Day 2: Helsingør/Elsinore & A Kitchen Dinner

Ask almost any Dane (who doesn’t work in the train station) where Elsinore is and most will just give you odd looks. At least, that’s what happened when another exchange student and I were explain to some Danish friends that Elsinore is the translation (wat?) for Helsingør.
I took my mom to see Kronborg castle before, but I think the tour we got this time was much better. Our tour guide was very enthusiastic and passionate about the history of the castle, and we even learned all the disgusting etiquette of King Christian IV’s time (like public displays of vomitting during a 6-7 hour meal to show you were trying hard to eat as much as possible).

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In the Casemates, you’ll find a statue of Holger Dansker, who will come back to life to save Denmark when the country is grave danger. Someone whispered to me, “Where was he during WWII?” *awkward*

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The grand ballroom/dining room

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The big tower area we climbed up to.

On the way to the castle, we passed by the little merboy statue that’s supposed to be the counterpart to the little mermaid in Copenhagen. He’s definitely flashy, with his blingy chrome exterior XD

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We got back to the city around 3, and parted ways. I went to Christiania to get some falafel and drømmekage (dream cake), two things that I had been introduced to at the start of my study abroad experience. I got lost along the way, after leaving Christianshavn metro station. That made me a feel a bit sad that I really have started forgetting where things are in Copenhagen. I felt like I should have remembered this area because I’d been quite a few times to see Christiana, Vor Frelsers Kirken, and I even got my tattoo done not too far off, by the metro station. Though, I guess on the scale of important places to remember, it doesn’t rank as high as, say knowing where the KU Amager campus, Tietgen, Strøget, and my old apartment are.
By the way, no pictures were taken in Christiania because it’s actually restricted once you get onto Pusher Street–a lot of drug deals are done there…

That night, Susan, a Dutch exchange student returning for home the next day, invited me to the kitchen dinner. This is something I used to take part in at Tietgen. The food was great, and they weren’t joking when they said the kitchen bakes A LOT. It was a great opportunity for me to meet a lot of the people living here, too, so for that, I’m really thankful.

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Pasta with green beans, pine nuts, feta, sun-dried tomatoes, and olives. Mmmmmmm–så lækker!

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Pie!

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My pie!

Everyone was so nice to me, and I ended up talking for a very long time after dinner. It was quite lovely. AND. And, Susan gave me her old phone to use here, solving one of my dilemmas for me!

Day 1: København

After my flight from SFO to Frankfurt (the 10 hours of which flew by so quickly, most likely because everyone had their own TV packed with lots of entertainment), I arrived into Copenhagen around 4 pm, and I got into Charlotte’s kollegium (like a dorm) at 5:15.

Sitting at the Frankfurt airport, I was starting to feel the exhaustion from my 10-hour flight kick in, but I battled it until I got on the second plane. This was mostly out of fear because I didn’t want to end up like Liyin’s sister who is a repeat offender for sleeping through flight announcements at the airport XD

I think being in Copenhagen on a Euro Cup play day really woke me up. After almost 18 hours of travel and barely any sleep, we headed out to Kongenshave (The King’s Garden) to watch the match against Portugal with many other Danes on a large screen.
Crazy. Just crazy. I forgot how tall some Danes can be, but it turned out okay because I used them for shade from the sun 😀
There was some hope that we might win the match, but we had a disappointing loss :<; iI was still something to be in a crowd like that.

I went for a walk, post-game to grab some provisions. Went to a Døgn Netto, and had lots of flashbacks of buying groceries at Nettos all over Copenhagen. A lot of my Danish has sadly been forgotten, but standing in the supermarket, some words started to come back, like "kalkun," the word for turkey. And, of course, I picked up some rugbrød (a thick, Danish rye bread) and some havarti, old and familiar foods that bring back lots of memories for me. Like how my classmates and I used to dislike rugbrød, so we'd jokingly refer to it as "rug bread," since it felt and tasted like we were eating a piece of a rug D:

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Some of the tastiest airplane food I’ve had in a long time.

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Image of our plane mid-flight, while going over Newfoundland.

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The often elusive, Danish national pride.

At the Outset of My Euro Trip (2012)

A friend once told me that she thought it was funny when people apologized for not blogging, since the blogger has no true obligation to write for others unless they want to. I fully see her point, but that being said, I can’t help but feel like I have unfinished business when I don’t blog for a long period of time. I guess it doesn’t help that I have lots of pictures from the last year to share, and that I’d fallen into a habit of blogging or writing in a journal as soon as I could write. Then again, a lack of updates on my part generally means that my life has been busy and somewhat exciting (or that I’ve just been lazy…or maybe a mix of both).

The past year has been really exciting, actually. I’ve kept busy since graduation, and I’ve definitely been blessed with lots of good fortune. I ended up getting hired by the practice that I interned at soon after my road trip, and I took the year to go through the optometry school application cycle. After lots of hard work, sacrifice, and some luck, I will be attending school in Boston this coming Fall. I actually just got back from a housing clinic in the city, where I got to meet some of my future classmates, find housing, and find roommates. I ended up getting ridiculously lucky, since I found housing in the nicest neighborhood of Boston at a great deal, within walking distance to school, and I have some cool roommates I’ll be looking forward to getting to know better. I could not be more excited for what’s in store for my future.

In the meantime, however, I’m sitting on a plane on my way to Copenhagen via Frankfurt. I’ll be spending the next two months backpacking through Europe and meeting up with some friends from my study abroad experience (and meeting up with one Dane I happened to meet while she was studying abroad in San Diego).
I think it’s kind of funny to see how far I’ve come in maturing and broadening my perspective, and to compare it to my time abroad in 2008-2009. At the time, I was just dipping my toes in the water, a well-traveled, but scared girl. I still consider myself a big scaredy cat, afraid of everything that comes my way, but I’ve grown to be more comfortable in my own skin and to approach my fear head-on (except when it comes to spiders).
My fear and anxiety was pretty bad my sophomore year of college. I had a hard time setting foot outside my front door for some reason or another, and my year abroad was meant to push me out of my rut, which it very well did. But it was all baby steps. Minus traveling to see my relatives alone one or twice in high school, I had never really traveled alone, so going to Turkey alone, and even couch surfing there was a big deal to me. Actually, it still is, since Ankara for a young, foreign woman is kind of an ordeal. I had a hard time pushing myself to go outside to do and see things since I was so afraid of everything. I didn’t mind interacting with people, but I stood out a lot and definitely had my fair share of being hassled by men. (I did also meet some great people. The taxi driver that took me to see the Citadel tried to act as a tour guide despite the obvious language barrier. I must say, the Turks are great at hospitality, especially my couch surfing hosts. Tešekürlar, Esra and co!)
Now, it’ll be two straight months of traveling through a myriad of countries. I feel a bit bolder this time around. I’m determined to work through my fear of not being in control in order to have a great time and to gain new experiences. Despite all my fear, I am not afraid to fail. I generally get good stories from my failures and awkward moments. After all, my friend, Travis, asked me the other day, “Do all of your stories have you as the butt of the joke?” (no, but most do :3)

Ideally, I’ll be hitting Denmark, Sweden, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Slovenia, Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic, and possibly Slovakia, but we’ll see how that all pans out >.<"

Leftover Roadtrip Pics

Sent from my iPhone.

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Notice the shades BEHIND the glasses.

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Hallo, Golden Gate :3

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The free Honest Ade we got.

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View from the Seattle Space Needle. To the right of the skyscrapers, you can see Mount Rainier.

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Oreo & me.

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Sampling some local brews. (I tried each of them but I really only drank 1 whole beer. I was far too into Settlers of Catan.)

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This is my current phone wallpaper.

Days 9 & 10: Berkeley/Saratoga, and then back to San Diego

We departed mid-morning, hitting some traffic because of a grass fire by the side of the highway. Yeah, it was that hot outside.

We reached Berkeley by 1 or 2 in the afternoon. Now, I’ve visited Cal and walked up and down Telegraph plenty of times, but it was nice to be with a former local (Mimi, a Cal alum) who knew the good eating establishments of the area.
We met up with a friend of Mimi’s, Jina, for lunch at Gregoire, a French restaurant that was so tiny (kawaii status), it barely had enough room to fit the 6 of us standing. Luckily, there was some seating right outside, and the day was gorgeous. We got some gelato at Lush afterward, then grabbed some brews at Triple Rock Brewery & Ale House. This was probably the LEAST touristy I’ve ever felt in the city, and it was great!
Our bellies full, and starting to feel a little tired, we headed for my house, where we’d spend the night.

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Po’ boy.

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Loved the packaging, and that much of it was recyclable! Man, those boxes were cute :3

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Beer. It just keeps bringing us closer together.

After settling in, we met up with some friends from UCSD, Shaun and Gabe. We had pizza at Triple Seven Pizzeria for dinner, followed by some tea in Cupertino Village (just to show them how “Asian” this area can be).
I’m glad we stopped in Saratoga for the night, because my friends gave me a hard time for not knowing the neat little things about the area all that well (given that I haven’t been at home for more than 2 weeks in, like, 5 years). Our options for the night boiled down to a movie, bowling, or a hike. We ended up going on a hike in the hills by Cupertino, to a stunning view of the entire Bay.

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Dinner

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So, there’s a good story behind this. Actually, two good stories to tell while we were at the movie theater, checking out show times.
1. I went to the bathroom, and upon my return, I could not find anyone. My suspicion (rare) was that they were hiding in order to scare me, because I’m easily frightened. Anyway, I found Liyin looking out for me on one side of a pillar, and I managed to scare her instead. It was awesome.
2. A few months back, Liyin stood in a hurricane simulator in the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center. Who knew that Mimi would then partake in the same event that evening. Needless to say, she seemed more stunned by the winds than did her sister. It was fun to see her freak out temporarily.


“You see that dark patch? That’s where Florence lives. There are no street lights in Saratoga.” -___-”

The next day, we set out for San Diego (with a quick stop in Gilroy to check out the outlets and to fill up on gas).
Actually, it was kind of funny. I ran into a old middle school/high school classmate at Splash Cafe in Pismo Beach. Small world. Crap like that happens to my friends and me all the time, though. Lucky us 😀
I think we were pretty relieved to be heading home. We were pretty tired of traveling and of being around each other constantly (though I must say, it only took us until, like, Day 8 or 9 to finally get tired of each other XD ). It was a little sad, too, but I don’t think it really hit us that the trip was ending until we dropped off Jessica back in L.A. We dropped Liyin off in Irvine, and then Cat and I made the hour-long drive back to San Diego.

I must say that I was grateful to have such great traveling companions and the opportunity to do such a thing. We used my car for the road trip, and it had been previously used by my grandfather who passed away from cancer over two years prior to the drive. I’m pretty sure he had to be watching over us, since we had so much good fortune and good timing in our trip, which led to some pretty great experiences. I think he also kept us safe the entire time :3 This was also the first time I had driven for more than, like, 30 minutes. Because of this opportunity, I am now comfortable with driving on the highway and for up to three hours. My fear and inexperience with driving (I didn’t get my license until I was 21, and didn’t really start driving regularly until I was 22. Don’t judge.) were assuaged by the patience and guidance of my friends.
We were also lucky/blessed to be able to meet up with many of the locals in the cities (Oriana, Lindsey, Mimi, and Gabe). They truly made our experiences in each of the cities THAT much better.

Day 8: Seattle Day 3/Redding (overnight stop)

The next morning, we had breakfast at the Waffle Window. I must say, this is one of the most memorable breakfasts that I’ve had, because of the setting and how good the food was. You ordered at a window in the side of a building; literally hole in the wall! I’m not really a waffle person, but I’ll gladly eat anything with waffles this restaurant makes anytime.

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NOMS

At the time, Jessica was an employee at Columbia, so we took the opportunity to take advantage of her employee discount and of the fact that Oregon does not charge sales tax. We did a decent amount of damage at the Columbia outlet we found XD

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So cute. We saw this on our way back to the car from the Columbia outlet.

We returned to Lindsey’s to grab our stuff and say our goodbyes. I think Dog was particularly sad to see us go :[
We drove to Powell’s Bookstore for a last bit of lingering/loitering in the city. Holy crap–this place is amazing! It’s like literally an entire block full of books. There was too much for me to handle, so I only stayed in the same place for the entire amount of time we allotted to split up and look around. The only thing I ended up buying was a couple of shopping bags. That’s how overwhelmed by books I was D:
We grabbed some food a few streets away, where all these food trucks were stationed. The amazing thing about Portland is that in any neighborhood you go to, you’ll be certain to find some food trucks :] We also saw a craft services bus and wondered what it was for (maybe Portlandia?).

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Dump(ling) truck. Too cute.

Then, we finally started on our return southward. We decided not to book a hotel for that night, and just drove until we got really tired. We stopped before the border between California and Oregon to have get the Oregon treatment of having someone else fill your gas tank for you, and hopefully to get our window cleaned of bugs (latter didn’t happen, so we had to do it ourselves).

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A shot from the drive down.

We ended up in Redding for the night, at a Best Western. No complaints here. They gave us a suite at a discounted rate, plus there was breakfast in the morning. Getting back to Northern California was a big change from Oregon and Washington. It was much hotter in Redding. It truly felt like summer with the warm air clinging to you. XD

Day 7: Portland Day 2

I think we slept in today, because the first pictures I have from that day begin with lunch :]

Lindsey took us to MacTarnahan’s Taproom for lunch. The food was good, and the brews were great. They had both MacTarnahan and Pyramid beers, and I found a pale ale that I actually like–MacTarnahan’s Grifter Ale. Unfortunately, you can only get it in the Portland area during the summer, but Liyin’s family lives there now, so I had her get me a 6-pack of it later on that summer.

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It became a game with my friends to “ruin” pictures by sticking their hands in the frame. It was mainly because I would take a few shots before letting them dig into anything.

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This coaster doesn’t lie.

After lunch, Lindsey took us to the Vista House for some stunning views of the Columbia River Highway. I could not get over how gorgeous and lush everything is in the Pacific Northwest, and it only got better.
Lindsey took us to Latourell Falls, where we proceeded on an impromptu 2+ mile hike to check out the waterfalls. None of us were really dressed for a hike, but it was well worth it, being surrounded by the greenery and even getting soaked in waterfall mist.
Highlights included laughing at Mimi for sitting in what was essentially mud and getting it all over the backside of her pants, watching Mimi’s friend attempt to go under the bigger of the two waterfalls, crossing log bridges, and getting some unexpected glimpses of the Columbia River Highway from a higher-up and more secluded vantage point.

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You only had to be within a 25-foot radius to get soaked by the waterfall -___-

After the hike, we headed to PokPok, a Thai restaurant, for dinner. Dessert we bought at Voodoo Doughtnuts. I think we waited like 40 minutes in line, but it was worth the wait, since we spent a lot of it just inspecting the decorations of the store and menu. Plus, the company was EXCELLENT–Lindsey is one of the most entertaining people I know.

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I didn’t get any great pictures of it, but there was a neat little food truck congregation right across the street.

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I remember this being really spicy. Almost too spicy for me.

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Notice the languages–they use “Thanks!” in pinyin (romanized Mandarin Chinese).

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Appreciating mustaches must make me a dirty hipster. Then again, I think most of us are guilty of that. D: