The Scruffman in Europe

Old Nov 9th, 2009, 09:23 AM
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Loving this continuing trip report of the Scruffman's adventures. Sounds like he is having the time of his life.
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Old Nov 9th, 2009, 09:48 AM
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artsnletters, I am loving these threads and your sense of humor. And I, too, am glad that neither of you felt the need to have The Scruffman change his appearance (but also glad that he listened to you about immigration!).
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Old Nov 9th, 2009, 09:49 AM
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Hey there Artsnletters,

I read thru the other threads as they were occurring and I get a big kick out of all that went on to get to this point. I am bookmarking here because I cannot miss what happens to your scruffster as he floats along.
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Old Nov 9th, 2009, 10:22 AM
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Glad to have found the next instalment! Sounds like the UK prep paid off.
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Old Nov 9th, 2009, 10:44 AM
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This is a great thread . . . reminding one of past lives, but content to be in the current one.
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Old Nov 9th, 2009, 02:14 PM
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Marching with the rest of Scruffy groopies, chanting: we want more! we want more!
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Old Nov 9th, 2009, 02:51 PM
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Thumbs up for The Scruffman. Glad he made it across the pond!
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Old Nov 9th, 2009, 04:12 PM
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I'm so glad you're updating us on his trip! It sounds like he's already had a wonderful time. And I wonder if he WILL decide to go to Sweden to meet up with the pretty girl?
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Old Nov 10th, 2009, 02:58 AM
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Arts,

I myself just got back from London last night and tried to post to your earlier US thread from there (yes, I tried to follow as I travelled over the past 3 weeks !) but the WiFi connection was weak and the posting didn't take from my netbook. I was in England from Nov 1-9 and feel a strange sense of connection to have been in the same country and vicinity as the travelling scruffman for those few days!
Glad to hear that he is doing well and looking forward to your updates of his adventures.

M.
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Old Nov 10th, 2009, 07:01 AM
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I too had a scruffman, well scruffboy, in Europe a few years ago. At 17 he flew into Frankfurt, hopped on a train and called home (fortunately his cell phone worked)asking for the address of his destination in France as he had left his carefully planned (by Mom) and detailed itinerary at home!
Oh yeah, the airline lost his luggage as well.
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Old Nov 10th, 2009, 08:32 AM
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I stumbled across the US part of the story today and now I am hooked and cannot wait to hear the European stories to come!
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Old Nov 10th, 2009, 09:04 AM
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Wondering if Greg has any idea how many of us on Fodors are following his trip? Hopefully, even if after he returns, he will read all of this.
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Old Nov 10th, 2009, 09:56 AM
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lowcountry, I'm scared to tell him. I'm not sure whether he will appreciate my writing up his adventures for mass consumption, as he may eventually write them up himself.

You'll all buy his book when it comes out, right?
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Old Nov 10th, 2009, 10:02 AM
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For those who are waiting, I have most of another chunk of the story, but the Scruffman tends to fall out of touch when he's busy having fun, and then is in touch again when he's ready to make another leap and wants help with logistics, but that's all he's focused on then and he doesn't give me any entertaining tidbits. (This morning there was some frantic real-time e-mailing on logistical matters, not entirely resolved yet.) I hope I'll have more in another day or so.

I am really grateful to you all for your support and your willingness to share in both my excitement and my occasional anxiety over this trip. I don't have people in my regular life who are <u>this</u> interested in what Greg is up to, and it's been wonderful for me to have other travel enthusiasts I can "talk" to.
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Old Nov 10th, 2009, 10:15 AM
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artsnletters, I would definitely buy his book! If you get up the nerve to tell him, remember - we're not exactly getting a play-by-play here. I would love to hear about his trip from his perspective. And I'm glad if our listening in is giving you some support in the bargain!
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Old Nov 10th, 2009, 12:34 PM
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I too want to know what he thinks about his adventure when he's back from it all. I'd be really interested in his take of what he experienced around the world, and how others live.
(Just got back yesterday from 3.5 weeks away mself and am starting to write my TR)

M.
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Old Nov 10th, 2009, 06:57 PM
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Hi Artsnletters, there's a wonderful quote about, "living all the days you're alive", that I can't remember properly now. I think Greg's doing just that - imagine the stories he'll have to tell when he's an old man! I'm so enjoying being part of his invisible caravan, and your support network for the nailbiting times. I'm imagining "Scruffman couchsurfs the World" as a movie ...
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Old Nov 12th, 2009, 07:09 AM
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<b>The Scruffman takes Denmark by storm – oh wait, it’s “The Scruffman takes Denmark <i>in</i> a storm”</b>

When the Scruffman landed in Copenhagen on November 3, it was 4:00, already dark, and snowing heavily. He didn’t have a couch for the night and couldn’t find a hostel for less than $80, so he said “F*#@ it” and bedded down in a park, I assume at least somewhere sheltered. Once again, a generous local and a bartender provided free alcohol, so at least he was feeling no pain during the long, cold night. (What is this thing about buying the Scruffman drinks??? Is it his charming personality, or is it just that Europeans in general like to buy furriners drinks???)

Now, mom was not pleased with the combo of booze and bedding down alone outside, especially in winter. I am well aware that he could get “rolled” this way. So I have sent emphatic instructions: <b>No HWD!!!</b> (No hoboing while drunk – his term for sleeping out.) I can only hope he will observe this rule before he lives to regret it.

(For the truly horrified, I will add that the Scruffman discovered some years ago that his tolerance for alcohol is so great that to get truly drunk he has to drink so much he makes himself truly sick, and in response he stopped trying to drink to get drunk. So he is highly unlikely to have been “passed out” drunk.)

The next day, he located a couch (perhaps someone who pitied him his night in the snow?). Unfortunately, he had picked up a cold (surprise!?), and spent the next two days sleeping while he recuperated.

He was then supposed to hook up with his next couch host outside a concert in Christiania, a counterculture neighborhood created in the 1970s by squatters on an abandoned military base. I had actually suggested Copenhagen to the Scruffman because of this neighborhood, which seemed right up his hippie alley. But in the crush outside the concert, he was unable to connect with his couch host. However, in typical Scruffman fashion, he was the recipient of kindness and generosity from strangers, and was taken under the wing of Jacob, who lives about 30 minutes out of Copenhagen, for the night.

Finally, the next day he connected with Kris, who hosted him for the next four nights. Greg described Kris as a “musician and crazy political ranter like me,” and they hit it off famously. The Scruffman’s penchant for political ranting is built on his experiences working as street fundraiser for social causes, his occupation for the 18 months immediately preceding this trip. He obviously wasn’t a ranter on the street, or it would have been <i>very</i> hard to be as successful as he was at it, even on the streets of San Francisco, but it did require him to become very, very knowledgeable about the details of the issues he was fundraising for. It also gave him a broad experience of people’s contrary opinions and the ability to challenge and often to overcome them. He is a very difficult person to argue with, because he is calm, incredibly logical, and will instantly make you aware of any hypocrisy. He would make a heck of a lawyer, if only he could handle the books-and-writing part of it. Maybe he’ll end up a politician?

Anyway, all was quiet until the morning of November 10, when I woke up to an e-mail saying:

<i>Since I haven't heard back from you about Göteborg I'm just assuming theres no inexpensive trains or busses. I think I'm just going to hit the road tomorrow and see if I can't hitchhike it...just hope I don't get stranded in between! I don't think it's too far and I can probably make it in a day if I get an early start but I don't have tons of day light to work with so it'll be a challenge.”</i>

What??? I’d heard nothing about Göteborg! It’s another place that had occurred to me as a possible destination, as I’ve heard it’s a pretty cool place, but Sweden hadn’t originally been on the itinerary so I hadn’t mentioned it. Sweden had come up before – actually, as a sop to the grandparents who ended up funding this trip, if unwillingly, because they had set up the college fund that became the trip fund. Greg’s grandparents are very widely traveled, but his grandmother had never been to Sweden and would have liked to go (at 82, it isn’t going to happen now, in addition to her refusal to fly anywhere since 9/11). But he’d been talking about Malmö, just across the Oresund from Copenhagen.

Why the sudden change in plans? Does the pretty Swedish girl from the Shpongle concert live in Göteborg? I truly have no idea.

But the idea of him hitchhiking in Sweden in winter struck near-terror in my heart. I sent an urgent e-mail back telling him to wait, wait, I was working on it. And within a few minutes I had located a $25 bus fare from Copenhagen to Göteborg for the 11th of November. I e-mailed complete instructions on how to book the fare online to save 20% off the cost of purchasing on the bus. The return e-mail admitted that this did sound “nicer” – an awfully mild description of a means of transport to Göteborg that would be warm, dry, and efficient at quite modest cost.

And an e-mail bounced back in a few minutes saying he hadn’t been able to complete the transaction online and asking me to give it a try. This required me to call the credit card company and let them know I was making a transaction from Sweden, before jumping online myself and buying his ticket without incident. I e-mailed back the info and got one of his elaborate e-mails back. Entire message: <i>“Sweet! I’ll be in touch.”</i>

And this morning, the 12th, I received another of those newsy e-mails:

<b><i>I MADE IT!</i></b>
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Old Nov 12th, 2009, 07:48 AM
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Hey Arts -

Loving the Scruffman journey.

I'm not the least bit surprised at the "kindness of strangers" he is encountering. I remember very well the camaraderie and generosity of other young people who are living that kind of life from my young days of traveling similarly (30 years ago).

A casual conversation on a street in Vancouver turned into being invited to stay a week at the house of a group of artists. A guy I met kayaking in New Zealand gave me the address of a friend in the next town, who invited me to spend a few days with her, having never even met me. Etc., etc. So many stories, I'd have to start another thread. It's amazing the good things that can happen when you open yourself up to the world. (Although of course now that I have kids the Scruffman's age I have to admonish them that bad things can happen too (just like they can happen in a grocery store parking lot at home) so you of course have to use some judgment.) Sounds like Scruffman is doing wonderfully.
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Old Nov 12th, 2009, 08:15 AM
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Yay Scruffman!

I cannot help but imagine the scenario of him chatting with someone somewhere, telling about his travels, and the other person saying, "Hey wait a minute, you must be The Scruffman!"

/Nonsense modus off. I thoroughly enjoy following your report of your son's adventures. It shows you respect him and his lifestyle although you don't agree with everything he does. This is the most precious gift any young adult can receive from his/her parents, which many others don't get. He listens to you - he can, because of that.
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