Helsingør, Denmark has a very special place in my heart. As a child, we always went to Kronborg Castle and took at least the tour of the Casemates and sometimes the castle itself. We would then go get an ice cream and sit down and look out over the water at Sweden. Hard to believe that this was the site of a battle between Denmark and Sweden.
As I got older, ice cream was replaced with beer, but we would still sit down and look out over at Sweden. Then, in my early 20′s, I wasn’t having such a good time at home in Washington, DC, so my mother told me about this school that my Morfar’s cousin used to be the headmaster of. I had never heard about the concept of a “Folk School,” but it intrigued me. I had never ventured this far to go to any school, so this was the beginning of my big adventure into studying abroad.
The International People’s College was tucked away on a quiet street, just steps away from one of the more major roads. I went by for a visit Summer of 1995 with my cousins after taking our yearly pilgrimage to the castle. “This is going to be my home for a few months,” I said to myself. It was a nice sunny day, so we headed home to our summer house in Tisvilde so we could go to the beach and perhaps drink a few beers.
The summer ended and it was time for me to head to school, I had a tearful goodbye with my Morfar and Mormor. As much as I loved them, I wanted to be independent, I hated saying goodbye and seeing them off, but on the other hand, I was now living life on my terms.
I headed back inside and went into the common area where my fellow students had gathered. Coffee was great, but I had a hankering for a beer. I had been told that the vending machine in the basement had beer. Score! I wandered down a staircase into the basement. I was kind of lost and just wandered around a bit. Back then, at least on that first day, the basement felt like a maze. I got my bearings and saw the glowing window of the vending machine. I grabbed myself a Tuborg and headed back upstairs.
I started talking to a number of the students, at first it was just my fellow Americans and the Canadians, but I was still the minority among them, I was the only one from the East Coast, most of them were from the West, the one exception was a girl from Austin. I eventually made friends from all over the world, and we had a drink we could almost all commune over….beer. Beer made everything better in most cases, especially the food.
We’d go down as a group into downtown Helingør, even before reaching the pedestrian streets, one of the first things you’d smell was cheese from the local cheese shop. We would go hand out at some of the bars and pubs, the one I went to was an Irish pub. It wasn’t very Irish, but that’s okay, I was in Denmark. Technically speaking, being Irish isn’t that far off from being Danish. Ireland was once under Danish rule as was the rest of England. The larger Irish cities were made strong by the Danes, so I’ve been told. The main reason I went to this particular pub was one, the atmosphere, it was comfortable, and two, a bit less expensive than the other pubs and bars around town.
After a night of drinking, we’d go into the nearby square and get what the Danes call a “Fransk Hotdog” or “French Hotdog.” You got a nice think hotdog which was then slipped into a baguette that had been hollowed out in the middle. Usually there was some sort of sauce squirted in there. It hit the spot.
So, I totally drifted in the blog posting. I was going to talk about Kronborg castle and the consumption of beer, but I will put that in my next post.