Carol Bontekoe

This blog has been keeping track of my adventures since 2004. The stories and the adventures have come from my college dorm room to Uganda, Peace Corps Kyrgyzstan, learning Dutch in the Netherlands to living in the wilds of Homer, Alaska. I went back to school in Amsterdam to study Theaterwetenschap (Theatre Science) at University of Amsterdam. And now my adventures as a Fruit Fly, a Sexy Unicorn, and creating a movement with Team Sparkle in Chicago.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Long story...

So the next six little posts are about the demise of my back wheel. I have actually posted them in the order you should read them, so don't scroll to the bottom and read up. It's a long story that is why I broke it up into sections. Feel free to read it all or just parts. This series goes down to the map from there on it is seperate stories. So, if you don't feel like reading that much just look at the pictures. I won't be offended it's probably what I would do.
I'll let ya know how it goes after this.

Slow Down you move to fast....

Getting out of Riga, Latvia was quite the ordeal. Nothing is labeled very well, I had to carry my bike with the bags over 8 lanes of train tracks...while worrying that a train was coming. So,naturally when I reached the Lithuanian border I was very excited. So, many things were looking up about Lithuania. While I hadn't seen a cloud once while in Latvia as I stood at the border exchanging my money I could see clouds on the Lithuanian side while it was still just a hot pale blue sky on the Latvian side. I thought it was a sign of how things were going to go so much better for me in Lithuanian. Hey, I have been known to be wrong before.

I got too cocky. I was cycling along at such a nice pace. I figured I could get in and out of Lithuania in two days. I was thinking how lucky I am that the only thing I have really had go wrong was my handle bars coming a part-don't worry for 60kms I held them on to the bike til I could get them fixed in Riga.

I rode off the main road a little bit to catch a peak at a road sign to see how far away the next city was. Sweet. 15km... grab some lunch and cuz I'm making such good time I'll go another 50kms before calling it a day. I still don't know what I hit or rolled over but as I came back on to the main road thump thump thump my back wheel started to swerve a bit. I went ahead a little further so I could pull my bike into a field infront of an abandoned house.
I had a flat. I thought this is okay maybe I won't make it the extra 50kms I was planning on but it isn't going to be that big of a set back. Before I left I had been shown how to fix a hole in the inner-tubing.
I spent a good amount of time looking for this mystery hole that had caused my tire to go flat. I remembered that I had a new innertube in my saddle bag. I decided the easiest thing would be to take out this inner tube and put in the new one. after cutting off the old innertube with my swiss army knife(Techinically Kiri's but she has never asked for it back so I call it mine) and getting out the new inner tube I realized I had a bit of a problem.... I need to take the wheel off before I can put the innertube on... That Swiss Army knife can only do so much. After about an hour I stood up from the bike, stretched my back out and realized I was near nothing...

Can I get some help here?

I'm surprised at how un-upset I was. I think it's cuz I knew deep down I don't have very good luck- so sooner or later the bike was going to give. I especially knew it was going to go after how destroyed it was by Scandinavian Airlines people. I'm honestly surprised it got as far it did after being treated that way by SAS.
There really was nothing around me, just an old abandoned house that I figured I could sleep in if worse came to worse. A village appeared to be a kilometer or so away. For some reason I made the executive decision to leave my bike in some tall grass and walk to the village to look for help. Why leave the thing I need fixed? ummm... it was hot..?.. I really have no excuse for that thinking.
I wandered around and practiced the sentence, "Where can I get my bike fixed?" in Russian several times. Though from a distance it had looked like a village it was really just a bunch of house. There were no shops or anything. There also seemed to be no people.
When an old man went riding by me on a bike I asked him where I could get my bike fixed. He pointed to a house and told me there?

He than said some other stuff, something about Russian and I only realized later that it wasn't that they could fix it but that they knew Russian.
After thinking I had been told I could get my bike fixed in this little havel I went back to the field and fetched my bike. I left my bags in the tall grass figuring it would be incredible if someone found them there and if they were willing to carry the heavy things off they deserved what they got. Alot of stuff I could probably do without....
I had to carry my bike. At this point I was hoping to save the wheel, so I didn't want to put any pressure on it.
My bike... surprisingly heavy.
Unfortunately/fortunately no one was around. It was fortunate because than no one had to see me huffing and puffing as I carried my bike.
After doing two loops around the village I set my bike down in some shaded woodsy area to give it another go at getting the tire off. No luck there but I must have been standing in something poisonous cuz I got a pretty decent rash on my legs and arms. AWESOME! When your stressed over your transportation being broken a very itchy rash is what you want.
I figured this wasn't going to do any good I needed a more public spot, but where is a public spot when the area seems deserted? I plopped down right on the road and continued to bang on the bike. Some people went by in cars and while staring at me heavily they weren't about to stop and help.
It looked hopeless. I was just going to go to a bus stop a couple kilometers away and try to catch a bus into the city 15kms away. As I was carrying my bike out of the villagish area I heard someone talking to me.... That's how I met Pyetr...face down in a ditch.

Sometimes it only takes one... sometimes six

I know it isn't conventional wisdom to chat with men who are laying face down in a ditch, but I was desperate. At least he was talking to me, so far this was the best lead I had on getting my bike fixed.
After we had done some introduction and discussed how beautiful I was for a while I was able to steer the subject towards maybe getting my bike fixed.
Of Course, of course he knew exactly what to do. I gave him the innertube for the bike. He tried placing it into the tire. When I pointed out that I had done the same stupid thing and that you need to take the wheel off first, he agreed with me and than continued to do the same thing. Pyetr than asked for all my tools. I handed him the swiss army knife. He banged around with it about the same way I had. He realized he needed a bigger wrench and went to a neighbor ladies house to get one. By doing this he had alerted the masses that there was an American with a broken down bike in the area. All of a sudden there were lots of people. Where had they been before? Pyetr had done exactly what I had hoped, he got some people out to help me.
Pyetr was totally useless at fixing the bike and hit on me the whole time. I know his type: drunk, old, face down in a ditch... These kind of men love me and will always hit on me. Pyetr's wife and son even joined in on helping fix the bike. Pyetr son was actually the most helpful. They did eventually get the wheel off the innertube blown up.
There became a problem with getting the wheel back on the bike. No one could quite remember how they got it off. While we were trying to remember exactly how the wheel went on Pyetr tried to...well for having no nicer way of putting it... tried to kiss my bussom... I made it very clear to him that he was never NEVER NEVER NEVER going to be thanked that way. He was so upset he went off and sulked. We were finally getting somewhere with my bike, it had been 6 hours since the original puncture, so I really couldn't care and I let him wander off and sulk. Once the wheel was on I had all these extra parts that no one knew what to do with. I put the extra parts in my backpack and thanked everyone and rode off.
They did exactly what I hoped they wouldn't: they watched me ride off. I had to go back for my bags that were hidden in the field. So, when they saw me head off in the wrong direction Pyetr's son and a village girl who"spoke English" came to tell me I was going in the wrong direction. I pointed out my bags and thanked them again.
The 15kms to the city felt incrediably long. You learn to curse every bump in the road when you hear parts of your bike, that were on it only hours before, rattle with every bump you hit.

I'll pay ya...

By the time I rolled into the nearest city it was Saturday night. The bike shops would be closed on Sunday. I didn't want to go any further without having someone properly fix my bike. There was a bike shop and than right across the road a nice hotel. A little out of my budget but it looked like it might have English speaking channels(had 3, which was awesome) and it was right across from the bike shop. It seemed like fate. I spent all day sunday lounging around, avoiding the sun so my sunburn and rash could have a chance to come down a little bit. I watched everything on CNN international, twice. I also watched a lot of Clint Eastwood movies. I have to admit I had never seen one before..mmmmm he used to be CUTE! Those eyes... that voice....errrr.... I have a lot of time to think on the bike.....and no one to talk to...
At nine in the morning on Monday I was chilling outside waiting for the shop to be opened. The guy was late, but I didn't complain. Once he did show up he informed me that he doesn't fix bikes he just sells them. There was a place up the road where I could get it fixed.
errrr...ummmm... okay.
So I went up the road to the other bike shop. he also "opened" at of course the shop was still closed. Once he decided he could come and open up his shop he looked at my bike for a while and said sure he had a guy who came to fix bikes on Thursdays. Wait til Thursday? No! I was already getting way behind schedule. I asked where I could get it fixed today. Across town there was a place.
I went on. Not only was this shop not open, it looked like it hadn't been open in months.
I decided I would keep riding and hopefully in one of the villages I would pass through there would be someone who could look at my bike.
After about 50, very slow, kilometers I got to kind of a touristy town. I found the local bike shop and asked the guy to fix it. Sure, sure... what's wrong with it? Well, I have all these extra parts for the back wheel and I would like the back wheel to have all of it's parts on the bike with it. How far did you come? 50kms. oh, than your fine. What? I'll pay you! No, your fine if you can ride it that far without them you don't need them.
There was a wall near by listing out how far other major cities were. Amsterdam was 1200 km away... one would help me... or take my money... seemed like AMsterdam was a lot farther than that...
What could I do? I rode on. I figured eventaully it would break so bad someone would have to help me.

soul is nearly faded as my jeans...

The bike totally broke down the next afternoon. Fortunately I had gotten some lunch before hand or I would ha ve been really cranky. as it was when I heard/felt the back tire go I jumped off and kicked the bike to the ground.
I tried to repair it but knew my efforts would be fruitless.
Last time I thought Iwas in the middle of no where but this time was worse. I was 30kms either direction from anything of note. I thought maybe I could hitchhike. There was a detour on this road so lots of cars were going by. People even had pick-up trucks. Surely we could throw it in the back of a pick-up. No one was really picking me up. I decided walk and continue to try and get picked up on the way. Lots of cars could have picked me up they just decided not to. Two seperate cars with NL plates and bikes racks with space on them drove by. I have never been so disappointed in the Dutch and made every effort to use my most colorful Dutch curses as they passed me by.

I ended up walking the 30kms to the nearest city. When I got about 5 kms from my final destination my feet were killing me. I had a huge amount of blisters. I decided I wouldn't make it if I didn't have a couple of drinks. I bought some Zip freezers and sat in a gas station parking lot chug-a-lugging. I could still feel my feet, and my rashy legs, arms ,and butt.... but I couldn't fel my face or my sun burnt lips so I bought one for the road and one as a reward for myself for when I got to the hotel.
I decided I needed some photos for you the readers. This became very important to me and this one of me drinking a zip freezer in some cotton plants might be my favorite picture of the trip. I thought it was so beautiful and gave the cows watching me some attitude as I took it. I know you weren't there but I hope this photo makes you feel apart of the adventure.


Honestly, I'll pay people for their labors. I will. I swear. Again it happened to me. It took me four hours and five different bikes shops before someone would fix my tire. I was suprised I didn't need a new wheel after walking it that far. The guy "fixing" it assured me I didn't need it. He put the wheel on.
I rode off and right away it was clink-bang-popping. I came back tot he guy and he said there was nothing wrong with it. I kept pointing to my ear and yelling like he was one of my students in Kyrgyzstan, "LISTEN!!!" He assured me nothing was wrong. I realized this was going to go no where cuz he had already "fixed" it and he knew he wouldn't get any more money from me for anymore work.
Naturally after struggling so hard to get out of Lithuania and being only 30kms from the border I knew there was only one thing I could do... Make a run for the border.
Making the worst, most awful noises I have ever heard I made it into Poland. I have never been so excited to get out fo a country. I literally was begining to feel like Lithuania would never let me go.
So, I made it to Suwalki Poland. Oh, and can I just make a side note.... Who knew Poland was so hilly? Damn!
I ended up getting the pimp daddy room at the hotel I stayed at because that was all they had left and all the other hotels were booked up. They let me name my own price. Holla! However there was some dirty art on the wall.
Here in Suwalki they have imformed me the back tire is unrepairable and that I need a new back wheel. They don't have them. They didn't think anyone in town or any of the towns near by would have them. I have decided to bus it down to Warsaw. I figure it is major city and hopefully someone can get me a new back wheel there and maybe speak English...since I know no Polish.
From here to Berlin or from Warsaw to Berlin are about the same distance. So, if I can get my bike fixed I'll still feel like I did it.
However, this whole ordeal has made me realize I want to compile a book on bike problems in a 100 different languages. So, friends if you know some other languages please send me a note with parts of a bike in whatever language you know. I haven't actually flipped out over this. I'm kind of proud of my resolve I have had through this whole thing. If something constructive can come from this whole thing than I won't mind that it happened. Stay tuned for if my bike makes it....

The Last Map for this cluster

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Things to come...

I have learned a lot about myself, biking, and life on this trip. However, I have learned one new thing that I would like to pass along... Don't let a man you found face down in a ditch help you change your tire.

If that interests you come back here sometime after I have had time to properly update this.

Lithuana let me go!!!!!

Have been trying to get out of this country for three days but my bike keeps breaking. MAybe...maybe today...maybe not...

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Of Course... Darling

I'm glad i know Russian. It is rusty but it has come in handy a few times here. However, a few times I found myself speaking in Dutch with people. When they give me a really weird look I take a second and think oh, yeah... I look like an a-hole. But come on... outside of English aren't all those others the same?

I had to come into riga to get my handlebars and a couple other little things fixed. I went from sport shop to sport shop looking for advice on where to go. They finally sent me to Treks.
I couldn't be bothered to try and explain what is wrong with ym bike with my broken Russian. I also realized I don't know any of the parts of a bike in Russian. When coming into Treks I asked the guy if he spoke English and he said, "Of course... darling." I don't think he ment to be suggestive but more ment to show off his English. But he leaned in when he said it and used a suggestive tone. I was more than a little sketched out.
He kept asking em questions about AMerica and yelling, "Las VEGAS!!! CASINOS!!!" Michigan... Las Vegas...Lakes... Dessert... It's all the same.
He tried to get me to drink their special, very refreshing water. Again he was probably just trying to be nice but he said it in the creepiest way possible. I kept telling him that I ahd my own water and it was fine.
"But our water is so special. It is in the back. Do you want to see our special water?"
I had to decline.

I'll be heading out tomorrow afternoon. Hoping to make it to Lithuania in a couple days.
Oh, and there is a Mariachi Band staying on my floor in the hostel.... my life is kinda random,eh?


Riga-wait I want to make this poetic- is a shithole.
Enough said.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Word of advice

If you are going on a long bike Ride...Lets say a month long one across six countries. If you think to yourself...hmmmmm... I deserve nice soap and shampoo cuz Iļl be working hard... Don't ...please.PLEASE. Believe me. Don't by anything thing that has Honey in it. Why?

And they get real pissy if you try and get them off you or out of your bag.

Oh, and I tried to dowload a map but it wouldn't work. I rode a 130Kms today and I'min Latvia.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

water Aerobics in the sea

After Kernu I powered through 110kms and wound up in Pärnu. Since I was able to make what I thought would take me two days in one I gave myself a break. Yes, after a day and half of cycling I deserved a full day break. Also, I had a sunburn that left me the color of my map. I swear I couldn't feel it so I didn't even know my sunscreen had watched off in the three thunderstorms I road through. Pärnu is a town on the Baltic sea.
Since I have bad knees and a bad back, neither of which is helped by cycling all day, I decided the best way to relax them was to go in the sea.
Today I spent the day going in and out of the sea. The wind was brutal so the beach was nearly empty. And every single time I re-entered it was cold. I decided to do some water aerobics. It is actually really difficult when you have a extremely strong under current mixed with huge white caps. I would run towards the waves, with the waves, sideways, diagonal...none of it went too smoothly there is a reason old people do it in a pool.
I can only hope my futile attempt at water aerobics loosened me up enough for the long ride I have tomorrow. If the wind is anything like it was today..all I can say is it'll be a really long day.
The Baltic Sea!

So, Psycho... that's a scary movie

When I rolled out of Tallinn I was on a freeway. I don't know whether biking along a freeway is illegal or not but two separate cop cars saw me doing it and did nothing to stop me. Actually it was really nice when it was freeway. It had a huge smoothly paved shoulder to ride along. After a while this gave way to a regular two lane highway which included a mediocre shoulder which I didn't even bother to try and stay on when semis went whizzing past. It really started to slow me down. I had looked on a map and there was a little symbol for camping in Kernu. It became my chant KERNU KEEEEEEERNUUUUUUU KERNU when I grew progressively more tired. WHERE I GOT MAKE IT TO? Kernu!
Kernu sits about 40 kms outside of Tallinn and I got there around 5. I realize now I could have probably cycled on another 20kms but I was tired and didn't want to risk having no where to sleep.
I rode in where the owner of the campsite quickly greeted me and told they had little cabins with beds for 400K and campsites for tents were 200. I'm still getting used to the money and dragging around a tent so I opt for the cheaper of the two. When I went to set up my tent I realized what an idiot I am. Sure I remembered the tent, sleeping bag, and the mattress pad. However, I forgot the poles and the pins for the tent. I came back to the entrance and told the woman I would actually really enjoy the cabin. Just some how had a change of heart on the whole tent thing.
I rode the three kms in to town and got some food and came back and hydrated, I was in desperate need for water. I wandered around and found the camp to be quite pretty, but more than a little unnerving. why was it so run down for such a pretty location? Why was there a huge puddle of vomit on my porch? Why am I the only guest here? Seriously why is no one else here in the middle of no where?
There is a reason I stopped watching the movie Psycho despite being one of the greatest movie of all time. It made me really scared of little motels by the road in the middle of no where.
I had to do some stretches and went out to the picnic tables to read. In general I kept myself very busy. I kept hoping with each passing car someone would turn in and stay the night too. One guy actually did turn in looked around and decided to take off. All I could think is that I'm on a bike how far could I even go?
I didn't sleep much, despite the fact that nothing ended up happening. It was the idea that if this was a page out of a Hitchcock movie- I'm in Kernu Estonia- Who would even know to look for me?
So, ya... no more Hitchcock movies for me. They make me too paranoid of lil things...ya know... like really creepily quit campsites in the middle of no where Estonia. The usual...

Tallinn and sexy shorts

So, I didn't exactly see Tallinn. Well, that's not true. I saw it. Like with my own eyes did I personally see it? yes.
Can I tell you anything about it?
Things weren't going right for me in Tallinn right from the begining. Right after cycling off the ferry I was in trouble. not even five minutes after getting to the country I almost got hit by a bus. Like just inches from getting hit. I was going straight and the bus started to turn. I started shouting,*WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!" When I realized that the bus driver was not going to stop and I wasn't going to be able to stop in time I did my best impression of Lance Armstrong and leaned forward and peddled my heart out. I feel I can not make you understand how very, very, close it was. On lookers all gasped as I just made it. One guy gave me a whistle for my amazing split second survival.
I quickly found the sign pointing to the bike path that I wanted and went the direction it pointed to. This was the last I ever saw the signs for the bike path. I kept biking anyways following the signs for Pärnu. I knew this was the most direct route south.
The roads and sidewalks in Tallinn are extremely bumpy. As I was going over one of the bumpy roads I could tell my basket holding my back pack was about to fall off. The Scandinavian Air People destroyed my basket along with the wheels and I never was able to get it back on properly. Right as I was thinking that it was about to fall off-it fell off. I had to run it over, even with my stuff in it.
There were three very lovely Estonian girls standing right when it happened. They picked up my basket and kept giving me suggestions for how to fix it. Like how I'm not sure I can make you realize how close that bus was to hitting me, I also feel I can't make you appreciate how truely flat my basket was. One girl kept trying to pull it back out. I got all embarressed and just took the flat basket and put it on top of the trash can. I guess I'll have to wear my backpack the rest of the way.
After that I just kept peddling. I followed the bike paths which are,thank god, in the middle of traffic. If having cars able to hit you on one side isn't scary enough having it on both sides just adds to the adventure. However, yet again I almost got hit by a bus and as I swerved out of the way of the bus I almost got hit by traffic on the otherside.
By this point I figured it was best to just buckle down and see how far I could get. On my way out of town I saw a mall. Since I hadn't been to a mall in around a year I felt the need to stop in. I got a pair of biking shorts. They are very short, have a padded crouch, and have a sexy orange stripe down the side. If I wasn't already getting enough looks for being...well...being me... these short shorts scream, "look at me! look at me! Look at me peddle past you very sllowly! WEEEEEE!"
Seriously that's what the shorts say.

The Motorist

To get from Helsinki, Finland to Tallinn, Estonia-which is where the actual cycling part began- I had to take a ferry. I had thrown Helsinki into the mix just because I was curious about the northern most capital. I arrived at Viking Lines just as a boat was pulling out. I didn't know the boat was just pulling out and asked the one of I could buy a ticket for the boat. The woman gave me a look of amazement and replied, "FOR YTHE BOAT THAT JUST LEFT?" I didn't want to sound stupid so I shrugged and was like, "nah nah just for like any boat that is like ya know leavin' sometime today."
"We have one leaving at 8."
"AT NIGHT? Oh, ummmm is there another boat I could take or soemthing?"
I made the woman look up what times for other lines were leaving there was a Noordic Jet leaving in an hour. I pedaled over to their ticket office. Even though it was more expensive I wanted to get to Estonia at a descent time. I did like my 10 euro discount. I will be a student at Michigan State until that ID is clearly too old to be valid anymore. I mean I need to get my masters and PHd right?
HAving a bicycle put me into a select group of people... The people with vechiles. I ahd to wait with my bike in the line with the cars. And then after they all went in, including a big charter bus, I got to put my bike in the corner.
Waiting in the car line I got to inhale quite a lot of fumes and was feeling pretty good at the begining of the ride. I like watching as Helsinki disappeared and as we went by the smattering of islands surrounding the peninsula that Helsinki sits on. After all that fun was done I looked around at what there was to do. My car exhaust high was starting to ware off. There was a gift shop, the toilets had black lights in them, there were slot machines, and then I found what I was looking for the bar.
I ended up having to Draft Ciders called, Golden Cap. I have to recomend this cider fully.
If you find yourself taking the ferry from helsinki to Tallinn I recomend getting some draft cider and watching some Simpsons in Finnish. Before you know it your in another country.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Lil Sneek Peek the good pics come when I get home

My lunch in the middle of my first 100KM day.... I nice Estonian beer and a I ordered Cheese on the burger they slathered it in this weird sauce... ah to travel...

Stay away form this popsicle(ÄSSÄ MIX) those black things are black licorice(drop). So gross! First popsicle I couldn't finish.

There is like this totally beautiful building behind me... you can't see it. After getting reject by someone woman when I asked her to take my picture I asked some Finiish boy to but I didn't have the heart to tell him it sucked... For some reason I LOVE that this is my pic of me in Finland


I didn't really know what to expect when coming into Helsinki. I made a choice not to know alot about the places I'm going to so I can enjoy learning about them on the journey.
I actually got lucky on the plane ride because the girl in the seat next to me had seen me on her the first flight from Amsterdam to Copenhagen. The flight from Amsterdam to Copenhagen I only said one thing to the American couple sitting next to me which was, "Wow. I'm too tall for this window." Which got a very dirty look from the woman but no other response. The girl on my next flight started chatting with me because she was just coming back from her first trip to Amsterdam which she loved. Her friend lives there as a squatter... a Kraker in Dutch...It's a whole culture and I don't have time to explain it right now.
She was what I would find out a typical Finland youth. She has black hair, dressed all in black, and the most stunning blue eyes I have ever seen up close. She was funny and was explaining her country to me. How they feel forgotten by the other Scandinavian countries. And they think Norway is too expensive and Sweden is gay(sorry widmans). And when ever she insulted her own country she would stick her middle finger up her nose... I don't know why but that feels like something that should be mentioned.
At the end of the flight I could barely talk as I watched us flying over a vast forest of pine trees and a scattering of islands. I had hoped to bike from the airport to the town but quickly realized that wasn't going to happen.
After several different attempts to get on a bus I finally was shown to the only one that would take my bike. I was dropped off at the city center and set out looking for a hotel room. All of them were booked. Well, one wasn't booked but it was a bit pricey so I told them I would come back if I couldn't find anything else. After walking(yes, walking the Scandinavian air people DESTROYED my tires) my bike around for for about 2 hours and finding every hotel booked because of a big metal rock concert I reluctantly asked for a single room. The room was pimp. It was actually so nice and I had spent so much money on it that I spent a lot more time than I usually do lounging around in my room.
Also, because it cost so much I decided to use the sauna upstairs... I mean when in Finland..right? I didn't have a bathing suit and I'm not a fan of having my bare butt against something that someone elses bare butt was on... unless it is a public toilet than I'm totally fine with it... I have a logic disconnect don't I? I did go topless though. Which for my Purtain American roots was big for me. No one was in there but someone could have come I'm still counting it as me being brave. Apparently after going topless in a heated room I lose my mind because I ended up walking out to the balcony and enjoying the view totally topless.... I should mention the balcony is on a busy road. How European of me.
I spent a lot of time trying to get my tires fixed and finally got a guy at the sport store next to my hotel... good thing I walked around for three hours first. I also went to a flea market where I bought my only souviner from Finland. a pin of the president of Finland... she looks like Conan O'Brien. People liked my pin. I had fun enjoying the view and wandering around the town. I also sampled many popsiscles and took notes on which ones were good(that's a note for Shawn who saw up close for two weeks my love affair with Popsiscles) I'll tell ya right now I give ÄSSÄ Mix a thumbs down! It had black licorice in the middle. yuck! Note for Dutch People:You'd love it
Oh, Finland... I'll have to come back again and give you a proper amount of time.

Map one of my long bike ride

Thursday, July 17, 2008

On the go...

I leave tomorrow for my month long holiday. I'm going to be attempting to bike from helsinki to Berlin by myself.... Updates will be posted here :)

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

come 'er and give me a kiss.

I have never been one of those people who cheek kisses their friends. Hell, I don't even give my father or brothers full hugs but apt for a side hug, one arm around each other and done very quickly. However, the kissing on the cheek thing wasn't just because I am uncorfrotable with the human touch.

The real reason I never got into cheek kissing wasn't the human contact factor it was that it was too...hmmm... how do I put this nicely.... I guess there isn't a nice way to say it... It was too European.
ugh... was that too rude to say?

And what red blooded American wants to be European? I'll tell yeah it's the kind that think their too good for America. Well, I'm not too good for America so I spent years avoiding any kind of cheek kissing action.

Americans aren't totally against the cheek kiss. I have seen people give each other ONE kiss on ONE cheek. That is even acceptable to me. When it starts to be unacceptable is when both cheeks have a bit of slobber on them. That seems so european(okay I should just admit it now... European should really read French... and I like most Americans don't actually know anything about French culture or life styles or the people themselves but choose to dislike it for S(hits)&G(iggles).

The Netherlands is slowly breaking me of my anti-cheek kissing lifestyle. I guess the best way to break a phobia is to dive right into that phobia and you couldn't find a better place to break a fear of cheek kissing than in The Netherlands. The Dutch have decided to not just be european when greeting friends... they want to be super European. They have a cheek kissing habit of left-right-left.
One extra kiss for no reason! Seriously there is no reason for it, I have asked around.

I have become very skilled in the art of avoiding the left-right-left hellos by giving a hearty hand shake when I see people I know. The Dutch hand shakes are generally weak and just a couple of half hearted wabbles of the hand. However, to keep people from trying to come in and lay one on my cheeks I quickly do an old cowboy, hearty, trying to show who is stronger, look them in the eye kind of handshake. If necessary I will even even hold there hand with both of mine to try and keep them at bay.

Suprisingly it is weak old ladies who can break through my hand shake. Even when I try to stand sideways, bend forward ever so slightly, and extend my hand as far is it will go they still get me. They will except the hand shake wait till I'm done pumping them up and then pull me in for a lil 1-2-3.

So, warning if you don't like being too europeany or have a fear of the human touch the netherlands is not for you. Stay in America. We are reportedly the most anti-hugging society in the world.... Just the way it should be.
God Bless America.


Tuesday, July 15, 2008

To sound un-American for a moment

I know this will probably get me on a list somewhere... well, actually the fact that I spent all of my junior year of high school writing a big paper about jihad and all of my senior year researching neo-nazis...I'm probably already on some government watch list. So, if you are the person from the government whose job it is to read my blog, my I just say welcome. And I hope what I'm about to write makes it to the front of my file.
Belgians make superior beer.
It needed to be said.
I can sit with a Belgian beer and enjoy it's company the way I might enjoy the company of a good friend. Now any of the major American beers(I must say micro beweries are not included when I say American beers) is like sitting with someone that people swear you'll just love but infact you just want to rush through the meal with them cuz they are so disgusting and gross and mke you want to vomit and in fact if you get too much of them you do vomit and it takes a week to get the smell out of the carpet.... I'm starting to get off topic.

InBev, a Belgian Beer company, recently bought Anheuser-Busch to create the world's largest beer company. All I can say is thank God. Maybe the Belgians can use some of there magic and start making bud light drinkable. InBev is the company that brings Stella to the world. If nothing else it is cheap and strong and the most fun of any beer to drop on the ground... mostly because it gives you an excuse to yell, "STELLA!!!!!!!!"

So, Belgians this is for about 60% of you:
DANK U WEL! U heeft lekker bier. :)

Not all Americans see it my way. However, not all Americans have spent the past year getting drinking so many Belgian beers that they can even look down their nose at Heineken... Het spijt me... The Belgians don't have alot on the you Dutch people but can we all just admit they make better beer...

For the Americans who don't agree with me check the video below because Stephen Colbert is speaking to you:

Monday, July 14, 2008


Recently my friend Shawn(don't let the name fool ya... it's a girl) came for a two week visit. Shawn and I met on the Alternative Spring Break Trip I took to Honduras my last year at university. Though I considered her a friend(The Hondo trip was A-mazing all people on it I consider friends) I never considered her a close friend. She asked me if she could come for a visit one day after reading my blog. I said sure, assuming she like most others would say they were coming or that they really wanna come but than not come. However, Shawn's spontatnous(how in the heck do you spell that? And my spell checker is only for Dutch words so sorry there are so many mis-spelled words) attitude led to her buying a ticket to amsterdam.

I kept telling her on our internet convos before hand that Fryslan is not Amsterdam and is not close to the major cities one might think of as a place to have fun in Holland. In fact where I live we don't like The Netherlands being refered to as Holland. She said that was fine and that something different was what she was looking for.

May I just say I'm so glad she came with an open heart and was willing to let me share Fryslan with her. This little corner of the world that I have been living in for nearly a year and calling home for almost 6 months now. Shawn is a better writer than me so I will refer you to her blog: for more infromation about her trip. I just want to say that now I consider her a good and dear friend. And hope in the future I can share more of my crazy life with her :)
Shawn where do you want to visit me next:

And for any Hondo people out there... We want a reunion 2011 anywhere in the world... votes need to be cast.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Sex and Fryslan

"Which one do you think you are?"
"Miranda. yeah, that isn't even a question... I'm Miranda, bitterness and all"
When girls start talking about Sex and the City the question of which character are you always comes up. Women like to be able to identify with one of the characters. I have reluctantly had to admit I can identify with Miranda. I have even had a fight with a friend that was almost word for word what mirada said to Carrie in one episode. They offer online quizzes in case you can't figure out who you are. In all honesty I don't need one but I took it anyway. suprise suprise it said what I already knew. You can take a looka t it here if ya want:

Which Sex and the City Character Are You?

You are Miranda. You are drawn to men who can respect your independence and strength, and engage you intellectually. However, you are as hard on potential boyfriends as you are on yourself. It's a tough act to balance the demands of work and dating, but your cynical views on love make it even harder to find someone to take away the loneliness.

Find Your Character @

When the Sex and The City Movie came out here, in The Netherlands, the night before the official release there was a Ladies Night. Myself and three gal pals decided to go see it. We tried to decide who was who but ended up with one Miranda and three Carries. I guess our group wasn't ideal. At the movie theatre we were given free cocktails(with booze(sweet!)(Super cool)(yay)(Can I have second?)) Myself and we'll say Carrie #2 got the ones with booze. The other two Carries chose not to drink in the movie, so un-Carrie of them. before the movie they had a wide variety of sex toy available to purchase. Some that had even been featured ont he tv show.
My friends and I had showed up a bit late so we got split into two groups Carrie #2 and #3 in the second to last row and myself and Carrie#1 in the last row. We still managed to talk through the movie. In movie theatres in the Netherlands they have an intermission have way through the movie. It's so the Dutch can stretch their long legs, but more importantly they'll go buy more wine and beer... yep the standards for film watching in the netherlands. The intermission was particularly special for the Ladies night becuase "stripper" ahd been brought in... we all waited to see him. Carrie #1 and I started chanting Stripper stripper... and got some of the other ladies in our area to start chanting... in English. I have already seen male strippers(Thank you Mandy, Betsy, and Andrea for a memorable 18th birthday) so I wasn't that excited for him but I did want the movie to continue so we needed him out there first. When he eventually came out he went into the crowd looking for a girl. I quickly sat down but kept yelling. The rest of the abck row was still standing. Then as he approached the back row all the other ladies sat down in unison. They all became very quiet and started looking at the floor. I kept yelling cuz I'm not afraid to kick a stripper in his money maker if he tries to get me on stage. He eventually picked a woman.... and... how can I put this.... he wasn't so much stripping as giving the lady a naked lap dance. That was all he really could do was give lap dances. So, it was a huge let down and we all started chanting again to get the film going.
We thought with the end of the movie all the excitement was done. However, on our way out we were given a goodie bag. it had hair syrum and... a vibrator. What a nice and necessary present to recieve at the movie theatre. Now this is how movie going ought to be done.