Monthly Archives: August 2014

First Swedish city and a Swedish holiday

I caught a train from Copenhagen to Malmö, I guess I stopped by just in time to join in a crayfish party.
I will never understand. Crayfish tablecloths, hats, streamers. Bowls full of crayfish; their little eyes staring at you as the carnage of the yearly festivity begins. I tried 3. It seems to be a very challenging meal to get at but I am always a fan of party hats.
I was too overwhelmed to take photos. (That’s a lie, I just don’t do the picture thing.)
I later learned if you aren’t old or in need of another excuse to get drunk crayfish parties are not that big a deal. Wait. That just sounds like every holiday.
Moving on.

Other things to do in Malmö are walking to the museum housed in an old fortress.

Walking through the Gardens I got to experience some typical Skane summer: rain. No wait, sun. No. Yes.
The best aspect of the gardens around the museum is the vegetable garden and coffee shop inside a greenhouse.
I had already found a fantastic roaster to supply my morning coffee so instead, after the the museum to escape the rain I opted for some cheesecake at a popular establishment in the old town square. Not the most Swedish place to be but wherever there is cheesecake to be eaten one is in a good place.





The Mother Fringe

Scotland has a very rebellious relationship with the season known as summer. They get along for a few weeks and then the trouble begins. Jackets are necessary, umbrellas will not save you.
I took advantage of the mostly blue skies on my first day-post rejuvenating nap to recover from my 7am arrival- and hiked to the top of Aurthers seat


So that’s both active activity and culture checked off. Time to dive into the Fringe. The main book is too heavy to carry around, listing shows taking place at more then 400 venues around the city.

Phil jupitus poetry show? For free? Yup. Followed by a magic show then a woman stand up comedian’s love of the London Underground and pornography.
If only every choice were so easy. There is much struggle, even working from the free fringe guide there are just too many things! And every walk down the royal mile means encountering the dreaded pleading dead eyes and charisma of people flyering.
With 3 times the normal population in the city centre it got to be feeling pretty crowded. In one instance I got of a bus 3 stops early to save time.
It was amazing. I’ll admit though, I missed the whacky family feel of the Vancouver fringe. Edinburgh is a machine and still manages to retain the crazy shows that to me make the fringe such an amazing festival. There was the classic what is this show and how did I get here moment 10 seconds after walking into “what the fuck is this?” Apparently a slide show and bullying audience members with that one sentence repeated for 50minutes. I ran. The other magical fringe moment “55minutes watching a young in a gorilla suit dressed as an old man”. Yup. Otherwise read as “an audience entertaining themselves and conforming to some sort of strange worship of an ape in a rocking chair”. Beauty.

IMG_1717.JPG what I missed was the smallness- the central gathering point that Vancouver has, the endless curtain speeches and random theme each year.

London beyond Covent Gardens

One of the coolest things about going to Edinburgh was being able to stop in London for a few days and see some family.
I arrived to a warm welcome and cup of earl grey. After I knocked on a strangers door since the cabby dropped me off 3 blocks away, that is.

My cousins were pretty busy working but we made plans for dinner at the local pub and I spent my first day hunting street art and prying my self away from vintage shops in Brick lane



There is definitely a cool vibe around the area.. Almost too cool. Everyone looks a bit like they belong in some kind of underground rock band. Or it might just be the London accent playing tricks on me.

Dinner at the local was the quintessential pub experience: young dad looking after 7 year old daughter and newborn son being passed around by the regulars- the older crowd content to joke around or stop by on their way home for a drink while the younger patrons set themselves up around a larger table more secluded.
And dinner, not quite the traditional pub fare- unless goat cheese soufflé is now the norm.

Day 2 was spent at Camden market. A definite hazard to my wallet I managed to avoid buying anything other than a wooden iPhone case (bet gained down to half price by my noncommittal hums and the stall owners eagerness to make a sale) and a small leather bound book made with recycled paper. Other hot market items of the hour: anything “tribal” wood earrings n’stuff, wood cell cases or sunglasses.. Or anything that looks old

After that there was enough time to meet up with my old work chum and catch the overnight coach to Edinburgh!


A trip to Geneva

An oddly perfect timed arrival in Lausanne meant the chance to see the fireworks in Geneva celebrating Switzerland’s national day. a week late. The fireworks display “Man and Time” didn’t commence until 10pm meaning there was time for my second favourite swiss thing-ferry boat rides


Cheesy plot line aside (For a millennia man has looked to the sun and stars, now with the invention of the watch we come closer to being the masters of our own time) the display was probably the best I’ve seen yet

My next few hours in Geneva were before catching a flight to London. The city is cute..clean. I didn’t get any strong impression while I was there. I chose to go to the Red Cross museum.
Pretty interesting.. Although I somehow felt there was something missing. Or like the whole display after the one room about its founding was a commercial for funding. Probably I am just desensitized after so much charity bombardment.
Spent my last Swiss francs on a bunch of chocolate and some cheese for the London family. Bye Geneva, see ya Switzerland


Lausanne land of hills

Lausanne, Geneva’s hip neighbour. A student city with a lot of hills. All the hills.

It’s also home to the Olympic headquarters (the things I learn..) and a really fancy Olympic museum. A lot of history spanning the Olympics and the effects on the nature of competition and culture. it was interesting to see the progression of the Torches and (mostly) really creepy mascots.


The person I was staying with knew about a movie playing outdoors. i went with him and his friend, both of them travelled in South America and speak spanish fluently (plus french and english) which made watching a Spanish movie a little easier in their case. luckily one of Switzerland’s national languages is german so I had a spanish/german lesson reading the subtitle’s and trying to follow the plot.

My art excursion for the city led me to mussee du brut. a gallery housing artwork by people living on the fringes of favourite thing was one mans life’s passion for drawing imaginary creatures


How to conquer your fear of heights (or develop one)

So I find myself in Lauterbrunnen: adventure hub of Switzerland favourite destination of Japanese tourists and base jumpers.
I don’t know how I got it in my head but from somewhere a voice saying “robin, you are a backpacker in this crazy place. It is your responsibility to engage in a daring, adrenalin fuelled activity”(my head voices are quite specific in their expectations). So, obviously BASE jumping. Har har. No. But rock climbing with the added benifits of steal rungs fit into the path sounds doable right?

All ready to go. There are 7 of us in the group plus our crazy French guide. A Dutch father and daughter, couple from the states (who were by far to relaxed through the whole climb) and a mom and daughter from japan. Guess how old the mom was? (The lovely lady standing next to me)
Starting the climb I’m super nervous and in entirely positive it’s all in my head, there are some big steps down and the trail is muddy in places but it’s not crazy difficult or demanding. Yeah, I got this, it would be nice if thecuple behind me were slightly (at all) worried but no.
45 minutes in I feel ok. This whole via feretta thing is pretty fun. So I keep telling myself. I’m enjoying trying to rearrange my nerves into agreeing with what my mind knows to be true.
Then we come up to The Silent Corner. Metal bars for hands and feet set into a sheer cliff face. Well, there are some beautiful views although it’s best to take only tiny peaks and focus instead on crossing the gap 3000 meters above the valley floor.
We all made it across successfully, the last half of the climb was more relaxing. Only the tightrope across a waterfall, suspension bridge, and zip line- so nice because you just get to sit there and look down as you slowly drift across thin air.
I don’t think I’ve ever been so released to come to the end of a hike. I know I can face some fears. I’m getting better at trusting myself to take on what scares me but after this experiment I can say I prefer adventures that are… Hmm less adventurous? Although, maybe I can work up to it. The cute Japanese lady didn’t let anything slow her down-she’s 69 years old and went first on the bridge across the waterfall


Fun few hours in Bern

Thanks to one run-away towel I found myself with a reason to make a detour. I arranged to meet Lea in Bern it being kind of in-between Luzern and Lauterbrunnen (a triangular middle)
Also, I spent the morning walking and wanted to save any strength left In my legs for via feretta the next day.

Best thing is waking up and looking out at beautiful mountains.
Second best: Waking up to a fresh croissant dropped off by my couch provider (full disclosure it was actually a bed in a spare room.) Baker’s rock.

I was only in Bern for a few hours but it seems pretty cool. The style of the city feels almost perisian.. Old town shopping is all the same trends but placed under grand arcades and stuffed underneath in the old cellars.

Randomly walking around old time meant I went past Einstines house because… Well it was in the way. For super sciencey me the most interesting thing I learned was that he loved playing the violin. Hmm knowledge.
Slightly more entertaining (in a very mean way) was staying to watch the astronomical clock. By this time I consider myself somewhat of a clock conisouer; every city has one (of course Prague’s is the best) hence I was not that surprised when after people gathered to watch the phenomenon saw a golden statue stutter his way to hitting a golden bell and. No, that’s pretty much it. The audience awkwardly waiting for more with expressions learned through many disappointing Christmases was worth more entertainment than the clock tower was ever capable of.

Then I went to visit The Bern bears. The bears are sort of mascots of Bern. They’ve got some nice digs except for the whole in a cage people staring at you thing.

The tourist office actually marked Bern’s alternative arts hub on my map. I was pretty surprised that the reitschule was so recognizable- isn’t counter-culture normally hidden(?). The graffiti covered station had a really cool vibe although it was pretty disappointing to be hit on a few feet out of the building, less than 20 meters away from a feminist rights space inside. Maybe the dude sensed my love of irony?

My most astonishing stumbled-upon event of the day was a music group- busking on the main st. Every time I see an amazing busking performance I think “there’s no way I will find anything better”. Then you walk up to 3 giant drums and bagpipe shredding. Never heard of bagpipe shredding? This guy may have invented it.