cerebral museum

German Road Trip, or I Can’t Believe They Gave Us a Mercedes

Posted in Uncategorized by Cassandra on December 20, 2009

About two months ago, Lisa called me and popped my eardrum. “GERMANY…RYANAIR…ZERO EURO FLIGHT…GOGOL BORDELLO!!?!!”

That translated into a trip to Germany with a somehow free flight (way to go ryanair!?!!) with a goal of seeing Gogol Bordello play in Dresden on the 12th.

German Trajectory

We flew into Hahn, which is about an hour outside of Frankfurt. By chance, I was chatting with my friend Armin, whom I met in Yosemite last year and ended up scaling some rocks with (in SF of all places… Dave knew where they were) when he came to stay one night before a flight back to Germany. It turned out he lives in St Johann, which is only 40 minutes from Hahn. Armin is one of the most gracious people I know.. full of class and just a pleasure to be around. He very nicely offered to pick me and Lis up from the airport when we arrived, and showed us a perfect time in Hahn and a few surrounding villages. He’s a rock climber and got us really stoked on starting out… we talked about a trip in Andalucia in the spring. His house is really comfortable and amazing… climbing walls installed all over and a sauna in the back yard. Going between the sauna and the snow outside was an oddly pleasant shock to my system.

we were so hungry and the breakfast Armin made us couldn't have been more perfect

Lisa and I couldn't resist trying it out... we both failed but made up for it with a yoga ball fight.

Example A of why we couldn't stop laughing the entire time. German is just silly english.

Did you know in german, glove is ‘handshoe’ and nipple is ‘brustwartze?’ (as in, literally, ‘breast wart’… although I hear it’s not really used.. unfortunate!) Tell me you didn’t just chuckle. My cheeks and stomach muscles are still sore from how much we laughed.

The next day Armin took us around to some castles and into a small medieval village near his. We hiked to the top of a small mountain in the rain and climbed to the top of a castle built in 1292. It was so peaceful and beautiful outside, the hike was perfect and put me in such a good state of being.. felt full of good energy. For some reason I didn’t realize Germany would be so green.

view of second castle... story goes they were built by two brothers who eventually killed one another.

the little village below

Armin's ride

the gorge we would have climbed had it not been wet

near Kobelnz, on our way to the train station

After spending a positively wonderful, relaxing, all-around fantastic day with Armin, we said goodbye with a cup of glüwein and caught a somewhat expensive (but worth it) train to Hamburg, where we met up with Lisa’s cousin Jennifer and her German husband Hubi.

They took us to dinner at a semi-cheesy bavarian place and I drank my first-time-in-one-sitting liter glass of beer. Hubi thought it was funny that Lis and I had to hold the monstrous glasses with two hands. Dinner was great and Hamburg was freezing, so we headed back to their apartment in the city and did a number on some JW Blue Label they had left over from their wedding. Such a good time. Next day Jen gave Lis and I a tour of downtown and let us loose. Germans do Christmas better than any place I’ve ever been. Every tree is covered in lights. The ‘Weinachtsmarkts’ are the christmas markets, constructed in every plaza and wide enough sidewalk space in every German city we visited. So awesome. They have huge outdoor fireplaces and sell roasted nuts, the BEST sausages of my life, and Glüwein, a mulled wine served piping hot and usually with a shot of liquor in it.

this baby deserves a close up

my kind of merry go round (took this one for pattie)

We watched a fire thrower for a good long while. It was ridiculously impressive, especially 4 cups of glüwein in.

THIS was really rad. It’s a special type of mulled wine they make kind of like a traditional absinthe pour, with a huge cone of sugar (see full ones top left) that melts as rum is poured over it, followed by being lit on fire. This stand was the most packed by far. It was the best that we tried.. the perfect thing to be drinking in 30 degree weather.

a german hitchiker we picked up, wearing a traditional carpenter's outfit from his region.

In Hamburg, we picked up the rental car we reserved online. Trains in Germany are generally outrageously expensive, so this actually worked out being cheaper. For some reason they offered us a free upgrade to a Mercedes, so we rode in style through Berlin and on down to Dresden. The car was a stick so I drove the entire way. Definitely adventurous driving.. on most of the autobahn there are no speed limits. Though the fact that it’s completely illegal to pass on the right (and people actually follow the rule) makes it much less stressful actually, and a lot more straightforward. I really enjoyed it.

(going to finish this post later on.. I have some pictures of Dresden, Lisa on a unicycle in front of Armin’s beautiful home and some of the snow (!) in Madrid on our way back… am sitting in my Riad in Marrakech right now and there is a mint tea outside calling my name) ciao!

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Posted in Uncategorized by Cassandra on December 18, 2009

Side note: I learned how to make Paella last week from Guillermo. It’s probably the bitchin’est thing I’ve ever cooked and I took some pictures.

Consider this a preview of what I’m cooking all of you when I get back.

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Posted in Uncategorized by Cassandra on December 18, 2009

A few weeks back (on the 26th of November to be precise) it was Danielle Molly’s birthday. She decided to spend it in Amsterdam. I jumped on the opportunity (though the ticket was the most expensive I’ve bought in Europe so far) and joined her, along with friends of ours living in France, Sevilla, and Liverpool.

Amsterdam, The Netherlands

It poured nearly the entire weekend, but that was the last thing on our minds. Spent four days in the city, which is super compact, so we walked everywhere. It was very wet, but absolutely beautiful. So much fun.

We spent most of our time getting into trouble. The reunion was a complete success.

in the Red Light

Photographically, the weather was perfect… though it froze these little California girls real quick. Kept our booze jackets on pretty tightly… Amsterdamers love their Jäger. Safe to say Danielle had an awesome birthday.

Everybody in Amsterdam rides a bike. I walked past the world’s largest bike garage… it’s multi-storied and very impressive. Saw everything from women in full length dresses and heels to fathers with a baby in the front basket and another seated behind him, holding an umbrella. Nobody wears helmets, and most of the bikes are cruiser/dutch style. On the third day, I took off on my own for a while and found the modern art museum in the south part of the city. Later on ate a mind-blowingly awesome waffle and bought some art that I’m really excited about from a Canadian ex-pat. Decided I could definitely live in this city for a while if I had the opportunity.

the birthday girl and I

Finally getting caught up on post processing… Germany’s next!

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