Letter No.1  


Letter from Copenhagen

March 23rd 2006
It's my second day in Copenhagen and I find myself at the computer with a little time on my hands to write a letter.

My trip has been improving steadily, which is just as well because the first night was rock bottom! The security at Heathrow took for ever to get through and then my flight was delayed so it was quite late by the time I checked in to my hotel. Although the public areas of the hotel were nice enough, my heart sank like a stone when I opened the door to my room, accompanied by the porter. It had been quite an effort to get up to Room 505 (shades of Room 101 - it should have been a premonition) as I had to climb 25 steps and walk along endless corridors before even arriving at the lift. So I had secured the services of the sweet porter who was as shocked as I was when confronted with the hotel room in its full glory.

To say that the air was thick with smoke is an understatement and I said to the porter I'm sorry, I really can't sleep in here. He nodded vigorously and said No, you can't! So he obtained another key and we made our way to the new room with trepidation.

The second room was not substantially better, except that it did not reek of old smoke. It was not exactly luxurious, nor even comfortable! The lights did not work properly, the carpets were dirty, and the bed had no sheet covering the mattress - if that was, indeed, what it was! A series of uncomfortable springs surrounded by a bit of wadding was nearer the mark.

Eeeek! There was no way I was going to stay in this hotel any longer than necessary and resolved to move to another one in the morning.

I spent a painful night getting to know each spring in the mattress intimately and woke unrefreshed in the morning with the prospect of a lengthy rehearsal in front of me. A quick check with reception provided me with the interesting information that, due to my very late arrival, my room had been taken and I had been put in the old part of the hotel. Nevertheless, my patience with that particular hostelry was at an end and I have now moved to an extremely nice hotel with which I am very happy!

The rehearsal went well and although I was very tired and my 'warm up' room was freezing cold (so much so that it was debatable whether my warm up was having the required effect!), we all attacked the Mendelssohn concerto with as much enthusiasm as the early hour could produce. I like my conductor, who is good, very amenable and technically efficient. Tonight is our first concert which is out in the provinces and requires a two-hour drive.

After the rehearsal, I decided that some fresh air would be the thing to wake me up and I went for a walk in the sunshine. It's cold but bright so nice conditions for a walk with a bit of gentle retail therapy thrown in! After a light lunch of local herring, I wandered into the sunshine once more and past the Gothic town hall and to the Strøget area which is a succession of pedestrianized streets. The atmosphere was very enjoyable as the sunshine brought the street musicians out so I watched a guitarist for a little while. On my way back to the hotel, by the Town Hall, I stumbled cross a very friendly demonstration by teachers who were all singing along in unison about how much better the school system could be! Obviously, a tune a day does the trick...

After having consumed local herring earlier I didn't fancy more of the same and actually ended up in an Australian restaurant for my dinner. For those who have an affection for cuddly animals, look away now, as I ordered kangaroo in a delicious sauce on a bed of sweet potato. It was a nice way to end my day and I felt much more relaxed with the prospect of a better hotel room to sleep in.

Contrary to my previous night, I slept very soundly and have had a lovely morning playing the tourist. I walked towards the parliament buildings and palace - only to find that they were closed (well, hopefully not the parliament, but it wasn't open to the public!). So I walked on to the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, which is a lovely museum that I remember visiting on my first trip to Copenhagen... er... nineteen years ago..! I remembered a stunning conservatory building and Etruscan vases and Egyptian mummies so made my way in to the building to find that it is being renovated. However, my favourite exhibits were still on display and I saw some terrific items.

I descended some ominous dark steps towards the basement where the mummies are kept and was suitably impressed by the array of sarcophagi. Upstairs, there were the Etruscan sculptures, Greek portraits and Roman antiquities. There were also remnants of objects found in Egyptian tombs, including Wadjet-hotep's tomb at Sedment dating around 2100 BC. I have always found it quite odd the way that Egyptian sculptures always portray their countrymen with rigidly straight arms at their sides, rather like the Irish dancers from Riverdance. Did they have some problem with their elbow joints, I wondered...

On the second floor, I found the French impressionists and Post-Impressionists, with paintings by my favourite Renoir, as well as Pissarro, Monet, ballerinas by Degas and a lovely painting in Pointilliste style by Signac. I have never been much of a fan of pointillism but, at the sight of this picture, I was tempted to review my opinion. It was a simple painting of the French countryside with sunshine on water and I was riveted by the way the picture went in and out of focus according to where I was standing. Feeling pseudo-profound at the time, I drew a parallel with life and decided that the further one is away from something, the clearer it is.

Moving swiftly on.. it's now time for lunch and then to prepare for the concert tonight. If I get a chance to write again tomorrow, I will update you. But, for now, it's Au Revoir from Copenhagen.



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