Friday, February 2, 2001

You have to sober up and go home sometime...‏

Hello everyone!

Well, it seems so sad to think about it, but my time here in Denmark is finally up. :-( I leave here at 7:45am tomorrow. I keep thinking that I've forgotten something that I wanted to buy, or a picture that I wanted to take, but I know that it's just my brain trying to find a way out of having to leave. I mean, I am SO excited to come home, I can't even put it in words, but there's a big part of me that's really going to miss it here. Perhaps the Mimosas and the red wine I had this evening are making me sentimental, but there is just an otherworldliness about Denmark and Europe that I'm going to be sad to leave behind.

Anyway, I realize that I haven't written about my trip to Prague, but I think that I will just have to tell you all in person. I haven't finished packing yet, and I need to try to sleep a little bit before we start the long drive to Billund at 3:30 this morning.

However, I would like to tell you briefly about my last day here in Aalborg.

First of all, it started snowing today. They very rarely get snow, but for some reason the weather shifted and now we're expecting a big storm tomorrow. Naturally. But, I'm sure that the weather will hold out long enough for me to fly back home.

Pernille, Kieth, Ulrik and I had lunch at a nice place called the Cafe Rendez-Vous. The sandwich I had was great. Did I ever tell you that Danish people eat EVERYTHING with a knife and fork, including sandwiches?? Craziness. Anyway, after lunch we walked to this other restaurant in order to have some hot chocolate because it was so cold outside. This restaurant was built in the wine cellar of a very old building and it was just gorgeous. There were arched stone walls and glowing candelabras everywhere. The seats were actually just wooden benches. It had a great atmosphere, if not such great hot chocolate.

Afterwards, Ulrik left and we went shopping for some last minute stuff. We were late getting home and Pernille was worried because she had forgotten to set out the cornish game hens we were having for dinner, so they weren't defrosted when her mom got home.

We had a small dinner party/going away party tonight. Her mom made some great bruschetta as an appetiser and then we all sat around and ate it while drinking champagne and making toasts to me having a safe trip. Dinner was cornish game hens with a white sauce that had grape halves in it. So delicious!! And dessert was this beautiful cake her mom spent two days making, called a Rubensteiner Cake. I took a picture, of course. :-) And then her mom said she wanted to make a speech and then proceeded to pull out a piece of paper, on which she had written a farewell speech to me. It was so sweet!!! And they all told me that they would love to have me back to visit anytime. Gosh...these people are so nice!

Anyway, the time has come for me to stop stalling and start packing. :-( Well, by this time tomorrow I'll be in the States again and I'm sure I'll be very happy. Right now I feel kind of sad, but I'm sure that once I get home and don't have to convert currency in my head everywhere I go, I'll be grateful just to be back. Anyway, I'll see all of you soon!

Thursday, February 1, 2001

One for my baby (and one more for the road)‏

Hello again everyone!

Well, it looks like I've fallen behind on my reports, so I'm going to write two back to back in order catch up with everything. :-)

OK, so I left off with dinner last Monday with Kasper and Jasmine at the French restaurant...that means I still need to tell you about the American restaurant and English lessons with Aunt Margret. LOL This is going to be fun....

Let's start with Aunt Margret. After rereading my previous email, I think I might have given you guys the impression that Aunt Margret is like 90 and all crippled up. Actually, she is more like 68ish and is actually very spritely. Her husband (Ole's brother) died last year, which has left her with a lot of spare time to fill. So, she has started taking classes such as English, aerobics, bridge, etc..., plus she has a part-time career as a sort of massage therapist. She is very loud and energetic, and actually quite funny. Her grasp of English is not very sound, as I mentioned before, but she is quite enthusiastic about learning, so that kind of makes up for her lack of actual skill.

Anyway, we decided that I would come over to her house for some English conversation on Wednesday evening. At first, she wanted me to come over for 4 hours. Well, to be frank, Aunt Margret doesn't know enough English words to fill 4 hours of conversation, so eventually Pernille worked her down to 2 hours. At the appointed hour, Pernille, Kieth, and I walked to her house (it's very close to Pernille's). They were planning to play ping-pong while Aunt Margret and I chatted.

When we got inside the house, I could tell that she had spent a lot of time preparing for my visit. There were candles lit everywhere and in the kitchen she had made up two trays, one with 2 cordial glasses and one with cookies. After Pernille and Kieth went downstairs, she showed me around the house. Her husband was an architect, so he had designed the whole place. It was of a very sparse design...very minimalist. And, naturally, it had those damn hanging lamps everywhere instead of decent lighting. It was a lot less decorated than Pernille's house, but it was still very very nice.

We settled down in two rather stiff chairs in her formal living room, with the tray of cordials between us. And sure enough, it was that same damn disgusting dessert wine that Pernille's parents had served at the dinner on Saturday. But, I was very brave about it and when she got up to make some tea, I just shot it down and prayed that she wouldn't offer me more. (Kieth says that the trick is to leave a little bit in the glass so that you don't give them an excuse to refill it.) :-)

Anyway, it was actually very interesting to talk with her. She told me as much as she could about her relatives that live in Kansas City and about what she does to keep busy. The funniest thing about Aunt Margret was that since she doesn't speak English very well, when she got to a difficult phrase or concept, she just slipped right into Danish, as natural as can be. I mean, we're talking whole sentences and paragraphs worth of info, in Danish. And she was looking me in the eye the whole time and chatting on so casually, as if she thought I was understanding every fucking word of what she was saying, despite the fact that I've told her MANY times that I only know about 4 actual Danish words. So, here is a fair approximation of our conversation:

Me: So, tell me more about your family in Kansas City!
Aunt M: brother Consule...I think...she will do you say? then Fyrretyvende digt kalveskind mælkepulver nikotinforgiftning offentig piskeris savsmuld!!! *Lots of laughing on her part*
Me: Oh really! That sounds like fun!
Aunt M: Yes!

And so the two hours passed... But actually, it wasn't too bad, and before I knew it, Pernille and Kieth came back upstairs so that we could all enjoy some tea together.

Now, Kieth and I have discussed how funny it is that when you're listening to people speak a language that is *completely* foreign to you, you unconsciously listen for words that sound like English. So, even though you don't mean to do it, every now and then a Danish word pops out at you because it sounded like English, even though it really wasn't. Well, Aunt Margret was full of those kind of words.

One memorable incident was during this tea sharing session. You see, she had also made these biscuits that were very tasty and I asked her if she had the recipe. And she replied, "Auck yah!" which sounded incredibly like "Fuck yeah!" So, naturally, Kieth and I about fell out of our chairs laughing. Once we explained it to Pernille, she translated the misunderstanding to Aunt Margret, who thought it was hilarious and then she kept shouting "Fuck yeah! Fuck yeah!"

Oh, and earlier in the evening, Kieth had come upstairs to ask where the bathroom was. Well, apparently the US is the only country on the face of the planet that uses the term "bathroom" to denote a place where you can perform certain bodily functions. To everyone else, the term "bathroom" means a place where you take a bath, which, in all fairness, makes perfect sense. So, you have to use the word "toilet" if you want them to understand you. Well, Kieth kept asking Aunt M where the bathroom was, where the restroom was, etc...and she wasn't getting it. So, finally, he said, "You know, the BATHROOM" and made a motion to unzip his fly. LOL After a brief pause, Aunt Margret screamed "Oh YES! The TOILET!" And then he went to the toilet and then left. Well, after we explained the fuck yeah comment, Aunt Margret told us that she couldn't understand what Kieth had been saying earlier because she thought that he was asking for the BEDROOM. Which was pretty hilarious considering that he had made the motion of unzipping his fly in order to explain himself.

OK, so those were some good times with Aunt Margret. What a nice lady.... :-) Anyway, the next evening, Kieth, Pernille, and I went out to eat at this American steakhouse, called the BaufHaus, I think. Anyway, it was in this really old building that had the rafters exposed and all that. The decoration was a mix of Rustic Americana and 1950s Americana. They even had an old Wurlizter jukebox that you didn't even have to put any money into! Anyway, our server was an Asian man (naturally-what else would you expect when you're eating at an American restaurant in Denmark) and he was very friendly. The food was actually quite quite good. The menu (and I got one to bring home with me) reminded me of TGIFridays because of their color scheme.

The food wasn't too expensive, so I ordered a steak with some of their Whiskey Sauce. Oh my god-this was some good fucking sauce. I might buy some at the store to bring home with me. They also had a Cognac Sauce, which I tried, but it wasn't quite as good. They had it set up so that you picked a type of potato to have with your steak, as well as a kind of sauce, and then you could have as much of both as you wanted. Very good idea.

Dinner went fairly well, with one major exception. There was this one waitress that brought us our food and kept walking by our table. Kieth kept staring at her ass and saying that she had a great "ghetto booty". Pernille and I were just like, WHATEVER. Then, to my horror, Kieth stopped the waitress and asked her to turn around, at which time he lifted up the back of her shirt so that he could get a better view of her ass!!! Then he said, "Ok, just checkin'! You can go." I was completely mortified. It was so shocking, I still can't believe he did it.

OK, so the next night was the night before I left for Prague. Pernille's mother decided to have a mini-dinner party for me. So, Aunt Margret came, as well as Pernille's best friend, Karina. Karina is really nice and she even gave me a currency converter as a going away present! :-) Anyway, the dinner was great and it stretched on into the night. I had been planning to pack after dinner and then be in bed before 12 or 1. Yeah right.

I hadn't planned on everyone getting so roaring drunk at dinner that the conversation stretched on forever, or on Kieth wanting to show all his pictures from Russia, or on the fact that I was so nervous about going that I finally succumbed to familial pressure and had 2 large drinks consisting mostly of gin and then spent the rest of the evening smoking cheap mini cigars with Kieth and Jutta. Needless to say, I didn't sleep AT ALL before I left at 6:30am Saturday morning.

But, that morning, I wasn't the only one who was totally stressed out. Pernille's mother and father were both awake around 5:30am with Pernille and I. Her father said that he couldn't sleep because he was worried about me. Pernille's father had staggered off to bed around 3, or so we had all thought. But, when I got up from "resting my eyes" around 5:15am, there was a note on the kitchen table reading "Shannon-I hope you have a nice trip to Prague. I will miss you. Please call when you get there. Love, Ole 3:30am" (I took a picture of it.) And standing proudly next to it, was a tall stand on which waved the Danish flag. It was formerly on their porch, so I can just imagine him dragging it through the house in his drunken stupor. He seriously almost fell out of his chair at dinner...

Anyway, Pernille and her mom made breakfast for us all. Kieth was the only one who didn't get up. They were all so cute and worried about me, it was just like getting ready to go somewhere when I'm at my own house. :-) Pernille and her mom kept asking me things like, "Do you have your passport?" "Do you have directions to your hotel?" etc... I was just waiting for her mom to whip out some holy water to bless me! (Grandma!) And then, in the end, Pernille and her mom drove me to the train station. I was so nervous! But, they waited for the train to leave and then waved goodbye as we pulled out of the station. It was so sweet of them!

OK, I need to go because there is a hot game of Monopoly waiting for me. Later this evening I'm going to write all about my trip to Prague. It was a lot of fun and so beautiful!! Anyway, I hope you're all doing well. I can't believe I'm already going to be coming home on Saturday!! Man, I am going to have to spend a small fortune in order to develop my pictures, but it's going to be worth it. I think I've taken 9 rolls so far! Anyway, I'll talk to you all soon and I can't wait to see you!