Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Denmark: The Land of Licorice

Danish people love licorice. I mean, really love licorice. Think you are a huge fan of the stuff? Wrong. You do not like it as much as the Danes.

If you go to the grocery store, you will find entire shelving units in the candy aisle devoted to the stuff. However, the licorice here is not just any licorice. The local favorite is salty licorice, which is made salty by the addition of ammonium chloride, giving it a very pungent, slightly sour aftertaste. It is an acquired taste for sure. The concept sort of reminds me of the salted caramel fad that is common in the US. I like licorice a lot, but there are some kinds that are just too much for me. My favorite so far is the Pingvin Lakrids mix. A little salty, a little chewy, om nom nom.

How can you resist that cute little guy?

One of my colleagues from Sweden told us a story of how he was sharing a compartment with a bunch of Italian tourists on a train. Over the course of the trip, the Italian guys shared some wine with him. He was trying to think of the best thing he could share with them to reciprocate. "Ah, yes!" he thought, "Salty licorice!" However, as I said, it is quite the acquired taste, especially when you're not expecting it to be so astringent. Let's just say that he didn't get any more wine from the Italians after the sharing of the salty licorice. Ah, well. Maybe he should have brought along some kanelsnegles instead. :)

On a completely different note, I'm coming up on my final weeks at Risø. I have my last two TEM days on Thursday and Friday. Ahhh! I've got two more chances to get some awesome data to bring back to NU. I'm a bit anxious, as you can imagine, but hopefully, the experiments will go well. The upside of all this microscope time is that I can operate a TEM successfully without having a panic attack. Huzzah!

Tomorrow is a holiday, so I'll be working from home and exploring the area around my new digs. It's International Workers' Day (like our Labor Day), which is not an official holiday, but we get it off anyway. Maybe I'll go check out some political rallies? Who knows!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Malmö aka "Look, I've been to Sweden!"

It's just about the end of my third week in Denmark. I can't believe how fast the time has gone - I'm already halfway done! There's so much more to do (work-wise) and see (fun-wise)!

This past weekend, my labmates and I, as well as my advisor and his wife, decided to venture into unknown territory. And by unknown territory, I mean...Sweden. In addition to touring the sights of Copenhagen, many people opt to head across the border to the city of Malmö, Sweden, which is only about 30 minutes away by train from Copenhagen's central station. I would imagine that many of these people are like me and decided to go there to add another country to my list of places I've been. To get to Malmö, you can either drive or take a train over the Øresund Bridge, which is an engineering marvel unto itself. It used to be the longest bridge in the world, and I'm sure that it is still one of the top ones.

Just off of Lilla Torg (Little Square)

The city of Malmö is super cute and has lots of traditional Swedish squares, cute shops, and bakeries as well as elements of modern Scandinavian design.

The Turning Torso tower

It also has one of the only phone booths I've seen since I've been in Europe.

David was very excited to make a call!

Everywhere you turn, there is some sort of outdoor space with walking trails, bike paths, or waterways.

People in Scandinavia LOVE to eat outdoors. In the morning, I see people eating breakfast in the courtyard of my apartment building, even if it is on the chilly side that day. A lot of the cafes in Nyhavn, the region of Copenhagen that you would typically see on a postcard, provide diners with heaters and blankets when the weather gets nippy. In Sweden, at the cafe where we stopped for lunch, I had the option of dining al fresco in a new way: in a greenhouse.

Getting some horticulture with my lunch. No big deal.

Of course, I had to stop and get my requisite baked good before I left. This "princess cake" covered in violently green marzipan came from Konditori Hollandia, the oldest bakery in the city.

I got some coffee and a cinnamon bun to go. Sorry, Sweden, but Denmark still reigns supreme with the cinnamon snail. This cake was pretty awesome, though. :)

With that, I'm going to check on my own culinary creation currently baking in the oven (more on that later). Until next time, friends!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Denmark, brb

Greetings from Denmark!

I'm here working with my lab's collaborators at DTU Energy Conversion, which is on the Roskilde Fjord (yes, there really are fjords in Scandinavia) about an hour outside of Copenhagen. Even though I'm working in Roskilde (pronounce Ros-killa. More on how strange the Danish language is later), I'm living with my labmates Kyle and David in Copenhagen. Our apartment is in Vesterbro, which, I am told by every Copenhagen tourism website, is quite trendy these days, and the nearby Meatpacking District is apparently where all of the nightlife happens in these parts. So yes.

Even though we've only been here about a week and a half, I feel like we've seen a lot of Copenhagen already. We've discovered one of the most famous microbreweries (which collaborates with Indiana's Three Floyds. Who knew?), seen historic sights, and walked A LOT. I'm going to try to chronicle the journey along the way with some pictures. Here's a teaser!

Nyhavn, the waterfront district. Reminds me of Amsterdam!

Obligatory picture of The Little Mermaid.

The hardest thing here has been learning to understand Danish. It is the WEIRDEST language. Nothing is pronounced how it looks. Essentially, what you have to do is pick your favorite vowel from the word and then pronounce half of the consonants, which will get you sort of close to how the word actually sounds.

No! You snore! (It actually means "On a Leash")

I am a HUGE fan of the pastries here. What we call Danishes in the US are known here as wienerbrød, which translates to "Vienna bread." So Danishes are actually Austrian? I guess no one wants to take credit for such a delicious thing. Silly Europeans. My favorite pastries so far are the Wienerstang (a sort of long pastry with chocolate on top and some sort of almond cream in the middle) and the kanel snegle (which literally translated means "cinnamon snail"). So cute!

One of these is a cinnamon snail. One of these is an actual snail. Can you tell which is which?

I'm still learning my way around the country, and I'm happy to have you all along as I do! Skål for now!