28 August, 2007

Day 5-Sunday/Kandern, 10 June

I awoke to the German equivalent of change-ringing from the church close by, a small old building with a bell tower. The bells were ringing for about 10 minutes as I got ready for church, held at BFA. The high point of the service was definitely the steam train whistling loudly right in the middle of the sermon and proceeding to run through town, just out of sight but clearly audible[well within hearing]. Susan had left early that morning for Spain, so I rode with Mr. and Mrs. Willson to church, then connected with Shannon and Burt, the Ludingtons who made it to church.
After the service, Shannon went around talking to any remaining graduates, spreading word of one final party at someone else’s house. There were about fifteen of them, but we finally left and went home for Breakfast. The remainder of the day was uneventful, apart from Megan working on finals, and passing the time with Mr. Dickens, until Shannon and I walked to town for the grad party-thing. We ate cake and drank Eiskaffe, and nobody minded much that I didn’t belong to this particular group of graduates. When everyone arrived, the tally ran to about a dozen girls and four guys, and we started watching ‘A Knight’s Tale’, as the entertainment alternative to CNN World, albeit less accurate (I hope).
High Points: Geoffrey Chaucer played by Paul Bettany.
Low Points: total disregard for actual history, for instance the crowd singing ‘We will rock you’--actually most of the movie was a low point. Two thumbs way down.
Not surprisingly, it fails to understand the Medieval worldview, so the Location might be Medieval Europe, but the Setting is all Hollywood.
After that, we watched most of ‘Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade’, a brilliant movie, especially by comparison. “Ah, Venice.”
Now I want to see the whole thing again.

09 August, 2007

A Brief Interlude

I invite all regular readers to visit My YouTube Profile
where you can see the films from The Elwood Film Festival - 2006:
The Boy Detective by Team I
The Sacred Rabbit and A French Victory by Team 2
The Sacred Dagger, In the Tavern, and Animal Lovers by Team III

17 July, 2007

The Ruins

Day 4-Kandern/Burg Rötteln, 9 June 2007

The Night following Graduation Day is not easy on graduates. Shannon having, therefore, only turned in somewhere in the vicinity of the morning sunrise and consequently being completely out of it, the rest of us proceeded to have a good time and visit a castle. The castle in question, Burg Rötteln, was built in the 1200s as a border castle, and remained active long enough to have a rather rotten makeover in the 1600s; cannon slits and whatnot. It is currently in a half-ruined state, all the original floors are gone, and some of the walls. There was a wedding in process while we were there, in the ruins of the Great Hall, probably directly below where the chapel was originally.
The journey home was much swifter than the journey out, by not getting lost, and by taking the autobahn through the rain and hail. You can rely on the weather this time of year to be either raining, or rapidly growing very warm. The only time when it is a pleasant temperature is between cloudbursts, but the hot weather means the trenchcoat is quickly dropped at some convenient location, bound to be out of reach as soon as it starts raining.
By the time we returned to the flat, Shannon was in a groggy state of consciousness, in need of one of Jeeves' concoctions, no doubt. When she had more sufficiently woken up, we left for the Willsons together, as Susan was packing to leave the next morning for Spain.
It was an inefficient packing, to be sure, but we had a jolly time swapping Youtube videos and watching a episode of Stargate (1969). After Shannon left, I showed Susan my films, and she showed me the iKorean. I rounded the night off with a short story featuring Lord Peter Whimsey, and slept.

*Pictures will be edited in soon.

28 June, 2007

A German Graduation

Day 3-Kandern/Wittgenstein, 8 June, 2007

This bright foggy Friday of Graduation began with an early trip to Shannon's former dorm in the town of Wittgenstein. Our stated purpose being retrieval of Shannon's Kit, our alterior motive to tour the dorm. Most of the dorms at BFA were Gasthauses in there prior lives, and the dorms resulting from such a transformation are full of character, albeit inconveniently laid out. As an example, the shortest path between two particular halls on the same floor of the single building is by exiting onto the fire escape and using it as a catwalk. So it was an interesting tour: the basement, a dank place containing a table-tennis set, weights, and a punching bag across from a swastika carved into the wall underneath several German names, near a trough for watering all the sorts of animals that don't fit into basements.
Also of interest was a rustic kitchen, a cheerily lit dining room reminiscent of a Pub, and a backyard producing walnuts and raspberries that people like to eat, Äpfel und Erdbeere that people don't like to eat, and several lengths of terracotta piping and an old brick wall that are, in fact, entirely inedible.
After making these earth-shattering discoveries and loading the car with luggage, we sped away at speeds nearing 100 km/hr, over narrow German roads, went shopping, and went home to the Ludington's Flat.
Graduation ensued, doing what Graduations do best: taking their time, providing photo-ops, and wearing thin a certain famous piece of music. What stood out about this graduation was that something personal was said about each graduate, and though each graduate had to pay for this privilege, they did so in foreign currencies, thereby thwarting this capitalist plot with a plot of their own. Continuing in the tradition of dodging tradition, the exit music was not Elgar, in this case, Theme from Gettysburg composed by somebody other than Elgar.*
Gowns were shed but tears were not as family and (ahem) some others headed upstairs to the reception of meager food to any expecting lunch. The best role for bored non-graduates was that of Paparazzi, that is, taking pictures of those you don't know standing with those you do.
After the graduates grew tired of this, Susan,¹ Robert,² Cheri, Rachelle, Megan,³ and I wandered off into the Student Lounge and played B.S., Bull, and other games that involve little skill apart from those involving Lying. Robert beat the rest of us soundly at Bull,ª but I beat everyone else at Indian Poker. Robert is great fun to be around, but was the first one to leave Germany after the Graduate Cruise on the River Rhine, leaving everyone else glum and dejected. But what do I know of it?
I wasn't there!

*Randy Edelman composed this stirring piece of music.
¹Susan Willson, my specified target as Paparazzi
²Robert Headrick looks like Russell Crowe and is world-famous as the creator of the iKorean
³Megan Ludington, who looks like Jessica in The Man from Snowy River
ªBull is similar to BS or Bluff, but based on Poker hands. Indian Poker involves everyone picking up one card and (without looking at it) holding it, value out, against your forehead. You look at everyone else's cards, and either fold or don't, and then you all compare, and see who won.

26 June, 2007

Kandern and a nap

Day 2, London-Basel/Basle-Kandern. 7th June

As Erik paused to reflect before bed, the events of he day washed over him.
He had started this day at Midnight in Heathrow, where the airport essentially shuts down at 10. Not feeling tired, he journaled, played Su Doko, and read Dickens all night. At 6 he checked in, and at 7.30 parted ways with his Father, who had slept somewhat feverishly due to the tetanus shot, fresh and painful.

There being thirty minutes or so before boarding call, he rested his legs next to a BBC-playing TV, which was discussing Recycling measures. On the flight over, he read the complimentary Times, covering some issues like housing costs and sports. Arrival at BSL was very low key, although the high humidity mad the trenchcoat unnecessary as he exited into Switzerland and the care of the Ludingtons.
An impromptu tour of French villages nearby while on a milk hunt showed exactly how little French was known by the four Ludingtons present, to say nothing of Erik, as the words for Milk (lait) and Supermarket (Hyper-Marché) proved exceedingly elusive to our heroes. Returning to Kandern was (after succesfuly locating milk, cheese, and other essentials-sweets), however, the work of a moment.
At Kandern, he met at long last with Shannon, and took a nap. Waking up and feeling a new kind of tired, he was whisked off to the awards ceremony where he met the Willsons, with whom he would be staying for the week. It had begun raining heavily at this point, even with lightning and thunder in the distance, so the stream flowing past BFA (Black Forest Academy) was swollen with a torrent of muddy water.
The Willsons are, on the whole, an amiable lot. Conversation with Susan, the BFA senior, Erik found much common ground, so that an hour at least was spent in engrossing and humorous conversation before bedtime was announced, and Erik repaired to the guest room.
A candid photo

The Awards Ceremony at BFA

The stream quite full of rain-water

A Framework house in Kandern, Germany

24 June, 2007

A brief intermission

I shall now enter a limerick written in five languages much later in the journey, Day 17 to be precise:

Limerick written on a bus in five languages

Me gusta comer camarones
Aber nicht essen Tartare ohnes
Ό Θανατος: "Ήυρεκα!"
و لا احب ببريكی
Je vou drais un Omnibus

Which translates to:

I like to eat Shrimp
But not eaten without Tartare
Death says: "I have him!
And I don't like Paprika"
I want a bus. (Andrew ex machina)

London, England

The annals continue on the flight to Heathrow, mentioning very trivial stuff like the food. It is now June 6th, D-day, and when our travellers awake, they find themselves over Iceland and dense cloud cover. From the Journal:

...The final hour of the flight was over the UK and under the clouds; It was beautiful, heather in Scotland*, and grass in England.

We landed at 6:30pm in Heathrow, the interior dingy compared with the lush grass growing near by the runway. Customs was quite happy letting us through,** but we got sharked on tickets from Heathrow to London, by way of the Paddington Express: £54 for two return tickets† instead of something like £6 for one return ticket.

From the impressive but faded Paddington Station, Dad and I walked south to Hyde Park and the adjoining Kensington Gardens. These charming parks†† are similar to Central Park in New York City but less planned and smaller. After walking several miles, we grew tired and started looking for food, settling eventually on a small Greek restaurant, (family run from the looks) and ate some excellent Hummus with hot Pita, the Best Hummus I've ever tasted, along with something called Moussaka, which was quite good too. The first time I ate Greek was in New York's Grand Central Terminal, so it is strongly associated with travel in my mind.

After this, we took the Express back to Heathrow where we waited out the night, me not sleeping a wink.

(On the facing page are two sketches and a map. The sketches are of Paddington Station and Kensington Gardens, and the map shows the route taken.)

*Editor's note: Heather not being in bloom in this season, it is presumably that the chronicler's inexperienced eye considered the purple-brown hue of the hills to be heather because of their location in Scotland. Real heather blooms sometime in the Spring, and is dead by the Summer.

†Editor's note: Tickets in Europe are either Single or Return, equating to One-Way and Round-Trip, but making more sense. Who ever had a round trip?

**Writer's note: This was to give me a bad habit that would almost have serious consequences later on...

††Writer's note: Garden refers to the more planned and groomed manner of Kensington, not any particular garden. It makes sense with the English meaning of garden, which is what they call the backyard.