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September 8, 2006

arrival in berlin

after an amazing week in london, i'm now in berlin taking in the sights (its a sign that i still use the internet too much when i always want to spell that word as 'sites'), as well as working on my blog, for a few days before heading along to croatia and then turkey.

not much to report yet (other than that the beer is amazing, of course), but just wanted to keep the people updated who are tracking my progress around the world!

props to the budget airlines

the two things that have fundamentally changed about europe since 8 years ago (the last time i spent any significant amount of time here):

1. the inter-EU integration: the launch of the euro, the simplified customs and immigration between EU countries, the number of EU residents spending time visiting or living in other EU countries.

2. the rise of the budget airlines.

the budget airlines have really made an impact on how people (even backpackers) move through europe. instead of long, leisurely train rides that take days to complete and involve getting to know the complete strangers who also were assigned to your compartment, you now arrive at your destination within a few hours without having to do so much as talk with the anonymous seatmates on your flight.

due to the fact that taking a budget flight is usually much cheaper than taking a train to your destination, this pretty much ensures that today's budget traveller will be flying instead of taking a train. since i got a great dose of train riding taking the trans-mongolian train from beijing to budapest, i can't complain of a lack of train riding on this trip, but it definitely is a change.

in the process of all this flight booking, i've discovered two search engines that are excellent at finding cheap european airfares (not an easy task, since the usual US-based travel sites are not very good at finding these airfares), and wanted to share them with you: skyscanner and openjet. (and if you're looking for online european rail ticket info, rail europe is handy, although they often you can get the ticket for less money if you buy it directly at the train station) these sites have been really handy to me when trying to find flights, hopefully you'll find them useful as well the next time you visit europe.

September 9, 2006

global trendwatch: september 2006

while on my trip around the world, it's been impossible not to notice certain trends that are local (for example, the russian love of camoflague clothing), and some that are transcend local boundaries. what i'm listing below are the pan-european trends i've noticed on this trip.

starbucks and mccafe

starbucks is... everywhere. pretty much the exact same experience as at any starbucks at home, at the same (or higher) prices. directly on their heels appears to be McCafe, which is suprisingly popular, although i have yet to see many of these in the US yet.

and with the rise of starbucks comes the rise of....

t-mobile hotspots

incredible global footprint, incredible opportunity. and they waste it with sky-high prices and no free ad-supported option. which, of course, is just begging to have google come along and verrrrry slowly eat their lunch.

capri pants

i was surprised to see several guys wearing these, but since i've now run across these several times, i have to assume it's part of some larger trend in guy's clothing that i've been oblivious to (as usual). it seems that as shorts have gotten longer and longer, they've now started crossing the line into capri pants. go figure.

short socks

for some rason, short/ankle casual socks are very popular with guys lately. maybe it's just a europe thing, or maybe it's like this in the USA now as well. all i know is that shorter socks means less bulk in my backpack, so i'm all for it.

miniature stuffed animals on keychains

girl backpackers are rocking these more than ever. i guess it's a stuffed-animal replacement thing. i've been seeing these everywhere on the backpacker circuit, and don't recall seeing nearly as many of them when i last went backpacking several years ago.

most annoying trend award: blasting music on your cellphone

steve jobs was a smart man when he approved the iPod design because he didn't include any speakers in it. unforunately, once cellphones started playing mp3s, that was all over. So now any jerk with a nokia cellphone can start blasting out his favorite (usually bad) music on his phone wherever he is. it's like a tinny boombox with no bass, which is probably the worst possibly way to share your music with other people. bring back the ghetto blasters of the 80's!

September 10, 2006

late nights and late mornings

since i arrived in berlin i've been staying at a friend's flat in Neukölln, a neighborhood which has a large number of Turkish immigrats, which is a perfect fit considering that Turkey is my next destination after Berlin. we've been out late at night for the last few evenings hitting the bars on Prenzlauer Berg, which has a lot of hipster bars and clubs. and since there are no closing hours for bars, it's far too easy to stay out until dawn, and then sleep for most of the next day. (however, despite the fact that bars can stay open as late as they want, there are laws in force to ensure that almost all stores are closed on sundays!)

when not staying out late or trying to recover from the last evening, i've made some progress through the usual tourist sights of Berlin, visiting the Brandenburg Gate, and through a comedy of errors (changes to opening hours and relocations of museums) i managed to not actually make it inside any of the museums that i'd planned to see. (but i did see my first english-language movie in several months -- Snakes on a Plane, which wasn't that great a movie, but how could i resist once a friend told me about all the internet hype that had preceded it? and now that damn Snakes on a Plane song is stuck in my head.)

this actually is my last day in berlin -- as per my itinerary, i'm taking a late-night flight out at 2:30am (in the first few hours of september 11, which feels a little strange) from berlin to antalya, turkey. i arrive at 6:30am and then get spirited away from the airport by the pickup folks from my pension deep in the heart of Kaleici (Antalya's Old Quarter).

About Germany

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to gone living in the Germany category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

France is the previous category.

Great Britain is the next category.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.