Thursday, July 10, 2003

in berlin now, waiting for a train to prague. we were supposed to catch one hours ago, but we stupidly went to the wrong train station and then wondered why we couldn't find the train anywhere on the board. when we realized our mistake and began making our way to the right station across town, we arrived to the platform just as our train was pulling away. so now there are four hours to kill until the next train to prague. fucking brilliant.

anyhow, this will give me time for some much-needed updating. let me finish with day 2 in amsterdam. what the hell happened there? oh yeah, we hit up the van gogh museum, which is really worthwhile. the space is well organized, creating a kind of timeline of van gogh's work so you can see how his style changed and matured through the years. they also have some of his final paintings that he made shortly before his suicide in 1890. those were all full of bright orange hayfields and ominous dark clouds.

the last night in amsterdam was spent in some coffeeshop in the red light district, where we befriended the nice kiwi bartender and some danish meatheads who were very amusing. we took some herbal e (turned out to be bunk) and smoked happy hash while watching the girls across the way shake their moneymakers. the bartender said that a 50 euro flat fee gets the guys whatever they want. i guess that's a good deal. i think there should be a gay red light district. that would be interesting. i saw some thai trannies in the windows who were getting plenty of attention from drunk guys who didn't know better (or maybe they did).

the next morning we arrived in cologne and saw the amazing cathedral. that was an incredible sight. the thing is HUGE and so old.

i think they began building it in the 13th century, so it's quite weathered, stained almost black from time. i remember the first time i saw a picture of that thing was during an art history class in college. just from that photo, i promised myself i would see the thing in person one day and i'm glad i made time during this trip. most definitely worth the journey. pablo again convinced me to climb the stairs leading up to the tower. i felt like a pro at first, having conquered the eiffel tower stairs a few days earlier, but this was a different animal. the whole climb of 509 stairs was through a spiral staircase with narrow steps that required walking on tip-toes. i reached the top feeling dizzy, almost sick. then came a major case of vertigo. i had to sit down and recover for a bit, and i felt off-kilter the rest of the day. my calves are still sore.

then came berlin, where i sit now still waiting for that train to prague. berlin is really big, probably as big as paris. with just one day in town, we barely saw a thing: did plenty of walking through the major hotspots, went to one museum, hit up the big TV tower for a good view of the city and went to the very cheesy "checkpoint charlie." that's where the berlin wall opened to let folks pass through. there's nothing of the wall left, just some blocks that have been re-erected for the tourists. it very much seems that the city wants to forget its communist past. there's plenty of rebuilding and development going on, so it's hard to get a feel for the place with all the cranes and scaffolding obstructing the view. truthfully, i haven't been all that impressed, but i think with some more time and a local guide, it might change my view of berlin. but i'm not really a fan of the germans either. there's a hardness to their faces, which makes everyone look older than they are. no one here smiles much; we've encountered plenty of rude people. and everyone here has blue eyes, which makes it a little too twilight zone for me. i'm glad to be going on to prague. i've been looking forward to that city, if only for the fact that things there are rumored to be much cheaper than in the rest of europe. i hope so, because the funds are diminishing faster than i had planned.

otherwise, we've been trying to sample the local beers. it seems like each city produces its own. a few days ago in cologne (k?ln) we were drinking k?lsch. and now in berlin we've been drinking berliner. they were both too bitter for my taste. i still like my smooth and creamy caffreys best.

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