Friday, October 26, 2007

Thoughts from Central Europe

It's now Day 12 on our Central Europe + Berlin tour. Kodawg and I are on the last leg of our trip in Budapest, after having visited Berlin, Prague, and Krakow. So far, Prague is my favorite city. Krakow is pretty cool too. Berlin has been somewhat disappointing.

All the Central Europe cities have blurred together in my brain because they all have a lot of similarities. Beautiful architecture cut through by a river. An old town here, a more modern/hip new town there. A few mega churches here and there, (ok A LOT if you are in Poland), all with ridiculously ornate altars and chapels and tombs. Tons of souvenir shops all selling the same junk, all of which were made in China. A Jewish quarter where all the Jews lived happily together before the Holocaust. A castle here and a bridge there. Museums with paintings of Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, and more Jesus, sometimes maybe Jesus with Mary.

Here are a few memorable memories (brain is not working too well today after the 11-hour night train from Krakow):

* Getting yelled at in a Berlin bar by some German chick because I used the wrong bathroom. Hey, it's not my fault that 1.) the bathroom is for a single person and 2.) some other dude was in another bathroom with the exact same sign on it. All I heard was, "Shlauphen hauphen, shlauphen hauphen, ick veen hauphen..." Which is what all German words sound like to me. That language sounds like an abomination. The only language that sounds less sexy than German is that tongue-clicking language used by the Bushmen of the Kalahari Desert.

* Seeing Kodawg getting accidentally elbowed in the nose at a club in Prague by some crazy black dude who was flailing his arms around when he was dancing. It was a good thing that he didn't suffer any bad injuries, so I could have a hearty laugh without feeling too guilty about it. We weren't even in the dancing pit! It was so strange it could have only happened to Kodawg.

* Trying to tell the bartender at a club in Prague to get me enough drinks so I can proclaim the next day, "I have a monkey," which is another way of saying "I'm totally hung over."

* Seeing a huge glass display case full of human hair that were collected from victims of the Holocaust at Auschwitz I. A real hell on earth.

* Enduring all the gawking in Krakow by all these elementary/high school kids who acted like they had never seen Asians before. At first, I kinda enjoyed the attention. After a while, it became progressively more annoying, especially when they started throwing in the "Ching Chong" noises. Didn't know that Chinese sounded like that to Polacks too. When we went to the salt mine in Wieliczka, a small town about 10 miles southeast of Krakow, I walked in an opposite direction from a pair of high school girls. When I made eye contact with the girl on the right as I walked past them, she literally gasped, like she just saw Jesus or something.

Later on, I stopped feeling annoyed because I remembered being fascinated by white people myself when I was in elementary school in China. My school was next to a college dormitory for foreign visiting students. We used to yell "Hello" at the white students biking past the school.

Anyways, so the next time a bunch of school children were gawking at us again, when Kodawg wasn't looking, I busted out the Bruce Lee "Hai Yaaa!" pose. And they went, "Whoa!" It was pretty entertaining.

Last night on the night train from Krakow to Budapest, at 5 AM a bunch of what sounded like high school kids came on the train and were running around yelling and being idiots in general. Kodawg and I were lying on the seats trying to get some sleep. When one of the kids walked past our cabin, I swear I heard, "blah blah blah Jackie Chan blah blah blah."

* Speaking of languages, Polish just sounds like a bunch of "sh" sounds to me. When I bought something for 29.99 PLN at a local mall and the cashier told me the final price, all I heard of "sh shh zh zh sh zh sh" and nothing else!

* Devouring an AMAZING ice cream/fruit combo extravaganza in a mall in Krakow. I will post pictures later, but if this Italian gelato chain ever moves to New York, it would obliterate all other ice cream/dessert places.

* Seeing Da Vinci's "Lady with an Ermine" in a Krakow museum, or as I dubbed it, "Chick with Furry Animal."

* Watch in amazement as Kodawg tracks down souvenir fridge magnets for his collection at home. I swear that kid has developed some kind of weird fridge magnet sixth sense by now. It's almost like he can smell magnets.

* Buying some shirts/underwear/socks from H&M because I was running out of clean clothes and it's a pain to find a laundromat here. Got the 7-pair sock bundle that has a day of the week on each pair of the socks. Have a big grin on my face now because I'm wearing my Friday socks.

Anyways, time to go. Still have to explore Hungary. Defintely will visit the famous public bath here and maybe get a nice foot massage too. These feet have walked miles and miles lately.