31 July 2012

Eastern Europe chapter 1: Budapest

So. I'm back in Copenhagen after 10 absolutely adventurous days. Seeing Eastern Europe was so much fun and I wish we had much more time to explore. But the trip was a perfect concentrate of fun, chaos, craziness, friendliness, kissing and adventure. Here goes:
 Our train from Copenhagen was delayed and we didn't catch our connection to Dresden. So with a slight change of plans we found ourselves in München at 23.30 - all ready for the night train taking us to Budapest.
 After a night of practically no sleep we arrived in Budapest around 6 in the morning. I have looked better.....
 Having no clue of where to stay we bought our first coffee and sat down in a very 90s internet café with loud techno booming and tried to find out what choices we had.
 After having been cheated by our taxi driver (of course!) and having found our hostel in an old USSR-government building in Buda, we embarked on our first day in the city. We were tired but happy and so ready for adventure.
 Breakfast was this strange roll with chestnut cream inside that I bought at a bakery.... Dry, but necessary.
 We crossed this beautiful bridge to Pest and looked at the water and the city's beautiful old trams.
 My building/window fetichism was heavily tickled. The city is very beautful with tall, majestic buildings.
 We passed by a little alley and decided to go in. Inside was this old arcade where the stores were shut down. Inside the walls were covered with small ads for what we decided must have been either a secret club or a brothel, but we never got it checked out.....
 We were amazed by the currency. A cup of coffee cost around 300!
Down by the water was the impressive parliament building. After having been slightly disappointed by the city's tourism level and polished appearance - we had thought Eastern Europe was all about run-down buildings and authentic gems - we took a stroll by the water before having dinner, looking out on the city.
 We had Hungarian dinner - lots of paprika - before going out. We luckily found an area in Pest full of bars and people and our impression of the city improved remarkably.
We saw a concert with an insane violinist and found ourselves in the midst of backpacker nation, young drunk people and festivity. Had we not been so tired we'd probably gone crazy AnCa+KS style, but we did a little bar hopping, had a few beers and talked to some fun people before calling it a night around 3am.

30 July 2012

The trip of my life: Israel 2007

Actually, it is very hard deciding which of your travels is the best. They all have something; long summernights, unknown adventures, the feeling of being far far away, being with the people you love. And so it doesn't matter if it's in the American desert, playing in a French river or listening to leafhoppers in Italy. But some trips do stand out, and the trip that made the biggest impact on me was when I went to Israel for the first time. It was in February 2007 with the journalist class I was taking. I was 19 and had never seen anything like it. We drove around the Left Bank, talked to Palestinians who couldn't leave their city to go tend their fields on the other side of the wall, talked to Israeli settlers, a man who had done terrorism in Jerusalem, government officials and boys on the streets that just wanted to die and become a martyr. It was an incredible journey .
 We began in the Golan Heights near the border to Syria. It's actually originally Syrian territory, but the area's been occupied by Israel since 1967. They still consider themselves Syrian there, and once every year they go as close to the border as possible and use megaphones to shout to their beloved ones on the other side.
 We slept in an unfinished building, on the floor. There were no furniture. At night we went up on the roof and had the most magnificent view over the hilly area.
 We tried to get into Jenin one day to interview someone, but the guards at the checkpoint wouldn't let us. We later discovered that it was because they were hunting down a man suspected for conspiring, and they didn't want to let us witness that... The wall cuts its way through the country - which is not even bigger than Jutland - and divides Israeli and Palestinians. A few cities are totally surrounded by a concrete wall, whereas most of the 'wall' is barbed wire.
 Ramallah was busy and full of shouts and cars honking. We went to talk to some people fighting for peace. Their office was in a building where there had once been a killing. Instead of washing the blood stains off the wall, they preserved it behind a piece of glass as a daily reminder of what they were fighting for.
In Nablus we found this old barrel... That city was crazy. There were only men in the streets, and they all talked about how much they wanted to kill Israelis so they could become martyrs. The city is known for its resistance to the Israeli occupation, and almost every night there are fights between the soldiers and the Palestinians. The houses were shot to pieces. We met the leader of the resistance who walked around with a loaded machinegun. A few months after we came home we learned that the day after we'd visited Nablus, the Israelis had stormed the city apparently discovering a place where the inhabitants had hidden weapons. We have no idea what became of all those boys...
 One day we had a really good falafel in the bazar in Jerusalem. When we walked out of the shop, we saw this sign.
 Jerusalem is a fascinating city. It's built on religion, and when you walk the streets, you see orthodox Christian tourists singing passionately as they walk the route Jesus was supposed to have walked with the cross. Or you see orthodox Jews with their long, black curls and big hats. Or Muslims with the checkered scarfs around their heads. There are three churches that claim to be built on the exact spot where Jesus died...
 The Al-Aqsa mosque is sooo beautiful. We went there at the break of dawn, and it was all quiet and sunny and gorgeous.
 Later, we went into the desert to go see Massada. We also bathed in the dead sea and tried to visit some beduins, but they didn't want to speak to us. So we drove back to Jerusalem in the dead of night.
 When we went to Bethlehem, some of our group was held back in an area where the Israelis had caught two suicide bombers. So I had to wait at the Bethlehem checkpoint for some time with three other girls, in the middle of nowhere.
 Bethlehem is completely surrounded by the wall. They've decorated it with strong statements, that are heartbreaking when you come to the city with your light hair and Scandinavian passports. We were able to walk through the VIP-entrance to the city, walking right past the city's inhabitants who spend every day waiting in line for hours in the strong sun in the hope of being able to check their fields outside. But often they're not allowed and they need several papers of identification; papers that are hard to acquire. So we felt so bad every time we had to get in and out of a city... Inside Bethlehem, we drove past a bunch of kids burning cars, the air was full of teargas. When we got out of the car, some of them spat on us, it was such a strange experience.
Back in Jerusalem, we saw the beginning of Sabbat before heading home to winter Denmark, our heads full of thoughts and our notebooks overscribbled with impressions from a week I don't think any of us will forget.

28 July 2012

Trip of my life: Guestblogger #4 Tankespinderier

Last but not least in the guestblogging department this time around is Ida. Although we share friends, met briefly in Berlin and go to school together, our friendship began in the blog world. Ida writes a very personal blog giving a good glimpse into the sometimes clashing world of a journalist/musician, always drizzled with beautiful and quirky photos and thoughts, points of view and points that stick with you for a long time. This time she takes us to Berlin - of course:
I have a great love for Karen Sofie’s blog. Her aesthetic love of buildings and cities is one I share, and I find the way she captures it with images and words just endearing, honest and beautiful.
We also have a fierce love for (good) coffee. But these are not the only things we share, as I have just (like in a few days ago!) moved back from Berlin where I’ve been living the past six months. The city we both adore – I even work(ed) the same place as KS, as we’re both studying to become journalists.
So when she asked me if I wanted to write a guest blog-entry, I didn’t hesitate. But her pick of topic has brought me some trouble: I love to travel, but when I think of it, it’s something that I rarely do. Because I’m a putz when it comes to money, so I never have the cheese to do it. My most memorable travels are sunlit childhood memories; from family-crowded boat trips, days on end at the summerhouse, swimming in pools and beaches in southern Europe, staring at the Milky Way & hearing wolves cry in Canada. Great and wonderful memories… But I can’t combine a recent great travel with photographs – so instead I’ll tell of a different kind of travel. The one I’ve just ended/begun…
Living in Berlin has been an age long dream of mine. I made the arrangements over a year ago to move down and begin work in February 2012. I had so many ideas of what would happen, and barely any have come true: I didn’t get to hear enough music; I didn’t get to meet enough people, didn’t party long enough, or write enough music or words.
But that’s life – right? So many unexpected things happened instead. Just before I left, my love and I got together and have been aching these past six months apart, as our love has grown even stronger - and still is.
My dearly beloved grandmother passed away. I did say my goodbye, but because of Berlin I wasn’t there to hold her hand when she left this world, and it pains me still.
My band released a critically acclaimed record, and I missed out on the thrill of reading great reviews with the band, celebrating – instead I got them per text.
Playing a lot of concerts in Denmark was amazing but tiresome, travelling back and forth, but that brought me back to that growing bond with my J, so I welcomed them, even though they drained my finances and my excess energy.
As a former (once a, always a) food-writer, I’d looked forward to eating out in Berlin, but lack of money made me stay in. Luckily the food in grocery stores was inexpensive and of great quality. I mean, a giant watermelon for €1?! Oh Denmark, why are you so expensive?
And eating in isn’t that bad – with a view like this…
… and outside cosiness like this…
… I didn’t have a half-bad spring/summer in Berlin.
I improved my English, both written and oral…
… and that was essentially the point of my stay in Berlin. This time around. For one thing is certain: I am going to live in Berlin again at some point. My love for Copenhagen has been set in stone; it is truly where my heart is – in many ways. But Berlin will be a part of my life in the future. So there will be more music, more friends, more writing, and more love with and in Berlin. I can’t wait. But for now, my next travel will be from my old home in Copenhagen to my new… short in distance, but great in significance.

Ida Kys.