Sunday, 9 September 2012

Copenhagen, Denmark, 30.6.-3.7.2012, Day 1

Two days after I'd returned from New York, it was time for my solo trip of the summer as I was off to see Madonna in Copenhagen, Denmark and Gothenburg, Sweden. Now, I haven't done that much of solo travelling even though I've been all over the place, and so I was both excited and a bit nervous about this trip. Prior to this, I'd done two trips on my own - in 2009 I spent a week in England, first spending four or five days at my friends Kirsty and Laraine's place in Coxbench and then staying the weekend up in Newcastle for my friend Leanne's wedding, and in 2010 I spent a weekend in Stockholm on my own and went to see Lady Gaga live there. However, this trip was the longest I'd been away from home on my own without staying with friends. As I mentioned in my previous post, I'm not the best of map readers and so finding my hostels was the bit I was the most nervous about. Other than that, I was pretty happy to go to Copenhagen and Gothenburg again as Copenhagen reminds me of when I was an exchange student in Växjö, Sweden in 2007 and used to go to Copenhagen as it was close, and I spent the summer of 2008 living in Gothenburg so it was nice to go back to my old hometown. Also, I'd be meeting friends and other Madonna fans along the way so I wasn't that worried, just nervous.

Saab 2000 somewhere above Sweden.
I flew to Copenhagen from Tampere via Stockholm on a propeller plane, a Saab 2000. The plane was absolutely tiny! Flying's not among my favourite things to do in the world so I wasn't looking forward to that particular flight with huge enthusiasm, but it turned out it was alright and I wasn't scared at all. To make things more interesting, there was a Swedish flight attendant on the flight (she was the only cabin crew member on the flight, heh) who spoke Swedish to me and made me feel all excited about being on my way to that part of the world. I love Sweden, just love it! I loved every single moment of my life in Växjö and wanted to stay there for good. Unfortunately, I had to come back to Finland because I had to do my teacher training in Finland and it wasn't possible for me to do it in Sweden instead (yes, I went to someone to ask about it because I REALLY didn't want to return to Finland back then). Anyway, so my trip was off to a good start.

I had to wait for my connecting flight in Stockholm for a couple of hours so I did some sitting around, had a sandwich and ended up speaking more Swedish as some grandma started asking me questions about how she could charge her mobile phone at the airport.

It was so much fun to be in Sweden, and it's insane how fast you can get there if you fly instead of catching one of the ferries from either Turku or Helsinki. The flight was maybe 45 minutes! I definitely want to spend several weekends in Stockholm in the future! The flights aren't even that expensive.

Anyway, my flight to Copenhagen was on time and before you knew it, I had already landed at Kastrup. Heh, some people might remember how I, along with friends, was stranded there overnight because of a snowstorm back in 2003...we had to sleep on the floors wrapped up in blankets that they gave us, we had no Danish money or credit cards so we couldn't eat anything, and the whole place was a huge mess. This time, everything went smoothly, though, heh. Anyway, I had bought a couple of train tickets beforehand and had to print them out before going downtown to find my accommodation. The SJ ticket machine was easy to find (terminal 3, track 1) so I got my tickets out and then bought another ticket to get me downtown on the metro. I went to Nørreport and then got lost, heh. It had to happen :D! I had no idea which direction I should have picked upon exiting the metro, whoops. Luckily I'd picked up a map at the airport and miraculously managed to read it, so not long after I did find my hostel. Phew! This is where I stayed and it was a really nice place, really close to Strøget. I was in a dorm for four women and there was someone very strange in my room once I got there, an old woman, who kept telling me she was only staying for one night because it was a special situation, and she kept wanting me to leave the room. I mean gee, if you want to be in your room alone, book a single room, why don't you? She had a walking stick and she walked around the room, talking to herself. What the....?!?

Anyway, I left the room pretty soon after leaving my stuff there as I was meeting up with Tizz. We'd agreed to meet in the lobby of my hostel but it turned out Tizz had gone to another Danhostel downtown instead, heh. Luckily she wasn't far and it didn't take her long to ride her bike to where I was. It was so great to see her again! It had been five years! Way too long! We had a lot of catching up to do, so we decided to go and get ourselves some juice (Tizz is on the Paleo diet) and then went to The King's Garden to chat.

My juice was called Pop Eye.

The King's Garden.

Eventually we got up and started walking towards the Little Mermaid, checking out Amalieborg on our way there.

In Denmark and Sweden, high school graduates drive around in trucks, celebrating, in the summer. In Finland, this happens as early as February when the students are done with all of their courses and start studying for their matriculation exam.


This must be among the most terrible jobs in the world.

The Little Mermaid.

A not-so-good picture of Tizz and I in front of the Little Mermaid :D
We then decided to walk to Parken, which is where I'd be seeing Madonna in two days. It's always a good idea to check where everything is beforehand so that you know where to queue, and to get in the mood for the show. At least that's the way both Tizz and I see it, and as crazy fangirls, we should know :D. With the help of Tizz's iPhone navigator thingy, we eventually found Parken, and I suddenly got very excited. Just two days till Madonna! It had been almost three years since I'd last seen her so my excitement was huge! Definitely a good idea to go to the stadium.

Then we took a train back downtown close to my hostel and went to a burger place for dinner. I had the best mushroom burger in the world! It was heavenly! I want burgers like this here, too!

Before going our separate ways, Tizz and I still walked to Tivoli to see how much it costs (95 kr for the entrance) and decided we'd go there the following day. We also found the railway station for me so that I'd know where to catch my train to Gothenburg a couple of days later. I basically knew where it was as I'd been there many times before, but I still wanted to make sure, so as not to miss my train. Then we walked back to my hostel, and Tizz rode her bike home. What a fun day, and there was more of it to come the following day!

Saturday, 8 September 2012

New York, USA, 17.-27.6.2012, Day 10.

This was our last day in New York and we mostly spent it wandering around in Central Park. I was completely exhausted by now and would honestly just have preferred to read a book somewhere, but we ended up walking the whole day, heh. What a surprise, I guess I'm officially incapable of spending a relaxing holiday :D!

Before heading to the park, we had some breakfast...yum!

We also walked past the Empire State Building one more time on our way to the park.
Aaaand on to the pictures from the park! It seemed to be a busy day with lots and lots of people, both tourists and locals, enjoying the sunshine and the relaxing atmosphere of the place. I have to say my map-reading skills turned out to be non-existent, though...I was completely lost all the time! Central Park is HUGE and I honestly had no idea where we were most of the time. I thought we were walking on the east side when suddenly someone informed me we were actually on the west side, and facing south, too, when I'd thought we were walking towards the Reservoir. Oh my. Never let me read the map, anywhere, please! And do NOT assign me the task of taking a group of pupils to the forest on my own (almost happened last autumn). Bad, BAD idea!

The Pond.

The Mall.

The Bethesda Fountain.

Angel of Waters.

The Lake.

The Loeb Boathouse.

The Shakespeare Garden.

Belvedere Castle.

The Obelisk.

The Jacqueline Onassis Kennedy Reservoir.
It was a long walk to get here, and we had to walk back, too, aaaaargh! Somehow, we did it, though, and ended up checking out Madonna's Upper East Side home, too, while we were in that direction anyway.

We walked past the Met.

Madonna's home. To be honest, I felt a bit stalkerish, standing outside her house. I was happy about knowing she wasn't at home but in Europe, touring.

And that's pretty much all, folks. We walked a bit more along Park Avenue before taking the subway back to our hoods, had something to eat and went back to our room. My mum and Satu still went out but I was done and decided to spend the night listening to music, reading and writing in our room. I did all my packing and then took it easy with a couple of donuts from Dunkin' Donuts. Heaven!

Thank you, New York, for yet another amazing trip! I will be back, for sure :D! The following morning, we took a limo (no kidding, that's what the hotel ordered us - my mum got her ride on a black Lincoln :D!) to the airport and jetted off to Helsinki. It was nice to come back home, too, especially since I knew I'd be off to Denmark in just two days. So, stay tuned for updates on my Euro trips of the summer!

New York, USA, 17.-27.6.2012, Day 9.

I guess we were all pretty exhausted after running around for so many days, so the day after Pride, we decided to take it easy and go our separate ways for a little while. We agreed to get together later on, but until then, we were all free to entertain ourselves as we pleased.

It was so much fun to walk around in New York all alone! I love being alone in general, and as I live alone (well, with my cat, but you know), I'm used to spending a lot of time on my own and I need that alone-time as well. So, first of all, I headed to my favourite Japanese bookstore to get me some cute stationery. I ended up finding a bunch of it, plus a small white Totoro for my car. Yay!

The weather was kind of gloomy and I wasn't sure if I should just walk on or go somewhere inside to wait it out. I ended up spending a little while in Bryant Park, reading, before it got a bit cold and it was time to move on.

I decided to go and see Grand Central Terminal again - at least that way I'd get to warm up somewhere indoors for a while.

The Chrysler Building.

Grand Central from the outside.

Grand Central from the inside.
Then I headed to Rockefeller Center and spent quite a while reading on a bench in front of it. I also went into the NBC store again as it started raining at one point. There, I noticed a Dick in a Box T-shirt that I hadn't noticed before, and had a good laugh at it (it's from a Saturday Night Live sketch) - I even texted my friend Sanna about it as she's the one who introduced me to the Lonely Island sketch songs :D.

I was getting a bit hungry so I headed towards Central Park, which is where I'd decided to have my lunch. I stopped by at a corner shop to get sushi and then walked on to the park to eat, and also to read some more. It was SO nice, I enjoyed every moment! So relaxing, and so amazing to be in New York all by myself!

On my way to Central Park, I stopped by at St Thomas Church on Fifth Avenue, mainly because my legs were tired from all the walking and I wanted to sit down for a while. But what do you know, in New York, you're not left alone even when you're in a church - a Japanese couple asked me to take their picture the minute I'd sat down...
On my way to Central Park...New York is LOVE!

This one was looking for food next to me while I was eating my sushi :D.
Eventually Satu texted me and we met up in Columbus Circle. It started raining almost straight away so we went to a nearby pub for a while. There, I played Bad Girl by Madonna on the jukebox - the one song I most connect with New York and they had it for me to play. Loved it!

When it stopped raining, we walked back to our hotel through Times Square, stopping to get ourselves huge muffins along the way.

Ricky Martin in Evita...this is the one thing I wanted to do but didn't.

Very ominous-looking weather.

Back at the hotel with my muffin (Monkey Business from Crumbs) and my book. Happy!
Later on, all three of us still went back to Times Square to see it in its night-time glory.

Hey look, we're on the big screen :D! With the Dunk Guy...
I found myself a couple of nice police officers, too :D.
One more day to go...

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