Copenhagen.

Copenhagen.

It’s hard to believe my time in Copenhagen is already up! It has been a wonderful adventure to explore this beautiful city, to learn its patterns, quirks, and see so many amazing things it has to offer. I’ve explored buildings, museums, quaint and trendy coffee shops, and ridden its streets alongside the locals on a bike. It would be difficult to summarize my experience here in just one blog post, so hopefully you’ve been following me on Instagram for the play-by-play.

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Adventure every day.

My hope and goal coming into this trip was that, since everything I experience is new, that instead of being afraid, I’d simply view it as just part of the adventure. I wanted to expect to get lost, to meet new people, to be embarrassed, and then to just accept it and even enjoy it! So I committed to having an adventure every day.

Often this was as simple as going to a new coffee shop to work instead of returning to one I knew had good internet and a power outlet (that works) for my laptop. Other times, I’d consult the internet or this book, which my hosts have a copy of, and just look up how to get there and check it out. I would just pick something I had read or heard I should see here, and then just go do it despite the cost or the mess I’d get into.

Lessons learned.

#1. The weather is nuts. I learned along the way it is best to just keep my raincoat with me, even if the sky (and my weather app) say its going to be good weather. One thing you can count on in Denmark is for it to rain randomly for ten minutes, or two minutes, and then stop and become a beautiful sunny day again. Otherwise, the weather here is amazing. Temps are in the 60-70-degree range (F˚) and its rather dry, despite the frequent rainfall. Houses and buildings often don’t have, or need, A/C, because it is sufficient to open the windows to make it feel nice inside.

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#2. Biking is betterI also learned when it does, and does not make sense to travel by train/metro. My neighborhood, Peter Bangs Vej (Frederiksberg), is a few stops away from the popular parts of town of City Centre, Nørreport, etc. But by the time you travel to the station,  wait for your train to arrive, stop at every station, it works out that it takes longer to travel by train than it does to ride a bike. Also, biking is free, good exercise, and a great way to see more of the city. The trains typically cost about $2 each direction. Thankfully, this past week while the Williams’ have been on vacation, I’ve been able to ride Patrick’s bike into town, which also makes traveling around town a lot easier. Biking in Copenhagen is the preferred transit method of “Copenhageners,” so I’ve felt more like a local from being able to bike around!

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New friends.

I made a point to get out there and just talk to people. It was tempting at first to just rely on Patrick and Chelsea for everything, but that’s boring and not adventurous! This also required me to redefine my old definition of “friends,” which was egregiously narrow and far too reserved for what most people mean when they say “best friends.” To me now, if we hang out and enjoy each other’s company, we’re friends.

So here’s to my new friends! Matt and Cindi Nipper, with whom I enjoyed exploring their garden last weekend; Gabriel Koc, owner of the awesome Buzz Kaffebar, with whom I enjoyed so much good conversation about Christianity, Islam, politics and just life in general; Chris Crespo and Mikael Petersen, my brothers in Christ with whom I had the pleasure of fellowshipping at meals after church and at Torvehallerne; Ida Jensen, my Danish friend, who took me all over the city and explored the Round Tower, Botanical Gardens, Christianshavn, Christiania, and Church of our Savior tower with me and introduced me to delicious Danish food. If you’re reading this, thanks for welcoming me to your city!

Adventure is out there

Adventure is out there

 

Leading up to my trip, I thought a lot about what it would be like to travel alone, and I wanted to be prepared. I wanted to set reasonable expectations. I recognized the possibility of becoming lonely, of missing home, of becoming depressed. But I also wanted to get myself psyched up about launching into an adventure!

Those of you who know me remember that I LOVE PIXAR movies. In fact, one of the main reasons I studied Film Studies at UNC Wilmington was because I wanted to get experience doing digital animation and storytelling and maybe work there someday. I also really enjoy analyzing films and narrative. So before my trip, on a quiet evening by myself, I popped in PIXAR’s Up to get pumped about my adventure.

If you are unfamiliar with Up, it’s the story of Carl Fredricksen, a crotchety old widower unwilling to part from the house in which he shared his life with his deceased wife, who embarks on an adventure to fly his house, levitated by 1 million helium balloons, to Paradise Falls in South America. His plan is blown off course by an unexpected storm and a well-meaning, but annoying Wilderness Explorer named Russell, who accidentally gets swept up with the house. I won’t explain the whole plot here, just watch the film.

Life’s real adventures are made not in the epic experience of the Paradise Falls we long to perch our house upon, but in the relationships we enjoy all the time.

The theme of Up is that life’s real adventures are made not in the epic experience of the Paradise Falls we long to perch our house upon, but in the relationships we enjoy all the time. Carl and his wife, Ellie, had always wanted to go to paradise falls. But when he finally gets there, it is not all that he hoped it would be, and his house is only half of what it used to be.

Charles Muntz, famous adventurer and Carl’s hero, banished himself to the Falls trying to prove the existence of the Kevin bird and clear his name. He let his pride drive him to isolation, with only his dogs as friends. He had gone so far down his own path of jealousy and pride that he even became a murderer, killing the only other humans he came into contact with. See Charles Muntz made adventure all about himself, his desires, his trophies, his reputation, and he missed out on his life.

By contrast, Carl never went to Paradise Falls with Ellie, but he had lived a full, meaningful life full of adventure with his best friend. And even when he finally got there, though reluctant at first, he learned that life and adventure are not all about perching your house atop a beautiful waterfall in South America. See the temptation when you’re living the mundane moments of your life, picking out ties, fixing the car, and enjoying simple picnics in your small town, is to believe that your life is boring and not adventurous.  But maybe the best adventures in life are actually dreaming about adventures with your best friend, or eating ice cream on a curb counting blue and red cars with your dad.

Reflecting on this, I decided that I didn’t want to go on my adventures in Europe like Carl Muntz, hiding behind my camera lens and my cell phone apps. I’m using my phone and posting to Instagram, obviously, but I wanted to be making friends every day. So one of my goals on this adventure is to meet someone new every day, have a conversation, get their perspective and story, and share my adventures with them.

 

One week in.

One week in.

My first week in Denmark has been amazing! Thank you to all who have been following my Instagram and Facebook photo stream. Though I’ve tried to give you a thorough pictorial summary of my journey so far, I thought it would be fun to just write about my first few experiences and friends. I’ll write more about my impressions of Denmark, Copenhagen, and the Danish folk in a later post.

First, Patrick and Chelsea Williams, my Copenhagen hosts, are an amazing family. I enjoyed spending my first few days here with them, getting advice on where to visit, eating delicious meals, and “reading” to their adorable daughter, Kinley (she likes to look through the photos in an enormous National Geographic book).

I went to their church, First International Baptist Church of Copenhagen, on Sunday and made several new friends, including a family that lives in Birkerød, where I’ll be staying the next three weeks after this weekend. The church members were very welcoming and we went to lunch at an Ethiopian restaurant together. The service was very simple, but it was beautiful to see how the Gospel brings together people from all the nations and makes us family together in Christ.

I made friends with the owner of Buzz Kaffebar near Nørreport, where I am writing right now. His name is Jibril (in english, Gabriel). He is a very kind and generous Muslim man. We have had many great conversations about our faiths, politics, and the difficulty many immigrants to Denmark, especially Muslims, face. I have come back to his coffee shop three times now.

It has been really fun to go out each day and try to have a daily adventure. I’ve enjoyed giving myself “missions” each day to go see something, or meet someone, or try something new. Today, my mission was to go back to the Round Tower and take photos from the top now that the weather is nice, and to visit the Denmark National Museum. See my Instagram story for that (you’ll have to follow me😉 ) Others were to find the Strøget and eat at Paper Island with a friend I made at the airport in JFK, visit the Kastellet and St. Alban’s Church, visit my friends’ community garden, go to FIBC (church), attend a programming Meetup, and just find a new coffee shop to work from.

So my goal of making friends here is being met. It’s been a humbling and very rewarding experience. Humbling because I often have no clue where I am or where I need to go, I know few people, and have been graciously welcomed by so many wonderful people.

P.S. Danish is really hard to pronounce. Like really hard. Trying to say the names of streets and places is often very embarrassing.

Time’s up! Let’s do this!

Time’s up! Let’s do this!

It is time, friends. Today is launch day! In about ten minutes, my amazing brother Travis Lockey will arrive here from Winston-Salem to hang out with me at breakfast, and shuttle me to the airport!

It’s surreal that this day is finally here. I feel like when I was a kid anticipating Christmas all month and having made all sorts of preparations and then the morning comes. “It’s today!!” All of my possessions are safely stowed away at my good friend David Williams’ house. I’m checked into my flight on the American Airlines app, and the only thing keeping me from Denmark and my adventure is a 7-hour layover in JFK and an 8-hour flight between two strangers on probably the biggest airplane I’ve ever been on (it has two aisles!?!).

So for my last blog post before I depart, I want to say a few words of thanks.

To my family, Mom, Dad, Chad, Travis, Carlie, and Caitlin, thank you for supporting my desire to go to a foreign place for three months, and for even encouraging me in it. It’s not easy to send off someone you love far away where you can’t keep them safe yourself, and where you may not be able to contact them instantly all the time. Thank you. To Travis Lockey, thank you so much for coming to Raleigh this morning and seeing me off. You mean so much to me, brother.

To Garrett Anderson, thank you for 2.5 fun, chill years of having me as a roommate and talking me out of buying a house already like three times. I wouldn’t be doing this if I had bought a house in March.

To Alex Slater and Brad McCorkle, thank you for working with me to make this trip possible. I feel as if you have seriously bent over backward to make my dream of this trip happen, and feel amazingly blessed, respected, trusted, and loved by you and our team to put up with me through this and help in so many ways as I’ve prepared to go. Now, let’s see if we can’t crush it with Rise Hire even while I’m away!

To Dawn Locklear, thank you for telling me about your travel experience, pointing me to HelpX.com, and convincing me that my silly idea of traveling for an extended period of time is totally feasible.

To Patrick and Chelsea Williams, thank you for welcoming me into your home when I arrive in Copenhagen! I know my list of thanks to you will grow in the next week or so, but I am truly grateful for your generosity, and hope I can be a blessing to you during my stay.

To David Williams, thank you for taking all of my stuff into your house, including my car, and saving me the time, money, and frustration of dealing with all that when I get back and am homeless.

To my WWOOFing hosts in Denmark and Ireland, thank you for welcoming me to your homes and farms! I greatly look forward to sharing part of my adventure with you!

And to so many other wonderful friends not mentioned here who have encouraged and supported me in this trip, who have committed to praying for me, and who have desired to follow my progress and adventure online.

Let’s do this. Leeeeeroooooooooooooooooooooy!

But why Denmark?

But why Denmark?

So I am going to spend three full months in Europe, and I’ve chosen to spend six of the twelve weeks in Denmark. You’re wondering why, I’m sure. There are several answers to this question.

1. It is a beautiful place.

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Denmark is absolutely beautiful.It is filled with beautiful fjords, beaches, waterways, farms, fields, villages, towns, and cities. I want to see all of that.

Its climate is awesome, particularly the time of year I am going. The average temperature index in Denmark is 60-70 degrees Fahrenheit this time of year. Now, the humidity index still tends to be close to 80%, but here in Raleigh, we usually hover in the 90% range in the summer.

2. It has a rich history, particularly it’s medieval history.

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Everywhere you go in Denmark has ties in one way or another to Denmark’s rich Viking history. It’s museums feature ancient ships, tales of great warrior leaders, Danish kings, and so so many other things that demonstrate the ancient Vikings’ various contributions to European history.

Denmark has been populated by humans of various degrees of civilization for a long, long time. When I travel around and observe historical things in the United States, I’m looking at roughly 300 years of history. In Denmark, I’ll be looking back closer to 2000 years at times.

3. Vikings.

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I loved the History Channel’s dramatic retelling of the exploits of Ragnar Lothbrook in their series Vikings. In fact, once I finished watching it, it inspired me to read The Sea Wolves, by Lars Brownworth, which got me looking up the names of places I read about on Google Maps and track the movement of the Vikings around northern Europe. All this mental exploration made me want to go there for real and see these places in person, explore this history on the ground, and walk in places where people have lived and walked for thousands of years.

So during my journeys, I very much hope to visit places like:

4. Farms.

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Of course, there are farms all over Europe that would probably also offer wonderful WOOFing experiences. But there is just something exciting about working and staying at farms so near to the water like in Denmark. One of the farms I’ll be staying at, in Nibe, Denmark, is actually established on a fjord. The farmhouse itself is U-shaped, with three wings and a courtyard in the middle, and still has a thatched roof (albeit with some improvements, I imagine) and was originally founded in 1777.

You’re going to Europe to do farming? Okay…

You’re going to Europe to do farming? Okay…

For those of you who know me well (or follow me on Instagram) this probably comes as little or no surprise. The rest, however, might find this to be a strange choice as an answer to the question, ‘If you could go anywhere and do whatever you wanted for three months and still be gainfully employed, where would you go and what would you do?’

Fair enough. I shall tell you the story of me and farming.

The inciting incident.

I quit my job two years ago (as of May 19!) and had the luxury of deciding my last day at my old job and my first day at my new job. It was a no-brainer. I would finish my time at my old employer and take two weeks off before starting my new gig at Local Eye Site as their Director of Technology, a role that I was deeply honored to be hired for, and was really excited for the challenges ahead of me.

I needed the time off from work to regroup since the stress that I had experienced leading up to my departure had been pretty intense. I wanted to get away from computers. The work I do as a web developer means I stay glued to my Macbook Pro for several hours every day with few hours, let alone days, of computer-free living. So when I quit, I shut my computer and left it in my bag for two weeks.

Then I realized I had no clue what I was going to do for 14 days.

I made good use of the first week by spending it with my parents in my hometown of Newport, NC. I read books. I watched movies. I joked around with my parents. I did yardwork with my dad. It was a very relaxing time away from Raleigh. While I was there, I remembered that at my roommate’s house back in Raleigh there was an old garden area from the previous owner, but was overgrown and unusable.

I knew what I must do.

I knew I did not want to spend the whole next week leading up to starting my new job sitting around watching Netflix and eating chips, so this would be the perfect project.

I’ll clean it up and plant it. I’ll become a gardener.

Baby plants & baby gardener

So I bought some tools, plants and fertilizer and spent my first five days back in Raleigh pulling weeds, digging in the soil, and planting tomatoes, cucumbers, yellow squash, and green peppers.

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In the weeks that followed, I wondered (as did Garrett, my roommate) whether I would stick with it. And I absolutely loved it. I went out to check on my plants every morning, cup of coffee in hand. I watched them grow. I watered. I fertilized. AND THEY GREW! I kept at it and they started putting on flowers, and then the flowers turned into vegetables!

It was an amazing experience. I was raising plants that yielded food!

Gardener, philosopher.

What I discovered was not simply plant biology: “vegetables come from plants.” Rather, I discovered that growing vegetables connected me with the oldest trade in the world: farming. As a Christian, I found myself meditating on the realities of original Creation. God had given man work. This work. “Work and till the earth, Adam. It is good.”(Gen.2:15) It made me think differently about my normal work. God has given me another job as a web programmer, but the purpose of that work is the same: to create and steward and cultivate this world, and for this to be an act of worship to the Creator.

Secondly, it gave me a tangible way to observe God’s hand at work each day, still creating Good things amidst all the pain and suffering so painfully obvious in our world. Every new leaf, every flower, every fruit screams to me “I am still here, and I am still at work. And all my work is Good.”

Thirdly, eating food that you grew yourself is really, really satisfying. And yeah, I take a lot of pictures of them on Instagram. Expect to see plenty during this trip as well.

So that is the story of me and farming. Well, gardening. I will save my story with farming proper for another time.

A rough sketch.

A rough sketch.

So what are you doing for three months in Europe? And where are you going?

Glad you asked.

I am headed to Denmark and Ireland to work on farms and explore their beautiful places and cultures. No, I am not getting a new job. I am not giving up on web development. I am not even taking a haitus from Local Eye Site/Rise Hire. In fact, my amazing employer is generously working with me on all fronts to allow me to do this. Clearly, I’ll be working less, but the idea right now is to work a lot now and work whenever I can during the trip. It’s an incredible opportunity to explore, stretch and grow, and I get to do it while remaining employed as the Director of Technology of a small business. But I digress. I promised you a sketch of my plans.

Chapter One: Farming in Stengåden, Birkerød, Denmark.

(pronounced Beer•keh•vol)

This is small-scale vegetable production farm located just a few miles north of Copenhagen. I know very little about the farm itself other than what they have posted on their HelpX.com profile. The interesting highlights are:

  • 5 hectare with over 100 kinds of vegetables
  • 3000 egg laying hens
  • 50 grass-fed meat cows
  • 100 hectares of grains and clover
  • 50’000’000 bees🙂
  • A puppy!

I’m particularly excited about the bees. Beekeeping and honey production is something I’ve been interested in for a long time and have never had the opportunity to explore it hands-on.

I’ll come here after a week on my own in Copenhagen and stay and work for three weeks.

Chapter Two: Farming in Ennis, Ireland.

Cliffs of Moher

After my stay at Stengåden, I’ll hop back on a plane and fly into Dublin, Ireland and take a bus ride straight west into County Clare to a town called Ennis. From there I’ll meet my host, a man named Aidan. I’ll be working on Aidan’s small farm for three weeks and will hopefully have a chance to see, explore, and experience one of the most traditional, authentic and ancient parts of Ireland.

I know very little about Ennis, but it is located northwest of Limerick in County Clare, and is only about 30 miles from the famous Cliffs of Moher (pictured above)

Chapter Three: Farming in Nibe, Denmark.

(pronounced Neeb)

Aalborg

When I return from Ireland, I plan to take a train across Denmark for my first experience off the island of North Zealand and will disembark at the city of Aalborg in Jutland. My host here is the Sissgard family who own and operate their small deer farm / bed and breakfast that was originally founded in 1777!

Chapter Four: European Tour

It would be a bit of a waste to travel to Europe for the first time and not do a little tourism. So when I finish chapter three of my adventure, the plan is to fly south and work my way back to Copenhagen. Thankfully, I won’t be doing this alone. One of my good friends, Josh Bielick, is planning to meet up with me so we shall enjoy the last two week of this adventure together.

We don’t have definite plans yet, but so far the list looks a little something like:

  • Rome, Italy
  • Florence, Italy
  • Assisi, Italy
  • Venice, Italy
  • Salzburg, Austria
  • Prague, Czech Republic
  • Paris, France