Julianne’s Blog

this is my blog. this is the only blog there will be.

Another weekend, another spontaneous festival with Germans 9 May 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Julianne Dodds @ 10:47 AM
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They say that Germans are magnets for other Germans, and damn if it’s not true. And it’s great that I show up on that Ger-dar, not as a full-fledged German, but as I say, I like the Germans and they like me. Not like those Spanish…
Yesterday I had to move to a different room in the hostel, to the last free bed, because of course even when I arrive at the hostel without a reservation I don’t know how many days I’m staying, so I usually only pay one day at a time (which sometimes means I don’t have a bed, but also this confusion sometimes results in the receptionist forgetting to charge me). In my new room was a hung-over German who immediately invited me to party with his friends for the day. My plan was to spend the day reading in the park, but this sounded good too. This was 11h00.

So we tumbled out into the main square where there just happened to be a huge festival celebrating Krakow’s students. We grabbed some beer, a brand called Redd that mixes beer with juice for some delicious mixes, and met up with the other Germans. About this time German-Boy-Robin (Herr Robin to distinguish him from all the other Robins I have) and I thought to introduce ourselves. When the other Germans found out that I had visited their hometown Regensburg (remember the mushroom cafe?) they were delighted, and the day began.

We spend a couple hours at the concert in the main square, where the city’s students had decked themselves out in some silly costumes. It was like Mardi Gras on Frenchman Street, but smaller, daylight, more sober (sorry guys, but I believe NOLA can outdrink every other city in the world) and no drugs. Then we grabbed some spicy kebabs, which Herr Robin complained about for the next 12 hours, met up with a giant brick wall of a Dane, and hopped a bus out to Nova Huta, the communist district of Krakow. There, behind the Real Hypermarche, in an abandoned airfield, was a huge concert. We grabbed some more beers, got some new sunglasses, a 18″ hotdog, and settled down.

My new friends

new shoes!

I saw a band called Lady Pank, which seems to be Poland’s answer to the Rolling Stones complete with a creepy Mick Jagger, and then a German punk band called Die Toten Hosen, or the Dead Pants. Boy, did those Krakow students love those bands. I’d never heard of them before, but apparently they are each countries’ most popular group.

At this point it was about 1 am and I was still wearing the sundress I’d set off in at noon. I was cold and exhausted. We grabbed a taxi back into the city center and then did what all hip European kids do on a Friday night: McDonald’s. And boy, were those nuggets tasty. There were 2 police stationed in the McD’s making sure no one laughed too loud or sat on the counter, and it is my opinion that their power made them crazy. Too much authority. About 2h30 I got into my bed. Herr Robin and I had parted ways; he was heading out to a club. Crazy Germans.

So in a couple hours I take a bus south to Budapest. I’ve got my last 15 PLN (about $5) to spend. I already came across 2 shirts in the perfect shade of yellow, and I’ve been looking for a perfect shade of yellow T shirt in my size for months, so now I have 2. It’s a sunny day, the tourists are clogging the streets, and I’m going to eat a mango gelato and watch it all.

Also, I am so pleased that I got my brother the perfect birthday present from Poland…

Other things that make my life possible: travel spacebags, Diva cup, USAA bank which allows me to make unlimited international transactions, including cash withdrawls, for no fees, lightload towels (although now I want the beach towel!), and Rick Steves.

 

Viva Bavaria! 1 May 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Julianne Dodds @ 11:03 PM
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Well, I was planning on going to Prague today, but an irresistible opportunity came up late last night. After going out to a pub (and blogging) I was sitting in the hostel office with Ian, the friendly British employee, and Jemma, the blonde Australian backpacker. They mentioned this beer festival going on in a town about 1 hour outside of Nuremberg, and it seemed like a quintessential Bavarian experience.

So after changing my plans with dear Izzy, the three of us set out today. On the train we rendez-vous-ed with Ian´s giant German friend Chris (the third Chris I´ve met during my 4 days in Germany). We made a pit stop for some ice cream sundaes, and then continued on to our stop. From the train we could see the festivites under way–on top of a very big hill. A burg even. It was an agonizing 45 minutes up that damn hill, with not nearly enough shade or water, but finally we made it. Hundreds of Bavarians had congregated on top of this hill in the middle of nowhere, and there were tents everywhere selling beer, bratwurst and nearly every other meat product you could want, pretzels, and candy–including one man selling 4 different flavors of cotton candy. I have to say, the erderbeer cotton candy was delicious.

I do love cotton candy

So the four of us laid out on the grassy hill, enjoying the sunshine and cold beers while we watched the frolicking Germans and had no end of fun ridiculing the teenagers. There were giant pretzels, 18″ sausages, steak sandwiches, and any number of things to make you sick. Eventually it was time to go, to catch the last train back to Nuremberg, and we decided to walk to the town next to the one we started from. We happily set off down the hill, further down, further down… Still no train station… Just a few minutes left till the last train left… We started running… Faster… Still no station! I was out of breath and my knee, which had been hurting all day from walking, was really throbbing at this point. But we kept running, although I was in dead last. Eventually, around a corner, we saw the train passing, and then eventually stop, but I was still a ways off. I made the train with about 4 seconds to spare and just about collapsed into a seat. But we made it back to Nuremberg and cooked a yummy pasta dinner all together.

This hostel is actually booked full for tonight, with no space for me or Jemma, but Ian´s taken care of us. He set up 2 cots in a spare basement room, so we actually have complete privacy, and since these aren´t official beds we are both staying tonight for free! We´re using the office bathroom, which has the only shower where the water runs continuously without automatically shutting off after 9 seconds. And the bathroom is stocked with toiletries left behind by other travelers, so I finally got to wash my hair. In a bit we are going to fill up some buckets with warm water and rosewood oil and give ourselves pedicures while drinking some vodka&cokes.

It´s really great to meet someone so generous, and this has really been a perfect experience. Ian has traveled extensively himself, and he is happy to help me and Jemma without expecting anything in return. I liked Nuremberg yesterday, but after today it will always be a very special memory for me.

 

The Duke abides 29 April 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Julianne Dodds @ 8:13 PM
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The last week has been very eventful, and the internet here is free, so this is going to be a long post.

Long story short, after Madrid I went back to Le Vignaud. I wound up staying a little over a week, longer than I had planned, because there were 2 celebrations. The first was the 50th anniversary of Jason´s neighbors, Jean-Francois and Lucienne. They set up a large tent in their front yard and filled it with about 50 Frenchies, plus us American crashers. The food was in a separate tent and the wine was everywhere. It was pouring rain, and the tents dripped everywhere, turning the yard to a muddy mess. By the time the strawberry cake was served, a guitar had been found and the singing commenced. I didn´t know the words, but I could generally understand the songs and a good time was had by all.

The next day was the birthday of our American friend Gigi. She and her boyfriend Alex came over to Jason´s house, as well as our British friend Darren, and we made a party. Jason shucked and fried up some oysters, and we made some delicious poboys complete with Avery Island Tabasco sauce that we bought at Carrefour, the European Walmart. Apple pie a la mode came next, and suffice to say we all went to bed stuffed. The next morning we had biscuits and crepes for breakfast. It was quite a weekend for binge eating!

So on Monday, after all these parties, Jason and I drove up to Paris, and I took a train to Munich. With my railpass I only had to pay €4! I was in a 6-seat compartment, but I was the only one there. I put up the armrests and laid across 3 seats, and it was comfortable. I arrived in Munich at 7AM only slightly blurry eyed.

I went on a free tour of the city, and the American guide was pretty cool. Outside the Frauenkirke he was telling us the legend of “The Devil´s Footprint,” which involved the Duke of Munich making a deal with the devil. Of course, the duke tried to cheat the devil, and when he found out Satan declared (in the words of Kevin the guide): “This aggression will not stand!” I laughed, but no one else did, and Kevin continued with the story, in which the Duke wins and keeps his soul. Once we were inside the church I saddled up to him and asked if the moral of the story is “The Duke abides.” This called for a high-five, my first in a Catholic church, but hopefully not the last.

So everynight in Germany has involved drinking. The first night I went out with some people I met on the tour for a beer house crawl, including the hofbräahaus, complete with the umpapa band. The next night I went to an Irish pub with a German guy I met at a Jesus street rally, where I heard “Blueberry Hill” played live by an ex-pat. And I did it all in my new orange sandals… Oh yeah, I dig Germany.

This morning I woke up in Munich and took a train to Regensburg, about 90 minutes away. It was a nice little town, and walking through a park some people at a picnic table offered me a drink. The Germans like to drink and they like to share. They also like mushroom cafes, and who could blame them?

The shroom cafe in Regensburg

After a couple hours in Regensburg I hoped back on the northbound train for Nuremberg. What a wonderful city! I have to say, I like it much better than Munich. Walking around town, you always see at least 1 church and half-timbered house. I met a Hare Krishna and found “American Store,” which sells mostly camouflage and Jack Daniels souvenirs. But I did buy a paper American flag. Later on, walking through the market, I found a gift for my mom. I can´t say what it is but Mom, you are going to love it!

The hostel I´m at in Nuremberg is pretty nice, and very friendly. I just went out with a guy who works here and 2 other girls, to another Irish pub (I do like the whiskey). Tomorrow I am going to do more Nuremberg sightseeing, then catch a ride to Prague to chill with Izzy for a couple days before going onward, eastward, to Krakow. It is turning out to be quite the adventure!