I don't have time to update too extensively, but I wanted to blog a bit about the last leg of my trip before I forget it all. I'm now in London, and am trying to focus on finding a job and figuring out how this damn city works, and the happy memories of travel are fading so quickly.
They really are happy memories. With no exaggeration, the month of August 2009 is the happiest I've ever been. Every day was amazing: even when I was lonely while travelling solo, I always felt confident and excited. Now, as I settle into a regular life and start looking for work, everything seems a little less sunny.
The rest of my time in Copenhagen was incredible. The people who were kind enough to offer me their hospitality were just stupendous people: they gave me maps, cooked me dinner, took me shopping and dancing and sightseeing, and introduced me to other wonderful people. It was all so much fun. Highlights included a visit to Copenhagen's unsurprisingly tidy red light district (although bestiality porn is legal there, so the sex shops were a bit of an unpleasant shock) and shopping (where I bought an enormous turquoise raincoat that looks like something Kate Bush would love and a black and coral jumper with double length sleeves). On the Friday night, I went to a dance party in the beautiful National Library, an imposing structure aptly nicknamed the Black Diamond. It's an enormous glittering black building next to the canal, and it was turned into a nightclub for the night. Beautiful and bizarre.
After Copenhagen, I went to Aarhus. I only had a couple of nights there, and it was not nearly enough. I couchsurfed there for the first time and stayed with a Lithuanian girl, her Danish boyfriend and their Slovakian cat. They were so interesting and welcoming, cooked me amazing food, plied me with exotic liquor (including 85% mead, with anaesthetised my mouth) and let me sleep on their incredibly comfortable couch. I only had one day of sightseeing, and I forgot to take my camera. I was gutted because, outside of Canada's Icefields Parkway, the area around Aarhus is the most beautiful place I've been. I went for a walk in a forest that contained restored Viking buildings and monuments, and arrived on an enormous bay. I don't have the words to describe how beautiful it was, how huge and wonderful and full of possibility the world seemed at that moment. And that's about as close to a spiritual epiphany as I'll get.
I also went into a museum that had the body of a guy preserved in a bog who I had studied in high school, so that was awesome. From there, I went to The Old Town, which is like a Danish version of Old Sydney Town, to those Australians who remember it. They had people dressed up as Ye Olde Danes, but the public floggings were conspicuously absent. From there, I visited Aarhus University's lovely modern campus, and trekked back to my couch to get a good night's sleep before flying out from Aarhus Airport to London.
Everyone I met in my first few hours in London was grumpy and sullen. Uh oh. So far, I find that Brits are never display the kind of middle-of-the-road, passably-polite apathy of Australians: they're either really polite or really cantankerous. Anyway, I met my friend Mel in Camden Town, and it was so good to see her. She's been here a year but, as we sat by a canal eating in the sunshine, it felt like we'd only been separated a weekend. I strolled the streets while she finished work, and then we went back to her place. I crashed on her couch for a few nights, which was interesting. All of her housemates were lots of fun, and I clicked well with one particularly dirty-minded young lady, but they partied hard and my sleep was oft interrupted. I didn't stay in any party hostels while I travelled, so I gladly took it on board as part of the experience.
Last night, I went to an underground midnight gig by Amanda Palmer, one of my favourite singers. I've seen her and interviewed her a few times, and when she sent out details of this last minute gig to her mailing list, I thought, "Hey, I'm on holiday in London - I'll do it!" The pub it was at was actually the very first thing I saw when I walked out of the underground at Camden Town. The queue was huge, but I got in after about two hours, and Amanda was still playing when I left around three o'clock. She played some of my favourites, and her awesome author boyfriend Neil Gaiman got up and read a story from the book they created together to accompany her album. It was even more chaotic than her usual gigs, as it was just her and an occassional violist. She arrived onstage clad in her underwear and asked the audience to donate clothes. There was lots of banter, and she played one of her old b-sides after borrowing someone's iPhone to check the key and the lyrics. Of course, I was exhausted by the end, but getting home on night buses in London is so easy.
I now have my own little room for a couple of months in a share flat in Ladbroke Grove, which is rather near Kensington, Notting Hill and Hammersmith. It's so nice to put my clothes in a cupboard, and I was so elated when I did a grocery shop and carried it all back to put in my fridge. I've been doing a bit of job-hunting, but it's been getting me down. I realise there's no rush - I've got plenty of savings - and so once I sign off here, I'm going to go and give myself a few days as a tourist. I'm going to go and visit Rought Trade, a record store that I've bought lots of stuff through mail order from over the year, and Oxford Street (okay, so I plan to buy some job interview appropriate clothes there, but that can still be fun). On Wednesday, my uni friend Anna (EDIT: I meant my uni friend Bec. I am a terrible, terrible friend.) and I are heading down to Brighton, so I suppose I'll get back into it on Thursday.