Victoria Jelinek

Denmark: Copenhagen, the suburbs and beyond

Narrow 17th century apartment buildings, white-paned, in yellow, green, pink. Boats and ships. A stone mermaid. 1960’s suburban houses. White, low, thatch-roofed houses with tiny, narrow windows throughout the countryside. Churches with steeples dotting city and country. The Royal Guards, barracks, crown jewels, monarchy. A noble, honest history. Niels Bohr. Bikes, bike paths, lanes. Ponds, lakes and ocean. People swimming in cold seas. Jellyfish. Strong winds. Chill. Flat. Forests of Birch and Beech. Simple, elegant design. Bang & Olufsen, Arne Jacobsen, Poul Henningsen. High-concept boutiques and toy stores. Driving the speed limit. Mostly white. Mostly good-looking. Tall. Clean. Dull. New-looking cars. The happiest people in Europe. Julefrokost or Christmas lunch. Smørrebrød. Herring. Schnapps. Rice pudding. Tiborg’s yearly TV commercial. Food, services, clothes, expensive. Incomes high. Smoking indoors. Shoes off in the house. House-proud. Wood floors and good use of space. Fur coats. Tall. Large WWII style prams used by all. Strange letter combinations (Nyhavn?). Dogme 95. Great film directors. Movies subtitled, not dubbed.

Seattle, WA
September 13, 2010, 12:17 pm
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Maritime. Navigating water and hills to find your way along winding roads between neighborhoods that sit atop hills or at their base, called Queen Anne, Capitol Hill, Belltown, Madison Park, Ravenna, the U District, Fremont, Phinney Ridge…boats, barges, ferries, sailboats, sea planes over head, draw bridges, the smell of the sea. The homeless fishing off of the piers for their food. Crisp, wet air. Oak trees, fir trees, wet asphalt. Skies an oppressive, low-hanging grey for most of the year, erupting in a veritable Garden of Eden for the summer. Families, animals, water, parks. Native American names on suburbs and Chief Seattle. Hip cafes, restaurants, barber shops and music shops. Recycling everywhere. Cooperative food markets. Earnest, well-meaning people with hippie delusions even as they are living the lives of Yuppies. Political correctness that often borders on fascism. Amazing beer and coffee. Great Japanese and Thai restaurants. Fine dining meaning that you wear your good fleece out for dinner. Rules abound for swimming, kayaking, canoeing in the various lakes. Live music in small and large revues. The best outdoor store in the world with a climbing wall and lifetime guarantee on its products. A huge pink elephant on Denny Street. Hanging underground gardens. The space needle slowing rotating.

Chamonix, France
January 13, 2010, 1:13 pm
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Clear, crisp air that feels like it’s cleaning your pores. The squeak of your shoes in the snow. Mountains on all sides rising so high against blue skies that they look false. Glacial run-off creating rivers that you can feel the coolness emanating from when you walk near them and can hear in the quiet of the night. Little crosses and chapels dotting the hills. Chalets with snow logs on their roofs to keep the snow from falling on their inhabitants. Red shutters. Copper roofs. Darkened and aged wood on the older homes. Sunshine that tans the face even as you wear several downy layers. Pussy willow trees. Skiing and waffles and chocolat chaud. Beaufort and Tomme cheese made by special cows in the Alps and local farmers, sold at the market each Saturday. Men in thick wool sweaters smoking while driving their snow plows and tractors. Mountain lakes so clear that the colors range from dark blue to aqua. Population explosion in the winter and summer bringing big, fancy 4wd BMW’s, huge tourist buses and queues for the gondolas. Paragliders, climbers, skiers, hikers, bikers, snowboarders. Helicopters overhead. The sound of avalanches and the explosion of dynamite to set off controlled avalanches. The smell of pine and wood burning stoves. Nights so brightened by the moon that you don’t need artificial light and your body casts a shadow. The single light on the mountains indicating the snow machine levelling the pistes. Tartiflette, fondue, and cremeaux in the evening as Haute Savoie fare. Quiet nights. Starry skies. Snow and ice.