Saturday, September 1, 2007

Scandinavia

Well I write you now on a gigantic ferry from Oslo to Copenhagen. In case you are doing the math, yes that means I only spent 2 days in Norway, as opposed to the 4-5 days I had allowed.

This is NOT because Norway sucked. It was great…okay it wasn’t quite great but very cool. But I hate to let all the doubters say “I told you so” but Norway is indeed WAY too expensive.

My hotel was very affordable. (side note: my rule has been to book a decent hotel for 2 nights in any country and then talk to locals and get advice on the next few days. This also allows me to abort travel if it gets too expensive or I am having a terrible time. So I consider this well played!)

So when I told people I was going to Norway, I got one of three reactions: (a) Why? Well bring a jacket! (b) Norway? You know that is very expensive right? (c) Oh, you want to see beautiful women. And also (d) Do you want a girl to bench-press you or something?

Well (c) is the most correct, but not entirely. (okay maybe) I also read about Norway and how incredible the sights and country are. And let me tell you, I wasn’t disappointed. The country is indeed beautiful, and I’m sad I didn’t get to travel to Bergen, where I planned to stop midway and ride the Flam (one of those trains/lifts that take you up a mountain…sorry I can’t be more specific), and I even hoped to hit another town like Stavenger or Kristiansburg. (totally wrong spelling but who cares eh?)

But lets get back to the women. If you have heard that Scandinavian women (especially in Norway) love Americans, well I am not the one to confirm it…but I can shed some light. First, let me say the women here are incredibly beautiful. When I got on the bus at the airport I looked around and thought “hmmm, lots of male hippy backpackers, some older folks and ONE really cute girl. Lies!)

But that was a biased sample size. Once I got into town (note: Ryanair flies into “Oslo Torp” which DOES NOT mean Oslo, but a town 1.5 hours away…but I didn’t care as the flight from Ireland cost me like 50 bucks…really!) but anyway I realized this town is LOADED with beautiful women.

Seriously, anywhere I went, my reaction to these girls went somewhere along the lines of "wow" then to "holy shit!" and then finally "okay is this a f%#king joke or something?"

Let me say my hotel was also in the snooty shopping district area, and I first considered that as the reason. (like women walking outside of Bergdorf in NYC, or fashion square in Scottsdale)

I took it easy the first night, but went out for dinner and like 2 drinks, and then went home to upload some pictures. Well, I was already surprised how cheap my hotel was (note, not cheap but this hotel was WAY nicer than what I payed, if Norway is so inexpensive…$140 a night if you must know) and my dinner was even fairly cheap considering I splurged for a steak. Hey, I’ve been eating relatively healthy…and I’ve been jogging!

Anyway, I had it stuck in my head that that 1USD=roughly 14 Norwegian Kroner. It wasn’t until I got home and logged on that the 1USD=about 5.6 Kroner! That is a huge idiotic mistake by me, yes, but the hotel really was $140 a night. However, that meant my steak dinner was $100 (and it wasn’t very good) and a beer COSTS $17!!!!)

Once I realized this, and saw how expensive the train to Bergen was, I decided to abort the country, hotties or not. That doesn’t mean I regret visiting Norway…especially after my second and last night.

So we are on the same page, I spent Tuesday and Wednesday, Aug 28th & 29th in Norway. Really hate that I wasn't there later in the week...though I may have had a heart attack. Tuesday I took it easy as I said. Wednesday I was panicking from the high costs and spent most of the afternoon on the web looking for alternatives and planning my travel.

One thing I really wanted to do was take a ferry from Norway to wherever…but the thing is all the ferries leave from Oslo, not Stavenger or any other town. (unless I wanted to go back to the UK, which I’m not doing until late Sept!)

So I took this as a sign to get the F out of dodge and booked a ferry to Copenhagen, which was pretty affordable.

BUT, I still had one more night in Oslo and a good night’s rest. (seriously, Norwegians have the most comfortable beds ever…and this was a 3 star hotel apparently…it was spotless, the sheets totally white and the whole bed may have well as been a big feather pillow…and no, this bed was NOT designed by NASA like the temper-pedic)

So I went out, with the general attitude of “yep, hot gals everywhere…but what the hell am I doing in Norway? I just spent 17 bucks on a quarter pounder meal!”

Let me back up and say that I’m having a freaking blast traveling, and Norway has been just about as fun as Ireland, possibly better.

You should also know that Norwegians play EXCLUSIVELY American music, and here’s the thing: They have WAY BETTER taste in our music than we do! Seriously, with our society so screwed up by a curious appreciation for terrible country pop, and additionally by our inability to appreciate good music from the past (that isn’t Elvis, The Beatles or the Stones) I was blown away that every song the DJ’s played was fantastic. And some of the songs were clearly American but I’d never heard them in my life. And they weren’t new songs, as I don't know much new music since I don't listen to radio much in NY.

I’m all over the place right now. Anyway, I went out Saturday and while all the points mentioned above are true, it started to feel pointless being out (especially on a Wednesday) and I started to walk home. It was also very dead in Oslo.

But then I stumbled upon a bar that had a few people…and it looked like a mixed-age crowd, which I prefer. When I walked in, they told me to head to the left because the room on the right had a private party. Okay. I went to the left and it was happening, but it was also young and very crowded.

I went to the bathroom down the stairs, and while there, I realized I could sneak my way into the private party if I went up the stairs the other direction. (Hey, private party means a possibility of free drinks! And at the very worst, a reason to leave the crowded young’ns)

I went into the party and while it wasn’t some great party, I wasn't old, and I knew from when I entered, it would be under in an hour until the party ended…so I felt I was worthy of being there. No, there wasn’t free beer…though maybe there was until a certain hour. (it was like 11 at this point) But I DID find out what kind of private party it was. A Scandinavian Airlines company party. Yes, that means flight attendants that come from the country housing the most beautiful women I’ve ever seen!!!

But I was kinda disappointed considering this.

Yes, there were some hotties, but also a lot of pilots and admin folks. (I think all the flight attendants were actually flying…drats)

But I did hang out with 2 flight attendants, both pretty darn cute. (one is in my pictures) And no, I didn’t hook up as one was married and one had a boyfriend. I had a blast anyway. And they gave me their party pass thingies around their neck, so I could feel like part of the party. Yes, that helped make me feel welcome!

Anyway, Norway is a fascinating place. To all my single friends, and I mean men AND women, straight and gay, if you every win the lottery, move here immediately. Since I’m a manly man, I can say that not only the women are beautiful, but the men are all tall and (ahem) good-looking as well. And they ALL speak nearly perfect English.

And I don’t understand how they do stay so good-looking actually. They smoke like chimneys and drink like fishes. (There are few reasons why I would EVER leave a country with beautiful women who smoke and drink too much and have great taste in music…$17 beers unfortunately is one of them)

Norway Ratings:
The scenery: 10
The "local feel": 9 (seriously, I didn’t see a single American, even though we rule their culture)
The bars: 7
The food: 4 (good presentation, but since they basically mimic Americans, they too have been inflicted with the garlic craze…Emeril must die)
The friendliness of patrons: 7
The ladies' presence: 10
Desire to return 6 (10 if I become rich)
Value for Money 1
Opinion of Americans 8 (they love us, problem is most American travelers are poor like me and stay away due to the money…hey, I like to think of my 2 expensive days in Norway as ¼ of my worst weekend in Vegas…but I’m totally warped anyway)

The Ferry:

The ferry from Norway to Denmark was fantastic. Yes, it was totally touristy, and there wasn’t a soul within 10 years of my age in either direction…but after the Scandinavian airlines party, I needed a relaxing evening.

And let me elaborate: I felt totally out of place and yet it might have been my favorite part of the trip. You can see I went picture crazy since I was enjoying the views so much. And I also enjoy saying (and spelling) fjord. I only have slight regrets I cut the Norway trip short. Hey, this isn’t about draining my savings.

Some great people watching went on as well. I was marveling at how well the Danes and Norwegians danced, not that they were great but since they are about as “white” as you can get with their Arian looks, they weren’t bad.

But I spoke/thought too soon. Out of nowhere came some delightfully horrific dancers.

This was about 10pm and while I enjoyed the views in the sunlight, it was dark and I was getting bored. But then this guy, who had been sitting right next to me and seemed to be rather obnoxious, pulls his wife up on stage and starts dancing with her. I can’t tell you how funny his dancing was. It would be impossible. But imagine what it would take to take you from boredom, to a grin, then a chuckle, then a flat-out guffaw (when he breaks it down and ends up on the ground) and then full-on laughing out loud at this spectacle (when he KEPT breaking it down).

I don’t know who this man was, and I can’t say I liked him either, but I’d like to thank him just the same. (and his wife was actually a great dancer, and pretty hot, which I can’t decide is even funnier or very sad…nope funny)

And then I arrived in Denmark the next day and I was surprised I wasn't as inspired to take pictures. I realized it was probably since the city center was not on the shore. It was rather anticlimactic reaching shore and not seeing a discernible direction to walk with my 15 ton backpack, but I picked a direction and walked.

I didn't walk TOO far before I saw a cute blond on a bicycle waiting at a light. I asked her which way to town and she pointed toward the opposite direction I was walking. Yes, a setback, but I was happy to see a cute gal since I am pathetic.

I caught a taxi into town and made it to my hotel.

I was so tired and kinda hungover at this point, I just wanted to check in and get 2 hours of sleep before resuming my touristy ways.

Well, the classy 3-star hotel gave me the run-around for 3 hours, and during that time I caught some sights. And while the city of Copenhagen is indeed impressive, I very quickly figured out it is terribly touristy. I wish there was a better adverb than "terribly" because it really is.

But I also realized I was burned out quite a bit. I took only a few pics (and got rained on) and then decided I was too judgmental on this place and to relax a while. (seriously, I hit the "travel wall", now 2 weeks into travel, so I didn't want to experience the town bitter)

And this was a FRIDAY! I wasn't so much tired as partied out. (please note: this was an excellent feeling)

I decided to park my ass in my hotel bed (another comfortable Scandinavian bed...but not as nice as Norway) and simply watch American movies. (no not porn...though it was tempting for only $5,000 an hour)

I felt guilty for staying in my room all day but not really. I love not working, but if you think about it, trying to catch all the sights EVERY day kinda turns into work. (yes, I know you are cursing me, but trust me naysayers)

So while I enjoyed my "day off" (okay I deserve flack for that) I have to tell you I totally dislike Copenhagen. Yes, it is very nice and the architecture is stunning, but when you plaster billboards and neon on said structures, it is kinda shameless.

But the real problem in Copenhagen, which I find very sad, is that EVERYONE has heard how beautiful it is and EVERYONE has decided to visit. 10 years ago, it wasn't the same, as the locals tell me. I know I am compounding the problem, but really, don't ever come here. It sucks for this reason.

The next day...

I had like 10 hours of rest and was raring to go on Saturday night, but instead I write you now totally bored shitless. Sure, this could be because I hit the wrong places, but trust me, I walked by ALL the places. Now, I'm sure the locals have an underground network of places to see, but I don't care.

On one of my terrible tour buses, they showed us "Nuhavn", which is the most affluent place to live in town (and it was very cool) and so I took note and went there for dinner. The food was okay an all, but I decided this might be the west village equivalent in this town...WRONG! I went back later in the night and it was dead. I walked some random streets and they were dead.
As far as I can tell, Copenhagen is totally lifeless. TOTALLY.

Sure, it may have been beautiful and undiscovered 20 years ago...but so was Kirsty Alley.

I'm sure I've missed certain aspects and certainly haven't figured out the local scene but trust me, it sucks for 180 bucks a night at a 3 star hotel.

And while I can't thoroughly judge the bar scene due to the tourist aspect (much like superman can't see through lead) the women in Copenhagen are terribly ugly and fat. Yes, I said it! This place is a sausage fest...and even the guys are not good looking! And yes, I just compared myself to Clark Kent AND made a judgment call on the males without reason. Screw you for judging me!

So if you haven't figured it out, I don't like this town. But yet, I still have few regrets. Like how I could have stayed in Norway and not spent all that much more money.

Tomorrow I head to Germany, and I should be nice and refreshed. (Chris, could use your help with people to hang out with...even though it will be a Sunday-Tuesday!)

Later!

Denmark Ratings:
The scenery: 6 (would be much higher if not for neon & billboards)
The "local feel": 0 (simply terrible, really)
The bars: 2
The food: 4 (lamb chops were okay)
The friendliness of patrons: 5
The ladies' presence: 2
Desire to return 0 (I want to go back to Norway big time)
Value for Money 0 (I am killing this town! But they deserve it)
Opinion of Americans ? (the only guy I talked to and liked was the bartender at my hotel, who was from the Philippines, and couldn't give me a single reason to like this town...though he did try)

5 comments:

Sean Tubbs said...

Was the food made of Lego?

This is great stuff. Thanks for sending the link.

Chae said...

No more "days off". I need more stories of drunken bachelor parties and flight attendant gatherings. You are starting to get boring, but unfortunately my life is uneventful so I am appreciative of your pathetic stories.

Paul said...

hey kevin!

JRS said...

Fantastic stuff man. Agree with the comment on no more days off..... you can be a wimp back in nyc

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