I´ve Been To Hell and Back and other Nordic Adventures

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September 3rd 2006
Published: September 4th 2006EDIT THIS ENTRY

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Nordic Ramblings

Copenhagen - Oslo - Trondheim - Ostersund - Malmo - Stockholm - Helsinki

Copenhagen Street PartyCopenhagen Street PartyCopenhagen Street Party

This emo street party was out of control. Okay, not really, but as out of control as Danes get really ;)
Hi All,

My Nordic adventure began in the area North of Copenhagen known as Vedbaek, I won't write it phonetically since the phonetians would have simply thrown up their hands at the Danish "d" sound that I can now get correct 50% of the time after only 6 months of practicing it. Maybe another 6 months and I'll be able to identify it in speech as being different from the "L" sound. One can hope, right?

The Lehaff's were paragons of hospitality treating me with an abundance of good company, tasty food, and numerous walks in the backwoods out behind their house. There are few suburban places as well endowed with the beauty available in Vedbaek. I even took a dip in the Baltic Sea, and on my way back into the dock I accidentally bitch slapped a red jelly fish of sorts, known to leave a nasty sting. How I got away is a mystery to me, but I'll chalk it up to being a lucky mo'fo. Beyond that, Marianne was a veritable saint in helping me to locate work. Unfortunately most want me to be able to speak Danish or something; why? It's not like anyone else
Slow HaircutSlow HaircutSlow Haircut

I was wondering why this haircut, as good as it was, was taking so long. Then I saw it, he was smoking up...it all made sense. He didn't even offer. Sheesh.
does....I almost wanted to say in frustration...but I am learning. It gives me a new respect for the plight of immigrants. It's hard to make a living in a place like Denmark without a local job.

The Danes are known to be a bit pushy, inasmuch as they are just as likely to shove an old lady into the gutter as they are to help her across the street. That being said, she gives as good as she gets. They're really quite good at it after 80 years of practice. It really just depends upon whether the old bag is in their way at the moment. Along with this comes the rather refreshing, and often politically incorrect, sense of humor. Danes are renouned for their denouncements of the Swedes as filthy drunks, and so herein lies the heart of their humor:

There were two guys sitting on a bench, one was drunk; the other was Swedish too.

I had to laugh. I admit, it's funny. Throughout the evening, the fun continued with talk of ninjas and pirates. So I will share with you two extraordinary sites. Both which will leave you either laughing and relishing the time well spent, or questioning the value of our friendship. Either way here you are, first
Is That Henry Winkler?Is That Henry Winkler?Is That Henry Winkler?

It's a bird, it's a plane, no...my god it's Henry Winkler. Okay not really, but seriously, it must have been something good on that happy day. "Ehhhh!"
with Ask a Ninja and second with Ninjas vs. Pirates . Josephine also introduced me to the comic genious of Steven Lynch . It was an excellent few days and I will return.

Finally on my way, I was wavering between Norway and Sweden, wanting to hit both, but unable to decide which would come first. It's really like getting a double scoop of icecream and not being able to decide which should be on the bottom. Yes people, this is the gravity of the decisions I've been forced to make. I decided that Norway was in and Sweden was out, at least for a matter of a couple of days. I thought that while I had the eurail pass, I'd go as far north as that night would take me. Trondheim, a magical little city snuggled up next to a fjord filled with those whimsical red jellies, previously mentioned, and migrating whales. I wasn't actually able to identify them, because they were so far out, but I could definitely see the small pod coming up for periodic gulps of air. It was very cool. It's the kind of town I could live in and it's a shame I only had the day to spend there,
Train through Sweden to OsloTrain through Sweden to OsloTrain through Sweden to Oslo

Yes Cory, go towards the light. Wait,are those train tracks?
but there you have it.

The city is also home to Lief Eriksson (well for three years at least, he left the city when it, not he, was but three years young). He holds a special place for North Americans as the first European discoverer and abandoner of the new world. He had much to live up to though, his father was Erik the Red, who discovered Iceland and Greenland, and then named them ironically so that he could mostly have iceland to himself. Like an adventurer, perhaps inspired by the presence of Lief's statue, I ventured east for the afternoon....To HELL! Really, I spent the afternoon in Hell, Norway. The conductor took my ticket and said, "Your going to Hell" I was about to get indignant (I mean who the hell died and made her Charon), and then realized it was nothing personal.

I have to say, it's surprisingly quiet and empty in Hell. I think someone has been pulling our leg all these years: Hell's not hot, it's not full of Jews, Muslims, or other's who have failed to accept Jesus into their hearts. Oh you got me Pope! That was a hell of a good
It's Good to be KingIt's Good to be KingIt's Good to be King

Even if it is just a Burger King. Oh man, this sleeping car was the most luxuious I've seen. It had a pillowtop mattress and a down comforter...Like a king I tell you, like a King.
joke. There's not much to do in Hell, or even anything really. So I bought some bread and cheese (the Norse version of Cheese Wiz, but not petrochemically created) and sat on the lawn around the station staring up at the clouds waiting for the next train that I would catch like a bat out of hell. But what? The train's conductor looked at me and drove right through the stop. I was like "Oh Hell's nah!" Was I stuck forever in the bowels of hell? The panic ensued, and passed in about 14 seconds of eternity - the time it took to lie back down on the mossy clover and wait for the next one to come.

Leaving Trondheim I settled in for the long, dreadfully boring, albeit beautiful train ride to Stockholm. I shall not recount the train ride, as it is, as mention dreadfully boring. That is until the conductor came to inform me that the train would be arriving late, as is the way in Sweden. The sad part was that I would be missing my train to Stockholm that night, the good bit was yet to come. I would have to spend the night
Old Wooden HousesOld Wooden HousesOld Wooden Houses

Trondheim is unique in this quality. It's too expensive to use other building materials, so they just use wood, and discount paints....kidding! They paint isn't on discount
with two beautiful Swedish models (Hey, one can dream right - so fuck off). Yes, So I wasn't "lucky" but was lucky to get on the next train going to Malmo. The exchange between the conductor and the new train wasn't quite so humourous as the one from Madrid, given that we both spoke English, though he better than I. He said "get on and we'll figure it out. Is it okay for you that we're going to Malmo. We go through Stockholm, but rarely stop there" Apparently the engineer was a relative of he who bypassed me in Hell! Curses. But I knew there was a high speed train from Malmo to Stockholm, so on I got. The guy was so sweet, he hooked me up with a bed even though my reservation was only for a seat. So my night was the cheapest yet, at approximately €2.70. The morning came and I went to get a coffee, and only having Danish kroners, the woman gave me it for free.

I finally showed up in Stockholm, and without a reservation to boot (How busy could it be now that school is in session? Oh ho, yeah:

Remember children, there are no stupid questions, only stupid people.

I'm in HellI'm in HellI'm in Hell

Go on, call me a liar. Yes, there's the proof. I bought a one way ticket to Hell and everything....but I shamefully could not afford to buy a hand basket, and the supermarket wouldn't let me borrow one.
were no rooms to be had. I wandered around and was about to go find a nice spot to curl up in the Stockholm airport for the night, when the little voice, one calls my internal monologue,

How do I tell them my internal monologue isn't working? Oh.

, says to me, "turn this way and learn to trust your instincts." My inner skeptic replied, "More like turn here and find out that I'm a dumbass for walking out of my way for another 10 minutes." To my surprise and delight I happened upon a hostel not two blocks away. When I walked in I saw the sign: full. But thought I'd ask for advice. "I see your sign, but do you know...." I couldn't finish the sentence, inturrupted by the woman at the desk who overturned the sign and informed me that I could no longer see it because as of a minute ago there was a room. In your face inner skeptic!

So after I got checked in and not being able to bear another meal of bread and cheese (it gets old after eating nothing but for almost 48 hours), I spent a ridiculous amount on what turned out to be Indian food to rival the best
Stockholm WaterfrontStockholm WaterfrontStockholm Waterfront

Actually, made up of dozens of islands, there's not much of stockholm that isn't waterfront property. Nevertheless, here's a bit of it.
I have ever had. Perhaps even better than that from India, known there simply as "food".

Stockholm, while perhaps too big for my tastes is a wonderful place that is hard to overstate. Everyone told me the women of Stockholm are so beautiful, but I hear that about everywhere, so I said Bah, and moved on. But it is true. If I did not have a deadline to a place yet to be mentioned in my next catalogue of adventures, I might stay here forever. It may be for the best, since I would likely drown in the see of blue eyes, a victim of a mesmerizing trance asleep in the aquamarine azure orbs hearalding innumerable beauties from all directions. What's more, they have no compunction about making eye contact and returning a warm smile. I could stay here forever, even if it promised to spell my doom.

I learned today that in Sweden you cannot get a ticket for J-walikng, though you can get hit by a bus for it. The Swedes and Norwegians are much kinder to pedestrians than their Danish and Finnish counterparts, they'll actually stop for you, even when you're not in the crosswalk,
Uspenski CathedralUspenski CathedralUspenski Cathedral

It's a very exciting thing to be freed of the shackles of the gothic tradition. Love them, but have some originality...and here it is. Thank-you Helsinki.
but the latter two, I suspect, will actually try to hit you - they'll gun you down in the street if it means not having to slow down...they can wash the car later.

I hung out with a friend who's also a history teacher, and her roommate. They did nothing to counter my impression of Swedes as anything but supremely generous. I had a great time with them and drank some Swedish beer which is actually quite good, but perhaps not enough to offset the price tag. I´ll definitely keep in touch.

Finland, for a whirlwind Day in Helsinki, quite nice, don't really feel like talking about it, pretty, fun, and I'd come back if asked, but the events of my day were uneventful, and not worth retelling. I saw some sights, drank some coffee, and ate some Finnish food - or desired to. It was all but impossible to find one that was open on Sunday, and when I finally did, they were full and couldn't make room. And I was looking forward to eating bear steak and Reindeer Kabobs. I must say, however, that despite Swedish naysayers' opinions that Finnish girls are much more beautiful, I
Here there be ... Bears?Here there be ... Bears?Here there be ... Bears?

Da bear dat protect da museum. The very excellent national museum of Finland. I enjoyed mightily. But am sorely rueful about missing out on bear steak.
say BAH! You know not what you say; methinks you have a touch of the knave in you. Stockholm is European city mostfilled with beautiful women. Perhaps the Swedes are trying to live down their reputation in the 1850s as continent's dirtiest and most hazardous city by filling it with beautiful women, and an abundance of social services. Las Vegas tried the same thing, albeit in a slightly different vein, that being whores and gambling.

Tallinn, my last stop, and only vaguely Nordic, can be said to be abundantly filled with cool things to see will have to wait for my next entry, along with the mystery spot I will be spending the next two weeks...I have some urgent shopping for rain pants, overalls, blanket, and special gloves. Hmmm...curious no doubt. But you will have to wait for the time being.

Additional photos below
Photos: 18, Displayed: 18


Here be DragonsHere be Dragons
Here be Dragons

Well, possibly ghosts, but more likely just bones. It is one of the ancient burial mounds spread throughout Denmark. Not a great place for a dance party.
The Forest Behind The Lehaffs'The Forest Behind The Lehaffs'
The Forest Behind The Lehaffs'

Forest to the left of them; Baltic to the right of them; Grassy yard in front of them; What a great place to live. Name that allusion!
Mighty OakMighty Oak
Mighty Oak

This is the Lone Ranger of Oaks, a veritable knight errant, minus the errant part. It is a mighty tree knight...yeah, that's the ticket.
When in HellWhen in Hell
When in Hell

This is what I did in Hell. Yep that's it. You're getting the cloud's eye view, zoomed in of course.
Birka Cruises....Birka Cruises....
Birka Cruises....

....Where the strippers put on clothes, and the drinks are alcohol free.
Giant Boob, er, DomeGiant Boob, er, Dome
Giant Boob, er, Dome

This is the stockholm football arena, you may make out the moon behind it.

This photo caught me either mid-itch, or mid-fart. I don't know which.
Mmmmm BeeeeerMmmmm Beeeeer
Mmmmm Beeeeer

This crowded caffuffle, is half line, and half ruffian crowd waiting to get past the security guard at the liquor store. What would happen if Swedes were allowed to run amok in amongst myriad alcoholic choices. One shudders to think about it.

4th September 2006

I love your Burger King crown. I get those whenever we go to Burger King. The drive-thru people look at me strangely but end of giving one to me. It's great!
4th September 2006

I am glad that one of my history teachers seems to have stopped caring about the quality of his writing, instead focusing on the amusing and pointless rather than the insightful. This makes me enormously happy. Good show. (BTW, I have stopped caring about the quality of my comments as well, which is why I have decided against insulting you today)
4th September 2006

New on the bloglist after meeting Cory in Stockholm, I've spent the better part of my day at work catching up - and enjoying it so much I almost missed my classes and laughing out loud in the teatcher's room. I do look forward to hearing more of your adventures - and also hope to see you again along the road. If you do decide to go to Bhutan, let me know! :-) Take care and keep in touch! (By the way, I'm trying to convince my principal to give me money to take my students to "The Planet".)
5th September 2006

Hello Cuz
I am glad you are having a good time. When you get home I will have to take you to this little ethiopean restaurant we found. The food was awesome. Hope to talk to you soon
17th September 2006

Return to the North
Take a close look at the "Slow Haircut" picture. You are totally getting checked out.

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