Ten Day Comes to a Close

by Berck

and hopefully this narrative will as well.

the shift key on this keyboard doesn�t work properlz. sorry.

i�m in m�nchen, drinking a beer, and am really glad this is a fast connection. my train leaves in a couple of hours, and with any luck, i shall go to sleep and wake up in roma. heh, yeah right.

i think i left off in paris somewhere. the details are all ready fading, though.

Robin and I did not do much in Paris, we were there mostly just to get to Luxembourg. We stayed in a youth hostel called “Young and Happy”. Despite its terribly corny name, it was a fun place.

We got to Luxembourg without too much trouble. I was very impressed with the place, it was quite modern, yet still very European, a combination I haven�t much experienced since I�ve been here.

We decided to camp as it would be much cheaper, and the hostel was full anyway. After asking about 5 bus drivers, we finallz ascertained both the number and location of the bus we needed to get on, and even managed to find the campground okay. I pitched my tent, and Robin and I opened up our sleeping bags in the tent and left the windows open so that it would air out. Sleeping bags/tents tend to smell funny when left in their stuffed bags for awhile.

It was a beautiful day, and after catching the bus back to the train station, we wandered about the city. It was absolutely beautiful. The city is cut in half or so by this huge ravine with a little stream in it and fairy-tail looking castles on each side. I shot way too many pictures of the bridges, there were so many, and they were all really neat.

We ate Indian food that night, and really enjoyed it, even if it wasn�t nearly as spicy as it should have been. As we started to walk home, I felt a drop of water, but figured it was from the fountain that was trying far too hard yet not hard enough to be art. Then it started to pour, and we were pretty far from the fountain. “uh, i think it might be a wet night,” i told Robin. She just glared at me, then at the sky. We had a good 20 minute walk to the bus stop. The night was dark by this point, and it was getting rather cold. We got the bus stop, and the bank thermometer said 6 degrees celcius. that�s something like 41F. Which isn�t too terribly cold, save we were dressed for Tunisia and it was raining.

We got the bus station and checked the schedule. we�d just missed a bus by 10 minutes, and the next one wasn�t coming until 23h27, over 45 minutes. The bus finally showed up and Robin and I were warm for about 3 minutes. Then the bus stopped, and the bus driver turned around and told us to get off. Which was sort of a problem since we weren�t anywhere near the campground yet. “Camping?” we asked him. He repleid with something to the effect that the last few buses don�t go to the campsite, and that we�d have to walk. 4 kilometers. In the cold rain. On the non-existant shoulder of a fast luxembourgian highway. It was a long night.

When we finally got back to our tent, we were quite cold. Luckily, our sleeping bags weren�t too wet, just the ends that were near the windows.

What�s worse, is as I was climbing in the tent, my bag caught the top of the tent, which aparently put enough stress on the well-staked rain fly, that it ripped. which really bites. Luckily, it ripped near the bottom of the tent, and so I might be able to sew it.

It got colder that night. _I_ woke up and was cold, which rarely happens unless the tent is covered in snow, which it wasn�t. Everyone else at the campsite was in an RV.

As we were sitting in our train headed for Brusells that morning, it started snowing. I just laughed. Robin wasn�t so amused.

Brusells was enjoyable as well, despite the fact that it never quite raining. It didn�t snow there, which is good I suppose.

Brusells had some pretty cool museums, including a contemporary Art museum I rather enjoyed while Robin groaned. I probably groaned just as much at all the paintings I call “Madonna col Bambino�s”, even though they�re only called that in Italy. In addition to those and the endless depictions of Christ on the cross, there is a plethera of St. Sebastian paintings, all of which somehow intrigue me. I�m not sure why he�s such a popular subject, but the depictions vary wildly–in some he looks about like one would think he�d look with a bunch of arrows in him, and in others, he looks downright happy about it.

All of the hostels in Brussells were booked, so we were forced to stay in a cheap hotel, the properieter of which was an absolute nutcase. The place was falling apart, and I really don�t think I�m anywhere near talented enough to portray him so that you might understand. He�s a bit shorter than I am, I think, though he always walks, er waddles, hunched over. He�s mostly bald, but has too much hair to ignore, most of which is blond. He speaks very slowly, spewing his really bad breath across the room. He refused to let us walk up the stairs, I�m not sure why. Whenever he caught us, he made us use the elevator. I would try to describe him more thoroughly, but I jsut don�t know that I can. The entire hotel, including our room, was covered in splatter painting that sort of looked like Jackson Pollock, only not so aesthetically pleasing. None of them were signed, and Robin hypothosized that he painted them all himself. I�d think it quite possible.

I also discovered belgium waffles are sweet. Somehow everyone but me seems to know thus. They�re really good, I think i�ll have to figure out how to make them. The batter they make it with is really thick compared to the waffle batter I typically make.

Getting to Amsterdam wasn�t much problem even though we got there rather late at night. This wasn�t that big a deal becuase we�d reserved beds at “The Flying Pig” hostel already. Darned good thing too, there wasn�t much place to stay by the time we got in the city.

The hostel is apparently the place to stay in Amsterdam, and it�s one funny hostel. For two nights, I felt like I belonged in the sixties. On the bottom floor of the hostel is a bar, half of which looks like most hostel bars only with a little more zest. The far end of the bar is covered in blankets and pillows and seems to be referred to as the commune, the village, etc. At any given time of the day, it contained from a few to many people lounging about passing around marijuana in various forms. The bar area is constantly filled with enjoyable American music, much of it out of the sixties.

I walked into the room I�d been assigned to, and it was full of many girls. This wasnt too much of a problem except that there were 8beds, and there were more people in the room than that. “Don�t worry, we�re not all sleeping in here,” one girl assured me as I walked in. “Ahh… I�m not picky, but I paid for bed number eight and I�m not sharing.” There were sheets on it, but it seemed that no one tossed the sheets in the laundry as most courteus hostel-stayers do when they leave. I was too lazy to pull them off, and just put mine on over them. “So, where are you from?” she asked. “Well, I go to school in Texas.” “Where?” “Dallas.” “Where, UD?” Now THIS was weird. No one in Europe except at places UDers frequent know of the school. “uh, yeah,” I said rather confusedly. “what? really? no you don�t!” So I showed her my ID card. “That�s nuts, do you know Jon Bird?” “Yeah, he�s our RA in Rome.” “I went to junior prom with Jon Bird!” she tells us. turns out she!
�s from Boston, and her best friend is Bird�s sister who attends UD. I never ceased to be amazed at such seemingly random connections.

Amsterdam has the largest collection of Van Gogh there is. I�m not a huge Van Gogh fan, but the museum was really cool. In addition to the Van Gogh museum, there�s a national museum with a lot of Rembrandt, which, unfortunately, we tried to see on the wrong day. We got there at 2pm, were informed that they�d let us see the museum for free but that it was closing at 3pm. Turns out they were putting the final touches on a brand new exhibit which the queen was about to preview in a few hours, and apparently the queen gets the whole museum to herself when she wants it. They were rolling out the red carpet, literarly, as we left.

When we got to Amsterdam, I bought a ticket to Munich for Saturday morning, because the Friday night train was booked solid. Our train was supposed to leave at 750am, but it never showed up at the tracks. At 800, we went to talk to someone about it and were informed that they�d closed the tracks to germany and were working on them. This was quite disturbing, especially since that�s a very Italian thing to do, and I�d thought I was free of the Italians for a few days. She printed out a little schedule for us with about 5 connections to make between amsterdam and munich, as opposed to the 1 switch we were supposed to have to make. We hopped on a train to nijmegn or some such nowhere place where we were supposed to change trains. Only, our train didn�t go there, it stopped in some other nowhere town before that. We took another train to nijmign and of course by that time, missed the connection on our schedule. This game lasted all day, and instead of getting to munich at 4pm, we got there at 8pm. This wasn�t that bad, other than the fact that we were supposed to meet our fellow UDers at the Haufbrau Haus for a night of beer and ten day stories, as is UD tradition. We got there eventually, and I was less than thrilled with the whole game. It was really loud, the waiters were jerks, you had to sit down to have a beer (???) and it was really expensive.

On my way out, I realized with dismay that I was the only sober person who was staying in the same hostel as I was, and I didn�t know the way back. Outside the haufbrau haus, we were slammed with a crowd of several hundred people, who, i finally gathered, were there to see Bruce Willis. Yeah. I caught a glance at him on my way out, he was bald. The drunk UDers headed to an Irish pub to get drunker, so I gave up, found a map, and found my way back. I really, really hate not having a sense of direction. For some reason I just can�t find my way around, and I don�t know why. If there were some way to cultivate a sense of direction, I�d be willing to work at it…

I spent most all of today at a science museum. it is by far the most awesome science museum I�ve ever been in. I was there all day, and there are tons of stuff I never got to see.

The first room I walked in had a real, full sized german fishing boat built in the 1800s. It was fully rigged and beautiful, at least 60 feet long. There were lots of boats there, actually. INSIDE the museum. Next was the engine collection. There had to be a couple hundred engines, from sterling engines, to steam engines, to deisel engines, to porsche engines. most of them were cut apart so you could look at them. There were also all sorts of jet engines pulled apart as well. I�ve seen engines before, but never THIS many. There were some really neat, really big steam engines, ship-sized.

It just got crazy from there. i walked through what was obviously a fully operational machine show with locks on all the switches of the machines. Boring machines, lathes, planers, etc, etc. Apparently they give demonstrations at set times, the only problem for me being that they do so in German. There was a sign of a full sized mine underneat the museum which one could tour with guides. I spent hours and hours and hours at this museum.

The computer section was just awesome. They had a fully functional electric relay computing device from the 40�s. It was huge, and read film. The exhibit started wtih ancient adding machines, planemeters, gear-driven integraters, and so on. They had a Cray1, it didn�t look functional though. There was an early ibm machine that stored data in mercury delay strands? There was very poor english translations of most things, I figured a lot out though. The number of FUNCTIONING ancient computer stuff was amazing. I got to see them operate a few of them. The exhibit was huge, it had to be with all of the ancient and huge equipment they had in there. The telecomunications exhibit had everything from an early rotary phone switching sytem behind glass that was connected to about 20 phones so you could watch it work, to several banks of isdn stuff and computers with video phone stuff set up. There was floor after floor after floor. I didn�t get to stuff like the musical ins!
trument section, or even the planeterium or the chemistry section. I think I was there for 6 hours until it closed. I�d talk forever about everything that was there, but it was so huge, it�d take me forever.

After that, I saw the glockenspeil, and that was just silly.

Anyway, that was ten-day, and now I�m going to go find dinner and hop on a train.

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