European Travels: Part 1

Early in the morning on April 12, a Thursday, the 9 of us assembled at the rental agency on Vasagatan, proceeded into our cars, and screeched out into the early morning rush on the streets of Stockholm. The road trip had officially started, and we were immediately lost. The terror of cars and driving left me electrocuted in the back seat. I eventually got over it, and we eventually found ourselves on the right roads, cruising fast south through Sweden. Destination: Hamburg, Germany. 

Our first stop a few hours into the journey was the little town of Gränna, Sweden, known for making enough polkagris candy to lend a sugary smell to the cold and crisp air that fills the town. Obviously, such a destination was made for me. 

for my papa

my tutti frutti polkagris that I immediately turned into a weapon.

The town of Gränna is situated right up against Lake Vättern, the second largest lake in Sweden, and also one of the most beautiful and peaceful bodies of water I have ever seen. Gränna reminded me a lot of Sausalito in California, small and quiet streets with steep slopes that lend the most incredible views of the water. The pictures I have are incomparable to standing at the top of a hill and looking out over the little summer homes on the water, or turning around to see the rock of the mountain rising up behind and overpowering you with its stateliness.

James climbing some death trap to get a better view.
Taken from the road. 
Some quality postcards found at Axel's.
one of the candy stores (photo from Sarah)
backseat with Sarah, devouring pretzels and Nutella.

We returned to the road, driving across beautiful bridges and through long tunnels, through the entire country of Denmark, through expensive tolls, down, down, down towards Hamburg, Germany. And what is one of the first things we see? A giant mountain of beer crates stacked in a pyramid well above our heads. Germany started out promising, and it certainly delivered.

The fish market in Hamburg, unfortunately closed.
Cesar perched on the harbor.
The Fellowship passing next to the fish market.

used and abused hostel

St. Pauli Elbtunnel, opened 1911
The spire of the church of St. Nicholas, bombed in an air raid in 1943. Photo from Sarah.

Our first night of the trip, all of the ladies at the (first) bar celebrating the cheap alcohol in Germany.
drunk in a phone booth

round one of the 150 L haul of alcohol purchased that day.
The absurd premise of the trip: the complete stash, a thing of beauty (past 5 from Cesar's telephone)

After the most successful beer run I will probably ever have, we started to make our way up towards Denmark. On our way through the first time, Denmark was uniformly gray and green. The second time around, we were greeted a bit more warmly:

photo cred to Sarah! I love this picture.

The sunset driving in was just what we needed to re-energize our tired and hungover spirits for the next leg of the journey, Copenhagen, Denmark.

And thankfully, the sunshine and warmth lasted for the majority of our time there. Cesar and I were systematically ditched immediately the next morning, which meant we got to explore and do everything we wanted together at our own pace! As I have come to learn from our later travels, he is the best travel partner ever and if we find ourselves alone in a new country, we're going to make one damn hell of an adventure out of it. So we did!

 Our first stop? To get some Danish danishes of course!

Unicorns should be used for everything. (Cesar's telephone)

cellphone picture
Christiania: seemingly full of bums! But we did have a great lunch at a vegetarian place found there on our walk, and it was a very peaceful walk that we had in the sun through the rest of the commune. We watched a dog retrieve a plank from the water repeatedly and questioned the bad 'lawless stoned art' that covered the buildings.

Those trees were blooming wild and white. It was so nice to see things alive after months of cold and grey in Stockholm! Fortunately now as I write this, spring and summer have caught up in Sweden.

Everything we saw was warm and colorful and beautiful:

We found this ridiculous junk food store of American delights. I'm standing next to all of the Skittles in the top one. If they only had one of these in Stockholm...

Afterwards, it was back to the hostel (Copenhagen Downtown) to rejoin our parted friends. The night quickly devolved.

top hat lights

10 shots for 100 DKK and 2-for-1 750 mL beers. 
The world does not need to know how many of these were ordered.

Zen at the bar.
James offering wise and noble advice.
Good decisions being made.
Mysterious arrival of new shot trays for every photograph..
cutie pie. Obviously dark and drunk photographs are my specialty.
The laughter you get over several empty bottles (me playing on his cellphone)
The aftermath! And this is just from the first place... the second involved dancing for hours and also some sparkle tights.

The Fellowship: Cesar, Olivia, Jennifer, Sam, Michael, James, Tobi, Sarah, and myself (lurking in the back)
The greatest flyer ever posted. Found on our way out of town, somewhere near Tivoli Gardens.

 Tired and hungover again, we headed out for Helsingør, Denmark, the location of Kronborg Castle, perhaps better known as Hamlet's Castle. Pictured below is the tiny bit of the Øresund, the sound that separates Denmark from Sweden. These pictures I have are awful and do nothing to relay the feeling this place gave me, how the water just hung still in the air, or how the blue of the sky blended with the blue of the water, or the sound of the birds cawing in the distance, or the shells that speckled the slope into the water. It's as if a place like Hamlet's Castle must remain spooky and silent by natural law.

Cesar skipping stones across the water.

the boys admiring art.

I didn't take many photographs inside, though I took a few on film at the top of the tower. There was something magical about seeing the coast of Sweden while standing on the top of a castle in a light and cold drizzle, feeling like you are on top of all of Denmark, looking out. It'll stay with me. This whole trip will, from the friends I made and grew close to, the countries and cities I got to see for the first time and my own country that I've been living in finally from a distance, to all the stories and memories created along the way. We drove on through the night and got back to a quiet Stockholm just after dawn, all of us in a daze of sleeplessness, of happiness.

Summarily this was the best road trip to have ever happened on Planet Earth and I consider myself lucky to have been a part of it. Also to have made it out alive. 

ship prows from the Maritime Museum

Sweden across the sound.

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