West Virginia

So tuesday brought following david and his gf up to weston wv to trans allegany lunatic asylum, a kirkbride that is open daily for tours. yay for legal access. it was my first aslyum and first kirkbride i’ve ever been in. we took the 4 floor tour, and got to see a lot of the building (but not any of the out buildings like the TB and general hospitals). it was interesting, and pretty, but in way better shape than i was expecting. and i don’t really know why i expected it to be more ruined, since i saw it on ghosthunters last summer. i departed from them after the tour and headed to moundsville/wheeling to go to WV state penn. only problem is that google maps lies. they sent me the “quickest” way, which was directly across all the mountains instead of going all highway. while the road was fun (dad would love it) and it was pretty (though raining), no way was it quicker than if i had gone all highway. so i didn’t make it into town in time for the last penn tour boo. drove up to wheeling and found the wheeling island casino. i was going to get a room there, but turns out they were sold out. what? on a tuesday? eh that’s ok, they were expensive anyway. i did run into an ex coworker, which was a complete surprise because last anyone at work had known he was down in the carolinas attempting to flip houses. well that didn’t work out for him hahah, bad economic timing. left there and got a room in downtown wheeling for the night.

thursday it was back to wv state penn just missing the 11am tour, but that was ok because it was a big middle school field trip. no thanks. lady at the counter says the noon tour was a field trip too, so i had to wait til 1 cuz no way was i going along with a bunch of kids. i had passed a sign for the Marx Toy Museum so i headed there to kill some time. marx toys went out of business in 1980 so i didn’t have any, but they were the company who made rock em sock em robots, and invented the big wheel. neat stuff to look at, and nice lady took me through the whole place (not sure if that is normal or not, i was the only one there). back to the prison again, and there were only 3 of us on the tour. nice. older man who was our guide ends up being the husband of the lady at the toy museum lol. tour was about an hour long, through a few cell blocks, the yard, cafeteria etc. again, much better shape than i was expecting but then again it was only closed since the mid 90s. i think i was expecting more like Eastern State.

headed out after the tour for home. took a long way so i could go to sonic again hahahahah. got home just before 8. wicked headache that won’t go away tho.

and i have to say, yay for legal access to buildings, but i think i prefer self tours…both weston and the prison would have been better if i could wander on my own like you can at Eastern State. spend however much time you want looking at whatever you want and taking as many pics as you could. in the end i don’t think i took very many photos at either site because the guide wanted you to move along with the group (even tho both groups were small). both trips to eastern state were way more relaxed and i could spend hours there. i’ve been thinking about this a lot in regards to the terminal too. i think we may be getting to the point where we’ll want to have some basic open hours but not necessarily with a tour guide…i don’t see why we couldn’t offer both (open a few days a week, a real tour once a month as we do now). maybe the open hours is just the concourse, and the tour goes other extra areas. i don’t know. but the open hours would allow for photographers and others to have the time they need, and the tours for people who want more in depth discussion of the building’s history.

Vacation!

vacation week.

started with 5 days in a row at the terminal, as my last hurrah of sorts. wed night to meet a caterer. thurs night board meeting, then the TAPS ghost hunt on Fri and Sat, and finally our own ghost hunt Sunday. the weekend was pretty fun, and we made some money. they started with a meet and greet for the people who bought tickets, and then went into a lecture by John Zaffa, a demonologist, which was…interesting. a bunch of stuff about exorcisms etc. jason and grant followed that with their own presentation/lecture, and some video from some of their shows and other non tv investigations. once it got dark, about 9pm they broke into groups and the rest of the night was the actual hunt. friday night i got a psychic reading done on para-x radio haha. interesting and mostly bull, of course. saturday night was much the same, only i didn’t stay the whole time cuz i was tired and bored. sunday was without celebs, and 200$ cheaper hahaha. we had about 40 people and WNY Ghost Hunters brought in some people to speak, and then at dark again, broke into much much smaller groups to investigate the floors. i don’t really think the terminal is haunted, but they’ve been finding some interesting things. someone on the hunt got a pretty impressive EVP in fedele’s apartment.

anyway. it was a good weekend for us, and technically my last one for a long while. i don’t want to see that place again for months haha

so today i left for a real vacation for the last 4 days i have off. i ended up deciding on braddock pa, trans allegany asylum and west virginia penn in WV. turns out david was going to be in wv with his gf at the same time, and decided to meet me in braddock.

well…braddock was not what i was expecting 1. it is way close to pittsburgh and i pictured it farther out, sorta middle of nowhere mountains. 2. it is bigger than i thought it would be. i was expecting a main street and then houses spread out over several other streets. instead it was crowded with buildings (yes mostly empty, especially main street) 3. since it was crowded with buildings, and most of them were houses, there wasn’t anything to really photograph. 4. they still have a US Steel mill?!!? i don’t quite understand what this city’s problem is. i thought they were ruined and the population had left because industry had left, but they have a big steel plant and a large hospital and it is very close to pittsburgh. i don’t get it. it’s also right next to rankine, which i didn’t realize til i was driving and suddenly realized i had been there before, with dan 2 years ago haha. so i met up with david in braddock and we drove around a bit, but then left to some places he knew of in nearby mckeesport. visited an old hotel, steel fabricator (i think) factory and a church. so it ended up being successful. i then followed him down into WV and am now spending the night in morganstown.

tomorrow is weston and trans allegany lunatic asylum. woo. i’m excited tho i hear the tour goes way too fast for good photo taking, but i suppose i can always take the tour twice 🙂

Vegas!

back from vegas.

headed out to visit adr in vegas on tuesday. arrived in the afternoon, and wow. hot. for those who don’t know, flying into vegas in the summer sucks. lots of turbulence from the desert heat, and i was in 2nd last row of the plane. not fun. good thing i hadn’t eaten since work the night before. and as you come into town and look below, it’s nothing…nothing…desert…more desert….nothing…desert…hoover dam…nothing…bam vegas. and looking at all that desert wasteland you have to think, who in their right mind ages ago was traveling the continent and thought, “hey this is a nice place, let’s settle here.” it’s almost uninhabitable hahah. i still think vegas is the most bizarre place on earth.

anyway. first stop, eating at a SONIC! omg! FINALLY. after being tortured with all those sonic commercials and the closest location being 3+ hours away, score! we NEED a sonic, it is SO good, i’d eat there all the time. just the best. tues night we went downtown and played pai gow at binions for 3 hours or so, only losing $50 haha. walked around and got some dinner at the golden gate diner.

wednesday we were supposed to take the nevada test site tour. as you may have read 2 months ago i joyously posted we were taking the tour…2 months ago i said that…got it? 2 months ago we were confirmed for the tour, but the paperwork we were supposed to get the week before never came. so we called on tuesday to find out, and low and behold we’re not on the attendance list for the tour. adr talked to the lady to try to find out what happened, the lady looked and oh yeah, she has my email with our information and confirmation but somehow we’re not on the list, and she just can’t go and bump someone else off the tour for us. she said we could go at departure time anyway, to see if people don’t show up, but 6 people would not have to show up to allow us to go. we had at first said yes, we’d go and see but later that day we decided not to even try. 6 ppl was alot to not show up, and it would suck to get up that early and not go. we decided to go to hoover dam on wednesday instead. checking my email at 9:30 wed morning, the lady emailed me saying we could go on the tour – and not even on standby. well gee thanks. she KNEW i was on vacation, why would she think i’d be checking my email in time. so we missed it. stupid government incompetency. how hard is it to prepare an accurate list of tour attendees…

so hoover dam. it’s only like 30 miles away, and i didn’t realize it was that close. i don’t think i really knew where it was haha. drove over the dam and parked on the arizona side, so now i can say i’ve been in arizona (barely ha). walked across the dam back to the nevada side and the visitors center and tours. we took the “power plant tour” which takes you down into the dam/rock above one of the intake tunnels (i think that’s what it was), and then into the nevada generator room. it’s not a super detailed tour, as after 9-11 they’ve closed down most of the place to public tours. there was another more in depth tour that takes you to 2 other parts of the dam, required hard hats (which were the most flimsy plastic pieces of crap that would protect you from NOTHING), but we didn’t take that. there was a museum portion and over look to see the front of the dam (or is it the back…? haha). i didn’t realize how stylized and art deco the dam was. now a days you’d just get some cement, no decoration or anything. and building it was crazy. it was 110 out that day and the guide pointed out that the workers worked 24hr/day, 7days/week, in 3 shifts for $4 a day…2 days off a year…in that kind of heat. unions would never allow that now…maybe that’s why the dam was finished 2 years ahead of schedule, and everything the government does now is delayed for ages.

back into town that night…i think we just stayed in and watched harry potters. i’m not a big partier to begin with, but the heat just exhausted me so staying in was no problem.

thursday we went out to red rock canyon, outside of town. it has a 13 mile scenic drive with stopping points and trails (if you’re nuts enough to go hiking in 110 degrees ha). the scenery is just so foreign to me, being from the north east. the government totally could have faked a moon landing out there. it was very cool tho. we unfortunately did not see any burros though 🙁

thurs night was Phantom of the Opera at the Venetian, 2nd row! awesome to be that close, and see the details in the set (especially during masquerade). the show was a bit different from the traditional broadway version…they cut some parts – 2 i can think of, the crew member scaring the ballet girls with stories of Phantom hanging people in the 1st act, and rehearsals of Don Juan Triumphant and more notes in the 2nd act. There was no intermission, so the chandelier did not fall midway, it fell after Point of No Return, and it fell straight down into the audience (and back up) and everyone started screaming hahahah. those were the only differences i noticed, but it was still really good. i don’t know how anyone can not like phantom haha. walked around a bit after then headed home. more harry potter i think lol.

friday we attempted to see the Bodies exhibit at Tropicana, only it had closed the weekend before and didn’t open at Luxor until next week. Ah well, so we walked over to Excalibur and had lunch at Dick’s Last Resort. Trammed it over to Mandalay Bay and through Luxor back, some guy was being put on a stretcher at Luxor. They had all the security and gaming officials standing around, so it looked suspicious haha. stopped at the world’s largest gift shop before going back to the apartment to cool down. more harry potter. hahah.

flight left vegas at 11, and oh…incase you’re looking for something in a vending machine, other than an ipod or psp, you can also buy pro-activ solution kits from a vending machine at the airport. because yes, when i’m walking through an airport i’m in desperate need for acne products. wth! got home at 11am, my phone battery died and my parents were waiting for a call in the cell phone lot…but i don’t know anyones phone numbers without the phone. oops. so called around to neighbors to call my parents for me, and eventually found them. got lunch and then home to sleep the rest of the day. called into work, apparently 1 of 14 hahah oops. starving now and i have no food, gotta go to the store.

Vegas Photos

random list of europe trip observations
1. only 1 hotel had sheets on the bed. the others were just a fitted sheet with a comforter. why don’t europeans use top sheets?
2. with so many dogs they really need pooper scooper laws, dog crap all over is unattractive
3. berlin is amazing but they have a graffiti problem, and not in a good artistic way.
4. berlin was built on a swamp, and does still smell like swamp gas at times
5. james bond movies are pretty terrible. especially in german
6. suicidal squirrels! as seen on german mtv commercials
7. i probably wouldn’t return to london as a tourist any time soon. shows not included.
8. i think i’ve seen all i wanted to in cologne, and would not return soon, shows not included.
9. i would stop by gent if i was near by for a day to see the castle and things i missed
10. i’d stop by brussels for a day if near by, since i really didn’t see much of the place
11. i would not return to amsterdam, shows not included.
12. i’d absolutely return to berlin asap.
13. so far recordings of london 1,3,4 and amsterdam 2 which i’m getting cuz i missed “the fragile” grrr
14. the trains, trams and subways of belgium, amsterdam and berlin i suspect are losing alot of money. you don’t run your ticket through a scanner like in london, or toronto, or NY, you just are expected to buy a ticket and have it in your pocket i guess. and by the end of the trip my conscious didn’t bother me about it anymore and i stopped buying tickets to use the U and S Bahns in berlin. there was also no reason to have bought any train/tram tickets in gent or brussels either. even our side trip to lede on a Belgian train they never looked at our ticket. amazing really.
15. just because i’m skinny does not mean that A. i will move for you at the rail or B. you are allowed to spread out all over your airplane seat and into my personal space
16. belgian waffles are the best food ever. and stroopwafles (sp big time, gotta find out what they’re really called). and aside from that the only “ethnic” native food that i ate during the trip was italian haha
17…Trent’s Berlin2 Speech *couldlistentotrentallday*

18. bikes. bikes everywhere. more bikes than people. i almost got ran over by one that came out of no where in gent. and they’re all old bikes, like my mom rode in the 50s when she was a kid. didn’t see any nice new bikes at all. maybe they all get stolen…
19. the continent seems to not believe in take away beverages. it got tough to find a place with paper cups to take coffee and tea to the queues. especially brussels. or even bottles of water. at one point sue and i bought water from the bar next door in brussels…in glass bottles that the bar tender let us take outside as long as we brought them back…and unlike in the states where there is always a gas station or convenient store to buy bottles at, there were way fewer over there.
20. my uk cell phone bill is 163$ hahahahahahahahah
21. i am tired of airports and museums and looking at my pictures of the Dom
22. oh yeah, on the plane in gatwick, taxing to the runway we pass an airplane with the engine on fire. yeah they have a huge fake plane that randomly starts on fire so firemen can practice putting them out, like the fireman training facilities here. i thought it was pretty neat, but for anyone who didn’t realize it was a fake plane…scary.

things that happened while i was gone
1. voted to remain on the CTRC board and remain secretary
2. voted onto the toke committee at work, and today voted in to be…secretary. hahaha
3. i missed hockey
4. i missed kitty
5. bono has nice short hair now, very pop era. and apparently he was in berlin on sunday LOL and he looks really cute again.

I return, to the only place….

Home again. I must say that I’m really sick of airports at this point. Gatwick was annoying, as they wouldn’t let me take 2 bags through security checkpoint. It would have been nice to be told this fact before I checked my suitcase, as I would have put my laptop in it. But no, I had to go and check my bag with my camera in it. Fantastic. That created even more stress than normal when we landed in JFK and waited for baggage. It finally appeared much to my relief. I was already planning out my screaming match with Delta when my camera either didn’t appear, or appeared broken. Phew.

The flight was uneventful and they fed us the entire time. It was like as soon as they picked up the last food and drink they were bringing us more. Peanuts and a drink, then another drink, then dinner with a drink, and another drink, and then ice cream and a drink, then pizza and a drink right before landing. The flight back home was 7.5 hrs, I was glad to have bought a book at Gatwick, seeing as I didn’t sleep on the plane.

JFK was 1000 degrees inside, walking through to baggage pick up, through passport control and customs, then rechecking my suitcase and finding the gate, I was sweating more than at the shows. It was seriously ridiculous. When it’s warm out, turn off the heat. Delta tried to bump me off my flight to Buffalo for a later flight, but I was beyond done with flights and airports and Delta, so no way. I was getting home when I was supposed to.

Mom picked me up at the airport, and I got to see Kitty for a bit before going home. I’m pissed because I left my mom’s Atomium snow globe in a bag I thought only had garbage in it in the London hotel room. Grrrr. Also, the tulip bulbs I bought were not confiscated by the USDA, so at least I had that for her. Of course, I didn’t tell customs about the tulip bulbs hahaha.

Now I’m back to my old habits…wasting time on my computer, procrastinating what needs to be done, like unpacking and sleeping and transferring photos from the laptop to the desktop. Depressed and no motivation. Blah. Home.

The trip is over, and now what? I’ll check in here from time to time, and keep it for the next trip 🙂

Berlin!

So Berlin…

We left Amsterdam for Berlin late on…whatever day it was, Thursday, and arrived at Tegel in the evening. It was the most ridiculous customs experience ever. Basically, the way Tegel is set up, you get off your plane and you are right at your baggage claim. Convenient. Then everyone just walked out. There were 2 police/guards standing at the exit and they did not look at a single passport, did not ask a single customs related question. Nothing. You just walk out and you’re outside and getting a taxi. It was easier than traveling to Canada pre 9-11. I couldn’t quite get over it.

We stayed at the East Side Hotel which is directly across the street from the East Side Gallery – the largest remaining portion of the Berlin Wall. Very cool. The hotel had all sorts of related art, and our floor was filled with photos of Trabants. Score! Haha easily amused.

On Friday we decided to take the 4 hour walking tour given by New Berlin, which starts at the Brandenburg Gate. It was really the best thing to do, as you walk by all the major attractions in the area – the Gate, Reichstag, Holocaust Memorial, Hitler’s Bunker (an apartment complex and parking lot were built on top of it), a portion of the Berlin Wall, which is itself, oddly fenced. Went by the old Nazi Air Force headquarters, which then became a center of the Communists and scene of a massacre of protesters in 61 (i think). It has a wonderful mural of the ideal socialist life haha. Fabulous. Then Checkpoint Charlie which is wonderful. Just so fantastic. I got my passport stamped with the old CCCP and East German stamps and they write up a fake visa for you. We went through some beautiful square surrounded by French and German matching churches and the philharmonic concert hall. Then to another square with St Hedwig(!) catholic church and Humbolt University where the Nazis held their book burning. Ended at the Museum Island where the guide told us how the Berlin Wall fell completely on accident. Great story and I must look up the press conference on youtube.

At the end of the tour it started to rain. We went off to find Zoo Station. Unfortunately Zoo is actually Zooogischer Garten so no signs had the abbreviation. One good thing is one sign was for the U2 train and had the station name. Good enough I guess.

Then to the Victory column, the set of the “Stay (Faraway, so close)” video. It was weird to see it in real life, it looked like a prop. Climbed up to the top. No more stairs for me for a long long time now. It has a great view, too bad it was raining. It, like the Cologne Dom, was filled with graffiti, and some was U2 related. I wanted to add song lyrics from Stay but I just couldn’t. So in the underground walkway I added “Rock and Roll stops the traffic” hahaha.

From there in the rain and darkness we went to see Hansa Studios. Rather unremarkable but I had to. Ate at the restaurant next door, then back to the Reichstag and BrandenburgGate to see them lit up. Things were crazy in the area because they were setting up for the Europafest celebration of 50 years of the European Union.

The American Embassy is being built in Pariser Platz with a sign explaining. I was looking for it to say the construction was being done by Halliburton but alas it didn’t.

Before going to the venue on Saturday we walked along the wall across the street from the hotel on our way to the station (and yes I totally just got “into the void” in my head), to go to the Checkpoint Charlie Museum. Very cool amazing place, great stories about escape attempts etc, but a bit overpriced and very crowded.

And I ate french fries out of a vending machine. In one of the stations they had hotdogs and sausage in vending machines and another machine with french fries. They cook them in the machine in 45 seconds and come out into a cup like coffee vending machines. They were actually really hot and quite good. Let’s say I’ve had plenty worse from real restaurants. I’d definitely have them again haha.

Then the shows, another post.

I attempted to change my flight home from Tuesday til Sunday or Monday so I could keep on the tour through Vienna. But Delta sucks and they wouldn’t change me. If I could have found a cheap way home I would have just “missed” the flight home and gone on with all the girls, but the cheapest price for a new ticket was 1700$. We had a whole plan involving “losing” my passport and telling the casino I wasn’t allowed to leave Germany until I got another one blahblahblah. The travel that I’d need to arrange to get to the next cities was cheap and would have worked, there was just no way for me to get back home. Very depressing, I really don’t want to leave.

So, Monday checked out of the hotel but my flight didn’t leave for London until 7:45 so I had all day to see more of Berlin. I wanted to go to the Franciscan Monestary ruins, and I did, but they’re closed Mondays. So I just decided to wander, and I wandered on past the Berliner Dom, so what the hey, I went in. Very different, and things kept saying it was a Protestant church – but dear lord it was the most elaborate ornate looking non-Catholic church I’ve ever seen. Very different from the Cologne Dom, but very ornate in its own way. You can go all the way up to the top of the dome and get a good view of the city from there. I approve haha. More wandering, and I wandered past the German Historical Museum. David had mentioned there was an exhibit on the Art of Propaganda that he was going to go to, while I had decided to go to the monestary ruins. But since I ended up walking by and had time to kill I went to see it too. I love propaganda so it was very cool. Showcased propaganda from WWII from Germany, Italy, USSR and US. More wandering and I remembered the car in Hard Rock so I went out back that way, took some pics of the U2 trabbie, and went to the half ruined church that got bombed out but was left that way while they built a new church next to it. (Woah some movie I put on has Charlize Theron and Johnny Depp, and he’s apparently evil?…hot but weird tho, and Clee Duval)

Got a cab to Tegel and wow I hate that airport. It seemed neat when you arrive, but not when you depart. Language wasn’t an issue so much as just the way it’s set up. There aren’t long rows of check in desks for each airline, like American airports – there is a check in for each gate, and every airline can use it depending if they have a flight leaving that gate or not. So I was confused that I couldn’t find a British Airways checkin station, I had to ask, and you just check in at the gate you’ll be leaving out of. Ok fine, but they wouldn’t let the London flight check in until the flight before was practically off the ground. Once I checked in I figured, I’ll go sit at the gate. Except you can’t go to the gate until it’s your flight. But there are no signs, and I’ve never seen it set up that way before. So I try to go through security and this guy starts yelling at me in German. And I say I don’t know German and he’s still yelling in German, and I again say DO YOU SPEAK ENGLISH. He just keeps yelling and saying “pass”. Wtf. I go back out the door I went in and there is one of the police/guards in this little booth and he speaks German to me and again I’m like, ENGLISH! So he finally does start speaking in english, and he tells me you can’t go to the gate until it’s your flight, and when you do he has to check my passport. That’s fabulous, there’s not a single sign saying that the booth was a passport check or that I had to show anyone anything.

Ok fine, so I don’t go to the gate, but now what the hell do I do. There are no lounges, or even big spaces with chairs. There are occasionally little nooks with chairs. So I end up sitting on the floor in front of the check in for the gate, cuz I have no where else to go. Finally I go to the passport guy again, and he’s flipping through it looking for my Berlin stamp. Except I don’t have one because as you recall, no one looked at my passport when arriving in Berlin. But I didn’t say anything, and he saw the Düsseldorf stamp so I let him assume that I came from Düsseldorf haha. The whole thing was incredibly frustrating and irritating. The theme so far of traveling in Berlin I guess.

On the way to the airport I actually saw a Trabant driving on the road. That made me happy.

Flight was delayed but not badly and Glen picked me up at Heathrow to bring me to Gatwick, which was much appreciated. The cops walking around Heathrow all were carrying huge automatic weapons – rifles or something. It was pretty scary. My London hotel for the night gave me a room with 3 beds, 2 of them bunk, 5 pillows and still no sheets. Why don’t they use sheets in Europe? Could have used this room when Alex was with us, there is at least room to walk.

Berlin Photos

try and tear me down

I am in a netcafe near the venue. I still need a ticket for tonight but Iäm not worried. Damn german kezboards. I just wanted to say I am *this* close to not coming home. And the more I think about it the more I can work it to stay until Sunday. I probably won’t but I want to more than anzthing. Not looking forward to the forthcoming depression. I should go get back in the queue and find a bathroom. Later.

 

(of course nin played “the fragile” at Amsterdam2 :P)

Atomium and Amsterdam

The last half day in Brussels brought going to see the Atomium – a giant blown up structure of an atom built for the 1958 World’s Fair. And it definitely looks like something that came from the 50s. It’s totally fabulous. It reopened after a restoration project and you can take escalators and an elevator into each of the “spheres” of the structure. Totally cool. It could use more history and old photos from the construction and the fair but it was still great. Picked up our luggage after and headed by train to Amsterdam. The train took us through Antwerp, The Hague (which I thought was in Switzerland or something) and Rotterdam. Everything looks much like Belgium, since they were all one in the past, same type of architecture and set up. I’m quite tired with the “low countries” now, I’m ready for Berlin. Did see traditional windmills however, just in seemingly random spots. Pretty neat. They also have modern wind turbines. Oh and we passed FOUR nuclear power plants on the train ride – 2 right around Brussels. I thought that was interesting/exciting.

Brussels Photos

We have an apartment again – and I don’t remember booking a “suite”. It’s pretty nice but I have to pay special attention to the bill, because 1. I booked through expedia and thus have already been charged, and 2. they better not charge me extra for a suite I didn’t book. They are doing renovations of the hotel, so I’m thinking maybe this was all they had for us…Our suite is in a separate building like in Cologne but up 2 sets of very small spiral staircases, then the suite itself has another small spiral staircase. I’m going to kill myself trying to get out with my 50 lb suitcase. A bellhop or someone carried it up for me haha.

We took off to walk around the area a bit. It’s very cold, yuck. And while it’s fairly pretty I’ve decide this is just not my kind of city. I just don’t get the right vibe from it. Nothing seems extremely interesting to me, the pretty things are quite spread out and not gathered into a true “city center” like Cologne and Gent and even Brussels. It has a definite more dangerous feel to it, and it clearly can be a city of depravity hahaha. I get that vibe from it, where I don’t really get that in Las Vegas, the supposed Sin City. I’m glad we’re only really here one full day. People can call me lame for not whooping it up in Amsterdam. I’ll have to think of some ridiculous story to tell people at work hahaha.

Tomorrow is a show day, and Paradiso is in the general area of the Museum District. Plans are to get up early and go to the Van Gogh Museum then go right to the venue. It’s supposed to be cold and rainy again.

Amsterdam Photos

All the rest

Maybe I should talk about everything else that happened aside from meeting Trent Reznor.

Gent – the 2nd day we went out to the Dr Guislain museum of psychiatry. When I discovered it, it was the main reason for staying in Gent over Antwerp for a few days, it sounded so cool (especially to me). It is in Belgium’s most well known asylum – part is the museum, and part is school area, with a new psych hospital close by. Dr Guislain apparently pioneered alot of psychiatry in Belgium, building the hospital based on research of what works best in treating patients. Unfortunately the “History” part of the museum didn’t really go into what exactly these elements were, which would have been interesting. But they had alot of history of Dr Guislain, the hospital, others that worked with him for improved treatment for the mentally ill and for mentally retarded children. A bulk of the museum is “outsider art”. They have a current exhibit called Beyond Good and Evil, and featured works with those themes – not just from patients, but from other…”normal”? artists, and other tribal cultures as well. Quite interesting but to me, the “outsider” patient art was more interesting. I want to make crazy art. Maybe if I stop taking my meds hahah. There is a fine line between “outsider art” and “toddler art” however – some of the things just…unworthy of such a distinction. Other stuff was quite amazing including this very involved installation that I can’t even describe – strange dolls and just…stuff. And it wasn’t just a collection of crap like what Psycho Ted left behind in the REA terminal. Most of the artists had blurbs about them, not going into details about what exactly is wrong with them mentally, but describing their life and situation. Not all of the artists were mentally ill either, some just considered “outsiders” or “folk”. It was really interesting.

Spent 3 or 4 hours there, and by that time, the Castle of the Counts was closed (closed at 4, last entry at 3, and we thought it closed at 5) so we missed out on that. Nights were early and I wasn’t feeling well that day so I stayed in the hotel the rest of the night. Watching bad American movies with Flemish subtitles haha. Tommy Lee Jones should have fired his agent after “Volcano”.

The 3rd day, with somewhat crap weather – cooler and cloudy – we went out to Lede to see the Castle of Mesen rather than stay in Gent and go to the Castle in town. Castle of Mesen isn’t quite a castle, but it looks more like an old hotel with a church attached and it was used for a variety of purposes one being a boarding school. Oh, and it’s in ruins. Ha. Beautiful place, and by far the most ruined building I’ve ever been in. It’s quite what I would imagine the Overlook Mountain House in the Catskills to look like if they hadn’t gutted the inside and just left the shell. All the upper floors in Mesen were collapsed – thankfully with exception of the theatre space, though I had to climb up a sketchy ladder to reach it – which made it interesting when trying to access other areas of the building. The chapel area had more intact stained glass windows than Transfig back at home. Very surprising. As a whole the place hadn’t been stripped too much – large sections of decorative railings remained, as well as some very pretty ceramic tiles. If my suitcase didn’t already weight 50 lbs some of them would have been coming home with me. There are a few other buildings on the property – which is actually in a public park – including what seemed to be a stable, and school area. Very pretty place. After a few hours there, we returned to Gent, got dinner, and early night again.

Gent Photos

Obviously I haven’t seen much of Brussels other than the walk from the hotel to the venue. Strangely – while we took a taxi from the (wrong) train station to the hotel, we passed an area of town where police were setting up big barbed wire fences – the type that they had set up between trenches during WWI. What the hell? The news last night said there was some kind of large protest against the Bush Administration at the EU on Sunday, that must have been it. Anyway. The hotel is not far from the Grand Place, and before the show today (Monday) I headed out to walk around with the camera for an hour or so. Very very pretty buildings around the square, again, something you just don’t see in the US. I couldn’t find the peeing boy statue though, it’s somewhere around here, but I bought some chocolates of him instead. I feel better having gone out this morning, haha I did see something while I was here. I still want to go to the Atomium tomorrow before we catch a train to Amsterdam. I guess it’s going to be dependent on whether or not we can keep our luggage at the hotel after we check out in the morning. I don’t know how close and convenient it will be to get to the Atomium then back to get the luggage, but oh well. It was the one thing I wanted to see in Brussels.

We have a very short time in Amsterdam as well, 2 nights I believe, and really only 1 full day – a show day for me. We fly from Amsterdam to Berlin, so timing of the flight will determine what I can do there. Aside from walking around and seeing the red light district and the night life in general, I want to go to the Van Gogh museum. Eh Amsterdam doesn’t really appeal to me because all I know about it is the drug stuff. So I’m not really upset. I’d much rather cut Amsterdam short (and miss the 2nd show) to spend more time in Berlin.