Wednesday, July 23, 2008

I'm back!!

I'm back in the U.S. of A. now. Reflecting on my trip is going to take a lot time, so bear with me and the multiple posts. I'll probably just post some random thoughts and most of this will not be very organized, so hang on for the ride.
* Some people would think I'm a bit crazy for going to some foreign country by myself that I've never been to nor speak the language. Fortunately, the majority of the people could speak English. I could say some basics like "do you speak English?","Excuse me," "thank you," "restroom" and "one hot dog, please." One of my few times that I ran into somone who couldn't was at a convenience store. My pocket phrase book didn't tell me how to say, "I would like to redeem this empty plastic bottle and get my 1 or 2 kroner, please," but fortunately, I could just pull out my bottle, point and smile, and they got the point. I wasn't also too concerned about the safety issue. I told my parents, "Come on, it's Norway..." I 've been in scarier parts in San Francisco. Another plus to traveling alone is that I don't have to worry about someone else's comfort and I don't feel as bad when I make a wrong turn or some schedule mistake. Being a little low on money and with the high cost of Europe, I did have to rough it a little and really stretch my budget. And it was nice to spend as much time looking at a painting, resting (or not resting), nursing some ugly blisters, taking as many pictures as I wanted of the same object, and so on. Of course there are some downsides to traveling alone, the major one of just not having someone to share a beautiful scene with, share your thoughts, emotions, and perspectives on your experiences, or dance to the music that lingers through the a harbor's summer air. I guess those times will come and I will look forward to them even more, especially when I have my eternal travel companion that accompanies me on the rest of my life's journeys.

* I think I've experienced the majority of possible modes of public transportation. Lots of flying time, but that's to be expected, as well as the number of stopovers. On my way over, I left Ontario at 6:25 in the morning, had stops in Phoenix, Denver, Philadelphia, and Munich before arriving in Stockholm around 3:30 pm the next day. Munich was my first view of Europe and I was amazed with how green it was and all of the little, red-roofed villages scattered about the countryside, awwwww... While I was in the Munich airport I had the song, now I'm not sure if it's the right title so please forgive me, "Ninety-nine red balloons" (that 80's song where half of the lyrics are in German) stuck in my head. I was trying refrain from whistling it, afraid that some may find it offensive and think that I'm mocking Germany. I later found out from a friend who just came back from Germany that Germans love that song and would not have been offended. Next time, next time...
I admit I wasn't the most social seat mate (spent more time dozing), but I did sit and chat with this amazing women who had been vacationing in Atlantic City and was going back to Germany where she works for the Army. We somehow got onto the topic of goals and she mentioned that she was training for her first half-marathon. Wow!! I thought. I asked if she had been in any before and she said no, that this was her first. She said that she has multiple sclerosis and so is not very sure how much time she has left to engage in such physical activities. She said 2 weeks ago she couldn't even walk, so she just takes things a day at a time and tries to live the most out of them. Amazing!
Jumping forward... I almost didn't get home Tuesday night because the airline had overbooked the flight from Philadelphia to Phoenix. After spending more than 2 hours going through customs, and the nightmare of the security check (worst check line ever!) I found out that I was on the waiting list to get a seat on the plane. I was starting to get just a little stressed out at this point. Just a little. I was starting my new job at 8am the next morning and couldn't wait for the next earliest flight that didn't leave until the next morning. Fortunately, some kind soul, whose name will be written by angels in the eternal book of good deeds, took the later flight and I was able to get one of the last seats on the plane. I sat with a lovely couple from Sweden on their way to Phoenix. We chatted for a good time until we both felt the effects of Stockholm time and slept until the end of the flight. After the plane landed, they offered me a piece of candy that looked more like a large, oval, greyish-brown vitamin. I graciously accepted. Now, just a side note, I have learned that in many countries, children and adults acquire a taste for things that others may find disgusting. Australians have Vegimite (a spread for bread made from yeast extract, very salty), Argentines have mate (a drink that looks, and many say tastes, like grass), and Swedes have their salted black licorice. This salt doesn't just seem like regular table salt, it seems a bit stronger, like it's burning your mouth and up to your nose. This particular hard candy had a salty-black licorice and menthol taste to it. Yes, a bit strong. I tried my best to keep a straight face. It was too big to swallow, so I had to suck on it until I could bite into it and taste its full fury. Still trying to maintain a straight face. Ah, yes the joys of airplane travel...

I'm going to keep this short for now, but I will blog more later. Stay tuned for more Scandinavian adventures.

1 comment:

Mr. Hall said...

Har du hat en god tur? Det er bra! Thanks for sharing. . . I shall look forward to future posts with your Scandinavian experiences--I shall live through your words over the next few posts!