Monthly Archives: June 2014

So many almost sunrises in Budapest (so little sleep)

the hostel can entirely change ones perception of a city. Budapest and me were friends the moment i stepped into the art nouveau architecture train station and spotted the sun low in the sky and hazy through the thick glass.

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Also, i didn’t get lost on the way to the hostel! Fate, I’m telling you. I stayed at Madala hostel because the reviews were off the charts and they mentioned yoga in the description. Never managed to get myself to a park or anywhere for yoga in Budapest but the hostel had a zen room with a picture of the Dalai Lama decorating one of its walls. The atmosphere was the most chill and welcoming I’ve ever experienced- my favourite hostel employee took daily naps curled up like a cat on the couch below my loft bed. Of the two cats one deemed me a worthy bed on a single occasion. I will gladly except being drooled on and covered in fur any day.

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Throw in some other weirdos including a troop of finish guys and a rad Aussie and robin ends up going out more than once in a week. sleep suffered a lot though and ended up being replaced with chatter and guitar playing except on the first day when i struggled out of bed at 9:30 because i though a 10:30 walking tour was a good idea. I did get to see st Mathias church which was wicked.

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it was good except it meant i saw many things but ate zero things before a super traditional hungarian lunch of mushroom goulash, dumpling (things) and a very delectable fruit soup.

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Hungaian history is very interesting but man; it would sure suck to be Hungary. until 1989 the country has basically been passed from conquerer to conquerer. Hungarian wasn’t even the official language until the 19th century and it’s one of the strangest most difficult to learn because it has asian roots.

One thing Hungary seems to be very good at is uprisings. When st Gellert converted the king to christianity and the peasants didn’t approve they threw him off a hill in a barrel. full of spikes. now he’s a martyr and an impressive “waterfall” gushes from the places he was thrown from. (Somehow I didn’t take pictures but imagine a ten meter high moss covered rock with a pool at the bottom and if you look very closely there are seven drops of water trickling down from the moss.)

another thing hungary does well thanks to the ottoman influence is baths. I developed a great fondness for sitting in giant pools of warm water while in Iceland and quite enjoyed a chance to prune up again, this time in a bit more luxurious locations.

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no photos of the baths. I admired the swimsuited tourists dedicated enough to carry their cameras around the different pools and strike poses sitting on fountain edges but i was enjoying burning my nose and shoulders too much to be bothered. plus cameras in pools. creepy.
The last day we struggled up to the castle after the club closed to try and catch the sun rising. the bastard beat us up to the sky for a second time but a silent city sure does look extra beautiful.

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Stuff that happened in Krakow

Yes the vodka is cheap. I guess that’s the draw. Of course it helps if you like vodka for starters. Or parties. I like old buildings especially when they look like they’re falling apart. A place feels more real to me when i can see some dirt.

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I skipped the city tour by accident and went on the street art tour on purpose. there’s a lot of art here and I’m kind of sad my last day was too full of organizing ridiculous travel plans to see some of the studios.

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most are across the river and around the old jewish ghetto (not to be confused with the jewish quarter where tours go through including scene locations of schindlers list.)
So only outside art here. There is a very haunting Jewish memorial in the old ghetto square. At one time furniture was taken from the houses and it inspired one artist to create these rows of empty chairs

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Another installation I really liked was this one meant to criticize the advertisement of combining an auschwhitz tour with a tour to the famous salt mine in the afternoon.

20140623-145039-53439694.jpg the tunnel leads to the train that travels to both locations.
Still, the art and festival side of the city here is a bit confusing to me. it seems very out of place with the well, seemingly ordinary, low key poles that live here. Granted, if you’re working in a shop or something lean on the counter and look bored but riding the tram I don’t get how you can just sit there not reading a book or listening to music or something. maybe everyone just needs to keep focused on holding on for dear life as the tram sways like a dingy in a storm.

One thing Krakow has it a castle! (-collection of churches on a hill wrapped in a wall) and nuns walking about old town, eating ice cream in the mall and going about their business.

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I didn’t take pictures of the nuns. That would’ve weird. I’ve never seen sim any religious types around town though and that was also weird.

Something I did enjoy (like the only dinner food really) is a cheap dinner at a nice restaurant consisting of a fancy appetizer and perogies. Real perogies secret: butter plus more butter with onions.

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Some may be disappointed to know I skipped the worlds longest continuously running salt mine (since the 12th century) maybe a mistake but I can’t fathom what the tourist situation there is and the “health benifits” dont instil confidence in my perception of the presentation either.

So anyway,
And the depressing bit…

The only tour i signed up for was Aushwitz-Birkenau and although the museum had a coffee shop and gift shop at the front and groups of led tours were far too large, the guide i had led us through and explained everything really well. I refrained from pictures and i believe it would be better if it could somehow be suggested that the entire place were camera free. I understand people want to learn and remember but it puts a shield up between you and what you’re experiencing in the moment. Some rooms it was not allowed; the rooms where the stacks of cut hair, eyeglasses and piles of shoes were displayed were off limits for photography. But camaras were out as we also walked through rooms, cells and into the courtyard where many people were executed.
Altogther it was an almost surreal feeling walking past the empty buildings and I was very ready to leave after spending 45minutes at Birkenau.
in many of the rooms and places we went into there were flowers left on the glass cabinets. I’m thankful i had the chance to visit and be another tourist. There’s no right way to see Auschwitz but it’s an important place to help us all remember.

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Bones are solid building materials.

As a day trip from Prague I caught the metro then a bus way out of the city to the unesco heritage town of Kutna Hora. Really, just a place stuffed full of old buildings- all charging admission for your eyes to gaze upon their innards. Actually, it felt more like any small town. Just happened to be there longer. May have been better to take the day tour but just wasn’t feeling like coughing up the 30 whatever euros for the day.

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The giant round stone thing is an old fountain.
Lastly the major attraction: the bone church. After an attack on the church of of the monks “redecorated”. The bones serve as a reminder of our mortality- and the things creative ways monks pass the time. the chandelier is made using every bone in the body.

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The only thing I can say is “privo”

Prague and i did not get off to a good start. one of the talents ive dicovered i posses is being able to get lost under any circumstances.
I really believe im special in this outstanding show of ability. my proof: I asked directions on my way to the hostel-something i hate to do. I made sure i was on the right train, i got off at the appropriate stop, i asked a coiuple on the street which directions my map was telling me to go. I found the st the hostel was on. then circled it for 30 minutes. In the midst of a heat wave. I passed the same girl at least 3 times as she went about her day from bookshop to icecream. on the 4th circle of the square- having asked at the info center and being directed to a corner i’d passed already, she asked if i needed help. clearly. She set off and saw the sign for the hostel (that i must have passed 5 times). my adorable guitar crammed in its cloth grocery bag was what really saved me. because of my exasperating afternoon I made a friend in prague and we made plans to play music in the park the next day. it was swell

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the rest of my prague-ing was well..full of haphazard decisions. city tour-as always. short story: Prague is just full of beautiful buildings. a lot of people complain that its really touristy in the summer and thats true but having a street full of people doesnt get in your way of enjoying some art nouveau or baroque

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its hard to find a better reason to go into a church then the one on the tour: to see a dead theifs arm hanging from then ceiling. Don’t try to steal the golden necklace from the madonnas neck, she wont let go of your arm and then the priest will use it as a warning. kind of great. and it’s quite pleasing how it’s qiuetly displayed without any signs.

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the other church i set foot in was to see the stained glass by Mucha.

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It felt a little strange stepping into a a church as, by this time out small tour had descended into the realm of lewd jokes and…just yeah, a guy who has no problem shouting penis into a fellow tour group.
As for the “castle” it was a bit of an exaggeration. Louis the 4th makes a mean castle but it’s more of an endles expanse of buildings on top of a hill then the disney deal. but man, the view.

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one other adventure: the sad mis-adventure of the free drink bar crawl. it’s an east Europe thing (I think) turns out it killed off half of my next day. but the timing was somehow fateful: just as i’d recovered enough to wallk away from the malln (stolen iphone chords) and into the maniciple house (art nuevou) I ran into probably the sweetest lady in the world who gave me a free ticket to the classicle concert that started in 10 minutes.
Hard to regret spending th entire morning feeling like death when i got to end my evening in one of the most beautiful buildings in Prague

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A bunch of stuff about Berlin

So berlin… I can’t explain very well because I’m not sure how much I liked it.
I thought I would fall head over heels for berlin (or whatever the punk-alt way of saying that is); I didn’t.

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There are a lot of cool neighbourhoods: Kreuzberg, just a bit rough and really free also Mitte is I think my favourite place mostly because of the giant market in Maur park and the outdoor karaoke

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It was incredibly interesting seeing places where so much history took place. Really feeling how short the times been since the fall of the wall.

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On my sixth day in berlin I went into the topography of terror museum. Built on the grounds of the Gestapo headquarters it covers every aspect of nazi history including biographies of many people who were affected, either through family or personally with the introduction of forced sterilization. Eventually I got to the point of being so overloaded by these tragedies that I just couldn’t feel sad anymore.

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Walking through the maze of stones that form the Jewish memorial is like being in another world- until you come across the groups of high schoolers running about playing hide and seek.

One thing I got to thinking about after is how little the other minorities are talked about. There is a memorial to the sinti and Roma gypsies 2 minutes walk from the Jewish memorial, but it’s barely mentioned in tour books.

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The walking tour guide didn’t even touch on the gypsy ghettos or mention the memorial to gays and lesbians who suffered which is practically across the st. It just made me think how there are so many facets to every story and it’s difficult to focus on one without neglecting something that should also be important.

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Yet, My tour guide the first day told us: if we sat in the Jewish hoalocoust museum. And listened to the 2 minute biographies of every Jew that died it would take 7 years to hear them all.
Before being there I could only see numbers, now, I can see people, see faces but they seem even more distant. However much we learn about those that died it’s just not enough.


Picture stories: art in cologne

First city in Germany! Cologne is very cool. With A large student population the city has a very mellow vibe, some nice museums and some very cool art tucked away around corners and in driveways.

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20140603-184003-67203522.jpgthe dead rabbit is my new absolute favourite artist. ROA is all over the world (not Canada, yet though) and his art is in black and white and are representations of animals that are native to that area.
This next is a lot more whimsical. The French artist “invader” has taken on the challenge of posting space invader art in as many countries as possible. He has a website and, basically an empire, at this point.
I also went to some place called koblhalle which was an amazing artists collective. I talked to a few of the artists living there, people come from lots of places; England, Argentina and, you know, Germany. It was like walking through a living antique market full of the greatest finds.

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Oh yeah and they had chickens.


Picture stories: Rotterdam

Took the train to rotterdam for the day. Lots of fang buildings. You can tell its a busy place, the giant shopping streets were quite unavoidable.

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Cube houses!

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Bit-o-sweet street art and I caught the train back to Haarlem

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The giant gnome? It’s by some famous artist so… It’s art?