Yes. I'm late again. I apologise, but there was no wifi in the hotel I was in on Sunday. And by hotel I mean piece of shit. But that's not the point.
So it is, indeed day 70. Seventy. Outrageous.
Ok so i wrote that, then one of my fellow tourers came to my door with the invite of "we're going to room blah with wine. want to come with?" so I sort of abandoned this for a few hours to watch youtube/drink/go on a maccas trek. I'm sorry. I should be ashamed of myself.
First I'm late, then I leave you like that! Bad blogger!
Ok so on to the more pressing/exciting matter of what have I done over the last weekish. I've said goodbye to Berlin (hopefully not for long) and hello to Prague, which is where I am currently (in a hotel that has wifi in the bedrooms ftw.) Tomorrow we hit the road for Krakow, Poland, and I have to get up super early (for me). Which is a little bit lame. Apparently the drive is obnoxiously lengthy so I'll snooze on the bus (dedication to the interwebz).
Anyway. On day 63 I took in a bit more of Berlin with the fabulous Sandemans New Europe free walking tour. Seriously love those doods. Life savers. Especially fabulous was that they came and picked us up from our hostel and guided us through the metro to the meeting place. My Berlin guide was definitely my favourite so far. Very passionate about what he was talking about, unlike a lot of them who, though knowledgable and entertaining, are obviously a bit scripted and sometimes come accross as being sick of saying the same things every day. Then again, with a history like Berlin's it's hard not to stay interested.
Day 63 was also the day my icky boy room mates (who were allright, minus the dirty socks) arrived. I had a quiet evening of attempting to sew my leather shorts (which are now done! woo! pics when I have fast enough wifi) while they got messy at various alcohol-providing venues. I finished reading the Diary of Anne Frank that night, for the first time in my life. I'll admit it's shameful that I've never read it but I reccommend it to anyone who still hasn't. The last entry, written 3 days before their secret annexe was discovered, was particularly haunting in its mood. The last line reflects her wish that she could be alone in the world, so that her inner self could come out. Something thagt irked me though is the fact that it's been translated from Dutch. i'm not a big believer in translating literature, because it never has quite the same meaning to it. Also, the grammar and spelling were edited, which I don't think is right with diaries. I would love to be able to read the original, in Dutch but obviously that's not possible. Dammit Anne, why couldn't you write in German?!
One of the best things about Wombats hostel is that they have their own bar. On my third night I went up for happy hour with a few of my room mates. It's fantastic rooming with other lone travellers. Mostly in hostels it's people in twos or threes, so they just do their own thing, but if you've got a few people on their own you can all hang together. And therefor not go to the bar alone, causing people to think you're a prostitute (women who go to bars alone have to be prostitutes right?). The Wombar is good. Small, cheap, and comes with a pool table and smoking balcony with a fantastic view. Also, the menu may say that a double is only 40mL, but kind bar tenders who don't have a legal requirement to measure amounts will give you a lot more. One particular red bull and vodka was undrinkable. 40mL my ass.
Now in my previous post I did ambiguously allude to a mystery wrapped in an enigma. This particular MWIE occured on day 65, a Friday like any other. Most of you probably know because face book is a good way to broadcast these things but I got a tattoo. it's something I've been considering for about a month (by that I mean I've been considering getting one during my trip for about a month. I've wanted one in general for a while). I chose the words "Freiheit ist Alles," or freedom is everything, after a short brainstorm in my handy notebook. I can't think of a much better way to sum up travelling, my personal values and even a little bit of German history in three words. The experience was pretty interesting, I think the tattoo parlour was run by neo-Nazis because there were a few small, subtley placed swastikas on the walls of the room I was in. I didn't notice them until I was getting it so don't think I'm a monster. If I'd have known i would have gone somewhere else. It's getting pretty scabby now and starting to itch a little bit and peel which is dissapointing because when the scab falls off it won't be quite as dark ahaha. Oh and it's on my arm. Once again, pics when poss.
Now, getting a tattoo affected me emotionally more than I would of thought. It was an absolute mental battle for the whole day before, and for a few hours after the event. And let's not forget during. My personal Nazi left me in the room for 5-10min while he went to make the stencil, which was the worst bit because it gave the two halves of my brain ample time to fight it out. If it were an argument between people, it would be a bit like this.
"shit, do you really want to do this?"
"yeah, it'll be fine."
"but it's quite big. And on your ARM. It's pretty visible"
"Oh I can wear sleaves/foundation/big bandaids"
"Mums gunna hate it."
"Seriously. This is permanent. It's not a piercing. You can't take it out tomorrow if you hate it and not even have a scar"
"Oh I can get it removed in a couple of years if i no longer like it, who cares?"
"You're getting a TATTOO :0"
"Fuck it. I'm gettign a tattoo :)"
Kind of like that. It kept going for a few hours afterwards. Whenever I undergo major change, like a dramatic haircut/colour, new piercing etc. I have to get used to it. I mostly end up liking things, but I have to wait untill I've adjusted and come to terms with the differences between before/after and reality/expectation. It's takes me a while to realise that just because things don't look they way you picture, doesn't mean it's bad. By the next night I was at the bar, finding ways to make it visible at all times without beign obvious and generally showing it off to anyone I'd met before I got it.
On day 67 I said farewell to Wombats, my favourite hostel thus far (and my roomies!), and headed west (unfortunately) to find my accomodation for the next two nights. I got lost walking from the train station, mostly because I can't read maps. The hotel was a bit of a mess. Small, decrepit, devoid of English-speaking reception staff (not a problem for me but the same can't be said for some of my tour group) and worst of all, in the WEST. If you're going to Berlin, there isn't much point even going to the former West. There's nothing there really. Shops, yes, but none that can't be found in the East. Bars, yes, but none as good as the East. The East is where the majority of the history is too- the Reichstag, the Wall, the Brandenburg Gate and Hotel Adlon, where MJ chose to dangle his baby out of a window. Anyway, the East is the place to be (unless you wish to go to the Zoo). I got more lost than ever before trying to make my way back to the laundrette that I'd already dropped my clothes off at. I walked off my map, it is safe to say I was in the back arse of WEST Jesus nowhere, not too far from Woop Woop. Even when I got back on the map, I didn't know if I was going the right way because the streets weren't labelled on it. Nightmare. Exhausting, frustrating, possibly rethinking my travellers-are-never-lost theory.
In short, East > West and Pug > You.
That night I did get to have to closest thing I'll ever get to my regular West Ryde Hotel dinner outside of the West Ryde Hotel (affectionately reffered to as Mary's). Pork schnitzel in a mushroom sauce, with baked potatos. Just three weeks and I'll be eating the real thing. Bring on the salad bar.
The next day was the first active day of our tour. Which I forgot to tell you about really... Topdeck Eastern Escape. Lots of countries and currencies. Lots of cheap beer. That's enough background info there. As I was saying, we went on a bit of a driving tour around Berlin, visiting the east Side Gallery, which is a stretch of the wall that has been covered with various murals and the scrawled messages of visitors. I didn't write anything, but realised that I had the perfect sentiment for that time in history, permanently inked into my arm. Silly me. The most notable message I read was "Du has gelernt, was Freiheit heisst, und das vergiss nie mehr" which roughly translates to "you have learned what freedom is/means, and never forget it again." Sounds a bit better in German. I'm sure someone could translate that a bit nicer than me ahaha. We then did the Third Reich walking tour, which focuses more on the sites that are relevant to WWII. Our guide was a proper, well spoken English gentlemen. it was like Mr. Darcy was teaching us about Hitler and German architecture. On this tour, I visited the Holocaust Memorial (full name: Memorial to the murdered Jews of the Holocaust or something similar) for the second time (first being on the free walking tour). It's a field of stelae, or tomb stones, all different in size and shape. It is intended to be walked through, in order to fully experience it. The ground is deliberately uneven and some of the stelae are over 6 feet tall which makes it really quite unnerving to walk through. The artist never stated what the work meant, intending people to come up with their own interpretations and I have a few. The us of tomb-stone-like object is obvious. They're all different, which I believe is to represent the individuality of the victims. They were each their own person, not just part of a massive number. When you walk through there is a definite feeling of fear. It's a bit dark, sounds are cut out, and every now and then you get a glimpse of someone. I think it's supposed to represent the confusion and fear felt both by the captured Jews, and those in hiding. For example, many were driven underground in search of a safe place, which is somewhat reflected by the way the stelae rise up like walls of a maze as well as the unneven ground. It's impossible to properly describe what you feel in there, it's something that has to be felt, and it's incredibly effective at making you really think about what the victims of the war went through.
Of course, when I was there, there were teenagers or some form of school visit running around and laughing and screaming and just generally mucking around which some say is just disrespectful. Don't get me wrong, obviously it is, but I think some people will do anything to avoid feeling the way you're meant to in there. It's not a pleasant experience, to be honest.
I made the mistake of doing some shopping this week (with Josephine, one of the Americans on my tour. She's a bad influence, took me to all of the cute yet reasonably priced boutiques right on the street Wombats is on, which I'd managed to avoid for a week). There were some good finds though so I'm not totally regretful. I got this cool t-shirt with a picture of an SLR on it, and "reflected" in the lense is a mini-map of Europe and Africa. It's really cool, and it was only 15euros. I also found the perfect maxi skirt at Humana, which is a charity shop chain over here. It's white and loose, which is great for me because I love maxi skirts/dresses but, being pair shaped can't wear the tight ones as they just don't look right if you have a butt. I think I spent 16euros on the skirt, a blouse and 2 scarves in that shop. Win. I debuted my leather shorts that night on our pub crawl, and I'm happy with how they turned out. They're very high waisted though, they come up to my ribs which is a bit strange to see these days but they're still cool.
Yesterday was our first driving day on our tour, with many more to come. We climbed onto the bus, after three hours sleep, and drove as far as Dresden, where we stopped for lunch (and internet usage) before continuing on to Prague. Dresden is a gorgeous little place that was almost completely destroyed in the war. The buildings hae been rebuilt to look like the original, some are even as new as the 90s, yet look hundreds of years old. I made myself popular at Subway by speaking German to the staff and enjoyed 6 minutes of facebook for 50c.
In Prague we freshened up at our new (awesome, wifi-in-room-having hotel) before catching the metro in to town for a bit of a walk and then dinner. Our attentions were waning from hunger on the walk and when we finally got to the restaurant we had to wait close to 90 minutes to actually get food. Which, thank God, or perhaps a higher being that I actually believe in such as Coco Chanel, was fantastic. I had duck. It tasted good.
We went to a bar that night for a few drinks (and to watch the show jumping because they don't seem to watch football at their pubs here? Which suits me since I actually understand/enjoy equestrian) where the American boys tought us a fantastic photo-game called "shake face" whereby you violently shake your head from side to side, allowing your lips/cheeks/nose to fly free, while people take photos. Hilarity ensues. I had a fairly early night, and spent the last half hour before bed trying to get a new tattoo-incorporating profile picture for facebook. I'm that cool. In fact, I need a new profile pic for blogger so expect to see it soon!
Today was a lazy day. I slept in, took advantage of the wifi and headed into town at about lunchtime, when I had the best Italian lunch. Bruschetta, rocket salad AND penne amatriciana, with a glass of red, all for 500 kurunas (20euros/30AUD). Awesome sauce. Then I checked out the markets with my room mate Jen before returning here for wifi (and Schoolies-reminiscent-hotel-room-drinking/tubing) And here I am, watching Ren and Stimpy in German. Thank God they have a couple of German channels so I can sort of understand what's going on. Good night (slash good morning for those at home)