i arrived in rome after a series of red-eye flights, and since i can never sleep on
airplanes my biological clock was majorly fucked by the time i got in. however, i was pleased to get there and was having fun looking at the scenery
from the airport train as we rode into the city. here's a picture of the train station
i was supposed to meet up with kyle and becky "at termini station." little did any of
us know that roma termini is the equivalent of penn station in new york and you can't just get off the train and expect to find your party. we got sorted out after a few hours and went for a much-needed drink. then i slept a lot.
the next day i woke up very early in the morning and went out walking and took pictures. this is not a urinal, it is actually a public water fountain/faucet thing that people wash their face in and drink out of, and they have them all over the city. why do they need public water fountains? because it's 800 fucking degrees and really gross.
i picked up liisa from the train station (taking care to specify a meeting spot next to an elaborate coke light display. coke light, by the way, is different from diet coke and it tastes weird). then we went to walk around. i believe this is the fountain in piazza navona:
rome was overrun with fat fannypacked american tourists. after three days i would have been happy not to hear another word of english. we stumbled across the pantheon, which was cool despite the scaffolding inside.
there is an area in the middle of the city called the argentina cat sanctuary. it's an old ruin which now is where all the cats can hang out and wait to be adopted. they maintain the grounds and provide food for the cats:
one of the only cool bridges in the city (the tiber/tevere river totally sucks)
this photo actually makes the river look cool, but don't be fooled by my awesome photography because the tiber is actually a muck-filled canal/swamp.
my favorite area of the city was the old jewish ghetto. it's actually called the ghetto, that's the name of it.
we quickly realized that the only thing to do in rome besides wandering around looking at art/ruins is sitting in cafes drinking cappuccino by day and wine by night. the nightlife consists of eating dinner for 5 hours. we liked this particular cafe (even though all the cafes are pretty much the same) because the waiter totally <3ed me:
so, my hair straightener didn't work in europe. this is only the 2nd day, before it got REALLY ugly. by then i had wised up and quit allowing myself to be photographed.
then we went to some irish or british pub with a nautical theme. beers were 6 euro (which is like, $8) but if you had a student ID you could get a special discount. i knew all the grad school business would be good for something one of these days.
we tried to find somewhere fun to go, but there were no fun places to go. rome seemed culturally devoid. it seems like a place that revolves around tourism and rides on its history. the next day we went to trastevere, which we heard was the "hip" district. it was just like everywhere else, pretty much. this sign was cool though:
back in the city we were trying (and failing) to go shopping and buy some cool italian shit. another thing about rome: everything is super expensive and boring, which means the shopping sucks unless you are rich and can buy designer stuff. you also cannot eat between 3 and 7, because the restaurants are closed. for some reason we kept on not making it to any restaurants in time for lunch hour. we walked in circles until we realized perhaps we might be better off consulting the real map instead of this one
hmm, then we did some other stuff that i didn't take pictures of because by then i was pretty bored of rome. we saw a bunch of kitties. then i left. the end, yay! ciao italia, get some goddamn air conditioning.
i had a three-hour layover at the prague airport, so i went on a mad quest for velvet beer, which was my favorite when nadia and i had visited some years ago. they didn't have it in the airport bars but i found some in the duty-free shop. i drank it and watched the planes and read as i lay dying. for some reason i never read it in high school so i thought it was about time.
berlin was of course more fun than rome.
my half-brother olli met me at the airport and we drank more velvet on the bus. apparently stereo total were on my flight, but who would ever recognize them? olli has a fun bar in east berlin called 8mm. we went for dinner and then i "guest djed" at the bar. i hope berlin didn't mind that my idea of djing is putting on a playlist on my ipod and wandering off to drink white russians.
the next day we went to the new holocaust memorial. it is really something. it is this entire plaza of rectangular stones (stelae) which start off at about knee level on the corners, but as you walk through it the ground becomes wavy and the stones become very tall, and you are engulfed in a concrete maze.
underground beneath the stones there is an exhibit with the whole history of the holocaust. there was one room with these large sort of installation things that followed the fates of 15 families from various countries, with photographs and letters and details of how and where and when the various family members perished. it was very unsettling. more powerful i think than the exhibits in the dc holocaust museum, though i haven't been there since i was a young teen.
i dragged olli to the westside because i wanted to go to some of the old punk record shops i remembered from years ago, but i couldn't remember how to get to nadia' s old hood because it wasn't on the map i'd bought. so instead we just walked around the kurfurstendamm.
the next day we took the train to dresden, where we were going to see interpol later that night:
it was really cold and raining something awful, and i hadn't brought any appropriate attire. luckily we happened upon a store that sold rain boots. i felt like a deranged star wars stormtrooper walking around like this all day, but my feet stayed nice and dry.
we took refuge from the storm in the art museum. these lights were on the ceiling and they circled around and made loud clacking noises.
i was surprised not to see more death/destruction-themed art but i guess that would have been too obvious. i took pictures of some of my favorites:
one of the coolest things in dresden is the cathedral, which was bombed out in the war (as was most of the city). they saved the stones and reconstructed the church and put the salvaged stones back in their original places.
some more pictures of the city:
now here is a real river.
we skipped dinner in favor of a bottle of wine, which did not bode well for my photographic skills for the rest of the night. though i guess it's probably best that i don't have evidence, ha ha. we got to the venue pretty early because we weren't sure what time the show started, and started in on champagne. olli kept trying to get me to drink water but i stuck to booze like a sensible person. by the time the show was over i was drunk silly, but i think it was the best time i have seen interpol ever, and i have seen them like a lot of times. the venue was this weird old stable or horse race arena or something (reithalle?) that had been converted into a concert hall, and the kids there were all really nice and fun. fun! i don't know what else to say, other than it's rare i have fun at shows.
aftershow festivities were also fun, as always.
the "next" morning we went back to berlin. caption, obviously: "ughhhhh." luckily i got some sleep on the train.
back in alexanderplatz
i went walking around a bit. there is an interesting military shop next to olli's where i got some glasses:
we walked to the museum island. i had been to the pergamon museum on my last trip but didn't go this time:
we went to a "beach bar" and had some coffee. at the beach bar they have brought in sand from somewhere or other and you sit on folding chairs in the sand. it's pretty crazy. they make you pay an extra 4 euros as a deposit if you want to bring your cups out on the sand because i guess people get crazy with the cups out in the sand! i didn't take any pictures of that. then we went back to the bar where louis made me lots of drinks and alex played me lots of wipers songs. yay!
oh, the killers showed up later, ha ha! by then we were already upstairs watching chinatown and we only saw them from the window. they only went inside for a minute before they got scared away, but i'm still mad that i missed my chance to harass them.
my return flight to the states went through newark airport, so i decided to stick around for a few days and visit my new york pals. i was super jet lagged so the first thing i did was get a bagel! oh man i have missed bagels. they don't have bagels in LA. i mean, they exist i suppose, but they fucking suck and you don't want to eat them.
i hung at phil's new loft and then we went to dinner with vivs
then i forget what happened. was that the night we went to happy endings or was that the night of the absinthe party when i fell asleep? i brought back an absinthe spoon from berlin and vanessa had a bottle of absinthe, so we decided to have an absinthe party. i invited a whole bunch of people over and then passed the fuck out for the whole night, ha ha. it wasn't my fault!
i always like going back to greenpoint just to check up on it. manhattan and eagle seems to be the same as ever.
phil and vivian and i went to kate's for brunch and then went to the garden on ave B where they have a fish pond with a turtle:
liisa came to town and we played on the swings in phil's house