so, this is what i've been meaning to write for a while:
first of all, you know you're all wondering what's going on with the toe. i would be, if i had such a fascinating organically-focused website to follow. well, i went to el doctor to have that nasty blood blister lurking under the "nail" popped, but even he would have none of it. he just ripped the nail off and said it'd take care of itself from now on. i saved the decrepit toenail just for my loyal fans' viewing pleasure:
in other news, whitney is famous; until she gets her own website up (and to encourage her down the twisted path of web-addiction ;) i'm making the announcement: she's featured on a jones soda bottle! in her own words:
thanks to that world famous event known as beermageddon, my image is now going to be distributed nationwide on a jones (strawberry-kiwi flavor) soda bottle! (huh? what is beermageddon? well, it's not exactly world famous - basically some friends of my roommate shannon's friend jon get together every july in west freedom, pa to camp and drink beer. pretty simple concept. probably more hype than actual event. i was one of the lucky attendees at beermageddon VII last year.) yes, i am one of those people perched on top of that rusty old truck. how did our picture get there? apparently, the jones soda company will plaster any picture you send them on their label if they like it enough. so, that's it. i'm sending this to you so you can keep an eye out for the bottle (and let me know if you find it!) and smile in recognition when you see me. i have yet to locate an actual bottle specimen but i'm on the lookout...
also, i bought a new computer, finally. and i love her. pookie is my new best friend :)
and i bought that ticket to europe that i should be telling you about. i bought a new phone, pookie, and the plane ticket within 36 hours of each other (quite a mood, eh?). my credit card company was so confused, they called to make sure i was okay. apparently, i'm not usually such a big spender? other stuff's been happening, too, but this is enough for now, methinks.
here's my journal from the trip:
i'm in manchester airport, awaiting a transfer to london's heathrow. i meant to write before i left, but i guess i got caught up in the hustlebustle or something. i even made a list of things i HAD to do before i left, and then forgot to look at it. writing wasn't on it, but it would've come to me had i looked at it. anyway, i've been here since before 6am UK time (landing was early for once) and my next flight's leaving at nine. i'm surprisingly not tired considering my complete lack of sleep lately, but i guess that's a good thing. or just the result of tons of coffee.
the flight here was easy, if a tad boring. i entertained myself by sleeping and occasionally observing the behavior of those around me. the guy sitting next to me looked like a redneck-cum-fratboy, but he had a british accent. he kept saying "cheers", too; i wasn't sure if he was kidding. there was this pair across the aisle from me; the guy reminded me of micah and the girl of catherine malmberg (does anyone else remember her?). i kept trying to figure out of if they were a couple or siblings. they looked a lot alike, but that could've been my imagination. they were nicer to each other than most siblings are, but they weren't quite as affectionate as couples on planes always are (as if they're enduring some obscure hardship together). i was going to ask, but i didn't want them to think i was hitting on one of them.
[update on the weird micah-catherine couple: they ARE a couple. oddly enough (or not so odd; it WAS spring break week), they were on my return flight from manchester, acting all mysterious and indecipherable again. but then i distinctly saw him twirl a strand of her hair, and only weird siblings would do something like that. so, they're a couple. i feel better. guess it's just that leftover harriet-the-spy thirst for knowledge. or i'm just nosy.]
and a few days later:
okay, so overall so far, i must say, this is the first time i've ever been in the situation of being the oldest kid around. and i don't think i'm taking it too well. i think they're all too nice to say it, but i feel like an old hag/bore. it's not that i'm feeling unenergetic, but i'm just not instantly clicking like i'm used to. maybe it's that great yuppy sense of humor setting in. and i find myself correcting their grammar (aloud!) all the time. what's up with that? anyway, they're overall a very nice bunch: diya - friend from high school and college, 3rd year, comm school; a totally cool chick. the rest of the people we are travelling with are her friends from her copenhagen study-abroad program: sapna, 20, poli-sci/econ major from northwestern; mark, architecture student from vermont/pennsylvania; and gunner, architecture student from colorado.
as i may or may not have mentioned earlier, i met up with diya in london saturday morning. (right now, i'm on a night train from prague to budapest -- it already broke down once, leaving us in utter confusion, as none of us understood the train conductor's czech). we spent two days doing the whole tourist bit in london. we stayed with her childhood friend peggy (who is totally cool and who i want to be when i grow up) in kensington/notting hill. we saw a play (art), took a hop-on/hop-off bus tour of the city, saw the british museum (a nice collection of all their loot from their raping and pillaging of ancient civilizations), had dinners in chinatown and a great indian fusion place, went to a farmer's market, went to leicester square, and god knows what-all else. oh yeah, and we did a good bit of random wandering of the city. i have a few pictures here (i had some more, but i accidentally deleted them because i'm a first class moron). oh yeah, and we spent some time in hyde park at speaker's corner. we heard representatives of the nation of islam (i had a pretty imposing picture of them -- it looked a lot like this -- but it got deleted too), the catholic church, and the jewish people -- a lot of what they said had to do with us all being heathens that were going to hell. also, there was some german dude ranting about how useless women are, now that we're no longer sexually submissive (something about us having too much power now that we earn our own money, he said) and a little old white lady who said all foreigners were leeches and karmically doomed to fail at whatever we do (and go to hell, of course), because we're not in our god-assigned lands. any invasion by others of our land was also our fault, because we weren't being careful enough. yah. it was eye-opening. so, that was london.
monday, we left for prague. that's where diya and i met up with sapna, mark and gunner (at staromestska). we got there pretty late, so we proceeded directly to getting royally ripped off for dinner and then drinking (absinthe is interesting) until we crashed at the hostel. we woke up pretty early and spent the rest of the day exploring/wandering the city. we wandered around nove mesto (new town) and stare mesto (old town), alongside the river vltava, up some hills to an amazing scenic view of the city (i think we went up vysehrad, but i'm not sure), through wenceslas square, past the dancing house, and all over i guess. since we were just exploring the sights, there isn't much i can say about it other than it was breathtaking. not even the pictures really do it justice (yes, yes, i know the cliches abound! but they exist for a reason), but they're a good start.
and now i'm on a night train to budapest. guess i should get some sleep.
wow! just kidding! i'm now back in london - heading back to the states tomorrow morning. a lot happened between writings. just as i was nodding off to sleep on the train, passport control came a-knocking, as we were reaching the czech-slovak border. gunner's passport was ripped in parts and missing a page, so the inspector kicked him off the train. as it was 330am and we were in the middle of bumfuck slovakia (they didn't even stop the train at a station -- just in the middle of the tracks, right where we were when he discovered his bad passport), we got off with him (the inspector was not amused with his tag-along pack of backpacked hoodlums -- he kept yelling at us in angry czech; we think he was telling us to get away and get back on the train). we didn't, but instead we got on the "jail car train" they had brought out to where we were to take us back to the czech republic. the five of us, three very angry czech passport inspectors, and a bunch of mexicans (they kicked every mexican off the train because apparently mexican citizens need a transport visa to even pass through slovakia; our poor mexican friends were not amused and were grumbling about being deported at borders around the world) hanging around in the dark by some train tracks in slovakia, waiting for a small mean barred-up train to deport us. i wanted to take a picture but sapna was afraid the passport inspector would bite my head off (we think they're malnourished). instead, we quietly boarded the new train, went back to a border train station in the czech republic, where gunner immediately got a train back to prague (where the nearest us embassy was) and we waited around for 6 or 8 hours for the next train to budapest. we were yelled at a lot while waiting; there was also a good deal of staring done by the local czech rednecks who were visiting the train station for their morning beers (they looked like 40s).
eventually, we made it to budapest. and what a nice change it was after the horrors of the mean cold (yet eerily beautiful) czech countryside. the weather was much warmer, the sun was shining, the people seemed cheery and were chattering in friendlier-sounding hungarian. we found a hostel, showered, and then headed out for exploring of buda (the older, scenic part of the city) and pest (the urban, commercial part). it was much more beautiful and exciting than i ever imagined, and a total marvel at every turn. i think this quote from my let's go eastern europe guide put it really well: "no toyland prague, budapest is bigger, dirtier, and more vibrant than its czech contemporary -- flashing lights and legions of tourists may drape tinsel upon its cobblestone streets, but beneath the city's kitsch beats a purely hungarian heart." i didn't get many pictures of the kitsch or hungarian heart (tho i'd like to think i felt it), but check out some of the views. we were all kinda' awed by the sights, and didn't even really talk much. we explored, ate dinner, and then returned to the hostel. mark and sapna crashed for the night, but diya and i wanted to experience the hungarian kitsch at night, so we explored some of the clubs and bars.
thursday morning, we woke up early with a mission. we were going to partake in budapest's renowned luxury: turkish baths. imagine cheap pampering, spa services, large domed ceilings, breathtaking architecture and facilities, and large hairy naked hungarian women. it was an experience. we were ogled a bit for wearing swimsuits instead of going eu natural, but i was no louse myself in the large and hairy department. my masseuse wouldn't even touch me with two hands for fear of getting tangled in the jungle that was my leg hair. all in all, it was very relaxing. and cheap! (i love cheap)
after all the pampering, we wandered the city in a daze, satiated and completely at ease. we ate a solid meal, and explored a little more. in our two days in budapest, we saw st. stephen's basilica, the parliament, varhegy (castle hill), szbadsag hid (liberty bridge), the gellert baths, and the world's largest burger king. and other stuff, i'm sure. pictures are here. marvel.
that night (thursday) we headed back to prague by train. less incident on this trip, tho still a bit nerve-wracking every time passport control knocked on our door. we returned to find the city completely changed; it was easter weekend, and tourist season had begun. there were people everywhere. we stayed in mala strana (lesser side) this time, because it was so hard to find places anywhere else. it was a nice change. we managed to get around to the prague castle and across the charles bridge this time around. it was a sight, and much more interesting with all the people swarming around. we saw a porn film being filmed on the charles bridge (i got pictures with my disposable camera, but those aren't developed yet); we caused a bit of a scene while standing around discussing the film, and accidentally caught the attention of the crew. keep an eye out for a czech porn about 3 indian girls and a white guy lost in prague. it could be good. pictures of prague (from all days) are here.
that night (friday), we ended up at a chinese restaurant and then an indian bar (i don't know how). it was actually pretty fun; there was a bachelor party going on, and the guys were excited about the americans that looked like indians. all the partying, however, caused me to wake up late this morning, making me nearly miss my flight back to london. i didn't tho, and i've made it here okay. and what weird luck! while i was writing, some cute german chick asked me if i knew when daylight savings time starts (i'm at the generator hostel again) -- it starts tonight (in the uk, anyway) and i had no idea! i would've missed my flight tomorrow morning were it not for her.
um, yah. so that was the trip. i made it back without incident.