My Adventures with Stanley

Monday, October 5, 2020, 19:20 · 6 min read · Permalink

For the past several days, I have played host to my niece's Flat Stanley. Flat Stanley arrived at my home on Friday, and since then we have spent quite a lot of time getting to know one another.

On Saturday we woke up and turned on the TV. It's football season and there were a lot of exciting games for us to watch. Some of our favorite moments: t.u. lost to TCU, Baylor lost to West Virginia in double overtime, and we got to watch the Texas A&M Aggies run out of time against Alabama.

On Sunday we kicked off the morning by watching the Seahawks play against the Dolphins and then we grilled up some lunch on the roof--I had a burger and Stanley had a hot dog. The roof of my apartment complex has some nice views of downtown Seattle so we took some pictures:

Stanley and I on the roof of my apartment complex

I told Stanley I had planned to run over to REI to pick up some ski gear for the coming season and Stanley offered to join me. It was nice out so we decided to walk, though Stanley got to ride in my jacket pocket so I did most of the leg work.

Before going down to REI we walked through Cal Anderson park. Several months ago some people got together and formed a community in the park. They've set up tents and started a garden in the park and I thought it was an interesting thing to see. I think Stanley was eager to get out of there but we took some pictures anyway:

Stanley at Cal Anderson Park

We then began the romp over to REI. It's about a 15 minute walk from the park; down a big hill and across the I-5 freeway. I told Stanley how I've walked down this hill often to get to South Lake Union park where I've had some socially-distant interactions with some friends of mine. Stanley thought it sounded like a nicer park than Cal Anderson so he asked if we could go see it. It's not that far away after all.

Since it was still early in the day (plenty of time to go to REI) and the weather was just perfect I said sure. After a quick walk up Denny Way and then down Fairview Avenue we ended up at the southern shore of Lake Union. A lot of people keep their boats and yachts parked here so we took some time walking along the boats and imagined ourselves taking some of those boats out for a spin.

A sailboat happened to pass us by right as we entered the park and I got a nice picture of Stanley with the sailboat and the lake in the background:

Stanley at South Lake Union Park

We turned around and Stanley got his first good look at the Space Needle:

Stanley with Space Needle in the background

We didn't have long to take pictures before the geese in the park started to take notice of Flat Stanley and he got a little worried one of them might attack and try and eat him. So he tucked himself away in my pocket and I made a brisk exit from that part of the park. With some good luck we managed to be leaving the park just as a flight from Kenmore Air was talking off. As I explained to Stanley, Kenmore operates a fleet of seaplanes that take off from Lake Union and head north to Canada or Alaska.

Stanley was fascinated by the funny looking planes so while he was talking about hoping to travel in one some day I snapped a picture:

Stanley with Sea Plane on Lake Union

We happened to end up just across the street from the office building where I work (if not for the pandemic) so we walked over there. I had intended to look through the windows to show Stanley where I work, but unfortunately the entire building was sealed up--blinds drawn, doors locked, and lights off. We took a picture even though there wasn't much to see:

Stanley and I in front of my office building

Now I started to look at my clock with a little bit of concern. I told Stanley that we really should get back to REI before they close, and we're now on the opposite side of town but Stanley pleaded with me to let him see the Space Needle up close. I relented and we strolled up towards the Seattle Center. On our way we briefly stopped at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to look through the windows of the Discovery Center. I wish we could have gone inside but sadly they were closed. We took a look through the windows and I explained to Stanley all of the work that the Gates Foundation does to try and make the world a better place.

Stanley in front of the Gates Foundation

Across the street was the space needle. Now that we were a little closer I got to take a better picture of Stanley and the Space Needle (without any pesky geese around):

Stanley with trees and the Space Needle in the background

We got right up to the base and Stanley bent his head so far back that it just folded right over. I tried to fold my head back like Stanley was so that we could both see the top of the Space Needle. I couldn't bend my neck that far but we had an nice laugh about it.

Since we were already at the Seattle Center we wandered around the park aread there and also took some pictures at the monorail that runs between the Space Needle and the heart of downtown:

Stanley in front of the Seattle Monorail

We then started on the long hike back towards REI and home. On the way we made a few other brief stops. Our first was at the Cinerama--an old and famous movie theater in Seattle that was initially closed due to modernizations and renovations but has stayed closed due to the pandemic. We tried to peek in at some of the movie props they have but the whole place has been shuttered.

It was a breezy day in Seattle, and I had become increasingly jealous of Stanley's perfect hair. Mine started to fly all over and his stayed perfect for every picture. I told Stanley I'd only take pictures of just him for the rest of the walk.

One block away from the Cinerama is the headquarters of Amazon. They have a really cool building called the Spheres that we took some pictures at:

Stanley in front of the Seattle Monorail

Next door there's an Amazon Go store, which I intended to buy some snacks at but was closed for the weekend. It's a really cool store where they use robots to track what food you buy so there's no need to wait in line for a cashier. You just walk out the front door. I was pretty disappointed that I didn't get to show Stanley how cool it is but we still took a picture from the outside:

Stanley in front of the Seattle Monorail

At this point I looked at my watch and realized that REI closed in a few minutes! Stanley folded himself up and I nearly ran over to the REI. Fortunately I still had plenty of time get what I needed, but I would have really liked to give Stanley a tour of the flagship REI location--they even have a rockwall and a cycling course. Unfortunately we didn't get the chance to take a picture.

Unfortunately I've had to work this week so Stanley has busied himself doing some research on where he plans to go next.

Thanks for visiting, Stanley!

Odyssey's End

Friday, March 13, 2020, 06:02 · 6 min read · Permalink

Me at Stonehenge in the rain

Picking up from where my post yesterday left off the flight from Prague to Munich was uneventful. Though my ears pricked up when I started to hear more English spoken on the plane than anywhere since I left England. That was my first clue that we were all bound for the same fate. When we were debarking I noted classic American telltales around me: white socks and sneakers, clothing with American names and logos, and loud confusion when trying to navigate. The plane from Prague was a few minutes late arriving so a pile of us were briskly walking towards the international terminal to make sure we made the tight connections. The lounges, gates, and shops around us were practically abandoned. Several shops were closed or barely staffed by bored workers. I think besides the flurry of Americans trying to get home everyone else is smart enough to avoid traveling right now.

We all passed through the customs gate into international departures where a significant majority held out American passports to be stamped. The closer we got I think the more adrenalin-fueled we became, I know I was. We half-jogged our way through the terminal, slowing down to discern a sign written in German—to the bemusement of the border police watching these American packs go by. Finally, we boarded a small shuttle to carry us to the gate. It was a nice moment for us all to catch our breath. Since we had the time we asked each other which flight everyone was on. "Boston," "Chicago," or "New York" everyone answered, memorizing the appearance of their peers so we know which pack to follow when we leapt from the tram. We only had a short way to go now. Up the stairs and around a corner where we ran into a wall of people.

America, in her infinite wisdom, doesn't trust the first passport control checkpoint. A second one is instigated where in addition to passports being checked, hopeful passengers are quizzed about where they've been and which plane they're on. I invite you to consider the stress involved in trying to remember where you've been when you can hear "last call for New York" over the PA. Squeezing past people waiting for later flights I rushed to the front. I remember rambling off "England, then Paris. Wait no not Paris it's that little country... Germany, uh. Czechoslovakia! and uh..." After hearing me mention a country that hasn't existed for nearly 30 years she just laughed and waved me through. I guess everyone's story sounded something like that.

Past the second checkpoint and the wall of people, the far side was abandoned. It was peaceful after all the confusion and pushing before being allowed in, but I had no time to enjoy it. I sprinted up to the gate where the ticket checker pointed eagerly to the place to scan my ticket and didn't even bother with my passport. I initially thought I was the last person to board, but given that I had sufficient time to find my seat and settle in before "boarding complete" was called I must have just been near the end. The plane didn't end up being full, either because people were priced out of tickets (several hours after I booked ticket prices peaked at $5,000 apparently) or couldn't pass inspection in time.

It's rare that I've seen so many strangers become instant friends. I think virtually all the passengers aboard the plane were Americans and we were all in the same boat, both literally and figuratively. Often a few good eggs aboard a flight will help others put their bags in the overhead compartments and everyone is patient if you need to get out into the aisle a few times but this was something else. Everyone was chatting about final destinations while rearranging all the luggage to make everything fit—which usually falls to the flight crew. People actively went out of their way to put families and groups together. We worked as a team to fix any problems that arose around us. People apologized and thanked one another far more often than anyone would expect.

Even once things settled down a bit emotions and adrenalin were still running high. I think babies and young children must have sensed the stress in their parents and got a full flight's worth of crying done before we had even left the gate—fortunately they all quieted down once we were in the air. Several people around the plane had brief moments of hysteria and thought there was no way that we'd be allowed in but fortunately cooler heads prevailed. After the hysteria everything was peaceful. No one groaned when the pilot came on and warned us to expect a 15 minute delay. We all had done the math. We'd be home long before the travel ben comes into effect, and it shouldn't affect US citizens anyway. We all just wanted to be home, however long that took.

For my part, throughout the rush through the airport I entertained some vague notion that I could just leave the airport, board a train, and get back to my planned itinerary. Once I took my seat on the plane to New York I finally had to acknowledge that the trip was over.

  • I didn't make it to Katowice, where I would have seen the Auschwitz death camps.
  • I didn't make it to Gdansk, the birthplace of the earliest known member the Janzen family.
  • I didn't make it to Disneyland Paris, my grand finale.
  • I didn't make it to Paris, to watch the sun rise behind the Eiffel Tower on my last morning.

I spent far too long dwelling on what could have been instead of focusing on what I had done. When I think on those missed destinations now I realize how few they are for a trip that started 2 months ago. A trip that brought me thousands of miles along the United States freeways through mountains, forests, farms, and cities on a unique trip through my homeland. A trip that led me on a plane thousands of miles further on to London. A trip onboard trains that showed me more of the European countryside than many will in their lifetimes. A trip that showed me storied cities and ancient places. A trip that showed me the history of my family and the land they lived upon. I am incredibly fortunate and blessed to have been able to spend the time and money to make this trip a reality.

After traveling for 2 months wearing the same 7 sets of clothes and never staying in the same place for more than a few nights I can feel my body yearning for a return to normalcy; to sleep on my own bed, to drive my own car, to use my own washer and dryer, and to have a normal daily and weekly schedule to settle into.

I hope you've enjoyed reading this blog as much as I've enjoyed writing it. I imagine that once I finish writing addendums this blog will shift focus from travel to technology, so the audience might be a little different. I hope to revisit many of the places I visited throughout the last few months, though this exact route will remain unique. Perhaps one day some descendant of mine will attempt to recreate the trip, finding as I have that the land is ever changing and the past erodes. But for now, I'm looking forward to a period of rest before moving to Seattle. Long have I visited new cities, historical sites, cemeteries, and museums. Long have I made new friends only to part ways too soon. Long have I lived a few days in one place yearning to spend a year there only to move on and repeat the cycle anew. Now my trip is almost done and I have the rest of my life to start figuring out.

"The Road goes ever on and on

Out from the door where it began.

Now far ahead the Road has gone,

Let others follow it who can!

Let them a journey new begin,

But I at last with weary feet

Will turn towards the lighted inn,

My evening-rest and sleep to meet."

- J.R.R. Tolkein, last page of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.

(Photo cred: Cassidy Bryce)

Proclamation 9984

Thursday, March 12, 2020, 04:20 · 6 min read · Permalink

Edited 11:27: grammar and wording improvements

When I woke up this morning I had no idea that my plans would end up changing so drastically. As of the time of writing I'm sitting in Prague airport when I expected to have just boarded a train out of Prague central station towards Poland. Due to the imminent travel ban I'm flying to New York City with all available speed. I've got a hotel room for the night next to Central Park. Tomorrow I'll be on a pair of planes to return me back to College Station so I can pack and prepare to move to Seattle. I have no doubt that those plans will change as well but I can only take this one leg of the journey at a time.

I plan on writing up a more substantial trip summary during my plane travel and maybe some follow up posts on some specifics about the trip finances, what I packed (and what I forgot!), and anything else as the muse strikes me. For now, I'll give an update on everything I did after leaving Copenhagen up to the present.

The morning of the 9th I boarded a train to Berlin. Well, throughout that day I boarded 4 trains. It took me 3 trains to reach Hamburg whereas the other direction only took one, and then it was another train to Berlin. The total journey took about 7 and a half hours, and my connections were a little too close for comfort. I had a hearty breakfast but throughout the day I got hungrier and hungrier. Since I could just barely make my connections I didn't have time to duck into any of the station concourses for a bite and unfortunately the trains I rode lacked food and beverage service or bistro cars. Once I finally got into Berlin I purchased and devoured a blueberry muffin on my way out of the station to catch the metro. Once I was checked into my hostel for the night and I unshouldered my heavy pack I was able to check the local options and found an open italian restaurant. Keep in mind it's now 8:30 in the evening at this point so most places were closed or closing.

After slurping up a pile of delicious pasta and quickly paying, I walked back to the hotel and crashed into bed. The next morning I had another long train trip though thankfully I only had one train and I booked a reserved seat in a private cabin. It was a much easier day except for one small item. When I checked out from the Berlin hostel I forgot to grab my towel which was drying on a rack that I forgot to check. I took the metro all the way to Berlin Hauptbahnhof(central or main station) and was relaxing next to the platform when I realized my mistake.

It's a cheap travel towel but I bought it a year ago for my first European backpacking trip and since then I've gotten kind of attached to it. We've been across scores of miles together. But, unfortunately, the train timetable didn't give me enough wiggle room to run back to the hostel. However, soon after I noticed my error the departures board updated to indicate a delay to the train preceding mine. It jumped from arriving a few minutes hence to 70 minutes late in a second. Other platforms also began to show delays around us. Over the PA system a long impromptu message in german suddenly blared. It was followed by a much shorter english message that said "trains are delayed due to a problem on the tracks." That message might as well have been prerecorded for how general it was.

After attempting to communicate with the people on the platform around me—I in very broken German and them in simplified English—I understand that the problem had something to do with a doctor on the tracks. Perhaps prevention of a suicide attempt or maybe a workplace injury? I never did find out. But this ended up being a lucky break for me. After checking the metro timetable I confirmed that I had plenty of time to make the roundtrip back to the hostel to pick up my towel so I could avoid being a strag.

I was a little stressed that the train schedule might rebound towards some semblance of timeliness, but as I was leaving the station the delay notice slipped to 90 minutes. When I walked passed the main departures board the whole map was showing delays which reassured me. I made the trip out to the hostel and the concierge issued me a new key to look for my towel which was just where I left it! After returning the key and racing back through the metro system the departures list basically hadn't changed. There were several local trains and a few trains heading in the other direction that had left the station but my train and those following the same route out of town were still gridlocked, their lateness ever increasing. By now it was lunch time and I was exhausted by the stress of missing the train and all my running around. I ate over at a cafe within the station and wandered around for a while. Eventually the track cleared and the tangle of late trains slowly unraveled.

The train was only 4 and a half hours and my initial arrival time was going to be in the early afternoon. After all the delays I ended up arriving after sundown so I lost half a day of wandering around Prague, but it was still beautiful that first night even if a little rain-soaked. The next day it was still raining. I hoped it would let up so I slept a little longer but the rain persisted. I elected to just walk around the city in the rain and I think I made the right decision, though I did get soaked to the bone.

From the National Museum to the Lennon Wall across Charles Bridge the whole city was charming. Also, the hostel I stayed in was a wonderfully friendly place. Around noon all museums and state owned tourist destinations closed due to understandable fears about coronavirus. With nothing to do everyone returned to the hostel common room and we all bonded over our fears and uncertainty about the future. I wandered in and out of conversations while doing laundry. We were all sharing news articles and considering where to go next or what to do or maybe the city would be locked down or maybe we should go home? After freaking out for a while a few people packed and departed and a few drifted off. We all ended up reconvening for a free beer tour offered by the hostel and had a good time for the rest of the night unsuccessfully trying to forget coronavirus with our new friends. I had a wonderful time in Prague, and I wish I was leaving on better terms but this is the way things are.

At about 5am this morning, I happened to check my phone while I was going to the bathroom and I was confronted with a wall of messages from friends and family about the new travel ban from Europe. I had a brief moment where I was at a loss for what to do but after I started reading into the details I realized that not only was there time before it took effect but also that it didn't apply to citizens (yet). Out of an abundance of caution this is a good opportunity to return home as the situation may change with little notice in the future. I booked a flight and pivoted my travel plans. Cancelling hostels and quickly reorganizing my luggage into checked and carry on items. After waiting for a few hours until it was a reasonable time to take a shower without bothering my dorm-mates I showered and ate breakfast. Soon enough I was on my way through the last trains and buses I would take in Europe to the airport to ride my penultimate plane in this months long trip.

My plane is boarding now so I'll have to sign off. Hopefully I can decompress this trip while I'm on the plane so I can have some sort of summary worth committing ink to. Alternatively, since I've been awake since 5am local time and I won't arrive in NYC until what'll feel like 1 in the morning I might just sleep on the plane and write something coherent once I'm safely back in the States. For now, I think I'll go wash my hands one more time.

The Cathedral that Bluetooth Built

Sunday, March 8, 2020, 09:22 · 5 min read · Permalink

View of Roskilde Cathedral through a park

Yesterday, I needed a break from everything. I took a day to sleep in, relax, and basically not leave the hostel. It was one of the better decisions I've made recently. This morning when I woke up I felt completely rejuvenated. Counting what I've done today I'll have ridden 9 trains through 3 countries by this time next week. It'll be hectic but with the rest day I think I'm ready for it. To be honest I'm to the point where I feel a constant desire to just stop, to finally stay in one place and be done. Perhaps it would have been better to make the trip about 2 weeks shorter than what it's become, but that's not something I can change now.

Anyway, today I took a half hour train west to Roskilde, where their cathedral is now the burial place of 22 members of the Danish royal family. Before Denmark became protestant, it was the center of the Roman Catholic church in the area. In the supposed mythical version of my ancestors Lave Newt was the bishop of Roskilde. Despite knowing that that telling of events is false, I still enjoyed the experience of seeing some of the lore of my family in person.

The cathedral is a beauty. In contrast to every other church of its scale that I've seen in Europe the Cathedral of Roskilde is made of red bricks, though it also has Gothic elements in its arches and spires. I imagine the fact that it was under construction for a hundred years had something to do with the mix of architectural styles, but it was still awe inspiring to behold. I found it hard to photograph in it's entirety and retain its beauty, I'll leave the reader to judge from the picture above.

From the signage outside I learned that the cathedral is only open to the public between 1 and 2 in the afternoon, when I first visited it it was only 11 in the morning. Accordingly, I wandered around the mostly closed-for-sunday city to burn up a few hours until opening. I found wonderful little streets and parks to spend some time in. Then, I strolled down to the ocean and walked along the shore until I came across a viking ship museum and workshop.

I've seen ancient viking ships before in Norway and Sweden but I hadn't seen an active workshop like the one that I came across in Roskilde. They build full-scale replicas of discovered vessels and attempt to sail them. They had an exhibit on a test trip performed in 2007 on a vessel built from scratch between 2000 and 2004 that went from Roskilde around Great Britain and back. The photos looked so odd with the viking ship in the foreground and modern europe in the background.

After wandering the outdoor exhibits of the workshop for some time I started to get hungry. I found my way back to what seemed to be the main commercial district and found a place that billed itself as "an American experience." My amusement got the better of me when I saw what they meant through the windows so I sat down inside. The walls were coated with the most amazing fusion of every aspect of American culture—banjos, whips, spurred boots, and cacti next to Elvis memorabilia, hollywood trinkets, and miniature surfboards and other themes going all around the room. A cabinet in the center of the main eating area sported old coca-cola and pepsi bottles in one section while another had models of NASA spacecraft and still another had political bobble-heads.

I spent the entire meal being completely overwhelmed by the amount of work it must have taken to create the restaurant. While learning about other cultures is the main reason I enjoy international travel, I think another important reason is to see how other cultures see my own. This restaurant was the most concentrated dose of Americana I've gotten in 3 weeks. It's interesting to see how some things that Americans consider inconsequential about our own culture other cultures perceive as quintessential. Another thing, over the past few weeks I've adjusted my speaking patterns to make sure I enunciate words clearly, use common vocabulary, avoid slang, and make use of clear hand motions to ease communication with non-native English speakers. I felt myself reverting back to my normal American and at times had to repeat what I was saying to the waiter after I got a confused look.

After that experience, I went back down to the Cathedral and paid the entry fee. The interior was even better than what I was expecting. There were more people wandering around than I was expecting but since the church is only open for a single hour it makes more sense since everyone is so concentrated. The ornate chapels and naves made for quite the final resting places for the royalty of Denmark. I found it surprising that each casket (or pair of caskets for couples buried together) had its own unique design and flourish. Some were molded purely out of granite or marble, others seemed to be coated in velvet or linen tapestries, still others flanged with gold. The individual tastes of the monarchs continue to express themselves down through history to today in the design of their caskets and chapels.

The appointed hour of visitation ended too quickly and I missed out on the last few caskets and the small history museum contained within the depths of the complex. Oh well, I'm glad for the time I got. When I reemerged onto the streets the weather had turned from a peaceful mildly overcast grey to an aggressive wind and the dark threat of rain. I briefly sat on a bench to consider what to do and when I did I felt the exhaustion in my legs. That made it easy to decide to call it a day and catch the next train back to Copenhagen. Despite the fake origin to my coming to Roskilde today, I really enjoyed it. It bore the most similarity to my day in Berkeley in the United Kingdom and thinking about that has made me realize how long I've been traveling even though Berkeley feels like yesterday.

It's odd that I've been thinking that I'm basically at the end of the trip when there are still 15 days left until my plane to Texas. Tomorrow I'll be off to Berlin just for the night then the next day I'll be off to Prague!

Kings and Bishops

Friday, March 6, 2020, 07:52 · 6 min read · Permalink

View of Nyhavn in Copenhagen

My original plans for traveling around England were quite different from what I actually ended up doing. I envisioned visiting the regions where Benjamin Newt's ancestors hailed from and, if there was time, visiting cemeteries for other branches of my tree that I have learned are also of that island. However when I was preparing for Europe back in Boston I was reading some of my Newt family sources more carefully and cross referencing them I learned that recent investigations have not been able to substantiate any of the listed pre-Benjamin Newt ancestors. Quoting from a publication of the Newt historical society:

After thorough investigation, no evidence has been found to support the ancestry of Benjamin [Newt]... which has unfortunately been cited as authoritative in numerous succeeding genealogies, nor has a baptismal record for Benjamin [Newt] been located...

The report goes on to say that that despite this they found no reason to discredit the sections of the family genealogies describing the descendants of Benjamin, just his parentage is questioned. That latter remark was a relief to me after depending on that source all across Wisconsin, New York, and Massachusetts.

Once I read this document more carefully and I discovered that the claims of the Newt family owning land in various shires in England such as Sussex, Hertford, Surrey, and Biddendon are likely completely fictitious I abandoned plans to visit these places and made alternative plans to visit some places that had more personal interest to me (the Roman Baths and Stonehenge) while still visiting Castle Berkeley for another branch of the tree.

Earlier than England, the Newt family is supposed to have lived in Denmark and the (now discredited) source I have describing that period says this:

Tradition tells us that about the middle of the thirteenth century a person came and settled in Fredericksborg Balliwack and Slangerup Parish in the Sjelland Section of Denmark. There was a rumor that he was the descendant of [King] Harold Blautand, who died in 985, through his daughter, who married one of the most famous of the Swedish heroes, Styribiorn, son of Olaf, King of Sweden.

The text then includes a line of seemingly fictitious ancestors: Lave, Sven, Marten, Nils, and finally Bertolf who removed to England. The text asserts that Lave was Bishop of Roskilde but both investigation by the historical society mentioned above and my own research indicates that there were no Laves or Newts ever holding the Bishopric of Roskilde, or any other Bishoprics as far as I can make out.

I knew all of this back in Boston but I decided to retain Denmark in my plan and after my stay in Hamburg I took a train north and east to Copenhagen. See, a year ago when I was doing my "post-graduation" trip with some friends we had a layover in Copenhagen that was too long to just stay in the airport, we checked our bags early and spent the afternoon and dinner in the heart of Copenhagen before flying on to Berlin. Ever since that afternoon I've known I would need to come back and explore the area in more depth. So even though my family may not actually have come from here I kept it on the itinerary.

So I took the train from Hamburg to Copenhagen. Fortunately it was a direct train, and almost all of the passengers boarded when the train started in Hamburg and would stay on til the train terminated in Copenhagen. Only a few passengers departed from the car I was in and fewer boarded to replace them. We passed through northern Germany where the world outside grew increasingly grey and increasingly flat as we sloped down to meet the sea. After an hour or so we came to the Danish border and despite the fact that we were crossing from one Schengen area country to another all passengers had their passports checked. Based on the expressions of the other occupants of the car I gathered that this wasn't routine. Perhaps a fugitive was thought to be aboard? If we did get any answers over the PA I didn't understand them as announcements were only given in German and Danish.

Compared to the bright colors and clean industrial complexes we had been passing through to that point, the industry on the other side of the border seemed to have less concern for design and perfection. Great power generators and factories were practical and simple. I also noticed more frequent graffiti the further north we go. It seemed that up here people don't have the same respect for authority that the German side of the border has.

In any event soon enough we crossed a lengthy bridge from the Jutland peninsula to the island of Zealand upon which Copenhagen sits on the eastern shore. After debarking from the train I took the subway to the hostel and I was surprised to see that the whole system is completely automated from ticketing to the trains themselves—there weren't even any employees in the stations as far as I could see. When I went to purchase a ticket the prices were listed as 70 DKK which was a shock to me before I realized after conversion that's only about 10 US dollars.

Despite the fact that I'm no longer really in Denmark for family history I still like to entertain the idea that I'm here for a more mythical version of history. Like many Romans, Gaius Julius Caesar claimed to be a descendent from the god Venus and the Trojan prince Aeneas. It's possible that his contemporaries might have believed this, but each family claimed it's own heritage from some god, demigod, or ancient hero so they all went along with the idea. Now I'm not saying that I want to literally claim that I descended from King Bluetooth and a Bishop of Roskilde but it's fun to play along with the idea and wander Denmark with that mindset.

I spent most of today just wandering around the city rather aimlessly. When I last passed through Denmark we had dinner along what I now know is Nyhavn (New Haven or New Harbor in English, I think) which is where the above picture was taken, but I couldn't remember exactly where that was. I wandered around until I found it, and then I kept exploring to see all the grand cathedrals, castles, and palaces the city has to offer. The sights were fairly compact so it was only about an hour and a half of walking.

When I came to the Christiansborg Palace I saw a sign for the ruins of the older castles that had been built by Bishops that now lie beneath the ground. Despite knowing I had no connection to the Bishopric I still felt a desire to see the ruins. It was a nice tour, and either fortunate timing or the consequences of COVID-19 meant that I was the only one walking around them. While there I decided that I wanted to see the cathedral of the Bishop of Roskilde even though my connection is merely mythical, which I now think I'll do tomorrow.

Speaking of COVID-19, I've been monitoring the situation in Europe closely and I've done all I can to minimize risk, but the closer to the end of the trip I get the more worried I am that I might get stuck trying to get into Paris so I can fly home. Not much I can do until that gets closer, but it weighs on my mind.

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