Wednesday, February 29, 2012

muggy and hungry and thirsty and....

welcome to austin.

i generally like to get to places, cities in general, long before the ruch hour starts so i don't get all caught up in traffic jams when i'm trying to find an exit and then have to try and cross three lanes when i see the one i need to get to.
i am now in austin and did exactly that. beat the crowd. all of them. and made my way over to south congress st., where all the shit that's happening that i need to see is happening - according to my research. and it would appear, well not appear, it's true, that nothing opens or gets going until 11 a.m.
ok. i have a few hours to relaxo.
i met some kid at jo's coffee shop when i first got here who was a particular lad. he asked me why i changed my shoes when i got out of the car. so i told him that i rotate my shoes so they have time to air out. he then started asking me all sorts of questions...and in a very peculiar way. he kept saying sorry for asking me questions, and calling me sir and saying how i was blowing his mind - i had told him where i had driven from, became increasingly clear he was a guy who hung out at this coffee shop because they had outdoor seating - because he was there long before they opened, and he may have actually been up all night and was, maybe, still on some sort of buzz.
i told him i was gonna go for a walk and come back when the coffee shop opened.
which i did. and he was still here when i came back. he's since left and gave me a very odd look when he walked by me.

ok. more coffee.

g. xo


i sometimes, as much as i love being out here and driving and looking around and..., get overwhelmed by the maps and the distances to my 'next' i don't look at maps a lot - only when i need to. i generally start out knowing what interstates i wanna connect to and directions i wanna go and it all works out. but, when i stop sometimes and really look at the map. holy cow. (and this comes from a guy who has driven to every state in the union but one or maybe two) i have bitten off a huge chunk this time out. it has been two and a half days of heavy driving - something i know a few of you know about having done these long hauls yourself. but. holy cow.
i made my way through kentucky, tennessee and arkansas and am now just outside austin, texas - which is my next port of call. i have passed by here a few times on other trips but have never gone to austin. so today it will be coffee, bbq, walking around, more coffee, more bbq and then my real trek west begins with my sights set on tucson, az., and the congress hotel, cafe poca cosa and a margarita at the cup cafe.

have fun today...

g. xo

a few pics from the road.

Monday, February 27, 2012

the waffle house, bluegrass and saying good bye to london

wow. what a day and half it's been.
i woke up and london the other morning and went to bed near scranton, pa. i actually overshot my mark last night thinking i was where i wanted to be but this morning has to backtrack forty miles - which in the grand scheme of things is nothing so...all's well. through Massachusetts and new york and in Pennsylvania. and good night...

 and today it's been more PA, west Virginia, Ohio and now Kentucky. i feel like i'm missing one but i can't care right now as i sit out side a macdonald's using thier free internet and thinking about getting through Louisville.. it's been a good day. the weather is amazing today - i've actually had my window open when in town just driving around, which i did a little in Cincinnati.

i went by the ball park to have a look and to buy a hat...i kinda have a loose rule about only having hats from ball parks i have been to but before i was a tigers fan, i was a reds fan. sparky anderson, johnny bench, joe morgan, pete rose, et great. so i bought a hat today that has on the side of it, the logo for the 1975 world series as that would have been when i was a huge fan.

 i'll drive for a bit more and then find a place for dinner and then a place to sleep. i am trying to get to Texas and by pass most of this area as i spent a bunch of time here years ago,...i also find the east so congested, i just wanna drive in the middle of nowhere Texas - alpine, marfa, austin...
have fun...this was my lunch today...i love the waffle house...

g. xo

Saturday, February 25, 2012

ok, in a pinch.

one last look

well, i made it from berlin to london and due to the time i arrived and when i leave tomorrow i have gotten a hotel right by heathrow airport. i booked in on-line the other day and it was cheap. i was surprised by that but now that i see the hotel and my room, not so surprised.
i think this comfort hotel has a nice side and a side with rooms in it that they rent to those, like me, who book on-line and get the super cheap rate. like 1/3 of the posted rate once you get in the door.
and you pay extra for internet, and my bat tub is very old and i can feel the bed springs,'s only for one night.
and there's something weird with my seat selection with delta on-line but i'll get that sorted in the morning...
ok...just checking in...

have fun today.

g. xo

Friday, February 24, 2012

ich bin weg!

i think there may have been a meeting somewhere in the city yesterday. one where they all decided to give me whack directions at every turn...either that or i wasn't paying attention. or both. or a million other reasons i just couldn't find where i was going.
i had been congratulating myself on the quick study i had been on learning the s-train, the underground, etc. and thinking how i was pretty proud of myself on learning the maps. yup. i was.
then i decided, as a last little adventure, to try and find KaDeWe, continental europe's largest why would i want to go to the biggest mall in all of europe? one: my pal mike had just been to berlin and said it was insane and b: well, i have my reasons. and i'll tell you this, once i found it, it's huge. and it's a big square building that houses all the brands that you would find at say macy's or the bay or old eaton's but also all the holt renfrew brands and fancy pants stuff. and, as far as i could tell, is one big store, not a mall in the sense of pacific centre on vancouver where there are a bunch of individual stores in one huge building.
good lord.
it was all going well until i got off the train at charlottenburg. which i was sure i was suppose to. then i walked to a small mall and asked the info woman how to get to the big huge ass mall. she gave me directions and i was biggie. i went to the subway she had told me to go to and it all seemed wrong. so i went back to the info booth and asked her again. she said i had gone to the wrong one and that i was to go outside and take a left and up the street five minutes was the underground i wanted. so i did that. well over five minutes up the street i was now in a whole new zone and no new underground. i then reverted back to my 'look at their hands when they speak not what they say always' mode and backtracked to the small mall and then up the street five minutes and i was at the right underground and, after asking for the correct train, on my way to the big as mall.
after going in and conducting my business i decided i would try another currywurst to see if it was any better in this part of town. nope. it wasn't. as far as i can tell, currywurst is just a big wiener with ketchup on it. period. if you like that sort of thing, you'll love it.
then it was back on the underground and i knew i could go one stop back and get to the zoo station, famous from the movie 'christian F' and the scorpions song 'the zoo' and U2's album...anyways. i asked a woman on the platform if the train i was about to get on took me to the zoo station, she said yes in english.
well, it didn't. it went the exact wrong way. so i had to get off and then wait for a train going the other direction back to the zoo station and then connect to a train to my main stop near my hotel.
holy cow...
after all that i was done. i watched a little BBC and sky news and called it a night. i had thought about going to see the second lambchop show but it was sold-out and the night before prices had been very high to buy scalper tickets and i didn't have it in me to negotiate with a german ticket hound. i had also thought of going back to the taco joint for a little dinner but the wind and rain kept me from that was it is quite a walk from here.
so bed early and up early as i'm off to the airport soon and back to england where i have a hotel near heathrow booked and will catch my flight back to boston sunday morning.

i think, for me, five days in berlin was about right. i saw a lot of very interesting sights - museums, parks, stores, etc. walked a ton. ate some good and weird food. saw lampchop. met kurt. ate some berlin tacos. met some dudes from the netherlands. it was well worth the trip.
now. some packing. some breakfast. and one more train ride to the airport.

auf wiedersehen

g. xo

run forrest run!

i left here in plenty of time this morning to walk to the reistag but decided because the weather was super shitty to take the train...and i took a short cut. or so i thought and by the time i got myself un-lost and back on track and to the train i had twenty minutes to make it there. they tell you to be there at least a half hour before your scheduled time and i was thinking i could be fucked.

i made it off the train and started in the direction of the building, i saw it up ahead and in my haste actually went to the wrong building. not only did i go to the wrong building, i went in the wrong building and went through their security check. and when i got my shit together on the other side of the security check the guy at the counter was wondering who i was and why i was there. so i showed him my letter of admittance. that's when he looked at me and got up out of his seat and came out from behind his glass and pointed me in the direction of the correct building.

now, let me point out....if you know the building i was to go in, if you have been here and do that/ know it'd pretty hard to make the screw-up. the building next to the reistag looks nothing like the reistag. at all. i was so hellbent on making it there on time and saw the dome and then looked down and followed a few other folks who looked like tourists into the other building....duh...

 so out i went and over to the right reception area just outside the actual reistag building and in i went, with three minutes to go. now having actually been there i think if one was a few minutes late it would be ok...

so now i'm having that kind of hot sweat - i had out on my top layer of long underwear because it was so cold out this morning -  the kind of sweating where you don't know if you can ever feel right again and that everyone else around you looks perfectly fine and every hair's in place and you're a when you're on a subway in london or new york in august. like that. i was like that. and i just had to wait while other assembled, because they take you in groups to the main building. i couldn't wait until the walk outside to the main building. finally it came and by the time we got there, a few hundred yards, i was almost back to normal.
and we were in.


now the reistag - where the parliament meet, is an impressive building on it's own but the dome on top is amazing. it rises, i believe, 50 metres or so and once inside you walk along a circular walkway to the top while wearing a headset that tells you all about the building and stops you and gets you to look in certain directions to see sites in the city of interest.

and once you've reached the top you come back down a separate walkway that parallels the other walkway. or runs directly underneath...whatever you wanna call that.

it was worth the rain today to see the dome. sure, the view sucked. but that's ok. as my last official duty as a tourist i was happy to have seen it. you should too if you come here. just don't forget about registering in advance as you can't just show-up and go in like a carnival ride. (thanks to my friend paul t. brooks for letting me know that ...)
ok. now i need some down time. my feet will thank me.
i may or may not go and see if i can get into lambchop tonight...we'll see. i may just need to watch the bbc and relaxo. i leave tomorrow morning so a decent sleep should be in order.

have fun.

g. xo

ps.... i went for a walk after going to the post office and did some exploring in an area not far from my hotel - oh, hotel is right on the diving line or tourisy and locals...the locals area is great. tons of shops, coffee places, post office, grocery stores and lots of places to eat....i found a taco joint run by tow guys from the states, well, one is an aussie who lived in philly. pretty good stuff. i may go back for dinner...their logo is funny. it's a woman who looks more japanese than mexican...

Thursday, February 23, 2012

been there. done that. got the (lambchop) t-shirt.

yup. i did. i had to. and now i'm wearing it under my coat today as i make my way to the reichstag. the german parliament building with it's impressive dome that you can walk inside and see the city from. i had to make an application to go, something everyone must do who wants to have a look. i hear it's fairly impressive.
after that another quick roam around and the mailing of a few things and getting ready to leave tomorrow. back to england. then back to boston.

on three.

g. xo

make mine (a) lambchop.

i keep thinking about a line mishi said i should use on anyone in berlin who asked me why i was in town. "i'm here for the lambchop". sadly, no one has asked me why i'm here. that's ok. i know why. and really it's all part of one big road / flying trip but the lambchop show was the straw that stirred this drink. and so it was tonight.
lambchop at the babylon theatre.

me: excuse me, kurt i don't wanna bother you.

he had said he'd be outside smoking after the show ended and there he was with his drummer scott. just hanging out. smoking. like he said.

kurt: (leaning in towards me looking for my hand which i gave him and he shook it) that's ok. hi.

me: i drove from vancouver to boston and then boarded a plane and flew here to see lambchop play

kurt: (leaning in again and grabbing my should with his hand) you didn't have to come so far, we're playing boston.

me: yes, but i live in vancouver.

kurt: oh...

me: anyways. great. i'm gonna try and come tomorrow as well.

kurt: thanks...

me: bye.

and so it was. i hope he doesn't think i'm a stalker...i had met some dutch guys earlier in the evening who kept me occupied while we were waiting for the band to start. they didn't really know lambchop but had heard a few things and liked what they had heard. they had driven down from holland and were just hanging out for a few days. peter and huke. good guys.

i told ailsa this and i'll tell you now as well. there's no way that the show could live up to what i had in my mind's eye and ears after such a long trip and the time to think about it, over and over. so. i'll say this.
it was great. and as i told ailsa, it's him. and it's how the songs he's written move through him and are translated by his band for him. all great players. his voice is as amazing live as it is on cd or lp. yes lp. it was a lower tempo show than i had expected, with only three so-called uptempo numbers thrown in but, the songs are so great, and he's so humble and charming and...shit, it sounds like i'm trying to date kurt wagner...anyhow...i am very happy i saw them and may, indeed, try and go to the show tomorrow.
then again, i may just leave it as is.

big day. i'll let you in on what's up tomorrow. tomorrow. it's cool.

g. xo


like an interpol album cover

i have figured out one thing for sure while here. better to watch the hands sometimes when getting directions than to actually listen to what they're telling you/me. i know that when i was learning spanish last year that i often mixed-up the words for left and right and up and down. i think some of the germans here have the same problem. and i got to be part of that confusion today.

 i think i walked five miles-ish to the museum of natural history when it should have been about a mile because i kept getting different directions from a variety of different people. the rain had stopped so it was fine but my feet and lower back got a decent workout well before noon. 
but the reward at the end, the museum of natural history, was well worth it. fir those of you who have been to the museum of the same name in new york will know what i mean. i love that stuff - the dinosaurs, the stuffed lions and hippos, the jars of specimens, it. i know ailsa's daughter fiona would have loved it...along with the 150 other kids that were there.

from there i made my way over to the bauhaus museum which was cool but short on supply. it was just one main floor and over before you knew it. but i think that signified the end of garn's berlin museum tour. i had bought a pass for 9 euros that got me into almost everything i saw and if i had had to pay for each thing it would have been well over 30 euros so...and i did find ten euros on the ground today so that kinda paid for my pass...

 i ate a thing called a flammkuchen today...i had read about it and had to try it. it's like a super thin pizza but made from a very different dough. think of the thinnest thin crust pizza you've ever had, and then make it half again thinner. no cheese. but they have sour cream and assorted toppings - mine had bacon and two eggs...good stuff.

i also found a great coffee joint today that i will be trying to go to at least a couple more times...good coffee and i had a nice slice of apple strudel.

i've made my way back to the hotel and will now have a little relaxo before heading out to find the venue that lambchop is playing at...

have fun.

g. xo

 some action from the museum of natural history today.

i came across the saudi consult...nice building.