Friday, May 30, 2008


Wild Wales Road in Eastern South Dakota

I went to a meeting for Safe Routes to School (btw, it's about bicycling and walking). Jen went for a bicycle ride from LaFramboise Island to Farm Island.

What started out with the bird watching ride on a bicycle in the Pierre area turned into a unique view of an area of Eastern South Dakota that is easily missed if you're in a hurry. I started traveling this road many years ago before it was even paved, but I had never done it in the kind of weather we experienced on May 29, 2008. Oh yeah, I wasn't in a hurry either.

I will call this the 216 Steet road as it begins on that county road that about 50 miles East of Pierre on SDHY 34 and heads nearly straight East and after a few jogs you finish up on 214. Most people would not think of a straight road as scenic and maybe the weather did have something to do with it.

But let me say that no road is scenic regardless of how many twists and turns it may have. On the contrary, it is the topography and ecology through which it passes, although many motored vehicle drivers might disagree, in my opinion they are missing the point. They are not alone most map makers make the same mistake. Perhaps it is simply the pervasive influence of cars that go where roads takes them. Maybe that is the point after all.

It was cloudy and the wind easterly,the fog was occasionally dense enough to bring the visibility to less than 1/4 of a mile. The sloughs and pot holes all had water and ducks, the prairie sounds of meadow larks and red wing blackbirds was ever present. Sun peaked through once in a while and the views changed from mile to mile. It was a great experience resulting mostly from PDL (pure dumb luck).

I would encourage anyone heading to the river or returning on a day of "bad weather" to take their time and enjoy this special glimpse at a scenic part of South Dakota that does not appear on the tourist maps. I am guessing sunrise and sunset would be good times to go in even in sunny weather and those scenes could be captured with a camera.

It would take a more talented photographer than me to capture the feeling of this place at this time. The best I can do is an abstract view of a crumbling barn taken a couple of years ago not far from the WWR .

Why do I call the Wild Wales Road? Even though there are cattle instead of sheep and it is in South Dakota instead of Great Britain, there is a remote wildness about it that made me think of the wilderness area of Wales and a trip we made across that area in 2002. Amazing what can be found in our own backyard.

It would make a great 3 day bicycle camping trip with an opportunity to camp out in the Ree Hills, say by the Spring Lake WPA, and another night along the the Missouri River. There are no services for about 100 miles along the 216 route, the towns are along both US14 to the North and SD34 to the South. Ames and Danforth persist as place names but the services are gone. Carry some food and water and enjoy the Wild Wales Road, the remoteness makes it special.

More detail? Check the Pierre to Huron via Wild Wales Road Interactive Map and plan your own trip. Take your time. Go slow. Ride a bicycle. The planet depends on your actions.

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Wednesday, May 28, 2008


Take a walk in the Latin Quarter

Come along with Mav & Jen as they take a walk in the Latin Quarter of Paris, the 5th arrondissement. on the left bank

We will start at the most famous English Bookstore in Paris. You know you are in the right place because the Notre Dame Cathedral is right across the Pont au Double our first stop.

Click to open an interactive map of
the Paris Latin Quarter May 2008 Walk
in a new window/tab.
It was a nice day for a walk

Stay tuned we will be adding some audio and a script soon to help you find the way. Go to the map now and zoom in just to get a taste of what's to come. Check out the other pictures. Leave a question or comment in the comment section below.

Full size pictures of the Latin Quarter Walk

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Saturday, May 24, 2008


Will, George and Me--in Paris

Shakespeare's Bookstore in Paris is one of the most famous English language bookstores in the world. We browse, buy, read and attend presentations there every time we are in Paris. And in 2003, we were part of a writing group that presented some of our work there. And most of the time we just hang out and visit with people from all over the world.

I visited with the founder, George Whitman, and he invited us to stay in one of the apartments above the store--we already had digs and were leaving in a couple of days. That experience will be on the long, long "next time" list.

Click on the title to go to the bookstore webpage. There is a link to a 360 view from the front of the store.

My picture of George Whitman when we visited in May 2008

Friday, May 23, 2008


A Life Worth Living

My travel goes beyond business & pleasure

Oh sure I do both when I am in Europe. I am a poet and direct experience is the key to authentic expression, but partaking in the street scenes of the European city is a real part my life. I don't go there to get away from the prairie but to compliment the rich experience of this North American rural setting. European cities are much more to my liking than the sprawling megalopolises that US cities have become.

Use a bike to get around Chicago. Great idea if you are already on Lake Shore Drive but the buses, trams and trains hardly offer the kind of mobility that Berlin does, and Chicago is an exception at that. Davis CA? Hardly a large city. Portland? I love it, but most people still find cars essential for everyday life.

Restuarants that have people sitting outside when it's 52 degrees and slowly sipping a 3oz coffee while watching life in the street and chatting with me in their 3rd language (English) after it is obvious my pidgin is not up to the task. At 21:00 (9:00 pm) in downtown USA, wherever, forget it.

One example of the street life is checking people riding Velib bicycles that are found all over the city of Paris, not just Paris they are in many of the cities. They ride for free or a nominal cost and drop off at some other station near their destination. Let's see it took 20 minutes to go from Shakespeare's Bookstore right across from Notre Dame Cathedral to the Eiffel Tower. What a nice complement to watching migrating shore birds in a flooded soybean field in the Big Sioux River Valley that less than 2 miles on a bicycle from my front door.

It makes me want to push harder for Safe Routes to School so my grandchildren can do it here in he USA without the carbon emissions of international air travel.

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Wednesday, May 21, 2008


Today we heard the Brown Thrasher sing

Full moon, cool dry air, before sunrise.

Took Nickel out with our bicycles to our favorite Birdwatching area to see what happening. We saw the Brown Thrasher the first day. The guide books say "Brown Thrashers are able to vocalize 3000 distinct songs," but we never really have seen them performing, they are always just flying way ahead of us. but today was different. From a perch high in a cottonwood tree he sang and sang, each trill another new sound. On the way back to town about an hour and half later he flew low across the road in front of us showing his brown back then hopped up the tree and began singing once more.

The sedge wrens were and common yellow throats were all along the route and we saw a yellow legs for the first time this year although I am sure they have been around. Meadow larks and bobolinks were in the fields and on the fence wires, plovers and dowitchers in the wet fields plus teal, mallards and geese everywhere we looked.

We are so glad we didn't miss the spring migration. We are on the lookout for a Kingfisher and maybe we will check out the orioles at the lake this afternoon. The weather is jus too nice to stay inside.

No Kingfisher, but the yellow and yellow-rumped warblers, orchard and Baltimore Orioles, and song sparrows were out and putting on a natural vocal performance while the Kingbirds keep us company on the way home.Of course there are always the Yellow head and Red wing blackbirds that I enjoy hearing as I ride, which proves that I am no birder after all.

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Saturday, May 17, 2008


Vacation never ends

Paris - May 12

Saturday, May 17, 2008 - Volga - Syttende Mai for you Norwegians

We are still on a trip. This morning befor sunrise we got on our bicycles and took Miss Nickel to our favorite place along 210th street in Volga Twsp. and found the migratory birds were all there to greet us. Last Saturday we were poking around in organic street market, Marche des Batignolles in Paris. Buying expensive roquefort cheese, fresh French bread and smelling fresh caught fish among the fromage (cheese) of every color and texture, vegetables and flowers, not to mention the most incredible apple strudel or whatever the French call it.

The late spring here in the Dakota is almost a miracle for us although I am sure the locals would beg to disagree. The leaves are popping out, the apple tree in our backyard will blossom in a few days, and the grass and flowers are getting a good start. Tulips in May? All the activities between now and mid June before I go to the Northern Plains Wrting Conference is almost more intense than the past month.

Today was special, so special with the cacaphony of sounds and sights in the prairie wetlands here in the Big Sioux River Valley. Goldsmith Lake is full and the outflow goes right along the road so bicycling is like being on kayak. A kickstand is best piece of equipment I ever bought for my moutain bike, actually I didn't buy it I found it along the road. Stopping and looking at the birds, animals and still life through binoculars is so astounding sometiimes we forget to breathe. Two hours of ecstacy then our special breakfast followed by coffee & Irish cream liquer, it can't get better than that!

But don't count on it. Depending on the location there is always so much to indulge the senses and the soul. As I post this blog, Carol shouted,

"The humming birds are here!"

Friday, May 16, 2008


Where we stayed on a budget trip

This is listing of places and links to the internet booking sites we used for our budget trip to Europe as well as our MyYahoo map for the location.

Please note the summary is incomplete at this time but listing will be added for the RON (remain overnight) location listed in the May 15, 2008 post. Thanks for your patience. Visit us again for a location that interests you.

Click here for interactive map
Zoom out to get the big picture or zoom in and find your favorite spot, Merci

I have added the Yahoo Map for each location so that the area can be explored easily and you anyone can make their own maps to the sites desired.

Hotel Aviatic, 10 rue Brézin 75014 Paris, France listing
MyYahoo map of location and area

Sudpfanne Hostel, Hauptstr. 223, Heidelberg, Baden-Württemberg, 69117, Germany
Hostelbookers listing
MyYahoo map of location and area

Alcatraz Backpacker Hostel, Schönhauser Allee 133a, Berlin
MyYahoo map of location and area

Odense City Hostel, Østre Stationsvej 31, Odense (City Centre), Denmark
MyYahoo map of location and area
Note: We didn't actually stay here because it was full but we inspected the facility and would recommend it as a budget alternative to the $250 3-star across the street.

HI hostel Stigbergsliden, Stigbergsliden 10, 414 63 Göteborg, Sweden
MyYahoo map of location and area

Stay in Copenhagen, Slotsherrensvej 19, Vanløse, Copenhagen, 2720, Denmark
Hostelbookers listing
MyYahoo map of location and area

International Youth Hostel, Paracelsusstrasse 9, 5020 Salzburg, Austria listing
MyYahoo map of location and area

Miki and Anna Meklin B&B, Palmina 54, 60 Rokova Ulica, Split, Croatia - Tel: 00385(0)21394698 [it takes several tries with the address 60 Rokova to get the Euro map but it does work] City of Split Private Listing email
MyYahoo map of location and area

Hotel Boston, via Lepetit, 7 20124 Milano, Italy Tel.
I just walked down the street instead of taking the very poor guidance from the booker in the Train Station, instead of 180 Euro it was 80 in a business hotel
MyYahoo map of location and area

Rugenpark B&B, Rugenparkstrasse 19 CH-3800 Interlaken, Switzerland
Hostelbookers listing
MyYahoo map of location and area

Alexandra Hotel, 49 Rue Victor Hugo, 69002 Lyon, France
france - listing
MyYahoo map of location and area

Majestic Hotel, 110, rue Pradier - 30000 Nîmes, France listing
MyYahoo map of location and area has very nice search functions, maps, booking with a 'my Reservations' feature that makes it easy to monitor, cancel, and find information. The best we used although Paris35 (See Hotel Aviatic in this section) is developing a similar interface. They don't have all the hotels but the site is a good place to start.

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Thursday, May 15, 2008


Thumbnail of the 2008 Eurail Adventure

Click here to open an interactive map of the thumbnail above.

Each point of interest maker highlights the location and dates
Caution: You may have to zoom out to get the thumbnail view before exploring further.

April - May Itinerary

  1. April 16 ______Charles de Gaulle Airport
  2. April 16 - 18 ___ Avignon, France - Nimes (RON)
  3. April 18 - 19___ Lyon, France (RON)
  4. April 19 ______ Golden Pass Train, Swiss Alps from Montreux to Interlaken
  5. April 19 - 21 ___ Interlaken, Switzerland (RON)
  6. April 20 ______ Cog train and cable car to Schilthorn
  7. April 21 -22____Lucerne to Milan (RON)
  8. April 22 ______ Milan to Venice
  9. April 22 - 23 ___Venice night train via Ljubljana, Slovenia
  10. April 23_______Zagreb to Split Croatia
  11. April 23 - 26 ___Split
  12. April 25 ______ Day trip to island Brac
  13. April 26 ______ Bus trip along Adriatic Coast from Split to Rijeka
  14. April 26 -27 ___ Night train Rijeka through Ljubljana, Slovenia
  15. April 27- 29 ___ Salzburg, Austria
  16. April 28 ______ Bertschesgarten day trip
  17. April 29-May 1_ Berlin (RON)
  18. May 1 - 2 ____ Berlin via Hamburg to Copenhagen, Denmark (RON)
  19. May 2 - 3 ____ Copenhagen to Goteberg, Sweden (RON)
  20. May 3 - 4 ____ Odense, Denmark (RON)
  21. May 4 _______Odense - Copenhagen - Hamburg - Berlin
  22. May 4 - 7 _____Berlin (RON)
  23. May 7- 9 _____Berlin via Frankfurt to Heidelberg (RON)
  24. May 9 - 13 ____Paris (RON)
  25. May 12 ______ Day trip to Rouen

It is important to understand that this itinerary evolved from a desire to visit the Dalmatian Coast, Berlin and Paris. Almost all of the details were not planned and except for where we stayed in Nimes and Paris those that were preplanned changed like the weather. Incidentally, we followed the sunny skies with success for 28 out of the 30 days. One serendipitous experience was taking the bus along the Adriatic Coast, it was one of our favorites:

An 8+ hour bus ride from Split to Rijeka? Yes the road along the Adriatic Coast was hard to beat. My only regret is that I wasn't on a bicycle. Btw, one of the people we met intends to take this very trip next month. It was very inexpensive, public transportation and the pace relaxing. It could easily be broken into parts as there are many inviting places along the coast to spend and hour or an overnight.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


Back home once removed.

Hallo from Fargo

Hello Cassi, Martin, Saela, Martin, Mira, Nickel & Tre

13 May 2008 CDG Aeroport with a 2-2 1/2 hour wait to board.
Having passed through security, spent the rest of our Euros in the tax free shop on food???, well the bottles were too big to meet the liquids requirement. Hell we had to drink our water and coke while we got our clothes back on. Go figure--the spread on the sandwich would make a better boom than a bottle of H2O.

Now that you have my rant lets get on with the real story. For starters lets talk about the passport check where the fellow checking Carol's did not look at her papers but he sure did look at me with this look on his face like, "now there is a couple who don't fit together!" Of course, neither of us said a word until we got around the corner then it was good for a hearty laugh. au Revoir. Playing dumb is often the smart way to operate if you know the meaning of gemutlickite.

I think we learned something this morning about getting laughs. It is always good to have a perfectly ridiculous question ask the people in a terminal. Today's doosy was, "Will we be out on the tarmac waiting for the plane if we go past this point?" After the gentleman caught on we all had a great laugh and he assured us it would be a most pleasant place to pass the time.

Yesterday, Monday, was a holiday in France and we decided to go to Rouen. It is the capital of Normandy and the location of the Notre Dame Cathedral that Monet painted over and over again in every kind of light and season. This city has a long history starting in the 3rd century, the cathedral was dedicated by William (the Norman who invaded England in 1066) before he was named "the conqueror." This Notre Dame has stained glass from the 13th century and every century thereafter. It was damaged by allied bombing in 1944 to the point where it was just short of a miracle that it remained standing to be restored.

One of the saddest events in history also occurred here. Joan of Arc was burned at the stake in Rouen and the location of the event is preserved which stikes me strangely as so many war memories have been altered or destroyed by later rulers wishing to cleanse their reputations. The fact that this one has not is a strong testament to the egregious injustice that was committed on this spot. This city is also the site where the hall of justice that declared her innocence about a year after her death is preserved as well as a museum in a radical architectural style to commemorate her place in history.

The trip out to Rouen was on a train that was almost empty. It was exactly the opposite on the way back. It was an experience to be packed in a hot train for the 1hr 15 min ride back to Paris on the Monday holiday. It was not pleasant. It was the kind of exceptional experience that people might use to justify their auto when all it was a short taste of beauty of mass transportation. I would call it a chance to experience the full range of transportation alternatives.

We will be boarding the plane to the USA soon. Time to have lunch. And so it was eating and drinking our complementary wine all the way to MSP. Then Fargo,

. . . gooodbye perfect excuse for poor proof reading, tomorrow. . .

Sunday, May 11, 2008


Paris is still magic

We have not posted for a few days because it took some doing to figure how to make the Internet connection work here at the Hotel Aviatic. Finally got the quirks figured out. The hotel is in the Montparnasse and it as nearly as all French as it gets, which is cool, but it does make it more difficult to work out problems. Merci beaucou only gets you so far.

We did not expect to have this feeling of being back but it will take some time to capture just what we mean although there is a French phrase that I can't recall at this moment that says it all. Riding the buses, those we know and many others, visiting old haunts and discovering new routes and new places has been such a treat for both us. We just look at each other with big loopy grins.

Saturday morning we went to the cathedral atop Montmarte (Sacre Coeur we Santa Croce) which is very impressive. There were lots of visitors there and many friends have told us in the past that it is their favorite tourist feature in Paris. Somehow we had never gotten there before. It is quite the place given the views and the structure of the cathedral. It is large and in a Romanesque architecture as opposed to the more common Gothic style of Notre Dame.

We have all kinds of details to report that we will be working on over the next few days. This post is just a hint on the special relationship we have developed with this city. No, we have not quite slipped over the edge, but we are trying ;-)

Thursday, May 08, 2008


Heidelberg, My home town

My memory of this place has always been very positive. Over the year it has maintained its special place in my heart. Before last year, I was not aware that my father's families, both paternal and maternal ancestry. were from an village very nearby. Is it any wonder that I feel at home here? More detail on Geni (Catherin Bertsch (Lang) if you are a member of the family.

Right click on the title and open an interactive map,
zoom in on the castle for a great detailed view ! #

The Heidelberg castle is without equal anywhere. We spent all morning wandering the grounds and recalling special memories from days past, hehe. Something new, there is flock of sheep that graze the steep area of castle grounds and the bird song is better than best. Our hike on the castle grounds was a bird song serenade from beginning to end. Unbeatable.

As it happens, the hostel is run by a bar/restaurant that serves the best German food in the city. Wow. The kids we visited with, a girl from Dallas and a man from here, were great fun. Such good times and Carol reports the Riesling from Baden Baden is much better than we get at home. Surprise.

Interesting fact: the church once had a wall down the middle to split the Catholics from the Lutherans back in early 18th century.

#Bloggers who want to include interactive maps take heed.
Linking the interactive map from the title avoids a nasty little aspect of blogger that makes it difficult, I haven't figured out a way yet, to edit the contents after the post using the bikely code is included. So I' am avoid it by using the title link and a screen view jpeg in the content area.
Please right click to open in a new tab/window.

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Wednesday, May 07, 2008


Back in Heidelberg after 36 years

May 7 nach Heidelberg

Bio Taxis in Berlin

Yesterday, we checked out some of the local places in Prenzlauer Berg. The allyoucaneat breakfast place did not open until 10:00 so we went back to another place in the area, found the beer hall and the most well known curry wurst location while on the way to the Pergamon. The curry wurst was excellent as we found out later in the day when we returned to the hostel to take a nap and meet Danny.
By now we are noticing the sublties of mass transport: where on the U-bahn to get on so that you will be close to your exit or to avoid steps, a hassle, grab a tram to skip a busy spot or get to a favorite imbiss (street food/beer) when you get off. For tourists who trade time for trade sightseeing, bus 100 that travels from Alexander Platz to Zoo Garden via Unterden Linden, Reichtag, Tier Garten, Europa Center, was a good afternoon break from the Pergamon to pick up some camera batteries (4AA).
Why do that? Well the rechargable ones failed on about the 2nd shot in the Museum. We search our packs for the backups we always carry. Alas a recent clever packing adjustment turned out to mean the backups were at the hostel. CYA man to the rescue, we enjoy the audio description of the exhibits and make walk a through to spot must have photos athat must wait until after the afternoon break. As it turns out we would recommend this strategy for future museum visits as doing everything at once can be much less effective than breaking the visit into tasks.
The Ishtar Gate reconstructed from Nebcunezer II Babylon, now modern day Iraq, is colored in a blue that leaves one speechless The whole story about its short and flashy history reflects the similar present day arrogance of the USA. One wonders who the next Persia will be and how their side of the story might turn out. I find it curious that these artifacts of history are preserved here in Berlin where the auspicious failures of extreme political approaches to social organization, both left and right, that caused such devastation in the last century.
Later in the day we returned to the hostel for a short nap and recharge. We gobbled the curry wurst with bottle of Berliner Bier. Daniel Torres, Jill Farris' brother-in-law, met us at the hostel about 20:00. He works in a dress shop nearby and he had his bicycle. We walked to a resturant that served Mexican style food and good German Bier. We had a good time visiting and getting to know a bit about each other. He is in the process of sending out his CV for a position as a designer. It might take him away from Berlin and his partner and friends so he is naturally anxious about the uncertainty the future holds after living the past 8 years in Berlin. He was pleased to have us visit him. He had about a 20 minute ride home and when he got there he sent us an email about a place in Heidelberg that we should visit. It was so good to make with the next generation family connections.
Today we are traveling to Frankfort on a trainoute is on the same right-of-way that used to be the corridor from Braunschweig to Berlin in the days of the GDR. As the train sits out in the middle of nowhere waiting, we recall the barbed wire fences, guard tower and GDR soldier from our travels in 1985.
On a brighter note, this train terminates in Interlaken. The annoucements that always say Interlaken remind us of the good times we had there only 2 weeks ago. A train full of new VW from Wolfsburg that we passed through minutes ago just pasted by on the adjacent track make it obvious that the auto plague is still firmly spreading into a climate threated world that cannot tolerate the carbon emissions these auto will produce.
We can hardly wait to eat a brat mit brochen & beer in the Frankfort Hbf, an old German tradition, especially for SD travelers.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008


Berlin by Bike

Gramma on the Diamler-Chrysler Observation Deck on Potsdamer Plazer, Berlin

May 5 - Berlin

Neil Cameron was our guide on a tour of the central city by bicycle. Five hours of riding her and talking about the history and significance of each peice. An artist painting his story as we went. He was from Manchester and graduated from Manchester University and moved to Berlin in 2006 but had spent the last several months living with a girl friend n Akron Ohio.

[when traveling I get a profusion of ideas on many topics and writing brings them back]
we visted with a head master of a Denmark public school on Sunday who was on his way to Iceland for meetings. His school is in a rural area west of Odense that has about 600 students K-12, ,many who live in rural areas and ride buses. They are working on a summer program where students would ride a bicycle or walk to school. The rural roads are not considered safe and I discussed with him the concept of Safe Routes To School where there are walking and bicycle buses. An auto of 4 wheeler with the saftey sign and a one sided trailer would be just the ticket I think for the USA and Denmark.

We started the five hour tour about 11:00 and concluded about 16; with a beer. Highlights included Beber Platz (book burning), Stadt Opera House, Humboldt University, Brandenburger Gate, Postsdamer Platz (Daimler Chrysler Building Observatin Deck) lunch, remaing wall museum, parking lot that covers Hitler Bunker, Reichtag that was burned as a pretext for Hitler's rise to power and is now the German parliment building, Tier Garten.

Later we got on bus 100 at the Opera House/Cathedral and rode the double decker to Zoological Garten for a bit of time on the Europa Center Platz then returned to Alexander Platz for ice cream where we catch the U2 back to the Alcatraz. It was a long and magical day desipte all the dark history of this place that displays the ill feelings between the French and Germans over the centuries.

Two retired Canadian secondary teachers were on the tour with us. Wayne and John and the rest of the information is in the data base, but one thing is that Wayne was a math teacher were a large number of NHL stars went to high school. I remember Eric Lindross was one of his favorite students. I think in was Hamilton High School in Toronto.

Monday, May 05, 2008


Berlin, Berlin

We got back about 19:30 last night. It looks like great weather here this week.

We will be here until Wed, then to the Heidelberg area for 2nights and 1 day before Paris. We will try to blog if we are not too tired. :)

We need to transfer some new pictures but even though this one is in Salzburg, as you can plainly see, the wurst on the street will be just as sweet here in Berlin although we had doner last night in a Turkish take out that is 50 meters from our hostel.

Saturday, May 03, 2008


Hello from Odense via Copenhagen

May 3

Oh if we knew then what we do now, none-the-less what we know now is reward enough as we take all good fortunate in stride although it is most likely undeserved.

On our train from Copenhagen through Malmo to Goteburg (Gothenburg) we had the good fortune to change around seats in the reservation two step just in time to sit across from Caterina who currently lives in Goteburg. She is a traveler who was a nanny in LA and had lived there for a few years, worked for KLM for 8 years and recently traveled in Thailand with her mother for 5 weeks--a lively single adulthood grown out of a 2 year backpacking beginning in her 20s.

We laughed and shared stories and she keep adding to her page of recommendations that began with a hand drawn map of the western district (harbor) of the city where she lived. She was coming home to a Friday "after work" bar hop to the places with the best food and half priced drinks with a few friends, but she insisted that she help us get our tram tickets and accompany us to the youth hostel near where she lived. It was great conversation and the feeling of openness that only comes with train travel.

We got on the tram at the Goteburg Central Train Station and rode to the area of her map, when we got off the tram, the convenience of having someone else do the thinking lulled me for a moment and I left my bag on the tram. Quick thinking by Caterina put me back on the very next tram and within 2 stops (less than 5 min) we had caught the tram with my bag. I jumped off and recovered the bag, hopped back off and gave the driver who helped me out the thumbs up. I took the tram back the other direction and found Carol at the hostel. The hostel didn't open for another hour (16:00). We left our bags even though there was no assurance there would be rooms.

When the hostel opened we found they did have rooms. Maybe not like we would have desired, but Carol in a mixed room with a pregnant couple and "harmless little tomcat" and me assigned to a 8 bed male dormitory room. The place was full of sport teams but there were the more mature adults too. Carol kept custody of our baggage and slept well. I found the day room couch to be much quieter and comfortable from 2:30 - 6:30 than the dorm room upper bunk where I began the night.

It was a good experience that clarifies what we often take for granted. On the whole though this was a well kept facility, about 1/2 -1/3 of a private hotel accommodation in cost, so we had an expensive fresh sea food dinner at a place Catherina recommended in the Haga district.

However the most amazing thing happened in a pub, VINKROG, Lilla Torget 3, 411 18 Goteborg, just across the street from the fancy seafood restaurant. We popped into this below street level place that was advertising an after work special, the Swedish equivalent of a Friday afternoon happy hour. The food spread was quite good, the pub a gem and the beer reasonable priced--a bit surprising given the high cost of things in Sweden. But the truly unsuspected was when we were explaining to the bar tender that we were from South Dakota, a voice from nowhere said, "Did you say South Dakota?"

It turns out the owner of the bar's girl friend had been an exchange student in Yankton. We had a nice conversation, exchanged email information, and celebrated the small world.

This morning as we were waiting for the train to Odense via Copenhagen we decided to check auto rental prices at the Hertz place in the Goteburg train station. We found that we could have done a 72 hour rental for less thuran $200 full coverage. If we had known it we probably would have traveled to Goteburg on Thursday, rented a car and return on Sunday as we are planning tomorrow from Odense. A great idea that will have to wait until next time, besides just think what we would have missed. That does not even include the great conversation with two youn men on the train this morning that were going to visits parents and grandparents for the weekend. One man was the owner/operater of a ski resort security firm and the other a manager of appliances sailes amd both well informed and interesting conversationalist in fluent English that derives from having lived or spent long vacations in the USA.

The hotel in Odense, Dk is a bit on the expensive side tonight but we have faired well so far on this 3 day weekend that fills the hostels with sports teams so it will be nice to spend to the expectations of the middle class European traveler before we return to our cool little hostel in Berlin. We met the most interesting young people today, the last a fine arts student of Greenlandic ethnic heritage who lives in Denmark now. She is excited about showing her art after graduation next year. Maybe Brookings will have its first Greenlandic artist.

Friday, May 02, 2008


Scandahoovian Adventure ;-)

April 30, 2008

We arrived in Berlin yesterday at 6:00 p.m. and found our hostel without too much trouble, even though we had to take the S-bahn (regional train) and the U2 red line (metro system). The brief feeling of confusion is a common one at almost every getting-off point. Our place, Alcatraz, is in the Prenzlauen Berg, a section in the former East Berlin. Things a bit seedy looking at first, but the energy level is out of sight, and Bohemian like. So many young people, and actually walked a few blocks before we saw another couple that appeared to be our age. Checked in, dumped the bags and hit the streets.
Good restaurant--potatoe-leek soup for me with brochen and noodles and meat for Alan. Same price as in Brookings, SD. including the beer.
Slept good. Out to Alexander Platz by 10:30 a.m. Took the tram to Hackescher Markt and met up with a dude from New Zealand who will be conducting our biking tour when we return in a few days. We went to Ku-dam to the Europa Center to see if the water clock is still operating--and it is. Saw the huge fountain where Cassi waded around in 1985. Street break dancers, musicians, hawkers still a great show.
We re-visited the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church--the one bombed out on November 22, 1943, within a few days of Lynn's birthday. Found out the glass used in the restoration was produced in the glassworks of Chartres Cathedral south of Paris--our favorite cathedral.
Later we walked to Branderburger Gate, and still marvel that in our lifetime, we can actually casually walk to either of the former "sides." Into Potsdammer Platz, typical of all parts of Berlin--old blackened buildings, fabulous new glass and metal skyscrapers, and construction cranes by the dozens.

May 1. Caught the 7:18 a.m. to Copenhagen. Crowded. Germany has a 3-day weekend.
that has extended all the way to Sweden. Goteburg by namen. btw, this is a clean, beautiful city and far better than Copenhagen which was underwhelming.

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