Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Blue Planet Aquarium

Since all the others in the group live in Northern California and spend a lot of time at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, the Blue Planet (billed as the “largest aquarium in Northern Europe”) didn't quite measure up, but it was a nice way to spend the morning. We got there before the crowds and left around lunchtime, wandering into the neighborhood near the aquarium for a schwarma before taking the Metro to the airport where we picked up a rental car for the next day’s excursion.

check out the clownfish in the lower left - I heard "look, there's Nemo" in four languages

tank full of piranha
The evening’s entertainment was dinner at Charlotte and Per’s house. Charlotte is cousin Laila’s daughter and her house is a fifteen minute bike ride from where we are staying. They have a lovely backyard and they grilled hamburgers in honor of their American guests. Theresa (another cousin’s daughter) and her seven year old daughter Alberte were also there and we had a great evening with all the relatives.

Susan, Laila, Charlotte, Theresa, Bo, Ellen, Per, and me
Danes start learning English around the second grade so all Ellen's relatives spoke English. Sometimes they would struggle with a word and check with one another in Danish for specific translations but communication with them (and everyone at tourist destinations, shops, train stations, etc.,) was no issue. Alberte had just completed the first grade so her English was just the basics she had picked up from Theresa (who works for the Red Cross and speaks English every day at work, but Danish at home) and was fairly limited to "yes," "no," "thank you," "hello," and the like; I think she said "pleased to meet you" when we were introduced - adorable. Torunn and Steen can say about the same in Danish which a few other phrases for favorite Danish foods thrown in, but apparently the language of childhood is universal because the three of them ran around the yard playing (and Charoltte and Per have a dog who also spoke the universal language...) and having a great time despite their limited ability to actually converse with one another.

Steen 10, Alberta 7, Torrun 12
I’ve been hearing about all these people for the twenty years I’ve known Ellen, so it was wonderful to meet them in the flesh – incredibly friendly, hospitable folks who couldn’t be nicer.