Thursday, August 30, 2007


After three days of laundry, I decided that John and I would spend an afternoon of "Adventure," which really means I didn't know what we were going to do but it had to be out of the apartment and preferably out of our immediate neighborhood. One of the ladiess with the Fulbright Commission is letting us borrow a Christiania Bike while we're here so I can bike around the city with John. I'd taken it for a short ride with Michael on Sunday and a longer ride on Monday. I'm still learning the bike traffic rules and have found it can be really challenging to turn left. The bike is also large and feels like the bike equivalent of driving a semi-truck. So bike riding is a bit of a stressful experience for me. But the best way to get out and see the city is on a bike, so off we went for what ended up being almost a seven mile ride.

After about two miles of biking, I pulled off on a gravel path that looked as if it wound its way around the canal on the other side of Christianshavn. A few turns later I got a little lost and ended up biking through Pusher Street in Christiania.

Basically, Christiania is a commune of sorts created in the early 1970s by a group of hippies and squatters when they took over portions of a recently closed military base. I'd always had a vague notion that it was the center of the drug world in Copenhagen but recently learned that Christiania is a self governing community that has always banned hard drugs. Though until 2004, pot was sold openly from booths on Pusher Street. Many families and their children live there and it's not considered a dangerous place.

I ended up in Christiania after my pretty gravel path began to be less well tended and the buildings weren't quite as nice. And I started to smell something funny. Then I saw the Christiania flag flying from one of the homes and I realized where I was. There were a lot of people around so I decided to go across the bridge into Christiania thinking to myself that I would hug the canal, stay on the edges of Christiania and find the counterpart to my gravel path on the other side of the canal. A couple of turns later and I found myself riding my Christiania bike pass a mural with a picture of a camera with a slash through it and up Pusher Street with U2's "Where The Streets Have No Name" blaring from a loudspeaker.

It was the kind of place that I would have felt very uncomfortable being in the U.S. It has the look of a hobo village with rag-tag buildings, and booths with bright paint that sold thinks like cheap umbrellas and something that smelled just like funnel cake. I was wishing powerfully that Michael was there while John, in his Sesame Street bike helmet, was in heaven because there were mangy animals everywhere and he excitedly pointed out every one.

I finally navigated out of there and we continued with our afternoon of adventure, though nothing else was as exciting as that.

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