Monday, April 12, 2010

Copenhagen Day 2

Today started with a sightseeing tour of the city, which included then colorful and quaint waterfront area, the changing of the guards, the intertwined dragon-tails spire of the stock exchange, and many beautiful buildings, many of red brick with copper spires. In the afternoon a small group of us set off for Kronborg Castle, the home of Hamlet. Because I've had too many times when people have taken advantage of me, I have become old and skeptical. (My family will remember a certain Chinese restaurant.) Today my Grinch heart was melted just a little. On the train to Helsingbă┐ord, we met Jack, a New Yorker who has lived in Copenhagen for 40 years. He offered to show us around. As the crowds turned right off the train, we turned left and discovered a darling and colorful medieval village that, as Jack put it "coined the word 'quaint'." The narrow cobblestone streets led to a beautiful, but hidden church, built in 1616, and then to a convent with a peaceful garden. Without Jack we would have hurried past not realizing these treasures existed. He led us down a dirt path to the castle and joined us on the tour. The castles was a fortress guarding thee sound between Sweden and Denmark, and had beautiful tapestries and a lovely old chapel. In the labyrinth of a dungeon was a huge statue of a sleeping giant. The legend is that as long as the giant sleeps there will be peace in Denmark. T hen Jack showed us his favorite pizza parlor, where we warmed up from the biting Nordic wind. Here Jack shared how lonely he felt. The independent Danes don't accept him, and the Americans come and go. He spends each day trying to find kind deeds to perform, but that he hasn't had such a wonderful day for a long time. He thanked us profusely for letting him be our guide. He took all the stress out of our day--translating, bargaining, asking for group rates, and finding the right trains. He made no profit off of us, but we brought him joy by allowing him to make our day brighter. There are still kind strangers in the world, and I am deeply encouraged.

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