Happy Mother's Day to my mama Shari and all the other moms in my life!
Our high speed tour of Scandinavian capitals is coming to an end soon.
After a boisterous cruise from Stockholm with the hard partying Finns, we are in Helsinki where the weather has been improving in inverse proportion to the cityscape. Copenhagen, Oslo and Stockholm are lovely cities with Stockholm taking the top prize for 'Outstanding Beauty', but with Helsinki, I think we are getting a sneak preview of what Russia and Eastern Europe will be. At least the prices are moving in the right direction, so I'll take it.
Like most things in life, beauty ain't cheap.
A few random musings for your pleasure- what I'm getting used to on our trip so far.
We have had some of the smallest bathrooms imaginable, but the one where we stayed in Copenhagen takes the cake. So tiny, your feet are in the shower while you sit on the toilet. You couldn't extend your legs if you wanted to- not that I'm in the practice of extending my legs while toileting! I remember thinking this is what it's like on a cruise ship, but both of the bathrooms on the two cruises we've taken were bigger.
Additionally, the sink was so tiny, you couldn't brush your teeth in it, as the cabinet was too low and there was no way to align your mouth to spit.
Interestingly, the Copenhagen shower was a powerful rainforest-style one that was a welcome sight after a long day of walking in the cold and wind. However, wth no true separation between the shower and the rest of the bathroom, water sprayed on everything, including my dry pajamas.
In Oslo, while the shower appeared to be enclosed, it had a large gap at the bottom of the door which I was oblivious to until I turned around and saw a huge flood making its way towards the bathroom door. Panic taking over, but with shampoo in my hair, I turned the shower head away from the gap and crouched in a corner against the wall while I feverishly hurried to rinse out the shampoo and conducted the briefest application of conditioner, hastily rinsing that out as well.
I stepped out of the shower and assessed the damage. Water was everywhere and there were only two extra towels on the rack. Perry needed one and I wasn't sure if I should save one for our host, so in desperation, I used my hands as a squeegee and directed the water back into the shower. FYI, that was gross. Then, I grabbed a dirty kitchen towel out of the laundry basket and mopped up as best I could. By this time, I could hear voices, which meant our host had returned. I hadn't met him yet (we were let in by a friend of his) so I hurried to dress while I fanned the area with my towel. It felt like I was in an episode of I Love Lucy.
All of our showers have had some form of water seepage, but I now know how to manage the flooding- short and efficient showers. I'm reminded of childhood where we had a strict 5 minute shower limit in the morning with five kids using one bathroom. Back then, I get it, but I've since grown accustomed to luxuriously long showers. That was the old Paula- Travel Paula takes it in stride. Ok, maybe with a tiny whimper. The one bathroom luxury I have been afforded has been heated floors which this cold-footed girl finds so amazing, I'm making it a top priority in any future home I live in.
What am I NOT getting used to? Bad Floss
I'm trying very hard not to be fussy about toiletries. Once I use up what I've brought, I'm buying whatever is available. Except for floss. Perry and I are die-hard Glide users and we agreed to share to save space (like floss takes up so much space?) but accidentally left it on the cruise to Oslo. I had a small backup from my dentist, but when that ran out I was forced to use Perry's back up- 'Top Care' brand that he bought for a magic trick. AWFUL! The second we got to Helsinki, I ran to a pharmacy where the gods of oral hygiene smiled upon me with a beautiful new box of Glide (also known as Pro-Expert Premium here in Finland).
Being Fully Caffeinated & Carbed
Here is a bold statement: Scandinavia is coffee's spiritual home.
Yeah, yeah, I know Italy is famed for its coffee culture, but for strong black filter coffee, Scandinavians are my coffee people. Coffee is available everywhere and you can order it with your lunch (as opposed to after) without anyone batting an eyelash. They keep it in an urn on the side where you can fill your cup as many times as you wish. It's my version of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. While Stockholm had the most coffee shops and I nearly gave the title to Fabrique Bakery in Sodermalm, United Bakeries in Oslo wins the award for best damn coffee and baked goods I've had on the road to date. Scandinavia has kept me fully caffeinated, which is happily compensating for any bathroom deficiencies.
Rocky-Style Traveler Training
When I walked through JFK airport with my backpack for the first time, it was heavy, but manageable if I didn't have to walk very far. Every time I've picked it up since then, I can' t help but hear the Rocky theme song. I've lost weight since we left St. Louis, the combination of carrying that heavy pack every 4 days plus walking nearly 10 miles every day. Most recently, we walked over a mile from the Helsinki port to our apartment and I even declined Teemu's (our host) offer to carry it up the three flights of stairs. At that moment, I felt like I caught that damn chicken.
Next Stop: St. Petersburg, Russia