You know how when you travel, those days can be a little bit more stressful, you might have a little less patience for strangers, and maybe what could be a gentle correction for your children comes out as a sharp hiss verging on a growl? Me neither. ..
We find ourselves- fortunately and unfortunately- experiencing more “travel days” than normal days and I feel it in our words and tone. As an Enneagram 7 (look it up if you’re unfamiliar!), my default mode is “let’s see it all!” And as much as it benefits my Fitbit step count, it can make one (and said children) feel weary and exhausted. I need all the Fitbit help I can get because a 7 at a hotel buffet also yells, “Let’s eat it all!” I knew we had packed in too many short trips when in discussing a jaunt to Amsterdam, my thought was please don’t make me go! And I want to go to Amsterdam. Part of this travel schedule stems from our inability to secure a long-term Airbnb for France. Since August we have reached out to at least a dozen places (or more). The lovely thing about Airbnb is the freedom to have a home, a kitchen, separate rooms. The downside is having to wait 24-48 hours after each individual request for return communication – and thus far each time the response has been, “Oh sorry, it’s not available for those dates.” The dates that were just free on the calendar. At one moment we actually got a confirmation of a 30 day Paris stay only for the owner to cancel on us later with no explanation. To say that we have felt discouraged is an understatement. With the cost becoming too prohibitive to stay in Paris for a month, we will continue short stays for the next month with just less time in Paris.
But back to our lovely time in Scotland and Copenhagen! We’ve found that a bus or walking tour to begin our time somewhere gives us some solid history and context, and then we choose places to return to spend more time. I love old architecture/buildings and picturing life back at the time of their construction, so walking this ancient city had me all sorts of wistful. But my highlight in Edinburgh was hiking. We’ve been in busy cities for the last month and it was both a welcome challenge and respite for my body to walk through the striking beauty of the Scottish lowlands. How great to get a couple of miles in and then be rewarded with good food and wine surrounded by the history and charm of a 600 yr old pub. Um, whaaaat?!? I’ve been exploring all the soups because it just feels right, and no better way than with a glass of wine and a thick piece of sourdough. Just enough fuel to help me heave the smooth heavy Skittles (bowling) balls down the alley. Necessity is the mother of invention and I see why our modern day bowling balls have 3 finger holes.
Copenhagen has its iconic colorful waterfront buildings and ubiquitous bikes, but a significant part of us choosing to visit was after watching a docu-series called Abstract. A few episodes in they profiled a young Danish architect name Bjarke Ingels. It’s worth a watch (all 8 episodes, in fact). I was so impressed with his creativity and ability to think beyond the status quo that I just wanted to see some of it myself.
And that’s what we did! We took the bus out to the Mountain House, an apartment building not built in a typical cube like manner with a parking garage next door. Instead, he created tiers of dwellings from north to south so every resident has a south facing door and garden. He put the parking garage underneath, but increasing in floors from south to north. On the other side of town he spruced up a trash incineration plant (because why not) by encasing it in a year round ski slope. We took the elevator maybe 20 stories high to check it out and then went sledding at the bottom. And these people really are so green that the only emissions at the top end up being mostly steam, so no harm and spending the day there. His philosophy for his design group is “Yes is more.” It was fun to see his creations in person and I envy anyone who ends up at the Danish School of Architecture.
We are heading to Switzerland, where it looks like we will be met with beautiful Mountaintops hiding behind stubborn rain clouds. Crossing my fingers they peak out for at least a moment.
I’ll end with a story from our guided tour through the streets of Edinburgh. You’ve heard of how folks emptied their chamber pots in the Middle Ages? Everything was just tossed out into the street from their windows above. Hence the filth and rapid spread of disease, etc etc. They would yell, “Gardy Loo!” to alert passersby of the impending toss. A curfew was imposed at some point so that everyone would go home and the emptying of chamber pots would stop by 10pm to allow for some coordinated cleanup. This meant that all the patrons of the local pubs would be wandering home at curfew, just about the time the last calls of “Gardy Loo!” could be heard. If people were in harms way upon hearing the warning they would shout back, “Hold your hand!” and swiftly pass by. But if you were exceedingly drunk, you might not react quickly enough. Instead you might look up and around to see where the noise was coming from… and… well… this is where we get the term “shit-faced.” Hazaa!