Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Eighteenth Weekend

What a fun weekend we had! Our plans for Saturday were to go to Ribe, about 22km away, to see the Christmas sights, but the weather looked sort of ominous. Weather reports said it was supposed to rain hard all day, as is typical for this time of year in Denmark. We went to bed Friday night to pouring rain, and it didn't seem like walking around outside was going to be a good idea for Saturday morning! But, when we woke up, it was cloudy but no rain! We had a fantastic time walking the cobblestone streets. Much of it still feels like a medieval village.

In the Christmas area, there was a man with top hat and trench coat playing one of those little player piano type instruments that you turn with a crank. It sounded just like a carnival coming to town.
 At one point, three different choirs of people were singing renditions of Christmas songs. This group was outside the hotel that has been turned into a Julecalender. Each of the windows is marked with one of the days of December, and each day they open that window and there is a show inside. What a fun idea! Jeff took this picture just as Father Christmas was stepping out of the door. I think there's a shop inside, but we did not go in.
 This is the old Church in the center of town. Someday I hope we will go back there and be able to look more closely.
 A river runs right through town, with several large sailboats moored up on the docks. It feels very "European", especially with the cobblestone streets and the large brick buildings next to small stone houses.
 We got to Ribe shortly after 10am, and the kids were hungry for a snack. When we got to the place where the little booths were selling various treats and crafts, we decided to buy them each a waffle. As soon as we had paid for it and they poured the batter into the waffle iron, the power went out to all of the little booths. They were setting up for a big concert, plus there were about a dozen booths with lights and electronics, and it overloaded the circuitry. We waited a few minutes, and when they didn't come back on, decided to walk for a bit and come back. The lights came back on, for a brief couple of minutes, then were out again. So we kept walking. After quite a while, Jeff went back on his own to see if there were three little waffles ready, and they finally were. So the kids took a little break and ate them.
 They were thin, like the pancakes here, and stamped with hearts. They were served with strawberry jam and sugar. Quite delicious! Svea didn't want all of hers, so we shared it.
 The streets here are very old. Well, the whole town is very old, and the streets are very narrow. Torben stood in the middle of one and put his arms out. Probably it would fit three of him across, touching both sides.
 We walked down the little canal river to this post, which serves as a reminder of how high some of the flood waters have been in past centuries. The tallest green bar is quite a ways over our heads, and the water level currently is about four feet below the sidewalk. That flood was in 1634 -the year is marked on the bars. The lowest bar on there, which is slightly taller than Torben, is from a flood in 1909. I didn't notice that there were any more recent than that. Hopefully they have figured out some drainage systems to avoid such massive floods.
 These were some of the beautiful houses along the river. We were walking through the courtyard garden behind the museum when we passed these ones. Pia told us they are incredibly expensive, because of their proximity to the river.
 We all liked this little tea house. Jeff apparently thought it a good idea to take a picture of me taking a picture of the tea house. In the summer, the tea house is open to visitors, though when we passed through the doors were locked.
 This is a closer picture of the Julecalender windows from the hotel. It almost looks like a fanciful gingerbread house.
 The Ribe history museum. Boring for children, so we did not go inside. But it is apparently a very fascinating place. And the building itself is very beautiful. It was recently restored, I believe by the same person who helped to restore the classroom building at the folk school.
 Here is the tea house in its entirety. It just looks like a fun place to sit and have tea! And you can look out over the river, which at this place also has a series of bridges crossing every which way so you can get to where you need to go. I hope we can see it again in the spring when the trees are in bloom! Actually, it seems several trees and plants ARE in bloom right now, and we saw plants poking up through the dirt. There appear to be many confused species of the plant kingdom this year. I didn't think it had been that warm, but it does often feel like spring, so I guess they are confused too. It will be interesting to see what happens in the spring when they really are supposed to sprout...hopefully they won't be frozen over by then.
 At the start of our walk, Torben thought it was a fun idea to sit and pout. He wasn't upset about anything, just wanted a pouting picture on the park bench.
 Well, this picture wasn't from our trip to Ribe, but I like it and here it is. It seems quiet and calm, like winter time. If I could photoshop a flame into the candle, it might serve as a good Christmas card.
 As we were walking down the street, several vendors had their goods outside on the sidewalks. Jeff thought it was pretty funny that there were underpants with his name on them. He didn't buy any, but thought he should at least take a photo.
 Svea is getting so grown up! I forget what she was talking about here -probably asking me for a cookie and starting to get upset that I said she didn't need one since we were on our way to lunch.
 This was the sunrise this week, it was almost 9am when it finally got to this height. I like how the colours are shining between the trees.
 Ah, yes! Friday afternoon when we left the house to get the boys, we heard singing. Then we ran into the neighbour Pia who asked us if we were going downtown to hear him. We didn't know there was anyone doing a performance, but apparently it is someone quite famous in Denmark and he was doing a little concert in front of the hotel.
 It's kind of interesting that there are traveling concerts like this. It's not the first time a musician has shown up in one of these trailers, opened up the sides to create a sort of stage, and then sung along to a tape. After a few minutes, maybe a half hour or so, they pack up and move on to the next city. People gather in the street to watch, the police put up barricades so cars have to go around that block, and they enjoy some music for a little bit.
 Well, my pictures seem incredibly out of order this weekend! Oops. These were the booths set up in the courtyard outside of the little Julecalender hotel. They were so cute! All of them red and festive. It just made it feel like Christmastime. One of them was selling carmelized nuts that were very delicious. She let us try one each time we passed her booth, which, since we were checking on our waffles, ended up being several times!
 After we had had enough wandering, we made our way to a little cafe where Pia had reserved a table for us for lunch. It's good she did, the place was very crowded! Most people were eating in groups of 2 or 3, so it was easier for them to find a table. We had three adults and three children, so we used up a big part of the restaurant space. The kids and Pia and I all ordered "brunch" which came on one plate, and on which we each got a pancake (adults with hazelnut cream!), eggs, sausage, bacon, bread, cheese, bell peppers, cucumber and tomato salad, the kids got raisins, the adults got salmon and a skyr parfait with whole hazelnuts, raisins, muesli, and maple syrup, plus orange juice and hot chocolate -for the kids, orange juice and a latte for me. It was a huge amount of food! Jeff got a delicious cheeseburger, which he let me have a bite of. We haven't had many hamburgers since we've been here, and sometimes they taste so perfectly good! We did realize, though, why Danes don't eat out much. It was about $80 for our lunch for the five of us! And we didn't order Svea her own, but instead let her pick out parts from our (mostly my) plates.
 I liked the old-timey feel of Ribe, especially when it was decorated for Christmas, with lighted garlands hanging over the streets.
 Just as we were getting ready to leave, we saw a horse-drawn sleigh coming down the road. The sleigh looked like one you'd see in snow, but it had wheels. Genius!
 And just as we were leaving, on our way back to the car, we spotted this little house in between two slightly less little houses. I thought it was so cute. Seems like something for a story.
 We decided this weekend the boys needed a haircut, finally. We have been asking them for a few weeks when they were going to get it cut, and they always said "not now" but it was starting to get very long. So they finally said that I could cut it. They look so much more grown up! I cannot believe they will be six next month!
 Torben was mad at me about his haircut -apparently there was some part he had told me he wanted longer, but I didn't understand him. Thankfully, though, I was able to get one smile out of him. He was laughing about not making a nice face for my picture, and I snapped a second one while he was laughing. Tricky mommy.
It was a fun and busy weekend! Sunday we all went to the grocery store, and as we were getting ready to leave, Anders asked if we could get some ice cream. Low and behold, the caramel "drumsticks" were on sale for 3.98! That's less than 75 cents each for huge ice cream cones, so of course we bought those to eat on our way back home. Everyone eats ice cream while they are out for a walk in December, right?

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