Friday, October 29, 2010

Hamster Jam!!!!

   Hey hey hey, I'll apologize first off as we are about on week 9 of being homeless. I smell, we've been sleeping in the car, in the bar, on the floor, if you can think of an uncomfortable place to sleep we have slept in it in the past 72 hours. Its all melting together, a nice couple knocked on the door of our Mercedes the other morning to give us food; we took it.  All in all its a pretty freeing feeling though. 
   Our first destination on our Netherlands extravaganza was Utrecht, an old city echoing with history dating back to the Romans.  Their are still official buildings where salt; being the valuable commodity that it was, was measured for sale.  Theirs a church, separated from its bell tower by about 50 meters, where a renegade tornado, lost obviously, had ripped through the town destroying half of this church.  The only recorded tornado before or since in the Netherlands, if thats not enough to convert you to catholicism I don't know what is.  Such a beautiful old city complete with canals, and what they call wharfs, to protect the city from the raising waters.  Every building had awesome cellars, leading to even more awesome Roman underground lairs, and I love underground lairs.  In one of these cellars we had some of the famous Netherlands 'Coffee', and man it was great, a little to great, just a couple of sips and wow and we were 'caffeinated' for hours, wandering around the city. 
   We managed to do some couch surfing there as well.  We stayed with a great couple, Jeroen and Sanne, who were great hosts.  They both worked during the days, but at night we ate great Netherlands food, discussed some interesting history, for instance did you know the American dollar came from the German something or others which the Dutch called Dullard which we then changed to dollar.  Also we're called Yankees by the English because many Dutch living in the americas; New York previously being called New Amsterdam, named their children Jan (pronounced Yan) and Kees, hence the New York Yankees.  Also we made Mexican food one day for our hosts, I think we will be doing this a lot.  They took us to one of the coolest bars I have ever seen, Derat.  The name literally means 'the rat' in honor of some previous residents found mummified in the basement once the bar was restored.  We ended up hanging out all night with the owner Eric, who gave us tastes of some of the finest liquors and beers from that area, and being that the best beer in the world comes from Belgium, I'd venture to say it was some of the best in the world.
   After Utrecht, it was a short train ride to none other than the hazy city itself, the Empire of Herb, the Kingdom of Chronic, the Galaxy of Ganja, THE MECCA OF MARIJUANA.... DON DON DON DON DON (theme of 2010 A Space Odyssey) AMSTERDAM!!!!!  DA NAAAAAA.

Hey their tough guy, come on you smoke all the time, you can take it, no problem.  Wrong.  Take it easy, its legal, its not the space race.
I'm not refer-ing to the girl you just met in the red light district, drink some orange juice or perhaps an herbal tea with sugar.  Theirs something scientific about it, but lets just say its the lightning to your flux capacitor.  (watch Back to the Future again)
Really you have all the time in the world, don't be a hero, your not going to impress ANYONE with your massive bong hit.  Its legal and they don't care, your just the guy who doesn't know which way is up.
These business men are smart, they know exactly what you want.  You stumble hazily out of the 'coffee shop' and there it is like an oasis in the desert, a storefront top to bottom with candy, donuts, cakes, pizza, hot dogs, you name it; but it comes at a price much higher than usual, keep track you stoner.
I am speaking of the famous canals, and yes we did see an unsuspecting soul go head over heals into the unexplainably gross water.  This was at midnight and it was freezing, talk about a buzz kill.
Look, your gona be to confused to understand it anyway, and your gona look like a moron staring at it upside-down, so as awkward as its gona be asking directions, the locals are use to it, just stumble in the direction their finger points.
The lines of legality are hazy, like anywhere, and the shop workers 'don't know anything' so just kick back, take a toke and enjoy.
This ones for the older generation, ya you.  I've seen the way you smoke, like your trying to suck a watermelon through a straw.  You do NOT need deep penetration, and for gods sake don't hold it.  We saw two grey hairs being carried out of the shops with that 'man this stuff is strong' look in their eyes.  Just take it easy and don't embarrass us.
Theirs hundreds of these shops, some play techno, some punk, some reggae, it's all about the vibe, so go in, look around and take the time to really pick a winner.
The tenth rule is perhaps the most important rule ever, forget math and really let this one sink into your cranium.  Before you go TELL ME.  I want to go back.  And if you don't because Death himself is threatening you with well, death, then at least have the decency to bring me back a little.

   OK, now that thats out of the way, where were we.  Amsterdam, wright, OK.  To be perfectly honest my memory is a little foggy, but heres the facts.  We went to the Sex Museum, which was eye opening.  These are some open minded people, I think their country motto must be 'whatever.'  It was basically a history of recorded sex throughout the ages, pretty cool.  On those same lines we swaggered through the Red Light District which is defiantly not a lamp store I found out.  Another interesting museum would half to be the Hemp Museum.  You know in that Cheech and Chong movie where they drive the van made from marijuana, well those of us who can remember it laughed at the ridiculous idea, but turns out thats totally possible.  We saw an engine part made by Ducati, pretty nuts.  Oh ya, the bars are nice, but again beware the spins, they can be a duzy.
  Well folks really I could write about it all day, but I got traveling to tend to, so a quick bit that brings us up to date.  We drove from the Netherlands to Belgium, to catch our ferry back to England.  There we spent one smelly night in the car before bailing, it was time.  I made it through customs again, luckily, and now we are back on Camden awaiting our tickets to Turkey, for thanksgiving of course.  I hope we gave you a little insight on Europe the past few months.  I love you all and before I forget, never mind, I forgot.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Gluehwein, Schupfnudeln, Schweinsteiger

Hey Everyone! It's been too long! If you may have noticed that i have been having layout problems but it's all back to normal and the post will continue!

Berlin, awesome place. In Berlin I arranged to stay with a guy named Martin though couch surfing which worked out excellent... besides the fact that per-usual we were late. When we arrived he had maps of the city for us and showed us how to use the public tranport. We enjoyed some home cooked traditional german food together and some good conversations. Though he was fairly busy with community projects and homeless aid so we showed ourselves around the city.

In the Czech Rep. we had heard about a wonderful free tour in Berlin though New Europe. Free tour! how can you say no? This was a great experience, the guides do it for tips so they absolutely have to be good. Our guide was a history buff and really took us back to the 2 world war and what it meant to live in Berlin at this time. She took us to the old luftwaffa head quarters which miraculously is one of the only buildings that survived the bombings. Of course if was designed in the typical nazi fashion which was supposed to make one feel tiny and insignificant. The door handles were 3 times bigger than a normal was and loomed above at about head hight. We saw the "monument to the murder jews of europe" (directly translated as such.) This was defiantly something else. It is a huge square in the heart of Berlin, right outside the political offices and 'house of parliament.' I couldn't really explain the way this monument made you feel but i put a photo there on the side, it is a truly moving and disorientating thing. We stood in front of the famous Humbolt University where they are known for burning something other than weed; books. The strangest thing we saw would have to have been a parking lot. We all stood there wondering why on earth we were standing in some smelly dirt back of a building lot. Well it happened to be the location of Hitlers bunker in which he committed suicide. The bunker is still the intact underground rotting away but the German's buried it to be forgotten in the pages of time. No markers and no signs just a bunch of cars. The Berlin wall was a crazy thing to see, it used to stand "protecting" the people and now it stands fenced in to protect it FROM the people. It is truly unbelievable to amount of suffering that one person can inflict on another.
Of course we saw much much more, Berlin is so rich with modern history but i think that if you are really interested you must go for yourself... and take the tour.

On our own Matt and me went to the Holocaust museum which is so true to history it will make you want to puke... but it is beautifully done. The one thing i really appreciated was a whole room full of letters and diaries written by victims of the second world war, it's enough to bring you to tears. The museum follows the life of 6 people who were in concentration camps to try to personalize the 6 million people who died.

Matt and me also went into the Reichstag (parliament house) after waiting for about 3 hours in line! I think we would not have waited if we knew this to begin with, but you get to the front of one line and you think 'thank god I'm going in' but the big door opens and to your surprise you standing now in another line! All in all though it was very interesting. They have a glass dome built on top which you can walk around and from which you can look down onto the elected officials making decisions. This glass dome has a cone built inside of it that makes it structurally sound, it is covered in mirrors by which the building get the majority of their lighting. It also collects rain water which they use, I'm not quite sure for what but they do. The Germans are very ingenuitive people and in this current climate of the world are extremely progressive.

After Berlin we drove to Hildesheim to stay with our friends from L'Borie, Julia, Kai, and Hannah. It was so nice for a change going to place with friendly faces that we knew and not strange 'friendly' faces. They took us out to a local bar the first night where we played a game translated as "don't be angry." Which is exactly what happens to you when you play the game so it a fitted tittle. Good night really! Julia got me hooked on knitting for the first time in years... i've been making all types of gloves.
Our second night there we made them all mexican food and it was fantastic. We had Pico de Gallo, guacamole, beans, and I even made spanish rice with stock and tomatoes. Ohh it was so beautiful! They loved it as well. The next morning we had one obligation for the day, we had to what a soccer game at 4:00, Hannover vs. Bavaria. After a morning of mulling over where to do this we went to Hannover, where it was ICY cold so we didn't spend much time looking at the city and we did spend a lot of time looking at the inside of a bar and a TV screen. Very traditional German thing to do if you ask me, I drank gluehwein  (mulled wine) and the rest drank the local speciality of beer with strawberries in it.
On our last day there Kai showed us all around Hildesheim. I think the highlight would be a rose bush that was probably one of the first things to mark Hildesheim, dating back from before 800 AD. The tale says king of the region hid a relic in a wild rose bush sometime around 750 AD and when he returned the rose bush had entwined around the relic and would not let the king take it. So the king ordained the building of a church which would house the relic and the bush, and there it is still the oldest church and defiantly the oldest rose bush. I really liked this story, obviously we were not in berlin if the most interesting thing to find was a rose bush but a still very special little city.  That night Julia made us Schupfnudeln
 and sauerkraut, which has quickly become our favorite german food; and we played Kings Cup into the wee hours of the morn. For those of you who do not know Kings Cup, look it up online a give it a shot, one of the better drinking games i have played.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Return To Zagan

What's crackilackin everyone back home.  It was great to see some of you on skype the other day, really made me miss home.  Well it's been five months now, and we're still goin strong.  After Prague we headed north, back across the German border to a little town named Jankendorf, where their is a little organic farm named Holderbusch.  We spent nine days their, working in the garden, hangin with the kids, workin in the mud to expand the duck pond; it was great.  We got to know some really cool people their as well.  Josh, a native Amsterdamien, took us on a tour of the near by city, Gorlitz.  We saw the sites, got to stroll into Poland, whispered into the lovers bow, and even got caught by the police on a late night stroll through the park.  Without Josh's help, it would have been a longer stroll to the police station, being that we were in a border town without passports, but he got us out of it. 
  We also got to know Kristen and her wonderful kids.  The kids didn't know much english, but they asked us our names, and they told us goodnight every night before they went to bed, sweet kids.  Nima, Kristen and I went on a walk to a local raver party and man was it nuts.  It was a lot of electronica music, until they whipped out an acoustic guitar.  Man, free beer, campfire, two jimbay drums, an acoustic bass and guitar; the guitar was bloody when I handed it back to them.  They love classic rock everywhere.  That was my kind of night.
  All together our trip at Fredric's farm was awesome, we prepared our meals out of the garden, made rose hip jam and Liqueur, and Nima made her soon to be famous Dulce de Leche.  They make their own wine at the commune, had an out door make your own fire shower, ducks, chickens, sheep, gooses, cool place.  It also was about an hour from Zagan, just over the Polish border, the home of Stalag Luft lll.  This is where my grandfather spent two years during World War ll, as many of you know.  This place was heavy to visit.  The only thing keeping it protected is the fact that it was made famous by The Great Escape, otherwise it might be nothing more than some decaying slabs of concrete in the forest.  We saw the kitchen, the hospital; where I assume they told papa they were going to half to take his leg, the cooler, and of course tunnel Harry.  Their is also a nice Museum and a monument to the men who died at Stalag Luft lll as well as Stalag Vlll A.  They have a full size replica of the barracks and a guard tower, and a miniature version of the whole camp.  It was hard to imagine my 22 year old grandfather here more than sixty years ago, I mean it's not even winter yet, and it's already freezing here.  On a more somber note, I'll say good night, or I guess it's lunch time for you, so Guten Apitite.  Now we are off to Berlin.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Prague: where the beer is dangerously cheap.

Matt and I drove in to Prague once again making the mistake of doing so late night... though after Paris nothing has been too much of a challenge. I have to say we're not very good at planing! We arrived (once again) no where to stay, no knowledge of the language, and no currency. Smart huh? But it all worked out in the end, after a few hours trekking around in the icy Czech cold hunting for a bed. The first few people we asked for a hostile (or a hotel, we weren't being picky) simply said no. Just before we turned back to the car and hit the road again we got a lucky streak and the answers went from 'no,' to 'maybe that way,' to 'yes that way,' to '300 meters on the right.' When we arrived on the stairs of the sought after Czech Inn we were so shocked at our luck. Though out our stay in Prague we saw lots of slummy hole in the wall hostile and the Czech Inn is the nicest, cleanest hostile either of us had ever stayed in anywhere.

We spent our days there strolling amongst the gothic castles and gory statues of clubbing, and beheadings. Strange place, very sinister, full of torture museums and things of that sort.
We spent our nights drinking dangerously cheep beer, i had to have a constant eye on Matt's alcohol intake... though in the end it didn't help. We both ended up incapable of making it 'home' and spending a huge amount on a taxi driver that wanted to rip us off for all we were worth (and Californians come off as being worth a lot.)  We spent one of these belligerent nights on a pub crawl with two very cool Australian dudes. We went from a small church that had been transformed into a dance club to a bar with a stripper and ended our night in the Roxy. Which is apparently 'THE' place to be in Prague, nothing too special if you ask me but the music was good and the dancing fun. This is where Matt did his shirtless head-banging performance on stage! Perhaps he can show you all again one day.

Well other than the strolling and boozing we did find something very special...
A BURRITO! The very night Matt posted 'please sent us a hole in the wall burrito' the it was, a god sent. La Barracuda Mexicana! No where near as good as a Cali wrap but it'll hold us over until the next time. Ask and ye shall receive.
            And untill the next time... Frieden und Liebe
              xxx ~Nima

Sunday, October 3, 2010


  Hey hey all our friends back home, where burritos flow like wine, and your never more than a stones throw from a taqueria.  As you can tell I'm having serious Mexican food withdrawals, someone please open a proper Mexican hole in the wall in europe.  So this is the story of Oktoberfest, and how I survived it.  This year is the 200th anniversary of what I can only explain as a massive party, put in motion by the Bavarian king and queen after their wedding.  This is important that its a Bavarian festival, not a German one.  Their the people who where lederhosen and blow the Ricolla horn, the girls where the cleavage exposing dresses like the girl on St. Polly Girl beer (which is not a German beer) and theirs no such thing as a 'small' beer.  This place is like Disneyland if everyone was hammered, not buzzed mind you, like two gallons of beer each HAMMERED.  There are crowds of people doing nothing but watching in delight as full grown men in leather trousers are tossed on their buts, by every kind of spinning contraption imaginable.  I remember thinking 'look at those fools' but three hours later their I was, minus the leather trousers mind you.
The Bavarian pre Oktoberfest dinner consists of sausage, potato noodles, and wheat beer to give the stomach a good base.
Its imperative to arrive early, get a seat in a nice beer tent, and take your time.  Remember the beers come 1 liter at a time so three and a half and your at a gallon.
This is where the giant pretzels at carnivals come from, the salt and the bread are a perfect combination for longevity when consuming large quantities of beer.
Don't be ashamed to order a mix of lemonade and beer, or at least get one or two waters throughout the night.  You have to stay hydrated.
By half way through the night everyone will be dancing on the benches and they will be wet from spilt beer, be prepared.
Every time this is said, you must smash your steins of beer together with, by this time, your new best friends then drink a few large guzzles of beer.
On your way out, you will want to ride the rides, even though you won't be able to walk very well, and you do not want to be fumbling around with your wallet.
This is the only way to make it to a bed, every day their are drunk americans all around the grounds who did not follow this most important rule.
These are a few rules I would have loved to hear before attempting the Oktoberfest.  I followed #'s 6 and 8 with Nimas help of course, so I at least made it home.  The rest I did not.  I thought I had broken my wrist, after a most excellent tube ride on the table, but I wiped out.  I had a hang over for two days, as well as a tight bracelet on my right wrist.  I think its ok now.  On our second attempt, we had a much more sober time, it was time to see the sites.  This was the first year that they had a replica of what the Oktoberfest might have been like 200 years ago, complete with a king and a queen and horse races, along with beer brewed the traditional way and served in ceramic steins.  This was very cool to check out.  All in all we had a great time, and I lived to tell the tale.
  Oktoberfest is located in the center of Munich, Germany, one of the coolest cities we've seen.  First we stayed with a guy named Adler, one of Pauls old friends from San Francisco.  Adler and his Fathers were our escorts on the first attempt at Oktoberfest, they took us to the two most famous tents, and we had an awesome time together.  Adler showed us around his most excellent city, one of the coolest parts was the English garden, which is apparently the biggest park in a city of over a million.  This place had many Beer Gardens,(which is just like a normal garden, only instead of growing stuff, people drink beer) it had lakes, canals, and even its own surf spot, the eternal wave of Icespa.
  Our next hosts were Steffi and Jens, a really cool couple who happened to be friends with Julia, a girl we met at a commune a few weeks prior.  Together we spoke of Anarchy, played the coolest zombi board game ever (it was in German) and explored the fascinating effects of all of the famous Oktoberfest beers.  We went with them to a friends house where Steffi made us some great traditional German cuisine, already referred to in step one of the Oktoberfest survival guide. Without the generosity of our hosts we couldn't have spent more than an hour in Munich, thanks so much you guys.  And so you all know back home I am currently on a beer fast.  Wow these people know how to party.  Next up Prague, remember to buckle up, and don't text on 17.