Robyn and Joel's Blog: Chronicling our Copenhagen Adventures

Yes, we're that interesting.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

And away we go...

The taxi arrives to take us to Copenhagen International Airport tomorrow morning at the unholy hour of 4:30 AM. We're off to spend two weeks in Texas with family and friends.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Climate Clash

At least this time we weren't tear-gassed.

Last Saturday, a large COP15 protest made its way down the high street just around the corner from our flat. Local estimates place the number of protesters between 50,000-100,000 (the BBC story linked cites a lower number). All told, it was a relatively peaceful affair.

Throughout this week and the last, Robyn and I have felt relatively removed from the COP15 craziness unfolding at the Bella Center just down the road from where we live. Spending most of your time in the Ivory Tower of academia tends to breed that sort of dissociation.

Anyhoo, check out a few pictures here, as well as the short video below. Note the decidedly non-threatening Chaka Khan soundtrack.

Edit: Facebook doesn't show videos linked through Google Blogger, so click here for video.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Bad Bloggers

Yes, we've neglected our blog for quite some time. Sorry 'bout that. We hope to resume our regularly scheduled programming shortly.

In the meantime, enjoy this picture of a heart-meltingly adorable kitten, won't you?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Out and About (Slowly!) with Marsha and Si

Having my parents live in Copenhagen for a few months has afforded an unaccustomed luxury: being able to spend some extended leisure time with them.

Normally, trips back to the US are rather frenetic affairs. Enjoyable, yes. But there's a palpable pressure to pack as much high-speed "memory making" into our brief visits as possible, knowing that we'll soon be very far away and not likely to return for quite a while. We often come back to Copenhagen feeling that we blasted through our visit in fast-forward. So, it's been wonderful to actually spend some slow motion time with Marsha and Si.

For example, one of their first weekends in Denmark--during an uncharacteristically warm stretch (thank you global warming!)--we enjoyed a relaxed picnic on the beach near our flat. Pics here.

More recently, we dined at one of our new favorite Copenhagen haunts: Nimb Vinotek, a cozy wine and tapas restaurant just around the corner from Tivoli. Deliciously slowmo pics here


Monday, September 7, 2009

Ted and Courtney's Copenhagen Chronicles

As I type this, I'm currently sitting in a pub in Durham, UK. 

Why is this relevant? Because the last time I met up with Ted and Courtney abroad--prior to their recent Copenhagen visit--was in the UK. Specifically, it was in Oxford, Fall 2005. They were in London working; I was in Oxford to give a paper at a philosophy and psychology conference. The two of them graciously took the train up to spend the day with me prior to my conference. After a happy reunion, we quickly found our way to my favorite pub in Oxford--and only emerged many, many, many hours later, parting ways at the bus station. Good times. End of story.

Oh, yeah: except for the part where I stumbled back to my room, fell into a semicomatose state for twelve hours, and missed my talk the next morning. Totally Ted and Courtney's fault. But I digress.

Anyhoo, fast forward to Copenhagen, Fall 2009. The Balakers have now come and gone, leaving a trail of laughter and empty wine bottles in their wake. It was, indeed, a jam-packed visit: a trip to Tivoli, where we watched our opera singer friend perform (and receive a very prestigious award!); a visit to my ever-exciting place of work to see precisely where all the philosophical magic happens; multiple forays to some of our favorite local bars and restaurants; much ambling about town, with an occasional bout of strolling and meandering thrown in for good measure; catching the Sunday morning service at the International Church of Copenhagen to see my father preach, followed up with a trip to Charlottenlund beach and a BBQ at the church house.

Of course, a visit from the Balakers isn't a mere occurrence. Rather, it's an event--a happening, if you will. Accordingly, the Balakers cannot be contained within a single picture set. Feast upon the pictorial narratives found here and here.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

American football expat style!


Thanks to my awesome sister who sent us the ESPN info, we can now watch American college football on our laptop!!!

As much as I love living in Denmark, I do miss football. Autumn just doesn't feel right without football. And, now we have it! Our Saturday nights are now booked... and with the time difference, well, we may be a bit late for church Sunday morning. That is okay, God is a football fan too :)

And, here is a little picture for our Texas family... Hook 'em! (Just ignore the other hand...)

Props to Marsha and Si

Hello Everyone! This is Robyn taking the opportunity to give a shout-out to Marsha and Silas…

Just 4 short weeks ago, Marsha and Silas took on the daunting task of pastor and family for the International Church of Copenhagen. Silas is serving as the interim pastor for several months. They moved into the Church House, which serves as both Church office and pastoral residence 4 weeks ago and Silas began preaching and leading Bible Study. As you can imagine, there were a number of ‘hiccups,’ challenges, and problems with the transfer, but Marsha and Silas came through with flying colors. In fact, they are doing an incredible job. It is hard to start a new job, especially when you are replacing a beloved pastor; it is hard to move, especially when you are moving thousands of miles; it is hard to live in a foreign country, especially when you don’t speak the language. It is especially difficult to do all three at once! So, props to Marsha and Silas for an amazing 4 weeks! I am confident the next four will be just a bit easier.

Oh, and the picture was taken at the beach... we live just a short walk to the beach and we were making the most of the beautiful weather.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Company Cavalcade Continues...

A mere three hours after we said "Farvel!" to Ron and Michael, we bid a hearty "Hej!" to our dear friends, Ted and Courtney. 

Ted and Courtney had been in Stockholm the previous week. Ted was attending a conference, and Courtney--taking some rare time off from her day job of being a Big Player in the world of Hollywood cinema--busied herself being fabulous. Word of their arrival quickly spread throughout Scandinavia. Needless to say, we were excited to welcome them to our city! We'd last seen them back in May, when we attended Matt and Ashley's fantastic wedding in Beverley Hills, California (Matt is Ted's younger brother).

Their visit was marked by much hilarity and fun. More to come soon.


Thursday, August 20, 2009

Beer, God, and Goodbye

Last Thursday, we bid Ron and Michael a fond "farvel!".

Our visiting celebrities--both of whom currently perform with the Twelve Irish Tenors and are capable of affecting a remarkably convincing Irish accent, particularly when mocking the Irish--returned home to the US after a whirlwind trip through Iceland, Copenhagen, and the UK. Their stay gave us an excuse to do lots of touristy things that we wouldn't otherwise do. And simply walking around the city with them, ingesting the sights and sounds of this lovely time of year, reaffirmed what a beautiful place Copenhagen truly is. 

Their next-to-last day focused on beer: specifically, a trip to the Carlsberg Brewery, along with Robyn and my parents (I couldn't go, alas). Pics here

The morning of their departure, we awoke (somewhat) early and made a dash for one of our nearby favorite pastry joints. We then strolled over to Vor Frelsers Kirke ("Our Savior's Church"), a beautiful baroque church in the Christianhavn district that was initially built in the 1680s. Its defining feature is its famous twisted "chocolate spire"--and yes, you can actually walk along a narrow, creaky external staircase all the way to the top. The ascent is not for those prone to vertigo and/or pants-wetting. But the spire offers perhaps the most breathtaking view in town, as these pics confirm.

Bowels still fluttering from our harrowing climb, we quickly returned to our flat so that the Ron and Michael could catch their flight. I've yet to hear otherwise, so I'm assuming they found their way home.

It was a great visit! 

Monday, August 17, 2009

Tillykke med fødselsdagen, Mor!

More pics from mom's birthday BBQ here (thanks to Ron for taking most of the photos).

Edit: photo link now working.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Ron and Michael Take Denmark

Robyn's brother, Ron, and his friend Michael have joined us in Copenhagen for a few days. Things got off to a rousing start last night with a trip to check out some electronic music action from the Strøm Festival, followed up with a few pints at a nearby pub. 

It's a bit rainy and cool today--in Copenhagen?!? Go figure!--but we have a number of things planned. More on that later. For now, you can see a few pics from last night's adventures here.

Silas and Marsha: From Carlsbad to Copenhagen

A couple of weeks ago--nearly fourty-five years to the day of his ordination--my father retired from the ministry. He'd been Head Pastor at Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church in Carlsbad, CA, for twenty-one years. Prior to that, he'd served parishes in Michigan, Arizona, and Texas.

So what is Silas doing in retirement? Puttering around the house, hunting for loose nails and tiles to grout? Working on his lawn care technique? Erm, not exactly. He's moved to Copenhagen (with my mother, of course) to serve as Interim Pastor at the International Church of Copenhagen. We recently said goodbye to our beloved Pastor, Chad Rimmer, and his family as they moved on to a new phase of their life in Scotland. My father's retirement coincided perfectly with Pastor Rimmer's departure--so here he is, filling in until ICC's new Pastor arrives some time in October.

After a moving goodbye service and celebration in Carlsbad (which Robyn and I could not attend, alas), some hectic planning and packing, and a nine hour flight to Copenhagen via Washington, my parents arrived in Denmark and have settled into the church house (though they did stay with us in our flat the first week of their arrival).

It's great to have them here. More Kruegers in Denmark. Who woulda thunk it? View some pics from their arrival and first week here.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Happy Birthday!

Happy (belated) birthday, Robyn!

Friday, June 26, 2009

He's back!

Our fuzzy house guest, Sammy (a.k.a. "Sammy Whammy", "The Samster", "Seattle Sammy", "Samma-lamma-bing-bong") is back for another stay. It's like he never left.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Not feelin' the (soccer) love.

Evidently, something big is goin' down.

There is currently an important soccer (i.e., "football") match playing out on Danish television. Denmark (wearing snappy little red and white kits; very sharp) is pitted against those dastardly Swedes (garish yellow and blue kits; very IKEA-ish). This much I know. And I also know that Denmark currently leads, 1-0. Erm, go Denmark. Kick that ball. Kick it...through the net 'n stuff. Alot. Yay.

Beyond these basic facts, I have no idea why they are playing or what the significance of this match is. Like most Americans, I hardly even know the rules of soccer.

But my neighbors several floors down clearly do. They are reacting audibly, and with much gusto, to each important in-game happening. Denmark's first goal elicited thunderous cheers and whoops of unfettered ecstasy that shook our entire building. Then, a moment ago, the satellite feed dropped out for a few seconds. The ensuing shrieks of horror and panicked screams of "TRUCK!"* (*not what they really said) were surely heard all the way to Berlin. These folks clearly dig their soccer. I hope they don't burn the joint down if Denmark loses.

Silly Europeans and their trivial pastimes. I'm off to play some World of Warcraft...    

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Copenhagen surfing?

Check the link for some "dynamite" surfing action in Copenhagen (just underneath the bridge I cross on foot nearly every day).

Clearly fake, alas. But given the nearly ubiquitous Danish affection for all things explosive (see Exhibit A and B, respectively), this scenario isn't entirely implausible.  

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Andrew Bird

Last night, Robyn and I went to see the American musician Andrew Bird.

He played at one of our favorite music venues in Copenhagen: Lille Vega. Bird's music is tough to categorize; he tends to roam freely over any number of different genres (e.g., folk, bluegrass, alt-country, New Orleans Jazz, looping instrumental drone, etc.)--very often throughout the course of a single song! Along with a distinctive vocal style, he's also renowned for his lyrical dexterity. It's not often one hears a song kick off with a ditty like "From proto-Sanskrit Minoans to porto-centric Lisboans" (that's from the track "Tenuousness"). Bird veers dangerously close to hyper-cerebral preciousness in spots, but his music is so rich and resonant--and he's such an unexpectedly charismatic performer in person; no emo brooding for him!--that it never really comes off as cloying or masturbatory. Dude's simply a musical genius. He can't help it. And, he's one hell of a whistler!

Someone already posted a clip from last night's show on YouTube. It's not my favorite song, but it gives a pretty good taste of the Bird Experience. Here's another clip (this one from a show in Orlando earlier this year) of him playing "Lull", one of my favorite tracks.

See him if you can. He's a rare talent. 

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Spring has, erm...yeah, that's right: SPRUNG!

So my last post (far too long ago) mourned the loss of snow. Well, the snow is now really gone. Today was an utterly gorgeous spring day! This is a great time of year to be in Copenhagen. Robyn and I spent most of the day wandering the city and enjoying the sight of Danes soaking up every last ray. More pictures here.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

No more snow

Alas, the snow is gone. For now, at least. 

Copenhagen doesn't get as much snow as people tend to think. But a few recent snowfalls--along with an unseasonable run of brilliantly sunny days--made for an abundance of picturesque scenes out and about town. The snow even brought a touch of charm (but only a touch, mind you!) to the University of Copenhagen campus where I work--a thoroughly sleek and modern, but aesthetically sterile and, frankly dull, assemblage of drab hues and stark geometries that looks rather like a corporate campus instead of a university.

But for a short time last week, it was actually pretty. 

Monday, February 16, 2009

The Lives of Others

Few things in life are more compelling than looking at someone else's travel photographs. That said, some family members have noted that we're behind in posting pics from a spate of recent trips. Quite so.

The past few months alone, we've done a fair bit of bouncing around. I've had conferences in Pittsburgh (not too many pictures there, alas, as I was sick the whole time), Heidelberg, London, Paris, and Lugano. Robyn and I both went back to the states for conferences, and we spent time in Carlsbad and New Brunswick. We then took a quick, non-work-related trip to Berlin

Click the links to see pictures from each trip (if you dare, that is--or have absolutely nothing else to do). We have quite a bit more travel on the (relatively) near horizon, so there will be ample opportunity to repeat this exercise soon.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Shawarma love revisited

Regular readers of this blog know that I love shawarma. In fact, my last post talked about this love at some length. I could have said more. Believe me. 'cause I really love my shawarma, ya dig? 

Sadly, there is a dark side to love in all its myriad forms. And shawarma love is no exception. A friend recently drew my attention to a disturbing shawarma-related article, which can be found here.

(Live hyperlinks in this blog seem to "die" when published via Facebook notes, so those reading from Facebook can do things the old-fashioned way and cut 'n paste this URL:

The takeaway is this: "naked" shawarma--i.e., pre-mayonnaise, salad dressing, and all the other fixin's that make already-awesome shawarma even awesomer, not to mention the greasy fries needed to complete the meal--already contains nearly a day's worth of calories and two day's worth of salt and fat. Oh, and most of the time all sorts of unnamed "you don't wanna know about it" meats are unceremoniously crammed together into those sinewy slices of heaven that bring my life meaning and purpose. In other words, you're simultaneously munching on about five species with each bite. 

Love hurts. Shawarma love, evidently, really really hurts.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Supersize me!

Robyn and I have become big fans of shawarma. We have a regular rotation of local shawarma joints we frequent when the craving hits. And just to keep things interesting, we rarely go to the same joint two times in a row. We're crazy like that.

One of our local joints, however, seems to consistently give us (or rather, me) trouble. I faithfully order the same thing every time from the same guy behind the counter: "One shawarma menu, please, and one extra shawarma sandwich" (of course, imagine I've just said this in kindergarten-level Danish). The former is the Danish equivalent of a McDonald's "extra value meal": shawarma, fries, and a coke. The latter is, quite obviously, just the sandwich itself. The friendly Turkish chap behind the counter nods solemnly with understanding every time and shuffles off to put together my order.

Alas, there seems to be a persistent hiccup in our communication process. We always get the first part of the order, just as requested. But half the time I come home, open the bag, and am greeted by some sort of obscenely engorged shawarma mutant sandwich big enough to feed an average Danish family of four for a week. I have no idea what this is or how I continue to order it.

Here's some photographic evidence:

What you can't see in this picture are the three pounds of meat and streams of red grease that will soon come shooting out of this mutant sandwich with the next bite. 

I remain committed to solving this communication problem. If it means eating shawarma three times a week for the remainder of our stay in Denmark then, by Morgan Spurlock, I will do it!


Sunday, January 18, 2009


So last night, Robyn and I were dining with friends. They live in a beautiful house in Charlottenlund, one of the "poshest" areas in greater Copenhagen. Their dining room has a large window which overlooks a spacious, meticulously-manicured backyard (a rareity in Copenhagen). It's truly a beautiful house and a beautiful piece of property. We always look forward to our visits with them.

In the middle of dinner, our rather boisterous conversation was suddenly interrupted by a series of abrupt flashes of white light. They were bright enough that we all noticed them and stopped, mid-sentence (or in my case, mid-quaff, with wine glass on my lips). After a few jokes about alien abduction, we concluded that some locals were simply finishing off leftover New Year's fireworks (recall that, as we've posted previously, the Danes love them their fireworks!).

Turns out we were wrong. The flashes of light were actually the result of a large meteor plummeting to earth! Video here.

Earthquakes, meteor attacks. What's next?

My money is on a plague of locusts. 


Sunday, January 11, 2009

Happy Birthday GG!

Today is a special day!

My grandmother, Grandma Ginny turns 80 today! Happy Birthday! And, it is very fitting that I write this while in London, because thirteen and a half years ago my grandparents met me here in London and helped me move to Kingston Upon Hull for my year abroad. My grandmother’s face was the first face I saw as I entered the arrivals terminal after a sleepless night on the plane. We toured London for several days before loading up a rental car and my grandfather drove us up to Hull. He was very brave to drive – on the wrong side of the road – through the tiny little side streets of the English countryside. We even survived a flat tire! What a great adventure. I’ve had many great adventures with my grandparents… and met them all over the world…

So, Happy Birthday to the coolest and most well-traveled grandmother in the world! Can’t wait to see you back in London… or Copenhagen… or wherever we meet up next. We love you!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

The Day After.

Happy New Year!

Here's a live report from Copenhagen (pardon the shoddy camera work):

Check out the protective eyewear with the sparkly scarf!

Yes, I am holding my ears. Our neighbors were setting off fireworks right in front of our balcony... there were a few misfires, which made me wonder if we should have been wearing protective eyewear.

Happy New Year!