Sunday, January 9, 2011

Viking Quest: A Guest Blogging By Ken

When we first began our Norwegian journey, I had the great idea that Cari and I should do a joint blog.  I envisioned calling it “Viking Quest”, and the wallpaper would be pictures of people acting like Vikings (examples of Viking behavior would include wearing Viking hats, wielding swords, long-boating, and eating turkey legs at state fairs).  

At first, Cari thought this was a decent idea.  A few hours later, though, she astutely observed that I am too lazy to follow through on anything that is administrative and not required.  She decided that she would keep her blog for the time being, and if I ever did become a somewhat regular contributor, then we’d go with the Viking quest idea. 

We’re three months in now, and I’d have to assess my level of blogging as being somewhere less than regular.  In fact, this is my first ever post (or even comment, I think) on this blog.  My laziness isn’t the only reason that I haven’t blogged.  The main reason is that Cari does such a good job chronicling our activities that there’s usually not a whole lot left to say once she’s done.  Cari, thanks for all of your hard work here – I love reading the posts now, and I’m sure we’ll be enjoying them for a long long time!

It took a monumental event to kick-start me into making my first blog post.  This event was my return to one of my favorite cities, Copenhagen.  I’d say my other European favorite is Edinburgh, and I’ll give Amsterdam an honorable mention (I’ve been there twice, and the first time it kind of sucked due to jet lag and a transit strike, but last weeks’ trip was awesome and now I can’t wait to go back).  

Back to Copenhagen, though…

When asked to define the peak of my life, it’s really a pretty easy question for me to answer.  It’s when I met my wife and we got married.  HAHA! Just kidding!  My life actually peaked right before meeting Cari, during the summer of 2005 that I spent in Copenhagen, and I have sadly been on the way down ever since.  No offense to Cari – she agrees that she peaked prior to meeting me in grad school as well.

From this point forward, this will pretty much be a tribute post to that great summer of 2005.

The reasons that my life peaked during that summer of 2005 are:

1)      I finished my masters’ degree at TU by taking an incredibly easy summer class in Copenhagen. Andy and I were very clever and saved one MBA elective class to be taken during the summer in Europe after we were done with all of our other classes.  We took our one class on a “Pass/Fail” basis, and did the absolute minimum amount of work required to pass.  Including class attendance and homework, I estimate that in total we spent 30 hours obtaining our pass grades that summer.  We were there for 6 weeks, which is 1,008 hours.  This left us with approximately 978 hours each of free time in Copenhagen.

2)      I got lucky and made some really cool friends almost immediately upon the start of the program.  These people were from all over the place (the US, Canada, Iceland – strangely not a single Dane though), and we all became very close very quickly.  They had almost as much free time as Andy and I did, so pretty much every day was a new adventure.  Some of our excursions included sightseeing, going to the beach, beer pong, the Carlsberg brewery, the Dubliner, the Aussie bar, and eating lots of pizza and calzones. 

3)      All of us were staying in the same dorm, which was awesome.  This dorm is known as Finsensvej.  

4)      Finsensvej had a basketball court.  We definitely logged more time on the basketball court than we did the 30 hours of education.  It didn’t take long for people to appreciate my skill level on the court, specifically my ability to score from basically only one spot.  Despite everybody in the game knowing that this is the only place I can make a shot, I somehow manage to find myself in that spot quite often, so I was easily the MVP in all of the basketball games (except if you count defense, because there was an Icelandic giant named Heddin who could shut down an entire team’s offense all by himself; not legally of course, but nobody could call a foul on him because he always looked so innocent when he would proclaim “I didn’t do aaanything!”).   Here’s a picture of me reliving my glory days on the Finsensvej basketball court:

5)      This summer was my last hurrah before I would start my job.  Since I’d be starting soon as an accountant, I knew that I should take advantage of what little time I had left; it was almost like I was l spent that summer with a timer running down, and I had to make the most of it, which I did. 

6)      I discovered an amazing new food: Shawarma.  This is the spinning cylinder of meat/meat-like substances you’ll see in many European cities, where they slice off pieces with a giant sword and put into a pita with lettuce and hot sauce.  This is hands-down THE most desirable food to eat after a hard night of drinking, and basically every night in Copenhagen could be considered a hard night of drinking.  I rang in the New Year by eating a Shawarma on the Stroget in Copenhagen – here’s another picture:

7)      Dansk Pilsner.  Copenhagen is a very expensive city, especially when you move there from Tulsa (it’s cheap compared to Oslo, but that’s beside the point).  We wanted to drink a lot, but we didn’t want to pay a lot, so at first we found ourselves in a bit of a pickle.  It was kind of like a double-edged sword.  Then somebody discovered Dansk Pilsner at the grocery store.  At first, it seemed expensive.  You’d have to pay something like $60 USD for a case of about 30 beers, which felt like a lot at the time.  When you brought the empty bottles back though, you’d get a refund of approximately $50, so really you only paid about $10 for the beer.  This was pretty funny, because if everyone was drinking beer in the common area, you’d secretly be eyeing the others to make sure they didn’t try to steal your empties, because then they could claim your deposit.  Anyway, Dansk Pilsner was our saving grace for cheap drinking – I’m not sure what we would have done without it.  Sadly, I was unable to get a picture of a Dansk (specific apologies go out to Lea, Talon, and Jenny, as I know this was your favorite).  The only grocery store I was in last weekend didn’t have it.  I did however see a homeless guy drinking one on the street, and I was tempted to try and take a picture of it, but I thought I’d eventually find it in a grocery store so I didn’t take his picture.  Next time I won’t hesitate. 

For all of those reasons, this summer was definitely one of the highlights of my life. 

An additional awesome adventure during that summer was our overnight cruise we took to Oslo.  It’s a 15 hour trip by boat from Copenhagen to Oslo, and a big cruise ship makes the trip each night.  In Copenhagen, it’s called the Oslo boat, and in Oslo, it’s called the Copenhagen boat.  Most of us in the program took the Oslo boat at the same time, and it was an amazing two nights.  Cari and I concluded our Christmas Eurotrip by taking this boat.  I took a couple of photos to remember funny things about that trip for the people who were on it. 

The first photo is dedicated to Andy Blanc.  Andy used to play a game where, if a stranger left a table at a bar without finishing their drink, Andy would drink whatever was left.  Some call it disgusting (including I’m sure his new wife Ali).  I call it economical, environmentally friendly, and hilarious.  

We were at a piano bar on the Oslo boat, and a few people left some pretty full drinks on the table.  Andy thought he was being sneaky and that only our group was watching, so he went and chugged the leftover drinks.  Little did he know that he was being watched the whole time by a couple of 40ish ladies, and they thought the whole episode was completely foul.  This was definitely one of my favorite moments of the summer.  

Andy, I took a picture in that same bar of some drinks left on the table.  Here you go!

The second photo is dedicated to Bran Rapp.  The cruise ship had a play area for small children.  While on our trip, Bran noticed that the small children had gone to bed (at least I hope he noticed this), given that it was approximately 3 in the morning.  We were walking by the play area, which had a ball pit.  Bran immediately dove in, and he was throwing the balls at the rest of us all over the room.  

It was a good time had by all, until a 6’5” Swedish security guard came from nowhere and got hit by one of the balls.  He pretty much picked Bran up out of the ball pit and yelled at him for about 10 minutes.  I remember being pretty sure at the time that Bran would end up in boat jail.  Somehow, he got away with just a stern yelling though, and we went on our merry way.  Bran, here’s a picture of the ball pit!

To all of you Finsensvejers out there, I firmly believe we should have a Copenhagen reunion.  Preferably while I’m living in Oslo, because then it won’t cost me very much.  

Who’s in???  

Don’t forget, Finsensvej til I die!

Thus concludes my first guest blog.  Cari will be writing her own Copenhagen post in a few days, including our awesome New Years fiesta at Lars’ party.  Let me know what you thought about it!