Sunday, February 24, 2008
Well, I have been a busy, busy person. I guess I'll go in order and cover a bit before Denmark as well...so, starting with the most important event:
My First Official Grown-Up Concert
Or, not quite...So, loooooooooooooooooong story short, I facebook stalked someone and found out through his blog that his friend was in a band and low and behold that his band was playing in Munich in just over a month from when I discovered it. Better yet, they were fronting for "Plain White T's" ...better known as the "Hey There Delilah" guys. So, I found a concert, it was cheap. However, I didn't have anyone to go with. So I call up Eric and ask if he and Claudia would like to go. Second problem - the concert was February 14th...V-day. Claudia actually likes the band, but for whatever reason decided she wouldn't want to go, but Eric could. Eric said he'd go if I went to a hockey game with him. Fair enough. Later, Vaso from Greece decided she'd like to go, but unfortunately they were sold out. Fast forward to the 14th.
Eric is TIRED. He's trying to get a job as a tour guide and was up at 5 AM the morning of the 14th. We make the train and arrive in Munich about 2.5 hours before the concert. We decide to find the hall before we eat, and then I got us turned around. Also not helping that day was incredibly thick fog. Within an hour we'd trekked to the hall and had a meal at Burger King (the only restaurant we could find). We arrived outside the hall again about an hour and a half before the concert. We noticed one key thing. There were two age groups...screaming 14 year olds (mostly girls)...and their mothers. Yeah...about that "Grown-Up Concert"...Anyhow, we froze for a while and I smuggled Eric's camera in. Don't ask how. The upside of being in a remote hall and surrounded by gaggles of 14 year olds was that biology was working in my favor. They're short. So, we got great standing places (the ONLY type of places) about 15 feet back from the stage. A great view and out of the sweat-slinging range of the bands. Urk.
The opening bands - The Fold and The Spill Canvas - were both really good, although the singing to playing sound ratio wasn't very good. I was having a great time, although poor Eric had issues with the girl in front of him thinking that he was her boyfriend (who was to Eric's left) and she got a little overly...friendly. At any rate, The Plain White T's were AWESOME. The main singer is great and incredibly charismatic...talk about stage presence. We stayed until the last encore song, where I quickly introduced myself as the stalker of one of the band members from The Spill Canvas, who was thrilled to see another American (the guys spoke no German, and had a sign labeled "We Speak English!" over their merchandise...nice). Then we beat the crush and took the train back, arriving Regensburg at about 2 AM. It was a great night.
So, onwards to Denmark! My traveling buddy was Kayla, a girl from the Colorado group. She'd done the smart (but expensive) path of buying a Eurail select pass and gotten a sleeping place. I'd done the cheap route, but managed to get lucky, only having one other guy in the compartment. For the first hour and a half I watched Entourage Season 2 on my computer (I'm seriously addicted) and he was writing something. Eventually, after writing for a while in my journal, I realized that the silence in the compartment was getting awkward. (Or perhaps had been all along...who knows..). So I said hi and opened the flood gates. The Guy...formally known as Peter, became my first Slovenian acquaintance (besides Theresa, but I'm sorry, you're not authentic enough for me : p ). So, I got a run down on Slovenia (since their separation from Yugoslavia) and I got to introduce him into the wonderful mess known as the "Democratic process". Honestly, I can say that being abroad has taught me more about my own government (or made me become more aware of it than ever before) and I actually managed to intelligently inform him on the primary process. Luckily (or tragically for him...), I had also just read the nytimes .com article on 'Super Delegates' so I enlightened him about that bewildering process as well. Eventually I got to sleep stretched out across all 3 seats...bliss.
Karin met Kayla and I at the station (after we got a little lost, ironically ending up at the Special Education building...) and we took the short walk back to her apartment. I met Karin about 5 years ago when she was the Rotary exchange student at Walker my Junior year of high school. She filled us up with Swedish bread for breakfast (AMAZING...I'm in love...)and got us set up in a tiny room she'd rented for us to sleep in. I had gotten out some Danish Kroner (they are in the EU, but decided not to be on the Euro). It was crazy to see the prices on things - the exchange rate is 1 Euro to 7.4 Danish Kroner. Karin then had to go to class and Kayla and I explored the downtown shopping area. We made spaghetti for dinner and decided to check out the HC Anderson (as Hans Christian Anderson is known in the US) museum the next day.
Karin decided to skip class, and so we went to the museum, which is partially comprised of HC's House. The museum is INCREDIBLY in-depth and we spent a good 3 hours there. Talk about a talented guy. He was known for telling his tales to his audience while doing a "cutting" - an intricate form of paper cutting that makes our paper snowflakes look like a 3 year old's work with safety scissors. I'm going to try to get a slideshow going with Denmark Pictures...you'll know them when you see them. Then I ate the most expensive lunch of my life - about 20 dollars for a mini-quiche, hot chocolate and splitting a side of "nachos" 3-ways. We also bought "Danishes" and ate them, so we could say we ate a Danish...cannibalism, surprisingly tasty. There's a slogan for you...I also found out that I can't pronounce Danish worth crap. Fortunately, no one can - so all the Danish learn Very Good English (and usually German as well). Karin said that Danish is like speaking German with a potato in your mouth, and it's true. There was JUST enough similarities to drive you nuts by thinking you actually understand something...to learn you have NO idea.
Kayla and I went to Copenhagen! It's MASSIVE and extremely expensive - the cafe's wanted 6 dollars for a cup of hot chocolate! (Needless to say we actually didn't eat anything all day, just snacked on chocolate - Kayla's as much of an addict as I am...). I became the designated map-holder and Kayla the photographer. We saw the palaces (the royalty wasn't in...no standard flying), a soaked up a few museums - I HIGHLY recommend the Danish Resistance Museum it was fascinating and free! - and of course saw the Little Mermaid. (For those who aren't HC Anderson buffs, he wrote the original "Little Mermaid" which ends much more tragically...she kills herself after the prince marries another woman (not the enchanted witch) and she can't bring herself to kill him so that she in turn can live...twisted). We eavesdropped on an English tour and found out that she's been beheaded several times and once was pulled entirely off the boulder she sits on - resulting in police discovering tourists posing in her place, quite the sight I'm sure. We went back home and Karin was awesome enough to have pizza hot and waiting for us!
Kayla was leaving Thursday (the train I was on was full and she couldn't get a reservation) so we spent the morning sleeping in and doing a little shopping to get rid of our Kroners. Karin's afternoon class was canceled so we spent about 4 hours making dinner - sushi - a first for me. It's a fascinating process and we used shrimp and raw salmon. I found it surprisingly good, because I don't typically enjoy fish cooked, let alone raw. I would definitely eat it again and may try my hand at making it, now that I've seen it done. Kayla is a complete sushi buff and she was excited to see how it was actually made. We also had found some wine that we really liked, so although it clashed completely with the sushi we enjoyed it with our meal. We watched most of Wedding Crashers before we took Kayla to the station. Then Karin and I watched a few more movies and had a nice giggly girl's night. Yes, I know, but I can and do giggle on occasion...
Friday...aka the day that never ended...
Friday was pretty uneventful. Karin and I both packed up our stuff and experienced the most horrendous weather that a spring day in Denmark has to offer. It was ugly, windy, rainy weather that we tromped around in. I wish I could say we had a noble pursuit - but I will admit it was for nothing of the sort. Kayla had discovered that Denmark makes authentic Absinthe ( I know, I know mom, making you proud...) with wormwood and really wanted to try a small bottle. We didn't have time or the know-how to find the liquor shop so I promised her we'd search for a small bottle. Unfortunately they only had the large bottles and for 399 kroner (about...55 Euros or 70 dollars) and so not really an option. So we took a rain check because Karin got her small bottle in her hometown. So we bought chocolate instead. Mmmm.
Anyhow, Karin's train left at 6:05, so I was at the station about 2.3 hours early...and then my luck turned. Apparently, someone called in a bomb threat to a train station (no idea where, but in one of the other major cities) and so all the trains going through Copenhagen were delayed...mine for 2 hours and 39 minutes all told. Surprisingly, I took the news well - I had my computer, good swedish bread and water. Unfortunately, I really had to go to the bathroom. Equally unfortunate was that I had no Kroner left (except a full set of coins that I'd assembled for my dad...and, congrats dad, you won out over my bladder) to pay for the bathroom. I mean 2 Kroner isn't significant, it's about 50 cents, but I HATE paying for "public bathrooms" - even if they are pretty clean. So I held my bladder like a champ for 5 hours. I know...too much information.
By the time my train got to Nuernburg I was lucky I was awake. There were actually people in my compartment and so I slept poorly and my phone was dead = Steph has no way to know what time it was...plus the fact the train's time table was off. Anyhow, I luckily caught a train 15 minutes later to Regensburg and by 10 AM Monday morning I was sleeping in my bed.
So, Monday I woke up at 4 and drug myself up to shower. I turned my re-charged phone back on and found a text from Eric: "Murphy's -4 PM BE THERE!". Now, the fact that I was going to a bar at 4 (well, 5:15 by the time I got there) was a little off, but I figured there was a reason. I felt like crap, but food, 3 IB Profen and a liter of water can work wonders...So I walk into Murphy's and find out that there's an International Rugby tournament being broad casted. I went with option number 2 (option number one being to leave...quickly) and pestered Rob (British) and Niamh (Irish, who's brother's play) about everything about Rugby. It's a LOT less boring than American Football. And, to my pride, I now know what a "scrum" and "try" are and the scoring system. I hope that makes someone proud.
Anyhow, this has been the mother of all posts, so I'm going to put you all out of your misery...now.
Hope all is well,
Thursday, February 7, 2008
Hi all, time for another post...sigh.
So, as you all have read, I tested last week in Karate. I debated with myself if I should even go tonight (a nap sounded SOOOO much better) but I eventually dragged myself to the Sport center. Since I had tested, I put on my yellow belt. I waited in the corridor and almost ended up leaving, because everyone was late. However, I really wished I would have. Turns out that my testing was FOR my WHITE belt. Who tests for a white belt??? Apparently, Shotokan does. How embarrassing...even my instructor had to try to hide his smile when he looked at me. Sigh. Then, to make matters worse, as I left a girl with a greenbelt ran out to me and told me that she has her old white belt - apparently most people were under the impression that I'd lost my white belt! No, I told her, I was simply an idiot. In a way, I could've saved face and just taken it - but they already think I'm kind of an idiot anyhow. Yup...
Well, in order to make myself feel like I'm the only one who makes mistakes, I am now going to tell Sara's embarrassing story (misery loves company, so should also people in a foreign country). A few days/a week or so ago, Sara decided she had to bite the bullet, and go get a hair cut. She did her homework before hand - because all she wanted was a trim. So she used her paper dictionary, and confidently strode into the Salon and asked for a "Beschneidung". The stylist stared in what Sara took to be a slightly horrified and bemused manner. She went on to demonstrate how she only wanted the ends cut off. When she got back home, she used dict.leo.org to find out why the word hadn't worked. Well, she discovered that the word did indeed mean trim, in a manner. However, it carries the unfortunate connotation of - circumcision. See, now you've practically forgotten my story...
So, I am finally done with both my finals, and have only my paper for my English course to write. My Phonetics final disappointed me, because I had a brain freeze for the question part and didn't answer fast enough for her. The reading part, I was really nervous for and she even noticed and remarked on it. So, probably not a good sign. However, it for sure went better than my Texts class. I memorized all the little catch words, but I'm afraid that my lack of vocabulary will drag my grade down - although I hopefully still passed. On a note only slightly pertaining to finals, I enjoyed my first beer the other night. It's kinda a fake beer, however, as it's half pop and half beer. Baby steps people, baby steps. They'll make me a German yet...
Finally, before I sign off, I would like everyone to know that I finally received my ballot for the levy on Monday, and got it sent off on the same day. I didn't rush it, as I don't have 52 euros sitting around, but I did do it.
Hope everyone is well,
P.S. The words under the picture mean "The open bathrooms are closed" - somehow seemed to fit with tonight...