Friday, August 31, 2007

Pigeons and beer.

So, today.

I'm not inserting the pictures into the blog, so you'll have to follow along here: Linkity goodness.

I was feeling really homesick and crappy yesterday. I had cramps. I had jetlag. I had no one to talk to. I felt completely incompetent in the language (turned out to be just stress, because I was fine today), and just generally wanted to go home.

Fortunately, today was much, much better. I got a good night's rest and woke up at 3pm (twelve hours of sleep, yay!), so I promptly went outside and decided to explore and see if I could find a jacket or something, because it's much cooler here than it was back home. I stopped at the Bahnhof first and bought a map of the city (which I turned out to not need, because you can see the Dom from pretty much anywhere, and I can find my way back to the hotel easily from the Dom). There were some cool street artists outside - I took a few pictures of them. The chalk drawing guy was very talented, and there was an amusing kitty, which I liked very much. A guy was playing a big metal thing, which I wouldn't've known was an instrument, but he was making very interesting bell and percussion type music from it. There was also a living statue guy who was, as one might expect, very still. That done, I made my way into the shopping area.

Hurray for bakeries! They had all kinds of delicious things and were very busy, but I eventually decided on the "Pflaumenstreussel," a sort of bready-crumbley thing with sliced plums cooked in it. I managed to order it without embarrassing myself, which was an improvement over yesterday, and it turned out to be delicious. Kind of like rhubarb pie, actually, with the sour-ish fruit and the sweet sweet topping. So I ate that and then wandered around some, went in and out of a few shops, took some pictures. Mostly uneventful. I wound up after some walking at the Rhein, which was lovely. The bridge (Hohen-something?) is very nice. I have a minor thing for bridges. I'm not sure what's on the other side of the river - may try going over there tomorrow. There's also an interesting-looking Roman-German museum (I think :P) near the Dom that I might go to.

But anyway. I walked back to a pretty strip of eateries I'd found (I love the tall, thin, brightly-colored buildings) and bought a döner kebab and a bottle of kölsch beer. The kebab is slightly spicy shaved lamb meat with some cabbage and lettuce and a garlicky sauce in a really delicious soft pita-ish bread (freshly made, and nice and crispy outside, yum), and it was absolutely delicious. I want another one now, actually. The beer was pretty good too, surprisingly - usually I hate beer, but I figured I had to at least try the local stuff. I couldn't quite finish the bottle (half a liter is a lot of beer...), but I came close, and it was good, so I think I'll survive here. A pigeon helped me finish my doener (he ate some from my hand!), and I went back home. Passed the local brewery where they made the beer I drank on the way.

So, that's my day. Tomorrow I really do need to buy a jacket, so chastise me if I don't manage it.

Pictures, as promised.

Okay, so before I post about what I did today (it's just after 10 here *yawn*), here's a link to my pictures from yesterday (mouse over them to get the caption):

The flight.
The first day in Cologne.

Only eleven pictures, but I have lots more coming from today.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

The adventure beings.

This is going to be long, so you may wish to clear a block of space in which to read it... I shall start from the point where Mom, Tammy, and Noahkins so cruelly abandoned me to fend for myself in the wilds of the Philadelphia International Airport. After sobbing brokenly for a few minutes in a probably effective ploy to later guilt-trip my mother, I made my way to the search thingy, where they forced me to take off my shoes and put all my stuff in little plastic tubs to go through the xray thingy. Why do they have you take the laptop out of the bag and then still run it through the machine? I don't understand. But anyway, that went reasonably well. I had food, tried and failed to talk myself into spending $50 for a pair of earphones that I could get at Walmart for $4 in order to listen to music on my laptop for twenty minutes before it ran out of batteries, and then sat down and read Louis L'Amour for two and a half hours while waiting to board.

So, got on the plane (Noah: you will be pleased to know that there were four large German security guys with big scary guns and a big scary dog checking us all over as we got on the plane). It was extremely teensy for being such a big beast. The guy next to me was that dude with the big mustache. He was very nice, although we didn't say anything to each other besides "excuse me" and "thank you" the entire time (due to antisocial tendencies on both our parts, probably). That was wise, because he might've been irritating to talk to, and that's okay for, say, a thirty-minute flight, but you don't want to start an eight-hour conversation if you don't know if you'll like the person. Just bad news.

The food was hilarious. This weird maggot-y looking salad that I didn't eat, four pieces (I mean 1" square chunks, not real pieces) of attempted-barbacue chicken, a flavourless leaden brownie, and a piece of cheese that was really more effort than it was worth to open. The result of this delicious meal was a need to use the facilities, but alas, that occurred just as the attendants (who, incidentally, all had thick German accents) were clearing off trays, so I couldn't make it back to the bathrooms behind us, so I decided, perhaps foolishly, to go to the bathrooms in front of us. The ones near the Business Class section. I ran into the captain just as I was doing this. He was like "Vhere are you goink?" in a delightfully WWII-propaganda-film-style German accent. I replied, "Um, to the bathroom?" "Ze batroom ist bahck ZHERE! Back to coach with you, prole!" (except I made up that last phrase) So I had to wait for the flight attendants to finish up. Then I took a nap. It was cramped, and my neck hurt. So sad. Regardless, it was a nice long one - started when we hit Greenland and woke up as we were finishing up England.

It started getting light just as we hit the edge of Germany. Germany is really pretty from the air. It's about equally divided between dark wooded hills and farmland with little red-roofed villages in little clusters dotted all over the place. We landed then at Frankfurt, and I almost had a panic attack as I got off the plane and realized that I had to find my connecting flight all by myself in a busy German airport which happens to be one of Europe's primary transportation hubs. *gulp*

Fortunately, it was easy. Those crazy Germans - signs everywhere. Who would've thought? And clocks! There weren't any clocks in Philadelphia's airport that I could see. Frankfurt's had them all over the place, for which I was grateful. I didn't take any pictures there because there were lots of Polizei all over the place, and I really didn't want to be detained, even if some of them were very attractive and undoubtedly had awesome accents.

So, I made it to Cologne. The plane from Frankfurt to Cologne was much smaller than the other one, and much faster, and flew much lower, making it way more fun. The pilot was all banking this way and that way and making crisp public service announcements that made me wonder if he was actually steering at all. But it was fun, and I wished that one lasted longer. Also, I got my whole row to myself on that one, so I was very comfortable. Yay.

I found my bag easily, thanks to Rose's bright pink scarf. Then I got a taxi for the first time ever and he took me to my hotel for 25-odd euros. The guy at the hotel said I couldn't check in for another hour, so I left my heavy bag there and went for a walk.

Back at the hotel, the internet was kind of a pain to set up, but now it's done. And I'm not leaving here again today. I think I'm going to take a nap and get up in a couple of hours when maybe some of you people will be up. Tomorrow, my plan is to find a jacket and some warm shirts, because it's a lot cooler here than it is back home - it's maybe 60 here. So, tschau.

(also: photos later because it's taking forever to upload)

Monday, August 20, 2007

Pink laces or brown?

I got new shoes! They have kangaroos on them. They're also spectacularly comfortable. Additionally, they have little pockets behind said wonderful marsupials. Kangaroo shoes. With pockets. Delightful, no? I can store quarters at my leisure. However, they came with two sets of laces, pink and brown. Should I use the pink laces or the brown ones? The people decide!

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Oh noes!

Pablo bit Kevin, and we have no clue why. It's very distressing. It wasn't a bad bite, just a teensy puncture wound with almost no blood, but still... Very out of character. I'm concerned about him. His usual fear-response is curling into a ball, not going all stabbity-doom on people. And it wasn't a feeding response because it was a bite-and-release, not bite-and-hold. But he's acting normally again now - we gave him a mouse and he's happy again. I bought a pair of oven mitts (with a spaghetti-and-meatball pattern!) for Kevin to use to handle him while he's all alone, because he's a little Pablo-shy now.

Useful information: if you get bitten by a snake, do NOT yank it off. You'll pull out the poor thing's teeth, and it'll just slash up your skin, because the teeth curve backwards. Instead, push its head forward and try to detach it that way. If that doesn't work, submerge its head in water, and it'll let go. If that doesn't work, pour alcohol (liquor or rubbing alcohol, not beer) into its mouth, and it'll recoil (wisely) at the taste and let go. If that doesn't work, resign yourself to having a snake on your thumb for the next twenty minutes and go read a book or something.

Also, I had birthday stuff today! Kevin got me a pony, and _Hot Fuzz_, and stuff for my camera, and is making me a lovely candlelit dinner of chicken cordon bleu, which I'm about to go eat. Ta-ta.