Backstory: I’ve heard about Mary Dashiell’s Danish friend, Bertel, for years. They met as emerging adults and have kept in touch for decades. When an enormous party was recently thrown for a significant Mary-Milestone, Bertel surprised her by crossing the Atlantic to attend. That was the first and only time I’d met Bertel, but we got on right away and I knew we’d be friends.
As Copenhagen 2013 came together in our travel plans, I began a correspondence with Bertel via Facebook and email to see if we might connect (Bertel travels quite a bit and in fact spent much of 2012 in France). As the days counted down, we set times and dates to link up. Being a cell phone neophyte, I somehow couldn’t get a call through once we were in his beautiful city, so we emailed like mad with moment-by moment updates and plans, etc.
After a long walk to his neighborhood, our extraordinary adventure on our second day in Copenhagen began.
First we met Mikael, who is the principal behind the art gallery that was our meeting spot (Galerie Mikael Andersen), and also Bertel’s partner. Mikael was gracious and welcoming, but was unable to accompany us on our day because he has a significant opening at his Berlin gallery, for which he had to be ready by Friday. He was leaving within hours of our arrival to begin the hanging and installations there.
Then Bertel told his what he had planned for us. First, a tour of his and Mikael’s city apartment, just down from the gallery. I should mention that their apartment is stuffed with art and sculptures, and is a private gallery in its own right. The building and flat themselves aren’t any too shabby, either. The gallery and apartment are located in a district of the city made bourgeois by the royal family moving to the area back when the original palace burned (unsure of the date). When they took up residence in the area, the well-to-do of all stripes also moved north to be with/near the royals. Before that, the area was used for military housing and etc.
Second: a pastry and coffee then off to a tour of the district, including the Amatienborg Palace where the King and Queen (Prince Consort?) of Denmark reside. Mikael had a significant hand in decorating several of the wings of the various living quarters with contemporary Danish art. We also caught the tag end of the changing of the guard. (For the photos of the general area, see the previous post).
Then we waked along the harbor stretch, seeing the new opera house, shipping lanes, more public art, and the famous little mermaid statue, which was positively crawling with tourists, so I was unable to get any kind of a photo. At the end of the harbor, we headed to Copenhagen Citadel, a fortress area that is preserved and still used today for military housing, training, and admin. A lovely church is near there, and more public art and fountains, etc. On the grounds is also a new memorial to those who fought and died during Denmark’s participation in recent wars, including Afghanistan, Iraq, and such. Very peaceful and calming place.
Then came the coup de grâce: Bertel drove us an hour north of the city to his and Mikael’s summer house for a late lunch. Wow. The house is some 50 meters above the sea along a stellar coastline. Very quiet, with a remote feel even though we were surrounded by homes of similar use. A decent translation of the place’s name is “Thicket House.” Beautiful gardens, lovely setting — it was so very peaceful and inspiring. He laid out a traditional Danish picnic type meal, with a true smorgasbord of thises and thats. Across the road is another property they use for promising young artists to stay in, by invitation only, to have a peaceful, simple working space/time.
After a coffee, sweet, and more conversation and storytelling, plus the sighting of a fox hunting along the steep, grassy cliff face, and a deer watching our departure, we packed back into the car and Bertel left us off at Frederiksborg Castle (some pix backed by a lowering sky in the previous post are those we took at the end of the day), in the town of Hillerød, and we were left, just as it began sprinkling the least bit, to see the amazing grounds and buildings, and to make our way to the train headed back into the city. We finally got home at 9PM.
Dear Bertel: thank you from the bottoms of our hearts for your generous, delightful spirit and everything (including your valuable time), that you shared with us. It was truly unforgettable.