Thursday, 15 September 2011

Don't let anyone stand in your way

A few weeks ago I was looking at a What's On in London type page hoping to find some decent music.A chap called Jens Lekman was on there and as his was the only European sounding name I thought I'd check him out on youtube,and I'm glad I did.As you probably know I'm not a massive fan of Swedish pop (Agnes excepted),but I Love Love Love (geddit?) all that the country offers in terms of indie and their singer-songwriters.

Jens is a brilliant storyteller (another example of a Scandinavian being annoyingly good at expressing themselves in a language that isn't his own) and his some of his songs have such curious titles that you just want to listen to them immediately to find out what they're about- I Don't Know If She's Worth 900 Kronor is a good one,as is When I Said I Wanted To Be Your Dog.

My favourite that I've heard so far though is Postcard to Nina,a song about that oh-so-common subject of pretending to be your lesbian friend's boyfriend so as not to upset her religious family.The lyrics really make me smile and the music has a rather old-fashioned sound to it whilst also being light and summery sounding,which makes a change from the bleak and atmospheric Scandinavian music that I normally listen to :)

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Copenhagen Day 1

Gatwick has always been my favourite airport having been the first ever one I went to all the way back in the early 90s when planes had a smoking section and you could take as much orange juice and 2-in-1 shampoo on board as you liked.It's even better there these days though,I get dropped off,walk up to the terminal,check-in,get some Swedish krone,go through security and am queuing in McDonalds for breakfast (it's 6am) all in a total of 15 minutes.It's brilliant.

I can't really be bothered with this trip and on the way down to the departure gate I start planning my next mini-holiday.Reykjavik next Spring.With a day trip to Greenland.Staying in Hotel Cabin which is right opposite the Shell garage they filmed Night Shift in.Hmm...Oh it's time to get on the plane.I'm flying Norwegian for the first time and it turns out to be quite nice,there's a telly and they show Scandinavian tourist board videos and a few cartoons à la Swiss Air.The flight isn't much longer than the one that takes you to Hamburg and as we fly over Øresund coming in to land we see the big bridge in the distance- something I've wanted to cross ever since I saw it on Top Gear a few years ago.

You know how when you're above the clouds everything's bright and sunny and then when you come through them and it isn't anymore? Well it basically looks like night when we land.The weather is (and has been all morning apparently) awful.Kastrup airport is only 15 minutes from Copenhagen Central Station and I'm quite excited to get on a DSB train again (I still love the fact that they provide plastic bags under all the tables,though I'm still not sure what they're for).My hotel is just down the road from the station and no sooner than I've checked in,I'm out again looking for TPMUSIK on Amagertorv.I find a corner shop first though for something to eat.I come across this stuff...



...I don't buy any though.Not after the acid reflux it gave me in the Faroes.

Of course I go completely the wrong way and nearly go over a bridge which is covered in election posters.Not sure when the election is but there really are a lot of candidates (they seem to love their coalitions in Denmark).I decide I'd vote for Annika (not sure of her surname) for the simple reason that she's got Faroese and Greenlandic flags on her poster.Suddenly the heavens open (understatement),there is the biggest crack of thunder I've ever heard and also the biggest flash of lightning I've ever seen.It's not a fork it just lights up the entire sky.I jump out of my skin whilst all the scantily-clad Danish girls (who don't even have umbrellas) find the whole thing hilarious.I quickly look for something loud to put on my iPod so I don't get caught out again.Eric Saade should do.Popular.It'll get me in the mood for tomorrow.

I find TPMUSIK and it's wonderful.CDs and DVDs are just so cheap here I can't believe it.Especially in a country where your average 100g chocolate bar costs over 2 quid.I buy Hej Matematik's two albums and Thomas Holm's Middelklassehelt (Middle Class Hero- I love that name) all for under £20.

Copenhagen has the most amazing shops.I'm sorry to say that Strøget wipes the floor with Oslo's Karl Johan's Gate.However I don't really go in any because a: there are 4 million tourists dithering about and I just haven't got the patience now my jeans are soaked up to my knees and I have blisters on my feet and b: I'm at least £2500 short if I want to go on a proper shopping spree here.I have a quick look in Illum though,which reminds me so much of Selfridges/Harrods that I get that uneasy/comforting feeling of familiarity that I get in Denmark.I've already seen a car with a Flensburg numberplate and another car with leopard print seat covers that scream Medway at me.

I take a scenic walk (read: get lost) on the way back to the hotel and pass a very cool map shop on the way that sells lovely globes and maps of everywhere you can imagine.

I plan on going back out later but when I take my shoes off my feet hurt so much that I think it's best to rest them.So I spend the rest of the evening eating Marabou and flicking between a Billy Connolly documentary on Swedish telly,Sky News and Afrika Nu on DR1.Afrika Nu is a charity fundraising thing that I assumed to be like Comic Relief but there's no comedy as far as I can make out.There is however,a piano version of New Tomorrow accompanying some of the "and here's a reminder of what tonight is all about" videos shot in Africa.I understandably get a bit excited about this and am pretty sure AFIL will make an appearance at some point this evening.Rasmus Seebach comes on,and he's much better than he sounds on my iPod.Nik & Jay are on too but I'm not too fussed about them.By 10 o clock I give up and go to sleep.

In the morning I see a tweet from Tim Schou: "Wow. Just sang infront of millions of people live on Danish TV for AFRICA benefit show!" Typical.

Copenhagen August 2011

Two weekends ago I made my third trip to Denmark- my favourite Eurovision nation of the last 5 years and a country that I've had an odd relationship with since I first visited in 2008.I booked the trip ages ago (a few days after we got back from Eurovision in fact) but having done so much travelling already this year and having only started my new job 5 days previously,I really wasn't in the mood to go.So it wasn't the best weekend I've ever been on,but that just adds to the weird "this place feels so much like home" feeling that I get every time in Denmark.There were some good bits though,and I'll try to remember to write about them over the next few days.