The night before I left Los Angeles, I paired down everything I wanted to take with me. You'd be surprised at how effective the volume of a backpack is at determining what is really necessary for an open-ended trip abroad. My first thought--other than how minimalist this adventure would be--was that everything I needed had to be carried. No titanium exoskeleton, no sherpa, no Darpa Robot. Just me and a backpack. The idea was thrilling, if not a little scary, too!
Typical plane ride: 7 hour delay, followed by 10 hours of being squished shoulder to shoulder while waiting for my olfactory nerve to turn off the "B.O. and bad breath" sensors in my nose. Whatever rudimentary, amorphous thoughts I had on the plane turned quite real as soon as we landed. I think I'd been in denial in-flight, because when I landed a huge wave of fear rushed over me. I was scared! I don't know the language, nor do I have any clue what their customs are like. As fear turned to self-doubt, I'd thought to myself, why was I in Copenhagen? What the hell was I doing? I had basically thrown a dart on a map and here is where I landed, the puncture point, Denmark. Even if I removed the dart from the map and threw it again, the small hole would always be there, having never been filled by experience. Maybe others wouldn't notice, but I would. I knew that hole would always be a hole in me; something would always be missing. I couldn't let fear stop me, dammit! Unfortunately, all that didn't do a thing to help me deal with the anxiety. To make things even worse, it was the first time in my life I've ever truly followed my heart. Was my heart an idiot? I hoped not. 36 hours of sleeplessness didn't help. But almost instantly my fears were assuaged. After a drama-less cab ride I settled in to my rented room and, after exchanging greetings with the host and settling in, I passed out like a drunk baby.
First (real) day in Copenhagen started out a bit rocky. I got lost on the way out while trying to find an ATM. I had no krones (only Euros and USD) and no useable credit cards. I did have my bad sense of direction with me and a cell phone with no service. Just when I began to worry that I could very well get stuck in a maze of a city, I found an ATM machine and met some awesome Greek cafe owners, who showed me around and took me to Christianshavn.
In the 1600s by Christian IV found and built Christianshavn as a little merchant/fortress town while he was fortifying Copenhagen. Some time in the mid 1900s the square was made public and hippies settled in and the tradition carry on until now. I doubt he could ever imagine that his park would become the epicenter of Copenhagen weed culture, as this is the park where the locals and tourists come to buy and smoke. Of course, no pictures allowed signs spray painted everywhere where the product is being sold, but once you pass it, it becomes a friendly atmosphere. The section where the hash and cash transaction took place seemed serious. Every dealer was set up under tents with sunglasses, and hoodies and no one was alone. When people talk to the seller, the guy next to him (bodyguard I suppose), would stare you down. I'm sure they pretend that they're there for security, but I got the suspicion that they took their job too seriously. Now, I'm no drug addict, and I surely didn't go to Denmark with the intention of smoking hashish, but if what I wanted was routine and sameness I'd still be back at home working my boring, awful job. New unexpected experience #1! I don't know what the 60s were like, but now I have a little better idea.