Friday, July 24, 2009

The Past Months: Part 5: There and back again or "Attack of the flaming crotch"

Now, I know you're all begging to find out what this whole "flaming crotch" thing is about, or even where I went and back again, but first I need to relay how I made it back from Poland. I stepped out of my second's host house somewhere around ten in the morning, only to be confused by the bus that would get me to the good gas station, which was next to a big mall by the name of "Auchan", apparently big in various countries, of which my native country, The Netherlands, is not one.

Here I bought a marker and a notebook for writing musical compositions in. This because it's very broad and so perfect for using each 2 pages as one hitchhiking sign! From Wroclaw I originally planned to go to Paris, so my sign said "Zgorzelec" when I left. However, halfway I to the border I met a Dutch driver who figured he could drive me to Deventer, which was not unhandy for me at all, so I decided to abandon the Paris-idea and go pay my rent first, which I was quite a bit behind on.

This is where things got a bit weird, as at the Polish border my driver stopped. I said that actually I could buy a polish banknote here for my wall. He agreed to wait for me as I did that, however when I got back two minutes later he had tossed all my stuff out of the car, and driven off. I can only guess as to his motives as he had seemed like he had had no problem with having me in his car, but all I could do was make a new sign. At this point I was still cool with going in the direction of Paris, aswell as Leiden, so I used the next two pages on my musical notebook to simply spell out "W E S T". About two cars later a lovely couple who were on their way from Moldava, back to Kassel took me about halfway through Germany. A couple of rides later I was near the German/Dutch border when it was getting quite late, when a really friendly young driver offered to put me up for the night and drive me back to the highway next morning. I made it home easily with a few more rides.

So "there and back again", you wonder? It's actually not entirely accurate, it's more like "There, back again, there and back again again." and it refers to Paris. I had hitchhiked to Paris once before, and this had been for my friend Jordan's big goodbye party in the countryside. I met Jordan through CouchSurfing when he organized meetings here in Leiden, because he did some study-related activities at the nearby European Space Agency in Noordwijk, and we've been good friends eversince.

This time a friend from Brazil was going to be in Europe for a few weeks and during one of the Netherlands' biggest CouchSurfing meetings, aswell: The Midsummernight meeting in Utrecht. So I went to pick her up, which of course meant bringing her back aswell.

My friend Natalia with some of her fellow brazilians

Not only her, but also a young lady by the name of Mailys travelled with me back to Utrecht. I had met Mailys at Berlin Beach Camp and found out that by a great coincidence she was hitchhiking here the same day I was.

Midsummernight meeting was absolutely amazing, for us it started with the Midsummernight murder mystery, where teams of "Vatican Detectives" were sent through the city to investigate "witnesses" of which I happened to have been one, on the murder of Pope Adrian, the only in the history of the church to come from Utrecht.

The witnesses: Jonas as the drunk student, Francois as the Bohemian poet, Isa as The drug store assistant, Francien as Corelia Drakenburch, Myself as the fool, Jasper as the priest, and Robbert as Frederic van Oudaen.

You're still thinking about that flaming crotch, aren't you? Soon, my friend, soon all will be revealed, first let's move on to the next part of the meeting, the workshops. The (late) afternoon featured a series of workshops in the giftpark (the usual setting for midsummernight) the only one of which I took part in was the Acrobatics workshop run by Wessel (we'll see him again later in relation to the title of this post). It was great fun climbing on eachother's shoulders and the like.

The Acrobatics workshop

After the workshops it was time for dinner, but since the weather wasn't looking too good we vacated to our bad-weather location by the name of Kangadoor. The team had cooked up amazing and tasty food once again and had spent moor than a day cooking up food for around 80 people. After having my share of this amazing food I helped out with cleaning the kitchen of local bar "Averechts" where the cooking had been done and we managed to get back to the park well in time for... the ceremony.

Just like last year the big concrete circle was the scene of the our hailing the longest day of the year, and again there were all sorts of fire related things, and people playing music, but all went quiet when:

Dingo and his whiteclad group of men and women appeared

Chanting and lighting the fire, they came up, went around in a circle a few times when suddenly, apparently according to ancient tradition Wessel disrobed and jumped over the fire completely naked. There was a lot of cheering and laughing and then it was all over. But wait, it wasn't. There was also the lighting of Wessel's famous lanterns that go high into the sky! The rest of the night consisted of beer, talking laughing and music.

'ells yeah

The next day was a brunch for those who hadn't quite had enough yet, and again it was good food and good atmosphere. This is where "Sean Connery: The Card Game" was born, a yet to be released card game featuring Sean Connery in many roles, and many laughs were had. When it started raining a few of us went back to Jasper & Liza's where we had a good dinner, and Natalia and I met up with my good friend Jonas.

Mmm... Brunch

Now the second there and back again was even crazier, whereas last time I was alone one way, and with three back, now on the way to Paris there were four of us, and two of us back. At the last moment both Jonas, and a lovely Romanian girl, whom by now is my girlfriend, both decided they wanted to Join us to Paris. Of course this meant we had to split up. Gabi and Jonas arrived a few hours before us (among other reasons because we gave them the first ride) and we finally met back up in Paris. There we met some amazingly fun people, and spent the night there, and made it back the next day.

These have been the amazing stories of the past months, and another month or so has passed since these tales, and I will update you on these aswell as soon as possible!

A set of links to people's pictures of Midsummernight

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Past Months: Part 4: The magnificent story of the 5 Cherry bisons (UPDATED: Pictures from Wroclaw)

So, as I was trying to write last time: "Poland, land of savages!"

Ok, so not quite. My Hitchhiking partner and host in Warsaw, Asia (not to be confused with the continent) was actually an extremely gentle soul, who helped me in every way possible, even though she had to take care of her little niece!
The Hitchhike went really well, it took us a while to get to our good gas station at Berlin, but from there we made it to Warsaw in only two rides, one to the border, and one from the border to Warsaw. Turns out border stations are pretty good for hitchhiking in Poland.

I only spent two days in Warsaw, and it really is a lovely city. It was also the first time I encountered the people on the street selling a kilo of strawberries for the equivalent of 88 euro cents.

I soon found out that the Polish currency (złoty) was at such a level that I could behave the exact opposite way I could in Norway: I was a king. And as a king, I was of course pre-destined my God, which is why I was not surprised to find that the day after my arrival there was an awesome Warsaw CouchSurfing meeting going on, at a place with a happy hour (read, half a liter of beer for about one eure ten) and very affordable pizza, but most of all, really fun CouchSurfers.

Not only was I served with this meeting but it was arranged that the afternoon before the meeting I could hang out with the organiser łukasz and his friend Ania.

łukasz, laura and myself

Sadly enough I had more places to go and so I set out for Wroclaw, alone this time, no-one there to translate things to something I could understand. The hike started out really badly. I was at the road for three hours, before I decided to walk a bit, when after a mere two minutes I encountered two other hitchhikers. One of the merry travelers was very experienced, spoke Polish AND was going my way. My kingly status had saved me again. after sitting down with my trusty guitar for two minutes we got our first of three rides that would get us to Wroclaw!

In Wroclaw I was picked up by my first host Maciek, and I was lucky enough to arrive early enough to go out and see some of the things that my Polish sister Marta, who is from there suggested. Hidden gnomes, a great pub, and good food for no money awaited me. I would show you some pictures, but alas, I don't have them back from Maciek yet.

After a night at Maciek, I stayed two nights at yet another extremely fun CouchSurfer named Marcin. I have to say, both of my hosts were top notch, and we all went out together, and I finally learned the magic of drinking some good wodka. My two favorites most be Wishnuwka, a cherry wodka with a strong sweet taste, and Zubrowka, the well known "bison grass wodka". I had an amazing night on the town with them and some friends.

It was almost time to leave, but not until I'd set up my own CouchSurfing meeting. So I organized a meeting related to a cultural festival by the name of "podwodny wroclaw" (wroclaw under water) and here I met, to great surprise a couchsurfer that had made me food in the morning many months before that: Tomek! The world really is such a small place.

Because I don't have the photos yet, I leave you with a photo of one of the mst beautiful things I've seen in Poland: Ostrow Tumski
Unfortunately I didn't take the picture, but I assure you, it is this pretty.

Ostrow Tumski


Now that I have the photos in that my host Maciek made I present you with one of them, and a link to the rest of them:

The main square of Wroclaw

Sunday, July 12, 2009

The past months, part 3: Schnitzelkoenig Sollbruch

Poland! Land of Savages, where I... What? We're not...?

I've just got word that we're not ready to write about Poland yet, and so first I proudly present a chapter on BERLIN entitled : Schnitzelkoenig Sollbruch.

A long long time ago, or at least around a year or more, a young man approached one of this world's biggest treasures. A beautiful palace by the name of "Taj Mahal", now some of you may think the Taj Mahal is in India, but if you're not very bright and you've met some of the crew of the Chaser boys you will know it's in Australia. This young man commited a nefarious act there [and last year his youtube video of that act caused for the word of the year in The Netherlands to be "swaffelen". To hit ones penis against an object or person, with or without the intent of getting pleasure.

As a true Dutchman, I had to share this word with my fellow germanic-language-speakers, and so "swaffelen" or "szwaffelen" was born at beach camp. Half a day later I was pronounced "Der Zwaffelkoenig" (The zwaffelking), and I had my very first Zwaffel-adjudant: Martin.

I even had my own song set to the Cologne Carnival song: "Mer losse der Dom in Kölle". Another hit song, created by me, is the "New Slovenian National Anthem" or "Lepi cevli, bise po fukala?" (I don't know if I put all the spaces in the right places there, but I can pronounce and sing it so that's the important part).

However all good things must come to and end, they say, but even with Berlin beach camp ending, my trip did not. I had promised someone I'd make it out of Western Europe, so when I heard a Polish woman who went by the name of Asia wouldn't mind hitch-hiking home to Warsaw, I decided I would stay in Berlin for the week because she wasn't getting back till then, and I figured it would be handy to have someone polish with me, because I didn't speak any polish apart from "nice shoes, want to fuck?". This is where "Der SchnitzelPeter" came in. He found SchnitzelPeter to bemuch more interesting than "Zwaffelkoenig". Incidentally his name was also Martin, A.K.A. Sollbruch Stellen.

Sollbruch was Asia's host in Berlin so I thought it'd be superhandy if I'd stay at his place too since he had space. However, you try to find a guy with a green tent in a few hundred tents by simply shouting "Schnitzelpeter!". (I had forgotten he told me it was the one with the obvious broken pole), so I ended up meeting Ingre first, because she was taking a tour with some of her CouchSurfing friends to see some big Berlin sights I hadn't seen yet.

Since this post is getting long and your patience wearing thin: here's my week in Berlin in a nutshell: Jazz concerts, secret rooftops, candy parties, girls in shopping carts, water guns, bike acrobatics, handcrafting, putzen, putzen and putzen.

Sollbruch Stellen, Ingre and Marcin

I do injustice to Ingre, Asia, and Sollbruch, by not detailing all the things above, but I want this to be a pleasant read, and I just ask of you to use your imagination, before we move on to:

Part 4: The magnificent story of the 5 Cherry bisons and
Part 5: There and back again, and again or "Attack of the flaming crotch"