Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Brendan in medieval garb
Me in medieval garb
Some belly dancers at the medieval festival
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Preikestolen (or Pulpit Rock) is 604 meters above the fjord. The hiking trails are maintained by the Tourism Bureau of Norway (or something like that):
"Why," you may ask, "do we care at all about the Norwegian Tourist Forening?" Because several Norwegians have told us about them very proudly and with good reason: They maintain hundreds of huts around the country that anybody can go and sleep in and that are sometimes stocked with food. The fee is on the honor system, and you leave it in an envelope after your stay.
And to leave you with just a slice of what can happen when you keep contact with the family left in the homeland: Stina was in a room with 1st cousins twice removed, 2nd cousins once removed, 3rd cousins, and 3rd cousins once removed (everybody's eyes are on Ingeborg, Linda-in-the-foreground's one-year-old, eating and making a mess).
Monday, July 20, 2009
Just to brag a little, that's the t-shirt I won for coming in 2nd at the M2010 Prerelease. Now I have FOUR t-shirts! (And two of them are Magic: the Gathering-related...)
Thursday, July 16, 2009
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Thursday, July 9, 2009
In front of the Bremerstadtmusikanter statue.
Rheinturm in Duesseldorf.
The line we waited in to get tickets to see Twelfth Night in Central Park.
A kid running through the fountain in Washington Square Park.
Brendan waiting in line to get tickets. We camped out from 6am-1pm.
Brendan and me with my twin-cousin Gladriel (she is 8 days younger than me) and her husband Jared.
The funny security guard at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. He would act like a zombie when little kids approached the Temple of Dendur (sp?).
Here we are in front of the Jekyll and Hyde Club, the restaurant where I celebrated my 17th birthday. We happened to walk by it by chance and met a nice 13ish year old who raved about how much fun she'd just had at dinner there.
A pretty church in New York City.
The ceiling in the Rose Reading Room at the public library in NYC.
The police department in Times Square.
Brendan in Times Square.
Sunday, July 5, 2009
We arrived in Hannover yesterday evening after a long day of slow hitchhiking ("trampen" or "per Anhalter"). It was difficult to leave Düsseldorf because while we stood in a high-traffic area, there wasn't much room for anyone to pull over. There was, however, a light, and finally after two hours waiting as we walked forward to see if there was a better spot to stand, Brendan held out our sign and a man at the red light said he was headed our way. Brendan sat up front and held a conversation in German with him, and about 30 minutes later he dropped us off at a Tankstelle (gas station).
At the Tankstelle we again waited a nice long while before walking around to see if there was a better place for us to stand. We discovered we were on the side where people could come and park and rest, but that there was a whole other gas pump on the other side and we'd probably been missing many potential rides.
We moved over to this other side and held up our sign that said "Hanover" (there was only room for one N) on one line, and "A-1/2 Ost" on the other. In this new spot we were in sight of several trucks parked nearby, and one truck driver came over to talk to us. Brendan talked to him and I understood little of what they said, but Brendan told me afterward that the truck driver said he would be there for the weekend.
We kept sticking our thumbs out and holding up our sign at cars passing by, and then another truck driver came over and talked with Brendan. A little later the first truck driver came back and had another conversation with Brendan. Maybe you can tell by now that the German is coming back more slowly for me. Brendan told me that the two truck drivers were offering to take us to the next gas station, which was a busier one, but each of them could only take one of us. They said they only had one extra seat each, but they were going to the same place and one would follow the other on the road. Brendan and I discussed in English whether we should take them up on this offer, and we decided we would.
We were nervous about this because neither one of us is carrying a cell phone, so if somehow we got quite separated, we would be in a fix. We both had a good impression of the truck drivers, though, and decided we would trust them. If we did get separated, we would find internet as soon as possible and email one another.
Off we went in our separate rides. This was an excellent chance for me to practice German because my driver did not speak any English, and I didn't have Brendan to carry the conversation for me. I wrote down the license plate number of the truck Brendan was in, just in case for some reason I needed it. Brendan told me later he kept checking the rearview mirror to make sure the truck I was in was still visible. We had our guard up, and I think that's okay, but it is also important to trust people. Our instincts proved correct that these guys were honest and safe, and about 15 minutes or so later they dropped us off at a much busier gas station.
Within ten minutes or so we had a ride, finally, all the way to Hannover. A man and woman around our age were headed to Berlin and would take the A-2, which also passes by Hannover. They very kindly took us all the way into town, to the Hauptbahnhof (main train station). From there we were able to find our way to our host by foot, and here we are.
Last night after we arrived we were introduced to an old German tradition where a craftsperson (in this case a carpenter), after completing an apprenticeship, may embark on a three-year-long journey. During this time they are not allowed to return to their home area, nor can they carry a phone, though they can call home. They must travel by hitchhiking and seek jobs where they go. First, though, there is a grand party to send them off, and we got to attend such a party last night, for a friend of our host.
At the party, there is an auction for all the items the carpenter will need on his journey, and friends and family bid for them. Afterwards, the money and the items are given to him. One of the items auctioned off is an earring, and another is a nail. After the auction, the nail is used to pierce the carpenter's ear, and the earring is placed in the hole. This was somewhat unsettling to watch, especially since it took awhile for them to get the earring into the hole and there was blood running down his ear. It's kind of hard to see, but in this picture the nail is already through the ear. The wood stick is his walking stick.
We had a great time getting to know the friends of our host, whose name is Sebastian, and drinking beer and eating yummy food. In between this party and returning to this party, we attended the birthday party of a Couchsurfing friend of Sebastian's. This whole night, we were riding borrowed bikes and feeling like real Europeans as we rode around.
I must end now as it's bedtime, but soon we'll post more pictures from New York, plus pictures from Düsseldorf and Hannover.
Saturday, July 4, 2009
Friday, July 3, 2009
We soon realized we were so totally exhausted that we couldn't manage to make obvious choices, let alone even think up some smart solutions. We wandered outside to see where Düsseldorf might be. We laid down on the grass to rest. Little green bugs hopped around on us, and we were twitchy enough that we couldn't find peace. We wandered back inside.
We wandered around the airport. We wandered to the information booth, pretended to speak German, wandered out, wandered back to the information booth again... and did that about 3 or 4 times until the woman helping us began to smile knowingly when we approached. I used the 5 Euros I had left over from 3 years ago to get some change. We plunked 50 cents into the internet kiosk and used 3 of our 5 minutes getting from one website to the next, one minute blogging that last crazy (but hopefully reassuring) blog, and one minute taking down a name and phone number that Couchsurfer Robin sent us. For though he could not host us, he delivered unto us our saviors.
After some shenanigans with the phone we managed to call Chris, and over a period of time during which a nap, a train ride, and some pretending to speak German happened we reached his abode, where Ieva let us in. Ieva and Chris have made us feel quite comfortable here. We play games, chat about hitchhiking, travel, school, Twilight, breakfast, and couchsurfing, and hang out like old friends. Yesterday evening they took us along to a dinner party. We ate delicious veganerrific ratatouille, watermelon, and salad. We übed our Deutsch. We played charades (and they all played in English for us, though we tried to push for German). We met Kathi, our host, who is a costume designer and currently works for a costume shop as a seamstress building for theatres all over the world, including the Metropolitan Opera in New York. She and Stina and I talked shop a bit, and decided that if Stina and I move to Berlin, we'll produce a show together, and she'll make it fit in her schedule somehow. We're thinking Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead or Waiting for Godot (which because of the Tonys we now know is pronounced GOD-oh). I'd also like to make something by Thornton Wilder. I think I should avoid Ionesco and other non-English-language plays because if I'm doing it in Germany, I should either do the play in its original tongue or in German... and I could never translate from French to German, and I'm sure I'd butcher Brecht in German... maybe not, though. Anybody else out there have a suggestion? Nikki, want to visit Germany and maybe direct a play? Anybody else want to join us? Apartments in Berlin are only 250€ ($325)