Have fun, don’t run, and no photos

I haven’t been posting for some time now. That is because I was visited. My aunt and uncle came all the way from Canada to the Skandinavia to visit me and the surroundings.

They had a schedule:  in their two weeks here they managed to go to Finland, Denmark and Norway. These were the two weeks in which the business component in my course was running. I couldn’t go with them when they flew to Helsinki, because I had lectures explaining what we actually were to do. You don’t want to miss that. But I managed to quietly slip away from Wednesday till Sunday – we had our presentation on Tuesday, so our group meeting to ‘modify it a little bit and submit it’ was on Monday. Like a typical student, I did all my work on Sunday evening.

So we rented a car to go to Denmark. It’s a long way, but we left at 7 and I happily slept in the car until we reached Malmö. After a couple of hours and a fika there, we set for our final destination for the day: Köbenhavn (pronounced Shjobenhavn in Swedish).

I had already been to Copenhagen four years ago, but I had forgotten everything. I had definitely missed out a lot: for example, I had been totally clueless about Christiania. Amazing place. There’s nothing Christian about it, it’s just the old name of the village before it got consumed by the capital, named so after the king Christian or something. So this neighbourhood proclaimed itself a freetown and until 2004 it was legal to sell marijuana there. Then the government expressed disapproval, do now there are signs proclaiming the three rules: ‘Have fun, don’t run, and no photos.’ Running causes panic, it’s a signal that the cops are coming, and under the ‘no photos’ sign it said ‘because selling hash is still illegal.’ Well that didn’t stop them. It was so much more open than in Amsterdam, where it all seemed so professional. In Christiania it’s pretty informal and friendly, you have a stall with loose weed, hash blocks and ready-made joints with little paper price tags. I thought it was pretty cute.

After Copenhagen we got to visit Odense with its clubs and parties on every corner on a Thursday night, and it’s awesome Lidl store with the best 17-kronor (2 pound) berry wine anybody has ever tried. You can’t imagine the surprise, after walking out of Sweden with its overpriced (80 kronor minimum) carton wine boxes in the System Bolaget store only (which closes at 7:30), to go to Denmark, which you thought was way more religious (at least that was my impression) and find freely sold drugs, an alcohol scheme more open-minded than Edinburgh (where they block the alcohol section after 10) and a nightlife matching the Mediterranean. I was dumbfounded.

We were quite ambitious in our trip and went all the way to Aarhus to come back east to see Hamlet’s castle in Helsingør (Elsinore), which was truly amazing, take the ferry to Helsingborg, visit Jönköping, and see Drottningholm palace next to Stockholm on our way back. We thought the palace would be nothing after Hamlet’s castle, but it surprised us, because it was fascinating in another way: not the palace itself, but the gardens around it, the huge park and the lake make it really special.

I would have joined them to their Norway trip after this if it wasn’t for my presentation, and I had already pushed it by disappearing for three days. But to be fair, after this trip I was quite glad to stay in Uppsala for a bit. Travelling is fun but such extreme adventures (2500 km in 5 days) can get you a bit tired and glad to see a familiar view and just have a chat with some friends over fika.

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