While I wrote home about my birthday plans (September 10)this year, I thought that it would make a pretty good update to this blog, as well. I’m way out of Spain now and heading even farther north. So far, the weather here is hot and windy with rain predicted in the future week. But, there’s no sign of Fall here. Reminds me of the time in the summer of 1994, when I led a small group tour deep into Siberia. We sweated in our down jackets and heavy hiking boots. Stereotypes!
It’s 8:30 p.m. here in Copenhagen, Denmark where I’m completing my third day in warm, sunny, pleasant weather…. though I had bought a jacket and pants in Madrid expecting coolth, as we used to say when we were kids.. There’s a lot of September left to go and I head north for Oslo, Norway on a ferry cruise tomorrow afternoon, so I’m glad to be prepared, at least.
My ship is no little putt-putt ferry either, but a fancy seagoing one, through an open water strip between Denmark and Sweden, then up the cut to Oslo’s harbor. Check the map for reference as nobody would recognize the name of the water and I can’t read the pale writing on my Atlas page. I’m sure it will feel like ocean to me. I’ll be in a 2-bed cabin with a seaview and I don’t know whether they’ll assign me a roommate, or not. Dinner will be a fancy Buffet Dinner at the 6:30 p.m. seating. Then, there’s big breakfast in the morning before arriving in Norway at 9:30 a.m. This fabulous celebration cost around $250. Not so bad for all the drama I’m getting!
We sail at 4:30 p.m. on Monday, September 9, from Copenhagen. And sometime in the night, I will magically roll over to the new age of 76! New Age is right! I don’t feel any different than I did last year at my Fijian Birthday Feast and in fact, I still have the blue sarong that the villagers who ran the Waya Lai Lai Hotel presented to me, pinned on my back like a cape. Maybe I’ll figure out a way to wear it to dinner tomorrow night???? I hope they serve cake in the buffet spread.
I’ve had so many plans come and go concerning the layout of this final month in Europe, and month #fourteen of the trip before I end this journey around-the-world #2. I was even applying for more pet/housesitting posts in Europe but nobody took me up on it, so I couldn’t help but wonder how I would mark this birthday event… because, I’m here to tell ‘ya, the more of these I get to log, the more of a hoot it is. I keep wondering what everybody is talking about with this getting-older rap and when it’s going to start with me. Now, maybe when my friends and family lay eyes on me again, they’ll will see a huge difference but I sure can’t tell from within here, inside of my own self.
So, if I find anyone to dance with onboard (Ha! Fat chance, that!) I might just dance the night away!
I’ve reserved three nights in the Oslo Hostel Central in a 4-bunk mixed dorm room, the nights of Sept. 10-12; and then fly to Stockholm, Sweden, on the 13th, to sleep on a Red Boat (Hostel with the same bed arrangement) afloat on Lake Malaren for 3 nights – Sept.13-15, and maybe three more on another bigger, fancier docked boat hostel, if I like its looks. Then, on to Amsterdam for at least three nights, and to London for a week and Paris for a week. Haven’t booked those flights or hotel/hostels yet.
Denmark is very clean and modern and everyone is friendly and there are literally SWARMS of bike riders. Everywhere, always, as personal transportation. Babies grow up with wind in their hair from riding in big black delivery boxes with a bicycle rear half, so it’s a natural when they get their own bike as soon as they learn to ride. All bikes here are truly professional “riding machines” and in the best service order. There’s a wide, paved riding lane between the sidewalk and the car road so it’s perfectly safe around traffic. Pedestrians have to be alert for both sorts of vehicles.
But, it’s massively expensive in Scandinavia. Every tourist feels bowled over by how much life costs. The dollar/Kroner ratio isn’t so great. However, a conversation with a local put things into perspective. The government takes extremely good care of them from cradle to grave. They pay hefty taxes on their high salaries but don’t have our big costs like insurance, medical care, elder care, education, etc. As he put it, “We never have to worry about anything. It’s all covered.” So, then I stopped feeling sorry for them because the Danes are totally happy. It was a short, incomplete conversation as I walked about in the city getting familiar with it… we talked at the entry to a three-day Tattoo Convention in Christiania, an enclave where the residents have carried on the hippie, Peace, Love and Pot tradition so you aren’t allowed to take photos for fear you’ll accidentally catch the sale of drugs, which the No Photos signs remind everyone is still illegal, even if they don’t agree with that law.
Emboldened by the existence of my own new tat on my ankle (though it was hidden within socks and boots) I approached the burly man at the door with: “Don’t tell me that I’ve accidentally landed in Denmark on the second day of a Tattoo Convention?” Then I went on to brag about mine and the fact that it was done in the South Pacific in the Samoan traditional fashion with ink and a shark’s tooth on a stick. I could tell by the way his eyebrows moved that he was impressed at that. And it takes a lot to impress a bouncer at one of these….kind of like at a Harley Road Hog Convention. They’ve seen it all.
All they had here were the electric needle artists. I should have gone on to say that this time last year, I was surrounded by the traditional tattoists at Tisas Tattoo Festival and I did consider paying the $30 entry fee for today so I could go back and yak about that. Show off a little bit. Actually, I considered getting some photos inside (which was permissible in there) and writing an article about me and the Dudes, but I didn’t actually deliver on that journalistic idea. The people walking around attending the convention were sort of Navy Blue because they had soooo many tattoos all over their body – of the modern kind and not the sensible Samoan kind which look sort of like an outfit.
And no, I didn’t go see The Mermaid….not yet, anyway, though I may visit her on the way to the ferry port. That’s about all of the touristy things there are. I asked where the Old Town was, having just been surrounded by them in Spain and Portugal. Copenhagen is a big city, new and up-to-date, though my hostel host tried to be helpful saying that there might be a few “old houses or buildings” here and there. That wasn’t what I meant.
Okay, I’ll send the next report from Oslo in a few days.