The island at the center of the world.
Winter break travels saw the opposite of snow. My first visit to New York was dry and not especially cold. Indeed, it must have been close to 60º when I was catching my plane to Stink Town (as a friend so generously dubbed it). When I got to NYC, I was tired and soon to be sick, without a very strong idea of where I was or where I was meeting my cousin. I also didn't have a mobile phone (an experience limited to my having forgotten it, until I canceled my plan for time abroad), or any sort of clock (having forgotten my iPod on my desk back in my dorm). I did, however, manage to meet to find the correct corner in Manhattan and meet my cousin at the right time. This, I felt, was a very important accomplishment. The following day, the cousin generously showed me all the sights I wanted to see in Manhattan, from the big Christmas tree to the public library. I was not sufficiently impressed. I was impressed with my cousin, whom I hadn't seen in close to a decade. But I am possibly one of the few who is neither enraptured by, nor disturbed by the massive and culturally significant New York. I liked it. The subways were convenient and efficient. The buses seemed to be fine. The architecture was interesting and very tall. I am fully aware of the city's status as an economic centerpiece to the world. But my over all feeling was 'I'd like living here, but I don't see what the big deal is.'
Oh, and the American Natural History Museum displays their fossils nicely. Plenty of light, instead if half-hidden in mood lighting, as the Field Museum seems to like doing.
An island at the edge of the gulf.
Most of my vacation was spent in Charlotte. I don't necessarily think of the city as 'Stink Town', but my affection for it definitely waxes and wanes. I do love the friends that I have there, but they are increasingly fewer persons, as I just don't live there anymore. Charlotte couldn't even dream of a white Christmas, as the temperature neared even the 70ºs while I was there. So what do I do? Travel further south. The Florida panhandle is very nice for camping in January. Few insects (none that I would call pests), mild temperature, and while we were there, lots of rain. The first night we did sleep outside, but the second night we were rained into a sweet little B&B in Apalachicola and enjoyed hot showers and overly warm beds. I was a bit in the realm of unreasonably cranky for most of the trip, which generally manifested as sarcastic humor. I was, in fact, cranky for most of my entire break. Starting out the break with a cold that didn't get attended to immediately, and spending much of my time tired, or in transit, or tired while in transit, anticipating more time traveling and worrying about missing my various modes of transportation. This was not the best for a happy, relaxing vacation. And yet I wouldn't have wanted to give up any part of my travels.
Enumerating, I took a train, a plane, a short airport walk, a trans-Atlantic plane, a bus, several subways and much walking, another bus, another plane, several local car trips, one very long car trip, a few more local car rides, another plane, another bus, more subways and lots of walking, another train, another trans-Atlantic flight, another train, much walking, a return train, another plane, and one last train from the time that I walked down the hill from my dorm in December until I walked back up the (now snow covered) hill in January.
And I still haven't said much about St. George's Island in Florida. It was wet. It has lovely sand dunes, and pretty shells, and it was raining lightly. Until it was raining hard. But it was still nice, and I'm impressed with my sister's park scouting skills. But as she is the ekte friluftsliv person in the family, she's the best woman for the job. I went camping, hiking, sailing, fishing, and so on with my parents when I was younger. The sister and I both did. But it seems to have stuck better with her, and even seems to have worn off the parents with the passage of time. I could even see my sister going hunting, as one of her quotes on vegetarianism is "Sometimes Bambi's gotta take one for the team." Though I have not yet seen or known her to wield a gun, bow, or pointy stick.
Architecture of an archipelago.
Somewhere towards the end of all my traveling, I took a long layover in Copenhagen to see the islands that a friend had loved so well. Arriving at 07.00 and at probably the lowest point in the tourist season, there wasn't much open, but there was still plenty to see. I felt more dwarfed by the lower architecture of Denmark's head city than I had in New York. This is certainly because of language rather than the physical structure of the city. But I was also more enamored of the buildings in Copenhagen. The central train station in Helsinki is nicer I think, but the churches are lovely, especially the church with the big golden ball at the top of its spire. I learned the name of this church, but have forgotten it again. However, anyone looking for it just needs to look up frequently enough and they too will stumble upon it. It is my goal to return to Copenhagen toward the end of my studies and climb the spire to look out upon the lovely city of (I'm sorry, I love you Danes, you are all really great) homely language. All the water is very nice too. I could happily live in Copenhagen, something that I can't say for Oslo.