Andy’s Winter Travels

Well, it’s Andy’s Annual Abnegation – as the clouds and chill roll in he rolls out, this year to Thailand.

In preparation for his travels he methodically went through a checklist of preparation: packing the right amount of clothes (enough to be dressed while still having bragging rights on packing lightly see his blog), the specific destination he was headed to (I kept hitting him in the crotch every time he said Bangkok – it never dawned on him to schedule swimming lessons on the breast stroke), the proper timing (over jet lag in time for a writing competition? check; back in time for my work Christmas break? check; scoping out the best Thai massage places? check; planning a sub-trip to Cambodia? check; accidentally and apologetically missing a concert he bought me for my birthday? whoops).

Meanwhile, I have been preparing for his departure by planning things to do in his absence (find a date to go with me to Billy Joel? check; fill up every waking moment of my day with activities? check; nights too? check; accidentally double booking more than one day? check; go grocery shopping and prepare meals for myself? hahahahah).

I am now really afraid to be home alone. Not because of noises or potential bad guys. No, I am afraid because I now have responsibilities. What day is the cleaner coming? Did I remember to feed the cats or clean their litter boxes? How am I supposed to make myself coffee in the morning before having a cup of coffee in the morning? How long can the cats go without having their litter boxes cleaned? Why are they trying to chew on my fingers? Andy being gone for the next two weeks is mostly an exercise in me proving to myself I am not a shit show. I wish myself luck.

I drove him to the airport tonight and spoke of getting home, eating dinner and drifting off to sleep by 7PM. By 8 I texted him that I was headed to bed. It’s midnight. I just shut off the Great British Bake Off and am blogging about the fact that I am not traveling. I may need more than luck.

 

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The Final Countdown

I made a new best friend in Copenhagen. This is the kind of friend you last minute go to a theme park with, the kind of friend you do a podcast with, the kind of friend you have inside jokes with – like  screaming “cum stain” while riding amusement park rides (you had to be there).

My last day in Copenhagen was lovely. The weather was temperamental as per usual. During the last week I had gotten on a weird sleep schedule due to tummy issues. I wasn’t going to sleep until between 3-6AM in Denmark – or 6-9PM in Portland – which is approximately my bedtime anyway. Once on this schedule, I decided to reinforce it so that the time shift wouldn’t affect me as hard (theoretically) when I got back to Portland. I woke up at 9:30 after just 5 hours of sleep and hit the gym one last time for leg day.

My bags were all packed and my cab ordered for 5AM the next morning. I had nothing to do all day but enjoy myself. I met up with Flaviu at the theater and we did an improv podcast with Jay Sukow and Gordon Torbet. The podcast is called My Improv Affair. I don’t think it is up yet – but keep looking for it.

Then we took off to Tivoli. Tivoli is the second oldest amusement park in the world. It is located basically in the middle of downtown Copenhagen, and somehow – like Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory, is bigger on the inside than on the outside. Going to an amusement park as an adult has its bonuses.

IMG_2809I call this Bonus #1.

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Bonus #2. Also called “Amerikaner” (I can’t imagine why). This is four scoops of ice cream in a waffle cone with a chocolate covered marshmallow, whipped cream and strawberry sauce. I got four different flavors of ice cream and I can’t remember their exact names but the flavors were brown-colored-sugar, white-colored-sugar, tan-colored-sugar-with-golden-honey-sugar-stripes, and just sugar.

Bonus #3 was motion sickness. OK, this is not a fun bonus, per se, but it is an addition that I didn’t experience prior to adulthood. While taking a coffee break at the park (so that my stomach and headache could settle) I read an article that suggested having a dramamine before amusement park riding for adults. Note taken!

Flaviu and I rode a lot of the rides and played the midway games. Apparently, Flaviu used to throw things at people when he was a kid so he has wicked good aim. We won enough coins to get a prize:

IMG_2838We will share custody of C.S. Moois. The first half year will be with me. The second half-year I will have forgotten to send the cow back – just being honest, I’m no good with mail.

I got back to my apartment around 23:30 and read and tried to stay awake as long as I could (about 3 minutes). I set four different alarms – including asking Andrew to text me if he hadn’t heard from me by 4:45.

Everything went well and I got to the airport on time with no issues. No issues until LHR. The plane was broken. They couldn’t fix it. They have to replace it. Flight delayed four hours. I may still make my connection? I’ll get home eventually.

Honestly, it’s a bit of an annoyance – but these things happen and it’s no big deal. My issue with it all is British Airways and their lack of empathy. I know they have a lot of customers to deal with – but that’s what it feels like, like they are dealing with us. Oh well, I got a good airport nap and I have C.S. to keep me company.

To round off this trip, here are pictures of signs that amused me.

 

Getting Some Fresh Aryan

One of the things I love about European cities is walking along in what appears to be a normal neighborhood and suddenly coming upon what appears to be a castle.IMG_2735And, looking more closely to see what appears to be a swastika at the top of the spire.

Turns out this was my destination, Carlsberg Brewery. The swastika is actually not the Nazi kind. It’s the East Asia prosperity and luck kind. It was there before the Nazis made it a symbol of Aryan pride and although Carlsberg removed the symbol from their labels after the war, they kept it on their buildings because they hate Jews. According to the tour guide it’s actually because they don’t mean it in the Nazi way and want to take back the original meaning – not sure how well that’s going for them considering the tour guide had to spend a solid 10 minutes explaining that they were not anti-semites.

Before my guided tour started, I was invited to walk around a self-guided tour. Two minutes in I realized I had accidentally ended up in a beer museum. One thing I love to do is not walk through a museum – especially a history one. Yeah, I get it, things used to be different and now we are in 2017 so we don’t have to treat humans like shit to get work done and we can control temperature better so our beer takes less time to make. And look, here’s a bottle room with all the beers we have collected for hundreds of years. Why is that a museum?

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This was the mood I was in when the tour guide took over – so I am putting that into perspective as my patience started wearing thin. He started telling the story of Carlsberg brewery and the family drama that ensued. It was an interesting story. Also, I think men should go back to dressing like this. Andrew, let’s go shopping.

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But, it took me the whole tour to warm up to the 20 year old. He was trying so hard to be likable – it reminded me of my fleeting and failed attempt at stand-up comedy 8 years ago. The audience can totally tell the difference between being genuine and acting genuine. Every time he peppered in an F bomb it was like someone doing an impression of what they think an American talks like. Finally, he admitted he was a history nerd and started getting super nerdy about history and the smarm fell off of him and he was just a geeky and adorable kid. It also helped that we ended the tour in the horse stables.

You can bet I risked it.

The tour was approximately $22.00 and with that came two beers. IMG_2746

This was my second of a total of four beers that day. This will be the last time I drink beer in my life. If you ever see me contemplating a beer please remind me that I don’t like having the kind of pain in my body that feels like organs are trying to escape through my uterus.

I went and played some more improv with my new best friends at ICC and wandered off to the karaoke bar.

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Sam’s is small, crowded and smokey. The crowd was super appreciative and my ego made me stay a lot longer than I had intended.

Question for my men friends out there: If you buy a stranger (who is likely almost twice your age) a beer in a bar after she hypothetically kills it with some Adele, on a scale of butt-hurt to well-it-was-worth-a-shot-and-no-one-asked-me-to-buy-them-a-beer, where do you land when you find out she has a boyfriend? Considering that we still had a fun time together and I sat with him and his friends as they regaled me with stories of the Guns & Roses concert that I hadn’t known was going on the day before, I don’t think he was that annoyed, but I was just wondering.

I think I second-hand smoked about a carton of cigarettes – time to restart the countdown on healthy lungs. Also, the first order of business for the next day would be washing everything to get the smoke smell out. I went home and curled into the fetal position to let the waves of beer-birthing pass.

To a certain extent, I feel like when I travel I don’t actually vacation. I am so busy trying to see things and tourist that I forget to just take it easy and vacation. The next day, Thursday (Torsdag), became just the day for that.

At home, I have someone that cleans and does laundry for me, and Andrew and I also hire someone to do that every other week (speaking of which, she just got another job – anyone know of anyone interested in coming once a week to do some housecleaning and laundry?). The last time I had been in a laundromat – not the kind that is in the apartment complex I was living in – but an actual laundromat was maybe almost 20 years ago. I had no idea how advanced they are now. Maybe they should make a museum about it. Now, instead of paying at the machine you pay for machines and soap at one station and then go use that machine and collect that soap. They also had centrifuges so that you could spin the water out before drying and to cut down on drying time. I chatted up a Korean couple getting ready to head back home and then read a book as my clothes went through the cycles. I washed everything that I had worn – including my smoke clothes from the night before, my coffee infused backpack, and my third pair of Beats headphones in two months. Looks like I am going to need to find a Radio Shack equivalent (only one that is still in business) in Copenhagen.

I went back to my apartment and read some more while lounging in bed all day. I had not eaten anything because that night was my reservations to Kong Hans Kælder.

The experience was magical. I won’t bore you with too many details, suffice it to say: the atmosphere was cozy and elegant without feeling bougie, my purse had its own chair, the wine pairings were surprising and delightful and if butter were whipped into a cake-bread that would be the brioche. I loved not only the food, but the artistry of the theater of the experience. Me and the sommelier became instant friends as she walked me through her pairings. There were only three downsides – the cheese course was done by a different waiter and he hasn’t got his flavor pairings down – at all; the dessert wine was too sweet with the dessert and did not go well.

Finally, the chef left early because he wasn’t feeling well, which makes me more than a little bit curious about my waking up at 3AM feeling nauseated for an hour. Here I won’t go into detail for sure.

Looks like another vacationy vacation day is in order.

 

These Feet Were Made for Walkin’

Yesterday was dedicated to just kind of hanging around Copenhagen and wandering the streets like a tourist. I ended up in the gay district. I knew immediately I was there because of the karaoke bar and all the rainbow flags. But if I’d had any question about it, I am sure I could have popped in either of these locations and gotten it straightened (or gayed?) out:img_2721.jpg

I kept wandering around the streets. It was a lovely day and even got up to a balmy 70 degrees. It seemed to me everyone was on the streets drinking a beer and smoking cigarettes. I eventually wandered into the super-touristy shopping area.IMG_2729 I took a picture of this bench because it says peckerhead on it. My 15 second Google search turned up a potential band name with a song called Copenhagen Bloodbank. But Dictionary.com says it’s a term for an asshole or a jerk. Apparently, it is also a term for a motor termination box (whatever that means). It wasn’t until I posted this picture here that I noticed the dude in the picture is wearing a CrossFit shirt. Unrelated, I am sure.

I was actually on a mission. I love knitting and thought it would be cool to go to a Copenhagen knitting store and fondle or possibly buy some yarn. I turned the corner headed toward where Google maps said my shop was and I saw this:

IMG_2727I imagine this is like a Segway tour. Do you think they have you walk the Great Danes or ride them on the tour? I peaked in the window and saw no dogs.

Practically next door was my knitting shop. Apparently it’s not just the dogs that are larger in Copenhagen.

IMG_2728This is one kilo of yarn. Also, look at the size on the needle they recommend, they ran out of numbers and just put a Great Dane on it. Andrew, let’s get a snow leopard kitten – I have just the yarn for it to play with. In other news, I had to buy an extra seat on my plane ride home…

After all the walking and running I have done here, my feet are in need of some TLC. I looked around for a pedicure place and there was one just a few blocks away.

When I was a little baby I use to make fish faces with my mouth and my nickname became fish face. Eventually, that was shortened to “fish” – this makes my ComedySportz nickname of Hadas “Tuna” Cassorla even a little more special to me.

IMG_2733IMG_2732Now as an adult, I have become fish food. This is something I have always wanted to try. It feels ticklish at first. Then it’s just odd. I did 40 minutes, which was 20 minutes longer than its novelty appeal. While soaking in it I did some Googling to discover why these bone fish eat people. I found no answers, just that they do. Also, apparently, this type of treatment has stopped being available in many places because of sanitary concerns, but so far my feet haven’t fallen off. And if they do, I will likely just blame it on all the walking I have done around town.

The Truth

Solo travel has opened my eyes up to some very important truths.

  1. I tell people often, but they do not believe that I am shy. I don’t mind small group settings and once I get going I am okay. But meeting new people is scary and hard for me. Which leads to truth number
  2. Andrew and I have a cleaning lady that comes every other week. She also does my laundry. Andrew still thinks I am a slob. Andrew has no idea the extent of my nature. I got into my apartment that I have only been in for 5 days and had to carve a fire safety path from the bed to the front door. I started off okay. I put things on shelves and hangers. Then somehow entropy got the upper hand and now I wake up and smell clothes to remember if I’ve worn them already – and if they are still okay to wear anyway (I do not do this with gym clothes – they’re fine to keep wearing until I don’t have to put my nose to them).
  3. I love food. I know this is no revelation, But when I look back on my pictures so far of this trip, more than 50% are of the dinners I have had.

    My dinner at 108 which is an offshoot of noma, a two star Michelin restaurant currently closed while the staff is on vacation and the restaurant relocating.

    My antipasto at an Italian restaurant that I have fallen in love with, FAMO. The food was not only beautiful but magnificent. The flavors were so thoughtful and played with each other. The wine pairings were perfection.

    This was the pasta, the rabbit and the dessert dish (panna cotta). The chef flirted with me while he cooked at the counter I was sitting near. And the waitress was played by Shelley Duval as Olive Oyl. This was the best Italian food I have ever had.

  4. Running around a strange city with a guide is my new favorite way to explore it. In fact, I may see if Portland has a running guided tour just to check it out. You get to enjoy a jog without feeling like you have to constantly check your map. You get to pretend to sight see when you need to take a breather. And, for me, it was a great way to have a little – much needed – extrovert time. I do feel a bit bad for Alexandra who probably got to speak half as much as normal because she was the first human contact I had had in days and I verbally geysered all over her.

    Having said that, she was an amazing guide and tooke me on a 9k around Christiania – the hippie socialist community that has declared itself free from Denmark (and the EU) and is known for it’s art and pot. Think: Saturday Market located in Forest Park with its own flag and sustainably built houses prior to pot being legal – if Forest Park had also been a military complex during WWII. Use http://www.runningcopenhagen.com if/when you are here – they run other tours as well.

  5. I am lonely. I am an extrovert and being alone is very difficult. I like to have someone around to prattle at. Unlike an introvert who shares all of his thoughts with only himself, in a dark room, after checking for surveillance equipment. I like to share every thought in my head as it is formulating – regardless of how half baked it is. Two days ago a friend of mine texted me that she had a weird dream that I’d come home early and shrugged it off as “not for me.” This may be more prescient than she intended. I am going to stay on this trip for the allotted duration, but it will probably be the last time I travel alone – at least for this long of time.
  6. While I believe I have mastered the science of packing – I have not quite got the art down yet. I am totally into having just the few things I need while still having a versatile wardrobe. But, I did not bring enough layering and I brought two pairs of wrong shoes while not bringing a specific pair I should have. This will require more traveling to sort out. Anyone want to be my buddy?

Bonus Material:

  1. As I am wandering through Copenhagen I am recalling the John Irving book Until I Find You – and that makes me want to get a tattoo.
  2. I have gotten more than 15000 steps every day (even on days I don’t do much) and one day even logged over 40000.
  3. I will get sick on every vacation. Now that I know the rule I can plan for it.
  4. Drinking two 12oz cups of concentrated cold brew causes insomnia on either side of the Atlantic Ocean.

Smoke Gets In Your Eyes, and Lungs, and Hair

The mute swan is the national bird of Denmark. The marguerite daisy is the national flower. I am pretty sure the national inhalant of Denmark is Marlboro.

My history in selecting AirBnB’s by myself has been a little tenuous. I had one where there was no internet, I had another where I ended up rooming with a girl and her friend and a cat (the cat was the plus side of the rental – obvs.). So this time I made sure Andrew vetted my choice prior to selection so that I did not end up in a tent or a cult or Copenhagen, New York by accident. I almost chose an apartment that was a bit nearer to the city but the reviews on it said that when you opened the windows there was cigarette smoke coming in. I feel bad for the owner of the AirBnB for missing out on renters and want to reach out to her so that she can respond with, “we just call that ‘air’ in Copenhagen.”

After 20 hours of travel, a night out with more drinks than I usually have in a month, days of almost 19 hours of sun and general overwhelmedness, the second day here I kind of crashed. I walked around the city a bit and went to a salon to pick up hair product. Just as the words, “my hair isn’t going to be that frizzy because it’s not that humid here” left my lips, the sky opened up and rain pelted down – I might not understand weather. This was no Oregon drizzle. This was where the phrase “cats and dogs” comes from. I made a quick trip to the gym and headed back to my apartment where I napped for three hours while the rain pelted away.IMG_2635

The texture you see in the above picture is the rain. It was a good day to have my vacation from bed. Eventually I decided to get out of bed and started heading to the improv place I’d been the night before – ICC. I got to the end of the block, changed my mind, and turned to go to the main street to find some dinner and head back to bed – I had hit a wall. Andrew would say it was jet lag. I would say that I don’t believe in jet lag.

Around the corner, it turns out, was a street festival celebrating the neighborhood.

The band was playing Danish pop and the lead singer was super into it. The light crowd was polite and super into the beer. I was, as is my wont, dressed inappropriately for the weather. So I downed my sausage just in time for the couple sitting next to me to light up their cigarettes and put the nail in the proverbial coffin of me hightailing it out of there.

My appetite was not sated, and while I was not in the mood to go out, I also wasn’t quite ready to go back to bed. I found a restaurant with a chef’s tasting menu and wandered in. Tasting menus are my new favorite thing to do at a restaurant. I love food and I love trying new things and I love restaurants. I think food is art – and a tasting menu is like the chef’s best version of their selves.

These were the six dishes of the inaptly named 5 course tasting menu. The green onion was tasty but hard to eat because I couldn’t really cut it. The rest of the dishes tasted fine, but I think they could have used some more salt. The service was good, I was brought dishes by apparently anyone with a free hand and they each explained the dishes except for the woman who brought the cod – but she also brought me the next dish and it turns out she was just shy about her English – I totally empathize. What I loved most was the pacing. For Andrew’s birthday I took him to a nice restaurant in Portland and they asked us if we were in a rush. We said no. Then they proceeded to serve us as though they were trying to win a race against the service team at Red Robin – I am pretty sure we were in, dined, paid and out in an hour. But the dinner above was a 2+ hour affair. By the time I was done eating I was almost hungry again.

I got back to my apartment and immediately felt wide awake – probably due to all the food I’d had and not due to the jet lag I don’t believe in.

Jet Lag, Shet Shmag

My first day in Copenhagen was a treat. I went to the gym and they were running a special where you get your first two weeks free. So, I have free full access gym membership for my stay here.

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This is the parking lot outside of the gym. Everyone here rides bikes – no one wears a helmet. I keep wanting to rent a bike, but it is so rainy and I am so klutzy (see blog name) that I keep not renting one. The trip is young, we shall see. I think today instead I will tackle public transportation, which I assume is a thing here. Usually Andrew does all the organizing around this. He’s not here and Vin Diesel is useless around buses, which is ironic; you’d think with a name like Vin Diesel he’d know all things automotive. I might have to rethink this new-boyfriend arrangement.

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This is a random building during my walk. I thought it was pretty. Now you look at it and think it’s pretty too.

I’ve managed to start understanding some Danish. Mostly in writing. I don’t know how to pronounce anything though because even though the letters are familiar they don’t make the same noises as in English. I recognize æg means egg, and I know ol is beer, brod is bread, etc. Andrew says I have a knack for languages – it’s really just a very heavy interest in food.

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Shwarma proof. Across the street from this Shwarma House is another Shwarma House. There’s a lot of shwarma around here. I like to think that every once in a while they have a kabob rumble in the streets.

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After the gym I went to a restaurant around the corner from my apartment. I wanted some authentic Danish food. So I asked the waiter to suggest what I should have. He brought me this Spanish omelet. I have cultural food confusion – but it was delicious!

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It was so rainy I actually used an umbrella ella ella all day.

 

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So this is actually very Danish. It is an open faced herring sandwich on a hearty rye and nut bread. It is called Smørrebrød. The toppings don’t have to be herring, they may be cold cuts or meat or cheese. It was really tasty, and quite filling.

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This is a truck full of drunk teenagers. They are celebrating their high school graduation. There are loads of these trucks throughout the city blaring Rhianna and screaming and blowing whistles and drinking it up. It’s annoying and cute – like me!

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Random pretty buildings.

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After wandering around the city all day I was tired. But, I had made plans to meet up with some improv people at 20:00. So, I slammed some coffee, and a Manhattan (to get awake, but not too awake) and went to play with new friends. It was super fun. The ICC is a cafe during the day time and a cozy and fun theater at night. I jumped in and played with a group and then joined in on the jam after all the sets were completed. Part of the improv culture is being able to go practically anywhere and already have instant friends. It was super fun. I will be joining them again next Friday and teaching some short form.

 

I also made it to the grocery store in the morning after the gym and stayed up until 02:00. I consider that a success in terms of jet lag. However, my body considers it a failure in terms of being over 40.

Today, there will be napping.

The Longest Day of the Year

I knew my travel day was going to be long, because I have seen a map and understand the distance/time relationship between Portland and Copenhagen; but, 20 hours is a lot longer than it sounds.

I have known-traveler status and pre-check on my trips so I got to the airport about an hour before my flight from Portland to LAX. What I hadn’t counted on was Alaska requiring me to see a desk agent instead of using a kiosk to get my boarding pass, nor the long-ass line waiting for the desk agents. I put on my best puppy dog eyes and apologized to the desk agent about skipping into the first class line but could she do me a favor? And, in fact, she could.

I whizzed through security and got to my gate just in time for my flight to be delayed by an hour. On the flight to LA I ordered coffee. I figured my best bet for fighting jet lag in Copenhagen was to try and sleep very little on the flight and then when I got to Denmark at 22:00 I’d be ready for bed. I am really thankful that airlines serve coffee at drinkable temperature, that way it burned less when three seconds after my coffee was served I spilled it all over myself, my carry-on and my neighbor. My second cup managed to get mostly in my mouth.

LAX is now in my top 3 of worst airports ever. When I got off my plane there was no gate agent and the departures board did not list my flight to Heathrow. My boarding pass had no information about what gate I was at because I had gotten it way before there was a gate assignment. I wandered around looking completely lost for about 15 minutes before finding a gate agent. As I approached the counter the window behind him glared sun right into my eyes and I was blinded. I blinked for a second, opened my eyes and the gate agent, like an oasis in a Bugs Bunny desert, disappeared. I turned around to see where he’d gone. I looked behind the counter to see if he’d ducked out of sight. I turned 360 degrees again and there he was. It was like Alaskan Airlines had hired David Blaine to help me find my connecting flight.

He sent me to the Tom Bradley International Terminal, which was approximately in San Diego. I got my steps for an entire month at LAX, and got to my gate just in time for my flight to be delayed by an hour. When life gives you lemons, do yoga. I went through a yoga routine from my new favorite yoga app, Daily Yoga – turns out yesterday was International Yoga day, so it was appropriate. Also, I was in LA – so, really….

I snuggled into my plane seat, turned on some podcasts and played stupid games on my phone until about midnight. Then I watched the new Triple X movie – Vin Diesel is my new boyfriend, sorry Andrew. Then I watched Jack Reacher. This may be controversial, but I love Tom Cruise. The movie was totally mediocre, but Tom Cruise – he’s a good actor. In fact, other than Eyes Wide Shut, I cannot think of a movie he is in that I have seen that I did not enjoy. I totally want to hate him because he’s a Scientologist and a nut-job (redundant, I know), but, I can’t. He’s really good at his job.

I got three hours of sleep on my flight and it was early evening in London. Normally, Heathrow is the worst – it, in fact, is also in the top three of my “the worst” airports. Maybe because my expectations were so low, maybe because I was tired and not feeling super feisty, or probably because my departing flight was in the same terminal as my arrival flight, I had a breezy time getting through customs and getting a salad and coffee just in time for my flight to be delayed by an hour. For those of you math wizards at home, you would think that 3 one-hour delays would mean my 20 hour flying day was 23. However, you are not taking into account that airlines lie about how long flights take so that they can make up time in these cases, and all told my arrival was only 30 minutes later than I had expected.

For those of you comedy nerds at home, yes, that is the third beat – which meant it was funny instead of frustrating.

I got to my gate to board my final flight to Copenhagen and felt like I was in the Redwood Forest. Every single person getting ready to board was at least two heads taller than me, and blonde. It got me a little excited in a way because I just assumed that the seats in the plane would have more room, I assumed wrong. Those poor Danes, if I’m uncomfortable on a plane, they have to be in agony.

I got through customs rapidly, got in a cab and headed to my AirBnB. I asked my taxi driver, “What is one food I have to have while in Copenhagen?”

“Shwarma.”

“I’m sorry, I must be having trouble understanding your accent, it sounded like you said shwarma, like the Middle Eastern dish.”

“Yes, shwarma.”

Then he proceeded to tell me all of his favorite shwarma places near my AirBnB – common theme: they are all called “[someone’s name] Shwarma House”. To be fair, when I walked around this morning, I could not actually walk a block without seeing a shwarma or kabob place.

My AirBnB is on the 6th floor of a 5 story walk up – they don’t count the first floor landing. I settled in after chatting with the landlord. I asked him how to pronounce Copenhagen (is it cope-in-HAY-ggin or cope-en-HAH-ggen?). He laughed at me immediately and said that either one is fine, but that it is coop-en-HAWen. He walked me around the very spacious apartment, then showed me the bathroom which is a closet sized shower with a toilet inside – very efficient.

I slept in until 4:30 AM, when I realized I hadn’t eaten since my LAX salad. It’s also when I realized that while I am excited about this adventure, I am a little overwhelmed. I want to do a lot of things; but, I am in a strange place alone and have not yet learned to navigate it all. I think today if I make it to the gym and the grocery store and don’t go to sleep until night time, I am going to count it as a win.

Certifiable

Every time Andrew and I go to a tropical destination we go snorkeling. Except for that time in Hawaii where we went to snorkel but the rain dumped on us so we didn’t get in the water and instead went to brunch and that is not technically a snorkel, it’s more of just a snorkel-brunch or a snunch.

Every time we go snorkeling I think, “I want to SCUBA (which is actually okay to just be scuba these days as we have adopted the acronym as a word, so I will no longer scream at you as I write the word – also, bonus Words With Friends trivia) dive”. But then the follow-up thoughts are along the lines of, “Andrew doesn’t dive and if we go to a dive place he wouldn’t dive with me and I like my boyfriend and want to keep him so no sense looking for a new one just based off of one water sport … probably … so I’ll just keep snorkeling”

The weirdest part of all of that is that Andrew loves the water. When planning trips they are usually water adjacent destinations. He loves hearing the water. He loves showering in it (there are sometimes 5 showers in his day). He even likes to drink it – in fact it’s the most common drinking fluid for him as a contrast to red wine for me. But, if you ask him to swim in it or put his face in it, or god forbid be completely immersed, his polite response would be, “FUCK NO BITCHES I AM OUTTA HERE”- with the exception of snorkeling, but even that takes a bit of warming up to the head-in-water bit, to include several measured tests of the life jacket’s actual flotation capabilities.

Then it dawned on me. Andrew is an introvert. I don’t need to plan on doing things that he can do too. I just do my thing and he’ll do his and we’ll meet up at the end of the day and talk about how fun it was to see an octopus in its natural habitat or how many life vests were gone through before the perfect floating dynamic was acheived.

So I signed up for open water scuba certification with Adventure Sports**** in Portland.

Leading up to last weekend, I spent the week doing an e-Learning module that went over the basics of scuba. Then last weekend was spent mixing class time reviewing the material, getting fitted with gear for the water and 8 hours of time in a high school gym pool. Mostly the practice was what to do in case of emergency so that you don’t die. In fact instead of calling it scuba certification they should call it “How not to die in the water when panic alarms go off in your head because you are not a fish and why are you swimming so deep anyway, can’t you leave aquatic life to itself? I mean you chose to evolve out of the water* a gajillion years ago, maybe just leave it”. I think that has a nice ring to it.

At the end of last week I called all my already certified scuba friends and told them we were going to start making diving dates. Then I called all my non-scuba friends that should do scuba and told them how much they would love scuba and that they should take it. Then I called Andrew and told him how much he would hate being under water and being scared to death by all the “don’t die” activities that we learned.

Then I spent the week looking at scuba gear porn**.

Mind you, I did not purchase any gear, which is terribly unlike me. Just ask all of my tennis gear and bouldering gear and roller derby gear stashed away in the downstairs “Hadas once tried this sport and liked it for a minute” room in our house. I did buy goggles though. But this was so that I could have corrective lenses and actually see the octopus I would be hunting.

This weekend I drove up to Hoodsport, Washington, home of highway 101. I checked into Sunrise Motel around 8 pm on Friday night and got myself settled in. I had some work to catch up on so I linked into the wifi and immediately found out that the wifi was sketchy. As was the T-Mobile reception. I hadn’t thought to bring a book with me – because, 2016 and wifi. After about an hour of being squirrely and getting some non-Internet work done, I settled onto the bed and tried to turn on the TV. The remote didn’t work. I got up and turned the TV on, at the TV, like an animal. I tested out the remote control – volume worked, nothing else did. Well, whatever, I don’t care what’s on, it’s just noise. And that’s when I watched The Big Bang Theory for the first time in my life.

My thoughts on this show are as follows:

  • It’s fairly funny – which was somewhat surprising actually
  • It’s super-misogynistic, to an uncomfortable level at times. I actually, out loud, said, “gross” multiple times, I guess I Grossed Out Loud – GOL.
  • I am not sure if it is autism empowering or cruel…
  • Five episodes in a row is about 3 episodes too many – I wish I didn’t have to turn the TV off like an animal.

I awoke the next morning and got to our pre-designated meeting-hotel-room location at 8AM on the dot. I was the last one there. We went over rules and an overview of what we were going to do to not die in the water that day. Then we did a tour of the hotel and started prepping and donning our gear.

I want to tell about every dive, but mostly I think it’s a thing you have to experience to really get. The water visibility was shitty (at best 7ft at worst 3ft) and that made things pretty scary at times. I did two dives the first day and two dives the second day. I saw sea anemone and baby wolf eels and tires and a sea whip and crab and shrimp and starfish and some pipe looking equipment and sunfish – which look like too-many-armed starfish only lazier. Mostly, though, I learned that I could be under water for an extended amount of time, feeling somewhat panicky at times, and not die. I can remain calm enough in stressful situations to not die. And I can have very limited visibility, lose my instructor for a minute, do hand signals, share breathing apparatuses, take my mask off and put it back on and clear it all underwater, hunt for octopus with no luck, ascend and descend, and not die.

In the end, I passed all the certification stuff. I also learned that if you can dive in the Pacific Northwest, you can pretty much dive anywhere.

Now I am going to go eat all of the food and sleep all of the sleeps because diving is exhausting.

Then, on our next vacation near water, I will take a trip into it and Andrew will swim above me, and we will likely both not die***.

*probably not true

**what I mean by this is just looking at and ogling scuba gear. I don’t know if there is actual scuba gear porn. But, I would not Google it if I were you. Unless you were into that sort of thing… then Google away.

***past performance is no guarantee of future results.

****I highly recommend this company. They were really nice and patient and thorough. Go to them for all of your scuba diving needs. They will keep you alive (and entertained while they do so).

Subway – Eat Continuously!

 

The good news, is I think I am fully acclimated to the time change now. The bad news is, we head back to Portland on Sunday. Woke up at 6:30. We both have a mild cold but nothing we can’t vacation through.

Normally, and for the past 4 years, I have been gluten free.No,  I am not celiac. Yes, I have read the research about how people aren’t really sensitive to gluten unless they have celiac. But, I can tell you that my stomach doesn’t like it, and neither does my psoriasis and arthritis, nor my depression. But, being gluten free in a foreign country is pretty limiting – especially one that uses soy sauce in cooking. So, while in Korea I have just hung up my gluten free hat and crossed my fingers. And, for the past week I have had no noticeable issues. It turns out I have no sensitivity to Korean gluten!

After a slight argument about whether I should chance it, we rode the subway for about 35 minutes to an American breakfast house and I ordered a stack of poison pancakes. For the whole subway ride home I felt like I was going to die: with bad nausea, a sudden crashing headache and the spins. As it turns out, I am sensitive to Korean gluten when it’s in English.

We came home and napped it off.

I really like the apartment we are in, save for two things. The bed is slightly more firm than the floor (it seems like this is a running theme in Korea). I am not really sure why they go through the motions of having mattresses at all – it feels like false advertising.

The other issue with this apartment is the toilet, it’s not firmly mounted. I feel like I am in training to ride a bull in a bar that thinks peanut shells is floor decor. On the up side, I am getting a core workout even without going to CrossFit.

While Andrew has been sick, whenever I ask how he’s feeling he says “blugh.” Today however he upgraded that to “mlech.” So we went back to Myeong-dong for more foods on sticks and to buy cute socks.

Then this happened:

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Andrew really wanted this Shiba Inu’s attention, but the dog was a little snappy at him.

It’s a dog cafe. Like a cat cafe. Only with a lot more peeing on the floor.

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This little long haired dachshund came up to me and just curled onto my lap and took a nap – until my legs fell asleep and I had to kick him off.

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This is actual-Andrew petting an actual-dog. Like real petting too, not just the usual tentative finger prod Andrew usually calls dog-petting.

We hung out for a while then went to shop and eat some more.

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It probably seems like mostly what we are doing on this vacation is eating. That’s correct. But, I am pretty sure that I have not put on an ounce of weight and that is mostly because of the subway system. It’s the largest system (and most used) in the world. But it’s not just go downstairs and catch a train, it’s more go down several flights of stairs and walk for a quarter mile or three and then hop on a train and then walk back up those same amount of flights of stairs and also walk a quarter mile here and there to catch connections. Navigating the elaborate makeup of Seoul transit has helped me keep my girlish figure even as I stuff myself full of  “actual expenditure type of steak.”

So, we ate some more. And then this happened:

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “You guys went back to the cat cafe?” and you’d be wrong. Because this is a totally different cat cafe from the other one we went to. And now you’re probably thinking, “How many cat cafes can you go to?” And the answer is, “All of them.”