Friday, August 3, 2012

And It Begins

August 1-3

As I waited for the shuttle to arrive, I nearly had a total crazy cry.  The one where you lose it and get the hiccoughs and turn red.  I managed to stave it off but it was a close call.  Then it got even harder because the shuttle wasn't there on time.  I ordered it for 4 o'clock and that meant that they had a window of 15 minutes before or after that time.  It was 4:30 by the time her got there.  Turns out that it had taken him an hour and a half to get from UCLA due to the construction going on over there.  We still made it to the airport on time.
Each box weighs 40lbs.

What went with me on the plane.

No problems at the airport although they did charge me another $60 for checking my guitar.  Oh well.  I was mentally prepared for it even though I have never been charged additionally for it before.

On the plane, I was seated next to a young man from Sweden.  He was nice and chatted with me for a bit.  He didn't have the best of things to say about the Danes but that didn't surprise me.  Then he went to playing games on the seat back tv screen.  As you can imagine, the food was nothing to write about.

Then it was time to sleep.  Hah!  I tried.  I really did.  I couldn't seem to get my chair to recline all the way.  I could tell because it wasn't even close to as far as "Oscar's" was.  Yes, his name was Oscar.  Sure doesn't sound terribly Swedish, but what do I know.  It was too hot.  I have never been on a plane before that was too hot.  They are always too cold.  It did have a cool headrest that you could bend in the sides so that your head didn't fall sideways.  That was awesome.  I shut my eyes and pretended to sleep for about 4 hours.  Meh.  Then Oscar started to tip over sideways onto me.  He was definitely asleep and I was jealous.  He would bob back into position and then slide again onto me.  Then he would rest his head on the back of the seat in front of him and again tip and slide and bob.  I was quietly chuckling to myself.  I had to amuse myself somehow.

Our plane was late getting to London so they had people who got us and gave us a priority access pass to go to a short line for the security.  They went with us the whole way guiding us through the mess that is called "Heathrow" airport.  We had to get on a bus from whatever terminal we arrived at to get to terminal 5 which was where the plane to Copenhagen was.  I was really thrilled that we had guides the whole way for the transition.

The flight to Copenhagen was easy and fast at only one and a half hours in the plane rather than the ten hours that it took from L.A. to London.  Coming in over Copenhagen, I got my first glimpse of Denmark.  The word small comes to my mind, oddly enough.  We came in for the landing as the sun was starting to go down and it was glittering golden on the water of the Baltic Sea.  It was quite spectacular but I was in an aisle seat and couldn't get a photo.  Sad.

The minute that we got off the plane, I was breaking out in a sweat from the heat and humidity.   It was 75 degrees but the humidity must have been over 80%.  After walking and walking, I found the luggage carrousel and got my bag rather quickly but where oh where was my guitar?  It wasn't there so I grabbed a number for the line for lost baggage.  Then I saw a little sentence at the bottom of the board that said that odd sized baggage was offloaded at carrousel 9.  I was at 3.  Ok. Fine.  Off I went with my 100lbs in my big suitcase, carryon and over shoulder bag.  I started overheating but I was sure that my guitar would be there.  Nope.  And no human to ask.  I went back to 3 then back to 9 then back to 3 and back to 9.  Finally there was someone there to ask if they had finished my flight.  They were.  I hoofed it back to the lost baggage counter to find that finally my number was almost up.  Meanwhile, I have had a person waiting for me other the other side of the exit and I can't get to her to tell her what is happening.  I am fretting over that too because if she leaves then I won't know what to do and by know I am on 24 hours of no sleep so my brain is not functioning very well, to say the least.

I got lucky and the 3 people in front of my number were not there and got to go up to the counter.  All is arranged for the retrieval of my guitar except...I don't have a phone number for them to call and contact me.  I got the email today that they have the guitar so hopefully tomorrow I will have a cell phone and be able to reach them.  I then rush out to the exit and bless her heart, Zofia is still waiting for me.  She told me that she was minutes away from leaving too.  Whew.

She took me on the train to her place in Copenhagen and I was able to get a great nights sleep due to being utterly exhausted.  No jetlag to worry about when you are over 24 hours from your last sleep.

I got up at 8 the next morning and took the city train back to Central station.  Due to her great instructions, I was able to find my way to the train to Vojens.  I had purchased the ticket the night before so I just had to get on.  I was standing on the side waiting for the train and I see all these people start to move down the tracks.  I have no idea what is going on.  A train employee graciously came over to me and let me know that the cars at that end of the track were closed and that I had to go down further to get on when it got there.  She could tell that I was clueless!

A town on the way to Vojens.

I got all safely on the train and found my seat.  so now it was just making sure that I got off at the right station in order to change to the regional bus.  I was a little worried, needless to say.  Every time there was an announcement, of course it was in Danish and let me tell you, the sound of the town names and the way the word looks have very little in common.  The way that I got it sorted out was by knowing that my stop would happen at 12:12.  So I got up and got myself and my bags to the door 5 minutes before that time.  It worked like a charm.  I then followed the other people out of the station and saw the bus stop.  A lovely gentleman even helped me with one of my bags on the stairs.  People are truly helpful here.

Then a lady who was waiting with me at the stop helped make sure that I got on the right bus and that the driver knew where I wanted off.  Another young lady was sitting across from me on the bus and she started talking to me in Danish.  I had no idea what she was saying even though she was trying really hard with sign language and everything to make herself understood.  Her friend would translate for me when I would look at her with total confusion.  She was coming to Haderslev to meet a popular singer and sing with him.  Her hands were shaking so badly.  She was so excited.  The man's picture was sewn to her jacket and she showed me a mouse pad with his picture on it.  She also was bringing him a gift of her picture all nicely wrapped up.  I felt terrible that i couldn't really understand all of what she was telling me.

After getting off of the bus in Haderslev, I found the university and got the key to my place.  Then I had to walk a ways to find the bus station where I could get a taxi to my apartment.  I could in no way drag all my bags for a mile a half.  I went to far and asked a couple walking where the buses and taxis were and found that I had walked right past it.  So I turned around.  At the bus station, the lady at the counter helped me to contact the taxi as I was afraid to try to call myself.  What if I got connected to someone who didn't understand English?

The taxi came and drove me out to my place.  So here I was looking at the place that I would call home for the next six months.  I will have to find another place at that point for the next 3 1/2 years of school. Across the street from my place is country, fields and horses.  I am NOT in Los Angeles any more!

First view of my home.

I threw my bags down and then went immediately to put my name on the mailbox and my door.  They won't deliver the mail if your name isn't on it.  Period.  Next, I looked around the space a little.  It is mostly empty at this moment but there are a few other people here.  I found the laundry room and the trash bins.  That is important.  If there is a site manager, I don't know where they are yet so it is trial and error to figure things out.  When I opened the mail box, which is huge by the way, I found it stuffed with 2 months of circulars and newspapers but that was a good thing.  Those circulars and my computer helped me to figure out where there was a grocery store.  None are very near.  The closest one is almost a mile and a half away.  It is also thanks to the circulars that I know what to look for to find cell phone providers.

I then prepped myself to go on my first outing to the grocery store.  I grabbed a couple of recyclable bags that I brought with me from L.A. and the map that I had printed out before leaving L.A. and started on the road.  But wait.  I can't figure out how to lock my door.  No matter how hard I try, the lock will not work.  Now what?  I see that one of my neighbors has their door open, so I walk over there to ask.  Fortunately they speak some English and I find out that I have to push the handle up in order to turn the lock.  Ok, another mystery solved.  I am off.

Going down the driveway.

The Grocery Store Aldi.

I follow my map to the store.  It is called Aldi and if I didn't know what I was looking for, I would have never guessed from the outside that it was a grocery store.  Inside, it seems to be one of those places that stocks stuff that is off market.  It took me forever to find stuff because almost nothing was familiar. But surprise of surprises, I found a couple of items from Trader Joe's of all places.  I bought something that looks like mayonnaise but had the label "hamburger sauce."  Unfortunately, the 2 bags that I brought were not quite big enough so I ended up carrying the toilet paper, laundry soap and yoghurt separately.  I had a mile and a half to get back too.  Yikes!  You have to do what you have to do.

Trader Joe's in Denmark.

The cashier started to talk to me about something and I was again totally clueless.  She finally realized that I was looking at her with desperation.  She switched into English and with the help of another customer told me to keep my receipt for the guarantee because I had purchased an alarm clock.  Ah.

As I am walking up the road, I start to hear thunder.  Uh oh.  Am I about to get soaked to the skin on my walk with my groceries etc.?  Drops start to fall.  I put my camera into my purse, zip it up, and carry on thinking to myself that the worst case is I get soaked and when I get home I change.  Then the rain stopped.  Whew!

As I am walking up the road shuffling my load from hand to hand trying to get comfortable, I realize something.  That toilet paper I bought, it is paper towels.  Aaargh.  Good thing there was one roll in the apartment.

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