Thursday, August 25, 2011

It's good to stick with what you know.....sometimes

Day 58 - Thursday August 25th

*this is not actually the dog in the story, I got this off the Internet. But it kind of looked like this.

So we haven't really explained in detail all the problems we were having with our apartment. For those of you that know me, you know I am cursed when it comes to apartments. Besides smelling like a dirty hippie smoked 10 packs of cigarettes a day in here, there were issues with the neighborhood. The drug dealers in gorlitzer park, the "alternative" looking people hanging out all day on the street, and the whole no street lamp thing here puzzled me quite a bit. But there were other things inside the apartment that were a mess. The bathroom ceiling had a huge leak, our hot water went out for 2 days, our Internet went out for an entire week, and our neighbor who thinks he's an amazing Dj blasting music in the middle of the night. It was a hassle to get things fixed and when we requested a new apt the answer came back that they could move us but it would be 200€ extra. So when I was flipping out about the water bill said to me "what are you going to do in India?" and that was the crux of my frustration. Last time I checked, Germany wasn't a third world country. I expect these things to happen when we get to India, not when I'm paying for an apartment in Berlin IN EUROS. The weather also turned shitty again so that one glorious stretch of 10 days where we both were happy with Berlin was over.

The final straw was the other day, Tuesday to be specific, and we had just returned to our place from taco Tuesday at Santa Maria's. Soooo delicious I recommend it if your looking for Mexican in Berlin. 1€ tequila shots! 1€ tacos! Anyways, we were in the mood to go out and decided it would be best to get some beer at the store to pre game a little before hitting the club. I was skipping happily down the stairs when I come face to face with a growling dog in front of me. I kept going down the stairs slowly because I figured he would leave. But he didn't, he actually lunged at me and bared his teeth barking like a maniac. I ran up the steps screaming my head off. This was repeated twice and bill went back into the apartment and grabbed a broom, saying that in these situations you must "establish dominance" over the dog. I really didn't think this was the time to get into training techniques for wild animals but whatever. Bill descended the stairwell pointing the broom at the dog yelling at it to get back. The dog went out into the courtyard and stood by the far door leading into another building. So this wasn't a stray dog, this was someone's pet. then the windows open in apartments above us and people want to know what we are screaming about. Mr. Dj actually had the balls to complain that we were making noise. Whatthefuck?! As he's saying this the dog totally flips out again and is barking and growling. We finally get across the courtyard and out to the store. When we come back, a guy comes out of his apartment and sees bill with the broom and flips out that we were attacking his dog. So of course bill and him get in this huge screaming argument about how the dog tried to attack me and the guy actually says, "well he didn't bite her so what's the problem". If I had to sum up Berlin in one story this would be it: Somehow, it's not your mangey vicious dog that's the problem, I'm creating a problem by yelling because I wasn't bit. Yeah.

My parents both have a pit bull, ones a male and ones a female. they would never have behaved like that if they got out of the house. Actually, I've never seen a dog behave like that, ever, even stray dogs. It was kinda sad, obviously because there is some sort of mistreatment going on for a dog to be that vicious and mean when unprovoked. That's like a whole other thing though that I'm not even going to get into.

So I start writing an email to the landlord cursing him out, telling him he's running a circus slum, that he's a piece of shit, etc etc etc and bill edits it to be much more business worded. The next day the building manager calls to tell us we can break the lease. At the end of the day we are going to loose around 100€ but sometimes you just have to take what money you can get and run with it. Ive never been so happy to leave a place in my life. It's a shame because we had so many high hopes for our time in Berlin but I think our biggest mistake was coming to a place with too many expectations, that's definitely something I am going to keep in mind for the future.

We immediately booked flights, a hotel and a car in Ibiza. Sometimes you have to go with what you know. Bill and i know that island like the back of our hands and last night all I could dream about was lounging on a remote beach with a pitcher of banana sangria and a plate seafood paella, sun shining on my newly revitalized tan, a slight breeze off the blue Mediterranean sea blowing across my face. When what you know is heaven, why go anywhere else?


Monday, August 22, 2011

More video from Zadar

We're expecting a call from travel channel any day now...

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Day 52- turning things around

Art in the Levis print workshop

Bill playing a set in Hasenheide park

So we are exactly 1 month into our stay in Berlin, halfway to the finish line! Admittedly, we had a rough time the first 3 weeks. It all came to a head when we were sitting outside the Reichstag waiting for our appointment for the dome and we decided that we had made a huge, unforeseeable mistake in coming to Berlin at all. I think it's ok to admit that you don't love a place. I don't believe people when they say they loved every single place they visited on their travels, it's unrealistic. We just weren't meshing with Berlin. There was so much buzz in new york about how Berlin was THE place to be at the moment, it was the Brooklyn of Europe. I was just not feeling it. At all. We decided we would leave, go somewhere beachy and warm and away from all these goddamn hippies. So we started to search around that night and sent emails and resolved that "operation ditch Berlin" was a top priority.

But the next day something strange happened. We had a pretty busy day that started at the Levis screen print workshop and ended with us stumbling out of club weekend at 6am. In-between we got lost trying to find a couch surfers meet up, found it too late but stayed for drinks anyway, decided on a whim to go see loco dice and met some nice new friends for the night. It's starting to become a pattern that our wildest nights involve British people. We struck up a conversation with 2 British guys and within 5 minutes they had gone off and come back with beers for our wait. Weekend is def a club for young people. It reminded me of going to filter 14 in NYC when I was 19. It was packed, hot, smokey and people moved with more fervor than I've seen in a long time. That could be because they are all probably 19 and have much more stamina and energy than I have at the ripe old age of 28.

So we left around 6 and I felt wonderful, excited almost. It was like all we needed was one really good night to kick us in the ass and make us start having fun. The next day after we woke up in the afternoon I pulled up my calendar and we filled in every single day for the rest of the month with stuff to do. Bill dj'd a party in the park, we did the museum pass, we went to another couch surfer meet up, celebrated miriams birthday over sushi and a great hidden jazz club. we even GASP went to a beach! There was one hot sunny day and we took the train outside the city to Wannsee which is a lake that had a beach. Being sunburnt never felt so good. I didn't even care, I was so happy to turn my face towards the sun and soak it all up. Today's agenda is a free picnic in a park in Wedding and tomorrow is an open air techno party.

Here's some tips from our awesome week:
Go to the Reichstag building. It's free but you have to make an appointment online and go through a ton of security. The dome is pretty cool, you get a panoramic view of the city and they give you a free audio guide. Actually, all the museums here give you free audio guides which is nice because I'm tired of making things up about the stuff I'm looking at.

View in the dome looking down into the congressional chamber

the museum pass- it's 19€ and gets you into 55 museums in Berlin but you have to use it 3 consecutive days in a row. We did the Neue Museum and saw the bust of Nefertiti, the Pergamum museum which is stunning and the Tecnic museum. The last was my favorite, it's a museum dedicated to technology over the years. Everything from suitcase making to a full train yard with trains from the last century to the present. They have an entire wing dedicated to airplanes, another to ships. It's amazing, takes hours to see it all and I definitely recommend it.

A plane in the Technic Museum

Couch surfers has proved to be an invaluable resource. Whenever we go to a meet up I get a little apprehensive. It's just weird to me to walk up to a bunch of people and say Hi! But as soon as we get there I'm reminded that every single person there is in the same boat we are and we all want to meet each other and hear everyone's stories. And there are stories! I feel like bill and I have the most boring one actually. We met an Indian girl who grew up in south Africa who was a lawyer and quit her career to come volunteer for an NGO here in Berlin. We met a guy from Boston who has traveled pretty much everywhere on this earth by himself and just settled down to intern in Berlin. We met a Brazilian girl who grew up in charleston and decided she was going to move to Paris, hated it, booked a ticket to NYC, cancelled at the last second and is here in Berlin trying to figure out what she wants to do next. A canadian guy who lives in Paris but was on vaca in Berlin for a week before moving to California to start a new job. A Spanish guy who lived in London for 10 years before picking up and moving to Berlin to be a tour guide. and people ask us what we are doing and the answer is "um, we're just hanging out right now" and I think that's totally ok too. I like hearing everyone else's story and the best part about going to a meet up is you may see the same people but most likely it will be all new people every time. New faces, new stories, new inspirations.
The next day it hits 80 and it's sunny we are going back to the beach. It is a lifesaver. And there are ducks on the beach!
We found the best sushi in Berlin. I'm pretty sure the place is just called "Thai cuisine" on Oranienburger strasse. Usually a place that mixes Thai and Japanese together isn't a very good place at all but this was VERY good and really cheap actually, even with the exchange rate.

Sushi with Dave and Miriam

So we are turning things around. I wouldn't go as far to say that Berlin is my favorite place on earth, but its looking better than it has so far. Also, now that our departure date is drawing nearer we have a lot of planning to do for the rest of the trip. Mainly, we need to find a doctor so we can get malaria medicine for India. That will be a whole separate post on the glorious wonders of universal healthcare. I have already experienced this great phenomenon many times from having the party plague in Europe on different occasions and have walked into pharmacies and bought antibiotics over the counter for a fraction of the price I would have paid in the US, but like I said, that's a different post all together......


Friday, August 19, 2011

The "Get Back List"

When we were setting up our TripIt account, it asked us what our destination was. "around the world" wasn't considered an actual destination their system could process, so we put "Brooklyn".

We didn't think much of it at the time, but it has taken on more significance to us since then. When we left, we knew that in six months, we'd be returning home. There's no other place we'd rather live. We'll always have a deep desire to travel, and may even take another extended trip some day, but Brooklyn will always be our destination... we are just getting there via the rest of the world.

This mentality has given us something to look forward to at the end of our trip. There is plenty to look forward to in the here and now, but having an attainable horizon can be deeply rewarding. From time to time we talk about the things we are excited to do when we get back and came up with the idea of our "Get Back List". Recording them to our blog just seemed easir than lugging scribbled bits of paper all over the world...

The first couple are obvious: see friends and family! And get awesome jobs!

Eat at Fornino.

Eat real pizza, bagels and sushi.

Cable television so we can watch real housewives, jersey shore, Anthony Bourdain, it's always sunny in Philadelphia, happy endings, and modern family!

Sleep in our own bed.

10 cent wings at croxleys!

Finally get a dog! To be specific- a black French bulldog and name him Brucewayne.

Finding the apartment of our dreams (1.5 bathroom and a deck, if you know of one, let us know!)

Wearing the rest of our clothes and not just the same 5 shirts we packed for this trip.

For Claire- wearing her engagement ring.

MDW 2012 - It's like a pilgrimage for our people.

Marching in the Mermaid Parade.

Getting a Zakk sized couch for our new apartment.

Joining a gym and getting some exercise. All the sausage and beer is taking it's toll.

Taking smaller, all inclusive vacations to the Caribbean. Seriously, they're only like $600, WTF were we thinking with this trip?

Cooking with Dave Stephens

Not as funny as My Drunk Kitchen and a little longer, but we manage to crack ourselves up anyway...

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Spicing up the blog with a little video

We've hinted at the difficulties blogging with an iPad has become, especially when it comes to video, but decided the steady flow of content is more important than organization... Or design. Things are a little wonky around here, I'll just have to fix them later :(

So with out much further ado, here are the Berlin Part 1 videos, unedited for your enjoyment:

Friday, August 12, 2011

August 9th- My new haircut, Berlin edition

I finally got a haircut today. I went through A LOT of reviews online trying to find a place that was affordable, decent and had an English speaking staff. My hair has never been something I've had to worry about. A very good friend of mine is a hair dresser and has always come to my house and done my color and cuts so it's been over 10 years since I had to find a salon. is a great resource for the English speaking community in Germany and there were hundreds of replies on a thread about where to get a haircut in Berlin. I don't think it's outrageous to spend a hundred dollars on a haircut in NYC, but I definitely don't have that kind of money right now and I'm not going to pay that much going to a person I don't know. What if they totally butcher me? I've seen the girls walking around kreuzberg, their hair is fucking crazy. It's like a half shaved head with a mullet front and a rattail dreadlock in the back. Like ziggy stardust on crack and much dirtier looking. This was very distressing to me. I don't have a hairdryer and I don't have room in my little suitcase to lug around a ton of hair product so I had to keep my hair somewhat long and non shaved and non mullet-y.
At first I booked an appointment at toni and guy. But after looking at the prices, a woman's haircut starts at 55€, I was a no show. When you quit your job to travel the world you can't pay 55€ and up plus tip for a haircut. You also can't afford a professional dye job which is why I did it myself out of a box last week. The results are not great and really uneven but this is the price you pay.... Anyways I found Ballyhoo Berlin. They are right across from gorlitzer park and the place is decorated like an edgy 1920s salon. Grey walls, big black comfy leather chairs, huge ornate mirrors, tattooed hair dressers and some good old fashioned english rock playing softly in the background. An hour and 38€ later I looked and felt like a new person. Gone were my ratty long split ends and now it's all silky smooth layers. That was my big splurge for today, and this week really. it was totally worth it, just for the great head massage I got in the shampoo chair alone.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

A little tip for staying in Berlin....

Never rent an apartment from berlin99, especially from Martin and his "building manager" Peter who is basically useless. And I would highly advise that if you are looking for something in london to not rent from their sister company london99 either.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Dirty Girl on the Ubahn

No,this isn't another critique of the hygienically challenged kreuzbergians we encounter all too often.  it is instead, a retelling of one of the most awesome incidents I have ever witnessed while riding a subway...

We were on way to meet my old boss who just happened to be in Berlin on vacation for a few days. I cant say if they got on the train when we did or not, but the slow reveal of what was happening all began when Claire noticed a girl taping up her shoes. It was raining that evening,as it's done 80% of the time we've been here, and Claire commented "oh, thats smart of her, she's water proofing her shoes".
When I looked over to see what she was talking about, I realized she wasn't waterproofing her shoes, she was taping them up. Then I realized that they were tap shoes. As in tap dancing. Upon further inspection, it turns out the girl was wearing lipstick red harem pants. When she stood up, she took off her acid washed denim jacket to reveal a fully sequined, red tube top... to match the pants of course. Now at this point I'm thinking to myself ok,she's going to tap on the train, I've seen that before, especially living in NYC, but usually on the platform and never on a moving train. This should be interesting, but that's a wholly misleading adjective, and here's why...

To her left, and amazingly unnoticed until know, was her partner. Typical Berlin hipster attire, but just a little more special. The jeans were Riddler green with varying black outlined stars, pointy leather shoes, deep V neck shirt, richie hawtin haircut, etc, you get the picture... But he's standing there with his keyboard, on a keyboard stand (again, the subway is in motion mind you). He introduces himself into the microphone, also amazingly on a mic stand, I didn't quite catch their name, but picked up that they were from Canada, and that the song they were about to play was called dirty girl.

Like the events themselves so far, the song started off a little weird and catches you off guard. The levels were at a respectable level, not too loud to be annoying on a subway,but not too low that you couldn't hear what was going on. The Ubahn doesn't jerk you around like the MTA does (in terms of balance and momentum), so the set up was quite stable and the tap dancer was holding on to the vertical rail for balance. Not genius, but clever enough, and when you get past the kitsch of tap dancing to a euro synth pop song, you realize that she's the rhythm section, and the song was pretty good.

I desperately urged Claire to get the camera out, or better yet, we should be recording video! Though Claires objections were completely Justified that if we filmed them, we would definitely be obliged to tip them, it was a tragic error on both our parts to let such an epic performance go undocumented.
If I ever build a time machine, this would be one thing in life I wish I could o back in change.  Especially because of what happened next...

As he finished the verse, the tap dancer joined him to bring in the chorus " I'm in love with a dirty girl... I had sex with a  girl..." synths wailing, tapping feet pounding. Then oddly, just the girls voice for half a syllable, then silence. They stared at each other blankly. He fibbled with the key board, she said something to him, and judging by his hand gestures, the keyboard died, right there on the spot! With three quick moves, he had everything folded up and in the corner. The swiftness of his equipment handling told of the many times they've done this, but his actions told of his seriousness to his art. I originally thought they were taking the piss, and this was some weird hipster irony thing, but clearly this was much more than that. As the girl just stood there dumfounded, he was leaning on the wall, facing the corner, mumbling to himself! Did he think this was their big break? Was tonight the night they knew the A&R head from universal would be taking the U8 to Alexanderplatz? Why was tonight so important?

As quickly as it had began, it was all over. I cant say for certain if that's a comment on his dreams, but definitely a comment on my enjoyment of the episode. The train came to the next stop and he bolted out the door with equipment in tow. He got off the train so fast, it almost seemed as if he was leaving the tap dancer behind. Thankfully, not as she followed just a few paces slower than him. Sadly, however, we were left behind with a million questions, and a feeling of complete awe.


Sunday, August 7, 2011

Berlin- the first 2 weeks

We did manage to move into our apartment the next day, and the landlord deducted the cost of the two nights in the hostel from the rent so everything worked out. The apartment is small, but is just what we need for our 8 week stay here. Except that it smells like dirty hippies have been smoking 2 packs of cigarettes a day in here so we have been working on making it not smell like that. There is a little hallway when you enter and tot he left is the kitchen and bathroom and straight ahead opens into the big room where the bed, desk, couch and little wardrobe thing is. There are lots of windows so the sun shines in when there is a sunny day which is like never. This ended up costing us $35 (US dollars) a day, which is much cheaper than a hotel and cheaper than a hostel. We have a full kitchen so we can do all the cooking at home and there's a washer! No dryer, we have to hang the clothes on a drying rack but having a washer is so convenient, I reeaaallllyy want one in our apt when we get back to NYC but I don't know if that's going to happen.

The first thing we did after signing the lease was we went to ikea! Some things never change no matter where you are. We bought sheets, blankets, pillows, towels, and a bunch of other stuff that I can't quite remember. Oh and a sunflower plant, we named her mrs. Burgermeister. If she had foursquare she would be the mayor of our apt. Then we went grocery shopping and stocked up on the basics. Grocery stores here don't refrigerate eggs. This kind of made me alarmed the first time we bought them but I guess it's pretty normal. Mustard also comes in a tube instead of a bottle. And we bought 20 bottles of .5 liter beers for 10€. we were pretty excited about that, that should last us a good amount of time.

We have been trying to see/do one thing a day to spread out all the sights over our stay. This proves to be a little difficult because the weather is not cooperating. Weve had maybe 4 days of sun the two weeks that we've been here. Eventually I just told bill that we had to start going out in the rain or we would never leave the house, and we spent 2 days in every mall in Berlin looking for a sweater because I was so tired of being cold all the time. We've done Brandenburg gate, east side gallery, checkpoint Charlie, the helmut newton photography museum, the zoo, Tiergarten, soviet war memorial, holocaust memorial.... Everything in this city is a war memorial it's really very sad. The concept of the Berlin wall is fascinating to me. I spent a couple hours reading about it after we went to the east side gallery, and the division between east and west is still very apparent today. The buildings are different, the stop lights are different, even the toilets are different. We live in kreuzberg which is on the east Berlin side and I can tell you that even the people are a little different. I can't believe that such a ridiculous medieval brainless concept was implemented that changed the way millions of people lived their lives for decades. That was the best thing you could do? A wall?

We also joined couchsurfers which is a website that people can either host a couch surfer in their home or you can be a couch surfer. Bill and are are neither of these two things but the group has a lot of meet ups in the city and encourages any type of traveler to come. They meet on Wednesday nights at a bar near our apt so we went last Wednesday and it was a lot of fun. We met people from Italy, Luxembourg, Lithuania, brazil, canary islands, Netherlands, other parts of Germany... There was a very diverse crowd. I asked one girl where she was from and she kind of paused and said, "well what does that mean anyways? I've been traveling for so long I'm not sure I know where I'm from really". This is something really new for us. It sounds very strange to people who know us but bill and I are a bit shy. We are not the type who will just strike up a conversation with strangers at a bar. I love meeting new people but really if it's a person being introduced to me by someone I know. Maybe because there are two of us so it's easier to just talk to each other. Maybe it's because bill and I have a mutual and general distain for the human race. either way, a meet up group is not something we have ever even thought of doing before. It's good to step outside your comfort zone a little bit and I'm glad we did.

I finally got bill to go to bikram yoga with me. Ive been pestering him for a year to go with me in Brooklyn and he relented last week. It is a good rainy day activity and a great workout, after going one time I think I have him hooked. He is the one bothering me about when the next class is. I've mentioned to him before that one day I'd like to take the teacher training course and become certified to teach and I think he is really into that idea now as well, which is good because I don't have the money to pay for it so now I can hit him up for the cash.

Dave returned from a trip to Barcelona, newly engaged with his fiancé! We were so excited for both of them. The last time bill and I were in Barcelona, visiting Dave, we got engaged so there must be something magical and romantic about that place :) we had dinner at their new apt on Friday night with 2 other couples to celebrate and after many bottles of wine and champagne and a night out at a club that ended with the sun coming up I spent yesterday moaning and groaning while we went to the Tiergarten. Yesterday was the nicest day weather wise that weve had yet so we had to go out and enjoy it. Today its back to being clouds but it's my birthday and there is a beer festival nearby that we are all going to later on in the afternoon, I hope the rain holds off for a couple more hours.


Friday, August 5, 2011

Day 26- Monday July 25- emotional breakdown time! Yay!

I have to start by saying our last two days in Frankfurt were crap. We were too hungover on Saturday to do anything and when we finally clawed our way out of the room to get bratwurst from a street vendor it started pouring so we left Sunday afternoon excited to get to Berlin and escape the boredom of Frankfurt. Everyone was right after all, oh well.
We were scheduled to meet the building manager of our apt in Berlin at 9pm so he could give us the lease and keys. This was confirmed on Saturday by both the building manager and the landlord who specifically requested we pay in cash. So we get to the Berlin airport we take out 1400€ in cash, we get the bus then the subway to kruezberg and it's exactly 9pm on the dot when we stroll up to the building, suitcases in hand. The guy doesn't show. Why I thought this was all going to work out without any problems is beyond me. I should know better than to assume anything will come off without a fucking problem. Bill and I take turns emailing the guy from the Internet cafe on the corner. They start out nice.."um are you coming to meet us?" and get progressively more nasty "where the fuck are you?!?!" until at 10:30 we give up and book a hostel for the night. We take a cab as it's dark out and we have a ton of cash on us, so now between the hostel and cab we are 50€ in the hole. I state out loud that I feel like the universe is trying to tell us something about Berlin. From the first time we landed in the city 3 weeks ago and now, I'm getting a negative vibe.
We wake up really early, I think both of us were just too peeved to sleep after the night before. We sit in the common room to check our email and we get a completely ludicrous email from the landlord of the building saying that we never texted the guy to meet us and he was out with his friends and he's sorry for the inconvenience and he will meet us today and blah blah blah.. He signs the email cheers. Cheers? Go fuck yourself cheers you left us stranded in the middle of a dark street in a strange city with 1400€ cash on us. We send a very strongly worded email back, the details of which are too boring to anyone else to care, but it ended with us basically being like screw you, we don't want the apartment, give us the security back.
Then we start looking for panicked alternatives. We could go to Valencia, or Barcelona, or Mallorca. The weather is great, there's beaches in all 3 of these places. We start emailing people on air bnb about apartments for the month of august. (sooo stupid, august is the busiest month anywhere in the med, there was no way we were getting anything cheap) the landlord sends us two emails back, both in a more appropriate apologetic tone and trying to convince us to take the apartment, and he would knock money off the price to make up for the money we spent on a hostel.
We still are undecided and it's approaching check out time so we get the hostel for another night. All afternoon we search. The weather still is miserable, it's 60 degrees outside on a day when half way across the world in Brooklyn it's 110. I like 110, I absolutely have no problem with extreme heat, but cold in July I cannot do. I am the type of person that is severely affected by winter, I think there an actual name for it but I never cared enough o look into it... Seasonal disorder or something?
Its getting later in the afternoon and we are starting to argue with each other because neither of us know what we should do. On top of that we have been sitting listless for the last 4 days. With the exception of cocoon on Friday night we haven't really done anything except stare at hotel room walls.
And then I started to cry. I couldn't even stop or control it, the tears just kept coming down my face. I was in a hostel in Berlin, with a suitcase full of smelly clothes that I'd trucked around all over Europe for the last 3 weeks, in depressingly cold and cloudy weather, homeless. If we took the apartment I felt like i would be miserable for 8 weeks. I was not getting any good vibes from Berlin, the people in this neighborhood were gross weird looking (that's a whole separate post I'll get to later) I don't understand a word of German and it's not exactly the most welcoming atmosphere. If we made a drastic and rash move to somewhere else we would spend a lot more money, we would have to fight to get our security deposit back and there was uncertainty there also. What if I hated Valencia too?
Bill tried to make me feel better by suggesting we go down the street for doner kebaps, and it was the most delicious and big doner kebap sandwich I ever had, (as you can clearly see below!) but it still didn't stop the tears. I kept my sunglasses on and just sniffled to myself in the corner. I don't know how I did it, but I had dug myself into the most depressive hole. I think that i was just super homesick, I wanted to be back in a familiar place with all my friends and all my stuff and not have to deal with the uncertainty that comes with this kind of travel.

We went back to the room and I spent the next two hours silent reading my book. Bill finally got some responses about the apartments but everything was wildly expensive for august. He emailed the landlord back and told him we would move into the apt tomorrow.
Our friend Dave had also emailed us and said he was stopping by after he got out of work to meet us for a drink. A familiar face, a couple of beers and hours of conversation later I felt much better. We could do is, we would stick it out and after talking about all the things we wanted to do it actually started to seem like it would be fun. Daves girlfriend Miriam would be joining him in berlin permanently in a couple of days from Barcelona so we actually will have a lively little group to hang with. Things are looking up, but we still weren't in the apt yet so I went to bed with fingers crossed and not assuming anything.


Thursday, August 4, 2011

Day 23 - Mission Accomplished

Friday, July 22nd

Not only had we purposefully plotted a course for some beach time on our trip, but we also accounted for a little party time. Rather than heading off to Ibiza and spending our entire six month budget in one week, we specifically picked Frankfurt for it's clubs and DJs so we could get the same level of satisfaction for a fraction of the price. We had gone clubbing in Frankfurt before so we knew the drill; Cocoon on Friday night, after-hours at U60311,  Saturday night at Robert Johnston, Sunday afternoon at kameamea beach club (not a real beach, more like Water Taxi Beach in NYC).

The day began as they had tended to, sleeping in, fresh croissants, and an early onset of boredom. We had a good ten hours to  kill before the clubbing began, so we whipped up an aggressive itinerary. The plan was to see the Messe (Convention Center Grounds), followed by the natural history museum, the botanic garden, and the Main tower for a panoramic view of the city at sunset. We get outside and the weather immediately truncates our day. We see the Messe and the museum. The Messe is nothing special as half the grounds were dug up and there were no tours that day. Plus it's at least six months until the Batman live show so Claire does her best kinetic sculpture impersonation and we move on to the museum. It was an easy way to kill an extra hour or so, read all the signs that were in English, saw their anaconda exhibit, tons of fossils, stuffed animals (not the toy kind), and photo exhibit on migratory mating. We left feeling a little smarter, which retrospectively contrasts how we would end the night.

We pre game at the hotel, figure out the tram and head on our way. The main attraction went on at 11:30 so we get there a little early. The club fills up by midnight, the drinks are cheap, the music was FUN, and the night was a blur. We contemplated socializing with strangers at the club as we had done last time we were here, but we spent the entire night on the dance floor which is the least ideal location to hold a conversation. As an added bonus, we catch the first hour of Jooris Voorn's set, but decide to leave the club after a scuffle breaks out and the crowd had dwindled down. We get outside and the sun is up. Wish we had our sunglasses, but bask in the afterglow of a night of good music. The tram pulls up just as we finish buying our tickets, excellent timing. We ride to the Hauptbahnhoff with a few other casualties, but the air is quiet. It's that special time in the morning when it's a mix between people ending their nights and others starting their day. We get back to our room, agree we don't need to hit the after hours club, block out the sun and go to bed. Life is good.

- Bill

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Day 22 - Foray to Frankfurt (2011 Edition)

Thursday, July 21st
Sleep in late, Im a huge fan of the vertical gate blinds that completely block the sun. We had these in Ibiza our first year there and I forget how amazingly effective they are. I'll have to wait and see if you can get these in a brooklyn. It's safe to say this will be the deal maker in our pending apartment hunt when we return. So yeah. We get up around 11, nothing to do. No plans, no itinerary, but boredom sets in easily. We head off for the hauptwach to see the new mall that was under construction the last time we were here. Downtown is a small area and we don't need a map as it was easy to remember the way. We go about three blocks before we see a string of kebab shops and another two blocks before we hit a Starbucks. Things are looking good so. There were even three more coffee shops around the corn from there followed by currywurst stands as far as the eye can see. It's obvious that anyone who ever mentioned to us that Frankfurt was boring has different priorities in life than we do. Good food, good coffe, good techno. Sold. Sure it doesn't have the beaches and bodies of Napoli, but weve only seen one piece of litter the entire time we have been here and the trains run on time. There's trade offs everywhere you go and you just have to enjoy the positive. Even with the weather. It's cold again, but the sun sets as late ten pm. Again, no complaints.

We walk up and down he hauptwach looking for the puma store and cheap sales. H&M delivers with a 3€ wolverine shirt for Arron and 3€ for the same Kermit the frog as Bruce Springsteen (In front of an allover American flag print) shirt that Davi was sporting in Napoli. Even the fedoras were only one euro, but were not big on hats. The new mall is finished and the facade is amazing. It's a spiraling glass worm hole that teleports space into the center of the building. We couldnt fit anything of justice into the frame, but a quick google search will show you what were talking about. The germans might be horrible at humor, but it could be that same seriousness that gives them beautiful modern buildings such as this. We didn't care that it's wasted on a mall, for all we know it could be a museum a hundred years from now. Not that Frankfurt needs another one. It's a city of just over 600,000 people and they have something like 30 museums. Again, Frankfurt is far from boring.

We do an about face and head towards the supermarket, or at least where we thought it was. Google maps isn't always reliable after all. We get to where we think it is, give it an extra block, give up and head back to the hotel. A quick verification on google reveals we gave up one block too soon. We don't mind walking everywhere, but when you walk around for three hours for nothing, it takes it's toll. Not just on the ego, but your legs, knees, back, joints... Time for some stretching and a nap.

Afterward, we decide to head back to the houptwach as there should be a supermarket there. Plus we wanted to scope some computer and electronic stores to weigh our iPad and video problems. No such luck. Try to salvage the journey by getting a killer yellow with black stripe tshirt from NewYorker. Think caution tape or Stryker (yes, I just dropped a christion hair metal reference form the 80's, what are you going to do about it?). No luck... again. It's just the shirts they put on the mannequin when they have a sale. Fuckers. I really wanted that shirt after Claire put it in my head that I needed it. SRSLY. I had to deprogram myself that we weren't going to do any shopping on this trip, and then further rationalize that I would look awesome dressed as crime scene tape before committing to the purchase only to learn that what I wanted wasn't available. Story of my life.

We give up and b line it for the supermarket. It's a hike, and this the second time today we've done the same exact trek, but it pays off. We spend 23€ and get enough food to feed us for the rest of our trip. By the time we get back to the hotel it's already past nine pm and the sun is still out. We eat dinner, drink our beers (included in the 23€) and skype with our family. It's the first time I've talked to anyone this trip, and it's frustrating. Doing the math, I realize our connection is about 1/7th the strength of what we enjoy in the states. My parents spend 4 minutes talking about my trip and 45 minutes talking about fuck all. I guess they've known me long enough that this isn't the first, or last time I'll make a trip like this. My brother Tom is also unceremoniously the first person to moon me over skype. Admittedly, it was pretty awesome. The comedic effect will last long enough that any need for therapy will out last my life expectancy. Ass cheeks not withstanding, he also informs me, to my shock, that our landlord actually mailed our security deposit. Additionally he's received two pay checks from job and should receive my settlement check from Pressler & Pressler any day now. We've been going through cash pretty quickly in Europe (as expected), but padding is never a bad thing. On a side note, if you are ever wrongfully sued for debt collection and live in NYC, I highly recommend Schlanger & Schlanger for all your legal needs. Minimal effort, maximum results. Plus I think my credit score went up a few hundred points in the aftermath...

- Bill

Day 21 - NAP > FRA

Wednesday, July 20th

We woke up at noon, we wanted to get Davis mom flowers as a thank you for being so nice to us and doing our laundry and cooking for us the whole week (we paid for 1 meal in the 5 days we stayed with davi) so I got on the back of Davis scooter and we rode down to the flower shop. I feel like an official Italian now I've done the scooter ride.

We eat lunch upstairs with his mom and dad. They made each of us huge steaks, and tuna salad with tomatoes, regular salad with homemade vinegar, artichokes, fresh fruit for dessert and then a second dessert. I think we are going to starve once we leave here. Oh, and homemade wine of course, how could I forget the homemade wine?!

Davi and his mom drive us to the train station, we go to Naples central. Here's a tip for those of you wanting to get the 3€ bus to the airport- you exit at giarbaldi piazza and go to the right, around the corner that the mcdonalds is on and the alibus will be there. We spent a half hour looking for it because of course, there are no signs or any information that would lead you to it.

Fly to Frankfurt and RUN to catch the train into the main train station, where lo and behold on the track across from us is the one and only Orient Express. I thought that train didn't really exist, that it was a figment of spy stories and mystery novels. But there it was, with the original cars from the 1920's. Some of the shades were up and in one car there was a chef presenting dinner to a couple, in other cars there were ornate couches and oriental looking lamps. The staff were dressed head to toe in traditional train outfits (whatever that means but you know what I'm talking about, like the gloves and all that shit) we took lots of pictures and one of the men who worked on it took a picture of us standing in front of it. I got it into my head that I wanted to take this train from Paris to Istanbul then go to India from there. The adventure! The romance! Aaaaaaand tickets are like 7000€ per person. So yeah. Not doing that in this lifetime.

Check into the hotel, it's around midnight. We go to our room and have a wonderful view of gypsies sleeping on the street. We are kind of staying in a rough part of town, but that's what you get for 50 dollars a night. Bill goes into the bathroom and as he's closing the door the door handle breaks off. So we go downstairs, door handle in hand and get upgraded to a suite. then we sleep.

- Claire

Monday, August 1, 2011

Day 20 - The island of Ricky Martins

Tuesday, July 19th

Just to clarify, I don't mean an island of gay puerto ricans (that would be manhattan), I am referring to the beautiful Italian men.... But I'll get to that in a sec......

We woke up late in the morning and went to go see a castle that is in baia. It seemed huge to me but davi said it's actually the smallest in Naples. One thing we are learning about Napoli that just because there are signs and rules doesn't mean that anyone follows them. We got to the castle at 1:15, the sign said it closed at 1:30 but davi said that we should just go up anyway. Heres a pic of the drawbridge!

Of course there are no guards anywhere, we were free to roam around as much as we wanted in the areas that weren't completely sealed off.
The museum had a plethora of artifacts. It's hard to take it all in and absorb what your looking at. After seeing so many ruins, so many statues, remains, bodies, sculpture, pottery, weapons and so on and so on it gets overwhelming and exhausting after a while. We took a lot of video and pictures so we could remember it all. The view was amazing, of course. There isn't a bad view from anywhere in this town but every time I look down onto the beaches and see the cliffs and Vesuvius in the back ground its just astonishing.

We have lunch with Davis mother upstairs in her house. She cooked fish, whole with the head and everything. Fresh calamari with peas, salad, bread and artichokes.

After lunch we go to a beach that's having a party. We pay to have our chairs set up and there is a Dj playing, fresh plates of pasta being served and punch. We meet a bunch of Davis friends, some of which a American.
The deck on the beach is packed. I make a comment to bill that after all these years of us going to beaches together I'm finally getting my turn at some eye candy. I've never been to a place like Naples before.... All the men are like Adonis. Great faces, chiseled abs, perfect tans, tattoos and speedos. Really small, really spandex-y, really hot, speedos. I actually was sitting there a little stunned at how ridiculously good looking all these men around me were. My favorite was a guy in an Italian flag speedo. Trust me on this, on paper it sounds ridiculous, in the flesh it was delicious. Bill actually agreed with me and said he felt like we were on an island of Ricky martins, and I was free to soak up all the Vida loca my eyes could handle. The girls we were with thought this was very funny and agreed with me that there's really no where else on earth that you're going to get a view this good. In both the landscape and manscape. We order a bottle of sparkling wine, pop it open and party the afternoon away. Tough life- Napoli edition. I think bill got a little of the said scenery in the video below:

After we nap we go into the city of Napoli and have sushi for dinner with Davis friends. I think there are only a small handful of sushi places in Napoli so everyone was excited to eat something different. After dinner we went around the corner and had a bottle of wine at a bar, then headed home. Napoli is a strange juxtaposition. The mob presence is huge, there's a lot of petty crime, and the city itself is known for being a dump. Literally, there's huge piles of trash everywhere because the mob controls the trash pickup and doesn't ever do it. But outside the city where we spent 99 percent of our time, was stunningly picturesque. For all of our bitching about the service in our Pompeii trip, almost all the people we met were extremely nice and overly hospitable. I think it definitely helped that we were davide's friends and not just strange tourists, but I think on a certain level it wouldn't have mattered at all. The people were very warm, and overall seem very happy with the life there. We met many people who live in the states but come back every summer for a month or two because they love the town so much. I would like to think that I would be very happy in a place like that but I know the neurotic new Yorker in me could never be happy with just espressos instead of a giant coffee, I want to be able to go to the post office and bank until 8pm at night, I want to use a credit card when I don't have cash, which is something Italians don't do it's cash all the time always. My life has been so programmed to have anything i want at any hour of the day or night that the transition would be a rough one, and not to mention that I don't think there are too many lingerie designer jobs in Naples.
I was sad to leave, there was so much that we didn't get to do that I absolutely think we will return someday.