Eurovision Song Contest 2014 – Semi-Final 2

In what turned out to be a bit of a hot mess, the the production of this second semifinal was mirrored with awkwardness and seemingly technical difficulties. However, it actually was a very strong selection of songs… Here we go.

Malta – Firelight
=> Qualified
❗ Personal Favourite

Malta comes firing out the gates, quite literally with their song “Coming Home” which represents a new step forward for Malta. It’s mainstream, it’s catchy, and it’s actually performed pretty well. This folk inspired song has ethnic connections that allows it to be “legit” but also the chorus is really quite good. Lead singer is charismatic and attractive, and it just adds to the whole “value” of this piece with a country-pop crossover. Thank you so much backing vocals for actually being decent. Good luck to Malta – I actually like it!

Israel – Mei Finegold
❗ Personal Favourite

Poor Israel – they have been having a rough few years. And interestingly with this song, which is super power alto inspired, I truly believe that this is one of the better ones of the night that didn’t make it out. Diva on stage, with catchy verses, a chorus, and two backing dances that know how to shake their hips and strut. I think that what made the song a disconnect with a lot of viewers is that halfway through it transitions to Hebrew. It doesn’t bother me and I’m used to it, but the drama of not Beating from the Same Heart, and having a bitchin’ key change and strong ending, I can’t help but imagine that an all English version will be released and played in da clubs.

Norway – Carl Espen
=> Qualified
❗ Personal Favourite

Well this was unexpected to say the least. When I saw him I wasn’t thinking that this song was going to come out of him, but I can’t help but think that with my eyes closed it would be better. But then I realized that halfway through the song, they decided to play with lights, which is extremely effective. He doesn’t have to move, he doesn’t have to have dancers, he doesn’t have to have anything other than the simple song that speaks to the depths of our hearts. I just can’t help but feel it when he sings “And sometime I’ll become…” and feel it. Not the most visually appealing singer, but his voice is very raw and speaks to the strings of our hearts. Top-10 for sure, at least I can hope. Good job Norway!

Georgia – The Shin and Mariko

What the fuck is this? I can’t help but wonder if this is actually English, but really what the hell has Georgia done here? I want to see the sheet-music, because really I can’t figure out how it’s written as the syncopation and the changes in tempo and rhythms and time signatures is enough to confuse a person. While our lovely female singer starts to sing I can’t help that the tone of her voice is just “typical” from that region. They all sound the same. It makes me think of some real flops in the English language in the past – this is up there with the awkward performances in recent years.

Poland – Donatan & Cleo
=> Qualified

I’m biased, I really am. If you’ve read my blogs over the last decade about my reviews of Poland, I’m always, frankly, harsh. But seriously I feel like I have reason to be. What the fuck are you doing Poland? Every time that you come to Eurovision (with few exceptions) you bring something slutty. Skanky, slutty, dirty, just ugh. Was it necessary to have boobs all over the place, and have “sexy” churning butter, and then more boobs popping out while washing clothing on stage? I don’t get it – really don’t get it. Why can’t you keep it classy? It’s ethnically charged, and English is horrible, and despite Cleo being pretty, it’s just wrong. GO HOME POLAND! By the way, who and where was Donatan?

Austria – Conchita Wurst
=> Qualified
❗ Personal Favourite

Arguably the most controversial entry this year, I was a bit perplexed. It started with a voice, which I felt sounded male, and then the figure in the shadows looked to be wearing a dress, and then the lights turned on and it was a transvestite female with a full beard. I don’t think I’ve ever seen it, but then it made sense. I thought, Austria… really? Maybe from somewhere more progressive, but Austria has always made me feel like they have something shoved up their bums. Then I listened and I was incredibly impressed by the strong song, the strong performance, which frankly just knocks you off your feet. Keeping your eyes closed you wouldn’t care, and because it’s such a disconnect from the visual it makes it difficult to judge. The LGBTAQ* community is behind this entry 100% so I wouldn’t be surprised if it won. It’s a dark horse, but a strong possibility. I just wish that she would stop saying “fabulous” and sounding like a drag queen diva. I mean that in the nicest way.

Lithuania – Vilija Matačiūnaitė

This one is a weird one. Lithuania does seem to have an interesting interpretation when it comes to music, but this black and neon green production just leaves me thinking “uhmm okay.” If we yelled a little bit more into the microphone it would be a little bit more unattractive, but really at the end of the day she has a decent voice. Seems like a bit of a try hard scat version of Rihanna. But then it just gets annoying whenever she says “Attention” and I frankly lose attention. This one might be one of the votes for worst dressed of the year – I feel bad.

Finland – Softengine
=> Qualified
❗ Personal Favourite

So Finland sends some teenagers from Seinäjoki with a teen band that sounds, well teen-bandish. And the odd part about the whole thing is that I’m oddly intrigued by it, and actually is a decent radio song. It won’t win, for sure, but it’s a strong entry that would appeal the straight male population that watches Eurovision (where are they?!). The song really picks up then the beat comes in, and then mixed in with a strange accent in English and a fabulous light show, it’s one of the more manly entries of the year. Only high school students have a good career ahead of them if they chose to pursue it. I was a little put off by the fact that the lead singer was having difficulties making eye contact with the camera, but it seems typically Finnish to me. And that’s why I find that culture so unfathomably hot. This song is a bit of what I would call “an anthem” that makes me close my eyes and just flail around dancing and bopping all over the place.

Ireland – Can-Linn feat. Kasey Smith
❗ Personal Favoruite

This one is a strange one for me. I like the song, it’s decent, but the visual representation of it really was the disconnect for me. It’s not a winning song by any means, but Ireland tried something different. They just can’t seem to break away from being typically Irish. I will explain: there are Irish images all over, men in strange outfits Irish Dancing and mixing it with modern hip hop dance moves, and then all of a sudden we have a singer that looks like she’s playing a tribute to ABBA and the 60s and 70s with a modern song. It took me awhile to figure out that the main singer is Kasey Smith, so who the heck is Can-Linn? I can only assume it’s the band. Men in skirts Irish dancing is always a risky move. This song would make a good acoustic ballad version, I think. Next time be… less Irish?

Belarus – Teo
=> Qualified

Go home Belarus. You send cheesy entries and ones that make me roll my eyes. Really tho, crusty goatees and trying to look like the rest of Europe and a modern country really doesn’t sell well especially when we know what goes on there. I hate this song, and I hate that it’s in the Final because it takes the spot of other decent songs that deserve it better. Boo, go home Belarus!

F.Y.R. Macedonia – Teo
❗ Personal Favourite

I’m in a fleeting relationship with F.Y.R. Macedonia and it’s entries in the past years. I sometimes like them and I sometimes don’t, and unlike Romania, it’s not always in the top choices for me. This one was really good, and it didn’t qualify. I’m gutted. It’s so simple – I mean she’s dressed in black and white with gorgeous blue earrings and nails. It’s the perfect accessories. This is the radio favourite of the year, I think. It’a true club summer mix – and I hope that I will hear it on the radio going forward because it totally deserves it. It was simple presentation and not too over the top, which is what I can some times like, and the backing vocals didn’t screw her over and actually contributed to the overall goodness of the production.

Switzerland – Sebalter
=> Qualified
❗ Personal Favourite

Lots of hate for this one, but I actually am quite impressed by the whistling. They are clearly francophone Swiss people, but really that doesn’t bother me. I think the lead singer is somewhat indulgent in himself and probably would do himself if he had the chance, and it comes through the camera. This folk-inspired pop song with a banjo makes us think of a springtime love song that doesn’t end very well. I’m a bit surprised that it qualified, but having said that this year there are a few surprises. It’s better than some of the other qualifiers, but alas I never win!

Greece – Freaky Fortune feat. RiskyKidd
=> Qualified
❗ Personal Favourite

What a hot mess on screen. It’s all over the place and I never really understood where it was going. They looked nervous, they sang decently, but the song is the stronger aspect of this (minus the rap). It’s a disconnect from the typical Greek beach time song, but really gets us to “Rise Up” and get dancing. Fusion of rap and club-mix turns out to be the Mandinga summer hit of the year. Greece seemingly can never fail to qualify (don’t understand that), but this song is a good one. It’s got catchy modern twist and decent vocals – just watching it is a bit of a struggle. Top-10 for sur, maybe even in Top-5 because Europe is just confused half the time. I mean they even have trampolines!?

Slovenia – Tinkara Kovač
=> Qualified
❗ Personal Favourite

Dat flute yo. As a flautist myself, I’m impressed when a singer can do both like me. I can sing and play, but that’s enough of tooting my own horn. Tinkara really rocks this one out. I have no idea what she’s saying half the time but I’m going round and round with her. This one is modern and it’s a mixture of strong and light, as the bass only poppa in here and there. Is it love or is it hate, as she says. The only problem is that songs that “what are we doing?” in the lyrics tend to get mocked by the viewers. I’m glad to see that this one made it through and we can see it again.

Romania – Paula Seling & Ovi
=> Qualified
❗ Personal Favourite

Returning this year from a few years back with a less inspiring song that is still interesting. A circular piano, female falsetto, and graphics that make Paula seem like she’s turning to dust and popping up somewhere else. It’s a club hit, for sur, and it will it end up somewhere in the middle, I just think it lacked something and just was a bunch of arms moving around. Flail is a good way to say, which is pretty sad considering the last time they did fairly well. They can sing, it’s true, but at least at the end of the day they will allow us to sing and dance along.

So after the evening is through, as you can see I had a lot of favourites but the best songs did get through for the most part. Congratulations for Australia’s début (unofficially) in the contest. Now all I have to do is make sure that I can find an internet connection good enough to stream on Saturday for the final!

Eurovision Song Contest 2014 – Semi-Final 1

Off to the races again this year at the Eurovision Song Contest, this time we are in Copenhagen after Emmelie de Forest’s win last year in Malmö. With our very simple and charming hosts Lise Rønne, Pilou Asbæk, and Nikolaj Koppel the show got started with a very crystal inspired box theme. So, what did I think?

Armenia – Aram MP3
=> Qualified

A decent song to start, but really lacking the energy that I feel is necessary to start the show. Vocals were already but nothing to write home about, and the English pronunciation was decent. With a strange transition from sweet ballad to angry rock, I’m left wondering what was so appealing about this song that allowed it to qualify to the final.

Latvia – Arazemnieki
❗ Personal Favourite

Cheesy as it may be, I actually do like this song because it’s just so innocent. While the lyrics leave a lot to be desired, it is more of a song that I would imagine coming from Ireland or Malta than Latvia. Having said, that having an Eastern European accent while singing made a funny little twist that added to the whole image of the song. Simple, sweet, and made me smile. A good combo in my books.

Estonia – Tanja
❗ Personal Favourite

Our first club hit of the competition, Tanja takes an ambitious dance take on Loreen’s Euphoria to present Estonia’s entry. While I really like the song, I don’t really like the visual presentation of this as it just feels like a desperate attempt to be the same as past winners. Creative dance interpretation, iffy English, but really on screen doesn’t really do much for anything. Love the song, can be presented better… better luck next time!

Sweden – Sanna Nielsen
=> Qualified
❗ Personal Favourite

What words can be said about Sanna? She’s fabulous and after what feels like a lifetime of her trying to qualify for Eurovision she comes with a freaking power ballad that is just an anthem. Classy black dress, not much skin, a great voice, great visuals, great lights, just great all around. A true contender to win – lets cross our fingers for Sweden because it would be great to head back to Sweden!

Iceland – Pollapönk
=> Qualified

At first I thought this was the Eurovision parody of the year, and to be completely frank it wouldn’t have been the first time it took the form of an Icelandic entry. But really when I started to listen to the lyrics, I realized that this was a lot more mainstream and had a deeper message and meaning that the superficial image of a bunch of men dressed in bright various colours (which by the way was awesome). I particularly find the funky pre-bridge to be a big thumps up.

Albania – Hersi

A sweet little song at the beginning that, like Albania normally does, gets harder and harder. As kinky as that sounds, it’s really not all that good. What is she saying? English is iffy, and the way that that song is written doesn’t allow for the text to be very audible. While she has a good voice and has a good image, and despite the odd rocker that comes in half way, I think it’s a decent song but not good enough to progress. Europe agreed.

Russia – Tolmachevy Sisters
=> Qualified

As expected they got booed. With recent developments of Russian foreign politics and the annexing of regions of Ukraine I’m hardly surprised that the EU went ape shit on this act. I find it a bit ironic that as a result of what’s going on, Russia sends two cute and innocent sisters to represent them and show a “softer” side of Russia with lyrics that speak of love and sending messages above. I don’t buy it, and I while I don’t agree with the crowd booing them, I say “go home.”

Azerbaijan – Dilar Kazimova
=> Qualified

Whoah bitch… back that train up sister. While this woman has a nice voice, her English is really not pleasing to the ear. Infusing ethnic sounds in a contemporary ballad is a good idea and very believable for the public and for myself, but there is something that really lacks here for me. She’s likely to place well because it’s, well, Azerbaijan, and they seem to be a strong contender every year, but I still can’t understand why.

Ukraine – Mariya Yaremchuk
=> Qualified
❗ Personal Favourite

What a show, really. Great vocals, interesting song, and fantastic and creative way to represent it. I never thought I’d be intrigued by a man running in what appears to be a hamster-wheel. It really fits with the style and aesthetics of the piece – so good job Ukraine. Can’t wait to see this one again on Saturday.

Belgium – Axel Hirsoux

Ouch – just ouch. He’s got a good voice, but it needs to be toned down like… a lot. If I close my eyes it’s a good sound, but when I open them up I’m just left to say “meh” and “www.” The lyrics of this song are strange and sadly, as a Walloon, his English is poor while singing. If it were to be more delicate and not so harsh I think it would be more effective. Better luck next year, Belgium.

Moldova – Christina Scarlat

Hair extensions like never seen before – ripped off in a bridge and heat of passion. With a deep alto voice and iffy English this oddly appealing song doesn’t really do it for me but is a decent listen to after a few times. The thing about it though, being an alto and all, is that when she’s singing higher notes it sounds like she’s shouting them and just pushing them out. As a result the unattractive sound is just hard to get out of your head, and results in lack of interest.

San Marino – Valentina Monetta
=> Qualified

For the third year in a row, Valentina has represented San Marino in Eurovision and for the first time she’s come with a success. Last year’s song was an improvement from the parody song the first year, last year was a great transition song, and third time might be the charm. Simple, stationary, with a nice voice and good lyrics and feeling of the song this one is the best of the trio. Perhaps third time is the charm. I dare say, that this might be a >5 pointer – but congrats for making it through the Semis! One thing I don’t understand is the shell behind her – hmm?

Portugal – Suzy

At the risk of sounding somewhat culturally oblivious – Portugal’s entry is very ethnic and just quite frankly a hot mess on stage. Backing vocals were less than appropriate – and despite the fact that I don’t like the sound of Portuguese, the lyrics sound alright to the year. It’s a nice change of pace, but really it just feels too cheesy – and given how much support Portugal gets every year (don’t understand that yet…) this one is a flop. The far too Portugese colours on stage just made it feel more awkward and then “aww wa waaays” were just too… off. One goo thing? The key change – yeah baby!

The Netherlands – The Common Linnets
=> Qualified

Since when do Dutch people sing country? I was a bit perturbed to find out that the range of this song is very low and makes it near impossible for me to sing along to, but also that the feeling of the song bordered in country. Now having said that the performance was okay and simple, which I think the Dutch delegation has embraced in recent years. But really, after a really weak showing in the contest over the past decade, I’m happy that The Netherlands are trying something new and mixing it up to try to find what works for them. I think in the end it will pay off dividends.

Montenegro – Sergej Ćetković
=> Qualified

When I think about Montenegro, I think about this. A typical Balkan song. I think that really the roller skating female was a nice touch, but the oddness of this song is that the Balkan aspects are highlighted by Celtic feeling aspects. The dimples on Sergej can be seen from space, and while he’s a good singer and really “sold” the performance, I don’t really like it. It will garner the votes and probably end up being Top-15 but I don’t necessarily agree with it. It’s interestingly one of the few songs that aren’t in English this year – I think that bodes well for it, however.

Hungary – András Kállay-Saunders
=> Qualified
❗ Personal Favourite

Hungary is running, running towards a win this year. With this entry it’s really quite possible, but I think that the topic of the song makes it borderline inappropriate, the performance is very simple. Hungary seems to be taking the competition seriously the last few years – sending entires that are “weird and good” but I can’t help but think, if they won would they be able to host Europe?

All in all a pretty good start to the competition as the majority of the good songs made it through. The smaller group of singers makes it a much more enjoyable show, and all of the cheesy ESC facts from the Record Book is a really good idea!

Christmas Vacation N°9


With my Christmas vacation winding down and finally heading back to Strasbourg I was happy to wake up with the sun somewhat shining with the wind blowing against the window. The previous night I had realized that there was a rain storm, but I didn’t actually realize the result of what it did until I got the newspaper at the train staion. I came to the train station and the ticket machine wouldn’t let me buy a ticket, so I was sort of confused as to why, so I bought one for a later train and would try to pass it off for the train that was arriving. We had to make a transfer in Alvesta first, because there were some problems on the line or something. I didn’t realize until I got to Alvesta that there was a hurricane in Sweden for the first time in manyyears named “Per”. So my connecting train to Stockholm was delayed and I had wait another hour, finally we got on the train and it was crazy with tons of people. I couldn’t figure out why there were so many, but it turned out that because of the hurricane all of the early morning trains had been cancelled and this was the only one coming from Malmö. I found my seat and we took off bound for Stockholm.

The train went about 20 minutes from Alvesta when we had to stop, and the train conductor wouldn’t tell anyone what was going on. After some minutes waiting on the track in the middle of nowhere, they came on the system saying that we would be stopped since some stations lost power and they can’t get a singal for whether or not they could continue the train. So the X2000 superfast train was stopped ‘5 minutes.’ Everyone started to get on their mobiles, and I raelized that this was getting dangerously close to me missing my flight back to Beauvais. After another 20 minutes they told us that they would be continuing on, but just ast they said that the power in the train cut off and the wind picked up. It turned out that we were stuck in the hurricane in Småland and we had to wait it out until it had finished. Panic didn’t happen but most people were stressed out and the woman beside me was rude and didn’t want to stop talking on the phone. From what I could understand in her conversations she was a gymnastics coach and was heading to Stockholm for a competition. So hours later, they start to bring around information about the tiny little town that was about 1.5km away from us, since we were stopped in the middle of nowhere. Who has ever heard of Moheda?

So people started to leave the train in hopes to get some food. I stook tight because I was afraid if I left, then I wouldn’t make it back to the train in time for it to leave; and what a naïve thing to think as well! So I waited it out with these two girls across from me giggling and trying to get to sleep, to no avail. A few hours later, I realized that I wasn’t going to make my flight back to France, and didn’t panic becasue I knew there wasn’t anyting I could do. Suddenly a man that I recognized from my car came into the car and started to yell that there was an express bus going from Växjö to Stockholm that was leaving in 20 minutes at the cost of 700:- which is an excessive amount in my opinion. While everyone paniced to leave and get taxies to the bus station a bunch of us stayed behind, mostly because I had no money or didn’t want to spend it on that. It turned out better for us to not gone, because the bus never went and the people that left were stranded in a bus-station that closed. So we waited, and suddenly it started to get cold. I changed my clothes and put on more layers to keep warm, and a woman brough around candles that she bought since we were completely in the dark.

About 8 hours after we left Alvesta the conductors that remained came around and took our names and telling us that we would be taken back to Växjö by bus and put into hotels until a solution could be made. Now we had already waited 8 hours, my flight had gone already, and I really just wanted to be indoors somewhere so we had to wait another 2 hours for the busses to come for us. They then evacuated us from the train and we had to walk 1.5km to the closest fence opening where the busses waited for us. There were 3 busses to bring all of us, and after we loaded on we set off from Växjö, the place I left several hours before. Who knew that I would be going backwards in my travels?

The woman that I sat next to was from Linköping and was very friendly wondering why I was in Sweden and why I spoke Swedish and everything, so it made good conversation. The odd time we turned a corner the bus freaked out becasue trees the size of houses were on the road blocking the way, so we had to maneuver around them to our dismay. We finally arrived back in windy Växjö, and they checked us in the hotel. They ran out of single rooms so we had to pair up and I saw the two younger girls that I saw before I quickly asked them if it was alright if I shared a room with them and they were very happy too. I mostly went to ask them because I saw this older Arab guy talking to them and making them feel uncomfortable, and I wanted to save them, so in the end as I later found out I was their hero! We got into our room and made introductions, as they were Frida and Madicken and they were both from Växjö.


They were really kind and we hit it off great. They were heading to Stockholm so that they could get a plane to Luleå where they would do a stage for several weeks, so they had a lot of luggage and they were so excited to hear that I just came from there. We never stopped talking, and it was hillarious to be with some people that I got along with. We explored the town and got some food before everything closed then came back and watched TV. We went to sleep and were woken up by a phone call from Frida’s mom which informed us that busses were coming to take us to Nässjö to get a train to Stockholm. In a huge panic we got our stuff together and headed down for the busses, which was a fiasco since many people were frustrated and wanted to go to many places. We jumped on and were on our way for a few hours by bus to the closest train station that was still functioning in the region. It turns out that Nässjö is in Dalarna I think and it took longer than we had expected. There were crews on the road everywhere cutting up the massive trees that were put down by the hurricane. I have never seen distruction like this in my life, and it was kind of scary since I wasn’t sure we would even get to Stockholm.
We parked ourselves down and chatted and read the news, several deaths, and lots of people out of power, and finally our train came. We piled on and they put the stranded ones in one car. It turns out that we were the only train from the South that was going into Stockholm, and everywhere else people were stuck. Thanks to SJ and their wonderful crew, we managed to get to Stockholm after stops in Mjölby, Linköping, and Norrköping. Frida and Madicken were famished so we got some food and they had prearranged their flight to Luleå for changing, so they had to head to Aralanda, and I thought I would be going to Nyköping. We said our goodbyes and exchanged e-mails and said that we would once meet again. It was really nice to meet some random people in a crisis and click so well and turn a bad situation into something good

I set off to check flights, and nobody would let me book anything since it was too last minute to leave the day of. I took the phone numbers down and tried to dial them, and my mobile had no minutes on it so I was ‘ed. I bought a phone card in hopes that I could call the numbers but they were all ones unavailable so I was in a panic, I checked the normal airlines from Arlanda and the only flight leaving Stockholm to Continental Europe was going to Pairs through Copenhagen in exactly 2 hours. I tried to book it with my VISA but it wouldn’t accept it, and therefore was in a huge problem. I paniced and called my mom to get her to help me, but of course she was in a meeting so I had to tell her company it was an emergency and an overseas call. I ran back and booked my ticket and I have to say that I never ran so fast to the train station to get to the airport. I took the 20 minute train to Arlanda and ran through securty and got my tickets. When I got through everything they were boarding last minute, so I was the last person on the plane with 10 minutes to spare. I was so happy to be on the plane and headed back to somewhere normal.

After an hour we were in Copenhagen (against my desire), and the connection in 45 minutes so I walked around. Dirty airport and gross everything. I was no impressed at all. So we boarded and headed to Paris, Charles-de-Gaulle. Before I continue please mind the cursing that will follow, but there are no other ways to express the situation. Charles-de-Gaulle is fucking messed up! Never ever fly there if you don’t have to ever in your life because it’s the most confusing airport known to mankind. We arrived in Pairs just before midnight, and I had no way to get to the trainstation (which would have been closed anways) so I resigned myself to the fact I would have to sleep in the airport (again). The difference this time is that Paris isn’t safe like Stockholm, and the homeless sleep in the airpot. So I parked myself in a chair and tried to get to sleep but couldn’t since the creepy people kept walking around. There was a Polish girl that kept waving at me, and then I went over to her to ask her if I could share the bench with her, since I didn’t want to sleep near the homless and she said in these exact words “Sure, but don’t talk to me – I’m trying to sleep.”

I was too paranoid and tired to care, so I went to sleep and it was the worst sleep I’ve ever had in my life, but I got through it somehow. I woke up at about 5am when the busses started to run and I now had to maneuver my way through Paris rush-hour traffic. The woman at the information booth wasn’t kind at all and vaugely told me what I needed to know. I had to take a bus to another terminal and then take a train into Paris. Sadly everything at 5am is closed so I had to wait an hour for the ticket counter to open up. It ended up costing me 8€ to get into Paris which I was not happy about. I got on the train which was packed with Parisians going into the city and got off at Gare de Nord to transfer in the metro to Gare de l’Est. I was paranoid with all the creepy people at the first station, but I got to my destination and nearly got caught leaving in the automatic machines, but I finally got to the train station. I had bought a ticket previously, but it was useless so I had to buy another and couldn’t find the office. Finally when I did the guy at the desk was the most pleasant person in Paris I had ever met, we even had a little conversation at 6am in the morning while nobody else was there. I think he was hitting on me, but I didn’t care since I just wanted to get home.

They were putting us on the TGV (Train de Grande Vitesse) to Nancy and then to Strasbourg on slow train, so I had to find the right track. The train was about 1km down the platform so I nearly missed it, but I got on it and slept for the next 5 hours. After my arrival in Strasbourg everything looked different and I found my way back (after getting lost) to Gallia. I will be happy to inform anyone who is wondering that I even showed up to my class, despite being ‘jetlegged’ and tired from the traveling. I was not impressed about having to buy a last minute ticket for 500€, but we do what we have to do to get home. Otherwise I would have been screwed even more because the same hurricane that hit Sweden arrived to France the night after I arrived. If I didn’t get on the flight, I never would have made it back for another 5 days, so thank god for being rash.

What did I learn?
1) Never fly to Paris again
2) Never plan train trips ahead of time
3) Be more European and do things at the last minute
4) Buy more credits on phone for emergency before leaving

All in all I was happy to be back to familiar setting and have the ability to charge my phone. I can’t live without a mobile phone anymore, just in case of emergencies, which I couldn’t even use becasue of damned foreign restrictions. Not impressed, but oh well. Lessons learned, despite arriving back to Strasbourg two days late!

Christmas Vacation N°7


When I arrived in Malmö in the afternoon, it was raining which frankly was no surprise at all considering that Scandinavia should be covered in snow, but is just being rained on. The Malmö train station proved to be just as much of a joke as the one in Göteborg, and had little to no information about anything. The only interesting things that could be found were the automatic machines to buy tickets to Copenhagen, which I checked out and tried to understand a little bit. It was quite cheap to get to Denmark, which I already knew but this was just confirmation. The city is basically a border town which has a bridge that you can cross in 20 minutes to get to Kastrup (the Danish airport).

So again I was without map, but I had previously been smart and got walking directions before I came. This proved to most helpful, but the problem is finding the names of the streets because they weren’t clearly labelled. The tourist information office was once again a map on the wall, which was useless, but with directions in hand I set off for my 5 km walk with my luggage to the outskirts of Malmö where my hostel was. After 3.5km of walking down the same street that changed names about 20 times, I found the turn and there was even a little sign directing me to the hostel. Unfortunately for me, in the rain, and all bitterly cold, the sign was pointing in the wrong direction and so I walked for farther than I needed to. Once I realized that I was walking away from habitatino, I turned back and cursed the sign. I continued my pre-organized directions and I found the place, which was just about to close. Thankfully I got my key and got settled in my empty room. The entire hostel was empty as most people don’t stay in Malmö it seems, but I made myself at home and took a little nap since it was all wet and gloomy. The front office closes at 20.00 so they just lock up the doors and there is no staff on hand, one would think that this could be dangerous but it proved quiet and nice. I went down to the TV / shower rooms to check them out and was appuled to see the co-ed, communal showers. I absolutely refused to go anywhere near them so I went for 2 days without showering, but the rain was good enough to clean me.

The TV room was nice, but they only got SVT1 and SVT2, and a bunch of Danish channels, so things were limited to documentaries and cheesy SVT programming. After about an hour of reading Aftonbladet a strange looking guy came down and asked “Hello there, do you speak English?” I debated whether or not I would answer, since at first he was creepy, but I said yes and let him explain what he wanted. He arrived late and was let in by someone leaving people, and couldn’t find the reception, and therefore couldn’t find a room. He turned out to be Canadian (as I could recognize his accent) who was on his way through Scandinavia to take the Trans-Siberian Railway to China. I thought he was crazy, but his expeirence in traveling was very good and he had it all planned out. He just was arriving late because the trains in Germany were on strike or something, and his friends there wanted him to stay. So he camped out in the TV room for the night, and he spoke to me a lot about China and how things were there, since he’d been before. He seemed excited about taking the railyways in Russia, but I was quite clearly and vocally against ever doing that, until Russia becomes less sketchy.


I went to bed, to my room myself and then woke up later and went to walk around Malmö, which really isn’t exciting at all. To say that there is nothing to see in Malmö is completely honest and true, as it’s boring so amious walking around proved to be the most interesting, and checking shopping out at the malls was also fun. As you can see, city hall and a random church are both excellent things to look at while walking downtown. The rain dampened my mood but helped pass the time by going into buildings to see what was going on. It’s really just a suburb of Copenhagen, where they speak Swedish like Danes, and are barely comprehendable. So I struggled through, and eventually all was swell.

I arrived back to my room after dinner, and was in the process of dancing to the amazing radio station that was on my phone, when someone came into my room. I was startled to say the least, but it turned out to be a German guy from Freiburg (just 30 mins from Strasbourg) who was moving to Lund for university. He was very polite and kind, but his English wasn’t very good for conversation. He had a lot of stuff with him, and we would be departing the next day. We decided that I would walk, and he would take the bus and we would see who arrives first. The following day I got to the trainstation just as he was getting in, so between me walking quickly, and him waiting for the bus, it was equal time, despite the fact he was dry and I was soaking wet. I arranged my ticket to Copenhagen and waited as they leave every 20 minutes.


Before going to Denmark I needed food so I went to the supermarket. I was walking around when I heard music, and I thought at first that I was going crazy because it sounded like someone was talking too. I looked up and it turned out to be as you see above, monkeys or whatever singing and moving that were mechanic. I couldn’t help but laugh and take pictures, and as I went to each section there were different ones too, like cows mooing and singing in the dairy area, etc. The crazy people of Skåne!

It was sad to loose reception of my new favourite radio station, RixFM, which plays hit music all the time, including Linda Bengtzing and Markoolio’s new song, which is frickin amazing. Anyways, I got to Copenhagen and even after walking out of the train platform I could sense the differences between Sweden. Danish laws are like French laws, loose and unfollowed, so smoking is allowed everywhere, public spaces aren’t clean, and people are rude. That’s what I found, and the train station was disgusting. I also hate Danish Crowns, but that’s besides the point, just too many coins. So I called up Niels, whom I met on CouchSurfing and would be hosting me for the planned two nights, and he gave me direction on how to get to his flat. The trams, metro, and S-Bahn were all very pretty and new, and it took little time to find Niels and his flat, which was very small. It worked out fine since he had to go to the airpot to pick up his sister, so I explored Copenhagen in the rain.


In terms of what Copenhagen was like, it’s very small city but the buildings are huge! The streets are massive like highways, and there are more regions for bikes than for walking. Bikes are everywhere, so I can’t imagine what the Netherlands is like, but still I was just blown away at how nice the buildings were. As long as you look up and not down it’s a pretty city, but I can honestly say that I will never
go back, as I didn’t like it very much. The Danes are just too weird for me!

To say that it’s rainy and windy in the city is an understatement, I’ve never been blown over or so wet in my life, and umbrells are useless clearly, so the weather was miserable. I got lost, but had a map that was wet so I just wandered around until the rain stopped and bolted for Niel’s house again, and I got lost again even, but all was good. It killed time. I got back to Niels quite late and we talked about philosophy for awhile. Danes are nice, sometimes, but very loud. I felt like he was yelling at me the whole time in friendly tone, but he was a great host to a random person and even showed me how to cool omlettes since I never had done it before. However, despite al of this I hated Denmark and I wanted to leave ASAP so I called up Johan and told him I would come to Växjö a day earlier than expected and he was fine with it, so I booked my train ticket and then was off.