Disability Rant in London; Kindness after all

Kindness Abroad

OMG!… whose idea was it to bring all this luggage on the planes, trains and tubes (subways) to get to our destination? What a gigantic hassle it can be! And even if you have paid due diligence by looking up which metro stops have lifts (elevators), there is no guarantee they will be working.

Ellioto has a fondness for using the metro whenever possible and I must admit that there is satisfaction in finding affordable ways to blend in with the locals. Personally, I would opt for hailing a taxi when Uber lets us down –which unfortunately, can happen, particularly when you don’t have an international phone handy.

But every time that we have taken public transportation, I have been heart-warmed by the kindness of others– no matter the country, men and women, young and old…

Read More

Blogging London

I can easily imagine spending more time in London Town. Traipsing the boroughs and exploring London’s underbelly via the tube, lends a familiarity with an intimate view of what it’s like to live there.

I am assured by those more familiar with London that the tube is usually dependable and user-friendly. But if you’re traveling there in the near future, beware of extensive line-maintenance closings and spontaneous rerouting–quite a challenge for the novice.

*Disability Warning: escalators and elevators (lifts) may be out-of-order, which can be a real hassle. Luckily, wonderful people saw my dilemma and grabbed our suitcases and carried them up the steep and numerous stairs which made all the difference! (Bless you all!)

Read More

Copenhagen, Day 2 out and about by myself

Copenhagen has a great metro system– clean, economical, and simple to use. It runs 24 hours (!) and is handicap accessible–great news after losing my walking stick somewhere in London’s Heathrow Airport, during our plane change! I felt quite comfortable exploring on my own, equipped with my trusty traveling apps, Translator and Converter– both free, on my iPhone.

Malmö Sweden, Day 2

When in Sweden
Go to the Spa…

Riberborgs Kallbadhus (bathhouse) is a spa that is built on a long wooden wharf, extending from the lush green shore of Malmö, overlooking the Nordic North Sea. It’s a popular spot, offering massages, benches for relaxing and there’s a nice cafe’ where you could easily spend the day, taking a break from daily life.

I am no stranger to saunas, appreciating the health benefits of releasing toxins with heat and sealing off pores with cold water or air. I have experienced the purge of Native American sweat lodges, saunas in the north woods of Maine and Northern Italy as well as the Roman baths in Budapest and the ancient healing mineral pools of Turkey. But each culture has its own customs and protocol, so I didn’t know what to expect.

Men and women have segregated areas and a common area as well– although I didn’t observe much mingling there. Perhaps that had to do with the sign stating that clothing is NOT permitted, although strategically placed towels were acceptable but not used much when the temps hovered between 176′ and 194′ F , depending on whether you were in the sauna with one wood fired stove or two. So I peeled off my bathing suit and got with the program, which brought a smile or two.

Each sauna has a large picture window with the seascape and sky to soften your focus. The hotter I got, the more meditative I felt. Clouds became figures dancing above the seductively rhythmical waves. Rivulets of sweat reduced us all to the level of reaching our limits as human beings. It was humbling and no one said a word.

The real deal is to alternate with a dip in that cold salty sea water at 61’F– which I did not do!
It was enough for me to take a break in the cool of the air, waiting until my lobster red skin returned to 98′. But I was shamed by a woman who looked to be an octogenarian who only used the hottest room and took her dips without comment.

Maybe that’s why the Swedes have the reputation of being both hearty and stoic!

Copenhagen, Day 3

Day 3 in Copenhagen

Shallow wooden boats gently glide the time-worn, narrow canals, offering an intimate view of the brightly painted buildings satisfyingly quaint to the tourists’ eye. 17th century Europe is written all over the facade of buildings in the Nyhavn district of downtown Copenhagen.

What I wasn’t prepared for was the Copenhagen Street Food on Papirøen (Paper Island)! Food vendors of all imaginable types are located in a huge warehouse where each tries to out do the other with creative stalls and fabulous food! Organic is everywhere and flavor is not an empty boast.

Even more impressive was the atmosphere. Outdoor fires, beer gardens and boats drifting around us, made it easy to take a load off and sit awhile.

Next: we’re going to Sweden!

Malmö, Sweden

Sweden and Copenhagen’s
Oresund Bridge
Malmo (pronounced, Malme), Sweden, is just over the bridge from Copenhagen– so we thought, “Why not?”
Little did I realize just how significant the Oresund Bridge was and how recently it had been built–only 20 years ago–because the issues seem insurmountable.A little Geography: Denmark and Sweden are separated by the Øresund Strait, one of three Danish Straits that connect the Baltic Sea to the Atlantic Ocean and the North Sea, making it one of the busiest waterways in the world.The engineering is crazy/amazing, even by my layperson standards and deserves viewing for deeper understanding:

Wonderful Copenhagen–and windy too

Flying into Kastrup, Copenhagen’s International Airport, I was impressed by the svelte line of proud windmills, straight and tall, waving fair welcome to our approach, boasting efficient use of a wind that never seems to stop.

Middelgrunden is an offshore wind farm which seems to sprout from the sea, delivering an estimated 4% of all the power for Copenhagen.

The architecture is eye-catching from the get-go, mixing quaint and modern-esque, futuristic and surreal in its lack of symmetry. It seems to reflect the attitude of the Danes–old enough to have earned the right to express a determined individualism.

The language is strange to my milk-toast ears but not harsh as the over abundance of consonants might imply. In fact, as the stewardess made her announcements, I wondered if she was deliberately trying to be provocative with her soft, whispery Marilyn Monroe delivery. But as I grow used to hearing it, I realize this is their way of speaking what is touted as the most difficult of the Scandinavian languages, with only 5 million people in the world speaking it. Their English is nearly impeccable without a hint of accent; switching between the two seems effortless, reflecting how they become bilingual (at least) from a very early age.

I have yet to hear native music– American oldies drift in the air, making me a more comfortable stranger in a strange land.

I marvel at the lack of traffic even during rush hour. In Copenhagen 50% of all citizens commute by bike every day and there are more bikes than inhabitants! Unlike some countries, bike riders follow traffic rules and they expect pedestrians to do the same. Motorcycles are curiously lacking and traffic flow is remarkably quiet without noxious emission smells–never marring the delightful ambiance and flavor of my street side cappuccino.