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BEYOND BJORK

Beyond Bjork
22 -28 May 2014, Reykjavik, Iceland

 

Iceland
Iceland

Of all the places I have ever wanted to visit, I would say Iceland was and still is, on top of my list of wonderful world locations. Why?

If you love photography, nature and music, Iceland is the place to be. Nothing about the place is predictable. The country and its harsh environment, have produced artist such as Bjork, Sigur Rós and the ever talented Ásgeir Trausti. The music, art and fashion-scenes are experimental, dark and ambient and to me, descriptive of the environment.  Perhaps the reason for this unpretentious creativity, could be the isolation, the lonely alien landscapes, the breathless cold, the volcanic eruptions and the northern lights.  I can’t help hearing the landscape in these artists’ work and I wonder if nature, is their main source of inspiration?  I also wonder if you are a creative, living in Iceland, do you actually appreciate it? Whatever it may be, it’s working for me.  I have diarised our short visit with some images, although I don’t think any image can really do the landscapes any justice.

Arrive at Kevlavik International Airport, Iceland
Arrive at Kevlavik International Airport, Iceland

Day 1:  We arrived from visiting a couple of days in Copenhagen (Denmark) and the weather was gloomy but our spirits were high. Kevlavik airport was as delightful as any airport can be and we wandered around some bookshops and bought some basic supplies (Duty Free) after which we hit the nearest town to buy some food for our apartment. Getting supplies was not the easiest task because everything is labeled in Icelandic which is not the most recognisable language on the planet. The locals were very helpful though and one of the ladies at the Hagkaup (convenient store) explained how to cook some of their local fish and how to eat the dried fish (with butter).

We decided to book self-catering accommodation, because Reykjavik can be very expensive if you stay in a hotel. If you consider eating two meals a day in a restaurant, it could set you back a couple of Icelandic króna (ISK) and since we just arrived from Copenhagen this was not ideal. Street food is also not really an option during the shoulder season because it really is too cold, so mostly you will be dining in restaurants, if you are not staying in an apartment.  Our one-bedroom apartment (Local Apartments Reykjavik) was spacious and clean, with everything that we needed for the first couple of days of our stay. It was located in the heart of downtown and very close to the fabulous Leugavegur street and walking distance of most pubs and music spots. The manager Sigga, welcomed us and she was extremely helpful.  She gave us information on the best places to go for groceries, music and various sites around town. Sigga’s husband writes for the Grapevine (a local paper where they write some music reviews) and I would recommend either buying a copy or going online when you get there because it gives you the current updates on events around town, especially music.

Leugevagur Street and Lebowski Bar
Leugavagur Street and Lebowski Bar

Leugavegur street is the main shopping street in town and if you love vintage clothing, your mind will be blown. It is not the cheapest vintage clothing but everything is such a good condition, so you can’t go wrong. We strolled the trendy streets and decided to check out the Lebowski Bar. The bar was warm and welcoming, with some interesting decor and they also had a movie quiz night, that we obviously had to try out, while sipping on some Tuborg Classic drafts. We met an interesting guy that we dubbed ‘the bubble man’ and whom we later became friends with. His sister taught him how to make these massive bubbles (a couple of meters in size) and he (Wronek Wronisław) is now making bubbles all around the world.   Somehow, in that location it seemed like there was no other street art that could better express the fragile environment of Iceland. Our evening was made, although it was still light at 2am.

Blue Lagoon, Iceland
Blue Lagoon, Iceland

Day 2: After our homemade breakfast we headed to the Blue Lagoon in our tiny red rental. Blue Lagoon is a geothermal area where you can bathe in warm, luminous, neon-white-blue water. It took us around 45 minutes from Reykjavik to get to Blue Lagoon. The drive there was easy and beautiful and although the weather was a bit misty it added to the atmosphere and experience. The location itself is possibly the most touristy thing you could do in Iceland, but it is really well worth the trip. You get a tag, towels and a robe to walk around in for the day and you need to lock your locker with this tag. This system is confusing, especially since no one shows you how the system actually works and things got stolen. Someone stole my only thermal jacket out of the locker and also another girl’s brand new iPhone.  I would suggest leaving your valuables in your car of somewhere safe (the lockers are NOT safe at all). After reporting the theft, the lady at reception showed me a print-out of how many times my locker had been opened (more than twenty times), during which time I was Instagramming in the pool so it couldn’t have been me.  They told me they would email me, they never did. If you can find another geothermal pool to go to (especially in the West – locals mentioned some nice ones) I would probably say go to another one. I decided to not be demotivated and nothing like a bit of red wine to save the day! Apart from the little ‘jacket-episode’ the food they served at the restaurant was fantastic and the day and the experience was truly incredible.

Blue Lagoon and Dining at Blue Lagoon
Blue Lagoon and Dining at Blue Lagoon

Day 3: The weather was the least pleasant during the third day but we took a lunchbox and headed to the small town of Hveragerdi. The road trip was more of a road-drip so we decided to drive back and explore the city (and rather road trip in better weather). We did however drive through to Hveragerdi (around 40 minutes drive from Reykjavik) where we got to meet the owner of a small and simple (but fabulous) Kjot & Kunst restaurant that is known for it’s “Earth Cooking”. Earth Cooking is when they place grids over the geothermal steam and the food basically steams from the heat and steam below the ground. This was pretty amazing. We also checked out the golf course where Nic decided that he had to at least play one game of golf before we go back to Dubai.  We drove back to the city and strolled over to Lucky Records (5 minutes from our apartment) – an absolute must if you in Reykjavik – and we spoke to the manager who was extremely generous with his knowledge on some of the best local bands.  We bought some CD’s and he gave a list of recommendations.

Golf Course in Hveregerdi
Golf Course in Hveragerdi
Misty and Rainy Hveragerdi
Misty and Rainy Hveragerdi
Harpa in Reykjavik and Hveragerdi
Hveragerdi, Harpa in Reykjavik and Lucky Records

After dinner we strolled down to the Kex hostel where we heard another band was playing (we saw a couple during our stay as it was the Reykjavik Music Mess). The experimental band Parábolur premiered their latest show and we felt very privileged to have seen it. The trio played on large metal drums or parabola (made from antenna covers) and this was performed live with electronic music. The trio consists of Sigtryggur Baldursson (from The Sugarcubes), Steingrímur Guðmundsson and Kippi Kaninus.  As a lover of electronic music, I was in heaven because they combine these dark, primal, organic, drum sounds with light, mesmerizing, electronic synth. We had a couple of craft beers at the hostel and made some friends, before heading over to Dillan Whiskey Bar (another small place in Leugavegur street) for more music and dancing.

Parábolur at Kex Hostel
Parábolur at Kex Hostel
Hallgrimskirkja Church
Hallgrimskirkja Church

Day 4:  Sigga was so kind to give us a late check-out and after breakfast and we headed to the Hallgrimskirkja church and went up the bell-tower, where you get a really good bird eye-view of Reykjavik and it’s colourful rooftops. Across the road from the church is a small restaurant called Loki (like the brother of Thor) that specialise in local Icelandic cuisine. We had Icelandic plate II, that consist of smoked lamb on sweet homemade rye bread with mashed fish and potato and some pieces of dried fish (with butter). Nic said the fish tasted like dried carpet, but I liked it, because it reminded me of dried chicken or fish (you can find this in the Cape region in South Africa). I had a plate with three small pieces of the sweet rye bread and some pickled (raw, sweet&sour taste) mackerel and egg.  We then tried their adventurous local shooter called Brannevín, which consists of a piece of fermented shark meat that is washed down with a shot of potent unsweetened Schnapps.   This is most definitely not for the faint hearted.

Loki Restaurant
Loki Restaurant

After the interesting and somewhat challenging culinary experience, we headed to our new apartment.  Perfect Apartments is in the older,  but more sophisticated part of town and we stayed here for the remainder of our time in Reykjavik. The Old town is beautiful with its delicately restored houses that resembles doll houses, with their brightly coloured walls and roofs. The hosts where amazing people (we met Ýmir Björgvin Arthúrsson) with an incredible attention to detail and it felt like we where staying with our long-lost family.  I would absolutely recommend this place and recommend you read his blog before visiting the city.  The apartment itself has such a brilliant history and the building is also a historical site.  Part of the original interior is still in tact and the layout is well-planned and comfortable.

Our evening was rounded off by the world premiere of the production called Wide Slumber. This was a multimedia performance / theatre / installation production about the relationship between the life cycle of a moth and butterflies (lepidoptery) and the human sleep patterns with the theme of metamorphosis.  The performance was incredibly powerful and it was part of the Reykjavik Art Festival, inspired by Wide Slumber for Lepidopterists by A. Rawlings.  The ensemble consisted of four musicians, three singers and a performer who shared the stage “to create a poetic microcosmos through live music, puppetry, moving scenography and video projections”. After the show Dr. Melissa Whitaker: an evolutionary biologist in the Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology, where she specialises in lycaenid butterflies; spoke about the art and science of lepidoptery and left the audience with some serious food for thought. This was immensely inspiring and incredibly educational.

Reykjavik Old Town and Wide Slumber
Reykjavik Old Town and Wide Slumber
Pingvellir National Park
Pingvellir National Park

Day 5:  The weather was clearer, so we spent the day driving the Golden Circle , which started with the UNESCO World heritage site Pingvellir National Park, where the two tectonic earth plates meet and are still moving. After the park we drove to the geothermal active valley of Haukadalur where the well-known geyser, Stokkur, erupts between every 5-10 minutes. This was amazing to see (the water smells like egg) so don’t stand down-wind.

We then headed to Gullfoss (Golden Falls) waterfall that looks like a slice of cake in the earth covered with icy cold water and we also visited Solheimer, a small town that is known as the world’s oldest eco village. The village was very quiet, so we just drove through.  The minimal land-art made it worth the trip and we where glad we stopped there and had some picnic food (I can recommend this because there where not many places open as it was Sunday).

Pingvellir National Park
Pingvellir National Park
Geysir
Geysir
Gullfoss Waterfall
Gullfoss Waterfall, wooly foliage and “The Bubble Man”

Day 6:  I had to finish some photos for a client, so Nic went and played some golf in town where he met some local guys who offered that he played with them.  Later the evening we explored more of the old town and walked down to the harbour and visited the converted fisherman’s cottage called The Cinema House or Cinema NO2. Celebrities such as Eva Mendez have visited the cinema, where they screen films by a local filmmaker (Valdimar Leiffson), who explore and documents the history and the landscape of Iceland. The cinema is intimate with candles lit all around the wooden floor. It introduces you to all the areas around the country and how the geographic areas differ and we came to the conclusion that we would need a couple of trips to this magical country, to grasp the magnitude of its beauty and take time to explore and photograph it. I also learnt that the northern lights appear from light particles that travel from the sun and hit the earth atmosphere at the right moment in time and that the magnetic field around the earth create the beautiful green, pink or purple colours.

After the film, we checked out the local and organic Icelandic Fish and Chips shop (fantastic) and had a very large beer to line the stomach and reminisce about the films and the beauty of the northern lights.  We ended up at the Lebowski bar and we met a great German couple, a guy called Matt from Ohio (who was on-route to find the girl of his dreams) and Wronek (the bubble man). It felt like this evening went by in a glimpse and before we knew, it we almost missed our flight.  The drive to Kevlavik airport is at least 4o minutes and we made it just in time.

Day 7:  After a very stressful trip to the airport we managed to get some sleep on our way back to Copenhagen. The weather in Copenhagen was beautiful and we booked into our Hotel Du Nord again and got some rest before hitting the streets on our last evening. We got a pizza from a tiny (but amazing) Tony’s Pizza and took a bus to Christianshavn. I can absolutely recommend Luna’s café – they have the best Baily’s coffee with Vanilla Cream, the perfect end to an amazing adventure.

Blue Lagoon
Blue Lagoon

SOME ICELAND TIPS:

Go in Summer for the Music and tourist sites.

Go in Winter for night photography and chasing the Northern Lights.

Pack a picnic basket.

Do self-catering or hit a hostel.

Book Everything WELL in advance especially the hostels.

Rent a Car – it’s too cold to try other modes of transport.

Bring a camera and something to clean your lens if it gets wet/damp.

Bring a Tripod and trigger release / remote trigger.

Swim in a geothermal pool.

Eat dried fish.

Listen to some local music after going to Lucky Records.

Experience the arts scene.

Eat bread.

Do shopping at Budget (cheese and such basics) or Haukaup for fresh meat and fish.

Drink Tuborg or craft beer on tap at the Kex and be in with the crowd if you have a beard and button-up your short sleeve shirt.

Take a warm jacket.

 

Happy traveling.

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ENGAGEMENT SHOOT IN SELÇUK (EPHESUS)

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18 August 2014, Selçuk (Ephesus) – Turkey

 Mia en Eljay Engagement Shoot_WEB1

My best friend is the one who brings out the best in me

– Henry Ford -

I recently had the honor of photographing this beautiful couple and travel companions, on our adventurous road trip around the Mediterranean Coast of Turkey. Eljandre Mulder and Mia Viljoen are getting married early in 2015 and they decided to make this trip with us. They both love historical sites so we decided that it would be the most ideal setting for an engagement shoot to end off our exciting holiday together.  For me the shoot / images signify the start of their beautiful journey together. May your spirit travel over time and last even longer than the magnificent ancient ruins of Ephesus.

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Mia en Eljay Engagement Shoot_WEB8

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STREET PORTRAITURE

Young Market Girl - Fruit and Vegetable Market, Dubai, UAE
2010 – 2014, Various Locations Around the World

The biggest benefit from living and working in Dubai is the opportunity we get to travel. The United Arab Emirates is pretty much smack in the center of most of the destinations that we like (and would like) to visit and we are trying to make the best of the time we have here by exploring and learning about various cultures and customs. During this Ramadan I have been focusing on some personal projects and I have come to the realisation that I need to take more portraits and focus more on character study when travelling. Below are some portraits that I have accumulated (over the last three years) and would like to share them with you.

 

Waruna's Mother in her Sectret Rooftop Garden - Kandy, Sri Lanka
Waruna’s Mother in her Sectret Rooftop Garden – Kandy, Sri Lanka

I visited Waruna’s Antiques in Kandy and got introduced to Waruna (owner) and his mother.  His mother and father started the business and it is now owned by their son.  I found her to be incredibly elegant and interesting and she showed me her secret rooftop garden.

Drieka Nero and her husband in front of their home - Elandsbay, South Africa
Drieka Nero and her husband in front of their home – Elandsbay, South Africa

My uncle has a home in Elandsbay and Drieka, the lady in the white shirt is his housekeeper.  She is also a singer and I discovered her singing talent while filming my short film Walvis: an old-wives tale from the West Coast in Elandsbay.  In the image she is holding some of the music that we recorded and her husband also happened to be home at the time.

Celeste at the Fruit and Vegetable Market - Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Celeste at the Fruit and Vegetable Market – Dubai, United Arab Emirates

This photo was taken during one of our first Dubai exploration expeditions. With all the high-rises and glamour this city has to offer, this is a very real depiction of an experience in the city’s older, simpler, less glamorous part of town.

The Bookkeepers - Koh Samui, Thailand
The Bookkeepers – Koh Samui, Thailand

I took a moped to the Southern part of the Koh Samui Island where I strolled the streets and tasted some interesting fruit and vegetables in various small market stalls. As the evening crept up and stalls started closing, I took this image of what looked like the owner of the shop and the bookkeepers adding all the sales for the day.

Female Fisherman - Elandsbay, South Africa
Female Fisherman – Elandsbay, South Africa

This woman allowed me to take her photograph while she was waiting for her small boat to come into the harbor. Fishing on the West Coast is an unforgiving job, with little to no benefits. Women are resorting to jobs like these, as there are very few jobs in the rural areas. She has been a fisherman for most of her life.

Megan being made-up by her sister Yowyn - Pretoria, South Africa
Megan being made-up by her sister Yowyn – Pretoria, South Africa

Yowyn is a make-up artist in Pretoria, South Africa and this image was taken while she was working on some make-up looks for her portfolio. She was still a student at the time and is now working as a professional make-up artist in Pretoria.

Young Market Girl - Fruit and Vegetable Market, Dubai, UAE
Young Market Girl – Fruit and Vegetable Market, Dubai, UAE

I was about to leave the market when I saw this beautiful little girl as she was waiting for her mother to finish her shopping.  I remember how bored I was when I had to wait around for my mother and I could relate to her.

London Busker - London, United Kingdom
London Busker – London, United Kingdom

It was a gloomy London day and I was walking over the bridge with our friends, on our way home, when I saw this man. He had such a gentle and kind face and the sound of the I took this image with my film camera.

Ex-Prisoner Ntando Mbatha - Robben Island, South Africa
Ex-Prisoner Ntando Mbatha – Robben Island, South Africa

Visiting Robben Island is a very emotional and very sad journey back in time and we had the privilege of meeting Mr. Ntando Mbatha, one of the ex-prisoners of the era in which Nelson Mandela was also imprisoned.   In this image Mbatha introduced himself after which he shared some stories and history of the prison itself and life in the prison.  He currently still resides on the island and is a tour guide to the prison (now a national museum).

Midday Prayer - Greenmarket Square, Cape Town, South Africa
Midday Prayer – Greenmarket Square, Cape Town, South Africa

Greenmarket Square is a well-known tourist attraction in the heart of Cape Town and you will find some great South African souvenirs.  What I enjoy about Africa is that people don’t harass you to buy things.  This lady was (almost hidden) amongst the souvenirs and I then realised after taking the photograph that she was praying.

The Juice Lady - Koh Samui, Thailand
The Juice Lady – Koh Samui, Thailand

Since Koh Samui is incredibly humid you find friendly “juice ladies” around every second corner selling fresh fruit juices with the additional alcoholic option (cocktails).

The Shopkeeper's Cats - Koh Tao, Thailand
The Shopkeeper’s Cats – Koh Tao, Thailand

I was strolling the streets of Koh Tao when I came across a beautiful cat with two different color eyes.  The owner of the cats came out of her shop and she said I could take this image with her and her two beautiful cats.

As you Are - Longmarket street, Greenmarket Square, Cape Town, South Africa
As you Are – Longmarket street, Greenmarket Square, Cape Town, South Africa

The poster on the church behind the men in the image was initially what drew my attention but then refocussed on the two men having a conversation.  Street life in Cape town is relaxed and the people are friendly, admits all the political problems the country is currently facing.

Dancing in the Streets - Vance, Cote D'Azur, France
Dancing in the Streets – Vance, Cote D’Azur, France

The streets of Vance is bustling with life.  This man asked the women to dance to some live Latino music being performed in from of the Catholic church.  She said yes to dance with the stranger, without any hesitation.

Lightweight Muaya Thai Boxer - Chaweng Beach, Koh Samui, Thailand
Lightweight Muaya Thai Boxer – Chaweng Beach, Koh Samui, Thailand

The Muay Thai ritual before each fight requires each boxer and his opponent to do a ritualistic dance and rest his head and hands on each corner of the ring.

Kandyan Dancers - Kandy, Sri Lanka
Kandyan Dancers – Kandy, Sri Lanka

After the dance performed by the elaborately dressed Kandyan traditional dancers, we watched how they walk on fire.

A Man in a Small Blue Shop - Sri Lanka
A Man in a Small Blue Shop – Sri Lanka

On route to the Pilgrimage to the top of Sri-Pada (near Delhousie) we passed this tiny blue shop.  I only realised after taking the image that a man was sitting inside.

Fans and Junior Muay Thai Boxer - Chaweng Beach, Koh Samui, Thailand
Fans and Junior Muay Thai Boxer – Chaweng Beach, Koh Samui, Thailand

This boy had a fight minutes before the next fighters entered the ring.

Thank you for reading!

 

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GHOSTS AND GIRLS

Blood Puppet

Model & Make-up:  Yowyn Du Plooy
Styling and Phootgraphy: Karien Mulder
Wardrobe: Corsets SA www.corsetsa.co.za
Assistant: Louise Malan
28 June – 19 July Pioneer Museum and Sammy Marks Museum, Pretoria, South Africa
 

The Marks Ghost

 

THE MARKS GHOST VISUAL MEMOIR

(Click here to view the video)

To Pin a Ghost Model & Make-up:  Yowyn Du Plooy Styling and Phootgraphy: Karien Mulder Wardrobe: Corsets SA www.corsetsa.co.za Assistant: Louise Malan
To Pin a Ghost
Model & Make-up: Yowyn Du Plooy
Styling and Photography: Karien Mulder
Wardrobe: Corsets SA http://www.corsetsa.co.za
Assistant: Louise Malan

We recently visited the cold and wintery South Africa where I decided to do a shoot based on a local urban legend.  The legend is that of the ghost of Sammy (Samual) Marks who has been haunting his home (also known as Zwartkoppies Farm, built in the 1880s) and historical site in Pretoria, since his death in 1920.  The story I am developing is about Samual Mark’s middle daughter Dolly, who now also haunts the forest area outside the house in search of her family name.  Sammy and his wife Bertha had nine children of which only six survived.  The sad thing is that the legend and legacy of Sammy Mark died in 1981, with the death of his last grandchild.  Of all Sammy and Bertha’s grandchildren only girls were born, so the family name died when the last grandchild passed away.  In my story I am exploring the idea of losing a legacy and what it means to have a family name, what does it tie to?  I am interested in ideas such as why a name matters and does blood tie you to family?  With the images I wanted to capture the spirit of Dolly Marks – a rich Victorian lady who was not allowed to marry a ‘foreigner’ and who was ordered to return home to their family farm.  In my story she rebels against her religious father by practising alternative spiritual rituals and vows to never marry.  Her spirit still remains.

Blood Puppet Model & Make-up:  Yowyn Du Plooy Styling and Phootgraphy: Karien Mulder Wardrobe: Corsets SA www.corsetsa.co.za Assistant: Louise Malan
Ties
Model & Make-up: Yowyn Du Plooy
Styling and Photography: Karien Mulder
Wardrobe: Corsets SA http://www.corsetsa.co.za
Assistant: Louise Malan
Dark Portrait  Model & Make-up:  Yowyn Du Plooy Styling and Phootgraphy: Karien Mulder Wardrobe: Corsets SA www.corsetsa.co.za Assistant: Louise Malan
A Portrait of Dolly Marks 
Model & Make-up: Yowyn Du Plooy
Styling and Photography: Karien Mulder
Wardrobe: Corsets SA http://www.corsetsa.co.za
Assistant: Louise Malan
Dolly's Playground Model & Make-up:  Yowyn Du Plooy Styling and Phootgraphy: Karien Mulder Wardrobe: Corsets SA www.corsetsa.co.za Assistant: Louise Malan
Playground
Model & Make-up: Yowyn Du Plooy
Styling and Photography: Karien Mulder
Wardrobe: Corsets SA http://www.corsetsa.co.za
Assistant: Louise Malan

 

I am also super blessed and honoured this month to be featured on Gulf Photo Plus’s website as “member in focus” for the month of July.

Gulf Photo Plus Member in Focus
Gulf Photo Plus Member in Focus

Thank you for reading

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IF YOU LEAVE

Sister Leave (A double exposure portrait of me and my sister)
2013 (various times) South Africa, Croatia & London
 

If You Leave

If you Leave I leave with You

To Places deep and dark and Through

the Light and in the Trees and by

the Pond where I hear the Sea.

We sit and wait for the Stars to sing,

until I leave with you on the Unicorn wing

 – by Karien Mulder -

Some time ago I travelled to Croatia, South Africa and London and took some film images with the Canon Eos 1V which I borrowed from my photographer friend Hannie Du Plessis.  I love shooting with film because you have no room for error and there is just something haunting to film and black and white images.  Some of these where shot with double exposures and no post-production has been done.

Top: Dubrovnik Rockface Bottom: Twin Pond
Top: Dubrovnik Rockface
Bottom: Twin Pond
Top: Sister Leave South Africa Bottom: After Lunch Dubrovnik
Top: Sister Leave South Africa
Bottom: After Lunch Dubrovnik
Top: Friends in Light Dubrovnik Bottom: Lone Dove
Top: Friends in Light Dubrovnik
Bottom: Lone Dove

This post is dedicated to my sister (Tanya Viljoen) who I love and miss dearly.

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COPENHAGEN: A FAIRYTALE CITY

Finding the blue in Copenhagen
18 – 22, 28 & 29 May 2014, Copenhagen, Denmark
Finding the blue in Copenhagen
Finding the blue in Copenhagen
 

We flew 5064 km from Dubai to arrive in Denmark and it’s capital Copenhagen, believed to be the happiest city in the world (according to Lonely Planet). My goal was to shoot some street photography and get footage for our next visual memoir. We also wanted to go and see what the fuss was about. After a pleasant flight and some rest on the plane, we took a 20-minute, slightly confusing train trip and arrived at the beautiful Copenhagen Central Station (built in 1908).

The old train station is gorgeous, made almost completely out of wood. Doves cuddle in the large, warm, sun bathed windows and the light is perfect, all day. The grandeur of the station created this sense of historic nostalgia and you cannot help to be a little overwhelmed by the beauty of it.  For a while we soaked in the atmosphere, drank a coffee, ate a Frankfurter on a bun with all the trimmings (a large Frankfurter, very small bun, crispy onions, ketchup, gherkin and mustard) while we listened to the rain.  What I love so much about travelling are these moments of complete stillness in what seems to be such an insanely chaotic, bustling place. The unfamiliarity of it all, forces you to find some comfort in the smaller things, those things that you take for granted every day.

Day 1: Rain and the Frankfurter
Day 1: Rain and the Frankfurter
Day 1: Arrive in Denmark
Day 1: Arrive in Denmark

From the station we walked to Hotel Du Nord (a hotel in Vesterbro with a great deal of character and very friendly staff, especially Daniel, who made some suggestions where we could go for a drink and some local cuisine). Vesterbro is in the red light district of the city but even this presumably rough area seemed safe and trendy. Daniel suggested a pub around the corner called Jernbanecafeen or The Railroad Pub that is situated opposite the Central Station.  It is owned by a lovely lady called Agnes Bjørlig and she is the proud third-generation owner of this family business that has been around since 1933. The railway-themed interior is beautiful and ornate; with handmade flags to commemorate their 81 years of existence. There is so much character in the small space it’s unreal. They also have this value card where you can win a medal if you drink 10 of their local beers, so we said we would absolutely try to do that…we never managed 10, only 7.

Day 1: Jernbanecafeen - The Railway Pub
Day 1: Jernbanecafeen – The Railway Pub

We finished the day off by going to a lovely local restaurant Frk. Barners Kaelder where I had some fish, potatoes and white wine and Nic had a rich traditional stew with red wine.  The service was great and the food even better especially because it was cold that evening.

Day 1: Frk. Barners Kaelder for dinner.
Day 1: Frk. Barners Kaelder for dinner

 

On Day 2 we strolled through the streets of Vesterbro, with its cool clothing stores and hipster hangouts, where everyone, even pram-pushing-dads look like hipsters – happy hipsters with hot hairstyles.  What is interesting about Copenhagen (from what we have seen) is that even though it is super trendy, it is not at all pretentious. You don’t feel like a tourist and on day two we already said we could live there.  We still do.  The day was spent fooling around parks, taking small beer-breaks (Øl) and lying on the grass or wherever we could find some wild flowers, graffiti or take pictures of random old buildings.

Day 2: Exploring Vesterbro
Day 2: Exploring Vesterbro
Day 2: Exploring Vesterbro
Day 2: Exploring Vesterbro
Day 2: Exploring Vesterbro
Day 2: Exploring Vesterbro

Celeste joined us late that afternoon at Agnes’s pub, Jernbanecafeen and after that we decided to take another stroll around town and go to the free town Christiania, the largest hippy community in the world, with their own governing system.  It is not allowed to take photos (due to the substances sold there) so we had a drink, said farewell to Celeste and hit the streets.  We took a picture at the Hard Rock Café for our friend Werner who collects caps from each Hard Rock that he visits and we had yet another late night exploring the streets and the late night street food (schwarmas).

Day 2: Celeste join and we go to Christiania
Day 2: Celeste joined and trip to Christiania
Day 2: Exploring Vesterbro with Celeste
Day 2: Exploring Vesterbro with Celeste

 

On Day 3 we took a bus from Central Station to Nørrebro and got off in the main street with it’s awesome oriental and antique shops.  Not far from there we decided to go visit Hans Christian Andersen’s grave – possibly the most amazing Assistens cemetery I have ever seen.  It is so beautiful that lovers spend their afternoons soaking up the sun on the grass, amongst the graves, the delicate flowers and the willow trees.  We spent most of our afternoon there and spoke to people who knew the cemetery and some of the symbolical meaning behind some of the iconography they use on various stones.  They where so generous with their knowledge and gave us a free map of the cemetery.  We also visited the grave of Hans Christian Andersen, which was an unpretentious, simple grave with some fresh roses placed on it.

Day 3: Nørrebro shopping for antiques
Day 3: Nørrebro shopping for antiques
Day 3: Cemetery in Nørrebro
Day 3: Assistens Cemetery in Nørrebro
Day 3: Cemetery
Day 3: Assistens Cemetery, Hans Christian Andersen’s grave and lovers

On our way back we stopped at the beautiful Palads cinema ( a three-story mansion with crystal chandeliers and a fabulous popcorn selection).  Due to the incredible selection of sweets and popcorn they have, it is not advisable to take children there because they will end up crying!   This was heaven for us as we are completely movie-and popcorn obsessed and they have a massive selection of both.  After the freak-out session we walked over the street for a light lunch and some latte, served in a normal glass (something everybody does in Copenhagen and I really don’t know why).

Day 3: Paled Cinema and lunch
Day 3: Palads Cinema and lunch

The light was beautiful so we strolled some more through the alleys, towards the Round Tower (built in 1642), to go check out the view of the city.  The tower itself has a completely hollow center and there is a space at the top of the center where you can go and view the hollow, while standing on a pane of glass….eeeek!  Besides the hollow center and the steep spiralling walk up and around the tower, they also had an amazing hat exhibition, consisting of a 1000 hats, not to mention the most incredible 360-degree view of the city, once you have reached the top of the tower.

DAY 3: The Round Tower
Day 3: The Round Tower

The city center is bustling and beautiful with buskers making music and life is everywhere on the streets.  One barista told us that the street in Copenhagen is ‘sacred to him; because there is so much life happening there” and he also spoke about how the street is their livelihood.  I have to admit I miss this street life in Dubai, because other than Satwa there are very few places where you see that kind of interaction.

Day 3: Street life
Day 3: Street life

What I also really like about Copenhagen are all the specialty stores, for instance we went to one that only sells maps and world globe maps (some with lights in them and we were tempted to buy one) or various hat shops, book shops or a pub that only sell speciality Rums.

Day 3: Speciality Stores
Day 3: Speciality Stores

After another snack we headed to Nyhavn, a harbour not far from the Round Tower.  We spent the rest of the afternoon and early evening sipping icy drinks, taking photos and watching people with their Nikes passing by (everyone wears them).  On our way back we met two musicians, Dave and Jean Paul and their fabulous friend Michella who said we should join them for a drink at a small blues bar nearby.  We met some more amazing people there and listened to some inspiring Tom-Waits-but-not-Tom-Waits-like tunes by Jake Green.  It was one of those great nights and it is always awesome to make new friends.

Day 3: Nyhavn
Day 3: Nyhavn
Day 3: Meeting new friends
Day 3: Meeting new friends

 

Day 4 was spent strolling in the Botanical Gardens where each and every shrub, plant type and flower is named, labeled and carefully looked after – so incredible to see.  It was the hottest day since we got there and everyone was out to enjoy the sun around picnic baskets and games in the park.  This day I thought about how balanced the city seems with everyone, even elderly people, being active (everyone is either on a bike or walking or running) and I could see why they say it is the happiest city on earth.

Day 4: The Botanical Gardens
Day 4: The Botanical Gardens

On the way to the Rosenborg Castle (1606-1607) I was taking photos of a wall (just some stock texture) when a lady abruptly stopped on her bike, walked over and pointed to a cannonball in the wall.  At first I thought she might be a bit mental but then she explained this was a cannonball dating back to the 1808 British Bombardment of Denmark.  The ball is still embedded in the wall of the now University of Copenhagen.  It was so surprising and so cool that a random stranger took the time to show me that. At the Rosenborg Castle we had a fabulous lunch with sandwiches and some marvellous coffee (again, served in a normal glass) with the hundreds of  years old castle, as our backdrop.  You would think it is something out of a fairytale with swans cruising in small ponds and beautiful light.  It is no wonder Hans Christian Anderson was so inspired to write those wonderful children’s stories.

Inspired by all this magic of the castle we decided to go back to Palads (the amazing cinema, mentioned earlier) to see a Wes Andersen film (one of my favourite directors).  On the way there, we stopped at the Dutch Film Institute to check out an exhibition of some local filmmakers and browsed through some film books. The Grand Budapest Hotel is a film I can completely recommend and I could not think of a better place to watch it than there, in the heart of the most magical European City, in a building that resemble the Budapest hotel in the film.  If you haven’t seen the film, it is perfection.

Day 4: Cannonball in the wall and lunch at Rosenborg castle
Day 4: Cannonball in the wall and lunch at Rosenborg castle
Day 4: inch at Rosenborg castle, the park and the film institute
Day 4: inch at Rosenborg castle, the park and the film institute
Day 4: Poster of The Grand Budapest Hotel and Palads
Day 4: Poster of The Grand Budapest Hotel and Palads

From Palads we almost walked pass the Tivoli Gardens but because we were still in that Wes-Andersen-movie-mode we decided to go in and explore.  Tivoli Gardens is a theme park, with an old-school-fairytale-flare.  We played some games, won some tokens and got a pink, kitsch frame to put a photo in and put in my grandma’s cupboard that I inherited from her.

Day 4: Tivoli Gardens
Day 4: Tivoli Gardens
Day 4: Tivoli Gardens
Day 4: Tivoli Gardens
Day 4: Playing games at Tivoli Gardens
Day 4: Playing games at Tivoli Gardens

It was such perfect day and the perfect way to end the first leg of our 3 leg trip to Copenhagen and Reykjavik, Iceland.  (We were in Iceland for the following 6 nights (Day 5 – 11) and one more evening in Copenhagen, but more on this in my next post)

All images in this post were taken by Karien and Nic Mulder, apart from the poster of The Grand Budapest Hotel.

 

Thanks you for reading 

Video

A VISUAL DIARY – FOR RICK’S BIRTHDAY

THE OFFSHORE SAILING CLUB

Our crazy Auzzy friend, Rick Fielding recently celebrated his big five oh (50) and also sold their (him and Anne’s) legendary boat Tissaheel. We have spent some great times on the boat and this small video is made to celebrate his birthday and to say thank you for sharing their beautiful boat with us. We hope you have a fantastic year and much congrats on the half century!

Video credits:
Footage by
Karien Mulder
Nic Mulder
Celeste Muller
Gill Kenny
Chryss Stathopoulos
Dave Bamford
Edited by
Karien Mulder
Music
KODALINE “In a Perfect World”