Buonjourno! I am currently writing to you from aboard del treno Frecciargento. It’s a high speed train that zips across the Italian countryside. It wasn’t cheap either. We’re headed from Rome to Venice, another city I’ve never been to. I’m way behind on updating because I’ve been having too much fun (and too little internet access).
When I last left off, my man and I had left Reykjavik and driven through a harrowing storm to a rented a cabin in Akureyri.
I’m not quite sure what this sign is trying to say, but that dog is beautiful.
Once in Akureyri, we immediately got snowed way the hell in. Now, when people talk about getting “snowed in”, they mean a quaint spritzing of a few inches, or maybe a big old storm dropping half a foot! But we’re talking about a real live blizzard of the likes that OL’ ICELAND hadn’t even seen in a century.
Somewhere under all that snow is beautiful downtown Akureyri
A panoramic view of Akureyri. Before the snow.
Alex and I with one of the 13 Yule Lads, the Sausage Stealer troll Bjugnakraekir in the background.
Above, Alex is driving really well through a blizzard. Here’s a sign en route to Myvatn.
When it wasn’t blizzarding, it was actually pretty beautiful.
Back to our story! We’d managed to get our poor rented Subaru stuck up to its’ wheel tops in the densest snow I’ve ever seen and on a sloping hill. We tried to dig it out for hours and finally gave up. There was nowhere to go, as everything was closed for the holidays, and really nothing to do but bang, for days on end. Tragic. Eventually, we went for a walk just for a change of scenery. While we were out, we happened upon a man driving his jeep. I stopped him to ask if he knew anyone on the mountain with a plow who could come by. “I’ll be right back,” he responded coldly. Moments later, he arrived in the giantest green snow monster machine I’d ever seen a person casually own, and cleared the driveway like a beast.
Finally we were free! But since the town was shut down and the snowball sized snowflakes kept falling and falling, with no plan to stop, we decided it was best to just stay put.
Luckily, we’d bought lots of wine, beer, food and whiskey because we knew we might be snowed in for awhile. We cooked glorious meals and watched Christmas themed movies we’d pre-downloaded such as Scrooged, Home Alone and more. We also watched Gravity which was so dumb. I just didn’t get the appeal. “Oooh, look at the fake effects!” America is so simple. 97% on Rotten Tomatoes? WTF. Only me and the NY Times film editor disliked it. Guess we’re the dummies. However, I must admit, I love that George Clooney, what a charmer. Every day I turn more and more into an Aunt.
We also watched an old classic favorite, Catch Me If You Can, which I forgot is kind of a Christmas movie. It’s pretty much the only Leonardo DiCaprio movie I can stand, although once upon a time I enjoyed What’s Eating Gilbert Grape. There’s just something about the guy’s face that irks me. Maybe it’s that every time I look at him, I’m reminded that I’m not his girlfriend. Whatever! I’m married to a pretty great dude. I mean, we took a trip to Europe together for Christmas. And he’s skinny and hot. So looks like I win after all, DiCaprio. In your face!
Next door to us on Christmas Eve, some guests arrived. We became friendly and hung out with them on Christmas night, drinking until the guys decided to take their pants off and straddle a giant snow man that had been built on the back porch. It was a beautiful moment. I have a photo but Alex won’t let me share it because he’s a big party pooper. He said maybe later.
The next morning, early, we woke up and dug the car out again. The snowball sized snowflakes had not stopped falling, but we had to return to Reykjavik because we had a plane to catch to Copenhagen.
We drove the horrifying road back through the mountains, which was covered in snow as fist sized snowflakes continued to hammer us. I have pretty much never been more petrified in my life as we skidded and slid along the icy road with steep mountainous slopes on either side of us, AND THEN THE WINDSHIELD WIPERS STOPPED WORKING. I made a video of it, just in case we were found in a ravine. I will share it soon.
Slowly, we made our way back to civilization. Eventually, we out drove the storm and the rest of the drive was quite nice, with picturesque Icelandic sunsets and clear, starry skies.
That evening, we had dinner at a local restaurant and stayed in a charming hotel with a hot rock bath in the back yard. We lied in steaming water while looking up at the sky, praying Aurora would give us a wink, but she just had no interest in showing off that night. So we cuddled up into what might have been the most comfortable bed I’ve ever slept in and fell into a deep sleep that only lasted a few hours, because we had to get up at 5 am to get our plane.
We arrived in Copenhagen to the place we’d stay, an AirBnB apartment rented by a Danish woman. We were informed upon arriving via email that she had to leave in a rush so the apartment and bed sheets would be dirty, so we were prepared for the mess that we encountered, but we weren’t prepared for the other annoyances that came along with the place, like loud trashy music being blasted by neighbors, and gross monkey sex sounds coming from below pretty much every night. Luckily, we weren’t around much to have to endure the short comings of the rental, and it wasn’t completely without its charms. It was located in a very cute neighborhood called Fredericksburg or something like that. We spent our few days there roaming through Christiania, the hash / DIY hippie area of town, looking at the beautiful architecture, drinking with the locals at the various bars (we even did our laundry like real live locals at their weird Laundromat, I hope I didn’t pick up some kind of creepy flesh disease!).
Fallen signage in Christiana, my new favorite place in the world
I performed one night at a cool space about a mile away from us. It was a small crowd but very awesome. The other performers and audience members were from all over the world and I made new friends, sold several CDs and really enjoyed the vibe of the room.
While in the city, I discovered a delicious baked treat that looked and tasted kind of like a pop tart. I never learned its actual name, but I heard it said once, and it was something I couldn’t pronounce properly if I tried.
Polar bear in the Copenhagen zoo and their terrific Ooops! brand toilet paper.
A delicious bread, olive, fish and cheese meal we had one night in Copenhagen.
This is what I took from visiting Copenhagen:
- Everything there is super expensive, even more expensive than New York City. Sushi rolls are $30 each.
- Scandinavia doesn’t really do decaf.
- Tomatoes and all vegetables taste really fresh and delicious.
- They don’t have as many choices of things as we have in America.
- The city is very bike friendly. Most people have kid carts on their bikes and roll around with a baby on board. The bike lanes are alongside the sidewalk and everyone is very award of the bicyclists.
- It takes about 5.5 Danish krones to make 1 American dollar. So everything has crazy numbers on it. For example, you see a pair of boots for sale and they are 1000. So you have to divide in your head by about 5 or 6 to figure out how much it is.
- The Danes keep really weird store hours. I visited one shoe store 3 or 4 times over the course of 4 days and never found it open. Gates were over many of the stores for days on end. Maybe it was because it was around Christmas, but still. Unacceptable. I guess it’s better that way, though, because I couldn’t really figure out how to convert dollars to krones very well, anyway. I should have paid more attention in skool.
- I didn’t find the Scandinavian people in general to be very nice. They weren’t mean, but they weren’t warm or chatty. The few times I had to ask a question or something, they were kind enough and responsive, but short and busy. We didn’t really make any friends while we were there.
- There was lots of graffiti.
Cool Copenhagen graffiti.
- The Danes are a very stylish lot, though they’re wearing those baggy pants that American women thought were cool like a year ago. Everyone dresses like an adult, no ripped jeans or dyed hair, really.
After our time in Copenhagen, we had a relatively painless flight to Italy. I hate flying, so I on board, I like to do things like try to sleep and fail, watch movies and get torn out of them with just about any little bump of turbulence, and make deals with God. Flying with me is a lot of fun. Luckily for me, it was a short flight and the skies were nice and blue. We landed in Rome on New Year’s Eve and got set up in our hotel, which was one block away from the coliseum. We could see it from the front door of our hotel. We dropped our crap off and hauled ass over to the ancient ruins to walk around the thing 5 or 6 times and stare in awe and wonder. That evening, we’d be returning to watch the fireworks display over the giant relic, so we ducked into a local wine bar, where we drank delicious red wine and discovered scrumptious “salty rings”, basically pretzels that look like calamari. Yum! Get on board, America.
We chatted with the local behind the bar and he told us about a fun party we should check out later. We made a note and bid him bonjourno. My husband thought it’d be a great idea to pick up a bottle of whiskey at the airport, so he had that in his pocket. We settled into a nice ridge of rocks and waited for the fireworks. As we waited, we noticed everyone was wearing flashing bunny ears and drinking openly, which is fine to do in most places except America, apparently. Some people waved laser pointers, some posed for photos in front of the Coliseum and drank beers. A couple who sat next to us started chatting with us in broken English and we quickly became friends. We shared drinks and potato chips and watched the beautiful fireworks display together. I’ve never been so close to such lovely explosions. They went off seemingly just feet above my face, trails of colored fire falling from the sky as if it might hit me in the eyeball, but I couldn’t move. I was enraptured.
After, our new friends turned to us and we think they asked if we’d like to go drink together. We were probably right, because that’s what we ended up doing. We all got very drunk, and slowly, our walking posse grew. We met another couple from Amsterdam and they joined our drunken gang. Six of us roamed the streets, looking for fun.
Here we try to haggle cheaper beer prices at an Italian gruppo.
Along the way, we met up with two local girls who mentioned they were headed to the party that the wine bar guy told us about. I squealed when I heard the name, saying I heard of the party. They looked very cool and insisted we tag along, so I knew it was going to be fun.
Here is half of our posse, enjoying ourselves at the really cool party.
In short, by the time we got there, many of us were pretty much trashed. Now I understand why it’s not legal to walk and drink in the USA. I somehow can sneak into any party, ever, it’s one of my gifts, and somehow, I was also able to sneak all 8 of us into this wild party in another country, even with it’s line down the road and around the block. It was a terrifically fun dance party, and now I am convinced I should probably be a spy or something.
There’s so much more but I have to go now. We have arrived in Venice. More pics and tales to come!
Alex and I enjoying fireworks in front of the Coliseum, Rome, Italy.
Blurry faced and drunk-ish.