2012 was the year I first visited New York, one of the most iconic destinations for a Norwegian movie-buff. One day we signed up for a canal cruise around Manhattan and on one of our stops we god a great photo op of the Statue of Liberty.
Once a welcoming symbol of freedom and democracy for the millions of immigrants who came to America seeking a new and better life. These days, not so much..
I have always been fascinated by history and one year I went to England, more Specifically to the outskirts of Salisbury, to visit one of the world’s most famous creations, Stonehenge.
I set up camp in Salisbury and after a heavy English breakfast at one of the local pubs, I hiked the 13 km to Stonehenge. The first phase of the structure started over 5000 years ago, and continued for centuries to come. It is still a mystery how our anscestors were able to place the massive stones in its characteristic pattern and multiple theories have been made to describe their purpose. Even today we don’t know for sure, but a major theory is that Stonehenge represents an antique observatorium.
Even though the commercialism surrounding the stone structure was a bit of a nuisance, I managed to mentally travel back in time, trying to fathom the origin of this mythical place.
One summer I was bored, I impulsively jumped on a plane to London and took a train to Stratford-Upon-Avon to visit the birthplace of Shakespeare. Don’t ask me why I ended up there of all places, but my fascination of his comedies in general and Much Ado About nothing in special, might have something to do with it.
I spent almost a week in the small, cozy English village, soaking up the atmosphere, admiring the thatched houses and visiting historical buildings, like Shakespeares birthhouse and his new house as well as the house of Anne Hathaway’s parents, where Shakespeare courted his wife-to-be. A week in totall stressless harmony, engulfed in historic poetry. I even ended up having a two hour excistential conversation with a catholic priest at the local church. Quite interesting, especially me being an atheist an all, but that is a story for another time.
Everyone who knows me knows that I am extremely cold sensitive and that I hate winter and is a constant nag back in Norway from November to March. But, the frost and the cold jave at least one major benefit; we don’t have any venomous animals. Or, we do have the Common European Adder (“huggorm”), but it is not considered to be that dangerous (but, of course, it being a snake I still don’t want an encounter with one…).
A few years back I spent some time at an orphanage in rural India. I slept fairly well on a thin mattress on the kitchen floor with, but that rapidly changed the morning a colorful snake was discovered right outside my glass-less window. When I asked if it eas dangerous, I was told in really bad English “Yes, 10 minutes dead”. Imagine hor relaxed I got when a couple of the men in the village cought the venomous monster and let it loos just across the street, like 20 m away (WTF!!!) in my opinion at least 2000 km too close.
The morning after a scorpion was found outside, so safe to say I armed myself with a pointy stick and hardly slept at all for the remainder of the stay.
The day after Tokyo Maraton, in rainy weather and with sore muscles and tons of blisters, we decided to visit the Tsukiji Fishmarket we had heard so much about. The inner marked, where they in early morning hold auctions (e.g for tuna, which is worth its weight in gold obviously) is now closed for tourists, but visiting the outer market was more than enogh.
The outer market consists of a few parallell, narrow streets with street shops and small restaurant. Our umbrellas made it a bit difficult to navigate due to space issues, but we were able to taste some of the amazing street food they were selling, while standing up and holding an umbrella and a beer at the same time.
We also tried one of the many small restaurants that seemingly was just a hole in the wall, but revealed a long, narrow restaurant once inside. Let me just say, best sushi ever!
While wandering about in the sacred shrine of Sensoji in Asakusa, I came across a omikuju-place. Omikuji is a strip of paper that predicts your future when you majke a prayer to the gods and Buddhas of a given temple or shrine (source: matcha-jp.com). Well, my fortune prediction was not good and it basically told me to go back to my homeland.
But, there are always ways to neutralize bad omens and I tried them all (and seemingly succeeded).
Sensoji is a Buddhist temple located in Asakusa and is one of Tokyo’s most colorful and popular temples (source: japan-guide.com). It is easily reachable through the metro system (Asakusa Station, exit 1), it has free admission and is well worth a couple of hours of exploring. Just a tip, though… Stay away from the Omikuji Paper Fortune if you cannot handle the outcome.. Just kidding, there are ways to neutralize any bad fortune you may be predicted.