The students all left last Tuesday, but teachers and staff have had to come in until the end of the month. However, it’s been pretty easy with arriving at 10 and leaving at 1:30. It’s a little weird being in the school, preparing for the next academic year, without all the little ones running around and screaming. I almost kind of miss them…
Getting ready to leave Madrid after nine months was a bit of an adventure, having to balance:
- Trying to find a place to put my stuff over the summer
- Getting my travel papers while my residency card is being renewed
- Getting my deposit back on my apartment
All three tasks were a resounding success!
Giving and receiving the typical Spanish goodbye kisses took some time, but when I walked out the doors of the school it was finally summer break! No more school until October 3rd!
A quick lunch in Puerta del Sol in central Madrid made me opt to go to the climate controlled airport early rather than spend any more time in the infernal Spanish sun, with temperatures reaching up to 100F each day and almost nonexistent air conditioning.
First stop on my two month Nordic trip was Copenhagen! After less than three hours in the air I arrived in Denmark, my first time in Scandinavia. I helped translate English to Spanish for a nice young couple, both women, who complimented me on my Spanish…and then asked if I was a local, which seems to be a common assumption! I’ve been asked for directions at least once a day in the Copenhagen area.
My first day I took the bus across the ridiculously long bridge to Sweden, linked by land for the first time in 2000. I’d heard the round trip bus fare cost 100 Swedish krone ($11.78) but was a bit dismayed to find it was actually 100 Danish krone ($15). Still, not terrible.
We were stopped upon reaching the Swedish border, which despite being in Schengen is now manned. Being the only non-European Union citizen on board I had the following conversation (I’d forgotten my Spanish travel permit in the hostel):
- Guard: How long you stay in Scandinavia?
- Me: Don’t tell him two months. I have a round trip ticket, I’ll leave your country this afternoon.
The guard looked at the last time my passport had been stamped, way back in March coming back from Bulgaria with friends, and handed me my passport back without mentioning I’d have way overstayed if I was on a tourist visa.
Malmö was a pretty town, with lots of nice parks and probably the most impressive public library I’ve ever seen outside of the US.
There wasn’t a whole lot to do other than wander around aimlessly through the greenery, so the 5 hours the bus allowed was more than enough.
The 3 hour walking tour was one of the best I’ve been on in Europe, largely because we had a really great guide. Copenhagen’s a great city to just walk around, with phenomenal architecture and cobbled streets. The hostel was also phenomenal, and surprisingly cheap by Scandinavia standards at 140 DKK ($21) a night. There’s even some ovens in the large public kitchen! The first I’ve seen in a European hostel.
There’s a hippie commune from the 70s called Christiania that’s still active in Copenhagen, but photography was prohibited. I don’t think they wanted pictures of all the smoking, which is illegal in Denmark. I felt like I was back on the PCT there, especially when the clouds became dark and thunder sounded in the distance.
I took cover in the National Museum and perished Denmark’s Viking relics and Greenland colonization exhibits, which was all quite interesting. Early tomorrow morning I’m hopping on a flight to Reykjavik, after having spent a very nice three days in and around Copenhagen. Very excited for Iceland!