It’s Good to Have Friends

Stave Church, Oslo, Norway

As you’ve probably noticed if you’ve been reading my Scandinavia trip posts, it was one heck of an adventure.  One filled with great food, amazing natural scenery, beautiful cities, fantastic cultures, and wonderful people.  I’d like to dedicate this post as a thank you and as a wonderful illustration of the value and power of social media as a way for coordinating meet-ups and maintaining international friendships.

While I met a lot of great people during my trip and will be keeping in touch with many of them, there are four in particular I owe a huge thank you to.  They opened their homes, treated me to meals, introduced me to their culture, shared their friends and set aside large chunks of time to show me around their cities.  The time spent with each was special and something I hope to reciprocate in the future.

Friends in Oslo

Hildur and Sten – I’ve known Hildur for a number of years and met her initially while she was at Arizona State University getting her undergraduate degree. As school wrapped up and we graduated she headed back to Norway and settled in Oslo. Which worked out great, as Oslo was my gateway to Scandinavia and first real taste of Norwegian culture. Upon my arrival Hildur introduced me to her boyfriend Sten – an awesome guy who volunteered to give me the premier local’s walking tour of Oslo.  Make sure to check out my blog posts from Oslo for an idea of what we covered during my visit.  From Viking museums to Palatial parks we hit them all.

The two really made my time in Oslo special.  They introduced me to a number of amazing local foods, taught me several park games, introduced me to a bunch of great people, and really shared a much better understanding of the city with me.  They also hosted me in their guest room for the duration of my stay.  Thank you!

Kevan in Copenhagen

Kevan – I met Kevan just under a year ago during my Central America trip.  At the time he and another friend where in Mexico to celebrate the New Years.  I rolled in to the hostel fresh off the bus from Guatemala, grabbed a beer and got to know everyone as the New Years festivities wound up. When Kevan noticed I was heading to Denmark/Copenhagen on Facebook he volunteered to show me around and set aside a day and a couple of evenings to introduce me to the town via a great walking tour, his group of friends and a fantastic tour of Copenhagen’s local watering holes.

A gracious and generous host, I really enjoyed the insights Kevan had to offer both into the history of the city, the local culture, and the general history of Denmark as a whole.  It’s an amazing place populated by an incredible people and somewhere I’m eager to re-visit and explore in great depth.  Believe it or not, I even learned a bit more about English as a result of our conversations.  Thank you!

Hamburg Friends

Philipp – Another friend from my Central America trip, I originally met Philipp in Playa del Carmen.  We met at the hostel during my first visit when four of us teamed up to rent a car and then set out to snorkel Dos Ojos, visit Tulum and look for turtles in Akumal.  With just over a day to properly explore Hamburg, Philipp stepped up and took me on a fantastic tour of the city.  The walk was a real kick – from underground tunnels to old Nazi fortresses and golden sand beaches we covered a ton of ground and history.  I was also introduced to a regional Germany drink I’d never had before and had the opportunity to dive into local German fare.

A great guide, he really went out of his way to show me around the city and share some of the more obscure elements of the city’s history with me. While I knew some of Hamburg’s history, I had no idea just how interesting a city it was, or how major a commercial player on the national scene. The tour was great, the food good and the company exceptional.  Thank you!

Bergen from Above, Norway

While still possible, most of these connections would have been nearly impossible to maintain without modern technology and infrastructure.  Without tools like facebook, IM and e-mail I probably would have all lost touch shortly after meeting.  Instead, we’ve been able to maintain our friendships and connect when opportunity permits. That’s an incredible thing, and one I really value and relish.

Each of the four I mentioned in this post showed fantastic hospitality and kindness.  They set a wonderful example and serve as a constant reminder for me, of how important it is to strive to pay-it-forward.  To host, and help travelers and friends when the opportunity presents itself. It’s a wonderful reminder that the little things are sometimes some of the most powerful.

So, on a closing note – thank you all once again!  I can’t wait to see when and where our paths cross next.