Sweden

For breakfast, they served rolls with butter and jam, or cold cuts. There was yogurt and muesli, coffee cake, and cheese.

You know, in Denmark, they don’t eat Danish for breakfast. Kind of disappointing.

But the food was good and hearty. We, like the seasons travelers we are, filled our bellies on the complimentary breakfast and hoped that we would only need a light lunch later.

Off to Sweden!
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As you see, we need to cross some water to get to Malmo.

Thing is, Malmo is a nice place to live. Just a little cheaper than Copenhagen, we’re told. A lot of people live in Malmo and work in Copenhagen. And they do it by train. There is a giant bridge that makes this possible.

Back to the train, and about an hour later, we stepped on Swedish soil.
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They seem to use bikes just as much as Denmark.

This sort of amazed me:
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A woman in a formal dress with hose, pushing a bike. Toto, this isn’t L.A.

To be honest, Malmo, Sweden seemed softer than Denmark:
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Isn’t that a cute bridge?

Chris said, “Remember, Copenhagen is a capital. Maybe that’s why it seems like a rougher city.”

I was still recovering from the sunburn I’d gotten in Suomenlinna. I really thought it would be a good idea to get some sunscreen.

Chris pointed this out:
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“They talked about that in the guidebook. It’s a very old drug store.”

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I have to say, it was the fanciest place I have ever purchased sunscreen.

Sweden was full of cheery vistas:
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They seemed to really enjoy flowers. Chris found some kind of city garden:
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There were even baby ducks:
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“Are you thinking of Kinkade now?” Chris asked
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“Well, there are plenty of bushes to pee in around here…” I said.

“How do you like that bridge?”
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Chris found me a cafe in the garden, which was very nice.
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Apparently, it had been some kind of officers’ mess in a previous life.
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Old is not hard to find in Europe.

This is the military installation the officers were associated with:
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I guess Sweden missed the fashion for fairy tale castles. These are working castles.

But I have to say, I love their fierce national beast:
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The american eagle is looking pretty tame and polite now. Maybe he needs a make-over to be more fierce.
But I guess there are those who say the symbol of america is quite fierce enough…

Chris snuck in a maritime museum as well. More Ships! Actually, I was quite glad to see the museum, since I was getting a case of traver’s tummy and needed to be near the bathroom.

This place had another submarine. This one was a lot bigger than the Vessiko:
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It’s name is right there: U 3
It’s amazing to me that such a large ship is moved by two small propellers:
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Now, this maritime museum had a massive collection of small ships. Not as small as Chris’s ships, but much more detailed because they are made as prototype models by the people who actually make the real ships. No expense spared, these manufacturer models are gorgeous.

Naturally, Chris took a million photos of them. I didn’t.

Maybe after he downloads his pictures I’ll post some.

But we spent a long time looking at those models. Sweden is also a seafaring country.

We mosied back to the train station. On the way, we stopped to see another Lutheran church:
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Pretty on the outside.
White on the inside:
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Sweden was very pretty, I thought:
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flowers!

On the train station going out, we did find Swedish fish:
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Chris enjoys Swedish fish. Apparently in sweden, they come in more colors than red.

But the train had finally arrived:
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One thing I liked about the trains–they were very quiet. Electric. It made waiting at the station much more pleasant.

hoo…that was a long day. We ate McDonald’s for dinner and collapsed into bed.

“Tomorrow, we’ll go to Elsinore.”

“THAT will be very very cool.”

Good night.

Copenhagen

Denmark. Our flight let us off and we took the train to Copenhagen Central Station.

It’s a beautiful thing that some airports do–to have a train station right in the airport. We had our backpacks and rolly bags right with us and got off at the central train station. The danes are seafaring people. Even though this was a train station, something about it looked like the inside of ship:
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We were concerned that the hotel was too far away to walk, and we were thinking about taking a taxi. But in the end we walked.

It looked a lot different from Helsinki:
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EVERYONE rode bikes–and the bikes are all very serviceable. There were not status bikes. In fact, they weren’t even locked up. People rode them to get to where they needed to go, and most of them had baskets on the front.

This hotel was not the lap of luxury that Hotel Kamp had been. It was serviceable, and they promised that their breakfasts were complimentary.We dropped off our bags and went to explore.

It was a capital city with a LOT of statues and ornate buildings:
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But…It was a more densely populated area. I guess the majesty of beautiful fountains wears thin…at least for graffitti artists:
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The city was extremely ornate:
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And it seemed like there was a statue of a guy on a horse at the end of every block:
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I guess that is one of the benefits of a monarchy.

I thought the opera house looked great.
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Check out these arches:
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It was funny, they were putting on Porgy and Bess.

I mentioned the danes were into ships, right?
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We were just walking around, looking at the streets.
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We wanted to find the palace. Or something cool to see.
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“Hey baby, look! This one has chain mail on.”
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Chris is very good with maps, and we found the palace. By that time, I was really tired. I sat down on the curb so I could take it all it:
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Those were some particularly good gargoyle-type statues on that one.

The square was large and quiet. I hadn’t been sitting very long before a loud STOMP and Danish commanding SHOUT rang out.

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See the guy in the big hat? He had yelled at me. Apparently sitting on the curb in the palace square is a reprimandable offense.

I got yelled at by the royal guard.

The royal palace is built right next to the royal church. I guess it’s convenient for baptisms and coronations:
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And you can’t miss the church’s dome:
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Here’s the funny thing. We arrived on a Monday, a holiday, It was Whitsun. Talk about a medieval sounding holiday!

But it’s a church holiday. Pentecost. And it’s a real holiday, as in the stores are closed.

The churches were closed too. I guess Denmark is stuck in the age of Irony.

My church has a few calendars to choose from, not even counting the calendar that said it was pentecost in denmark.

Which I was reminded of because we walked just a little further down the street to check out THESE domes:
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Can you smell the onion?

THOSE looked like orthodox onions! I had to check it out!
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But it’s the shape of the cross that gives it away:
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Except that cross was kind of ambiguous. I had to decipher the danish sign. It was an Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia.

But, it too was closed. No going inside churches for us.

So I took my achey feet a little further along to see what else we could see on Pentecost monday.

Don’t forget, Denmark is the home of Hans Christian Andersen.

Which reminds me…just for a second…I saw no split pea soup anywhere…

but back to Hans.

This is apparently where Hans hung out:
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As you see, it is now a place where tourists hang out. I’m a big fan of fairy tales, but I was surprised to find a different literary refernce. Tattoo Ole’s shop, as big as life. I’ve written about Until I Find You here before. How amazing that one of the characters in the book was real.

It was closed too, though. I couldn’t go inside. Too bad.

We ate a belgian waffle at Andersen’s tourist row. It was better than belgian waffle in America, and not as good as belgian waffle in Belgium.

But it was getting late. We found some dinner and ate in the hotel room.

“What do you want to do tomorrow?”

“Let’s take the train to Sweden.” Chris had it all figured out

“Wow. Three countries, just like that.”

I had to get some sleep My feet were killing me.

“Hey baby…Do you think they will have danishes for breakfast?”

“we’ll see.”

Day two in Finland

We wanted to check out Suomenlinna. That word means “Finnish Fortress [Suomi = Finland]”

See, Finland was under the domination of Sweden for a long time. Suomenlinna was made by the Swedes, and they called it Sveaborg, which means “swedish fortress.”

Later, the Russians came along and kicked the Swedes out in favor of themselves having dominion over Finland. The Finns liked the Russians better than the Swedes, so that was okay with them. The Russians took up residence in Sveaborg and named it Suomenlinna, which ws thoughtful of them, since it was in the language of the Finns. An endearing action, which the Finnish people appreciated in a dominating country.

Of course, later the Finns decided that being in charge of their own darn selves was the best idea, and they kicked the Russians out in the 20th century. Right now, the fortress is a historical park. They couldn’t shut up about how Unesco has named it a historical spot. We even were shown a little film about it on the plane.

So, we woke up after a delightful night’s sleep to a sunny day. Hooray! The rain is gone.

So we ate a lovely breakfast of finnish food in the hotel. To our dismay, we discovered at the end that it was not complimentary. Yow! 60 bucks later, we left the restaurant and started out.

We walked around some more, and found the place to buy the ferry tickets to Suomenlinna:
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It was near the harbor or port office:
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This was the view from the harbor:
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“Is that the island we are going to?” I asked Chris.

“No, Suomenlinna is much further out. There are 4 or five islands on the way.”

We bought our ferry tickets. But the boat didn’t launch for 45 minutes. We got to look around at the street fair:
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You know, I saw all kinds of people walking around in Helsinki. There were African people, Asian people, all kinds of people. But I kept looking to see a Lapp. The only person I saw that was probably a Laplander was in the street fair, at a booth selling Lapland food. It smelled good.

One of the things Finland is very good at producing is fur:
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Don’t those look so luxurious? It’s kind of strange to see it sold outside like that.

Well, it came time to get on the boat:
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of COURSE we sat on the top of the ferry. This is what everyone looked like getting seated on the ferry:
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It was a very good view, and lots of interesing things to see along the way. This was the island we saw from the harbor:
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Another island. Look how extremely rocky that patch of land is!
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We could look back and see Helsinki from the sea. This is sort of how the old seafarers would view the city:
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Speaking of seafarers, Chris was very happy to point out all the ships that were in the harbor. LOTS Of ships:
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They were very BIG ships:
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We had a lot of things to point at on the way, but then we pulled up to Suomenlinna:
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Doesn’t it look fortressy?
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And CANNONS!
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Check these little hobbit holes out:
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Those are NOT hobbit holes, as snug as they look under the hill. They are for storing ammunition. Burying explosive things under the ground is a good way to protect them from being set off by enemy fire.

It’s quite a contrast, the beautiful land and the obvious violent military intent of the construction.

Of course, I really appreciated that it was full of nature there. They have birch trees, just like the kind I remember growing up in Alaska:
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There were birds there too. The birds had adapted to tourists, and we were warned:
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the napkin around his neck slays me.

Suomenlinna is not just one island, it is actually a couple of island strung together with bridges:
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Chris was excited to see a Finnish Submarine. It’s a museum submarine now:
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That there is the Vessiko, a 20 person submarine with a very international history.

Thing was it was apparently closed. No one was around and we couldn’t get inside to see the submarine. We looked at the outside, but then we just had to move on.

This is called the King’s Gate
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It is a little harbor, and ships can tie up to that little post at the bottom of the steps. Yes, the King was supposed to, and did, come in at that entrance to walk majestically up those steps and be welcomed in.

We went on so see other sites:
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See that cool tower? That happens to be a church. Let me talk about that church for a minute.

NOW, Suomenlinna is kind of older than Helsinki. Remember, the Swedes were there, and then the Russians. The Russians built that church on the island. Naturally, it was an othodox church of the very decorated style. THIS church originally had a whole bunch of onion domes on top, and was beautifully decorated on the inside.

See, Luther’s popular hit “95 theses nailed to the door” hadn’t really made it over the eastside. The Germans thought it was catchy, but the Russians couldn’t dance to it. Pretty much all the Scandinavians thought it was groovy though. And Helsinki’s major church cathedral (with the white white walls), built after the city became a capital in 1812, meant that the Lutherans held the floor in Finland.

But, this church was built by the Russians. Before Finland belonged to itself. When the Russians were kicked out, the Finns redid the church. THEY PAINTED OVER ALL THE BEAUTIFUL INSIDE!! And they took down all the onion domes. Lutherans like pews and white paint.
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Thing is, in one little corner of the church, they had been doing some restoration, and they showed how the church ceiling was before the paint job. The orginal decorations were so ornate under that white paint.
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Now, in my mind, Luther will always be the man with the white paintbrush. He and his friends went around painting the walls of churches with plain white paint.
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I can see it now. Martin says to Agricola: “Hey…I have an idea…Indulge me…Let’s paint eveything white!”

So Here it is. The three P’s of Luther:
Paint, Pews and Pipes
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Organ pipes, that is.
But I guess there is a sort of appeal in singing “A Mighty Fortress” while on a fortress.

After we saw the church, we figured we’d seen what there was to see on the island. We strolled back to catch the ferry to the mainland.

“It’s really too bad,” Chris said, “I will probably never get to see the Vessiko sub. I wish it had been open.”

But just at that moment, we passed by the sub, and THERE WERE PEOPLE GOING IN AND OUT! We couldn’t believe that we’d missed it.

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Just as Chris was considering paying for another trip back to the island to see the sub, our ferry made a stop at the King’s Gate. We ran off and went to see the sub. Hooray!

I’d never been on a submarine before. Frankly I don’t see how it’s possible for 20 men to do it. It seemed incredibly small, but it was deadly. Here is one of the torpedoes going in the hole:
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All the mechanics were kind of retro looking:
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Chris was very happy, and I was completely worn out as we took our ferry ride back. But this was our last day, maybe for the rest of our lives, to spend in Helsinki. I tried to stagger around and see some more sights.

There was one last amazing thing I saw. Remember the Kalevala? I had not ceased telling Chris about the adventures of Wainamoinen since we arrived. I saw a building carved all with characters from the story.
Here is Kullervo (also known as Kullervoinen), a major bad guy:
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And another major enemy in the story:
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I was jumping out of my skin to see more of the story carved into the stone of the city.

We were ready to eat. We went out to find Pizza. Chris likes to know how other countries do Pizza. We found a place called Iguana that sold mexican and italian food.

The pizza was excellent, and I recommend it if you are ever in Helsinki. It seemed kind of like a college hang out.

We fell into bed.
“Time for Sleep-amoinen” Chris said.

“Good night.”

Next Stop: HELsinki

We landed in Helsinki in the early morning. I guess it was sometime between 6 AM and 9 AM Helsinki time. It had been an 8 hour flight, and I really wanted to play with the first class media toys they give you, but I was sleepy. I pretty much slept the whole way.

So we landed and checked into our hotel. It was GORGEOUS:
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Hotel KAMP had all kinds of history. It was the location for lots of artistic and revolutionary talk. I envision the intelligentsia talking over Frazer chocolates and coffee, pounding the table about ideas to improve the world.

Utter delight. And it was so beautiful. Let us all have beautiful revolutions, friends!

All right, so we did not linger in the hotel room. We had to see the sites.

Chris said, “It’s raining.”

“How long are we here for?” I asked.

“Today, tomorrow, and we leave the next morning.”

“Well, it may be a rainy day, but it’s the only day we’ve got. We must get out and see the city.”

So we did.
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Alright. So there was a lovely park that ran down the main street in front of the hotel.
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And there were gorgeous buildings all around. The town didn’t become the capital until 1812, so all the achitecture is from the 1800’s. see?
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See that big domed building there? Presiding over the city like…Like a god? Well, that’s the Lutheran church. I did not expect the church to have domes, because I thought that was an Eastern thing. But Helsinki rides the line of East and West.

THIS is the Eastern Orthodox Church (look in the back right corner):
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It’s kind of steepley, which is what I would have expected of Luther. There is a teeny little gold onion at the top as a concession, like a maraschino cherry.

We walked through the town to see the sites. Like this cafe:
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And we heard a military band:
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We made our way to the Orthodox church. It was beautiful. Here’s what you see when you look up:
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And the iconostasis in the front:
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The whole interior was elaborately painted. Here a piece of the vaulted ceiling and a pillar:
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Yes, I enjoyed that church. I bought some postcards there, and sent them to a few of you, my readers. Thing was, Helsinki charged RIDICULOUS amount for a postcard. I figured, the church should at least get my money if I was going to be robbed. A whole euro for one post card!

The next day, we did visit the Lutheran church. It was startlingly plain.
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Basically, the best you were going to get was the view from the outside. I really hate to take that metaphor too far.

Chris said, “We have to go to this one store, Stockmann’s.”

“What is it?”

“Apparently, it’s this great department store that was really popular with Russians during the soviet period. They came over to Helsinki to go to Stockmann’s. It was so common that a lot of Russians thought that the name of the city was Stockmann’s.”

“Let’s go!”

We kept looking for that IKEA look. You know? It was everywhere in Stockmann’s. All the sheets and curtains and kitchen utensils had that look. It was totally IKEA in everything but the price. Wow! No 2-dollar measuring cups there. More like 15 dollars.

I bought an illustrated version of the Kalevala in finnish. Do I read finnish? No. But…well…it’s a national epic poem that was never written or read, only spoken, for century upon century. I think that if I sat and read it out loud, even not understanding it, I will get more of the beauty of the phrasing…

Plus it was a paperback and therefore cheaper that way.

We went to the Stockmann’s grocery section and bought food for a room picnic. We were tired, and it was time for eating and sleeping.

Back to our gorgeous hotel.
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We decided to check out a nearby fortress island tomorrow: Suomenlinna. We’ll have to take a ferry. Should be exciting.

“Good night, baby.”

whew

So, I’m back.

And Chris is still kinda sick, but I am NOT. I am full of energy and health.

I have so many impressions of my trip. It’s hard to know where to begin. Maybe I should begin at the beginning.

Okay, so we flew out of LAX. And we flew Business/First class. I have the ‘/’ in there because it was business inside the US, but First class from New York to Finland.

Higher class flying is extraordinarily comfortable. AND I didn’t know that if you are flying high class, you get to hang out in this VIP place that feeds you snacks and free booze.

Sometimes they even let you take a shower. Let me tell you, that is a nice thing, to have a shower after a long flight. NO ONE smells nice after a couple hours in a plane.

I had no idea that these sorts of luxuries came along with the high class travelers.

Interestingly, the lounges are also stratified. Each airline has a couple of them in their airports. And there are some that are more accessible than others. Levels of exclusivity exist everwhere.

Okay, so we checked out the American Airlines Admirals Club in LA, and in JFK. LA was better, because their snacks were more substantial than pretzel nuggets and baby carrots with dip (which is what JFK has). LA had some open sandwiches. They also seemed to have a better view, of the planes.

But I enjoyed the JFK site very much, because after our 5 hour flight, we took a shower and then jumped the subway to Central park. Chris wanted to see the dinosaurs.

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The dinosaurs live in a place called the American Museum of Natural History.

I never saw anything so unnatural in my entire life. This is how they show you animals:

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That is an extreme example. Most of the dead, stuffed creatures where arranged in a life-like taxidermy pose in front of a painting of their natural surroundings. They were very old, I think. The zebra has faded to a medium brown and white striped critter.

“Well, Chris,” I said. “Did you notice how everything in the surrounding, oh MILLION mile-area is completely paved over? This is as close to nature as these east coast jokers get? Makes you appreciate California for actual wildlife.”

The east coast is very densely populated. Chris found this sign in a hallway:

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That’s a lot of people for a hallway.

But the East Coasters tend to think that they are advanced for this:
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I don’ t know. It was a really different way of looking at life, that museum. maybe it’s a museum of natural history because all of nature in Manhattan is history.

wanna make a million bucks…?

here is my million dollar idea.

Someone needs to take advantage of this particular moment in history and make a sturdy and decorative quart-size see through bag.

There was much rejoicing at Zip-lock the day that those stupid terrorists used liquids to make mischief. Don’t you think their sales went up a bit after all that?

My gallon-bag for toiletries is worn out. I would appreciate a more permanent solution for my travel needs. And it’s not fair that ziplock gets all the profit.

There you go. Someone–go forth and get rich. I ask nothing more than that it be available for me to purchase.

The last watering stop before OK Corral

…or at least the last stop before we get home.

JFK and customs are behind us. I am typing this on a keyboard which has all the keys were I am used to finding them.

Chris is not dead yet, although the slowness has increased.

In slightly less than three hours our final flight takes off.

On the way here, while we were taking off our shos and displaying our little baggies of toiletries (Nothing more than 2.5 oz.!), a white dog of poodle heritage was in line in front of us. He (she?) was a good doggie. Very patient. But then he was placed in a big box and he objected. Barks and whinings commenced.

Poor doggie. He didn’t know why he could not go on with the rest of his family. I’m sure PETA would demand he get equal treatment on flights.

But it reminded me of our doggie. She would bark in the same situation.

Tomorrow, we will see her. I’m sure she has grown.

Two and half hours till take off. It’s 11:30 PM Germany time.

My pillow will feel good.

the long day’s jouney into LAX

It began yesterday, that little SAS flight we tacked on at the last minute since we thought the train would take too long.

So, YESTERDAY, we flew from Frankfurt, Germany to Copenhagen, Denmark. We spent the night in the airport hotel and flew from Copenhagen to Helsinki this morning.

Here is the breakdown for today: Copenhagen to Helsinki. Helsinki to JFK New York. We will endure the customs degradation procedure in New York, then fly to Los Angeles. Los Angeles airport holds Chris’s car, so I will drive the car to our home.

We are crossing a lot of time zones, and landing in LAX just the left side of midnight. We begin the flight and end the flights the same day. But the day will be longer than 24 hours.

Which leaves me a lot of time to figure out exactly how long it is. I will not do so now, since that would leave me without entertainment for later.

I am right now in the airport in Helsinki. I love Helsinki.

I just love it.

Oh but I forgot to mention. Chris is sick. Right after the ship show in Kassel, he came down with a slow bug. It is slowly making all the parts of him ill. And it makes him slow.

Which means that in Copenhagen, the land of the 6 dollar coke, was too much for him yesterday. He finally felt well enough to eat after we landed there, but not well enough to endure the infamy of the food prices in Denmark. After walking (slowly) all around, I had to put him in the hotel room and bring him back something just so he didn’t have to know how much it cost.

Which is also why I will be driving home when the end of the day reaches us at the Pacific ocean. He is sick, poor thing. I think it would be a minor sick, one that would only require a nap if only we were at home. But since we are not at home, and are forced to travel all over and be kind of uncomfortable, he is extra unhappy.

But this trip has been really really full of ships. So many ships. I think I know a little more about ships than I did. All the collectors are so very excited about the ships. We had a good time. But it’ll be really nice to get home.