Saturday, December 11, 2010

Photos du jour - 11 dec 2010

Just as we were reflecting on how snow would never disappear until March or so, well, it just did! Overnight! Upon waking up this morning we were all surprised (that includes Sascha) to see almost everything gone.

So the day was much warmer (8°C/46F today instead of -4°C/25F yesterday around mid-morning), very sunny, and it was great that today was precisely a Saturday :-) A wonderful opportunity for a walk through the forest to the sea...

We won't be fooled though and we remember that this does not announce Spring for real... merely a remission before another cold wave. Stay tuned (and warm)!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Let it snow, Let it snow, Let it snow: As if we had a choice!?

Snow's here to stay, or so it seems since our last posting. It arrived back then and guess what? It just won't melt and more regularly replenishes the little that disappeared. This is definitely not lucky-happy Boulder where everything goes back into the air in less than 24 hours. The few millimeters on tree branches can even stick around for days. So just imagine what piles up on the ground in the meantime. Downtown they even send trucks to pick up the snow piles before they turn into hills that would mask traffic at intersections...

OK we haven't had 4 feet of snow in two nights. But whatever layer of snow is on hat picnic table outside our back door (about 1.5 foot thick) does not really get much thinner. Sascha keeps meowing at the glass door seeming to ask "can't you just do something about this so that I can go to my usual playground?". Well, we let him out the front door instead (where it's somewhat plowed) and he is usually back after 2 and a half minutes...

So we are pretty much resolved to not seeing snow melt until March or April. Not quite resolved to having to shovel snow so frequently, but working on it and at least getting better at shoveling (never got a chance to do that in Colorado with that wonderful God-given sublimation process). We learned (the hard way) that a big factor when looking for a place to live in Denmark is whether that place is on a street corner. Because when it is—like our house now—you get two sidewalks to shovel instead of one! And you just don't want to have to do that for the rest of your life in a place where it's an every-other-day kind of activity for several months in a row...

Isn't it insane what one can still learn about snow even after several years spent in Colorado? Who would have thought? And there are not even any mountains to be seen for hundreds of miles around here! Quite humbling, if you ask me.

It's true snow's been hitting Western (and of course Northern) Europe quite hard, paralyzing most of France (no strikers required this time ;-). What's funny though is that now we don't hear any longer our fellow Danes say "it never snows in Denmark" but rather "it's never snowed that early before". Come on, guys, please... One day you will need to realize that yes, you live THAT FAR NORTH! ;-)

Stay in touch for more news from the Pole sometime soon, weather permitting...

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Il neige à Aarhus (again!)

Last night we got our first snowfall, naturally out of the blue (grey?) since Danes keep telling us that "it never snows in Denmark" or that "snow is exceptional". Hmm, well, we did not really believe that before moving, as snow seemed to be on the ground in several versions of Hamlet including this one. But OK, in such stories it could still have come from the imagination of moviemakers and storytellers, who would have taken a poetic license for the sake of intensifying drama. But when we were told that "Spring and Summer are beautiful here" and indeed experienced a nice Spring and Summer that lasted from June until August, we were not too surprised any longer to see again snow fall from the sky last night... Threw us right back into the chill of our first days in Aarhus, although we did not dare to go by the sea to see if it was frozen!

But in any case, wasn't it fun to watch snow fall last night! Q went outside a few times, just to turn on the automatic exterior light and lighten up all these snowflakes. Sascha did not ask to go out on his usual night adventure though ;-)

Although it snowed overnight, there was merely an eighth of an inch on the ground by morning, which had mostly melted by mid-day today. We still spent most of the day inside, experiencing in our own way what Danes refer to as "hygge", which could be translated into "coziness": Baby, it's cold outside, so why don't we stay home and enjoy the snow covered backyard throughout the window from our comfortable chairs... It was Sascha's hair removal treatment again, so it is fair to say that it also snowed fur balls today...

So after our first two or three weeks into the darkness, with daily dinners by candle light, this arrival of snow marks the official beginning of the holiday season. Right on time for our upcoming Thanksgiving celebration a week from today. Oh yes! C plans to celebrate Thanksgiving just as usual, albeit for the first time outside the US. We will have some of our American expat friends over at our place a week from today, so it'll be just like home!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Not much to catch up on

As our silent blog indicated, not much travel blog-related events happened for us here in the last 2-3 months. In mid-September we moved to a new place, a nice house further away from downtown. It’s almost twice the price of our previous place (11,000 DKK instead of 6,500 DKK), but we did not have a choice, as it is definitely difficult to find a place that would welcome our cat! Incidentally, it is easier for smokers without pets to find apartments than for non-smokers with pets. As we did not contemplate leaving our cute & smart Sascha or picking up on smoking, we decided that this house would do, right upon touring it (people with similar interest in the house were already lined up after us). After all, this would end up being only for 6 months.

We are enjoying the much larger surface area (from 750 to 1050 sq ft), and the privilege of having our own house with a reasonably sized backyard, including a tiny apple tree that was loaded with deliciously red apples when we moved. Having our own washer and dryer (both new) was also a welcome “luxury” after the shared washer and dryer at our previous place, which was so smelly probably because of mold growth as described here.

Right now, halfway through November, the month is absolutely living up to its reputation of being rainy, grey and gloomy. Today again, we were reflecting on how opposite Colorado and Denmark can be weather-wise. For us, November used to be the month of the first ski days. The first snowfalls and the sunshine were calling us on weekends, and sometimes even during week days ;-) But here, we wake up on Sunday and the attraction is to stay home, to light up a few candles, and maybe to bake some apple pie (as C is doing right now). Quite different!

So how do we manage? Well, we now wake up to a lamp that mimics the sunrise, and we contemplate buying a light for light therapy, if our intake of vitamin D supplements and our strategy of “walking to work on the “sunny” sidewalk” aren’t enough. We’d considered to get away for a week in some sunny place, but we lack both money and holiday time for that. We did however enjoy some warmer and sunnier weather during a trip to Virginia for Matthew and Mary’s wedding, around mid-October. And if we keep our fingers crossed, we might see the sun at some point during the next week...

Although our move and work have kept us rather busy, we went on a few trips, most of them for business (C: London, Paris; Q: Lund, Sweden) but also for fun. In particular, we enjoyed discovering Copenhagen at the end of August, so stay tuned for an upcoming post on our weekend in Denmark’s capital city!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Another escapade to southern Europe

Mid-August... beginning of the Fall in Denmark ;-)... time to head out to the South of France again!

We hopped on a low-cost flight from Ryan Air (visit ), which for about $280 took us both from our airport in Aarhus to Girona-Barcelona on the Spanish Costa Brava in two and a half hours. Good idea to purchase the “priority” option for a few extra bucks, because since there is no assigned seating, we got priority to choose our own seats: 1A and 1B, with plenty of leg room.

We arrived in Girona on Thursday August 4, around lunch time. We drove right away to the very picturesque town of Tossa de Mar where we had some fish and seafood, washed them with some fresh rosé, before spending the beginning of the afternoon to wander around the old town wall up on the hill overlooking the bay and through the back streets paved with cobblestones. Later, we went to the beach in one of the nearby scenic coves, appropriately called Rosamar since the sand and the rocks are pinkish yellow, Utah-style.

Tons of tourists at what is probably the busiest time of year, but what the heck! it did not make the sights less enjoyable and anyway we were only passing through. Q enjoyed being again in this place where he spent most of his summer vacations as a kid and a teenager, and C agreed that this was yet another version of paradise on earth, albeit one within reach from Aarhus. Now we only wish Ryan Air would keep flying down there during the winter time, because we feel we’d use it!

Our final destination for the remainder of our stay was Q’s parents house in Vinça. Vinça is a village located about halfway between the Mediterranean sea and the Pyrénées mountains. Q’s family has been in the area at least since the 17th century and probably before that... The house has about 10-12 bedrooms and stands by a lake. For those who remember, that’s where we went two years ago for the French part of our wedding celebration.

This time, we celebrated Q’s mom turning 60 on August 7 (and trying to avoid it...) and Mila’s birth in May. So the whole crowd of family and friends was invited and it looked just like two years ago. Like for C’s sister wedding a few weeks ago, we had not seen most of these people since our wedding celebration. It was nice to hear people still call us les amoureux or les tourtereaux! which means something like lovers or lovebirds. Not quite that old couple yet, so that's good! People were blown away by C’s progress in speaking French and kept complimenting her! Mais oui !

Other highlights from our long weekend included a lunch in the medieval town of Castelnou, which sits atop a hill. We ate some catalan specialties like snails in a red spicy sauce and goat cottage cheese with pine nuts and honey. Another great lunch that lasted for hours took place at some dear friends’ house, where they have this insane view on the plain, hills and mountain, New Mexico-style. C also shopped for some leather sandals in Perpignan, which was taken over by people even more than the coast, due to a special 3-day long sale. Q also had some great bonding time going to the beach with his sister Sigo and cousin Vincent, as well as to a concert with his mom to listen to the renowned jazz pianist and composer Michel Legrand (a French guy who has won three Academy Awards).

Stay tuned for another adventure in the South of France (there will be more)!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

When in Denmark... (we do as the Danes do!) – Part IV: We pick up strawberries

Colorado we liked to pick up our own raspberries at a nearby farm in Niwot. So when we heard here that we could go to pick up our own strawberries, we felt just like home. Berries are one of those things that grow quite well here in Denmark, although naturally they don’t reach ripeness as early as the ones from Spain or Italy.

On Saturday July 10, we actually went to the Holger’s Jordbaer farm North-West of town. Among those lovely rolling hills (woods and wind turbines in the distance) they had this gigantic field covered with four varieties of strawberries. We started of course by testing them all... mmmm... several times... until we settled for the two sweetest and most flavorful. We ended up our harvest with about 13 pounds of awesome strawberries!

As these had not been selected for superior shelf life, we quickly rinsed them, dried them, and froze them for our upcoming dark, cold and rainy winter. It’ll be like opening the freezer to get sunshine ;-) We also used about 2 pounds to make a most tasty strawberry jam that we enjoy every morning.

Life in Denmark does not come without any challenges, but there are some pleasant compensations!

When in Denmark... (we do as the Danes do!) – Part III: We go to the beach in town

Finally, in July, temperatures rose to about 25°C (about 80 F), occasionally to 30°C, so it could get quite hot to walk up the hill to get to work. Hence, when the heat reached its peak around mid-July, we decided to explore some of the various beaches Aarhus has to offer (see a description here: ).

In early July, we went to Ballehage, which is in the forrest on the south side of town, close to the hotel C stayed at when she first visited Aarhus. There were many people there, so it was equivalent to being on the Mediterranean. But it sort of faded out as we’d walk away from the main access point, until a different crowd of people would be found: the kind that do not wear any swimsuit... You know, those crazy and scandalous Europeans, pardon, Scandinavians ;-) But it's OK: C had seen one of these unknown naked guys before in Montpellier. Fortunately somewhere in the middle of these two crowds was a nice piece of beach that was not jammed with people and still had some sun shining on it.

The water was too cold for C, but for Q it seemed about equivalent to the Mediterranean last May... Actually now the water’s warmed up a bit (to about 21°C) and is about as warm as the water is in South of France, as Q could tell from a more recent trip down there that will be for another posting. So it’s not bad!

Q actually went swimming for a couple of times on the North side of town, a beach named Bellevue about 15 minutes from home by bus. The water is more shallow up there, and hence, the warmest! Awesome swimming, great views over the bay, the coastline and the town of Aarhus. The pictures at sunset were taken there (which still required some type of sweater+jacket to stay warm, once the sun was about 11 pm...).