Fall back and regroup

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Ok, yesterday was not a stellar day in the history of the Go See Run Eat Drink enterprise. I've had other not-so-good days (Glasgow leaps instantly to mind, as does an aimless Tuesday in Dublin) but I think yesterday was the worst so far. It was still not bad enough to cash in my Winnipeg Hash Luxury Hotel Voucher. I did consider it, but that really wouldn't have solved the problem.

Just for the record, here's what happened to my beloved Eee PC. I woke up a bit late and a bit fragile after an evening with the Copenhagen Hashers (great trail, 5 drink stops, with a maximum of about 100 metres between each. Nicely done CPH4). It was pouring rain, but I couldn't face another hostel breakfast so I chucked the Eee into my daypack and rode off on my rented biked headed for café that had become my favourite because the proprietor was friendly, the latté was generous and the wifi was free. By the time I got there I was approximately as wet as if I'd stood fully clothed in the shower for 10 minutes. Of course this would have requierd being able to get into the shower, which is by no means a guarantee when sharing facilities among 10 people. So I was ready, really really ready for a latté and a pain au chocolate still warm from the oven, and a "morning plate" with a dish of greek yogurt, syrup and granola, served alongside a bun with meat and cheese, dark rye bread and jam, and a soft-boiled egg.

Yes, I was drenched, but I was drying, and I had coffee and chocolate and the promise of a pleasant morning of food and free wifi. I think I was approaching the state the Danes call "hygge", a word that has no proper equivalent in English, though "cozy" is in the right neighbourhood. My sense is that "pleasant physical and spiritual contentment" might be closer. The Rough Guide describes the concept this way:

"...a mixture of conviviality and intimacy. You'll sense hygge when you sit sipping hot gløgg in a toasty warm candlelit cafe while snow is falling outside, or around a midsummer's eve bonfire with people chit-chatting around you and the odd traditional folksong being sung."

And then out came the computer, and hygge went out the window. When I packed the Eee in my daypack I neglected to put it in its little protective sleeve (stupid). And I ended up sliding it into the same pocketas my set of traveling cutlery (also stupid)*. So when I removed the computer, there was, literally, a fork sticking out of it (which gives a fresh meaning to the phrase "stick a fork in it, it's done"). I guess the fork got wedged between the keyboard and the screen, resulting in this inevitable equation:


That's supposed to be displaying my desktop, not some kind of modern art stained glass nightmare. Not to mention the missing page up key...

I gasped so loudly when I saw it that the people at the table next to me looked up. And I kept gasping, because the only alternative seemed to be tears.

And you know the rest. I checked with a computer shop and the repair is not cost- or time-effective. (And I just have to pause here and say an ENORMOUS thank you to Antje at the front desk of the DanHostel Copenhagen City. When I told her what happened she sympathized, and talked me down off the ledge, and showed me on a map where the computer shops were, and gave me an hour of internet access for free and called me "sweetheart". She was a rock.)

Eventually I decided to try and salvage something from the day and get in a long run while I was still in a good city for running. I stocked up on sports drink** and headed out. I was determined to do 25 km, which would be my longest run since the Fargo Marathon. And I did it, despite stiff winds around the lakes and a nasty fall on a gravel path in Christiania. I got back to the hostel exhausted and (literally) bloodied but triumphant, and miraculously did NOT have to wait for the shower. By the time I was clean and had a beer, a sandwich and a full can of Pringles, I was vaguely on my way back to hygge, but the day still had a few curves to throw at me.

First: laundry. 30 kroner is not bad for a load of laundry, and soap was included, and you didn't need change for the machines. The trouble is that in a hostel containing over 1000 beds there were exactly 2 washing machines and one lonely and overworked tumble dryer. Now in general I think the Danes have a lot of things figured out, but I have to say that whoever was in charge of the Laundry Room Design and Outfitting Sub-Committee for the DanHostel Copenhagen City (and you just know there was a committee involved) should be soundly flogged with every wet pari of boxer shorts, every damp Oktoberfest t-shirt and every sodden pair of worn out jeans that gets left in a sorry pile in the queue for that dryer every day.

I did manage to head up top my room with a neatly folded pile of clean, dry laundry by 1:00am, but there was still one more treat in store. When I opened the door to my room I was astonished to find my bunk already occupied. "Wha...?!??". As I stood there, open-mouthed in amazement, the guy in my bed*** woke up and started trying to explain. He was French, and I didn't get everything he said because we were trying to be quiet so as not to wake the others in the room. "We are three" he said, meaning that he'd checked in with two other friends and he figured they should get three beds together. In fact there was an empty bed in the adjoining room, but instead of taking that, he neatly removed all of my stuff from my bed (and this was a LOT of stuff - clothes, books, toiletries ... I even had the Aeronaut locked to the bed post), stacked it all near the door, and climbed into my bed with his head on the pillow still wrapped in my silk sleep sheets.

I truly cannot properly describe the bald-faced audacity of this maneouver. I wanted to throttle him, or at least march him down to the front desk where his sins could be properly explained to him. Instead I did the Canadian thing and was polite, and spoke French to him, and even used the formal "vous" form as opposed to the informal "tu" form. I did not, however, allow him to remain. After the day I had I was not going to let some smarmy French git steal my bed. I think evenutally he realized I was not going to relent, and took his sheets and slunk off to the other room, and the bed that was supposed to be his in the first place.

Well I mean, really.

And that was my day. Started badly, ended badly, and had a few vaguely hopeful moments in between. Still, I'm glad to beat a hasty retreat from Denmark. There's a lot I didn't do there. I did not eat any proper smørrebord, and I did not so much as glimpse a herring. I did not go to Legoland or the Hans Christian Andersen Museum. And I did not smoke up in Christiania. But I did hash, and run, and ride a bike, and found a nice café and I had several danishes.

Yum. Also pictured: my new blogging system, which involves scratching marks in a bundled collection of flat pages for future upload. Positively prehistoric. Also, all that writing is doing nothing for my old surfing injury

And now I'm in Amsterdam, and have been in contact with a friendly hasher to whom I can have a new computer shipped, and it looks like I may eventually get my hygge back.

* If the little carabiner that holds the knife, fork and spoon together hadn't packed up a few weeks ago, the cutlery would have been hanging neatly out of the way... or if I'd got up earlier and gone for a run instead of fleeing for the cafe... or blah blah blah..."what if" is a road to madness.

** And what is it with the fizzy sports drink over here? Why would you want to drink something fizzy while you're exercising? I bought 2 bottles of something called Carlsberg Sport, and it was carbonated! And in the UK the most popular sports drink is Lucozade, which is also fizzy and has the added disadvantage of having a name that sounds like a brand of medicated cream you'd apply to a nasty rash.

*** Not always a bad thing, mind you, but really really not on that night...


Unknown said...

Missing Link from Amsterdam here. I have an English XP CD with a license key that you can have, or Ubuntu CD's that I can help set up on your new box. I think I even have a 100GB laptop hard drive that I can pull out of my old laptop and let you have. Lumberjackoff has my contact details, or see you Thursday.

Lisa said...

Whoa...what a day...and night...What amazes me is that through this you still have a positive slant to it all. I realize that wallowing in self-pity won't help at all, but sometimes it's just kinda nice to wallow a bit before picking oneself up.
I guess "life goes on" and "tomorrow is another day" cliches come to mind...You are anything but a cliche.
Thinking of you and sending (((((((HUGE HUGS))))))) your way!

Karen said...

I can see by your post, your emails and by the message above that the hashers are looking after you and all will be fine again very, very soon.

Look after that surfing injury.

And by the way, I wouldn't have let that git sleep in my bed either. I also wouldn't have been near as polite as you after a day like that. Kudos to you for keeping things in check. I would have been bawling like a baby weeks ago. ;-)

Pam said...

@ Lisa and Karen: Beileve me, I've wanted to cry many times in the last few days, and if things sound positive, it's only because, er, I don't know, because they don't feel really positive. Buying a computer from the UK when you don't have a credit card from the UK and you want to ship to the Netherlands turns out to be tricky. Like in the same way the moon landing was tricky.

Karen said...

What about your relatives in the UK. Could they help make the purchase? I'm sure you've thought of that.

BTW - you can cry anytime you want. But only if you have a beer in front of you and some chipsssssss on the side. :-)

eme said...

Not sure where you are headed next, but I will be in London for one day (5 September I think) and in the Stockholm area from 6 September until 11 September.

Let me know if I can be of any help with the PC front. Maybe I can get it in Canada for you (or you could have it mailed to my place) and I could post it to you from London or Sweden.



anne said...

Hopefully you should have your PC in 24 hours from now and I have just rung Matt again who says it IS the 1005 - so things could be looking up - toes crossed! He even recognises my voice now.

Unknown said...

"After the day I had I was not going to let some smarmy French git steal my bed." I am sorry to laugh at your misfortunes, but I did. I almost peed my pants laughing. Sorry, but it was funny.

I my travels I have noticed that most of the time, about 1-2 hours after a low moment, things are not just ok, they are usually great. So I get excited when things go wrong, because I know everything will be fine very soon.

Have fun on the long road.

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