Monday, May 24, 2010

Scandinavia!

My word, I have SO much to blog about! Haha... I have to say that my last vacation was pretty spectacular. For all of you who did not know, I took off a week and a half ago and headed to Norway and Denmark for a week! There was a giant YSA (Young Single Adults) Convention with church members and their friends in Oslo, Norway to celebrate the Norwegian Independence Day on the 17th of Mai! It was totally cool, and I met some AMAZING people. The people in Olso are SO warm and friendly, and I completely relished in the city. I loved it there.

When I first got into the city, I was set to sleep at a girl's place who was from the ward there in Oslo - Barby. She was AMAZING! We both met, hugged, and started chatting away! We were like old friends reunited and it was GREAT! We laughed and joked around, and I she was sweet enough to say, "You're sleeping at the school for the conference, right? No, you're not. You're staying with me for the week!" Haha... So, I did! I crashed there and ended up helping out with much of the weekends events. I kind of became a committee tag-along, helping with decorating and getting things set up with each activity for most of the week. When I have told my parent, Koko, and Patrick this they don't seem shocked at all - haha! I just really like to take charge and help with things... what can I say!? Haha...

Anyway, it was great! I had SO much fun and met people from Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Spain, The Netherlands, and even three other Americans! Haha... So random. It was fabulous and I'll give more details below...

Denmark was great too! I met a friend in Copenhagen (a true Danish girl) who showed me around a bit and told me all about the sights there. Plus, it was just great to see her again, to sit, talk, and laugh... It was good. Copenhagen is a city I found a lot of beauty and "coolness factor" inside, but it wasn't a place I would visit over and over again. For me, little things about the city stood out, but overall it was merely another city to visit for me. Sorry, friends... You can disagree, but that's how I felt. Now, disclaimer, that is NOT saying I didn't like it or enjoy my stay (because I did), but I am saying that I will most likely not be planning another trip up there unless it was to visit friends.

All the above being stated, I will now forge forward and tell you all the details of my awesome excursion to Scandinavia! Haha...

First, I have to say that I love to fly. I have no qualms with getting onto an airplane and flying somewhere. I don't even mind waiting for my luggage (if I check a bag) after we have landed. However, I HATE the process of getting TO the airport. I hate the stress that I could miss my flight, even if I'm leaving the house two and a half hours early. What is there is mad traffic that morning, or what if the trains are running late? I always have a feeling or nervousness before going somewhere from the airport, and it has nothing to do with actually flying... it's the fear of missing the flight.

That being said, I made all my flights with plenty of time to spare at each airport. However, right before my first flight to Oslo (Norway), I was getting packed and noticed the ticket was for Dusseldorf airport, and not Cologne. Yea, that's an hour away instead of thirty minutes from here. I panicked, took some deep breaths, made some calls to people in my ward who might know what trains to take to get there, and then took the quickest shower, etc. I could to get there on time. I would be there about two hours before the flight if I hurried... what if the trains had issues though? Needless to say, I got there just fine... and even noticed that I had AGAIN mis-read my ticket and it was for an hour LATER than I though... so I was there about three hours before my flight. I got a Starbucks hot cocoa and read Harry Potter while I waited... Haha!

Another note, before I go any further, I have never gotten hit on more than during my time in Germany... This is just one story from the trip to share. While I was in line to check in for my flight, a gentleman from Kenya who now resides Germany was chatting with me in line. I was really friendly and didn't think much of it till he started to be overly touchy for a first encounter. Then, before the flight he came and got me to make sure I was getting on the flight and ask me where I was staying in Oslo. He offered his hotel... Yea. We had just met and chatted for about twenty minutes. WHAT?!

Later in Oslo I also experienced some attention from two overly eager boys toward me after only chatting with them for a few moments, and not about anything with great depth. In fact, every time I tried to speak about something non-surfacey these two boys would offer some kind of "line" or "smooth talk." I was NOT in love that... In fact, it was much the opposite. As flattering as being told you're beautiful is, I just want someone who wants to listen and talk about things that matter... or even our likes, dislikes, etc. It's about taking general interest in someone and caring about what they say, think, feel... and not just looking at someone good-looking and wanting to "tap-that." Yea. I'm glad boys here think I'm cute, but it's not even making a blip on my radar right now.

Anyway, let's do this entry this way - Oslo Highlights:

- The Whisperer: When I first got off the plane in Oslo, I had some time before Barb got there (her train was delayed) and so I walked around the airport for a bit and found this machine that I called The Whisperer... seriously, the coolest and creepiest thing I have ever seen. Haha! When you walk under this dome hanging down from above, there's a pressure point on the floor to say someone is standing there. When it feels the weight of a person there, the dome starts to whisper words of inspiration to you! No joke! The dome above told me, "You are strong. This journey is unique... Life lies ahead of you." Haha! I HAD to show Barb once she got to the airport and we died laughing... so classic.

(That airport was the friendliest airport ever too! The information desk ladies let me use their personal phone when I could find Barb, they had a free internet sights to use while I was waiting, everyone was super kind and smiling, and they had a whisperer or encouragement - classic.)

- The dances! There were two dances during the weekend and I had a great time bustin' out some classic "Linze" moves. The best moment was when this one guy pulled me aside after the last dance and said, "Linze, great moves! I can definitely see the American influence..." Haha... I had to laugh. Everyone loved to bring attention to the fact that I was American... and I didn't mind, cause I was often prone to do the same. Haha! As much as I love Europe, I suppose I'm just proud to be an American!

- Being invited by my new friends Hannah and Cristina to come visit where they are living at (Netherlands and Norway), and how great they are! I seriously met some people I was just very impressed with. These two girls and I grew close quickly and I just adored them!
- Seeing Mike! I haven't seen him since he left Bonn, and it was GREAT to revisit with him! We went sight seeing on Tuesday together and took a boat ride around the harbor - it was great and so nice to visit again.

- The Naked Park! Or, in my text, the Finnish Park - haha! It was this giant park in Oslo that has a bunch of naked statues in random positions and it was a blast to imitate and take pictures with a bunch of the statues... so classic. We also had a BBQ on Monday and played soccer AND American football there till 10:30pm at night - I taught some of them to throw a spiral, and they taught me how to kick a spiral on a "real football" - haha! I love how in the summer it stays light so late there, too.

- Saturday morning a bunch of YSAs met at a local soccer park (huge with TONS of fields) to play for two hours. I was beside myself with the talent that surrounded me - such great footwork from some people! I am no amazing soccer player, but I have really grown a love for the sport and playing it... It was a lot of fun, but the best part was that I had no tennis shoes and had to play in my snow boots - haha! The cherry on top was when one of the boys, Sindre, yelled out, "Hey, America! You're good." To this I replied, "A European just told me I was good at soccer!" Haha...

- My "sexy, man voice" that came into play for MOST of the weekend as my voice called it quits before the end of the second day - and I have no idea why! Anyway, it was frustrating, but funny too... It became a running joke that I had the "man voice." It made for funny impressions and stories... :)

- My nicknames: America, Voicey, Boom-Chicka-Boom Girl... Haha!

- The Boom-Chicka-Boom cheer: Saturday afternoon we all met at this local school to play games and had a little cheer off (we're so EFY! Haha...). So, naturally being me (and still having most of my voice at the time) I took charge and suggested we do a cheer I knew from middle school called "Boom-Chicka-Boom!" It's posted below... and perhaps it's worth two minutes of your life. You decide.
video
- Jamming! I couldn's sing because of my "man-voice," but when someone asked if I could play piano and I said a little bit, they took full advantage of that and pushed me to jam with them. I tried it out and though I wasn't amazing, I did it! I took courage and made myself come up with some melodies and rhythms as I tickled the ivories... Haha! I'll never get better if I don't push myself and take chances, right... scary for me, but so fun! (What's funny is that is it were me jamming vocally, I wouldn't hesitate at all...)

- Testimony Meeting in English! For the first time in five months, I had the opportunity to attend a testimony meeting in English. I couldn't bear my testimony because of my voice, but I didn't need to. It was just so wonderful! I was so moved by the spirit there, and the testimonies from people from all over the world - literally. It was VERY cool! Also, there was a moment the mission president's wife was bearing her testimony and said, "I feel like I'm looking at the Armies of Helaman... and their girlfriends!" Haha... loved that.
- Watching the parade from the palace steps! We were lucky enough to get tickets to stand on the King's steps outside the palace in Olso and it was SO cool to see the parade marching toward us from the looooooooong Karl Johans Gate. It was just awesome! Also, it was pretty classic watching one of the boys from our group get banished from the grounds till 4pm for jumping into the parade and marching with the band's drum major. Haha!

- Sight-seeing in Oslo! Oh, and Seeing the painting, "The Scream," in the Oslo National Gallery - it was just cool seeing the original! It was a cool museum overall! Also, going to Henrik Ibsen's house was way cool! If you don't know who he is, go read the play "The Dollhouse," and then talk to me. He's brilliant in my eyes. This picture to the right is taken at the Opera House entry there in Oslo - they have a WAY cool design for the house there - very inventive!

- The red pants! There are these red pants that all "seniors" in HS of that year wear the last few weeks of school to show they are graduating. These are overall pants and they flood the cities... they have chosen sayings and patchwork all over them - it's really unifying and cool to see! They earn "knots" in the graduation caps by doing "knotty/naughty" things or hard things that someone from previous years supervises... I just really wanted my own red pants after being there for a week! :)

- Dinner and walking through the city the final night! I went around the city with Barb, Vegard, Mike (from back here!), and Naz and it was just a good way to end things. I really met amazing people while there!

Copenhagen Highlights:

- Seeing Michelle! This picture to the right is of us at a fountain in downtown Copenhagen. This rather shy boy almost darted from us when I asked him - it was rather funny. There were also the most AMAZING street performers there! I have seen a LOT of street performers in my life... even been one once. However, this boy on guitar, girl on bass (cello bass) and older man playing a metal tie around his neck... and they sang too. They were FABULOUS!

- Also, stumbling across this beautiful park one night... We were walking around the park and taking pictures with each other, laughing and saying how this would be a great proposal spot for someone someday... Well, then we saw a few shady things - people hiding in bushes, groups of gay couples... Turns out it was a gay/lesbian park. Now, I have no qualms with gay people - I have gay friends whom I loved and adore. However, I think that I'll pass on getting proposed to there - haha! Though it IS sooooooooo beautiful!

- Going to The Round Tower, the palaces, and just walking the streets of Copenhagen. I think that the Royal Opera house was actually my favorite bldg. there though - haha! So beautiful! I also got to see the Copenhagen Temple (LDS) and it was SO cool! It's right in the middle of the city, rather small, and red brick, which is unusual. It's fabulous! I got invited to go and do some work there, but I didn't have my recommend with me - if you have more questions about the temple, please feel free to contact me. :)

- My SHADY hostel location! Okay, this wasn't a highlight really, but I had to write about it... I was in this bizarre part of town, outside city central, and could not get back too late for fear of my life. Haha! The hostel itself was kinda "blech," but the craziest part was hearing weird things outside my windows at night, the triple bunk beds, one girl having bed bugs, and the bathrooms SUCKING. However, I survived to tell the tale... and all is, therefore, good. The picture to the side is just of the city... I didn't bother taking one of the hostel - haha! :)

- Eating one of the best danishes I have ever had in my life - a danish in Denmark?! Get it. Haha... Also, I had the best ice cream at this place called Paradises on the main shopping stretch there in downtown... I think Italy might be able to beat it with gelato, but we'll see. Haha!

- Seeing the original Christus statue at a church (non-LDS) there, and learning more about it. The Christus is a giant statue of Christ that is symbolic in our religion and to me personally... it's so beautiful and brings a lot of emotions to my mind. It can be found in most LDS temple visitor's centers and depicts Christ showing us his hands and feet, pierced from the nails that hung him on the cross. However, what I didn't know that was when the original Christus was first created it was made with the arms of Christ reaching upward. However, over night, the material that the sculptor used sunk and the arms dried lower than anticipated - now representing Christ reaching out to show us his hands. My thoughts? Christ has already ascended and shown himself to the father, but it is we who need to see and recognize his atoning sacrifice for each of us. So, he reaches to us in hopes that we will accept his sacrifice for us and all men. I think it's no accident the original Christus dried this way... :)

Overall, I had an amazing trip! I saw new and interesting places and things. I met new, fascinating people, and had a blast forming new memories. Really, the people are what really sold me on the whole trip. I will keeping in touch with some of the girls and boys from that trip for quite a long time. Next adventure... London, Paris, and ITALY! Really, I've been to London a lot before, so I should just say the others... however, I am STOKED for it all! It's going to be great! :) If there are ANY suggestions for sight-seeing, food, etc. (I already have places to sleep), PLEASE post them below for me! I want to have a great experience, and planning is hard work - haha!

I'll write more about the boys and my life here in Germany in the next few days... I really am so blessed. No matter how hard it can be, and how home sick one can get, I know I am beyond lucky to be here - and I really do love it.
*muah*

Song of the Day: As always, there are a few I would love to chose, but today we'll make it a recent find. I recently discovered this band, The Kooks, and fell in love with their stuff! My favorite song from them right now (we'll this was a hard choice too!) is called Mr. Maker. So, here is it - Enjoy!

3 comments:

Sue said...

I'm so jealous! I would die to tour Europe like you! I've been a fan of the Kooks for a while and I love them too.

Lindsay RC Wilson said...

Linz, I totally stayed in the same hostel. It was horrible, btu I met a nice Australian guy who I was able to hang out with. I learned from that experience that if you know nothing about the hostel, check it out before giving them your money for 3 days stay. They wouldn't refund me, and I had people "shaking" the three story bunk, if you get my drift. The bathrooms were disgusting, and I won't go into detail here, but at least I have some good stories.

Ash and Matt said...

I read that part about you helping out with the conference and thought, "That is SO Linze!" Yeah, I wasn't surprised either :-) The whole trip sounds amazing and once again, looks beautiful!