Saturday, December 29, 2007

Lost videos plus Colette's 1st tractor ride

video

Tour bus ride in Dublin

video

Coast of Ireland

video

The infamous 3 wheeled Piaggio

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This is some Italian dude we met on the sleezy Italian transport system. He knew approximately 3 words worth of English (not that I am talking shit because I know only 3 words of Italian - lotto = lucky, grazie = thank you, grappa = drunkeness ). Our host told him we were going to record him because we liked the way he spoke with his hands. Even though we couldn't understand a word he was saying, he was so expressive. Suffice to say, he became instantly shy and reserved once we started recording. The 3 words he knew in English you ask? "I LOVE CANADA!" Though he had never been there, he wanted to move for economic gain and he heard nice things about the country. After we told him that the ladies would love his accent, we think it pretty much cemented his future exodus to the Great North.

video

Friday, December 28, 2007

On a less travelistic note

There was absolutely no debate wether I was going to post this picture or not.


Wilbur couldn't wait to open his present.

This is Wilbur's senior photo. Wilbur felt obligated to wear the jacket Colette bought for him Christmas but he expressed interested in regifting it next year.


Colette getting r' done on the tractor.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

A trips' summation

All miles flown starting from Seattle and ending in Seattle 5 weeks later
Seattle - Toronto - London (Nov 5th)
London - Dublin (Nov 9th)
Dublin - Paris (Nov 13th)
Brussels - London (Dec 11th)
London - Toronto - Seattle (Dec 12th)
Total miles via plane =
13,326 miles

Miles travelled by Eurail pass (698 US dollars / each)
3,498.72 miles
.19 US Cents / mile to travel

36 total nights spent in Europe
5 nights at hostels
31 nights at couch surfing members
Total spent on lodging for 36 nights = approximately 300 US dollars

10 different couches surfed via couchsurfing.com
8 amazingly kick ass couple/individual people/roommates encountered
1 creepy Canadian guy (note previous post - "When couchsurfing goes horribly .. annoying"
1 Austrian bitch and her weird ass boyfriend

Random connections only possible by the internet and presumably an abundance of free time;
Kevin, one of my most faithful readers and a protege of mine, says that every morning before work he checks garretthohn.blogspot.com to see if there is a new post. Isn't that badass? He says he has turned random people he has met onto the URL. Random people, I welcome you. I hope you have enjoyed my stories. It is interesting to think that people I don't know will get to see, and read about my travels and perhaps be annoyed by crassness.

I have heard from an undisclosed source that one of my signature phrases has been heard in the greater Seattle metropolitan area. I would be quite honored if this phrase was catapulted into everyday lexicon much the same way that Tom Cruise brought back "glib." If you remember my Nov. 26th post entitled "Fuck it dude ... Let's go to Budapest," you will recall a story about a pair of indecisive-road-weary travelers at a deadening crux. Spurred by raging impetuousness, the phrase "Fuck it dude ... Let's go to Budapest," was uttered. Of course you don't remember this profound phrase because that was the only blog I have written that hasn"t received a single comment! Well, one reader remembered at least and was overheard using the tag line when reaching a similar impasse involving where to dine for lunch.

Random Musings
1. The Londoners walk 40% faster then we do. It's that awkward really fast walk but not quite a jog thing
2. London folks are always dressed up. Take their fashion pretty seriously they do. It's always suits for the blokes and a skirt or nice pants for the ladies. A fancy scarf is obligatory fare for either sex.
3. The US dollar sucks
4. The French people are very petite and dainty. Bodes well to not fighting in war.
5. The Italians were the rudest people we encountered
6. The nicest; the Swiss followed by French and Germans

I will soon post some lost pictures and videos from the trip:)

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Little ole' Belgium

So we've been home for almost a week. As you could have guessed, I pretty much shot my blogging load on the Berlin post. Berlin had history, pictures and incredible stories that intertwined into the "perfect post" but adrenaline can only carry you so far and I have got the refractory period of an aging novelist. But I've come to the conclusion that I need to finish what I've started. From the very first post in London on November 6th, this is the last post to conclude our European adventures.

Colette and I arrived in Antwerp to meet Inez and Guy. They were exactly who we needed to meet at that time. They were so friendly and relaxed and more importantly completely cool with us just decompressing from 4 weeks of Blitzkrieg travel.

Guy and Inez took us on a walking tour of Antwerp. It's a neat old city with, you guessed it, really old buildings and traditions. We sampled the heavenly creation that Belgium is renowned for; the waffle. Colette opted for the 1,500 calorie concoction photographed below. (side of insulin not pictured)


Guy and Inez then took us to this crazy little bar. At one time, and by one time I mean around 1500, this served as a cellar for the man that owned the house above it. Now it serves as a really cool old bar.

We needed all the light we could get for the photo as the bar was very dark.


Shots from Brugge, Belgium




View from a tower in Brugge (cant remember the name although I do remember it cost ous 5 Euro each!)

I just realized that I had posted a single paragraph earlier in the day with no pictures. Sounded like one hell of a cliffhanger didn't it? It wasn't intentional, the poached internet in which I write from is shoddy at best. More to come, I promise :)

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Sagen sie "insulin pump" im Deutsche?


It was tough leaving Munich. Alex and Kerstin were absolutely fantastic. Our train ride from Munich to Berlin was a lengthy 6 hours but that was ample time for me to further run up our cribbage score. 35-25

Tell me someone else finds this funny besides Colette and I. I debated for several seconds about including this photo in this blog.

I will be up front on this one. Colette has the navigational skills of a homing pigeon. Me you ask? The navigational sense of a drugged lab rat. So it was again a non-issue that Colette took the literal reigns on our fantastic train voyage. Colette secured us a place to stay with a man named Harun in east Berlin. He was to meet us at the train station at 5:45 PM.

Hitlers bunker was located about 30 feet below. It had 10 ft thick concrete walls and ceilings and is the place where he killed himself. It fittingly now serves as a place were people from the surrounding apartments take their dogs out to go dookie.

What Colette overlooked was the fact that we were arriving at Berlin-Sedkruez and Harun was at Berlin-Hauptbanhof. A "slight" oversight that set us back 1.5 hours and left Harun guzzling coffee at the train station while waiting for us.

Harun was exceptionally understanding about the whole situation. We met up with him and he took us back to his place. His apartment was a large, beautful flat nestled cozily atop the 6th floor of an apartment building in east Berlin.

Over top of the wall is West Berlin, to the right of the photo, East Berlin. If I had been standing where I was standing to take this photo 20 years ago, I would have been shot.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Fechter is a good read. Although the tour guide said Fetcher was thrown medical aid from the westerners as he lay bleeding to death.

Berlin is full of contradictions and ironies. Here is the Holocaust memorial in downtown Berlin. It is 2,711 cement squares around in a perfect grid costing an ungodly amount of money. Immediately you notice its pristine appearance completely sans graffiti. Each square is manufactured with an anti-graffiti compound. The significance or irony of the situation you ask? The same company that invented and supplied the substance for the memorial happened to be a company that supplied Zyklon B for use in the gas chambers.

The next day we took a New Berlin walking tour on recommendation from a pair of travellers we met in Florence. Bailey even went as far as to describe the tour as "captivating." The fact that this recommendation came from a 19 year old and the fact that it was free was all the reason we needed. The way it works is simple. You meet up for a free tour and at the end you tip the tour guide how much you can afford. The free tour was an overview of Berlin;

A lovely sight for any sightseer.

The free tour was indeed captivating and we decided the next day that we would pay the € 12 and take in the "3rd Reich" tour the next day. The tour the next day was even better than the first. It was roughly 4 hours and the tour guide only broke his speech by occasionally gasping for breathe. We visited Hitlers bunker and the Gestapo headquarters and everything in between. This style of tour is offered in a few major cities such as Munich, Paris, Berlin, Amsterdam, London, Edinburgh. I cannot stress how important it is that you take in one of these tours. http://www.neweuropetours.eu/

Anyways, that night we went out with our host to an Asian themed restaurant and this crazy looking little lounge.

When we came late that evening I had retired to the computer to write a few emails and check some hockey scores when Colette came to me. "Um, G, come here" was what she said to me. What she showed me was her insulin pump gushing copious amounts of insulin.

It became clear that Colette now needed syringes in order to get her the insulin her body needed. "Why don't you use a syringe tonight and we will worry about the pump tomorrow" I said. Colette explained that she didn't have any.

So I get on the phone and call a local emergency number. I spoke to an operator who didn't speak English. I held my own in German but was stumped when I was unable to come up with the words insulin, pump, and syringe. I hung up, called again and this time was connected with someone who spoke English. I got both addresses and directions to a pharmacy and a hospital within walking distance.

This is the view of the outside of Haruns apartment. It seems as those the East Berliners are quite fond of their rattle can. Harun said that the white cabinet sitting outside of the apartment would most definitely be gone within a day. Three days later it was still there but the only difference was, you guessed it, it was covered in graffiti.

Now imagine this. Colette and I leave this apartment building at 1 am, in east Berlin and we are looking for syringes. You really cant make this shit up!

We arrive at the hospital and I tell the nurse in German, because the 3 of them don't speak English, that Colette's pump is "bad" and we need syringes. But of course, I don't know the word syringe so I gesture using the international symbol for syringe which is moving one hand over the inside of your other arm like you are shooting heroin. It is at about now that it becomes pretty clear that they think I am a drug addict looking for needles. They now talk to each other sheepishly and I can only imagine that they are trying to figure out how they are going to kick us out using an impromptu skit of charades.

Luckily a man walks through the nurses situation just as the situation is about to reach an end, offered assistance interpreting. Five minutes later we walked out with 2 syringes and the day, at least the night, has been saved.

The Germans have a reputation of rule following and being on time. The public transportation system pretty much works on the honor system whereas the London transport system has cattle guards and checkpoint to make sure you have paid. The significance of this photo is the yellow box in which law abiding smokers smoke within. Here you see a couple of krauts slowly centimetering their way outside the line. Haven't we learned anything? What starts with minor rule bending involving smoking and centimeters ends up in mass genocide!

What post would be complete with out a profile of a rig. This is a Trabant. People waited up to ten years on a waiting list to buy one of these. After the wall fell, you couldn't give these away. Here is the link to a definite read http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trabi

To whomever called me out. Here is the mullet. Also, notice the one liter beer can and impeccable drinking manners.


Friday, December 7, 2007

Fun in München.

The people have spoken and apparently ... I have a mullet.

It seems like every time we jump on a train it takes 6 hours to get to were we are going. The ride in first class goes by surprising quick and these lengthy trips ensure plenty of time to pad the cribbage scores. Currently total is 28-21 in favor of me.

We arrived late afternoon to our German friend Kerstin´s. Kerstin, as some Mauinians will remember, was the first person we hosted on couch surfing and someone who we had continue to stay in contact with.

Kerstin took us on last Saturday night to a house party. Imagine 2 Americans who know little to no German thrown into a house with 50 chain smoking and beer guzzling krauts all this while a band played what amounted to shitty punk music. Suffice to say there wasn't a whole lot of lingual interaction forged on our behalf but the evening was not for naught. I joined into a spirit game of Nintendo Wii tennis and Colette and I made speculation as to which patrons where going home with one another.

Business first. We went to Dachau on our first day in München. Oprah had pumped up Dachau as a life alerting event. At the risk of sounding callused, I felt that the holocaust museum in Washington D.C was 10 times more powerful. Just sayins all.

We met some extraordinarily friendly folks at Dachau and they invited us out to dinner. What better way to washing away our depressing afternoon in Dachau then some beers at the Hoftbrauhaus. What is it about mass genocide that really brings people together anyways? These are 1 liter beers in exceptionally heavy beer steins.

The obligatory beer wench photo. Well actually she is carry pretzels so I guess this makes her a pretzel wench.

This is Kerstin and Alex. They are fantastic!


They took us up to Cinderella Castle (it does have a German name but I can´t remember at this juncture)

View from within the castle.

This is the view of the beer "isle." It is more like a beer square. Each of these bottles is 500 ml which equals roughly 16 ounces. The price you ask? Wicked cheap. Beer runs about 1.2 Euro per 1 liter for the good stuff!!!

This is a really cute photo of Colette surveying her eating options. The food is quite different and quite good. The yellow things on her plate are dumplings and I have never had anything so tasty and so filling. This restaurant was deep within Bavaria. Alex and Kerstin ordered for us and it became pretty obvious that the waitress became kind of nervous after they had ordered. Kerstin said that the waitress was really excited/nervous to serve foreigners that were really excited about having true German food. It became quite obvious that Colette and I were mini celebrities within the restaurant when the table full of old men would glance over not so subtle and then one by one workers in the kitchen would make their way out of the kitchen to take a peak.

This is blaukraut. It isn't as nearly sour as normal kraut. Its my new favorite food ... besides Kebaps, of course.

Here are a couple of random shots from within München.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Mullet watch 2007

Its been awhile since I have had a haircut. By awhile I mean August. My hair grows quickly. I suppose I should say certain parts of my hair, namely the hair on the back part of my head. My initial intention was to get a haircut after Hawaii and before Europe. I couldn't get a haircut in Hawaii because it was too expensive and I couldn't get one in Europe because I cant speak the native tongue (and its fucking expensive). I missed my 5 day window of opportunity in Oregon before Europe.

I had a premonition early on that my hair might become an issue so i took a picture. This photo is circa November 8th, 2007.


So now I am stuck with the picture you see before you (December 3rd, 2007). Colette hassles me about it constantly and threatens to cut it when she finds a suitable instrument. I cant take off my hat for fear of ridicule. Even our German hosts are giving me shit about it. There are names for the style of hair I have unconsciously donned such as Mississippi mudflap, rat tail, mullet, and my personal favorite, duck butt.

But leave it up to the Germans to outdo us. Colette and I heard this and nearly died. In addition, we like it so much that we refuse to refer to it as anything else. They call it a spoiler. Yep, you guessed it, just like the cheesy addition to the trunk of a car.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Yeah I was in Teen Beat ... in November 94.

We all know that my boyish good looks transcend decades but the tale I am about to tell you will have even the most skeptical readers becoming overnight believers. I just turned 27. Yes, quite depressing indeed. Colette and I were at the grocery store. Well we were at another grocery store but couldn’t find the beer isle and had to ask a clerk, in German mind you, where we could find some. He retorted in a myriad flurry of hand gestures and spoken word that they didn’t sell beer. As it turns out we had to go upstairs to "Denner" which is the Swiss equivalent of Rite-Aid.

We strolled up to the beer isle and recognized some familiar faces such as Heineken and Becks. We asked the fellow shoppers what they preferred. They recommended Becks and Heineken as potential choices. I told them that we have those beers in the US and would like to try something a little more local. They steered us in the direction, wrongly I will add, of a Swiss brewed beer called ... well I cant remember what it is called exactly. It really wasn’t worth remembering in the first place. Homogenous is the first word that comes to mind, but in all actuality, might be bestowing it unjust praise. Its funny cause I have only seen it in Switzerland and not Austria, France or any other of the bordering countries we have visited. It might have something to do with the fact that it tasted like an insipid blend of elk piss and formaldehyde than anything consciously imbibable.

Anyways, in all of our travelling haste, we forgot the cardinal rule of seeking beer advice. Ask someone that resembles a beer expert. Beer experts have tell tale signs of beer afficionadoism such as beer guts, dui`s and lack of jobs. No, instead we seek the advice of a demographic that we have been seeking directional advice for all along ... 16-20 year olds. While 16-20 year olds in Europe have fantastic English speaking skills, their taste for beer is less then desirable. And that will be the last time I take beer advise from a kid with braces.

The funny part of the story actually comes when I buy the beer. I stroll up to the counter and plop down my poorly chosen soon-to-be purchase. "Passport bitte" are the words spoken to me. "Vas?" I reply. "Passport bitte" was again spoken. Yes, even I was taken back. It was in these 3 seconds that I realized that I am being carded for beer in a country with a drinking age of 16!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

We love Switzerland!

Our couchsurfing hosts were amazing (Lukas was not pictured)! Stefan, Jan, Stephanie and Colette

Colette and I arrived at next destination, via train of course, in the late afternoon on Wednesday. Lukas, our host, said while he might not be present, his roomates would be. Sure enough we arrived to meet Jan. Luckily for me, Jan loves hockey. So Jan and I spent the next hour boring Colette to death with all things hockey. Not to be outdone by the fact that Jan´s girlfriend Stephanie plays hockey. She mentioned that she had practice in 2 hours and that her team could use extra players.

To my extreme glee Stephanie called around and found some gear that would fit me. I was on the ice 2 hours later with a bunch of German speaking Swiss players.

video

My try out video for the Swiss Elite Team

There are some things that transcend language barriers such as the international sign for choking and hockey is no different. The drills are the same and the body language follows suit. The look for "that was a shitty pass" can be read in any country you are in and Switzerland proved not to be the exception.

It takes a lot to shock me. When Stephanie took me to the ice rink she warned me that the men and the women change together. Thats really not far fetched for me as that is the way we do it in Montana. In Montana, when the women change in the prescence of the male players they are very reserved and often timid. It might have something to do with the fact that a majority of the players are in their 20´s and frankly we are all perverts. I am very comfortable with nudity. In fact it wasn`t too many years ago in which I dabbled in nudity on both a recreational and professional level. What I saw in the lockeroom even through me for a loop. The female players stripped down to absolutely nothing. To further drop my jaw even more ... they showered with the men. Just part of the game I suppose. Crazy eh?

The next day we went out walking around Zurich to hit the sights. Downtown Zurich is wicked expsensive. In fact, all of Switzerland is wicked expensive. Did Colette and I dine at an upscale resturant? No, that would be rediculous. This was the cheapest thing we could find ... McDonalds. We both got one cheeseburger for 2.50 Swiss Franks each (2.30 US Dollars). A number 1 value meal you ask? 11.30 Franks (10 US Dollars)!

These dudes were cool as shit. The guy on the chair is drinking a beer. I think it was all of 11 am.

Colette and I

Switzerlands claim to fame - the largest clock in Europe

We then rolled over to Lucerne. Yes, they sell swiss army knives everywhere. They are quite proud of that actually. This is a sample of only about a third of the knives they have.

The Swiss truely thought of everything when it came to the knife. Yes, this one had a USB drive.



No garretthohn.blogspot.com post would be complete without a shot of a car. This was a 3 wheeled, one passenger electric car. Not sure of the brand or top speed but it said "Maxima Batteries" on the side of it.

This little beast had batteries but had two seats in it. Both equipped with bike peddles. It seems to be an updated model to the Flintstones rig. "www.eff-energy.com" was its only marking. Perhaps Kirk will be able to provide us with a little more info ....

Anyways, we are off to Munich this morning. Peace