kastrup airport,
►anarchists’ garden in ►Bjelkes allé. He mewed where I saw one being frisked at the security
so lamentably; but grunted and sighed while check on the way home.
purring. There’s also some life-size cat statues
Churches Among the more interesting churches
along the canal in ►Mamö, where I enjoyed some
I saw in ►Copenhagen I thought that the English-
delicious ►ice cream.
style St. Albans, south of ►Kastellet, was the
Central Station Or Hovedbanegården. A large, most notable. Other churches I enjoyed were the
clean railway station only a stone’s throw away Vor Frue Kirke, which is actually Copenhagen’s
from my hotel (see Nebo). The back entrance is cathedral, in ►Latiner kvarteret; the ►Marmor-
known as ►Pillebørsen. Its high-roofed main hall kirke, which was built to resemble St. Peter’s in
has squarish blocks of wooden buildings inside Rome; and the Trinitatiskirke, with its Rundetårn
that house the station’s retailers. It’s less than

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“Round tower”, in which a spiralling cobbled ramp rules are in place than you’d expect. For instance,
leads to the top – there are no stairs. the inhabitants along Pusher street (the former
hash hotspot) are adamant about their No pictures
Chokladfabriken The Chocolate Factory in
►Malmö,
policy; elsewhere signs prohibiting littering can be
and the associated Chokladmuseum.
found. Walking through ►Copenhagen I saw
They are mentioned as number 29 of the 34
several teenagers wearing t-shirts with the
måsten “must-sees” on the tourist map, and
Christiania flag (three yellow dots on a red
because reptile vivaria or a city tunnel exhibition
background), often with the slogan Bevar
seemed less interesting we decided to check out
Christiania “Save Christiania”.
the Chocolate museum. Oh boy, was that a
►disappointment and a half! The exposition hall is Christiansborg Palace on ►Slotsholmen that
all of 600 cm long and at least 400 cm wide. It houses the Danish parliament and the royal
boasts no less than six display units, which house stables. Political protests take place on the square
the history of the chocolate produced in the at the front entrance. On some occasions, this
factory, mainly through arranging wrappings and square is used by a peroxide blonde model who
logos in more or less symmetrical patterns. The strikes poses for a photographer lying on his back,
tourist map also states that you can se hur taking upshots. The back entrance via ►Marmor-
[chokladen] tillverkas “see how chocolate is broen “Marble bridge” is much more beautiful.
produced”, and that’s very true: one of the four From here, it’s easy to get into den ►kongelige
walls has a poster that has simplistic illustrations Bibliotekshave.
of the successive steps in the process, along with
City bike The city of ►Copenhagen offers its
single-word terms (torkningen “drying”, rostningen
denizens some 400 bikes free of charge. The
“roasting”) and arrows connecting the steps. One
process of renting one is similar to the super-
thing that does speak in the so-called museum’s
market trolley system: simply insert a 20Kr. coin
favour is that the chocolate produced there is sold
and use the bike as long as you want. When
on the spot, in various shapes and forms, solid as
you’re finished, simply return the bike to any
well as liquid. The area closest to the entrance
of the several drop-off spots in the Inner city and
has a couple of tables and chairs, so that middle-
reclaim your money. The bikes are blue, and the
aged people can drink and snack in peace.
frame and spokeless wheels have commercial
Chopsticks Or spisepinde in ►Danish, “eating messages printed on them. Unfortunately, they do
sticks”. According to a German friend of mine, not come with a bicycle lock, so if you leave your
there is a store of knowledge and skills that bike unattended, for example to enter a
everyone ought to master (at least in her opinion); pub or, say, a Japanese take-away, it’s likely that
one of which includes eating with chopsticks. someone will nick it. Fortunately, that only
Since ►Annelise didn’t know how to do that, I happened to me once, and I later found the bike
showed her, and after one sushi meal (see again at the ►Central Station, the nearest city
Planetarium) and one rice-and-noodles meal (see bike stand. Later that same day, as I was enjoying
Nam Thip), she’d mastered the skill. Strangely a pint of Tuborg in ►Gauβ & co, a teenager of
enough, my stay in Copenhagen would see many North African descent sauntered over to my bike,
mysterious repetitions of this ►motif: ►sticks and checked for the 20Kr. coin, and would have ridden
similar objects kept on appearing (see Life is off, had I not knocked on the window and claimed
Literature). The connection with ►elephants, my temporary ownership by beating my chest.
another recurring theme, is unclear. Similarly resorting to impromptu sign language,
the boy apologised and I was left to continue my
Christiania Anarchist-cum-hippy-cum-squatter ►beer free of bike thief fear. However, a few days
community that is likely to be forced to change
later I myself stole a city bike, one that had
beyond recognition or even be abolished in the
obviously been removed from the available city
nearish future. It’s located on the north side of the
bike pool (its payment box had been knocked off).
peninsula of Christianshavn, opposite ►Slots–
I spotted it parked in a little enclosed patio, and I
holmen, and it enjoys a semi-autonomous, semi-
shamelessly availed myself of it, because I
independent status. Much of the area is wooded,
needed one, because I felt let down by the
especially the stretch along the disused
thieving incident a couple of days before, and just
battlements; other areas feature idiosyncratic
because I wanted to spite another thief. See also
“architecture without architects”. Located in a
Biking.
conventional building just off Pusher street is a
nice but crowded café with a small podium across Copenhagen Or København, as it is known in
a pebbled walkway. One of the small wooden ►Danish. Has many faces, but the one I like best
cabins along the water sported a sign Kone søges is the stately Inner city, the historical centre, which
“Wife wanted” – which was ironic, because my combines modern design with 19thC architecture
companion was trying to avoid an ex-husband and a medieval street layout. It burned down a
who might be hanging around the place. More few times, as I learnt from an Australian KBH-

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enthusiast (see Kiwis), so most of the grand old Baltic means that there’s plenty of ►water calmly
buildings are nineteenth-century, though there’s a flowing through Copenhagen. Second, the city is
fair share of seventeenth-century buildings left ideal for ►biking: authorities have gone out of
(noticeably the remains of ►Kastellet, and their way to accommodate the tens of thousands
Rosenborg slot, in the ►Kongens Have). My initial of bikers with cycle paths, ►city bikes, broad
dissatisfaction with the lack of medieval buildings boulevards, and a plethora of one-way streets.
or street patterns forced me, a denizen of And finally, I was surprised at the lack of
Flanders, to own up to having been spoilt rotten; ►exploitation of the area’s history for ►tourists’
it’s also a stern reminder that Copenhagen sake, and at the relatively few visitors. This, too,
actually remained important after the 15thC. The adds to the city’s overall tranquillity. Apart from
area outside of the historical centre, the Indre By that generally laid-back atmosphere, Copenhagen
“Inner City”, used to be more or less closed to sparkles with life – many ►children, strongly
systematic settlement until halfway through the international communities (especially in Nørrebro
19thC, when the relatively recent areas of and Vesterbro), and a comfortably busy city
►Vesterbro, ►Nørrebro and ►Østerbro were centre. An additional aspect is the self-assured
founded across the Western, Northern and hipness that many Copenhagens display through
Eastern bridges, respectively. The ancient moat trendy clothes and fashionable accessories. It is
around the city was then converted into a series of true that international clothes chains (such as
lakes between the various bridges across it – the Mexx, Zara, H&M) maintain a presence here, but
►Søer. I’ve come away from this city with the the city’s fashion areas burst with small privately-
impression that it exudes a calm, laid-back owned design shops (e.g. in ►Latiner kvarteret) or
atmosphere. There are numerous reasons for this. Scandinavian-only chains, as befits Scandinavia’s
One is that Copenhagen is stunningly green, due fashion capital. Clothes, accessories (such as
to its ubiquitous ►parks and recreational ►hats), interior decoration, kitchen utensils, …
cemeteries – of which the Søer are, to my mind, Niche shops and dedicated designers flourish in
the loveliest examples. And of course, the many Copenhagen.
canals, artificial lakes, and the presence of the

Danish Or dansk, as the Danes call their own Danish were all around me, and I did attempt
language. I can get the gist of much of the written several conversations with locals, some of which
language – newspapers, novels, articles, and so turned out pretty well (see Nam Thip). Like all
on – but this trip (my first visit to a Danish- speakers of small languages, the Danes are
speaking area) made it painfully clear to me that eager to switch to English when confronted with a
I’m much too dependent on the written language. foreigner who has obvious difficulty with their
The gap between spoken and written Danish is tongue. However, if you then stubbornly reply in
much wider than I’m used to: natives omit, halting or simplistic Danish, they’ll throw you a
swallow and glide around so many consonants brief look of silent assessment before continuing
that show up in spelling that much of what I hear in Danish themselves. If you look closely, you can
is one meaningless string of sounds. Clearly, one see a mental shrug behind that brief glance,
year’s worth of afternoon classes and some expressing something like “Right, suit yourself,
months of weekly conversation sessions six or then”. Sometimes that intermediate English step is
seven years ago is woefully insufficient to skipped entirely. At least, that has been the case
communicate successfully in anything but the in many of my sometimes lengthy encounters with
most basic situations. Or one in which my native Danes – bus drivers, several of the ►Nebo
conversation partners adapt themselves to my hotel staff, ticket sellers in the ►Central station,
inability to string together a lengthy as well as book sellers in ►Politkens Boghal, random
well-formed sentence with a decent selection from women with puppies and babies, and so on.
the Danish vocabulary store (see also Dis- Another great example of that attitude of
appointment). I’m afraid that I wasn’t quite up to ►personal responsibility I thought I was able to
the task of explaining the rules of a simple game discern.
of pool in the language. Moreover, the fact that I’m
DLA Piper Law firm I used to work for. I ran into
much better at ►Swedish means that much of my
two of my former superiors in the Brussels airport:
Danish, I’m ashamed to admit, has deteriorated to
all three of us had coincidentally booked seats on
the point where it’s basically Swedish with a funny
the same plane to Amsterdam, where they would
accent. Still, opportunities for practising my
set course for Japan. Turns out I met one of them

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7

again on the way back: we both took the same with my apparent self-sufficience, for when I
flight between Amsterdam and Brussels (see showed up riding a ►city bike after my tour of the
Orange juice). Again, this was pure coincidence, ►tourist sites (such as the ►Little Mermaid,
but we did have an interesting discussion about ►Kastellet, and Amalienborg), they felt I had
new online business models. made their native expertise redundant (but see
Unfamiliarity). For yet another kind of dis–
Disappointment It is such a let-down to be
appointment, see ►Chokladfabriken.
unable to understand spoken ►Danish while the
written language presents few real problems. It Dit fjols Or “you idiot!” in English. Impatient
feels very annoying and extremely frustrating; people on bikes shout this at you if you crossing
humiliating, even. Still, I was not the only one to the cycle path forces them to slow down. Heard
be disappointed during my stay: both ►Sandra around ►Søerne and ►Kafe Kopka.
and ►Annelise expressed their disillusioniment

Elephant See sticks. House; Nationalmuseet; Mjød), and so is H.C


Andersen’s legacy of fairy tales, but not so much
Exploitation The pleasant lack of ►tourist
that it gets annoying. On the whole, the ►tourist
masses in ►Copenhagen has the added advan-
aspect of places of interest and such is very much
tage that exploitation of “traditional” or “cultural”
downplayed. Copenhagen’s a city, not an open-air
issues is kept to a minimum. The Viking thing is
museum or a tourist trap.
employed to beguile tourists (see The Viking

Frederiksberg have Sometimes referred to as Købmand “grocer’s”). But what’s much more
►Copenhagen’s most romantic park. The park conspicuous than that are the many shops selling
consists of the grounds surrounding a palace gleaming, healthy fruit; they’re especially
formerly belonging to the Danish royal family. It is noticeable in the Inner city. On my first night, I
now inhabited by herons, which inspire ►Sandra purchased a 5Kr nectarine in ►Istedgade; little did
to tell children’s stories about a bredmundet frø I know that ►Annelise and I would later engage in
“wide-mouthed frog”. One of the park’s more a discussion about the proper way of consuming
unusual attractions are the elephants (see Motifs), one of these (see also Æble). A friendly man
whose enclosure in the adjacent Zoologisk have owning a stall on ►Malmö’s Stortorg “Grand
“Zoological garden” is more or less accessible market” was happy to sell me a bag of nuts and
from the park (though it is forbundet med livsfare delicious dried fruit.
“connected with lethal danger” to get really close).
Fucking expensive One of the most
See also Ice cream.
distinguishable characteristics of life in Denmark.
Fruit Apart from the omnipresent ►7-11s, See also Beer.
►Copenhagen is dotted with what looks like
privately owned grocery shops (usually called

Gamla begravningsplatsen A quiet cemetery noon. The presence of the canal (the old town
along the canal around ►Malmö’s Gamla Staden, moat) flowing along two sides of the cemetery has
“the Old Town”. It’s one of the many green spaces a soothing effect, quite in keeping with the
in town (see Parks), specifically designed, so it tranquillity of the place. Scandinavians are a very
seems, to serve as a quiet recreational area. practical people: a largish, centrally located
People come here to enjoy their sandwiches at cemetery simply must serve more than one

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8

purpose, so as to justify the valuable space it counter, it became apparent that I had phrased
takes up. And they’ve done a wonderful job of my request in an incomprehensible dialect of
balancing both functions: inviting people to spend ►Danish, for I was not given a delicious sausage,
time there without disturbing the eternal rest. The but a ten-trip bus ticket instead (see ►klippekort). I
cemetery design is extremely basic, with few trees tried to explain that this was not what I had
and straight paths separating blocks of graves; ordered, initially trying Danish, then Swedish, then
there are no fountains. Dogs, so their owners are English, and finally French. None of the words in
informed, are firmly prohibited from förorena any of these languages seemed to instil any form
“soiling” the area. of comprehension in the North African-looking
shopkeeper. So I finally decided to cut my losses
Gauβ & co Cosy bar on the corner of ►Bjelkes
and leave that cursed place. I was able to buy a
alle and Jagtvejen, across the wall around ►pølse later at a pølsevogn “sausage stand”, and
►Assistens kirkegård in the district of ►Nørrebro.
it was very tasty.
The music centres on rock, rockabilly, and
sometimes metal. A pint of Tuborg costs 25ish Kr, Det gule hus Pleasant coffee place on 48,
and you’re charged about 20Kr for a cup of coffee. ►Istedgade. The name means “The yellow
All in all, I had a nice time there, aside from some house”, a rather uninspired reference to the
scallywag attempting to steal my ►city bike. façade’s colour. But the place itself is great. The
staff are friendly, the coffee is pretty good, and the
Gozzip A trendy-looking eatery in a street off
►Malmö’s ►Lilla
hot chocolate is even better. Coffee, latte and
Torg, the same street featured
varm chokolade med flødeskum “hot chocolate
on the cover of the tourist map distributed at the
with whipped cream” all cost 28Kr. A delicious
railway station. Only a Scandinavian would
wedge of dark chocolate pie costs 50Kr. During
pronounce the restaurant’s name as gossip. Place
den glade time “happy hour” they serve cocktails
where young people and girls with fashionable
►hats go to eat, as well as couples with hungry
at 50Kr, instead of the usual 60. Abstractish
paintings in mainly red, black and white are on
dogs. As the latter sit down at the table next to
sale for about 3.000Kr. I spent some time here on
yours, the owner comes to ask if it would bother
practically every day I was in ►Copenhagen. On
you in the slightest to have a dog around you. On
one occasion, I was addressed by a guy who
this particular occasion, the dog eagerly devoured
works at Louisiana, the Modern Art Museum in
some of the potatisar that went with my laxfile
Humlebæk, outside the city proper. Upon seeing
“Salmon fillet”, as well as half of ►Annelise’s
me peruse a travel guide, we had a chat in
chicken. ►Danish about my (then unformed) travel plans.
Grillpølse On my first night in Copenhagen, I He tried to convince me to visit the museum; and
walked into the ►7-11 on ►Rådhuspladsen to buy while his sales pitch was persuasive, I did not
a bottle of juice and a grillpølse “grilled sausage”. I really have time to fit another museum in my
was allowed to select the fruity beverage of my schedule besides the ►Nationalmuseum. I did
choice from the shelves at my leisure. So far, so accept his chocolates, though.
good. However, in ordering a grillpølse at the

Halmtorvet A pleasant rectangular plaza one prostitutes have retreated to the Skelbækgade, a
block away from ►Istedgaden. It has a couple of few blocks towards the canal.
fashionable bistro-like cafes at one end, and an
Hat One of the top items on my to-do list was
exhibition venue called ►Øksnehalle at the other,
købe en hat “buy a hat”. Which I did, in the
though as a whole, the place is relatively
company of ►Annelise and ►Sandra, after a visit
deserted. For some reason I keep referring to the
to the ►Frederiksberg have and lunch at ►Kafe
Halmtorv as Øksnehallentorvet – even though I
Kopka (next to Den blå hund, on Godthåbsvej).
only walked past the Øksnehalle once. I enjoyed a
We did so at H&M for 79.95Kr (see 95); and
glass of Laphroaig whiskey at Carlton (14
Sandra got a smaller version of my hat for her son
Halmtorvet); and over a cup of coffee and a pot of
Carl. What I settled for wasn’t exactly what I had
fruit-mix tea at Apropos (12 Halmtorvet) we were
been looking for, but I think it looked good on me
given a free croissant – they were to be chucked
nonetheless.
in the bin the next day anyway. The plaza used to
be a centre of ►Copenhagen’s red light district, Herrens fruktan är vishetens begynnelse
but it has seen major gentrification in recent years Or “Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” in
– the bistros are cases in point. Most of the street ►Swedish. This is the motto printed in big gold

© 2009 Sigi Vandewinkel


9

letters on the façade of Malmö Latinskola. departed the building, with the strange sensation
►Annelise and I were uncertain as to the meaning of simultaneously experiencing both embar-
of the word fruktan: I proposed “Fear of the Lord”, rassment at having been overjoyed at, and
whereas she suggested “Fruit of the Lord” i.e. satisfaction at having made someone’s day. See
from the Tree of Wisdom (see Æble). A random also Vad spännande.
passer-by was unable to resolve the issue
Historical linguistics I couldn’t believe it at
(“maybe both”), so we decided to go inside,
first, but the city of ►Copenhagen has a
hoping to find someone more knowledgeable
monument to historical linguistics. It is located on
there. We chanced to meet an easily-excited
the H.C. Andersensboulevard, across the Ny
female Swedish teacher, who told us what the
Carlsberg Glyptotek, quite close to another
motto meant. Upon learning that we were there to
museum, ►Nationalmuseet. It was erected in
settle a nerdy discussion, she exclaimed ►vad
memory of four 19thC Danish linguists: Rasmus
spännande “how exciting” several times,
Rask, whose discoveries about Germanic sound
assuming an air of impressioned incredulity that
laws got picked up by Jakob Grimm and given
knowledge-seekers like us still existed. She
wider currency; Karl Verner of the eponymous
expressed regret at the hour being so late (i.e.
law, Niels Ludwig Westergaard, an expert on
after four), because all the history teachers had
Sanskrit and one of the early decipherers of
already gone home for the day, so there was none
cuneiform script; and Wilhelm Thomsen, who was
who could properly explain the matter to us. But
the first to decipher the Orkhon script that was
she was not to be deterred by this, for she insisted
used to write down Old Turkic (7th to 10thC). The
that I give her my email address instead, so that
stone was erected on the occasion of Le grand
she could send me an historical explanation, as
congrès de linguists à Copenhague en 1936, and
well as a full theological interpretation of the
it bears the following inscription: Disse fire mænd
motto. (I haven’t received anything so far). At this
var bland grundlæggerne af den historiske og
point, she looked so overjoyed, that nothing, it
sammenlignende sprogforskning. De var gode
would seem, could increase her wonderment; but
danske mænd, som paa ærefuld maade tjente
little did she know that her day was about to get
deres fædreland gennem liv og virke til
even more wondrous, for my email address ends
videnskabens fremme. ”These four men were
in the very un-Swedish .co.uk. Her excitement,
among the founding fathers of historical and
upon realising this, grew even louder than before
comparative language research. They were good
(‘Nej, men vad spännande!) when she learnt we
Danish men, who served their country with
were foreigners, and that I, not being a native
honour, in life and in their works, for the furthering
Swede or even a fellow Scandinavian, had
of science.”
managed to learn something of her language. She
complimented me profusely on my skills. We then

Ice cream In ►Copenhagen’s ►Frederiksberg with a surreal mixture of, on the one hand, hotels
have I was treated to a traditional Danish ice behind stately 19thC façades, and street
cream with liquorice (see Lakrids), which tasted prostitution, sex shops, erotic bars (with names
better than it sounds. We also went for an ice like “Spunk bar”) and sordid DVD-shops on the
cream from a small booth in ►Malmö where they other. Many prostitutes walk this part of the
cost 13 SEK apiece; and because it was so good Istedgade; nearly all are dark-skinned (though one
we went back for a second helping. We consumed I saw was white and sixtyish), but all are ugly. As
our treats on the steps next to the canal, the ones soon as you make eye contact, they address you,
with grey life-size statues of ►cats, and watched usually with hilarious results (see 4). This area
kayakers row past. I had a scoop of orange and used to be part of the red light district (see
chocolate – which was absolutely delicious – and Halmtorvet), but has seen a massive cleanup in
one with After Eight flavour next. That one was recent decades. Further into Vesterbro, the focus
delicious, too. See also New words. shifts to Shawarma take-aways, pita places, Thai
and Vietnamese restaurants (see Nam Thip), and
Istedgade The street in which my hotel, the ►fruit vendors. The increasing gentrification of
►Nebo Missionshotel, is located. It leads from the
this area means that this end has many great
back entrance of the ►Central station (see
pubs, restaurants and cafes to offer, such as Det
pillebørsen) into the gentrified ►Vesterbro area.
►gule hus.
The stretch closest to the station, around the
Mariakirke and the Nebo hotel, presents the visitor

© 2009 Sigi Vandewinkel


10

Jogging A very popular pastime in like a cult: some couples even take their infants
►Copenhagen, especially around ►Søerne, the jogging, pushing a pram or a buggy along as they
lakes separating the Inner city from ►Østerbro finish their laps around one or two søer.
and ►Nørrebro. I got the impression that it’s a bit

Kafe Kopka Café-Restaurant situated in the calling it his new home, that he planned on
Godthåbsvej in Frederiksberg. The one next to it staying there indefinitely. We talked a bit about
is called Den Blå Hund “the blue dog”. Both the British bombardment of Copenhagen during
restaurants share a terrace on a plaza on the the Napoleonic wars, and its effects on the city’s
other side of a busy street, so speeding bicycles architectural heritage. Him and Jeremy (not
are a risk (see Dit fjols) if you’re transporting Fisher) were utterly pissed (see Motifs). Sophie
drinks across. The waitress at Kafe Kopka doesn’t and Amy, two shapely sisters, were less
know the first thing about drawing a glass of inebriated: Sophie explained about Auckland’s
►beer. ►Sandra’s sister lives in the area, and she atmosphere, while Amy suggested some books to
might stop by for a chat. me (see Literature). I got invited to share a couple
of beers with them in Marcus’ flat, but on the way
Kalaallisut The official language in Greenland.
there, Sophie and Amy mysteriously disappeared.
Danish ATM-machines offer services in several
It wasn’t until we’d walked to their hostel that we
foreign languages: ►Swedish, Norwegian,
found out they’d decided to go to bed without
Finnish, Icelandic, English, German, French and
telling anyone.
Kalaallisut.
Klippekort Or “punch card”, allowing ten single
Kastellet The remnants of an 17thC citadel on
journeys on the ►public transport system. The
the ►Øresund side of the Inner city district. The
Danes are a very practical people. They have
pentangle-shaped fortress mainly consists of
realised that it makes so much sense in an
grassy ramparts, which make for a scenic walk
urbanised area, where people routinely make use
around the perimeter. Within the citadel, there are
of several types of ►public transport, to have
a number of red buildings that to this day house a
travellers buy only one type of ticket: one that’s
number of military services; the place is still
valid on bus, ►subway and ►train. After I’d
owned by the Ministry of Defence. No doubt this is
acquired mine somewhat haphazardly at a ►7-11,
the reason why so many middle-aged male
►joggers running their laps around the ramparts
I was immediately convinced of the immense
practicality of this arrangement.
look like they might be army officers. From the
ramparts on the Øresund side you can just make Den Kongelige Bibliotekshave The Royal
out the coastline of Sweden. Sverige, du gamla, Library Garden. A lovely little garden at the back
du fria! of the original 19thC block of the Royal Library
(see Libraries). It’s a quiet, secluded place, even
Kastrup This is the name of ►Copenhagen’s
though plenty of people like to spend a little while
airport, located on the island of Amager, east of
there. The garden really has it all: shaded
the city proper. The ►train to ►Malmö stops here.
benches, well-kept lawns, winding paths, trees,
Kiwis A group of three New Zealanders and one bushes, flower beds, a central fountain, ivy-clad
Australian I met in the Latin Quarter (see Latiner walls, and a statue of Søren Kierkegaard. Ideal
kvarteret). These four initially thought I came from place for make-outs.
North London, but I soon set them straight. We
Kongens have The gardens adjacent to
got talking about books because I was carrying
Rosenborg slot; both dating from the early 17thC.
around Brontë’s Wuthering Heights at the time.
The ramparts around the castle, overlooking the
Marcus, originally from Australia and the only non-
moat, are ideal for reading (see Literature), if you
Kiwi, had come to ►Copenhagen as a student,
can avoid lying down in duck turds.
but he was so taken with the city, to the point of

© 2009 Sigi Vandewinkel


11

Lakrids The ►Danish word for salty liquorice; it’s Macchiato at Coffee house, a ►Starbucks-like
lakrits in ►Swedish. It’s ►Annelise’s favourite type chain that has seven or so establishments
of candy. Furthermore, a very traditional Danish scattered through the town. We had dinner at
►ice cream features two bars of liquorice running ►Gozzip, a restaurant in one of the streets off the
through a rectangular block of vanilla ice, coated Lilla Torg.
with chocolate. It admittedly has a special taste,
Literature I read a number of books in
but it grew on me.
Copenhagen. On the way there, I started and
Latiner kvarteret Or “Latin quarter”, the area finished McEwan’s The cement garden. I also
around the old University, now the Law faculty, read a few chapters in Ben Q. Hom’s Flugtens tid,
and the impressive Vor Frue Kirke “Our Lady’s as a last-minute attempt at resuscitating my
church”. It consists of only a couple of tiny impoverished ►Danish. In bed, in The ►Viking
cobbled streets, just south of ►Ørstedsparken, House, ►Streckers, in ►Kongens Have, the
but there’s plenty of trendy yet low-profile shops gardens around Rosenborg slot, and on the flight
there. This is where I met a bunch of friendly but home, I read Emily Brontë’s Wuthering heights.
pissed-out-of-their-minds ►Kiwis. No doubt this is why Kate Bush’s song with the
same title was impossible to delete from my head
Libraries The ►Copenhagen Royal Library
for the duration of my stay (see Music). I was
doubles as the university library. The building
given Deleuran’s Mikkeline på skattejagt by
consists of two very different blocks,
►Annelise, a comic book she grew up with. In
architecturally speaking, built on either side of a
►Politikens Boghal on ►Rådhuspladsen, I
road (Christians brygge). One is the original early
purchased a Danish pop-up copy of Holzwarth
20thC library, which houses the reading room and
and Erlbruch’s Muldvarpen, der ville vede, hvem
which has a lovely garden at the back (see Den
der havde lavet lort på dens huvud “The mole who
►Kongelige Bibliotekshave); the other is called
wanted to know who pooped on his head”,
Den sorte diamant “The black diamond”, an
because the little gem is totally worth owning in
architecturally modern and dauntingly black block
several formats and languages. I also bought
on the edge of the canal. It houses Café
Nesbø’s Snemanden there, reasoning that, given
øieblikket, and a small restaurant. Both halves are
my preference for reading books in the original
connected by first floor corridors spanning across
language, and given that I’ll never learn
the Christians brygge. I was also favourably
Norwegian anyway, I might just as well buy his
impressed with the public library in ►Malmö,
books in a language I do want to focus on. In
which is housed in a modern building, all glass
►Malmö, at a place called Malmö bokhandel, I
and smoothness, whose collection of foreign-
purchased eight books, seeing as there was a
language books spans a stunning range of
promotion at the time (buy four, pay for three).
languages.
They were Larsson’s Millenium trilogy; Niemi’s
Life is literature The slightly surreal sensation Mannen som dog som en lax; Dahl’s Mörkertal;
that life around you takes on characteristics of Murakami’s Fågeln som vrider upp världen;
literature; that Life imitates Art. The uncanny Nesser’s Kvinna med födelsemärke; and
experience that elements in your surroundings Mankell’s Villospår. Most of these are easily-read
aren’t just there by coincidence, haphazardly crime novels. Finally, some books were
strewn about the place, but instead are part of a recommended to me, too. A slightly inebriated
coherent system of meaning; that there is a Amy (see Kiwis) suggested I read Lovely bones
central theme underlying your existence which and The time traveller’s wife; ►Sandra referred
finds its expression in the recurrence of several me to Høeg’s Fortællinger om natten, which she
►motifs: images and meaningful elements that feels are superior to his novels (I dislike his
continue to surface with a greater-than-chance novels). She also recommended J.P. Jacobsen
frequency. Or possibly the side effect of a neurotic (who the Danes call I.P.).
mind seeking to impose structure on the chaotic
Little Mermaid Or den lille havfrue in ►Danish.
world. Who can tell?
Someone had place two lilies between her hands
Lilla Torg This is ►Malmö’s central night life when I saw her. Interestingly, tourist boats that
place. It’s a charming, cobbled little plaza, with make their obligatory stop at the mermaid, only do
restaurants and cafes all around, one of which is so for under a minute: just enough time for the
the 18thC Faxeska huset, which now houses a guide to say a few words about her, and for the
restaurant that smells of barbecue. I had a ►tourists to shoot a couple of pictures. From the

© 2009 Sigi Vandewinkel


12

land side, people gingerly walk up to the havfrue yet another illustration of the surprising lack of
to have their picture taken by their partner. It also patrimonial ►exploitation I witnessed during my
struck me that there’s only one souvenir shop at stay.
the statue – a small movable stall, at that, which is

Malmö Swedish town located at the ►Øresund Marmorkirken Or “The Marble Church”. Round
strait, connected to ►Copenhagen by the church in the Indre by “Inner city”, practically
magnificent 8km ►Øresund bridge. In many ways, across the street from Amalienborg Slot, the
it’s similar to its much larger neighbour across the current royal residence. Its dome was built as an
sound: it’s dotted with ►parks (see Pildamms- intentional imitation of the one on St. Peter’s in
parken; Malmöhus). and other green areas Rome. Leaflets with prayers are available at the
(notably ►Gamla begravningsplatsen); there’s entrance. See also Zebra crossing.
plenty of lakes and canals to walk around (see
Mjød The ►Danish word for mead. The bottle I
Water); and it, too, conveys a laid-back attitude.
bought in the ►Nationalmuseet’s shop couldn’t
The major difference is that Malmö is much
have a more cliché name: Viking blod. It’s pretty
cheaper than Copenhagen; and I’m not the only
good stuff, though.
one to enjoy that dissimilarity: Many Danes live in
Malmö due to the more favourable taxation Motifs The recurring themes in life that make you
conditions. In addition, the Øresund bridge feel as if you’re living in a novel (see Life is
definitely makes commuting to and from literature). Those that were particularly noticeable
►Copenhagen almost excessively easy and during my stay were ►sticks (or pinde) and
comfortable. While certainly attractive, Malmö is ►elephants, though haven’t yet understood their
pleasantly lacking in major tourist attractions, connection. Pinde recurred in chopsticks (on two
though not all attempts to liven up its sights are separate occasions: eating sushi at the
equally successful (see Chokladfabriken). Among ►Planetarium, and at ►Nam Thip); Nordic walking
the sites I enjoyed are the public ►library, which sticks; wooden ice cream pins; the arrow near
is well worth a visit, as is the historical centre ►Nørrebro park, and knitting needles. Elephants I
around Stortorget “Grand market” and ►Lilla noticed at the ►Frederiksberg have; on a wall
Torget “Little market”. Initially, my travel plans decoration in Nam Thip; the Carlsberg Elephant
included a trip to ►Århus, not Sweden, but I’m Gate (currently under restoration); in the Mikkeline
glad I amended them and went to Malmö instead: comic (see Literature), where there are three; and
it gave me the opportunity to try out my in the rhyming slang Elephant’s trunk (for drunk)
►Swedish, to purchase Swedish-language books (see Kiwis). See also Life is Literature.
in a native setting (see Literature), and to finally
Music I witnessed a number of excellent life
visit the country for the first time.
performances during my stay. The ones in
Malmöhus A park just outside ►Malmö’s inner ►Streckers and The ►Viking house were, on the
city, with plenty of artificial lakes, a windmill, and whole, pretty entertaining. The one I listened to in
an old castle that’s been converted into a an Irish pub on my last evening was only so-and-
museum. The absence of fences around many of so, but that was because he was trying to please
the lakes I ascribed to a well-developed Scan- a middle-aged group of four whose tastes veered
dinavian sense of ►personal responsibility. heavily towards Perry Como. Also, for some
reason, stretches of ►Under Byen’s songs kept
Marmorbro A bridge connecting the islet of
on floating through my head, as did Kate Bush’s
►Slotsholmen with the mainland. It’s the most
Wuthering Heights (but see Literature for an
picturesque way of entering the island.
explanation).

Nam Thip A Thai restaurant in 3, Viktoriagade, pronounced ►Danish so clearly and comprehen-
off ►Istedgaden, as well as the locale of sticks- sibly. They themselves confessed to often being
and elephant-sightings (see Motifs). The Thai staff stumped by native Danes: Dansk er meget svært
seemed genuinely puzzled that I, a white person, ”Danish is very hard”, they told me. I didn’t know if

© 2009 Sigi Vandewinkel


13

they were being serious, or plain friendly towards New words Among the new ►Danish words I
a paying customer, or if they were applying that learnt, or the forgotten words I re-learnt, are: hvalp
age-old Far Eastern joke where they compliment “puppy”, ladcykel “►cargo bike”; fadøl “draught
an inept Westerner with their language skills, only beer”; ensrettet “one-way traffic”; hjørne “corner”;
to smirk silent mirth at them when they arrogantly første/andre etc. sal “first/second etc. floor”;
admit that, yes, they do speak the language quite krudse gaden “cross the road”; forbindelse
well, thank you. I thought it best to remain humble. “connection”; (u)behagelig “(un)comfortable”;
udstilling “exposition”; kande “jug”; bimmelim
Nationalmuseet The Danish National Museum.
“wee-wee”; bummelum “poo-poo”; sennep
I visited the permanent exposition Danmarks
“mustard”; løg “onion”; pil “willow”; lommetyv
Oldtid “Denmark’s Antiquity; Denmark’s Ancient
“pickpocket”; omfavnelse “hug”. I also (re)acquired
Times”, which boasts some truly magnificent
some ►Swedish vocabulary items: pil “willow”;
displays. Among those I found memorable were
juvel “jewel”, våffla “►ice cream cone”, kula “ice
the aurochs skeleton; amber ornaments; some
cream scoop”.
shiny, well-preserved Bronze Age swords, a finely
crafted Bronze Age bælteplade “Belt disc” found Nyhed The ►Danish noun meaning “novelty”, lit.
in Egtvedpigens “the Egtved girl’s” grave; the “new-ity”; “nieuw-heid”. It is commonly used in
Chariot of the Sun; a collection of bronze lurs; the commercials where English and Dutch would use
Gundestrup Cauldron (obviously!); and a couple the adjective new and nieuw, respectively. The
of rune stones. The shop has a lot of crap on ►Swedish word nyhet works in exactly the same
offer, much of it centring around Vikings (see way. This word, perfectly understandable in
Exploitation), but there’s a surprising amount of context while still requiring a little mental
interior decoration knickknacks and ornamentation adjustment, is a perfect illustration of my feelings
oddments that’s at least halfway decent: towards both Danish and Swedish. They’re like
decorative drinking horns, chess sets, replicas of places you’ve lived in for the longest time and
ancient jewellery, imitation Roman glassware, and which you return to after many years’ absence:
imitation African bowls. There’s also a number of the basic structure and configuration is intimately
decent historical books on offer, as well as some familiar and many small details remain the same
interesting cookbooks. But I got none of these or at least highly similar, but so many old buildings
things, instead opting to treat myself to a bottle of have been replaced with new structures, the
mead (see Mjød). colours are all different, and someone’s
rearranged the furniture. Feeling at home again
Nebo Missionshotel The hotel I stayed at,
requires balancing out the familiarity with the
located at 6-8, ►Istedgade. Run by a Christian
novelty.
charity, meaning that most of the profits at the end
of the year go to “poor people in Denmark”, as the Nørrebro The vibrant and lively district to the
night staff explained to me. The hotel is located north of ►Copenhagen’s Inner city. Very multi-
quite close to ►pillebørsen, the back entrance of cultural. Places of my interest are ►Gauβ & co, a
the ►Central station. It’s a small-scale hotel, with bar, and, across the street, ►Assistens Kirkegård,
tiny but clean rooms spread over 5 floors. Toilets a cemetery that doubles as green space.
and showers are shared, but the staff is generally ►Sandra lives in the non-fashionable area, or so
very friendly, and not at all averse to entering a she claims.
conversation with me in ►Danish.

Orange juice KLM airlines offers its passengers Overpopulation The extent of Belgium’s over-
a complimentary drink and a small snack – the population was strikingly illustrated to me on the
former is always orange juice, the latter comes in flight back: At night, from the air, Belgium looks
the form of a biscuit: chocolate or cereal biscuits. like a depressingly close-knit network of lights
The funny thing is that the orange juice comes in connected by excessively lit highways. Most of
a little tub, which, convenient though it may be for Jutland and the non-Randstad areas of the
storage purposes, isn’t very practical for drinking. Netherlands, by contrast, look much more
peaceful and quiet.

© 2009 Sigi Vandewinkel


14

Parks Both ►Copenhagen and ►Malmö boast a Politikens Boghal Book shop located on
number of large parks and other green spaces ►Rådhuspladsen. Whenever I travel somewhere,
dotting the city centre, as well as tranquil I always buy at least one book by way of souvenir,
cemeteries designed for serene walks and quiet and this book shop is where I got all my Danish
reading. This lends them a noticeably laid-back books (see Literature). It’s well-stocked for a broad
and eco-friendly quality, not in the least because range of topics (history, psychology, philosophy),
of the many ►bikers, ►joggers and ►children that and with a wide selection of English novels and
hang around these places. I would also say that non-fiction. Books in ►Swedish, Norwegian and
the centrality of these parks, and the obvious French are curiously absent, though German-
importance attached to them is an illustration of language books are on sale here. The travel
the practical Scandinavian mind: rather than guides section, whose layout otherwise is strictly
converting ancient moats and fallow land into alphabetical, groups together the guides for
built-up areas, they’ve been turned into pleasant Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, the Faeroe
strolling places with plenty of ►water that give the Islands, and Greenland under S – for
city a less oppressive, less overpopulated feel. Scandinavia.
Some of Copenhagen’s green spaces are
►Assistens Kirkegård, ►Frederiksberg have, Den
Planetarium Round building at the ►Vesterbro
end of the ►Søer. The view across the water from
►Kongelige Bibliotekshave, ►Kongens haven,
beneath the weeping willows at the lake’s edge is
►Søerne, the ►Ørstedspark, the ►Østre Anlæg,
very soothing. Great place to have a picknick, or
and the largest of all: Fælledparken (though I
to eat sushi. (see Chopsticks).
have not visited it). In Malmö, there’s the ►Gamla
begravningsplatsen, the ►Malmöhus and Public transport I simply love the public
especially the ►Pildammspark. See also Water. transport in ►Copenhagen. I do! It’s smooth, it’s
well-organised, it’s reliable, it’s clean, and it’s
Personal responsibility Around several of the
very, very modern – especially the ►subway and
artificial lakes in ►Malmö there are no fences or
the S-tog, the local ►train – and the timetables of
railings to keep people from falling in; but there
the various branches have been geared to one
are lifebuoys at regular intervals. That’s pretty
another, which only adds to the outstanding
normal, you’ll say, and you’d be right to! But
practicality of the entire system. A single ticket will
there’s whole stretches around the canal running
be valid on buses, trains, and the subway (see
through central Malmö where there’s not an inch
Klippekort), and the bus fare for, say, ►Central
of railing in sight, only a couple of lifebuoys. I took
station to ►Kastrup airport, will cost the same as
this to be a great illustration of my somewhat
a train ticket, because you’ll have journeyed
romanticised and perhaps stereotypical view of
across the same number of ►zones. Buses will
Scandinavians as valuing personal responsibility
not only have a schematic map of all stops on
more than elsewhere in Europe. The reasoning
their line, they will also display the next stop on a
behind the lack of railings being, “Just make sure
little screen mounted on the ceiling – as is the
you don’t fall in, ok? Here’s a lifebuoy in case you
case in all modernised countries apart from
do, but we’re not going to prohibit access to the
Belgium. And then, of course, there’s the
waterside simply because some simpleton might
magnificent ►Øresund bridge to Sweden, which
act stupidly and fall in. It’s not the state’s place to
you can cross by both car and train.
prevent accidents that can be avoided with a
minimum of personal responsibility.” See also Pytt i panna Or “itty-bitty pieces in the pan”.
Danish. Apparently this is a traditional Scandinavian dish,
known both in Sweden and Denmark. It consists
Pildammsparken A large ►park in ►Malmö. Its
of tiny dices of meat, potato and onion, served
name means “park of the willow tree dams”, and it
with a fried egg and slices of red beets, and it
boasts a series of flower gardens and peculiar but
makes for a pretty tasty, if simple, diner. It
enjoyable meditation avenues around a number of
appears that a basket with six different bottles of
central lakes. These side gardens have been
sauce (mayonnaise, ketchup, Worcester sauce
organised according to Classicistic principles of
and mustard, among others) is a necessary
order and beauty.
accompaniment to the dish; flirting, or talking
Pillebørsen ►Danish for Pill Exchange – a about flirting, is optional. I paid 119 SEK for my
colloquial name for the back entrance of the meal, and washed it down with a pint of Pripps blå
►Central Station, infamous, or so I am told, for ►beer that cost 58 SEK.
the drug trafficking that goes on there. Convenient
Pølse Danish for ”sausage”; in Swedish they’re
meeting place from the nearby ►Nebo hotel.
called korv. They’re a popular food in

© 2009 Sigi Vandewinkel


15

Scandinavia. Pølsevogne (“sausage booths” or prototypical to the conceptualisation of a pølse is,


“hot dog stands”) are scattered throughout the city to my mind, incorrect. It is very much the pølse
and appear to be one of the prime locations for a itself that is the central notion; buns are merely an
quick warm snack for ►tourists. They sell additional way of presenting them. I recommend
sausages with a choice of sauces and onions; en ristet hotdog med det hele: a roasted sausage
those wrapped in a bun are called “hotdogs”. I in a bun, with ketchup, mustard, remoulade,
believe, however, that it would be wrong to roasted onions, raw onions, and gherkins. That is,
characterise these pølsevogne as hot dog stands, unless you’re about to kiss someone.
because the assumption that the combination of Recommended price: about 20-22Kr. (which is still
bun and sausage would somehow be central or too much. but see Fucking expensive).

Queue The Swedes line up in a nice little queue


in order to get onto a bus. Well, at least in
►Malmö they do!

RIP ScaryGoRound The day I returned from preferred over the rather uninspiring town hall –
►Copenhagen was the day that the final the Rådhus the square takes its name from. At
instalment of the charmingly quirky and above all night, gaudy neon ads light up on the façades
loveable webcomic ScaryGoRound was around. The Rådhusplads is one of the places to
published. I didn’t realise until the day after my rent a ►city bike, and most other drop-off spots I
return that I’d missed it. saw were located around it. Because it was so
close to my hotel (see Nebo), and because I often
Royal Classic Danish lager that isn’t very good;
went for a drink in Strøget, the shopping area to
it’s much too sweet for my taste. Whenever the
the east of Rådhuspladsen, this square quickly
draught beers on offer only consist of variations of
became the centre of my excursions. Along one of
this brand, as in The ►Viking Place, it is best to
its long sides (the Tivoli side) runs the H.C.
opt for a bottle of some other ►beer, like Tuborg,
Andersens boulevard, which, if you follow it
or Carlsberg.
towards the canal, leads past the monument to
Rådhuspladsen The central square in ►Historical linguistics; the Vester Voldgade on the
►Copenhagen’s Inner city. Bordering the plaza other side leads to the ►Nationalmuseum.
are many touristy shops, but ►Politikens Boghal,
to me at least, is its main attraction, to be

Sandra One of the two people (the other one abound. Its balcony resembles a Lego cube in
being ►Annelise) who took time out of their dismal rust (though it could have been dreary blue
schedule to accompany me on my excursions. or uninspired yellow). I consider her a good
She even invited me into her house for a tasty mother. Her kid, who’s pretty good at pool, is a
meal. She is fluent in Greek, and teaches the clever one, too: at dinner, when she wanted to
language to undergrads. Her Røversprog avoid a tricky question, Sandra merely asked if
“robbers’ language” is pretty good, too (see Carl could pass the lettuce. Which he did, adding
Sosigogi). She has a lovely way of asking Ja, men det betyder ikke at diskussionen er slut
“Really?”. She and her son Carl live in a nice, “Sure, but that doesn’t mean the discussion’s
well-lit flat full of books located on the top floor of over”. See also Unfamiliarity.
an apartment building in the non-fashionable area
Slotsholmen Island in central ►Copenhagen
of ►Nørrebro, where mythological street names
that houses most parliamentary functions; since

© 2009 Sigi Vandewinkel


16

the city’s founding it has served that function; and reasons I like the Danish ►public transport
until the royal family moved to Amalienborg, a system so much.
kilometre or so to the north, across ►Marmor-
Swedbank Popular bank in Sweden. For Danes,
kirken, the island was their seat of residence, too.
a place where people go to donate transpiration.
I wandered around the grounds of ►Christians-
borg a couple of times, and I also visited the Swedish Or svenska, as the natives call their
Royal Library (see Libraries) with the lovely own language. I was quite chuffed to notice that
►Kongelige Bibliotekshave at the back. One of my Swedish, while basic, is pretty good. The
the buildings houses the museum dedicated to flipside of this is that, sometimes, my much poorer
Thorvaldsen’s sculptures, ►Annelise’s favourite. ►Danish is merely Swedish with Danish
phonemes. I’m afraid that, on my afternoon in
Sosigogi My name in røversprog “Robbers’ ►Malmö, I was a bit too eager to show off my
tongue”. ►Sandra speaks the language fluently.
language skills; but now that I’ve had some real-
Starbucks Well god damn you, South Park! You life evidence that I can actually construct a decent
were right: they do serve good coffee. and above all relevant and error-free sentence on
the spot, I feel much less in need of confirmation.
Sticks See Elephant.
My enthusiasm for the language is, however, not
Streckers English-style pub. Frederiksberggade universal: Danes don’t like the language all that
1 A, off ►Rådhuspladsen. I particularly remember much, on account of Swedish imperialism and of
the place for a live performance here (see Music): Sweden being the Stronger And Bigger Brother
a flamboyant guitar player and a hip-looking cellist among Scandinavian nations. A magazine I read
who played covers of Satisfaction, Let it be, illustrated this to me, and it was confirmed by my
Losing my religion, Brick in the wall, don’t look Danish guides ►Annelise and ►Sandra: in an
back in anger, and other easily-digested pop interview a Norwegian immigrant in ►Copen-
songs. Also present was a man singing along in hagen claimed that the Danes’ attitude towards
an operatic voice, while drinking from a liqueur her would have been a lot less welcoming had
bottle through the dosage spout. Before I went in I she been a Swede. See also Nyhed.
was briefly addressed by some white-haired guy
Søerne These are the lakes that separate the
who stood smoking, and who thought he
Inner city of ►Copenhagen from the more recently
recognised some Danish soap-opera actor in me;
settled ►Nørrebro and ►Østerbro districts.
but he was mistaken. I entered the pub on a night
There’s a ►Planetarium at one end, closest to
were pints were 30Kr; on other occasions they ►Vesterbro. They are part of the former moat
cost 47.
around the city, but they’ve been converted into
Subway. The ►Copenhagen subway net only green recreational areas – an utterly delightful
consists of two lines, but it has a very sleek and decision (see Parks). A favourite haunt of joggers
highly sophisticated look to it; and it’s clean as (see Jogging), some as young as eleven, or
well. Apparently, the trains are fully automatic: no purple-clad elderly ladies who while away their
human driver is required. The wagons are entered final hours here after checking out of their hotel.
through an additional pair of automatic doors, set Initially, the lakes might smell foul, if you happen
in a ceiling-high glass wall separating travellers to approach the Søer from the ►Nørrebro side,
from the tracks. None of the subway stations I and if the wind is blowing across the water
walked through smelt of human urine. The towards you: a wet smell of water plants pulled
Copenhagen subway is definitely one of the out of filthy water onto dry land and left to dry. You
get used to it, though.

Time Oh, my God, we sure did waste a lot of mentions in sloppy chalk letters which girl is
that, didn’t we? I mean: heaps of it! Countless showing off her bosoms that particular night:
hours just wasted! Thrown away! Lost and gone sometimes it’s Louise, sometimes Kirsten. This
forever! might conceivably be some additional service
offered to devotees of the girls in question.
Topløs barpige Danish for “Topless bar girl”.
Apparently this is the main attraction of one of the Tourists There are plenty of them, but not so
saucier bars in ►Istedgaden, because a sign many that they become a bother (see also
announcing just that is put up outside at night; it is Exploitation), though the fact I travelled to
taken down during the day. The sign further ►Copenhagen in September might have

© 2009 Sigi Vandewinkel


17

something to do with this. Some ask me for month-old stale alcoholic’s urine. Similarly, the S-
directions to seværdigheder “sights”. tog, the trains connecting Copenhagen’s Inner city
with the suburbs, are clean, modern, and very,
Trains They arrive and leave on time. The one
very reliable. The Copenhagen train system is
connecting ►Copenhagen and ►Malmö across
definitely one of the reasons I’m so favourably
the ►Øresund bridge comes equipped with
impressed with Danish ►public transport.
vending machines for soda and water and with
astonishingly clean toilets that don’t smell like

Under byen Amazingly atmospheric band from than a million inhabitants, in the city they spent
►Århus, whose songs, when played over and most of their life in, I figured there ought to be
over in your head, actually constitute a great at least some places they could recommend. It
soundtrack to ►Copenhagen. turns out I was wrong (see also Disappointment).
Apparently, the custom of going out and having a
Unfamiliarity It seemed surprising to me that
good time is much less practiced in Denmark (see
neither ►Sandra nor ►Annelise were able to
Fucking expensive); instead, people opt for
answer my question “So do you know of any really
inviting people over to their home for a home-
good restaurants or bars or anything that I should
made meal and a couple of drinks.
visit?” In a city such as ►Copenhagen, with more

Vad spännande Uttered by the Swedish in most dishes was an unfortunate mistake, or a
teacher who was so flabbergasted that ►Annelise clever reference to Leif Eiriksson. The staff, it
and I wanted to learn the intention behind her must be said, is universally friendly and
school’s motto (see Herrens fruktan är vishetens complaisant. There’s a jovial Irish bloke from
begynnelse). She couldn’t stop exclaiming Vad Dublin who’s really chummy and who even comes
spännande! “How exciting!”. It briefly achieved in- over to say hi if you happen to drink in the same
joke status afterwards. Irish pub across the street; and an English bloke
who likes to deceive prettily blonde Danish girls
Vesterbro The area of ►Copenhagen roughly
who ask for directions to the toilet. The music
situated between the ►Central station area
selection leans heavily towards Jimi Hendrix and
(including Tivoli) and Frederiksberg. It’s a hip and
classic sixties to nineties rock. Some nights
trendy place, with a delightfully international mix of
there’s live ►music. One night I saw some English
ethnic restaurants (such as ►Nam Thip), cafés,
artist, a bloke whose Danish was limited to skål
bars (such as Det ►gule hus), and pubs. The area
“cheers” and for helvede “goddammit”, usually in
closest to the station has plenty of porn shops, X-
combination; and the next night a competent
rated DVD-rental stores (notably around the
guitar player who produced a decent impromptu
Mariakirke in the ►Istedgade) and street
rendering of Californication.
prostitution (the Skelbækgade); but increasing
gentrification has set in towards the Frederiksberg Vinyl bar Laid-back bar at the edge of
area, making it a fashionable area to live in. ►Østerbro, with a good view across Sortedams
Sø, one of the ►Søer around the Inner city
The Viking House Pub in 49 Vimmelskaftet, in
district. Vinyl records cover many vertical surfaces
Strøget (►Copenhagen’s shopping area to the
inside. Outside, I was able to talk to a lady with a
east of ►Rådhuspladsen). The place is so
five-month-old frolicsome puppy who, unbe-
deliberately over-the-top cliché that I couldn’t
knownst to herself, taught me the word hvalp
resist walking in on my first night to order a “Viking
“puppy” (see New words). One pint of Tuborg
stew”. Other dishes include “Berserkr steak”. I
costs 40Kr.
couldn’t decide whether the inclusion of potatoes

© 2009 Sigi Vandewinkel


18

Water One of my pet theories is that a city isn’t a of ►parks, nearly all of which are constructed
city unless it has a body of water flowing through around artificial lakes.
it, and this trip did not disappoint me in the least.
►Copenhagen has the ►Øresund strait and the
Workman’s hands Apparently I don’t have an
academic’s hands.
►Søer; and of course it is built on several islands
and islets. ►Malmö, in addition to the Øresund
strait, has its canal. Both boast a goodly number

Zone The ►public transport by bus in and around sometimes be spotted, taking a picture of the
central ►Copenhagen is divided in three or four street. To this end, she’s bought a top-of-the-line
zones, which are the same for buses, the digital camera, and a tripod about two and a half
►subway and for ►trains; consequently, a train metres high. When the light is red, she positions
ticket for a trip through two zones costs the same both in the middle of the zebra crossing and
as the corresponding bus fare – both train and climbs a green folding chair to line up the shot.
bus fares for the stretch between ►Kastrup airport Meanwhile, a colleague on the ground gives
and the ►Central station cost 31.50Kr. This is a advice. When the light is green, they move the
hugely practical arrangement. Additionally, a contraption over to the pavement, and continue
single punch card (see Klippekort) is valid on aiming for the right picture. However, upon seeing
buses, trains and the subway. This, too, is that a curly-haired tourist is observing their
immensely practical. Bus drivers announce by unusual behaviour with his own camera at the
microphone when their trajectory crosses into the ready, they gesture to him to stop, and, standing
next zone. motionlessly, refuse to continue working until he’s
put away his camera and has ridden away on his
Zebra crossing Just outside the front entrance ►city bike.
of the ►Marmorkirke a female photographer may

Æble The Danish word for “apple”. ►Annelise (see Herrens fruktan är vishetens begynnelse). It
enjoys the ones with extremely white flesh from is unwise, however, to remark on the way in which
her parents’ apple tree; they also figured in her she eats one. See also Fruit.
interpretation of the motto of ►Malmö’s Latinskola

Øksnehallen Old cattle market on ►Halmtorvet across it, linking Copenhagen and ►Malmö.
that has been converted to an exhibition venue. Getting from Copenhagen’s ►Central station to
For some reason I can’t remember the name Malmö’s Central station only takes 35 minutes –
Halmtorvet, but I keep referring to that plaza as though four police officers will let their German
Øksnehallentorvet – even though I only walked shepherd smell your backpack on the way there.
past the Øksnehalle once. The name apparently I’m told many of Copenhagen’s commuters live in
made a lasting impression on me, though I’m Malmö for tax reasons; and I can’t blame them:
unable to say why. crossing the Sound on that wonderful bridge in the
mornings has to be sheer pleasure if you can
Øresund The strait separating Sjælland (the
make use of such an efficient transportation
island ►Copenhagen is located on) and Skåne
system (see Trains; Public transport).
(Sweden’s southernmost province, which used to
be part of the Danish kingdom). A bridge was built

© 2009 Sigi Vandewinkel


19

Ørstedsparken One of the many ►parks in Østerbro A posh district, home to the
►Copenhagen, situated along the Nørre ►Copenhagen upper class. This is where the
Voldgade, just north of the ►Latiner kvarter. It has embassies and the consulates are located. It is
a central lake spanned by a pretty bridge, and the separated from the Indre by, the Inner city, by
paths around it are dotted with statues. Some of ►Søerne.
those appear to be original, like the one of Joan of
Østre Anlæg or “Eastern Plantation”. Largish
Arc; others are reproductions of famous Ancient
park outside the ►Copenhagen Indre by “Inner
marble statues, like The Dying Gaul and Apollo
city”, directly south of Sortedams Sø “Black dam
Belvedere. All are a dirty, water-stained green and
lake”, one of ►Søerne. At one end the Statens
pockmarked. I did not realise until afterwards that
Museum for Kunst “The State’s Museum for Art” is
this park, at least in popular culture, is associated
located: a sprawling white building with glass
with gay men making love in the undergrowth.
façades.

Århus The second largest city in Denmark, and Årstid The ►Danish word for “season”; it literally
the main urban area on the Jutland peninsula. My means “year-time”. Also the source of a
original travel plan included a one-day excursion hairdresser’s pun name that I quite enjoyed: de
here, in connection with a potential job offer. The fire hårstider “the four hair-times”. I’m easily
job fell through, however, so I went to ►Malmö amused. Or maybe it’s because I get puns in a
instead. The city is also home to the band ►Under language I hardly speak (see Danish).
Byen, whose music kept on playing in my head all
through my stay.

© 2009 Sigi Vandewinkel

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