domingo, 29 de maio de 2011

Travel log - Europe - Day 12

Day 12 - fighting boredom and Morpheus

So the next morning (or some hours later since I went to bed at about 2) I had to be at the bus station at 7h20 at least. I would have to flee from the hostel, checking out, getting to the subway, then there, I was calculating 2 hours because dragging the suitcase would take me some time. So, before going to bed, I had already decided not to go for the bus station and I would figure out another way to get to Prague. It was a strange situation, the other trips or before that moment, everything had been bought beforehand. It was weird to have to go somewhere without any idea of how to get there. Should I go to the airport and try a flight? Too expensive, probably. Should I try the afternoon bus? Too uncertain. So, why not trying the train. I woke up at 9 and went downstairs to have the breakfast I would not have if I had left earlier. There I met Phil. He was about to leave. He was going to take a train to somewhere else and from there he would fly home, if I am not mistaken. So, I asked him if it was OK if I went to the station with him. I would take a train to Prague. We finished breakfast and got ready, went to the subway station and in less than half an hour we were there. I gave him a present, one of the small gifts we had taken to our friends there and we parted. I managed to buy a ticket in a train to Budapest which you go through Prague. 62 euros. It was more than I thought, but not that much. I wish I already had my student card. The train was half an hour late and as usual the platform was cold cold really cold. As I boarded, I tried to find a spot to sit because the seats were not marked. I wanted to keep the suitcase near me but there was no space. People told me I should leave it near the door, and I did. It was so strange to travel far from my suitcase, back to it, so I had to keep turning my head all the time to check on it, specially when the train made stops. It was not fixed to any place so I still don’t know how it didn’t fall with the train movement. There were some cute people in the train. They were rambling on and on in German and I was trying to pretend I understood everything, minding the right time to laugh some seconds after someone said something funny and everyone else was laughing. People seemed not to know each other but they looked very friendly.

Something I forgot telling you. In Prague, the plan was to start the surfing. We had no reservation in hostels, so we would stay at somebody’s house. I had already had some experiences, positive indeed, with the website Couchsurfing. Of course, I had to look for hosts in the places we imagined we would have more chances of getting some before leaving Brazil. In fact, I liked the idea of mixing both types of accomodation. So for some cities, couchsurfing (CS), while others, hostels. All the next three cities in the travel plan would be CS.
At the station in Berlin I tried calling my host-to-be from a payphone. I couldn’t reach him. I had no cellphone working and I regretted so much not buying one there. It would have saved me big time, but no use crying over spilt milk. I sent him a text message from that same payphone. And I hoped really hard he had got it.
So, still on the train toward Prague, in Dresden some people got off and a new bunch of people filled the wagon. Among them, a guy who sat across the aisle. Everytime I looked back in order to check on my suitcase, I exchanged glances with him. He was strangely familiar. Had I seen him before? Was he famous? He looked at me as well, not puzzled or angry, just as curious. At a certain station, it was maybe 1 hour away from Prague, but already in the Czech Republic, he asked me something. Maybe the time or what the name of the station was.

This got us started and soon I sat with him and we engaged in conversation. He asked me if I was Mexican, he was sure I was and for me he looked so Brazilian. He was a French teacher and he was heading to Prague for some tourism. I was not sure if we were flirting or not. So I kept on going. We talked about literature. He studied an author called Céline something. I didn’t hit on him, he didn’t make any move either but I was still wondering. As we arrived in Prague, he started telling me how gorgeous the woman who was sitting near was and he went on that for about 5 minutes. I needed to try to reach my host again. There was a payphone in the platform. It was colder than Berlin. No contact again. I started freaking out. I had no plan B. But it would not be so difficult to find a hostel. I had the address. This Mexican guy would be in a hostel, I could ask him. He finished his cigarette and told me he would go inside to try to find a map. I waited for him for some minutes but I was freezing so I decided to go in to look for him. We had not exchanged contacts, no facebook, no telephone. I thought I should have made and brought those cards with info about me. I looked around, he was gone. So, the mantra being said - god gives, god takes - I started strolling around the train station. It was about 2pm. I was not hungry because I was nervous, would the CS thing fail? The guy who said we could come seemed so nice. I had some expectations I didn’t want to see defied. So I tried once again the payphone. This time, an answer. “Hey, it’s me, from Brazil.” “Hey, where are you?” “At the station.” “Well, I am working now and I can only go there to pick you up at 9pm.”

No worries. I had a lot to do. I could read, write, even draw something. I had to eat anyway. So, let’s wait.
The thing is I was very tired and no reading or writing could save me from some nodding off. And I dozed. But I had to be careful. So many people going by. I had a sandwich at the only fast food chain without stairs (as I could not carry the bag and the tray).

And the afternoon passed by.

A little before the time set I was already standing there by the subway entrance. I was nervous, because I remembered his hair, but not his face so well. What if he was wearing a hood? I had already exchanged money and bought a guide to the city. As Jiři arrived, just by his looks I could tell it was him. He smiled and I was sure. “Hey”, “Hello”. And there we went. His apartment was some minutes from the station Florenc. It was dark as we got there, I had to be careful the next day, to find the place by myself. I was received with a present - a traditional Czech can of beer

and I could choose which bed I wanted: he had two for surfers. Surely I chose the one with the tiger sheet.

So cool. We talked and talked more. I told him some of the stories I had had till then in the trip, he gave me some instructions about the house. And we went to bed because he would have to work early the next day and I would have to discover everything Prague had in store for me.

sexta-feira, 27 de maio de 2011

Travel log - Europe - Day 11

Day 11 - Berlin or God takes, God gives

I don’t know if you realized but as the writing of these memoirs progresses I keep on changing one thing or two, about the style, about the content. As for one thing, the last two posts were very big, I guess I am getting more wordy as I relive more details, as I use more adjectives and all this stuff. Also, they were pretty intense days, many things (not) happening. And I also started to put titles to the posts, in an old-fashioned way of commenting on what is going to come. Let’s see what else changes as the writing goes on. There is still so much I lived and I want to share. But let’s cut the crap and the self-commentaries and let’s get down to what you are really here for.
We had a breakfast similar to the one we had had the day before. It would be the first day we were there and they would serve dinner. Carol asked me to eat there as she was very curious to taste whatever they were serving. The menu was hung on the wall. Then, we went upstairs and finished packing. The plan was to get to the airport by lunch time. The guy for the reception was kind enough to call us a taxi. But we waited and waited and the taxi would never arrive. The sidewalks were full of snow, probably it had snowed a lot during the night. As the taxi arrived we put the bags in the trunk and we headed for the airport. The taxi driver was a Lebanese and he was very friendly. We talked about Brazil, about Germany and Lebanon. He told us he was considering coming to Brazil during World Cup.
At the airport, I put Carol near the place we thought they would be having the checking-in but I walked around the airport, first looking for a cheaper drink than the ones in the vending machines (there was some in the hot dog guy). We talked, we cried a bit more, we said goodbye. She was embarking and they told her she would have a special service for going from one gate to the other, so I felt a bit more released. We met a Brazilian family who was coming back with her, in the same flight. But nothing special.
So, Carol officially gone. What should I do? There was sunshine and by my surprise, it had been days and days I hadn’t seen any sunlight in those gray days of winter. I was leaving the airport and it was so funny to see the afternoon sun, unsuccessfully trying to warm my face, fighting the wind. I could not but remember some scenes in literature where nature would interact with one’s state of mind. It was as if the environment was trying to cheer me up.
But I couldn’t think about any museum, no tours. I just wanted to sit down, look inside and see what I was going to do. Rarely had I felt so lonely. But I was less scared I thought I would be.
As I got back from the airport, I wanted to take a shower, but the key to the locker we had inside the room was not working. I tried for about 15 minutes to open the locker and nothing seemed to work. Then I went downstairs, hoping one of the cute blond guys who worked there could give me a hand. None of them were there at that shift so one lady who I had never sen there followed me in order to check what was wrong. I guess she must have thought I was up to something or was just stupid because her key just opened it in 5 seconds. Murphy working its way to demoralize me.
Finally, it was dinnertime and I had a promise to fulfill. I got there, paid the 8 euros and checked out what the dishes looked like. It was a delicious self-service dinner, with about 6 dishes to choose from, plus the salad and juice. I sat there eating very slowly. A family was there as well and a guy, near the window. Suddenly, the guy who had greeted me the day before and who I had developed a kind of crush on appeared. He got his food and sat some tables far from mine. I kept looking at him, trying to establish some eye contact, maybe exchange smiles, but he wouldn’t look around. I started feeling I should go there and talk to him, but I was not so used to approaching people and there was no Carol there to encourage me. In fact, at this thought I imagined she would be very proud of me if I acted instead of drowning on self-pity. I stood and approached the guy, asking him if it was okay if I sat with him. He was a bit puzzled but consented. I told him my friend had got hurt and had gone back to Brazil. He had a book so I asked him if he liked to read. I was shaking and sweating, although he was making some effort not to hostilize me. His questions seemed sincere, and I would feel more confortable as we talked about many things. His name was Phil and he was from York, UK. He was a biologist and was in an adventure through some eastern Europe countries, to study some of their wildlife. We kept on talking till we realized people wanted to close the room. We went to the sofas at the reception and the talked more and more. Suddenly, he asked me if I wanted to go out and have a drink. My nastier readers will think he might have second intentions, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t think so then. We changed and started walking. As the invitation had come from him, I was expecting him to take me somewhere he knew. After walking some blocks, I got curious and asked him where we were going. He was surprised and told me he thought I was leading the way. He asked if we couldn’t go to the bar I had been the day before. I hadn’t mentioned till then it was a gay bar, so I thought it important to let him know. He said he didn’t mind. (ok, another hint I might be getting real lucky that night). The conversation was perfect, he was intelligent, a writer, had a lot of interesting adventures to talk about his trip, his life back in Scotland, where he lives and works. We had some drinks and more conversation. I had so much fun. I was very curious about my chances, but he was straight. Unfortunately. I even told him we were in a different city, a different context, didn’t he want to give it a chance and try something new? He didn’t. But he was so nice it didn’t care. While in the bar, something funny happened. The barman who had become my friend the night before recognized me but was less friendly than the night before. At a certain moment, we were using a system they have there that the customers choose the songs which will play in the background. We were trying to find something by The Smiths (?) (suggestion of Phil) but there was none. I told him to choose something by Shakira then. We chose “Estoy aqui” and we waited. Phil went to the toilet and the song started, I sang along and the guy in the bar was surprised: he asked me in Spanish where I was from. I told him Brazil. He went to the screen to choose one song and made some signal I should wait and see. some songs later a samba school song started and he asked me to go to the middle of the bar to dance the samba. He was shocked. “Are you sure you are Brazilian?”, he asked. But how could I tell him I was a Brazilian who sucked both in samba and soccer. He would never believe it. Anyway, a lot of people laughed and so did I. As I was leaving, he asked me when I was leaving and I told him, next morning. He felt disappointed but gave me his facebook and an unexepected peck. So funny.
And as we arrived at the hostel, full of snow, the chubby guy who worked there and was the most acid of them all said, “oooh you two look so romantic covered in snow”. If only he had known better.... =)

terça-feira, 24 de maio de 2011

Travel log - Europe - Day 10

Day 10 - Berlin or what was open

I have no memories of that night. Did I dream all that had been a nightmare and I would wake up to go to our waking tour? No, as soon as I put on my glasses, there they were: the two crutches. We got dressed and went downstairs, very slowly and then had some breakfast. It was funny because I served as a waiter. I checked what there was and Carol would tell me what she wanted. If she wanted more, I would go to the food counter to get more. And of course we made some jokes out of that. She would call me James.
One parenthesis: a guy went by me and wished me Happy Christmas. I thought it was strange for him to talk like that, I was expecting Merry Christmas, but I had no idea where he was from. Nothing of importance happened then, but this character will come back later.

Anyway, after breakfast we decided we would split. Carol would stay in the hostel and see how she would live there for a day, maybe going around, and I would go downtown for some sightseeing. I was totally upset because I was going alone and I thought at least the attractions in the museums would distract me from that acid train of thoughts. The first place I felt like visiting was the Museum of Natural History. Carol wanted to see the traditional dinosaur bones and the animals. She was supposed to take a bunch of pictures to show to their pupils. So, there I was in the street of the invalids and after walking some blocks, I arrive at the museum and - happy holidays - it is closed. I thought museums would close only on Mondays, not on holidays. I should have checked before leaving which museums would be open then.

But the one near the hostel, I guess it was open.
Nonetheless, it was those not so near that I really wanted to visit. After one failed journey to the closed museum, I decided to go to a part of the city near Nollendorfplatz. There was a museum there called Schwules Museum. It was a museum about the homossexual history and it was located quite near an important street, called Bulöwstraße. According to the research it was a street full of rainbow stores and pubs. It was the scene. And it was all closed. The museum and the street was completely empty.

The only action I could see was in this poster hanging in one window of one of the closed stores. I then gave up and started wandering about the neighborhood and ended up entering a red-brick church and stayed there for a while in order to warm up a little bit. Even the church was a bit empty and walking alone some empty streets could do nothing but increase my feeling of loneliness and abandonment. Instead of getting distracted, I was reminded at every second how much I was missing my wounded friend. And I started to wonder what else had kept in store for us just yet. So, after getting of walking around a deserted city, between one and two pm I decided to head for the hostel and maybe visit the museums we had nearby. When I arrived at the station of Potsdamer Platz I realized the movement of people on the streets had increased. So, now they decided to show their face, when the daylight was almost being no more? Whatever they were doing, I was naturally not in the best of my moods.

Back to the hostel, I decided to wash some of our clothes. They had the washing and drying machines, one just had to purchase a special token. Then there were the instructions on the wall, in German and in English. I got both our clothes, Carol’s and mine and set off to the laundry place. Just to enlighten the reader, here in Brazil, it is no common to have laundrymats, even more rare those you do everything with coins. normally you use your own machine at home or take to a place and the employees there make everything. So it came as no surprise that I only managed to turn on the machine secure of what I was doing almost half an hour later. And I still programmed the drying machine incorrectly, but it was not so serious.The worst was how to turn the machines on.

Because it was Christmas, there would be no dinner in the hostel. It is not common to have that, hostels offer only breakfast, but this one was different. My friend who had been there before had recommended the dinner, it was practical and considering her opinion and the quality of the breakfast, it was very good. But again they wouldn’t have it because of the holiday, so we had to buy some food. I asked Carol what she wanted and she said she didn’t want to decide on anything. I told her what restaurants I had seen around and we decided to go to The Subway store to get some sandwiches. She told me what I shouldn’t let them put in hers and there I went. To add up to my “happiness” the attendant mistook me and put some mayonnese in the sandwich which would go to Carol. All the rest was the ingredients she had asked me. OK, I will keep this one for myself and never mind what I wanted to ask.
As I came back we started eating in the room and she told me what her day had been like. Upstairs, pain, downstairs, internet for hours and boredom. So, we started talking: what should we do? I could see no much choice. In two days we would be leaving with those 20-kilo suitcases and I wouldn’t be able to carry both, our hand luggage (mine was a backpack with not less than 7 or 8 kilos). All that snow on the sidewalks. The odds of another fall were high. “maybe, we’d better go back home”. It sounded as a joke, as a lie, but I meant it. “No, I have already blown my trip up, you are staying”, she said. “What’s the use staying if you are not here. I was supposed to follow you in your trip, it was never meant to be mine alone.” But she was right. What a difficult conversation! We went downstairs so that she could use the payphone to call her parents, and we would look for a ticket for São Paulo. If she wanted to antecipate her flight with our tickets, she would have to go to Paris, then to our connection in Istambul and then São Paulo. Alone? Not very smart. So we found one flight from Berlin to São Paulo via Frankfurt.

One funny thing had happened that day; we had established some days before, I guess as soon as we left Belgium that we were supposed to meet one person a day, a new friend. The rule was we had to talk to the person for more than 10 minutes and we should know the person’s name, otherwise asking for information would count as making friends. As we were going upstairs in the hostel, the process would take Carol some minutes, a guy was coming down, as we were talking in Portuguese and she was concentrated in hopping to the next step, the guy stopped and waited and she said in Portuguese he could go first. I told her, hey, you are talking in Portuguese and he answered in Portuguese, no problem, I understand. He was from a city in the countryside of São Paulo - Piracicaba - and we talked for a while. He was the friend of that day.

So, the night crept in and I was still looking forward to something positive happening. Carol insisted I should go out, but what’s the fun of going to a bar or club alone in a strange city? But she was right, we had not been to any club in Belgium, and soon Berlin would be over. Then I changed and headed for two bars I had checked on the net. As I was going, I was looking around, not so overtly as to display my foreignness, but curious to see how the night light changed façades, sidewalks. Everything seems to be so different at night, even the atmosphere. So, walking like there was no tomorrow, I saw a guy coming by. Something about the way he was dressed called my attention and I stared. I wanted to see what it was. But mommy has always told not to stare, hadn’t I seen the short movie in Paris je t’aime? The guy stopped and started yelling at me... I had no German guide as in the movie, but I am sure he was yelling something of that sort - what are you looking at?. In German it sounded more frightening. So I kept going and praying he wouldn’t stab me in the back. I arrived at the first bar and I saw from the outside there were about 3 people in, counting the bartender. So I guessed it was just too intimate for me to handle. Imagine if I enter and they all stare at me and stop talking? I would die then and there, stroke caused by excessive embarrassment. So, the other one - Blond - seemed to be THE place. As I got there, I checked there were more than 5 people though the place was small as well. I sat by the counter, it had been ages I hadn’t been to a bar alone, even at home.

I didn’t know what to do or what to say, so, I asked for a beer and started taking off the heavy clothes. I was sweating. A lot of people were talking and some were drinking. I guess I would be approached but nobody did. Not even a smile. Most of them were alone, just drinking and enjoying the music. The two people who talked to me and made some jokes were the two waiters. One of them asked me if I was feeling alright. My face should be like those who have just seen a ghost. So I started relaxing and asked for some more beer and a mojito. I stayed there, enjoying the music and observing people as much as I could without being observed and before leaving I asked the waiter who had been so nice to me if he accepted to take a picture with me. We hadn’t talked to each other as long as ten minutes, and I didn’t ask for his name, but I felt a nice vibe.
And the way back to the hostel was like going home by Rua Augusta (a traditional street in São Paulo for “buying love”) as a lot of girls - at least they looked so - were asking me if i didn’t want to meet them.

segunda-feira, 23 de maio de 2011

Notícia de Jornal

Hoje, o estudante e professor Elton F., 28, causou comoção no centro da cidade. O Vale do Anhangabaú e imediações foram abalados por sua figura andando a mais ou menos uns 50 cm do chão. Várias testemunhas estavam presentes e chocadas, paravam para olhar o espetáculo. Ele dava passos no ar e parecia ser impulsionado por um vento, mas não ventava na hora do ocorrido.
Segundo uma testemunha, um ambulante que não quis se identificar, o rapaz corria e planava, abrindo os braços mais ou menos no estilo de Julie Andrews na abertura de A Noviça Rebelde. Segundo nossa fonte, "ele estava até murmurando algo como 'the hills are alive'".
Uma outra testemunha, a estudante Mara, que passava pelo local, afirmou que ele ali na pequena altura que conseguiu cantava uma misteriosa nova versão de versos da música de Louis Armstrong, "What a wonderful lunch!". A gravadora informa que essa versão não é compatível com nenhuma gravada até hoje.
Finalmente, o aposentado Prudêncio, desafeito a sensacionalismos, bradava que não, Elton não havia voado, mas tinha mantido os pés no chão o tempo todo. O senhor não negou que podia se ver um sorriso de orelha a orelha, mas disse que qualquer outra manifestação foi puro exagero do "povo mexeriqueiro".
Procurado pela Redação, Elton não quis se pronunciar. Disse apenas que não confirmava as acusações nem as negava.
Insistindo, nosso repórter lançou-lhe a pergunta fatal: "o que motivou todo esse furdunço? O que é que te motiva? É de alegria? É de paixão?"
"Não, nada disso." ele disse de modo oblíquo, riu um riso de criança e completou: "É de mar."

domingo, 22 de maio de 2011


Where are you my dear friend
who is present in all my
Who breathed poetry into my
prosaic being.
Have you been
busy, Valentina?

With your own sorrows
your won
You should be here, my dear
speaking wise
I need advice
don’t you see that?

Of you, Valentina
I expected.
I hoped indeed.
With all my

But it seems that
my dear
You, out of all of them
You, Valentina,
and no one else
couldn’t care

quinta-feira, 19 de maio de 2011

Travel log - Europe - Day 9

Day 9 - Berlin Christmas Eve or the The fall of the house of Ush.. Carol

(warning - longer post - rich in details)

This day was to be a special one. We woke up very early and commented on how excited we were about the day. It was cold as usual, we had breakfast and the place where they served the meals was a bit empty. So, without taking to long to prepare, we hit the road in order to get to the meeting point on time. We were hoping that despite being Christmas eve, the tourist places would be open and there would be walking tour.
As we arrived in front of the zoo station we met a guy, Jakob, who surprised us with a perfect English. Even native speakers (our friends from the US) asked him where in England he was from, and he told them: “I’m from a beautiful English city called Berlin”, so everybody laughed. When we arrived at the meeting point, we approached him, told him we would like to take the tour and paid him the price. With the Berlin card we had some discount, but I don’t remember how much it was. Anyway, nobody arrived and we went, just the three of us, to the second and last meeting point. We took the subway and talked all the way about our lives and everything. He was a very friendly and intelligent person, with a major in literature and history.
At the second meeting point, there were some people waiting, all of them couples: one from Sweden, one American and a nice lady and her husband directly from New Zealand. So, this small group set off to the main streets and building around the center of the city. We visited museums (but did not enter any, the objective was to identify the building, know a bit of its history and come back later if one wished). We walked for about 3 hours and the spotlights were the Reichtag and the Tor and the Monument to the Jews. (Pics below)

The funny thing about this tour was that Carol decided to let out the Japanese in her and she took more photos then than she had taken all the rest of the trip. OK, I might be overreacting a little but all the time I had to call her because people wanted to move on and she was left behind, looking for the proper angles and lighting. She felt a bit bad because she thought I was embarrassed she was holding people, but I was very amused for two reasons: it was too cold for me to want to take my hands out of my pockets and take pictures, if she did it, afterwards I would have a lot of photos with me in them. So I made a little scene, pretending to be annoyed but I was so having fun with my new friend photo freak.
So, we finished the tour by lunchtime and we were hungry. It finished in a square with a church and on the corner there as a chocolate store (, huge and full of sculptures of chocolate. The most amazing one was a building with some hot chocolate fountain. We had a kind of pie, or sweet in a bakery. It was so funny because there were some sparrows inside the bakery which seemed to have been trained to be on the ground eating the crumbs.

Then, after eating something, we decided to go to the bus station to try to buy the tickets to Prague, our next destination. We arrived at the station and it was awful. The place was far from the center, but there was a subway station nearby. Few people spoke English and most of the ticket booths were closed. It was not so late, about 3pm, but no one could give us definite information about the buses. We met an American girl who said she could not find tickets and she would have to spend Christmas eve and Christmas there because she was trying to go to Prague to see her family but she was told no bus would leave in that holiday period. So we left, but with the information that there were two times we could take the bus to Prague: either 7:30am or 3pm. But the thing was we could not buy in advance, just at departure. Can you imagine what would happen if there was no place in the 7:30 one? With our big suitcases and all that snow we would not go very far. We would be stuck there to maybe get a bus in the afternoon. So, we decided to think about later.
Then, after all that walking we had to go back to the hostel, have a shower, relax a bit and get ready to our party. We were not going to the Russian one, but there was a bar which was offering a X-mas night. So we would go there.
As we left the subway, I was a bit tired and carol was rambling on something we had done or would do. Se was talking and talking and I was three steps ahead of her. Note that we had been walking in Europe for days and we saw many people falling. I played in Belgium that she was clumpsy so I would have my camera handy as to when she would fall. When a part of the sidewalk was slippery we would tell each other to be careful and I would have done so if it. But it wasn’t. Anyway, I heard her scream and when I turned in half a second, she was lying on the floor, bent over herself and saying it was hurting. My first movement was to try to raise her, but I was afraid of making things worse. There was a bar and I could more or less drag her to a chair. She asked for some ice while she tried to remove her sneaker and her sock. I got some snow and would give her so that she could put where it was swollen. She said the pain was incredible and I imagine it would be worse after the adrenaline of the moment went low. Some people saw that and asked if they could help, but there was nothing they could do. Again, the so-called cold German people were displaying a kindness to break with any stereotype.
Anyway, we needed a taxi because she felt she would not be able to walk the 5 minutes to get to the hostel. We knew the way, but no taxi appeared, it’s always like that when you need one. But soon a taxi stopped and I put her in the back seat and I sat in the front. The driver asked for the directions but of course I had no idea what the name of the street was. I had it written but the paper was... in the hostel. So I started describing the place to him and how to get there on foot so he got there very fast. In fact, I wanted to take her to a hospital, but there was a problem: before leaving Brazil, we had done an insurance covering health and baggage. I had done it the other time I travelled but it was not necessary so I thought it was worth what I had paid. I imagined I would give the person my location and she would tell me how to get to the nearest hospital of my area, which they had a partnership. So we arrived at the hostel, I sat Carol in the lounge sofa at the reception desk and went upstairs to get the insurance number. It was about 5pm. It seemed things could not get any worse.
After a contact with the company the girl asked me to tell her all the details of what had happened. So she said she would be in contact with their office in Germany which was in Munich. And she would call us back in at most 40 minutes to give the instructions.
Well, I waited and Carol was in great pain. We had brought several types of medicine but none for pain. Headache yes, stomachache for sure, but no pain killer. I tried to sing with her, talk, interview, write, do whatever I could to entertain her and take her mind off the pain. In vain. Almost one hour going by and no contact from the insurance. So I called them again in order to impress a more urgent tone. The woman said they were waiting for the contact with their office and she was going to try a direct connection. She didn’t do that, but said in 20 minutes they would be calling us. Another half an hour, almost 7pm and they called and told the reception guy they would be sending a doctor to the hostel. Excuse me? Sending a doctor here? We were sure she had broken something but how could he tell if he had no way to perform an X-ray at the hostel lounge. Maybe, as we were in the first world, they would have access to some technology of portable X-ray, so we tried to imagine what that meant. Some minutes later the guy from the reception tells us the doctor called and he said he was behind schedule so he would get there by 9pm. It was a quarter past seven. Carol got desperate, angry. She had no way to move and she started feeling like going to the toilet which was across the hall, but even the attempt of trying to stand was so painful she could do nothing but cry. I decided to ask for information on where I could find an open drugstore. The guy smiled at my naïvité there would be any open at that time of that day. But I could not stand being there just sitting and waiting and doing nothing. It was snowing heavily but anyway I started walking around looking for a place to buy a pain killer. There was a hospital near the hostel so I tried there but people thought I was crazy, they would never sell drugs without prescription and I headed back with my hand empty.
The doctor had arrived by then. He examined her and gave an injection to cut off the pain. Then, he told us in a poor English we would have to go to a hospital. No kidding. We knew that hours and hours before. Which hospital is covered by the insurance? He called them and he told us we could go to anyone, pay for it and then the insurance would refund us. Super again! So, there was a hospital but it was 200 meters from the hostel. The one I had tried to buy drugs from. So I went back there and tried to borrow a wheel chair. They were suspicious and did not want to lend me one, so I left my passport as a guarantee and then headed for the hostel in order to pick her. The pain had decreased a bit and she hopped till the toilet (she was in need, remember?) and after to the chair and there we went toward the hospital. The sidewalks were full of snow, it was still snowing and the wheels were not turning, they were sliding. I had to make some extra effort to pull her and hold the chair so that it would not turn over. I had to use my arms to pull and to keep it steady. It took me 10 minutes to go the same way I had gone in 2 minutes with the empty chair. We got to the hospital and I was sweaty and breathless. The hospital was pretty empty. The doctor was very kind to us and was doing his best so that we wouldn’t spend that much money. We kept chatting how cute he was and so was the X-ray guy. Something nice we had to have out of that situation. They confirmed there was nothing broken, but she had probably ruptured her ankle ligaments. No walking for one month at least. Hey. It was the rest of the trip. No hard activities in 3 months. Well, they made some immobilizing and she got some (very expensive) crutches.

We went back to the hostel, and it was about 10 to midnight. We hugged and wished each other a merry Christmas. We surfed the net a bit and decided to go upstairs to try to get some sleep. The next day we would think about what to do.

quinta-feira, 12 de maio de 2011


Eu queria participar, sabe?
Assim, dar a resposta.
baixa a cabeça
Assim, falar uma frase legal.
quanta bobagem
Assim, conversar até as duas da manhã.
quanta besteira

A boca não obedece o resto e os lábios não se movem
na garganta uma enxurrada fica presa, faz pressão

Tenta te convidar pra sair
Tenta dizer a coisa certa
Na hora certa
Tenta simplesmente falar o que vem na mente.
Sofre porque não consegue contar aquela história
sabe aquela?


Você não acha que fala demais?
Você fala demais.
Fofoca, né? Você, queridinha, é perigosa.

(volta pra casa)
A voz sai rouca, sai meio coitadinha
mas ela se faz ouvir.
E pensar que era tão fácil.

Afinal, o universo fala através de mim.
de todos

quinta-feira, 5 de maio de 2011

Travel log - Europe - Day 8

Day 8 - Berlin

So, the breakfast in the hostel was remarkable. It was full of options and appealing to many tastes. It is really a place to recommend. The attendants were helpful, the place is clean and nicely decorated. Unlike the other posts, I will try to be more accurate in this one and I will create links to make it easier for however is reading this willing to go there and check out for themselves. So here it goes: Berlin international Hostel.
According to what we had planned, we would have a busy and long day. the first thing we were about to do was to try the guided walking tour around the city. It would give us more ideas on where to go. We just had to get to the meeting place on time. But of course we were late and got lost. On the subway, we started asking for information and we made a friend. A guy kept talking to us and asking us questions about where we came from and all. Very friendly. His name was Peter. We asked him if he had any suggestion of places to go as the next night it would be Christmas. He mentioned a Russian party. Can you imagine how exotic to be in a Russian party in Berlin? We felt compelled to try his idea as soon as we could find information about it on the net.
So, the clock was ticking and the station near the zoo would never come. We expected they would be there waiting for us, as we arrived 20 minutes later than we should have. But there was nobody there, nor any stall. It was just us, the cold and the passers-by. But the art of the tourist,at least of the late tourists, is improvising. We looked around and realized we were just near some places to visit, so all that journey to that part of the city had not been in vain.
The first place we visited was the Sex museum, or the Erotik Museum. As you enter, you see only a sex shop, but you go to the cashier and get a ticket. As I was reading some reviews, something people complained and we also thought that the fee was a bit higher than the other museums. I had been to the Sex Museum in Paris in my last visit. Although it was quite an interesting visit, I wrote nothing relevant about my impressions then. This makes me wonder how much I have been improving my reporting abilities as I write this new set of memories and experiences. Anyway, we had to pay, get into an elevator and work our way down the floors of exhibitions. The top floor (why does it seem I am full of innuendos here?) was very modern and interactive. You could try to find the G-spot in some statues which would start moaning out of pleasure. Carol had some problems, but I taught her just where to put the finger. Another very interesting and interactive spot was the humping statues. You should dry hump them and it would activate a scale. I didn’t try, although there were not many people around. I am a bit shy, you know?

The rest of the floors were full of paintings, drawings and objects (according to the reviews, all copies) related to the ars erotica, as the Romans would say. We had a lot of fun, taking pictures and just inventing some funny things about those pieces of art.
After leaving the museum, we decided to head for the zoo. It was just around the corner. It was not so cheap either, so we entered and started walking and walking around. But all the cages were empty. We guessed all the animals were inside, hibernating and maybe coming outside eventually to see those stupid tourists freezing to death. Then, the discovery came. There were big buildings, they were the places we should enter because most of the animals were, with the few exceptions of those which could endure the outdoor weather.
But the thing of entering a closed space, smaller then the cages and heated was that 1) the animals looked more imprisoned than usual, 2) the smell was just too strong for one to bear for a long time. Each building, each animal, a different stink. Imagine when we entered the one with those boars and wild pigs. All in all, the tour there was very nice. My friends agree:

What we did next was to visit the aquarium which was inside the zoo. It was not so small and we had to go here and there, and talking in Portuguese we soon ran into a Brazilian guy taking pictures, who talked to us. We had seen some girls talking in Portuguese but we kept quiet then. No contact. As we left the aquarium, we remembered we were human being, and as so, we needed to put something in, in order to continue. It was getting dark so it was about 4 pm. We saw a KFC and that just seemed to be the place for two starved people. We asked a combo each, and there was chicken there to feed 5 people. And we went from starved to roll me out of here, please. And with the greasy hands, eating like two ogres, one of the cutest guys in Berlin decide to sit in our table. He was quite busy eating and we just lost the appetite just till the moment he left. We must have spent one hour in our meal. I wanted to start shooting everything to have a picture of the guy, but my hands were too impregnated with grease for me to attempt anything with my camera.

After doing all these, half of what we had planned, as usual, we headed to the hostel. On the way, we found a Christmas fair with handicraft and candies. We had some hot wine, and bought one candy which was a ball of different colors and resembled a huge donut. But there was no hole in it, it was just a sphere. Carol was afraid of being so heterodox that she bought the chocolate one, the others had names in German we had no idea what they meant. Also, she bought some pistachio in a stall with many types of nuts. Well, can you believe after so much chicken we still had some space left for sweets? We didn’t, but there we were gobbling those treats.
As we returned to the base and took a shower, I went online in order to find a place we could go while Carol was taking a shower. I had already prepared to go for a bar or another place, dressed to kill. As I went upstairs to tell her the options, she was in her pyjamas and told me she was too tired to go out. I couldn’t believe it. It’s forbidden, if you check the good tourist manual, to feel tired. Feel tired at home, not here. But she went on unconvinced and I didn’t feel like going out by myself. (Had I known what was about to happen...). In no time I was in my pyjamas, turning off the lights.

domingo, 1 de maio de 2011

Travel log - Europe - Day 7

Day 7 - Berlin

Waking up very early we had no time to eat anything, we set off straight to the airport. In fact, we had time to grab some bananas. Louis took us to the airport, but he didn’t enter. It was so weird because all the goodbyes we had planned failed. He just hurriedly kissed us goodbye in the airport parking lot and as we were running late, we just parted there, as if we were meeting the next week, for our French classes.
The airport was not a welcoming place, like it never is. We had too much in our bags, more than the flight company of those low-cost flights accept. So we had to open the suitcases in the middle of the lounge and try to put some thing in the already full handbags. We considered abandoning something there, giving it to whoever wanted, but it was not necessary. We still had the security check to go through. And we were late. A guy approached us as we were almost finishing checking in. He said his aunt did not speak any French or English, and she needed some help to get to the gate. So, there we were with a new friend who could not speak any language we knew and anyway maintained some mimics conversation with Carol. We almost went to the wrong side once, lost a sheet, but we made it to the gate. When we got there, sweating under those jackets we saw that the flight was late. One hour. So we just sat there, pissed off, but happy that we had not missed the plane. Of course we didn’t see anything during the trip. We were so tired of the few hours’ sleep plus the running around the airport we dozed off as soon as we boarded.
As we arrived in Berlin, we got some information from the desk at the airport. It didn’t seem so difficult to get to the hostel. We also bought some tickets and info books. We preferred to buy those tickets for 3 days. But nothing is too easy when Murphy is at work. The sidewalks were full of snow, what made it difficult to pull our bags. The wheels would not turn, they were not snow wheels. We had some help to climb some stairs, which from the start showed us the Germans were a nice people. As we arrived at the bus stop, we asked a blond girl if she could confirm if that was the right place. She confirmed. We waited for the bus and it was really cold. The bus took some 15 minutes to come, and we hopped in. It was crowded and people were not so pleased to see us with those big suitcases. As we stopped, I wanted to confirm we were in the right direction. A guy with a baby told us we were going in the wrong direction. We cursed the blond girl, she had deceived us. We damned her 7 next generations. We got off the bus, crossed the street and still cursing her, we found the other bus. Still suspicious, we asked a couple that was passing by. The girl told us we were in the wrong direction, which meant the blond girl was right and the man with the baby was the one who got us wrong. So, we stopped hating the first girl and started thinking some hellish punishment for the man. Ten minutes or so later, we were half fronzen and our arms in pain for carrying all those kilos, we finally got off where we were supposed to. And we arrived at the hostel. The place was wonderful. People were friendly and helpful. The place was clean and cozy. And we had paid for dorms but they were not so full so they offered us the double rooms for the same price of the dorms (the double rooms are normally more expensive). So we had a room only for us and this view out of the window.

As we arrived there, I noticed I had lost the ticket of almost 30 euros and I would have to buy a new one to take buses and subways. I had one cheap ticket for the last day and the other for the first 3 and of course I would lose the most expensive one.
It was almost dark, not so late, but it would get dark soon. Anyway, we dropped our things and decided to go out for some food, a decent meal to make up for the breakfast, lunch and dinner we hadn’t had that day.
We found a Turkish cafeteria/bar. We ordered some falafels, because Carol had already had them here. I only knew kebabs. She said they were different from whatever she had eaten in Brazil and I asked it “hot”, but it was really hotter than I expected.

So, there we were, a new city full of possibilities and we were eager to unravel its mysteries. What did we do? Well, it had been a straining day. The best thing we could do was to lie down and take a nap in order to have energy to do anything else. I should call it the arriving nap. After having done that, we got our newly acquired booklets with info about the city of Berlin and we started checking if the plannings about where we were going on the following days should be stick or not.