Saturday, May 31, 2008

Berlin may be my dream city.
After a bike tour of both the east and west sides I realised that it would take an entire summer to see just the tourist stuff, let alone grasp the night life.
We have been trying to do both, starting off yesterday with some shopping and a trip to the Jewish Museum which was very interactive and had the most interesting architecture I have seen. The place is shaped like a lightening bolt with oddly angled walls and corners in black and white.
The piece that struck me the most was an art instalation that was a room of round metal disks on the ground that had screaming faces cut out of them.
Walking on a room full of clinking faces was so eerie.

We balenced out a day of museum wandering by going to Dr. Pong, which is a bar of sorts. Really it is a cement room with a pingpong table and 50 people drink and take turns hitting the ball. If you miss, your out till the next round. It was such a sketchy place with just a counter and a fridge for a bar, but really quite fun.

We also went to an artist squat turned bar complex which was full of grafitti. They had filled the courtyard with sand and innertubes to make a beach.

Today we leave for Paris which I hope will be at least as much fun.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Tower at the Kremlin

Tower at the Kremlin, originally uploaded by Jenny P..

A few photos from Russia can be found at
Today we did a bike tour of Berlin and it was amazing. I promise to post pictures soon.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Made it to Berlin

We made it through a night of Russian vodka to an early morning visit to Lenin and hopped a plane to Berlin today.
My immediate impressions based on four hours here are pure love for this city. People dress fashionably and unique and ride bicycles everywhere.
It reminds me of College and Augusta in Toronto. Definitely my style.
We are going to try and make some friends tonight with a bottle of Russian vodka that I bought duty free and cracked on the plane ride.
So it needs to be drunk before it leaks everywhere, and I need to find another gift for my roomate (sorry Matt.)

I promise photos soon! I forgot to bring the card to the cafe.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

From rainy Russia

Four days on the train and many pots of ramen noodles later we have arrived in Moscow.
We had a bit of an issue leaving Ulaan Bator because we didn't stock up on supplies beforehand and couldn't exchange our money anywhere before the train left.
That left us with little food, a wad of Mongolian money and no place to spend it.
JR ended up running to an ATM during a 15 minute station break and grabbing a little cash along with some noodles and beer.
It was really neat watching the scenery because we went from sand, rock and gers tolush little siberian villages filled with gardens and curving rivers.
We traveled along Lake Baikal for hours watching people rowing and fishing. It is the deepest lake in the world, making up 20 per cent of the world's fresh water. There are supposed to be seals living in it.
When we arrived in Moscow we took the subway to the hostel which is on a touristy pedestrian mall filled with buskers, sketch artists and men wearing sandwich boards advertising tattoo parlors.
It is interesting to be in Europe because it is the first time on the trip where we could walk down the street and not look obviously like tourists. People come up to us speaking Russian and then smile when we apologise for having no clue what they just said.
We saw a bit of the Kremlin yesterday but has been very cold and wet and unpleasent to wander around. Today we plan to see pickled Lenin and tour subway stations.
Each one was designed by a different architect and go from being very modern to massive historcal mosaics.
No pictures yet because our internet connection is super crappy and it won't let me upload pics to either blogger or flickr.
Tomorrow we leave for Berlin where our hostel is supposed to be party central.
Though this city is very beautiful, I am anxious for Berlin . This morning I woke up with bug bites on my hands that I hope are just spider bites.
JR has none. Either way i can't wait for Berlin tomorrow.
Take care and we'll post pictures from there.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Exploring Terelj

Just a few photos from a day in Terelj National Park about an hour outside Ulaan Batar.
I tried to take pictures of everything - goat, sheep, camel, hills, giant turtle shaped rock, the ger where we ate lunch, hills, rocks, dust storms.
The only thing I missed was us on horseback. Though it was at quite a slow pace as we were being lead by a man on foot, it was still too bumpy to take pictures.

Enjoy, more photos on my flickr.
(Sorry to make you jump. It is faster to upload to flickr)

Good times in Terelj

Got back from Terelj National Park a few hours ago. It's immense and I can only imagine what it will look like once everything starts to bloom. We went horseback riding, though we were being pulled by our guide the whole way, which got to be frustrating to me, like being in the driver's seat of a sports car while it's being towed.

For each of our stops we have pretty big expectations, but I think they were the loosest for UB. It's very much a city on the edge. The roads are wide and full of cars, but the pace is more like Ottawa than Beijing. One of our brief travel companions told us that Japan sells cars that are no longer street legal there to Mongolia for a pittance, so you constantly see left-driving Fords next to Domestic-market only right-driving Nissans. It seems like it would be confusing but they make it work.

Maybe the biggest disappointment about UB is the cost of living. The guide books will tell you that you can get by on 3 dollar meals but most of the time we swing by at 10. Western food and goods are sold at Western prices and local food isn't much cheaper.
Still, glad to be here.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

I brushed my hair today for the first time since we left.
In the rush of midnight packing the night before we left, both JR and I forgot a hair brush which has left me with the beginnings of dreadlocks.
Today I had to decide whether I was going to just let my curls continue to mat or to attack my dreads with the dollar store brush JR bought me and go back to looking half decent.
I brushed it, though I toyed at the idea while in the shower of coming back looking like I really had traveled around the world.
We are in Ulaan Baatar today, the capitol of Mongolia. With about a million people it is a little more our pace compared to the constant motion and rush of people in Beijing.
We left on Tuesday taking the train overnight with two nice ladies from Holland. They kept us well fed and were very kind.
The trip was very relaxing after our day hike along the great wall the day before.
Our hostel offered two versions of the great wall trip, one was to the more tourist populated reconstructed area of the wall, the other a "secret wall' tour which included lunch and said was for those in good physical condition.
We took the latter and hopped into a van at 7:30 a.m. with seven other travelers and set off on a Two and a half hours later the driver pulled over on the side of the road and dropped us off with a tiny old man who lead us up the mountain on a dirt path for about 40 minutes.
I'll describe more later, I'm tired.

Enjoy the pics.
See more on my flickr site -