Thursday, May 24, 2018

Che

Finished reading Che Guevara: A Revolutionary Life by Jon Lee Anderson. Very good. Here are my favourite parts:

This was the "scientific" discovery that Ernesto Guevara had been destined for, the culmination of a search that had been with his work in medicine. Treating individuals' illnesses had never been his real interest; his motivation had always been with medicine, so it had become with politics. Searching, crossing solutions off the list of possibilities as he went—reformism, democracy, elections—he had found Marx, then Guatemala, then Cuba and the realization that the cure to society's ills was Marxism-Leninism and that guerrilla warfare was the means to achieve it.
Chapter 24, "These Atomic Times", p. 482

Scientific truth is a natural law not malleable by theories. In essence, Che was arguing that his formula for attaining socialism through armed struggle amounted to a scientific discovery, and that the discovery would lead to the end of injustice and the creation of a new form of man.
Chapter 24, "These Atomic Times", p. 483

One sentence to crystallize Che:
Julia found Che to be a complex and fascinating man with a mean streak.
Chapter 24, "These Atomic Times", p. 492

Che said before battle:
"...from this moment on, consider yourselves dead. Death is the only certainty in this; some of you may survive, but all of you should consider what remains of your lives as borrowed time."
Chapter 25, "Guerrilla Watershed", p. 518

Che was extremely critical of the Western Communist parties for adopting a "peaceful parliamentary strategy of power." Russell wrote that Che felt this would "deliver the working class bound hand and foot over to the ruling class."
Chapter 25, "Guerrilla Watershed", p. 519

Rojo argued that the revolution had worked in Cuba because the Americans had been caught off guard. That day had passed, and the United States and its regional allies were now on the alert. Che conceded the point but, as always, refused to accept that Cuba's success was an exception that could not be repeated elsewhere.
Chapter 25, "Guerrilla Watershed", p. 526

Granado recalled one conversation with Che in which he pointed out what he believed was the fundamental difference between them. Che could look through a sniper scope at a soldier and pull the trigger, knowing that by killing him he was "saving 30,000 future children from lives of hunger," whereas when Granado looked through the scope, he saw a man with a wife and children.
Chapter 25, "Guerrilla Watershed", p. 541 

Che's habit of referring to the people, the workers, as bits of machinery affords a glimpse of his emotional distance from individual reality. He had the coldly analytical mind of a medical researcher and a chess player. The terms he employed for individuals were reductive, while the value of their labor in the social context was idealized, rendered lyrically. It was a conceptual mode that had parallels in his life. Che had found meanings in his identity as a revolutionary within the large family of socialism. Fraternal guerrilla life was the crucible of his own transformation. The Communist consciousness he had attained was an elusive, abstract, and even unwanted state of being for many people, however—even those who believed themselves to be socialist and who happily echoed his shout, "Freedom or Death." Willingness to sacrifice material comforts and life itself for the cause was a state of mind most men and women had not achieved, and they probably had little interest in trying. Also, of course, the happy global socialist fraternity of which he spoke was in fact a house bitterly divided.
Chapter 26, "The Long Good-Bye", p. 572

He indicted Lenin—who had introduced some capitalist forms of competition into the Soviet Union as a means of kick-starting its economy in the 1920s—as the "culprit" in many of the Soviet Union's mistakes, and, while reiterating his admiration for and respect toward the culprit, he warned, in block letters, that the U.S.S.R. and Soviet bloc were doomed to "return to capitalism." . . . With the passage of time, of course, Che would be proved right.
Chapter 28, "No Turning Back", p. 663

Che's unshakable faith in his beliefs was made even more powerful by his unusual combination of romantic passion and coldly analytical thought. This paradoxical blend was probably the secret of the near-mystical stature he acquired, but it seems also to have been the source of his inherent weaknesses—hubris and naïveté. Gifted at perceiving and calculating strategy on a grand scale, yet at a remove, he seemed incapable of seeing the small, human elements that made up the larger picture, as evidenced by his disastrous choice of Masetti to lead the Argentine foco. There, and in Cuba, the Congo, and Bolivia, the men he believed in consistently failed him, and he consistently failed to understand how to alter the fundamental nature of others and get them to become "selfless Communists." But, along with his mistakes, what is most remembered about Che is his personal example, embodying faith, willpower, and sacrifice.
"Epilogue: Dreams and Curses", p. 725

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Bye-bye, Berlin

So this morning, around 10, I headed to East Berlin to three bookstores for Robert B. Parker's German translation of Hundred Dollar Baby, though it was actually four bookstores because the first one recommended I hit another bookstore a couple blocks away. Not surprisingly, none of the stores had it. Germany's interesting in that used bookstores seem to be English only, while stores with German books are strictly new and post.

Anyway, before I hopped on the first train, I took this pic at the main train station -- the one near my hotel:


For lunch I picked up an Italian wrap at the train station in that pic and chased it down with some Lemon Lipton iced tea.

Around 2 PM I left for the soccer game. My seat was better than the one in Dortmund. I was in the fourth row at midfield.


And here's a pic of Berlin's supporters, to my left:


The game was cool. Berlin won 2-1.

I took this as I was leaving (the stadium was where the 1936 olympics took place):


For dinner I wanted some Wiener schnitzel my last night here. My travel guide recommended Jolesch in East Berlin's Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg neighborhood, which seemed like a working class neighborhood and, according to Wikipedia, is where a lot of immigrants wind up.

The schnitzel was good. They gave me two big pieces of it. I drank it with Earl Grey tea.

Reason for the brevity of this blog post? It's 9:30 PM. I need to get some sleep. My alarm's set for 5 AM so I can make my 9:40 AM flight.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Berlin Is Never Boring (Even When I Am)

Got up this morning and did the croissant and OJ for breakfast again. Maybe tomorrow I'll splurge and do the hotel's breakfast for €15.

Around 10:30 AM or so I headed to the Reichstag (a.k.a. Der Bundestag), which is about a 10-minute walk from the hotel.



I didn't go in because I wasn't in the mood for a security check, but here's the dome:



And here's the German flag:



Nearby is the Brandenburger Tor (Brandenburg Gate):



Here's a close-up of the chariot:



For lunch I picked up around the corner from the hotel some currywurst and washed it down with a bottle of Coke.

In the afternoon I had to hit the laundromat again. Since Munich I've been changing my clothes once a day, compared to last week when I was wearing 'em two days. Too much information? Anyway, I was talking with a nice Baby Boomer couple at the laundromat in East Berlin. They just got off a cruise, and are from northern California.

For dinner my travel book gave its highest rating, three stars, to an Italian restaurant in West Berlin. I wanted to eat on the western side of the city, since I've been spending so much time on the Ost (Eastern) half. It took close to a half-hour to get out there. I think it was in the Westend neighborhood. Sad day for me: the restaurant was closed. Temporarily or permanently, I couldn't tell, though all the shades were pulled down.

Heading back to the train station, I found this apartment building humorous. Boy, do they love their satellite TV!



I took the train past the main train station and got off at the Hackescher Market stop. I was there yesterday when I went to the DDR Museum -- there were a lot of food joints there. I eventually settled on an Italian restaurant. They didn't have my first choice, raviolis, so I went with vegetable lasagna and washed it down with green tea. The lasagna wasn't as good as the one in Munich, but I still devoured it all.

Big day tomorrow. I get to catch some football!

P.S. every hotel I've stayed in has this tube in the shower and near the sink where you squeeze it for the soap. Europe is off the chain!!!



Thursday, April 12, 2018

Berlin Is Beautiful!

Yesterday, Wednesday, was a travel day from Munich to Berlin. I bummed around the hotel until checkout time, 11 AM. Then I hopped on the light rail to the train station. While waiting around for my 16:54 train (that's 4:54 PM to you Yankees), I found this funny . . . pretzel sandwiches:


My four-and-a-half-hour train ride to Berlin rolled into the city with an erstwhile split personality around 9:30 PM. Berlin has a much cooler vibe than Munich. I dunno, Munich wasn't as soulless as Frankfurt, but it didn't seem to have much of a personality. Maybe I'm thinking that because my hotel was almost a half-hour outside of the city centre.

Today, Thursday, I got up at 8 AM. The hotel is two blocks away from the train station, which simplifies things. Here's the train station:


It's interesting. There are five floors, with the entrance/exit on the third floor and trains on the first floor and, I think, on the top floor. Shops are on the other floors. Lots of open space so you can see what's on the level above and below -- if the escalators and glassy elevators don't block you're view.

I took a train to Checkpoint Charlie, which was the gateway between East and West Berlin back in the day when the Berlin Wall was up.


As you can see, it's pretty touristy:


Here's the view from the other side:


And here's a view of the sign going from East to West:


I then went to check out the Fernsehturm (Television Tower):


It's on the East side of the city. It was built by the commies to show their technological might.

A couple blocks away was a street (or Straße) named after Karl Marx. This looked like an old building from the East Germany days:


Next, I headed back to the main train station, a.k.a. Berlin Hauptbahnhof, and bought a Hertha BSC jersey and scarf. I'm going to see them play this Saturday. I bought both items more because of my infatuation of Berlin than the actual football team, though the jersey was reasonable at €30 (with no sponsor littering the front), and I need a new scarf because my Manchester United one is reaching it's expiration date.

I also picked up a salad wrap at the train station and ate lunch back in my hotel room.

Around 1:30 PM I headed back to East Berlin to the DDR Museum:


It showed everyday life in East Germany.

Then it was back on the train to check out the Stasi Museum:


The museum is in the main headquarters of the old Stasi, but about 19 nearby buildings were under their control -- they're now doctor offices, flats, and the like.

I read really good book about the Stasi several years ago, but walking through the three floors of that museum really drove home how much they terrorized citizens.

Leaving the Stasi Museum, I glanced at my iPod and noticed is was 5:30 PM. For dinner I hopped on the train to a burger place that my travel guide highly recommended, Schiller Burger. Good call, Frommer's! They cooked it medium-rare. I got their bacon BBQ offering and Belgian fries, and washed it down with Afri cola.

I think Schiller Burger is in the Friedrichshain neighborhood. Interesting collection of city blocks. It was residential with almost every first floor a store front . . . some boutiques, mostly bistros/cafes/restaurants, and convenience stores. The 'hood has a nice vibe. Reminds me of South Street before all the corporate retail chains swarmed in.

Anyway, Wednesday night I didn't sleep too well. All day Thursday I felt really weird if I wasn't moving. I though it was because I didn't much of anything on Wednesday with the travelling -- had a lot of pent-up energy from just sitting around. But as Thursday afternoon progressed, hay fever hit me hard. When I got back to the hotel Thursday night I went to the train station and got some allergy medication. It was only €3, so they didn't take me for a ride like that pharmacy in Vienna (Wien). I took a tablet a little while ago. I'm feeling much better now. It's supposed to last 24 hours. We'll see. . . .

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

München

Got up around 8:30 AM today. For breakfast I did a croissant and OJ again from the cafe next store.

Around 10 AM I hopped on the light rail into the city centre. My first stop was the Munich Documentation Centre for the History of National Socialism:



It looks at Germany's history of fascism and the Nazis. There are four floors, with the exhibits starting on the top floor. It begins with WWI and shows how the seeds of fascism were planted back then. I can't believe it was only €5.

Around 12:30 PM I walked to the München Hauptbahnhof (Munich's main train station) and picked up an Oriental vegan wrap and a Lipton lemon iced tea.

Then I hopped on a light rail for a bookstore, the Munich Readery. On my way there I saw this storefront (not sure what they're selling but it caught my eye):



Unfortunately, the Munich Readerly only sells English books. Doh!

After walking past there, I took this picture to illustrate how the bike lanes are set up in Germany (I babbled about it yesterday):



I walked to the Pinakothek der Moderne:



It's a modern art museum. Some interesting stuff in there, including this:



Those little things on the wall are smaller versions of the car, pointing in the 10 o'clock direction.

I then took a light rail to an Oxfam bookstore. They sell German books, but unfortunately it's all new. The book I'm looking for, Robert B. Parker's Hundert Dollar Baby came out years ago, so I'm probably better off finding it at a used bookstore. (I have the English version of it; I want the German edition to help my learn Deutsch. If I can't find it in Berlin, I'll buy it online.)

I took the train back to my hotel. Got in around 4:45 PM. I walked to that Greek restaurant, which is about a block away from the Italian restaurant. They didn't have an Englisch menu, so I got one of the three gyro offerings. The menu mentioned a pita, so I assumed it would wrapped up. Wrong. The pita was on the bottom, covered by tomatoes, onions, meat, and a scoop of white sauce; off to the side was some rice in red sauce -- tomato sauce? There was no way to wrap everything in the pita and eat it, so I cut everything, including the pita, with my fork and knife. It was a lot of food, but I ate it all. I finished it off with a cup of grün tea.

Afterwards I hung out the hotel. Around 7:40 PM I ran next door to the supermarket because they close at 20:00 for Ben & Jerry's Cookie Dough ice cream. Ever have it? It is awesome!

Monday, April 9, 2018

Dortmund: fin. Munich: begin

All right, yesterday, Sunday, I got up in Dortmund and did the breakfast again in the hotel because there was no other option within walking distance. I got the same thing as Saturday: one slice of bacon, three sausages, a croissant, and OJ.

Later in the morning I hit the hotel's fitness center. I didn't push myself too hard 'cause I didn't want to be exhausted in the afternoon at the fußball match.

I checked out of the hotel at noon and hung out in the lobby, reading. At 1 PM I turned my luggage over to the hotel so they could put in the office while I was at the game. I was pretty impressed that they gave me a number.

The game didn't start until 3:30 PM, but I'm glad I left two-and-a-half hours early. Even though it's a short walk from the hotel to the stadium, Dortmund in their wisdom forces non-Germans to stand in one of three lines to pick up their tickets:


I stood in line for at least a half-hour, maybe as long as 45 minutes. My lower back was killing me! Not sure why they can't be like Berlin's fußball team and let you print the tix at home.

Around 2 PM I picked up a bratwurst and a Coke from two different outside vendors, since food and beverage carts are separate.

Getting into the stadium was a lot less of a hassle than picking up my ticket. It was close to 75 degrees. I was feeling a little dehydrated. Oddly, none of the inside vendors sell regular water or Lipton iced tea. It's all bubbly with seltzer water and the like. What's that noise all about?

The stadium's seats are separated into two tiers, with the upper one holding about a third of the fans. I was in row two of the upper level:


I was on the same side as the players benches and the camera crew:


And here's a pic of the Yellow Wall, Dortmund's supporters:


Another one of them from the beginning of the second half:


And one final pic of the action:


The match was cool 'cause they won 3-0. The first goal was struck in the first half by Pulisic and was simply amazing. And it was pretty funny with the 50-something guy sitting in front of me. A few times he gave the finger to the visiting team's supporting section to our right.

After picking up my luggage at the hotel I eventually hopped on a light rail to the train station. Three of 'em went by before there was room for me and my luggage . . . they were packed with Dortmund fans.

My train to Munich wasn't until 8:58 PM, so I had plenty of time to kill. For dinner I had some sort of breaded schnitzel sandwich and a Lipton iced tea.

As I expected, the nine-hour trip to Munich was torture. I tried to sleep, but it was tough because they didn't dim the lights, the seat only leaned back so far, and it was chillier than the Alps in winter. I did nod off, but didn't really get any REM sleep.

The train pulled into Munich at 6 AM. I grabbed a cab. The driver didn't know where the hotel was at first, which made me anxious, but after calling in dispatch, he found out it's a new hotel. It cost 20 euros and the hotel is way outside of inner Munich. It's in an odd spot. It's mostly a residential area around here, there's a light rail stop right out back of the hotel, and there's a supermarket next door.

I checked in, got a shower, and took a nap. My room is minimalist to the nth degree: no fridge and barely enough room to set luggage before bedroom area and the bathroom. I think I was spoiled in Dortmund and Vienna. The place here in Munich feels more like a dorm room and a hotel room.

Woke up around 10 AM. Went to the supermarket and bought a croissant and OJ.

I had some laundry to do. The kid at the reception desk, when I checked in, said there should be a laundromat one light-rail stop away at the Giesing stop. I lugged my luggage there but couldn't find anything buy a drop-off place, even after a few people. Maybe it's me, but the longer I'm here, the fewer people I find who speak English.

I hopped back on the light rail to the hotel. I got lunch at the supermarket (a turkey sandwich with cucumbers and other stuff on it, and a Dr. Pepper), then I did an Internet search for a laundromat. I had to go downtown by the main train station -- the same one I came in to last night. It's close to a 30-minute ride down there. Fortunately it's one trip, no transfers. When I got off I went out an obscure exit and walked around for about a half-hour until I found the laundromat.

The laundromat was weird. There's a central station that you put your money and press the number for whichever number your washer or dryer has. Fortunately the owner was nice and patient with my questions.

I got back to my hotel around six or so. There are two restaurants within walking distance, Greek and Italian. I went with the latter. Got lasagna. It was heavenly! It came in a dish with sauce and cheese. Followed it up with green tea.

Walking back to my hotel, it occurred to me that even though technically I'm in Munich, this area has the sleepy feel of a shore town before tourist season. Reminds me of Reykjavik, Iceland (not the downtown part) with how quiet it is and width of the streets and sidewalks.

Real quick: throughout Germany I've noticed bike lanes are between the pedestrian sidewalks and the street. I think I prefer how it's done in America 'cause you really have to watch where you're walking or you'll get that irritating ringing of the bell as the biker approaches.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Over Yonder in Dortmund

It's Saturday night. Time to catch up.

Yesterday, Friday, I checked out of my hotel in Frankfurt around 11:30 AM and headed across the street to the train station. For lunch I got a Frankfurter:


That's one weiner folded over. They put mustard on top. It was gut.

While waiting for my 1:22 train, I saw this on the platform. Mind the gap, bro!:


My train departed on time. It's final destination was Hamburg. I found it interesting that my reserved seat had my starting and end points:


Truth be told, I was kinda glad to leave Frankfurt. Wasn't too impressed. Maybe because it's a financial hot spot, that's why it felt like a city without a soul or even an authentic identity.

The train ride to Dortmund took about four-and-a-half hours. About the first half ran along the Rhine River. Beautiful! There were some castles. I probably should've taken some pictures, but I'm sure I'll come across other castles in the next week.

I took a cab to the hotel. Much nicer than the cozy one in Frankfurt. Lots of room here and I have two beds. It's gotta be a four-star joint.

For dinner I walked about a quarter mile away to a quasi-fancy place and ordered pasta, which came not in tomato sauce but with an oily sauce and parmesan cheese on top.

I spent the rest of the night just hanging out at the hotel.

Saturday I got up around 8 AM and went downstairs for the hotel's breakfast. Because it was €19 I ate three mini-sausages, a slice of bacon, and a croissant, and drank a glass of OJ . . . unfortunately they didn't have pancakes.

Around 9:30 AM I hopped on the nearest subway stop and headed downtown for a Germany national football team jersey. The store that the front desk recommended had the jerseys for about 10 euros off, so they were €70. I decided to wander around a little for a better sale.

I stumbled across the Germany Football Museum (das Deutsche Fußballmuseum), which is across the street from the train station I arrived in yesterday afternoon:


A ticket was under €20. Oddly, some Aryan asshole wouldn't let me in to the actual museum with my jacket on. Pissed me off a little 'cause I like putting my iPod, phone and passport in my jacket's two zipper pockets.

After throwing my jacket and hat in a locker downstairs for €1 (which I got back when I left), I checked out the museum. It was interesting. A lot of it I didn't get because I don't really follow national teams too much. But it was a few years ago, so it's pretty modern. It was cool seeing some old shots of Bastian Schweinsteiger, who used to play for Manchester United and is now with the Chicago Fire in the States.

Next, I walked around outside in the shopping area and saw an inside mall. In there I found an InterSport store. They had the German national football jersey for the same price as the other store, but I went with the version from a year or two ago for €40 -- I like how it's got the colours of the German flag on the collar.

By then it was a little before noon. I chilled out on a comfortable black leather seat next to an escalator.

For lunch I hit the food court and got a salad wrap. I think it had some goat cheese in there. If unsure, best not to ask. Ignorance and all that. . . .

I hopped on the train for Signal Iduna Park, where I'll see Dortmund play tomorrow. They only have two tours of the stadium in English, and I wanted to make the 1:40 PM one. When I got there and bought my ticket for €12, I told the cashier I tried buying it online Friday night and Saturday morning, but my credit card wouldn't go through. I think she said that's intentional with foreign credit cards. Whatever.

The tour lasted about 90 minutes and was pretty cool. (The only other stadium tour I've done was at Manchester United.) Signal Iduna Park holds over 80,000 and is the biggest Stadion in Germany. Pretty funny: the stairwell to the visiting team's locker room has 13 steps and Dortmund's stairwell has 12 steps; apparently players are superstitious, so visitors will skip the last step.

Part of the tour went through Dortmund's locker room, so I took a pic of Pennsylvania's own Christian Pulisic's locker:


In Dortmund's locker room there are two hair dryers. Apparently after an international match, UEFA sent them to be put in both locker rooms. As part of "psychological warfare", said the tour guide, a maintenance worker put both dryers in Dortmund's locker room. The only player to ever complain was Cristiano Ronaldo. Twice.

Next to the locker rooms were ice baths and pools, which were blocked off. The tour guide was pretty entertaining. He said the pools were, I think, 99 centimeters deep. "This being Germany and our love for regulations, if they were 100 centimeters, we'd have to have a life guard."

Another part of the tour took you by the teams' boxes. The seats in Dortmund's box are always heated, but the visiting team have to request their seats be heated -- more of that "psychological warfare". Here is the visitors box (most of the 40 people on the tour were lounging in Dortmund's box):


With the stadium tour concluded, I tried walking back to the hotel, since it's only about a half-mile away (one kilometric for you metric heads out there), but I got really lost. Not a big deal. It was a gorgeous sunny day; must've been around 66 degrees. I eventually had to take the subway into the city centre (about a 10-minute ride) and hop on another train to get back to the hotel.

For dinner I walked to a restaurant more than a half-mile away, past the place I had dinner on Friday night. I got grilled squid -- not sure if I ever have it before; I know I've eaten octopus -- skewered vegetables, and potato wedges. They also gave spinach in a bowl with melted cheese on top. I told both the waiter and server I didn't order it, but they wouldn't listen. When my check came, the server admitted his mistake, so I wound up paying for it. Not a big deal because it all came up to €27.50 for four courses and Earl Grey tea, though I only left a 15% tip because in addition to the spinach mixup, there was a black hair on the squid plate . . . it wasn't near the food so I didn't complain.

On my way back to the hotel, I found the path to the stadium for tomorrow's match. Also, I noticed that across the street from the hotel is the soccer team's headquarters:


Thursday, April 5, 2018

Indigestion in Frankfurt

It's Thursday night, around 8:30 PM. Thought I would catch up with what I've been up to.

Wednesday morning I got up at 6 AM, had breakfast in Vienna at the hotel, and played it safe by getting down to the train station around 8 AM for my 9:15 train to Frankfurt.

On the train there was a lady across from me who pecked away, for the most part, on her Mac laptop. Eventually (I'm assuming) a grandmom and her 11-year-old grandson joined us.

I thought this was funny. In case of an emergency, you have to smash both panes of glass with that red contraption:


Around 10 AM I grabbed a double Snickers bar and a bottle of Coke from the dining car. Around 1:30 PM I bought from the dining car a chicken tandoori sandwich and apple juice. Turns out the latter was a seltzer. I don't know if it was the apple juice-seltzer, or a combination of my mid-morning snack, late lunch, lingering jet lag, and the moving train, but around 2 PM I felt really ill. It took a lot of effort to hold my lunch down -- I couldn't even nap.

With the six-and-a-half-hour train ride over, I walked across the street to my hotel. Not nearly as nice as the one in Vienna, as evidenced by my view:


Yes, that's a steel shutter you're seeing, along with barbed wire. According to my travel book, this neighbourhood is the worst one in the city. That would explain all the porn around here. My favourite name of one: The Sex Inn.

After checking in, I took a little nap, since I still wasn't feeling well. I got up around 5 PM and walked around the 'hood for something to eat -- didn't want to spend the night on an empty stomach. I got a avocado pita from a local fast food joint on a street corner. Most of it I didn't eat 'cause it didn't pass the eye test (shredded white lettuce, purple cabbage, and a slice of eggplant that looked like a tongue). I did eat the pita, though.

I spent the rest of the night either watching TV (flipping mainly between 1980s music videos and Al Jazeera . . . their Witness documentary series looked at a remorseful Bosnian war criminal) and wandering around the neighbourhood for Rolaids or Tums. Couldn't find either. I did buy an Oreo ice cream sandwich, which settled my stomach for a while.

I didn't sleep well. With my indigestion and the neighbourhood I was staying in, it was hard to catch any zzzzz's.

I got up around 7:30 AM today (Thursday). I didn't feel like paying $15 at the hotel just for toast, since my stomach still wasn't feeling too hot, so I went across the street to the train station and got a bagel -- couldn't find toast in there.

I hung out in my hotel room until 10 AM, waiting for someone to fix the safe; it was locked. They never showed, so I walked about a half-mile to the Städel Museum. Here's the bridge to get there:


They have an exhibit on Peter Paul Rubens. Good stuff.

I stayed at the museum a little longer than expected because it was raining. Once it cleared up I picked up an avocado sandwich and a lemonade at the train station. I ate in my hotel room and noticed they finally fixed the safe. I threw my laptop in there.

I took a cab to the European Central Bank:


I would've taken a tour, but you need to book it at least four weeks in advance. Funk that!

I then walked about a mile to the city centre, Altstadt. Frankfurt's streets are serpentine like Vienna, but it's harder to get lost here, probably because it's a fairly small city (only 775,000 residents). Anyway, Alstadt is a little touristy. It has a medieval area called Römer:



I then headed back to the hotel and hung out until 5 PM. I walked about to Römer and ate dinner at Haus Wertheym:


I ordered breaded pork schnitzel, which came with fries and salad. It was delicious! And the restaurant had a nice vibe. Tons of German beer mugs decorated the pillars.

The walk back to the hotel was shivering one. Temperature really dropped. Felt like it was 50 degrees. My Philly Union barely kept me warm. Maybe I should've brought my coat. Nah. Too much too lug around on those days when it's a high of 61 degrees.

I got a little lost, but the route was scenic. I was in some outdoor plaza that was pedestrian only.

Around 8 PM I hit the train station for a little ice cream sandwich and spent the rest of the nite writing this. Tomorrow it's off to Dortmund!

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

1 Full Day in Vienna

So, today, Tuesday, was my full day in Vienna.

I got up at 6 AM and had breakfast in the hotel. Not sure what I ate. It was a little on the sweet side, as well as yellow and chilled. I didn't want to ask in case it had eggs in it -- the mere thought of eggs would've made me nauseous. I chased it down with grapefruit juice.

Afterwards I hunted around for a pharmacy so I could buy toiletries (didn't bring them 'cause the TSA might trash 'em). Since I'm in a ritzy tourist area, they were 40 euros. Pricey.

Before I bought them, I took a picture of Saint Mary's Church, which is close to my hotel:


I showered at the hotel, then walked to Hofburg Palace:


I was going to take a tour, but they didn't start till the afternoon. Maybe I would come back.

I walked around some more, trying to find a store to buy a fußball jersey of Austria's national team. Couldn't fine one and by then it was lunchtime. There was a nearby outdoor food market. I got a falafel wrap and a can of Coke.

Next, I took a cab and asked him to drop me off at the nearest InterSport store. He deposited me in front of a store called Sports Direct, which used to be an InterSport. They didn't have any Austria football jerseys.

I found a taxi stand, but the cab driver never heard of InterSport, so I walked around and took another cab to my hotel. There, I wrote down the addresses of InterSport and the Sigmund Freud Museum.

I took a taxi to the latter:


And here's a close-up of the plaque with overhead flags:


The museum is where he practiced and I think lived at one time.

From there I took a cab to a Puma store because they Austria's football jerseys. They were a bit pricey, so I went to a different Sports Direct from earlier in the afternoon and bought the jersey I was looking for. It was on sale for 36 euros, I believe.

Taking all those taxies was cutting into my cash, so I tried walking back to the hotel. I got lost, which isn't that hard because Vienna streets are serpentine and maze-like. After about an hour, I gave up when I wound up at the main train station, which I'll go to tomorrow morning for my trip to Frankfurt.

Before I hopped in the cab, I took these two pictures. I thought this was cute at a small supermarket where I bought a clementine:


And here's St. Charles Church:


Back at the hotel I took a 20-minute nap. For dinner I went to an Italian restaurant around the corner and got spaghetti with meat sauce, and black Earl Grey tea. It was delicious!

After that, I saw this store front for a crystal joint. Pretty funny -- bedazzled household products:


At the hotel I counted my money. Out of the 1,000 I brought with me from the States, I'd spent 320 in Vienna. Yikes!!! Gonna have to take it easy in Frankfurt. Fortunately, the train station is short walk to the hotel.

Around 8 PM, I headed out to have my first Gelato. Make sense since Italy is south of here.

On my way back to the hotel, this made me smirk. No tobacco, just straight nicotine!