Friday, November 20, 2009

Thoughts From Berlin

You know, it strikes me as odd that I haven't really written for pleasure lately. It has mostly been just to get a blog up on time. And I don't mean up on time so that my throng of adoring fans can read it the very day it happens – I have no such thoughts of fame or fortune, though if such things were to fall at my feet, I would pick them up and love them unconditionally. Not like that Kate from John and Kate who keeps saying she hates that paparazzi despite the fact that she plays to them, needs them, and would be completely unknown without them.

No – were fame and fortune to come my way, I would throw myself to the fans, kiss babies, sign autographs, and sell locks of my ever receding hair to raise money for charity.

Hmm – that was a bit of a sidetrack. Much more focused than other times, but still a sidetrack nonetheless. No – what I mean by on time is that I normally try to write my blog day of, because if I fall a day behind, well then that could only mean doom and disaster. You've seen what happened when I feel behind in my city / country recap pieces. Why you haven't seen them lately? Exactly. Once missed, gone forever.

I keep feeling like I need to write write write, and though I start off writing with a great desire to spin a tale of interest and intrigue, I normally get worn out by the middle and just force myself to the end with paragraph after paragraph of, “and then, and then.” It has only become worse since I've started travelling with friends.

I normally fill my downtime void with writing – but now I have little downtime, because I'm just hanging out with my buddies. And while that is incredibly fantastic, it does nothing good for these posts. Or for my writing.

And let me tell you, it's my writing that keeps me sane, and calm, and at peace with the world. It's probably doing the exact opposite for the two girls in this room right now who are trying to sleep – but that's there issue. Who sleeps at - - - ohh, it's midnight thirty. Well, I guess that is a reasonable time to expect sleep free from the void of computer keys clacking, clacking extra hard due to the force which needs to be exerted to make some of these keys register. But still – seven people in this room are still at the bar. If these girls have any hope for a peaceful slumber they are either deep sleepers, in which case my typing will bother them not, or in for a rude awakening – in which case my key pressing is hardly an issue. Or so I tell myself to make myself feel better.

But now, right at this moment, I am at peace. Simply writing, and able to stream from my conciousness.

Berlin gave me the tickley feelings that only big cities can make me feel. I feel it as soon as I enter them. Something welcoming, foreboding, and comforting while causing unrest. Tickley. I haven't felt this way since Madrid. Italy was all small, quaint, lovely old towns – except for Rome which was large, but – again – more a museum than a city. And Milan? Well, the less said the better.

Then there was Switzerland in which it was my desire to avoid all things urban. Poland was a delightful medieval town, as were Prague and Nuremberg.

But Berlin? In Berlin I feel like I'll be back in my element.

It's also worth noting that I decided not to wait until morning to book a few more nights here. I have two extras now in my name, so when my buddies leave on the 20th, I'll still have that night here, and the next day with which to check out train tickets to Dresden, and the next night – after which I will, in theory, take off to the next city for a few nights – before ending up right back in Berlin again. I've thought about Leipzig, but I've started to get lazy in my nearly completed European leg. A few days of comfort, and stability might not be so bad.

Also – there are a lot of NewEurope tours I want to take in Berlin.

I must say, travelling with friends? It's a great thing. But I completely understand how it ends friendships and causes people to spill blood, making civil hands unclean. Every moment is spent with the people. Well almost every. As I said, I now have a moments peace, as the other two were last seen chatting up a drunk lady. I gather it was more them waiting for her friend to come back to take care of her – but I've dealt with enough twenty year old drunk girls this trip, and I have no more desire to stand around and listen to another try to be cute and flirty, constantly pressing their hands against peoples chests as they talk in that way that only drunk girls do, possibly in a failed attempt to make themselves appear more focused, and thus less wasted.

Honestly, if I had to rate the groups of people I hate the most from around the world, it would be as follows:

1. Canadian girls, age 20 – 23. Odds are if they're travelling, they're doing it on daddy's dime, and want to pretend that they know everything. They also sing terrible pop songs, or play them on looping repeat. And they think they know everything about Canada, despite the fact that they have not left their home province. No sweetheart, Toronto isn't on the East Coast, and no – Ottawa is not the coolest city around. At least the American girls who fit this bill have the decency to admit to their ignorance. They just embrace their ridiculosity, but the Canadian girls try to prove that they know more than they do, and that's never a good thing.

2. Australian girls age 18 – 23. They travel earlier. And they travel louder. But they rank second, not first, because you know what to expect going into it. You know they're out to party, drink, and do all sorts of illicit things around the world before going back to their hometown, and never leaving again for the rest of their lives. There's also a factor of pity that allows them to fall in this place. Also, when they potentially exaggerate, I don't know any better, so I can't tell if they're talking out of their you know whats or not. Australians may feel free to reverse the ordering of number one and number two for that reason. Also – I'm starting to pick up on the different Australian accents, and the OMG! Valley girl equivalent (sounding nothing like the American valley girl voice, mind you) is by far my most hated accent. And while a number of people can't pick up on it, it seems to be all I hear at times.

3. American girls. There's no age limit here. Oh yes, there are forty year old women who travel as if they're kids. Why I've heard tale of a thirty five year old who just became a mother, who left her kid with Grandma so she could travel the world, “when else would I do it?” Oh I don't know, maybe two years ago before you had your kid? American girls rate third because all in all they're not that bad. American travellers aren't really that bad. Especially the guys. But sometimes you just hear that high pitched nasally voice, “Where you fram? I'm fram A-miiiiiiiir-ik-ah!” and you just want to hit the ground running. But you can't. And so you stand with a dead smile on your face, like a German girl selling pretzels to tourists in beer halls full of lecherous old men.

Now this is by no means saying that I hate all people in these categories. I've met some lovely Canadian girls while travelling, and the Aussies are the tops more often than not, and like I said – Americans? On the whole – not the terrible beasts you're told they are. Mind you, I'm dealing with off season backpackers, not the summer touring, Hawaiian shirt wearing, camera neck hanging variety. So who can say to that end?

But, man, when you get a bad pick from one of those three groups? Good luck. You'll need it. And if any of them are drunk? Well consider that a INT – 7 DEX -2 CHR +2 or -4 (dependent on initial value) modifier, and hope for the best. Natural twenties work every time.

It's about one now, and I've no real idea where the other people are, and like I said, I'm glad for that. A bit of time to chill out on your own is perfect for everyone. I just hope they understand when I wake them up in five and a half hours, like we agreed upon so as the rental care can get back. Oh I'm sure they will. And if not? Well I've been working on my elbow drop. Randy Savage would be proud.

I have more I want to write, but there's no rush. And as I said, I have to wake up in just a few. So I'll pause here, and perhaps, if time permits, pick up again later. But tomorrow? It's going to be a big day.

[authors note: I should have known I'd not continue. But thoughts work different at night, don't they?]


  1. What about Scandinavian male travellers? Ugh, they're never friendly but that could just be their cold, Nordic nature. Yes, I'm racist... as Tsang will gladly confirm!

    Oh, gotta love how Canadian girls 18-19 are alright, but the Australian ones at that age aren't! And really, Asian tourists don't get your goat?

  2. i've never run into any teenaged canadian travelles - they're too busy in school. we need to start working on pressing our youth to travel pre-uni like they do in oz, but we don't. can't hate what doesn't exist.

    Asian tourists are mostly alright. They're annoying when they block my shot - but they don't fill me with rages. For what it's worth though a great number of the canadian girls were asian?

    I don't mind people throwing up the peace sign in 96 different photos. it's their album. Maybe they think our standing smiling in photos is stupid too.


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