Tag Archives: Denmark

Misusing The Shift Key: Roskilde Part $

27 Jul

Today marks the final chapter in the Roskilde Festival saga. This work now joins other narrative franchises that should have ended sooner, like Pirates of the Caribbean and Die Hard to name but a few.

We had just finished watching The Roots’ tuba player sprint across the stage (with tuba) for the final time and were at kind of at a loose end. What do you do at a time like that?

You go and watch a band of Congolese polio survivors in wheelchairs. Duh.

If you read my last collection of words and punctuation, you’ll no doubt remember that I like to view festivals as an opportunity to see stuff I wouldn’t usually have a broad enough mind to see. I can think of nothing that fits that bill better than Staff Benda Bilili.

As I’ve said, this amazing group hails from The Democratic Republic of Congo and has overcome poverty and crippling disease to play one of Europe’s biggest festivals. Rather rude of them when I consider how insignificant they make my modest achievements in life seem. Nevertheless they produced a fantastically fun cross between rumba, soul, and something called Congotronics.

Before too long however, it was time to make our way to the main stage to see The Boss. No, we hadn’t been caught stealing tubes of Pringles from work, I’m referring to Bruce Sprinsteen.

To be honest, I wasn’t that excited about it. It was something I felt like I should see rather than something I really wanted to. Like a child’s school concert. I should have realised though, that there is a reason he’s called “The Boss” and not “The Junior Vice President” or “The Foreign Janitor.” I was soon swept up in his authority like an old person on one of these.

In keeping with the Jack White trend, Bruce saved the big ones for last. ‘The Rising’, ‘Born in the USA’, and ‘Dancing in the Dark’ all got an enthusiastic singalong from the audience. His monologue about playing in a cemetery as a child wasn’t as exciting.

Afterwards, as any normal people would do after midnight on a Saturday, we thought it was time to catch some über-cool Berlin beats. That meant Paul Kalkebrenner, however our Berlin techno session was cut short by the fact we had to work the next morning.

If this were a visual presentation I’d have a slick time-lapse video to denote the passage of time, but this will have to do.

 

We rushed out of bed the next morning to get to work in time, and it was lucky we did because here’s what ensued:

Thank god someone came in time to fill these outdoor chairs!

The first half of the shift passed pretty much in this way, except when we were told to get to work and moved our conversation from the back of the bar to the front, in full view of patrons.

Once our shift ended, we decided one inspirational African band wasn’t enough. So we dropped in to see Amadou and Mariam. This blind Mali couple were just as remarkable and enjoyable as Staff Benda Bilili. I’m trying to be as positive as possible about the acts here so I’ll just say I wouldn’t have complained if they played right through Björk’s time slot.

After Björk there was nothing else to do but hit the final party hosted by DJ Static. I’m not massive on DJs but even I could appreciate a show that included over 80 performers and a big band. Much fun and dancing ensued and my lower back may have seized up, but all too soon we had to make our way back to camp for the last time.

Slick time-lapse video again and I was packing up my free t-shirts (still three of them) and joining the exhausted masses on their way home.

Therein ended my first experience of a European festival. It occurs to me that I may not have been particularly positive about all the aspects of the experience. While there are undoubtedly some unpleasant elements of festival living, they are things you have to go in to it expecting. Overall I immensely enjoyed my time there and I am looking forward to extending my collection of free t-shirts next year.

 

Safe travels, thanks for reading. J

*It also occurs to me that there may not be any new words, irrelevant images, or baffling videos posted here for the next week or two. This is not due to laziness. Or at least not in the sense that I’m here and perfectly capable of posting things. Rather, my laziness will be taking place in Turkey and on a boat where I’ll be re-enacting scenes from Pirates of the Caribbean (the first one). If you’re wondering, I’ll be dressed like this, A’hoy!

Advertisements

The Language of Industry: Roskilde Part 2

20 Jul

It’s come to my attention that I need to use more “industrial language” in my blog.

I’m not really sure what this means for me as an amateur “travel” blogger, but in the world of professional sport it’s licence to use all kinds of wonderful phrases.

That’s right, it seems because you’re on a football pitch you are able use phrases like “fีแารืเ bสฟแา cีืะ” and fีแารืเ kืนิ้ำฟก” with reckless abandon, as long as you term them “industrial language” or say you were repeating them sarcastically. (Editor’s note: I bought this computer in Thailand. So to avoid offence I used Thai characters, but you can use your imagination.)

In the same way, I’m assuming my previous use of the word “goosing” is entirely justifiable as industrial language, as such things happen on the tube all the time.

Anyway, the real reason you probably tuned your internet dial this way is to hear more of my regaling about the Roskilde Festival. So let’s move on.

After a wild night of gleefully dancing in urine-soaked territory (its just what you do, and my use of “urine” is industrial language), all awoke rather rusty. In saying that I mean we felt like rat shit (industrial language), and we were not able to really do anything meaningful until about four o’clock.

I did find time to cop an eyeful of scrotum (industrial) in the communal showers though. They really should have someone out front to warn people.

The reason we finally roused ourselves at four was the fact we had our first volunteer shift. Upon showing up early, we soon found out the disorganisation stretched to all aspects of Roskilde.  This being apparently the norm however (we didn’t have working cash registers for the first few hours), everyone just got on with it rather well. In my case, I soon found out that my volunteering would consist largely of this:

I promised blurry pictures, and I don’t disappoint my adoring crowd.

This was interspersed with periods of being yelled at by thirsty but well-meaning Scandinavians. Also at some point during the shift the festival music started.

Eight hours later we emerged in the midst of the festival and began festival-ing. I realise that’s probably not the verb meaning ‘to festival’ but it’s industrial language, so anything goes.

Our festival-ing consisted of quaffing the pre-mixed “water” bottles we’d brought in before watching a supergroup called Apparatjik. I’m not sure you can call members of Coldplay, a-ha and Mew a supergroup, but they certainly knew how to put on a show.

In short, things got weird. It was without doubt the strangest thing I’ve seen this side of the shoe-mounted dustpan. When you weren’t fixated on the band’s antlers (yes, antlers), you got to watch a catwalk show of…well, stuff like this:

I’d love to sit in on the production meeting for this.

And also this:

“I’ve got it! Giant balls on a stick!”

Possibly to break things up, and possibly because the guy from a-ha is like 93 years old, there was also a pretty fun 40-minute DJ set in the middle of the show. In any case, people at Roskilde are always in that “pretty much anything goes” kind of mood, so it was all received rather well.

Some time around 3am the set finished and we traipsed back to our less squalorful camp for the requisite 3-4 hours of intermittent sleep.

I’m going to leave it there for now, as great writers don’t put all their best material in one piece. Since I don’t have anything I think is worthy of the label “best material” other than pictures of giant balls and pointless inventions, I’ll just say that an amateur “travel” blogger doesn’t post all his filler stuff in one go.

Safe travels, thanks for reading. J

The Lengths You Go For A Free T-Shirt: Roskilde Part 1

17 Jul

You’re extremely lucky I care enough about this “palace that words built” enough to rouse myself from an exhausted stupor just to tell you about how I came to be in said stupor. If anyone didn’t know already, the reason there have been no new words or irrelevant images here for about a week is that I’ve been selflessly volunteering my services.

The reason it may have been any longer than a week is pure laziness.

Anyway, the fact my volunteering got me a free ticket and other stuff at the Roskilde Festival in Denmark would cause many to question my motives. So I won’t mention it. Here’s what happened:

The trip that ended in an exhausted stupor began in an exhausted stupor as I crawled out the front door at 4am. I’m not sure how much I saved by booking the earliest flight but I’d wager it wouldn’t buy me enough Danish hot dogs to be worthwhile. Before too long however I was enjoying the infinite pleasure of assisted lateral movement:Before much longer I was making my way across Copenhagen towards Roskilde, stopping only spend some of the money I saved on the early flight.For the uninitiated (and those who love to be surprised by amazing facts), here is some painstakingly researched information about the Roskilde Festival that certainly did not come straight from my free information booklet:

  • There are around 110,000 festival-goers, 30,000+ of which are volunteers, artists and media (makes my commitment seem slightly less significant).
  • Each person at the festival creates on average 25 kg of garbage (that includes 22.5kg of plastic cups)
  • The clean up operation after the festival takes nearly the rest of the year before it comes around again.
  • Owing to the amount of human waste produced, the top 2cm of soil has to be lifted from the ground across the whole festival area, cleaned, and then replaced. Personally I’d just keep putting a fresh layer of newspaper down, but they’ve been at this a long time.
  • The festival is run as a non-profit organisation, and helps to fund a number of worthy causes.

Upon arriving at Roskilde station I promptly discovered that this was a festival celebrating disorganisation in all its forms. Yet despite the fact that nobody knew where they were going of how to get there, by happy coincidence everyone seemed to drift aimlessly until they arrived successfully at their destination with little or no fuss.

In this same roundabout way, I found myself checking in and picking up my free T-shirt. Therein achieving my goal of a free T-shirt, I promptly tried to get back to the train station to leave immediately. Somehow though, I ended up in the festival grounds and with the group of friends I was to volunteer with. Faced with roughly the same journey to get back, I figured it was quicker and easier to just stay five days for the festival then leave with everyone else.

Being part of the exclusive 30,000-strong volunteer force meant we were allowed to camp in the “restricted camping area”. This basically meant we were able to live in less filth and squalor than everyone else. By contrast, “general camping” meant constant deafening noise, having most or all your camping equipment stolen, and leaving your waste wherever you happen to be standing at the time.

On reflection, restricted camping wasn’t that much different. Except for the waste part.

Luckily the overwhelming redeeming feature of general camping is that it is a sprawling shanty-city of wild debauchery. Which is why it was our first port of call that night. Various DJs and speaker systems are dotted around the camping area so that you’re never far from the sweet, seductive sounds of ‘Call Me Maybe’.

After much merry-making and doing our best to avoid suspect-looking puddles (even more suspect given it hadn’t rained there for a while), we somehow made our way back using only a power-generating windmill as a reference point. This is pretty impressive when you look at this image I took from my personal zeppelin.

“I think we’re past the big windmill and to the left a bit”

That will have to do for now, as I can tell I’m going on a bit. Besides, if I break it up I’ll have more material to use in the coming days so you won’t have to wait so long to get your fix of mildly interesting words an alternative to actually talking to each other on your way to/from work. In any case there’ll be more about the subsequent days of Roskilde soon.

Thanks for reading, safe travels. J

Excuse Me Sir Could You Open That Sandwich? Copenhagen Part 2

17 Jun

So I think last time ended with me telling you about Copenhagen city bikes. I could go back and read my last post to be certain, but I find its best not to linger at the scene of the crime, so to speak.

Moving on, my friend had some things to attend to that night (he knows who he is), so I was happily left to my own devices for the evening. Unhappily however, I was also beginning to feel as though I’d been up since 3am. I then realised in my delirium that this was the case, and decided I should take care on my city bike not to end up like this:

“I was clipped by low-flying zeppelin, the driver was talking on his tin can and string”

Side-splitting and period-appropriate humour aside, I was careful not to ride dangerously or doze off on my final venture for the day. Or maybe I just stayed in and dreamed the second hot dog. I’m not sure.

The next day we decided to get back in to the thing I missed the second most about Denmark. No, I didn’t go and experience paying 60 per cent tax. We went and bought stuff to make these:

These may have been professionally made ones, I can’t keep track of all my photos.

This is what’s called smørrebrød, or open sandwiches. They are typically made with dark rye bread and can include any toppings you wish. The Danes have strict rules about what combinations you can and can’t have though. My friend once put paté and cheese on the same one and was deported for a minimum three months. They go easy on a first offence.

To be honest I could have written a whole post on smørrebrød. Then I realised the only one who’d be interested is me. And since I don’t read (or even spell cheque) this blog, said post would be slightly more pointless than my upcoming tech review of the Sega Mega Drive.

That night it was time to re-visit The Studenterhuset (Stoo-dent-err-who’s-it). Also known as The Student House, this handy bar is a must-know-about if you’re an international student in Copenhagen and not raking in sweet Danish student payments.

The bar keeps costs down by getting student volunteers to run things in exchange for drinks. This works extremely well for all concerned and the free drink system has never been rorted by any students ever. The bottom line is that rather than paying the standard 40-50 Danish Kroner (AUD $6.50-8.50) for a beer elsewhere, you can get it for around 20-25 Danish Kroner (AUD half the last figures I quoted). During the day it also offers cheap coffee and cake, and a cosy place to sit and plan your next sandwich.*

With that we come to the end of another installment on Copenhagen. Until next time keep your bikes upright and your sandwiches open.

 

Safe travels, thanks for reading. J

*Inbox me if you’d like a copy of my sandwich spreadsheet.

A Pedal Down Memory Bike-Lane: Copenhagen Part 1

12 Jun

If you’re reading this it means one of two sad eventualities has come to pass:

1. I’ve lost my douchy writing notebook at Gatwick airport and someone has found it and subsequently stolen my ideas;

2. Or much more likely, my plan to stow away unseen in a Danish hotdog van has been foiled by meddling kids, and as such, I’ve had to return to London.

Not that I mind being in London, but my latest trip to Copenhagen has reminded me why Princess Mary tolerates such a tedious royal existence. You see, this was my first visit in four years since spending a semester there on exchange at the University of Copenhagen.

I could tell you I was studying back then, but I admit four hours of classes per week is lazy even by my own low standards. Though this did leave time for me to sample the local culture and do all the touristy stuff while others learned all kinds of important things.

So in essence this was less of a tourist visit and more of a nostalgia visit, where I yearned for the simpler days of choosing either Carlsberg or Tuborg, and getting overseas study loans from the Government instead of working.

I was excited but apprehensive upon first arriving. Would I still like Copenhagen? Would it be like I remembered it? Do the Danes still stubbornly refuse to top their sandwiches with a second piece of bread?

Happily in two of the three cases the answer was “yes”. In the third case the answer was “why the hell would we? You can make 100 per cent more sandwiches using only one slice, southern idiots.” Harsh but fair I think.

More on that later, but my first port of call was to reacquaint myself with what I missed most in my four-year absence.

I’m sorry to have to bring you a photo of a sub-par hot dog, they usually have pickles on top.

This should come as no surprise to loyal readers. If I’d travel round the world for a good coffee and croissant, I’d certainly go a little bit further for a fast-food hot dog. Anyway once I’d met my friend (who thankfully hooked me up with mercifully cheap accommodation) and dropped my suitcase off, it was time to find the traditional Danish method of transport. Sadly, I’m not talking about these, as they’ve yet to take off in the mainstream market.

“The future is here, and it’s needlessly hideous.”

No, in fact I’m talking about something that already gets a disproportionate number of words dedicated to it on this blog. Can you guess what it is? I’ll give you a hint. It’s not Ludacris, so it must be….

Copenhagen’s tribute to Steve Jobs.

Copenhagen has long been an exponent of the city bike scheme. And the best thing about it? They cost exactly the same to use as the MacDonald’s toilets and the Melbourne tram system. At least I think so, I’ve never paid for any of those things anyway. That’s right, they’re free!

They may not be the most efficient bikes going around. In fact I think Lance Armstrong may have trained on these to make it seem like he was riding an ACME rocket when he got on his actual bike for the Tour de France, but what do you expect for free? All you need to do is find a depot, deposit a 20 Danish Kroner or 2 Euro coin and you’re off. As you can see on the handlebars, there’s also a handy built in map so you can tour the sites or stalk Princess Mary. Whichever you prefer.

Anyway you all know about my six minute pledge by now, so I will save the rest for another time. In true BBS style I’ve managed to convey considerably less about my chosen destination than would seem acceptable on a regular travel blog. So til next time, keep it irregular everyone.

 

Safe travels, thanks for reading. J

Voluntary Servitude: My Festival of Giving

24 May

I like to consider my life a positive whirlwind of activity. If I’m ever at a metaphorical loose end, I feel compelled to metaphorically tie it so I don’t trip and fall flat on my face in steaming cesspool of metaphorical inactivity.

By this I mean I usually end up at Starbucks thinking of tenuous ways to crowbar Ludacris links in to a travel blog.

Nevertheless I have even more exciting news! Continuing my love affair with the great nation of Denmark I have decided to do some volunteer work there. Coupled with my environmentally conscious bicycle travel here in London, I’m assuming some sort of Nobel Prize is just around the corner.

There are many ways a person may devote themselves or their time to others in need:

  • some people travel to remote African villages to dig clean water wells;
  • some teach English to underprivileged kids in Cambodia;
  • others run, swim, cycle or personal transport unicycle astronomical distances on a nice Sunday when they should be hungover;
  • and still more devote themselves to fellow humans by badgering the living shit out of them on Oxford Circus until they either send a £2 text message or sign over the deed to their house.

My approach is slightly different . For me, volunteer work involves going to a famous Danish rock festival (Roskilde) and serving alcohol to those who need to drink to enjoy themselves and are not “just there for the music”.

Of course I’m only going so that I may keep the great people of Denmark, and probably other countries, hydrated. When I signed up I didn’t even know that I’d get festival entry, some food, all drinks AND a T-shirt. I assume the T-shirt will carry the obligatory sexual double entendre:In any case, it’s a whole lot more helpful to mankind than the people on Oxford Circus and any other area with high pedestrian traffic. Though I’m told many of them actually get paid to accost me despite the fact I have earphones in and am clearly already occupied working out how to get to the M&Ms store. Stay tuned for a review of the M&Ms store.

But I digress (douchy writer speak for “I can’t be bothered complaining anymore”). My summer is actually shaping up pretty well. Not only that, the weather finally seems to be on the turn here in London. As such, I’m planning to debut my summer writer’s outfit very soon:

Yes the wrinkles are meant to be there, duh!

Safe travels, thanks for reading. J