Rødby, Denmark Wi-Fishing

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I’m on a train on a boat. Apparently they can do that. The train rumbles up onto the ferry, gate closes, and off we go. I feel like a LEGO man.

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We’re en route from Paris, overnight. Got stuck in a cabin with two other guys. Four men sleeping in a tiny, bedless room requires some degree of…intimacy. One of our roommates was Indag, an Ethiopian working at Mother Teresa’s care center in Addis Abba.

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Wonderful guy, but virtuous qualities aside, I’m not sure he knows about soap.

Don’t have much to report on Europe. It’s still Europe. Been Europe for a long time. Likely to remain so.

Most of what I’ve seen has been from the window of a train. At this point, to be honest, my sightseeing receptors have been worn down to dull nubs. I’m on country number 37 since December. Just working on a project now. Very close to finishing and trying to make it as good as it can be. Any side experiences are incidental.

Matt is the perfect companion for where my head is at right now. His superhuman endurance is matched only by his superhuman indifference.

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"Hey Matt, how about we take the 8am from Amsterdam back to Paris, then catch the metro to the airport and another train to Haute-Picardie station in the middle of nowhere? Once there, we sit by the side of the tracks for two hours and you film me dancing every time a high-speed train passes by. Then we go back to Paris so we can catch the overnight to Copenhagen and then the next available cargo ship to Norway so I can go dance on a rock wedged between two cliffs."

"…yep. Okay."

"Oh, and since my wallet was stolen, would you mind paying for everything while we wait for the wire transfer to go through?"

This is not meant to imply he’s some sort of traveling zombie. Most of the time he’s actually leading the way; a whiz with train schedules, way more on the ball at making arrangements, and generally more attentive about where we are, where we’re going, and when we need to grab our stuff and run.

I’ve said it before: there is no better travel companion than an Australian. They’re like Wookies.

Aside from the dancing stuff, our primary focus is the constant need to find free wi-fi.

Eifel Tower? Whatever. Where’s the McDonald’s?

It’s not the food, mind you. They’ve usually got fast, free signals.

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The most pathetic display is at train stops, when one of us (usually me) pings the local networks for an unsecured signal from within the train. In the rare event that we find one, both of us scramble to complete our respective e-tasks before the train pulls out again.

I am not proud.

Left Paris the first time — what, a week ago now? Took the overnight to Munich and met up with Melissa’s old friend, Martin.

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Despite appearances, Martin is not, in fact, Ben Stiller with glued-on facial hair.

Still groggy from our fourth straight night on a train, Martin took us out to a traditional Bavarian breakfast of white sausages and beer.

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The beer was great. The sausages weren’t.

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We were instructed in proper sausage-eating technique. You’re supposed to put one end in your mouth and squeeze the meat out, avoiding the skin, which shouldn’t be eaten.

I’ll spare you the pictures. They are…graphic.

On reflection, this may have been a practical joke.

Joining us for the day: Golo.

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Golo is a flight attendant for Lufthansa. He shaves his arm pits, and yet he is not gay.

Here is one of 200 pictures Golo took of us.

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Golo generously entertained for the day while Martin worked. He insisted we suck the marrow from the bone that is Munich.

Here’s some old building.

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Guys surfing on the river Isar, which feeds into the Danube. They have some net set up beneath the surface to create a constant, fixed wave.

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Tragically blurry action shot.

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Walked through the English Garden. Played some frisbee. Napped under a tree. Watched the nudists sunbathe.

I try to take public nakedness in stride, as do many of us. I wouldn’t want to discourage anyone from taking their clothes off — even the old fat guys are an amusing spectacle. But coming straight out of the Middle East, it’s still hard to fathom the mental baggage that comes with culture; the incredible breadth of ways in which we live.

Over a mildly inebriated dinner, Matt put forth the evidence suggesting the World Trade Center was, in fact, demolished from within by pre-placed explosives. As the lone American, my nationalistic pride renders me incapable of accepting the horrific truths implied.

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It is more than likely that this picture exists solely because of the blonde in the middle.

Golo took it. Golo who is not gay.

Another overnight train. Next stop: Berlin.

Ah, Berlin. What can I say about my six whole hours there?

Neat wall.

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Got one of my all-time favorite dancing clips. One of those unplanned moments you can’t duplicate.

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Still more evidence that what Germany finds sensual and erotic is, to me, hideous and disturbing.

Train to Amsterdam to meet up with Sophie for the third time on this trip. Caught her in Australia just before she moved. Met up with her in China while she was en route. And here she is, settling into her new job and life in The Netherlands; my favorite country whose name starts with a definite article.

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Amsterdam was sort of a break for us. What little motivation we had to do anything was beaten back into its hole by her neighbor’s fast, unsecured wi-fi connection. We mostly just went out when it wasn’t working.

In my defense: I have no money or credit cards right now and Western Europe is very, very expensive. Peeing costs $1.25. Using my computer is one of the only free things I can do.

Plus it connects me to home. And I’m ready to be home.

The big dancing clip idea for the Netherlands was to visit Delft University of Technology, where some students recently created the world’s largest 3D display.

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It’s a matrix of ping pong balls with red diodes inside of them. When assembled, the screen is 8 meters wide, 4 meters tall, and 2 meters deep. It plays animations, rudimentary 3D games, and displays SMSs that are sent to it.

We devoted an evening to the search, but all we found was this.

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It was down for the day.

Would’ve been neat.

Oh, well.

Sophie’s back-up suggestion was to dance in the tulip fields. I was skeptical at first, but her pictures swayed me. Devoted another afternoon to that one.

Turns out the tulip window ended two weeks ago and they’re all gone.

Oh, The Netherlands, why do you spurn me so?

Went to the Van Gogh museum. Saw the "Potato Eaters," "Wheat Field w ith Crows," "Bedroom in Arles." But alas, my favorite, "Starry Night," was not there. It’s either in Paris or New York.

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He’s one painter whose work you’ve really gotta see firsthand. I’m far from an art connoisseur, but there’s something about those thick globs of paint — the texture, the way the light shines off it.

Soph took us on a tour of Amsterdam’s famous red light district. No pictures allowed.

Saw the window-lined streets with hookers on display like zoo animals. Entrances to live sex performances everywhere you turn.

It was fascinating.

I’d like to declare that we should all break the shackles of repression and embrace such zones in every city, but I’ve gotta admit it was pretty messed up. Lots of men behaving badly. Unpleasant.

Not sure the benefits outweigh the damage.

Oh, and the pot thing. Wow. If you don’t like the smell of marijuana, don’t go to Amsterdam.

Watched Da Vinci Code. Lots of interesting things going on there, but as a movie, I thought it was utter crap.

They didn’t even try to make anyone interesting. So many hugely talented actors, but except for Ian McKellan’s queeny scenery-chewing, no one had anything to do.

I must confess though, it did give me an idea…

Left Amsterdam for Paris, stopping briefly to change trains in Brussels. Since Matt is about 10 times smarter than me, I enjoy engaging in the one thing I’m better at: movie trivia. We passed the time playing Six Degrees.

Connected Jet Li to Estelle Getty in three names. Eddie Vedder to Posh Spice in four. Errol Flynn to Halie Joel Osment in five. Matt finally stumped me with Kurt Russell to Patrick Swayze using only actors they’ve killed or been killed by in films.

I returned the volley with a more left-brained challenge: give me the highest prime number under 10,000. He opened his laptop, wrote a prime number generator, and gave me the answer in 5 minutes.

Nerds in transit.

On our first stop in Paris a week ago, we failed to get a dancing clip in front of a high-speed TGV train. After some research online, I learned the best place to go trainspotting is the remote outpost of Haute-Picardie station. To quote from the shockingly relevant web page:

"Haute-Picardie belongs to a rare breed of stations: it is located directly on a high speed line, with platforms just a few meters from the TGV Nord-Europe tracks. Only a handful of trains stop there each day; most pass on through without slowing…there isn’t a building for miles around, except for the station itself. The reason is this: TGV Haute-Picardie is the child of a sterile political controversy, revolving around which of two nearby cities should have got TGV service. The conflict was artfully resolved by the French government with a compromise: the station was built in between, or to be exact, in the middle of nowhere. For what this station is otherwise worth, it is without doubt a great place to watch TGVs, which is precisely the matter that concerns us here."

Indeed it is!

We arrived at the station with two hours before our return train to Paris. In that time, I danced in front of as many trains as we could manage to catch. See the thing is, those trains move REALLY FAST!

I mean you don’t even see them coming. And they’re going about 1/3 the speed of sound, so you can’t hear them either. It’s just a spontaneous, exhilarating burst of wind and fury every ten minutes or so.

We caught about a dozen clips from every distance and angle we could think of. Most of them didn’t work, but one is golden. I made sure to lift my feet off the ground as I danced, cause I just know I’ll get comments insisting I sped up the footage.

But you can’t speed up jumping. No, it’s for real. The trains really go that fast.

Back to Paris, caught the overnight to Hamburg, changed trains to Copenhagen, and here we are.

Tomorrow we arrive in Norway, and the next day we’re heading to the fjords to attempt the most death-defying clip I’ve ever done: Kjeragbolten.

I’m not much of a death-defier. I may try and reason with it, but ultimately what happens is up to death’s discretion.

27 Responses to Rødby, Denmark Wi-Fishing

  1. Rich

    “He shaves his arm pits. He is not gay.”
    Good thing I didn’t have anything in my mouth. It would have spilled out when I laughed.

    Ah yes, the pay toilets of Europe. They’ve gotten more expensive since I’ve been there though.

    I’ve been to Amsterdam more than 10 times, but never left the airport. If I knew my flight was going to be delayed for 5 hours that one time I could have left the airport and seen the city. Ah, well.

    Wait a moment, one time we drove to Cuijk, on the other side of the Netherlands, in the most unpleasant work trip ever. It was like driving through Wisconsin, except with a few windmills.

  2. I remember Amsterdam so well…mainly because I shouldn’t have been in the Red District. I think I walked around with my mouth hanging open all night. I finally was “rescued” by a man who knew I wasn’t really offering my mouth for services, that I was really…umm…lost. I hadn’t dared to stop to ask directions from any of those nice noisy gentleman behaving so gentlemanly. Heh.

    I also remember Bavarian sausages. I think that’s the first time I ever got drunk at breakfast because gooey meat squooshing in my mouth tasted better that way. Hmm. I had an obsession with my mouth back then.

    Can’t wait to see the train speeding by, boys! And don’t let the traveling get to you.

  3. Chantal

    Hej Matt,

    I just find out your dancing video, really awesome. The videos are so funny!!
    What a morons on the Parthenon, really unbelievable. Too bad the ping-pong-ball-light thingie in Delft did’nt work out. that’s my hometown! You could have danced in front of the famous Delft Blue Pottery 😉

    Cheers, Chantal

  4. Hi Matt ! I heard about you yesterday, I couln’t help watching your video manymanymany times, because it’s both funny and beautiful.
    I’m french and didn’t know anything about this TGV station before reading your post… I’m a bit – er… no, I’m really ashamed. Please come back to our place, there are others nice places to dance in :o)

  5. Greetings from germany. Nice you’d seen “The Wall” – a “thing” that divided our country and east and west berlin for almost 40 years.

    I am very happy that this time is over! My girlfriend is from east germany. If the wall was still standing I never would have met her.

    I hope you come back to visit germany once again and see more. It’s a nice country – in summer… 😉

    Marc

    PS: I like your video very much!

  6. jackflash

    Hello Mad! You said: Still more evidence that what Germany finds sensual and erotic is, to me, hideous and disturbing.

    That was advertising for a theatre in berlin… you have none concept of germany! buy a book and read this: link to amazon.com

    greetings from germany

    ps: we have a culture!

  7. Ben

    Hey Matt,

    I enjoyed flipping thru your pages. I think it was a cool idea with the dance, the only thing I came up with was collecting shotglases from places I visited.

    By the way the “old building” in Munich is the city hall at “Marienplatz” and for some weird reason people like to listen to the bells playing at 5pm every day. I think it’s just awful.

    Anyways … good luck on your next trips.

    Take care

  8. Fritjof Lücke

    Hej Matt!

    So you have been to the Netherlands? Nice country isn’t it??? Amsterdam is neat to, i live in a village right next to it. Well, you must visit de ‘Veluwe’ the next time you come in Holland, it’s breathtaking (Is that a word?? Hahahaha)

    But, good luck on your trips, and please come visit us again 😉

    Greetings,
    Fritjof, saying hi from the Netherlands.

  9. Juliette

    Hi Matt,
    Great video love your moves!! You even do the dance on a slow motion when you talked at the Champlain University! What about a dance on the vulcans? You’ve missed out a great dance on the Etna in Italy, it was in erruption last may…Don’t forget to watch how people live when you travel, with a language book you’ll get even more stuff out of your trips! Ciao,
    Juliette

  10. Carmen

    I have lived in Germany for one year and the best place to go is Munchen. The best beir is a liter of Hefy and the best food is anything Bavarian with Senf, aka spicy mustard. You should take a trip to Wuerzburg or Rothenburg OT. Those are more traditional towns. If you go to Oktoberfest it is the last week in September in Munchen. There are many, many festivals in Germany you could have done. The Christmas Markets are the best if you come in the winter.

  11. Arnaud

    Matt m’a donné envie de faire le tour du monde à mon tour. Depuis que j’ai vu la vidéo, j’économise pour un futur voyage !

    Merci de nous offrir ce rève !

    I’m not speak English, I’m french. But google translates my comment like this :

    “Matt gave me desire for making the turn of the world. Since I saw it video, I save for a future voyage!

    Thank you to offer this dream to us!”

  12. redkite

    Matt wrote: “Still more evidence that what Germany finds sensual and erotic is, to me, hideous and disturbing.”

    Still more evidence that travelling around the world doesn’t make you a smart person…

  13. Willem

    “Matt wrote: “Still more evidence that what Germany finds sensual and erotic is, to me, hideous and disturbing.”

    Still more evidence that travelling around the world doesn’t make you a smart person…”

    A person’s opinion has nothing to do with being smart. Try understanding that before posting. And if you disagree try arguing in a civilized way, it makes a point more credible.

    As for Amsterdam, in my opinion, if you want to see Holland don’t go to Amsterdam its probably one of the most non-Dutch cities in the country. Its really only for tourists, but it doesn’t represent Holland at all. And that coming from a Dutch perspective.

  14. JJ

    Hiya Matt,

    Whenever you’re back in The Netherlands, drop me a line ([email protected]) I think there are quite some interesting places you haven’t been to yet….maybe I can give you a small tour :)

    Greetings,
    JJ

  15. Psychomedic

    Hey Matt!
    If you´re going to make an video about the world come to germany, Nordrhein-Westfalen, waldbröl. The landscape here in Waldbröl is really beatiful. If you could make it that would be great.

    Thanks a bunch

  16. Cathy

    Hi Matt,

    your favorite Starry Night is in the newly renovated MoMA (Museum of Modern Arts), NYC.

    Have fun traveling!

  17. cyclingfan74

    Hi,
    the technique to suck the meat out of the skin of a white sausage is not at all a practical joke. This is REAL! Well, it is kind of graphic, but you just h a v e to like it that way. And by the way, I shave my armpits, too. And No, I’m not gay either.

    Greetings from Munich

  18. Alexander

    Hi Matt,

    just a small little things.
    There are actual two proper ways of eating Weißwurst (the white saussage). The first one is the one you mentioned. A more traditional one and indeed more or less disgusting. The second is a simple cutting technique which I prefer a lot. 😉

    Maybe you should be careful about what you claim about other countries. I might be going to San Francisco China Town, write in my Blog and might say “I found a small Chinese man on the street with signs attached to his Body. That’s what Americans find erotic. For me it’s rather anoying”. If you know what I mean. 😉

    And last but not least. Shaving the armpits is about hygiene. Even more appropriate if you travel alot. 😛

    Ciao,
    Alex

  19. Genevieve

    heyy…. i’ve just discovered your cool dancing clips, it makes me soo sad cos i just got back from O.S. and would give anything to be away again!all of the places you’ve been look so amazing… so you know – in Munich – that ‘old building’ is actually the ‘new’ RatHaus or townhall. it apparently houses an amazing toy museum! there ya go! and the bierHall you went to was an Augustiner Bier Hall lol… just in case, ya know, u cared… the WeissWurst is ssposd to be eaten with the yummy sweet mustard.. but i’m pretty much with you- not such a fan! i’d much prefer a german Pork roast 😛 anyways. keep up the good work! Gen, Australia.
    p.s.
    i think the glockenspiel at Marienplatz( part of the Rat Haus) is ganz schoen und, eigentlich, typisch Deutsch! :)

  20. christelle

    Bonjour,
    J’ai trouvé par hasard la vidéo sur matt et je l’ai trouvé vraiment super amusante.
    C’est génial de voir quelqu’un réaliser son rêve, “faire le tour du monde”. Il a vraiment eu une bonne idée de réaliser cette vidéo, elle nous permet de voyager avec lui. Les paysages sont somptueux,vraiment formidables. J’aimerai bien qu’il nous montre d’autres vidéos sur ses voyages, c’est trop bien. Encore merci 😉

  21. exabyterra

    hi matt, saw your video, like the idea, but feel sorry for you when i hear how boring travelling can be these days, i have also a lot of travelling expirience in my life and laughed a lot when i read this lines: its to the point!!!! however if your plan includes the visit of switzerland or austria (where im from, vienna) i would give you some practical hints for making the trip a unforgettable one, and of course a invitation for bed and breakfast and practical ideas for your >mission<, from heidi-land, siddy

  22. exabyterra

    hi matt, saw your video, like the idea, but feel sorry for you when i hear how boring travelling can be these days, i have also a lot of travelling expirience in my life and laughed a lot when i read this lines: Over the last couple hundred flights, I’ve decided the notion of sitting next to someone cool and interesting is, essentially, mythical; its to the point!!!! however if your plan includes the visit of switzerland or austria (where im from, vienna) i would give you some practical hints for making the trip a unforgettable one, and of course a invitation for bed and breakfast and practical ideas for your >mission<,

  23. I thought everybody shaved their armpits these days. It’s more hygienic and looks better.

    As a Dane, I went eagerly to the entry about Denmark. … Sigh. Ah well, the talk about those other countries was cool too. :)

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