Morning: Weather request answered: chill, gray, rain all day it says. Rain clothes today in Copenhagen—that jolly old girl by the sea—and the sea is where we’ll go today I think. Although it’s only 6am so who can tell if our art and history explorations out on the ‘Danish Riveria’ will be this appealing by 9am when we must train out into the countryside. The idea is that we’ll view the work of Danish contemporary artists, then have a winey lunch before moving on to Karen Blixen’s house where Celia and I will shed tears for that fine romance ended so beautifully, poignantly, cinematically out over the flying flocks of the Serengeti—Celia and I being of a near enough age to remember Meryl and Robert and how it was—Teresa has promised to guide us through our teariest moments with all due empathy even though Out of Africa is a seriously old movie as far as she’s concerned.
But that’s all ahead. Right now I’m sitting in the chilly kitchen of my cozy airbnb where of course the heat’s off for the summer. What an interesting phenomena this airbnbing is…after all these years of travel I finally have complete access to a local’s home in an area where I know no one. How many times have you been in a city/country/region and wondered how the natives live—as in fussy or simple accoutrements of daily rest/work/play, warm houses, cold houses, books, trinkets, kitchen-centered, plant-filled, household pets, pristine floors and furniture, sweaters and toys tossed about more casually? You’ve been curious haven’t you? Sometimes you have a friend who invites you over, sometimes it’s only a glimpse in the window as you walk past on the way to this park, that museum. NOW however, airbnbs let you in to the inner sanctum of Danishness or Indonesianness or South Africanness or Bay Areaness. It’s so interesting…and intrusive.
It’s a brilliant concept of which fiction writers can or should take advantage. I can sit in someone’s personal space and use the color of their duvets and dishes as background for wherever a plot may be taking me. This cozy, pine-floored, picture and book filled apartment near Copenhagen’s city center might belong to a professor, a serial killer, an aid worker presently in deepest darkest other-place, a retired wrestler, a corrupt (or even honest I suppose) government official, a weapons dealer (in which case wouldn’t it be a little more luxurious)—I can enhance my characters by simply changing the titles on the shelves, the brand of jelly in the refrigerator, the view out the window. I can note whether the window is dirty or clean…the better to see you over there my dear…
Then there’s the concept of home-away-from-home which is very nice for more than two traveling together. There’s laying out a snack or meal, sitting around the kitchen table chatting into the night, those sleepy morning minutes over that first cup of coffee or tea. All very nice. Can’t easily replicate that in hotel living.
And the idea of cost. Is this less expensive? My feeling is that prices are moving toward each other in the airbnb and hotel worlds but I haven’t been paying attention long enough to be sure.
But here’s the rub. Staying in an airbnb is more work. Making arrangements for keys and codes. Finding out how all of their stuff works from light switches to shower control to trash take-out to nearest markets to bus routes…no concierge or friendly desk clerk around to help. Although it does appear that host owners leave good instructions generally. You do have to clean up after yourself and, especially, not intrude on the householder’s personal space…all the while intruding on their personal space!
As I previously mentioned, there is a Big Foot overhead, although he (she?) appears to work and sleep normal hours so it’s not so bad. There are construction workers restoring buildings and doing noisy stuff with drills and hammers on both sides of us, but again, normal hours…one can manage. After all that could happen to you at home or in your favorite hotel as well.
Here’s my take. Traveling alone or in twos, probably easier to stay at a hotel…unless you really must cook for yourself. Traveling in a larger group…depends. Are these people you want to see unbrushed unshaven unprettied unperky unpolished over that first cuppa? For right now I am happy to say I can’t think of any people I’d rather see on a cold damp morning in a cluttered little kitchen in Copenhagen, Denmark than my always-positive and funny and cheerful granddaughter Teresa and friend Celia. Good morning Ladies.
Evening: Back from the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, a superior art experience by any standards AND Karen Blixen’s house…out near the sea on the fast and comfortable train that is the norm all over this part of the world.
We’ve been, we’ve visited, we’ve are happy. Happiest people in the world here in Denmark you know. It does seem mellow and safe and tucked away from hard edges and meanies of the world and even the crooks—all those bicycles left unlocked.
In a few hours the Really Big Adventure (by my standards okay—to you that might be Everest or a war zone—for me a kayak among the icebergs is good enough—especially since I cannot swim). I am nervous…exactly why is that? Strange place, nah, not nearly as distant and different as Oman or Madagascar. Too hot or cold? Hey, I’m from New Mexico and Minnesota. It’s just that…can I physically handle what is an outdoor adventure with very modest expectations. How far can I really walk and how many nights in a sleeping bag on the floor? We’ll soon see…