scared thrilled scared thrill scared thrilled

I find most things in life both scary and thrilling. I suppose I should hope it's always this way, but sometimes it feels like an awful lot of work.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

The Icelandic- Salt of the Earth

Hey all. Just arrived back in the land of yankee doodles and dandies, and will remain here in New York for 5 days or so. And it's hot as blazes up in this joint too.
Andrea rightfully criticized the lack of pictures on this blog of Debbie, my travelling companion of the last few days. For those who don't know, Debbie is an original friend from way back, a veritable adopted sister and a bosom buddy and ex-roomate of Single-Andrea and Married-Andrea-and-Marty. She's the best, and just happened to be in Moldova working at the camp my parents were running. She decided to travel back with me as far as Budapest just for hangout's sake. After a wonderful couple of days, and some killer Hungarian goulash, we bid a sad farewell in a Pest metro station and went our separate ways. She remained in Budapest another night for the Eric Clapton show, and I flew to Copenhagen. My flight was due to arrive around 11 pm, and I was set to leave the next day around noon. The cheapest hostel I could find was 35 Euro, so I decided to stow my bags at the train station and see what a Monday night in Kobehagen would look like! Well thanks to four wonderful Icelandic young guys who adopted me and treated me like their own, it turned into an amazing night capped with the unexpexted multiple blessings of sleep (in a real bed no less) and a shower. When I arrived in Copenhagen, I made my way downtown and eventually wandered into a Karaoke bar. I sent one out to the Ole Scarlet Tree, poured some liquour in her memory and went to town on "She's got the Look". Met two girls there from Seattle, of all things, but more importantly I met these really cool guys from Iceland. We ended up closing that place out, then heading to another place with some Danish people we met. At the second spot we just danced and danced till the sun was up in the sky, then they let me crash on the extra bed in their hotel room. I got about three solid hours of sleep, a hot shower and was at the airport in perfect time. Seriously, I must go to Iceland. I posited that maybe they were just professional Icelandic goodwill ambassadors, supported by their government to spread the good name of Iceland around Europe by doing nice things for total strangers, but they said that wasn't true. Anyway, I'll pop some pictures of them, and Deb up when I next connect my lappy to the world wide web.
For now, I need a shower.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Old as Moses

So before I'm even used to seeing so much grey on my head, I today found a grey hair in my beard! Ah well. What are you going to do.

The slow train home.

So, made it to Budapest with Debbiedoo. Had a highly enjoyable night on the train drinking probably the most unbouvable wine I've ever coaxed down my gullet and hanging out with Romanian girls on their way to see Robbie Williams play Budapest! Arrived here this morning, soaked a bit in a Turkish bath, had a great lunch and now we're chilling. The pictures are, as far as I can remember, in no particular order:
-mum eating a potato doughnut thing in the market where she shops
-me with some english campers on cowboy night... british cowboy night
-on the train with a Slovenian David and Moldovan Stefan. they didn't like shirts apparently
-Mum and Dad with the applications for their Moldovan passports!
-my visa to Moldova and possibly the most terroristish picture of me ever.

Ok. Gotta let Deb use this beast. Take care all.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

East is East

Howdy doody to all of you! Here's a brief synopsis of the last week or so since my last post. As Andrea calls it, here is the play by play:
-Budapest is great! I spent two days there walking around with my backpack and the guitar from Linnea and Alicia, which made the most wonderful of gifts for my dad. Thanks girls. He almost cried when I gave it to him. Guitars, apparently, are a bit hard to come by in Moldova. Actually, you could say that about a lot of things. Beautiful city though. I climbed the giant hill carrying all my gear at 6 in the morning, which was a good thing because another couple of hours later and it would have been too hot. I explored the catacombs with Harco, my travelmate, discovering an underground wine fountain (a very bad and smelly idea if you ask me) and a post-modern art exhibit that we didn't think was very funny at all. Fake fossils of computers and coca-cola bottles. Hungarians must have a weird sense of humour. I decided to treat myself to a nice dinner and ended up the only person in a huge restaurant listening to a guy sing "My Way" by Frank Sinatra in Hungarian, playing along on a little casio keyboard. A couple glasses later we were singing together and good pals.
-Took an overnight train to Bucharest. I had a whole sleeping couchette (usually sleeps 6) to myself, and enjoyed the privacy. Passing through the Carpathian mountains early in the morning, wrapped in a blanket against the cold and staring out the window as mountains and forests and sleepy villages rolled by was a proper holiday.
-Got stuck in Bucharest because I wasn't able to get a visa to Moldova. It was impossible to find a room for less than 80 Euro so I ended up staying with this guy Dani who I met while I was playing guitar on the street for two wee gypsy girls. Dani was the nicest Romanian I met, but that didn't make sleeping on the bare floor of his apartment any more comfortable. We spent the evening watching France/Italy, which was fun, but not fun too. Poor guys.
-Finally got a train to Moldova, another overnighter. Spent the evening with two Slovenian guys who had hopped the train and managed not to get thrown off simply by virtue of their charm and good humour, and the mayonnaise and tuna sandwiches they offered to everyone who was hungry. We visited other sleeping rooms, chatting it up with everyone on the train. The train was pretty remarkable, like stepping into a time machine. The windows wouldn't open, which made for a very hot night, but it was clean enough and the company was very pleasant.
-Arrived in Moldova expecting... not much I guess. Turns out it's an absolutely beautiful country, with green, rolling hills and beautiful, noble people. It's very hard for people to make a living in Moldova, so many of them end up leaving the country to find work. This means that Moldova is understood as a place to leave, not a place to go to. The border officials couldn't believe that my parents had actually moved there. In fact, during their move, the border guards told them "big mistake, big mistake"! But as I was thrilled to learn, the place is absolutely wonderful. As the family scout, I feel so much better to be able to tell my brothers and sister that they are enjoying life there, living comfortably, and that there are many people there who love them and are helping them through the difficulties of new country, new language(s), etc.
-Spent the better part of the week hanging out with mum and dad at the English camp they were running outside the city. Good and important times.
-It was also great to run into old-time-friend Debbie Mitchell, who was helping them at the camp, after spending a couple of months in the Middle East. Debbie decided to travel back with me, as she's heading to Prague anyway. So we're back in Bucharest now, being proper tourists until our train leaves tonight. We'll be in Budapest tomorrow morning, play tourist once more then I fly out for Copenhagen.

Enough is enough. Sorry for the play by play. Next entry will be sooner and shorter. I promise.
While traveling, thoughts of friends and family become even more important. Just wanted to thank you all for your place in my thoughts and heart. Take care of each other!


Saturday, July 08, 2006

Into the sunrise

Off I go for Bucharest. My train leaves tonight, arriving in the morning. I'll then spend the day there, leaving that night for Chisinau, Moldova, unless I get convinced to stay another day to watch the final. I would love to watch France one last time. It's been an important part of my trip, bonding with my host family, sharing the victory over Brazil with the French fellows. It might be too difficult not to see the final. I'll let you know how it goes.
But for now I have to run. I need to get in a Turkish bath before my train leaves.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Serial Killer? this guy?

-Michael K. and I enjoying a fabulous sandwich in Amsterdam
-Me and the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia... somehow it felt like home
-My roomates in Amsterdam: Aimer, Pedja, Mathew
-My first smokeable rolled cigarette. Thanks Harco.

I'm officially on my own now, and it's a
wonderful and different experience. I spent two extra days in
Amsterdam with some friends from the program, then caught a ride with
a Hungarian guy named Lazlo through While Lazlo was certainly an odd bird, he turned out not to be a serial killer, which was nice. After 17 hours in a tiny car with three other people, lots of luggage, my guitar in my
a tiny car with four people and loads of luggage and my guitar in my
lap and no window-opening during the rain (which continued almost the
whole way) we arrived here in Budapest at 6 this morning. 55 euros
for the ride. Not bad thinks I! While Lazlo went to catch some zzzs
before continuing on to Brezcexebeaba or something like that, Harco
(one of the other riders) and I walked around the city, visiting a
palace, a cathedral, the subterranean catacombs which have housed, in
their turn, prehistoric cave-persons, Hungarian royalty in hiding,
stores in preparation for the seiges of Buda, German Nazis (apparently
10,000 of them) and now us! We then walked around the city
till it was time for him to meet Lazlo to continue on the journey. I
decided to stay in Budapest at least for tonight, possibly tomorow
night as well. The idea is to check into a hostel, found some good
ones online for very cheap, then coerce them into helping me figure
out how to get to Moldavia by train from here. So far it sounds
difficult and slow, but very exciting. The region of Transylvania and
the Carpathian mountains must both be crossed before I reach the
fabled wonders of Chisinau. I'm taking extra garlic and wooden spikes
in case I meet the count.
I'm getting excited about my trip through rural Hungary and Romania, the only dilemma is whether or not I leave Budapest before the final on Sunday. Allez Les Bleues! Vous avez volé mon coeur!
Got to go. Much research to do. Hope you're all brilliant and that it's not as hot where you are as it is here.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

here i go

Well, here I go to meet Lazlo. I'll try to update from Budapest. Hi to all. I miss you.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

farewell from Amsterdam

July 1st (Happy Canada Day) we "French" fellows travelled from the wonderful marvel of Paris to the fair country of the Netherlands. We spent four days in sessions at a hostel whose terrible food was offset by it proximity to a beautiful stretch of Dutch beaches on the Atlantic coast. Many long nights of playing guitar and swimming with the phosphorous. After program's end, which was sad for sure, I came back to Amsterdam and have been here for a couple of days now. I've been staying with a friend named Aimer, who's been very hospitable. Tomorrow afternoon I leave for Budapest with a Hungarian named Laslo and two other people in a blue car leaving from Amstel station at 2 pm. Laslo has short dark hair. Thanks! In Budapest I will try to catch a train to Chisinau where I will finally be able to sleep a little... hopefully. Anyways, sorry I'm curt but it's time for bed for reals. And the picture is Carole and I wearing Hajibs. I think we look great.
Cheers all. I'll hopefully write tomorrow morning before I make the decision whether its safer to risk my computer being hurt in transit if I ship it back to Seattle or to risk it being stolen in these ridiculous flybytheseatofmypants journeys. We'll see which fear is greater.