I spent a good bit of my first morning in Copenhagen exploring and taking photos in the weird morning light.

Travel writing* seems to have many of the same hangups as autobiographical writing and then some. The key element here, I think, is that good travel writing is a somewhat introspective pursuit since, saying anything of significance about a place one visits for a short period of time may be an empty gesture, and the credibility of the writer is highly suspect. 'Good' autobiographical writing is more about the growth and development of the writer at the time of writing than it is a historical account. Given memories can’t really be trusted, it seems irresponsible to say that a collection of memories strung together via narratives, which may not really have occurred, and edited by various people intent on selling said work, is anything more than ‘based on true events.’ The fundamental difference, however, is that when one is writing autobiographically, one is mining meaning from their history, but when one is travel writing, one is mining meaning from other histories: that of other people, places, and cultures. In this way, it appears, somewhat disturbingly, to resemble a kind of colonial practice. Go somewhere else and take what you can for yourself for when you return.  

Acknowledging that, I am going to write a bit about Copenhagen, a city which I have spent some time in now. Back in October, I enjoyed my first few days there with some friends and a few more alone. Two of us, Fran, a fellow exchange student and I, arrived in the early afternoon via bus and took most of our time getting our footing and walking through the massive and crowded shopping streets, searching through a used bookstore, staring agape at stunning works of architecture, while slowly milling our way through the crowds to properly begin our journey in Nyhavn. Frantically we tried and failed to figure out how to get to a friend's place near the city for dinner with frozen breadsticks from the grocery store in hand but ended up, after not a little bit of panic and frantic map app and time-checking, bailing and getting pizza right near the hostel where I was staying. The hectic but whimsical day was then topped off with a drink back in Nyhavn and then parting ways wherein our very sad, now unwanted and frozen-with-no-way-to-cook-them breadsticks were to go find their final resting place in a hostel in Nørrebro.

Admittedly this photo of the somewhat decrepit-looking Copenhagen Botanical Garden has nothing to do with this post. I just like it. Also, I went there and it was beautiful.

The next morning — and I’m pretty sure about the dates here, given my previous assertions I’m not going to double check the chronology of all this — I took a walk down to the Royal Library, an immensely cool-looking glass building attached and built upon the former building. I spent some time walking around there, bought a few postcards, and continued on to the Christiansborg Palace (Danish parliament building). This was essentially my first proper palace/castle experience, and as such, it was a bizarre and also amazing one. The era of European castles, knights, and feudalism never interested me much past Monty Python, the history of the first World War, and fantasy, so it was very strange to see fairy-tale features manifest. I continued then walking to the local goth/alt shop to pay my subcultural dues (Black No. 1 and Sex Beat Records; would totally recommend).

  I took a lot of strange photos that first morning. This one is of the Royal Library.

I took a lot of strange photos that first morning. This one is of the Royal Library.

Our aforementioned immensely wonderful Copenhagen-native friend, Mie, took us on a long walk starting at Østerport Station and then walking to Langelinie, where The Little Mermaid stands, and all the way down by Amalienborg and up again through Christiania. It was a fantastic time and a substantial walk for the three of us to get to chat about our travels, the city, and Denmark while covering a lot of relevant ground. Christiania, as is probably no surprise, captured my imagination and reminded me a little of East Jesus, a mind-blowing habitable art collective in the California Badlands not far from some of my other favourite sites including Bombay Beach on the shore of the Salton Sea, and Salvation Mountain. Christiania is, of course, something very different from those places as well and I won’t get into its history or politics very much here, but safe to say it is an exciting place full of people with different and interesting ideas about society, living, and cooperating smack in the middle of one of Europe’s capitals. You can learn more about all of these places on their websites linked above, and watch a video which kicked off my desire to go to the Salton Sea. We walked through the day and into the evening where we stopped off for a dinner and some much-needed rest at Kafe Kys before returning to our respective lodgings.

Photo of the tracks near Østerport Station.

On the following day I met up with Fran again, and we further explored the city, grabbing a meal at Copenhagen Street Food (now sadly closed) on Papirøen. Then we went to see the fascinating exhibit called “Skibet” by Eske Kath and Nanna Fabricius Øland (Oh Land) at Nikolaj Kunsthal, a church turned contemporary art gallery. The premise is that they turned the building into frozen waters with a massive container ship in the middle, all of which is interactive and visitors can explore the whole thing. It was wild and mostly bright pink and damn good art-fun. Not long after this Fran headed back to Aarhus and I made my way to the GL STRAND, another art gallery, for their utterly amazing Stanley Kubrick exhibition. 2001: A Space Odyssey is one of my favourite films, and I have been slowly working my way through Kubrick’s catalogue the past couple of years and so felt a very recent connection to the exhibit. It took visitors through every film in Kubrick’s career including his very early documentaries all the way to his plans for A.I. Artificial Intelligence based on the short story, "Supertoys Last All Summer Long", by Brian Aldiss which I read last year. I haven’t actually seen the final film, but I endeavour to do so. Apart from cameras and lenses, for me, it was all about Kubrick’s handwritten notes as well as the models, props, and costumes, especially, of course, for 2001. I then used this blog post to find a cheap and delicious meal at Samos Greek both of which I highly recomend.

One of the pieces inside “Skibet” by Eske Kath and Nanna Fabricius Øland (Oh Land) at Nikolaj Kunsthal.

On the full last day (I think) of that first trip, I went to the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek an amazing, sculpture-oriented art museum but not lacking in paintings. The building itself is worth seeing alone, primarily naturally lit and sprawling out from an indoor “Winter Garden” featuring various new and old segments and architectural styles. The ancient and modern sculptures are freakishly timeless, and the museum is alive, host to a small anachronistic city of resident gods and warriors among all kinds of other spectacular beings taken out of time and space. But as mentioned, the museum offers more than sculpture, namely in the way of French-Impressionist, post-impressionist and — what had me most excited — Danish golden-age paintings — most excited because I am here, and have a grotesque lack of art/art history education; as illustrated by the fact that I had to go to the Wikipedia page for the museum to get the names of said art styles. In the evening I made my way back to Papirøen and visited Copenhagen Contemporary, a fascinating art gallery working with new and innovative media, including several trippy VR experiences and tonnes of amazing audio-visual experiences. Finally, I finished the night off with an evening at the Copenhagen Studenterhuset and saw a number of great musical performances, namely from a band called TrailerPark Jesus. The next morning I had breakfast, across Gothersgade to Torvehallerne for lunch and to explore that part of the city before running to get my bus home. 

  Inside of the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek. This is a staircase outside of one of the gallery.

Inside of the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek. This is a staircase outside of one of the gallery.

Since then, I have been back to Copenhagen a couple of times, much of which I talked about in my sensationally titled post from last month. And these visits have mostly included some initial exploration of the bustling creative Nørrebro area Northwest from the above-mentioned spots. This is the area I am most excited about hopefully visiting when I return next to Copenhagen if nothing else for the street art and for another walk through the beautiful Assistens Cemetery. But also, for the various interesting and exciting places to eat and hang out at such as Depanneur, this totally wacky (that’s honestly the best descriptor word I have for it, sorry) convenience store/coffee shop thing inspired by their Québécois name, or this ramen place which felt like Blade Runner to me.

  One of my favourite shots from that first trip of this amazing sculpture hanging on Larsbjørnsstræde.

One of my favourite shots from that first trip of this amazing sculpture hanging on Larsbjørnsstræde.

Finally, because I can’t write a blog without going on a meta tangent, do you like my long-form, more or less monthly posts, or would you rather something shorter? I imagine these might be cumbersome for you to read and know they are to edit. Thus far, the main posts have been from about 1000-2000 words, and while I think that’s an alright length, I am always listening to my internal monologue anyways, and may thus be a poor judge. Also, speak up if you want more or less of anything, like pictures or, seriously anything that you think would improve this whole thing. Oh! And final question, when I return to Canada, inspired by my love of audio, how would you feel about audio recordings of me reading these? Finally, were there to many links here or not enough or just right? Comment below! Anyways, thanks for reading and I hope I’ll see you again soon!

Warm regards,


* When I talk about “travel writing” I am referring not to anthropological texts, archaeological texts, travel guides, etc. but basically, these blog posts. Drawing a bit on my very limited knowledge of 18th Century anglo-European travel writing and trying to produce a through-line with contemporary travel bloggers and essayists. I’m winging it sort of, but I also think my ideas/opinions are valid here. I have a vague, non-committal explanation for every occasion.

Edited by Mie who also helped me do some much-needed site design.

Check out Mie and Fran's socials: @miefox_@francesca.fitzg on Instagram and Fran's exciting new blog! They post really interesting and fun things and are all around awesome people. <3

I Have Not Disappeared

  Here is a rare thing! A photo of myself that I really like. Photo credit to my partner. Here is Ballehage Beach where we walked along the shore for hours.

Here is a rare thing! A photo of myself that I really like. Photo credit to my partner. Here is Ballehage Beach where we walked along the shore for hours.

Hello! Welcome back to my blog. I have not disappeared, I am still right here in Aarhus. It’s hard to know if one should apologise for not updating a blog like this in a timely fashion for a number of reasons. The primary of these being that this is my blog, and to be honest, it’s as much for me as it is for anyone else, so who am I apologising to? Myself? Maybe. Speaking of that, why are you here? Like on my website, reading this? Who are you? This might be a cheeky overstep but I think you should comment below and tell me (I don’t see the email it asks for when you comment (update: I do) so feel free to put a fake one in, but maybe it tells you if I reply? Not sure, do as you please and report back). Are you my mom? Hi mom! A classmate? A former co-worker? Who is reading I wonder? Is this a sufficiently strange way to start a blog post after two months of sheer radio-silence? I think so. I like to mix things up.

I suppose I should start by filling you in on what the hell has been going on in my life since my last post but that one was looking back on a trip from earlier, so maybe I won't fill you in all the way. I’ve done a lot, but it doesn’t feel like that. Or at least it hasn’t for the last month or so. Let’s start over the holidays. My partner came to visit from Canada for a week, and we had an utterly amazing time, I walked her around a bit of Copenhagen when she flew in before we bused to Aarhus. I got to show her a very dead, somewhat gloomy-looking Nyhavn (the part of Copenhagen you have seen in pictures everywhere), and we walked all the way across to Torvehallerne (food market) and got a delicious lunch! I paused my quasi-vegetarianism experimenting for the week for my partner’s sake and because she suggested we cook some sort of bird in my flat for Christmas, which we did! But, we’re not there yet.

 After lunch in Copenhagen, we got on a bus to Aarhus and arrived after dark to a mostly dead city. We attempted to grab something to eat downtown and failed and fell back on some leftover curry in my flat. My partner was entirely exhausted from the timing of a flight which left the Americas in the afternoon and arrived in Europe in mid-morning, so we talked and had a sweet romantic time before drifting into glorious unconscious bliss.

We awoke on Christmas Eve, and after a Danish breakfast consisting of various breads, I ran out to retrieve my bike from the bus station and tried to haul-ass back up the hill that is Aarhus. We then explored some of the city, although much of it was closed. I think I’ll write a little tour of Aarhus from my perspective later, so I won't get into that here. We ate more food at home and relaxed and talked.

On the 25th we journeyed to Marselisborg (the deer park) and had a magical experience. Deer are super weird, and it is amazing to be able to hang out with them for a while. Then we walked along the shore and the forested path for several hours, breathlessly taking in this sliver of the North Sea, a body which my partner had been away from for some time, and was delighted to be returned to. We did not partake in the fearless Danish nude dip into December waters, but we ate our packed lunch in solidarity before the rising tide indicated the need to keep moving. As the sun began to go down on Christmas day, we caught a bus back into town, and then back up to my flat to eat the small bird we had to unexpectedly partially butcher and prep the night before. Going from very deliberate vegetarianism for some months, straight to hacking the neck off of a carcass was a somewhat emotional experience as we contemplated the life of the creature slaughtered for our more-ritual-than-most consumption and the extraordinary destructive environmental impact of these practices. It was an evening of confronting and consuming our cognitive dissonance; an emotionally and intellectually stimulating process culminating in a very delicious, if controversial dinner. We drank Danish honey wine (mead/mjød), and we enjoyed each other's long-missed company.

The ensuing two days were spent mostly on gallery and museum exploration as well as a short, cold, but joyous trip to Tivoli Friheden. The following day we explored Den Gamle By walking Aarhus through the ages, and we went out for an amazing Aarhusian dinner in the supremely cool Frederiksbjerg. The final day in Aarhus was spent walking around the main shopping streets and the Latin Quarter where we had tea at a lovely new coffee shop and admired the cobblestone under our feet. We then travelled back to Copenhagen to spend the night before her flight in the morning and goodbyes. 

As she flew back across the ocean, I walked alone up to Nørrebro and spent a sentimental day walking around, listening to music, appreciating street art, record stores, cafes, and Assistens Cemetery.

  Some street art that caught me when I began the walk in the spectacular Nørrebro

Some street art that caught me when I began the walk in the spectacular Nørrebro

And then January happened, and now here we are. Alive and well in February. It rains often, it’s significantly warmer than home, but Denmark always feels much colder (a Lithuanian friend also confirmed this, -10°C/-20 is fine at home but here -1 feels like a wet, icy hell). Yet, it’s a wonderful wet, icy hell, filled with history and warmth and fantastic people and I can only avoid the word hygge for so long.

So there we are, I am still alive, still in Aarhus, still very much enjoying my life and falling behind on my blog and scrambling to get all of my school work done. That was Christmas, and without setting any kind of expectations in which I should be held in any way accountable for, I’ll write some more about what I’ve been up to prior to that, and also in the time since. This blog takes a bit of a back seat as it is not quite as high a priority as my school work or songwriting, both of which take up the majority of my working time here, but I’m hopefully going to try and write these a little more. I deeply appreciate the freeform blogging medium, and it is a splendid contrast to the essays I have been drowning in.

Thanks for checking in.

With love from Aarhus,


P.S. Should I be signing theses at the bottom or what? What is a blog? I have no idea.

Edited by DJ Maki (my partner).

Edit an hour or so later: I do in fact see the emails commenters provide. Sorry for the misinformation.

Edit 2 (2017/02/03): Failed to properly credit DJ for her invaluable read through.

Traveling for Drama (To England!)

  Here is the obiligtry photo of the bottom of The Shard and a sign for the Underground.

Here is the obiligtry photo of the bottom of The Shard and a sign for the Underground.

As noted in the blog post discussing bicycling, I didn't write about my amazing little trip to London, and I should have. So now I’ll recall all I can from a short trip to Copenhagen and treat this as a lesson. 

At the end of September, I went with an English class to London, and to Stratford-Upon-Avon to see four plays over the course of three days. We arrived in Stansted on a Wednesday evening via a cheap and dirty RyanAir flight. After going through 'non-EU' customs (a pain-in-the-ass), I found my bus which would take me into London well past midnight. From there I settled for the evening, getting up bright and early to take in as much London as possible before my class commitments. This meant wandering around, finding a café for breakfast, trying and failing to find a place that sells refills for my Traveller’s Notebook, and getting an Oyster Card (a pass for the London Underground with discounted rates). 

Following that, I headed towards The Globe, where the class was to see the first of two plays that day. I wandered that area for a little while as well, getting fish n’ chips at a vendor in the Borough Market, taking obligatory photos of the iconic Shard, and the Tower Bridge from afar.

I hadn't read or seen any of the plays we were to be viewing before the trip which can prove challenging for some people, but thankfully English departments don't let students get far without a fairly thorough Shakespearian education. First up at Shakespeare's Globe (the nth reconstruction of the theatre Shakespeare's company ran) was King Lear. I cannot possibly explain how good this production was, it blew my goddamn mind! And The Globe is an open theatre! So there were helicopters flying overhead, and daylight! But still, the outstanding actors and musicians and everyone behind-the-scenes made it work, and I was lost in the play, I cried, and it was fantastic. 

The set design and costuming was minimalist and somewhat post-apocalyptic-looking, with torn white and grey shirts, joggers, simple dresses, and a dark wedding-band of a crown, and later, (SPOILER) a flower crown. Torn, bleached, tarps adorned the backdrop and pillars of the historic theatre and as the story develops the stage is transformed through the destructive tearing of the tarp from the stage as the characters come to rage, madness, and finally their mortal ends.  Only for the order of a theatre to be regained, and for the players to rejoin the people.

A short dinner at Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese later and the class headed back to see an exciting rendition of the hilarious Much Ado About Nothing, set in early 20th Mexico. Again The Globe put on an outstanding show, with a fantastical freight train set piece that was a character all on its own. Music, fire, pistols, and innuendos made for a spectacular production culminating in a heart-warming post-show tribute to Mexico, Mexican culture which inspired the play, and then a collection for donations for the victims of recent natural disasters.

Following Much Ado, we hopped over to another pub on the waterfront and discussed the shows, The Globe, London, theatre and such over a pint or so before making out ways back to our respective lodgings. The Underground is brilliant and efficient and I could join the choir to sing its praises.

  Here is the absolutely stunning King's Cross St. Pancras Underground Station, which is near where we had breakfast.

Here is the absolutely stunning King's Cross St. Pancras Underground Station, which is near where we had breakfast.

In the morning, most of us met up for a proper English breakfast before walking around the city, stumbling upon a beautiful park and having a brief lunch there. Then we embarked on the train to Stratford-Upon-Avon where more glorious English theatre awaited us.

Pulling into the town we had just enough time to walk to our hostel (a little ways out of town) and bus back for a quick and unfortunate fast food dinner before rushing to The Royal Shakespeare Theatre to see Coriolanus

Coriolanus was the only play that was a little lost on me. I’ll admit that I was maybe too tired to be in a dark and cozy theatre, but my brain struggled hard to follow the somewhat convoluted plot detailing the formation of the Republic of Rome. Despite my confusion, the production was an impressive spectacle with brilliant costume and set design choices where military actors had on modern gear and fought with swords, and non-military characters dressed in retro mid-twentieth century American garb, beautiful gowns and dresses. All of this is not even mentioning the spectacular couch and harrowing combat choreography.

Outside the theatre we hit the town, going to two different pubs until the last one kicked us out and we had to catch a cab back to the aforementioned hostel. 

  And here is the fog covered field we got up early to have a few intimate moments with. It was well worth it.

And here is the fog covered field we got up early to have a few intimate moments with. It was well worth it.

The day following was the last full day in the country and the only day where we saw a play by an early modern English playwright who wasn’t Shakespeare; Christopher Marlowe. A few of us got up ungodly early considering the previous night's events so that we could do a bit of exploring. We saw fog covered, grey and blue fields and caught a little bit of sunrise. We had breakfast and got ready for the day, just before making our way to see a stunning local church and then take a bus back into town. We explored the downtown area a little more, had proper English tea in an antique shop, and then we were back to the theatre.

At the RSC’s Swan Theatre we saw Dido, Queen of Carthage which was, if I had to choose, my second favourite play we saw, next to King Lear. All of the actors performed marvellously whether they were lovers, sailors, or gods but the stage itself may have stolen the show. Covered in sand — actual sand, perfectly smooth to begin — complete with a literal waterfall allowed actors to be more than human creating a spectacle like none other. 

After the show we ran to the train station, arriving just in time to catch it, taking us back into London. Once again in the city, we broke into smaller groups to find dinner and snacks for the following day before early morning flights. Stew, and excellent conversation later, I made my way back to the flat I was staying in and got things ready for the following day.

Utterly terrified to catch my bus and make it through customs and everything on time I committed myself to arriving three hours before my gate was open, meaning I had to be up at around 3:45am. I managed to do so, though I would not encourage anyone to do the same. The ‘special VISA check’ non-EU passengers have to go through while flying Ryanair is literally just a stamp, which they gave me after a short queue — no issues thankfully.

In a short time we touched down in Billund, a city a little ways South-West of Aarhus, and a quick bus ride later, I was home.

While I struggle to write this piece because it’s so late after the fact, I am trying to figure out exactly how much of my itinerary is worth including. Above, I have written about nearly everything, but I have a sinking suspicion that’s a little stale, let me know what you think.

Regardless, my first real in-Europe travel experience went well and lent itself to a lot of learning. Including what accommodation and bus pricing should look like, when to arrive for flights, what to stress about, and what not to stress about. Other than the bonding time it allotted to my peers in that course, all of whom are close now, and the experience of seeing the plays  and being in London/England, one of the most valuable things that this trip did for me was make Aarhus feel like home. Just two months into moving here I wasn’t necessarily thinking of my flat as a home just yet, and being out and about, experiencing the excitement and rigour of travel away from Aarhus, is precisely what I needed to make me appreciate the city and my little home here. I have been told, as I speculate will be the case, that this experience can be extrapolated to Canada for my return.

Edited by my wonderful mom.