Day 10 – Ballerinas, Borrowed Time, and the Fountain of Youth

small P7140096.jpgToday was a big day in Odense, Denmark, at least for us. We spent the morning at the Train Museum, which was definitely a highlight for Dan and a labor of love for the rest of us, I think. There were loads of antique trains, and the museum was set up so that visitors could climb on many of the trains. Before we got to look at even one train though, Zara and I had an important mission.

On the first day of our visit in Denmark, Tamara took us by the home of Hans Christian Andersen (H.C. Andersen as he is known here). Three year-old granddaughter, Zara, was not so much interested in the house where the famous fairy tale writer lived, but she was delighted to receive a map of points of interest around Odense, and she was even more excited to learn that, by visiting three of the points on the map, she could earn her choice of a ballerina or soldier doll. We walked out of H.C. Andersen’s house with the map in hand and a mission on our minds. Yesterday, we chalked off the second stamp at the Egeskov Castle, and today, the plan was to visit the train museum, and find out where we could get that ballerina. Before we arrived at the train museum, we had thoroughly discussed what color tutu the ballerina would be wearing, and we had barely gotten in the door before Little Miss Independent Zara started thrusting her map towards the kind woman behind the desk (seriously, are all Danes supremely good looking, or what?). We got the ballerina, and with one small surgical procedure executed by her dad, the little pink tutu-clad princess of the boards is still doing a nearly perfect pirouette.

If the ballerina was a mission for Zara, the train museum was that for Dan. It was filled with trains and rail cars of all sorts – all of them really old. Mannequins in period clothing were arranged around the museum near the trains they might have taken and in poses that would have been normal. There was even a mannequin of H.C. Andersen, who had the opportunity to ride the train before there was even an official railway, on one of the trains. Zara and I got to climb onto the double-decker train and find out how uncomfortable it must have been for riders back in the day. And nearly every time I turned around, Dan and Sasha were engaged in some super-technical discussion of how some piece of the equipment worked. Thankfully, there were some gorgeous train villages and towns in glass display cases, and Zara got to work the buttons to make the trains begin their journey through the imaginary villages and pastoral valleys.

But all good things must come to an end, and two hours (yes, two hours!) after we arrived at the train museum, it was time to get some lunch. Dan could easily have stayed for another two, three, four hours there, but we were able to tear him away to meet the rest of the family for lunch.

We’ve done a fair but of walking in Denmark, and every bit of it has been enjoyable. Even getting caught in a sudden shower today in the center of town where there is only foot traffic was kind of fun because everyone was caught in the same shower. We had lunch in a place called the Cuckoo’s Nest, and I learned a couple of things there. First, much like Ireland, there is no such thing as quick service in Denmark. I think it took nearly an hour to get menus. But the food was delicious, and the company great, too. On the walk home we got to walk through a beautiful city park and see more examples of how family-friendly Denmark is, and though we didn’t have energy to attend it, the City was hosting a big concert in the park – something they do on Thursdays (really – on Thursdays) during the summer months. Tuesday it was the big play in the park with all the H.C. Anderson characters mingling with the children after the show, and today another free concert in the park – what a place to have children!

Since our lunch had taken so long, we didn’t need a big dinner, so it was yummy salad and brown bread for everyone, and this evening, Tamara made us a lemon cake to enjoy as an evening snack. We’ve had a terrific time hanging out with Anja and Zara and Sasha and Tamara, and I’ve loved seeing Dan and Sasha having conversations and enjoying one another’s company. I can’t begin to describe how nice it is to catch up with the grandkids, too. Kids are little for such a short time, and I know a day will come – far too soon for my liking – when I will be tragically un-hip and totally un-cool, and they probably will not want to be on the same hemisphere with me, so I love having this chance to spend as much time playing with them now as I possibly can because I feel like it’s borrowed time and, like the beautiful ballerina in a pretty pink tutu, my time of being perfect and pristine and completely loved and accepted by the children will come to an end. I know it’s the way life goes, but here’s how I look at it. Some women get Botox, have their hair dyed, and even add a newer, firmer set of boobs to stay young. I’m afraid of needles, have horrible hair, and well, let’s not even talk about the boobs – for me, the fountain of youth flows from the inside, and the time I get to spend with children is what keeps that fountain flowing strong and clear. And how lucky am I to have that chance this week?

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