Sunday, February 24, 2008

Six Miles to Freetown

By Pauly
Copenhagen, Denmark

I tagged along with Nicky to work on Friday. It quickly felt weird doing nothing and distracting friends who were working, so I made a quiet exit.

I walked back to the hotel. The internet was faster there than at the casino. I caught up on email and other stuff when the internet crapped out. I called down to the front desk and they said it was working. I told them about the broken window. They sent up a guy who fixed the window.

I watched a soccer match on EuroSport, then skipped over the ski jumping on one of the local stations. I found MTV and Americans shows with Danish subtitles such as Dr. Phil, Star Gate, The Simpsons, Jackass, and Smallville.

I watched an episode of Friends. They call it VENNER. I only noticed that because I saw the lame opening credits when they jump in a fountain. Instead of Friends, the Danish title appeared.

I watched a documentary about the Russian Missile Crisis. It had a lot of footage with Castro talking. Out of everyone involved, he outlived them all. JFK and RFK didn't get past the end of the 60s before they were both whacked.

After the documentary, I channel surfed. Soccer was replaced with Biathlon over at Eurospot. Just a couple of weeks ago, cricket and Aussie Rules football were on the boob tube. I got wasted and switched back and forth between biathlon or ski jumping. Ah, you gotta love the Nordic sports.

I went for a walk to search out decent places to eat over the next few days. I couldn't find much through the Stroget. Just more fast food joints and a couple shoarma places in between a smattering of hip clothing stores.

I holed up in the room and wrote for several hours, until Nicky got back after Midnight.

* * * * *

I slept an unusual amount. Nicky woke up and headed to work. I finished off an assignment and wrote for a bit. I watched a bit of women's team handball. That was one of my favorite PE classes in college. Watching a mixture of butch and hot Scandi women throw a ball around got me a tad horny.

I went for a short walk that lasted over two hours. I made a rookie mistake and walked around in shoes instead of my hiking boots. They were Eccos, some of the most comfortable shoes on the planet, but they were a bit run down.

I walked all of the Storget shopping area and made my way to the Little Mermaid and Christiana. The Storget is Copenhagen's most famous street. It's about 1k long and made of five small streets and a couple of squares strung together. It's a pedestrian only street made up of cobblestones. The buildings are picturesque and the storefronts were filled with clothing stores, restaurants, cafes, and other random retail outlets. There were a couple of second-hand bookstores, but the one I went through had a small collection of English books.

I made my way over to Christiania. In 1971, the government abandoned a military complex that was quickly taken over by hippies and squatters. The called it the free state of Christiania. The government eventually let them have it and it had been an anti-establishment and hippie enclave for over three decades.

Christiania was known as Little Amsterdam because of the accessibility of hash and marijuana. However, it wasn't legalized or regulated like it is in Holland. Over the years, Christiania, particularly Pusherstreet, transformed into a deviant haven for junkies, degenerates, hustlers, and runaways. Because there was no rules governing the area, Christiana got seedier and seedier. The police came in and tried to clean it up. Some of the locals clashed with the cops but they chased a lot of the criminal element out.

Hard drugs are still a problem in the area of south Christiania that I walked through included Pusherstreet. I didn't take any photos. Pusherstreet has a strict no photo policy and the photography is frowned upon over the rest of it. I was afraid to pull out my camera because a horde of speed freaks would rush out of shckas and beat me senseless.

Christiania reminded me of Shakedown Street (an area in the parking lot of a Grateful Dead or Phish concert where people sell stuff and try to score drugs) combined with a post-nuclear apocalyptic village. A horde of angry dogs ran amuck. There were no cars in Christiania and mostly dirt roads populated with older buildings and structures that had been taken over by the hippies and local artists. They re-painted them and a couple of former government buildings had become galleries. Some of the other architecture was inventive and creative. But most of the area I wandered through was makeshift shacks, poorly thrown together by junkies hacking their wares.

Sketchy dealers lined Pusherstreet and called out what they were selling. One older woman asked me if I wanted to buy cocaine. There were other random people, mostly guys, standing around and doing nothing. They were watching... me and everyone else who walked around. It gave me the creeps.

I got a bad vibe the moment I walked inside Christiania. There were a good amount of tourists walking around but everyone else was in bad shape; a slew of functioning addicts running into Christiania to cop and then sprint out to head back to their normal lives before they have to rush back and repeat the process. I saw a lot of bugged out teenagers roaming the streets. It reminded me of the my high school days when we'd go down to the VIllage and score weed. But a bad element had taken over parts of southern Christiania, and it became flooded with junkies and teenaged wastoids looking to get high on a late Saturday afternoon.

I wandered through Christiania at a brisk pace and brushed aside all of the dealers hawking their hard drugs. I eventually left and walked towards the last bit of Storget by the Nyhavn Canal. Hans Christian Andersen lived in one of the house on the canal. Copenhagen resembled a more spread out and cleaner version of Amsterdam.

I headed over to Churchillparken to check out the Little Mermaid. I got lost inside the Kastellet 6. It was a citadel built in the 1660s and the some of the original buildings were preserved. I discovered the way out and walked back to Kongens Nytrov and I watched the ice skaters. I walked back to my hotel through the Storget. It was dark by that point and most of the stores had closed. The pubs and restaurants were filled with Saturday evening patrons.

My feet were sore upon my return to the hotel. I estimated that I walked a good six or seven miles. I took a long shower and wrote.

I host a weekly tournament every Saturday at 4:20pm ET on PokerStars. Even though I was in Copenhagen, I still had to play. With the time difference, the event was at 10:20pm for me. Nicky was still at work, but she played. I played from her hotel room with alpine skiing on the TV in the background. About an hour into the tournament, I took the lead. I ended up winning my own tournament! I have never done that before.

Hey, I just realized that since I started the weekly series a month ago, I played all four tournaments in different cities... Hollywierd, Las Vegas, New York, and Copenhagen.

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