Trip Start Jun 21, 2008
44Trip End Aug 03, 2008
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I left the hostel, for the ferry back to Svendborg - on the way, I stopped at the same bakery I went to yesterday but being early, there were none of those yummy thumbprint cookies :( Instead, I grabbed some assorted pastries.
I've been having breathing problems since last night - there must be some plant or flower on this island that's giving me problems. I felt kind of like when I was in Naples for the first time, when I thought I was going to suffocate and die (see Euro 2006 blog entitled "A masterpiece so beautiful it made me cry ...." http://www.travelpod.com/travel-blog-entries/pwong/europe_2006/1157658960/tpod.html?tweb_UID=pwong ) Luckily, it wasn't quite as bad, this time
Quite tired, today - a bad and short sleep last night, I felt like a zombie on the ferry. Nobody checked for train tickets on the ride from Svendborg to Odense, just like on the train ride in, two days ago. On the way, I ate the third pastry I bought from the bakery in Aeroskobing - a Danish, with grainy jam that was WAY too sweet. The pastry was also croissant-like - this bakery can't do a good pastry, but does wicked cookies, apparently.
The Odense train station is messed up with how the escalators are set up - you can go from the 1st floor to the 3rd, and from the 1st to the 2nd, but you can't go directly from the 2nd to the 3rd, you have to go back down to the 1st floor in order to go to the third. If this was in southern Italy, I would suspect that this bizarre design had something to do with contractors employed by the mafia!
My allergies were horrible today, non-stop sneezing and blowing my nose - I was actually getting dehydrated from that! Maybe my body is breaking down because it isn't used to having relaxing days like the past few. But it's alright, because I need to sneak a breather here and there, otherwise I might die during the final six days of my trip, which will be incredibly hectic
I arrived in Padborg, where I caught my last train of the day - destination, Hamburg! It looked like there were a bunch of army guys going back home on board. There was also a group of incredibly annoying teens that were yelling, screaming, singing, dancing, and banging the walls in a nearby compartment. This was exactly what I DIDN'T need, after a long travel day - I hopped on the 8:15 ferry and finally arrived in Hamburg at 16:00.
The air in Hamburg definitely isn't as pristine as Norwegian air - not a great first impression of this city. The roads leading to the A&O hostel were pretty messed up - on the map, it looks like a simple, direct route. Unfortunately, the maps don't show all the different bridges, and elevation changes.
I checked in - the hostel room is quite nice, big and airy, and also has a TV. The common areas look alright, too. The dumb thing is that there is no shower curtain in the bathroom, but they do leave you a squeegee to clean up the mess after. Pretty stupid. They could also use a few hooks in the bathroom.
Back to the train station in search of a grocery store - I desperately needed some water, and found a drug store
I wandered aimlessly around Hamburg - I forgot to bring any information on the city, so I'll try and figure something out tomorrow. I was starving, but came across a beach volleyball tournament, and got sucked in. Who needs food when you have women jumping around in bikinis?
Next up was Norway versus Belgium - I didn't catch the names of the Belgians, because I was too distracted by the "talent" of the Norwegian team of Hakedal and Toerlen. Though the scores were closer than they should have been, Norway easily carried the play.
Hamburg is a little bit gritty, but I like it - it doesn't seem to be overly touristy, but there appears to be enough to keep tourists occupied
I wandered over to the Reeperbahn, Hamburg's famous red light district/tourist attraction. It's a bizarre carnal carnival that appears to exist solely for tourists. Sex shops, adult cinemas, cafes, bars ... it's a little surreal, seeing tourists (and a few locals) sitting at the outdoor cafes, basking in the "ambiance". I found it bizarre and over-rated.
I walked around town, over to the harbour - diesel fumes - yech! Hamburg definitely isn't a beautiful city, but I really like it so far. The city is quite spread out; I did tons of walking in only a few hours.
Back to the hostel - only one bunkmate tonight, an Austrian named Stefan. He's from Graz, and was surprised that I knew his hometown held the annually-rotating title of "European Capital of Culture" in 2003
We talked about the German-speaking northern regions of Italy - fact I never knew: there are actually a lot of hard feelings about that situation. Apparently, the Austrians refer to it as South Tirol and consider it their own, though it's officially a part of Italy. There is a patriotic Austrian sentiment there, but the people are realistic - they have far better tax benefits being citizens of Italy than Austria. Amazing that I visited this area and knew nothing about it. Stefan was pretty funny about it - when I first asked about it, he responded curtly "We do not like to talk about this." But then he did!
Surprisingly, I practiced my Spanish with Stefan - he spoke incredibly well, considering that he only took a little bit in school, and never really practices. We started talking about how very few Spanish or Italians speak English - Stefan suggested that people from both countries have no desire learn about other cultures, or associate with foreigners.
He talked of some Spanish students studying in Graz, that would only hang out with their own kind. I understand that to a degree, but I wonder if they don't associate with others because they aren't comfortable enough with any other languages, and because they don't want to mix. Or perhaps the women just want to avoid contact with foreigners who go crazy over them. Not that I would personally know anything about this ...
Either way, it's troubling - I think the Canadian government needs to to intervene, and create an organization to address this problem of Spanish isolation. I volunteer to spearhead the effort, either by opening an office in Spain, or hosting the Spanish in my house. But only the females, because I feel there is a gender gap that also needs to be bridged, but only for that reason, and no other ...
This would be a comprehensive program, including teaching them English, but we don't want them to learn it too well, otherwise they might lose their accent that is so sexy ... uh ... I mean ... so indicative of their culture ... I would help them explore Canada's wilderness, perhaps through moonlit walks along BC's beaches? And what of Canadian traditions - such as the quintessential experience of skinny dipping in the lake?
Food? I'd be happy to share with the senoritas all the fine dining that Canada has to offer, by candle light, of course! And I've never seen the typical North American dessert of summer, Jello, anywhere in Spain. I'd keep their comfort in mind, and keep a large pool of it in my backyard, in case they need to jump in and cool off. Chocolate pudding is also a good medium for cooling, they could try that as well! But only to escape the heat, of course!
What of typical Canadian childhood experiences, such as sleepovers? It's never too late to show these lovely young ladies our Canadian traditions - and what sleepover would be complete without a good ol' pillow fight? Perhaps we could combine the pillow fights with food, and do it in a pool of jello or pudding?
This organization would be called the Society to Promote And Normalize International Social Heritage and Hosting Organization for The Transatlantic International Exchange with Spain. I call it SPANISH HOTTIES, for short. Please write your local Member of Parliament to pledge your support to this worthy cause!