Saturday, August 13, 2005

Street Parade

In Frank Herbert's Dune, the Fremen are a very serious people. They hardly let anyone get close to them. Every moment of their lives is about the business of living on the harsh planet of Arrakis. That is every moment except for the one day a year when they drink the transformed water of life and then let it all hang out. All the barriers drop and they revel in communal love. Street Parade reminded me a lot of this.

One day a year, thousands of people fill the streets of Zurich for a huge rave fest. The parties start on the Friday before. Then at 1pm the next day dozens of stages start playing electronic music. All the streets around the north side of the lake are closed to cars and are swarming with all types of partiers: American tourists in baseball caps and hoody sweaters, ravers wearing nothing but tall boots and fuzzy cheetah shorts, Swiss families with their children in strollers all wearing ear plugs.

At 3pm the lovemobiles start down the parade route. Each one is a semi truck pulling a stage with ravers and booming speakers. Some of the trucks really went all out on their theme. One had everyone in all white, another in all red. The house truck had the coolest feature of all, a huge bubble spout that covered the street and some lucky ravers with buckets of foam.

For breakfast we grabbed some Doner Kebab. In the store next to the cafe we were eating at, there were two scantily clad women and one scantily clad guy on the roof throwing condoms into the crowd. When they ran out of condoms, they started throwing raver hats and I managed to grab one before they ran out. We picked up a bottle of Rioja and danced to the music from the lovemobiles for 4 hours. Then we rode the Ferris wheel and marvelled at the mass of people and music beneath us before we went home to take a break.

Once the sun went down, we went out for some fondue. On the way, we noticed that even the McDonalds had put up strobe lights and speakers and was blasting the square with techno.

After dinner we went to the laser light show at Bellevueplatz. They had three huge lazers that you could see all the way from Centralplatz. Although we stood on the opposite end of the square, the music was so loud that we still wished we had earplugs. We wandered up and down lake from one venue to the next until just past midnight and then caught the tram back home.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Olympia Park

When we woke up, it looked a little clearer, so we thought we'd get in some rollerblading at the Olympic Park. However, once we got off the U-bahn at the park, it was pouring. It let up just enough for us to run over to the amusement park and get in some old time carnival shooting games. It was so cool to be able to shoot little metal bunnies with a pellet gun. I managed to hit 10 of 13 and won a little stuffed beer keychain. At the next game, I hit 2 out of 3 hearts and won Lexi a plastic rose. Lexi hit 3 of 5 balloons with darts to win me a little keychain lantern. I really like how you can actually win prizes, even if they are small ones, at this carnival.

We decided to go back to Switzerland early as the weather looked like it wasn't letting up and we had exhausted most of the indoor entertainment in Munich.

Monday, August 08, 2005


Munich has free museum entries on Sundays, which was good as it was raining again. We went to the Alte Pinakothek (Old Pinakhotek). Thankfully, they had an English audio tour.

The museum had lots of Ruben. The museums top floor was even designed specifically to hold his painting of the war between heaven and hell. His most gruesome painting in the museum was one of the sinners being thrown into hell. He has a style that strikes a nice balance between anatomically correct representation and emotional exaggeration of features.

There were also several portraits of educated French women of status. One was reading Isaac Newton. The other was the famous Madame du Pompadour, Mistress of King Louis XV of France. A talented and educated women who used her affair to establish herself in the court and then used her influence to avert a war with England. She had the artist add in books, musical instruments, and correspondence to show that she was a talented woman. The best detail of the painting is it's size. It was painted on the scale of a royal portrait. As she commissioned it herself, she was telling everyone that she saw herself as the equal to royalty.

Though most painters of the eras represented in the museum supposedly only did commission portraits or religious paintings, there were two guys who seemed to only paint peasants. There are great paintings of drunken fighting peasants with old fashioned dutch pipes.

For dinner we went to Vinothek, a restaurant with an impressive wine list. We asked the waiter to choose a wine for each course. Lexi had the 3 course surprise menu, which turned out to be an eggplant remoulade, baked salmon and a coffee cream dessert. I picked out a truffle cheese appetizer, beef with the best scalloped potatoes I've ever had, and a trio of creme brulees. The chocolate and vanilla creme brulees were excellent, but the last one was nasty, like mayo and honey left in the sun. I also tried an orange Armagnac with dessert. It was like a whiskey cointreau, not bad.

We were unable to find any live music on Sunday so we packed it in early.

Sunday, August 07, 2005


We grabbed some quick sandwiches for breakfast and headed to Allianz stadium. Unfortunately there wasn't a game there, which was contrary to the information on the website, but we still got to wander around inside as they had an open training earlier that day. It's still an impressive stadium. I wish that we had the chance to see it all lit up. Apparently you can see it for miles around.

We went down to the Residenz, the old home of the King of Bavaria. We accidently entered the Egyptian exhibit first as we didn't know that it was separate from the rest of the museum.

We eventually found our way to the real entrance and were relieved to find they had an English Audio tour. The entire egyptian exhibit was in German, so it took us five minutes of looking things up in the dictionary just to find that they said, "collection of various containers".

Inside the Residenz all the old crown jewels are kept. There was the same collection of bejeweled crowns, swords, wine decanters and a huge panel of medals. The piece I found most interesting was a complete makeup box for a queen in the 1600s. It looked like it would take 4 hours to get ready each morning.

In the main section of the residenz, there was a hall of forebears proving the legitmacy of the King's claim. It was all done in South German Rococo, which is where they paint tons of gold leaves that intertwine with animals. It all seems so ridiculously gaudy. Whatever would possess a man to carefully craft a golden goose spewing a vine into the ear of Poseidon?

There was an impressive fountain done almost entirely in sea shells in one of the courtyards, but it was nothing compared to the Antiquarium. It's a giant hall done almost entirely in different colors of marble and flanked on both sides by busts of all the famous Roman Emperors. The king that built it must have had a major inferiority complex. Lexi and I wondered what we would put in ours as we don't have any antiques and you could never get ferrets to sit still long enough to flank a room.

Upstairs were the Red and Green rooms, where the king held his meetings and parties. There were apparently very stringent rules regarding royal furniture. It had to get fancier as you got closer to the King's main room and you had to be of a certain rank to get a certain type of seat. The king got an armchair. Important nobles got seats with a back but no arms. And others got stools and so on.

The most ridiculous room was the bedroom that no king ever slept in. It was a public room where the king would tell everyone he was going to bed at the end of a party so they all knew to leave. He actually slept in a more modest room with a more comfortable bed downstairs.

The freakiest room was a room of religious relics. Most of them are mummified hands in elaborate gold cases or skulls covered in silk. One of the skulls is supposed to be John the Baptist's. I rarely succumb to superstition, but I couldn't take any pictures in there. It just felt wrong and wierd.

Along the "Ewww" theme there was a statue of persius killing medusa with water flowing out of head and the severed neck. It is an impressive statue with dynamic posture and exquisite detail. Still, I wonder why the king wanted it in his garden where he went to escape the pressures of the royal court.

After we left the museum, we went to a nearby candy store and picked up some fresh meringue. It was so good. I rarely get meringue so fresh that the inside is still gooey.

We had a giant plate of meat for dinner. It was supposed to be a variety plate for two, but it could easily have fed four. We hardly made a dent in it, even though we were starving. Next time I go to that place, I'll have to ask him to bring me two of every animal instead. It would be less food.

After dinner we went to the Augustiner beer garden, but it was late and there weren't many people there. It was still cool to see the guy tap a wooden keg for us. We had a giant german beer and then went back to the hotel.

Saturday, August 06, 2005


We arrived in Munich after a short night's sleep on the train. The only places open for breakfast at 6 a.m. are hotel restaurant buffets, so that meant hunks of meat and cheese. The museum district opens early, too, so we spent the morning in the Deutsches museum. It's a gigantic science museum with some pretty neat stuff, although there's English notes for only some of the exhibits. I got to see the Enigma machine.

On our way back to the hotel we wandered through the Farmer's market. Blueberries and Blackberries are so cheap and delicious here. All around downtown music they have painted lions, similar to the painted bears in Zurich.

Back at the hotel we collapsed for a 6 hour nap. We'd been shorting ourselves on sleep throughout the trip so it felt really good. The bed was really comfy

We had dinner at a sushi place in downtown. I know it's not very German, but we missed sushi. The sushis was smaller than the sushi at Aya Sushi back home, but it was still filled with tasty fish. One of the side dishes was spinach mixed with sesame paste, which was delicious.

Ironically, we found a venue with a British Indie Rock band that night. Though we had struck out for British Music in Britain, we found it in Germany. The band was called apartment and they were pretty good. At times they sounded like punk and at other times they sounded like wishy washy alternative so they were atleast pretty unique. There were even some fans from Britain there with them, getting the crowd revved up.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Belgian Beer in Amsterdam

For breakfast we went to a nice dutch restaurant. I had beef with cheese crackers and scalloped potatoes and Lexi had chicken with tiny little potatoes.

After breakfast we went down to the MOMA only to find that it had moved near the Centraal station, which we had just left. After retracing our steps back to the station we found the museum. Their minimalist exhibit was mostly uninspiring, except for a series of photos of paintings on walls that were done with a skewed perspective so that they look like flat 2D additions to the photographs. I think I could pull off a similar effect by taking a picture of a wall at an angle, taking that picture into photoshop and drawing a flat image on it, then projecting the picture from the same spot I took it so that the features of the wall line up and then tracing the picture on the wall. Still there's not much to minimalism, but I guess that's the point.

There was some great graffiti outside the museum, including this knocked out ferret and ninja penguin.

Some of the art was completely forgettable. The fact that it's up in a gallery seems to show that the art world shares the peewee football belief that everybody gets to play an inning no matter how much they suck. The anarchist video exhibits fall into this category too, B-movie wannabees haltingly reading a ridiculous list of bomb recipes. I don't have any patience for anarchists any more. The system may be flawed, but chaos is worse.

After the museum we went to this little Belgian beer bar. I tried some new kriek's and an abbey style blonde ale that was very tasty. The place was tiny and dark and had candles at each of the tables. Everything in Amsterdam is so much cheaper than in London or France. I love the lack of pretence here. Nothing's too fancy or too hoity toity. It's all simple pleasure like FEBO, cheap off brand clothing, chocolate waffles, belgian beer and poker.

The Belgian Beer Bar bartender pointed out a Belgian beer store that had a dream selection of beers. They had a whole case of lambics that I had never tried before. For the first time, there was someone who knew all the beers that I mentioned. We even found this cute English Ale called Fursty Ferret.

After picking up some beer we stopped for our last FEBO of the trip to take with us on the train. This time we had a private two bunk room on our train so we celebrated our 4th anniversary with FEBO, beer and the Buffy Musical while speeding across Germany.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Great British Beer Festival

For breakfast today we picked up some traditional Cornish Pasties (pies filled with potato and steak). They are definitely the best way to get the most calories for your money in England. They are also very tasty, though they could have done with a bit more steak.

So, if you are planning to get to the netherlands from England, buy your tickets in advance and understand that the high speed boat still takes 3 hours. It took forever to get the tickets at the train station. For some reason, they don't have automated tickets for the boat service.

We still had time to finally go to the Great British Beer Festival. There was so much ale. The booths all had rack upon rack of kegs with delicious bitters, ales, ciders and lagers. The belgian booth had a great traditional lambic. Lexi found a porter that she really liked as well as a great silly hat.

The festival had traditional pub games that involved throwing cheese shaped projectiles at a bunch of bowling pins, landing rings on a beer pump, or landing pucks into point bins. Lexi and I tried the cheese throwing one but didn't get any prizes. All the money from the games goes to the Campaing for Real Ale, a non-profit group focused on preserving pub tradition and defending drinker's rights. I don't exactly know who's attacking drinker's rights but apparently they need a non-profit to defend them.

There was even an American stand, serving up mostly Sierra Nevada and some Arrogant Bastard Ale. It seemed to be doing brisk business.

After the festival we caught the train to the port and boarded the boat to the Netherlands.

The boat had mini casinos, theatres, restaurants and shops. It was like a mini resort on the water. We had already seen the only good movies they were showing and we didn't much feel like watching the pacifier. The casino had no poker though, so it was of no use to us. We ended up spending the time on the boat reading our novels. When we finally landed and caught our train to Amsterdam, it was 2am.

Our hotel room was great. It had a living room with a great view of Amsterdaam Centraal and a huge tub. I wish we had gotten in earlier so we could have enjoyed it more, but we atleast got a good 9 hours of sleep.