When in Denmark…

…do NOT do as the Danish do.

I was visiting my sister for the weekend with the intention of attending this massive festival in Denmark. The theme was Fairytale, so I bought a pink wig for 5 euros, attempted to tie dye a dress, spent way too much of my time making a flower crown, then called it a day. I don’t think even half that amount of effort was needed.

I arrived two days before the festival was going to take place. My sister and her roommate had this really adorable costume idea. They were going to be dragon eggs! I was jealous and felt lame in comparison, but honestly hadn’t had the time or money to invest in something creative. The plan was fairly simple: head over to a friend’s apartment close to the parade, drink a little, then join the festivities.

On the walk to the friend’s place, we got a little taste of what awaited us. We passed crowds all decked out in different costumes, most were silly, some were creative and then there was the occasional black-face. I am not sure why this is still acceptable in Europe. Yes, they don’t have the same history with slavery and segregation as the US, but they still had slavery, segregation and were responsible for colonization.

The gathering at the apartment was chill, people were still getting ready and the anticipation was high.

Things quickly disintegrated. We left the apartment, our baby carriage jam packed full of alcohol in tow (yes, people use their children’s pram to transport liquor, or if they don’t have any kids buy one especially for this occasion). This should have been a red flag.

 

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Not my photo (obviously). Credit in the corner. This photographer was not only brave to bring a super expensive camera to this shit-show, but also took really nice photos. Thanks!

 

We wandered down a pretty abandoned street, then as we rounded the corner onto the main road I was confronted with a scene of mass pandemonium. The street was packed with very intoxicated people, in the street, on the sidewalk, barely hanging onto crudely made floats, stumbling in the wrong direction and, of course, dancing to American rap music.

As we got further enmeshed in the parade, I saw maybe the strangest of Danish traditions — peeing in public. There were people on all sides of me either peeing against the sides of apartment building (if male) or just squatting on the sidewalk (if female), in FULL view of EVERYONE!

I admit that I am a prude American (a term I didn’t realize was actually true until I entered a European dressing room for the first time), so this was way out of my comfort zone. The whole scene turned into a horror movie as it dawned on me that the small rivers of water flowing in the street was not beer, as I had initial thought.

I was way too sober for this festival, but I wasn’t about to start drinking only to then be forced to use the sidewalk as a bathroom.

I May Have a Problem

I went to India, took part in a beautiful wedding, came down with a horrible case of “probably shouldn’t have eaten that” and witnessed the US make terrible choices.

It took 3 flights to finally reach the small (for India but still has over a million inhabitants) village that is Jammu, in northern India. The first flight was into Dubai. During this flight, I happened to accidentally drop my phone in-between my seat and the wall of the plane. This was half-way through me watching my second Disney film. So I paused The Frog Princess and attempted to feel for my phone. Nothing. I then ducked my upper half under the seat to see if I could spot it under on the floor, but of course I was not flexible enough to make it that far. So I then unbuckled my seat belt and wedged my self in between the seats, thinking that maybe some how I would be able to get onto all fours and actually be able to see under the seat. Naturally, all I end up doing is momentarily getting my hips stuck between my seat and the back of the seat in front of me. The leg room available in economy isn’t enough to maneuver your body around. I was about to give up and just wait until we landed to look again, but my struggles captured the attention of my neighbor, an elderly Indian gentleman, who at this point was probably wondering where my parents where and why they’d let me sit alone.

He offered me the light from my phone, but because I still was unable to find an angle where I could actually look underneath the seat, it was pretty useless. At this point, I was completely fine with waiting until landing to look for my phone, but because this stranger had offered his help I felt pressured to keep trying.

That’s when I had the brilliant idea to squat on top of my chair and swing my top half under the seat. With my legs out of the way I was able to see everything under my seat. Unfortunately, I hadn’t thought about the fact that my butt was completely up in the air… I just prayed that I would be able to get out of the position without falling, ass first, onto my neighbor.

I spotted my phone after about 2 seconds, snatched it quickly and then carefully pulled myself back up, holding my phone over my head victoriously. My neighbor was laughing incredulously at the lengths I would go to to retrieve my phone. Millennials.

Sadly, in the scuffle to find my phone, my 5 euro Danish chapstick had some how dropped into the ether, and I was not about to go through that whole process again, so I silently said my goodbye’s.

I wish I could say my struggles were over. On the second flight from Dubai to Dehli, I had been traveling for 13 hours and it was probably 4 am in Germany, so I attempted to get some sleep for most of that flight, waking up only to eat the dinner offered. As we were landing the flight attendants came through the cabin to collect left over trash and blankets, waking me up momentarily, In my delirium I saw my glasses fly off my lap when I handed the attendant my blanket, but I couldn’t find them anywhere. They shouldn’t have landed that far away. I searched for the next 45 minutes, before having this panicked feeling that maybe I hadn’t seen them at all and perhaps I had put them on my food tray. I flagged down an attendant and shared my concern with her. It took about 20 minutes to explain to her what I meant by glasses. I tried motioning to my eyes, squinting like I couldn’t see and repeating the word over and over again like a crazy person. Finally, “reading glasses” were said, and she understood what I meant, but explained that there were over 400 trays, so there was no way I would get them back. I almost started crying right there. She took one look at my face and immediately said, “But let me see what I can do!” and ran off.

After landing I was told that it’s protocol to check the food trays and they might end up in the lost and found at Delhi Airport. I was given a number to call and sent on my way. Considering the estimated population of New Delhi is 18 million, and who knows how many flights there are per day, I was not hopeful that I would ever see those glasses again, but because I have an unhealthy attachment to objects I was sure as hell going to try.

I called that number every day for 5 days. On the sixth day, I received an email saying that they had in fact found some reading glasses matching my description on a food tray from my flight. I was incredulous. It was a miracle. On the 9th day we were reunited, and there wasn’t a single scratch on the lenses.

Thank you Indira Gandhi International Airport staff!

 

Attempting to Make Friends

No one told me that being adult would be this difficult. Actually that’s not true, I heard that all the time I just had some sort of complex and refused to believe it. Youth…

What I actually wasn’t told was the secret to making friends once you leave school, don’t have a job….and are living in a foreign country.

In the beginning, there were way too many nights (actually entire days) spent with my computer. One day, once my passionate relationship with Netflix had faded to self loathing, I realized that I needed human contact, immediately.  I did what most millennials do when they want friends, I searched the inter-webs. This is when I came across a weekly event hosted by Couchsurfing. I haven’t been particularly successful with Couchsurfing as a way to stay in a place for free, but I figured if I showed up I could get at least one person to talk to me.

I RSVP’d and within 10 minutes I had a message from another attendee asking me about the type of photography I was interested in and whether or not I wanted to be part of this project he was working on. Seemed both promising, if not a little strange. But, hey, even if it turned out to be nothing, I WOULD have at least one person to talk to when I got there.

About an hour before heading out I started to feel a little flushed in my face. It was happening. I don’t know how many times I’ve shown up somewhere – be it a hostel or a party – feeling as if I am going to vomit because I didn’t know a soul. Will this feeling ever go away? Probably not. But the entire time walking to the bar my palms were sweating profusely, and I had to choke down the feeling of just turning around and running home. Social anxiety is brutal. I thought traveling might have alleviated some of the symptoms, but I’ve learned that all I can do is fight through it.

I have this really bad habit of showing up WAY too early when I am nervous. The event started at around 8pm, I got there at 730, and people didn’t actually show up until around 10pm. So I sat myself at the empty bar, hoping that I didn’t look as petrified as I felt.

I pushed through the panic and the fear, doing something that, for me, was not easy. But after ordering a rather large alcoholic beverage one of the bartenders started a conversation with me. We ended up having a lot in common, including our chosen careers, and the panic slowly receded into something resembling fun. Through the bartender, I was introduced to more people, and by the end I was part of a clique. My loneliness had been cured for an evening.

I am still on the quest for friends, and have signed up for other activities, like hiking. I think building any type of relationship takes time. Chemistry is rare and attention spans short. I just can’t give up just yet.

 

 

Reykjadalur

More Iceland spamming! Sorry, guys, but I really loved it here.

Our last stop on the Golden Circle brought us to the hot spring river, Reykjadalur (which sounds a lot different than it’s spelled). It was an hour hike to the springs, which was beautiful, but the hills nearly killed me. All the walking I did the past week did not make up for the fact that I haven’t really worked out in 3 months and my stamina has all but disappeared, haha.

It was worth it though. The springs were so cool and not too crowded. The blue lagoon was really nice, but this felt like a less touristy and more nature-y alternative. I would love to visit when there’s snow covering the surrounding hills and mountains.

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I was so happy to reach the destination and unload, I didn’t actually take many photos when I got there. My bad.

 

So Many Waterfalls

The nature in Iceland is amazing! I can’t remember the last time I went somewhere other than a city center of some sort. Even though we were staying in Reykjavik it was never overwhelming or claustrophobic like a lot of capitals.

I am thinking I want to take more trips into nature. Even though I was exhausted, it was a really nice feeling at the end of a day full of walking, climbing and breathtaking nature.

Inside the Volcano

I woke up the morning of our excursion and had a weird memory. It was one of those memories where you don’t know if you dreamt it or if it actually happened. I was 90 percent sure someone had told me that the inside of the volcano would be 100 degrees (fahrenheit, I am sure). So I kept that in mind while dressing for this trip, only putting on a thin sweater, one of my jackets and leaving my scarf behind, despite it being 40 degrees F outside.

When we board the bus taking us to the volcano, the guide hops on afterwards to announce that we are heading into the mountains, and she hopes that we are all dressed warmly enough. Then she describes what to expect inside the volcano. Like the inside of a refrigerator, were her exact words. Turns out we also had to hike 45 minutes across a windy, baron plane. THANKFULLY, they provided us with giant yellow windbreakers for the hike, so I didn’t freeze to death. I feel like I wasn’t the only unprepared tourist on this hike.

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The elevator ride down was absolutely terrifying and way too slow. The man operating the lift decided to mess with us and stopped it abruptly making it feel as if we were about to fall.

Side story: We met two people on this hike that live in the same small-ish Danish town my sister lives in. One of which was at the same party as my sister, but they hadn’t met until this hike. What a small world!