The answer

February 20, 2009 § Leave a comment

My opinion is, the more one agonizes about certain things such as visa issues, the more these issues will not be solved. Like the good old embassy says, there’s nothing we can do.

So I’ve adopted the view that if I don’t think about it, it shall all go away and there are more important things to focus on. Therefore in order to sidetrack myself from the predicament at hand, my obvious answer to everything in this world, is food. Specifically chocolate, but I’m not really that picky.

For those of you who have been following, I was sick with some sort of food poisoning in Brussels, and the sight of food made me sick for one entire week. I did not feel hungry, for one week, because my tummy was angry. It was angry, and I was very sad that it was angry. I felt lower than the lowest pits.

Anyway, the point is, that is the past. My tummy is happy again, and this crazy phenomenon of not being hungry, has long been forgotten. I forgave my tummy, and it forgave me. We are friends once more. Regardless of whether I will be apprehended when I next cross the German border, I have been distracted by my beloved food and chocolate. A little rollcall from the past couple of days:

– Three quarters of a loaf of brioche topped with loads of glorious Irish butter.
– Curry wurst with fries, ketchup, chili flakes, and of course, curry.
– Boulette (thick chunks of German style minced patties).
– Chocolate tiramisu with drinking chocolate.
– Grilled fish with roasted vegetables.
– More mashed potatoes than one can ever consume
– All the Belgian chocolate I brought from Brussels

I almost wanted to take a big bite out of that chocolate Titanic, but I resisted. I will be going to Prague this afternoon. Will I be seized?



February 19, 2009 § 4 Comments

It appears that I have gotten myself into a slight pickle with this visa dilemma. Now, although the nice German officers had decided to set me free into the night last week, the small possibility that I’m an illegitimate tourist still weighed on my mind like a cannonball waiting to burst forth.

After many attempts at contacting the Australian Embassy, I finally managed to speak to a person instead of a machine. Calmly explaining the situation, I asked Embassy Man for his advice. To summarize:

Me: So it’s not really my fault that the Swiss didn’t stamp my passport when I left the EU.

Him: No. But there’s really nothing you can do.

Me: What do you mean? Surely the embassy has encountered such similar scenarios?

Him: Sure, but we can’t do anything. You need to call the German police.

Me: What?

Him: Everything goes through the police.

Me: Thanks.

I hang up. NO FUCKING WAY! I do not want to contact German police. They sound scary. I have decided that I have done everything I can to resolve the situation, and if my own embassy cannot assist me, then it shall be their fault.

Yes, that is an extremely good alibi. I will go with that. Oh, what an exciting life I lead.


February 19, 2009 § Leave a comment

Despite the heavy snow and my apparently ‘illegal’ status, I decided that it really was useless to go into hiding or mope about in a sad manner. If I am to be deported, they will have to drag me kicking and screaming from the fabulous sights and museums, as the rightful tourist I am. So I’ve been carrying on, and have been venturing out to all sorts of places.

I could describe the profoundly archinerd-y experiences I had at the Holocaust Memorial or the Bauhaus Archives, but I won’t. However, I might delve into weird ass episode from yesterday.

Night had fallen early as usual. J suggested we take the bus (I was hesitant but agreed) and the U-bahn to an underground art gallery sort of place, where one could check out alternative art and such. The street we arrived in was covered in snow, and it had a chic kind of atmosphere to it, with luxurious bars and trendy restaurants. But J led me past all of these, and after some minutes, we stopped at what seemed to be an unsavoury doorway into an equally unsavoury building.

Has anyone ever watched Saw? The gruesome scenes of terror set in a building consumed by an odor of obsoleteness, where Jigsaw played with the minds of his victims? This was such a building. A building that seemed to have completely surrendered itself to its repulsive fate, quietly accepting its peeling walls of bad graffiti and faded old posters.

We climbed up a few floors. Along the dark winding stairwell, I observed the one or two shady characters loitering about the stairwell cradling their bottles of cheap booze. The entire thing had dodgy written all over it, yet I followed on with curious uncertainty.

At the third floor or so up, you might imagine my fascination when we arrived at a skinny hall which led to rooms filled with backstreet artists offering their work for sale. There were quite amazing pieces of artwork and interesting pieces of jewellery up for grabs, and upstairs were also a couple of grungy little bars and even a cinema. From one of the bars we had an awesome view of the city completely enveloped in snow. We mingled with some Spanish tourists, and some guy shoved me a piece of paper with his Myspace details in case I wanted to date him. I don’t even remember what he looked like.

I got us some Berliner beer, looked down onto the twinkly sculpture filled courtyard, and thought to myself, shit. I fucking love Berlin.

Checkpoint fail

February 14, 2009 § Leave a comment

The time was something like 2am. On the Eurolines night bus to Berlin, I was already feeling super annoyed that Very Fat Man had decided to sit next to me even though I was generating all my brain power to will him to sit somewhere else. Unfortunately my mental prowess failed me yet again and my heart plunged to the deepest darkest beyond as he parked his plump ass down.

From what my half-asleep self could remember, Very Fat Man was bald, had a chunky moustache, and was wearing an unpleasantly bright orange jumper. I recall him looking a bit like George Costanza from Seinfeld, except fatter, meaner, and definitely a whole lot uglier. Shit. It was gonna be a long and uncomfortable haul. All the bad karma from Brussels had followed me onto the bus like a dog on a leash, and just when I almost convinced myself to sleep and forget about Very Fat Man’s intruding elbow poking its fat way onto my side of the seat, things took a turn for the worse.

Out of nowhere, German customs officers boarded the bus. They looked official and hostile, and randomly started to check passengers’ passports. One particularly surly-looking fellow took my passport and spent what felt like an eternity scrutinizing it with his special passport-checking device. I started sweating in my seat, despite the minus degree temperatures outside. I’m almost always nervous in situations like these, because it is like I unconsciously voodoo myself into every unlucky event that happens to me. One day I will find a remedy for that.

German Officers informed me that I had overstayed my maximum 3 months in the EU. My ‘but Lonely Planet said…’ protests went unheeded. Apparently I am only allowed a maximum 3 month stay in the entire EU, not each country. Damn you Lonely Planet. However for reasons still unknown to me, German Officers gave me back my passport, said I’m ‘technically illegal’ and left the bus as quick as they came. I didn’t have to be marched down the bus aisle like a dead man walking or be detained after all, nor did I have to spend Valentine’s Day locked up in a cold German detention centre eating nothing but sauerkraut.

Stranger and stranger. Note to self: contact Australian Embassy.

Article one

February 13, 2009 § 2 Comments

Indie Travel Podcast has published my first article. Read it here. Leave your two cents!

In other news, I have just arrived in Berlin after a 10 hour bus ride sitting incredibly squashed next to a very fat man.

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