Monday, November 2, 2009
So, last December I bought a ticket to see Morrissey in Paris. Well, he fucking cancelled. Anyways, I convinced Noah to meet me in France—and we stayed at his dad’s flat above Republique. This was my first time in Paris, so Noah and I just checked out the city—Notre Dame, Renzo Piano’s Centre George Pompidou and the Louvre. I went by Piano’s workshop. Every time I go to mainland Europe, I realize how stupid it is to live in England. We spent a lot of time outside. I was back in England for another week before finally leaving for the summer—we went out in Sheffield for Ken’s birthday, down to London to see his band and even shot some hoops.
Friday, October 30, 2009
In the meantime, I've posted a couple things on a group blog with Matt from Check Please. This is pretty rad, since he's one of the funniest people in Ontario-- especially after Si and the Heat left.
Check out the new new: CanUFlyBobby.
Saturday, October 17, 2009
- Tom and I started heading out to the Peak district during the weekends. In early May, we checked out a couple cool areas to take advantage of the decent weather.
- I ate a lot of fish & chips-- damn, I miss it. In May, I took over Si's room-- sharing a flat with Jamie, Tom and Gus. This meant I was just around the corner from Two Steps Chippy-- this spot has been in the same location for over 100 years.
- Craig is from a town called Whitley Bay, near Newcastle. The football team reached their conference final, the Vase Cup, and Craig wanted to go down to the match at Wembley. Naturally, we took a limo. I guess Whitley Bay won; I got housed on mimosas.
- Wetherspoon's introduced a new menu, but the Ploughman's stunk.
- Tom and I went to Leeds to see the Specials reunion tour. I lost my phone at the concert, but the show was good.
- It's English tradition to have a 'football do'- or a night out with your team- at the end of the season. We went out for dinner and to a couple pubs for beers.
It was a good month; but, I realized summer was around the corner and needed to get everything sorted.
Thursday, October 8, 2009
Check it out, ya big doy-oy!
Sunday, September 27, 2009
Now that I am getting settled in Copenhagen, I think back to some of the stuff I've done over the past year. It's been intense: 16 countries in 13 months. But, when I look through all the photos from April, I remember what a particularly hectic month it was-- among the busiest of the year for me. I had most of the month off of school and spent a lot of time traveling.
I had planned a trip to
Then, I left for
The next day, we helped set up for a party that some of Noah's friends were having. It was one of the last parties at the club-- the owner lived upstairs and let us party on the roof into the next day.
Otherwise, Noah and I just kicked it around Switzerland for a while and hung out by the lake. We went back and forth between Zurich and Bern a couple times, and up to Basel for a night. I saw Renzo Piano's Paul Klee Museum, Corbusier's Heidi Weber museum, the Freitag building and went for a hike in the Alps.
Being in the Alps was pretty nuts-- we hiked around for a bit, wandered through some farms and ate some massive meals.
Julia flew in from London and surprised me in Zurich. She showed me some of her favorite places in town; took me to a flea market, made pizza for us and drank Bloody Marys with Noah and me as we watched the trains roll by.
While there, I ate a lot of great Swiss food-- and even went to Noah's mom's house for fondue. On my last night in Switzerland, we went to Basel to watch Mimi blow fire at some motorcross show, and snuck a bunch of champagne from the VIP room to go kick it with friends.
The next day, I flew to London. I stayed a night with Julia and Tim, before a busy day in the city: I had my first blood pudding, drank a pitcher of Pimm's with the Heat and saw Amadou & Mariam perform at the Jazz Cafe. The next day, I flew to Inverness, Scotland. By planes, trains and buses, I made it through Portree and onto Duntulm. This was a really cool trip, and just not a place I would ever think to go on my own. I did some fishing off the Isle of Skye and saw a really cool sunset before heading back to Sheffield. I spent the week seeing friends, before heading back down to London. I got to hang out with Julia & Tim, and also went to St. John restaurant for Brooke's birthday-- then, I spent the next couple days with Tom.
Sunday, September 6, 2009
Anyways, March was a pretty good time. The weather started to turn so I spent a lot of time outside, walking around Sheffield. They opened a new bank in Sheffield and had the Premiership trophy on display.
I made a trip up to Manchester, got to experience some more Smiths' nostalgia and spend time with Phil and his girlfirend, Xavia.
The highlight of March was definitely a quick trip I made to Liverpool-- I got to tour Anfield, which was amazing. Football stadiums, even for the biggest teams in England, are pretty bare bones; however, we had access to pretty much any part of the stadium.
Craig and I finally got around to checking out the Sheffield Steelers-- pretty B-rate hockey, but still a good night out.
For (English) Mother's Day, Tom and I went down to Nottingham for some fine dining. In fact, it's the only Hooters in all of England-- the wings are equally as bad.
I went up to Manchester with a bunch of guys because Gray was putting on an all-day show. This was a pretty rad trip-- tons of bands, lots of partying, got to hang out with the Manchester kids and Si's band played their last show. Tom and Gus were partying pretty hard. It seemed only fitting that, on this trip, I would have the best Spoony's Ultimate Chicken Burger ever made.
We got back to Sheffield just in time to spend Sunday relaxing.
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
On my way to Bangkok, I arranged a 7 hour layover in Istanbul; figuring this should give me just enough time to run into the city, grab dinner and come back for my late-night flight. I grabbed my visa and took the metro into town. I had read up a bit on Istanbul and had a couple spots that I wanted to check out. On my way to catch the ferry across the Bosphorus, I buzzed through a Turkish Bazaar and grabbed some street food for the ride. On my trip, I met a couple Turkish guys who didn't speak any English. We communicated by them texting Turkish to a friend, who would then reply with the English translation. I would then text English to the friend, and so on...
Anyhow, these guys were stoked on my White Sox hat and were REALLY into Kanye West. They not only took me to some sick traditional Turkish food, but ate with me, bought me mussels on the street and shared some beers.
I caught the ferry back to the other side of town just in time to see the sunset. I saw a few more sites as I figured out a way back to the airport. My flight was delayed, so I had plenty of time to hang around Ataturk Airport.
I arrived in Thailand and spent a day finding a guesthouse, figuring out where everything was and just, in general, realizing that I was on the other side of the world. The next morning, I pushed myself to get out to the Floating Market-- it took a few different public transport buses and then a pretty long coach journey to get out there, but I'm glad I did it. (Sometimes it's hard being an American abroad.)
I checked out a couple places around town and found a rooftop bar that had a pretty cool view of the city. On my last day in town, I checked out the National Palace, Wat Pho and Wat Arun-- all were pretty cool to see. I went for a walk, sent some postcards and met this little guy while checking out where the train station was located.
Then, the next morning, I headed into Cambodia.
Here is a collage of photos I took in Phnom Penh, Cambodia last month.
Monday, May 18, 2009
- On the 18th, I took the train up to Manchester and met up with Phil. He's from just outside of Manchester and gave me a tour of some key spots. Like Morrissey, he grew up in the suburb of Hulme and went to the same school as Ian Curtis-- right across the street from Curtis's grave. That night, Phil took me to the Manchester United-Fulham match. Glad I got to see Ronaldo and Man U play during a season where they've now gone on to win the league. Old Trafford was pretty amazing and the fans really give it a confident, Yankee-esque atmosphere. I'm not a huge Man U fan, but they're an undeniable dynasty.
- That weekend, Tom and I hit five Wetherspoon's on our way to a Sheffield Wednesday match. The next morning, we caught up with Jamie pretty early-- he and some friends from Manchester had been out all night and were still boozing.
- I finally got to check out the inside of Sheffield's most historic building; the Lord Mayor of Sheffield hosted a dinner and reception at the Town Hall that was pretty cool.
- And, finally, on the last day of the month, Tom and I got to catch a Sheffield FC match-- known as the oldest football club in the world. They're a non-league team that play just outside of town and celebrated their 150th anniversary two years ago. On the way back into town, we stopped by the elusive Wetherspoon's in Woodseats, before meeting up with Beth and some of her friends to hit some local pubs.
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
First, I should mention that I have loads of photos from the past month that I'd like to post soon, but I thought I'd put up something a little different while it's still fresh in my mind.
Over the past 3 days, I’ve been able to see some (a lot) of really odd blasts from the past. It all started when I was down in London after Brooke flew back to the US on Sunday. I met up with the Heat for some boozing and then caught up with Gray and Tom. NOFX was in town playing the last date of their tour. I realized that I got my first cassette tape- a dubbed copy of their Punk in Drublic- about 16 years ago. Soon after, they were on the front of my first band t-shirt. I’d seen them years ago, but decided to go see them again with Gray, Tom and Beth.
I got back to Sheffield on Monday, after what was essentially three and a half weeks of traveling. I took a day to unpack and chill out, but then headed to Manchester last night to see Jesse Michaels’ new band: Classics of Love. My first vinyl ever was Operation Ivy’s Energy, and seeing him close the set with “The Crowd” was among the most special things I’ve ever seen at a show.
Thursday, April 16, 2009
Sunday, April 12, 2009
Monday, April 6, 2009
Brooke's work sent her to Ghana, and conveniently, her layover in England happened right as my week-long break began. Her ancestors are from Sheffield, so in addition to the usual pubs, I also got to show her a bit of her family's history. We went up to York, which in addition to the Abbey, has a couple of really nice Wetherspoon's. Really though, besides a couple weird signs, the Abbey is one of the coolest things I've seen in Europe-- it's massive and overwhelms you in the small city streets of York.
We took a trip out to Tadcaster and checked out the Samuel Smith's brewery-- not much to see besides company offices, but I did find a bike frame that I later went back to buy. Since we were already north, I went with Brooke to visit some family friends in a tiny town called Haltwhistle-- it's pretty much the epitome of what Americans think to be the iconic English town (17th century house, horses and pretty views). We stopped back in Sheffield before heading to London for her flight to the States.
I decided to hang out in London for a bit since I still had a few days before lectures began. As hard as I try, I just can't fall in love that city-- it's just hard to understand. In the day I spent wandering, I got stopped by the police and hit by a car on Brick Lane. Thankfully, American Julia saved me after a roughhh night at Fabric with Swiss Julia and her friends.
After some good food, a couple of bike stores and the British Museum, I was happy to get back to Sheffield for classes... and a beer tasting at the DevCat.
Monday, February 2, 2009
Anyways, my work all culminated when I handed in 140 pages of assignments this morning-- leaving me free of responsibility until lectures begin on the 11th. I was hoping to head up to Scotland and down to London, but we just got a huge snowstorm. Cross-country train service has slowed down and the London Underground quit running for several hours this morning.
Wetherspoon's * Fat Cat * Wokmania * No. 1 Oriental Buffet
Saturday, January 24, 2009
the punks at the squats,
The Guardian: Instant Weekend, etc.
In general, it was pretty easy to assimilate in a city where I spoke about 5 words of the native language. Over the first couple days, I kept hearing, ‘Everyone in Berlin speaks English,’ but kept running into people who obviously did not. However, I made it over some pretty tall hurdles: got a phone card, phone charger and power cord for my computer. My apartment was in between the Mitte and Prenzlauer Berg—it’d be tough to find a better location. Once I realized I was in a fairly young area, I realized a lot of the locals actually do speak English. I rented a 1 bedroom spot, hoping visitors would pitch in on rent. It worked out fairly well. Besides Prenzlauer Burg, the other cool parts of the city I often found myself wandering were Friedrichshain & Kreuzberg. All of this is East Berlin, but I did spend a couple days checking out West Berlin too.
The apartment itself was pretty cool: the bed was a futon and the shower was shit, but it had a nice kitchen and the central location made a pretty good spot for late night hang outs. And, after 3 weeks and a total of 15 different people staying there, I got my full deposit back—breaking only a potted plant. Oh, it also had a washing machine, which quickly made it clear that even with just a messenger bag, I had overpacked. Photo 2 3
Wikipedia: Mitte; Prenzlauer Berg; Friedrichshain; Kreuzberg
I am a sucker for good public transportation; Berlin’s was rad—dependable and always on time. The U-Bahn is primarily an underground subway system, that complements the above-ground, regional S-Bahn system. I rode both quite a bit.
I only took a taxi twice in Berlin, and didn’t really pay attention. Sorry.
Photo 2 3 4
Every time someone new showed up in town, they wanted to go see the sites—I finally got tired of going to them and just started handing people a map, marking where to go. Obviously, Berlin has a ton of history; sadly, I know little of it. Often times, I was taking pictures of buildings, only to look up what they were later. Click the name of the site to go to the website or Wikipedia entry. Here are just a few that I thought were cool:
Guggenheim Berlin--Anish Kapoor had an exhibit in Berlin. This is the same guy who did the Bean in Chicago. I liked this show far better than the Bean; very remarkable. Photo
Brandenburg Tor--the main plaza in the city. This is where I spent New Year’s. Photo
Holocaust Memorial--I was actually surprised with how cool this was; an entire city block, turned into a giant maze of pillars and icy pathways. Photo
Neue Synagogue--this was right by my house. There were always polizei outside, guarding it. Ironically, this is on the street where all the prostitutes hang out. Photo
Pottsdamer Platz--this plaza used to be the center of the city, but was bombed really hard during the war. Recently, the city put a lot of money into rebuilding it as the urban center of the city. Renzo Piano was one of the lead architects on the project and has a few buildings there. All types of things go on here: winter activities, markets, an exhibit on the wall, etc. Photo 2 3 4 5 6 Video
Olympic Stadium--I met an English guy who said to check it out, because it epitomizes Nazi architecture. Yeah, he was right. Photo 2 3 4
Berlin Wall Memorial--this was really uneventful. Or, maybe I just went to the wrong part. Snooze cruise. Photo
Le Corbusier’s Corbusierhaus/Unidad Habitacional— this may have been one of my favorite sites in Berlin. Corbu designed this housing structure to alleviate postwar housing problems. He described the apartments like ‘bottles into a wine rack.’ Photo 2
Friedrichshain market—this is a weekly market: fruits and vegetables on Saturday, flea market on Sunday. Photo
Berlin was rad, but it wouldn’t have been as good if so many people didn’t come through. Or, if I hadn’t met so many people.
Monica--I’ve known Monica for about six years, but haven’t seen her in over three. She used to live in Austin, but moved to Colorado—she and her boyfriend lived a mile from my parents’ house, saving me during the holidays. Photo
Andrej and Caroline--Polish couple that I met on New Year’s Eve. Andrej is a bike messenger, traveling from Warsaw and had nowhere to stay—I had no problem trading my house for a couple of beers. Photo 2 3
Julia and Tim--Julia and Tim live in London, but I used to live with Julia in Chicago. I always have a ton of fun with Julia, so it was great to have them visit. Photo 2 3 4
Olaf--I met Olaf in 1997 when he was an exchange student in Texas. We used to skateboard and go to punk rock shows together. The last time I saw him was during his visit to Texas in 2001. While in Berlin, he brought me out with his friends and took me over to his cousin’s place to hang out. Photo 2 3
Craig—this is one of my best friends in England; he’s always up for a good time, but doesn’t mind going out to wander the city on his own. Photo 2 3
3 UK girls and 1 Swedish guy—their names were Lauren, LeeAnn, Louise and Sebastian. I’m not really sure which was which, but they crashed at the house one night. I think they’re studying abroad in Spain right now. Photo 2 3 4
Olga and Nathan—my friend Nick in Austin knew Olga from weed farming in California. One night, Craig, Noah and I went out with her and her boyfriend, Nathan. Photo 2
Noah—Noah was a Swiss exchange student to Austin in 2001. I forgot about a lot of the crazy shit we did together back then, but we picked up where we left off. Noah’s one of those people that no matter what you’re doing, it’s a lot more fun because he’s around. Photo 2 3 4 5 6
Amanda—Klein High School reunion. Amanda went to high school with me and is staying in Germany for a few months. Last time I saw her was when I walked into a San Francisco bar in 2004 and she happened to be bartending. Photo 2
Julia—one of the most fun people I’ve met in a long time. Imagine hanging out with a 21 year old Deborah Harry, only cooler. She’s an old friend of Noah’s—her hostel sucked, so she found a mattress and camped on the floor. Photo 2 3 4
After spending the last 4 months in England, I welcomed a new variety of food. I tend to eat a lot of vegetarian stuff when I travel—don’t judge.
Sausages & Currywursts--they're everywhere, either little huts on the side of the street or currywurst street vendors. Photo 2 3 4
Applestreudel--in general, the bakeries in Berlin are wicked; even though I had no idea what I was ordering, everything always turned out awesome. Photo
Weisswurst—so, Monica and I were waiting for Olaf to get into town and decided to wait at the traditional German restaurant in the train station and ordered whatever looked "German." Olaf walked up and started laughing, saying that even he had never had what we were eating. Veal sausage, traditionally eaten for breakfast in Bavaria. Whatever—it was really good. Photo
Kauf dich glücklich--this place was amazing; it’s a waffle & ice cream shop. The Guardian recommended their waffles and mulled-wine; both were great. I went here a couple times. Photo 2 3
Sushi--I only made it to one sushi place in Berlin; equally as bad as in the UK. Photo
Tiki Heart-- I think I found this place when looking up vegetarian spots in Berlin; but, they sell a variety of things. I had a burger and went back for a four-course vegetarian meal. Oh, and an awful Bloody Mary. Photo 2 3
Café Morgonroth--probably my favorite restaurant in Berlin. It was only a few blocks from my house, served a huge, amazing veggie/vegan buffet until 3pm in the afternoon and let you decide what you wanted to pay (4-8 euros). I don’t know how many times I went here, but each time, it was awesome. Photo
Que pasa?--How do you say no to Mexican food in Germany? Pros: The pina coladas flow like water. Cons: Have you ever had California Dip? Here’s a hint: it’s sour cream. Photo
St. Oberholz Café- the food at this place was great, but they always made me feel like an asshole for not speaking German. Photo 2
Traube--by far, the nicest meal I went for in Berlin (or in the past 4 months). I made nice with the owner, who kept us around for free shots of grappa. Photo 2
Oderquelle--I met the chef of this restaurant while out on a Saturday night, and he invited us to come out for dinner the next night. Kind of a weird dude, but he was really into Black Flag. Photo
Haxe--this is a pretty traditional German dish; roasted pork knuckle, sauerkraut and potatos. This place made its own beer too. Photo
Rogaki--Alright, I heard about this place from Anthony Bordain. He said, ‘If there is a heaven, it’s catered by Rogaki.’ I’m not sure if I’d go that far, but it was a pretty epic food market. I ate the same thing Bordain ate: Blut und Leberwurst, “blood and liver sausage.” I also bought some cheese here; wicked place. Photo 2 3 4 5 6 7
Monsieur Vuong—Monica recommended this place, because it was close by and delicious. I don’t know why I keep doing it: I hate most Asian beers, but still order them at restaurants. At least the food was good. Photo 2 3
Yellow Sunshine—this place calls itself veggie fast-food. Pretty good. Photo
Yoyo Foodworld—also, veggie fast-food… but, better. Photo
Chinese buffet/Hotel—no, that’s NOT your brain playing tricks on you. And, no, that’s not some German colloquialism where they call a bar a hotel (as they do in England). This is ACTUALLY a Chinese buffet that is also a hotel. Dear God, it’s me, Ben. Thank you. Photo 2
Swiss Cheese—When Noah showed up, he brought some cheese, directly from Switzerland. What an ace. Photo
Pizza--Oh, and one night, at 5am, Noah wandered home with a bunch of beer and a huge pizza. Photo
Homemade meals—Before leaving town, Monica made a big breakfast. Then, my last night in town, Noah and Julia grocery shopped and made a huge meal for everyone. It was nice to relax and kicked off a pretty wild night. Photo 2 3
The punk scene in Berlin is probably the best in the world. ‘nuff said. There’s a monthly publication called StressFaktor that lists all the different events going on around the city. It’s in German, but some bits were in English. So, a while back, the government made squats illegal—punks can no longer take over abandoned buildings and make them into their own homes. But, the government did allow them to buy the often-beat-up buildings for a decent price, so a lot of collectives were formed.
Subversiv--luckily, I found this place on my first night in town. It is a squat in my neighborhood and one of the biggest in Berlin. I saw 2 shows here; however, they do all types of shit here: printing press, screen printing machines, rally meeting space, bar, movie screenings, venue and housing space. Photo 2 3
Kopi--this is an infamous squat that I was really stoked to see. When you walk into it, you feel like you’re seeing something that won’t exist 10 years from now. I heard Berlin described as New York in the 80’s—this place epitomizes that statement. Photo 2 3
Treptow Squat—I stumbled on this place through StressFaktor. It’s an offset squat, made up of bricolage buildings and train cars. One night, they had a Christmas tree burning, inviting people from the surrounding neighborhood—a lot of people, their kids and their dogs; hanging out, drinking mulled wine. Photo 2 3 4
Beer, Bars & Clubs
If you like to drink beer, I don’t know a better place than Berlin. 500ml bottled os 5.2% beer for 80cents. Oh, and you can buy beer whenever and drink it wherever.
Sternburg Export-- I tried a lot of different German beers, but probably drank Sternburg Export the most. It’s the PBR of Berlin—they serve it all the squats because it’s really cheap.
Berliner Weiss--this is one of those things that people say ‘Oh, you must have this when in Berlin,’ but then you realize that no one in Berlin actually drinks this. It’s beer with syrup in it. Photo
Towers of Beer—apparently, these are pretty common. I worked on a couple of them. Photo 2 Video
Recycling—you get 8cents back on every bottle. Cha-ching! Photo
Bars in Berlin are open until the customers leave; it’s not uncommon for them to stay open until 9am in the morning. I went into quite a few, but here were a couple that were worth mentioning:
Lokal--I found this place on my first night in town; mainly because it was 1 block away from my house. Ten of the guys from Subversiv organized a collective to start this bar. I got in pretty good with a couple of the bartenders, who always had suggestions of stuff to see. Also, they had a pretty great foosball table here. Photo 2 3 4
Bar 23--Olaf’s friends were really into this place. We went to this place twice in the same night—leaving for a snowball fight. Photo 2
Druide—there were a couple absinthe spots around the house; I went to two, but concluded that shit is bogus. Photo Video
Radisson—kinda lame to go to a hotel bar while on vacation… unless it has a 7 story aquarium in the middle of it. Photo
White Trash Fast Food--I have to admit, I only went to this place because their advertisements had Iggy Pop and Deborah Harry on it. I stopped in for a drink, and then came back a week later for a DJ set. I think Craig put up a high score on their pinball machine, which kept giving us free plays. Photo 2
Badeschiff—I don’t even know how to describe this place. It was recommended by a lot of people, but I had no idea what to expect. In the summer it’s a swimming pool (with a bar) that floats in the middle of the river. In the winter, it’s three covered river barges: one with a bar; one with a sauna, showers and footbaths; the last with a swimming pool where you can swim under a curtain and into the (freezing) open air with a view of the city. Places like this are not supposed to exist. Photo
Watergate—you know when you go into a place that you would normally never go, and it turns out to be really fucking cool? Well, this is one of those places. You can’t take pictures here.
New Year’s Eve
Subversiv--a lot of the punks were going for an annual demonstration at Moabit prison, and met here for dinner before the march. Big vegan plates for 2 euros.
Bradenburg Tor-- A million people, loads of fireworks, drinking champagne in the streets. Do the math. The city was destroyed. Photo 2
I normally wouldn’t go too much in to this, but the graffiti in Berlin is pretty overwhelming. There are a few writer shops around town and the city is absolutely crushed. I was surprised at home many North American writers I saw around the city. Photo 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9