Date: Thursday, December 02, 1999 11:10 AMDoug McLean World Tour 1999-2000Back Home Next
Subject: Nov. 6-9, 1999: Berlin, Frankfurt...and back to TEXAS!
Current Date/Location: December 2, 1999 still at home in Jarrell...chomping at the bit to get out on the road...but still spending quality family time here (grumph)... :)
Current Itinerary: First stop will be Buenos Aires...should arrive on Saturday Morning (Dec 4)...will visit my Uncle and Aunt who live outside Buenos Aires for a few days...then visit my friends Florencia and Pavlito!
I can't wait!!! Don't cry for me Argentina...here I come!
Quote Credit: "Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it" -George Santanaya...thanks to Joaquin for the quote I could not remember in a previous journal.
EDITORIAL NOTES: I received a couple of very interesting responses to my Dresden and Berlin journals..which I am going to include here. My friend Nathan sent me the following:
"A few years ago, I was lucky enough to get a copy of my second cousin's wartime diary, depicting his many thoughts on WWII and life as a German POW. Some of the interesting remarks he made were, prior to the surrender, his unlimited devotion and respect for Hitler (and the conviction that they possessed a "secret weapon" that would turn the tide) , and after the war, upon hearing rumors of "death camps" in the East, his remorse and sense of betrayal for the crimes the Nazis had committed. Also, as your friend in
Dresden had mentioned, my cousin said that he was very lucky to be taken prisoner by the Americans instead of the Russians. He was so proud of his submarine unit that he wanted to be taken prisoner in uniform, even though, his superiors were changing into civilian clothes. "
...and my friend Joaquin sent me: "this has been your most memorable email for me. I was in Berlin just
before the wall came down and it was an entirely different place that what you so vividly describe in your email. Crossing Checkpoint Charlie was a harrowingexperience and once you got to East Berlin, you were literally in another world. It was quiet and you saw military presence everywhere you went. And being around the Wall was depressing. Everywhere you went along the wall,you'd see East German soldiers eyeballing you to make sure you weren't going to try something funny. I actually bought some paint and immortalized myself on the Wall. I hope you had a chance to visit a concentration camp. That is quite a sobering experience. Its amazing to me that a little shit like Hitler could come to power in an industrialized country like Germany,but Ido share your viewpoint of how he got there."Thanks to both Nathan and Joaquin for sharing their personal insights.
November 6, 1999
Kathleen and I left the hostel...took our bags and left them at the trainstation...and went for breakfast. At Kathleen's suggestion, we returned to SCHLOTZSKY'S!!!!
Schlotzsky's had an all you can eat Sunday brunch going on...most Schlotzsky's do not do this...but also, finding an "all you can eat" place in Europe is unheard of (except for Italian weddings...)! Anyway, we ate
breakfast there (pastries, cold cuts, cheeses...and all you can drink Coke!!!)...and Kathleen had a new delicacy...a brownie. She had heard of them...but had never actually had an American Brownie...she was suitably impressed (she says that when she goes back to Berlin for the Turn of the Millenium celebration, that she will take her friends to Schlotzsky's...kinda brings the whole world a little closer, doesn't it?) (I should be on the Schlotzsky's marketing payroll, eh?).
Anyway...we wandered around Berlin some more (basically killing time) until I had to get on my train to Frankfurt/Main (NOTE: I almost got on a train to Frankfurt/Oder which is on the border with Poland in the wrong direction...don't make this mistake) and said goodbye to Kathleen. (Again, I would like to express my appreciation to Kathleen for sharing her time and experiences with me.)
The trainride to Frankfurt/Main would be my last trainride in Europe for now...my Eurail Pass expired today. The pass had cost me $1558USD for unlimited 1st Class travel in Europe (Note...I could not buy the 2nd class pass due to my age being over 26). Note...often, you meet more interesting people in 2nd class (read: backpackers)...so I would often sit in 2nd class. There are some annoying reservation fees that you sometimes have to pay...but overall I think that the Eurail pass is "good value for money"
While getting off the train in Frankfurt/Main I met a really nice person named Carolin. She and I got to talking about travel and Berlin and other topics. We talked over coffee/hot chocolate...she is German and works in Frankfurt and was returning after business in Berlin. She needed to go home and I needed to go to my hostel, so she offered to give me a ride to my hostel (in her BMW...quite German, eh?!). ...and that is how I got a ride from the Director of Marketing for the German Tourist Board to my hostel! (I am not sure...but I don't think that all visitors to Frankfurt are treated to this kind of courtesy shuttle...) It was very interesting to talk to her and I appreciated the ride...who says the Germans aren't friendly??!!
Anyway, I arrived at the hostel in Frankfurt...checked in...and used my spanish skills in getting to know three new friends...Elena/Spain, Luis/Brazil, and Jaime/Chile. I can't remember how late we stayed up
talking at the hostel...but it was great. We talked about travelling, South America, Spain, and many other things. At one point, Elena turned to me and gave me probably the biggest compliment of my trip...she said..."You are a Traveller". She shared a quote with me that I asked her to write on my map
of Europe which shows the path of my travels. On my Map, she wrote:
"Un turista es el que no sabe donde ha estado; un viajero es que no sabe adonde va."
Basic (not exact) Translation:
"A tourist does not know where they have been; a traveller does not know where they are going."
...one of my favorite quotes. (Note to Aussies: sorry for the FIGJAM...couldn't help it.). If I get killed doing some idiot thing in some foreign country...maybe I'll have that as my epitaph.
November 8, 1999
Not much to say...unfortunately, I think that Frankfurt has little to offer in the way of being a tourist destination. Luis, Jaime, and I walked around for a while...not much there...or maybe I was just at the end of my trip and was ready to get home. The one thing to note about Frankfurt is that there is a huge complex of stores and "avenues" underground...almost a labrynth of shops and stores under the city...go figure...guess in the winter this is desirable...kind of a huge mall...probably Frankfurt got the shortend of the stick...if you want to know more...buy a book...c'est la vie...I was ready to go home.
November 9, 1999
I packed my bag...took the subway to the airport...and arrived at American Airlines asking for a seat assignment on the plane back to Texas! Things worked out for me and I was given a seat in Business Class...ahhhhh...TEXAS BOUND!
FINAL NOTES AND OPINIONS ON EUROPE:
I benefitted from the many people I got to know on my trip...it would have been a very hollow experience without them...thanks to all who I met or encountered. I encourage anyone who want to travel to Europe to stay in Hostels...take an open mind...and a fairly carefree schedule if possible...plans change...adapt and you will have more fun.
The funny thing about hostels is that you meet people from all over the world in hostels...from everywhere EXCEPT the place that you are visiting. A hostel in Florence, Italy will be filled with English, Kiwis, Aussies, Canucks, Saffies, Spanish, Brazillians, etc...but not with folks from Florence. So, you have two options...enjoy the city with the other foreigners...or try to meet and get to know the locals. If you have time, getting to know the locals can be accomplished...if time is short, get to know the other foreigners...then go visit them in their home countries at a later date!
Favorite Country: Spain (Note...I speak Spanish...this adds to the experience...If I spoke French, I may have enjoyed Croissant-Land more...)
Favorite Area of Europe: Eastern Europe (Czech Rep, Hungary, Slovenia,
Croatia, Bosnia-Hercegovina)...the changes in this area are fascinating and enthralling to watch.
Favorite Food: Italian Weddings Can't be beat...go marry an Italian!
Backpacker Paradise: Pink Palace/Corfu, Greece...Toga!
Favorite Church: Pubs in Ireland...Where Guinness is a Religion! (Seriously it would be Sangrada Familia in Barcelona, Spain...although I visited it on another trip).
Most Underrated: Dubrovnik, Croatia...go there now...trust me.
Favorite Small Town: RONDA...RONDA (like you didn't know...)!!!
Favorite European Sports: Rugby (All Black HAKA...foggettaboutit!) and Irish Hurling.
Best Experience: The whole thing...