Sunday, September 4, 2011

Viking ships, sheep droppings, and spicy oxen

What a busy weekend this has been! Here is the quick recap of the important events:

On Friday night I met up with my Buddy Network, a small group of American DIS students and local Danish students. My group leader is named Charlotte and she is studying for her masters in international communications. We decided to go to Tivoli (Denmark's version of Hersheypark) to see the free rock concert given every Friday night. The band was called Nik and Jay, and from what Charlotte was telling me, they are two guys who everyone hates, but listens to anyway (kind of like Justin Bieber). The concert was so crowded that I couldn't even turn around where I was standing. But besides the crowd, I had a great time exploring Tivoli and made plans to return before it closes to actually try the impressive rides.

the most expensive restaurant in Tivoli
warrior Viking ships
After too few hours of sleep, I woke bright and early on Saturday for an all-day viking adventure with my Nordic Mythology class.  We started out in Roskilde with a visit to the viking ship museum. The small museum only had five exhibits, all ships that were found in the bottom of the fjord (dating from the 11th century) and restored to the best of their ability. We also had time for the viking ship "playground," where we could dress up in viking clothes or practice writing in old viking letters.

My friend Moira and I on the playground.

Next we made out way to a burial chamber from the Neolithic Age (beginning around 9500 BC). The chamber was enclosed by a stones surrounded by a grassy mound. The doorway to enter the chamber was so tiny I couldn't help but feel I was entering a hobbit's home in Middle Earth. Inside the chamber it was pitch black and I could barely stand up, but soon enough we had lit some candles and were discussing Neolithic burials.

entrance to Middle Earth

We then visited another burial site, also pre-viking age somewhere in the Danish countryside (which is truly beautiful). At this site, many large stones were placed over burials in the shape of a large ship, which we were told symbolized a coming home (or rebirth) feeling. Unfortunately,  many of the stones were missing, having been taken to form gravel, which was very expensive to import at the time.  Across the street we also stopped at the place where it is believed that the great hall from Beowulf was located.

After what seems like ages, we finally arrived at an old viking fortress in Trelleborg. Our first stop was a replica (and 'a bad one at that' according to our professor, Morten) viking hall. This type of hall was traditionally where they spent all their time. They would eat and talk on the same benches where they slept and "spent time with one another under the blankets," also a quote from Morten (who looks very much like a Viking himself). We also tried mead (also known as Viking Blood), which is a very sweet liquor derived from honey.

traditional Viking hall
Also at Trelleborg, we saw the remains of the actual fortress, which now is just cement filled post holes where the original buildings once stood. However, the some of the original mounds surrounding the fortress and part of one of the gates are still there today. To my pleasant surprise, sheep are allowed to graze all over the fortress grounds. The sheep were adorable, but their numerous droppings were hard to step around. 

adorable local sheep
Our last stop was to a small church in Fjenneslev. The church was very simply decorated with white walls, which we learned were at one point brightly colored. At some point in history, someone had decided to paint the walls white to keep the integrity of the building intact. What a shame. But the two towers of the building have a well known legend around their origin. As legend goes, the church was built as a farm-church by a man named Assar Rig.  However, Rig was away at war during the construction so things were left to his very pregnant wife, Fru Inge. If she were to have a boy, she was to build a great tower and if she was to have a girl, nothing was to be added. When Rig returned from war he found that two towers had been added, because his wife bore twin boys. Sadly,  this tale is only a legend. Truth be told, the wife did have two sons, but they were born at different times and certainly not twins.

Fjenneslev church

After returning to the city on Saturday night, I went to an international cooking festival for dinner with Cara and Chelsea. The festival was located in a poor neighborhood consisting of many immigrants, but the food was ethnically diverse and delicious. I surprised Cara (and myself) by eating spicy oxen meat with a pita and even spicier sauce. We washed it down with wonderful carrot cake and a mojito (minus the mint) all for about 75 DKK (which is under $20).

Cara and I enjoying some spicy oxen meat

I am sorry this was such a long recap and I hope I didn't bore you at all. There was just so many interesting things to recount.

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