-->

03 April, 2006

Europe

So, yes, I failed all those (meaning me and one other person) in keeping up my blog. But here I am trying. I'm back from Europe. The take home messages are the following:

1. Germany is infinitely cooler than Paris. I'm not saying Paris isn't cool. But I am saying that I'd rather drink a half liter of Dunkel Weisbier for 3 Euros in Munich, than get an 11.5 ounce can of Kronenberg (read: rolling rock) for 6 Euros in Paris. The food in Germany was incredible, in spite of the many warnings I received that it would not be. I can't even remember who said it, but who ever you are, if you are not a vegetarian, you are a incorrect.

2. Riding the Metro in Paris feels pretty much like riding the train in Boston. It's not a whole lot different, except a) they don't announce the stops in any language at all, b) people are speaking French, c) there are 900 different train lines instead of 4.

3. East Berlin is a sad example of what happens when "freedom" comes to a big city. Because freedom really means "the right to open department stores and Starbucks anywhere you want to open them".

4. Nobody in Germany can agree on the pronunciation of the "ch" consonant. Seriously. This is a problem. You've got 25% of the population saying it like the "sh" in "dish". Another 25% saying it like the "ch" in "Chutzpah". Another 25% saying it like the "ck" in "prick". And then the people who come from Switzerny (actually, I think the region is called Swebia, or something - in the southwest) pronounce it in some completely insane way that is like a cross between "sh" and "ch" which involves not touching your tongue to any part of the inside of your mouth, including itself, and also requires you to stand on one foot and with a schnitzel in each hand. And this Shmebian sound exists nowhere in the English (or any other) language, and cannot be produced from the mouth of an American, even if they were formerly a German citizen.

5. German women are prettier than French women. Let me put it in a statistical context. The prettiest French women are probably as pretty as the prettiest Germans. But the standard deviation of the French is much higher, and the mean is much lower. The standard deviation of the French is probably within a factor of two of the standard deviation of American women, though their mass is probably 25% lower. The German women are all beautiful. It's apparently a rule.

6. French can make good steak. And good French Fries. Funny, that. I didn't try the French Toast. Or the French Dressing. Or the French Bread. But I did see the movie Better Off Dead, so maybe you appreciate the reference.

7. I need a new digital camera. I have a Canon A70, which is 3 megapixels. It's not a bad camera, but I think age has caused something to become out of alignment resulting in many pictures that are not as crisp as I would like. Or maybe my lens is dirty. But I still think I should just throw it away and buy a new one. That's the American way.Okay. That's all I've got.

28 March, 2006

The French

so check this out. in paris, all of the government employees are on strike today. maybe it's more than just today. maybe just today. and you know what the reason is? the government just passed a new law that says that if a state employee does not perform satisfactorily in the workplace during the first 2 years, they can be terminated. apparently, prior to this law, once you are hired, you could not be fired. even if you are not doing your job! and isn't it a bit ironic that the reaction to this law is for them all to stop doing their jobs?

and the consequence of this is that all the major tourist destinations were closed today. so my trip to la musee d'orsay has been postponed. if it's closed again tomorrow then i will be looking for a cafe to sit and stare at people all day. that's okay. i'm still in paris.

What is a blog if no one is reading it?

hm... i complain here, but perhaps there's a catch 22. if i had more myspace friends, i would have more people reading my blog. but i don't like the idea of having 100 myspace friends, because it all seems so... i don't know... junior high school. so i will continue to blog to no one. except you. which might just be me. who knows.

still in paris. will be here for just 2 more days and then it is back to seattle. went to the louvre yesterday and while it is definitely an impressive structure in and of itself, and there is of course much great art there, i would not say that i was more impressed with the exhibits than i have ever been with any other museum. i guess part of the thing that just doesn't do it for me is the fact that 50 percent of the paintings are of jesus on the cross, and another 25% are of mary holding the baby, with john laying around on the floor as well. it amazes me that so much art is devoted to this one thing. though someone pointed out to me that this is because the churches were funding a lot of these artists, but still - where's the integrity?!
so i spent 5 hours at the louvre, after which i was practically blind from hunger. then i walked from there (central paris) back to lisa and christine's place which is near the eiffel tower, more western part of the city. not that far, but probably a 30-40 minute walk. the weather was warm, but breezy.

today, i will visit the musee d'orsay. supposedly jesus isn't quite as prominent there. that will be refreshing. i realize i have gone a little out of order chronologically here, but deal with it. actually i guess if i can deal with it then that should be sufficient since i think i am the only one reading the blog. sigh. will i break down and start inviting myspace friends? maybe. i'm almost there
the mona lisa was only worth seeing for 3 reasons: a) so i can say that i saw her. b) so i can recognize just how underwhelming the painting actually is. and c) to watch how crazy people go trying to get close enough to look at it. that painting is more heavily guarded and secluded behind glass and guarding ropes than any other work of art in the entire louvre. they should make a movie about stealing it! because everyone knows that there haven't been enough movies about stealing very valuable pieces of art. i did not see any laser beams coming from the walls, though, so i think it would be quite easy. all you need is some small explosives to get in to the building and then a large hammer or crowbar to break the glass. the french really don't know shit about security.

so, paris is definitely beautiful and romantic and charming and dripping with culture, much more than anywhere i went in germany. in fact, i may have said this before, it feels more like new york than i would have expected. but the people are speaking french. which is easier to follow than german for me, though not much. at least i can ask for things here.

german culture was really cool too. people were mostly friendly to me, even though i had essentially no german, except for crappy pronunciation of nursery school level statements.

after visiting the rhine and mosel river valleys, plus the city of trier, with tom and leena, i then went to munich for 2 days. not much time, but i definitely glad i did it instead of skipping, since it was an incredible city. the train ride there sucked. i couldn't figure out which car i was supposed to be in, and i got in the wrong car, which not a non-smoking car, so the ride was unpleasant. i should have just moved to the correct car. but i was feeling sheepish, since it was my first time on the rail system. but the ride felt very long as a result. it was also on an IC train, which i would say is the least recommended. my ride from munich to leipzig was on ICE which is the high speed intercity express (top speed 160kph, which is 100mph!). even the RE train that i took from leipzig to dresden was better than the IC. munich had good weather in that it was warmer there than i had experienced the first week. i will tell you about munich in the not too distant future. probably.

25 March, 2006

More Europe blog

okay. i am peeved because it goes in forward chronological order. bah. i cannot be daunted by that, however.

so we spent wednesday and thursday with a rented car driving along the rhine river valley which roughly goes between heidelberg and koblenz on our route. along this road, approximately every mile or so, there are castles on both sides of the river. real big castles. some of them are mostly destroyed. some of them are largely intact. some of them are in complete disrepair, though still standing. others have been remodeled continually and house hotels. i would say that on average, they are in disrepair and partially destroyed. and the first thing that you learn, and learn again and again, is that this average state is compliments of the french. it turns out, the french enjoy pillaging. who would have known? the french apparently came through germany on 3 or 4 separate occasions, and they liked to burn things. and eventually when the cannon was perfected, they also liked to bomb things. and they bombed the castles and bombed the churches. in one case, i guess they used the cathedral as a stable for their horses. nice. it really reminds me of the holy grail, and their depiction of the french. i have nothing against the french. yet. if i go there next week and they are mean to me, then i will start giving them shit.

back to the main point. we looked at lots of castles. one night, i believe it was wednesday, we stayed in a youth hostel in the town of bacharach, which was not founded by burt. the hostel is actually in the castle on top of the hill in the town. amazing. had good food that night. but even better food the next night, when we stayed at a woman's guest house in a town whose name i cannot recall but it was something like winne-something. it was just past the koblenz heading down the mosel river instead of the rhine. we had wine from the winery of the restaurant, which was inexpensive and good. and i had more pork, which was honestly the most yummy meal i have ever had in my entire life. some of the cool castles we saw included rheinstein, and reichenstein, and marksburg.

i want to note here for the record, that i have now officially trained myself to type on a german keyboard. this is not a good thing. because if i were not trained, then what you would be seeing when i type are things like the following:

if zou go to visit the zellow yebra at the yoo, then zou will be verz disappointed.

do you understand what i am getting at here. but you see, i don't type it that way. i now type it correctly. you realize what this means don't you? when i get back to seattle i am going to be typing it like that for the first week. curses.

so thursday we did the rest of the rhine, as i said, and we stayed with the woman and had the yummy dinner. then friday we had a bit of an off day. tried to do the mosel castles, but couldn't really see any because they were mostly not open. the best castle that we could not see was called eltz or elz, and it looked pretty amazing from the outside, and we walked a long long way down hill and back up to get close to it. i will post a picture of it so you can see what we did not get to go inside of. friday was further messed up because we had to pick up leena's cousin who is 25 going on 16. i hope she doesn't find out i said that. anyway, she was a good kid. her flight was 2 hours late though so it put a damper on the plans for the afternoon. they have a nickname for her, which i did not understand until after about 16 hours. they call her the virus. apparently there is an incubation time before she kicks in. plus she was tired so that mitigated things for the first day or so. we drove to trier and opted against the hostel there. and we instead drove around in circles trying to find a village with a small inn. found many villages and many inns. after two hours of this we were all starving and it was getting late and we resorted to the first village we had crossed through which was called wintersdorf. the inn was great. we had a huge suite that could have slept like 10, and we got it for 80 euro for the four of us. and the dinner across the street was again very good.

oh i should mention that beer in germany is good. in case you had not heard that.

i am going to pause here, and pick it up in a new post either in a second or on another day depending on what i decide. you will not know the difference.