Category Archives: Travel

Sort Sol

As a way of thanking Lisbeth’s parents for all they did for the wedding, we took them on a tour called Sort Sol, which means black sun. It’s the nightly resting place of the starling, which settles in massive flocks in different areas in Southern Denmark as part of migration. We were told that this particular night there were up to 600,000 birds.


We were also told that one of the reasons that the location varies is because people (who are not, it was made clear, on one of their tours) occasionally use loud noises to rouse the birds once they settle in order to see them darken the sky again. Read More →


I’d only been to Sweden once before — to Malmø on a slow Sunday afternoon — and I wasn’t impressed. Or in a hurry to get back (that was almost two years ago.) This time I saw a very different part of Sweden, and would welcome the opportunity to go back.


Lisbeth and her sister Hanne had been in Sweden for a week, canoeing and camping. They were joined by Hanne’s boyfriend Kaspar, and two of their friends Søren and Lotte from the collective where they live. But they didn’t come to canoe. They came for rock climbing.


The area where we were, Kullen, has very rugged terrain. It’s pretty much rock coming straight out of the ocean. The scenery is stunning, but it’s hostile too. Everything is rocky. There’s no sand on these beaches, just big rocks.

Read More →

New Mexico, hot and dry

I’d been raving for months about how great Northern New Mexico is in the summer. It’s warm, but not too warm. There’s lots of sunshine, but with frequent afternoon rains, green fields, a soft breeze during the day, and cool, crisp air at night. And so on. At least that’s the way I remember it. But it wasn’t like that at all when we visited in June.

An antelopedsc_0498.jpgdsc_0499.jpg

I don’t remember antelope listlessly roaming around my grandparent’s ranch. I don’t remember the pastures being overtaken by prickly-pear cactus. I don’t remember otherwise healthy trees near my parents house drying out and falling over. It was hot and dry. Very dry.

A bridge over a dry irrigation canalA (very dry) irrigation canal

On our last night we could smell the smoke from a fire to the North, and water restrictions were enacted in Las Vegas right after we left. Read More →


In Denmark we get five days off for easter (if you count the weekend), so Lisbeth and I decided it was a good time to go see Berlin. I’d never been there, and she’d only been there briefly as a teenager.

Day 1

We walked about 15 kilometers (9.3 miles) on the first day, starting at the Sunflower Hostel where we stayed and ending in a completely different part of town. We started by waking toward the center of town, down Karl Marx Alle, which is a really wide boulveard that the communists used for parades and such.

Inexplicable sculpture on Karl Marx AlleOn Karl Marx Alle in East BerlinOn Karl Marx Alle in East Berlin

It’s an impressive street. It’s entirely symmetric. Each building has an exact mirror copy on the other side — something that’s hard to capture with a camera. It’s also hard to say how much of it seems strange just because you know you’re in an area that was under tight state control until relatively recently. Read More →


We spent last week skiing in Hovden, Norway with Lisbeth’s family. For me it was fun for several reasons. For one thing, I’d never been to Norway before. I’d also decided years ago that I hated skiing, and that I’d never do it again, so enjoying myself was a pleasant surprise.

The new liftMarie, Hanne, me, and LisbethThe slopes in Hovden, Norway

We met in Vejle, at Lisbeth’s parents house on Saturday, where we spent the day leisurely shopping for supplies, packing, and, eating, visiting. We went for a walk after dinner, before we got serious about loading the cars. It was a very pretty evening.

Marie, Lisbeth, Karen, and AnneOn a short walk near Lisbeth's parent's houseOn a short walk the day we left for Norway

We took two cars, one with Lisbeth’s brother Mogens’ family — his wife Anne and their three girls, and one with me, Lisbeth, Lisbeth’s sister Hanne, and her boyfriend Kaspar. Both cars were heavily loaded — there wasn’t much room to move around, but most of it was blankets, pillows, and coats, so it wasn’t uncomfortable. We drove for about three hours, up to Hirtshals, quite close to the very Northern-most tip of Denmark, where we took a ferry from there to Kristiansand, Norway. Read More →

Århus and Christmas lunch

The 'Brock' House

December has already been a busy month. We were in London the first weekend, and in Århus the weekend after that. Lisbeth’s sister Hanne and her boyfriend Kaspar invited us to a Julefrokost, or Christmas lunch.

Hanne and Kaspar live in a cooperative. In this case it’s eight people sharing a house. Each person has a room, and they share the bathrooms, the kitchen, and the common living spaces.

It’s a great house — originally part of a military barracks — and it even has an area for a little workshop. It’s been a cooperative for decades now, and they have a well-defined system for everything from selecting new residents (they do interviews) to shopping (it’s done once a month, and that’s one of the things Hanne loves about living there) to making dinner (each person is responsible for making dinner for everyone once a week.)

We got there on Friday at around 9:00 and sat in the living room with Hanne in front of a fireplace and talked. (Kaspar was at work, but joined us around midnight.) The next day we went for a walk around town.

Living at 55 degrees North gives people a keen appreciation of the sun. When we set out the next day, Kaspar pointed out that, despite the fact that it was noon, the sun was hanging low in the sky. Just look at the shadows.

Hanne, Kaspar, and Lisbeth basking in the weak winter sunTaken at 12:07

This also means that the average Dane is very likely to bask in whatever sunlight is available. This often happens without warning. They just stop in a sunny spot, close their eyes, and start smiling. At first I thought they were crazy. Then I tried it. I still think they’re crazy. Read More →


Codehouse, my new employer, threw their Christmas party in London this year, despite the fact that Copenhagen is the headquarters. They flew us over on Friday afternoon and we had a nice dinner. Most people went back on Saturday, but Lisbeth and I opted to stay for the weekend.

Borough MarketBorough MarketBorough Market

On Saturday morning, a few of us that weren’t incredibly hung-over went to the Borough Market – a market that has apparently been around for 20 centuries, but “only” 250 years at its current location. It’s an amazing market, and there were enough samples thatwe didn’t need breakfast.

Borough Market -- excellent coffee in an excellent wayBorough MarketBorough Market

But not everything was appetizing. I had some cheese that tasted exactly how Iimagine a sheep’s brainwouldtaste, for example. And, although I love seafood and even sushi, the seafood at the market seemed… too fresh. Notice all the blood oozing from the shark. Read More →


Lisbeth and I went to Dublin earlier this month for four days. She was attending a class at the Microsoft Dublin campus, and I just tagged along for the fun of it. Neither one of us had been to Ireland before, and we were looking forward to, among other things, hearing Irish accents and drinking some Guinness.

For the weekend we stayed at Trinity College, which rents some of its dorm rooms out during the summer break. It’s a really nice campus in the heart of the city, so it’s a fantastic place to stay.

Trinity College campusTrinity College campusTrinity College -- the building we stayed in

One thing that surprised me about Dublin is that all the public signs are both in English and in Gaelic. I thought Gaelic was pretty much dead, but apparently there is a movement to keep it alive. In fact, in Western Ireland, English town names have no legality in government documents or survey maps, and English has been banned from use on road signs.

Gaelic -- practically on every signGaelic, practically everywhere

Read More →