Friday, June 26, 2009

Book Crossing

While in a pretty sweet underground cafe in Stockholm's Gamla Stan district, I came across a book that was participating in an awesome project called Book Crossing.

The idea is similar to a random free global library. Someone reads a book, registers it on the website, leaves the book somewhere in the hopes that it will soon be picked up by someone else to read. Each participating book has a tracking number so you can log into the website, enter the book's number and track where it's been, who it has been read by and their review of the book. You then enter information regarding the book's current whereabouts so that others can see where the book has traveled.

You can also search for specific books that are still "out in the wild." If the location is close enough to you, you can set out to find it like some hidden treasure!

I picked up Helen Fielding's "Olivia Joules and the Overactive Imagination." It's not my typical genre of book but I liked the idea of Book Crossing so I took the book back with me to Istanbul.

I managed to read the entire book during the course of my massively long 28 hour flight from Istanbul back to San Francisco and I've now left the book at a cafe in my hometown of Fremont, California.

I went back to the cafe and the book is no longer there though I haven't received a notice that someone has registered picking up the book on the website! I'm curious to see who picked up the book and where it will go next so whoever picked it up, register it please! I'm equally interested in seeing if I'll come across more Book Crossings in the near future!

Happy book hunting!

© Connie Hum 2009

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Family Dating Service

One of the main topics of conversation between myself and my family whenever I 'm back in Fremont revolves around when I'm going to settle down, get married and have kids. Now, my family knows me well enough to know that it's going to take a lot and one heck of a guy to tie me down, and hopefully he won't "tie" me down, but rather join me in my traveling (mis)adventures, but still...that's what we talked about. A lot.

In fact, I had one cousin email me a company ID photograph of a coworker from the company directory that she thought I should meet. Another keeps telling me about her coworker that's really nice and funny. She wants to give me his email address.

It's all very nice and swell and I'm always up for meeting new people but honestly, I wouldn't know the first thing to do with such an introduction. "Um...Hi. My cousin wanted me to contact you because she thought we might want to make babies together someday..."? No thanks.

Since they keep trying to set me up, I'm starting to wonder if I should I let them set me up, just to see what hijinks will inevitably ensue from such awkward situations? I think it would be funny but at the same time, I don't really want to put myself through the unnecessary torture. Then again, at least after everything I can say that I've been on a blind date.

What say you?

© Connie Hum 2009

Monday, June 22, 2009

There's No Place Like Home...

While Dorothy discovered that "there's no place like home" in The Wizard of Oz, I have discovered that being back in my hometown is, for lack of a better word, weird. Fremont, California is, to me, just as strange and foreign as the land of Oz was for Dorothy, and I confess that I feel strange and foreign myself in this place.

It's only been a week since my arrival and I'm glad I'm back to see my Grandpa and the rest of my family but most of the time I just feel like I'm in suburban hell. I'm really just not made to live outside of big cities. Things don't make sense to me here. Why is everything so far away that it requires me to drive a car? How come the city buses go nowhere useful? Why must I risk life and limb each time I try to bike somewhere on my younger cousin's bike simply because people here don't know how to share the road with bikers? How come there isn't a basket on her bike for me to put my purse? =)

I don't think there's anything wrong with living in suburbia, it's just that I can't do it. I get far too bored.

I'll be in Fremont until the 1st of July so if anyone's in town, let me know and we'll catch up!

© Connie Hum 2009

Friday, June 12, 2009

Stockholm Syndrome

After the beautiful quiet of Copenhagen, Matteo and I were greeted in Stockholm with drunken Swedes in sailor caps, dancing and drinking in the back of a truck. We looked over at each other and smiled. This was our kind of town! Turns out that it's tradition to celebrate high school graduation in this way.
The weather in Stockholm was not as favorable for us as Copenhagen though. It was quite cold and rainy, so much so that I was forced to buy boots on my second day. Matteo and I tried to make the most of our time, walking and exploring outdoors as much as we could. We spent an entire day at the Vasa Museum, mostly in part to avoid the freezing rain, but it was a cool museum to check out. Matteo and I are practically experts on the Vasa ship now after all those hours so if you have any questions about this sunken then recovered Swedish ship, go ahead and ask us!

During our strolls we chanced upon a couple of Swedish celebrities. Our first was a Swedish pop singer named Dorian/Damian or something. We were in Skansen, Stockholm's open air museum and came across him rehearsing for a show. Our other Swedish celebrity sighting was the KING of Sweden. It was their national day and he came down a street, waving.

Matteo and I found that we really preferred the old Gamla Stan area of the city, where we literally stumbled upon some interesting cafes, bars and restaurants.

One night we walked past a very interesting jazz bar that looked like something out of NYC's Lower East Side. We came back after dinner and ended up dancing up a jazzy storm together amid a crowd of mostly really old people. Matteo and I were the first to start dancing and by the end of the night, most of the crowd had joined us!

On another late night, we were walking past a tiny, nondescript alley. I just happened to glance into it and noticed a lone candle blowing in the wind. I called Matteo over and we decided to check out the source of the candle. It was a no-name, packed restaurant! A secret restaurant that was popular with locals! Jackpot!!! We came back the next night for dinner and entered into the underground section of the restaurant. It was mostly candlelit and very charming, though we saw a big group of Frenchmen and Aussies. We struck up a conversation with the Aussies and I asked how they had heard of the restaurant. "We just happened to walk by." Awesome, the restaurant was still a secret! After dinner, we decided to walk past the bar. Then we noticed another door. Oh no... We walked out the door and saw the main entrance! We had gone in through the back door! So the restaurant wasn't exactly as secret as we thought but still, WE found it secretly and we're proud of this gem of a find!

We spent our last night in Stockholm with a group of Swedes in their home, singing ABBA songs. Really. We did! It was probably the best thing we did in Stockholm. The only decent video I have of us isn't that great, but you get to see Matteo really into it and I think that's pretty awesome. Our rendition of "Mamma Mia" was probably our best but we didn't have the camera set up for that. Too bad because we really rocked that song.

It was a great trip and I'm really glad that I got the chance to catch up with my friend, Matteo. Ciao Ca-so! Non andare via! See you soon!

Pictures from our Copenhagen/Stockholm trip are also now posted on my site.

© Connie Hum 2009

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Copenhagen Is Just Like One Big Movie Set!

My week-long holiday in Scandinavia started out in Copenhagen. I arrived late in the afternoon and hopped on a bus toward my friend Allan's house. As I rode the bus, I fell in love with all the little brick houses and marveled at all the bikes on the streets. Copenhagen seemed so quaint and cute, and I thought "How fantastic that everyone gets around on bikes and they don't even need to lock them up!"

I arrived at Allan's place and spent a few hours chatting with him as we waited for Matteo's arrival from Italy. I shared my thought with Allan who quickly explained that the bikes were indeed locked up and that bike theft was actually a problem in Copenhagen.

Matteo arrived and we three shared a nice dinner together. Poor Allan had to sit through all our New York stories and memories but he did so graciously. Allan taught us a fun card game, something called Pirate's Poker.

I had trouble sleeping that night as we went to bed late and the rising sun at 3 in the morning woke me up prematurely. It was crazy the amount of daylight that we had in Copenhagen!

The next morning we met up with my Danes, Niklas and Rune, whom I met in Peru the year before, for brunch at a cafe called Laundromat. It's actually a real, working laundromat where you can sit and eat or read the hundreds of books that they had in their cafe. Pretty smart!

Matteo, Allan, Niklas, Rune and I spent the day walking all over Copenhagen, catching all the major sights. All the buildings were so cute and the streets were so clean. The inside of the buildings looked bare to me and the streets were pretty empty so I just kept feeling as if we were walking around a Disneyland type of a place or a huge movie set. I think the Danes got pretty annoyed that I kept saying their beloved city was a farce, but really, I just couldn't shake the feeling of being on a movie set! Everything was just so picturesque and things seemed so perfectly placed.

I was in search for a Danish but it turns out the Danish in Denmark is not in fact the Danish that I know of. Denmark's' version of the Danish was pretty good but still, how come the Danes can't make a proper Danish? =) That evening, Allan renewed my faith in Danish culinary skills by cooking us a traditional Danish meal of potatoes, meatballs and a delicious sauce. We then went out for drinks, where the Danes "forced" Matteo and I to take shots of something that I likened to "shit water" but they called it "Fisherman's Friend."

The next day Matteo and I climbed up a spiraling tower. It was so high that I actually felt vertigo at the top! We then ventured into Christiana, a free-town within Copenhagen. We tried to find this awesome bike that I wanted to rent but they were hard to find so we ended up with normal bikes. It was still fun but how funny would it have been to see me and Matteo riding around Copenhagen in a bike like this?

We rode to the Carlsberg Brewery, took a tour, enjoyed our complimentary beers and then rode back a bit tipsy to meet Rune at King's Garden. The weather at this point had chilled and Allan was nice enough to bring Matteo and I jackets and sweaters. We then went with Rune to the beautiful Tivoli garden. It was a very nice way to end our stay in Disneyland, er, I mean, Copenhagen. =)

© Connie Hum 2009

Monday, June 8, 2009

Home Again

After a week-long holiday split between Copenhagen and Stockholm, I arrived into Istanbul quite late and tired, having not had much sleep the night before (due to staying up late singing ABBA songs with a group of Swedes in their home) and on the flight (due to a crying baby sitting behind me but may well have been sitting on my head).

I had a lovely time (blogs to come) but I really missed Istanbul and was very happy to be back.

I didn't know how much I felt a connection to Istanbul until I came back from Stockholm. Seeing the cityscape lit up with mosques, minarets and boats along the Bosphorus as I crossed over the First bridge, a deep feeling settled inside my heart of something like coming home. Strange....but also quite a wonderful feeling. I love being able to call Istanbul home, even if it's for a short while.

Upon my arrival home, I joined Serra and Enes on the terrace and finished two strong drinks that helped me fall right to sleep. I was home indeed.

And here's a picture of tonight's amazing sunset.

© Connie Hum 2009

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