Friday, February 11, 2011

Mike takes Boston….and Wellesley College

Gawd-damm Zetabeta!"’

I’m going to be honest- there is no way to describe what exactly a “zetabeta” is, so don’t ask. It’s simply a part of the on-going fun that is Snowdlack.

So here is a run-down of what should be expected from the upcoming posts:

  • Casey and I have a friendship based on inside jokes and laughter, so a lot of what I could write about might not make any sense [see above: zetabeta]; thus I might not write about everything that happens
  • Snowdlack is a sacred gathering of Mike Snowden and Casey Sedlack [Snowden + Sedlack = Snowdlack]. It began our sophomore year at UW with our first dinner party at Casey’s apartment. Back then, naming Facebook groups was vital to the event’s success- Snowdlack was born.
  • Casey has an extreme dislike for Boston and makes sure to get that point across early and often
  • I am visiting Casey while she is still in school, so there are not as many wild adventures as two guys on vacation, as in Norway.
  • At this point in my travels I am running quite low on cash AND planning my move to sunny California, so this also aids in my lack of exciting stories.

So there you have it- the set up for my East Coast experience. With that said, I will begin with one of the first get-go’s in Boston: Nicholas Surprise Party!

Yes- I went to a surprise party.

Hear me out, hear me out! It’s one of Casey’s friends and I, being Casey’s plus-one, was automatically invited. Plus, Casey and these select group of friends, all attend Wellesley College aka “an all-girls school”.  Let me break it down for you:  ( 1 Dude ) + ( a small dorm full of  women ) = Awesome!


As you can tell from the exuberant pic that this was a goodtime and seriosuly- it was fun. It was kind of awkward at first to be the only dude in the room because I kept getting stared at like I was a predator, but then the girls started to realize that I was a good guy with no bad intentions and wasn’t there for negative juju. After we went through (3) bottles of wine,  two (1/5’s) of vodka, a (1.5) of gin,  a bottle of champagne, (6) Pabst tall boys, and an unknown amount of booze I didn’t even see, we hopped a bus to Harvard Square (I think) to a bar where the girls danced and I, well, picked up my feet and put them back down. In other words- I mandanced.

Man-dance [mann*dan*s]: vb 1. the act of gyrating ones body parts in a manner akin to dancing but lacks fluidity and general attractiveness.

In any case, that went on for a while. Now, two fantastic moments from the evening:

  • A true classic Snowlack moment- A hip-thrust competition between Casey and I spread through the group and soon everyone was doing this:

hip thrust Sick, right?!

  • Upon leaving the bar, I tripped over a snowbank and faceplanted on the sidewalk. But good news everyone- I survived the fall!

Now, after trying to get into another bar around 2am and getting turned out because of America’s fleeting sense of fun [I’m still on a Scandinavian club-high since the bars don’t close until at least 5:30am], the crowd started to get disgruntled and, in turn, began retiring for the evening. A couple of Harvard business mucky-mucks had been talking to Casey and invited us over for drinks at their apartment, and as the saying goes…when in Rome..right? We head off to these dudes’ place and have some beers and I ended up passing out in a chair after drinking a beer. Why? Not because I was drunk, no, no- but because these guys were SO GOD AWFULLY BORING! AND they kept their apartment heat turned up so high, as soon as I walked in I was sleepy!

See, when it comes to warm rooms or cars or even warm weather- I get just as sleepy as an old dog in a window. Here’s another equation for you:

( [some drinks throughout the night] + [mandancing] ) x ( [BORING ASS HARVARD BUSINESS DUDES] + [ a really warm room] ) = A passed out Michael.

And you know, honestly, I’m kind of glad I did pass out. On one hand, I feel bad for leaving Casey to talk with these two boners by herself, but at the same time, it kind of pushed us to leave and head home; trust me- these guys were NOT at all interesting. I don’t want to stereotype Harvard business guys as being boring, but they sure didn’t do a good job at proving me wrong….just saying.

So! My first exciting adventure happened to be a mix of partying with a room full of women (who, I might add, I became quite protective of throughout the night. If a weird guy came around, I’d either keep my eye on him or move the girl to the other side of the group hahah, and they were very appreciative of this) and a small apartment with two Harvard business guys. Was it worth it?

Yes- I received many-a free beverage throughout the night and that ALWAYS equals a good time!


Mike out!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Mike takes Boston: This Guy Trying to be a Fackin’ Guy

Boston Trip: I’m going to say it was a Tuesday night/Wendesday morning…not really sure..

So wait- he told you his name? And then ran? Oh man, this guy is facked!”

Alright, so , Casey and I had gone to bed around midnight, and toss in the time it takes to actually fall asleep,  we JUST fell asleep-asleep around 2am-230am, right?

Boston had other plans for us, I’ll tell you hwhat.

I sleep next to a window and right around that true-falling asleep point, we hear a voraciously loud noise, followed quickly by an even louder and more sickening one; this was followed, accordingly, by the sound of tires on ice. We scrambled to the window and looked out to see one of the parked cars on this tiny-ass one-car street get completely TAGGED by a huge commercial van.

[Tagged, for the older generations reading this, is youth slang for “incurring damage that will result in the dude responsible being efffffed by his poor decision making]

And this dude who was driving the van somehow came to the conclusion that no one had heard and decides to try and get out of dahdge (dodge) before anyone decides to wake up and check it out. Too bad for him, Casey and I decided to check it out and see if the dude was ok, cause I mean, he PLOWED inta (into) that fackin’ cah (car)! We get dressed and head out and, as Casey would tell the cops later, she just had the feeling this guy was gonna bail and thus, we needed to get some information. As we get out and see what’s up, he get out of his car, says something along the lines of “awww shit” and gets back in his car to try to pull out again. Casey was busy trying to help him out and I decide to walk around the backside of the car and get as much information about the incident as I could in case this guy fled [make, model, license plate, the guy’s description, etc] when he hits paydirt and begins rapidly backing up. This almost ended up with me getting tagged by the raging chode, but instead, I flipped into beast-mode and hopped out of the way faster than a cheetah. Annnnd being on such a narrow road, his recklessness and poor decision making quickly turned his success into a fail as he backed in HARD to the Honda behind him.

Wuh-wuh, right!? The dude is just having NO good fortune with this whole accident.

SO, guy hops out and Casey and I walk up to him and –get this- shook his hand and exchanged names! I’ll tell you why this sucks for this guy later, but we did that. Casey, being the good person she is, first asks if he’s ok. He responded with “Oh mahn, could this get any wouhrse (worse)?” and Casey, being the funny/caring person she is, says “Well- ya could be dead, I mean, right?”

he didn’t laugh.

We said that given the damage to the rear-ended car, which was now blocking the road courtesy of the impact, we should probably call the cops because this was more than a simple fender-bender. I mean, check this out:

IMG00512-20110201-0217Yeah right?!

And, unfortunately, the first big crash of the night ended up being Casey’s roommate’s car, so despite Matt’s objections to go wake-up Lisa or call the police, we said we had no choice considering none of this really involved anything of ours (Casey’s). So, Casey heads back into the house to get Lisa and her phone, while I stayed outside with Matt. He leans up against his van and I that’s when I saw the lightbulb go off over his head- he calmly turns, pushed the dog that was in the car into the other seat, climbed in and drove off. Being the obvious idiot he was, instead of backing up down the street and peeling out away from more parked cars, he decides to drive between the ill-positioned Monte Carlo that he had rear-ended and a Chevy Silverado [insert loud noises of an idiot committing a hit-and-run]. I mean, honestly, there was nothing I could have done. Had I grabbed onto the back of the van to use my superman-like ability to lift cars, I would have probably gotten pinched between the two rigs and let’s face it, that wouldn’t have helped anyone. I decide to run in and grab my cell-phone, which was stupid not to grab on the way out, I admit, and call the Five-0. Before I even get inside, I hear more loud noises as Matt has managed to hit another (5) cars on his way down the street. I came back out to the road to find his had not only gotten stalled up on another car down the block, but decided that this was the time to make it on foot. With this brilliant plan put into action, Choderboy grabbed the dog, ditched this fat-ass commercial van in the middle of a tiny street, and began to walk away.

No, I am not making this up! This went down!

I booked it inside and tell Casey to call the fuzz because now he was running, and I went to go back outside to head down the street to see what else I could make note of. Oh man…the guy seriously tagged (2) cars, hit another (5) in his get-away, leaving (3) cars driverside mirrorless!

Extremely unfortunately for him, here is everything Casey and I got on him:

  • height and approx. weight;
  • All of his clothes;
  • the fact he had a small, white, yappy dog;
  • his license plate number;
  • his BUSINESS name, which was on the side of the van;
  • his name;
  • and the direction he took off in.

EXTREMELY unfortunately for him, here is everything the police found out about him when they got there:

  • He apparently lives just a couple blocks from Casey;
  • he was driving with a revoked license;
  • he is uninsured;
  • the company van is registered under his company.

So, long and short of it, after we’d talked with the cops for just about 1.5-2hours, they concluded with my opening quote - - “he’s facked!'”

Lisa eventually saw the cruiser lights and came out to see the damage, which she actually took in pretty decent stride. We ended the night by offering the cops some coffee or tea (which they kindly declined) and went back to bed- only after we called a mutual friend to tell them how epic our morning was.

So, as I posted on Facebook, Snowlack 2011 has hit an new high, with us being witnesses to a hit-and-run. Just because I like to finish things on a fun note, this is the final conversation I heard on the street before going in-

“Hey! Hey! Waht’s goin’ awn? Thaht’s my cahr!” said the owner of the Monte Carlo.

“Oh, yeah, it’s gettin’ towed pal. Sorry!” said police officer.

“Why? Waht happened?”

“Hit and Run; your car got facked up pretty bahd.”

“Awww shit. That saucks!” said Monte Carlo dude.

…I found it to be kind of funny, are some of the other cars:

IMG00513-20110201-0217 IMG00515-20110201-0222 IMG00517-20110201-0227



Mike Out!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Back to the Pond: Sannvannstalen

Homecoming:  Day unknown

Did we just get shot at?!"”

So, apologies, I just remembered, for some reason, I forgot to write about one of the sweetest experiences of my time in Kristiansand, Norway, and that was our excursion to the Wathne Family cabin- Sannvannstalen.

The entire trip I had heard so much about the family talking about this cabin out on another one of the family’s lakes that is, apparently, one of the most stunning places to be in the whole of Wathne. As I would soon come to find out- this is absolutely true.

Christian and I stated out the day with some good ole’ coffee with Farmor (of course) and then proceeded on our way out. Knowing that we were going on a hike, I dressed up ‘light-but-heavy’ i.e. I wore my under armor but no jeans, only basketball shorts, with a t-shirt and my vest;l light…but heavy. And honestly you may scoff at my ridiculious wardrobe, but it worked. I was quickly reminded of how hot I get when I go hiking, never mind hiking in the snow where every other step was a plunge into the unknown. So, the takeaway lesson is this: dress for success.

We started the hike by walking out on the tractor path, the same one we’d walk to work every day in the woods. Feeling adventurous, Christian decides to take a short-cut through over the more hilly terrain, which actually was fantastic. Despite being out of breath from walking uphill in the snow, the scenery and fresh air really did a lot to make up for the lack of athleticism. And as the story goes- '”over the river and through the woods, to grandmother’s house we go’, except it was more like as shit-ton of creeks as opposed to a single river.

I’m going to stop talking and show you what I’m talking about:

IMG_0249 IMG_0248

Yeah- effing gorgeous, right?!


Check this shit out:

 IMG_0250 IMG_0255IMG_0251

Sannvannstalen II                                                   Inside Sannvannstalen I                                                      Sannvannstalen I


I know!!

Long story short, this cabin has been in the Wathne family for literally hundreds of years. At one point, I believe, they told me it was the original housing for one of the first family members. Over the years, as society and the town of Kristiansand evolved and progressed, the Wathne family moved their cluster of houses closer to the main roads, and closer together. Now-a-days, Sannvannstalen is used as a day trip retreat, or even a summertime get away. As it is briefly shown in the above middle picture of the cooking area, Sannvannstalen remains completely unmodernized- there is no electricity or running water, and there are only two main ways of heating the small cabin, both involve wood and waiting. The rooms, obviously built for a much smaller generation, left only centimeters for Christian and me; Christian, being taller, accordingly left with a more of a headache from hitting his head too much. In fact, even though I am only 5’9’’, I had to bend over to get in most of the rooms and even once in those rooms, had to occasionally tweak my neck to avoid a beam or two.

So, some more on Sannvannstalen II- it is a rebuild of a cabin that was accidentally burned down a couple generations ago. Farfar, the aforementioned bad-ass patriarch of the Wathne family, rebuilt it with a couple of his close neighbor pals and the inside is only rerally big enough for a family dinner table OR for a SLUMBER-PARTY, all depending on how many people and what kind of people head to Sannvannstalen. And I’m telling you- this cabin is legit; built by hand, all of the wood is taken from their property and one of those sturdy-ass woods that won’t rot or fall apart any time soon. The building is pretty much a life-like lincoln log cabin- but a hundred times more badass- obviously. Even the table, the benches, and a couple of the chairs are made of the very same logs that the cabin is, and anyone-ANYONE who enjoys cabins and getting away from technology would absolutely LOVE Sannvannstalen! I love it and I really actually want to hand-build a cabin now and I will not die until I do this.

Cabin aside, we spent the day the ONLY way- we made pølser [sausage] with bacon over a fire in the small kitchen (middle picture above) and chilled out (literally- the fire took a while to heat the room and Christian kept leaving the door open) in the main cabin.


The only thing we forgot were some good beers, but, lesson learned: bring beer to cabin. There, you learned two things today, just by reading this ridiculous blog!


We started hiking back and, in order to save time, we decided to walk across a frozen lake. Well, to be exact, we walked around the edge of the frozen lake because we didn’t really want to risk falling through the ice somewhere in the middle of the lake AND to reaffirm our decision, it was getting really dark and we needed to get back. So, we started off and not more than a minute after we started walking on the ice, we hear this MASSSIVEEEEEE


Now, normally when someone hears such a loud and thundering noise, they do what Christian did- and get the f8ck out of there [ true story- I’ve never seen him move so fast in his life!]. Other people myself included, stand around and look for the source of the noise. I like to think that if I were a deer, I would have ruined many a-vehicle because of my fascination with bright lights. But being that I am not a deer and I was in fact a human standing on a frozen lake, I decided to look for what scared the proverbial shit out of me. I didn’t find it (directly); however, Christian and I both agreed it kind of sounded like gun-shots, so naturally we started patting down our bodies to see if we had been shot. We looked at each other, laughed, and then proceeded to check our torsos once again. We came to the conclusion, after we had begun traversing the lake again, that it was the shifting of the ice, since during the big-boom we both felt it as well. That and in the days leading up to our trip the weather had been a little warmer and then on the day of our trip, the temperature decreased to such a dramatic point that the ice had decided to verbalize its discomfort.

Onward and over! Chip cheerio!

We kept walking until a point (now this gets ridiculous) where a small creek normally ran into the lake. If you know anything about hiking over frozen bodies of water (or the natural world even) then you know that this area was going to be one of the weakest spots on the lake. Primarily because during the warmer days, the water actually still runs under the top layer on the creek and down onto/into the lake. The effect of which is akin to cold water trickling on frozen shrimp- even though the shrimp is frozen and the water is cold, there is still enough of a temperature difference to defrost the shrimp. Christian, being the lightest of us, got over the area fine; Me, being heavier, staaaaaarted to hear some ice cracking beneath me…and then sawwwww ice cracking beneath me. Remember how I mentioned how I would fare as a deer in the headlights? Well, I’m also the dumbass who stays still on cracking ice. The worst part is that in every single movie I’ve seen with the protagonist in the SAME situation, I’m the first yelling at them to move and get the f8ck out of there! AND HERE I WAS- NOT MOVING! I’m the worst hypocrite ever because my hypocrisies end up landing me in some hot (or extremely cold) water. Fortunately, however, we discovered the thicker parts of the ice were the areas still covered in snow, so moving as quickly and lightly as I have ever moved, I snuck over to the thicker ice and was relieved to hear no more [ice] cracking.

We eventually made it back to Christian’s house safe and sound- and dry, for the most part. For the record, I never actually fell in to Sannvann (the lake we were walking on), so that was nice. The hike, in general, was a fantastic day trip and at that point, I was almost starting to regret coming in winter because I am absolutely sure that the sights I was seeing in the winter time would triple in beauty in the summer season; but I don’t regret anything on this trip, thus far. In fact, seeing as I am typing this in Boston after the fact, I am not sure if I regret anything….I guess we’ll have to see in the wrap-up post!

Mike out!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Mike takes Amsterdam: annnnnnd then some

Day 19

so for 50euro…”

Next morning, Katie met me at Mac Bike, the premiere bike rental shop. As I had mentioned before, usually in Facebook status updates, I planned on doing Amsterdam right- on a touring bike. And I’m telling you- there really is no other way to experience Amsterdam. Tour buses and rental cars can suck it; walking can suck it; everything can suck it- except for biking. The overall atmosphere of Amsterdam seems to much more upbeat, and I don’t think because of the dope, but because of the natural endorphins everyone has flowing through their bodies from riding bikes all day. I mean, really, look at this:

IMG_0290This is just the 1st level of a multi-leveled bike-parking area next to the canal. EVERYONE rides EVERYWHERE and it’s absolutely fantastic. This ultimately only leads to a few people driving, but from what I experienced, you can get everywhere you need to go on a touring bike. I was only on one for a few minutes when I realized how awesome the day was going to be. It just helps you feel really good because you get exercise, you’re not causing extreme pollution, and quite frankly, it’s just a a lot of fun! I could have rented a moped or gas-bike, but eff that, man! You gotta experience things as everyone else does them! Otherwise, what’s the point in going places, you know?

Katie finally showed up and it was really nice to see her again. We first met in my first year of college; we were in the same FIG (Freshman Interest Group) and from there, got her hooked on Smallville, so lest-be-said, we were pretty good friends and to see her again- well, it was really nice. Quick hug and we were outta there! Since I was still carrying my big-ass backpack, we road across town to her apartment to drop it off before we got going to a small coffee bistro, since Katie hadn’t ate all day and she had been riding for about an hour or so before she met up with me. It was here that I would have my first bit of legalized herb while Katie ate her bagel. Now, a slight history with me and this stuff: I’m not a big user. In fact, the times in which I had partaken in college really didn’t get me feeling as if I should ever do it habitually. This, right now, in this country, was something to add to my growing collection of “live-in-the-now” experiences and boy- Did I live in the now! Katie warned me though, smoking (too much) and riding was on par to drinking and driving, and I trusted her, so I took it easy. I mean, I did have the ENTIRE day…might as well pace myself…

Shortly after we had sat down, one of the workers came out and yelled at us for sitting in front of the store, so we packed up shop and got back on our bikes to go to another coffeeshop that Katie said had reallly good hot chocolate. I never really believed hot chocolate demanded the use of an exaggerated “really”, but she was right! At first I thought it was because we got it in a coffeeshop and she was more or less probably stoned whenever she got it, but nah man, this stuff was legit! It was steamed milk with cube of Dutch chocolate shucked on the end of a fondue stick that we had to stir in ourselves. Of course, because Dutch chocolate isn’t as sweet as it is stateside, each mug came with some extra sugar, but I didn’t mind the bitter darkness of the choco. It was almost as smooth as it was bitter…I know, I can’t really explain it, but it was! We sat there a bit and enjoyed the hot chocolate and the atmosphere of the small store before Katie looked at me and asked me if I felt like a beer.

It' was 11:30; of course I did.

We rode over to a small lunchtime bistro and had a lager while Katie explained to me how horrible customer service in Holland really wasn’t the best. Typically, you have to stare at the waiter while they walk toward you, not back down, and essentially grab them to get your order. 30minutes later, you had food. Luckily, all we got was a brew while we shot-the-shit, so we didn’t have to experience the horror of Dutch customer service. Here was where we planned out the next couple of hours, including a trip to the most popular farmer’s market in Amsterdam, a photography museum, and a canal tour.

After we had locked up out bikes outside of the market, Katie began telling me a bit about the cultural aspect of Amsterdam, particularly about the racial bigotry that has lately been coming about with the immigration of a lot of Turkish people. She told me that although her Dutch was relatively pretty poor, what could gather, would –as she put it- make my ears bleed. She compared it to early American racism against African-Americans and almost said it was more blood-lusty than that. I would say it was interesting to hear, but at the same time, saddening to hear that one of the happiest places to live in the world had been infected by the disgusting disease of racism. It’s interesting because from what I learned prior to my visit is that Holland, in it’s immigration, won’t allow anyone in the country who wouldn’t assimilate perfectly into their culture. Unlike the States where we embrace cultures of all varieties, the Dutch enjoy their already progressive society and don’t really like radical changes. For example, I believe- believe- that at one point, a questionnaire asked potential immigrants if they could tolerate gay persons kissing in public, and if they couldn’t, they wouldn’t be allowed in the country. I could be wrong and that might have actually been just a radical example of the immigration standards of the country, but from what I saw, it really wasn’t far off.

After Katie bought a t-shirt, we took a walk around the park (which was absolutely stunning) and went back to the bikes, where we then proceeded to Foam, the museum of photography. Foam’s current display featured the life and work of one photographer- W. Eugene Smith. His work as a photojournalist was amazing because at first, he took pictures because he felt a calling, but soon he started to take pictures for causes- namely WWII, Vietnam propaganda, human rights, and lastly to explore the humanity in people. Check out the link and check out what you can, because this dude was phenomenal.

Foam really brought me around to think of how I can use my photography for similar causes and not just for taking photos that “look cool”- but then I realized, I liked taking pictures that “look cool” and I’m fine with that at the moment; and then we got GIN. And not just any gin- the best gin in Holland! I mean, seriously, this shit was legit! This company, Wynand Fockink, is the premire distillery of Holland and has been since 1679; their products ranged from straight-up gin to mix-and-matched flavors. I, myself, had mandarin and creme brulee gins. The neat part about it is they came in fancy drinking glasses and filled to the brim with delicious liquor; however, you couldn’t pick up the glass without sipping it down first. It’s kind of like a blowjob at a bar- no hands policy- but after you sipped it down a bit, you were good to go. Check it: Katie and I classing up at Wynand Fockink.


The dude behind the counter was a curious sort, but was very good natured and if you do go there, you have to go with enough time to talk with him because it’s one of those places that…you just do. Don’t be the dick that gets a drink and leaves. Totally sweet spot that EVERYONE needs to visit in Amsterdam.

Before we got completely snockered on delicious gin, we decided to hit up the canal tour. The canal ride was nice because I got to see the areas of Amsterdam that we wouldn’t have been able to reach in the one day I was there. The worst part was when AN ENTIRE CLASS OF HIGH SCHOOL KIDS GOT ON THE BOAT; they were loud, annoying, and got in the way of ALL my shots. Those little bastards nearly ruined my canal ride, but luckily Katie was able to provide the information that I couldn’t hear from the actual guide. I didn’t end up taking many pictures because of the kids, but it’s alright because the pictures I did take were worth it.

After the canal ride, we made for one of Katie’s favorite pubs in the whole of Amsterdam. I don’t know what it was called, but all I know is while she bought cigarettes, I bought a wood pipe for more Julio. She couldn’t help laughing whenever I lit up because she admitted she had never seen anyone, ANYONE smoke from a wood pipe. My response?



‘nuff said.

Now, for anyone following this asking themselves “Where is the part about the Red light District, Mike?!”

It’s right here: the pub, get this, was right down the alley from the Red Light District. Katie told me to just walk around and check things out, see it for myself. And I’ll tell you what- there are, in fact, women in doorways with red (more like hot-pinkish) lights around every door. And I was NOT ready for how pseudo creepy it was! I mean, there are WOMENin DOORWAYS with NO CLOTHES on! I mean, all throughout Europe I’ve seen uncensored mannequins in windows, but I was not ready for them to move- nonetheless wave at me! And they were EVERYWHERE! Left, Right, Up, Down…everywhere! And in some places, there were TWO of them in ONE ROOM! Given all my boyish excitement, I will admit I made a couple of laps through the district and for some reason, I heard a bunch of knocking whenever I would walk by. As Katie would later explain to me, that’s when the ladies had a particular interest in a fella. So it goes to say- I felt pretty special at hearing so many knocks my way. But then again, they are prostitutes that want to be paid, so, I’m not trying to give myself jazzhands over the knocking.

sooooooooo….we left the Red Light and got some Schwarme (?) at a Middle Eastern restaurant and then booked it home to have a couple more drinks and relax before my long-ass day of traveling tomorrow.


Before I got on a flight, I had a very Dutch meal of croquettes, which were deep-fried gravy rolls on bread. This, I believe, marked my return to the obese nature that is America- nothing like deep-fried fat on a stack of carbohydrates! And since I wasn’t prepared for it, I actually burned the roof of my mouth quite badly-which sucked. To add onto it, I got through security with maybe half-filled bottle of water and at the end of it, the lady wouldn’t let me take it with me or empty it out and refill it later. I mean, I understand the new international rules surrounding boarding flights and what not- but a dually hungover guy with a burnt mouth-roof needs water; I needed that water.

And here is where my European adventures come to an end- hungover and a burnt mouth-roof. Good thing the most of my trip in Amsterdam was spent in an unspeakable bliss or I’d have been pisssssssssed!

Submitted for the approval of the Midnight Society…Mike’s taking of Amsterdam: COMPLETE.

Our Norwegian protagonist braves the Netherlands in search of adventure; in other words….MIKE TAKES AMSTERDAM!!!

Day 18

So wait, I can just walk into ANY coffee shop and not only buy marijuana- but then smoke it?”


hahah yeah…”

DISCLAIMER: for obvious reasons, I will not talk about some of my experiences directly or explicitly. Again, where most of my censoring comes from is the respect I hold for my grandmother, who is an avid reader of this travel blog, and I’d rather not scar her too badly. If you’d like to hear it all, bring a bottle of wine to my house before I leave Seattle and we’ll talk.

SECOND DISCLAIMER: I really didn’t do anything horrendous, but I like creating an exciting atmosphere with my story-telling, so for all intended purposes- just pretend I was a bad, bad boy.

Alright, so, the first day in Amsterdam wasn’t actually the most excited: I had a 10hour layover in Copenhagen, which last most of the day, and I ran out of minutes on my international sim-card, which resulted in me not being able to connect with my friend/tour guide. I think this was Monday the 24th….yes..I think so. I did, however, end up seeing a good amount of the gorgeous night-scenery while I looked all over the place for my freaking hostel. Seriously- I COULD NOT FIND IT. I stayed at the Stayokay Hostel at Vondelpark. As I would come to find out, it was actually StayOkay Hostel in Vondelpark; the hostel was literally in the middle of this park. I, on the other hand, walked around for over an hour with my 35lb bag trying to find this damned hostel, looking like the biggest sap of a tourist in the world. As anyone who knows me knows- I dislike tourists, immensely. Mostly because of their ignorance and non-desire to actually live and learn a culture, instead, opting to visit sightseeing destinations and stay in fancy hotels. I know, I know, I’m an econ major and I know tourism is a fair chunk of some nations’ GDP, but still, tourists on whole can be assholes.

But I digress.

I looked liked the only tourist in Amsterdam, and because it was winter, I wasn’t too far off. But I eventually found it, thanks to the help of another hotel manager. I checked in, found my coed room, and unpacked. And here’s the funny thing about the coed room- it was full of dudes. I clicked on the coed because it was the only room open at the time I registered, but I have a feeling that every other dude in the room booked it accordingly to try and fully “experience” Amsterdam with a little hostel love. And another interesting thing was that there was an entirely girl-tour group staying the hostel and I could hear girls down every which way of the corridor and every room around us- but our room was completely dudes. I don’t know, I just find this to be a funny occurrence. One of my hostel-mates, Daniel (?) from Argentina, had just checked in as well and was getting all prepped up for the stay. We chatted for a bit and I eventually decided to go check out the city a bit. Daniel (?= I forgot his name, so it will be Daniel from now on) was working on his blog and I tried to persuade him to come out and get some drinks, but he declined because he wanted to write everything while it was fresh in his mind. Right at that moment of denial, a PACK OF CLUB-DRESSED = SCANTLY CLAD WOMEN walked behind me, tossing smiles and flirts our way. I did one of those slow head-turns back to Daniel whose head had tilted so far to the side he could rest his ear on his shoulder (comfortably), raised an eyebrow, and threw a headnod towards the chick-pack.


something is wrong with this dude, seriously.

Anyway, I was done trying to persuade this guy to come out, and I took off after the night-life. The pack had gotten out of sight by the time I got out, so hunting was out of the question, leading me to find fun on my own [which isn’t hard for me]. I walked to the touristy-tourist center of town and immediately found a bar playing loud music and had a good, dense crowd of people. I made my b-line for the bar and got some drank. Honestly, nothing really happened here; I talked with a couple of people, drank a bit, got a couple beers bought for me, and left because it was 4am something and I was drunk. I was set to meet Katie, my buddy, at a local bike shop in the morning around 10:30, so I figured with everything going on that next day, I should have probably started back. As I step out of the bar, I look across the way and see the “Cool-Down Cafe” (?), a coffeeshop. As Katie told me –“Coffeeshops = weed; coffeehouse = coffee”. And I mean, what is the sensible son of an agent of the law going to do at a time like this?

You’re damn right I went into that coffeeshop.

“Did you smoke..?”


“Why not?!”

Because (1) I didn’t have any matches; (2) I was already drunk and I didn’t feel the need to go overboard; (3) honestly- I was nervous!

In the States, as everyone knows, this is bad-juju, and I wasn’t quite in Netherland-mode yet, so I took my time, ya dig?

So here I am , walking down the street back to my hostel, nd I’m thinking to myself: “Damn I’m cool!”, when in reality, I was just now fitting in to the Holland scene. But in any case, I felt awesome because I had already started experiencing Amsterdam. Even though I had drank until 4am, met some peeps, and bought a J- today was going to be NOTHING compared to the next night, which you can read in my exciting conclusion!

…to be continued…

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Mike Takes Denmark-and develops a mild hatred of the Danish transportation department.

Homecoming: Day 16—> day 17

I have 100kroner and I need to get back to hostel or I will be stranded here- please, take me!”

My Saturday night in Aalborg, Denmark seamlessly transitioned into Sunday morning, a night done right with techno music, drinks, and random Erasmus students from around the world. Seeing as this was my last night in Denmark, I did it right and I did it hard. In other words, I stayed up all night with Peter and the guys dancing and drinking, trying to be “cool” with the ladies, which as I mentioned last post, is a very difficult task considering the socially-bipolar collection of women in the clubs.

4am: I enter the hostel lobby, stumbling around, trying to tell the dude behind the counter I need a taxi in 15minutes; it took a while- but I did it! And I will say this: if you plan on staying out all night, make sure you are packed before you go. As some of you reading this might guess that was me- YOU’RE WRONG. I packed up my schtuff before heading out because I knew I wasn’t going to be able to see straight come time to leave and whudathunkit I was right. The warm shower to “wake-up” didn’t help either, especially considering how small it was. I think I honestly fell into the walls enough times to count, but I wasn’t, I was actually considering getting a road brew while I waited for my taxi! No, don’t worry, I didn’t. I did however buy a Twix for the taxi ride.

What will eventually be concluded with this post is how much I have developed a mild hatred of the Danish transportation system, in regards to flying. It will be discussed in the following stages (somewhat in that order, but maybe not exactly):

  1. Ridiculous and redundant hours of operation;
  2. Robots that are not helpful;
  3. Asshole Customer Service agents;
  4. Danish websites changing dates of trips;
  5. Faulty trip reservation system;
  6. Non-compliance with said hours of operation;
  7. Inability to resolve conflict (quickly).

So, 4:30 rolls around and I’m at the airport, which has just opened. This, in the first place, seems counter intuitive when you have 6:30 international flights that require you be checked in at least 2 hours before the flight. I’d actually gotten there a little bit early, but only a few minutes, so that was nice. Anyway, I went over to the self-service kiosks, the electronic mah-doogies, to print of my boarding pass. Low and behold—there is an issue with my reservation. The machine, with all of it’s wisdom and power, wouldn’t tell me why my reservation code wasn’t working. So of course being as intoxicated as I still was, I get a little upset and decide to talk to someone to help me out. I waddle over to the customer service counter to see what I didn’t want to- NO ONE AT THE EFFING COUNTER. Why open an airport if there is going to be NO ONE to be there? I don’t get it! No service agents were there, in any of the kiosks and no one was behind their respective counters! At this point, I was drunk and now very pissed off, so I did what any self-respecting drunk American would do while they waited for a service agent: I played Angry Birds- and then passed out against the column I was propped up against. Like I said- I was pissed.

When the dude finally showed up, he tried to not pay attention to me as he gets his “area” ready for the day. I really had no right to have been pissed at him (yet) because I had done the same thing when I worked coffee. I couldn’t help anyone until the store was ready, so I would just pretend they weren’t there, as he was doing to me; I had just gotten served. When he finally came over to the counter, he wouldn’t stop speaking Danish, even despite my constant “nei, nei, Taller englesk, takk..” (even though it’s Norwegian/Danish, they can understand it, so he should have stopped SPEAKING IN DANISH) and it was not helping my pissy nature. As it turns out, the genius came up with the conclusion that I had purchased the ticket for February, not January.

FÆN [google translate it- I won’t say it here].

Looking at his screen I saw that the reservation was in fact made for February, yet I would have sworn on any holy book that I had clicked January. The idea that the Danish site changed my month isn’t too far fetched considering it wasn’t the first time a travel site had switched ish up on me during my travels. Even though it actually is pretty far fetched to say the Danish travel bureau sabotaged my flight to Amsterdam, I like to think I didn’t commit the foul. This is where the guy becomes a dick- he would not BUDGE on getting me on the flight. Before I could even finish asking to help a brotha out, he cut me off “Nope, no, we don’t-we can’t do that. It’s against policy.” The non-internet price for a ticket was upwards of $400 , and there was no way I could afford that, so I told him I needed to get on the flight because I couldn’t afford to stay in Aalborg another night. His response?

“Do you have a credit card?”

"Do you have a credit card?!” Are you kidding me?! It’s almost 5am and this chode was trying to commit extortion of the reasonable kind, but it was ridiculous. I can’t say that the US is any better, but I’m sure they would have tried a lot harder to get me on that flight. This guy actually walked away from me while I was trying to work something out! Chode aside, I backed away from the counter and took inventory of my decreasing currency. I had spent the last solid bit of Danish kroner to get to the airport and my US accounts were beginning to dwindle below the point I marked to have a reasonable move to California upon my return to the West Coast, so I had begun to float up the shit river. Luckily, I found 100kroner in my back pocket; unfortunately, my taxi ride out had cost me over 200kroner. Again, I did what any reasonable drunken American would do if they found out they were stranded and broke in a foreign country- I played Angry Birds, but when I couldn’t break down the effin pigs’ defense, I got even more angry and decided that I needed to get a game plan together. I decided to try my luck with a taxi-driver and ask for a ride back. In other words, I begged some guy, who turned out to be a douche, to give me a lift back to the hostel for the rest of my money. He reluctantly agreed, but was a dick the entire way back, which I think is completely unnecessary. If I were a taxi-driver, I would be up for helping out a brotha every once and a while, especially when the clubs were closing and I would definitely make up the loss very quickly from all the extremely drunk bastards around town.

I get to the hostel and explain to the new person behind the counter that I had just checked out but missed my flight and needed to use the internet. She was cool about it and let me ‘chill’ out in the lobby for a spell. And THANK GOD FOR FACEBOOK. I never thought I’d say that, but without it, I would have been EFFED because I was losing my cool and my mobile phone definitely did not have enough credits to call the states and talk with the parentals. My mom happened to be online and with the her help, I was able to regain my chi and think logically about things: I needed another flight and a place to stay for the night because I was running drunk with only 2 hours of sleep 27hours earlier (if that makes sense). After getting my to-do list busted out and booked, my parents were my knights in shining armor and wired me some extra cash to help with the room and food for the day.

Seriously, my parents are best. If you disagree, you can go f*ck yourself.

I eventually got a room and slept until about 3pm, which felt absolutely wonderful. Oddly enough, when I had reserved my new flight, it said there was a complication in purchasing the ticket, yet the confirmation I was emailed said everything was taken care of. All day after waking up, I called the customer service hotline, but being freaking Sunday, no one was there. I was quite concerned because I really could not afford another night in Aalborg. I gave up and decided to figure it out in the morning at the airport. In the evening time, I met back up with Peter and his Danish-American pal for some drinks to watch the Packers-Bears playoff game. Soon enough, a Belgian dude (that we all think was completellyyyy full of shit) and bought us all a bunch of beer, which was great.


I want to go on record and say that I did not get drunk that night, because I’d be a huge dick if I used the money my parents sent on booze; however, I did forget to set my alarm to wake up in time, and with going to bed at 3am and needing to be up at 5am, this was a bad new bears. Luckily, I had a dream that ended abruptly with me (yes, me) walking up to me in a dream and yelling at me- “YOU FORGOT TO SET YOUR ALARM, ASSWAD!” It actually freaked me out to the point where I abruptly jerked awake and fell out of my bunk. I looked at my iPod and saw that it was exactly 5am.

F8ck yeah.

Showered, taxied, and waiting in the airport, I go again to the freakin robot-kiosk and it says that my confirmation code had a problem…


I decide to keep my cool this time because (1) I wasn’t drunk, and (2) I had plenty of time to figure it out. Except the CHODE behind the counter wouldn’t tell me what was wrong because he couldn’t figure it out. I had the idea that it was my debit card (which had been acting up lately) and told him but he assured me that it wasn’t. So he tells me to wait 15minutes until their office opens [at this time, I had just about under an hour before my flight took off]. Once the time comes around to call the office, ChoderBoy calls them up and guess what- no. one. answers.

30minutes later (20min until I had to be on the GD flight), a lady called me over to the other counter and told me my credit card hadn’t been accepted- INCONVIEVABLE! Well, instead of saying that, I do one of those slow head turns toward Chode, who doesn’t make eye contact with me, and turn back to pay the lady with my other debit card. With my flight paid for and moderate hatred for the Danish travel system, I shoved some bitches (guy bitches and girl bitches) out my way to make it to security. At this point, I had 10min to board my flight. LUCKILY, I got through security lickety split and the gate was literally right there after you got through. I boarded my flight literally putting my belt on. I think I finished putting my belt on when right before I sat down in my seat.

Often times I’ll end a post with words of advice, but in all honesty, I may have messed up originally, but the Danish [assuming the rest of the country is just as incompetent as Aalborg] are horrendous at customer relations; thus, my advice is such- avoid flying in Denmark.
Considering the rest of the day was spent in an airport and flying, I will end my Danish leg of my blog with this:


IMG_0274I hate this place…


Friday, January 28, 2011

Mike takes Denmark: part 2!!!

Homecoming: Day 15—>day 16

I’m really horny!"’

I’ll admit it: I passed out on the floor once we got back to the hotel. Am I embarrassed? Hell no, I meant to do it! I needed some energy for the night because as I mentioned earlier, I wasn’t going to leave Denmark without checking out the night-life. Luckily for me, I had been in contact with a fellow Surfer who had invited me out. After Christian passed out, I snapped out of my drool-filled coma and cleaned up a bit (put on deodorant) and left to meet up with Natalia, an Erasmus student from Poland. We didn’t stay at the apartment for long since people wanted to hit Jomfru, granted the clock at just struck midnight:30, the party, my friends, was just beginning on Jomfru.


Katy Perry.



The night was pretty epic. I mean, there really isn’t much to talk about considering I danced and drank with people I vaguely knew, which was fun. I think one of the highlights of the night was while dancing, I kept feeling this bumping behind me. Of course, being the optimist, I think it’s some gorgeous Danish model that for some reason was getting my attention for a good techno session; it was a drunk dude. Slight embarrassment, yes, but the dude was dancing with an equally, if not more, intoxicated gal. This made to be the WORST dance team in the world as they were knocking into absolutely everyone on the floor. Luckily for me, I was a first hand witness to his downfall.

I was dancing with Natalia and her friend when this guy says something in this gals ear while dipping her, trying to neck, right? I guess that’s what single guys do- the dip and neck and whisper sweet nothings into a chick’s ears even though she can’t hear a damn word he’s saying. Being not nearly on their level of wasted, I was able to hear it just fine. The dude actually did this, I shit you not; he dipped her, nibbled on her neck, and then whispered- “I’m horny” in her ear, very nonchalantly. When she couldn’t hear him and asked him to repeat it, he said louder and probably more proud: “I’m horny!”

I have never seen anyone as drunk as she was at that moment become as sober as she seemed to become; she stood STRAIGHT up, almost robot-like, and walks in a direct-route to the bathroom [my guess- to hurl], again, like a robot. Simultaneously RIGHT at that moment, a loud “BARBARA STREISAND” came over the bass system and I’ll tell you what- I nearly lost it. I was laughing so hard from his EPIC fail and the song that I nearly pissed myself on the dance floor. You might not think it’s hilarious, but try having hundreds of people scream, “BARBARA STREISAND” in complete techno-unison; it’s hilarious.

ONTO THE NEXT PARTY (the next night, Saturday)

Christian was gone and I was contemplating not going out because of my early flight (those of you who know, know this is the reason I hate the Danish customer service industry)- but then after a good push from my pals in the states, I decided to head out and rock Denmark one last time.

Bar #1: Robin [ referencing Robin Hood]. Time: approx. 10:30pm

Fantastically cheap beer, especially when you say you’re American- People LOVE IT! There were two Danish “bros” that were absolutely enthralled with my Americaniness that they kept buying the rounds, which of course, would was mondo appreciated. Apparently, they love Los Angeles, Seattle, and how businesses are open on Sunday. Things were going great until they started mentioning hard drugs. I could SWEAR one kept rubbing his own nipples. Once they left to go into the ‘smoking room’ (an area with a 3/4 wall surrounding it), I paid my bill and peaced out to another bar, one with more….dancing! Boom!

Bar#2: Dunno, Didn’t see the name. Time: approx. Midnight

Way more dancing going on, myself included. The worst part was even though the ratio of men to girls was technically man-favored, Danish chicks will either dance with you- or not. There is NO middle-room, which is where I was. I consider “middle room” to be just dancing around having fun, nothing resembling the virtual kama-sutra. But as I said (and my soon-to-be-new friend Peter would later confirm for me) that Danish chicks are TOUGH. If they don’t wnat to dance with you, friendly or otherwise, they won’t have ANY of it. So, because of all the debbie-downers, I just decided to grab some beer and see what happens. Sure enough-nothing of circumstance.

Enter Peter Knox- the local Irishman.

Standing 6’1’’, blonde, and wearing a tight black tee, Peter’s out for a good time with some friends of his, a couple of which are Erasmus students with Natalia. He notices I’m drinking alone and instantly says “Cheers!” and I clink pints. “Who ya hear with, man?” says Peter. “No one, my man, no one,” says I. “Alright then- hey miss! And another beer for my friend here!”

Peter Knox- my new friend.

I’m not going to lie, I forget his buddies’ names, but they were pretty alright dudes. We got some drinks at the bar, and then I noticed the guys putting their jackets on and I guess we were moving to another bar with a better ‘crowd’ i.e. there weren’t enough beautiful ladies for my new posse. Boom, new bar!

Bar #3: I want to say….Hollywood Boulevard. Time: nearing 2am

2 beers and 3 cigarettes and the dudes wanted to bounce- and bounce we did. By then, it was getting late and I should have gone to bed, since I had to be at the airport in 2 hours; HOWEVER, no way I was going to let this night end so early because why…? I was in freaking DENMARK! Cripes! So anyway, we ran off to the next bar down the street to rock the night away.

Bar #4: Alright…way past the point of remembering- not gonna lie. Time: Somewhere around 3am.

We go to a fancy place down the street, a legit disco-teck- dancing platforms, bar in the middle of the room, and a 50kroner cover charge. As Peter and his crew mentioned, this places fellas-to-gals ratio was greatly in the guys favor, but as I had mentioned, Danish girls are hard. What this means for me is A LOT of mean glares from people I didn’t know when I became pushed into them by people actually more drunk than I was. It’s absolutely crazy! I wasn’t looking for anything than but some dancing and fun-having, but these club goers, the ones wanting to go home with EVERYONE with the opposite sex were making life miserable! Good thing my posse were all out for just having some good time. Beers in hand, and away we went! I left the incredibly mean Danish girls to all the club sharks- it just wasn’t for me. All the FREAKING perfume and over-stenched cologne was an ABOMINATION to nostils and I was having fun chatting it up with the dudes and getting the occasional wink from the ladies. Coincidentally, I got the most winks and looks only after people had heard my American accent. It was a mounting proof that foreign people, women in general, love the American. However, this American accent doesn’t mean diddly when you’re in a club with bass system that literally shakes your bones.

Ah, so is life.

In any case, it was now 4am and I was running late for the my airport appointment, so I booked back to the hostel. I needed to be checked in to the airport at 4:30am..ruhroh! WORTH IT! It’s 4am and I was about to discover just how much I hate Danish customer service.

….to be continued…

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Mike Takes Denmark!

Homecoming: Day 15

We underestimated by a power of 10!”

Quick pre-cap [yes, no recap, but precap. Yes, the word doesn’t exist, according to Microsoft LiveWriter, but it can suck it]

I would like to say we took it easy after the Norwegian Sea and in terms of being touristy, this is completely true; however, in terms of relaxing, this is completely untrue. The two days following the epic battle of Man vs. Nature (which ended up as a draw, seeing as I bitchslapped a Jellyfish and we all fell in the Norwegian Sea), Christian and I prepared for Denmark by working over time in the woods. We didn’t want to leave his dad with all the work, so we busted ass and rocked it out. The day before Denmark, we went into Kristiansand for last minute shopping, but let’s face it- we’re dudes; we don’t shop. Instead, Christian bought a sandwich and I got coffee and eventually pistachio gelato.

Consider Kristiansand: TAKEN

Now onto the greasy greasy of Denmark…

First off, we had an entire day of awesome fortune, and honestly, if one thing would have gone wrong, we would have been effed in some way or the other.

  • We almost missed the Ferry because SOMEONE took forever getting ready (it was mmeeeeeee);
  • When we arrived, our tram to the train had pulled up and was about to leave, so we ended up booking it down the crowded path. It looked like this;
  • When we got to the train, we couldn’t figure out how to use the electronic-automatic ticket buying-thingie, so we went looking aimlessly for the ticket counter. By the time we got our tickets, our train was blowing the final whistle for boarding- so we ended up running to that, which looked kind of like this;
  • Once we got to Aalborg, Denmark, we had NO IDEA where we were going, but we just kind of started wondering and ended up being right down the street from our hotel, when we finally got wifi and checked our google maps;
  • Finally, and most importantly- the beer was cheaper than in Norway.

Once we finally checked in and headed out, we found out one MAJOR piece of information that I wish someone had told me, and because of this, I will say this to you all:

Aalborg has NO tourism/VERY LITTLE to DO

Totally serious. We went to a few places, all of which were the worst, most boring places we’ve visited:

  1. Aalborg Cultural Museum- Horrible. Worst displays ever and completely non-interesting;
  2. Utzon Architectural Museum- Boring. It is literally just drawings. Nothing fun or cool at all;
  3. The Modern Art Museum- the best by far, but still, nothing that exciting. The museum in Oslo was much better because a lot of the art was about issues, not some random clashing of lines that some people call art;
  4. The Military-Garrison Museum- looked ballin’, but was closed for winter.

Now, we did hit up one place, the Maritime Museum of Aalborg which had a pseudo- chronological display of Denmark’s maritime history, which as it turned out, was pretty radical. “Why was it so awesome to see all these boats and ships and stuff? Haven’t you seen other maritime museums on your trip?” And the answer is yes; however, none that ended with a MOTHALUVIN SUBMARINE!




In all honesty, Aalborg is a very scenic destination spot and I can see where a lot of it’s tourism comes with the warmer seasons. The very Danish architecture is probably just an accent during the summer with all of the outside vendors and the hubbub of the sun. I chose to come in winter, so I can’t hate it too much, but you know what, I’m going to. And you’ll see why in a later post.

After the art gallery, we head back to the hotel to figure out the night. Christian, being a poopy-tired little sap decided to nap while I looked for transportation and housing for Amsterdam. Sounds dull, yeah, I know, but a mere 1.5hours later, we decided to hit- and hit it hard is what we did! Starting in the hotel, we had a small drink, which held us off until the quick-E-mart down the street when we got thirsty again. This was awesome because apparently, people just drink wherever they want. So of course, we felt like absolute mavericks walking down the street and drinking Carlsbourgs on our way to the bar! We made it to the Irish pub of choice (the one where we wanted to get damned delicious grub), ordered our pints and found out- whoops- kitchen was closed. At 7pm! Who does that?! Apparently this place does, so, do not enlist the help of “The Irish House” for late night munchies- they will not help.

We eventually got food after having a few drinks (which is not the greatest idea if you haven’t eaten all day) but at that point, Christian started getting tired. We had just walked onto Jomfru, the party street, and stopped into a bar called “Robin Hood”, which is a fantastic place, to be honest. Cheap beer and neat interior i.e. very attractive women behind the counter- and wouldn’t you know it- Christian starts dozing off at the bar! No, not on my clock! Not in Denmark. SO, what is the onnne thing that can make men wake up more quickly than any other known substance in the wide-world?

If you said naked women, you are correct; Luckily for us, there was a strip club right around the corner! I dragged his tired ass over to that beautifully lit establishment and started on his revival.


Long story short, students on a tight budget shouldn’t visit these establishments for a couple reasons: (1) the beer is GHASTLY expensive; (2) so is everything else! We actually, no joke, were getting glared at by all the ladies in the club because they knew we didn’t have any money. We took this as a sing we should leave before things got ugly. And by ugly, I mean this.

We eventually headed back to the hotel, but there was no way in HELL I was going to bed…I mean, it was Friday night in Denmark…I’m sure there was a party somewhere…right?


to be continued…

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Norwegian Sea and Me

Homecoming: Day 11


Needless to say that after taking Stavanger, I was a little beat. Christian and I decided to take it easy for a little bit- about 18hours, approximately; whilst enjoying coffee and cookies at Farmor’s, Saul (Christian’s sister’s English fiancé) we talked about ice-fishing and eating some good tasty-tasties for middag [mid-dog: dinner] when Christian got a crazy look in his eyes-

“So, I was thinking- the ice is too think to ice-fish now, but, we could, in fact, go fishing in the lake with Farfar’s canoe. What do you guys think?”

Of course! Why not go and do something extremely fun! I had little reservations and Saul wanted to do it, but being the senior to our little group, had to ponder a little more about the venture, but ultimately went with it. Now, to explains this mathematically (for those scientifically inclined), here is a formula for the grand scheme of things:

[ the original idea x youthful bliss ] + [ canoe ]

---------------------------------------------------------------------------- x [ unknown variable ] = ASININE!!!!

[ freezing water ] + [ 3 grown men in a 2 person canoe ]

Now, I will explain: the numerator deals with our adventure-driven ambition, while the denominator stands for the known risks; of course, the unknown variable is something that is actually known to the people of Norway, yet somehow slipped by my Norwegian ‘guide’, Christian. As anyone who has canoed before, they aren’t realllly meant for fishing because of their innate ability to take any slight weight adjustment and throw the boat back and forth, making it damn near impossible to adjust your weight while reeling in a big ole' fish- and that is with TWO people in a two-person canoe. I will reiterate for storytelling purposes, probably multiple times: we were three grown men. Getting in was a bitch to start with because the deck we launched from was about 3feet up from the surface of the water. Christian, being the tallest, was able to lower down the easiest; I’m not too much shorter so it wasn’t anything difficult for me either; but Saul…SAUL is about 4foot nothing and more of the intellectual sort. Nothing against him, Saul is one of the nicest, most genuine people I’ve met, but an adventurer, I’m not so sure. SO, he tries lowering in, but his feet were kicking around similar to when you pull a swimming dog out of water- you know- the non-stop paddling as their paws search for water? Anyway, so he finally gets into the boat, and THANK GOD we were still dockside because Saul’s weight displacement began throwing the canoe and everyone/everything around helter skelter. Hahah we almost fell in right there! Christian used his strength to stabilize the canoe while I held onto the dock for a stable support while Saul got cozy. Freakin a, it was rough!

After we got it, we started oaring our way out- and yes, oars. We couldn’t find the paddles because we sort of…took the canoe from his grandparents because Farmor misunderstood Christian the first go around and he didn’t want to risk not being able to use the canoe, so we just went with it [turns out, the paddles were in the locked room in the barn- whodathunkit?!]. Our Viking rowing combined with the current to swiftly carry us out to what could be considered the gateway to the Norwegian Sea and we started to discuss where we should go to fish. This quickly turned to a discussion of if we should fish given how the canoe was rocking so ferociously while just preparing our fishing gear. We were only about 50yards from an island, but to fall in anywhere would have sucked ass given how cold it was. So, we begin discussing the severity of open water fishing and the idea of rowing over to the island to dock and what not when I looked to the side of the boat and saw it…

A gawd-damned Jellyfish; the unknown variable.

Quick Wikipedia search tells me the little dude is a “Moon Jellyfish”-Aurelia aurita- and lives (obviously) in Norway, moreover the colder parts of the Northern Atlantic and Norwegian Sea. Christian said that he would swim out in the area a bunch as a kid and would get stung quite often. Obviously, they aren’t fatal stings, but nonetheless- those little effers were EVERYWHERE! It was then we realized fishing was a bad idea because the shifting weight of the thrashing fish and us trying to compensate would more than likely tip us and then we would be effed. We decided to row over to the small island and fish from shore, but Saul-SAUL kept pointing at things, constantly throwing around the canoe like a toy-boat during bathtime for an infant. It was then when I cautioned Saul to keep his pointing to a minimum, in the words expressed in italics at the beginning of the post. In all honestly, if he tipped us….oh man…I’d catch a jellyfish and throw it in his face. It’d be worth my own self-inflicted stings.


Saul and I had set up shop and were fishing on the edge of the big rock while Christian hopped back in the canoe to let the lines go out deeper, hopefully increasing our chances for dinner. Upon coming back to the island, Christian was landing when he tipped and slipped- but not all the way- he managed to catch himself on a cresting rock that was exposed by the withdrawn tide, so only his arm got wet. No big deal- but then his boot became caught under the lip of the canoe. This forced him to try quickly pulling his boot out when the tide decided to go out further- so he stretches himself thin trying to hold onto the rock-and ultimately- his dry state of being. But, it failed and he fell in, and as soon as he did- oh MAN the tide came CRASHING into the cove, filling the canoe with water and putting Christian under! I ran over and hopped in (only up to my boots) and helped him up and out. The aftermath of the Norwegian Sea had left him soaked and an oar floating out to the open sea. After Christian got his freezing ass into (essentially) dry land, I hopped into the canoe and went after the oar. I quickly snagged it out of the water and decided to wait out in the canoe until the tide calmed down. It’s then I noticed the swarm of jellyfish around the boat. MY theory is they got the scent of human and decided to gather, but according to Wikipedia, they don’t eat humans, so, I’m wrong. BUT still! They were all around me! What is an outnumbered, outmatched Viking to do? Oh, I know:

moon jelly

I decided to punch one in the face.

Obviously, this was not possi ble, but I had an alternate solution similar to being punched in the face:

I bitchslapped it with an oar.

Yup, I flat out got close to the nearest one (which was actually messed with my everyone in the party in someway- Christian caught-and-released it with a net and Saul accidentally snagged it with his fishing hook) and brought down upon this unsuspecting Moon Jelly ALL THE MIGHT OF THOR. In all truth, since it was a couple inches under the surface, and I hit it with the broadside, it probably didn’t really affect it that much. But the point is- I did it. Why? Because Man > Nature. ‘Nuff Said.

After my jellyfish-bitchslapping-rampage, we decided with Christian being soaked that we should head back, so I headed to the island to pick up the others and our gear- when I fell in. It wasn’t as bad as Christian since it was just my entire left leg, but still, insulated boots absorb cold water and retain it just as well as it keeps feet warm and dry-unless submerged under water. This heightened our need to get back quickly, so we loaded up, but with all the water in the canoe from our little dips, the canoe had NO stabilization and the slightest of movements would send us rocking. We decided to go two at a time, Christian and I going first so he could warm up in the car. Saul was already in the canoe and had to get back out- and that’s when he fell in. He had the smallest of dips, only going up to his lower shins, but still- it’s cold!

We eventually got everyone and our gear back to the car safely. Long-story short: if the canoe says 2 person- keep it that way and if you see a jellyfish, give him ‘one-for’ and a ‘greetings from AMERICA’ with a good ole’ fashion bitchslap. Oh, and if you do decide to take 3 people in a 2 person canoe in the middle of a Norwegian winter with said to-be-bitchslapped jellyfish, do not- DO NOT- take an unbalanced and uncoordinated intellectual. Saul, I love you man, but no. No…no…

Consider the Norwegian Sea: TAKEN.


The Crew of USS Something: Saul, Christian, and Me

Mike out!

fra Norge med kjærlighet

Mike Takes Stavanger!!!

Homecoming: Day 8

“I’m going to buy you a drink- but only if you drink it!”- Egil

So far, this was one of the most exciting for these reasons:

  1. I was alone (Christian stuck back to help his dad);
  2. I only booked hotel for one night (I was counting on my social skills or CouchSurfing to find a place to stay the second night);
  3. I had NO idea where I was.

And in brief, I will say this: it was a damn good trip.

There really aren’t many tourist activities, with I'd say only about 8 museums, of which, 4 are actually interesting. I sort of knew that going into it, though. Stavanger is a huge oil town and known for its close proximity to gorgeous fjords, fantastic scenery, etc; the tourism lies in nature. I will say this: Stavanger has a very good ‘old’ section of town that brings to light a modern-history. It was kind of neat to walk through that section of town and see the close clusters of neighborhoods and then look behind them to see skyscrapers and cranes, building newer, more attractive buildings. It was also…kind of sad…it reminded me of America and it’s inability to preserve history. I guess it’s not all to blame on our desire to progress, but I mean, c’mon- we suck at building history-withstanding structures; barns no older than 100 years are crumbling all around us.

Anyway, so, tangent aside: Stavanger was awesome!

I’ve decided not to talk about how I walked around all day and looked at things, because there is only so much I can say:

So, I walked down that street and that one. I stopped to take a photo. It was nice.”

There, I talked about it!

But really, what was really nice about the Stavanger trip was meeting up with the new people. I recently was told about this site called, a place where people from all over the world who like to travel, can meet other people who like to travel just as much as they do. Aside from the obvious [you can use it to sleep on people’s couches], it’s a fantastic opportunity to meet opened minded people who don’t think the whole world has gone to the dogs. And it’s true- you have to be open-minded about a lot in order to have a successful surfing experience. Both parties have to trust in people and believe in the world for it to work and if you don’t, well, you' should stay in a hotel. It’s not for everyone; if you like your privacy, don’t like talking to other people, and you have a dislike of genuine humanity- you should stay in a hotel.

I had two really great surfing experiences in Stavanger; one was with Vegard Bø and the other Chi-Chi Ton. Vegard was my night life guide, while Chi allowed me to stay on her couch [which actually turned out to be a nice IKEA bed]. I was a little downtrodden because no one had responded to any of my requests to hang out that night, but then Vegard responded and invited me out for some drinks with his friends. This worked out fabulous because it was Friday night in Stavanger and I wanted to experience it. It ended up also that his buds had a huge work project that held them from the night out, but we rocked it anyway. We met in the hotel lobby around 7 and headed out. What I saw was a 5foot-nothing dude was glasses, but who I saw was someone who knew how to have a good time. And dayum- he knew how to work the bars. We went to a hole-in-the-wall place with 30Kroner beer, which is a big thing because alcohol is SO damned expensive here. After a few rounds, we started talking to a big S.Korean-Norwegian dude by the name of Egil. EGIL!! It was one of my goals for the trip to meet an Egil and I did! and he bought me round after round of drinks because (1) he was hella impressed with my Norwegian and (2) because he said I was a good man. SEE- it pays to be an open-minded, fun loving dude from the states. We peaced out after Vegard’s buddy, Saema, said there was an after-party at another bar. So we go, but the dude wants 100kroner to get in! What’s a Mike Snowden to do? Oh, yeah-

“Hey man! I’m from USA on vacation- how’s about 50kroner for me and my friend?”

He folded like a house of cards. BOOM!

So, after some drinking, dancing, and helping some old drunk bastard get up from falling down the stairs, we call it a night. It’s 3am and we’re sh*tfaced.


Chi picks me up from outside the hotel and seriously, we hit it off. Not in the “oh yeah, totally gonna get some” hit it off, but in the fact that it seemed right away that we had been friends for years. Chi was such an awesome host, seriously. She made dinner [one with meat, which she did for me because I said I missed bbq food] and bought beer [for me, because she was on penicillin], and watched Team America [for us, because we both love that movie]. Her friend came over and we all hung out and talked, you know, kept it real. I really wanted to go out again, but as Chi mentioned, “Norwegians for the most part are difficult to just start a conversation with. It’s not that they are assholes, it’s just that sometimes they don’t want to”. Plus, Chi and I were having a grand time just talking and laughing, that I ended up opting out of the bar scene. We ended the night with a movie and both passing out on our respective sides of the very comfortable couch. Chi, my newest friend, put me-a stranger- up for the night and we both had a great effing time. We spent most of it laughing and making fun of stupid things, which as we all know, are my favorite past-times.

All in all, the best part about Stavanger was the people I met and the fantastic time I had integrating myself into modern Norwegian life. I had experienced more of the traditional life in Kristiansand, but in Stavanger, I set out to meet new people and share in a fun experience; I did this and it was awesome.

Consider Stavanger: TAKEN.

IMG_0219 chi

Vegard, Saema, and Me This is Chi Ton, my Couch Savior.

fra Norge med kjærlighet

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Mike takes Oslo and takes it to the AWESOME

Homecoming: Day 5

"Oh-Would you Like a bag?"

We had an early start to the day with breakfast at our exclusive Regence Kristinelund hotel (corn flakes and fruit) and got going to the Norwegian Folk-Heritage Museum.

The Norwegian Folk-Heritage Museum is an outdoor museum that is really just a bunch of buildings from the historical progression of the Norwegians aka really flipping cool- I mean, these buildings weren’t anything spectacular, but the history behind them is amazing. The buildings, made from strong-ass Norwegian timber is not only built to survive all the elements (and survive them well), but they wood was decorated accordingly b the builder. Very intricate, very delicate, and very beautiful carvings usually covered just the face of the house and added a certain comfort to the large, snow-covered building. Inside, the buildings were scantly populated with unused furniture, with most benches being carved from the timber along the walls (this has been done by Norwegians essentially ever-since they became less nomadic). You know that warm and cozy feeling you get when you visit a family cabin or see pictures of warm and cozy cabins? Yeah, it’s like that, but much colder because there was no fire, but you get my point- they seemed like a nice place to live in. So much, even, that I started imagining myself living in one of these places once I get my own mortgage. And some of you will be thinking “wait- that’s what he said about every castle in the UK…?” And you’re right, I did and I do want a castle house. So now, I need to make a hybrid castle-cabin. It can and will be done.

We ended the museum with a trip to the top of a large hill where the church sat. This place was gorgeous, gothic, and ginormous (on the outside). The interior was absolutely fantastic- huge timber pillars held up the roof, with said timber being carved delicately; the small-sized and small amount of windows let in just enough light to add esthetic, while lit candles did the rest of the work; and the deck around the main worship hall (on the outside of the building) was perfect. It’s all I can really say. I’ll let you know when I have pictures posted, because this thing was wonderful.

VIKING SHIP MUSEUM! [vikingshiphuset]

FREAKING FANTASTIC, says I! This relatively small museum holds 3 of the largest Viking ship discoveries of Norway-the Oseberg, the Gokstad, and another one- and they are all HUGE! The Gokstad was the most intact find, while the Oseberg was pretty battered up, but due to careful reconstruction, they were able to make this historical artifact come to life. I read a ton on these ships and how they were constructed by hand and sat anywhere from 16-36large Vikings, royalty, and merchants and I was standing literally right next to it. HISTORY BONER! I would say I was embarrassed, but c’mon, I wasn’t. In any case, the museum was huge and awesome and seriously worth the long-ass walk from the hotel.

Maritime Museum [maritimtgaleriet]

I’d say it was similar to the Viking ship museum, but the only real similarities were both places housed boats. In know, it sounds like a big “doi” but it’s true. Whereas the Vikingship Museum had actual artifacts, the Maritime museum had models and replicas of a progression through the maritime history of Norway. It was cool, but it really wasn’t much of anything spectacular. If you’re into boats and ships, then this is the place to be; unfortunately, I am not so much into those things. Still, worth the visit and I saw a lot of interesting facts about their ships. Ultimately: worth it.

We planned on going to the Fram (one of the strongest and largest ships ever built), but it was closed for renovations. Balls! Minor note, though, the building was HUGE, so the ship has got to be worth the visit. Maybe next time….


For anyone that doesn’t know about this, the Kon-TIki experiment boiled down to this: some smart dudes told other smart dudes that ancient raft sciences could successfully produce a craft that would sail across open bodies of water, namely the Atlantic. The first set of smart dudes got ridiculed by the other smart dudes, and thus, a challenge was born. Led by a Norwegian smart dude, a group of peeps from around the world got together to research and create successful tours across the Atlantic. Ultimately, the goal of the project wasn’t just to prove the neigh-saying smart dudes wrong, but also create an international team of smart dudes and prove that people from around the world could work together.

This was that museum.

The main displays were the two final versions of the individual ships created by the team for separate challenges and my GAWD were these rafts badass! One was made from the extremely light Balsa wood and the other was made from [name it]. In the end, both rafts were successful in their respective journeys and well, the smart dudes with the smart idea showed up the stupid smart dudes who doubted them. Hurrah!

Also, there was a HUGE ass replica of one of the stone carving from the island of [name it], made from a cast the scientists made of the statue (using something like 2000lbs of goo)! It was massive!!!!

Last stop: Vigeland Statue park [Vigelandsparken]

This was a magnificent stop on our Oslo tour. Some guy had an entire , huge-ass park to fill with his sculptures, and these sculptures were of people and various stages in life.

Oh yeah, and they’re naked; all of them.

It’s not like its bad nudity or graphic, its natural nudity and it’s tasteful. Sure, there are a ton of dicks and boobies, but in Scandinavia and Europe have such a different view on nudity that it is ok to see some random boob. I respect Europe for this because America is such a mondo prude and it’s really a drag on our youth, I believe. In any case, this park is wild. There is a bridge that is literally covered in his work, not to mention the entire park. You can say what you will about artistic interpretation, but the work is about people in all stages of life- anger, sadness, joy, etc. There is one statue with a man juggling eight small tots, one of a couple fighting, and even statues of small children playing. The guy knew how to capture human nature and he did it hundreds of times throughout this park and seriously, if you come to Oslo and NOT visit this park-you’re an idiot. The park is much larger than you would think, even by looking at the map of the city. We we’re there for maybe 45minutes and just reached the center via a quick path; like a radius to a circle. Yeah, freaking huge. Awesome place to check out.

So now, the reason this post is titled “oh…would you like a bag?”

Christian and I agreed that we were going to speak in strict Norwegian so I could get as much practice as possible. I had been feeling pretty good about my skills when we decided to stop by a 7-11 for food on the train. I pick my stuff, go to the cash register and say proudly I would like these items. After paying, the dude asks me something and I did really hear him. Upon me saying “what” in Norwegian, the guy looks at me and says “Ohh….would you like a bag?”

What an ass! Totally ruined it for me! I was doing so well!! He just needed to repeat himself!

Anyway, I told Christian and he almost fell over from laughing. He, too, is an ass. Whatever, I’m over it!

Oslo, my friends, is a very fun city. It was simply unfortunate for us to have gone on a Tuesday and Wednesday because I bet the night-life is off the HOOK! Awesomeness also occurred because it was only about 60$ to travel by train. Not bad!

Consider Oslo: Taken by Mike.

Mike takes Oslo- "Victory- US"

Homecoming: Day 4, Part 2-

Previously on “MTO!” …

· Christian and Mike arrived in Oslo, the capital city;

· They bought Oslo Passes, which allow them to see a lot more than they could have originally;

· Mike bitched about the difference in public transit systems.

Now, the continued adventures of “Mike takes Oslo!”

Destination #1: Akershus

Akershus is Oslo’s reining fortress and the most castle-like building I’ve seen in Norway thus-far. Now, if any of you know me, you’ll know that castles give me the biggest and hardest “history-boner” of them all. Castles hold such a huge place in my intrigue because of their architecture, their (typical) grandeur, and their past that it is really hard to contain myself from swearing under my breath at their magnificence. Askershus is not as grand or elaborate as the English and the Welsh because it was a fortress- it was meant to protect and provide for its inhabitants; it is, however, very practical. Scandinavians are productive to the core and their architecture illustrates this very well. The fortress, placed Cliffside, doesn’t have walls nearly as tall as English and its perimeter is jagged and bent, parallel to the cliff’s edges.

[Editor’s Note: I understand the English and Welsh are very much different in history and culture, etc, but I will be abbreviating “the English and the welsh” with simply “English”, unless I feel the need to discern the two]

While walking around the courtyard, we came across what would have been the detention rooms for bad guys. Let’s just say this: hell no. Those containment areas were completely open to the elements and only gave minor protection from on-lookers. Most English dungeons were at least in the basement (of-shorts) so it was most likely damp and cold, but the Akershus rooms were outside, surrounded by open air and enough holes to allow sufficient precipitation to RUIN.YOUR. LIFE. Vikings were vicious, hands-down, to foreigners and traitors all the same.

[Editor’s Note: To be historically accurate, by the time this castle was constructed, history had moved out of the Viking Age; any mention of “Vikings” would be historically ignorant, however, because Norwegian’s were bad-ass in all areas of life, I will refer to them in all bad-ass contexts as “Vikings”.]

Sadly enough, the main part of the fortress is closed during the week, which means we were not able to walk through the main body of Akershus; sad day, indeed. Seriously, we were pissed. But, onto better things, ikke sant?

Or so we thought….

Norway’s Wartime Museum

[Editor’s Note: this museum is absolutely free, Oslo Pass or not.]

Christian and I like Vikings; we like guns; we play Call of Duty more than we should; we like Norwegian history. Ultimately, this museum should have tickled every fancy possible, and it some respects it absolutely did; other aspects proved quite opposite. Being an absolutely free museum, the exhibits don’t quite get the attention and financing as they should. I mean, the museum takes you on a course through the militaristic history of one of the world’s most renowned violent peoples, it should have HEAPS of kroner tossed its way! But sadly, it doesn’t. Examples:

1. Poorly translated captions (with an awful lot of English being misspelled);

2. Misspelled NORWEGIAN names [I.e. Krisiansand. Missing a “t”, anyone?]

3. Exhibits that look like grade-school projects (probably were);

4. Video and Audio displays not working;

5. Gaudy attention grabbers.

I don’t really like being a Debbie-downer, but dude- this place was supposed to be awesome. And to turn it around, I will say this: for the funding it (most likely) receives, the museum makes an ample attempt to create a true tourist destination. With the amount of artifacts and their history, the wartime museum was pretty cool.

And that is all true- it was pretty cool for what it was- a collection of violence that begins with the Viking Age. It’s just too bad that the institution doesn’t seem to get the funding to make a higher-grade exhibit for its patrons. Upside: the museum had tanks outside the building!

The Norwegian National Art Gallery [Norges Najonalgaleritet]

There were a lot of paintings.

I saw them.

Moreover, there were a bunch that I remember from my Norwegian studies.

So that was cool.

The Palace

It’s eerily similar to the Whitehouse in design, but taller, and though I’m in Norway, I’m going to say it- I think the white house is better. Why? Because it has a lawn; Palace= No lawn. But seriously, the palace is a pretty legit building and one of the neat things about it is it is not blocked off like a lot of ‘royalty’ places, such as the White House. You can virtually walk up to the front stairs! As Christian said, Norway is just more relaxed and not as socially dangerous as the US is.

Sad face for America.

University of Oslo [Universitet i Oslo]

It’s a college campus and thus didn’t warrant much time sightseeing, but it was a virtual diamond-in-the-rough because there is no official entry to campus- one minute you’re walking on the street looking for beer and the next you’re standing outside of the campus registrar.

We ended the night with some drinks and pizza. The pizza was a fiasco because we got into Peppe’s Pizza 30 minutes before they closed, had a Swedish waitress (so even Christian couldn’t really understand her) and we were tipsy. This meant that despite her passive attempts to urge us not to have a large Rio Grande pizza and to be content with one beer, we were aggressive in our attempts to feast; we won.

Victory: Team Norway.

Mike takes Oslo, to be continued...