Pause 1
Stuttgart: 2000-04-10

Stuttgart, Germany:

I don't have to much time to do this, but hey, I can type
uml„ute! Fu½b„lle, fr, zw”lf, but they don´t come out.

Places:

Liverpool Aiport- A lovely little airport, with flights
mostly to warm mediterrainian destinations, although I can't
imagine many Spaniards flying up to Merseyside. The sort of
airport that requires fog and a beige trenchcoat, "maybe not
today, maybe not tomorrow..." Dawn and I marvelled at the
Plane-spotters. Some seniors and a few odd looking teenagers
that were happier to write down the planes they saw, rather
than scout, more traditionally, for trains. They watched the
private aircraft and charter jets with binoculars that cost
more than this trip will cost me. The fancy zoom lense
camera was brought out by one of the spotters for a sleek
charcoal grey lear jet that looked the perfect place to
strike evil corporate deals. I can say that I saw that
plane, but I didn't write the number down.

Amsterdam- The Amsterdam hostel HI-Stadsdoelen is very nice
and comfortable, or at least I know the lobby is, because
they had no trace of our reservation and were booked out.
Dawn and I wandered the city and kept the McDonald's payphone
well fed while searching for a place to stay the night. Our
luck was just enough to secure the last two beds at the
Christian hostel (lots of rules) in the Red-light District.
The XXX-Shelter as it's called, would not normally be a place
that I would go into, judging by the sign, but since XXX is,
appropriately, part of Amsterdam's coat of arms. It didn't
mean that. The rest of the neighborhood's XXX's were of the
other nature, however it all didn't seem that lewd. Rather
than having the neon Las Vegas look I expected, the red-light
district looked like all the other neighborhoods, except
poorly lit and with women standing in shop windows.
This only being the first day of the trip, I manged to
lose, or have stolen, my green raincoat. It's disappearance
was so impressively smooth and unnoticable that I haven't the
slightest idea when it went AWOL. I was now forced to scour
the H&M's for a European replacement.
Amsterdam is a partner city of Toronto, and they have a
surprisingly similar look sometimes (except for the canals).
More importantly they share the problem of being poor
'tourist' areas, since it isn't quite clear what your are
supposed to do when you get there. Unless of course one
wants to buy clogs and tulips.
On the last night in Amsterdam, Dawn and I went out for
a beer with a fellow hostelling Londoner (forgot her name)
and wound up at the Irish pub, because that is altogether how
life is sometimes.

Brussels- Brussels is cheap and has at least two great
hostels. The Magritte section of the Musee des Beaux Arts
was a little disappointing, but the city is best visited for
the food. And the chocolate. And the beer. At a restaurant
near the Grand-Place, we sat at a table next to five
Americans. The four males were the most stereo-typical
upper-middle class Americans I have ever seen. They seemed
to have been (and dressed as if they were) just plucked off
of some golf course in Santa Fe. La Grand-Place is the most
postcard perfect part of Europe, so it was only fitting that
they were the most perfect postcard writing Americans.

Koeln Hauptbahnhof- This is the beginning of the stretch
that I am doing alone. While sitting and waiting for the
overnight train to Copenhagen, I shared the platform bench
with two Canadians. I somehow had absolutely no desire to
start a conversation with them, and I was just as happy to
read a book as they seemed to be. If they had been girls,
things would probably have been different.
On the train, I shared the couchette with an Iranian ex-
pat and a retired schoolteacher from Burlington ('My
Grandfather lives near Port Nelson,' I said). The Iranian
told me stories of how often he had been robbed in the night
on this train, and the paranoia this caused made me think he
was diverting the blame from himself should I be robbed. The
Iranian loved to talk, the other Canadian loved to listen and
goad people on. It was a talkative trip.

Copenhagen- Cold and Expensive, with many people were
running around in bright ski-jackets! Such a shock for
Europe these days, and here I was in my Paris greys and
blacks.

Odense- Sunny, epensive, with brightly painted buildings, a
fancy hostel right by the train station.

Copenhagen- Copenhagen has many 7-11's, but no slurpees.
They probably would have been cold and expensive too.

Berlin- I spent my Krona fairly quickly in Denmark, so I was
off to Germany a little sooner than I had thought. The
hostel I was going to stay in was victim of the Postdamer
Platz redevelopment. The whole city is still a giant
construction site, and doesn't look like it will be
'done' for another ten years. An HI guesthouse had a bed
free thankfully. It was filled with school groups but didn't
have a kitchen. Bread, cheese and tomates again.
One of the reasons for returning to Berlin was to take
another picture of me with the statues of Marx and Engels in
Mark-Engels Platz. I had lost the roll of film I took in
Berlin two years ago while travelling. As I was walking to
the square, I thought how ironic it would be if my camera`s
expensive-hard to find lithium battery were to die just as I
was going to have the picture taken. It did. I found a
camera shop with a grumpy saleswoman, bought a battery, and
ran back to the Platz. An English student/tourist group were
having a lengthy lecture right at the statue. I was about
ready to react against the masses, but my patience held, and
I got the picture after they left.
The excitement later that day was running to catch a
commuter train and finding out too late that it was going out
of service. Thankfully Berlin subways have manual doors, so I was able to open them and walk along the siding until I came to the a couple drivers. I wasn't even going to try and muster a German accent, because, there is nothing that a confused tourist
can't excuse himself from with broad American deutsch. The conducters were really nice
about it and I caught the first train back into service.

Leipzig Hauptbahnhof- Trains, trains and more trains. I have
seen countless episodes of the Deutsche Bahn's travel show
that they play on a tv screen in the station. Leipzig
Hauptbahnhof has more quality bakeries than Toronto, plus it
has fast food Mexican. :)

Munich- Saw mostly the Deutsches Museum. What can I say,
Baden-Wrrtenburg is always better than Bavaria. :)