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Sunday, May 27, 2007, in Copenhagen, about 50 yards from the Little Mermaid statue

It’s Sunday, and it’s pouring. But it’s a gentle rain, and more importantly, it isn’t cold and we aren’t sailing today. We’re waiting for Claire and Allison to arrive from Rome. We’ve just gotten notification that their flight departure is delayed.

We knew that we’d be leaving Ellös sometime in the period between Saturday and Tuesday, depending on the weather. The best weather appeared to be Tuesday, but we knew we needed to be in Copenhagen, ready for company, today (Sunday), and we really don’t like to rush. So we watched the weather carefully. At one point we considered leaving on Saturday evening for a short sail to an anchorage (remember that daylight lasts pretty late up here) but in the end, we left early Sunday morning.

The first two hours, there was enough wind to sail, and there was enough of a sea to inspire me to test out my new electronic anti-seasickness wristband. It works by providing a strong electronic buzz to two of your tendons and up into your palm every four seconds. Each buzz lasts three seconds. So you’re constantly in a state of vibration. I had it up to the highest level, 5. I was pretty sure that if I applied the thing to my head, that it would give me a lobotomy. But I didn’t seem to be getting seasick, and really, for seasickness, I don't care if the thing is a placebo. If I just think I'm fine, but I’m really sick, so be it.

We got to the Danish port of Vestero on the island of Laeso at about seven in the evening. There was a marina there, but we tied up alongside a dock marked that it was for boats fifteen meters and larger. Ours is about seventeen.

We took a walk through the little town, which was very quiet. It’s a small town to begin with, dinnertime is over in Northern Europe by about six or seven o’clock and May is before the tourist season begins (and with good reason, I might add, as I was a little tired of freezing all the time.) We saw that there was a bakery in town, so we knew we’d be visiting again in the morning. You can see two pictures from Laeso on the Kattegat page on our web site.

I had a little less enthusiasm for the seas on the next day, but we thought that it would be a relatively short sail to an island that had even less infrastructure than Laeso did, about forty miles. But the winds picked up behind us and we could sail at a fairly rapid clip all day. The winds were supposed to be calm the next day, and we’d have to motor. So instead, we decided to move on, even though it meant getting in at about 9PM. And because the winds were behind us, the cool breeze blew into the cockpit of the boat, and I had a slightly harder time fending off feeling off. I’d forgotten to wear my placebo/lobotomy bracelet, too, until mid-day. But we could make great time, and we could sail, and so we did.

We arrived at a port called Gilleleje and promptly scattered the two swans that were lazily paddling across the channel. We couldn’t help it, and by now they probably have lots of boat-avoiding experience. Swans are all over the place, and it’s no wonder that Hans Christian Andersen wrote a story about one.

Gilleleje is on the main part of Denmark, and I knew that our offshore sailing was over for a little while. We’d gotten in late and simply put ourselves together and went to bed. We’d take a walk through town in the morning.

And so we did. The town is filled with thatched-roof houses overlooking a harbor of small fishing boats. Two wonderful fish markets right on the water provided us with sandwiches to take to sea and a snack of a cod cake to eat as second breakfast. The day before, we’d gotten pastries at the bakery; how can you not eat a Danish upon your arrival in Denmark. They don’t actually describe the treats as Danish pastries, though one that captured our attention was called a Copenhagen.

The sail that day was only about thirteen miles, and we arrived at Helsingor (pronounced Elsinore in English) at about 3PM. We docked at the fuel dock, as there wasn’t a berth available that could accommodate us. We decided that we had better do some research before we went ambling into Copenhagen in search of a berth.

We still had about an hour or so to visit the castle, the inspiration for Shakespeare’s Hamlet. All of you probably remember that we visited this castle in 1970 when we were all in Denmark. All of you probably are racking your brains to remember anything about it. Well, it’s a pretty castle (and I put a photo of it on the web page if you’re interested in seeing the exterior.) Shakespeare didn’t make up the story about Hamlet; I think some ancient PR guy was asked to invent a legend about the town. It predates the castle by hundreds of years.

The next day was our first day with no sailing at all. Furthermore, it was sunny and warm. I couldn’t take layers of clothing off quickly enough. We walked through town to the train station and boarded for Copenhagen. We were going on a mission, to find a spot to dock with space, power, and hopefully not too far from town.

First, we went to Nyhavn (New Harbor), which is now a tourist street and filled with day touring boats. There wasn’t much space there, and the space that existed didn’t have power connections, and we’d been warned that the constant flow of tour boats made the place kind of uncomfortable. We then walked around the corner to a dock by the Admiral Hotel, but these docks were also without power, and they were so high we’d never be able to get on and off the boat. Does this sound like the story of Goldilocks yet? It does to me.

Finally, we continued walking along the dock to the statue of the Little Mermaid that defines Copenhagen the way that the Eiffel Tower defines Paris and Big Ben defines London. Just beyond the statue was a little marina, and they had the perfect space available for us. We talked to the harbormaster, arranged to get there during his reduced off-season hours, and arrived there just in time the next day. We were settled.

The marina is about halfway between the Little Mermaid statue and the port where the cruise ships dock, and there is an endless stream of people walking by from dawn to dusk. This statue captivates people, even though it’s only about 100 years old, donated to the city by the founder of Carlsberg Brewery. He also established a museum that we visited on our first full day in town.

I really liked this museum. If I had billions of dollars and a philanthropic soul, I’d do exactly what he did. The antiquities he collected were from the Mediterranean: Greece, Egypt, Rome and other places. His art was primarily Impressionist, and he had paintings by Renoir, Van Gogh, Gauguin, Pisarro, Degas, and others and sculptures by Degas, Rodin, and Van Gogh. I didn’t even know that Degas produced sculpture until I entered a room (and I hadn’t seen any of his paintings there yet), saw a sculpture of a dancer, and knew that it looked like his paintings. It was as if my own collections that I never owned were passing before my eyes, all housed in a building based on Greek classical architecture. We stayed until we were both too tired to look at any more.

Yesterday, we took a dinghy ride to a shopping mall that’s on the water. It wouldn’t be all that easy for us to get there by foot, and there were a hundred shops there, including a big hardware store Art wanted to visit and a supermarket that I wanted to visit. This was our last chance to stock up on food, since Sunday is a day off all over Europe, including most retail, and Monday is a holiday here, which makes it Sunday all over again. Saturday wasn’t as pretty and warm as Friday had been, and it rained all over us when we dinghied back to the boat. And we trampled over the wake made by the launch from the royal yacht HDMY Danneborg to its shoreside spot at Amalienborg Palace (Denmark still has a Queen). This yacht also signals dawn and dusk with its cannons. All of this takes place about a half mile from where we’re docked. So we are in a fairly perfect spot after all. And we might have to stay here for a little while; the weather won’t be right for leaving until at least Tuesday or later in the week.

Well, while I was writing this note, the rain seems to have stopped for now. Maybe we’ll get a decent afternoon for our guests after all.

Love, Karen (and Art)