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Mike's Around-The-World Trip Update #1 - 3.19.2004
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if there is one person who has no right to complain
it's me. i have made a promise to myself to enjoy my
experiences, good and bad, slow and fast, old and
new...whatever the world throws at me, and just smile
at them. despite this promise i found myself bitching
about the slow service at an italian restaurant in
stege, denmark on the island of mon in the southeast
corner of the country.

"we're taking off in 5 minutes if the food doesn't
come," i said coldly to stephanie. we had just
finished hiking up 400 feet from the white beaches of
the baltic sea to the top of mon klint (the cliffs of
mon) and we were both powerfully hungry. the cliffs
shoot up from the rocky shores, masses of white chalk
layered with volcanic black obsidian rock; it's
incredible. my impatience grew with my hunger and i
leaned back in my chair against the front window of
the restaurant. i had my death stare locked on the
waitress with my arms folded in defiance when i began
to smell something burning - turns out it was me.

"HOLY SHIT STEPH!I'M ON FIRE!!!"

i ripped off my fleece as the flames rose and threw it
on the floor. the fire went out quickly but not
before it burned through my jacket and all 3 shirts i
had on (it was cold in denmark). i picked up the
jacket and looked incredulously through the fist-sized
hole. i then looked over my shoulder at my shirts - i
could see my skin clear through my clothing -
fortunately i wasn't burned. when i was leaning back
on my chair i had been leaning right into a candle on
the ledge (look before you lean). stephanie felt
horrible for me because she realized that in one quick
moment i ruined every shirt and the only jacket i
brought with me on the trip. when the food finally
came it wasn't very good - i had hit, as they say in
cliff-climbing lingo, my crux. after eating we walked
to our rental car and i fetched from my bag the only
recorded music i have with me: a travel mix cd that my
boy jeremy martino created for me. he instructed
that i should listen to it whenever i needed a
pick-me-up - well i needed a pick-me-up and as we
drove
back to copenhagen, the bob marley, outkast & michael
jackson picked me up (thanks j-mart). i renewed my
vow not to complain because the first time i did led
to the first time in my life i caught on fire - better
not to experiment with it anymore.

here's what i've done so far:

i flew into london from chicago and met my buddy
andrew at his place which is located across the river
thames from the houses of parliament and big ben.
andrew's has a great vibe, with music always playing,
wine always flowing and great food always cooking. we
are great friends and really enjoy our time together -
lots of laughs fill the air around us. he has a new
roommate named gina who is a professional piano
player; she has a baby grand piano on the 2nd level of
the house. i busted out my guitar the first night and
sang out some tunes as she rocked them out on the
piano - a highlight was when she played the solo to
"stray cat strut" flawlessly (sorry hoss). we drank
wine for hours and jammed. despite being quite loopy
from the italian wine and jetlag, i climbed on
andrew's dutch-style bike and went on a self-guided
late-night tour of london - i cruised the empty
streets past big ben, westminster abbey, buckingham
palace, the tower of london, tower bridge, hyde park,
everywhere loving it and saying a small slow thanks to
the man upstairs for the opportunity to do this. i'm
living out my dreams...

we took the train from london to paris on friday
morning to spend 5 days there. i had 3 friends there
we were to stay with, a different one each night. we
rolled into town and spent the morning and afternoon
walking the beautiful streets of paris. we met up
with a different friend each night and saw paris
through the eyes of the locals - our hosts were all
really fun people and we had a blast staying with
them. the highlights were throwing the aerobie
(a frisbee-type apparatus) with andrew under the
eiffel tower, a parisian birthday party at a friends
friends apartment and a home-cooked wine/cheese/potato
dinner at the home of my friends stephanie and jojo.
also, my travel-guitar has been a big hit - i've
played
concerts for everyone who's cared to listen and it's
been fun. spring had sprung in paris too so the
weather was cozy...

wednesday, march 24th i flew to copenhagen to see
stephanie who is living there for work. i was excited
to see how she was enjoying it and also to see the
first "new" country of my trip. we walked around the
first night and i was very impressed with the
architecture, the cobblestone streets and the neatness
of the city. it was colder in copenhagen than i was
prepared for so i had to bundle up in everything i had
which wasn't much; my clothing consists of 3 shirts, 2
pants, 3 underwear, 3 pairs of socks, 1 jacket and 1
raincoat. stephanie is fitting in great and i was
really impressed by her knowledge of copenhagen and
how well she knows her way around. within 24 hours of
being there i saw the queen's marching band proudly
stepping through the town. we had some nice meals,
drank some great beers (tuborg), met some of her
friends, saw a cover band (of a guy i never heard of),
took a day trip in a rental car to the island of mon
(see above), toured christiana, saw a movie and an
amazing maroon 5 concert (go see this band live...NOW)
- an action packed 5 days. as for christiana, it's an
autonomous commune of copenhagen filled with
rough-looking folks. they basically live in shacks
and hang out at graffiti-covered old wearhouses and
chicken-coop bars smoking pot openly (it's legal
there) and drinking. they all seemed miserable to me.
the most interesting incident was watching a raggedly
dressed man taunt an observing group of policemen. he
feigned karate poses as the cops looked on laughing.
he challeged a cop to an arm-wrestle which
surprisingly he accepted; the cop won. when i was in
the bathroom i saw 3 screws in the wall which looked
something like 2 eyes and a nose....someone scratched
sad eyebrows and a frowning mouth around the screws
and i felt it probably captured the hearts of those
who lived there....

i am now in london and am leaving for the west coast
tomorrow. i have put a down payment on a bike with a
company that makes them out there. i shall start
biking from there through france toward madrid, spain.
i will send out upates of my progress when i get the
chance.

hope all is well with you.

keep on keepin' on,
mike

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