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7/23/2000 - 7/29/2000
7/16/2000 - 7/22/2000
7/9/2000 - 7/15/2000
7/2/2000 - 7/8/2000
6/25/2000 - 7/1/2000
6/18/2000 - 6/24/2000
6/11/2000 - 6/17/2000

About this blog:

On May 20, 2000, I graduated with my Bachelor of Arts degree from DePauw University. And what better way to celebrate selling my soul to the University of Wisconsin graduate school than by spending five weeks in Europe? Since Europe is allegedly riddled with these "cyber-cafés," I plan to update this travel weblog as often as possible to let loved ones know how i'm doing, and what they're missing. I'll periodically check my email from over there, too, so drop me a line.


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«Thursday, July 13, 2000»

2:38 PM... Maintenant, je suis chez Marc (dans la partie de la Suisse francophone). But last night, in Interloken, Mike and I stopped by a grocery store on the way home from the Internet place to buy dinner (after shelling out $4 just for 15 minutes on the net, we felt like cooking our own dinner for as cheap as possible... I kept the receipt: Ravioli, Bière, Bière, Bière, Bière = 7.20 SwFr = $4.80). After dinner with our Irish friends (their pasta dinner ended up being more like soup because I mistranslated the intructions from French, and they added a little too much water), I took a nap and woke up at 22:00 just in time for the Techno dance party downstairs, where I spent over three hours getting jiggy wit it (because I don't get the chance to much back in the US), and afterward I stayed up until 2:00 hanging out with the lovely miss Sharon Swords (one of the clever Irish girls who favors a blonde Minnie Driver, her head full of puns worse than mine!!).

This morning we were going to take the 8:40 train to Bern and connect to Lausanne (where my Swiss friend Marc was to meet us), but we decided to sleep in another hour and take the 9:40 instead. Marc met us about noon in Lausanne and now we're at his house checking e-mail and playing Sega Dreamcast. I think we'll take the rest of the day pretty easy (maybe go to the Montreaux Jazz Festival tonight) and do more sight-seeing tomorrow. Saturday we have to leave, though, because Marc works all weekend and then Monday he goes off to boot camps for four months (the Swiss Army not only has cool knives, but they also have mandatory enlistment). But for the next couple of days, we party.

Editor's note: Of all the european keyboards I've used, I think the Swiss has been the easiest to adjust to.

«Wednesday, July 12, 2000»

5:23 PM... In Interloken. Arrived last night. Staying at Balmer's. There was an open mic last night and I played "That Kind of Girl" and "Butterflies and Violets" after a bottle of wine, two pints, and much coersion from Mike and our Irish friends (Sharon and Polly). RockCity.com was filming it for a webcast allegedly, so within the next week you might be able to see the performance online?? Hiked up a waterfall today. Going to Lausanne to see my friend Marc Filisetti tomorrow morning. That's all because Internet access is 30 cents per minute here. Bye.

«Monday, July 10, 2000»

9:58 PM... Last night after checking e-mail at JAM-City (in their "Internet Bus" which is literally a church bus filled with 10 computers hooked up to an ISDN connection that only cost 2 DM/hr), Mike and I went to dinner at this Chinese place because brats, kraut, and dönnerkebabs were getting old. I was surprised that German Chinese food was almost exactly like American Chinese food, because Germans usually make sauces much, much thicker and creamier/yogurtier. But in short, it was good. (But no fortune German cookie!)

En route back to the hostel and passed a traveling carnival, and since it was free admission we went in to see what we could see. We saw a lot of bare breasted women adorning the signs for the rides (even bumper cars - heheheh - which we rode several times). Mike also challenged me to a strong-man-hammer-hit-the-bell thing (whatever they're called). He beat me, of course, because at least he hit it three times.

That night our roomates were two German children and a deaf Ukranian. One of the children taught me to count to twenty in German (plus a few misc. other phrases) and he was quite proud of himself. But the kids were scared of Andrew (the deaf Ukranian), so Mike and I tried to talk with him... and between Mike's phrase book, pictionary, and charades (I know American Sign Language, but Russian Sign was too different), we were able to carry on a good two hour conversation about girls, travels, cars, and more.

Then, this morning I finally went to the Expo 2000. The country pavillions honestly sucked in general (there was no American pavillion, so the joke was that the McDonald's served as such), but the science/theme exhibits were fantastic (as was the Philipino food we had for lunch). Developments in the way of travel (both alternative fuel for cars and mass transit innovations) were the most interesting. There was also an exhibit of laser work being done with microscopic particle manipulation. The biggest surprise was Hydrogren powered laptop computers (teehee).

Tonight I will sleep well, I hope, before running off to Interloken tomorrow morning. I feel that some mountain hiking and snow sports are in store for us there. Truce!

«Sunday, July 9, 2000»

5:12 PM... Whew! It's been four days since I've been able to get online, so I don't even know where to begin to catch you up... Since I last checked my email or blogged, I've seen the 1972 Olympic Ice Stadium (was closed for renovation so I couldn't skate), hiked a mountain in the southerm Bavarian Alps (and tried to skinnydip in it's extremely frigid waterfall), seen the world-famous "Passion Play" (Performed once every ten years) been in dead center of the world's largest Techno Festival (Berlin's "Love Parade"), bought tickets for the Expo 2000 (which I will go see tomorrow), and accumulated about 20 hours of sleep. Today is the day of rest (appropriately, the Sabbath).

The story goes: Wednesday after last checking email Mike and I decided to pack a picnic dinner and hike up the Mountain south of Oberau, where we found the wasserfälle the day before, and eat at the summit. We never made it to the top (as we got a late start and wanted sunlight for the trip down), but we did find a clearing about two-thirds of the way up to drop anchor. We could see the three towns off Garmisch, Burgrain, and Oberau all from the spot (we were so high up... you have no idea). I carved an armadillo with my name in one of the rocks and then we descended to the pool at the base of the waterfall that we found earlier, popped open our $2.50 bottle of wine, stirpped, and started into the pool. It was about 3°C (pretty cold), so we immediately got back out, dressed, and finished our wine with a couple of cuban cigars as the sun dropped below the mountains on the other side.

Thursday we were going to go to Füssen to see the Neueschuanstein Castle (which Disney ripped off for their logo), but were so tired that we missed the early busses (we would have only had an hour and a half there). So we just bummed around Garmisch and Burgrain, playing mini golf, reading, writing, taking some time apart from each other to do our own things.

Friday we got up at 5:45 to walk from the hostel into town (no buses ran that early) to catch the 6:00 bus to Oberammergau, and get in line to buy Passion Play tickets before the booths opened at 8:30 (it began at 9:30). We were about 20th in line... so I went to go get us some breakfast while Mike waited in line, and when i got back (this took ten minutes?) there were easily 200 people in line. We got $20 seats on the right balcony, which allowed us to see the whole stage (with a few parts obcured by the steel arch buttresses), but excellent seats, we thought. It was a seven and a half hour play and was wonderful. The ending was a little holywoodish (there was little emphasis on the ressurection, it was mostly about the ministry and trial of Jesus)... but the presentation was in the style of ancient Greek theatre with a chorus introducing each act. Only instead of narrating what was to happen in the next scene, it sang of an Old Testament story which was either fortelling of, referenced by, or figuratively connected to the events of the next act. The acoustics were good (the only amplification was architectural), and the special effects were superbs (the whips looked like they really broke skin, the croos looked like they were really nailed on). Anyway, very good.

After that we took the overnight train to Hannover, expecting to check into a hostel and go to the Expo on Saturday. Since we arrived at 6:00 and nothing was open (hostels, tourism office, Expo) for another two hours at least, and the "Love Parade" was going on Saturday due east in Berlin, we threw our bags in a locker and took nothing but ourselves, our Europasses, and one camera to Berlin for the day. When we arrived at 10:30 things were already bumping with DJs spinning on the street out in front of the train station. After a little while of aimless wandering, we found our way to some town monument with a lot of Techno-looking propaganda and giant LED screen set up. but it was only noon and things weren't supposed to get going, we thought, until 7:00 (mind you, we overlooked the whole where-might-we-stay-tonight-in-Berlin issue) so we split up... I to see a portion of the Berlin Wall and Mike to gather more info on the proceedings. we picked a spot to meet at exactly 16:00, with some backups later in the evening in case we never met up.

So I went off to see the wall. Took a few pictures. No big whoop. Then around 14:00 got back to the train stop nearest the monument from before... and there was the big whoop.

I followed the crowd through a park and the next thing I knew I was in the middle of the parade we thought didn't start for another five hours. And it took me both of my remaining to make it to the rendez-vous point with Mike. It was then that we discovered the architecture of this parade... There are three monuments all along the same street in Berlin... and this parade consists of over 200 trucks loaded with sound systems, DJs, and crazy people... half starting at one end and half at the other, and crossing paths at the middle monument (where we had decided to meet). So, since we were already in the middle of everything and we had been reunited, we bought a couple of beers and foughts through the crowd all the way up front, buming for the next two hours with every Techno-Truck that went by.

Come 18:00, we had three options: (A) Leave now and try to catch a train back to hanover for free (after 19:00 travel counts as a new day on our Europasses); (B) Stay and go back to Hannover later, which would use up another Europass travel day, or (C) stay all night and hope we'd be safe sleeping in the train station or something. We chose the cheapest, safest option and went on back to Hannover.

Once we got back to Hannover at 20:30 we called a hotel advertised in the train station (it was only 100 DM for a double, which translates to $25 each... and having a secure room with real beds and a bathroom sounded worth it), made reservations, ate some dinner at the station, and figured out how to get to our hotel. That was tricky because the directions on the wall poster weren't too clear... and once we finally got off at the right stop and walked about 500 meters through an unlit, foresty path we found a spooky old house with the hotel sign (unlit) at about quarter past midnight. We had to walk around back to get to the entrance. We rang the bell, nothing. Knocked, nothing. Rang, nothing... started walking away and then the hotel sign lit up. A few minutes later we were being led up rickety, creaking stairs by an old man in a robe who spoke no English.

After the monetary transaction was made and we were securely "sealed" into our chamber, Mike and I looked at each other in the mutual bewhilderment that comes from 48 hours of train travel with no room to call home combined with the dodginess of the establishment. I softly said, "Mother! No, mother!" And we both broke into laughter with the following idea... we had a shower, a knife, and a camera loaded with black and white film. Imagine the rest (shrill orchestra hits in the background).

That's all. Today I just looked for a cheaper/less scary youth hostel in town and Internet acces (which has only been 2 DM/hour... cheap!). Tomorrow I spend the day at the Expo and Tuesday morning we're finally booting Germany and heading to Switzerland. Auf Wiedersehen!

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