Saturday, 29 October 2011

blog test

Just testing features of the blog

Saturday, 15 October 2011

28/9 to 29/9 Brussels

Walking around yesterday and today, it almost appears that only 1 in 3 escalators in the train stations work.
I discovered today that I have lost my esperanto cap, sniff sob sob sniff sob. It is somewhere between Amsterdam and Brussels. I suspect that it slipped between the seats on the train. That is the 3rd hat i have lost on this trip. I am now using a red "Nitra city" cap that I won at the esperanto event "SES".
I did my washing in the morning. It felt good knowing that this would be the last time i would need to do the washing on this trip. While that was happening, I explored the local area. Needles to say, i found a church. It too, was big and unique, just like all the other churches throughout Europe. There was one difference with this church, it was also a school!
After my clothes were finished, I walked around the perimeter of the city, or half of it. I finished at the "European quarter". This is where most of the European union offices and Parliament buildings are located. Much like other public buildings, these ones were also big, modern, and boring.

I went on a bus tour of Flanders fields today. This was a pivotal battlefield during WW1. I got to see hill 60, Ipres (which was completely destroyed during WW1) as well as a few other sites. I was surprised to see the ridge around Ipres, which in stories sounded as if it was a huge obstacle, is only a gentle rise of the land.
Every wear, the locals have what is called "the iron harvest". This is where hundreds or thousands of tonnes of ordinances, such as exploded and unexploded shells, rise to the surface in the paddocks. The military do very regular runs to collect all such ordinances. Some of the unexploded shells still contain gas. The military now have so many shells with gas, it will take them at least 50 years to clear what they have, and there are many more still in the ground. Almost 100 years later, and aspects of the war still present a great danger.
After the tour, I stayed in Bruges for a few hours, on the recommendation of the bus driver. An amazing city. I wish i had more time to explore the place. Alas, I must return to Brussels

The church/school near the hostel in Brussels

Public gardens in Brussels

Me at the huge archways in the Museum area. There are four large museums here.

A famous grave in a war graveyard near Ipres

The remains of the crater on hill 60. Created when western powers exploded 22 mines along a ridge in one night.
There is no water in the crater, as the large network of tunnels underneath drain all the water.

Ipres today. The whole town was destroyed during WW1. The town was rebuilt to look like it use to be.
The buildings have a very modern interior.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

24/9 to 27/9 Amsterdam

I took a train from Bonn at 12pm, and after 4 trains, arrived in Amsterdam at 8pm
On the tram to the hostel, I saw a man dressed up in woman's clothes, with what was probably his boyfriend. His wig was in his hand. How very liberal!
Locals appear helpful and friendly. I was trying to find the hostel, when a local led me down the road to show me the street I needed.
The hostel has its own bar, and restaurant. The beer was good, but the food was only just edible, but cheap.

Walk through city, found  coffee shops and red light district. I had to have look at the "window girls". There are lots of signs saying "no photos". I was later told that they will come out screaming at you and smash your camera if they catch you taking a photo of them!
Headache started, probably from dehydration.
Bicycle tour of city at 4pm. The bikes that we were given were surprisingly easy and comfortable. I found out the city was named after a dam that was built in Amstel.
In the evening, I walk through a large park. I am told people can have sex here after sun set. I got followed my a man around the rose garden. I walked really quickly back to civilisation. Turns out, this is the spot for gay sex! I won't be returning here again.
Discovered I have a minor financial dilemma. The account with money, I can't remember the pin, the account I can remember the pin, has no money. It should be fixed by Wednesday. Until then, tight budget.

Woke up with killer headache, more panadol.
Country bike tour at 11pm. These tour guides must be the only ones in the world who can get paid to ride all day, drink beer and smoke a pipe!
Walked around city, not spending money.
Found a great kebab shop near the railway station.
Packed bag ready for tomorrow
Checked bank account, money has cleared. Phew, for a moment there, I thought I was about to walk to Brussels.

left book "animal farm" at hostel for the "book crossing" program. I picked it up in France at Kastelo Grésillon.
Dumped bag in train station locker, then went to the sex museum, then torture museum.
Trained to Brussels. I am staying at hello hostel
Found great food place around the corner; Snack Simonis.

Looking at the old city gate at night across the canal,
A very Amsterdam style gas mask,
Some erotic art, and the description for it.

Sunday, 2 October 2011

19/9 to 23/9 Rome

I got off to a good start today; I went to the correct air port! On the bus from the airport to the city, the woman behind me was talking on her phone for full 40 minute bus trip, and continued after she got off.
There is crazy traffic in Rome. Cars turning in front of bus, drivers in dreamland when changing lanes, scooters everywhere.
When I got to the hostel, the Mona Lisa, I went to bed.

Start 8:30, I had no breakfast (which proved to be a mistake) and rushed off to beat the crowds at the Pantheon. I can see why this building inspired so many over the centuries. I can just imagine it without all the religious stuff. I later found out the original bronze relief over the entrance was melted down and used in an oversized stage thingy in St Stephens Basilica.
afterwards, I rushed to the colosseum, where I stayed for 4 hours. Standing outside the colosseum feels like standing outside the MCG. It is amazing that it took another 1600 years before something like this was built again. I took a very ordinary tour of the place. I was starving by the time I had finished.
After an ordinary feed of tourist retail food, I investigated the Rome ruins, 4 hours. I would have loved to see this place in its hey day. Their society looks only a few hundred years old, not a few thousand. When I had finished, the other tourists had awoken, and were everywhere! The lines were ridiculously long.
I would like to point out here, the best decision of the modern Roman government; there is NO business or retail on the ruins site! This was a major relief, as there is a massive oversupply of corney tourist traps outside, and some of them were just plain annoying, such as the "roman soldier" asking, "would you like a photo" "NO"
Next, I walked around circus Massimo, the site of the chariot races. Only a small section of the original buildings remain, but they cleared the track of new buildings, so I could imagine the chariots. The massive remains of the old palace are still visible from the track, and look amazing.
I walked down the river, and found some official function in the street with a military band, so I stayed. I got to bed at around midnight.

Emergency vehicles with constant drone are everywhere they are seriously annoying.
I purchased the hop on, hop off, bus tour, and returned to the ruins to see the emperors house. Most of the decorations (freshcos?)  are still there.
Bus to Piazza Venezia, see white monument. The building appears to be a military museum thingy now.
Go to time elevator, watch 3 movies: escape from ______ manor; a fictional tale about a man who enters a haunted house, an ode to life; history of life on earth, time elevator; 2750 years of history of Rome.
I completed the bus tour back to start
before tea, I saw the Santa Maria Maggiore Basilica. It was just another church. I am getting a bit sick of them.
I returned to the Hostel for food, then watched a little Doctor who.

Vatican day
Buy guided tours
Go through dead pope chamber
First tour, St Peters Basilica. Huge! This included a walk around the top. By the time I had finished with the place, the tourists had woken up again and were everywhere. The place was packed.
I couldn't help but wonder how much it all cost. Isn't there a story in the bible about not worshipping expensive material objects? How did this become acceptable?
Buy lasagna for lunch. I recon I can do better. I think that restaurant is another tourist trap.
Tour through museum with tour, finishing with the sistean chapel. This museum requires at least 2 days to do it some justice. Why did the church mutilate so many genitals on the ancient Roman statues? Would god really approve of chopping off a part of male anatomy which he so passionately created in the first place? (wow, if I continue like this, I might actually sound religious!)
after, I went to the Leonardo da Vinci machines museum. Of all the amazing stuff there, I liked his bridge the best; timber poles, no rope and no nails. Might still be useful in the field!
I found the big, famous fountain, and couldn't believe the size, of the crowds!

I Finished the Dr who sub-series.
I Walked to park, then to train station
Found rich suburb.
Fly back to weeze airport in Germany
Bus and train back to Bonn
Bed at 2am

Italian food, the best I got there.
Leonado's bridge
The big fountain
The big crowd at the big fountain.