About Me

I ramble about a number of things - but travel experiences, movies and music feature prominently. See my label cloud for a better idea. All comnments and opinions on this blog are my own, and do not in any way reflect the opinions/position of my employer (past/current/future).

07 September 2007

Baby it's cold outside

So it is the beginning of September, so it should be the beginning of autumn, end of summer. For the last few days, the temperature in Erlangen has been 8 degrees C, around 8:30 am in the morning. In fact, if it was not for the fact that there is no wind, the weather would be the same as Cape Town winter. To be honest, I am not really looking forward to winter ...

As for the title of this post. It is the title of the first part of the Power of Nightmares documentary (BBC, Wikipedia, previous blog post, IMDB), which traces the influence of a famous hit song (academy award winner too) on the rise of both radical Islam and the Neo-Conservatives in the USA.

I blame Carl for influencing the naming of blog posts on song titles. :P

03 September 2007

Goodbye Berlin, Hello Erlangen

While Erlangen is certainly not a one horse town, it is certainly a lot smaller than Berlin. It is big enough to warrant a stop for the Intercity Express Trains, but not big enough to have more than one train station.

For the most part, I really enjoyed Berlin. It is a very lively city, with a lot of things to do. It is one of the best cities I have lived in. I took an Intercity express out of Berlin (one of the very regular Hamburg-Munich trains), and had a very nice trip. The seats are more comfortable and offer more legroom than economy class seats in aeroplanes: and considering the lack of security checks and waiting at the airports, the comparative journey times is only slightly longer.

The first major stop on the way was Leipzig, and I must admit, that the scenery was nothing to look at: like the trip to Hamburg, just rolling fields. Even the towns that we passed seemed to be rather boring. The train was trying to make up for lost time however (it arrived 20 minutes late from Hamburg) and for the most part travelled at 200Km/h. After Leipzig the train slowed down considerably, but the scenery was a lot better: more mountains, forests and rivers, and it was only when we neared Erlangen, that it picked up speed again. I am not sure why it slowed down: could be the track or incline. I was at the front end of the train (well it was actually the back end in Berlin, but the train changed directions at Erlangen) and the drivers compartment was all glass from the inside, so you could see the driver drive the train: very cool, and a very pleasant change from the aeroplane cockpits.

Before I left, Hans-Peter warned me that, except for cafes and restaurants, most things were closed on Sundays. In Berlin, there was no evidence of this, but in Erlangen, it seems many cafes and restaurants are closed too! And while I was expecting a lot higher prices (Berlin is reputed to be one of the cheapest cities in Germany and in fact Europe), my current experience has been the opposite. Time will tell.

The place I am staying has both its good and bad. The good: it is very close to the main town centre, and basically everything is walking distance. The bad: I am trying to work out whether my room in Kopano was bigger than the apartment I am staying in now ... I think Kopano is winning :P

Perfect Score

The perfect score for the bowling game in the Nokia 6020 (and other phones in the same series/year I suppose) is 300. Once you find the perfect way to roll the ball, it is really easy. The downside of this: I have one less thing to do when bored and with nothing other than a cell phone. I just wish real life ten-pin bowling was this easy.

Shit Happens

Just a bit more than 12 hours left in Berlin, and I lock myself out of the apartment. Thanks to Martin, I did get a locksmith, who opened it for a nice sum of 186 Euros. A very expensive mistake, and I certainly hope that I learn from it. Oh well, shit happens.

In a way, it also shows the difference in mentality. I found out that some people leave their spare keys in their postboxes. Would you consider doing something like that in South Africa? I think not. When I met up with Fabian last week, he mentioned the same thing: the constant thinking about crime just does not happen. While there are certain security measures, they are less visible and certainly a lot less intrusive. I am yet to find a house featuring high walls or electric fences; and even electric gates seem to be non existent. But I did see a Group4 Securicor van some weeks ago ... so they must have some business :P

Ka De We

My Lonely Planet guidebook describes Ka De We as the German equivalent of Harrods. At 7 storeys, it certainly matches the size of Harrods, but it does not really have the exclusivity. In reality, it is more like s super version of SA's Woolworths. The first level was more exclusive, featuring mini stores of the luxury brands like Armani and Cartier, but for the remainder, of the store, it was less so.

For me only two things stood out. On the electronics and lifestyle section (level 5) there was a large selection dedicated to model cars, trains and planes. Well, don't know much about the cars and the planes, but the trains section has convinced me that I really need to build myself my own one ... although I can also see that it will take a significant amount of money as well as time to assemble.

But the highlight is really the 6th level - the gourmet floor - reputedly having a spread over the size of two football fields. And quite a large portion being chocolate. It is simply an astounding selection of food and drinks, and mini restaurants that make the food in front of you.