Living at the Benicia Marina has been a kick since the great move of 2013. I never knew how much activity occurs on Benicia's waterfront, the Carquinez Strait. From our condo deck, we can see small recreational boats and sailing catamarans, silhouetted against mammoth vessels lead by tiny tugboats any time of day. The sun rises big over Mt. Diablo to the left, and to the right, sets softly behind the Carquinez Bridge.
Much of Benicia's history revolved around the water, with its proximity to the Bay and the Delta. Southern Pacific Railroad built a trestle across the Strait in order to get train cars over to Port Costa before the Benicia and Carquinez bridges were built, making Benicia the hub of transportation in the early 1900's.
Water has always held a fascination for me. Perhaps because I was born under the sign of Pisces, the fish in me is drawn to its mystery and beauty. This past fall I made my second visit to another city situated on water—Copenhagen, Denmark. My earliest recollection of this town with Viking roots was a song I sang as an eighth grader in landlocked Indiana. My school had been invited to sing in a songfest at Butler University's Hinkle Field House. For sports movie buffs this is where the final game of the movie Hoosiers was played. The lyrics of the song resonated with me, either because of the reference to a queen of the sea, or the faraway city where Hans Christian Anderson wrote his fairy tales:
…Wonderful, wonderful Copenhagen
Salty old queen of the sea
Once I sailed away
But I'm home today
Singing Copenhagen, wonderful, wonderful
Copenhagen for me…
Today’s Copenhagen is a blend of modern and medieval, with a diverse infrastructure that allows a mix of bicycles, cars, boats and rail to move the population and tourists harmoniously around the metropolitan area. There are castles and spiraling towers, a royal family, a modern waterfront Opera House and National Library, and a new bridge that connects Copenhagen to Malmo, Sweden. Since its completion in 2000, the Oresund Bridge, which carries both rail and autos, has made Copenhagen the center of a larger metropolitan area spanning both nations. The bridge has brought about great change in public transportation, commerce and education. Copenhagen has over 94,000 students enrolled in its universities and other educational institutions. From my point of view, students inspire the fashion scene with their street-smart styles, riding their bikes to class or local cafes.
Copenhagen is recognized as one of the most environmentally friendly cities in the world with a goal of reducing CO2 emissions by 20% before the end of 2015, with efforts underway to get 50% of the population to cycle to work or school. In 2012, Copenhagen was named the world's leading green city by the Global Green Economy Index and has received the title “European Green Capitol 2014” for its ambitious goals.
Highlights of our trip included dinner and beer tasting at the Carlsberg Brewery, the oldest Nordic brewery dating back to 1847; dinner at Tivoli Gardens, which, in addition to park rides and games, has a variety of Danish, ethnic and experimental restaurants; and my favorite, a visit by boat to The Little Mermaid, a four-foot bronze sculpture by Edvard Eriksen, based on the fairy tale by Hans Christian Anderson.
The tiny statue is a Copenhagen "rock" star and has been a major tourist attraction since its unveiling in 1913. Through the years she has been vandalized, but her resiliency is a tribute to the wonderful, salty old queen of the sea. And for the little mermaids inside us, she is a reminder of our love of the great bodies of water around the world, and a Strait that's just a view away.