A Travellerspoint blog

Gay Night Out in Kungstradgarden

Thanks Jonas!

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After having a fairly tame weekend without any wild nights, I was much looking forward to Monday, which Jonas promised me would be quite the time. I didn’t know what to expect, only that he spent most Monday nights at a particular restaurant / club, and that it had been closed for renovations for the past few months, so tonight was going to be its Grand Reopening. Jonas also told me that it was a gay club, but a light version, at least for Stockholm.

Jonas had a couple of friends come over before we headed out, and I got to know Phillip and Jonas #2 (both also gay) over a couple of cocktails and some red wine. We talked about all sorts of things and I was introduced to EuroVision - a European music competition that was apparently a huge deal. Each year, there is a competition in 30-40 countries in which 1 song from each emerges to represent their country in the multi-national competition. Only 1 winner is chosen after a few rounds, and it is a huge televised event. The winner 1 year hosts the main competition the next year, and it is considered a huge honor, and a platform where many European music stars are launched into international stardom. Sweden won 2 years ago, with a song called Euphoria (LINK), and they are very proud of that. Denmark won last year and will therefore be hosting the competition in May. Apparently many of these songs would be played tonight at the club, so I made sure to learn the choruses for a couple of them.

After drinks, we headed to Kungstradgarden, an open grassy park in the middle of Ostermalm, to the restaurant, Victoria. It was immediately apparent that the reopening was quite an event, with the place buzzing with conversation and everyone rejoicing that their favorite Monday spot was back open. There were free h’ordervous and champagne to start as well.

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As a public figure in connection with the main Swedish gay magazine, Jonas is somewhat of a public figure within that community, so there were many people, including the owners, that he had to say hi to and mingle with. Phillip and Jonas #2 jokingly referred to him as “Swedish King of the Gays”, which Jonas quite liked. I also met Martin, an actor currently in Stockholm’s production of Sweeney Todd, and Tatiana. Halfway thru the night, when Tatiana learned that, unlike the rest of our party, I was not gay, she hit Jonas and exclaimed, “How did I not know this earlier? We could have left this party an hour ago!”

The 6 of us sat down and upon Jonas’ insistence, I ordered Swedish meatballs. Of course, I’d had them before, but apparently they’re different in Sweden. Unsurprisingly, Jonas was right, and I enjoyed a thick, hearty dish of Swedish meatballs and mashed potatoes with lingonberries and pickled cucumber. The lingonberries added a sweetness that I’d never had before with Swedish meatballs and were really good. I think that’s how they are served all over Sweden, and apparently this place had the 2nd best in Stockholm, according to my new friends. I couldn’t disagree, but that made me very curious about the best :)

They also had a special on “bubbley” during dinner so after a delicious dinner and 4 bottles of champagne between the 6 of us, they hurriedly cleared our table and moved it aside to set up the dance floor. As that was happening, the show started up on stage.

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Many of the songs sung were from the EuroVision competition that I learned about earlier that night, but they were still great. Most of them were in English too, which was nice for me :). The interludes, which drew many laughs, were obviously in Swedish and incomprehensible to me. But smiling and nodding works well in these situations.

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After 45 minutes of singing and dancing, the dance floor began. Great music and mostly hits in the US, I had a great time. Like in the US, gay clubs have much more than just gay guys. A few dances with Tatiana, a few more with some other girls, plenty of moves busted with the group, the night raged on until 2 am, when Jonas and I took an “early” exit. After all, he had to be up early for work, haha.

That night is exactly the thing that I love about CouchSurfing. There is 0% chance that, without CS, I would have been anywhere near Victoria that night, and would have missed out on a fabulous time. Beyond that, I got to meet and hang out with Phillip, Jonas #2, Martin, and Tatiana, not to mention Rebecca or Henrietta. That’s the beauty of CouchSurfing, the international network of friends just waiting to happen :)

The rest of Stockholm was uneventful, but I want to thank Jonas again, who showed me vast amounts of kindness and who I hope I run into in Finland in early May (don’t forget about me).

(Mondays) are for the warriors
All those late nights walking thru front doors at day break

Posted by danza 12:04 Archived in Sweden Tagged victoria gay night_out kungstradgarden Comments (0)

The many museums of Stockholm

sunny 50 °F
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After spending a relaxing night on Jonas’ couch, I was ready for another day of exploration. After staying up late watching a movie with Jonas and penning a blog entry, I headed for Stockholm a little after noon. After thinking about what I still wanted to see, I decided to get a 24-hour Stockholm Card, which is expensive but gives you free transportation and free entry to all of the museums around Stockholm (they have 85!).

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After I got that, I went on a great tour of Stockholm City Hall (above). Since it is an active political building, you can only see it with a guided tour, and that is well worth it. After snapping some great pictures of the courtyard and the view from outside, I took off on the tour. The City Hall is a very interestingly designed building, built in 1923, “so it is quite a new building”. That was a quote I found funny from my tour guide. Besides being a government building, it was also designed to be a space for banquets, dinners, etc, of all types, and is most famous as the venue for the annual Nobel Prize Dinner after the presentations of awards. The architect designed the building with a lot of contrast to really make it awe inspiring. This meant that as you walk thru it, you almost always go from a large, grand room to a much smaller room with lower ceilings, and then into another grand room. I had never thought about that before, but that design really underlines those large high-ceiling rooms. Every detail was thought out and the result is one of the few buildings in Sweden that is considered “Gesamtkunstwek” - a work of all arts.

A photo tour is below. The additional fact that I wanted to add is that they host marriages/civil unions to anyone (gay, straight, Swedish or not), but it is so popular that they have 2 versions of the ceremony: the long version is 3 minutes and the short version is about 30 seconds, haha.

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This is the main banquet hall, where the Nobel Dinner is held. Ironically known as the Blue Hall, as was the original plan. The plans changed when they liked the red brick, but the name stuck

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This is the room where members meet to debate issues. They designed it with seats for the public and press to make sure the government was always open and transparent

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Look at the amazing ceiling. Reminiscent of Viking construction centuries past

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Known as the Golden Hall, appropriate this time.

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The entire hall is made in mosaics and actually contains real 23.5 karat gold! The entire hall is adorned with images of Swedish history

After the City Hall, I headed to the Architecture Museum, trying to take full advantage of my Stockholm Card. Strangely, I someone wandered in some back way and totally bypassed the ticket counter/official entrance, and got in free. I didn’t worry about it because I had the Stockholm card so it would have been free for me anyways, but I found it funny.

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The exhibit I liked best was called "Blockholm" in which they created a totally new world in Minecraft by loading all of Stockholm's topographical data and streets, but cleared out any buildings so that they are empty lots. If you're not familiar with it, Minecraft is a computer game created in Sweden and popularized all over the world in which you can create buildings, trees, landscapes using blocks of different color and materials. The top 5 most interesting designs in Blockholm were being built within the museum when I went thru.

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I also stopped by the Modern Art Museum, mostly because it was attached to the architecture museum and it was free with the card. I’ve decided that modern art museums aren’t really my thing, but I did like this more than the NYC MoMA that I went to with Colleen last week. It had more things that I would actually consider “art”, haha, though no pictures were allowed

After the architecture and art museum, I set off on a journey to try and find Stockholm’s only brewery within city limits. It is a joint venture by Brooklyn Brewery and Carlsberg. My mom had found it in her research and I thought that’d be fun to try. It was rather out of the way, but the public transpo to the area was free and I enjoy wandering thru the less touristy areas, so I didn’t mind that. I also was unable to find much info of it online (mentions but no legit site), so I wasn’t sure if I was going to find it. Unfortunately, after circling around the neighborhood where I thought it was, I couldn’t find it and went into the bar/restaurant at the corner.

There I saw Brooklyn and Carlsberg on tap and asked the bartender about it. He told me that the brewery was literally right across the street, but that they had delayed their Grand Opening to 2 weeks from now. Shoot! Oh well, I knew it wasn’t a sure thing so I had a tall beer and some fun conversation with the bartenders. After that, it was back towards Aspudden to meet up with my host and grab some dinner.

After telling Jonas about my failed journey to find the brewery, he thought I might like to go to a pub that specialized in having over 200 different beers available - the Bishop Arms. The dinner itself was good, but uneventful, but I really started to get to know Jonas, who is great. He does marketing & sales for the gay Swedish magazine, UX, and is gay himself. I actually found it funny that when we were first messaging about me staying on his couch, we had set everything up and then he was like “Oh, I should have told you - I’m gay. You don’t have a problem with that, do you?” I very pleasantly told him that I didn’t have any problem with that, but that I was straight - did he have a problem with that? He laughed and said of course not, and that his boyfriend would be happy to hear that. When I asked him about it later, he was like, “Well, you can never be too sure. And you are American.” Damn bigots giving us a bad name.

I tried to make it as early a night as possible so that I could get started early the next day. Since the Stockholm card I bought was good for 24 hours, I wanted to get my moneys worth. So I had until about 3 pm the next day, and I managed to visit the Photography Museum, a museum on the Swedes’ relationship with alcohol (created by Absolut), and Skansen - a unique open-air museum and zoo showing Swedish historical culture and how many Swedes lived 150 - 300 years ago.

Skansen was the coolest of the 3 that I went to, though I think it would be better during peak season as many of their exhibits were closed, including glass blowing, but that was because their oven had just broke :(. This is another thing that I recommend to anyone going to Stockholm, especially since it was laid out like nothing I had experienced before. The “exhibits” were spread out over a large outdoor area, and the buildings were actual buildings taken from various areas of Sweden and rebuilt in Skansen.

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Most buildings were made of the original materials and any repairs that were needed were done using traditional methods. There was a bakery and coffee shop that didn’t use any new technology (besides a credit card reader, haha) and the people in these exhibits were dressed in clothes appropriate for the time, location, and profession that they were expressing.

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Below is the inside of a forester’s hut with a man explaining how foresters lived 200 years ago.

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They used to put 10-12 men in there at once for 4 winter months at a time. Lumber was a key export for Sweden back in the day.

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Skansen also contained a zoo with animals native or once native to Sweden. Pictures are below.

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After Skansen, I stumbled across the Absolut Swedish museum of alcohol, which in addition to alcohol, also had a great exhibit called Art Pop, focusing on the art of album covers and the artists that created some of the more iconic covers over the years, and many of those also did works involving Absolut.
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My favorite part was the record player with 50 or so records that they encourage you to play. Can anyone tell what I put on?
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I’ll give you a hint!
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After I finished up at the museums, I tried to hurry to the Royal Palace and get in before my card ran up, but unfortunately it was closed on Mondays. You can see the massive size of the palace in the pictures below. Their seems to be some dispute about if this or Buckingham Palace is the larger palace, depending on how you measure it.
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Since I was then in Galma Stan, I set off to try and find the coffee shop that Schepel told me about, which is on the same square as the Nobel Museum (which I had heard wasn’t worth going to). I wandered the streets until I stumbled onto it and had a delicious and huge mocha by candlelight.
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I then headed “home” to change and meet up with Jonas. He told me that he was going to take me to a Grand Reopening event for a restaurant/club, but that deserves a post all to its own :). Laters!

We busted out of class
And had to get away from these fools
We learned more from a 3 minute record
Than we ever learned in school

Posted by danza 13:21 Archived in Sweden Tagged museums stockholm city_hall skansen Comments (2)

First Stop - Stockholm!

The Capital of Scandinavia

semi-overcast 45 °F
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So it is official - my journey has begun! After a 2 hour delay out of JFK, I landed in Stockholm-Arlanda a little after noon and found my way to the bus into the city. My (obviously well thought out) plan of 2 consecutive red eye flights worked out great. I was so dead tired by the time I boarded my flight after a sleepless cross country red eye, I barely made it to take off before I passed out. With the ear plugs and eye mask I grabbed in the airport, I didn't wake up until the flight attendant was tapping me to have me return my seat to its upright position. GREAT SUCCESS!

I quickly became very thankful that I got a new credit card with a chip in it, as that seems to be the only way that EVERYWHERE accepts credit cards. Bought my train ticket, made my way into Stockholm, and quickly found my hostel for the first 2 nights: City BackPackers.

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I just decided that 2 things will happen if I try to recount to you all each and every thing that I do each day ("then I had lunch at a Kebab stand down the street... then I met a couple of Irish girls... etc") - (1) I will get sick of writing so much when I could be out there enjoying these awesome cities and (2) you all will probably get sick of reading it. Instead, I'm going to try and sum up days or a few days with some interesting stories and calling out what I think needs calling out. The posts will probably still be freaking long.

Without further ado, my first 3 days abroad were each unique and themed. Day 1 is titled "Drinking and Making Friends". Day 2 will be "Tourism til you Drop". And Day 3 is "All About CouchSurfing"

Day 1 - Drinking and Making Friends
By the time I made it in to Stockholm, found my hostel, and got settled, it was almost 5 pm. This left very little time for wandering before more activities, but I managed to get out for like 45 minutes. I grabbed a bottle of wine while I was out because I figured, what better way to make friends that with some wine? And it being Day 1 traveling alone, I was very concerned about making friends. After wandering, I took advantage of the "unique Scandinavian experience" offered by the hostel and headed to their in house sauna. While physically enjoyable, this ended up being an awkward time in a small wooden room with 2 old naked French guys. I didn't stay long, took a shower, and headed to dinner.

The hostel advertised FREE PASTA as a benefit, but I didn't really think much past that in terms of food. So I started boiling water without thinking that picking up some pasta sauce, meat, veggies, or at least butter and cheese would really improve it. Luckily, 2 nice Australian girls, Jenn and Amy, came in just when I was starting and we decided to make dinner together. They at least had some packets of butter that they had swiped from Disneyland in France (you take what free stuff you can get), so we had buttered pasta and enjoyed the bottle of wine I had bought. A friendly Austrian named Emil sat down with us and shared his beer and proudly told us how great Stockholm bars were, despite only remembering 2 out of the past 5 nights, haha.

After dinner, we headed to the cafe for the start of a very mediocre bar crawl. The crawl itself was not overly exciting, but I got to know Amy, Jenn, Emil, and a few other travelers while out. The last stop on the crawl was a posh looking dance club with $12 drinks and TERRIBLE dance music that didn't change the beat for the 40 minutes we were there. We finally all admitted this to each other and took off, stopping in a bar on the way back for a beer that only costs about $6. The night won't make my top 10 most epic nights (yes, I can use that word again), but it was a good time.

Day 2 - Tourism til you Drop

With Emil taking off the next day and Amy and Jenn heading to the ABBA museum in the morning (which didn't interest me), I thought I'd be heading out solo. Instead, I ran into Julia (pronounced yoo-lia), who I met on the bar crawl, at breakfast the next morning and discovered that we had the same exact plan for most of the day: Free Walking Tour + Vasa Museum. Julia is the biggest example thus far of Europeans that make me feel like such a rookie traveler, but more on that in a later post. Excited to have a traveling companion, we set off.

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This was the meeting place of the tour as well as a great central square and shopping center

More and more European cities seem to have free walking tours of some kind, in which the guide is only paid in tips, and I would suggest them to everyone. They honestly don't begrudge you if you can't tip them (but you should leave a good review on TripAdvisor if you don’t) and it is all the more motivation for them to make the tour interesting. Julia also saw a traveler she had befriended the day before, so Miranda from Canada joined our group! We wandered around Norrmalm and Ostermalm, and heard stories about how a gym trainer became the crown prince, how King Gustav built the Royal Opera House (pictured below) and was later murdered in it, and why Stockholm calls itself “The Capital of Scandinavia”, even though such a thing doesn’t exist. Pictures from the tour:
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The Grand Hotel - used to host the Nobel Prize Banquet; recently hosted Obama

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I love how they add color to buildings with these window covers. I've seen it a lot around Stockholm.

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One of the many beautiful panoramic water views

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See! I really was here! Last time I was in Europe I was terrible about not having any pictures with me in them. Hoping to correct that

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After the tour, we headed to Djurgarden, another island, to the Vasa Museum. I included the link because anyone who visits Stockholm should absolutely check out this place. It is a whole museum dedicated to a warship completed in 1628, sunk in 1628, and recovered in 1961. I thought it sounded a little boring, but it was one of the most popular museums in the city and had fantastic reviews, both online and from people I talked to. And they were right! Of the things I’ve gone to thus far in Stockholm, this is what I would most recommend.

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To read the full history, check out this link, but here are the highlights. Commissioned by the great King Gustav Adolphus (who was a BADASS), the ship was going to be a majestic and fearsome pride of the Swedish navy. The citizens lined the streets to see it set sail, and after going a little more than a km, it was capsized and sank by “a slight gust of wind”. The wreckage sat at the bottom of the harbor, was covered by sand and forgotten, and then rediscovered and raised 333 years later. The harbor silt had preserved it in amazing condition and the ship displayed in the museum is 98% original.

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The majestic vessel, still fearsome looking

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A model of how it may have once looked

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The back was adorned with incredibly intricate carvings, a testament to the glory of their king

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How it may have originally looked. The detail was incredible

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The museum described everything going thru the building of the ship, the downfall and sinking of the ship, the inquiries made afterward, and everything recovered from it. It also had a great FREE audio tour that told the tale in a great format. Again, HIGHLY recommended.

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After that was the free Old Town Tour. Same format as before, but it took you around Galma Stan (Old Town), and told many more interesting stories. My pictures didn't turn out very well because we lost light early on into the tour. Here are the only good looking ones.

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hahaha

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The Nobel Museum

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Martin Trotzigs Grand - The narrowest street in Stockholm. After some dude who gave a lot of money to the city died, his son demanded that they name a street after him. Due to some beef, this was chosen

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This was taken in Old Town well after the tour ended. Maybe on another day. Don't remember :)

After so much walking around and tourism, I was wiped by the time I got back to the hostel. Finding Jenn and Amy in the same state (and possessing a new can of pasta sauce), we decided to make some more free pasta, stay in, and watch whatever the Swedish movie they put on nightly was. It turned out to be the Swedish version of “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”, which was great, but not as good as the American version, haha. After that, it was bedtime.

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Day 3 - “All About CouchSurfing”

For those of you that don’t know about CouchSurfing, you should check it out. I always talk non-stop about all the benefits of it (free place to sleep, meet cool people, get the local opinions on what to see and do), but in addition to free accommodation, people also organize and post events on there for all to join.

One such event was hiking in a town outside of Stockholm. Perfect! With 6 days in a city, I’ve got to find some of these excursions to surrounding areas! Plus, as a CS event, there will also be a number of other interesting travelers and Stockholm locals to meet! I headed to the train station after picking up lunch materials at the local market and met a great CS’er while waiting to board the train. She was a Moroccan named Hasna who was currently working up in Oslo, and just in Stockholm for the weekend. We talked on our way, and stuck together thru most of the hike. She was a very funny girl, filled with American stereotypes, a lover of bad puns, and a frequent loser of glass/sunglasses, which happened on the hike, hahaha.

The hike was incredibly well organized by a guy named Nils, who even had a list of people who had signed up and he took attendance, had a trivia question with a prize, and knew the area very well. Below are some pictures from the hike.

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We debated for a little while what huge hulking beast these belonged to. Nils concluded that it was "just a big hound"

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It ended by this lake (Hasna warned me not to fall in while jumping) and then we all grabbed a bus back to a train station to return to Stockholm.

After that it was time for me to retrieve my things from the hostel and make my way to my CS host for the night - Jonas. After some trouble meeting up (this gets very hard when you’re not paying for service on your phone and you have to find free WiFi to even send messages thru Whats App. How did people survive before cell phones?), I finally made it to Jonas’ place, a very nicely setup place in Aspudden, a town just outside of Stockholm. I briefly met him and a couple of his friends, but regrettably headed out quickly to head back into the city to a part called Sodermalm.

It was there that I attended my 2nd CS event of the day - drinks at Carmen’s Bar. Same deal with meeting cool people who enjoy travel and talking about different culture. Hasna was there with a Moroccan friend of hers, Medhi, and I met 2 other great Swedish guys, Jacob and Axel. Following my example in the hostel, I quickly bought friends by buying a round for whoever had an empty glass. The example was set, and the rest took turns buying rounds for everyone. The night went on talking about Stockholm, the US, different cultures, music, movies, drugs, etc, until about 1 in the morning. On the walk back to the train station, Medhi took us to a beautiful vantage point where you could see over almost all of Stockholm. Not sure why this isn’t mentioned in more guide books, and I made a note to return during the day to get some good pictures.

Anyways, it has been a great start to the trip and I can tell it will be hard for me to update this often enough. So much to cover and not enough time to write it down (I’d rather be out there living it!)

Posted by danza 10:40 Archived in Sweden Tagged stockholm hiking vasa galma_stan free_tours Comments (0)

Warm-up lap around the US

sunny 70 °F
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There was once a time that I boasted that I could fall asleep and stay asleep anywhere - a car, train, bus, plane - wherever. Perhaps that wasn’t ever totally accurate and I just liked to think that, but it most definitely is not true anymore. Even flying Virgin America, which seems to have significantly more overall legroom per seat, I have been tossing and turning for the past couple hours. I figure that I may as well make the time productive. Plus Virgin has great free on flight WiFi, which allows me to do this.

You know 1 strategy that I’m very confident will help me sleep on the plane? Flying red eye flights on 2 consecutive nights! After not sleeping the first night, I will have to be able to sleep on the second, right? Well, I will let you know how that works out in my next post (which I hope doesn’t come tomorrow night). If all else fails, there’s always drugs I suppose, haha. Maybe this’ll help adjust me to the European time zone in some strange way.

So how do I end up having 2 consecutive red eyes? It has been a whirlwind. To share the highlights - the plan was to spend a leisurely 10 days between the Schunk wedding and my flight to Stockholm sleeping on couches and hanging out in NYC and Boston. I found out late last week, right before my bus up to Boston on Friday, that I had scored a final-round interview at Medallia, a CEM company in Palo Alto (look it up if you’re curious). They asked me to supply them with a few different dates that I would be available. Considering I was leaving for Europe the following Wednesday, we didn’t have very many options. They were great to make it work and so, after arriving to Boston on Friday, I flew BOS to SFO on Monday (St Patty’s day :(). That smiley face looks strange. I then interviewed on Tuesday and am currently taking a red eye flight to JFK. I will land about 8 am local time and then fly to Stockholm at 9:30 pm, so I get another afternoon to tromp around Manhattan (hopefully without my full backpack which I should be able to store in JFK… hopefully). Colleen is actually in NYC for like 2 days or something before she flies back to Europe so I’m hoping we can meet up.

Though the itinerary is a little nuts, it’ll definitely be worth it if I get the job. And just between you and me, without jinxing anything, I killed it, haha. So much for not jinxing it. Really great interview at what looks like a great company that is trying to maintain that magical atmosphere of a startup despite growing by 50-100% per year for the last 2 years and projected to continue that. They are up to 350 employees with a goal of 650 by the end of the year. Seems like a very fun company to work for in which the employees hang out quite a bit, both after work and during work. With ping pong tables, fooseball tables, a relection pool (filled with plastic balls), a beer fridge and happy hours every Friday, they definitely seem to be doing that part right. Man, I’ve really got to get better at taking pictures to spice up this blog.

Comical side note - you should have seen me walk in to the interview this morning. Looking quite dapper in my suit, I choose some unusual accessories with my big backpack, CamelBak, and suit bag, (I’ve REALLY got to start taking pictures) I made for a strange looking interview candidate, which illicited some laughs, some confused looks, and also led me to explain my exciting plans to a few of the recruiters I talked to. The enthusiastic reaction from those at Medallia when I told about my trip was definitely a turn-on for the company. And if everything goes according to plan, I’ve been led to believe that if I do get an offer, I can set start date for October or so without a problem, which would be ideal.

Honestly, I was mostly sold the minute I woke up in the morning to a bright, beautiful 70* day. Checking the forecast, yes they were in for more of the same for the rest of the week (of course). After the winter we spent in Madison this year, they could have shown me where to sign right then and there. And I’m only kidding a little bit. Plus - added bonus - I’d get to work with Preeti, one of my good friends from Cornell. I’m going to stop thinking about how awesome this opportunity could be until I actually have an offer.

So, by noon tomorrow I will have crossed 11 time zones (3 in one direction then 8 in the other) on 3 flights (2 red eyes) in 3 days to go from the east coast to the west coast of the US and then to Northern Europe. Not the most insane flight plan I’ve heard, but it ranks up there. Ironically enough, I can’t wait to get to Europe so that I can stay in one place at least for a few days. The always-tentative plan will be Stockholm from March 20th - the 25th or 26th and then on to Copenhagen until the 31st when I fly to Amsterdam. I figure I will bounce around Amsterdam, Germany, and Prague (with possible excursions elsewhere) for the month of April and then I get to Helsinki, Finland on April 29th to party it up there (April 30th is their big graduation celebration) until I fly back to the Bay Area for a wedding on May 6th. I can’t believe it is all so close. Talk to you again from Europe!


3 Crazy Days

There was a time
When life caught you by surprise

(Very soon I hope)

PS - I didn’t include anything about Boston which is unfortunate because it was absolutely awesome. In many ways, spending time with Rooney and Dan, a couple of my oldest and best friends, is beyond words. I got to spend some quality time with 2 awesome guys, see an Irish music concert in a beautiful Harvard performance hall (pictures below), fit in some great rock climbing, and had many the intellectual debate. I also found out that I think in almost the totally opposite way that they do (I’m an ESTP, they are both INTJ. If you don’t know what that means, check this out Free Myers Briggs test).

I thought I uploaded this but it didn't take for some reason. Attempt number 2:

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This is the beautiful entrance hall at Harvard's Memorial Hall. The people are all milling about during intermission.

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Another picture of that main hall, highlighting the wonderful ceiling

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This is a shot of the house seating inside the concert venue

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Here is a bad picture of a beautiful stage lit by Dan Jentzen. He makes sure to call attention to the incredible architecture behind the stage

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ROCK CLIMBING IS THE BEST! And Dan has his typical dumb-founded look on his face

Posted by danza 03:20 Archived in USA Tagged san_francisco boston interview palo_alto medallia whirlwind 3_crazy_days_in_march Comments (1)

The Rollercoaster Peak

sunny 50 °F
View European Adventure on danza's travel map.

I want you all to indulge me for a second. I'd like you to think back to one of your earliest experiences riding a roller coaster. Maybe it was your first one ever, or the first one with a loop in it, or maybe the biggest or fastest one you had ever ridden. I think of the Quantum Loop at SeaBreeze - the first coaster I ever rode with a loop (and it had TWO!). Somehow you got convinced that riding this thing would be a good idea, and after waiting in the line, you are on the ride, strapped in, and making the slow climb to the top of the first drop.

Please close your eyes and remember one of these times for yourself. Okay, you can open them - you'd probably have trouble reading this with closed eyes. Despite the fact that I always considered myself a daring and fearless kid, this is what I remember thinking: "OMG, what have I done? We are still going up? This was a bad idea. There's so much that could go wrong. We weren't meant to flip upside down like this. I should have stayed safe with 2 feet planted firmly on the ground. God, we are STILL going up! There are plenty of other rides that I've done before and I know are fun. What made me think this was a good idea. WHY THE HELL ARE WE STILL GOING UP?"

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This is a perfect analogy to how I currently feel, especially whenever anyone asks me, "Are you excited?" With less than a week until my departure from this continent, yes I'm excited, but I'm also extremely anxious and terrified. What made me think that this was a good idea? Sure it looks fun and anyone that I've talked to that's already ridden this ride only had great things to say, but seriously - I had a good job, great friends, and lived in an awesome city. That was me with my 2 feet safely planted on the ground, not going up this long, slow climb to the top of the roller coaster where who knows what will happen? I could have even ridden other rides that I was more comfortable with, bouncing between cities and seeing friends around this country to fill my fun-employment gap, but instead I have cut the safety cords and am venturing to a far away, mysterious new place. What have I done?

But then I think back to this same day at SeaBreeze when my cousin dragged me onto this insane looping coaster (which now is the smallest, tamest thing ever) and how I reacted once I got off of it: "OMG that was AWESOME! Lets go again! Lets keep going on that until the park closes! That was so so so much fun! How did I never do that before!? Why was I ever scared of that!?" Lots of exclamation points - you get the idea. And I remember who I am, that a slight chance of danger and disaster enhances an experience for me. That no matter how long you spend looking over the edge of the gorge, evaluating the potential dangers and the water below, at some point you've just got to get a running start and leap into the great unknown. Willingness to push these boundaries is one of the things that defines me, and I hope that it always will.

With T minus 5 days until takeoff I feel confident that I've made all the preparations that I can (or want to) and now I am ready to hit the crest of the hill, throw my hands in the air, and scream my head off. There will be many twists, turns, loops, corkscrews, many of which I will never see coming, but I'm ready for it. As my first post on this blog said:

There comes a time
For throwing caution to the wind
As so my life begins :)

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Posted by danza 12:47 Archived in USA Tagged ready rollercoaster excited terrified Comments (0)

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