Monday, August 31, 2009

Schedule Update

Just an update on my intended schedule (see below) - this is where I will be each day (tentatively as I have already discovered, it's bound to change)! If you know anyone close by to the areas that I can stay with that'd be great. I do want to try and stay as close to the city as possible - preferably within walking distance so that I don't have to spend a lot on transportation costs.

Also, in case you were wondering, I love it when people leave comments on my posts! So if you have something to say please feel free to share! :) Oh, and I put up more pictures on facebook this morning, so check them out!

Aug 31 Hillerod, Denmark
Sep 1-3 Arthus, Denmark
Sep 4 Ribe, Denmark
Sep 5-6 Hamburg, Germany
Sep 7-11 Berlin, Germany
Sep 9 Day trip to Wittenberg, Germany
Sep 12-15 Cologne, Germany
Sep 14 Day trip to Trier, Germany
Sep 15 Day trip to Koblenz, Germany
Sep 16 Heidelberg, Germany
Sep 17 Rothenberg, Germany
Sep 18-23 Munich, Germany
Oktoberfest one day
Day trip to castles on day
Sep 22 Day trip to Dachau, Germany
Sep 23-25 Dresden, Germany
Sep 25 Day trip to Gohrick, Germany
Sep 26-29 Prague, Czech Republic
Sep 30-Oct 1 Cesky Krumlov, Czech Republic
Oct 2-4 Brno, Czech Republic
Oct 3 Day trip to Olomouc, Czech Republic
Oct 5-7 Budapest, Hungary
Oct 8-11 Budapest, Hungary
Oct 9 Day trip to Visgrad, Hungary
Oct 10 Day trip to Esztergon, Hungary
Oct 12 Plane to St. Petersburg, Russia
Oct 13-18 St. Petersburg, Russia
Oct 19 Plane to Athens, Greece

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Danish Food

Written last night:
Me at the docks eating my first real Danish meal.

I had my first real Danish dish this evening. It is called Stjerneskud (which translates to shooting star in English). Alice took me to a pier like area where the fishing boats come in and we ate on the docks/waterfront. I bought her dinner as a thank you for taking me in for two nights and for driving me around the area. She took me to two different castles and to this waterfront area.

So, stjerneskud, as you may have guessed, is a fish dish. Traditionally it is two pieces of fish, one boiled and one baked over a lettuce and a toasted piece of bread. Then fresh shrimp, vegetables (cucumber and asperagus) and the occasional tomatoe are placed on top and drizzled with a cream like sauce and some caviar. Sounds delicious eh? Well, this stjemeskud had friend fish and lacked the asperagus, but it was pretty good. It was a little "fishy" tasting, but I ate the whole thing and am now quite full.

All in all, a good day. Alice is very friendly and has been very kind to drive me around and show me the various sites. I'm looking forward to another quiet day tomorrow and may go into town to do a little window shopping and exploring. I do need to get my journal updated and finalize a few plans for Hamburg however, so it might be good to just do some research and stay at Alice's flat. Either way it should be a good day.


I’m sitting in the Babylon Café Restaurant in Hillerod, Denmark where they have a Turkish-Greek buffet. I am not eating, but instead came in for a drink to get out of the rain while I wait for Alice (my couch surfing host) to come pick me up. We are scheduled to meet at 3pm and it is only 2pm now. I must say that it is quite the experience. The waiter is Mediterranean but speaks Danish and English. There are two Chinese couples at the table to my left who are speaking Danish, English, and occasional Chinese. Then there is a typical Danish family to my right and an older Danish couple behind me. I feel so international.

The café is situated across the street from Frederiksborg Slot (the main castle in town). I toured it this morning when I arrived on the S-Tog and walked a very inefficient but beautiful route to the castle. I didn’t have a map so I just guessed and somehow found my way. I arrived just after 10, when they opened and was able to put my backpack and daypack in a locker to tour the museum area. After being in the opulent palace’s in Italy, the Danish splendor doesn’t quite extract “oohs and aahs” from me, but it was quite grand to see. There were some beautiful paintings and interesting artifacts on display. As I finished my tour the church that is built into the castle let out, so I was able to go through the museum once again to view the church.

The tour of the church was through the balcony as they do not allow tourists in amongst the pews and such, but the balcony overlooks it all. It was quite beautiful and fun to see. I really enjoy viewing the different churches and seeing the variations. What is interesting to me is that all of these churches were built as protestant churches originally. I hadn’t really thought about it before but in my knowledge of European history I have always associated churches as being catholic cathedrals and then being turned into protestant churches. I guess that is incorrect. I wonder what other of my pre-conceived ideas will be changed on this trip.

I am currently reading through 1 Corinthians and have decided that whenever I visit a church while on this trip, I will read the section I am currently in. While I was in the church today I read 1 Corinthians 5 and sat and reflected. This is the third church I’ve been able to do this in and it’s been fun to be in a place of worship that is so old contemplating the scriptures. Before I left Copenhagen I looked up an English church service in Hillerod and wrote down the address so that I could find it once I got here. When I finished my exploration of the castle and church I got my pack together and ventured off to find the church. Well, I found the road where it should have been, but there was no church there. Sad. L So, really I went on a nice tour of town but did get to see a Volvo dealership, which was fun – It was Volvo heaven as there was a massive parking lot full of the cars that I love. I’m going to try and download the sermon from Bethany tomorrow after it’s put online.

Now that I am here in Hillerod, I probably could have made this portion of my trip just a day venture from Copenhagen, but I think it’ll be fun to explore a less touristy area. Alice has also offered to drive me around the countryside a bit so that I can see a bit more of the area and perhaps a few more castles. Tomorrow I will explore some more and either stay one more night with her or try to find a hostel in town. Tuesday I will take the train to Aarhus where I will meet up with another couchsurfing host, Mette. The plan was to spend two nights there with her, but she informed me that on the night I had planned to leave there is a festival going on that sounds quite fun. If she will let me stay a third night I will join her for that and then leave for Ribe the following day. If not, I may stay for the festival anyway and try to find a hostel for the night. I’m sure it will all work out. J

I was told today that I need to stray from my daily consumption of bread and apples for lunch and dinner and need to dine on some actual food native to the area. Well, I thought I would be giving that a try when I came in to get a beer and stay dry out of the rain. Let me tell you, this beer is nothing special. I essentially feel as though I paid $5 for a can of PBR, although they did serve it in a nice fancy glass and it was cold. I am thankful for a comfortable place to sit and write though, so I guess I wont complain. I just will not be purchasing beer in Denmark again – unless someone can assure me it’s different from what I am consuming now. I have a feeling that Germany, the Czech Republic, and Hungary will be way more satisfying in this area.

I am hopeful that my couch surfing host will be pleasant and give me some good insight into Danish culture. I’m excited to try out this whole couch surfing concept. I can see it going well or going badly. I guess I’ll just have to wait and see and let you know once it’s all said and done. Hopefully I’m not “taken” as my parents would say. And on that note, I am off to go meet her. I will post an update when I know more J

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Heading Out

This is just a quick update to let you know that I am on the move today. I'm trying to catch the 8:30 train up to Hillerod where I will meet up with a girl named Alice. I will be couchsurfing with her for one (or two) nights. I may not have internet access while I am there, so please do not worry if there is no update tonight or tomorrow morning! (Mom and Eddie I will try to give you a call tonight - your morning - and let you know I'm safe).

Well, here goes my first transportation adventure!

A Change of Plans

This morning I discovered that I had made a hostel reservation for Monday night at a hostel in Mons Belgium, not Mon Denmark, like I had thought. Oops! Fortunately I can cancel my Belgium reservation and I only lose my 0.88 euro deposit and don't have to pay the rest of the fee. Sadly though, there is not a room at the Mon hostel in Denmark so I will not be venturing to that town as planned. :( It's probably for the best though since the train and bus ticket there would be quite expensive for the short one night stay that I had planned. I looked up some pictures of the cliffs online and decided that that would suffice for now.

I've started doing a little re-arranging with my schedule and am waiting to hear back from one of the girls I will be staying with (couch surfing) tomorrow night to see if I can stay an additional night with her. If not, I'll try to get into a hostel up there. Oherwise I'll come back to Copenhagen and stay another night here. It'll all work out, just perhaps a little last minute (don't freak out Eddie, I'll be alright). :) I also think I'm going to re-arrange some of my German itinerary. My cousin let me know about a few friends she has there that I might be able to stay with. I'm all about a free bed/couch for the night, even if it means I need to get up a little earlier in the morning to get where I need to be in town. If it saves me $20, I'm there! :) I'll let you know how things progress.

I spent most of my day inside planning and prepping for the next few weeks. I did make an attempt to get in touch with a friend who is living in the Netherlands who happens to be in Copenhagen for the day. Unfortunately I couldn't get the number to go through, so we didn't get in touch. So sad. :( I did venture out into the city some. I mailed some post cards (expensive - $9 for 5 cards) and walked down to the waterfront a bit. I finally found a fruit stand that wasn't too ridiculously expensive and splurged and bought myself some blueberries to go with my lunch. They were 20 Danish Krones (about $4) for a little basket, but much better than the usual 30-40dkk that I've see advertised ($6-$8). I also found a jewelry store that was going out of business and found a charm for 70% off!

In case you were unaware, I collect charms from different places that I travel to and put them on my charm bracelet. I have other charms on the bracelet as well from significant events in my life, but the majority of them are from places I have traveled. The bracelet is really full. I think I might need to start another one and put charms from places on just one and significant events on the other. I'll have to evaluate once I get home and see how much room is left.

Anyway though, I had been looking for a charm of the little mermaid (I always try to find something that goes with the place I've visited - i.e. a wedge of cheese for Tillamook, OR or a gondola for Venice, Italy, etc). I had found a few mermaids but they were upwards of $40 and I didn't want to pay that much. I just stumbled across this jewelry store and discovered that they were having a huge sale! I figured they wouldn't have any charms left as the store looked rather empty, but I found the little case where they were stored and lo and behold there were a few left!

They didn't have any mermaids, but they did have the marble church, which was great because it's way less touristy than the mermaid and I have discovered that I'm not a fan of the touristy. Anyway, the charm was normally 285dkk ($54), but on sale for 85kr ($16)! I bought it and now just need to pack it up in my bag somewhere safe. I'm going to have quite the collection when I come home!

I am starting to hit my afternoon lull as I'm calling it. The last two days I have been really tired between 5pm and 7pm. Thursday I took an hour, hour and a half nap, and yesterday I went to bed early at 7:30pm. Obviously I am the cool one in the hostel. :) My goal tonight is to make it until 9 before I have to turn in. I need to pack up my bag a bit better tonight before bed so that my departure in the morning is easy.

I leave for Hillerod fist thing. I have to wait to buy my ticket in the morning and the office doesn't open until 8am, so I'll at least be able to eat breakfast here before I begin my adventure for the day. The S-tog (subway like train) takes about 45 minutes, I believe, and will take me really close to the castle I plan to visit. After I finish touring the castle I am hoping to make it to an English service at a church in town. Then at 3 the girl I am staying with (couchsurfing) is going to pick me up at the castle and show me around a bit. I will stay with her for the night (possibly two nights) and then head to Aarhus to stay with my next couchsurfing location. I'm hopeful for this whole couchsurfing thing. I haven't done it yet, but think it could be a great way to meet some new people!

I have found that it is not as easy to meet people in the hostels as everyone says, although maybe it's just me. I have always said that I'm not the most outgoing person in the world. I am more than happy and eager to talk to people, but I have a really hard time initiating conversation. I smile and wave and acknowledge people, but I don't get much more back from anyone. I did chat with a guy here in the hostel for a bit today, but he initiated it. I'm pretty content on my own though, so it's fine with me if I don't become best friends with the other hostellers. I am however looking forward to some conversation with the couchsurfing community. Should be fun. :)

Anyway, that's the update here (it's a long one, sorry)! I have posted more pictures on facebook, again the link is or you can just click here.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Late Start

I woke up in a panic this morning because my alarm didn’t go off. Or maybe it did and I turned it off and just don’t remember. Hmm … I had it set for 6am but at 6:30 I woke up (due to some noise in the room) and looked at my watch. Yikes! Time to get up! At least I was a little more familiar with my settings this morning so it hasn’t taken me quite as long to get ready. I’m now eating breakfast and am thoroughly enjoying my yogurt.

My new room is a little more exciting than my old one. I went to bed around 10, but there was a lot of noise surrounding the room until probably 11. Then at midnight a large group of people came into the room and made a bit of noise – I tried to sleep through it. Then at 3 another group of people showed up and were talking with each other as they got ready for bed. I’m sure they were somewhat inebriated and probably didn’t realize how loud they were. The person who was sleeping on the top bunk of my bunk bed set felt the need to shake the bed violently for awhile. Joy. Finally I fell back asleep but woke up intermittently for awhile. I have a feeling I will not be sleeping through the night completely until I return home in December.

I was a little homesick last night. It hit me yesterday that I am on day two of a 120-something day trip. That’s a long time to be away from the people I love and everything familiar that I know! Please don’t misunderstand either. I am enjoying myself and it’s not that I don’t want to be here. I just wish there was some way I could be here and at home at the same time. I just keep reminding myself how amazing this adventure is and that when I look back on it years later I will be so excited about all the memories. I’m doing something that others only dream of doing. I can’t lose sight of that.

Today’s plan is to visit the last of the museums I wanted to see. Then I thought about heading over to Christianshavn. It’s an isolated community that has set-up their own society basically within Denmark. It’s a little hippie area where it sounds like just about anything goes. To be honest, it intimidates me a little, but I think I should go. It’ll be an adventure within my adventure for sure!

I plan to post more pictures today as well, so be sure to check facebook in the morning. Goodnight over there!

Touristing It Up

I was a tourist today, so much so that I have two blisters on my right foot. :( Boo! Hopefully they feel better tomorrow, but we'll see.

After my gigantic breakfast I talked with Eddie on skype and about 9am headed out of the day. I have decided to walk as much as possible and not use public transportation, unless I really need to. I think this will help me to save money, but also get the exercise that I have been lacking the last few months due mostly to my laziness and excuses. I walked several blocks up to the Marble Church only to discover that it did not open for another half hour. I quickly glanced at my notes and discovered that just about everything opens at 10. Well, there's a tip for the future, check museum times before arriving. Oh well, no harm done really.

Since I couldn't start my museum adventures for the day, I continued my walk further north to the statue of the Little Mermaid - the famous statue that I had no idea about until I started reseraching Copenhagen. :) I there discovered that every other tourist in the city was visiting her and trying to take a picture as well. I took a few snapshots and moved on - not that exciting if you ask me. The cruise ships were also in town today, so there was a lot of activity. I kept seeing the same people at the different places I went, I guess they had a similar itenerary to mine. One couple in particular was annoying me. They were taking immature pictures with statues and in one of the churches they moved some of the hymn numbers on the wall. Neither thing were completely terrible, but it just made me ask, "really?" on the inside. Why do people do things like that? Maybe I'm old or something, but I don't get it. At least they were not Americans, so they couldn't give "us" a bad name.

After saying hi to Ariel, I went to the Museum of Danish Resistance to learn about Denmark's part in World War II. It was really interesting. I haven't ever seen Nazi artifacts in real life so it was kind of eerie to see them. After the museum I had an hour to kill before I needed to be back at the Marble Church to climb to the top of the dome so I wandered around and quickly found myself at the palace across the street from the church. There was a large group gathered around and I wasn't sure what was going on until I realized it was almost noon - the changing of the guard must be about to happen. I pulled out my camera and snaped a few shots. The crowd however was more entertaining than the actual cermony we watched. People were literally running from one place to the next tryiing to get a front row spot to take a picture of the men in poofy hats - so silly!

I climbed to the top of the dome, which was really fun. I took some panoramic pictures of the city and enjoyed the breeze! It was a beautiful day in Copenhagen. I think I might have even gotten a little sun while I was out there. The funny part about the dome was that when we were coming back down to leave one of the doors had been shut and we couldn't get it open for a few minutes. Some people started to panic a little, but of course I played it cool. There was no way we'd get stuck in there for too long - we could just start yelling from the top down to people below if we had to! Fortunately someone figured it out fairly quickly and we were only trapped for maybe only 5 minutes.

After the dome I wandered around a bit and visited another church. I went to the grocery store to buy some food for lunch and dinner. I bought a bag of baby apples for 15kr, pita bread for 8kr, and some lunch meat for 5kr. All in all I spent about $5.50 for lunch and I had meat, pita, and apples left over. I ended up eating the rest of the meat for dinner as well as a pita, but I still have some left over for lunch/dinner tomorrow! I was so proud of myself for navigating the store and spending my money wisely - instead of eating at a restaurant for $15 or even a cafe for $8. The cheapest thing I've seen advertised for food is chinese food for $7.

I ate my little lunch on a park bench in a fairly busy part of town. There was another tourist sitting on the other end of the bench reading her book about Copenhagen when a guy sat down next to her to eat his lunch and began talking with her. As I listened to their conversation I had to laugh to myself - my parents would be so proud of me. This guy asked the girl if she was traveling alone (which she said yes), where she was from (Berlin), and many other questions about herself (which she answered). He ended up inviting her to a party at one of his friend's places tomorrow night and all I could think was, "don't go, you'll get Taken!" If you've seen the movie Taken you'll understand - my parents made me watch it before I left.

I called my mother and gave her an update. I guess I talked to her too long though as my phone cut out from running out of minutes. I guess that means I need to buy another calling card. Hmm ... I made my way to another museum that was supposed to have Queen Nephertiti's bust in it, but I'm pretty sure it was a replica or just a random Egyptian bust. Oh well. I only paid 20kr ($4) to get in, but I got the money back when I went to lock my bag in a locker and discovered that the person before me had forgotten to take their 20kr when they left! Score, free museum entry for Ann. I did stumble across a painting by Raphael of Madonna and Child. So cool!

I left the museum around 4:30 and didn't have time to make it to another before it closed at 5, so I wound my way back to the hostel where I discovered that my room was locked. Not good. I talked to the guy at the reception desk and he informed me that I had to change rooms. It would have been nice of them to let me know before they moved me. I had left a few items on my bed and they had collected them for me and placed them in a bag and left them in an alcove in the hallway. Nice. The front desk clerk informed me of my new room number and directed me to it.

Before I made my way to the new room I jumped online to update a few things and chatted with Shera and Eddie via IM. Eddie and I attempted skype again but the internet kept cutting out here, so I gave up. I was tired anyway and he had to get ready for his day. I found my new room and said a thank you prayer that the only available bed was not a super tall bunk bed (I hate climbing up into them). I decided to take a little nap since I was exhausted. Well, I'm not sure exactly how long I slept, but it was probably at least an hour! I guess I needed it! I hope I'll be able to sleep tonight, but somehow I don't think that'll be a problem. It's now almost 9pm and I think I'm going to try and be in bed by 10.

So, that was my day! I realize this was a rather long post - hopefully you weren't too bored reading it. I have started posting pictures on facebook. If you don't have a facebook account you can view them here. Well, that's it for now! I'm sure I'll have something to share in the morning!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

A Quick Update

Before I head out of the day I thought I’d send a quick update and let you all know that I slept well and made it through the night safe and sound, not that I was worried. Nothing has been lost or stolen thankfully and my homemade little sleep sack is quite warm – that I was a little worried about. I went to bed a little after 11pm and woke up at 2:30, 4, 4:30, 5:30, and finally got up at 6. I did sleep well, but it was intermittent. Hopefully tonight I’m a little more of a sound sleeper. Although it would be nice to continue to wake up early so that I can be the first person in the shower and have a little privacy.

By the time I got myself showered, dressed, and my bags situated for the day it was 7am and time for my included breakfast! I am now sitting here enjoying the Danish spread before me. Fruit, cheeses, veggies, even a meatloaf thing with bacon bits. Yum. The yogurt here is amazing. I remember thinking that the last time I was in Europe. There is just no comparison in the states. It’s just fresh and thin and thick at the same time. I love it. I’m on my second bowl mixed with some fruity granola. There is also fresh bread which, if you know me you’ll know, is one of my most favorite things. Oh, and there is fresh orange juice. J

I am stocking up and eating a big breakfast so that I can put lunch off as long as possible and hopefully not have to spend as much money. I know it’s cheap of me and I probably look like the gluttonous America, but I don’t care that much. If it’ll save me $5-$10/day, I’m ok with it. I also know that not every place I stay at will have an included breakfast, so I’m enjoying it while I can.

Today I’m off to explore the northern end of town. I’ll see the famous Little Mermaid statue and visit a few museums. I am going to try and make it one of the towers here and climb to the top to take a picture of the city from above. I’m going to try and do that in as many cities as I can and maybe develop a little collection of rooftop views. Should be a fun day.


They found my bag and delivered it! Yea! When I left the hostel this afternoon (at 5pm) I mentioned to the desk clerk that it might be coming. He seemed to already know what I was talking about and said that the airport had called to say they'd drop it off between 5 and 9. Well, they were true to their word. I returned to the hostel at 8:45 and there it was waiting for me! I haven't gone through it yet to make sure everything is there, but I’m not really worried. It feels just as heavy as when I left it in there care back in Seattle.

Now, let me tell you about my adventure around town and what I've learned today. :)

I decided to make my way to the Statens Museum for Kunst (or the Fine Arts/Modern Art Museum). Most of the museums close at 5 but on Wednesdays this one is open until 8 and it's free admission. I'm a fan of free. I enjoyed the museum. I thought some of the art was really fun and I always enjoy stumbling across pieces that I've studied or seen before but wasn't expecting to run into. For example, I saw some Picasso works, a Matisse self-portrait, and the famous Martin Luther portrait, among other things.

I enjoyed one of the special collections in particular; it was called Bees and Butterflies and was an exhibit all about love geared towards kids age 6-12. There was another artist that had a special collection displayed that was rather dark. I liked a few of his pieces, but some of them just creeped me out. I'm sorry to all of you artists out there who "get" the blatant sexual imagery in art, but I don't. I mean, yes I think the naked body can be artistically depicted, but sometimes I think it goes too far. The blatant phallic symbolism in this art that was displayed just disturbed me a little. I don't really get it, but whatever. It's probably my American modesty. ;)

The museum staff was very friendly with me. I had to check my bag because you're not allowed to bring it into parts of the museum but I didn't have any Danish currency yet, so they lent me a 10 kroner in exchange for my ID as collateral (not my passport, don't worry). Then when I got my stuff out of the locker I got the 10 kroner back and got my ID back. So very nice. The security guard was very patient with me since I don't know Danish and his English seemed limited.

When I left the museum I decided to just take some time to explore the area. I walked through King's Park and took some pictures of a castle/museum there as well as a cool statue and tree. Yes, I am a tourist. I found my way to the Stroget. The Stroget is a "famous" pedestrian only walkway with shops and tourist spots and food, etc. I strolled around for a bit looking for something to eat that wasn't ridiculously expensive. I finally found a 7-11 and got some yogurt and granola for the equivalent of $2. I found another store to get a sim card for my cell phone so that I can make calls to coordinate future hostel reservations and get train tickets, etc. I can also call home. :) On my way back to the hostel I found a grocery store and some somewhat reasonably priced food. I got an apple and an orange for $1 and felt much better.

I am learning that Denmark is just as expensive as everyone says it is. It's crazy! The vending machine is $3 for a pop and a candy bar is $2! I know small stores and vending machines are usually more expensive, but not that much more! I will definitely be returning to the grocery store and buying most of my food there in order to save as much money as possible! I do get breakfast at the hostel though, so I'll be sure to eat lots in the morning so that I can eat less in the evening and hopefully spend less money.

Another thing I have discovered about Copenhagen is that there are bikes everywhere! It's crazy how many bikes there are. I can't walk down the street without seeing a swarm of them coming at me or several parked on the side of the street. People of all ages, shapes, sizes, professions, male, and female ride these bikes - and they ride them fast without helmets. If you think Portland or Seattle is becoming too full of bikes, you haven't seen anything!

The last thing I'll comment on before I head to bed for the evening is how funny I think it is that everyone keeps talking to me in Danish. I'm sure it's just assumed that everyone speaks Danish until spoken to, but it makes me feel like I don't look or act like a tourist - even though I probably stick out like a sore thumb. Maybe my Danish genes are more visible than I realized or maybe the Danes are just very friendly people. I don't know, but either way, I've had a good experience so far and hope that it continues. :)

Well that's it for now folks. I'm sure I'll have a bit to write tomorrow, especially after my first night in a hostel. There are a bunch of Jr. High kids staying here and several of the boys have yet to discover deodorant. It's lovely.

I still don't have time to write down my whole itinerary, but here is the plan for the next week or so:

Aug 26 (today): Arrive in Copenhagen, stay in Copenhagen

August 27-29: Copenhagen

August 29: Leave Copenhagen early morning and go to Hillerod, stay the night

August 30: Early morning take the train to Mon and stay overnight

September 1: Early morning take the train to Arthus and stay

September 2: Arthus in the day, evening train to Aalborg

September 3: Aalborg in the day, evening train to Ribe

September 4: Ribe during the day, evening bus to Hamburg, Germany

September 5: Hamburg

September 6: Hamburg during the day, evening train to Berlin

Just a Little Bump in the Road

I have made it to Copenhagen! Yea!!!

Unfortunately my bag was not so lucky. :( I filed a report or whatever and they expect it to come on the next flight in, but it could be tomorrow before it gets to me (they'll deliver it to the hostel for me). The unfortunate part about this is that I do not have a change of clothes, shower supplies, sleeping attire, my sleep sack, or pillow. I have a feeling it's going to be a long night. I can rent linens from the hostel and there is a pillow in the room available for me to use - but it is a little scary looking.

The flights for the most part were great. My first flight was about 7 hours and it went fairly quick. I watched 17Again which was dumb (do yourself a favor and never watch this movie) and then copied my notes about Denmark and Germany to my notebook. I tried to sleep and think I got a few hours in. I went through customs in Reykjavik and was worried for a moment that they weren't going to let me through. The guard asked me how long I was staying so I said 3-4 months. He raised his eyebrow, gave me a curious look, and then asked me if I was aware I could not be there for more than 90 days. I let him know I would be leaving the EU. He hesitated a moment and then went ahead and stamped my passport. Phew!

The second flight was quick because I slept the whole way! It was only a 3 hour flight, so not a huge deal, but nice that it went quickly. The couple I was sitting next to was from Corvallis, OR so we chatted it up a bit. They were excited for me for my trip, which was nice. I had been feeling a little unsure about my big plan to "see the world" so it was nice to have some reassurance from strangers - that I'm not completely crazy.

I landed in Copenhagen a little after 1pm and as you know my bag was lost. So sad. :( I failed at my attempt to purchase a ticket for the Metro. To my credit it was either the machine or my card that would not work. The attendant even tried for me and it wouldn't go so he gave me a free ticket (which was nice) so that I could get into town. I found the hostel rather easily and checked in. I am sleeping in a room with several other girls on what looks like a mattress that is older than me - all for only 150kr/night, but breakfast is included as well, so that'll be great.

I am now sitting in one of the common areas munching on my cheese-its as various other travelers pass through. It's funny to me how different languages can be. I'm used to hearing a few different languages in Seattle - mostly Asian or mainland European (Spanish, French, German, etc). The Scandinavian languages sound so interesting to me and I feel like a huge failure when I try to pronounce something! Oh well, I guess that's what this experience is all about.

Well, I am off to go buy a sim card for my phone and to figure out a plan for the rest of this evening. I hope to get to at least one museum tonight as most of them are free on Wednesdays. I will update more tonight and post my itinerary as I've been promising. :)

On My Way ...

I’m sitting in the SeaTac airport waiting for my flight to board and have decided to use the time productively. I cannot connect to the internet so you wont actually see this posted until I arrive in Copenhagen, so bear with me, if you please.

I’m excited for my adventure to start. I’m also nervous. Eddie had the pleasure of wiping away a few tears last night as I stressed out about the last minute details. I’m ready now though. I have my bags packed, my camera, computer, cell phone, extra batteries, European converters, phrasebooks, and so much more. I had planned to carry on my backpack as well as my daypack, but the attendant at the counter took my pack from me. Apparenly it looked too heavy to carry on. Oh well – hopefully it gets there since I didn’t pack any clothes in my daypack, otherwise I’ll be “enjoying” my travel attire for a few days longer than expected.

I am flying Icelandair and have a layover in Reykjavik. I don’t think it’s a super long layover and I definitely wont be leaving the airport, so it doesn’t really count as a country I’ve visited. I land in Copenhagen (if all goes well) around 1pm I believe – I think that’s 2am here, but I’m not 100% on that. I’ll let you know. My plan of action is to find the metro and get to my hostel, check in, and re-group. It’ll probably be 3pm by the time I’m all settled in and most likely all I’ll want to do is sleep. I am planning to force myself to stay up until at least 8pm – which probably wont be too difficult since I’m in a room that is set-up with 14 dorm beds. Hopefully I’m so worn out there wont be any noise that can keep me up.

Many of you have been asking about my itenerary and where exactly I am going when. Well, the details will be postd soon - I promise! If you have any friends or family in any of the cities or countries, let me know! If it’s not too much to ask I’d love a couch to sleep on or even a coffee date to get some tips on where to go and what to see. Any information is helpful! Also, if you would like a postcard send me your address. I’d love to send word from your favorite city (be sure to let me know what city that is)! You can send it via facebook message or e-mail, or Either one will get to me. I’m also going to be on skype occasionally so if you’d like to set up a skype date, let me know. My skype name is ann.gohrick. As you can see I’m not super creative with my e-mail and skype names, or my blog name. I guess simple and direct is hard to forget. :)

I have a long flight ahead of me, but I think I’m ready for it. I have Eddie’s ipod charged and ready to go, a good book (well hopefully a good one), and all my travel notes that I’m going to re-write in my journal so that it’s compact and in one area. I have plenty to do and lotsof time to do it. I’m set. :)

Well, we are about to start boarding so, I guess that means it’s time to put the laptop away. I will probably post some pictures and an update once I have settled in at the hostel in Copenhagen. I hope you all enjoy your nights rest in a comfortable bed in the silence and privacy of your own rooms. I will try to enjoy my attempt at sleeping on the airplane and corporate dorm experience. I know it’s not really fair to complain – I did this to myself AND I’m going to be in Europe for goodness sake!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Officially Unemployed

I had my last day at SPU today. That's kind of weird to say. I've been at SPU almost every day for the last seven years (four years as a student and three as an employee) and now that it's over, I can't decide if I'm sad it's over or excited to move on. Perhaps a little of both?

It's funny because I remember at the end of every school year I had this sinking feeling when I left campus. It was as if the whole event was very anti-climatic and no one really seemed to care that we were parting ways for the summer. I hated leaving each year and always tried to stay on campus as long as I could. Today was different though. Maybe it's because I was taken out for lunch or received a "goodbye" card, or perhaps my outlook on the next phase of my life is different.

Whenever I would leave school there was always this "unknown" out there. I didn't know what I would be doing during the summer (or with my life after senior year) and even though there would always be some plans of some sort, there was nothing ever big and vast waiting out there for me in the distance. This next phase of my life is big and right around the corner. I leave in one week and I have so much to do, it's not even funny. I thrive in the chaos of life, so I'm not really concerned, but it is daunting.

When I left college each year I wasn't ready for that time to be over. Every year I wanted more time. It was like summer camp, I wanted just one more day or one more week, but I couldn't have it. Maybe leaving SPU as an employee is different because it was on my terms. I picked my departure date and I decided when I was ready to leave. They also wanted me to stay, which is a nice feeling. I left on good terms and I did my job well all the way to the end. It's an accomplishment I can be proud of.

It's true that I don't know what I'll do in December (realistically January) when I'm back, but I know now what I am capable of and worth. I will have an awesome experience under my belt along with three years of stellar service at SPU. I'll be ready to go when the time gets here and in the mean time, I will enjoy the ride. My four months "off" wont be completely stress free and wont exactly be the relaxing vacation I know everyone thinks it will be, but it will be fantastic.

Maybe that's what makes this transition easy. I'm basically going from one form of fantastic to another. Life could be so much worse.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Two Weeks Left!

I started this yesterday afternoon and then had to stop before I finished as I received a phone call and had to drive to Mt. Rainier to pick-up Eddie and his cousin Tessa – I’ll explain more at the end.

I am busy at work trying to put together “how to” documents for my successors to use to do my job in my absence. It’s quite a daunting task and I need a break, so I’m going to take a quick break and update the blog. Aren’t you all so very excited?

I can’t believe that two weeks from this very moment now I will be boarding a plane to Iceland for my connection to Copenhagen. So weird. I’m a little afraid of my connection in Iceland especially since I have absolutely no hope of pronouncing the name of the city I’m flying into. There are way too many consonants for me to even give it a shot phonetically. I should probably make some hostel reservations and figure out where I’m going to stay once I get into Denmark. Hmm, I should really take care of that.

I’ve been a bit of a bum these last few weeks and I foresee that status continuing as these next two weeks approach. I am pretty easily manipulated by my own self justifications, especially when it comes to things I want in the moment. For example, if showering is going to be optional in the morning, I should do it the night before or be prepared to apply baby powder to my hair or rock a greasy pony tail. Being happy about getting up in the morning is not a skill I have ever acquired – the snooze button is a trusted friend.

In the last few weeks I have consumed a half a batch of cookie dough, more than the necessary amount of cheese-its, more Diet Pepsi than I have probably had in the last three months prior, and a number of other guilt laden foods that I had learned to avoid over the last year and a half. I have justified all of these consumed foods by embracing the idea that I will be on my feet for the next four months almost non-stop – so it’s ok if I splurge a bit now. Right? The worst habit has developed from eating lunch in Gwinn (the cafeteria at SPU) every day. The desserts there are delicious and after I leave SPU I will probably never return to said cafeteria, so I should enjoy all the wonderful tasty treats now. Yes. I like that plan.

My friend Shera came into town on Sunday so of course we got greasy delicious food (burger and fries) for dinner and went and sat down by the docks in Interbay to catch-up, just like old times. I can’t tell you how many late nights or evenings we have sat parked on these docks laughing, crying, and just enjoying each others’ company. It was so good to catch-up with a good friend. The funny thing is that Shera and I talk almost daily (via instant message) but since she got married and moved away a year ago I have only seen her three times (this being the third time) and we rarely talk on the phone. Even though we keep pretty up to date on each other’s lives, it’s just good to sit with her in person and hear her voice and see her face.

It’s also been a great week for Shera to be in town – especially with Eddie gone. Not only can I give her my undivided attention, she’s also helping to distract me from dwelling on Eddie’s absence. I do miss him but Shera is a reminder of how good I have it. Eddie will be back in just 6 more days – Shera’s husband, James, is in the Airforce and is deployed to Afghanistan right now, scheduled to be back in November – if everything goes according to plan. I could never date or marry someone in the military, my friends who do and have, amaze me every day.

Phone Call …

I received a phone call yesterday afternoon from Eddie. I was so excited to hear his voice on the other end of the phone but was worried that something was wrong – I wasn’t supposed to hear from him until next Monday evening! I asked how he was doing and his response concerned me, “not very well.” I immediately demanded to know what was wrong and if he was hurt. No, nothing like that, he and Tessa were just rained off the trail and were hitchhiking down the mountain. They had made it halfway through the trail but because of the downpour couldn’t go on (soggy socks, shoes, pants, and more). They were either going to hitchhike to his car (a good 2 hour drive from where they’d come out of the park) or …

Without hesitation I told him I’d come get them. I left Seattle around 5:20 and we got back a little after 11. I’d say it was a pretty quick trip considering I had to get to Elbe (a little town about 20 miles from one of the Mt. Rainier park entrances), find them, drive to the other side, and then come home. When I pulled into the gas station in Elbe where I was supposed to meet them I was so excited. I didn’t want their hike to be canceled but I was happy that I would get to spend a little more time with Eddie before I left for Europe. I got a big hug and it made me smile.

The only down side to his early return is that I won’t get to spend a lot of the time with him since I already have plans! Tonight I’m having dinner with some friends in West Seattle and just hanging out. Friday I am headed to my parent’s house with four of my close friends for a “girl’s weekend.” So, it’ll be Sunday night before I can really spend much time with him. I think that’s a good thing though. We will have some more time apart to “practice” for Europe, but we’ll still be able to see each other more than we thought we were going to be able to.

I’m still really excited to spend time with Shera today and tomorrow. It’s so great having her here!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Who Knew?

I have an hour before I need to leave for church and instead of spending that time reading about France, Italy, Ireland, or England – the countries I have yet to research for my trip – I am here, lying on my bed writing another blog. In case you didn’t know, procrastination is my middle name. I have actually gotten some things crossed off my list today. I sent some e-mails and made some phone calls that were long overdue and I cleaned my room – quite the feat if you ask me. I even did two loads of laundry and have showered for the day.

After church my dear friend Shera will be arriving into town from Montana. We will probably have dinner somewhere and then settle in for the night. She is going to be staying with me for the week while she works in her office in Fremont (she normally works from home, but is in town for just this week). I’m very excited to see her. She stayed with me six weeks ago and we had a blast together. I’m glad that I get to see her one last time before I leave for Europe.

As I mentioned, I should be reading and researching for my trip, but I’m putting it off. I don’t know why these last few countries are so daunting for me to get through. If I had to put my finger on it and give you a reason, I’d guess it’s because I know that if I finish my research then it makes everything that much more real. To be perfectly honest, I’m scared about the reality of my situation and the lack of control I have over it.

Yes, I have an itinerary and yes, I am researching as much of it as I can, but there are a lot of unknowns. I’m throwing myself into this adventure head first and hoping for the best. I’m sure I will make mistakes along the way, but hopefully nothing too drastic. I have a good head on my shoulders and am a pretty logical person, so I don’t see myself getting into trouble, but the practical side of me wants to plan as much as I can so that I can find the most economical way to do everything. I don’t like wasting time or money or relinquishing control. Maybe God is teaching me a lesson here? Hmm…

I find myself thinking about how quickly life can change. It was a little over a year ago when I decided that I was going to do this trip once and for all. I planned to leave in January/February and return in December. It was going to be my dream trip and I was going to do everything – include spend my entire life savings. When that plan changed in November and I discovered that my dream trip was an impossibility, it hit me hard. I don’t want to say that I settled for this coming trip, but it definitely wasn’t my first intent. I think God had other plans for me and there have been reasons that I needed to stick around until now. My four month trip is not my year long adventure but is going to be amazing, no doubt.

Also reflecting on changes, I never would have thought three months ago that I would have a boyfriend, let alone someone who is seemingly the perfect guy for me. When I e-mailed him back in May I expected nothing more than a fun story about the guy from craigslist who took me out for a drink before I scared him away with my craziness. Who knew that my e-mail response, sent on a whim, would turn into something real? I am so thankful that I did not let the rational side of my brain talk me out of sending that e-mail since I knew I was leaving and didn’t want to have an excuse to stay. I am also so thankful that Eddie is the kind of guy who would never let me sacrifice who I am or make me feel bad about my individuality in order to give in and conform to what others might expect of me. I have felt blessed everyday of our relationship and know with certainty that I am cared for and cherished.

I guess I have recently just come to more readily accept what I’ve always known – which is that God has a plan and He is always watching out for me. I am the one with the crazy notion that I am in control of my life but I gave up my control a long time ago when I gave it over to Him. I keep trying to reach up and take it back because all I can see is the short term and I feel confident that I can take over the reins again, but I am so glad that He sees the bigger picture and doesn’t let me make a mess of things (too much). Hindsight is always 20/20 and when I look back on the 25 ½ years of my life I can see how He has worked in it in so many ways. Without His guidance and strength I would not be where I am today and I would not be the person that I am.

I am nervous, anxious, and excited about my trip. I am nervous, anxious, and excited about my relationship with Eddie. I am nervous, anxious, and excited to see what my life will be like once I get back in December and try to find a job, a place to live, and figure out what the next step is. But overwhelmingly I feel a sense of peace and clarity that I know can only come from God. I know it is cheesy to say, but I know that He is right by my side and is walking each step with me. I know that every turn I make will be guided by Him and that while I will make mistakes and wrong turns, He will be there to show me the way back to where I need to be – even if it means a few detours.

The last few months have been a blur and I’m sure that the next four will be as well. So much can change in a short period of time so I really have no expectations for what is ahead of me. I guess I just have to take it one day at a time and do my best to trust in Christ. Here’s to the unknown – a guided unknown. I can’t wait to see what happens.

An Update ...

On Friday, a friend of mine asked me, “When, when, when are you going to update your blog?” I guess I’ve been keeping you all waiting in suspense far too long aye? :) I don’t think highly enough of myself to believe that you all are checking blogspot every day to see if I’ve posed anything new, but it is nice to know that at least one person likes to read what I write here. Life has been crazy - in so many good ways – lately. I haven’t really had time to sit and write anything, granted I haven’t carved out the time or made it a priority, but a lot has been happening. I am hoping that while I’m in Europe I will grow some discipline as I update this everyday and maybe when I get back I will continue writing on a regular basis. We’ll have to wait and see I guess.

The main reason I have more time to write now is that Eddie is on a 10 day hike around Mt. Rainier with his cousin Tessa. It’s called the Wonderland trail and it’s something like 100 miles total. They’re pretty much crazy if you ask me, but it’s something he’s super excited about doing and it will be a huge accomplishment once he finishes. The time apart will probably be good for us since we’ve seen each other every day since we started dating on June 22 (up until today/yesterday since it’s now after 2am – he came and said goodbye to me at work before he left on Friday), but I will miss him – in fact I do miss him. I guess it’s practice for when I leave for Europe, although at least in Europe I can e-mail or we can skype, and we won’t be completely shut off from each other.

My plan for today (Saturday) was to sleep in, get up and go for a walk/run, clean my disaster of a room, do laundry, blog, finish research for my trip, review/edit my sister’s resume, send out a few e-mails and make some phone calls to catch-up with some friends, figure out what I’m going to do for my health insurance once everything at SPU expires at the end of the month, and maybe start to pack-up my life. It was an EXTREMELY ambitious plan and it overwhelmed me a bit which may be why almost none of it was accomplished.

I did sleep in – way in. I got up around 1:30pm, which doesn’t sound as bad when you know that I went to bed at 2, but still, that’s a lot of sleep. I guess I needed it. When I got up though, I rolled over to my computer and watched a few episodes of So You Think You Can Dance online instead of working out. It wasn’t on my list of things to do, but it was something I’ve been meaning to do for awhile. I ate a little bit and chatted with my roommate, did some dishes, and then around 5:30 I was tired again, so I took a nap. Yes, I realize how ridiculous I am. I slept until almost 8 at which point I got up, had dinner, took a shower, and got ready to go out dancing with my roommate! It may not be the most productive day I’ve ever had, but it sure has been an extremely relaxing one.

I’m now back from the club (Susan and I went to Nectar for their 5 year anniversary dance party). There wasn’t a whole lot of dancing going on at first, but we made our way out onto the floor and shook our groove things. I have never been very scandalous when I dance, but apparently since dating Eddie, I’ve toned it down even more so. I was dancing with this guy and all of a sudden he stopped and asked, “You have a boyfriend don’t you?” Obviously the answer to the question is yes but it was funny to me that he even asked it. I’ve never been asked that question before while being out and it’s ironic to me that it happened the first time I’ve been out since dating Eddie. Having a boyfriend turned out to be a great conversation starter. I told him about Europe and he gave me some information about a few girls who live in Vienna that I could probably stay with. I also ended up being a "wingwomam" of sorts for him and tried to help him find some single ladies to dance with. I don’t think I was a lot of help as the night ended and he was still alone, but I tried and that’s what counts right?

It was a fun night all together. I wouldn’t say that Nectar was a great place to go dancing, but there sure were some characters. There were two bald headed gay men who looked like they had walked out off of the Village People stage and then there were two lesbian girls who kept flashing each other. There was the short stocky little fellow who kept elbowing me to try and get my attention, and the myriad of men who felt that it was ok to pinch Susan’s cheeks – and I don’t mean the ones on her face. People are so funny when they don’t think anyone is watching. I’m sure I am ridiculous as well, but fortunately I don’t carry a mirror in my back pocket so I get to walk around in ignorant bliss at how silly my own life is.

There are many other things that I want to discuss here, but I think they will have to wait for a new posting. So stay tuned for:

My thoughts on my upcoming trip – how nervous and yet excited I am for it and how overwhelmed I am by all the details I still need to figure out.

My trip to Vegas last weekend with Eddie – I want to wait to write about that one until I can post pictures and those are on Eddie’s camera so I won’t have access until he returns on the 17th.

How things are going with the boyfriend – I’ll leave it as they’re going great for now.

My excitement and anticipation of Shera coming to stay with me in Seattle this upcoming week – she’ll be here tomorrow and I’m so glad I get to see her before I head out of town.

There are so many thoughts (related to what’s above and so much more) swirling around in my head that I don’t really know where to begin. Hopefully I will be able to sort through them enough to articulate thoughts here on this blog for my own sanity and for your reading pleasure. So, on that note dear friends, I hope that your days are full of clarity and greatness and that I didn’t bore you too much with my ramblings. Until next time …
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