Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Day Fourteen

Disaster! Rob pukes and has a headache and stomach ache. No! Not during our Eurotour! WHY?!?

Alright, I might as well make the most of it. I go walking in the Old Town of Luzern switzerland and see, among other things, trumpeter swans, an old covered bridge, junk souvenir shops full of pocketknives, and a logjam of asian tourists. It a nice place. Too bad Rob is sick.

Time for the Swiss Breakfast. I have heard from a reliable source (you know who you are) that the Swiss Breakfast is way better than your puny American Breakfast. So I bought all of the components at the local Co-op: Museli, UHT milk, yogurt, fruit, and jelly donuts (I added that last one on my own).

Rob was awake by the time I got back, but not feeling 100%. He could barely eat anything I bought because his throat hurt from stomach acid.

After a little while he said he was feeling better, so we decided to ride the tram up to Pilatus, which turned out to be a restaurant and gift shop on top of a mountain. Still a nice ride though. As I was buying my ticket, Rob was hit by a tsunami of nausea and changed his mind, but told me to just go alone. D'oh, poor Rob.

It was a good panoramic view of the middle part of Switzerland. I took the tram halfway down and ran to the next station, getting lost several times on the way and worrying because the last tram was supposed to leave in less than an hour. The tram was fun and much longer than our Snowbird one, but not as stark. I saw one of those brown mountain goats. Sorry, no lederhosen and no alpenhorns.

I bought a Walls Ice Cream bar. Mmmm.

But by the time I had gotten back, Rob's condition had gone from "blah" to "feh". He wanted to go to the doctor. We got a cab to the clinic and they gave him some weird medicine, which made him feel worse. Dang Swiss. Looks like we're staying here another night. Rob hasn't eaten anything all day.

Day Thirteen

Alright, the jerks we had to share a room with were....well, they were jerks. I can ecuse them coming in at one in the morning and making the room smell like Smirnoff Ice, but the guttural burping and Loud Exit at 5:30 am are what pushed me over my I am amused/I am annoyed threshold.

ANYWAY, its off to Switzerland, the land of watches, pocketknives, cheese, and switzers, whatever those are. Actually today's entry has very little to do with switzerland, and more to do with riding trains. Lots and lots of trains. Oh, and boats! We got up from our tabacco-emanating hostel and went straight to the ferrey station on the Rhine. We get to ride FREE with our rail passes, woohoo! So Rob realizes that he wants to feel healthier by eating more fruit, etc. Stuff besides pastries, is he crazy? Off he goes and I wait by his bag. Six minutes is plenty of time to go and buy some fruit before the Only Ferrey Of The Day leaves isn't it? It seemed like a good idea at the time. Five minutes. Four Minutes. Where is he? The lady is looking at me and pointing at her watch, which is apparently German for "Where's your friend? We won't wait for you." I shrug, which is American for "Shut up, I am working on it." Two minutes. Wait, what happened to three, that's not fair! One and a half.....there he is at the end of the close! He's sprinting! Just in time. Wow, that was almost another missed ferry (we had intended to leave yesterday).

Three hours on the ferrey. We were the only people under fifty, besides the guys playing accordian and sax. I fell asleep four times. Nice.

Then the trains. Not much interesting here, except that during our hour-long transfer in Stuttgart Rob was feeling "cold", which is not a good omen considering what a nice day it was. He got some Cocoa, and I got a croissant and what looked like a juice box labeled "Apple T". It turned out to be tepid artificially flavored sugar water with tea extract. Gross. Tossed it.

And this was the best part of the day: in between Stuttgart and Zurich, a uniformed man approached us on the train and said something in German. Rob asked him, in dutch, if he spoke English (figure that one out). He didn't speak a word of English. Kindly middle-aged German couple to the recue! They translated: "would you like to consume something?" D'oh! We had satt down in the dining car by mistake, and to make matters worse I had covered our little table in brochure clippings with which I was making my own postcard. We declined consuming something, and started gathering up our stuff. The couple asked us if they could buy us something, and we politley declined. They insisted. Well, alright then. I had some fizzy water and Rob had some not fizzy water. We talked to the couple for a while. Wow, free drinks. What a country.

One more transfer. Swiss franks from ATM. Hostel.

Day Twelve

Church indeed! Being Sunday, we went to Koln ward meeting. Fun! No infrared headsets with English translation here though. I had to have one of the missionaries translate the whole three hour block for me. Poor Guy. And I murdered the hymns, particularly "put your shoulder to the wheel", or whatever that is in Germanese. Not that it was really a good one to begin with. But I digress.

So next we changed hostels to a slightly less expensive, much dirtier and smoke-filled one that was right by the train station. Not the best idea, in retrospect, as you will see later.

But the day was still young, so we did what any twenty-somethings in Koln, Germany on a sunday afternoon would do. Went to St. Goar, of course. I hadn't heard of it either, but St. Goar is a small, slightly touristy town on the Rhine River, which is home to the Lorreley. Again, hadn't heard of it, but Rob had an entire poem about the place memorized in German. I really should read more.

The ferrey to the Lorreley was expensive so Rob and I, being cheap, walked there. Good thing to, since all the people who rode the ferry missed out on some prime rock-skipping. A police boat (?) cruised passed and they yelled at us about something. Not speaking German, we ignored them and they left. Moral: always ignore the police.

Afterwards we went out to dinner and ate........Brautwurst and sauerkraut, woohoo! Very nice. The weather was cool, and we missed our train so we did a little hike up this nice but desserted trail right by the train station.

Train, hostel, toothbrush, bed.

Monday, May 30, 2005

Day 11

Well this is my first Blog entry so I hope you like it. TR says I do not write enought so here is my effort. This morning I woke up in a nice warm bed in my very own bedroom. We had spend the night at Mevrouw Antonisson of the Antwerp Ward. Today I realized that we would no longer be staying with friends but we would be on our own to find Hostels. We headed out of Antwerp in the morning after a breadfast of bread and cheese. The first stop was Brussels. We only stayed there long enough for stroll down the city center and a sandwich at the Hema. Then we went on a train to Leige, to Aachen, and from there to Koln. It was a long trip but it was beutiful. I realized that not all of Europe is flat like Netherlands. Once we got to Koln two of the three hostels were closed but we made a phone call and took a trip on the metro and we were there. After setting our things down we went for a walk along the rhine river and talked about politics. We got some food at a Turkish resaurant and while we were eating there was a mouse eating crumbs on the ground. I thought then...Hmmmmm.....that is probably not to sanitary. But anyway, we finished up checked out the huge cathedral and went back to our beds. We went to bed early so we could get up in time for church.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Day Ten

Onward to Belgium! First stop: Antwerpen(Antwerp). Rob wnated to look at diamonds. It was very romantic, but we lost interest quickly. They all look the same to me.
Of course, we had to eat real Belgian Waffles, which are really nothing like those things you get at Denny´s. These have the syrup baked in and taste what I imagine a croissant would taste like if you were drunk and cooked your dough in a waffle iron instead of an oven. So yes, they were good.
Antwerp was cool, especially the fountain with the giant statue of a guy throwing a severed hand. Most inspiring.

Other things in Antwerp:
°An souvenir shop owner who was cool but wouldn´t let us leave because he kept talking so much. Those Kiosks must be lonely.
°Rob tried on a Holland sweatshirt and the lady in the shop looked heartbroken when he decided against buying it.
°A river.
°Lots of jews.
°A big Döner Kebab with fries for only €4
°We got lost and walked down the same street like three times.

Finally we met up with Rob´s other friend from his mission. That whole thing was just weird. Rob can elaborate if he likes. He´ll start posting soon, I promise.
Anyway we got back to where we are staying (this old Flemish woman´s house). She talked to Rob until 2 am, long after I went to bed. Sometimes it is very handy to not know a language.

Day Nine

Alright so we went into Rotterdam today and saw the blaak houses. Weird houses that looked like diagonally set cubes on posts. I´ll post some better photos when I get a chance.
After a little shopping in the centrum and another unsuccessful attempe to find some stroopwaffels, we saw Star Wars! Yes and it was on an obnoxiously large screen and it was all in English with Dutch subtitles. Guess what? Vader means father in Dutch.
Lunch at a bakery. I had a raw salmon sandwich on rye. Not bad.
We took another couple trains and met up with Rob´s old mission companion, Brobbey from Ghana. He was really fun to talk to and his wife made us chicken wings. Woohoo!
Brobbey ate his chicken bones.

Day Eight

Got the heck outta Dodge today. And by Dodge I mean Groningen. After about a zillion (I lost count somewhere between "a lot" and "hekuva lot"), we made it to Dordrecht (nobody else has heard of it either, but it is near Rotterdam). Now we are staying with a guy named um.....something. Rob, what was his name? He was cool.
He took us to see windmills (a hekuva lot, to be precise). Holy cow, there were windmills everywhere. And ducks. Lots of ducks. Rob, what was the windmill and duck place called again? It must be late.
Oh, geez, I almost forgot. On the way to Dordrecht we stopped at the Dutch Royal Palace. Lots of cool wallpaper and paintings of naked people, which smart people call "culture". Whatever its called, that wallpaper is something else, I tell ya. Rob, what was the palace called? Het Loo or something. Anyway here´s an old-timey drawing.

Day Seven

So I went running today. It was really nice out and I ran next to this lake in Groningen. There were signs warning me of a nude beach, but it was only sixty degrees or so out I figured I was safe. I was.
We visited Harm, one of Rob´s converts. He plays organ for a group called Planet Orange. He was cool but struggled a little with English. We did a little blues jam with him. I played organ and he and Rob played giutars. Jamming with Dutchmen is fun, I have decided.
And we climbed Martini tower and I rang this giant bell, just like Quasimoto. Very cool. Then we rented and watched Super-size Me with more of Rob´s dutch girlfriends.

Day Six

Sorry for not updating. But I´ll catch up.
Today we played volleyball with some of Rob´s former ward members. These two scary-looking Dutchmen started playing. They were twins. One kept saying "shit" and the other kept saying "fetch". Is that funny to anyone else?
And today was a big holiday called Pinkster(Pentecost) and so there was this big carnival. Kind of dumb, but we did ride bumper cars and we all ganged up on this kid with a mullet.
We hung out with Robert´s dutch friend-girl. She took us to this really cool bar and we drank. Coke.
Just as a side note: dutch toilets have this shelf thing that catches...uh...anything that falls in and holds it in the open air until you flush. Good because it eliminates the unsettling splash. Bad because it permeates into the air much faster(Read: it stinks). More info on this strange phenomenon.
Also, Rob´s dutch friends give us bread for breakfast. Boring, but not bad. I have continued putting Hagel Slag on them (see day one, or was it two?).

left:Your basic volleyball. right: Your basic Coke.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Day Five

Alright so we went to church today, which was interesting. Here they have every meeting in both languages(Dutch and English). For sacrament meeting (the main meeting) I wore the headset again. Herman Blom (the father of the family that we are staying with) sat in another room and translated the meeting into English while I and a bunch of Africans listened to him on the headsets. Rob didn't need them.
After church and eating leftover spareribs we left for Groeningen. Seriously, Rob, you take forever to pack.

Day Four

Today we went to the temple in The Hague. I had to wear earphones that played the English translation of everything. The temple there is very small but somehow they fit everything inside that they need to.
Then I saw the Peace Palace, which is that building that there is a picture of on day one. Milosevic is being tried there.
Spareribs for dinner.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Day Three

Well we had the Amsterdam experience. We went to the Anne Frank House first of all. That was cool. Did yall read that in middle school? Then we had a little lunch of rolls, peanuts, salami and these really good little waffle cookies with caramel in the middle. Then we went to the Van Gogh museum. I was little put off by the 10 ticket price, especially when the guidebook and my ticket both said 7,50. But it was more than worth it once we got inside and saw probably one hundred Van Goghs, as well as some from Lautrec, Monet, Manet, and Gaughain.
We were about museum-ed out by now so we decided to sleep for a while on the lawn in front of their big concert hall. I awoke to the sound of a raging Dutch hobo shouting at a bunch of teenagers. It turns out that the 'F' word is the same in every language. Then we got a bit lost (intentionally) and ended up in a part of town where we were sure we were the only tourists. Amsterdam is quite ordinary once you do that. I should mention that this whole time we would stop and play frisbee for a few minutes in every available open space. At one point, this caused me to create about a six inch rip in the seat of my pants. I have since sewn them.
On the way back, we met a twenty-something year old guy from Georgia who was touring with his mother. They were really weird. Rob can elaborate if he likes.
So Amsterdam was fun. It was, of course, full of people who wanted to (quoting this guy on the train) "get drunk, get stoned, and get laid". According to him, that is the only reason to come to Europe.

left: A Van Gogh right: a dutch guy joined in and played frisbee with us here.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Day Two

I woke up at 3:00 am. It's that dang internal clock, still set to Utah time. Anyway after morning came we walked to the bakery and I got a sausage roll. Imagine the most unhealthy way to serve a sausage. If you guessed "Inside a pastry crust", award yourself five points. Tasty.
Next we went to the Japanese Gardens at the park. Next we went out to lunch at a snack bar. Despite Rob's suggestion that I try a very not appetizing grayish sausage. When nobody would tell me what was in it, I opted for the mystery fish ("lekkerbecke") which turned out to be haddock, I think.
Next was, of course, the pottery factory in Delft. Mildly interesting, but not worth €4, that's for sure.
We went home and Rob slept and I sent yall an email. Then the Bloms took us out for a pancake dinner on a restaurant on the beach. Beach + Pancake Dinner = best thing ever. So my pancakes were these little tiny things about three inches across. I could hardly see them under their mountain of powdered sugar. Of course, on top of that I put either butter, whipped cream, or ice cream. Fattylicious. When I went to the restroom, I had my choice of "Heren" and "Dames". Assuming you are me, which would you pick? If you guessed "Heren", award yourself ten points. Then Rob and I walked along a very windy beach and, much to the amazement of everyone who passed, threw a strange white plastic disk, known in America as a "frisbee", back and forth.
On the way back we found a path with a sign that said "Verboden Weg", which Rob translated as "forbidden path". I explained to Rob that we could take it anyway since I don't speak Dutch. He was convinced. My bum is sore from yesterday's bike ride.

If your porcelain piggy bank has this on the bottom, then I have seen its birthplace.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Day One

Wow, day one of Brooks and Bolke vs. Europe went well. We flew out of SLC at about 1:00 pm. On the flight I watched Hotel Rwanda (highly recommended) and Sideways (less recommended). I hardly slept at all even though I only had slept 3.5 hours the night before. So it is now 7:00 pm (in The Hague) and I am totally hammered.
When we first arrived in Amsterdam we got on a train to Den Haag(The Hague). Once there we wandered around downtown while Rob got his bearings. We visited one of Rob's converts who seemed a little bewildered by our unannounced arrival.
So just by wandering around downtown here I have learned the following things about Nederland. (Does anyone mind if I use the names of countries in their own language? Well I am going to anyway.)
~There are Chinese restaurants here, but "Chinese" has its last two letters transposed (i.e. Chinees). I am aware of the uselessness of this fact, so you needn't point it out.
~Dutch people love to fill the rest of us in on the extent to which we are butchering their language. They would much rather speak your language than hear you struggle through theirs.
~Cyclists rule the road.
~The stereotype that all Dutch women are supermodels is not true.
~Conversely, any rumours (can I use european english spellings too? thanks. I knew you'd understand) you have heard about the Dutch eating raw pickled herring are true. I will give a full report as soon as the day comes wherein I try some.
~Chocolate jimmies (you know those rod-shaped sprinkles) are a sandwich condiment here. Honestly. And I apporve.
Anyway we finally found the house of this family, the Bloms, that Rob knows and that we are staying with for a few nights. They are very cool. We had sandwiches (with chocolate jimmies) and then they lent us their bikes to go to the beach, even though it is only like 50 degrees farenheit today.
The ride was awesome. It was a great way to see the city at a different pace. When we finally got to the shore we pedalled along the wet, firmer part of the sand, making a pleasing crunchy sound as we crushed hundreds of seashells under our tires. We tried to play frisbee but it was too windy. Rob had me go ask directions from a pair of girls our age. They told me and then hurried along. It turns out Rob already knew the way before he told me ask. He just wanted me to entertain him. And he wanted to make fun of my atrocious pronunciation of this incomprhensible moon language. Bless him.
Also at the beach: three salty sea captain types (smoking pipes even) who lent us a pump to fix Rob's tyre, exhaustiingly intricate sand sculptures made for a competition, and some guy who we saw successfully attmeping to ride a bicycle while wearing a wetsuit and carrying a big surfboard.
The ride back was brutal. By now I had been hit with the full force of time zone differences, 12 hours of air travel, train and trolley rides, wandering around Den Haag wearing my two packs, and an hour of riding a leaden bicycle to and from the beach. We got home and ate dinner (turkey, potatoes, and boiled cabbage....very nice).

A building that I have not visited.

Rob with a frisbee on the beach at Den Haag.