May 25-26:  Los Angeles to Copenhagen

Starting weight = 162 lb.

I flew Air France for the first time and had to change planes in Paris.  In LA when I was waiting to check in, I observed that the French do not age well.  They don't gain much weight as they get older, but they seem to keep growing out of proportion, like they all have acromegaly.  Andre the Giant and Julia Child would not have stood out among these big-boned freaks.

And because the French refuse to learn English, the flight attendants have to guess which language each person speaks instead of just using English with everyone.  I studied French long ago and occasionally lapse into it when I'm drunk, but I had no intention of speaking it on the plane, which led to such exchanges as:

Flight attendant:  "Bonjour, monsieur."
Me:  "Hello."

Flight attendant:  "Qu'est-ce que vous voulez boire?"
Me:  "Red wine."  (then)  "Merci."

The guy next to me stuck his baby in the opened overhead compartment so that the cradle was supported by the door.  I kept hoping:  "When the door breaks, the cradle will fall/And down will come baby, cradle and all."

At CDG I couldn't get anywhere near terminal 2E, which had collapsed a few days before.  I'd hoped for a photo of the carnage.

When I arrived in Copenhagen I didn't have to go through customs or have my passport checked at all.

The hostel was as expected.  The buildings are converted military barracks.  When I arrived the introductory meeting had already started so I dropped my bags off and caught the end of it.

Here's the coach parked outside our building.

After dinner (enhanced by the first of many Carlsbergs) we gathered in the foyer to play drinking games (Albatross!) and get to know each other.  There's no bar on the premises so this was our only option; fortunately some people had procured an adequate beverage supply.  The group numbered 21 people, ranging in age from 19 to 37.  The 37-year-old (Shaun) caught my interest, because Contiki has an advertised age limit of 35, and I assumed that meant this was my last tour.  But apparently if you're older Contiki will review your application and make an exception at its discretion.

In Helsinki we'd also be picking up 15 more people who were doing the longer Scandi tour up through Hammerfest.

The unusual thing about this rainbow is that it occurred at 8:45pm.  Those of us who did this part of the tour never experienced the midnight sun, but still the sky was dark for only a few hours each night.  It's a bit bizarre to look at the sky and think it's 8pm and then look at your watch and it says 11pm.