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Thursday, February 10, 2011

DEEP INTO THE HEART OF CHARLEY

Col. Kurtz: "I watched a snail crawl along the edge of a straight razor. That's my dream; that's my nightmare. Crawling, slithering, along the edge of a straight razor... and surviving."

That's been going through my mind, as of late.



GERMAN STAMMTISCH

In Germany, the 'stammtisch' is 'the usual table for the regulars'. Well, it actually has a lot more connotations with it than just that. Sometimes, it is on a special day for special reasons - like the 'philosophy stammtisch'. Other times, the locals eat there (as a group) so much that they put up a brass plaque that can not only denote the table as a 'stammtisch' but might even include the names of the regulars who eat/drink/hang out there. Another definition might be the 'high table'. If you are in a German speaking country and get invited to a 'stammtisch', this is seen as an honor. If you try to sit at a stammtisch - even if the rest of the place is packed and that table is the only empty one, look forward to being relocated.

Anyway, at one of the local eateries they have a German stammtisch (and apparently a French one as well) from 6 PM till whenever - usually 7 PM when a not very good musician takes the stage and attempts to drive off the customers. It worked on me.

Anyway, from talking to the various German speakers (all of whom spoke much better German than I did - sigh) I discovered that if they spoke simply I was able to follow about 40-50% of what they were saying. Not bad. If my other language skills (Arabic, Chinese, French, Spanish) were up to that level, I'd be pretty happy indeed about it. I've got some podcasts of those languages (well, not Chinese - I'm not that frigging slick) on my player ready to go. So, later I'll work on them. Probably after I get out of Germany.

They don't make any Czech podcasts (does nobody care?) so I'll work on picking up a few phrases when I'm there.

Studying a language when you're surrounded by people who speak it - and no English - is much easier. Any language.



THOUGHTS AFTER THE TOUR TRIP

I'm starting to think I should consider working my way down to Turkey after we get done with Prague and such. I was looking at the other countries and it seems that some are part of the dreaded 'Schengen Agreement' (which spells good things for most casual travelers and doom to a loafer like me) and others look like they're a huge pain in the ass. [In case you have missed previous mad rantings I've done about the 'Schengen Agreement', it allows you to go visa free into any of the countries that are in it. Most of Europe - for all intensive purposes - is one big country for this. After 3 months in this new, giant country it's 'get the fuck out of our big giant country' time and you've got to get out. That's where Turkey comes in. It (fortunately) is not in the 'Schengen Agreement' and doesn't seem to be too difficult to enter. Might be a little light bribery required, not sure.

Keep in mind, these are just speculative thoughts. One thing I'm going to be doing is talking to a lot of other travelers, police, embassies, whatever and finding out more information when I get my feet on the ground in these other countries. I just wanted to come up with a rough outline of 'what should I do'.

Hell, I might find the Czech Republic so inviting (and hopefully, cheap) that I stay there (and bug Jana - poor Jana) for awhile. I might be phoning her up from small outlying towns and saying "How do I say 'extra food for the fat man please'?" And other useful phrases. Who knows. Might end up having to make a last minute dash for Turkey and hope I don't get turned away from the border. That would be a bummer. But we'll see. It should be a fuck of a lot more interesting than sitting around my dust filled cold apartment bored out of my mind writing a blog.



INDIA

I was reading up on India and it looks as though they're offering an interesting deal. You can get a 10 year visa. Yes, TEN years. Apparently, you can go in - stay for 3 months, be out for two months and then go back in. On the same ten year visa. It's $150 but it might be worth it to kick around there for awhile to save a little bit of money up when I start working the Asia side. We'll have to see.



TWO NOTES ON THE BLOG

First, if I have anything negative to say about the country - and I'm in one of 'those' countries - you know what I mean - then I might have to wait until I leave it before giving it a negative review. Don't know. I'd hate to blog and then find out that their 'president elect for life and death to anyone who doesn't like it' is a fan and reads the blog. That would be socially awkward. As would the firing squad.

Second, if nobody hears from me for a couple months, it means I'm dead. And you know what that means - "AVENGE MY DEATH".



RE-WATCHING TOTAL RECALL

Fun movie with some good Schwarzenegger action. Happy times. Blocky cars, really big tracker units - very 1980's in feel but very nice with the special effects.



VALENTINE'S DAY

Well, for those who thought it was just a 'Hallmark Holiday', apparently this is not the case. It's been around for a long time. Apparently, it use to be a fertility festival. Go figure. I'm betting plenty of couples are practicing it on that day without even realizing it.

What a lot of people may not realize is that FEB 15th is just as big of holiday. I call it 'cheap candy they couldn't push the previous day on people who were too stupid to buy it before Valentines day'. So, get ready to go shopping on the 15th.

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PICTURES

{{2011}} London, GB | Rail N Sail | Amsterdam, Netherlands | Prague, Czech Republic | Budapest, Hungary | Sarajevo, Bosnia | Romania | Chisinau, Moldova | Ukraine: Odessa - Sevastopol | Crossed Black Sea by ship | Georgia: Batumi - Tbilisi - Telavi - Sighnaghi - Chabukiani | Turkey: Kars - Lost City of Ani - Goreme - Istanbul | Jordan: Amman - Wadi Rum | Israel | Egypt: Neweiba - Luxor - Karnak - Cairo | Thailand: Bangkok - Pattaya - Chaing Mai - Chaing Rei | Laos: Luang Prabang - Pakse | Cambodia: Phnom Penh | Vietnam: Vung Tau - Saigon aka Ho Chi Minh City

{{2012}} Cambodia: Kampot - Sihanoukville - Siem Reap - Angkor Wat | Thailand: Bangkok | India: Rishikesh - Ajmer - Pushkar - Bundi - Udaipur - Jodhpur - Jasalmer - Bikaner - Jaipur - Agra - Varanasi | Nepal: Kathmandu - Chitwan - Pokhara - Bhaktapur - (Rafting) - Dharan | India: Darjeeling - Calcutta Panaji | Thailand: Bangkok - again - Krabi Town | Malaysia, Malaka | Indonesia: Dumas - Bukittinggi - Kuta - Ubud - 'Full Throttle' - Gili Islands - Senggigi | Cambodia: Siem Reap | Thailand: Trat | Turkey: Istanbul | Georgia: Tbilisi

{{2013}} Latvia: Riga | Germany: Berlin | Spain: Malaga - Grenada | Morocco: Marrakech - Essauira - Casablanca - Chefchawen - Fes | Germany: Frankfurt | Logan's Home Invasion USA: Virginia - Michigan - Indiana - Illinois - Illinois - Colorado | Guatemala: Antigua - San Pedro | Honduras: Copan Ruinas - Utila | Nicaragua: Granada | Colombia: Cartagena | Ecuador: Otavalo - Quito - Banos - Samari (a spa outside of Banos) - Puyo - Mera

{{2014}} Peru: Lima - Nasca - Cusco | Dominican Republic | Ukraine: Odessa | Bulgaria: Varna - Plovdiv | Macedonia: Skopje - Bitola - Ohrid - Struga | Albania: Berat - Sarande | Greece: Athens | Italy: Naples - Pompeii - Salerno | Tunisia: Hammamet 1

{{2015}} Hammamet 2 | South Africa: Johnnesburg | Thailand: Hua Hin - Hat Yai | Malaysia: Georgetown | Thailand: Krabi Town | Indonesia:
Sabang Island | Bulgaria: Plovdiv | Romania: Ploiesti - Targu Mures | Poland: Warsaw | Czech Republic: Prague | Germany: Munich | Netherlands: Groningen | England: Slough | Thailand: Ayutthaya - Khon Kaen - Vang Vieng | Cambodia: Siem Reap

{{2016}} Thailand: Kanchanaburi - Chumphon | Malaysia: Ipoh - Kuala Lumpur - Kuching - Miri | Ukraine: Kiev | Romania: Targu Mures - Barsov | Morocco: Tetouan

{{2017}} Portugal: Faro | USA: Virginia - Michigan - Illinois - Colorado | England: Slough - Lancaster | Thailand: Bangkok | Cambodia: Siem Reap |

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