|David, ??? , and Leif when we first Met in 1990|
David was exhausted when boarding the Northwest Airlines flight to Frankfurt, Germany via
Detroit at 9am Phoenix time. The night before he had stayed up a little late playing Texas
Holdem on his laptop, sipping a couple Vodkas while having a joint before retiring at eleven .
It was always the same before an international flight. A restless sleep with dreams about
missing the flight or forgetting the ticket when “bingo” it’s 5:30am , time to shower, eat,
disconnect all computers, TVs, etc and WAKE UP. That is not as easy for David, now 63 and
at 4:11 pm with his connecting flight boarding at 4:25pm at Terminal A at the other end of the
airport. It was a rush but the express train between terminals got him there in time to go the
bathroom before boarding the overnight flight into Germany. He remembered a man from
Ohio, that occupied the aisle seat next to him, saying he flew into Poland via Frankfurt once a
month on business, a forgotten movie he watched, and finishing his book in between naps.
David was groggy debarking the plane at 7am to a cold 47% morning. His bag arrived after a
considerable wait and he headed for Terminal 1 Section B to find his shuttle to the Hotel. The
information clerk was all smiles while dismissing his questions and pointing to the door. Did
she not understand English , hate Americans, completely inept, or just rude? He will never
know but after going back and forth twice to her, it became apparent that she did not have the
information he desired. Time to find someone that did…a bus driver. Not this bus …go up
there…not this bus…go up there…eventually he noticed a sign: “Hotel Shuttle” pointing….up
there. When he reached “up there” the shuttle was leaving as he frantically ran into the road
with his broken backpack and suitcase flailing his arms and yelling. The bus stopped. Yes you
have the right bus!
actually going to drive into the lobby…of the Post House in a suburb called Singlingen. While
driving along at breakneck speed, David heard a noise, not unlike a Truck backing up…BEEP
BEEP BEEP He thought it was some kind of governor on the car that went off when the bus
got over 100 mph but later, he discovered , while checking in, it was his SCREAM Alarm clock
in the suitcase, that was going off every 10 minutes.
David awoke after a four hour nap, very hungry so after checking his email, he ventured out to
German, David was confused as this language didn’t sound like the German he knew. He
ordered one scoop. He discovered in the headlines of the local paper…
I made a reservation to collect the money on the return home.
realized his connection flight to Aalborg was boarding 10 minutes after his landing. When he
checked the departure board to find the gate his connection was leaving from it read “no
information available”. He discovered that all domestic in country flights depart from
Terminal A on the other end of the airport.
That was a mile or more so he walked a fast pace
until his leg started cramping up. By this time he had made it to the center and decided to
check the departure board again it read Gate 32 but still no departure time. It was ten
minutes past the departure time on his boarding pass! He took up his stride again finally
arriving at Gate 32, the last gate in the terminal. It appears the plane is late in arriving as the
Gate area was overflowing with anxious passengers. Thirty minutes later the plane boarded
and after a short one hour flight landed in Aalborg. Nobody was there to greet him. He
walked to the main terminal wondering how he could contact Leif and wondering what
happened to him. He didn’t have his address or phone, only his email on a computer with a
dead battery and missing an adapter plug to connect to the Danish system. He went to the
information desk to see if the attendant would look up Leif’s number in the directory and call
for him when Leif showed up with his children Josephine and Lukus. He and David both had
put on some weight and aged a bit.
The short drive from the airport brought him to a modest
home on a dead end street in the village of Aalborg where Leif grew up in the same home that
his father grew up in. The house was sold after his Mother passed away a few years earlier
and this home was a rental. In Denmark, renters can’t be evicted as long as they pay the rent,
unless the owner wishes to live in the house themselves. This provides security for the renter
to improve and plan his life.
been a Colonel in the North Vietnamese army when David was serving the US Army in
support of the South Vietnamese during the war. Her Mother had visited last year on a 3
month Visa and they visit her in Vietnam when possible. Leif is still on Maternal leave from
work. When a couple have a child they both get 32 weeks paid maternal leave to care for the
child. She was attending College to get her Master’s Degree in Forestry after transferring her
credits from University of Hanoi when she immigrated to Denmark. Her English was very
good as her Danish.
The first evening went well and the next morning she left for school
while Leif and David took care of the children, went shopping and visited three stores looking
for an American adapter plug for the computer. Eventually David discovered he could “jerry
rig” a Danish plug to fit his computer enabling him to recharge the batteries. That evening
Puk arrived to prepare dinner shortly after Leif and David had returned from shopping and
were relaxing with a beer. She was upset the the baby’s diapers hadn’t been changed and
requested Leif to light the grill to start dinner. A beer or two later, the grill was not lit and she
stormed off upset leaving Leif to finish cooking the dinner.
David and Leif ate alone that night, watched an old Walter Matthau movie and
retired rather late. During the movie, they had been discussing their past friends and times
together when Leif mentioned he had an affair with Jeannette when visiting David in
Amsterdam. David knew a lot of men that boasted on conquests but not many over 50. Maybe
it also made him feel good to have married such a young woman…was she another conquest?
children. She asked David to accompany her to Aalborg for an African/Danish festival to
raise money to help Africa. To his surprise she gave him the key to the bicycle. This would be
an adventure and when Leif was through with his breakfast, he would drive down and meet
us. It was a very pleasant bike ride into the city where they locked up there bikes and
strolling into the center.
David finally got some Danish Krones from the ATM as his Euros
were no good in Denmark. It was a pleasant day and David and Puk had a nice time together
visiting the booths and tasting the food, but Leif never showed and the children were getting
tired and fussing a bit so we rode the bikes home to find Leif hanging up the laundry. He
was hosting a small pot luck party that night and wanted to get the grill cleaned up , the house
in order so to speak. His friend Jon stopped by to assist him assembling a bunk bed he
bought for his children. There was a lot of preparation for Leif’s Saturday evening Poker
Tournament and Pot Luck dinner. His friend from Skagen arrived early to help him assemble
a bunk bed for his children. It appears Leif is not much of a handyman and avoids work as
much as possible. Puk helped and after assembly they realized the bunk was too big for the room
Furniture was rearranged and they managed to fit it in.
David busied himself preparing
vegetable kebabs for the grill that evening. Lots of peppers, onions, mushrooms,and zucchini all
cut into one inch squares as best as possible. He put all into a pot with lemon juice ,oil and
offered her assistance . Together they added some cherry tomatoes and managed to make
about 15-18 of them. When David asked Leif how many people would be at the party, while
they were shopping, he replied 6…there were more like 18. As the rest of the guest arrived,
Leif broke out the beer and Soren,the Skagen man, started the grill while others prepared the
chips for the game.
putting everyone on guard. Muller, an online Poker player who has supported himself for the
last two years, asked David if he was a shark. Sometimes it is unlucky to be lucky so early.
David found himself requiring a re-buy half way through the game and then was knocked out
at about sixth place. Soon the game was over and the table cleared for all the food. Grilled
sausages, hamburgers, ribs, chicken , corn on the cob and of course vegetable skewers all
accompanied by salads and bread with lots of 6.8% beer!
Coffee had been served with whiskey and the families retired but the singles stayed to drink
more. Soren, who did all the grill cooking was spending the night and taking advantage of it
by drinking large glasses of Rum. He was the last to be carried to bed.
beer in the morning so asked David to drive. No rest. It turned out to be a good experience
for David as well as his visit to Skagen.
|FOOD PROCESSING PLANT ON WATER|
They stopped in Frederikshavn shipyard where Soren
worked and he took David on a tour. They even boarded a Shrimp boat docked from St John’s
Newfoundland and went from the engine room through each floor to the Bridge where David
introduced himself to the Captain that inquired as to just who the hell were we and why were
we on his boat. Skagen quickly took over and explained he worked in yard and we all quickly
became friends. The captain showed David some photos of his trip to Skagen so he could see
what was coming up. They left the ship and finished the drive to Skagen arriving at his home
that afternoon. After a nap and getting settled, they went to his sisters home for another BBQ
with about 10 of the family.The BBQ was Sausage, Steak,Pork with Bread and Salads. A young
boy had some yogurt when he first arrived and kept looking at me inquisitively. Later I saw him
get on a trampoline in the yard and he was quite good at it.During dinner he came over near me
and I commented that his skill on the trampoline was very good. He stared at me for a minute
and just said…”I love you” and ran off.
tradition in Skagen as in other special areas of the world and it was well worth the bike ride.
The problem was David’s bike had little air in the tires and every time he tried to coast, the
bike would almost stop. He was tired when arriving and it was cold.
to return to Aalborg on the train. David insisted the bike needed air , he got air, he sailed
around Skagen with little to no effort. They rode for hours to the beach and the Northernmost
point of Denmark, then returned to town for some Fish and Chips…meager two small pieces
with chips in a cup for $15. Prices were noted to be double that of the US for food. The visit to
Skagen proved to be a good experience.
Taking the train back, David had to transfer in
Frederikshavn and was told the conductor will collect the fare but when he offered, the
conductor said it was a holiday and if you didn’t have a ticket, you didn’t have to pay. David
arrived at the Aalborg train station to an almost empty Aalborg. They were all with family or
at the beach? He found a Cafe in the center and ordered Lasagna and Red wine. Soren had
called Leif and requested he pick David up at the train station at 8:30. David wandered around
and after a beer in an outdoor Cafe he checked his bag out of the locker at the train station and
waited for Leif. Leif arrived with some speakers in the trunk to deliver to a man he sold them
to over the internet. Expecting an early evening , David was tired and looking forward to bed.
Never expect anything when Leif is involved…he never ate with his family that evening , which
is why David scheduled a late pick up. David wanted to give Leif some time with his family.
Leif was ready to eat and drink. They stopped at Muller’s home, his friend and Leif picked up
a sandwich to wash down with his beer at Muller’s. After two beers, we decided to visit the
neighborhood bars. There we each bought a round, then a customer bought a round after
introducing himself to David….the “foreigner” .
Leif took David home for a Whiskey and by
the time he bedded down it was almost 2 am and David was tired. The next day was laundry
and packing. It was a do nothing day. David spent the afternoon reading up on poker.
Another BBQ that evening and early to bed for the trip to Copenhagen.
car and headed in to pick up our boarding passes. When we arrived at the security gate check
point, the agent told Leif he couldn’t bring the two beers he packed for us while we were
waiting. He asked if I wanted to return to the lobby with him and drink a beer but I refused
and went on in through security and boarded the plane. He arrived shortly and after a brief
flight where we were served free juice, coffee, etc, we were off the plane and buying our train
ticket to the center of town.
The hotel I booked was nearby and Leif joined me . He had to
wait until 11pm for his friend to meet him before he could bed down. I unpacked and we left
to get a bite to eat at a Thai restaurant. He asked if I wanted to take a walk and work off the
meal. We walked and walked the shopping street of Copenhagen until reaching the harbor.
While on the way, we encountered a block party. Quite a bit of one long street was blocked of
f with a Caravan selling beer and the other end with a stage and a DJ playing Rap music. All
along the way were people on bikes selling beer or just sitting around on the ground drinking
it. Lots of people standing up and mingling. It was difficult to get through but everyone
seemed friendly. I might add that anywhere in Denmark and at any time of day , it is no
uncommon to see a Dane walking down the street drinking a can of beer. Leif knew a little
place where we could have a beer so we stopped into this cozy Jazz bar.
I kept wondering if he
was going to walk me back because I was tiring of all the beer and my cold had gotten worse.
I needed to get something other than cough drops. He gave me directions to a 7/11 as most
shops were closed by now. I found some pain and fever pills as well as more cough drops but
no decongestants. I returned and had a brandy and coffee while Leif continued to browse the
newspaper. Then he announced that his friend didn’t live far from there so he would just stay
there until his friend arrived. I left and walked home in the cold with a cold feeling miserable.
On the way, I noticed the block party was louder and more bosteious. Police had cordoned off
the whole neighborhood with Police vans surrounding the area. In each van there were 6-8
policemen and women. I counted 8 Vans and a paddy wagon to haul off anyone if necessary.
I think the night ended well without any problems but Leif later told me that that was because
of the police presence. I arrived around 11:30 and decided to relax and watch some TV.
About 12:30 I tried to sleep but I couldn’t breath with the congestion so put on my clothes and
went to the lobby to inquire about where I might get some medicine. There was an all night
drug store open not far from there. I ventured out in the night only to be greeted by an army
of prostitutes and drug dealers out prowling for customers. I was approached a few times
going to and from the store but never felt threatened. They were all black people. The store
appeared closed when I arrived and I was getting frustrated when I realized they had a bell to
ring. I did and the pharmacist recommended a decongestant that I quickly purchased and
returned to the hotel. I slept well and booked an internet connection from my room for $20
for 24 hours so I could convalesce in my room while catching up on my emails. Leif emailed
me that he and his friend stayed out until 3 am catching up on old times and that he was going
to the library so he could complete his work on the computer there and would email me. I had
slept late but by 1 pm I was caught up and wanted to venture out. I emailed Lief and
suggested he use my computer so he left the library and was at my door within the hour. I left
for Tivoli gardens. I wanted to take a harbor cruise but it was cold and cloudy. When I was
walking down the street, a girl on a bicycle approached me and said something in Danish to
which I explained that I only spoke English. She replied “Do you have any money to spare”.
I said no and she
went on her way when a Danish man came up behind me laughing and casually said she does
that all day long. While purchasing my admittance to the Gardens I discovered my Debit card
d been rejected by the machine. The park was all open unlike the last time I visited over 10
years ago in the early Spring. It was much nicer than then and very beautiful. While taking
some photos, a young girl about 12 approached me and spoke in Danish to which again I
replied I spoke only English. She then said in perfect English, I need 5 more Krones to buy a
hot dog, could you help me. I gave it to her. After touring the park, I returned and told Leif I
had to get on the computer to call the US and find out why I cant access my account. He said
he would be through within the hour and I would have plenty of time since it was still early
afternoon in NY. I took a nap and when I awoke he was still typing away. Finally he finished
and I called ETrade and answered questions for almost an hour before they finally told me
that someone in Texas tried to access my account while I was in Denmark and so it is closed
until they resolve the matter. An investigator would call me to ask more questions before
they could open it back up. We went out to eat as it was still early in NY and no calls had
been sent yet. Jensen’s Steakhouse was close by and recommended so we ate there.
suggested another walk to work off the meal and perhaps some coffee and Brandy to complete
the meal. I reminded him that I had to return within the hour to check my messages for the
call from the investigator and to return the call before he left the office. I kept suggesting
places along the walk but he said they didn’t have the good Espresso coffee to go with the
Brandy and the next think I knew we were five minutes from where his friend lived and I was
a mile or two from my hotel. Leif had taken me to the same bar that he and his friend
frequented the evening before.
I had an Irish Coffee then left after he suggested we take in a
movie? Arriving at my room I checked my messages and jotted down the new number to call
that the investigator had left. His answering machine informed me he was busy or out and
office hours were 8-4:30 . It was 4:15 and I bitched on the answering machine that I would
call again shortly. I did with the same results except now it was almost 4:30 when I noticed
another call from him on my email. He was probably busy calling me while I was calling him.
He had given me an alternative number that he could be reached at so I called and got a lady
that had no idea what I was talking about. I rechecked the message and the phone number to
make sure it was correct . It was. I called him at the old number and left another message
reporting a bogus phone number he gave me. Then I went to my account to see what I would
discover. I could access my Bank Account but all my brokerage accounts were shut down so I
wrote ETrade until I ran out of space and wrote them again on another email how pissed I
was. I leave for Norway the next day with $15 in my pocket and no internet access available
to contact anyone until I arrive. David made breakfast the next morning. A buffet to include,
one flavored yogurt and one plain yogurt with nuts, fiber, raisons to mix in. Juice, water ,
coffee, and low fat milk to drink. Cereals with canned pineapple, peaches and fruit cocktail.
Liver pate, assorted cold cuts, cheeses, herring, marinated onions, rolls, breads, pastries and
boiled eggs. When I say assorted cheeses, they are high quality with a cheese cutter as are
the cold cuts and well everything. I checked out, checked my email, and left to catch a train
to the airport.
no signs. The train to the airport is due soon so I choose the track that everyone with suitcases
is standing on. The other tracks train is already loaded and in a minute departs. I get on the
train when it arrives and am surprised to see such roomy seating. After a few minutes, a
woman approaches to show me her ticket and informs me that I am sitting in her seat. I
looked to see if I had an assigned seat but no…I’m on the train to Gothenburg Sweden. I
disembark and find a man wearing an information jacket. He tells me that I missed the
train but another is arriving soon on Track 5 not Track 4 that I was on. It did and a got my
boarding pass and have time to enjoy a latte but have to budget my money for the return to
Copenhagen and my flight back to Frankfurt in another 12 days.
airline I was flying on. When I was at Leif’s home, I booked the ticket but couldn’t print it so
had to email it to Leif so he could print it. Leif likes to save his ink so only highlighted the
part he thought was important and only print that. I had the time and the flight number with
the destination and that was it. Fortunately I wrote down the confirmation code and airlines
on a separate piece of paper. It is Leif’s desire to control the situation to his benefit that
frustrates me. Walking me a mile or more to some “special” bar, only because it is close to
where he is going and he didn’t want to walk alone. He is lazy and will do anything to not do
anything. He makes time to drink and read his paper with his coffee in the morning…
sometimes forgetting to change the baby’s diapers, or get them lunch. Puk confided in me
that she doesn’t mind occasional incidents but it is constant and she has wanted a divorce for
over a year. He just ignores her complaints and goes on. If she straightens up the house ,
which is everyday with the children pulling everything out for play, and happens to put away
some paper he might have sitting on the table, he gets irritated and remands her. He uses
people and pesters me to contact CouchSurfing or SERVAS for a place to stay. I do but he
wants to stay with only good looking women that might be in need of a good man. I try to go
with the flow but sometimes I get irritated with him myself. When I was his guest I tried to
assist and pick up after myself when he would leave all the empty bottles from the poker
game along with full ashtrays and dirty dishes and trash for Puk the next day. I never saw
him put the dishes in the washer but he did like the table set proper with a feast for a king…
him. He has a compassionate side but a lot of it is talk. David flew his first Fokker airplane
and it was cramped and crowded. Riga’s airport was also very modern and clean. David had
a short time to pass before boarding the connecting flight to Helsinki so he decided to have
coffee and cake. The Euro and the Lot are accepted money. He found some Euro and paid
the 9 Euro or about $13.
used his credit card to get 140 Euros so he would have some money for transport. The airport
bus was around 5 Euro and took him to the train/bus station where he boarded a city bus
after a 10 minute wait in which he almost froze to death. The bus let him off at the designated
corner but no hostel was to be found. Directions on Hostel World are poor. Some passersby
gave him some direction and confirmed he was in the right location. He walked around until
he finally saw a small sign indicating the hostel on the 2nd floor. It was dark with dim
lighting , little heat, no room TV and the toilet out in the hall with the shower in another hall.
There were a lot of families and adults but the kitchen closed at 10pm and he had only a
couple minutes to check in and get some food. The chef said he had some pasta dish with
vegetables and meat that was hot . David took it. It turned out to be pasta mushy and
tasteless but filled him up. He still didn’t have an adapter for his computer but still had a
charge from the borrowed one in last nights hotel. He now regret not buying one in the
airport for 20 Euros. He checked his email and got the right number to call to straighten out
his account but was told he had to give them the number. He already explained he didn’t
carry around his account numbers while on vacation so called the guy back and again got a
message machine though it was only 4pm in NY. He called the number given and explained
he didn’t have his account number and she said it wasn’t necessary. What a waste of time.
Time for a new online broker. The lady asked him the same questions all over again that she
wasted an hour asking him yesterday. She was definitely in India. She tried to put him on
hold to talk to the case manager and he requested she just put the case manager on for him.
She explained she had to contact him on another phone and wasn’t able to do that. Ten
minutes and more questions later David was getting impatient and argumentative so she said
I will give you the case manager to talk to?! Go figure…it was the same guy I had placed over
5 calls to and got his answering machine. He quickly asked a few questions then told me he
would have me back on line in 10 minutes. All that aggravation for two days and wasted time
Sunday evening then off to Tallinn on the boat Monday.Breakfast was better than dinner.
Another Buffett and David sat with a Russian that was busy planning his day from a booklet
he purchased at the Tourist Center yesterday. David still had to find an adapter for his
computer to charge it up. When he checked his other Visa account he discovered three
charges from some Health Care Company from Abilene Texas. That rang a bell. So that
morning he called Visa to refute the charges after he Googled the company to discover a lot
of complaints against the same company with the identical charges on other peoples account.
Could this be the company from Texas that was trying to attack his Debit Visa account with
ETrade that caused all the problems to begin with. How did they get both Visa account
numbers? David called in a protest to Visa and they agreed not to shut him down as long as
he continued to monitor his account while on vacation and report any suspicious behavior.
They agreed to credit back the charges and David called the number they reported to Visa but
it was BOGUS. He then called the other Visa investigator he had been dealing with and
informed him of the company and what had happened but requested him to keep his account
open.`He then left to find his adapter for the computer. After walking a short distance to a
nearby plaza , he was informed to try another store in the upper story. Then he was told to go
downtown to another Department store where he was again told to try Samsonite luggage on
the top floor as they also handled a lot of travel gizmos and sure enough he finally found
what he wanted. Discovering that Helsinki was a half a million in a very concentrated area
made it easy to walk anywhere, he continued to Senate Plaza where he encountered a festival
with folk singing, booths with handy crafts and food from Finland…some of it free…BBQ
chicken wings anyway. David saw a tent with four Chefs and a line with a sign @#$%^ for 5
Euros and everyone around eating a sandwich. 5 Euros was good for a meal so he got in line
and ordered what turned out to be a Spam sandwich with relish, onions, mustard and catsup!
He filmed some shows, took some pics, and remembered the Cafe Engel was across the
street. He took a table and ordered a Loganberry Pie and Cafe au Lait while deciding his next
move. He ventured off to the Tourist Info booth and booked a audio bus tour of the city for
the next day. Then walking down the Esplanade Park back home he took a few more photos.
Helsinki is loaded with little parks everywhere and lots of alcoholics to populate them but
never did he see any problems. Drinks in Bars are very expensive to discourage drinking…a
National problem. I think Denmark may have the same problem. When people have
everything they want or have nothing they get bored and turn to the drink. The secret is keep
them in between. He returned to the hostel and decided to try He must have because David
later went to the Grand Casino Helsinki and took out a few hundred dollars to enter a Texas
Hold’em competition. After putting his name on the list, they gave him a beeper to respond to
when an opening came up . David discovered the entrance was anywhere from 200 to 500
Euros and after watching the action taking place…folded and entered the downstairs
BlackJack tables for 10 Euro minimum bet and won 50 Euros in twenty minutes. He folded
again and took his winnings to a bar called Mendocino which was 50s and 60s rock and roll.
He wanted a meal . She recommended the Mount Everest. It was a Nepalese Restaurant that
he had passed nearby the Hostel. It looked bad from the outside though his curiosity was
peaked and there were a lot of people eating there. He decided to give it a try. The Tandoori
Chicken with Coconut Milk, Rice, Mint sauce, Yogurt and Salad with two glasses of wine …hit
the spot. He returned to the hotel to catch up on sleep , set a wake up call and get ready for
an Audio Bus tour at 11am then a tour of the Finnish Museum after. Leif was coming in after
7pm on Sunday and met someone that arranged for him to stay at her home as she still had to
stay another day. We are still waiting for Hedi from Tallinn to let us know when and where
she will pick us up before we can book our ferry ride on Monday afternoon. More weird
dreams. I got drafted to go to Iraq. I talked to Heather over depression and felt a great love
and hurt for her. The alarm went off and did my morning ritual then went down for
breakfast. Everyone had rose early today and was gone. Staying at a hostel is interesting. So
many travelers both young and old. The young are so confident, adventurous, open, naive,
and thin! We used to be like that and now we are the wise ones? Off for my tour. I’m finally
starting to get over my cold that I’ve been battling since Skagen in Denmark. My back teeth
are starting to heal and I can chew much better now. I walked to the tour and had a latte at a
really nice restaurant nearby before boarding the state of the art tour bus. The tour lasted
about 2 hours with 2 brief stops. I walked over to the harbor and filmed a bit then headed for
the Train station to take a few more photos and visit the National Museum. Ate a little
strawberry pie after and heading back to the hostel. Trying to book the tickets for the ferry
the next day proved fruitless. I had to use my credit card and give them the names, birth
dates, citizenship, and phone numbers of both people. If you come to the USA they
fingerprint and photo you so I guess that wasn’t so bad…but I had to call Leif to find out when
he was born. He is on the plane returning from Aland so couldn’t get through. He won’t get
my message until around 8pm and I’m ready for bed now. .5pm.
I went out and had a beer at
the Mendicino bar (best Music Bar in Helsinki) then stopped for a Pizza to go on the way
back. Now it’s 8pm and I am just getting ready to retire when the phone rings and it’s
Leif in the lobby. He said the Husband of the women he met at the conference couldn’t put
him up but another had a SERVAS friend that would. She wasn’t available for another hour
so we put away his bag and went back to my Pizza joint to get him a Pizza. Then to the
Mendicino Bar for another beer while we waited until 9 to call her. Leif’s cell doesn’t work
outside of Denmark so he borrowed some Swedes phone and offered to pay. After the call
thee Swede said…so you are not going to pay. Leif said how much and the Swede said
whatever you think. Leif got out his loose change and gave it to the Swede. He started
laughing…that’s it! He took it to his friends to show them and they were all laughing. Leif got
out some more change and gave it to him thoroughly embarrassed. The woman wasn’t home
yet. We went back to the Hostel and the clerk let Leif use her phone and the woman said she
couldn’t pick him up and that he would have to take a bus. The clerk gave him directions and
told him it was a 15 minute walk. We tried to get our tickets but now BOTH my credit cards
were rejected! We used Leif’s with no problem but it only gave us a reservation on the boat
not the tickets. We would have to be there early tomorrow to pick them up. He left and we
agreed to meet at the terminal at 1pm. Finally I get to go to bed. It is approaching Midnight
when I finally retire…still light outside! I slept well and at breakfast noticed that most
travelers are now carrying my little notebook laptop. Amazing how things catch on so fast.
Technology. When I’m on my deathbed, will I say: “I wish I spent more time with my
computer!” When David returned to his room, the maids, working as a pack, had finished off
the surrounding rooms and were circling in for the kill on mine. It was almost an hour before
checkout and I wanted one more nap but packed and checked out at 11:30am and half hour
early. I walked to the terminal only to find it was 11:45 and the ticket booth didn’t open until
12:30 and the boat didn’t leave until 2:30pm. Now I had almost 3 hours to sleep and no
where to do it. Also there was nothing but an empty waiting room and a vending machine.
Good time to start my State of Fear book by Michael Crichton. When the ticket counter
opened, I got in line with a bunch of truck drivers and waited my turn only to find out the
passenger terminal was further down behind this building. Another walk and a possible
double hip replacement and I arrived to find Bus 15 , that the Hostel clerk recommended
sitting in front with a lot of people with suitcases disembarking. I got our tickets with no
problem and was told boarding time was at 2pm…it was now 12:45. I got another coffee and
waited for Leif’s arrival. I’m beginning to feel like his personal assistant.He arrived and we
boarded and are off.
and Leif was off to bring us some beer.
When we arrived in Tallinn we needed some Estonian
krones so I cashed in some Euros but after thought maybe I had exchanged too much so Leif
offered to take some off my hands then we could get more if necessary at a later time. I gave
him the equivalent of 110 Euros worth of krones. We had a few hours before the scheduled
meeting with Hedi our Couchsurfing hostess. Tallinn is a beautiful Medieval City similar to
When the time came we went to McD’s to meet with Hedi and there were the
Arizona Grandmother and granddaughter couple that Hedi said would be sharing her house
with us. We visited with them until Hedi arrived , then piled everything into her car. A quick
stop at the supermarket and we were off into the countryside.
|BARISTER FROM AUSTRALIA|
Leif paid for everything then
we split the bill three ways between the couple from ‘AZ myself and Leif…deducting it from
the money he owed along with a bottle of Vodka we would share. I am in Hedi’s home now
outside of Tallinn Estonia at a farm house in the country where we just met a midwife from
Tuba City AZ and her 15yo granddaughter traveling around and Barister, an Aussie that lives
in Moscow. We all stayed here with Hedi and had a sauna party last night. Great fun…her
son and his girlfriend came as well as a young firefighter named Jim from Brooklyn, N.Y. and
his new found Estonian girlfriend. We prepared some pasta with meat sauce and washed it
down with lots of wine. Off to Tallinn with Hedi then after touring she will pick us up after
work and return for last night.
The whole day in Tallinn was filled with picture taking, beer
drinking, a little blackjack at the casino and time spent in a cafe watching the world go by. We
did run into Jim while touring. He was trying to catch up on his sightseeing as the last few
days he had been jet lagged and partying. All and all a very nice day but cold and rainy. We
took Hedi to dinner at a place she suggested.. The Estonian Restaurant was a nice
atmosphere with good food. The bill was $70 for the three of us to have appetizers, drinks,
entrees, desert, conjoc, and cafe!!
The car broke down about 3 miles from Hedi’s house. 4 of
5 Lug nuts on the tire had been sheared off. We limped home with one left and made an
appointment for the garage early in the morning.
We went right to bed with Leif snoring all
night until Hedi awoke us in the morning. Leif had his usual morning whiskey before going
downstairs. We had breakfast .
plug my laptop into a regular outlet, get free internet and print 20 pages free. They have a
menu and drinks which you pay as you go.. Blanket and pillow were offered. Leather reclining
seats. TV and a waitress to come around to see to all your needs. There was a business class
section in the back with a lounge if you paid $15 more than the $30 for the four hour trip. I
decided then to take a bus to Frankfurt from Gdansk instead of taking a ferry to Copenhagen
and flying in. Jim the fireman from Brooklyn boarded and we exchanged “Howareyas”. Now
is time to check my email and surf the internet. The hostess came over to announce there were
5 stops…the last being the bus station. I told her where we were staying and gave her the
address so she looked it up on the internet and informed me my stop would be the next to the
last so I wouldn’t have to walk so far to the hotel. Five minutes before the stop she informed
both Leif and I. Leif was still busy with my computer he borrowed 3 hours ago to check his
email. I got ready and the bus stop came but he was still on the computer . I jumped off , got
my bag and was waited for him as was the bus driver and the hostess. He finally got off and
she gave me directions to the hotel so I started off when he informed me he left his coat on
Would I walk down with him…I don’t think so. He acted like it was the hostesses fault for not
explaining the stop in detail…but she did. He went to the station and found the bus pulling
out and waved to it but the driver waved him away to another bus so he jumped in front of the
bus when the hostess recognized him and brought out his coat. When he returned we left to
walk to the river but on the way we decided to eat. We met a Russian that was a clown for a
living and he said follow me. He took us to a nice cafeteria near our hotel that offered nice
selections of all kinds of Baltic food that was cheap and cooked fresh.
We both ate a lot and of course Leif had to
showed us photos of his wedding and pictures of his Estonian wife. He had been in Riga for
over 10 years and was fun to talk to. We left him and the Lido Restaurant and walked through
the park to the river but Leif had to have an Ice Cream at McD’s so I kept going and took some
movies of the people , parks, and cafes. It was a beautiful evening and warm for a change. I
got to the river but there were no cafes along the water like Paris so I returned to find Leif.
He and I stopped in a Cafe for some Brandy and Cafe then returned to the hostel after I listened
to every story of every young woman that approached him and he ended up with and where and
computer though he wanted to stop for a beer at the Gentleman’s Club.
passport and coat and all that crap so we left. He did pay me up all he owed in Lats…the
Latvian currency so for the first time we were square and just split bills instead of keeping
track of everything. On the internet I got a message that Ralph, my cousin Barbara’s husband
died of a heart attack the day before , reminding me of why I was traveling and to enjoy it
more and stop complaining about Leif and his little idiocy cries. Time for bed so I can enjoy
Our hostel breakfast was white bread toast with jam and cream cheese
accompanied by coffee. I quickly dressed and ran across the street for a full breakfast with
fresh OJ and Cappuccino while Leif and I agreed to meet later in the evening. I then toured
Riga on a beautiful summer’s day. I stopped to rest an the steps of one of the buildings and to
my surprise , a minute latter, a soldier with a beret and a beretta all dressed in “cams” came
over and escorted me back to the street.
It turned out to be the Parliament Building and he
must’ve thought I was a suicide bomber, no? My cold was gone and I was energized but my
camera battery wasn’t. Around 2pm I headed back to recharge the battery and myself before
heading out again to visit the Castle, river park and another area of town. I walked for over
an hour to the riverfront and a “hippy, rundown area of warehouses called Andrejsala” Lots
of graffiti or art depending on your perspective and a Boatel on the water where you could
rent rooms. A few young people were scattered about, drinking, kissing, and smoking. I
guess it comes alive at night with bands play music in the warehouses. In my younger days
I might have returned to see for myself. I headed for the Riga Castle. It was rush hour and
the traffic was relentless and merciless. I finally arrived to discover you couldn’t enter. It was
not for show yet. I went to meet Leif at our designated Cafe in the Center, had a couple of
beers and a cheese plate. It was 30 minutes past our time so I got up to leave when he
arrived…”Let’s have a beer David”. Typical Leif. He wanted to have a Steak dinner and after
the beer we walked around all the touristy Steak house Cafes’ checking out the menus. Thi s
is too expensive he said and finally settled for one where they wore cowboy outfits. While
looking at the menu he announced he would pay with his card and I could owe him. We
finally got things straight between us and he wants to start up again. I protested we should
just ask for separate checks but he insisted that I could pay the bus fare the next day then we
needed some Cognac and coffee plus he announced he gave the waiter a $12 tip too. When it
came time to leave, he said I owed him $60 but I wrote everything down including his tip and
my calculations came to $55. Here we go again. Let’s stop and have a beer. You stop and I will
meet you in the room. But David…Oh I have to take a piss under this bridge. Non-Stop arguing
and now he is complaining how he spent too much money and should go home. Riga was also a
great city with friendly people and clean. When we returned, I booked a hostel in Vilnius for the
two days we planned on and he worked on getting a flight from Gdansk home now so he could
get it out of the way. I also called my cousin Barbara from the room to pass on my condolences
on the loss of her husband. Everyone was there with her including my Dad’s sister who is
recovering from a broken hip but was not in a wheelchair but a walker! She is something else.
Now Helen, Barb’s sister has to take care of her alone. They used to take turns passing her
around. I was almost asleep when Leif burst in the room exclaiming he had to fly Ryanair to
London from Gdansk then to Copenhagen in order to get this special deal of $173 …I’ve spent
too much and miss my children. His wife told him to stay as long as he wanted in the last
email and return only if he had too…she didn’t care. He never bought her or the children a
souvenir. I don’t like wasting time shopping and then lugging things back 3000 miles but try to
get a little something for my friends. It is morning now and Leif is still bitching about a
worthless email I sent him last night. He said it only had a list of email addresses on it but
nothing else. This morning I pointed out that had he scrolled down and read the message he
would see it was more than that. He said he wouldn’t waste his friend’s time sending them so
mething a silly as that. Then he wanted my credit card to book the bus…I left to have breakfast
and meet him at the bus station. He hadn’t packed yet. Now I get an email that he is on his way.
We walked to the bus station, got our tickets and sat down with an hour to spare. It was
raining out so the Market wasn’t feasible. He asked if I was going to be there a while to watch
his bags…sure. Big mistake. I want to walk around myself now it’s been a half hour and go to
the gate to get in line so I get a window seat but I’m stuck watching his stuff! Damn…again he
has me doing his bidding. I dragged the bags around to the gate and was loading mine on the
bus when he arrived. Meanwhile I had to go the bathroom so saved it for the bus. We boarded
the bus and he sat behind me, telling me how wonderful the Central Market was and all the
things he bought for cheap. I slept a lot and was pleased we are traveling on such a dismal day.
The bus stopped while entering Lithuania so the Border Patrol could board to check everyone’s
passport. Something we were informed of when we boarded so we would have our passports
ready. Leif didn’t and we all had to wait while the driver recovered his bag under the bus storage
with all the other and he presented his passport.
When we arrived in Vilnius it was a light rain
and all the bags were on the walk after the driver emptied the storage. I grabbed mine and
looked back to see the driver looking around for whoever owned the one lone bag not claimed.
Leif was still on the bus packing his jacket and collecting his newspapers. We went to get change
but he said he didn’t like using the ATM because his bank charges $6 everytime and he would
just use my money. I paid his the balance of what I owed him…$15 in LATS so he could have
some change and use his credit card in the restaurants. We took the bus to the hostel then went
out for the evening. After a fews beers at each bar we passed he met some Danes and asked
there recommendation for food. The one Dane exported Oak furniture to Denmark and lived
here for a year so knew a place but when we arrived it turned out to be beautiful but a big tourist
trap with expensive food. I started for the bathroom and heard Leif yell TWO BEERS. I told
him I didn’t want to keep getting bloated on beer and wished he had asked me. I chased down
the waiter and told him but he said what do you want and I said I haven’t looked to see what is
on the list yet. Ten minutes later he finally brought Leif’s beer and I ordered a glass of wine
while Leif ordered a Boar Goulash. The waiter asked me what I wanted and I said again…I
GLASS OF WINE! I haven’t decided and will let you know when I get my wine. Finally after
another 10 minutes I told Leif I don’t want anything and now you finished your beer let’s leave.
We started to just as the waiter brought my wine with Leif’s Goulash! Then he wanted to know
what I wanted? I was supposed to watch Leif eat then maybe I might get my overpriced meal…
nothing I told him. I sat through his meal listening to all his tales of conquests and how young
they all were.
Vilnius was a nice city and easy to get around. 3 women for everyman, actually 6 since
half the men are drunk. It was not a friendly town though the women were plenty and beautiful.
beginning to have a life of their own. We had breakfast down the street when Leif informed
me we only had the hostel for one night as they were booked the second. OK then why didn’t
you find another hostel that we could book for two nights instead of spending our one day for
sightseeing, packing , checking out and trying to find a place to stay? Not my idea of travel.
I booked another hostel for the next night and hoped it was close to the one he booked. We
took a taxi to the train station and boarded our 3rd class train with benches for seats for out 3
hour trip to some town I can’t pronounce, where we reboard another train to Warsaw. I told
Leif I waited but he said he found his Dane friend and had been drinking in the Cafe for 3
hours then ate and returned to find his friend with two Thai masseuses that he uses.
The 70 year old Dane lives across the street and called his friends to join the two of them. The
drinking continued. We had breakfast and picked up the train at the station after I paid the
about the booking for the hostel and he said they could only give him one night and then we
would have to stay in the dorms. I asked why he didn’t book another hostel instead so we
didn’t have to move because I wasn’t staying in a dorm . He replied that he didn’t think I
would mind! Now I got on the internet and booked us another hostel nearby for the next
night. We arrived and took a bus after considerable discussion about him paying his own way
but that everytime he used his ATM he got charged so why couldn’t I just use mine and lend
him the money and he would charge our meals and deduct what he owed me. This after he
just argued about why I kept telling him he owed me DOLLARS when it was LATS and why
couldn’t we stick with the local currencies…I tried to explain he has borrowed EUROS in
Helsinki, kroner in Estonia, LATS in Latvia, LIVS in Lithuania and now wants Zlotys in
Poland and I am the only one keeping track. I feel tethered to his Credit card because he is so
cheap and then he keeps calling me SCROOGE. He bought his flight to Aalborg back in Latvia
so he would have to worry. I was waiting until I got to Warsaw to buy my bus, train or air
ticket to Frankfurt.
Now we were checked into the hostel in Warsaw but it was late in the
evening and we both hadn’t eaten so Leif had to have his beer right away. We went to the
first bar and he had a liter of beer. He takes a photo of every first beer he has in the country
he arrives in then has me take a photo of him drinking it. We decided to eat there as it was
getting late and shops were closing all around. The food was OK as we hadn’t eaten anything
on the train. There was no dining car or snacks available and neither of us had much sleep
the night before. We retired and got up in time to find out the hostel had no hot water for the
next three days. We ate a meager breakfast and checked out…climbed 97 steps up to the
street above carrying our luggage and checked into the other hostel. It was nice but out room
wasn’t ready until 3pm and I wanted a shower and had to go to the train station to find ou
about the trip to Frankfurt. We left our bags in a storage locker and I ventured out and
caught a bus to the train station while Leif took off on the town. We agreed to meet at 5 pm
at a bar in Old Town because the beer was cheap there. It was unusually hot and I still had
on my long underwear and coat so was sweating and miserable. I combed the train station,
asked a few directions and stood in line for about 30 minutes to discover this was the ticket
booth for in country not international train travel…that was upstairs. I got there to discover
a line over an hour long but saw information so stood in line there to find out the schedule and
price of the train which was not available on the internet. I finally got to the clerk and he
printed out the schedule but couldn’t tell me the price. To find that out, I would have to
stand in the other line for an hour to just find out the price. I still had the option of a bus or
plane. I noticed a travel agency so went there. They only booked buses and planes. The
plane they said was over $300 and the only bus left at 3pm on the 17th and arrived at 9am
on the 18th…EIGHTEEN HOURS! I thanked her and returned to the hostel to shower and
clear my head. A nice hot shower rejuvenated me so I got on the internet and decided I
already paid for the return flight from Aalborg to Copenhagen to Frankfurt (because Leif said
we could use his car if I chipped in for the gas but later said he said nothing of the sort) . I
emember him saying his flight to Copenhagen then to Aalborg was around $200 so I thought
I could save time by flying to Copenhagen and catching the last leg of my return flight to
Frankfurt. That made sense so I booked the ticket then had to email it to the hostel I was at
in order to print it out. When it was all done, it was time to meet Leif. I left thinking that I
had at least got the last of my travel plans confirmed and was proud. Walking through the
Old Town I took some photos to catch up on what I had missed all day when it occurred to
me …why didn’t I ever check the flights from Warsaw directly to Frankfurt? I was so caught
up on saving some money by taking the bus or train and seeing the countryside that I never
thought of that. When I checked it later, I discovered I could have saved 4 hours travel time,
and about $40 by booking the direct flight to Frankfurt! Too late now. Leif was waiting across
the street for me. He said he discovered the beer was actually cheaper at the bars off the
main drag and suggested we go there.
I was tired and hungry so we agreed to have one beer
and a snack there and then move into the other parts of the town. We took lots of photos and
meandered around before finding a Cafe that had Pils Urquell beer from Czech Republic for
$2,75 a Liter. We had a few along with lots of food and our total bill was $23. That was a deal.
Leif was now buying something called Slipavich…not spelled like that but pronounced like
that. It was some cheap Plum brandy that was about 150 proof. Around Midnight we headed
back and everything along the way was closing as it was Monday night.
put my ear plugs in to drown out his snoring. I consoled myself that tomorrow he would be
leaving and I could have a whole day to myself and breath for the first time in over 2 weeks.
When I awoke, he was gone so I showered and went for breakfast. He was holding court with
the travelers, telling stories of his adventures over a coffee and a pint of whiskey. I declined
his invitation to listen to his bragging…I knew most of it anyway. Later he informed me his
plane didn’t leave until 6pm and wanted to know what I wanted to do or where I wanted to
meet him. I thought I have to get up early the next day so have to bed early tonight and don’t
want to drink anymore. Then I realized it was only the 16th . I had booked an extra night after
I got my ticket thinking it was the 17th and now needed to book another night if it was
available. When I booked the first extra night the clerk asked me if Leif would be staying and
I told her I killed him and I would be the only one in the room. I had seriously thought about
it more than once. Fortunately they rearranged the rooms so I could stay another night and
keep the same room. Now I did have an extra day to enjoy my independence and rest before
the long haul to Frankfurt and then to Phoenix.
I was to meet Leif at Starbucks but it is cold
and rainy today. I’ll dress warm and give it a shot. He didn’t show but returned to the hostel
at 4 to pick up his bags. I walked him to the bus stop and sighed relief when he waved
I stayed in that evening and rose early to enjoy my last day in Warsaw. The city is
also clean, great public transport and can easily be walked…and I did. I walked everywhere
and ended up having a big lunch at this Jewish-Polish restaurant in the old town. Bed early
and up at 5am to catch the bus then the plane to Copenhagen. I have a 6 hours layover before
catching my plane to Frankfurt. I’m fighting to stay awake. This airport is the best I’ve ever
been in. It is so far ahead of it’s time with the architecture, wood and marble floors, shops, rest
area. I made it to Frankfurt and home.