The Amber Tour

 

As promised….the continued adventures….

 

After the longest two and a half days of my life (ok really, one day of real class and a day of beer tasting), but after class Wednesday morning it was off on another adventure with my parents.  This time by air.  As wild as it is, this was the first time I have left Italy since moving here in March.  Seems impossible that I have been living here that long, but even crazier how jarring it was to leave.  Being back in a place I didn’t know the language, food, or customs felt uncomfortable, but it also felt so good.

What an adventure it was just to get to Gothenburg! I left Turin about 6:30pm, taking a train and the bus to the airport, and flew to Copenhagen to then take a night bus the four hours up into Sweden.  I had consulted with a Swedish friend about booking the bus ahead of time, tried online, but they denied my Italian debit card.  After a few conversations on the phone with customer service, I had a reservation number and was told to put it into the kiosk when I arrived at Copenhagen Airport and it would give me my tickets.  I showed up, put in my code, and was told the code was an incorrect format.  Flash forward three hours, I have ran all over the three terminals, asked anyone I can find, have finally found where the bus picks up and am waiting, praying they’ll be able to find my reservation and print my tickets.

The bus driver taking tickets comes up to me, I explained my situation (a bit frantically I am sure), so he tells me to wait and calls his main office.  Gets off, smiles at me, says “You aren’t in our system” and keeps walking to the back of the bus. Ummmm, okay.  I follow, perplexed and he points to the luggage carriage.  “Throw in your bags and grab a seat.  If someone says you’re in their seat, just move to another free one. I am going to hope you’re really have a reservation.”  Only having to switch seats twice, I showed up 4 hours later to see my mum, hungry and tired, but in Gothenburg.  People are people all over the world.  And man, are people kind and good.

Gothenburg every July is home to the Gothia Cup, hosting almost 1800 teams from 80 countries, it’s the largest youth soccer tournament in the world.  So needless to say, the next few days were filled with watching teams from around the world play.  A beautiful thing to see the world come together for a game..

When I decided I would visit my parents in Sweden (in addition to San Marino) it was about 2 months out from the tournament.  So with 1800 teams, you do the math on how many rooms were left in the city on a traveling student’s budget.  Not many.  Luckily, my dad’s high school exchange student lives just outside the city with his family, who were very welcoming in letting me stay with them.  The first Gothia Cup my dad coached at was about 15 years ago, knowing his exchange student was originally from Gothenburg, he went to the yellow pages.  He was the only Thure Eneroth listed, so dad took a chance and found him.  Ever since then he has dinner at least once every time they are in town.  Incredible example of the strength of friendships, even across great distances.

 When we weren’t watching soccer (or when we left dad to watch the 25th game on his own), my mum and I were adventuring to find beautiful design in sweet tiny shops throughout the neighborhood.  A perfect way to spend a rainy day, ducking in and out of shops with beautiful windows.  One morning the three of us took to the candy store.  Sweden has the most amazing candy stores, so we had to be strategic.  First day buy one of everything, taste them all, decide what is good and come back the next day to stock up.  Makes for quite a delicious game snack.

Sunday, we took a transfer bus the four hours back to Copenhagen to spend Monday exploring the city.  This was one of my favorite days of the whole trip.  We started the morning with the team, up to see the Little Mermaid statue and then everyone broke off.  Myself, my parents and another couple from my hometown were off to do our own exploring.  Walking through the Royal Palace and Nyhavn (most famous neighborhood), we took our time wandering, but ultimately found our way to Copenhagen Street Food for lunch.  

Hands down for a foodie this is one of the coolest places to eat a meal.  It’s open almost every day of the week, from midday to late evening and is filled with street food stalls from around the world.  Sitting down to the table, between the five of us we had Brazilian, Mexican and me, I was eating an ostrich.  My lunch was an ostrich burger, topped with whisky onions, bacon, bacon jelly, prawns, lettuce, tomato, cheese, and a sauce of some sort.  It was amazing, and to rest it next to crispy sweet potato fries, I was in heaven.  Located on an island just across the footbridge from Nyhavn, this is an absolute must for anyone traveling to the city. And please take me back with you.

After lunch we went to explore the city center, and the three of us girls found ourselves in the House of Amber right as it started to rain.  As it really started to downpour, my dad stuck his head in and said, “Honey we found another kind of amber next door that we are gonna go check out!”.  We finished and found them in the pub next door with a couple pints of Carlsberg.  Thus began, “The Amber Tour”.

Attempting to wait out the flash flood that had ensued, we sat and talked for the next couple hours, putting away a few pints of the local amber. We left the pub to check out the real thing, the Carlsberg Brewery.  Taking the free bus from Central Station, we were off.  Now, I have visited more than a few breweries around Europe, and to be honest, Carlsberg is nothing special.  Perhaps if you paid for the guided tour it would be better, but the self guided tour’s best part was the two beers at the end.

 

That rounded out our day.  We went out for a quick bite for dinner (and the last stop of the Amber Tour) and then back to the hotel to sleep before an early morning to the airport. I took a cab from my parents hotel, to my hostel a mile or two away and was back what seemed like seconds later for the morning bus.  The team’s flight back to the US began on a early flight and I was on one back to Italy a few hours after.  So one long day later, I was home is sweet little Bra.

It was such a blessing to spend those 11 days with my parents.  They taught me what it meant to be a good traveler way back when and are forever my favorite travel partners.  To be honest, I needed that time just to be with them.  Like a college freshman going home for a weekend, just because.  Family fills you back up, reassures you that you are in the right place and reminds you how great life is.  Facing August where all my friends would get to go home for a month, I was feeling quite homesick before I saw them.  But I came back to Italy refreshed and ready to tackle the next five months before I get to visit the US.

It was a great adventure that reminded me how lucky I am to be a part of my family, and to be following a dream.  FaceTime is great, and lets me feel closer to home, but a hug from my mum and a joke from my dad is home.  So grateful to my parents for helping me make home a reality last month and coming to Europe.  Can’t wait to eat with you at home in January.

Until then, stay hungry……and hug your parents…

-The Very Hungry Traveler

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