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30 June 2005

waiting for the all powerful

when i checked into my hostel yesterday, the staff person, olivia, gave me a free guide called 'playtime, a non-commerical guide for tourists on a low budget in copenhagen' put out by an organization called use it. great guide; exactly what a traveling me needs. it outlines several different walking tours and transportation options and includes tons of other useful information. that's two thousand pounds of useful information. think about it. heavy, isn't it? i'm going to write use it and tell them how much i appreciated their guide.

today i followed one of the walking tours outlined in this guide. covered a lot of danish ground. i'll let the pictures tell the story, but in summary, i saw some danish people, danish buildings, danish fish, danish birds, and danish insects. many times when a fly lands on me i think to myself, 'that's not an american fly, that's a [in this case] danish fly. i wonder if he has an accent.' ha. then i try to imagine the fly speaking danish. for some reason this always makes me laugh inside, sometimes outside, and the fly becomes no longer a pesky little insect, but a danish gentleman or lady dropping in to say hello, in his or her native tongue of course. hello danish fly, thank you for stopping by.

the guide indicated the inner city tour would take approximately three hours, but i believe i spent close to double that, stopping here and there for pictures or to walk the entire way around a building or to take a nap next to the black diamond. i can't remember the last raining day; the weather has been that great. today the sun was out and i was sleepy near the end of my tour. i saw several people reading and laying out by the water, and my 'sit down and rest for a few minutes' turned into a 'lie down and sleep for an hour'. i did consider the fact that the sun was shining brightly and i wasn't wearing any sun protection, but only briefly, dismissing the burn potential. my skin is probably the darkest it's ever been; my almost three months of walking outside must have conditioned my skin beyond burn level. what a great nap. i woke up and continued the tour and was soon back near the beginning. here i sat for about a half an hour and watched some americans sing american music in front of the 7-11.

random points:

. the copenhagen street lights aren't situated on posts, they are hung from a complex network of cables. seems like maintenance of this system would be more onerous, but it is very interesting.

. copenhagen is the most bike friendly city i've visited to date. i've heard that the bike reigns supreme in amsterdam, but copenhagen must be close behind. there are bike lanes in the streets and there are special traffic signals just for the bikers. this brings me to my next point.

. 99% of the people i observed, including those driving a motor vehicle as well as bikers and pedestrians, obeyed the traffic signals. i think i only saw one person j-walk today and when a biker crossed the street against the light, two separate car drivers honked their horns repeatedly with accompanying grimacing facial expression even though the biker wasn't affecting their course. i waited with others to cross the street until little red person in the pedestrian signal changed to a little green person... even though there was absolutely no traffic in site. everyone just stood there waiting for the all powerful signal to change.

. the guidebook indicated that the little mermaid is the most photographed woman in copenhagen.

. during the tour, i stopped in at a 7-11 to grab a drink and a twix, and while i stood outside eating it, i saw this sticker. the words at the top read 'while you were sleeping'. image of gary coleman. the word at the bottom: 'innocent'. bizarre, eh?

. i had had my chuck taylors on yesterday as they're ideal airport footwear. didn't feel like digging out my new hiking boots today. at the end of the day today, i had blisters on both of my feet. i haven't really taken a close look yet, but i know they're there. i'd guess very small; the pain isn't too bad. i think i hadn't tied the laces tightly enough and my feet were able to move around a bit in the shoes as i walked. first blisters of the trip. i've been pretty concious about taking care of my feet. without them i wouldn't get very far. i'll have to see what the damage is in the morning.

back in the hostel room i met nick. went out in the lounge to write a bit. nick came out and i invited him to sit down. very cool guy. canadian from montreal, living in seattle enrolled in a phd program for astronomy, biking down to slovenia with his friend currently living in lund, sweden. even though we talked about where we'd been and where we were going, i didn't get that traveler competition vibe from him. at all. talked about biking and i asked him about tycho brahe. determined that nick is the type of person with whom i could go on a month long bike tour.

while brushing my teeth i noticed the very stylish 'i fell asleep in the sun with my sunglasses on' bandito mask. apparently i'm not beyond burn level. went to sleep on the tower. two girls sleeping on the lower tower tiers; i put their accent on australian or new zealand. they seem to stick to themselves, i wouldn't use the term 'unfriendly'. not open. slightly uncharacteristic of the accent.

posted by paul at Thu 30 Jun 2005 at 00:00:00 EST (-05:00) | comments (0)

29 June 2005

pushing him down into the grid of grey

the new originals: to keep current. today i'd be flying to copenhagen, denmark; a one hour flight to another country, the eighth of the global reconnaissance objective. denmark, it seemed off the beaten traveler path. the four and one from tennessee left this morning. david, blessed with another year, had obvious issues waking up. in fact he had obvious issues moving, an obvious hangover pushing him down into the mattress every time he tried to rise. eventually his brother urged him out of the room, off to catch a train to amsterdam. have a nice trip everyone. i don't think i even know all of your names... david, vanessa, josh, and two others, the brothers.

i spent my morning slowly. my flight wasn't leaving until 7:50pm and i planned to arrive at the airport approximately two hours before for check-in. charged the batteries during the shower. spent some time on the internet researching egypt and india, specifically on the us travel advisory site. egypt might present some problems. this makes me nervous:

"On April 30, 2005 there were two terrorist attacks against tourists in Cairo, a bombing near the Egyptian Museum and a tourist-bus shooting near the Citadel. Though the three perpetrators were killed and other foreign tourists injured, no Americans were hurt in either incident. On April 7 an explosive device detonated in Cairo’s Khan El Khalili tourist bazaar, killing one American tourist and injuring three others, in addition to other foreign casualties. Terrorist bombings targeting tourists in Taba and Nuweiba, Sinai, in October 2004 killed and injured many people, including several Americans. Prior to these blasts, there were no terrorist incidents involving tourists since an attack by extremists in Luxor in November 1997. A heavy security presence is observable throughout Egypt. Visitors and residents alike are requested to cooperate with Egyptian authorities."

: http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_1108.html

packed. i've done virtually no shopping on my trip and here in berlin i've purchased three t-shirts, and i planned to purchase a fourth at checkpoint charlie to supplement the paper one i'd bought days earlier. three shirts was enough to make a difference, straining. i dropped off my pack at the front desk and was out for my last day in berlin. quick stop at alexanderplatz to buy my last currywurst; the woman recognized me and prepared it with mustard. danke. onward to the stradmitte s-bahn stop and down to checkpoint charlie; shirt secured. to the jewish museum, but no time to visit, i wanted to see again the holocaust memorial for more information about the memorial itself. to the grid of grey darkness, i found the information center which shachar and i had missed on our first visit. first security check with an x-ray. i'd have to check my daypack. the woman asked me something in german and i wasn't prepared and couldn't come up with 'sprechen sie englisch?' quickly enough... all that came out was 'english?'. what an idiot. she said 'sure.' and re-asked the question in english. as i walked away i thought about returning and apologizing for just saying 'english?'. stupid tourista.

down the stairs. below.

the history of the holocaust. so incredibly powerful and moving. six _million_. the information center is built under the grid and the ceilings are indented with negative impressions of the concrete towers above. hard to describe, inappropriate to photograph, but it's almost as if you can see the bottoms of the stellae from underneath. so many were killed and most of the names were not recorded; this memorial strived to remember the individuals. in one room, darkened, one name at a time was projected onto each of the four walls and a short biography read first in german and then in english. six million _individuals_, with lives and families and careers and dreams and hopes. and above, the concrete pressing down.

the memorial information brochure mentioned the nearby fuhrerbunker; i made a visit south to vossstrasse to see if i could locate the bunker. i did find the street and several signs in german. unfortunately i'm not able to translate, but some day i'll be able to. walked over to the under den linden s-bahn stop and back over to the hostel to retrieve my pack.

[imagine buckles clicking, straps being tightened, and equipment secured in an action movie 'getting ready to kick ass' sequence]: clicked, tightened, secured: outfitted and ready to travel. u-bahn and then s-bahn the whole way to the schonefeld airport. check in, delay, flight on easyjet. safety instructions were given in english and german by the attendants and then in danish by a recording. what a beautiful language. i thought the irish accent had mountains and valleys, but if irish english is the pyrennes, danish is the alps.

arrival in copenhagen. [!!!] denmark. retrieved the pack from baggage claim 3 [a long walk from the gate] and then over to the atm to withdrawl danish kroner. 500, two 200's and one 100, approximately 67 euro, beautiful notes. i'd recorded the directions to the hostel from their website. outside to find bus 250S. right there, quickly... and found the schedule. it was exactly 10pm; next bus at 10:14pm. the bus pulled up a minute later and the bus driver walked off. break, i assume. others built up waiting. the driver returned. i'd be getting off at zone one... wondered if i could get by with a simple 'i'm getting off in zone one' or if he'd need more information. hoped not... i'd have to attempt a pronunciation of 'h.c. orsted vej'.

me: 'i'm getting off in zone one.'

bus driver: [confused look]

me: [shit] 'atche see ooorsted...' [[?] [?] [?] picture accompanying 'please forgive me for butchering your beautiful language, sir' facial expression]

he looked and smiled and repeated back the name of the stop with the correct pronunciation, which incidentally sounded absolutely _nothing_ like 'atche see ooorsted'. ha. i went and sat down. 'about thirty minutes away,' he said. i felt bad and thought about going back and apologizing for my ignorance. second tourista language moment of the day. almost exactly thirty minutes later we arrived at my stop; the driver announced it over the loudspeaker; he hadn't announced any of the previous stops. i thanked him as i got off the bus.

i'm currently sitting in the hostel lounge. i paid more for my bed than the site had advertised. my narrow room has six beds in it; two three tier bunk beds, the lowest a tomb. my bed is on the top, a long ladder climb to the star spangled ceiling. as i sit here typing this, i hear americans, many, and i want to get away; i'm presently drowning them away with music. i want traveler isolation. i want away from the 'where are you from? how long have you been traveling? where have you been? where are you going? how old are you?'. like a competition, a culture unto its own. i want to be surrounded by others; to meet others, different others. when i began this trip, it was comforting to hear americans. no longer. [thinking about traveling north to the arctic circle. having bad thoughts about visiting amsterdam, no doubt teeming with them.] it seems to me that american travelers have much less to say than european travelers. concerned more with partying than experiencing. wow, i'm old.

some creepy guy keeps asking 'how the fuck do you sleep at night with a frozen dream and a borrowed hope that died?'
and i sleep with both eyes open.
: filth pig, ministry

posted by paul at Wed 29 Jun 2005 at 00:00:00 EST (-05:00) | comments (0)

28 June 2005

28 june

sachsenhausen concentration camp. heavy. moving. crushing.

posted by paul at Tue 28 Jun 2005 at 00:00:00 EST (-05:00) | comments (0)

27 June 2005

27 june

admin day. photo processing.

posted by paul at Mon 27 Jun 2005 at 00:00:00 EST (-05:00) | comments (0)

26 June 2005

26 june

shachar departed. trip down to potsdam. sanssouci park. great day.

posted by paul at Sun 26 Jun 2005 at 00:00:00 EST (-05:00) | comments (0)

25 June 2005

25 june

berlin museum of technology. RAMM. STEIN.

posted by paul at Sat 25 Jun 2005 at 00:00:00 EST (-05:00) | comments (0)

24 June 2005

24 june

a lot of walking with shachar. fernsehturm. currywurst. german history museum: excellent. checkpoint charlie. ripoff shirt. topography of terror. reischtag. subway to subway. hostel. out for berghain... no luck. dling dling.

posted by paul at Fri 24 Jun 2005 at 00:00:00 EST (-05:00) | comments (0)

23 June 2005

23 june

my third transatlantic flight at night, and this time i was able to sleep a bit. i'm sure the sub.two.hour nap the night before [spent most of the time repacking] had some influence on my ability to sleep. the meals on these two delta flights have been very tasty and the flight attendant crews have been great. seemed they were busy throughout the night. i arrived at berlin's tegel airport a little after 8am and passed through german immigration and customs without even one question. this time i hadn't shaved and i was sporting a night's worth of against the window bedhead. the agent didn't seem to mind, although he did stamp the arrival stamp in the departures column of my passport. waiting for the pack to arrive... the first half of the plane's luggage came right through and those lucky enough to have claimed their bags departed... the luggage belt stopped... and the remainder of the plane's passengers waited another half hour. security delay? ok. i found my way to the bus stop more slowly than i would have liked. finally, bus -> s-bahn -> more s-bahn -> u-bahn -> hostel. i checked in and crashed for six hours. wow, didn't expect that. i woke up and met shachar, an israeli, and we went on a walk. brandenburg monument. wurst. pool. crash.

posted by paul at Thu 23 Jun 2005 at 00:00:00 EST (-05:00) | comments (2)

22 June 2005

22 june

goodbyes to my sister and her husband early in the morning [thanks for letting us stay guys!]. needed to be at the raleigh-durham airport by 9am. flight to jfk and a six hour layover. i wandered the airport extensively, rocking the air train. i'm now a jfk expert. finally the overnight flight to berlin.

posted by paul at Wed 22 Jun 2005 at 00:00:00 EST (-05:00) | comments (0)

21 June 2005

phase ii outstanding: 17 may - 21 june


may : france

11-18 paris
17-17 versailles
18-20 bayeax
20-21 pontorson
20-20 mont st. michel
21-24 saint malo
23-23 cancale/pointe du grouin
24-26 bordeaux
26-29 biarritz
28-28 bayonne

may/june : spain

29- 1 san sebastian
1- 2 bilbao
2- 2 burgos
2- 5 madrid
4- 4 segovia
5- 8 granada
8- 8 guejar sierra
9-13 barcelona
13-14 girona

may: germany

14-14 frankfurt
14-15 berlin

may: united states

16-21 winston salem, north carolina

posted by paul at Tue 21 Jun 2005 at 00:00:00 EST (-05:00) | comments (2)