Licorice Coffee

Susi and Nikolaj
Contemplate Olive Oil
ÅRHUS, Denmark
March 24, 2008

The airfare flying from London to Århus cost me £10 GBP: exactly $20 USD. I find it ironic that it cost me roughly that same amount again to get to and from each airport. The cheap bus from Victoria Station to Stansted went for another £8 GBP. The fare from AAR into the city was an additional 90 DKK, also nearly $20.

Whatever. I can't really complain about the cost of the airport bus when the airfare itself is so low. Flying is the cheapest option now, anyway. I could have continued traveling by land after my Morocco stint. I decided not to, knowing that it was going to be far cheaper to travel by the likes of EasyJet and Ryan Air than it would be to get around Europe overland.

My last days in London were a continuation of the sociable routine I fell into when I first arrived in the city. Every day I'd go out with one or both of the couples who were hosting me: Catherine and Sam, Tristan and Victoria. Some days I met up with other friends as well. Among the places I went and people I connected with:

Since arriving in Denmark I've mostly been holing up, just resting. I'm staying at the apartment of Nikolaj and Susi, two friends who were teaching English in Urumqi. We had only two days time together before they headed down to visit Susi's family in Germany over the long Easter holiday.

Before they left for Germany, Susi, Nikolaj, and I saw a fair bit of Århus together. We took a couple hours catching up at a cafe. I found that there is such a love of all things licorice across Denmark that it was even available as a syrup flavoring for coffee and espresso drinks. After finishing our coffee (I ordered the licorice shot) we then visited the art museum, ARoS. It happened to have an exhibition of short films directed by Shirin Neshat, all set in Iran around the time of the 1953 revolution. There wasn't much I found in common with what the films depicted and what I saw when I passed through Iran earlier on this journey. Though the films were well-done, they were surreal, artistic, and depicted a time and place long gone.

Susi Orders Licorice Coffee

It's strange to be in a place where the infrastructure and standard of living are so clearly better than where I'm from, the U.S.. I suppose that I'd lump Japan into that category as well, though I certainly wouldn't have made that statement about the other parts of Europe I've passed through recently. Places like the U.K. and Spain strike me as roughly par with the U.S..

This city feels so civilized. Danes dutifully deposit their bottles and paper into separate recycling bins, bins that are conveniently placed everywhere. Every street has not just the standard pedestrian sidewalk and road for the cars to drive along, but a third, separate lane between the two, solely for cyclists. There are even separate traffic signals to control the bicycle traffic. There seem to be as many people getting around on two wheels as four. People are courteous and polite, everything is just so... nice.

Over their absence, I've been staying on in Susi and Nikolaj's flat. I feel bad that I've mostly been staying in and holing up. I did use Nikolaj's bicycle to explore the city one afternoon, but it's too cold for me to feel like getting out. Snow has fallen most days.

I've really enjoyed just being on my own for awhile, in a cozy apartment with fast Internet access. Susi and Nikolaj return this evening, we'll spend time more time catching up. Then tomorrow, I take the train to Copenhagen. I have lots of old friends, people I've known for decades, living there.

Currency Quiz Answers: George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Jackson, Ulysses S. Grant