Days 70 to 72: Kuala Lumpur part 2

The final days of my short stay in Malaysia. Part 3/3

Quick Hits:

  • I need to go gokartimg more
  • monkeys are pests
  • Don’t make my stupid mistakes, bring modest clothing to a Muslim country

Details:

The week finished with some excursions and a general feeling of exhaustion.

We had the honor of bring invited over for some homemade Persian food by one of the members of Jakob’s team on Monday night. It was easily the best meal I have eaten all summer. I am really bummed I couldn’t eat more. It was all so good. I will be doing some thorough research to find out how to make my own sad american copy of these dishes. We returned to the hotel and met up with Marie. Somehow the topic of sororities came up and for thirty glorious minutes I was able to share the ridiculousness that is sorority life to two shocked Danes. They thought it was fake, just movie stuff. They were in disbelief. It was one of my favorite conversations of the summer.

On Tuesday Jakob and I visited the Batu caves. I believe it is a temple that is under construction. It certainly looked that way. There were plenty of mischievous monkeys stealing food and iphones. I made the foolish mistake of wearing my standard California shorts. Thankfully there was a cover up rental stand for other women as naive as myself.

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Wednesday our office went out for a go karting team building excursion. I am ashamed to say I let my country down, and I came in fourth. BUT the whole thing was great fun! We went out to lunch after and between you and me, this felt like the first time foreign food had crushed my spirits. Although it usually is very exciting trying new things and just blindly pointing at menus, something inside of my longed for a burger, or a good taco salad, or anything my parents cook.

After some very genuine goodbyes we were back in the airport on the way to Copenhagen.

I learned SO MUCH on this trip. I saw a culture that was very diverse and how cultural tendencies can span into the work place. I saw the ridiculously difficult challenge of managing teams across continents first hand. The applications that are managed, created, and maintained from Malaysia are so critical to the success of DONG Energy, and its easy to see why. The fine line that needs to be walked to ensure employees are feeling valued, while still producing results quickly, and keeping costs within a budget seems at times like an impossible task. Watching Jakob and Marie operate was invaluable, and I hope to someday follow in their footsteps by being an effective, enthusiastic, and respected leader.

If I can find the emotional strength, I’ll be writing a summary of this internship and my summer at DONG Energy by the end of the week.

Until then, one lucky intern signing off!

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Days 67 to 69: Langkawi

Part 2/3 of my trip to Malaysia. Here are some of the antics that ensued during the weekend we spend in Langkawi

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Quick Hits:

  • I stayed at a five star resort for $120 a night
  • Beer was supposed to be cheaper than water, but that was a lie
  • This song played almost constantly in my head as we swung around the curves in our rental car
  • Things that would be considered extremely dangerous in the US (exposed wiring in the rain, broken bridges not blocked off, seriously rusted railing, roads without rules) are merely the accessories to this island
  • Jakob and I had the honor of being the token while people and were asked to be in pictures (#celebritystatus #stayhumble)

 

Details:

Friday afternoon we arrived in Langkawi. The humidity whipped us in the face as we stepped onto the tarmac. After bargaining a rental car for $40 for THREE DAYS, we were off to the resort.

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To create the chaos of a Malaysian road: Take some 40-year-old unmaintained roads and position them precariously close to some shanty huts. Check to make sure everyone is driving on the wrong side of the road. Add a couple of roundabouts to add some extra danger to the mix. For the cars, add equal parts relativity new rental cars, 50-year-old tour buses, and Kawasaki scooters. Ensure the scooter drivers are not wearing a helmet or shoes, and potentially a shirt. Cigarette hanging out of the mouth or child on the lap optional. Add some fat monkeys on the side of the road. Position the monkeys around large piles of trash. Finally, sprinkle in some torrential downpour rain storms, maybe one a day. Shake all this up and BOOM- you have now entered the chaos which my boss and I experienced during our weekend on Langkawi.

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After 20 minutes of pins and needles and absolute hilarity, we arrived at our resort on the northwest corner of the island. Berjaya Langkawi was awesome, my room was a standalone bungalow meters from the ocean. It felt like I had arrived in a dream, honestly. Yes, it has the dream quality because it was so beautiful, but also because I was on AN ISLAND SOMEWHERE BETWEEN MALAYSIA AND THAILAND in a private room that I had bought with my own money for like nothing?? What the heck is my life?? existential crisis ensued…

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Random note: Langkawi (and all of Malaysia) is very influenced by Muslim culture, meaning pork is nowhere. I made the mistake like 1000 times on this trip buying chicken sausage thinking it would be the actually tasty chicken sausage that they sell at Trader Joes. I was disappointed every time- so you have been warned.

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We decided to take a day trip scuba diving on Saturday. We watched the sunrise and ate breakfast from the deck of the resort. At 8am the bus came to pick us up. The decor was circa 1984 and it reeked of cigarettes despite the no smoking signs everywhere. Our driver had probably 6 teeth and had the complexion of a leather handbag also circa 1984. I don’t want to know the age of the suspension. The shocks were minutes away from expiring if the were not deal already. Each stop larger and larger squads of chinese friends piled in. My boss and I laughed while halfway joking about saying goodbye to our families. There was no telling what was going to happen on this bus. The whole experience was really great fun.

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Three hours later we had arrived to an island via ferry and were strapping on our scuba gear. My boss Jakob has not been diving since 1998, and although I have dove in pools, I do not have a licence. No worries though!! We were on our own private excursion seeing that everyone else opted for snorkeling.

Both dives were incredible. My ears, unfortunately, wanted to make my life difficult, and were screaming with pain after 5m depth. Our guide grabbed onto my tank and eased me deeper into the water as I focused on not dying. The rest of the first dive he did not let go and I basically had a free ride around the reef. Our second dive was just as beautiful, and thankfully my ears were a little better. We saw grouper, lion fish, so many clown fish, huge coral fish, and schools of every color. I would go back to Asia just to get my scuba license alone.

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I had a serious moment during the return trip sitting on the deck of the scuba boat. The engines were howling, the wind whipping through my hair. The beauty of it all was so hard to comprehend, yet the crew was dumping trash directly off the boat into the water. Seeing that was so upsetting, but the charm of the rusted boat and sunshine on my skin were almost trying to tell me ‘shhhh, dont worry about it, just enjoy this’

That night we were pooped and got a front row seat to the sunset from another restaurant on the resort. They messed up the order or Jakobs dinner and brought him desert immediately. Realizing the mistake, they took it away, and an hour later when it was actually appropriate, they brought out the same now saggy chocolate pudding with now melted whipped cream. Asia man…

Sunday we embarked on a road trip around the island. First stop, arguably the coolest, was the sky tram. It was a million degrees with 100% humidity. It was also 100% worth it. The pictures do it a cruel injustice.

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Next stops included the “black sand beach” which was a normal beach that had some dark soil mixed in, the “geopark” which was a muddy lawsuit waiting to happen, and a hindu temple alongside the road.

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That afternoon when I was eating a coconut I started talking to a woman who was a local malay. She talked (or should I say whispered) about some of the inequalities in the country and how the government is becoming more corrupt. She told me “you are so lucky you can insult Donald Trump all you like, anyone who publicly criticizes the government here is put in jail” This really hit me hard.

I think a lot of Americans, myself included, have complained about and mocked our current government (which we have every right to do) BUT, no matter how stupid a tweet we read, we still have so much in the US that most of the world would kill to have. No, our healthcare is not free. No, our education system is not as good as it should be. No, we do not have an effective way of combating racist bias and eradicating bigotry. BUT, we live in a place that we can talk about all these things, and people can dedicate their lives fighting for their beliefs. We of course should continue fighting for what we are passionate about and live to create a better world for those to come, but we should not take for granted the luxuries we are entitled to in a developed country with free speech. I feel very lucky to be an american, no matter who is in office.

Sunday night Jakob and I crawled back onto the plane and eventually into the Hilton in Kuala Lumpur, exhausted, dirty, and endlessly entertained with whatever it is that we just experienced spending the weekend as the only two white people on Langkawi.

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Days 63 to 67 : KL Part one

There is no way I am going to pack everything that happened in Malaysia into one post! This will be one of three. Excessive? Maybe. Do I care? Not at all.

Quick hits:

  • Malaysian airport security is a joke
  • Malaysia is incredibly diverse
  • In two weeks I saw three blondes, one was myself in the mirror, the other two were my Danish bosses
  • Malls are rampant in Kuala Lumpur
  • The “ringit” (Malaysias currency) is weak, and everything is shockingly cheap
  • I can assume any business trip with DONG Energy means amazing food

Details:

WOW. colors everywhere. trash burning in the street. shining high rises. packs of wild dogs wandering across a freeway in traffic. spices of different cultures constantly colliding. I’m still not really sure what just happened. How the hell do I even begin putting Kuala Lumpur into words.

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Well, I’ll just start off by saying this has been the biggest rush my senses have experienced possibly ever. This trip sent my emotions for a loop as well. It could be because KL looks like an extremely dirty San Diego at times, and all the palm trees made me a little reminiscent. The traffic and smog were like LA. The mix of races was the first I’ve seen at this scale all summer. Its weirdly familiar, but nothing like anywhere I’ve ever lived.

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My boss described it as “southeast asian charm” It is a rush of emotions and senses. Some things are incredibly conflicting. It is so beautiful but so dirty. People are so happy but some live in absolute squalor. The trains worked great but the freeways were a lawless chaotic fury. I was so in love but I also kind of wanted to go home…

This fury, though, is absolutely addicting, and I cannot wait to be back in this crazy world of southeast asia.DSC_0054.jpg

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The diversity of Kuala Lumpur was amazing. The office was a mix of Chinese, Iranian, Malay, Indian, Thai, and I am sure many others. Watching everyone collaborate while still preserving their unique take because of their cultural tendencies was invaluable. This trip illuminated the challenges in creating effective management. The balance between getting results and keeping people happy is a difficult one, but both can be achieved with just the right mixture of communication, respect, and efficiency. I hope someday to be as effective as my boss is at collaborating his team, which spans a huge skill set, maintains extremely important applications, and is split between continents.

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Outside of work, we managed to get in some mall time, where I got luggage and lots of souvenirs for my friends and family. We made it to china town, central market, petronas towers, a really cool bar on top of a building, and savored as much of the city as we could with the little amount of time we had after work.

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Still, nothing could prepare me for what I was about to experience on Langkawi…

Days 30-36: More work, more castles

Its been a long and awesome week here in Copenhagen!

Quick Hits:

  • I am exhausted every night
  • I can already tell the sun is setting earlier
  • The amount of traveling planned for the next month of my stay is insane
  • I have also overdosed on Lana Del Rays new album (its fantastic) and I have felt so many emotions that I am now incapable of being emotional anymore
  • My apartment is adorable!!
  • I got caught in a proper rainstorm today
  • I accidentally went to a nude open water swimming club (or was the universe sending me a sign???)
  • My friend told me all about Copenhagen at christmas time and I now wish it was christmas way too early (typical Paige behavior)

Details:

On my way back to Copenhagen last Sunday I made a friend, Seb, who was going to Copenhagen for a couple days and traveling up to Stockholm after. We had a lot of awesome conversations comparing UK to the US and talking about how much we have learned on our own journeys this summer. On his way out of Copenhagen Monday night we went to dinner at Copenhagen street food (now becoming a habit of mine) and no surprise it was a beautiful night and the place was packed to the gills.

To be honest, its getting a little difficult to distinguish all the days of the week, especially when I have work Monday to Friday.

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Some other highlight of the week include spending the night at the beach, Amager Strand Park. Yes, I said beach. Yes, it is a beach. Yes, the waves are nonexistent, but the sand is sandy and there are shells and lots of people there to enjoy the sunshine on a spectacular night. I live pretty close, 5 min by bike, and the water is as clear as day. Its perfect to unwind after work and just watch all the clouds moving in the wind, and of course, to swim.

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Saturday I thought I’d take myself on a little adventure. I will admit, mistakes were made, the largest being not dressing accordingly for the weather, but ultimately I am glad I went. The castle I went to should have been two hours by train, but with some construction happening on the tracks, it took me about four. It was pretty, but nothing compared to Fredriksburg Castle I visited last month.

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Today I went for a run to the beach and stumbled upon a nude swimmers club! Will I be joining? As of right now, its not really my scene, but I did admire their dedication in the wind at 7am on a Sunday, being truly at one with mother oash.

Later I got coffee with Theodora, who is one of my good friends at work. We talked for maybe four hours, and when we got up to leave, it was pouring. It started to die down, and we made our exit, but as we were walking, we got into another really interesting conversation, and before we could cover significant ground it was pouring again. So we eventually just had to cut our conversation and part ways. I came home soaked head to toe, my sundress was wet but I had the keen idea of bringing an umbrella just in case. In the long run, all it did was keep my purse and my hair slightly dry, but im still thankful I had it.

It has been a fantastic week, and all the work I have been doing has been exciting as well, but honestly, I’m exhausted, so you’ll just have to take my word.

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Days twenty six to twenty nine: Bavaria and the boys

Some of our oldest family friends moved to Munich when I was about 9. Although we go years between seeing each other, somehow when were all together it seems like not much has changed between us from 2002 to 2017. Grant and I had the pleasure of staying in their home outside of Munich and taking in this beautiful region with the comfort of having family just a call away.

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Quick Hits:

  • trains can get you anywhere in Europe it seems
  • stamps are only $1 in Germany (postcard anyone?)
  • tap water dosent cost anything in Munich (finally)
  • Koingsee is the most beautiful place I have ever been
  • i am sleeping on a king sized bed (there is no position I can sleep in where I will be off the bed)
  • I realized I have seen nighttime only a handful of times in the past month…
  • German pretzels remain king

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Details

Some of my oldest childhood friends live in Munich. My brother and I played with Arno and Thomas from the age of two or three, and in fourth grade they moved back to Europe. They have been in Munich ever since. To stop and stay here was an obvious choice.

Tuesday Grant and I ventured out into the city and explored some museums in Munich. By far the coolest we saw was the Egypt museum. We grabbed some drinks with Arno and headed home.

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Wednesday Grant and I went shopping, and I remembered how much I hate shopping. I went into a Zara and almost lost an arm. It was wild. I got some sweet postcards (shocker) and some earrings. We did the stereotypical Hoffbrau house dinner and I got my fill of german pretzel, which I will dearly miss in Denmark.

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Thursday Grant and I ventured out to Koingsee. We took a bus, then a train, then a train, then another train, then a bus, and then a boat but IT WAS ALL SO WORTH IT. Because we messed up one of our connections we didn’t have much time once we got there but honestly, koingsee is the most beautiful place I have ever seen on this earth, and I will be back. To make it back home in time Grant and I had to run to our bus, and barely had time to grab some dinner before getting on the train. We got Burger King and it was awful but a very triumphant moment in our lives having seen all we did in one day.

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Friday we were pooped. We hung out and Grant planned the rest of his time in Europe. After dinner we got “predrinks” (how cute is that?) with Thomas’ friends before heading to a club. I have to admit, I am incredibly proud that I, Paige Hoel, managed to stay up till 6am dancing. I never thought I could do it, I considered faking sick, I thought of ways out, but at the end of the day (or the beginning of the next day) I fought to the finish, and actually had a really amazing time. Rest assured, if I did not have such a fun group, that would not have happened.

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Saturday I went to Nymphenburg Palace, and Grant and Arno met up with me to watch me get my ear pierced (so metal) We grabbed dinner and went into this cool part of the city where you’re allowed to spray art all over storage containers. We didn’t get there till it was starting to get kind of dark so we couldn’t stay long, but what we did see was so cool (unfortunate day for me to wear a dress)

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And today I am on a train from Munich to Copenhagen (12 hours) so I have some time to work on my Etsy store, read, listen to albums front to back, spill my life into my diary, write some postcards.  I brought a LOT of food, some people might say too much (but I’m not some people) Honestly, I think I am starting to get pretty good at train travel.

I am bummed to be leaving Germany. I forgot how much fun it is hanging out with our old gang. Although we have all arguably changed a lot, sometimes it felt like we never skipped a beat between being ten years old and now in our twenties.

It is so awesome and funny to see the transformation of such old friends over time. I remember thinking Thomas and Arno were way too into insects and constantly picking on each other, and now both of them are killing it in their respective schools and jobs. I feel very thankful to have had them in my life and to still be able to tag along as the girl of the group, constantly talking, wearing a dress and slowing everyone down.

Days twenty one to twenty four: Berlin has GRIT

My brother and I had the pleasure of traveling through Berlin on this beautiful weekend and are currently enroute to Munich. It wasn’t cute, but I completely understand why it was so highly recommended to me for my summer travels.

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Quick hits:

  • train travel is fun (especially from Berlin to Munich)
  • $48 can get you a massive rooftop room in the center of Berlin
  • Berlin has been destroyed like 5 times (ouch)
  • Not all cities can keep their parks as pretty as Copenhagen
  • Berlin smells like trash
  • Germany is all about cash
  • Investing $10 in groceries can get you four days of lunch for 2 people
  • eating big carrots whole is the best
  • trains can go on ferries and cross the ocean
  • I had an iced cappuccino that changed my life

Details:

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Berlin is gritty. I understood why Berlin looks the way it does a lot better after our full day walking tour on Sunday and I am not going to do the city the injustice of trying to summarize what I learned. I can boil it down to a couple things: you should learn about the history of Berlin, the city has changed so much in the past 30 years its hard to imagine that so much has happened there in recent history, and Berlin is the master of the bounce back.

We spent Friday traveling by train from Copenhagen to Berlin. We were delayed and it took about 9 hours in total, but I had a great time! Our airbnb was crazy cheap, and I am so glad that I was able to snag it. We had a really beautiful view of the city and on the second night I figured out that there were multiple ways to open the window, and we could sit on the roof and admire the sunset.

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Scared from the prices of eating out in Denmark, we got some groceries and made sandwiches for the rest of our lunches while we were there. Turns out Germany has normally priced food (yay) and money was no where near an issue like we thought it was going to be.

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Saturday, with our lunches packed and spirits high, we headed west of the victory tower to Charlottenburg palace. Any palace is hard to follow after some of the ones I have seen in Denmark, so I am trying not to be too bias. Virtually everything in Berlin was destroyed in WWII so its amazing that they could even preserve and of the structure, style or furniture. The gardens weren’t well kept (but I totally get it, Berlin has bigger fish to fry) but the tour was cool! Easily the coolest part of the tour was NAPOLEAN CROSSING THE ALPS (You know this picture, anyone that has read a history book in their life has seen this picture) Neither Grant nor I were expecting that and to be honest I am still pretty shocked that we were able to see a piece of art that famous that close for like $9

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For dinner we headed to a beer-garden along the river spree and had a grand old time people watching. To get ourselves in the mood for our Sunday tour we watched Indiana Jones after dinner.

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Sunday was our walking tour. Berlin is gritty. I understood why Berlin looks the way it does a lot better after our full day walking tour and I am not going to do the city the injustice of trying to summarize any facts or historical movements. I can boil the meat of what I learned down to a couple things: you should learn about the history of Berlin, the city has changed so much in the past 30 years its hard to imagine that so much has happened there in recent history, and Berlin is the master of the bounce back.

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DSC_0229.jpgWe had a great tour guide and again enjoyed the bounty of our pre packed lunches. The holocaust memorial and Berlin wall were extremely powerful and easily my favorite parts of the tour. After, Grant and I stopped into a cafe and got some coffee. I got the iced cappuccino and it was the BEST COFFEE IVE EVER HAD. I attempted to make it to a flea market at 5pm, but most people were packing up and to be honest I don’t really need antique spoons or old soviet money.

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Dinner was again along the river spree. My brother and I have had some great conversations on this trip but one of the best was at dinner when we were predicting what kind of person each-other will marry. Grant called me out on my udder fear of being an inconvenience or causing confrontation when I was having a nervous breakdown trying to ask for the check, and made me do a spit take because I laughed so hard. (really wish I had it on video)

The sunsets both nights were absolutely insane. Totally hot pink and fluffy and beautiful.

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Currently its Monday. Grant and I are on a U-Bahn from Berlin to Munich and were passing through Lictenfels as I type this. This train through the north of Bavaria has been so beautiful. There are castles tucked into hills, green trees everywhere, sheep, fields of sunflowers, and charming little postcard towns. Its raining on and off and its really making this whole trip appropriately magical and melancholy.

Grant and I realized we actually have first class access with our Eurail passes (score) but I would feel a little guilty now whipping out my full sized carrots and tub of remaining hummus around this crowd…

Hope you all had a great weekend! Auf wiedersehen!

Days seventeen-nineteen: the park lifestyle

Gwen is on a plane somewhere over the Atlantic ocean right now and I already miss her. Within the last three days she was here our appreciation for Copenhagen reached a new level when we realized this city was actually made for us.

Quick hits:

  • we have walked an obscene amount in the past four days
  • there has yet to be a bad park in this cuty
  • TAP WATER COSTS MONEY AT RESTAURANTS
  • River boat tours cost as much as a load of laundry and they’re awesome
  • Geology rocks
  • Art is everywhere
  • if ur Nikon D90 is having memory card errors just buy a new memory card DONT BOTHER TRYING TO FIX IT

Details:

The park of choice Day 17 was Havselkabes Have, which is slightly northwest from the city center. We began the day with some delicious coffee at Central Hotel and Cafe which is one of the coffee shops that will appear on pinterest when you search copenhagen. Gwen and I picked up Grant from the airport and we spent a while walking to Havselkabes Have, which was a really massive park. It is removed from the center and it is a little less youthful but very beautiful. Unfortunately my SD card gave up and I lost all my pictures.

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That night we came back to Copenhagen street food and I got my sweet potato fry fix. We were in bed by 11:00, I call that a successful day.

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Day 18 was a fantastic boat tour around the harbor AND flunky ball in Kongens Have. The weather was incredible, and the choice was made to rent bikes. We hiked to the top of Vor Freders Christianavn and Gwen remembered she hates heights but stuck it out for some adorable pictures. We tried a boat tour, which I think everyone in Copenhagen should do. It was so fun and really cheap.

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We saw the palace where the queen currently lives and enjoyed the ultimate leisure of biking to the park to picnic. Flunky ball was a success and we seemed to be in great company at the park.

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Day 19 was a huge voyage to Stevns Kilnt AND wine in orstedparken. Stevns Kilnt is reachabe by two hours in a car but gwen and I opter for the very metal one hour of biking and a 6km walk through the countryside option. I cannot express how insanely beautful this was. This trip really gave Gwen and I a chance to see how 95% of Denmark looks on a perfect blue sky day. We ate massive sandwiches on the walk and got ice cream on the way back.3836EF14-103E-42A6-9189-34D99C9B06B3

The beach itself was very cool. In the limestone outcrop there is a layer containing asteroid dust from the meteor that brought the end of the precambrian era. We could also see a massive offshore wind farm in the distance and lots of sailboats. There and back it was 12km and I can say I slept great last night because of it.

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Gwen’s last dinner here was at a cute little cafe along Pebble Lake where people rent paddle boats and swans patrol with a firm hand. I had a steak salad that actually contained a good amount of steak, a very pleasant surprise.

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I already miss Gwen so stinkin much but I am ready for the rest of this adventure. Right now I am in Berlin with my brother Grant and we will be leaving for Munich Monday! Many updates to come!