Well, I’ve touched down in London.
A part of me can’t totally believe that this is reality, that I really redirected the plan I’d had for the past two years. Montana always seemed like the next logical step, a good mix of the familiar with the unexplored. Paris, or anywhere else really, was never considered.
I think that we need to balance the later and the now. There are some things that we need to push through, like getting a degree or saving up for a big trip, in order to open up possibilities for our future. Other things, like picking up and moving to Paris, are done because they feel right in the now. If we focus too much on the future, we become preoccupied with the idea of should. In other words, we do what we feel we are supposed to do instead of what we feel is right. This, being here right now, is right.
London is great, its strange because its not entirely foreign. American culture and British culture are relatively similar, and I can speak to people on the street without issue. I’m staying with my friend Lisa, who is in the last week of writing her thesis at LSE. I’ve been in London for 40 hours, and I’ve already been dancing at a pub in Brixton, seen the (outside of) St. Paul’s Cathedral, Parliament/Westminster, taken a long walk along the river and been sat on by the elderly. Yes, that’s right, sat on. There’s a strange violation of personal space here. In New York, we’d just tell someone to move. In London, they push you and you’re just supposed to get the hint.
Red Light District
I can’t totally wrap my head around the idea of legalized prostitution. I’m in Amsterdam, where prostitution is legal and controlled. I guess it makes sense on some level, it provides a measure of security and standards for prostitutes, and protects the victims of vices. Still, I can’t totally wrap my head around it.
Whenever you hear about the red light district, people talk about prostitutes in booths. In my head, I imagined a large square with prostitutes in toll-like-booths. In fact, I hadn’t really considered any other options. In reality, its really more like window shopping for sex instead of driving through a toll. “Storefronts” are lit with red lights, and prostitutes are just hanging out, on display, by the window.
Train Traveling Time
I’ve spent a lot of time on trains in the past few days.
I took the train from Copenhagen to Berlin. The train got drove right onto the car cabin of a ferry and sailed across the North Sea to Germany. The ferry itself was like an airport, chock full of duty free shops selling oversized candy and cigarettes. I had 25 hours in Berlin, and I filled my time with German beer (bier) and the many sights (see photos in the previous blogpost). I had some trouble with the U and S Bahn, for one I kept calling it the metro – a big no no. It also took me a while to get a handle on the train map, and but people were happy to help.
In the morning I took a long run through East part of the city. In the afternoon I walked through the sights of Berlin with a friend. At night I took an overnight train from Berlin to Zurich. The overnight train is wonderful, its relaxing to be rocked to sleep by the movements of the train. Julia (the sister of my former D.C. roommate Andrea) met me in Zurich, and we’ve been traveling on the train ever since. We traveled to Bern, where we stayed with Julia’s aunt. We took day trips to the lake at Lugano in southern Switzerland and to Lake Como in the northern lake region in Italy. There happened to be an art exhibit on Chagall, Kandinsky and Malevich in Como. My thesis includes Kandinsky, and I was happy for the find. We also traveled to Ballenberg to see a museum on the different houses in Switzerland. The museum was sort of like a nature preserve for endangered housing styles. As I write this, Julia and I are on our way to Zurich to stay with her other aunt.
I love train travel. I love the captive environment and the passing scenery. European trains are very comfortable. Travelers usually do not have to make any sort of reservation, unless traveling overnight or in Italy. And no, the trains do not run on time there. Train travel has given me the time to read books and the sometimes difficult to find Herald Tribune and to stare out the window at the Alps. I want to be close to the mountains.
The Europass is awesome and well worth it. Its already paid for itself. I bought the 21 country Global Pass, 10 travel days in 2 months, so I am free to go anywhere I please. I’m staying with friends in Spain, and am purposely keeping my plans vague to exploit this well deserved freedom.
I might go to Amsterdam instead of Brussels. Oh, and happy Fourth of July!
First batch of Switzerland Photos:
One of the most interesting experiences I had in Copenhagen was going to the movie theater. Jill, Ben and I saw Transformers 2. As Jill pointed out, going to the theater in Copenhagen is a marked difference in culture. For one, everyone has assigned seats. You can pay to be in a better seat. The commercials and previews are pretty long, about 30 minutes, so most people know to enter the theater late. But, if you come too late you are denied entry. After the previews and commercials finish, a curtain closes in front of the screen as the lights dim, signifying that the feature presentaion is about to begin. The movie itself if much more interactive. Everyone laughs at the silly jokes and applauds at the momentous moments – no matter how cheesy (and there were a lot of those at T2). It makes the entire experience more enjoyable, its more like theater on a stage than a movie on a screen. I probably liked Transformers 2 more than I should have, but it was a great experience.