Saturday, December 26, 2009

A Danish Christmas a.k.a Food Fest

Looks like there were about 12 of us from all the bottles? Nope, only 6

Merry Christmas! from Santa's helper

Rice pudding with cherry sauce

Christmas dinner

Food preparation

So many presents!

The living room beautifully decorated

Rasmus and Juleman! (aka Santa Clause aka Poul)

Neils and baby Jonas

Traditional delicious Danish hotdogs

The beach in the snow


Tivoli in the snow!

Poul, Rasmus and Jonas

The window in their kitchen

To give you a quick snapshot of what my life has been in Copenhagen for the past 8 days, I will say this: my life can now be documented and explained simply with each dish I consume.
I don't think I've ever had such an elaborate or traditional Christmas in my life, which to be honest, isn't really saying much because my family was never really big on making a huge celebration out of the holidays. However, don't let my lack of past experience fool you, because I think by any standards, well, American standards, it was a pretty legit Christmas.
However, before we get to a blow-by-blow recounting of Christmas, I'll just briefly outline the activities and events leading up to Christmas, as well as why I am here.
My dad has been friends with the Holms for over 40 years, so, needless to say, they've always been in my life. The Holms = Birgit (whom my dad met when she was about 16 and he was about 19), her husban Poul, and their 3 grown kids: Kasper, Sara, and Mathias. Kasper is now married with a child and living in Poland, and Sara and her boyfriend have 2 little boys, both of whom I spent a lot of time with here.
I have been here to visit them about 5 times in my life I think, the last of which was the Summer of 2005, yet despite the span of time, the house and family are still very familiar to me.
Before coming, I was prepared for my image of a Danish winter: cold, dark, rainy, and grey. However, as I'm writing this, the sun is shining and the snow has all melted (though its still cold). So its been some of that winter, but not too bad! In the limited hours of daylight, I have been into town, been to Ikea (yessss, a tradition with us), been to an aweeeesome modern art museum, took a walk on the beach, been to Tivoli (their famous theme park that is beautifully decorated for the holidays), and, last but not least, ATE. We have been with Sara and Neils (her boyfriend) and their boys a lot, which has been lovely because I've always been close to Sara. It has also just been a regular vacation with gras matinees (sleeping in late), hanging around and relaxing. Speaking of relaxing, my credit card and bank account aren't doing much exercising at all for the holidays either, so its a vacation for them as well, thank god.
Ok. Christmas.
For the Danes, Christmas Eve is the most important day, like Christmas day for us. The Holms aren't very religious (like most Danes), but Christmas Eve Day, or Julaften, ( jul - Christmas, aften - eve), is the one day out of the year that they go to church. Birgit had been preparing for the meals to come for about a week, shopping and preparing little by little. The house was beautifully decorated, there were tons of presents under the tree (mostly for Rasmus, Sara's 2 year old), and the dinner was wonderful. As per tradition, we had duck, cabbage, and potatoes for dinner, along with much beer, wine, and port wine, and for dessert they have this type of rice pudding, in which is hidden one whole almond, and whoever finds the almond has to hide it in their mouth for the whole meal, and when the reveal it at the end, they get a present. That dinner lasted for about 3 hours, followed by present opening, and more alcohol.
Well, if I thought that dinner was something, I knew nothing.
Christmas day lunch included four or five courses and lasted about 5 or 6 hours. We had: herring prepared in 3 different ways (pickled, curried and fried), smoked eel, a bread accompaniment, potatoes and green cabbage, more duck, a pork dish, chicken and asparagus tarts, and finally more rice pudding. And with each course, there was of course, beer, wine, and Shnaps (which i didn't really like but was encouraged to drink because it was good for digestion, and trust me, if you're eating that much, you would try it too). So that was lunch, but it lasted until dinner, and thankfully we didn't have dinner also. It was lovely though, very intimate, just family. Then Sara and Neils and the boys left, which was sad because I don't know the next time I'll be seeing them, however its never too long - I can never stay away for too long.
Today is Saturday, and we have a friend's party to go to where, surprise surprise, there will be more eating. It has been wonderful, although I keep remembering the last time I was here and it was sunny and warm and beautiful and I miss that, but oh well. Soon enough.
I return back to Paris on Monday, and the following day John and I will be going to the airport to get Mary and Maya! So excited.
Here are some pictures, hope you enjoy.
God Jul!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Ireland in pictures

Stephen, a.k.a my new boss when i move to Ireland for a few months. He loved us, and we loved him

Glorious food

Swans in St. Stephen's Green

More beautiful landscape

The cliffs; you can't see them so well because there was so much sun!

Favorite. period.

Amazing food at the cliffs!

Sooo happy in Doolin, near the cliffs

So green, even in December

My first Guiness! and i really liked it

Me and Sam :)

A ferris wheel at the Christmas Market

Dublin at sunset

Pheonix Park - The biggest park in Europe! I just wanted to run in the green fields

Pretty buildings in Dublin

To sum it up, Ireland was amazing. I used to be in love with everything Irish when I was little, and somehow I have lost that over the years and that love has been replaced with one for France and the French language, but this trip really awakened that passion. When Stephen proposed to me and Sam that we come back and work at one of the hostels (Paddy's Palace has hostels all over Ireland), I really took him seriously. I think it would be amazing; you get free lodging, a decent salary, free breakfasts, and after a few weeks of work, you get to partake (gratuitement! - for free) in the "award winning" tours of Ireland the Paddy's offers. For a few weeks in the summer? I think that sounds fantastic. -
The highlight of the trip was without a doubt (besides being with you of course, sam-awn-ta), taking the day trip to the Cliffs of Moher on the west coast of Ireland. This trip was through Paddy's Palace tours, and we just learned about it when we arrived, so we decided to take it. BEST DECISION EVER. I highly recommend to anyone who goes to Ireland, if it is possible and the weather is nice, to take a trip there. You'll see in the pictures, but not even they capture how amazing a sight it was. Our tour guide, Mike, could not stop insisting how lucky we were to have the weather we had, especially for the middle of December. Not even during the summer, he said, could we be guaranteed this much sun and clear skies. The hills were a magnificent green despite the season as well. AHHHH it was just great. Now, for a little shameless advertising (for slightly selfish reasons): my partner in crime Sam-awn-ta, who writes as her passion and is much better at keeping up her blogs than I am, has detailed hour by hour the legs of our journey, and I recommend you to take a look at her blog at:, partly because I need to move on to whats happening now or else I will never get to it! (hope thats ok Sam).
Overall, she and I are both in agreement when we peg this trip as: One of the best weekends of our lives. Yes. We went there.