http://sistersofthequill.blogspot.com/2013/07/teaching-through-baltic-part-three-beer.html I conquered preconceived notions while conversing with post cold war Russians and two beer-drinking, twice-our-size brothers from Amsterdam: I wiped out a few stereotypes like discovering that few Scandinavians are tall, blonde, and model beautiful--at least in the cities we visited.
|Unicorn Horn Chair|
Envying other royals the king had minions travel about purchasing random art. They trimmed them down to fit panels in his home, creating a mosaic of unidentified works on his ceilings and walls proving him to be a snob with bad taste. He claimed his ivory throne was really made of unicorn horn. An ornate tile restroom reminded us of the wanting hygiene of the day; a hole in a wooden bench led right out to the Castle’s moat. If the King’s bad taste didn’t drive them away the stinky moat surely would have. The four corners of a long hall had different corners of the world represented. Europe with an owl, Asia with a camel, Africa with a lion, and the Americas with a head with an arrow shot through it.
The highlight of tacky was the king’s “wet pants chair.” He asked a guest to sit in a red velvet chair, anchored him in at the arms then poured water down a custom cut hole in the back. It dripped down and wet the pants of his victim. Then to add insult to injury, when the hapless visitor stood, the chair made a farting sound, a velvet whoopee cushion. This king was a piece of work, and if the portrait of him in a long hall was any indication, he was extremely ugly, too. So ugly Wen thought the painting might even be a joke, but I doubted it since his Majesty was insecure and wouldn’t likely allow anybody to depict him in this way without chopping off a head.
As writers we sometimes go on unexpected adventures. Copenhagen was no different for us. We hopped on and climbed to the top of an open-air bus to make our way past the famous Tivoli Garden amusement park (claimed to be the most famous in the world – Disney step aside). After several minutes and the departure of other tourists, Wen noticed we were quite a ways off the map’s route. Fun sidetrack? Not really since we were going to be late for the departure of the ship if the route wasn’t as advertised. I climbed down and heard the gasp of the driver as I approached with a map and asked where we were. He didn’t realize anybody was still up top and was almost to the bus depot! So he headed to the port, huffing resentment that his day was going to be thrust back on its usual schedule; he wouldn’t get to quit for the day an hour early.
Many things in Copenhagen weren’t as I’d imagined them. I like that about travels. I like that about writing fiction. What was the most unexpected thing you ever saw or did while traveling?