Thursday, June 20, 2013

A wordy excerpt from a stream of consciousness journal

I have recently re-joined the world of more or less carefree internet usage. As such, I decided now would be a good time to make a blog entry. While I don't have anything in particular to say, I do have a very lengthy word document that I've been adding to throughout my travel documenting some of my experiences and thoughts during the day. I thought I'd give you a lightly massaged version of what I originally wrote for Day One.

Day One: Starting in Copenhagen and the process in which I arrived.
A seemingly elderly person was ill on the plane on the way to Amsterdam, where I was to transfer to the plane heading to Copenhagen. Fortunately, both she and the flight’s schedule seemed to remain intact.

Then while landing in Copenhagen, I took some pictures from the seat window because I was amazed as to how much green there was. There were many more shades than I could count. Then I began the arduous journey of getting from the airport to the cruise terminal, called FreePort. First, you must get to Terminal 3 to get to the train/metro that goes into the town. Little did we know, we were already in Terminal 3. In order to then get on the train/metro, we had to figure out how on earth to buy the tickets because we had neither Danish kroner nor did I think the magnetic strip on the back of the Charles Schwab card that we had would work on the machine. I based this assumption on the many machines in France that did not accept magnetic strip credit and debit cards. However, I was fortunately wrong and the magnetic strip did work, once we remembered the pin, and then successfully brought a 3 zone card for everyone. It was odd because we were going to Zone 1 (I think) from Zone 4, but we skip Zone 2 or something like that so only 3 zones total.

Once on the metro, there was debate whether or not to take the train from the central metro and train station, or to get off before the central metro and take a bus. This would have been inconveniencing many people if the bus was crowded with our 3 checked-size suitcases, though we would get an above ground tour of the city. 

The bigger deal was once we had gotten aboard, we were ushered to the lunch area which was a room that could be aptly described as smelling like crap. I suspect it occurred the same way that it did in Austin Powers, the Spy who Shagged Me, when Fat Bastard says “You know when you’re in an apartment building and you smell all that everyone else is cooking where  it all blends together; it smells like crap.” This is paraphrasing of course, but it gets the sense that the buffet area smelled like crap. I don’t know if I can stress this enough, but the buffet area smelled like crap. I lost my appetite immediately. I couldn’t stop thinking about the cruise ships where stomach viruses terrorized the entire fleet, resulting in some of the worst living conditions known to “First World” citizens and some times worse than “Third World” citizens. Appropriately, there were signs saying that everything would be served by a gloved employee for the first two days instead of it normally being self-serve in order to minimize the chance of stomach virus spreading. Everyone had to be given a squirt of hand sanitizer upon entering the food area. Perhaps as a result of my psychological freakout and association with the food, the food therefore tasted terrible.

Another reason why I thought about the cruise ship that was stranded and then ran out of water and the passengers started crapping everywhere was because a number of rooms that I passed through during the ship tour smelled like human feces. The rooms smelled like rooms that had been defiled either with no recourse (as in a bathroom wouldn’t have helped) or because some people can’t control their bowels after a certain age. I’m leaning towards the latter because pretty much everyone here is very old. There are actually some children here too, but the presence of a sign warning people with pace makers to not go through the metal detectors at check in was disheartening (hehe).

I quickly left our brunch to put our remaining items that we carried on in our room, getting an opportunity to check it out first. I was immediately greeted with an overwhelming number of floors, as well as stairwell floors that all looked about the same. I was reminded of several scenes from Titanic, where Rose and Jack are running around, up and down the stairs and along corridors of rooms that all looked the same. This was especially true when I looked at the long corridor of rooms that contained our own stateroom. I have a picture on my phone of it that I took later. (I would upload it now that I'm actually posting this blog, but the internet is pretty slow here so the upload would take forever)

When in the room, I was pleasantly surprised by its size, I guess because it had to house at least three guests. The difference is that while some quads have two beds that descend from the ceiling in a bunk bed style, this one had a pull out mattress for the third person. When I later phoned to have the minibar emptied because I didn’t want us to be charged or for my dad to mistakenly drink one of the bottles of water or liquor thinking it was free, I was greeted by…one of two people that supervised our room. He was a man named *Name Redacted (1)* from Indonesia. I took this as an opportunity to ask some probing questions about his life working on the ship, namely this exchange was of note:
Me: How long have you been on the ship?
Him: Oh, about 8 years….but my partner has been here longer, maybe 20 years.
Me: So do you like your job?
Him: *pauses/hesitates* Well, the salary is good. It’s mainly that I’m away from family all the time.
I wondered how much he was actually paid, what the behind the scenes living conditions were like, and whether he was forced to do this job or not (as in, had no other choice due to income concerns or something). Maybe I wondered what he actually dreamed of doing with his life and how he got involved with the business to begin with.

Fortunately, there was an upturn around dinner time when we went to an actual dining hall. There was all that one wanted, ranging from coconut covered scallops, to some of the prettiest landscapes I’ve ever seen while at the dinner table. The dinner rolls and other bread types in the bread basket at the table had that nice crackly crust that you don't get with stale or low quality bread.

I went to an LGBT event which was interesting. Met what I assumed to be an old couple. There were several other groups there but I think we were all too shy to interact with each other except for this one older guy and his husband/partner who kind of lingered on the side of the conversation.

I attempted to see the first evening show which covered the basic entertainment acts during the week, but I left quickly after first seeing the few minutes. The acting and style was loud both literally and figuratively. I felt very uncomfortable and actually rather bemused how I felt it confirmed my belief that this boat caters to an aging population.

After seeing the lovely view from one of the front facing decks, I’m looking forward to seeing the twilight stars later tonight. The sunset was already quite nice. Later, I met some new people. These were other passengers (and some shipboard workers) who came to a 18-21 and 21-25 event in search of other people neither double or triple their age. It started with *Name Redacted (2)*, a fellow 21 year old who had also just finished his last college/university years but studied marketing. He was interested in advertising, traveling the world, was adverse of the painted whores in Whales, where he had completed his final year. Conversation was…one sided with him telling me all about his academic and social life at Whales. He was glad that his roommate from China (once again I find myself unable to use the term Chinese because that could also mean someone of Chinese descent but is otherwise a citizen of another country) found that all “white people look the same”.

Much later, we had gone into the actual “Northern Lights” (the club where the event was actually held) instead of staying in the Casino in front of the titular sign where I had actually thought Northern Lights was. There, there were actually many more people closer to our age; I had thought that only me and *Name Redacted (2)*had showed up. A fellow that I saw earlier in a Holland hoodie turned out to be *Name Redacted (3)* from Montana. He had passed through Holland, or more specifically the Amsterdam airport on his way to Copenhagen, and later said he was “creeped out by Holland because of all the gays”. Apparently someone in the men’s bathroom at the airport asked how he was and therefore the entire country creeped him out. I simply said “Ok” to most of the statements; I was not in the mood to inquire further about this character, although I later found out anyway that he likes to stay out of cities, that this was his first time leaving Montana (because he was brought along by his grandmother), that he liked reading about the 12th and 14th century (or hundreds?) because of gunpowder and how it was seen as black magic, and that he generally liked history and castles. Also something about fuel injection turbines on the plane on his way here (as he seemed pretty psyched about it in his intonation when he asked if I had noticed). 

Also apparently most people who work on the ship don’t stay around for too long, usually transferring after six months. This is according to *Name Redacted (4)*, who was some kind of show host of the ship and after talking with….a girl who organizes the youth club (<17 passengers).

There were several others that I became slightly more acquainted with: Alex from LA but currently working on advertising (ie the cookies that follow you around and give you targeted ads, currently for Sprint phones or something) in Chicago; Alexis (?) a rising sophomore studying musical art and theater (I think) at some place 2.5 hours drive/flighing from her home town of Pheonix, Arizona; Brie (her nickname after her real name being something like Brilexis or something) who was from Egypt but now in Florida; Alexis (?), a smoker. As a side note, these were all very attractive people. Later a fellow from Ukraine, but now in…something like Portland also joined us. There were jokes about alcohol, underage alcohol, the older generation(s) on the ship, weed, apparently getting terribly wasted, and other wriffraff that kept *Name Redacted (2) pretty silent. Later after (2) and (3) left, I was left in the uncomfortable position with the girls, Alex, and the ukranian whose name escapes me still because the other two guys seemed to be making conversation with intent if you know what I mean. I did not want to be caught in between that, or just sitting idly on the side.

I left shortly after (2) and (3) left and went to sleep.

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