"Hej!"

You know, I had this idea that I would blog during my trip to Stockholm and Amsterdam. I even brought along my iPhone to connect to various wi-fis and to maybe capture my off-the-cuff thoughts about traveling, Scandinavia, the perplexing ubiquity of 7-Elevens in Stockholm, the akvavit, and Hell and Gore (or was it Helan går?). But it wasn’t to be. How do you say mas cerveza por favor in Swedish?

Now that I am back in ridiculously hot, sweaty, dirty, and Augusty New York City, I’ve had time to reflect on my week abroad — long enough to wish I was back in Stockholm or Amsterdam, probably because I had zero responsibilities apart from figuring out the next cafe to drink a beer in. Also it should be noted what Scandinavia calls Summer is what we call late September/early October. The temperature when Ms. K and I got off the plane at 7 am in Stockholm was a brisk 52 degrees, which was a little shock to the system after 89 degrees in New York with 80% humidity. Thankfully we packed jackets.

The day after our arrival, we were introduced to many Swedish customs while attending Beth and Nils’s wedding, which was held in a church in Södermalm followed by a boat ride to a reception held on the small island of Fjäderholmarna. Specifically, we learned that Swedish weddings are enjoyably long (11 hours! Drinking!), entertaining (many many toasts as if attending a roast instead of a wedding), and punctuated by drinking songs and shots of akvavit (More drinking!). If only all weddings could be Swedish. Skål!

Then we were onto warmer Amsterdam and to the comforts of posh hotel bed at the Grand Amrath. A vacation is only as good as the bed you sleep on, right? The rest of the time was filled with walking around between meals of Indonesian food and lager and canal boat rides. Surely I gained 10 lbs, but I am afraid to look at the scale. August is a sleepy time in Amsterdam as everywhere seems to be closed for an extended holiday including the restaurant we really wanted to try. Guess we’ll have to go back.

Someone previously commented that they were interested in knowing what I thought of the Swedes and Sweden. To answer, I thought Sweden was a lovely country, immaculately clean compared to New York, and wonderfully environmentally conscious, which translated into a no frills, utilitarian culture where nothing goes to waste. This is by no means a slam. In fact I think it’s a quality that all of us Americans could stand to emulate.

Finally, one of the most exciting things about the trip was that I saw Greenland from my window seat on the plane. Greenland! And not some tiny speck on the horizon, but the high peaks of Mount Gunnbjørn, the coast, and icebergs. Icebergs! How cool is that?

"In my mind I see airports and hear the cacophony of European train stations."

The hotels are booked at a ridiculously discounted rate, plane tickets purchased, and passports renewed. In five weeks, Ms. K and I will be on a fight to Stockholm and a few days after that we’ll be on a flight to Amsterdam. Ah, adventure. If we’re lucky, no one will be getting food poisoning again.

I’m thinking that this trip is my do-over. It has to be. My previous trip abroad burned through so much bad travel karma that I’m expecting a gentle, relaxing flight to Stockholm full of quiet passengers and helpful flight attendants. (Ms. K, however, will be covered in nicotine patches to get her through the eight hour flight.)

So, dear European readers. I know there are a few of you left. If anyone can give me recommendations of places to go whilst in Stockholm and Amsterdam, that would be great. You know, places beyond the super touristy stuff.

And if anyone remembers, it was back in early 2008 that I felt a strong sense that I would be traveling abroad soon. Who knew that “soon” meant a year and half later. Not that I am complaining or anything.

"Do you not love your blog anymore?"

Hi.

Remember me?

I used to blog with greater frequency. And then my mind sort of took a siesta and I used my non blogging hours to do all sorts of things like lay around and watch the television (eg, Simon Schama documentaries because I’m a nerd). I even drove down to Delaware with Ms. K and sat by the pool at my parents’ beach house and developed a skin tone a little more opaque than my usual translucence. My gym visits became staggered and I decided that my new favorite drink was black cherry infused bourbon (Red Stag by Jim Beam) with fresh squeezed lemon juice over ice. Oh the delights! (Oh the bad habits, how they’ve returned.)

But now I feel a little more mentally present to recommit myself to blogging and the gym and all those other commitments that I shirked while sipping cocktails and playing 3 hour games of Monopoly with Ms. K, who always wins.

"You look so goddamned pretty in the daylight."

A Smattering of Updates:

Gym — It’s been 7 weeks since Ms. K and I joined the gym. In that time she has lost 15 pounds and even though I have lost only 10, Ms. K says I look like I’ve lost more. I’ll have to take her word for it, however I do know that my clothes are looser, that’s for sure. Regardless, I like our new fast and healthy initiative and for the most part I’ve been disciplined in going to the gym four mornings a week, usually arriving around 7:15 am.

My Bone Spur — Physical therapy is paying off as my foot and ankle grows stronger and I am in less pain. I have a follow up appointment with the podiatrist this evening. Sexy! A friend of mine recently grew concerned after I kept referencing having to go to doctor’s appointments. No, it’s not cancer. I just am trying to take care of a lot of things all at once. Think of it as Operation Pimp My Body.

Sweden & Amsterdam — Plane tickets have been purchased! My passport has been renewed and has arrived! I’m very much looking forward to our trip, although we will be very very poor because of it.

"It’s not a wedding until someone goes to the emergency room."

Despite the long drive, Ms. K and I enjoyed our mini vacation to Vermont. Ms. K is even less a country person than I am, but I was surprised that she enjoyed the Green Mountain air and verdant landscape. Every time we drove past a Moose Crossing sign, she would peer off into the horizon looking for any signs of such and was highly disappointed when left the state without seeing a moose. (And although we liked visiting Vermont, what’s up with everything closing at 8 pm? Huh??)

Harley enjoyed the vacation too and got to smell all manner of smells that he does not have access to in Brooklyn. The only downside to bringing him with us to the hotel is that the ride up marked the first time he had been in a car since the accident. He trembled so much as we drove up West Side Highway, that the car shook, poor guy.

In all, it was nice to see Former Fake Girlfriend and Ms. B get married in a tiny tiny town in central Vermont. I never did get to make that toast of mine because Ms. B’s father choked on his dinner and had to go to emergency room. Alarming, yes. Despite an emergency endoscopy, his is apparently doing well.

And finally, Ms. K and I danced our first slow dance together. Unfortunately it was to “I Don’t Wanna Close My Eyes,” by Aerosmith. I demand a do-over.

"I would love to find out what you think of sweden and us swedes!!"

I’m all silly with excitement because Ms. K and I decided to go ahead and RSVP for my friends Beth and Nils’s August wedding in Stockholm. We found ridiculously cheap airfare on SAS Airlines for flights to both Stockholm and Amsterdam. Long time readers will be reminded that this is my first flight out of the US since my near apocalyptic trip to London in 2007. My passport is being renewed as I type.

Oh man. A vacation. With Ms. K! Finally! Although I’m sure Stockholm will be lovely, I absolutely loved Amsterdam when I was there. We’re going to stay here. We’ve worked very hard for this.

"This used to be your life. Remember?"

I was in Washington, DC recently for a brief business trip and being back in the old hometown was strange, as if I was visiting a past life. From my old Metro stop and the place in Dupont Circle where I used to get my hair cut to Teaism and Adams Morgan, the old emotion connection was there like the distant crackle of a radio signal. Everything I walked past said, “This used to be your life. Remember? That was where you used to go to happy hour. That used to be the road you lived on.”

Yeah I remember, but that was five years go if you can believe it. My DC knowledge has gotten rather rusty and it took me a second to navigate the farecard machine for the Metro. And I was acutely aware that my memory of DC street names has been supplanted by New York ones.

Even stranger was the memory that for a while DC represented the sum of my goals. I wanted to live in Dupont Circle or own a house in Takoma Park one day and I was reminded of this as I traveled past visual cues of these old goals. I guess I still could, but I’ve got my eye on a sweet brownstone in Brooklyn. Now I just need to make my millions.

Incidentally I had forgotten how beautiful the city gets in the Spring.

"Who am I to argue with fate?"


I found myself unexpectedly with Ms. K at Newark Airport last night. Long story — I don’t normally hang out at the airport — but we were there to keep her mother company as she waited to pick up a couple of people to bring back to Pennsylvania. As we wandered around the empty terminal, bereft of a non-shuttered bar to pass the time, I remembered that I had recently predicted that Ms. K and I would be in an airport soon.

Fuck me, but I had hoped it would be a sign that we would be going to Aruba . . . not picking up a couple of wayward Pennsylvanians.

Maybe there’s still hope. Maybe this still means that my financial situation will be changing and Ms. K will be walking the canals of Amsterdam this year. Or maybe the Universe is playing a funny joke.

Speaking of my recent travel predictions, Ms. K needs a new job — a new job in New York stat — and has been looking in earnest for two months now. A couple of days ago she was offered a job . . . in London. Hmmm, that would be a bitch of a commute, right? Wasn’t it not too long ago that my former roommates now living in England were joking that I too would be moving to London for love?

Ha ha, Universe. I get the joke. Again, I’ll renew my passport just in case.