Henry in the lobby of the Tivoli Gardens Hotel.
Oh my god you guys. Once we got to our room, I took a shower and a quick 60-minute nap and then felt like an actual new person and not like some possessed asshole about to spew pea soup from her dirty mouth.
Henry and I changed and went out for a pre-dinner stroll along the other side of the city near our hotel. Chooch wanted to sleep some more so we abandoned him as usual.
Views from the side of the road that our hotel was on.
Even though I was almost flattened by a bicycle, I decided that my initial disdain for the city earlier that day was unwarranted and definitely could be attributed to me needing a shower and a major mood adjustment.
We walked for a good hour, taking it all in. In the end, I was back on the Copenhagen Love Wagon. Sorry for my earlier opinions, CPH. It wasn’t you, it was me.
I was really nervous for the 8PM dinner later that night with Coaster Crew and even at one point tried to drag my feet. We did end up going to the dinner and I am so glad I didn’t let my anxiety get the better of me because this truly set the tone of the whole trip for us. I wasn’t sure what to expect – would we be sitting at giant tables, banquet style, taking turns standing up and introducing ourselves? I was frantically rehearsing what I would say JUST IN CASE. YOU NEVER KNOW.
But it turned out it was in the hotel’s dining room, with a magnificent buffet set up, and even a chef grilling outside! Tim was really concerned that Chooch and I would have enough to eat, I guess we were the only non-meat eaters in the group, but my guy – this was the best buffet I had ever grazed. I could have subsisted solely on the bread alone! SO MUCH GOOD BREAD. And apparently, the chef was even grilling up veggie burgers! Good ones, too! Made with beets and so fresh-tasting.
But wait!! The food part was great and all but something even better happened before we even got up to fill our plates. The three of us had snagged a table for 4 and mere moments after we sat down, a woman came over and asked if she could join us.
Was she dropped on us by the Roller Coaster Tycoon gods??
Of course, Chooch, being 17 and so completely surly, thought that this was going to be awful because going into this trip, he said to me, “I’m not doing this to make friends. I’m not going to learn anyone’s names. I don’t care.” But then by day three, he’d be coming back from the bathroom at a park or whatever and say things like, “I was just talking to Larry and <insert gossip>.”
*BRB, I’m crying again, missing all these awesome people, ugh*
Back to the woman asking to join us. You guys, her name is Pam, she lives in Philly, and she quickly became my favorite person on the trip! She gave BIG Barb Riley energy, for those who remmeber the golden years of the law firm when I worked with the greatest lady ever, Barb. Goddammit, I still her miss her so much. Pam was like if Barb was super into roller coasters. We had very easy conversation with her all evening, and even when Henry and I left Chooch at the table with her when we went back for more desserts like the pigs that we are, Chooch even managed to talk to her rather than sit in awkward silence! I was so proud of him, putting himself out there like that.
Look, these situations aren’t always the easiest, you know? A lot of these people already knew each other from other Coaster Crew events in America, and some of them had even gone on past international trips with the group. So, while we weren’t necessarily the odd ones out like I was so concerned about, we definitely had a bit of a disadvantage. Pam joining us that night gave me the confidence boost that I needed, and I vowed to talk to more people at dinner. So, during one of my buffet prowls, I ran into a woman with a Coaster Crew name tag who was also pacing the food alone. I totally launched myself on her. “Hi, I’m Erin and I don’t know anyone here!” I cried, just basically leaning into my desperation at that point.
I chose a good victim, because Cassie from Indy ended up being so kind and because of this initial interaction, she made sure to say good morning, etc. nearly every day after that. Cassie was there with her friend Sherry, who was also a great lady and I’m so glad to have met them!
Meanwhile, Henry came back to the table with LICORICE ICE CREAM. “Where did you get that?” I cried, and he told me that some man from our group was standing near him at the ice cream bar and pointed it out, so of course I sent Henry back up to get me my own bowl. Pam observed this and turns out, she’s a very quick study – she was saying “Poor Henry” by the very next day!
Near the end of the night, a couple from Columbus came over to introduce themselves – Larry and Jean. Evidently, Larry was the one who alerted Henry to the fact that LICORICE ICE CREAM was an option in the ice cream bar, so shout out to Larry! Anyway, it turns out that Larry and Jean are Coaster Crew vets and when I say they went out of their way to make us feel included, I’m not joking. Such great people!!
Can you believe I was so nervous about this?! Not even the first full day and we already made some really great connections. I was so giddy when we went back to the room later and totally rearin’ to go the next morning! I can’t wait to tell you (and maybe you too) about our first park, Bakken!
This is going to take me at least a month to recap everything, buckle up buttercup.