A Mad Dash for Liechtenstein

Posted: Nov 12, 2003 11:30:19 AM

Has anyone else noticed how I have skirted around the periphery of Europe? First to the east, bussing around Turkey. Then to the south, through Sicily and Malta. Then to the west, down the length of Britain. Around the north, to the Scandinavian capitals Copenhagen, Stockholm, and Oslo. None of this was intended, but for some reason I have left the centre of the continent until now.

So where have I gone? First I meandered around the east a bit more, taking in Prague. The magnificent castle that is that city's centrepiece was home to far too many interesting sights, like the building from which some priests were thrown in the brilliantly-named Defenestration of Prague, and the house in which Kafka lived and wrote. I can understand now why his writing is so claustrophobic, given the size of the hovel. I didn't see the Golem of Prague, but I expect that he's around somewhere. Probably building a house or something.

From Prague it was a quick train trip to Vienna, which is sufficiently illustrated in the report preceding this one, although the extreme hospitality of Peter's family is not sufficiently expressed.

I had some Italy-only rail pass days left over, so I decided to drop into northern Italy to use them up. As circumstances would have it, I didn't get a chance to use them at all, and they'll be expired by the time I return there in December, but no matter. I made another serious mistake, though. Going to Venice, I did not book ahead.


Venice was full. Full of tourists, despite the time of year, and the only two hostels were full of orienteerers. It was raining. A lot. Usually this would be enough to make me dislike a city, perhaps even a whole country, but Venice was just too spectacular to pass up. If I have a chance, I will go back there before the trip is done, because as it stands I only saw the major highlights before catching an evening train to Milan, which - although it had style - lacked the incredible atmosphere of the ex-domain of the doges.

Milan was also decision time: I had three weeks before I have to be in Florence, and there was no way that I could see everything still on the list. What I needed was a theme. What I needed was a challenge...

And this is what I have decided to do. I have been going rather slowly so far, savouring each place and getting as much out of it as I can before moving on to the next one. For the next three weeks, I am going to try the opposite, dashing from place to place as fast and as furiously as I can, seeing as much as possible in as efficient a manner as possible. I will try to crunch time as much as possible.

Example number one: the day before yesterday I travelled from Milan to Zurich, then immediately caught a tiny train to the tiny country of Liechtenstein. Or rather, to a Swiss border town: I walked the 10km from there to the capital 'city' of Vaduz, and then back again. Yesterday I took in as much of Zurich as possible. Literally: I ate Swiss cheese, chocolate, and ice cream. While wandering the streets I ran into a band - I don't know the actual name, so I'll just call them an Oompah band. They had trumpets and trombones and tubas and a lot of drums, which they played with considerable gusto. Fuelled by beer and cigarettes as they were, the playing was loud and terrible, but their enthusiasm was contagious. Or so I presume, seeing as there were another dozen such bands throughout the inner city, all playing as loudly as they could, sometimes two or three to a Platz.

Example number two: yesterday evening I caught a night train to Köln (Cologne) in Germany, then immediately jumped on another train to Aachen, where I'm writing this report. I will see Charlemagne's tomb, return to Köln, see their famous Dom (cathedral), then catch an afternoon train to Amsterdam. From there, it's a quick exploration of Belgium and Luxembourg, then off (finally!) to Paris.

Some may think all of this too rushed, but it's quite fun to be on the move at a more rapid pace, and I'm really getting the full range of Western Europe. I have no idea where the next report will come from, and that's actually a most satisfying prospect.


Peter   Nov 12, 2003 12:27:25 PM

You're crazy, no doubt about that...
But as long as you're having fun, that's fine ;)

Btw, do you mean Köln and not Köhn (which is not a city I know of)?

Oh yeah, and I still did not fix the report editing feature... :( . I did fix the picture in the Vienna report though...

Shads   Nov 12, 2003 12:36:26 PM

In my head I said 'Köln', and wondered where the 'l' had come from, because surely the great Damon knew where he was, and I haven't looked at a map of Germany for four years. Heh.

fraZ   Nov 12, 2003 12:50:11 PM

fun, i made pan cakes yesterday , & the 13th today/ tomrrow, so If you get the chance im sure she would love a call. nite

Charlotte   Nov 12, 2003 4:23:22 PM

*Europe in a blur* Hey, will somebody stop the fast forward button, I can't see Europe properly!


Sahi   Nov 12, 2003 5:08:13 PM

Just in case you don't read the comments to the older report: You've got mail!

Damon   Nov 12, 2003 6:18:31 PM

Oh, hiya Shads! Yes, I messed up (I'm still working out exactly how to pronounce that damn place, so I guess it's no surprise that I have difficulty remembering how to spell it), and will correct that forthwith.

Fraz, I'm going to phone her up in an hour. I had not forgotten!

Peter   Nov 12, 2003 6:28:09 PM

Köln is pronounced just like it is written.
German is really simple, isn't it? ;)

Honestly, I wouldn't know how to describe that in english... and I'm not sure if you'd be able to listen stuff in net cafe's otherwise I'd put up a wave file...

Peter   Nov 12, 2003 6:28:43 PM

Btw, since you're around again, I assume you found decent net access?

Damon   Nov 12, 2003 6:35:00 PM

24 hours for four Euro in Amsterdam? Yep. But I'm not going to spend all that time online, just a bit.

Also: if Amsterdam got any seedier, they could have a very nice botanical garden.

el mariachi   Nov 12, 2003 6:36:20 PM

I suppose since you're having fun I shouldn't nag you about how you really dont HAVE to be in Florence in two weeks, especially if it means missing things that you want to see.

Damon   Nov 12, 2003 7:14:16 PM

'sokay, I will be, and I want to be. The mad dash is actually really fun, and I can always skip Nice and Monaco if I'm running out of time and go back there after Florence.

Nick   Nov 12, 2003 9:16:07 PM

How long is the visiting of Europe to last ?.
Were having our house warming on the 22nd of Nov so we'll save some cake, perhaps by laminating it.

Binky   Nov 12, 2003 9:19:51 PM

Me Dad, who lives in Düsseldorf, pronounces Köln something like Kern. Probably way off, but never mind. The Dom is pretty cool - I liked the gargoyles. The heroin addicts at the nearby station weren't so flash though.

If you can get to Düsseldorf, a wander around the Aldstadt is definitely worth an evening. I still remember the weird bar "Wild Dieb" with the booby-trapped pictures and stuffed birds, and the barman with a sense of humour; and the heartwarming "digestif" called Killepitsch.

Damon   Nov 13, 2003 5:33:50 PM

I get back home for Christmas.

Missed Düsseldorf, I'm sorry to say, but I believe that I can see enough heroin addicts in Amsterdam.

el mariachi   Nov 14, 2003 2:48:01 AM

Got my passport today in the mail. :D

Siobhan   Nov 14, 2003 2:58:56 AM

btw, I think I should start acclimating you to my real name, because if you call me 'bandit' I will laugh at you.

Charlotte   Nov 14, 2003 6:13:47 AM

Ooooooo, the name's out of the closet! *grin* And such a pretty name, she should wear it more often! :-)

Shads   Nov 14, 2003 8:02:46 AM

Kern...kerln...something like that. Keorln...um.
Never mind.

*sees a naked Bandit*

Siobhan   Nov 14, 2003 8:13:24 AM

I am *so* changing the topic of my report. I've been working on this for... four hours? five hours? Argh.

*squirm* And you all smell like doodie.

fraZ   Nov 14, 2003 10:23:15 AM

bhehe doodie, classic

Sahi   Nov 14, 2003 12:10:55 PM

Woot! I met the Damon! We had diner, saw the fantasy shop Chimera, and got kicked out of the American bookstore.

Oh, and Damon, they actually DO have a botanical garden. I'm not sure if it's nice though, cause like many other sights in Amsterdam: I've never been inside it. I've only seen it from the outside.

mother of pearl   Nov 14, 2003 1:44:41 PM

got kicked out?? Duh. Do tell that story. (or did you do, as the Japanese seem to call it, 'tachiyomu' -- browse through entire books without buying them?)

Siobhan. Wow. This feels so intimate, knowing you name.

*feels beaten* Ha. And sure, it was a name I can't even vaguely pronounce!

Peter   Nov 14, 2003 6:30:29 PM

Slowly the names around here start to confuse me. The lack of profiles makes things way more difficult...

And I suppose Sahi and Damon were kicked out because it was late and the bookstore was closing? ;)

lian   Nov 14, 2003 7:00:00 PM

Awww, Peter, don't you have in faith in our S'marchly friends to cause a riot? I'm sure I do ;)
mother of pearl is me, of course. Tsk, tsk.

Peter   Nov 14, 2003 8:48:34 PM

I am sure that Damon can create a bit of confusion and maybe get a few strange looks, but he's way too friendly to cause a riot, I'm afraid. And I seriously doubt that Sahi would cause one either.

Now hanging around a bookstore till it closes down is a thing to be believed of many a Smarcher...

And thanks for informing me about your name. I probably should have known. I definitly could have found out by looking at the IP Addresses... (yes, fear me, for I am the admin of this "board")

Sahi   Nov 14, 2003 8:56:29 PM

hrmph, yes you saw right through my ruse. I actually thought the bookstore would be open till 10PM and it closed at 9. :{

Siobhan   Nov 15, 2003 12:28:21 AM

It's pronounced with a J.

Also, I want to hear the tale of how Ellis and Sahi laid seige to some bookstore. C'mon, spice it up. Include some jousts or a pie eating contest or something.

Damon   Nov 15, 2003 10:33:19 PM

Okay, I am in Luxembourg now, but do not expect any emails or further reports from here, as the keyboards are the worst so far. The layout:


And we were kicked out for emptying the fiction section. Mmmm... books.

Peter   Nov 15, 2003 11:09:41 PM

Ouch, now that's a *seriously* weird keyboard layout. The y and z thing is bad enough, but that's the only letters they shuffled around on the german keyboard.

Anything but basic interpuctation was moved around a lot though... Never trust a game that says press [ to do this... It's probably going to be ö on your keyboard...

If you're lucky that is. If not, it's really [ which can only be entered using Alt-Gr + 8, which is not going to work in most games ;)

Peter   Nov 15, 2003 11:10:59 PM

Well, I hope the keyboards are the worst thing you encountered in Luxembourg? Where will you be going (running) next?

fraZ   Nov 16, 2003 12:48:12 AM

Sad, a national Depression has started damon.. the reason i have to word's for you " aussies won" . & thne to ass to that we lost

fraZ   Nov 16, 2003 12:51:22 AM

sorry cat jumped of key board

Charlotte   Nov 16, 2003 1:47:23 AM

"ass to that" What a delightfully appropriate typo! *laughs* I'm glad I'm not in NZ at the moment: the rugby hype bores me and there's always one part of me that laughs when the All Blacks lose a crucial game. Crash and burn.

Mal   Nov 16, 2003 3:05:53 AM

looks like wicked tribe has competition

Sahi   Nov 16, 2003 10:47:24 AM

I'll leave the spicy stories to Damon. ;)

Peter   Nov 16, 2003 12:42:11 PM

Yeah, he's good at making thin... err, telling stories ;)

Damon   Nov 16, 2003 1:27:27 PM

Yeah, I heard about the rugby. Oh dear, how sad, never mind. This time tomorrow I should be in Paris, by the way; a new report then hopefully.

Charlotte   Nov 16, 2003 2:03:25 PM

Today in one of my classes I had my students plan a travel itinerary for your visit to Japan. I haven't finished deciphering it yet, but so far we are going kimono shopping. *grin* I know just the colours to suit you too. According to the students octopus and natto are on the menu for lunch. What's natto, you ask. Ha! Well I'm not going to spoil the surprise for you. *wider grin*

Captain Roberto T. Fruitbat   Nov 16, 2003 2:35:57 PM

No, natto won´t do. Feed him uni and nothing else, hehe. And the fugu of course.

Tamsyn   Nov 16, 2003 5:53:39 PM

Oh DEAR. WHAT a shame about the rugby (sniggers uncontrollably).

I see England thrashed the French in Agincourt-style this morning though. It must cheer the Kiwis up to see the beloved motherland doing so well, right?

Jona Lomu   Nov 16, 2003 9:33:14 PM


Sam   Nov 17, 2003 6:48:34 AM

Hey! Damon, I'm coming to visit you! ish. Actually, I'm going to be down there with a volunteer program, but yeah. You'll be there in June? How far are you from Welington? Oh, right. And do you even remember who I am still, after at least two years of horrible slacking in all of our mutual internet locations?

mother of pearl   Nov 17, 2003 1:48:55 PM

hahaaaa! *I* know who you are! but do you know ME...?

(yes, being silly and playing hide and seek today. 'if I cover my eyes I'm hidden casue if I can't see you you can't see me tee hee" bleh.)

Sam   Nov 17, 2003 3:34:57 PM

I must admit, it did help that you posted above as Lian. ;) It's been a while. How are you?

Damon   Nov 17, 2003 11:21:46 PM

Hiya Sam! Course I remember you; how'd you find the site? Anyway, you're quite welcome to drop over and say hi - I'm only two hours away from Wellington by train or car, after all.

Plus I like the idea of having a kimono. Do they do them in purple?

Charlotte   Nov 17, 2003 11:35:55 PM

No, no! Purple is all wrong for your skin tone! There is every conceivable shade, but I think we can choose a more suitable colour than purple, purple won't bring out your best features. *grin*

Damon   Nov 17, 2003 11:44:14 PM

In order to bring out my best features I think I'd need a kimono with a hood...

Charlotte   Nov 17, 2003 11:48:00 PM

Silly! Such the joker! A hood will not be able to do for your best features that a lovely shade of dusky pink with dark blue details will.

Charlotte   Nov 17, 2003 11:49:07 PM

*sulks* Damn typos ruining the impact of my post!

Damon   Nov 17, 2003 11:50:42 PM

Yes, I didn't think you could have actually meant "pink" *grin*

Charlotte   Nov 18, 2003 12:03:04 AM

Pink was a pretty bad typo when I actually meant pale lemony yellow with fur. Fur collars are very fashionable on kimono this year and just perfect for you. But since since you've put the idea into my head now, I do think that pink could be a good choice. With a matching parasol, of course, although they are a little expensive...... *grin*

Damon   Nov 18, 2003 12:07:24 AM

*drops and rolls around on the floor in pain*

Gah, right in the ol' aesthetic sense!

Charlotte   Nov 18, 2003 12:16:13 AM

He, he! Direct hit! And here I was thinking that being so early in the morning and just waking up, I might be way off target. But I wasn't serious about the parasol.....

Sam   Nov 18, 2003 12:28:52 AM

Hahaha! It was a clever bit of detective work that got me here, admittedly. Took me all of, say, five minutes. I went to Shadowmarch, and said, "Hey, where's Paragon and what's he calling himself lately?" and some helpful Smarcher gave me a link to your latest post, which had the link to this website. So here I am. Damn, I'm briliant. ;)
I like your site quite a lot, by the way. Pictures of you in a kimono would definitely improve it though.

Charlotte   Nov 18, 2003 12:46:26 AM

Oops! Looks like it was a mortal hit! He seems to have gone. Quiet, that is.

I could probably get pics of Damon in a Kimono, but I probably would have had to have signed a water-tight contract prohibiting any posting of said pics. So unless you know a great lawyer, I won't be displaying them. *chuckle*

Siobhan   Nov 18, 2003 3:13:23 AM

In a kimono??? Charlotte, I love you. In a cheesy balcony way.

FraZ   Nov 18, 2003 7:28:27 AM

poor jona poor poor jona, so what i the weather like over there?

Damon   Nov 18, 2003 9:44:05 AM

Le ciel est couvert, et il pleut a vers.

New report being written right now...

Peter   Nov 18, 2003 10:03:10 AM

Good morning Damon!

Of course I'd be willing to post pictures of the back of your head, with the rest of you stuck in a kimono. Just to make you happy, that is... ;)

Siobhan   Nov 18, 2003 10:08:52 AM

C'mon talky meat, I have to go to bread.

Damon   Nov 18, 2003 10:14:34 AM

It's not a short one; I may be a half-hour or so.

Siobhan   Nov 18, 2003 10:23:48 AM

*pout* Talky meat no talk. Okay okay, I'll just read about it tomorrow then. };D

mother of pearl   Nov 18, 2003 11:31:34 PM

ack! Talky meat! Actually, I'm doing fine. Just had a completely brain-dead -- (lethal puns striking when trying to come up with a clever witty name for the programme...any suggestions?) -- constitutive (sp?) assembly with my new friends from the uni radio (yeah so we're playing on broadcasting one hour every month *snickers* but hey, we're the development departement after all.) I got the resort 'science' and 'uni life' or so. Now I gotta go and type up that protocol. Bleh. So, it's not been much Cotfo lately for me, either... ehem.

Damon   Nov 19, 2003 6:54:04 PM

What's the theme of the radio programme? I'm sure someone here can come up with something, or at least inspire you (/frighten you) into finding one yourself.

Claudia   Nov 20, 2003 9:15:57 PM

Damon, as your best feature is the back of your head, I'm sure you don't want a kimono with a hood - how will we know its you!?

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