So delayed on the blog posts these days : ( Life getting in the way of writing… I can deal with that!
As a study abroad student in Europe you get LOTS, I’d even say ample, opportunities to spread your wings and discover new parts of the world. All it takes is a few hundred Euro, some micro packing skills, and perhaps a general sense of direction (for reversing the inevitable miscalculation of where your hostel is actually located) and you’re on your way. City bus tours, hostels, walking guides, sleeping in bus stations, and overnight trains. I’ve had a taste of them all. Camera practically glued to my hand, I’ve “touristed” it up for the past three and a half months and had the time of my life. Hustle and bustle? Yep, we’ve become close friends. But two weekends ago I got to experience a new kind of European traveling. The kind you all probably take for granted because I know I used to! The kind where there’s someone waiting for you as you walk through the airport, the kind where you find yourself lying in a real bed, in a real apartment (with a purring cat on top of you nonetheless). The kind where you’re more than just a tourist, you’re a guest… or a princess, cause that’s what I felt like. The kind that happened December 2nd in Denmark.
Oh Denmark!! Home of freezing winds, over 400 islands, sausages, castles, blondes, and most importantly my friend Karoline, who welcomed me into her country with open arms and a huge smile and gave me the most untraditional and absolutely spectacular 21st birthday weekend ever. I arrived in Copenhagen mid-Friday afternoon proudly donning my hats, gloves and winter coat (I’d like to take this moment to point out that it’s still about 60 degrees F in Spain these days so cold is kind of a foreign concept and these were articles of clothing I literally hadn’t touched in months!). Ready to go. First up on my agenda was reunion time. And sure enough, as soon as I breezed my way through customs there she was, the girl of the hour, the lovely Miss Karoline who I had not seen in 3 and a half years. Upon dropping my luggage and stumbling over it – yeah that unfortunately happened – and reassuring each other that, while standing face to face seemed way to good to be true, this was indeed real life, we caught the next metro into town.
During our travels Karoline informed me that we were headed to her friend’s apartment for the evening where I soon met 8-10 more of her friends. Lucky for me, America seems to be one of the few places on Earth where you can expect everyone else to learn your language while never even dreaming of learning theirs (a cultural trait that I am not proud of). Consequently, these friends did not hesitate to engage me in the festivities. While they preferred to speak in their own language, they took turns both translating the conversations for me and laughing at my meager attempts to spit out something, anything – even the numbers 1 through 10 – in their lovely yet so incredibly confusing language. Thanks guys : ) At midnight they promptly handed me a bottle of champaign, gave me a brief opening tutorial that basically convinced me I was taking my life in my own hands as I attempted to pop it, and 5 minutes later I was toasting my 21st year in none other than what had become the 2nd country of my dreams since the first time I declared I’d one day study abroad in Spain. What a great night! Yeah, me and Denmark, we’re tight.
9 hours of beauty rest later, the rest of Saturday was straight up family style and I could not have loved it more! I awoke to Karoline once again wishing me a happy birthday and then ushering me out the door to grab some Danish danishes. My danish bakery experience was nothing short of unreal. The smell of fresh pastries smacked me in the face as we walked through the door but the most memorable part of the trip was probably when I about fainted upon seeing the total cost of our hot chocolate, bread, and pastry purchase on the tiny cash register screen. Having not yet grasped the concept of a currency with such a drastic conversion rate from the two that I’m remotely used to, I figured the pastries we were buying must literally be made of gold if they cost 59.68. Upon later calculation, I realized our goodies were actually valued at the much more reasonable sounding amount of 8 euro or 10 dollars. Whew! And they were certainly worth that since, fitting nicely into what seemed to be the theme of the weekend, they tasted unreal.
Post breakfast, we scurried out to the bus stop. Cue an hour of catching upon each other’s lives and singing in the rain in our matching sweatshirts, and we were in Ersum being met by Karoline’s two adorable sisters, Olivia and Laura, and her father Finn, who was tall and had a great sense of humor (even in his second language) and reminded me of my own father quite a bit! In fact I’m almost certain if our fathers were to ever end up in the same country they’d be instant friends. The day continued to be filled with great food – danish ham and sausage for lunch in a four and a half century old Monastery, chocolate cream logs (a danish staple according to Olivia, who was absolutely appalled that I had made it through 21 years of my life without trying one) for a mid afternoon sugar high, and homemade fish balls, sweet potato fries, and Russian salad for dinner. Yum! Finally a European country that appreciates my love for veggies : ) The time between feasts was spent playing Danish trivia – hilariously on my part -, looking through family photos, swapping studying abroad stories, and watching Friends. It was an absolutely wonderful way to spend a birthday abroad and I only wish I didn’t live 15 hours away so I could take them up on the offer super tempting offer to see Michael Buble in concert in April and visit them all again soon! But then, you’re not supposed to say your birthday wishes out loud, so let’s forget I just mentioned that : P
On Sunday Karoline and I bundled up in about 15 layers and took on downtown Copenhagen. First stop = the Danish tower, which provided a 360 degree view of the city and a few very excited squeals on my part upon realization that I was in the same place that the contestants of my fave reality TV show, the Amazing Race, had been in one of their recent episodes. A few commemorative pictures later and we were moving on to bigger and better things, well maybe not literally in this case but we’d soon marched past the Danish Parliament building, some courthouses, the New Harbor area, Queen Margaret’s Palace, the Opera house and Tivoli – Denmark’s famous amusement park, home of the 120 something year old wooden roller coaster (which we of course rode, tear causing windiness and all). The park was decked out in an adorable Russian Christmas theme complete with some of Santa’s reindeer. When we couldn’t bear the cold any longer, we began our journey back to Karoline’s apartment where I thoroughly enjoyed regaining the feeling in my toes while drinking Chai teas, watching The Holiday, and catching up on even more of the wonderful life of Karoline.
Before I knew it, it was Monday morning, my bags were packed, and I was on my way out of that wonderful country. Saying good-bye to Karoline once again was really rough, a wound that took more than the white cranberry mocha I bought from the airport Starbucks and the prospect of soon arriving in Italy to heel. (Spain to Denmark to Italy, yes people this is my real life. I know, I know, so sad) Favel Denmark. Maybe, possibly, hopefully we will one day meet again!