Saturday, May 23, 2009

Off to the races

Last evening I fell asleep by 9pm, so tired from living a day among the land of models. It's exhausting.

Then I woke up at midnight, as my room overlooks a restaurant with a large patio and on a Saturday night, people are awake and have a lot to talk about till 2am. I woke up at 5am wide awake once again and just lied in bed. Then at 6:30am on the dot, alarm clocks went off all down the hall. Apparently, I am not the only marathoner staying in this "H" hotel. I got to breakfast, as the hotel serves breakfast, and all these lanky, muscular calved people wearing their marathoner shirts and "I've done 100 marathons" jackets were milling about. It's intimidating, especially because I have done less than a handful of long runs for this race and my gastronomic choices haven't exactly been pre-race fare: Belgian waffles, ice cream bars and foccacia pizza. Oh well, too late now. I'll be carrying a camera as well, so I'll be packing more than usual.

It will just be a nice little run through a beautiful city. It will be just a "running tour". And today is nicer weather. So hopefully the sun will hold... "picnic weather" as they say here.
The land of models

So I awoke early at 5am and couldn't go back to sleep, just as I suspected I would. But I did have a tour to meet at 9:45am to go to Sweden.

We took a bus to the top of Denmark and drove next to all the cruise ships and beautiful cottage like mansions. They were incredible suburbs, like Bel Air. Cottage mansions I called them, if that's not an oxymoron.

We then took a quick 20 minute ferry ride across to Sweden to the city of Lund. Sweden is the land of beautiful people. Tall, good-looking people everywhere you turn. The men are gorgeous and the women are all so sophisicated and trendy and high-class shops are everywhere you turn.

We were dropped off at a beautiful cathedral in Lund and watched a christening taking place. Then we had free time to roam around the city. All I really did is gawk at the beautiful people and the way they are perfectly coiffed and the men are gorgeous. But then, I walked past a food store that had the infamous symbol of magnums glowing in the storefront...then I saw an advertisement for the new white chocolate strawberry magnums...say what???? Chilled heaven is starring back at me, but I'm in Sweden and I didn't have any Swedish currency on me. Torture! I walked past the store at least 4 times trying to telepathically tell the employee to feed me, feed me, but alas, it didn't work. So then I thought maybe I could flirt and smile my way into a free ice cream bar. I wouldn't normally stoop to such a level, but this is the new strawberry magnum, so drastic times call for drastic measures. But then I remembered that I am in the land of models and my granola face certainly would have no effect on any man. So my dreams of eating a strawberry magnum were shattered.

Then we drove to Malmo, which is quite possibly one of my new favorite cities. It is perfect. Perfect shopping everywhere. All so clean and beautiful and beautiful people everywhere. I found my favorite shops and a mall with models all working there. I had a glorious time window shopping and I am not just talking about clothing...I'm also referring to the men. I would walk past restaurants and just stare. But then, lo and behold, I walked past a shop that said they took Danish currency, so I stopped in and glistening in the ice cream freezer was a shiny strawberry magnum. I immediately ran to the employee and said "Is it true you take Danish krones?" He answered yes and I grabbed a magnum and gave him the money, even allowing him to keep the change.

I walked out and sat in a plaza with the sun shining and blissfully ate away as I watched the perfect people pass by in a perfect city as I ate a perfect ice cream bar. Life felt so sweet, both literally and figurately.

We then came back and saw all the green and large amazing homes in southern Sweden. The homes around here are just gorgeous. We didn't take a ferry back, but just crossed a bridge by bus and were dropped off at the city square.

It is a great day. Sweden is absolutely beautiful in every way.

It stays light so late here. Being so far north and so close to the summer solstice, it doesn't get dark till 10. I forgot what's that like. But I didn't forget what the weather is like...wet and a little cold. Just like Seattle where I grew up.

Friday, May 22, 2009

6'0 is not tall

I am experiencing something here that has never ever happened to me before--I am of average height. It makes me want to stand up straighter and it is a very odd feeling. The tall, blonde, blue-eyed Swedes have obviously migrated south into Denmark. There are beautiful, tall people here roaming the streets everywhere. And for the first time in my life, 6'0 isn't tall. How about that?

I went to Tivoli Gardens this morning and the term "garden" is slightly misleading. Actually, quite misleading. It's more of a b-level amusement park for children. It's a bit small and loads of rides for children. It was quite expensive to enter, but it was colorful and European, kind of like a European Enchanted Village (Federal Way, WA). But I did manage to find delicious Belgian waffles wafting through the air that drew my nose straight to it. I requested a waffle with chocolate sauce. I am not a chocolate person, but when presented with true European chocolate that is the real thing and not that waxy stuff you find everywhere else, I quickly and effortlessly morph into a chocolate lover. This chocolate sauce did not disappoint. I was actually licking the wrapper and getting chocolate all over my face like a little kid. People were coming by and laughing at me. It was fabulous.

Then I went to tourist information to ask how to get to the address that had the fitness expo to pick up my number and timing chip. Imagine this--the tourist office had numbers! You had to pick a number to get helped. A European city with order? Say it isn't so!! How wonderful! The place was clean and white and everyone was helpful and sweet.

I found the bus, determined (on my own thank you very much) which side of the street to be on, and then got on a bus that ended up going a different route than what the tourist information said it would...did I panic? Nope! Still found the stop I needed, followed the map and found the expo. I also asked a man sitting next to me on a bench if he could point out the start line to me on a map. He then proceeded to tell me stories of the London marathon, the Berlin marathon and American marathons. He was so kind and nice and fun to talk to. Copenhagen so far is a level above in kindness. They are the friendliest people.

I then managed to find my bus back and got a beautiful tour of the city in the process, all for 21 krones. Copenhagen is a biking city like Amsterdam, with canals and blondes wizzing by on bikes. Beautiful open squares with centuries old buildings and tulips blooming about. It's a breathtaking and clean city.

The place where I am staying, however, is definitely not the Marriott. When walking toward my hotel I saw the infamous "H" out front. I have determined throughout my travels that when a hotel has an "H" outside, it stands for "Help me, I am a ghetto hotel and have to let you know I actually am a hotel because I look so different than any Hilton." So when I saw the H, I knew I wouldn't be living in the lap of luxury. I was right. But the location is fantastic. I am literally across the street from the train station that takes me to and from the airport. I just walked a block from the train this morning with my luggage. I am 5 minutes from Tivoli, 5 minutes from the Hard Rock Cafe, 10-12 minutes walk from the start and finish of the marathon, 10 minutes or so from all the tours, 15 minutes or a little more from shopping. It's great. But I do have a pretty low level hotel. Oh well. I can't have everything.
I'm in Europe!

I successfully made it to Copenhagen and found my hotel thank you very much. All these people kept, Europe on your own? Even a lady just now..."are you here on your own? Wow, I couldn't do that." Yes, I am thank you very much. All by myself.

Thursday morning was quite hectic. The shuttle to the airport picked me up 20 minutes late and then had another stop after me. Then I got to Delta and there were hoards of people standing around, no line, just people everywhere and everything was so disorganized. They just had people standing everywhere yelling at the employees and the employees were just ignoring everyone. I got to my flight and they were boarding already.

The guys on my flight to ATL sitting next to me were reading Obama's book and then on my flight to Copenhagen the lady sitting next to me was also reading Obama's Swedish. I didn't get the memo that was the only acceptable flight reading material.

I did watch two cute movies: Hotel for Dogs and Yes Man. I recommend both.

I got into Copenhagen and found my way straight to the train and then found the correct stop and Tivoli Gardens and Hard Rock Cafe, so I am set!

Today on my agenda is to visit Tivoli Gardens and then to visit the fitness expo to pick up my number for my race. I heard it is a ways out of town, so I'll either do a cab or try to navigate my way around this town by bus. I found tourist information, so I'm sure I'll ask for help. See? That's all it takes to find my way around the town. Just ask a few questions. I found my hotel on my own all by looking at a map. All the women who told, I wouldn't go somewhere without my husband. Well, when you don't have one, it's pretty amazing what you can do on your own.

The Danish men are all gorgeous. Big blue eyes and rectangular glasses and sweaters tied around their shoulders...all European and sophisicated. Happy to be back in Europe!! Now, I'm on the lookout for some white Magnums....

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Early morning

I am up early tomorrow morning for a 5am pick up time to the airport. Off to Europe for a marathon. But have a nice, long layover in ATL. Lucky me. I am working on a book, so this will give me some time to plot.

Was originally going to do to the Christchurch marathon in New Zealand at the end of May, but since I already have run a marathon in the land down under, it's time for me to visit Europe once again and load up on some white Magnum ice cream bars-my favorite food outside of the US. I will have to go to New Zealand some other time. I'm sure there are plenty of marathons I can run there some other day.

I just signed up for this marathon less than 45 days ago, so my entire training has been one 16 mile run, one 20 mile run, and one 13 mile run. That's it! So I'll just use it as a running tour of a European city and stop and take pictures along the way. Someone I work with said he is going to look up my time, but it will be poor I'm sure. I am not going to worry about time and just attempt to enjoy the painful 42.2 kms.

It will be a fun way, however, to spend Memorial Day weekend. I'm traveling alone, which is always pretty relaxing. Many have asked incredulously to me "Why do you want to go alone?" and look at me wide eyed as if I am crazy. I guess I don't mind it. It's nice to be by myself and enjoy my own company.

Monday, May 18, 2009


I had dinner on Friday with a group of girlfriends and then on Saturday evening with another girlfriend who gave me a belated birthday gift. It was very sweet of her. The temperatures are rising and it is summer already. I love the long summer days and waking up when the sun has already risen, rather than the dark when it feels like I should still be sleeping.

I skipped the international triathlon this weekend and thought it would make me feel good not to get up nervous for a race, but rather, I woke up feeling guilty. I missed racing. I missed the bike course and swimming in the inviting waters.

I found out a friend of mine was hit by a car when she was walking across the street and is now unconscious in a hospital in San Francisco. I hope she will be alright and await to hear. She is my friend who works at Sephora and loves to talk beauty supplies with me. I really hope she will be okay.