Odins pocket-park – Is this a park???

The municipality of Copenhagen decided to create a new park in Copenhagen. Now when I think about a ”park” I always have in mind a space with air, green grass and trees. A place where you can enjoy nature and get away from the city. What do you imagine?

When they ”built” Odins pocketpark (Odins Lommepark in Danish) I was so disappointed. As you can see on the picture, more than half of it is cement, and there is absolutely no grass what-so-ever.

I suppose the obvious ”symbolism” is a green crack in the cement. But honestly, they could have made the ”whole” thing a grassfield and that would have been more of a green crack in the cement. Nørrebro is all cement. Did we really need a cement park???

Holiday or honeymoon on the Maldives

The Maldives is one of the most famous honeymoon destinations in the world and for a good reason. In this article I will tell you a bit about the country and give you my guess as to why people like to come here for a honeymoon.

The Maldives is a country (yes, not a city or a region in another country as some people tend to believe) consisting of about 1200 islands in 26 atolls. An atoll is a ring of coral reefs or coral islands, or both, surrounding a lagoon. Despite being a total size of 90.000m2 the Maldives is 99% water, and has just 298 km2 of land. It is located west of Sri Lanka and south of India, deep in the Indian Ocean.

The Maldives has a population of about 300.000 people. A third of the population live on the tiny capital island of Male which is just a couple of kilometres across. The rest of the population are spread out on the atolls and there are basically no other towns in the entire country.

100% of the Maldivian population are Sunni Muslims and since the 2008 constitution it is not possible to be a Maldivian citizen and a non-Muslim. The annual population growth is about 3%.

Polygamy is legal and a man can have up to four wives, but it is not common practice to have more than one wife.

The Maldives has three industries of which the country live: Fishing, ships and tourist. Tourism accounts for 20% of GDP and about 90% of government tax revenue. Every traveller pays 8$ ”bed tax” per night they spend in the Maldives.

The Maldives has a ”one island – one resort” policy. This means every resort always has an island to itself. The guest house business (for cheaper accommodation) is also developing slowly, but it lacks public transportation and the places in which you can currently find cheaper accommodation (say 50 – 100$ per night for a basic room with/without breakfast) are ”public islands”. This means it is the home of Maldivians and wearing a bikini or shorts is strictly forbidden. A modest/Muslim dress code is required.

The Maldives receives about 600.000 visitors every year (most spend minimum one week). Most of them come on a fairly expensive package tour which includes full board (breakfast, lunch and dinner included).

So what makes this place a popular honeymoon place?

Well it’s very beautiful. If you dream about a small bounty island with coconut palms, very white sand and warm, turquoise water…this is it! You will have plenty of time to look your sweetheart in the eyes for endless amounts of time (as much as you can pay for). The activities here are very limited: sleep, eat, read, swim, sunbath, snorkel and dive, trips to other islands or Male, fishing, spa treatment, surfing, and other water sports. Obviously cultural activities and sightseeing is severely limited on a small island and so is shopping.

I believe the Maldives is attractive to people who are looking for complete relaxation with no decisions needed to be made (usually there are only one or two restaurants in the resort). Hence you see a lot of old couples here and honeymooners and I am sure most of them have a fantastic holiday.

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A few recommendations for responsible travel in the Maldives:

1.Drink desalinated water at your resort rather than imported mineral water or bring your own bottles and boil the tap water (which is desalinated) and drink that.
2.Take your bottles, plastic and batteries home with you. The Maldives does not have facilities to dispose of them.
3.Minimise the use of air-conditioning in the room
4.Ask for your towels not to be rewashed every day.
5.Keep the use of running water in your room to a minimum – water is expensive to desalinate and uses fossil fuel to do so.
6.When diving and snorkelling, do not feed, touch or otherwise interfere with the corals and fish.
7.Don’t purchase turtle-shell products.

Bon voyage!!

Adaaran Select Hudhuran Fushi Maldives or Adaaran Selected Hut Fuss Maldives?

I have just been very fortunate to be able to spend a 10 days holiday on the Maldives and in this article I will tell you a bit about the Maldives and the resort I stayed in.

The Maldives is a country consisting of about 1200 islands in 26 atolls and it has a population of 300.000 people. A third of the population live on the tiny capital island of Male which is just a couple of kilometres across. The rest of the population are spread out on the atolls and there are basically no other towns in the entire country.

The Maldives has three industries of which the country live and in which most Maldivians work: fishing, ships and tourism.

The Maldives has a ”one island – one resort” policy. This means every resort always has an island to itself. The guest house business (for cheaper accommodation) is also developing slowly, but it lacks public transportation and the places in which you can currently find cheaper accommodation (say 50 – 100$ per night for a basic room with/without breakfast) are ”public islands”. This means it is the home of Maldivians and wearing a bikini or shorts is strictly forbidden. A modest/Muslim dress code is required.

The Maldives receives about 600.000 visitors every year (the majority spend minimum one week). Most of them come on a fairly expensive package tour which includes full board (breakfast, lunch and dinner included).

North and South Male atolls are reachable by speedboat, whereas the atolls further away requires you to pay for a seaplane. For this reason I choose to stay in North Male atoll. This saved me about 500$ for a seaplane ticket. Instead I paid 95$ for a return 20 minutes speedboat ride.

I chose to stay at Adaaran Select Hudhuran Fushi Maldives because it seemed like a nice place from the reviews I read on agoda. Room prices are about: single: 256$, double: 320$ and triple:432$. These are the prices given by the Lonely planet. I paid about 190$ per night for a single room with half board (on top came the flight ticket). Mind you that half board in this place is not like other places. It doesn’t include any drinks (except coffee and tea at dinner time). No water or soft drinks. So be prepared to pay 7 $ for a bottle of water.
Besides this difference to normal resorts, the place has some serious downsides:

1. A huge (not sound proof installation) generator in one end of the island which makes it impossible to rest or sleep in many rooms.

The generator makes a constant, loud noise and this makes a lot of rooms very unattractive…well impossible to sleep in. So if you chose to stay at this resort, make sure you get a ”good” room. Below is a list with room numbers and a brief review:

Beach front villa 100-111: Not great. You have the Sunset restaurant and the habour right in front of your balcony.
Beach front villa 112-163: Excellent (beach front, no noise).
Beach front villa 164-172: Okay (only view of trees in front of the sea).
Beach front villa 173-176: Not great (loud sounds from the car driving to and from the Ocean villas all the time).
Beach front villa 177-192: Excellent.
Beach front villa 193-207: Okay (some noise outside from generator, I suspect you cannot hear it from the inside).
Beach front villa 208-220: Unacceptable level of noise outside.
Beach front villa 221-227: Bad! (loud noise from the generator, sitting outside will not be nice and it will not be quiet inside).
Beach front villa 228-237: Good (no sea view, but sound of the sea and close to surf spot, good for surfers)
Beach front villa 301-308: Good (Garden villa in the opposite end of the island-away from the generator)
Beach front villa 309-312: Horrible!! (the generator is right behind these rooms and the sound is extremely loud inside the room…you will not be able to sleep or rest!)
Beach front villa 314-317: Okay – not great (close to the restaurant and reception, far from the beach, not very romantic, but not so close to the generator)
Beach front villa 319-321: No sea view, but sound of sea (good for surfers)

In my booking I had asked for a quiet room. I hadn’t thought about noise from a massive generator – I just usually ask for this because I like to sleep in a quiet place. I was sure that a high-end resort would have a sound-proof installation given that people pay quite a lot of money to go there – you imagine state-of-the-art everything. That was unfortunately not the case at all.

I got garden villa 310. I didn’t sleep the first night because of the massive noise from the generator (I had not slept the night before either because I was travelling). At 6 in the morning I went to the reception and made a request. Please change my room, I can’t sleep and have not slept at all. I was told that it couldn’t happen that day (my second day) but that I could possibly change the third day). During the day I went several times to the reception explaining that I was very tired, haven’t slept at all and underlined that I really need to move room. I was told I can move to room 303 the day after in the morning. Apparently the current guests would leave at 06.30 – so I should be able to move in at 9. Great. I was happy. At least I would be able to sleep on my third night at the resort.

I took a walk that night in the evening and happened to come by room 303 and hear the manager confirm with the guests that they were leaving the day after. So I went for another sleepless night in my extremely noisy room. At 22.30 that night the reception called me to tell me that ”sorry you can’t move anyway”. On top of this I was told that it was because someone else had moved into the room that night (which no. 1 was a lie and no. 2 I asked how that was possible when I was promised that room???). Then I was told that they were overbooked. Needless to say I did not accept this. At 23.00 at night I had to go in person to the reception to argue with them. And let me assure you that they were not in any way apologetic or trying to solve the issue. I was very angry and tired.

Can you imagine…you pay a minor fortune for a needed holiday – 10 nights in the Maldives. You get a room where you can’t sleep or rest and you are lied to, disrespected and haven’t slept for 3 nights???

In the end they said that I can move the day after, but they can’t tell me the room. At 9.00 in the morning I stood in the reception with all my stuff and gave them back the key to room 310. At 10 they moved me to room 307. This was a good room, but the whole hut fuss and hugely impolite service ruined the first part of my holiday. As you can imagine a lot of guests try to move room (I spoke with several). If they don’t continue to insist and get very angry – nothing happens…and honestly how fun is it to go on a honeymoon with your sweetheart and having to fight continuously with impolite staff just to have the peace and quiet you paid for?!?

This gets me to no. 2 nuisance:

2. Extremely poor service

This ”resort” has the worst service ever! Funny enough I read before I came here that the service level in the Maldives was above the rest of the world. Well definitely not at Adaaran selected hut fuss. From the minute I arrived they acted like they really couldn’t care less about the guests. We arrived in the lobby, got a fake-orange sugar drink and a piece of paper to fill in and was told that the manager would pick it up. He never did. Eventually we all went to the reception desk and there we were each given a 20 second briefing. Mine was something like ”Here is the main restaurant, here is sunset restaurant-you have to pay for, here is Dhodi bar and here is beach bar”…circles drawn on a piece for black-white printed A4 paper. Your room is down that way”. So off I went to find my room alone and 1 hour later arrived my suitcase.

No guest where told the highlights of the island – like the huge crowds of dolphins that pass the resort every morning between 9-11 at the boat pier (I guess that would make the resort trip redundant) and that they feed the sharks at 21.00 at the boat pier every night. This is quite a site…although I don’t think it is environmentally good and it does increase the risk of swimmers getting bitten/attacked later on since the sharks get used to feeding. It would also have been nice to be told the time the swimming pool was open, how the internet works (it didn’t!), where the best surfing and snorkelling is etc etc. A 20 second briefing is just plain poor service.

Since then I struggled with the service. My room didn’t get cleaned, beach towel that didn’t get changed for 4 days, room appliances that didn’t work (see 3. Run-down resort), waiting 25 minutes while getting savaged by mosquitoes for someone to come and open my door with the master key because the cleaner locked me out of my own room (it would have taken 2 minutes to drive there on a bike) etc etc

I have met several other people in the resort who has complained about several things and just been ignored or told that they were probably wrong. E.g. A German honeymoon couple I met on my trip. They asked for a wake up call four times. The first time the reception forgot about it, the second time they called, the third time they called late and also the fourth time. The 4th time the reception was suppose to call at 8.00 (the couple had a trip to go on at 9). Instead the reception called at 08.15 and says ”it’s 08.00”. They were wearing wrist watches and realised they were really late and got stressed. When the lady goes to complain at the reception, the receptionist says that probably her watch is wrong.

3. Run-down ”resort”

This place is old…or more correctly started – for a supposedly 4. star resort, it’s not up to standard. A massive generator that ruins the holiday for 25% of the rooms, old fridge in all the rooms (also making lot of noise), air-conditioning that needs to be fixed all the time, no hot water in room 310, writing on the wall in room 310, pillow and bed that smells like puke in 310, a whole day with toilets that didn’t work in the entire resort, rats on the roof…

4. Table setting to benefit employees – not customers (holiday makers)

The Banyan main restaurant serves all the meals. I suppose honeymooners will envision a romantic setting…forget it!! This is a massive dinning hall and you don’t get to chose where you sit. The captain of the restaurant will decide which table you sit at and you are not allowed to move your entire holiday. You get a number and a table and that’s it. Now that’s not all. You also don’t pick who you sit with. The German honeymoon couple I met, were placed together with an old German couple…so the four of them at a small table…how romantic is that?!? I witnessed a group of 10 East Europeans arriving and wanting to sit together. No – not possible. They don’t move tables together or move people. So they were spread out at three tables, three different places in the dinning hall. The older German sitting next to me (two couples) had obviously not decided to sit together. They arrived at different hours to eat and never spoke a word to each other and when the first couple would leave the other ones would talk with the next door table about how annoying they were to sit with…what kind of holiday is that???

I sat alone for 10 days which was okay, but if I had been able to chose I would have sat with people I was spending time with during the day on the beach. The arrangement makes it impossible for people to meet new people and socialise, but on the other hand forces lots of people to sit with people they don’t know (or like).

I have tried every day to get an explanation about this (for customers) absurd system, but no-one would tell me. It definitely doesn’t help the holiday feeling…you can’t meet people and decide to eat together, you can’t chose who you sit with and you can’t chose where you sit. The only ones it may benefit are the waiters who may hope for a tip after serving the same table for one week. So just like the extremely poor service – this place seems to give no value to customer satisfaction or needs at all!

On the bright side – it is the Maldives and the island is very beautiful. If you dream of a bounty island with coconut palms, very white sand and warm, turquoise water…this is it! You will have plenty of time to look your sweetheart in the eyes for endless amounts of time. You will share it with 350-450 other guests and 280 staff members, but it doesn’t feel crowded. The activities here are limited: sleep, eat, read, swim, sunbath, snorkel and dive, trips to other islands or Male, spa treatment, surfing, and other water sports.

I believe the Maldives is attractive to people who are looking for complete relaxation with no decisions needed to be made (usually there are only one or two restaurants in the resort). Hence you see a lot of old couples here and honeymooners and if they get a decent room from the beginning, get your own table (and are not forced to sit with someone you don’t like) and otherwise don’t need any service from the staff (which will not be available unless you scream or pay) – I bet you have a nice holiday here.

Adaaran Select Hudhuran Fushi Maldives or Adaaran Selected Hut Fuss Maldives? To me this place will always be the last and due to this, the extremely poor service level and the run-down state of things I will not recommend this ”resort” to anyone. I will, however, recommend the Maldives if you are looking for a beautiful place with complete relaxation.

Bon Voyage!

Dyrehaven (Deer park) in Klampenborg outside Copenhagen

Dyrehaven (Deer Park) is a large, cultivated forest near Copenhagen, and very popular for nature lovers to walk, bike or horseback.

There are 13 different entrances to the park and the road goes through the famous red wooden doors. If you come from Copenhagen, there is a subway station and parking by Klampenborg station. True romantics take a horse-driven waggon to the picnic spot.

There are more than 1,000 hectares in Dyrehaven and here you can meet red deer, fallow deer and Sika Deer. In 1670 Frederick III appointed the area hunting ground for his son Christian V (not humanitarians obviously!).

In the 1760 the German forester Johann G. von Lange introduced new mixtures of trees. Many of the trees in Dyrehaven dates back to this time. Dyrehaven is known for the great plains, where you can see deers that grasses interspersed with small groups of trees of oak, beech and hawthorn.

In the garden’s southern end and within walking distance from Klampenborg Station you find Bakken. One of the world’s oldest amusement parks with both rroller-coasters carousels and a lot of other attractions as well as pubs and restaurants. Bakken is open from late March to late September.

On the above picture you see Dyrehaven on a beautiful day in September with deers in the background.

Bakken – the world’s oldest amusement park is in Copenhagen, Denmark


A short 15 minutes drive North of Copenhagen is the world’s oldest amusement park, Bakken. It is located in the middle of the forest and thus the location is wonderful for a visit any day. There is always entertainment and happy days, and to many Danes Bakken is the symbol of genuine Danish culture in line with allotment houses and cold beer.

Bakken has attracted people from the city for over 400 years. Originally as a Mecca for believers who thought that Kirsten Piil water source had a life-giving force. Soon all sorts of street performers and bag players lured to the pilgrimage place and eventually the numerous tents became permanent.

Pierrot was a sort of ambassador of Bakken since he arrived in 1800. Pierrot appears in front of his little green house every day in season and on Sunday he has guests on the outdoor stage.

Bakken has many of the amusement machines that other amusement parks have – like roller coasters, 5D movies, haunted house, race-cars, archery, darts, football, handball and many more things.

It is also possible to buy a picnic basket in several of the restaurants, and walk or ride a tour in the park (Dyrehaven/ deer park) with one of the horse carriages.

It is definitely worth a visit.

Price: There is no entrance fee to Bakken. But you have to pay for the amusement park rides that you would like to try.

Opening: This year Bakken opened with the big motorcycle parade on March 25 and close again on August 29. Bakken is open most days from 12 o’clock midday – midnight.

To get there: You can take the s-train from Copenhagen to Klampenborg. It is a short walk from Klampenborg station.

The official website: http://www.bakken.dk/

Fashion – but at what price? Your shoes are a dead animal!


If you are an animal lover (of just a person with a conscience) you should seriously consider not wearing leather shoes (and bags, jackets etc.).

Animal organisations worldwide such as Peta have documented horrible conditions for cows, pigs, goats, and sheep—and even dogs and cats—in the leather industry. Animals are condemned to deplorable living conditions, deprived of food and water, transported in small cages, and crammed onto trucks. At slaughterhouses, they watch as other animals are skinned—often while still alive—and await the same gruesome fate.

Most leather is produced in developing countries where there are no effective animal protection laws whatsoever. Six years after a Peta investigation into the Indian leather industry prompted the Indian government to promise to improve conditions for animals killed for their skin, many major retailers to turn away from Indian leather—yet so very much suffering still occurs. Animals are still grotesquely abused in ways that violate Indian law and all standards of dignity and humanity. You should not let this continue.

Peta’s investigators have seen cows have their throats cut with blunt instruments and be painfully castrated, dehorned, and branded—all without painkillers of any kind. At the end of their miserable lives, these gentle animals are hung upside-down, bled to death, skinned, and dismembered—for example, their hooves are cut off—often while they are still conscious.

But you can take important steps today to reduce this suffering. To start with, please stop buying or wearing leather products. Believe me, there are great alternatives available. Honestly, I think walking around in the skin of a dead animal is outrageous. Have a conscience – stop buying leather!

Copenhagen stops supporting counseling for HIV-infected in 2011

Currently the 18th International AIDS Conference is taking place in Vienna. The conference was opened by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon who praised the progress made in the fight against the disease.

He stressed, however, that it remains important to continue the fight and prioritize efforts. If the international community chooses to spend less money on the fight against AIDS, there is “a risk that we have reversed the progress of a recession,” said Ban Ki-moon as a comment to that one result of the global financial crisis is that some governments now choose to spend less money on the fight against AIDS than ever before.

But you don’t have to look out into the world to see that there is less money spent on combating the spread of HIV and AIDS. We can just look at Denmark and the capital Copenhagen which has already budgeted less money in this area.

Copenhagen Municipality health and care Committee has decided to entirely abandon the continued support for counseling for HIV-infected and their families (400,000 DKK in 2010) from 2011 – an advisory work performed HIV-Denmark.

This decision is completely counteracting a study from 2009 which shows that Denmark and Copenhagen in particular has had particular success in preventing a massive increase in the number of newly infected due to the personal counseling of the people potentially infected with HIV.

However, it is said that the politicians in Copenhagen in 2011 will continue to support distribution of free condoms. But seriously, I work within the field of HIV/AIDS and I have never noticed free distribution of condoms in Copenhagen and even if they exists it is the personal counseling of HIV that causes us/reminds us to use a condom.

I urge the politicians in Copenhagen to eradicate its decision on HIV-Danmark’s 2011 counseling work. The health of our people is a stake. Do you care?