Friday, 29 July 2011

26/7 Carlesburg brewery and Christiania

Today was a trip to the brewery. What a sweet smell it was! They have the worlds largest beer bottle collection, about 20,000 by memory. However I could not find any Australian beer, so it wasn't a complete collection. I had only just got through the brewery when it was time to go. This was an issue as the entry ticket entitled me to 2 free beers. To solve this dilemma, I stayed at the brewery. They were very nice beers!

I chose not to go straight back to the conference, like the bus did. Instead, I walked through the city. I remembered about a hippy community that took over an abandoned naval base in the 70's, called Christiania. As I approached, I saw 3 girls getting excited over a suspicious looking package. I soon found out why. There is about 20 or more stalls selling all varieties of top quality marijuana and hashish. There was also food and drink stalls and cafe's. I am not sure if they were selling herbal food and drink, I didn't buy anything......... honest, I didn't!
The whole village is definitely hippy, with graffiti and bright multi-coloured t-shirts everywhere.
The evening was a concert, then a meal of spaghetti, with another beer ($20 aud in total), with 3 other esperantistoj from the UK (the country). I couldn't help but think of the irony; 4 fluent English speakers, (3 native) in a country that has worked hard at learning English, discussing the menu in esperanto, the "internacia lingvo".  Curiosity got the better of the waiter, "what language are you speaking?". He had never heard it before and couldn't quite figure out where it came from!
The last item of the day was a theatre production in esperanto about a piece of its history.

Photo's: a good feed at the brewery, the gates and the internals of Christiania

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

25/7 eco-village

Today was a trip to some Eco village. A group in the 70's decided to settle here. There is all sorts of different houses here. When we returned to Copenhagen, I realised I left my hat at the village. Damn, that is the 2nd that I have left behind. Guess I will buy another.
Afternoon was a concert, and the evening was a banquet, followed by a concert. The feeling of this congress is very formal.

Photos: the little mermaid, and a store that specializes in kids designer couches. Someone had to do it.

24/7 UK opening

This is being written 4 days late, so its gonna be quick.
The opening consisted mostly of boring speeches. The day was a consent with the band Kajto. I tried to listen to some of the lectures, but I didn't understand them. I get a slight impression that "english bashing" is a favorite hobby of some Esperantists. I think they need to get over their objections to English. It doesn't do their cause any good.

The frustration of the day came from an evening concert featuring local musicians, the sort of thing I like. I thought I arrived 10 minutes early. Turns out, I arrived 80 minutes late. Someone decided to move the start time forward an hour and a half. The only place this was written was in esperanto, in a daily newsletter. The 2nd objection I have of this lot is their assumption that everyone fully understands esperanto here. After all, it is still a language that needs to be learnt. This has caused me a few problems here. They really do need to recognise English a lot more; sometimes it is needed, even at an esperanto conference. How many international conferences is important information only available in one language? Maybe it is just the old folks that forgot what it is like to learn. Maybe its just me still being upset about the concert start time being changed.

Photos: outside the congress centre, inside the centre, and the concert hall.
Photo game; where's the bloody toilet. at some point in the next few posts, there will be a public toilet in a photo. See if you can spot it! I was starting to believe Copenhagen didn't have public loo's until I had to ask. Turns out, the loo was only a hundred metres away!

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

23/7 registration

Today was mostly waiting in line collecting stuff and buying tour tickets. At night, I made it to my new home for a week, the student accomodation. I have my own bathroom here! The room is quite big, but no TV. There is a basement with a whole range of stuff, but unfortunately can not be used as it was flooded one month ago by a big rain. There is a couple of washing machines that appear new. I can't figure out what coin I need to operate them, so my clothes will have to wait.

Photo is of the wind turbine outside the Congress centre.
Added photo: Copenhagen street with Esperanto banner.

Sunday, 24 July 2011

22/7 planes, trains and bicycles....... and Copenhagen

Today was my first trip in a turboprop plane, times 2. I had a very brief stop in some airport, I don't know the name. I got to Copenhagen airport in 3 hours, landing at 12:30. The airport appears small, but very busy.

My first opinions is that this is a very clean and friendly city. The "friendly" bit probably comes from the fact, almost everything is in the local language and English, and I recognise the alphabet. Makes things so much easier. If only someone thought of using just one simple language across the world 100 years ago, trips would me much easier for all of us. Hang on......someone did! 
Some of the trains here do not have drivers. They are automated. It's quite fun to sit where the driver normally would sit. The trains with drivers are like 1st class in every cabin, complete with tv! Some even have personal lights and power points. The trains and busses have free wifi. The public transport also runs on time, and not a minute late.
The surprises do not stop there. There are bicycles everywhere. Many antiques, dedicated bike paths everywhere. outside the central station was at least 1000 bikes.

I discovered my pre-ordered accommodation opens tomorrow, so I needed accommodation for 1 night. Again, all the hostel are booked out. For the first time on this trip, I booked a hotel room. I almost fainted with the room. Good bed, sit down toilet, with paper, hot shower, even a tv! In English!!! then I discovered, no electricity. After a quick trip to reception, I discovered that my key card needs to go in the box next to the door to turn on the power. That's different.
As I have not properly washed my clothes for 2 weeks, I tried To find a laundry, so I asked reception. They pointed me to a street that has one, but they also warned me about what else I will find. The laundry was closed, but the girls were open......wiiiiiide open. As were the brothels and sex shops. I had barely stepped into the street when one girl grabbed my backside and tried to drag me away. A little further on were the restaurants. The food smelt good, and the pad thai noodles tasted good. No more Ukrainian surprise!
I spent the rest of the time, sitting on the loo, using good toilet paper, having a hot shower and watching TV in English. I never got the cold beer though.

Photos: Copenhagen city street with Esperanto sign, inside a train with the TV on the news.

Friday, 22 July 2011

21/4 dispersion and reflection.

Today consisted of everyone going everywhere. Some home, some to other events. Boring day for me as I fly on the 22nd. Found out, there is a "train caravan", or a group of people travelling by train together, going to the universala kongreso. If I new about that before I would have joined them. Oh well,  time for reflection.

What did I think of my first esperanto event? It does give the language more meaning to hear it being used. Even more when i spoke to people who don't know English or are not very good at it. I also learnt what the language barrier feels like. I often didn't get the detail of a conversation, so I often asked for English for important stuff. Of course, this was not always possible, so I did my best.
The next observation is the atmosphere. Although it is an international party house, I did not notice any exclusion or bad drunken behaviour. This may be due to the fact that people here have strange interests. Turns out, at least 30 people are in poly-relationships and many are computer programmers, linguists or some other technical field. I guess alcohol is seen more as a social lift here rather than the social focal point as seen in the more common alcoholic party.
Talks with people uncovered some interesting information. I am use to hearing English spoken by people from all countries. Turns out, most people from other languages almost never hear their language spoken by a foreign tongue. Also noted is how universal social problems are.

As for Ukraine and Kiev, they need to move on from the communist days. The place looks dirty, run down and inefficient. There is very little to encourage foreigners. It really is stepping back in time by about 50 years. This is unfortunate as there is great potential in the city. I am amazed how strong and well maintained their religious institutions are. I didn't think I would ever be filling up my water bag with sacred water from sacred taps and springs, or seeing a sacred grove in the forest, or swimming in sacred water under the shadow of a church. Of cause, all these places were well hidden; the average foreigner would not  find them without local knowledge.

The food shops had a nice touch. They were decorated, often in traditional Ukrainian themes, sometimes international themes "pyramids". The shop owners did not like photos being taken though.
Amazingly enough, I don't recall seeing a single McDonald's, or any other fast food store, anywhere. I guess the food is already fast, and of reasonable quality.

The photo is my final meal in Kiev; Chicken Kiev. What good luck for Ukrainian surprise!

20/7 ijk closing

My tiredness will keep this post short
Day time consisted of sleep, eat, sleep, swim, sleep, eat, rest. Then it was evening.
The final concert featured performances of some of the attendees. The best was a small skit about this years ijk. I also discovered there is a small street shop nearby open to midnight. I got 2 beck beers, 0.5L each, and cold, for only 13 somethings. That is about 1.3 euro! I think the local currency is called grivna, but I'm not sure how it is spelt.

Photos: more food, handing the flag over to Japan for next year.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

19/7 Reader Beware!

I must start with a whinge. I am sick of warm beer, I am sick of cold showers and I am really really sick of squat toilets with only one paper roll between 4 cubicles! I would love to sit peacefully on a loo for 20 minutes with a cold beer, then go for a nice warm shower. In their defence, at least the toilets have a door, the showers don't. Would be nice if they would lock. Even better if the flush would actually get rid of the waste, rather than just leaving the bulk of it there. Bit of a mistake to think everyone has a well aimed shot straight down the hole.
Now I have said that, on with the rest of the blog.

Midday start again. Navigation, swim, 2 ice cream, at the same time, then it is evening. The shop keepers have given up on telling us the price of stuff, now they just type it on a calculator and show it to us.

In the evening was a movie. Spoken in another language with esperanto subtitles. I didn't follow it very well; Cerbo ne funkcias tiel rapide.

Night was a concert with Jomo.
Turns out, he sings in 22 languages.

Photo of interesting feature in the local park.

18/7 cat

Today I felt like a cat; I got up to eat and then went back to bed.
The afternoon started with an attempt at hand clothes wash. When we asked for a laundry, we were given 2 buckets. There are about 300 people here! Oh, there has been no hot water for about 5 days. The water we get to wash in is colder than the beer we get to drink! I tried to wash my clothes under a cold shower. At least I had my content bag to hold them.
Post the attempted wash, the afternoon consisted of language courses, that was somewhat strange! Learning a language I don't know through a language I only half understand. The funny thing is, i learnt as much Japanese today as I remember of German over 3 years! Another class was "why English sucks as an international language". It was quite popular!

The interesting conversation of the day was with 2 other blokes. One spoke only esperanto, but could understand English,(he could not speak it confidently). The other spoke only English, but couldn't be bothered speaking esperanto. Then there was me, speaking esperanto when I could, but clarifying in English when necessary. I was amazed how much I could understand. I may yet reach fluency!

I found the following article about the ijk.

Photos are: the front of the building with banner and flags, indoor garden,(double glazed windows everywhere as its freezing here in winter), and a sample of the "food".

Sunday, 17 July 2011

17/7 tour of Kiev

Today was a walking tour of Kiev. I don't remember names of places, but have got lots of photos. In order of appearance: war memorial and park land, small history museum with Ukrainian art work, church/cathedral ground, crypt, more park land, bridge with locks on it, CBD back to base.
Of particular note was the crypt and the bridge. The crypt is still working and was packed with people praying. Given the low narrow passages this made moving difficult and the whole crypt hot!
From a distance, the bridge looked normal. Once we were 1/3 along it we noticed a large number of locks on it. Many were genuine antiques. It appears they are placed there by lovers as there are messages of love engraved on the locks.
So far I have not mentioned the "disabled" ramps. The photo says it all.
Concert at the end of the day.

Photos: part of very large war memorial, me in front of Kiev, girl playing at thingamibob (we went to a large church ground. Multiple weddings throughout the day. Amazing singing in the church.). A 'good'  ramp for wheel chairs and Prams, and finally, a much loved brand, Ukrainian style.

16/7 mi ne memoras

Today's post is short as I am writing it two days late and I can't remember what I did. Perhaps it was a lot of sleeping. I did Ukrainian dance at some point. Photo below.
At night some people put on a performance. I think it was about local traditions. Afterwards a fire show. After that, a game called "homlupo" or 'warewolf'. The basic story is, a small village is being attacked by warewolves. The village need to get rid of them.
Then a storytelling card game, then bed.

Friday, 15 July 2011

15/7 мєтрологічнф

The word of the day is the name of where we are staying.......I think. I am not even too sure if I have spelt it correctly. It is kindof hard when I don't recognise the alphabet! The are 32 letters in the alphabet.  I have met Europeans who have travelled all over Europe, and this is the first time they have been somewhere where they don't recognise the alphabet. Next year the event is in Japan! That will be even worse!
I am getting better at Esperanto. I had a conversation with someone who does not speak english well. I recon only every third person here can actually speak English well. So much for "everyone speaks English"! The people who say that need to keep in mind, a person who does not speak English, will not talk to someone who only speaks English. I find it amazing how many languages people actually speak! It is also amazing how similar everyone is! What do you recon happens when a group of young people get together in an oversized house for one week? The only thing that may be considered abnormal is the working language, but even that becomes normal here! Then again, many people here recognise that they have 'strange hobbies'.

Today, after breakfast, we continued to do very little. I went to an Esperanto beginner course. Themselves out, I am not a beginner! I probably should have attended the Ukrainian language course.
Afterwards, we went to the local lake. This time we went swimming. I found a dead fish! I also spoke to the only other Australian for a while, in the middle of the lake, in Esperanto! At some point in the day, I found the local wifi access. I think I posted a weeks worth of posts. I have also heard of a fourth Esperanto event straight after the third. It is Festival in France.

The photos: Esperanto classes,inside the restaurant,and me with Jasmyn

14/7 ijk, the beginning.

Today the kongreso officially started. The two phrases of the day are "kio okazas" followed by "mi ne scias". In English, "what's happening" followed by "I don't know". Registration was suppose to occur in the morning....... it didn't. Lunch, well...... mi ne scias. The small group I was in got Ukrainian surprise to eat. When re got back to base we discovered that everyone had disappeared to the opening across town. The trip took 3 taxis and an hour to get the group across, but only cost 20 somethings per person. I will mention, the only reason I have not written the name of the currency yet is because I can not spell it!
We missed most of the speeches, but but caught the start of the concert, so it worked out alright. The concert consisted of Ukrainian bands, they sounded fantastic.
We got back to base on public transport, and got to tea late. Again, this worked out well as we got the executive lounge! Big table, comfy chairs well decorated room, bonega! After eating we watched Ukrainian news. kindof strange as we did not understand the language. After a while, we saw what we wanted to see, the ijk on national TV! For a brief moment, my face was in it!
Night time consisted of games, card games (sortof), disco and lots of........ never mind.

an interesting book for communication,the only photo I took with my phone today.

13/7 The Island

I had an early start today; 10:30. The sun was shining, so we purchased some food and went to the island. To get there, you need local knowledge as the access is not sign posted, and down a few paths. We got to a river crossing and saw the raft that would take us across. It is made by lots of water bottles tied together with some wood on top. The island is used by locals as a holiday spot. There are hundreds of people camping on it, but it is big enough that you don't notice them. The people we met up with are local esperanto people
We went swimming; the water is actually quite warm. Then we ate, and talked, and sometimes lay down. One bloke grabbed a guitar and started sung some songs. I could almost see the esperanto equivalent of Nariel Creek folk festival.
Esperanto is starting to sound familiar,  but I can still only understand the general flow of the conversation, I still cannot get the details.  Staying in a country where I don't speak the language, attending an event where I understand only half the language, makes me realise how much can be communicated in body language and hand gestures alone!
In the evening we had food at another restraint. The meal was quite big and cost about 65 somethings, about 6.5 euro. Then we went to the supermarket again. A bottle of what I think is whisky, or similar, is only about 40 somethings for 250 ml! The prices here could be dangerous for me if I stayed too long.
More people arrived at the venue today. The main event gets started tomorrow.

A photo of the raft is on the camera, not on my phone. Shame. It is actually quite good.

The photos are: lunch,swimming and the bottle of what I think is whisky.


Another midday start. We didn't get to bed until 2 am. Too many interesting conversations. We cheated by speaking English. There is a word for somebody who speaks another language when we are suppose to speak esperanto; kokadilo, or crocodile.
It rained today, actually it was a thunder storm, so we stayed indoors playing card games. There are few new games that I have never heard of.
In the evening, we went into the city..... I think. We found another restraint. Again, it was highly decorated inside. A bonus was that many labels were in English. This was a relief as I was getting sick of not knowing what I was eating. I normally asked for something that was 'bongusta' or 'very good', or if I had no local around me, I would just point to what looked interesting. Whatever I got, I am calling it "Ukrainian surprise". Anyhow, this time I new what I was eating. The process is quite simple, we grab a tray, then place plates or bowls of whatever we want on it, then pay at the cash register.

Someone on the bus thought we were Ukrainians studying international language. I guess tourists don't normally get on the bus.

The photo is some random building. I only took two, and the other was of the footpath parking.

11/7 More Kiev

Midday start again. This time it applies to 3 people, not just me. A woman woke me up in the morning. It took me a while to realise she was speaking in esperanto. This was an issue as I was replying in English and she ne komprenas. She became our tour guide for the day. First it was the shops for supplies, then a bus trip back to a park. There was a lake where people swim. We didn't, we were not prepared. We stayed and ate a little bit, then had half a nap while talking. After a while, we walked to a nearby church, highly decorated. We even got inside. It looked amazing inside, but I did not know if I could take a photo, so I didn't.
From here we walked to a grove, where there was a natural spring. Of course, there was religious stuff everywhere. There was even a pool where people get baptized from the spring water.
Back to base, then to the neighboring restaurant, and back to base for more.......... never mind.

Photos are: the park, the church, the restaurant and the beer.

10/7 Mi estas en Kievo

I made it! I am in Kiev. I probably woke up a room of 22 people at 3 am because I was slow at turning the alarm off. I caught the plane at 7.00.
Kiev airport is where the fun began! 3 people and 3 languages. Ukrainian, esperanto and english. I am starting to understand the difficulties of English. I can understand their English well, but I need to change my own speech so they understand me better. Turns out, I skip letters, merge words and mumble! My esperanto is alright for now. I seem to understand a bit more now. I am surprised at how many words in Ukrainian that sounds like esperanto! There have been a few times when I thought the other two were speaking esperanto. A 4th person, an American, came a few hours later.

On the first bus, a normal bus, I thaught "how are going to get back on the left?" Then I realised, they drive on the right. The second bus was a whole new experience. How many people can fit on a mini bus? Turns out, about the same as a full size bus! The fare system appears to be on an honesty basis. Someone up the back hands money forward, through about 6 people. The driver (sometimes passenger at the front) takes the money, places it into the cash tray, takes the change, then passes the change back through the bus to the original person, no ticket required!
Street parking can be on the foot path.
The accommodation we have looks acceptable, but with some curiosities. The beds are the old spring bases like what the shearers once slept on. The toilets are a ceramic hole in the ground. There is no toilet roll holder in the cubicle, but there is one roll holder outside, but with no paper. The showers have no hot water, no door, and no separate male and female sections. I don't know how this is going to work.
On the up side, Kiev has an amazing CBD. Amazing architecture, lots of open space, lots of water features with water in them! They close the whole street for Saturday and Sunday so people can walk freely around.
We got food at this highly decorated place (i found myself in the Egyptian room again) where we take what we want, then pay. Mine cost 52 somethings. I wasn't too sure if that was expensive or not. I think it is about 5 euro's.
At the end of the day we caught a taxi. No ID, no meter, just a yellow sign on the roof. We got home for the cost of 80 somethings between 4 of us. The price was negotiated before we got in.
Oh, and my esperanto still has a long way to go. I only understood half of the conversation.
Only 2 photos for today as I used my other camera. The blue sign is for the toilet in the airport. I did guess he correct door. I have also found out that 'WC' is the international sign for toilet. The second photo is the CBD.

7/7 8/7 Vegemite, Fosters and Curry

Breakfast here is at a better time; stops at 10. I started exploring the local area at 11 which is quite good given my recent activities. The first stop was the supermarket. This is the first in London I have seen that is of decent size. In among other things, I finally found my vegemite! And it comes from Australia.
My walk consisted of local streets, the local grave yard and a park. The park had a small 9 hole golf course. It only cost 6.50 so I went for a round. My drives were improving over the holes, but my puts need work. I scored 36.
Night time was occupied by another pub crawl with 4 people from the hostel. 2 I met that night and a girl I met the night before. The most amazing thing were these horse stables that were converted into a large night club. We wouldn't have found it if it were not for the pub crawl tour. It was here I had my one and only Fosters. Turns out it is brewed by Budweiser in Scotland, so it was drinkable. This place had a room full of fosters stubbies! It is amazing that London drinks so much of the stuff. Turns out the US national drink, Budweiser, is also drunk IN the US! And they drink LIGHT!
We had a bizarre experience trying to get a taxi to get back to the hostel; the 1st taxi driver said "sorry, I am not going in your direction", then drove off. Huh? That's different!

The day started at midday again. I went on 2 walking tours, a London city tour followed by a "jack the ripper" tour. Where we learnt all about murders, beheadings, death and disease. The tour finished near Brick lane, which is full of Indian restraunts, all with people on the footpath trying to suck you in. Turns out, 10 pound will buy 2 courses and a glass of red wine!

9/7 Powerful London

I got power hungry today. First stop was the tower of London.I could have spent the day there. I didn't get to the crown jewels or the torture chamber because the lines were too long.

I then went to the Churchill war rooms. Amazing to see.

I walked briefly around the city to see the cathedral. In the process I found 2 public piano's in the street for anybody to play.

Some day I may write a bit more on this day.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

London Again

I managed to get up and stay up at 9:00am today!  Incredible i know.  I also had to check out at 10.  I stayed in the movie room and watched "hitchhikers guide to the Galaxy" Who knows, the knowledge gained may help me here if the earth were to be suddenly blown up. For example i should never forget my towel. Hmmm, That advise would have been very useful on numerous occasions before.
I got to the airport with about 3 hours to spare. I dared to eat burger king (hungary jacks), and immediately regretted it. I recon they heated up my chicken burger in the microwave. I ordered oringe juice on the plane. It came in a can! That's different.
I got to my next lodging, Palmers Lodge at Willesden Green in London, at around about 8:00 pm. Once again, i am in the dungeon. Once again, it stinks. Well, not the "oh my god, i am going to die" type of stink, just the "this place could really do with some air" stink.  There is only about 3 windows on one side, and 2 of them are open. The place looks alright though. On the up side, this place has its own pub, Woohoo. Upon visiting the toilet, I discovered this place has backside cleaners! I must try that some time. I found out at 10:40 that they serve food until 10:30.  Bugger. Pizza hut it is then.

Monday, 4 July 2011


Slack day today. Saw the book of Kells and the library it is kept in at Trinity.  The library has a very unique way of organising books. It's not by Author, topic or title, but of book dimensions! Turns out, looks are more important than functionality.  I can't post a photo of the library or its contents, but they said nothing about a photo of the pamphlet! (pic below). The library was the model for the library in 'Harry Potter' and the Jedi library in 'Star Wars'. The other pics are of more images in the hostel.