Past the Azores, racing towards the British Isles

About two weeks had gone by since my dad left the safe haven of St. John’s Island. I had been checking his progress every couple days, and this particular morning I hadn’t looked yet, nor did I know that you could click on one of the blue dots on his path (on the previously shared website) and get more stats. I was sipping some scalding mint tea (Seriously I never learn my lesson), when I get an email in my intel inbox from a family friend. I swallow a bit too quickly, slightly burning my throat in the process. *Ouch*. He sent it to a couple people, including me, but it’s a bit odd because this is a bunch of my dad’s friends.

[translated from Hungarian]
Csaba: “Well he’s paddling around in the Hayes Fracture-Zone, why are you surprised,” is the first line of text I see. (?!?) What are they talking about!? I read further…

Gyuri: “I don’t know if you guys have been following Jozsef’s path, but it has varied between 1 and 74 ft in height. That’s quite rough!”
Hmm?? How do they know that

I figure it out quickly enough, and hurriedly click through all the blue dots trying to find what they are talking about. Whew, looks like an anomaly. At that point he was back to around 35ft avg.

The guy who owns the boat, “Hanse Sailor” as he is called continues to write his blog, and it must have been around this time where he mentioned that there wasn’t much wind. I guess they survived the variable elevation, but I did for a moment imagine this:

shipInWaves
Octopus Tearing ship apart

But in his blog, Hanse writes: “Jo is on dinner roster tonight and look,s as though he is trying to beat everyone else’s past dinners . starting 4 hours before dinner time.” That is my dad alright!

So it’s more like this:

Let tha boi cook

And now, this crazy sailor is past the Azores and only a couple hundred miles from the the British Isles. Go Dad!
Dad in the Atlantic

My dad is sailing across the Atlantic

Say What?

Yeah. He’s talked about sailing around the world, so this trip from the Caribbean to the UK is, let’s just say: his training trip. So I’m a tiny bit worried… this sort of trip was not something done by the faint hearted… thinking back to 400+ years ago when Columbus and others sailed from Europe to “India”. Many people died and fell into the ocean (Yikes). But I think he will be alright, technology has improved so much that he will even have a GPS tracker on him. (And we thought the Marauder’s Map was fiction!) Here’s the link. He’ll be sailing starting in early April and will be getting to Europe by Mid May. Sick!

https://share.delorme.com/JozsefToth

 

Ich bin ein Berliner

That is apparently what JFK said back in the day to sympathize with the people of Berlin. This city is German in so much that the buses and trains run on time. Exactly on time. But everything else seems to be a mix of all of Europe all in one city. It is a mixture of everything, everyone, everywhere. From walking around, it didn’t seem to be anything like other metropolitan cities such as London or New York for example. The biggest difference I saw was that it was completely integrated as opposed to segregated. Perhaps this is due to the peoples’ wish to be the opposite of what was during the draw of the iron curtain and the Berlin wall. Since then, although still very conscious of the fact, the city has transformed itself to a vibrant, busy, and youthful city. To one who comes from a city of 200k, this city of ~2 million was overwhelming, and something I only started to get used to when it was time to leave. While here for three days, I:
– Learned no German, because everyone speaks English; I even got tired of asking “Sprechen sie English;” it was purely out of formality.
– Tried the Curry Bratwurst Sausage before I even realized it was a “thing,” but it did hit the spot. It was my first meal in Berlin, that with fries. Healthy as f*ck.
– Satiated my need to climb going to a bouldering club, meeting a couple of people in the outside bouldering arena. Their rating system is in colors, which was the first one I saw of its kind like that. What if someone is colorblind?
– Stayed at a hostel where the first two nights, my roommates where 5 girls from Buenos Aires. I definitely got my dose of super short shorts, thongs hanging to dry in the windowsill, and really fast Spanish! They were super nice though, definitely the “peach personality” (Google peach vs coconut cultures). The second day, they even invited me to go with them on some tours.
– Sauntered around on the largest abandoned airport-turned-park watching kiteboarders and windsurfers on wheels, walkers, bikers, rollerbladers, bbq-ers, yogis, slackliners, troublemakers, lovers and their mothers as the sun dipped lower in the sky, illumiating long blades of grass.
– Tried a Koren BBQ food truck type thing for dinner while chatting to a Businessman and a Danish man. Food was delicious!
– Spent all Thursday night at a club, first hanging out with some locals and a painter from Chile, then dancing with two Dutch guys in a dark, smoke-filled room thudding with hard Techno music, till the sun came up. Then caught the 4:35 am U-bahn back to the hostel– which was speckled with passengers going to work in the morning.
– Discovered that the spy museum on the map was a lost quest; perhaps it was spying on us, but the museum was nowhere to be found. The guide at the Dali exhibit exhaled impatiently when we asked where it was, saying that it did not exist even though it was marked on the tourist map.
– Biked around Berlin with a wonderful tour guide who rolled us through the Holocaust memorial, locations where the wall was still up as a historical artifact, a couple of guard towers, the school of Law where history held a huge book burning, the Brandenburg Tor – the gate behind which the wall passed, Angela Merkel’s office, the largest train station in Berlin, the parliament building, and the American Embassy which was in fact vacated while East and West were divided as it was on no-mans-land. I’m probably forgetting some other landmarks…
– Walked along the East Side Gallery, finding some of the famous panels you can see in guidebooks.
– Made friends with an Indian whose wife also works at Intel. Small world!
– Went to a picnic by the canal with the Berliner couchsurfing community where I met more French people, pretended to be visiting “my sick grandmother,” to get into the hospital to pee, chatted with an Australian girl and a charming German programmer with whom I ended up walking back to the train at 11:30pm just catching the last train back to the Mitte.
– Slept in until Noon on Thursday
– Tried to find some free outdoor yoga meetup, but since I couldn’t find them, I ended up joining a random group of three guys doing Chi gong style Tai-chi in some park by what looked partially like a slum.
– Hung out with a thirty-some year old American “mad” physicist who kind of ended up to be a weirdo that wouldn’t stop talking and chain smoking/beer drinking. He had just finished up what must have been a really stressful and hard project in Hamburg.
– Took the S-Bahn, U-Bahn, Bus, Walked, Biked.. Only swimming/boating is missing from this list.
– Checked out “Checkpoint Charlie,” the outdoor historical landmark of the third checkpoint within the American sector. It looked pretty “real” with a guard building, “American” soldiers holding the USA flag, the famous sign saying “You are now leaving the American sector…” in English and Russian. I later found out that of course the setup was all fake, even down to the sign; only the frame around it was the original.

I suppose that’s a lot in three days 🙂 “tschuss”!

In First Class

My roommate warned me about Condor – that apparently they try to gain money by making their passengers pay to watch anything past two or three channels on TV, and that the meals were very basic, and anything past the default foods cost extra money. So I had brought extra food just to be prepared for this ten hour trip from Portland to Frankfurt. However, to my positive surprise, they decided to upgrade me to first class; maybe there weren’t any seats left in the economy class. Of course all the warnings from my roommate were no longer applicable.
I entered the airplane, and found my enormous seat, where the legroom was such that I couldn’t even reach the seat in front of me!

Not that I’m complaining! Just before sitting down, my “bench-mate” who looked to be a young guy, perhaps some entrepreneur arrived and sat into the seat next to the window. For a while, I fidgeted around trying to decide what to put in the overhead compartment, and what to keep around me, then sat down. Soon enough, the guy next to me and I started talking, and it turned out that he was also one of the last ones to drop his bag and check in – perhaps the reason for being upgraded, because just like me, he wasn’t excessively rich, infact he was just a student.
The rest of the flight passed with us laughing at the enormity of luxury that existed in the business class – the complexity of our chairs, the lights, large tv screen, armrests, thickness of the blanket, etc… Dinner started with an appetizer, then a main course, of which we had the choice of a catfish on a bed of rice and steamed spinach, beef with soft potatoes, or a vegetarian pasta dish. Then a cheese plate with wine, finally dessert of crème brulee and strawberries with crème. Finally let’s not forget the tea/coffee to finish with. In laughing and eating for a while, it became clear that we had a lot of things in common, starting with the fact that we were both of two cultures – he German/Greek and American , and me of Hungarian and American descent, both of us with dual citizenship. It took about two and a half hours for us to finish all the food, at which point we realized that we were pretty much halfway through the flight and that everyone else had long since scarfed their food and were sleeping nearly horizontally in their first class couches. After watching a movie under “romantic” reading lights, I fell asleep.
It was his gentle nudging that woke me up, I think in the middle of a violent dream that I don’t remember, but I was a bit embarrassed because I couldn’t really formulate real sentences for about a minute, ironically being winded by sleeping, or perhaps waking up. Of course, it was the steward in the aisle who pretty much directly asked me what I wanted for breakfast, but had to ask me twice as the first time all I heard was just some noise; maybe my ears were still asleep.
Of course, it took us once again twice as long to eat breakfast as the rest of the passengers, the jokes about how ridiculously excessive the service was in the first class continuing. Normally I don’t take photos of food, but this time I did, IMG_4671
aiming the reading lights in the direction of the neatly arranged pieces of food, quickly snapping the photos before the steward passed by again asking for the 10th time if we wanted another glass of wine or
champagne.
After landing, the guy and I exchanged phone numbers and email addresses – it sounded like maybe we’d reconnect after getting back to the USA, maybe to do a bike ride or other active thing. At least I’d ask him some suggestions for when I go to Berlin a bit later on. It was fun to experience the space of the rich with someone else, and spend about 1/3 of the flight slowly enjoying the food a luxe, bite by bite.
We passed the border guards pretty quick, both using our American passports. Afterwards, we parted, him finding his friend to pick him up, and me, to find the next flight to Toulouse. Not a bad start to my trip 🙂

Olympic Rowing 2012

Many nationalities, but namely a lot of czech, dutch, british (duh), kiwis, aussies. Little rain, mostly nice, crowd shepards all quite humorous and happy, some sitting on top of lifeguard stands around the venue. The food was meh, also had a band play through my nap of about 2 hrs, and had tennis on the big screen to watch after the races. Also they had an interactive tent where they had ergs and kayaking machines and people could stand in line and do a race of 150m for the rowing, and 20m for the kayaking. I didnt even know they had kayaking machines, but they’re pretty cool i suppose. I didnt get to try them out, didnt want to sit in line. The olympic rings were also very cool at the front end of the course, got a shot with all the referees and timers sitting on the olympic rings.
Photos