Saturday, May 03, 2008


Hello from Odense via Copenhagen

May 3

Oh if we knew then what we do now, none-the-less what we know now is reward enough as we take all good fortunate in stride although it is most likely undeserved.

On our train from Copenhagen through Malmo to Goteburg (Gothenburg) we had the good fortune to change around seats in the reservation two step just in time to sit across from Caterina who currently lives in Goteburg. She is a traveler who was a nanny in LA and had lived there for a few years, worked for KLM for 8 years and recently traveled in Thailand with her mother for 5 weeks--a lively single adulthood grown out of a 2 year backpacking beginning in her 20s.

We laughed and shared stories and she keep adding to her page of recommendations that began with a hand drawn map of the western district (harbor) of the city where she lived. She was coming home to a Friday "after work" bar hop to the places with the best food and half priced drinks with a few friends, but she insisted that she help us get our tram tickets and accompany us to the youth hostel near where she lived. It was great conversation and the feeling of openness that only comes with train travel.

We got on the tram at the Goteburg Central Train Station and rode to the area of her map, when we got off the tram, the convenience of having someone else do the thinking lulled me for a moment and I left my bag on the tram. Quick thinking by Caterina put me back on the very next tram and within 2 stops (less than 5 min) we had caught the tram with my bag. I jumped off and recovered the bag, hopped back off and gave the driver who helped me out the thumbs up. I took the tram back the other direction and found Carol at the hostel. The hostel didn't open for another hour (16:00). We left our bags even though there was no assurance there would be rooms.

When the hostel opened we found they did have rooms. Maybe not like we would have desired, but Carol in a mixed room with a pregnant couple and "harmless little tomcat" and me assigned to a 8 bed male dormitory room. The place was full of sport teams but there were the more mature adults too. Carol kept custody of our baggage and slept well. I found the day room couch to be much quieter and comfortable from 2:30 - 6:30 than the dorm room upper bunk where I began the night.

It was a good experience that clarifies what we often take for granted. On the whole though this was a well kept facility, about 1/2 -1/3 of a private hotel accommodation in cost, so we had an expensive fresh sea food dinner at a place Catherina recommended in the Haga district.

However the most amazing thing happened in a pub, VINKROG, Lilla Torget 3, 411 18 Goteborg, just across the street from the fancy seafood restaurant. We popped into this below street level place that was advertising an after work special, the Swedish equivalent of a Friday afternoon happy hour. The food spread was quite good, the pub a gem and the beer reasonable priced--a bit surprising given the high cost of things in Sweden. But the truly unsuspected was when we were explaining to the bar tender that we were from South Dakota, a voice from nowhere said, "Did you say South Dakota?"

It turns out the owner of the bar's girl friend had been an exchange student in Yankton. We had a nice conversation, exchanged email information, and celebrated the small world.

This morning as we were waiting for the train to Odense via Copenhagen we decided to check auto rental prices at the Hertz place in the Goteburg train station. We found that we could have done a 72 hour rental for less thuran $200 full coverage. If we had known it we probably would have traveled to Goteburg on Thursday, rented a car and return on Sunday as we are planning tomorrow from Odense. A great idea that will have to wait until next time, besides just think what we would have missed. That does not even include the great conversation with two youn men on the train this morning that were going to visits parents and grandparents for the weekend. One man was the owner/operater of a ski resort security firm and the other a manager of appliances sailes amd both well informed and interesting conversationalist in fluent English that derives from having lived or spent long vacations in the USA.

The hotel in Odense, Dk is a bit on the expensive side tonight but we have faired well so far on this 3 day weekend that fills the hostels with sports teams so it will be nice to spend to the expectations of the middle class European traveler before we return to our cool little hostel in Berlin. We met the most interesting young people today, the last a fine arts student of Greenlandic ethnic heritage who lives in Denmark now. She is excited about showing her art after graduation next year. Maybe Brookings will have its first Greenlandic artist.

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