I'm 20 days into my trip and I've already been to five countries. By the one month mark I'll have visited nine. At this rate, I'll see the whole world during this year off, which is just impossible to even wrap my head around. It took me 26 years to visit the seven I'd seen before this trip.
I kicked off my trip in Amsterdam, visited Brussels, and then flew to Copenhagen to meet up with my friend Leigh, who is a singer with Princess Cruises. She's been trying to get me to come cruise with her for years and it finally worked out. I joined her onboard in Denmark and we're a few days into a 14 day Scandinavian/Russian tour including stops in Norway, Germany, Estonia, Russia, Finland and Sweden.
Ship life is something that can't really be explained. For years, Leigh has told me about this strange and wonderful life on board but until this week I couldn't begin to understand this special brand of nomads. The self proclaimed gypsies that make up the crew and cast hail from dozens of countries. Since I'm here as Leigh's guest, I get to experience the best of both worlds. I have passenger privileges, which means I can stuff myself at the restaurants and lounge by the pool. But since I'm staying in a crew cabin I also have access to the meat market known as the Crew Bar. A place crawling with young, physically fit, mostly attractive crew members blowing off steam after a long day of dealing with assholes on vacation. I have tremendous respect for everyone in the service industry because not only is it a job I've never done, it's a job I couldn't do. It takes patience, warmth, humility and the ability to not go into full bitch mode when someone disrespects you in public. Those are character traits I truly lack. I once stopped seeing someone just because he was mean to our waiter.
On my first day onboard, everyone I met asked if I was going to go to crew bar that evening. When I said yes, the response was the same, "good luck." I've been going to bars my entire adult life. And even as a teenager- thanks to dudes always offering to get me a new fake ID when the one I had would eventually get taken by a bouncer. So with that extensive bar experience under my belt I thought I was prepared for what was going to happen that night... Nope. I sure wasn't.
Leigh and I walked into a dimly lit, crowded, man cave, full of predators. And in that lion's den, I was the prey. Fresh meat with red lips and a low cut top. The World Cup made my experience especially amusing. They were all seated, grouped together based on nationality, and very riled up. At one point we needed to cross in front of a group of Italians to get to the bar. Yes. Between them and the soccer game. The idea of walking between them and the TV clearly gave me pause because I stopped and back-stepped a few times before deciding to go through. This prompted cheering, whistling and clapping. At first, I thought maybe their team had scored... But no. I was the main attraction and perhaps they were looking to score. Meat market indeed.