Sunday, October 31, 2010

Silkeborg. Best Oriental in Denmark: Mongolian Barbecue Restaurant, Silkeborg

News flash:  December 2010.  Holiday ad with coupon for a Mongolian Barbecue Grill and Buffet restaurant in Bristol, CT. Looks like a similar setup --  Excellent! Now to get there....

Danish Mongolian Barbecue

First, the best. The chef behind the glass, who takes your piled-up plate of raw ingredients and all the sauces you want, and sizzles them up over high heat, tosses and flips, and puts it all back on your plate just for you, as you stand there.

One of Denmark's finest meals.  Move over, all ye tired and trite food places.  This idea is a winner.  Unassuming from the outside, but this said "Mongolian" --  in Denmark?  We had to try it.  Inside was traditional oriental.

Outside:  plain.

Be seated, and enjoy the house soup brought right away, to settle you in.

Then, go to the cold raw ingredients bar, including half frozen beef and other meat and fish strips; pile up your plate; choose noodles, rice, as you like, veggies, things unknown....

Then peruse the sauces bar at the end, and put on your own spices, any proportion you like --- you can come back for as much more as you like ....

Now, scroll up again to see the chef, complete with toque, in action.

Would somebody please bring that idea back over here.  Chinese food our way?  Nothing compared to this.  All you can eat.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Silkeborg - Tollund Man: Bog Man

This is Silkeborg, on Jutland, where a small museum houses, in a glass case, a man whose body was found in 1950.  It was remarkably preserved, in a peat bog.  Murder! The people cried. See :// But this turns out to have occurred long ago (350 BC), in the context probably of a sacrifice by early people.  That there are conflicting theories about what happened. He is not alone.  There are other corpses in other places, including a church (a woman there, found in 1938, the Elling Woman), and at the university town of Aarhus.

First, the man:  Exposures are easy for close-ups; but become darker stepping away.  The later pictures here show our need to brighten up a too-dark exposure, too yellow as it turns out, but such is life. And death. Maybe the spirits only allow tourists three accurately-tinted pictures.

Silkeborg, Denmark Museum. Tollund Man, frontal side  view

The acidity of the peat in the peat bog caused the remarkable preservation, like an extreme tanning process. See descriptions of what was found, theories, and archeological considerations at ://

Tollund man, 350 BC death, Silkeborg DK

Second, this was a community.  Here is one of the pots found in the area.  We have no idea of the celestial reflection shown, nothing supernatural here -- must just be from the glass case.

Or is it.

Mwahhahahahha ... No! Not the pot! No! Aargh.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Jelling - Harald Bluetooth, Rune Stones, Burial Mounds, Church

The history of Jelling encapsulates the history of conversion of the Danes to Christianity, and it was a rocky road. Worth it? Minds vary.  What drove the work:  How many parts force, repeated?  A hundredfold. How many parts gospel by example, love etc., zip. Maybe one.

Find Harald Bluetooth I, in a far broader historical context, at Bogomilia: Harald Bluetooth I.  Find a timeline to put Vikings into perspective as to violences. This is a World Heritage Site, see ://

Here is the cast of characters at Jelling, Denmark:  Denmark coming under siege again against the new perceived successor to the earlier aggressor, Charlemagne:  Here, Otto, who picked up the banner against the Norse after Charlemagne's empire fell apart:  first, Gorm the Old, Viking King, pagan tradition. His wife, Thyra. When Thyra died, Gorm erected a rune stone in her honor. Their son is the one who impacts back and forth with Otto -- Bluetooth.

This side says "Denmark".  The reverse says "Gorm King made these memories after Thyra his wife Denmark's ornament", according to the translation at ://  Read there of her strengths in enlarging the ramparts known as the Dannevirke, and persistence in defending Denmark, against Otto and the Germanic tribes. And against Otto's own advances.  In 1627, the stone sat next to the church entrance, and was used as a seat. Then moved.

Gorm died in about 958 ACE, and was buried in the Viking tradition, in a burial mound. Here is the north mound where he was buried:

Do we have the mounds straight? There are conflicting accounts: is Thyra in the center of the old stone ship construct, or was she in the mound, now emptied (grave robbers). See ://; and then that one body was recovered, was that Gorm? ://  Have to keep checking. Some say the South Mound never did contain a body and that it was intended by Harald Bluetooth for himself. That would put the Queen Mother in the stone ship between, now where the church is located. Is that so?

 Harald Bluetooth finally is converted to Christianity, and built a church on the same site as the Gorm the Old burial mound; and also the site of a large stone ship -- the outline of a Viking ship in spaced standing stones, usually signifying a burial place at the center.  It is believed by some that Queen Thyra was buried in that place.  Building the church over it blends the pagan with the Christian,  and also puts Thyra in "hallowed" ground.

 Harald also reburied his father in the church.  That church burned, as did its succcessor, and another was built.  There are three clear sections to the church, but go in and only find access to two.  Go inside and get disoriented. Which room are you in? An added entryway is clear enough, but the inner space is nothing like the outside suggests.

The oldest part is reinforced. But inaccessible.  Little window 'way up top. What is in there?

Little window on the other side, at human level. Is that the altar end?  False ceiling?  There was a vestry meeting going on inside, so we fiddled around outside most. Find details of the church at

Interior:  here is the menorah form for the candelabra. This frequently shown in Danish churches.

 In 2000, after confirming identity, Gorm was reburied beneath the new church, in front of the choir, with just a little symbol there that has no other marking and we missed it, found it here:  See ://

Harald Bluetooth, son of Gorm and Thyra, set up a 10-ton pyramidal rune stone in honor of his father and mother both.

It looks different from each angle.

There are Christ symbols, and Christian symbols. The figure of Christ on Side 2 is the oldest representation of Christ in Denmark.  See it more clearly in the paint that would have been used at the time, at  ://

Side 3, animals and snake, Rune stone, Harald Bluetooth for King Gorm and Queen Thyra

Harald ultimately was deposed by his son, Sven, and fled to Poland we think.  There he dumped Christianity (is never canonized by the Church; but is given a prominent place and may be buried at Roskilde Cathedral).

Why a clipper ship hanging from the ceiling? The motif is common in Danish churches. Need research. Is this a clipper?

A third great stone honors a wife of Harald Bluetooth, apparently.

Was it the theology of Christianity that moved the Scandinavians, or force and organization backed by assets and means of communication:  Charlemagne and successors pressing on.

Think back:  Christians had the advantage of literacy; and traditions of keeping records and illustrating and writing stories.  And the power and the military of the Pope.  The Vikings had little of that, in their largely oral tradition, and mustering armies as needed. Literacy and communications:  Even Gorm's rune stone for Thyra is the first known recorded words of a Danish king.

 Like corporations against individuals:  guess who wins.  Guess who can muster more resources, and more varied resources.

Still, after decades, even hundreds of years of people saying they converted to get the Christians off their backs, and then returning to their own views; some stuck. Then more, and it all then stuck and the Viking culture was diminished in the historical view to a brief, regrettable few centuries of unexplained violence.

For more of the Builder's work, see Harald Bluetooth's Bridge over Ravning Enge, at Velje, see ://   Half a mile long, 18 feet wide.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Fredericia -Tomb of Unknown Soldiers

Fredericia was the first to establish a grave for unknowns, plural, and their idea began with the First Battle of Schleswig 1848-1850, memorial 1858 we think.  The Sleswig wars related to the secessionist movement of the German ethnic groups in Schleswig-Holstein, and occurred in two spaced phases -- 1848; and then 1864.

Schleswig-Holstein is the area at the base of the Jutland peninsula, where the border with Germans, Prussians, others, has been intense.  See :// and ://; and ://

The wall and redoubts, built by the Prussians so they could better besiege the city, is behind the soldier.

The Danes retained Schleswig in the first Battle of Schleswig Holstein 1848 or so, where the sides were roughly evenly matched;  but lost it in the Second Battle of Schleswig about 1850 when the German Federation joined forces with Schlewig-Holstein. The Danes call these their civil wars; the Germans may call them wars of secession.

The Danes were vastly outnumbered in 1864, more matched in 1848. See Danish military history at :// The Fredericia battle is at :// These wars recur, so it helps to learn the basics early on. Search also for the spelling Slesvig".

The Battle of 1864, Denmark against Prussia and Austria: focus there is at the Sonderborg post, a headland fortification, town and castle. There the Danes lost, but celebrate the courage of the outnumbered Danish soldiers, see Sonderborg post.

The "Great Barrow" found in searches refers to the mass grave with a mound on top. Some 500 soldiers' remains are at the great barrow at Trinity?  It looked too small for that, still checking.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Something Whimsy in the State of Denmark

How Many Surprises Dance On The Way
1. Ladies First.

This argues for the theological position that, In the Beginning, folks were largely both-and. In the beginning there were the six-packs....  see KNGDV.

Or does it?

Roles evolve.

2. The necessaries:

3. Road hazards.

Behold the dedicated bikeway.

They stop not. Neither do they beep.

4.  Viking Wolf

Here reproductions or imagined, at Slagelse, Viking reconstructed/real settlement (any original would surely be inside, in the museum)

The tale of Fenrir is fierce, with bonds that looked so very weak, but were of a magic kind to restrain him, and only trickery would get him leashed; but he thought ahead. He would submit to these gossamer threads only if Tyr a god of battle, would put his hand in Fenrir's mouth while he did it. 

 In went the hand of Tyr, and it never came out, that way. Fenrir could not loose himself, and so Fenrir chomped down.  Tyr has one hand, but Fenrir is tight-tied. See Bulfinch's Mythology; and  see ://

But Odin also had two wolves, Freki and Geri. Freki is of the milder sort; Odin just fed his wolves all the meat that Odin was given, because Odin required no food.  Mead was all he required.

Which is this. Who has the last laugh.

The tourists do. 

5.  Tourists

They also feel better now.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Fredericia - Garrison Town , Redoubts

Fredericia: Defense Outpost and Colony
Then Redoubts built by the Prussians
Schleswig Wars

Fredericia:  Haven for Invited French and Jewish Immigrants -
Frederick IV

View from Fredericia battlements, to the Kattegat 

Fredericia is the first main town on Jutland, reached after crossing the Little Belt Bridge,  from Funen. It was founded by Frederick III in about 1660 as a fortified encampment against invasion; to encourage settlement there and in other areas of Denmark, he offered freedom of religion.  Many Jews responded, and by 1719, there was an active Jewish communitiy here.  They were allowed to own businesses, and prospered. 

The main waterways are the Baltic Sea, that empties into the "Kattegat" Sea, by way of the "Oresund" between Copenhagen and Malmo, Sweden.  The Kattegat empties into the Skagerrak Sea, and that empties into the North Sea. Are the Kattegat and the Skagerrak really seas?  What else?

The connecting waterways help explain Denmark's exposure to invasion (and its ease of invading elsewhere).

German ethnic groups, Prussians, sought to secede from Danish rule in 1848 (unsuccessful) and 1864 (successful).  They invaded and built battlements and redoubts at Fredricia that are old now, rounded humps in a long, winding trail, showing where walls and cannon places were.

Battlements, redoubts, Fredericia, Denmark

Battle of Fredericia 1849, in the First Battle of Schleswig Holstein. Some 61,000 soldiers from Schleswig-Holstein, supported by Germany in their effort, invaded.  Schleswig-Holstein is at the southern end of the peninsula of Jutland, and its boundaries came in disput often.  The Danes withdrew north, leaving some 7,000 Danes to defend.   won this time, but ultimately lost its hold on Schleswig-Holstein.  In 1849, however, the Schleswig-Holsteins built several redoubts from which they shelled the town, and much burned.

The museum there is elegant in surroundings, and refined in presentation. What else for this era of fine clothing, bows, snuff, white stockings and elegance in the ruling classes?

And the church: Trinitatis Kirke

Find the life of the common man in the back:  here, an original tobacco barn.  Hang the leaves to let them dry.
Old tobacco barn, ordinary life at Fredericia Museum, Fredericia, Denmark

From 1783-1874, Fredericia was the only town producing tobacco - King Frederick wanted this area to produce all that Denmark needed, and opened up Fredericia to French Reformists, who settled there as Huguenots, fleeing persecution.  See ://

The reformed church;  families have little areas just like home, complete sometimes with the family dog holding court.  Little outdoor rooms. Immaculate care. Gravel raked, smooth.

There is a mass grave there, some 40 unknown soldiers as we recall, and believe this was the 1848 war.  Am checking.

Jewish History in Denmark. In the 1600's, Christian IV saw that the Danish economy and trade were both flagging for lack of marketing skills; so he invited Sephardic Jewish merchants and their families to come settle.  Back in 1492, Spain expelled all its Jews.  See the history at :// Many came here to Fredericia.

Geographical Overview of Denmark

Getting around:

Denmark consists of some 500 islands, plus one jutting peninsula aptly named Jutland, attaching it to Germany and with a border varying with military campaigns.  The two main islands are Zealand and Jutland.  The Kattegut is the name of the stretch of Baltic Sea between Jutland and Zealand, where Copenhagen is located.  The islands used to be connected by boat. The boat trip in the 19th Century from Zealand over to Aarhus, Jutland (not landing in Funen, the island in between) took 20 hours.  Steam boats came along in 1830, helping somewhat.

The Danish "hyggelig" or "snugness", feeling cozy, even specifically winter snugness, seem natural when travel is so difficult among the regions. 

The German "gemutlicht" is similar - see Hans Christian Andersen, the Life of a Storyteller, Knopf 2001 by Jackie Wullschlager at page 190, and the role of calm and security in his own life. And the seeking of it.

 The country is generally flat, so roads are not made additionally impassible by slope. Still, there is a sense of snuggling down in the appearance of the low cottages, many with thatch roofs still, and some having sunk with windows now below road level.