Europe current locationThe good news is that this log is relatively short. The bad news is that it probably has more pictures than all the other logs combined. :)

The Nokia loaner phone D’Arcy had given me to hold my American SIM card in suddenly rang at 10am. Confused, I got up and trotted over to where it was beeping incessantly. It didn’t show any caller ID, but I answered it anyway. At first I didn’t recognize the voice, and I was so out of it, I had no idea what they were saying anyway. The girl on the other end was telling me something about a baby and how I needed to hear it. At this point enough nerve cells had become active to recognize who it was. It was Cathryn in Austin, and she and Stephanie had called to let me hear Kira on the phone. They tried to put her up to it so I could listen to the comforting snort noise that all pugs make in different ways, but she then was afraid of the phone and wiggled away. I appreciated the gesture (now that I knew what was going on) and told them that I was totally out of it. I really did want to hear Kira and I wish I had talked to her to see if she recognized my voice. I was so tired though, that I just went back to bed.

Unfortunately, my sleep cycles are so bizarre these days, once I break out of that initial sleep, I’m pretty much awake. 30 minutes of trying to go back to sleep later, I gave up and got up. I had heard movement out in the hallway, but both Anj and D’Arcy were still in the room with the door closed. I pulled my laptop out into the kitchen to work on the logs. I AM going to catch up.

The first thing I noticed was that the snow last night had continued, and everything was completely blanketed in a fresh, white cover. It was gorgeous outside, even more so than I’d seen before. Plus 10am has more light than the rest of the day here, and the snow was making it even brighter than it could be. I took some pictures, both in front and in back, and then worked on the logs until after 11, when D’Arcy came out of their hole.

He asked how last night was, and said he was really tired because “Anj was all chatty” when we’d come in last night. I laughed at him. Anj appeared a short while later, and made some breakfast. I had another cup of D’Arcy’s frothy coffee, but outside of that it was pretty leisurely as far as days go. Everything is closed on Sundays, so he said that this is about all they do. It was fine with me, I was tired from partying until all hours; it’s not normally in my nature!

After sitting around for a while, Anj announced that she wanted to go on a walk, and I volunteered to go. In preparation for what was surely to be a prime photo opportunity, I wiped my memory card, and *shimatta* I’d not pulled off the pictures from this morning. Fortunately none of them were critical, but it was still a stupid move on my part. D’Arcy waffled on walking with us, and after changing his mind about four times finally came to the conclusion he was going to go too. “Oh! You’re going now?” I asked, as he was putting on his coat.

“Yes, I was forced into it,” he said, a claim to which Anjanette argued wasn’t the case. We all got into the elevator down, D’Arcy still protesting as we rode down to the garage. We were going to an island nearby which was just far enough that it would be a pain to walk all the way back. We got into the car and exited the garage, Anj driving. She stalled out on the way out of the garage, which was not a good thing, as it was a very steep hill up. “Honey, would you like *me* to drive?” D’Arcy asked. The ribbing continued.

We drove along the lake behind their house, and D’Arcy pointed out that when it gets really cold, you can *walk* to the island, as it’s frozen solid. We instead had to take the long way around to get there, which still wasn’t very far. It was a winter wonderland outside to be sure, and lots of people were taking advantage of the beauty and get some exercise out in the snow. We followed a small road past the Prime Minister’s house, which you could barely see through the snow-covered branches. After several attempts at fitting her SUV into some spaces, we managed to park a little ways up from a small bridge. We all got out into the cold, and I immediately wrapped my scarf around my face and pulled my hat down. It was freezing, to state the obvious. We walked along the edge of the lake and over a long bridge, under which there were dozens of ducks, geese, and swans. There wasn’t a lot of water surface here that was open for traversal, so they were all gathered around this small opening. As we crossed the bridge, the wind whipped across my face, and I kept shuffling up the scarf to attempt to protect it. It wouldn’t stay, however, and I was constantly fiddling with it.

We began our walk counter-clockwise around the island, me snapping a picture every 5 feet. The wind cut down once we were in the trees, and I was able to accept the weather a little better. My breath kept fogging the viewfinder, and snow falling on us was getting all over the camera, making it hard to take pictures! Anj pelted D’Arcy with a snowball at one point, and he chased after her, tackling her and throwing her to the ground. After about 45 minutes, we arrived at a small refreshment stand, along side of which was a grill and a shelter which looked like a hollowed-out Christmas tree! It was made of real branches, but just in the shape of a cone. People were buying sausages here and putting them onto the grill for lunch. We stopped and only got hot chocolate for me and hot mulled wine called Glöggi. Normally it has raisins, almonds, and a shot of vodka, but it was pretty simple from this stand. They said we’d make some when we got home. We passed where Anj and D’Arcy had a big picnic before their wedding here in Finland, and I’m sure it looked very different now than it did back in summer. We continued on, and passed an area where the lake had frozen over somewhat, but was still slushy. D’Arcy tossed in a snowball, and the slush dissipated in a cool pattern, leaving behind what looked like a crater. The snow got very deep in points, and I found that I was up to almost my knees sometimes. We walked up to a big green wall which obviously had signs for men and women; I assumed this was a bathroom. As we walked a little farther, we realized what it was – naked swimming areas. In summer (and technically in winter too) you can go here and go skinny dipping. They’d never seen anyone do it though. The clue that gave it away was the water quality report, and we’d finally put it all together.

We finally had traversed the entire island about two hours after we’d started, and I was now very hot from all the exercise in fluffy cold gear. Initially my toes had gone numb, my fingers were freezing, and my face was in pain. By the time we finished, though, I could have continued on without any problems. We got back to the car and drove out, back around a slightly different path to get out.

By now it was after three, and the three of us were famished. Indian sounded good, so Anj drove us back downtown to a place they knew about. It was on a slight hill, and Anj wasn’t having any luck parallel parking. D’Arcy traded out with her and whipped into the space at high speed! We entered the restaurant, took off our coats and got a table. The man had asked if we had reservations, and actually had to check if he could seat us! At nearly 3:30! The restaurant wasn’t busy, either. D’Arcy ordered some different types of naan bread, but we all went for the buffet. It was easy and fast. It wasn’t the best Indian food I’ve ever had, but it was warm, spicy, and filled my stomach. The two different types of naan D’Arcy had ordered extra was good with the mango and other type of chutney, and the regular naan they’d delivered that went with the buffet was very soft and warm. Molly would have been all over this bread.

We paid for our lunch, and completely full and satisfied, we got back into the car. Anj was surprised that her little CRV didn’t have any trouble getting out of an uphill parallel parking spot on snow. Go four-wheel-drive! Back at the apartment we pretty much just plopped down on the sofa in front of computers. As I went through the pictures from the afternoon, I started to nod off; the lack of sleep, large meal, and long walk was finally taking its toll. Somehow I managed to not pass out, though. Nobody was keen on dinner at any point in the evening. In fact, the Indian food kept coming back to haunt us in various unsavory ways. I decided a few hours later, I wanted – no, needed to work out, so I got D’Arcy to show me how to use his exercise bike on the terrace. They’d been keeping the sauna hot, and had both already taken one. I didn’t want to do so until I’d worked out. He set me up a 35 minute timer, I put on an episode of 24 on my laptop (which fit nicely onto the handlebars) and then rode for the full time, looking occasionally out into the snow-filled courtyard behind the apartment. When I’d finished, I tossed the DVD containing my compressed episodes of 24 onto the table, and said, “Get this damn show away from me!” as it ended on yet another of 15 different cliffhangers. I went in to take a sauna. D’Arcy got me a bucket of water, and told me I needed to take a shower beforehand as it was necessary to be wet. He said I could use eucalyptus oil in the water if I so desired, and gave me a paper mat to put under my naked backside.

“Ah no butt oil on the wood,” I said.

“It’s a mutually beneficial system,” he said with a grin. I closed and *locked* the door then washed off in the shower before taking a seat in the little room. It was hot in there, but not unbearable. Using the ladle from the copper bucket, I poured a full amount of water onto the stones, which were heated using an electric stove. This made me nervous a little, as water–electricity… they just don’t mix. A sizzling sound could be heard immediately and I sat back.

Whooosh. A huge blast of heat came whipping around me and I had trouble breathing from the steam, which wasn’t really visible. The temperature gauge was static at 78 degrees Celsius, which my heatstroked mind couldn’t contemplate. In retrospect I think it was broken, it couldn’t have been 172 degrees in there. Although it was pretty near unbearable. The hygrometer next to it was changing relatively rapidly, displaying the humidity level in the air. When the heat had died down, I used the ladle for another attack of the steam. At this point I couldn’t take it anymore, so I stepped out and took a quick cold shower to return my body to a normal temperature. They had suggested I do this from time to time. I went back into the sauna and repeated the above torture, then cooled down one last time. I came out, and D’Arcy asked how it was.

“It was an experience,” I told him. I’d probably like it better after playing in the snow for a while, I think. No wonder people go straight from sauna to naked snow rolling. I came back out from my room dressed and took a seat on the chair. They were going to watch an episode of NYPD Blue on DVD, but D’Arcy was having issues with the DVD player on his laptop; they don’t own a TV. I helped him a little and ended up watching the episode with them instead of working. Drr…

Afterwards, I convinced them to watch Casey’s cousin Heath’s ‘Keep Austin Weird’ movie he’d made for the film competition I want to enter if I can get my script done. They thought it was cute. Eventually, D’Arcy convinced Anjanette to watch another episode of NYPD Blue, even though it was past midnight.

“Okay, but you’d better get up in the morning,” she told him, as she had to drive him to the train station, then get to school on time. We watched one more, and they went to bed. I stayed up late, working on the logs, and called my parents for a little update. I ended up in bed by 2:30, unable to stay awake any longer.