Monday, March 28, 2011

Copenhagen part 6: buying, living, seeing.

The last few weeks have been filled with concerns about where we will live when my husband and I are both here and the house in Norway has been emptied and sold. I have already lived longer in the tiny, but posh apartment in the city than planned, and we have to find new place. Like good geeks, the internet was our main tool searching, and is an extremely useful site. By now we have been all over the place, looking at apartments in 8tallet (extremely tempting, but way out and no storage space what so ever), several different apartment co-ops as well as fully owned apartments in Amager, Østerbro, Fredriksberg, Nørrebro (the famous, or infamous, Jægersborggade) and the city, as well as houses, regular and in garden co-ops. I spent every week-end for 6 weeks riding my bike around to see houses and apartments, and I have the muscles to prove it! However, when we finally decided to bid, it was for an apartment in the street where I already live. Smaller than planned, not that cheap, but I get to stay in the City.

So we keep living in a street with five (perhaps six?) restaurants and cafés, at least two of them extremely good and the rest pretty decent. There's a baker around the corner, as well as a gourmet deli. The street has a cleaner, a designer furniture store and a very trendy hairdresser - and it's just two blocks long. To get to anything like what I find in this street would include airplane tickets if I started out in Volda - or at least a 2 hour drive, including the ferry trip.

Buying property in Copenhagen is however a very different process from doing the same in Norway. Here it's not just adviced to have a lawyer, they actually do stuff that's practical and useful, and it's expected that they particpate in the process. Since one is as good as another, we counted on advertising to help out, and contacted one that advertised on Boliga. But apart from a lawyer, I need a very good relationship to a bank, since they want to money to be guaranteed and secured well in advance. Coming from the Norwegian system where only a small preliminary sum changes hands in advance, and then the real transfer happens with the transfer of the property, it's unexpected that they want a guarantee for the whole sum 45 days in advance, and the final payment to be available 15 days in advance.

Also, we are foreigners. That's not really a big deal, since we're both Scandinavian, I work here and we're both planning to live here. If I had planned to stay mainly in Norway and commute during the week, as some colleagues do, I'd have a lot more of a problem. Danish rules for who can own property are pretty strict.

The process is slowly rolling along though. And then we'll be living in Copenhagen. This week-end was a typical example of what we can do and experience in the city. Friday, after visiting the lawyer, we walked across the street into Illum Bolighus, ready to spend half an hour dreaming about designer furniture. And look, they serve wine too! What's better than free wine, lovely furniture and a head full of plans for a new place to live?

So there we were, happily sipping and enjoying the exhibition, when a very nice and enthusiastic man paused and asked us "you like that table, don't you?" We told him exactly what we thought about it - lovely, but too low for us. That made him disappear to come back with a small side-table, and while we watched he demonstrated how the tables could have different heights by ordering new legs, and several other things about the material. All the while he was talking about the design in a very proprietary fashion. "I thought it looked better with a metal finish. I wanted some variety." No, he did not sound like your regular eager salesman, and I peered at his name tag. It was one of the designers! It turned out that Illum had a special exhibition for the launch of some of the new designs in the Naver collection, and our fascination with good carpentry and light, elegant designs had caught the attention of one of the designers, as he saw us caressing his table.

Now, you might think that I could never have met a designer like that back in Norway? Think again, he has designed both for Hjellegjerde and Ekornes, furniture factories from Sunnmøre, the part of Norway where you find Volda. Still, I have to admit that with the following late night of discussions of design and architecture with a friend who's an architecture student, then a trip to Arken with another friend, who happens to be an artist and designer (a topic to this week-end, I think), to be followed up with restaurant trips to take advantage of the Copenhaven Restaurant Week, we felt very far from the quiet weekends in Norway, with long walks in the mountains and friendly togetherness in front of the fireplace, when we didn't work. And I also have to admit - I love the change.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Nuclear explosions timeline

Beautifully and poetically rendered, all the nuclear explosions in the world between 1945 and 1998.