Friday, October 19, 2007

The Love Boat

The Love Boat is a cruise ship that takes you on an overnight journey from Helsinki to Denmark. It is pretty much a smaller version of the Pacific Sky. Budget tours being what they are our cabin was at the bottom of the boat with no windows. It was darker in there at midday than the inside of a coffin six feet under. Unfortunately there was a bit of an incident before boarding the cruise ship which grated my cheese involving a couple of people on the tour. I’m not going to go into it because it would cause some problems for those concerned but will say two things.
1) I am very proud that I found my voice and stood up for someone and something I believed in, even if it cost me the friendship of another person.
2) I am very disappointed that the end of a fabulous time in Scandinavia was marred by the events.
Before you start wildly guessing away. I didn’t start anything or participate in anything, just managed to say some things that finished it.

Moving on…as with most cruise ships, once you had toured the gym, swimming pool and kids area, toyed with the idea of playing games in the kid’s area and settled in for a drink I one of the bars, there is not much else to do. So the girls decided to get dressed up for an evening of all you can eat buffet dinner and a cabaret show. The food was plentiful, even if the prawns were all pregnant (have you seen a pregnant prawn? Very yicky and off-putting), and the desserts to die for. The show was an array of dancing centred on movie themes, James Bond, Hairspray, Dirty Dancing etc. Not sure how the dancers managed to get through their choreography with the boat rocking. Photo - Bridget, Bree, Sarah and Barbara on board the Love Boat.

Driving the next day was a sombre experience. We had lost half of our fellow travellers back in Helsinki before we boarded the boat as they were meeting their new Russian friends. The bus felt more than empty. For the first time on tour Mick “I can’t sleep on moving vehicles” managed to get some shut out stretched out across the back seat. Each of us had our own space and there was little chatter. I borrow Dirk’s book about Asperger’s children called “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night” by Mark Haddon (awesome book) and managed to read it cover to cover in just over 3 hours. Sarah took over from Andy for a while as tour manager so she could practise her microphone skills (she has a Contiki interview back home this month) and Google (Peter from New Zealand) felt compelled to give it a whirl as well and had us all in stitches. Google got the name Google simply because the boys wanted to call him Britannica because he is a walking encyclopaedia but it was too long and Google was snappier. He could tell us distances to upcoming destinations, random facts and history of areas at the drop of his hat. Peter packed a wireless radio and a topographical map of Scandinavia the same way I packed a toothbrush and underpants. It was a natural thing. And although strange to get my head around to start with, his daily updates made me laugh without fail every day. Without Google our travelling experience would have lacked a vital ingredient. Photos - (top) Mick finally catching some shut eye and (bottom) Google managing the tour.

Arriving in Copenhagen was bittersweet. Dinner was made even more difficult by the fact that it was a Saturday night and it was the Gay Pride Festival that weekend. There was not a table to be had in the city and so we had to abandon plans to have a final meal together. As many people were leaving at the crack of dawn the next morning to catch trains, planes and well, no-one drove so I can’t really say automobiles, we said our goodbyes the night before. The following day ticked slowly by (my plane was at 3pm) scarred each time we said another farewell. I waved 7 taxis off before I caught my own with Wellsey and Dirk and after hugging them goodbye sank back into the thick crowd to find my way to customs and eventually my plane.

Travelling by myself is the scariest thing I have ever done (including jumping off that cliff in Austria). But with some guts and a “you only live once” attitude you might just be lucky enough to get a trip of a lifetime, like me. Oh, and it doesn’t hurt if you put your hand up for Team Tent either! :)

P.S: I just figured out that a taxi is an automobile so I could have written that anyway. Photo - (l-r) Bridgetm Barbara, Sarah, Me, Dirk, Disappearing Tom, Google and Craig.

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