Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Hamburg, Sauerkraut and Wieners!

My time in Hamburg was nice.  I was just thinking today how I cool it was to meet Laura and how kind she was.

Saturday night we had been out dancing and seeing the town.  I'm not sure if you know... but Hamburg DOESN'T sleep.  Laura ended up going home.  She invited me to go with her.  I decided not to since it was "still early".  The night progressed and I never looked at the time.  The next thing I knew I was off to the next place, and the next place.  Long story short I noticed that everyone around was starting to be kind of shady.  You know, facial expressions etc.. I decided to leave. When I stepped outside the sun hit me straight in the face and I almost melted. I guess you can't get into the last place with garlic.

This photo was apparently taken at 7:09 am.
      This guy started talking to me and let me know the scoop about the place I was in.... now alone.  I let him know he reminded me of my brother and we became friends. Haha!  
     Eh Tim?  Small resemblance after 9+ hours on the town?

This is what was outside at 8:59am when my phone says I left. Not shady at all.

    It was now 9 am I was..... some where and it was starting to rain.  I knew if I walked around long enough I could find a train, go back to the main station and figure out how to get back "home".  After a long, long walk in the rain I finally found the subway. Yay!  I jumped in the first train I thought might go the right direction and viola.  I was at main station, four more stops and two on the bus and I would be home.  I remember standing, waiting for the bus which said "4 minutes", falling asleep standing up, waking back up, seeing "4 minutes", falling asleep, waking back up, seeing finally seeing "2 minutes" falling asleep, waking back up...... finally "1 minute".  Now I have to sneak on the back of the bus so I don't have to pay.  Two stops and four naps later I made it!  It was now almost 11 am and the plan was to leave Hamburg that day.
     I slept little bit.  It was now 5 pm.  I needed to shower and figure out how I was going to leave Hamburg.  The original plan was to hitchhike but it was now nearly dark and I didn't have an escape route.  Plus, as you can imagine I was pretty tired and my stomach was upset.

     I decided to try and sneak on the train to Essen.  This way I could stay the night with my friend instead of sleeping.... who knows where.  I figured out the next train was in 15 minutes.  I was starving so I grabbed wally and went upstairs to grab food.  Like an idiot, I didn't know how to open these special kind of train doors and I missed the train.   It was two hours until the next train.

     An older Spanish gentleman started talking to me.  He as on his way to Paris with an old suitcase and  clothes that were thrown inside with everything else jumbled together.  He was cool.  When the train finally came I opted to sit in the same area as him.

      Since I hadn't paid the 70 euro for the ticket in advance I was going to try to plot a free ride.  Well... it almost worked.  The ladies who checked tickets were nothing short of jerks.  I mean, yes, I was trying to get a free ride but if my story had been completely true they were ruthless.   I mean, 70 euro or almost 100 USD was a lot compared to a free trip hitch hiking.  This was also money I didn't really have.  But whatever.  I got a nap in a warm place.

     When I arrived at the Essen HBF I realized that I still didn't know where I was going and that my friend was most likely in the next city.  I had to find wifi now and get a hold of my friend.  Finally, a starbucks in the center of town and free wifi!  I messaged him and he said he would be back in Essen as soon as possible.  Since it was now 3 am the next train would arrive around 6 am.  I decided to wait there on a sweet granite bench so I had internet.  It was now getting quite cold.  I had all of my jackets on, scarf, gloves, warm socks, hats... everything I owned on!  I decided the only remedy would be to jump into my sleeping bag.  I kept checking my phone through out the night.  Around 8 am I decided my friend wasn't coming so I could just sleep.

       The next thing I know boomboomboomboompshhhpshhhhboomdoublebooompppshhhh,drum rolll, wake the heck up!! we've got and orchestra of samba drums and whistles and you need to wake up!!!!!!  Get out of bed!!!!!

      I found this quite entertaining.  I had never been woken up so officially!  I felt a little strange since I was literally sleeping in the center of town, in a sleeping bag.... like a bum.  The impact of this group of drums, so intense and perfectly in sync with each other I couldn't help to smile and be amused!  I packed up my sleeping bag and headed for a bathroom back at the station. This way I could brush my hair and splash some water on myself.

      I then realized that this drum roll was not just for me.  It was also for a marathon that was taking place throughout town. These drums were there to help cheer the runners on to the finish/lap line. I should have really captured this moment for the blog but I didn't for some reason.

      Around noon my friend finally got in contact with me.  He ended up sleeping in the other town on accident but we were going to meet up and have a late lunch/dinner.  It was nice to see him!  He is the only person on my trip so far that recognized me from LA.  When I was missing home a bit he helped me re-realize that everything was more jolly where I was.  Some times that's all it takes.

Before a..  well.... a few minutes on the town.
Essen peeps!
      I spent a week with him in Essen, had some traditional German food (like sauerkraut and wieners), met his friend, cousin who was visiting from Morocco and later his family and best friend.  All of the above were pretty awesome!  The week was pretty relaxing for me.  I took some sweet baths and caught up on the blog there.

     That weekend he, his cousin and I all went to Düsseldorf for a day on the town.

Exactly!   Hallå!
A view of Düsseldorf from above!

Me and my new friend!

Yep.  That's where we were.  Not in the lamp post silly!  The TV tower!
Salma, Tobias and me in Dusseldorf!
The historic trolly 

The Rhine  river 

We left Dusseldorf just as it started raining and headed back to Essen.  Yes, we went out again.  The next day was Tobias' mother's birthday.  I was happy to be invited!  We went to Wuppertal where he was raised and had an awesome tapas dinner with the whole family, listed to a bit of opera and had some delish coffee and moroccan pastries. (Not in that order.)  It was a night of warmth, family, friends, laughs and friendly kisses.  I truly enjoyed it!

Salma's cousin, Salma and me at dinner.

    The next day I woke up, cleaned a bit packed my things, had dinner with Tobi and snuck on a train to Wuppertal to meet my Tobi's friend.

    Those stories coming soon!

Monday, October 22, 2012

The natural hair experience!

    After three years of being in a position where I constantly had to be around people, look a certain way and supposedly act a certain way I decided to give up my shampoo.   Why?

       1.  I've been having issues with my scalp, flakes and acne like issues.
       2.  I'm through with being told that I need to act in a certain way.
       3.  We weren't born with shampoo in our hands.
       4.  I like experiments and "alternative", open minded ways of doing things.
       5.  I would like to be finished living a lab tested life.

So, here you go.....
BEFORE: with shampoo
An extremely GREAT hair day, make up and perfect lighting!

Day3, Sept 10 - Tonsberg, Norway
The hair was nice, wavy, still clean and had a lot of body.  Sorry the picture isn't better. 

Day 4, Sept 11 - after combing in the shower. 
I was a bit bummed when I thought my hair was going to dry extremely greasy.
I let the wind off the sea do the blow drying.

Day 4, Sept 11 - Wind blown hair
This day my hair actually turned out  very lightweight, and it was becoming a little less "silky" in a good way.  It was now doing cool things, like comfortably being in my face.  
The fourth day was much easier than days 1, 2 and 3... Just like the master cleanse. ;)

Day 6 , Sept 13- Cleaning my brush after one brushing session.
 It wasn't dirt.  Just lint.  I guess it looks gross to most but it was actually very clean hair and lint.  I didn't find it gross at all.  It was very new to me though.

Day 7

Sept 14 - Not the best hair pic...  I was off to see the rest of Norway.

Day 7, Sept 14 - Kongsberg, Norway
Yay!!  A hat!!! It was super cold...for me! 
I was thinking it would be easier for me to deal with the hair if I had a hat anyway.

Day 9, Sept 16 - Bergen, Norway
 I was feeling pretty gross by now.  I was very flaky and ichy!  Not the best!

Also Day 9 - Sept 16 - Bergen, Norway
Looking pretty, pretty greasy in the back but it was still drying an hour later!
Usually my hair will dry in 20 mins or 2 minutes with a blow dryer.
Well, actually this is the worst it ever got!

Day 9 - I get bored always taking photos of myself for the blog! - Sept 16
Still, it was very wavy and light in color when it dried. 

Day 12,  Sept 19 - Alesund Norway
Wet hair an hour and a hike later.  The oils had really started kicking in.   

Day 12,  Sept 19 - Alesund Norway
Still looks fine though.  It was still flaky and itchy then.  I was still very paranoid about it.

Day 12,  Sept 19 - Alesund Norway
On the right you can kind of see how the strands of hair sort of stick together making it much easier to style and put up.  That is also what makes it *not* annoying to have the hair in the face.  
It no longer feels like little whispy spider webs dangling in the face.  This occurred as soon as day 4.

Day 13, Sept 20 - Alesund Norway

Looking good!  Full off body, looking and feeling clean. 

Day 15, Sept 22 - on the way back to Sweden
Definitely starting to acclimate by now. 

Day 22, Sept 29 - Leaving Sweden to Copenhagen on  1hr of sleep
Still lookin' good!
Day 23, Sept 30 - Borrowing the loo at a hostel in Copenhagen

 By now my head was much less itchy and the oils were starting to do their thing.  
Things were looking good. 

Day 23 too. 
Purdy, soft, slightly wavy hair

Day 25, Oct 2 - I found a place to sleep with my tent in Hamburg city with "Occupy Hamburg"

Day 25, Oct 2 - Camping in Hamburg, Germany with "Occupy Hamburg"
I didn't really have a mirror or a bathroom for two days.  
Who knows what was really going on "up there".  :p

Day 26, Oct 3
Day 26, Oct 3 Sleeping two days straight, waking up looking like a million bucks.
As you can see I'm a morning person. 
I think the hair looks good though.  This was before brushing or anything.  
I was just lifting my head off the pillow. 

Day 28, Oct 5 - Hamburg after a proper shower.
I had just put it up to get it out of my face.  
Also, the oils were annoying me again. My hair was still slightly wet since it takes for ever to dry now.

Day 28, Oct 5 - After a blow dryer job.
This was the first time I had used a blow dryer since I decided to kick the shampoo.

Day 29, Oct 6
Kicking the face wash to the curb too.... no matter how "natural" it was. 
I had already cut down and my face seemed to be fine.  
The oils from my head were no longer weird and making my face weird with oils.  
$40+ USD saved!.. and less stuff in my backpack. 

Day 33, Oct 10 - Essen, Germany 
Right after my first bath on the road!  The hair is obviously wet.
I was losing a lot of hair especially when combing in the shower. 

Day 34, Oct 11 - Essen, Germany
Just after waking up! Sleeping on it and not brushing/combing.  
Still not washing my face with soaps, just water and a towel. 

Day 34, Oct 11 - Essen, Germany
After brushing.  The difference?  I guess, the body. 

BOOM!    6 WEEKS!!    YAY!!!!!

So then what?!   Everything is normal or what!!!????? 

Day 35, Oct 12 - Cheers to 6 weeks!
I was SO VERY close to washing my hair this day.  
I was so annoyed, felt gross and we were going to go dance!
I decided just to shower and make the best of it.  I mean, it's just oil right?! Plus,  I didn't do 6 weeks for no reason. When I got out of the shower the water was totally soaked with the oil creating this sweet pomade type texture.  I decided just to do a sort of over the top hair style like I would often do back home. It worked out SO WELL and I felt great!  Look at them curls!!

Day 36, Oct 13 - A day on the town! Dusseldorf, Germany
Look at that sexy, cooperative hair! :p
It has body and it's not greasy looking!

Day 36, Oct 13 - Dusseldorf, Germany
The camera snuck another view in....
The hair is definitely MUCH better than weeks ago when I was in Bergen!

Day 39, Oct 16 - Wuppertal, Germany
This is how cool my hair is when I wake up.  Whoops, I left in two bobby pins.  

Day 39, Oct 16 - Sexy eh?
This is what your shampoo can't prove after 1.5 days. Haha!  
I've started losing less hair.  I have also decided not to comb in the shower.  
The oils are basically completely balanced.  
My head is definitely MUCH less itch but still flakey when I scratch it.  
I've got to keep myself from touching my head AND face now!

Day 40, Oct 17  - Wuppertal, Germany - off to Cologne for the day.
Hopefully my skin will start adapting to no face wash soon.
Updates on that to come. 

Conclusion on day 45

     Everything seems to be balanced finally.  My hair is now just as soft as it was before.  It has more body, more curls, more wave and more texture.  Three or four days ago I received my first compliment from someone who had no idea what was going on.  I can wake up now, not brush my hair and it's not nearly as tangled as it would be if I was still using shampoo.  I feel good.  My face isn't bothering me because it's too oily anymore.  It's bothering me because I'm breaking out but that should pass. Although, I always broke out a little bit.  Even when I gave up gluten. 
    My current mission is to wake up feeling like I was nice to myself and treat myself better each day.  I'm not going to say what exactly I mean because I will jinx it if I do.  That's how I seem to work. 

    I'm happy. 

Monday, October 15, 2012

“Why do we have to listen to our hearts?"

“Why do we have to listen to our hearts?" the boy asked.
"Because, wherever your heart is, that is where you will find your treasure.” 
― Paulo CoelhoThe Alchemist

♥ my cozy home ♥ ... before i was homeless.
    I have now been on the road backpacking, hitch hiking and couch crashing for just short of three months.

    I knew when I left it was something I had to do. Some times we don't know why we have to leave.  We just do.

    In the past week I have been having dreams almost nightly. Being away from home has helped me to realize quite a few things. Things, maybe, I was in denial about. Things I need to emotionally toss out the window. Things about my personal life that I probably would have not realized.

    How is it possible to be in such a great place as Germany and be slightly sad almost everyday when I wake up?  Maybe the treasure I now dream of was bluntly in front of me back home?

   I wonder if the treasure I dream of will be mine when I get there. Maybe some one else will have discovered my treasure and I will have been to late? I guess if the treasure was truly meant to be mine it will be.

    I will do my best to follow my heart where it guides me.  Whether it's back home to get my treasure or to the next foreign land so I may prepare for my treasure.

Monday, October 8, 2012

997 KM - Sweden, Denmark, Germany.....

Way ta' spoil the story!

After staying another unplanned week in Gothenburg I knew it was now very much time to go! 
I spent the day on the town.  Mostly watching people during a week day. What they do, how they live etc..  Since I was staying out of town this was one of my first opportunities to do this.

 < Hanging out in the avenue... waiting.  I'm getting used to people staring at me as they walk by.

Some fashion for ya'. Haha! >

Then, I headed back to central station.  I stayed up all night on the computer.  (Since they have outlets and free wifi!) I waited for the early morning then took a nap. My original plan was to hitchhike to Stockholm. I received an email the night before explaining that my ride from Stockholm to Germany was canceled due to automotive technical difficulties.

It was now time for me to decide what to do next.  Since I hadn't really slept I decided to grab a bus ticket and sleep on the bus.  It was a long enough ride that I got some sleep.  I woke up in Malmlö, Sweden.  It was just in time to catch the bridge to Denmark!  What a cool bridge it was too!

Leaving Malmö. These are fields of sunflowers and... daisies, maybe?

In the round-about.  As my high school photo teacher Brehm would say... these are "fall colors".
He would be upset that the horizon isn't straight.  haha! Notice the wind power in the middle of the ocean?!
When I got to Copenhagen I still had no plan. I got off the bus and started walking........................................................................

I encountered "elevator music" for the first time!
Passed central station...

Eventually I found a youth hostel.  I used their plugs, free wifi and free toilets again!  :D  Then I was lucky enough to find another CouchSurfer in Copenhagen in the same situation as me.  He didn't have a place to stay and was headed for Germany.  I probably could have found a place.  In fact, I had an offer for a place to stay the next time I checked.  I decided to camp out in the park with him.  He had been backpacking for 3+ years.  So, we waited a little bit and then headed towards the park we designated for the night.  Along the way we found a football (soccer) field that seemed perfect. We scoped it out. It was a high school so decided to camp out there. Plus, there was a roof with benches.  In case it rained, this was perfect!  Since it was Saturday night there shouldn't have been anyone around at all.

Boy were we wrong! Around midnight we were woken up by flashlights and teenage boys wondering why were were sleeping at their school.  I thought to myself, "Self, why are THEY here completely inebriated and giving US a hard time?"  Then I realized they were just little bored kids who wanted someone to entertain them.  After circling around us a few times, going into the forest etc,  they decided they really wanted to talk with us.  I did my best to entertain them and keep them tame at the same time.  The last thing I wanted was to get attacked by four, drunk, 15 year old boys! So I offered them the last of my belove-ed kladdkaka cookies from Sweden and attempted to say funny Danish phrases for them.  After an hour or so of this they finally left.

The next (early) morning we were woken up by barking dogs and strange people.  The idea was to see museums and such.  I really just wanted to walk around town solo.  That's what I did.

Yes, it must have a balcony with a view. ... It does? Okay so where do I sign?
Parliament: I was told anyone can enter at any time to sit in.  Some lady even brought chickens in one time to protest...?

It was quite a beautiful sunny day at the botanical garden!
It was necessary to get a Danish in Denmark.  Yes, it was delicious!
I just loved the architecture!
I LOVE this about Europe! This was also in the botanical garden.
After spending the day in town my fellow CouchSurfer and I met back up to hitchhike to Germany.  I still wasn't sure where I was going at this point.  Hitchhiking at night isn't the easiest, obviously.

I was told that the Germans love this sign in Sweden and Norway.  Apparently the Danish like it too.  :p

We still managed to make it to Nykobing, the southern tip of Denmark and found a cozy place to sleep.

It's really amazingly refreshing that people just open up their houses to people in need!  For this reason I love hitchhiking and living "on the road".  Taking my chances and learning to trust people again.  Even when it comes to sleeping in a park.

In the morning the sweet couple that picked us up from who-knows-where, Denmark fed us until our bellies were full and offered to drive us the rest of the way to the ferry. 35 km out of their way times two...maybe? From there it was time to try to hitch a ride ONTO the ferry so we wouldn't have to pay. (It's free if you're in a car.)  After trying to hitch for two hours while waiting for the next ferry I decided it was worth my while to pay the 100 danish kronor to get to Germany in daylight.  This meant I would be hitchhiking from Rostock to Hamburg solo.  I was up for the challenge and some peace and quiet!  :p

From Rostock I immediately found a hitch off the ferry.  They got me to the main highway.  I tried a perfect spot off the highway with no success.  After awhile you can kind of tell if people are going to stop in a spot or not. The sun was starting to go down but I had found another sweet spot to pitch my tent in case I didn't find a ride.

I then decided to hitch off the AutoBahn! Nice.  I didn't realize the speed limit was 130 KM/Hr until I was good and ON the highway.  I had just finished crossing a bridge when a car pulled over.  AWESOME! This was a cool guy who said his car broke down.  He was already five hours late on his trip and figured what's another hour.  Haha! Also awesome!  He used to hitchhike himself and just wanted to help.

It was my first hours in Germany.  All I could see in the distance was rolling hills, plush green fields, big rolls of straw and windmills: both new and old.   I even saw this array of solar panels in rows creating a soft wave with a gorgeous blue and purple sunset reflecting off of them.  Just behind those was an ultra modern white windmill.  To me it was a welcome into a mesmerizing country. Even though it was just down the street from the last it was a completely new invigorating experience.  I was happy to be there! 

My ride got me to the correct freeway for my path. There he found a rest area. He then asked for my ride to the next gas station.  Success! The first person he asked agreed!

I took some photos while he was scoring me a ride!

This second guy was on his way home from work in Rostock.  He was driving a sweet benz and wearing a stylish suit.  He was an insurance broker, a very cool insurance broker.

We got to the next gas station.  The sun was down.  I HAD to get to the next spot. This one wasn't suitable to stay in.  This is when my "shy" kicked back in.  I much rather "thumb" because I don't have to approach strangers that way.  Oi vey! This was not the time for my "shy" to kick in!

After an hour or so I finally decided it was stay there all night or ASK EVERY ONE!

I decided to ask everyone.  About five cars into it, score!, I found a ride! This guy didn't speak much English but he was going basically all the way to Hamburg.  He told me I could sleep if I wanted but I was pretty awake at this point.  A few silent hours went by and my exit had arrived!

...Wait?!!?!  It was a TRUCK STOP?!! Holy Moses! This wasn't good. THERE WERE NO CARS! Just trucks!!! I used the loo asked the two cars that passed, paced around a bit, then decided this WASN'T GOING TO CUT IT!  Ahh!!! I DEFINITELY couldn't sleep here!!!!!!  I looked at a map inside the store but I had no idea where I was.  I had a feeling that I got dropped off too late and I needed to go the opposite way on the freeway.

I started walking.  First I had to walk sort of back on the freeway.  Then I realized any cars there weren't going to stop! They were going to Bremmen or Cologne.  Not good!  I then took the next little exit which came to a "T".  Left or right?  Right: Some street which I *thought* may lead the correct way but I had no idea.  Left: info and a tunnel under the freeway at night.  

My first instinct was to go right.  I thought, and thought, and thought.  Then I decided to go left.  At least to the left there was another gas station and some lights.  Maybe a hotel?

I walked through the bridge. Just on the other side was the place with the lights.  It was a hotel!  It was open and so was the bar!  I was relieved!

My first beer in Germany!

I asked reception if they had a password for the wifi.  They explained they didn't but they did have computers available.  Alright!!! That's what I needed!! This way I could figure out where I was!!! Yipee!!!

A few minutes of chit chat on FB, some map-looking-at and I was in business.... kind of.  I just needed to get there.  When I came out from the "business center" where the computer was the bar had closed.  I went up to pay for my delicious "Paulaner" and started talking with the sweet girl at the bar.  She looked very German to me.  In fact, she was Polish.  After chatting and telling her my story about hitchhiking that day she offered to give me a ride into town in about 30 mins.!   Double Yipeee!!!!  Now I was "in business"!

It was a Sunday night.  She dropped me off where she thought I would be able to figure something out for the night.  Man, I hope she never has to do that for herself.  It was the worst part of town!  No one was around!  It was dirty and dark. Ugh!  I walked and walked, and walked some more.

Eventually, I found someone outside talking! Yay! It was a hostel! Yay! Free electricity and wifi! Yay!  I spent the entire night and morning chatting with my mom and updating my blog.  When the morning came I was exhausted but it was time to figure something else out.  The hostel check in wasn't until 3 pm.  I walked uphill toward some pretty buildings in hope of.... some thing. 

The first cool building turned out to be central station.  There wasn't even a place to sit there!  I walked back out and followed the foot traffic.  They were all going toward..... An outside SHOPPING MALL! Great.  I continued on to find an indoor shopping mall.  I was sitting on a bench there, finally warm and starting to doze off when I realized that would be a bad idea.  I woke myself up sharpened my eyes and thought...        I.... saw.... tents outside?  Okay.  Now I was delusional!

I didn't have my glasses on so I got up and walked out the door.  I was delirious but not delusional!

"Occupy Hamburg"
A total blessing after being awake for almost 48 hours!

I waited a while for someone to pop out of a tent so I could ask them to camp out.  I waited and waited.  Finally a face that looked like it might be part of the "movement".  Sure enough it was!

I now had a home and a reason for carrying my tent for the last 2+ months! I set up my tent and basically slept for two days straight minus two bathroom trips and one meal. 

All right!! This is me occupying Hamburg! Way to stick it to the man! LOL
I looked very charming when I finally woke up!
It was time for me to move to my next home. I had found a new place to occupy in Hamburg.  This one had a roof and a shower!! :)

"CockTrail" 'Twas on the way to my new home!

I met my new host.  Her place smelled like 1,000 roses and fruits.  I smelled like crap! Haha!  I took a shower and we went to check out her new neighborhood together.

First time smoking in a bar and first Jagermeister in Germany!
I spent a few days with her and enjoyed her company.  She had a huge smile and was a wonderful cook.  It was just nice to hang out and bond a bit with a girl.  (Thanks Anna... lalala)

I had planned only to stay there one or two nights.  That quickly became three almost four nights even though my plans to meet up with two out of town friends in Hamburg failed.

My plan was now to head to Essen/Cologne!  Stay tuned!  You're now only three days behind! ;) Congrats!!