Copenhagen and THE Virus

It feels like a lot has happened since my last blog post. We’ve had several weeks of school, the warmest and one of the dreariest winters in Denmark has come to an end and there is currently this coronavirus sweeping the world. So yeah…a lot has happened.

As the virus was just starting to make it’s way through Europe, we were contemplating on whether we should make a trip to Copenhagen. Our Danish instructor wanted all of his students to meet up together. We had already purchased the *non-refundable* tickets. There were also only around 20 cases of coronavirus reported in Denmark the morning we left. They were all from those who had traveled outside of the country and they were quarantined. The only real measure that was enacted when we left was that events of over 1,000 people were encouraged to be canceled. Danish Health officials were also saying public transportation was still safe. We decided to just go ahead with our trip (with hand sanitizer in hand of course).

We woke up early Saturday morning to make the 7 AM train. The train was pretty empty and remained that way through most of the trip to Copenhagen.

When we arrived, we made our way to the ticket office at the train station to get our Copenhagen cards. Our lunch wasn’t until 11:30 AM so we made our way to a hardware store for the husband to purchase some nuts and bolts. Avery some how managed to hurt herself in the store so the girls and I left the store to find a secondhand store. Claire has been expressing a desire to wear more dresses like her sister. She only has a couple of hand-me-down dresses here and they are all too small now. We found the shop and she found two dresses in her size (Avery found one).

After the store, we decided to walk to the meeting place for lunch. It was a long walk and both of the girls were quite cranky (due to hunger and the early wake up call). We found our fellow Danish students and made our way to the restaurant.

We had an excellent time. There were only nine of us but it was great to talk to other foreigners who were struggling with the language and Danish culture. We had some good laughs and enjoyed some good food. At the end of lunch, we played a game of Bingo with our instructor (over Skype. He was unable to make it due to the coronavirus threat). It was all in Danish numbers and let me tell you, Danish numbers give me a headache. The number system is done by base-20 after the number 40. Literally from the Copenhagen Language Center on Danish numbers: “The tricky parts comes, when the numbers exceed 49 because 50, 60, 70, 80 and 90 can be a real bitch to tell apart.” Lucky us.

After a long lunch, we promised the girls a trip to Kid City at the Danish Architecture Center (DAC). They were looking forward to this so much as I had talked about it for over a week. With our Copenhagen card in hand, we got in quickly and immediately made our way up the rainbow stairs to Kid City.

We stepped into Kid City and the girls immediately started running around checking out all the fun activities. There was a wooden mouse sculpture with a slide, Legos, a Minecraft sculpture with game, wooden houses showing the different ratios of design, videos on different architecture projects throughout Copenhagen and a virtual reality center. But the highlight was the slide that lead into a ball pit. They spent most of their time on this slide but would take breaks to visit the other areas of the floor.

I was able to sneak away and visit another part of the center. I didn’t take any pictures but it was an exhibit by architects using reusable materials to make different furniture. Most of the pieces were wood based but there was a cool lamp made from paper/foil and a table made from fungus. The fungus table unfortunately was not holding up and looked like it would not be a good replacement for wood.

I also enjoyed the VR center. I put on the headgear (while thinking of all the germs on it). It was just so cool. It forced me to “walk” out on a landing and then jump multiple floors down. My heart was beating as I “jumped” off the imaginary beam. Wow! Claire also tried it but she was too scared to jump.

Ten minutes before closing, we made our way to the exit. We had spent close to three hours at DAC and now it was time to eat!

We ate supper (fish and chips for the husband and Claire, pancakes for Avery and lobster for me), made our way back to the hostel and then crashed. The husband wanted to check out the bar but man, I was tired. So we called it an early night.

View from hostel

The next morning we woke up, jumped on the bus and made our way to the gluten free bakery. Every time I come to Copenhagen now, I will stop at this bakery. Delicious, gluten free and vegan treats! Yum!

We grabbed some fresh orange juice and coffee at a market nearby before boarding the train for Hellerup to visit the Experimentarium.

Now I’m going to be frank with you, we were all on edge. We were tired after a long Saturday and still dragging Sunday. Tempers were short and tears were flowing pretty quickly. We were not the happiest bunch by the time we arrived at the Experimentarium. But with two levels of kid activities including bubbles, balls, pretend construction and water play, moods lifted pretty quickly. It was a HUGE building primarily focused on hands on learning for kids. I would compare it to most science museums located around the USA.

The first level focused on the transport of goods to and from Denmark. It included pretend ships for kids to push around and an impressive structure that transported these “goods” (which were colored balls) from Denmark to Singapore. Avery had a blast chasing her ball up and down the different chutes and elevators.

The next spot was learning about the body. There was infrared body scanner, a video game explaining the immune system and a “heart” pumping blood according to your bodies heartbeat. I didn’t catch it all but it involved electric currents.

Next was the team exercise part. We signed up our family and did a few activities. Unfortunately, it seemed to be geared towards older kids as our two were just a bit too young to reach the petals on the exercise bike. We left that area pretty quickly with a few tears.

Next was water play. The girls stayed in this area for quite awhile. The area talked about tides, waves, undersea life, tsunamis and many other things. Avery enjoyed playing in the water with rubber duckies while Claire enjoyed making an underwater tornado/vortex. I thoroughly enjoyed that part as well.

We ended that level learning about how electricity is produced and how many watts it takes to use different types of electronics.

The second floor started with Olympic training. There was a climbing wall, a gym, shooting range and starting blocks. But we didn’t stay there long because Avery had found the BUBBLES!! She was soaked in bubble goop by the time she was done but she had a great time making big and small bubbles.

After bubble zone, the parents got a break. The girls played in the construction zone for close to 30 minutes. The zone pretty much consisted of pulleys, levers and simple machines to move balls around the zone. They loved it!

Our final stop before lunch was the light room. We experimented how lights can change perceived colors, a laser that acted as a harp, perfect selfie lighting and prisms. We even snapped a family picture on the phosphorescent wall.

After lunch at the Experimentarium, we made our way back to Copenhagen to run a few errands. One stop was at the Disney store. My husband wisely stayed outside while the girls and I went in. I’m not sure why I said we could go there and expected them not to beg for toys. But they did, over and over and over. I caved (a bit) and let them get notebooks for the train ride home.

We arrived home Sunday night and were exhausted. It had been a short but packed weekend!

And now for the news on the virus the whole world is talking about…

On Monday, the real effects of the coronavirus on Denmark began to make its mark. I had already noticed that hand sanitizing gel was sold out at all the local stores. There were signs posted all over Copenhagen but it still didn’t feel like a huge deal. But on Monday, the cases topped over 100. Today, there are now 340+ infected in Denmark. More steps to prevent the spread were put into effect Tuesday. They include:

  • Avoid public transportation during rush hour. More trains to be provided to prevent overcrowding.
  • Buses will only allow seating. If all the seats are filled, the bus will not stop. Some extra buses are being deployed.
  • Retired medical workers and medical students are being asked to assist in potential coronavirus hospital admittances.
  • Elective surgeries will be canceled to prevent overloading of hospitals.
  • A drive through testing sight has been launched in Aarhus.
  • Flights from red zones (northern Italy; Hubei, China; the city of Daegu and the province of Gyeongbuk; Austrian state of Tyrol and Iran) are banned.
  • A 14 day quarantine is expected if you have traveled to any of the red zone areas. Or if anyone you have been in close contact with has tested positive for coronavirus.

As of today (3/11), trains are half empty. Several schools have closed due to infected students and a nursing home employee may have exposed nursing home patients. Over 1,000 are in quarantine (all numbers found and updated from here).

How does it feel being in a foreign country with a current outbreak?

A little nerve-racking.

I feel sort of in limbo, which I think many around the world likely feel. We don’t know what the next day will bring. Will a student test positive at the school? Will all of Danish schools be closed down for weeks like several other European countries have done? Will the country be locked down? Will we catch it?

I have found comfort in a few things.

  1. Action is being taken. Details are emerging continuously. The health minister has been updating the public constantly and they have been very blunt about the worse case scenario. They are preparing for the worst and putting plans in place to hopefully avoid what Italy is currently going through.
  2. The school has set up an emergency action. They have listed the steps to be taken in the event of the outbreak hitting the school. Online education will be done and a system is in place for this.
  3. We are not around our older relatives. Research shows that they are the group to be hit the hardest with the virus and it gives me some relief knowing that we will not be spreading it to them.

In reality, we are just taking it day by day and following the advice put in place by the Danish health minister.

Therefore, you likely won’t be seeing a lot of blog posts from me due to our lack of adventure expected over the next several weeks/months.

Stay safe everyone! And wash your hands!

UPDATE: This shows how quickly things change. I wrote the previous post this morning and already by this evening everything has changed.

Over 500 people are now sick with the coronavirus in Denmark and some of these have started to show severe symptoms. Drastic measures are now being taken in Denmark. New initiatives here:

  • All public servants are to be at home starting Friday and for the next two weeks.
  • Hospitals and nursing homes will introduce stricter visiting hours
  • All schools and daycares are to close from Monday and for the next two weeks. You are encouraged to keep your children home earlier if possible.
  • Gatherings with more than 100 people will be prohibited. This includes work places if possible.
  • Public transportation is to be limited.
  • All indoor cultural institutions, libraries, etc. are closing now until two weeks from Friday.
  • All universities are to close and students must return home. They will be closed for two weeks from Friday.

In a nutshell, Denmark is closed.

Stay tuned…

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