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Friday, May 31, 2013

FINALLY! I HAVE INTERNET!



*evil laughter* Get ready to spend the next hour glued to your computer screen. }:-)
It has been over a week since I have had internet on my computer, so forgive the long post!
I will now be continuing off of my last one. Feel free to go back and review. But, I should warn you, you'll probably end up spending MORE than an hour glued to your screen if you go back and review. 
Anyway.............
I wish I could post pictures to show you all the interesting pieces of art that were being shown that day. There was a huge floor to ceiling exhibition (and the ceiling was at least 15 feet tall) that was just plain straws! Each one stuck out of the wall from it’s end. From far away, it looked like part of the exhibition wall was full of lumps and bumps, seeing as the straws were clear and blended into the colors that surrounded the room. But, when you look close, you can see each individual straw that was carefully placed. It was AWESOME. I wish I could say that I got a picture of it, but I was in the part of the museum that didn’t allow cameras. :(
After we walked through the modern art museum we made our way back to the car and drove to Hamlet’s castle. We parked in a lot about a kilometer away from the castle and went to get something to eat. There was a small café in one of the buildings, and we ordered some sandwiches. They had SALMON there. One of the most YUMMIEST DELICIOUS THINGS I’VE EVER HAD in Europe is the salmon!! So, I naturally ordered a salmon sandwich. Mm. Mm. Mm! I could eat salmon all day if I could! We finished our lunch-like snack and walked back to the car. By this time, Fin was a bit tired out. He decided to stay behind in the car and take a nap while we went to check out the castle. He lives in Denmark, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he’d been to the castle at least ten times! Just so that Fin would be more comfortable, we parked the car in a shadier place then went to the castle. It was a very beautiful place. After you cross the moat, and go under the big arch, there is a very large square that indicates that you’re in the middle of the castle. Most of the doors leading out of the square and into the castle itself were locked. However, the door to the chapel was open and we had a chance to see the beauty of the medieval times. It was a very extravagant church, even thought it wasn’t very big. There was an organ up above, a podium for the priest to stand, a table for communion, and the rows of seats for… sitting. The rows of seats were the most extravagant and most creepy thing about the chapel. They each had uniquely carved symbols and people on their ends, which you can imagine should be very pulchritudinous indeed. However, some of the objects were very devilish and rubbed me the wrong way. It was probably just me but the chapel seemed to get a little darker. We left the chapel and proceeded to walk around the square a little aimlessly until we all gathered by a door next to the big arch, which was opposite the chapel door, and went into a souvenir shop. Just past the souvenir shop was a tour to the casemates (or the tunnels below the castle). The grandparents wanted to make it a quick tour, seeing as we had left Fin in the car, so we all hastily walked down the tunnel to the dark abyss below. When we entered the first part of the casemates, a large sleeping giant was there to greet us. He sat in his stone seat, leaning onto his shield with his hand at his sword, ready to wake up at the first sign of another siege on his castle. Grandpa didn’t seem too keen on exploring the whole of the tunnels, so Talia and I went on… After we borrowed grandma’s flashlight. Boy, was it dark down there! O.o I’m more prone to be creeped out and scared by dark places than most people – so I really needed that flashlight. Talia and I followed the main tunnel and looked at all the other little tunnels that led off of it. Some ended in an odd triangular like point, and others seemed to be a continuous maze of columns. Finally, we came to the end of the main way. However, that’s not where the casemates ended! There was a (this is where I’d like to say ‘long, winding, stair case’ to add more effect) little wooden stair case that led deeper into the darkness. I didn’t want to go down because I couldn’t conceal how scared I already was. Talia, being the (seemingly) fearless one, prodded me into descending. It wasn’t so bad at first. I decided that I was going to go through the whole rest of the casemates without saying ‘Talia this is freaking me out, let’s go’. But, throughout the entirety of the period in which we were in the tunnels, I was expecting a white ghost of the past to walk around the corner. There were dimly lit arrows that led the way through the labyrinth of columns that Talia and I followed. At this point, I was only concerned about getting lost in the darkness and never finding my way out. Yes, I am a bit dramatic at times if you don’t already know that. ;P ANYWAY, on to the good part. We were nearing the end of the casemates (this whole exploration of the deep abyss was really only about ten minutes long…), and suddenly there was a light from a window to our left. There, standing still as statues by the window (probably because they were statue’s), were two manikins. They were dressed up as…. Some… weird… castle people. At that point, both the fear that Talia and I felt was more than just skin deep. We turned back to the stair case, desperate to reach the light before our imaginations went too wild. Minds muddled with trepidation, we scampered around the columns, half forgetting our way back. We then saw the light at the end of the tunnel. It was showing through a tiny window that sat above the small wooden stair case. You can’t imagine how relieved we were, with our thoughts running wild. I couldn’t help but think that the manikins were just a few steps behind, ready to grab us and bring us to their laboratory so that we, too, could become manikins lurking in the shadows of the dungeon-like casemates. Talia and I jogged back up to the earths crust and found grandma and grandpa walking calmly through the gift shop. Later, when we were talking to the security lady standing by the casemates entrance, should informed us that we had almost reached the end of the casemates tunnel when we had turned back. Such irony in life… That was the most adventure that Talia and I had that day. I can tell you now; even though I was really scared, I’d do it again if I could. I’d probably just bring a bigger flashlight. *shivers*
Now that I’ve spent a good portion of this post describing only half of my day, I shall move on from Hamlet’s castle. We exited the beautiful building’s courtyard, and crossed over the moat. I forgot to mention that there were several swans that were taking naps, or cleaning their feathers, in the waters that surrounded the castle. I got some great pictures of a headless swan (at least, that’s what it looked like. It’s long beautiful neck was busy looking for fish underwater)! We stopped and got some ice cream cones. I got some kind of vanilla, chocolate, browny mix. It. Was. DE to the LICIOUS. I’d come back to Denmark just for their ice cream if I could! After purchasing our ice cream, we walked back to the car where Fin was waiting patiently for us. Then, we drove back to his house. Fin and Bente treated us to a lovely dinner. We engaged in some great conversation. Grandma and grandpa caught up on Fin and Bente’s lives and vice versa. Then Fin asked Talia and I about homeschooling and gave us some very hard questions about the hardships of socializing, making friends, and such things. It was a little hard to understand what he was asking at times, seeing as English is his second language. Bente cleared the table for dessert, and we all got up from the table and gathered around the beautiful Baby Grand piano that sat in their living room. Fin, if I haven’t already mentioned, played in piano bars while he was a student in college and is a very esteemed professional pianist. Talia and I both played a couple of songs (all of them were our original pieces) while grandpa filled Fin in on each piece that we played. I’m very shy when it comes to talking about my piano pieces, so when Fin started asking me questions about my music during dessert, I felt very amateur when answering them. He seemed very worried that I would get bored of my music. He asked me if I played the piano for the technique, or just for the piano and I answered for the piano. I play it because it is something that I enjoy immensely. I play the piano for the technique and new pieces as well, because you can’t really play the piano without it. He then asked me what I would do if I got bored of playing the piano. I, not really having enough time to choose my words carefully, opened my loud mouth right away. I said quite bluntly, I believe, ‘when the piano doesn’t give me joy, I simply won’t play it anymore’. But, what I didn’t tell him was that I would explore other things; the violin, clarinet, guitar, ukulele. I have all these instruments for me to discover. I don’t think I ever will become bored of the piano, though. After my direct answer, Fin simply nodded and went back to eating his dessert. I have a feeling I had said something that he didn’t agree with. Later, after dessert, Fin gave me some very constructed criticism on my works. He explained that my pieces did not have enough ‘harmonization’ (as he called it, because he couldn’t say it the he wanted to in English) between the right and left hands. They didn’t blend together very well, I guess. My right hand was playing one melody and my left hand another. And while they sounded good together, they really weren’t… Together. It’s hard to explain. But, Fin sat down on the piano and tried to explain through music. He adlibbed and poured out this beautiful classical jazzy tune. I keep on describing everything in Europe as ‘amazing, delicious, awesome, great, beautiful’. But the music… Maybe it was just a simple tune. But it was soft, and flow-y, it made me want to laugh and cry and dance in a big empty room with my invisible partner. Now that I think about it, I felt a lot like Lucy when Mr. Tumness played his tune that put her into a trance. You could just see it on Fins face, the love that he had for music. His eyebrows were furrowed in concentration, and his mouth ajar, but I could still see it. When he finished, he looked up at me and gave me a look that seemed to ask ‘do you understand now?’. I did; that is most certain. Fin played some more tunes on the piano, and we all sang together. It was quite enjoyable, indeed. Well, it got late too soon, and we decided it was time to go. Fin complimented both Talia and I on our talent, and told us that we played wonderfully. He gave us each a kiss on the cheek, we all said our goodbyes, and drove off to the youth hostel. It was a good day.
Man, three MicrosoftWord pages later, and I’ve only finished day one! The next morning, we packed up our things and headed off for Sweden. However, not before we stopped by a water way off of Denmark and took pictures of the Little Mermaid statue. Finally, we were on the Audubon, driving towards the coast of Denmark. We drove onto a ferry and crossed over to Sweden. There wasn’t much excitement on the road trip to our next destination. We stopped in a small town and had our first meal in Sweden! It wasn’t pickled herring… It wasn’t a fancy Swedish restaurant. It was…. BURGER KING! :D
Yeah. We decided it was time to stop avoiding the American fast foods like the plague and all got burgers. In actuality, there was really no other place to eat. I felt bad while I bit into my chicken sandwich, but then I didn’t feel bad anymore. What? Fast food is good. But so bad. Urgh. We got back on the road and made it to our next destination later that afternoon. I met my Swedish relatives for the first time! They were very nice. Our hosts were Marie and Stefan. Marie is my grandpa’s second cousin, which makes her my second cousin twice removed. And Stefan, her husband, really isn’t related… But I guess he’d be my second cousin twice removed by marriage. Anyway, they were taking care of their 92 year old mother who had had a stroke a couple of months prior and had lost much of her memory. Elin was such a sweet lady, just full of laughs. I felt bad that I couldn’t understand the Swedish that she spoke to me when I walked her to her garden a few minutes after we arrived. All I could do was nod and smile and say ‘yeah, yep, mhmm’. But when we had Marie there to translate from Swedish to English, Elin always had something funny to say to give us a good chuckle. We spent the day talking about family history and looking at birth, marriage, and baptism certificates that were generations old. In short, my great-great-grandpa Victor came over to America from Sweden and POOF: here I am. ;) That’s a very brief description, as the complete family history is very confusing and I don’t even fully understand it myself. O.o We had dinner at our relatives’ house, and stayed up talking to them until about 11pm. It’s amazing how fast time goes by when the sunlight doesn’t actually start to dim until about 9:00. Sweden is so far north that the day is about 19 hours long. Marie and Stefan let us borrow their seaside cottage and we pretty much fell into the comfortable beds that they had made up for us.
Suddenly, I jolted awake. It was so bright outside; I was positive that we had slept in later than I had expected. I was surprised that grandma hadn’t knocked on our door to wake us up yet! It looked like it was at least 10am outside. But, alas, after Talia and I started to check the time, we slumped back into our beds. It was only 5:50 in the morning. A couple ours of uneasy sleep later…. We woke up at about 9:15 and got ready for another day jam packed full of more new relatives. We ate breakfast, got dressed, breathed in the fresh morning air, and got in the car. After finding our way out of the winding side-roads that led to nowhere in particular, we made our way back to Marie and Stefan’s. Their son, Jacob (pronounced ‘Yah-cub’ in Swedish) and his girlfriend Emily were there to greet us, along with Marie and Stefan as well. We all went into the house for tea and Elin greeted us at the door. Next thing we knew, Marie was giving us a short tour of the downstairs, as she hadn’t had time the day before. The first room she showed us had a beautiful red-ish brown upright piano in it. I couldn’t help but wiggle my fingers, wanting to play it. Marie showed us all the pictures on the walls and gave us a brief back story on each one (if I ever have to do that, you can probably tell by this blog that the stories would never, COULD never, be just ‘brief’). Then, she explained that the piano had been her dad’s (Elin’s late husband), and he used to play it a lot. She then invited us to play it (YUS!). Right before we started tea, Marie and Stefan’s daughter showed up! Sarah (or ‘Zarr-uh’) and her boyfriend Anders joined the reunion/first-union and we began shaking hands and getting to know names. Finally, we all sat down for tea and got to know each other better. I can tell you, I really liked getting to know my third cousins twice removed. I felt at home in the conversations, and we got along very well! After tea, we left to go to visit another house of relatives for lunch. More hugging and shaking hands and getting to know names. And then… Bacon. Wrapped. Chicken. Omnomnom! Who knew that my relatives had such a great talent in cooking? However, I can say that I would have enjoyed their company just as much without the great food. They were very kind and full of more family history and jokes and fun. I’m so glad that everyone was very welcoming. After dessert, I decided I had to go to the bathroom. I knew where it was, as it was right next to the front door. When I was finished washing my hands, I turned the handle and pushed. But the door wouldn’t open. I had already unlocked the door, but relocked it and unlocked it just to make sure that I wasn’t being a klutz. Still, it wouldn’t open. Thinking that this was one of those ‘special’ doors that had a secret wiggle or pull to them to open up, I jiggled it around and pulled and voila! It opened. Feeling so relieved that I didn’t have to yell for help, I returned back to the dining room. Talia, also in need of the bathroom, got up and made her way in that direction. A couple of minutes later, I heard a faint jiggling under the noise of conversation. Not thinking anything of it, I continued to listen to the Swedish/English that flew around the room. Then, over all the conversation, I heard Marie from the other room call ‘Do you imagine you’d like to come out?’. Turning around, I saw her talking to the bathroom door. There was a faint ‘yes’ from the other side, and then more knob-jiggling. Talia was stuck in the bathroom! After some more wiggling and pulling, Marie finally opened the door and Talia walked out. Perhaps it’s not as funny reading it over the blog, but we all had a good laugh right there and then. Talia couldn’t help but say “I was worried I’d have to jump out the window!"
After dessert, Talia and I got a little drowsy from all the food, and decided to go on a little walk through Asa to keep from falling asleep on the couches in the house. The air in Sweden is so fresh and tasty! I’ve never described air as tasty before. We came back, talked some more and then drove back to Marie and Stefan’s house. We talked more with Jacob, Emily, Sarah, and Anders and enjoyed the rest of the day. At around 6, Emily, Marie, my grandparents, Talia, and I all went to the beach. It was breath taking. There was a nice breeze coming in, the water was ankle deep for the first 30 feet, and there were colorful shells and sea creatures everywhere! Talia and I found 5 starfish in the water. They were the first starfish I’d ever touched. We decided not to mess with them, and took pictures of most of the starfish in the water. Talia happened to be wearing a pair of nylon stockings and took them off. We each used one to old the shells that we collected. All in all, it was great to walk in the sea and climb around on the rocks. I was sad to leave. We drove back to Marie and Stefan’s and ended the day with a wonderful classic American barbecue. This post is getting SUPER long. Skipping ahead now!
The next morning we went to church, listened through an hour of Swedish preaching (it wasn’t that bad actually, it was fun to listen to all the different dialects and try to keep up with the actual message). There was still more new relatives that met us at the church. They came over for tea at Marie and Stefan’s house after church and we learned even more family history. While we listened to more stories, we sat down for tea and at a delicious Princess cake; or ‘Prinssesskage’. It was creamy, and soft, and had strawberry filling and was covered in almond paste. Yummmmmmyyyyyyyyyynesssssss…..... ^_^ I’m gonna have to start a intense workout program when I get home if I’m ever going to burn off all the desserts I’ve had in Europe thus far! After tea, Sarah, Anders, Talia, and I all went into the garden to play Kub. It’s hard to explain. It’s kind of like pin dodgeball, except you don’t knock people down, only the pins. :P Jacob and Emily had left early that morning to go to Emily’s moms house because it was Sweden’s Mother’s Day! To speed things up, we said our goodbyes and left our relatives house, heading once again for Denmark. And that is the end of my four day weekend… ;)
After staying at a Denmark youth hostel, we drove to the coast to catch a ferry to Berlin. But, what do you know? We were 1 minute late, and the ferry left without us! We had to wait two hours for the next one and had fun walking around taking pictures, and keeping ourselves busy. It helped a little bit that there was a bus stock FULL of European students a couple lanes down that were fun to observe from afar. It is crazy how completely different, and yet scarily similar, our cultures are. I guess the observations were mutual, because when Talia and I made fools of ourselves trying to figure out how to open a trash can, I noticed a majority of the kids pointing and laughing. Aaah, thank goodness I’ll never see any of them again. ;P
The ferry itself was rather uneventful. There were a lot of ‘cool kids’ on the ferry, and I felt really uncomfortable walking around the ship, because of the stares I happened to receive. But, it was fun to stand outside and feel the air on my face. When we got off the ferry, we started the long drive to Berlin. We broke our fast food streak again. We stopped at a store to make a quick run to the bathrooms, but when Talia, grandma, and I came out, we found grandpa sitting in the McDonalds next door eating a chocolate sundae. Well, we couldn’t just stand there and watch him eat it, so we all got sundaes! There was a small gift shop, too, and Talia and I had a look. All the other gift shops that I’d seen before hadn’t really had anything that caught my eye. But, this tiny gift shop had a jewelry rack that was exceptionally exceptional. I wanted to buy everything that was on that rack! But I settled with two black cord necklaces that came with each other. On one cord was a small ring, and the other was a big ring. Both had two butterflies cut into them. I decided, before I had even bought the necklaces, that I was going to take the rings off and wear them on my fingers. So, now I have two beautiful rings on my hand to remind me of my trip to Europe and two rubber cords that I have no idea what to do with. Hmm… Good deal, or no? After the gift shop, we continued on our drive to Berlin. I slept most of the way and earned a kink in my neck, along with the embarrassment of Talia and grandma telling me that they had a good (silent) laugh watching me sleep with my mouth wide open. My grandpa called the youth hostel in Berlin ahead of time, but apparently the reservation that he had made a couple of months ago was nonexistent, so we were without a place to stay. Luckily, the people of whom we were going to be visiting reserved a suite for us at a hotel that was directly across from their apartment. When we arrived at the hotel, a porter was there to greet us. He was a nice man, and managed to get our entire pile of luggage onto one wheely thingy. He continued to fill is in on some information we might need to know, like our VIP cards and stuff and then left us wide eyed and gaped mouthed in awe. The hotel was very delightful. Talia and I were on the fold out couch in the ‘living room’ part of the suite, and grandpa and grandma got the actual bedroom. All the food was good, and whenever grandpa had a question, they graciously answered. When we were all settled in, we went down to meet Mary, an old friend of grandpa and grandma’s. Her and her husband had been moved to Germany for three years as part of their jobs. We talked for a bit, and then went out to eat. By the time we got back to our suite, it was already closing in on 11pm, so we quickly scampered off to bed. Well… I can honestly say that we were in bed until 8:30am, but we really didn’t get to sleep until midnight. We had to get all of our built up energy out of our bodies, while being quiet at the same time so as not to disturb our granarents – so it took longer than usual.
The next morning, we took our time getting started and really didn’t leave the hotel until about 11. We drove to downtown Berlin and visited the Alte Nationalgalerie, and the Pergamum Museum. The Nationalgalerie was three floors of hundreds upon hundreds of paintings and sculptures. These weren’t anything close to modern paintings or sculptures. I thoroughly loved going through each room and stopping at most of the displays to take everything in. Usually, in art museums, I just glance at each painting and walk to the next room. However, since I proverbially had all the time in the world, I decided to take it slow. I’m glad I did! Most of the paintings were spectacular, and I caught a lot of cool details when I looked closer at the paintings. In fact, I was looking so close at one floor-to-ceiling painting, that one of the security guards came over to me and told me to step back…. Twice. I felt really bad, seeing as I was probably stressing out the poor woman, so I moved on to the next room. The nifty thing was that the museum also gave out little handsets that had information on a lot of the paintings. It was great to look at the painting as well as get the background information. Why did the artist paint this? What was the meaning behind it? Who were the people? Where did he/she get his/her inspiration? When we had all seen all the art we could in the time that we had, we moved on to the Pergamum museum. The Pergamum museum was full of ancient buildings that had been moved from their original places to the building. I was kind of unnerved by that, a bit, seeing as they should have just let them be. However, it was really cool to walk up the steps of an ancient Greek temple and listen to the stories that the big stone carvings, that covered all the walls, was telling. Something about the gods fighting an ancient race of snake giants…? It was interesting. Farther into the building the Ishtar gate, which had stood in Babylon. Talia was super excited about it. I wasn’t sure why until she had told me that the Ishtar gate had stood in Babylon and people from the bible had seen the exact same thing. I was looking at the same gate that Daniel had seen thousands of years ago. I was once again overcome with a sense of awe. Until the pessimistic and technical part of my brain starting telling me that most of the gate had been rebuilt, and only the animals had been left untouched, etc. etc. etc. Aaanywho, there were many other interesting artifacts and things from ancient Egypt that also included stories from the bible as well. I can tell you know, history will be a lot more exciting for me in the future. It was getting late, and we were meeting Mary and her husband Craig at the American Embassy. We didn’t have a car (we had walked to the museums), so we trekked at least 2 miles to the Embassy. It took us a good hour, but it was worth it. We walked in, and naturally as we were going through security, I was a klutz and made the German security man very frustrated because he had spilled an ice tea that I had set on the counter for him to throw away (you can’t bring food past security). I’m sure he’d be a nice guy in another setting… Anyway, after security, we managed to have all of our passports authorized without any hullaballoo. It helped that the young man checking them was a very nice Marine officer and gave each of us a very welcoming smile through the dark glass that separated us. After Mary gave us a tour of the American Embassy building (we got to go to the Ambassadors special meeting room at the top of the building. He was just down the hallway!) we went out for dinner. Lemme tell you, out of all the food that I’ve taken pictures of this entire trip, I was most proud of this one. The food was not only good looking, it was colorfully delicious! It was a brewery-steak with potatoes and coleslaw. I know it sounds so American, but it was. So good. Man. It was just. so. GOOD. When I saw my coleslaw, it just looked like plain white cabbage. As soon as I bit into it, though, I concluded it was the best coleslaw I’d ever tasted. Even better than camps, Merritt! After we were done eating (Talia got spareribs, which were also equally tasty), my grandma thought that Talia and I looked bored, so she sent us off to look at the souvenir shops down the block. I wasn’t actually that bored but I didn’t mind walking in the rain to buy useless objects! When we got to the small shop, all I could see was the entire wall and a half just filled with different beer glasses. And then there were the other souvenirs. Talia and I didn’t really find anything that caught our eyes, so we went back to the restaurant. We all walked back to the hotel, said our goodbyes and went up to the suite. We spent some time in the lounge trying to get internet, then decided to just hand out and drink tea after we found that we couldn’t get any (there was only one computer in the lounge that had actual internet and grandma was using it). I wrote a lot of the Swedish portion of this post in the lounge that night. Then, right before the lounge closed at 10, we all came up to the suite and went to bed. Aaand, again, Talia and I had trouble falling asleep. Maybe it’s the excitement of being in new places that prevents us from getting the reasonable amount of sleep that we need/want. However, we’ve managed to survive two days of walking around busy Berlin without getting exhausted, so maybe our bodies just didn’t need that much sleep! Who knows…
The next day we got up, a little sleepy eyed, and got going! Our mission? The Siegessäule (pronounced ze-guh-zoil). The Siegessäule is a beautiful Angel that sits atop a tall column which sits upon a large red-marble base that is decorated by a mosaic that surrounds the entire base, which also sits on another base which acts as a stair case to Base2. Yeah. It’s awesome. It’s at least 20 stories high, and Talia and I climbed all the way to the top! I definitely got my exercise in for the day… But probably not, seeing how much food I’ve eaten in the past two weeks. I can’t really describe it beyond that. You’d have to see it to grasp its full, vast, beauty. After the Siegessäule we went to downtown Berlin and visited a few shops here and there. Wow! Suddenly I’m not feeling very inspired to write the rest of this post! O.o It’s probably because I have to leave in 7 minutes and I’m feeling too rushed. I guess I’ll write later. You’ve got enough on your plate already, seeing as this entire thing is 8 pages long.
If you have managed to read the entirety of this post – congratulations! You truly are a caring person to read all of my ramblings. You’re special. ^_^
Can’t wait to tell you about the rest of my excursion!
Bye!
P.S. This post took be exactly 5 days to write completely. If I don’t post for another week, be expecting another post just as long. Oh, and sorry I lied mom, I guess this post didn’t end up being 12 pages after all!