Sunday, July 4, 2010

Quiet Summer

More like a poor Summer, jeez.

Upon my return from Fennoscandia I found I was retroactively un-... dis... er..., that is to say, my enrolment at the local hogeschool had been cancelled. (In their defence, I had failed to pay my tuition and hadn't showed up at all. ) This left we without my scholarship and working for a living. In the meantime I was a month behind on rent, meaning I now had nothing in the bank and needed to get 700 euros not to be kicked out. My deal to get a contract at the print shop was cancelled because I'd been away longer than I'd planned and-

You know what, forget this. This is uninteresting. I'll write about some of the times I managed to get out despite my dire financial situation.

Paris

I make a point of not being at home when Queen's day rolls around. It just doesn't seem right. Walking around in between the drunk orange-clad retards was never my thing. (Apparently we're doing real well in the World Cup right now, so it's about as bad at the moment too.)

So I asked Mommy and Daddy (those of you who frequent my blog know this is what I call Mailys and Ulf) where they were going to be, and Paris it was. Two days before I left I ran into Christine, who decided to join me. I give you, the result:


Zurich

At some point I hosted a girl from Bergkamen, a small place near Dortmund. (For the topographically impaired, that's in Germany). When she heard about my hitching adventures, she was dying to get into some hitching. So we checked out a date and a place and Zurich it was, where we stayed with a local politician.

Also I revisited old favorites Bremen, Wroclaw and Berlin and hit the 30 000 k on my hich-o-meter. Midsummernight wasn't as big as usual, but I'll write about how I got ass-raped there some other time.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

I forgot I lived here.

Every time I arrive in Leiden and walk around her streets at night she seems to have gotten more beautiful. Which I guess means he can't be a woman, because let's face it, only men get more attractive with age.

No, but seriously now. I love this city so much. Though I think back with a smile of the two places I didn't report back to you about yet.

Place #1 I didn't report back to you about yet.

Antarctica


Slushy water and snow. Seaside Arendal and Antarctica are difficult to differentiate, so I'm not sure which one I visited but either way, it was pretty awesome. Suzanne and Tiago were great hosts. I'd met Suzanne a long time ago in Rotterdam and had answered her pleas for people to come visit her little nowhere house.

She even tought me how to make snowshoes! HOLY SHAZITBALLS!


This is a useful skill in places where you have snow up to your waist or further.

Place #2 I didn't report back to you about yet.

Awesome-land

I don't think I've ever been so lucky with my couchsearches before. I did a "logged in last 24 hours / Couch on definitely" search for Stavanger, a place about 100 kilometers from my airport, and got two people. I checked the profile of the first of the two, and found some things that looked familiar.
On the left my profile with an FAQ that mocks itself and myself, on the right my Stavanger host's profile with an interview of herself.

( Yes since FAQ is pronounced "effaycue" and not "fack"it takes "an")
I decided to skip the boring typical request and wrote a long spirited piece of literature that should surely be published.
Before I had even finished a couch request to the other guy that showed up in the search I had a text message saying that her housemate was now afraid of her and my arrival because upon reading my request and my profile she had lauged so hard that he was now convinced she was a maniac. (He was, of course, right about this).

Upon my arrival I was shown into my own midget-sized room. (no, really, the door was 1 meter high. Even my pygmy ex-girlfriend wouldn't have fit through there without bending.)
I was shown around by Martina in beautiful Stavanger, and hiked round bunkers. I was introduced to some literature which I mocked fittingly as I clenched Maddox' Alphabet of Manliness and cried inside.

It was with mixed feelings that I hit the road to the aiport after three nights. (Aw! I wanna stay in awesome-land. / Yay, the open road!). But it was a fine road with a few islands, seperated by tunnels and a ferry, and a few hours later and a few hours before the plane left I was dropped off ata 3 kilomter walk from the airport.

That night I stayed with Dave again in Bremen, and spent an awesome weekend camping at Carel's in Rotterdam, before finally finding my way home to Leiden and having to accept the extreme bankrupcy that will keep me stranded here for a while to come.

Luckily spring and summer are couchsurfing hightimes, so I'm sure I won't be bored.

More pictures of Arendal & Stavanger

SurferOfCouches

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

You're about to learn a new word

Today's word: Fennoscandian

Fennoscandian is the name for the trip I'm taking. This is a word invented for all the sourpusses in Fennoscandia who don't want Finland referred to as Scandinavia. Of course everyone outside Fennoscandia knows that if your flag had a cross on it, centered slightly left on the flag's horizon, your ass is scandinavian.

Suck on that, Fins (not to mention Iceland )

I set out to hitchhike to Bremen, which is a lovely city and where my host Dave was generally funny. I'd met him in Budapest, but not really met him. You know how it goes, meeting people in passing. But he turned out be awesome, and he has good taste in women. (I am totally stealing his girlfriend, you guys, but don't tell him!)

And also they have this Dom thingy... yeaaaah

And then I flew to Tampere, hitched straight down to Helsinki to meet my harem.

Pirianna and Emilia to my left and right, both were au pairs in my home town of Dordrecht when I go to know them.

I spent about a week discovering that the Fins are a pretty boring people, or as the riddle goes:

"How do you recognize an extrovert Fin?" "They stare at your shoes."

Though it was pretty neat that in one day I saw more snow than I did in the rest of my life, and that I could walk on the sea.
Mmmmm... soft

"When do we get to the sea?"
"You're standing on it."
"Oh."

Unfortunately I had to take my flight back to Bremen then, which of course meant going home, since I wasn't about to hitchhike back up into Fennoscandia in -10 centigrade.

Nope

So, of course, I hitchhiked up to Stockholm, because the only home I have is the road. It took me three days to get to Stockholm for one reason, and one alone: Some hitchhiking places in Sweden suck. It took me a while to realise that in Scandinavia on-ramps with your thumb out are actually better than their gas stations which are often at least a km from the highway, small, and frequented by locals, not long-distance drivers.

The first day of the hitch up was really lucky. Even though it ook me 3 or 4 hours to get out of Bremen, right before Kiel I met Jørg. Jørg was a german from Dortmund, moving to Sortland, up north in Norway (Yeah, it's pretty far up). He had all his stuff with him and he was taking the ferry from Kiel to Gøteborg, and since he was paying the same amount regardless of the amount of people in his car, he had no problem taking me along.

My free bed on the right. Jørg on his on the left.

The next day, the ferry docked at 9 and by 9 30 we were on our way North, where I got stuck for a long time before moving on to Karlstad, where I pulled some strings to stay a night with Elina's boyfriend's friend's neighbor. (Elina being my host in Stockholm, whom I hadn't met yet, technically making Marion Carel's friend's boyfriend's friend's neighbor. Then of course true to my nature, I left the very instrument used for the pulling of aforementioned strings (read: my phone) in Karlstad.

Noooo, Phony!

So after a romantic 5 days in Stockholm, I ha to pick up my phone again and finally go home. No way was I going to find an excuse to spend even more time in a meter of snow.

A few reasons to spend more time in a meter of snow

1
See old friends
2
Karlstad is the direction of Norway, so... 3 A flight from Haugesund to Bremen is only 160 NOK (20 Euros)

It was thusly that I arrived in...

Drammen?

Yes, I was there for about 14 hours, before I hitchhiked to Suzanne's in Arendal, where she lives basically in the middle of nowhere. No, really look at google maps, there's nothing around...

Ok, that was the wrong link. This should clear it up.

More fennoscandian pictures

Surfer of Couches

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Turn this damn boat around!

A two-bit wrecking crew!

Do these look like reliable sailors to you? Well, They're not. One of them promotes smugglars to high ranked positions, another one is a smuggler, and the last one has illigitimate children that murder captains. Or something.

Murder Mystery Game second edition, where people get to dress up awesomely (this time it was set on a Cruise Ship in 1918) and try to achieve a set of goals by manipulating the other characters. The best thing about it though, is seeing Jonas dress up the best of all.

Maximilian von Grafenberg, German procurement minister

This blogpost is brought to you from Bremen 6 hours before my plane leaves to Tampere in Finland. And so I will try to take you through some events quickly.

Berlin Beach Camp: The reunion

In June I wrote to you about Berlin Beach Camp, Europe's biggest CS meet, and as is often the case, some of the people were so awesome I had to come back and hit them hard on the head with a blunt, sorry, soft object.

"Für die Niederlande, verdammter Deutscher!"

I went to meet Oeyvind, Ivan and Ingre for a little reunion, and it just happened to be International pillowfight day, and it went los at the Reichstag. I also lost my wallet in a bar, and shit was basically right down ANNOYING. But hey I got home alright WITH a visit to Ulf and Mailys (Courtesy of these awesome erasmus students, who dropped me off in Köln) , the former of which had just moved to a place that basically put the Kölner Dom in his backyard. Seeing them is just what I needed since I could count on them to host me AND I went out to dinner with them to Vapiano!

Shit yeah

More Pictures of this

Also I had four awesome CouchSurfers who all managed to find a place right before I left.

Christine in some of my getup for the Murder Mystery

Now I'm wrapping this up so I can get maybe one or two hours of sleep!

Look out for the next blog post!

Monday, January 18, 2010

The person you are trying to reach is currently unavailable. This might be because your phone is made by Fisher-price / Home Sick

For those of you born after 1995, this is called a "rotary dial phone"

What? Who? Where? It's 2010, the rotary dial patent was filed on August 20, 1896, and they stopped making these in 2006, 110 years later.

Wait did someone say 2010? I better rewind, and you can read all about Arnhem Calling at the bottom of this post. Last you saw I was in Ukraine, on my way to Budapest. So here is what happened, get ready to have your worlds rocked:
I arrived safely and was dropped right outside the camp !
TUN-TUN-TUUUUN!

Budapest Winter Camp

What followed was well, Wintercamp. However, since I'd already seen Budapest it was generally just fun to see a lot of familiar faces from all over Europe, like david, whom I'd met in Bucharest, Henri, Linda, Maikel, Trevor (Berlin), Carel, Gijs, and of course my favorite mommy and daddy: Mailys and Ulf!
I also got to meet the famous floh fish, which was quite the experience.

Now the highlight of this meeting would have been the new year's party, which they had planned at the exclusive Citadella, a prime location from which you could see all of Budapest (and it's fireworks!) on a clear night. Except... it was a foggy night, so you couldn't see anything. But that's ok.
The next highlight would have been the labyrinth of Buda.
Mommy and Daddy in the Buda labyrinths

I mean it was pretty cool, though it was only a labyrinth in the metaphorical sense, with a bunch of hallways that reflected the different time periods of Hungary's history, and also a fountain of wine.

Nadia digs it

But man, even that couldn't compete with the amazing extremely special very first snert meeting organized by Maikel at the apartment he was renting. Oh yeah, this is Snert:

You want this shit, man.

Ok, I know I've lied to you guys a lot of times, only to contradict myself two lines later. I promise I'll never do that again.
Expect for now. Maikel's Snert meeting was awesome. It really was, a small group of people just eating something Dutch in the middle of all this cultural activity. Which is exactly why it wasn't the highlight of Budapest Winter Camp. It wasn't part of the Wintercamp as far as I'm concerned. It was just what it was, a great opportunity to have a little island of friends.

So what was really the best thing at Wintercamp? For me it was this moment:
This is what wintercamp really was for me
I don't think, indeed I hope I will never forget this moment. patricio passing around the matte, while a russian woman whose name I do not recall played a song about hitchhiking (in russian). Telling "horror" stories of CouchSurfing. (CouchSurfing stories told on the rhythm of the guitar like a horror story with a (usually positive) twist )

I wish I could give people an idea of what this was really like, but all I can say is: Experience it yourself sometime.

More pictures of Wintercamp


Home sick

A few weeks ago I was reading one of the final chapters of my book "Spraakreisa", a book about the history of the Norwegian language. The chapter was entitled "Roeyk fritt" which translated to "Smoke freely" and dealt with how this is not the same as "Roeykfritt" which means "smokefree" and was the intentional message the bar owner was trying to send. So when I say that I was home sick, please dear readers, make no mistake. This message brought to you by the association for the overcorrection of errors in language. You will now be returned to your regularly scheduled blogpost

After wintercamp I hitchhiked to Prague with Henri, who was very happy when we arrived, since he'd never really put his fate in hitch-hiking before, but once we got our first rides (as it always is) things looked a lot better. at about 9 pm that night we were in our subway to our respective hosts.

Pinar, my host in Prague

After two nights of being quite sick, I decided to take to the road again and head home. I had an easy hitch-hike ahead of me. I was at the gas station at about 9 in the morning so experience had taught me I'd be home before 10 pm. Unfortunately none of my experience had been in winter and at 10 pm I was freezing my ass off at a gas station neat Hannover. It wasn't until 8 in the morning that I was dropped in Zoetermeer, where I could safely get on the bus to Leiden, where my internet had been disconnected because of cash-flow issues. (Damnit!)

Plans once again fluctuated. I was to get the plain to Spain, but the rain in Spain falls mainly on the planes, so when I missed it because I was convinced there would be more trains from Antwerpen ( I can't even stay in the country for 4 days!) to Eindhoven, I had to rethink my schedule.
This is an accurate portrayal of everyday Antwerpen life (Like, fo' reals, yo.)

I had a flight from Barcelona to Madrid I could catch if I hitchhiked there, and initally I considered this. Next day I realized I was hella tired from all the roadside thumbing (yes, I just used the non-word "hella" and I do not care) so that was not happening. Then I considered going to Stockholm for a moment, but after a long discussion with Carel, realized I would potentially not make it back in time for my trip to Berlin.

And this is how I got to attend:

Arnhem Calling

Ring fucking ring, this is Arnhem Calling

I'd met the main organizer and all-round awesome person Sytse (Ben to anyone who is erotically interested in him - or can not pronounce his real name) before at assorted meetings, but he did an exceptional job hosting the majority of people together with his housemate Niels. I missed some of the good stuff (city trip, dinner at his place) but got an awesome Loesje workshop and neat conversation at a semi-crappy Italian place instead.

The part I was most looking forward to was canceled cause of bad weather, but again, people saved the day, in the sense that, since so many great people were there it was totally worth it. (Am I repeating myself guys)

After two days of fun and food, it was time for SERIOUS BUSINESS!

An image from the Ambassador meeting
Oh, oops.

Correction, An image from the ambassador meeting