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Before visiting Berlin and Krakow, I spoke perhaps one or two words of German my vocabulary was limited to "juden" and "eisterzende nebauten" and absolutely zero Polish. (Or Polack? I am not sure what the language is called, honestly. It's so CRAZY looking.) Now that I'm back, though, I've significantly improved my skills in the areas of pointing to cake and handing cashiers all of my money while shrugging. I also learned the German word for mixed is "germischten," the German word for potatoes is "kartoufflen," and the German word for five is "funf" (pronouced "fuenf"). For a country that has garnered a reputation as being cold and steely, their language certainly does have a lot of adorable words. (Conversely, the German word for baby is Panzernachtschtuckenfriek, as in, "Where might one dispose of this Panzernachtschtuckenfriek??")

Personal highlights of my trip:

  • landing in Krakow at the height of tourist season without a place to stay, and managing to smoothly find boarding for three nights despite the insistence of several people that Krakow was completely booked up
  • watching a shirtless Polish (Polack?) guy twirl fire outside a bar one night, then seeing him hanging out in the lobby of my hostel the next
  • German pastry
  • Turkish doner
  • Confirmation that Hitler is still dead
  • Watching a very Aryan twelve year-old kid at the Jewish Museum in Berlin, taking part in an interactive poll kiosk. The question in the poll was, "Would you be comfortable with mixed ethnicities in your family?" His answer, preciously, was "Nein." (I have alerted the Jew-run media.)
  • Visiting Berlin's open-air market and shopping for dental fillings (zing!)
  • Dancing in a dingy Krakow club, and having someone lean over to me and ask, "Do you liking the Raging Against the Machine?" (My answer: nyeh.)
  • That kind of insanely cheap drinking you get outside of New York, where you suddenly have this weird false sensation that you're rich and you kind of want to buy every creep in the bar a drink. ($5 for three pints? And no tipping? Sir, please buy that skinhead at the end of the bar a drink!)
  • Spending 24 sleepless, drunk hours in London, where our host demanded I slam back glasses of Pinot Grigio. He would taunt me by shouting, "Send it off, Todd. Send it off!!"
  • NDW!
  • Taking a shit at Auschwitz

And lowlights:

  • After finally getting over my fear of anti-Semitism, being stopped on the street by a drunk German and asked, "Are you from Jerusalem?" (he later touched my face very gently a little too gently, in fact.)
  • Rostbratwurst (it hurt my belly so much)
  • Polish cuisine (ibid.)
  • Sharing a hostel bathroom with two of Maxim Magazine's typical "Gold Circle Subscribers"
  • Taking a shit at a bus stop (Rostbratwurst!!)

I'm happy to be back and, typically, the things am sure I'll miss most are food-related. German breakfasts, inexpensive, well-made coffee, Turkish fast food, things with custard inside them, etc. But I already miss open spaces, too. And not sleeping alone. And the guy I saw who was riding a Rascal scooter because his legs were missing below the knees and, sitting in the Rascal, where his feet should have been, was a sleeping dog. So lucky! To have a dog for feet.

WE FIRST MET ON 05.26.2005

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