Friday, December 12, 2008

danish tom cruise

Back in the summer, I had scrawled about a spontaneous trip to Helsingør and sent the text up for review. Unfortunately, the piece never saw the light of day ... I guess it just didn't pass muster with the editor's exacting literary standards. What can I say? The bear usually knows best when it comes to decisions like this.

Given the related content of the last post, however, he's reconsidered his initial position and rescued this long-lost write-up from the cutting room floor. Imperfect as it may be, sometimes, completeness takes precedence.

The "Brohus" (I think that means "bridge house", in Danish), which guards the bridge leading over the moat to Kronberg Castle in Helsingør, Denmark. (2008).

Guilty of guidebook travel, the Lonely Planet decides that we're not long for Helsingborg minutes upon boarding the Öresundtåg, the high speed train that races up, down, and around our corner of Scandinavia. Helsingborg - and I hate to say it - just sounds too boring.

"Well, we could take the ferry across to Helsingør on the Danish side, and go to the Hamlet castle," I nonchalantly suggest without looking up from the pages of said Lonely Planet.

"Give me that," Connie cuts in with impish smile, snatching the book away from me. I always did have something of a weakness for girls with impish smiles.

Before long, Connie nods.

Helsingør, it is.

For would-be tourists, the big drawing card of Helsingør, Denmark (population: 35,000) is the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Kronberg Slot, a castle that overlooks the narrowest point of the Öresund, a channel of sea that separates Denmark and Sweden. Although Kronberg's strategic importance seems an obvious consequence of geography, the castle isn't famous for its military exploits but, rather, literary ones. Indeed, Kronberg - or Elsinore Castle, as it is also known - is, in fact, the the setting for one of William Shakespeare's most famous tragedies: Hamlet.

Yet, for all of the rain, darkness, murder, vengeance, and insanity which defines Hamlet, I find it somewhat ironic that we get to discover Kronberg on a summery, blue sky day. I mean, this isn't right. Where's the doom and gloom? Where's the Tom Cruise crazy? Where's the 16th century Danish court delivering impassioned prose in English iambic pentameter? I want to see some drama break out in all of its Shakespearean glory, damn it!

Everything just seems so - pleasant. But I suppose it's just as well. Right now, there's enough going on in real life that no additional drama is necessary. So, instead, I just enjoy the day for what it is: some nice, quality time spent with someone who I can find happiness in spending some nice, quality time with. And, really, there's no tragedy in that.

Kronberg Slot - the Hamlet Castle itself - on a blue sky day in June. Helsingør, Denmark. (2008).

Kronberg Slot's main banquet hall. Helsingør, Denmark. (2008). This is the scene of Hamlet's famous play-within-a-play, where the re-enactment of his father's murder is used by Prince Hamlet to gauge the reaction (and guilt) of his uncle and usurper of the throne, Claudius.

Kronberg Slot from beyond the moat. Helsingør, Denmark. (2008).

Ubiquitous, middle-aged, Japanese tourists photographing Kronberg Slot. Helsingør, Denmark. (2008).

The "Kulturcaféen," an icon of urban decay in North Zealand, is an eyesore of interest within earshot of Kronberg Slot. Helsingør, Denmark. (2008).

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