Trip Start Jul 16, 2010
Trip End Dec 25, 2010

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Flag of Denmark  , North Jutland,
Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Where souls rest on their journey from hell to heaven...

So, here we are in Aalborg, claim to fame architect Utzon of the Sydney Opera House. Win's cabin is right on the fjord, so breakfast on the porch includes a slow parade of sailboats and rowers. Wednesday through Friday (I spent the entire day yesterday writing this blog, I don't think day by day is necessary (or probably even interesting) anymore) was a little tour of Aalborg. Very quaint, very f***ing expensive. 25% sales tax - ouch! Two quick numbers; Minimum wage: $20/hour. New car tax: 180% (not a typo - a $20,000 car will cost you $56,000.) Needless to say, Win and Cam have an old beater with 300,000 kilometers but the clutch is like new. Nevertheless, multiple people have told me that a recent survey found Danes the happiest people in the world, so I guess the $20 pizza and $8 beer doesn't get them down. Maybe pizzas are $20 in the US too, haven't been there for so long. Pizzas are $30 in Japan, but they put corn and octopus on them, so you wouldn't really want to eat a pizza there anyway. But I digress...

Wednesday afternoon a pub crawl with Cam while Win does some work. Thursday is beautiful, Win and I cut planks for a planter of increasing complexity for Cam but it's nice to do something productive for the first time in a month. Then we head over to Cam's dad's place for virgin baby lobsters which look a lot like crayfish and are almost certainly not virgin given the eggs on some of them. Very tasty though with garlic butter and french bread and wine and sunshine, out in the yard.

In the evening Win and I go to VaaterVorld for the Vednesday night sauna which is quasi-religious in nature, with a sauna master coming in every thirty minutes to tell a little story and then steam up the rocks and whip the air around with a towel in increasingly hot bouts of steam. Skin is peeling off my back by the second round, and in round three a vortex of superheated towel-steam burns my chest and I scream "My nipples are burning!" and the guys next to us laugh and say welcome to the burnt nipple club. In between saunas (which last about 10 minutes) Win and I climb the pool rope (very proud that I can haul myself up, as I was such a wimp in gradeschool I could never do this to my shame) and ride on the water slide which has fortunantely been abandoned by the grommets.

Win and I then head off to finish the rest of the pub crawl tickets that come with the crawl glass but end up going to Cam's friend Tina's house for a couple hours of wine and crackers and playing with her $800 cat. $800??? WTF. I keep feeling like maybe I retired too early. I might pay $8 to register a cat (the ear tattoo, remember) but this is insane. It is a very nice cat though. We later pull out the laser pointer, for which I WOULD pay $800 if I already had the cat. They go nuts over these things! Endless adult entertainment! 

Friday Cam and I finish Limfjorden's most kickass (and definitely heaviest) planter and in the afternoon Win and I go play in the public pool down the lane where I wimp out of jumping off the 10m board (but don't label me a wuss just yet, more on feats of derring-do later). Then off to a fjord-side restaurant for "starfish",  a kind of traditional Danish meal of fried and baked cod and halibut and shrimp on top of a big slice of sourdough, sprinkled with caviar. Vegetarianism be damned, 4 species in a sitting!

For those who do not know me well, I used to be a vegetarian. Now I'm a sort-of vegetarian. To wit: for a long time, I was a strict vegetarian. And then one night about three years ago, for the zillionth time, someone asked me why, and I had a satori (=Zen enlightenment) moment and realized, that all the usual excuses I gave (love of furry things, health, etc.) was mostly baloney and the reason I was a vegetarian was because I needed to believe that some part of myself was pure, I suppose in the same way, for the same reasons that people believe in God and do good works thereof. So the veil was lifted and I realized it was really a matter of defining myself, and I didn't like that. So now I eat a bit of animal, and thus avoid the purity trap. I do eat a bit of meat on this trip, sometimes as a means of staying sane when hungry, sometimes as a bit of Cultural Exploration Mode. I guess when I am settled again and cooking my own food, I'll still not eat meat, but I won't call myself a vegetarian either. No religions for me, thanks. And to be honest, I DO love furry things...


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