Olli the house builder

Yes. House. Me!

Well, I wont build it myself, I’ll have it built. But yes, I decided I want to get my own place, move back towards where I grew up and, OH MY GOD THIS IS HAPPENING.

Ok, breathe, Olli.

Here’s a timeline of what happened. About 6ish years ago I moved away from the place I grew up and into a rental appartment with my then girl-friend. It was the right thing to do, I don’t regret it. GIrlfriend stuff didn’t work out, but living alone was pretty neat. I was happy. Had you suggested to me to get my own house or buy a condo or something, I would have laughed it off.

Then, one weekend, I had a head cold and took a long bath with essential oils, eucalyptus, camphor and that stuff. Looking around the bathroom, I had my first epiphany.

“Hm. It’ll probably be difficult to get the landlords to renovate the bathroom.”

Followed by thoughts like “Well, I should probably at least consider not renting for the rest of my life” and “If I had my own place, the kitchen wold be a lot nicer.”

That same weekend I messaged my sister1 to see what she’d think about building a two-unit house to save on infrastructure and stuff. She liked the idea but their plans were already pretty fixed and wouldn’t have allowed for that. Starting with the building lot being too small for that.

I put my plan to rest for a bit, but it didn’t leave me. Then, when my toilet broke2 and I waited two weeks for my landlords to get it fixed, it broke out again.

I thought stuff like “if this was my place, I could’ve had it fixed by my dad or just called plumbers until one of them came in”.

Next I found myself researching construction companies, architects, loan conditions, central heating technologies and boom, one weekend in fall 2015 I told my nonplussed parents about my plan.

A few days after that I actually found a suitable building lot via local classifieds. Agreed on a price, started planning possible house layouts with a construction company.

Then the bank stuff began. I had a first loan offer, a panic attack, a second loan offer based on the reduced price of a slightly different house layout (original idea didn’t fit on the lot), more panic attacks when trying to find out if I could afford it.
Turns out I can.

Loans got approved by the bank and now I’m waiting for various paper work so I can finalize the land purchase, get the building people started and the kitchen plan finalized.

WOAH!

 

Footnotes
  1. who currently lives in Malaysia and will get her own place with her boyfriend when they’re back in a few years []
  2. no big deal, just inconvenience []

Lonely.

What do you call an introvert that seems like an extrovert when around people he’s really comfortable with?

Nothing. You don’t call him, because apparently you assume he’s busy being a crazy social butterfly, fending off people wanting to spend time with him.1

Today was just one of the days I realized this.
I got the crazy idea to text a group of people. Five couples, to be specific. A few guys I went to school with and have known for more than half my life plus their significant others.
It’s only been a few hours, but I am not really hopeful, for some reason.

I first asked if anyone had time to go have dinner on the weekend of my birthday, in two and a half weeks.
One of the couples replied that they were busy. Their acoustic trio has a gig the day before and tickets for a musical on that day. Fair enough.
After realizing that the weekend before would actually be better for me, since my birthday weekend also is the weekend of the wine festival my orchestra organizes.
So I suggested going for that weekend instead and offered to kill a few bottles of wine with whoever joins me on the actual birthday weekend.
Couple 2: We won’t be available on your birthday but probably could do something on the weekend before.
Couple 3: no reply yet. I know, it only has been a few hours, but I don’t really expect a timely response anymore. I really like them, and it’s mutual, it’s just that they’re notoriously bad at replying to text or picking up their phone, something that hasn’t gotten better since they had their kid a year ago. I still tried. You never know.
Couple 4 and 5 I only added just in case they happen to be in the area. They live 200 respectively 700 or so kilometers away, but who knows, I might get lucky.

That’s just one occurence, I know, but it feels typical.
People seem to assume I’m busy or something even if I tell them I’m usually not. Hell, I’d probably jump at ANY opportunity if someone texted me and said “hey, let’s go get a burger/movie/ice cream/go bowling/throw rocks at stupid people.” I’d drive an hour for any of that.
People don’t.
“Why don’t you reach out?”
When I was a kid, my parents described me as shy. I guess I kinda am. Once I warm up to people, it doesn’t show in conversations. Certainly not on twitter. Some of you have met me, have had dinner with me, played Cards Against Humanity with me, went to the zoo with me, even travelled with me for a bit. You’ve met me at my best and happiest. Among people who wanted to spend time with me and made it clear.

Sure, I meet people every week(ish) at orchestra rehearsal, but I don’t count that as spending time with friends. It’s a thing I do, but that’s mostly it. I also have tons of coworkers and usually have fun with them, but work is the focus then. That’s it.
On any given working day, the average number of words spoken to people I don’t somehow work with or that I buy food from is zero-ish.
Usually, I get home from work and spend the rest of they day talking to people on twitter and IRC, maybe watch a tv show or movie on bluray or netflix.

I used to meet up with couple 3 a lot, before they had the kid, for regular board game nights. That died down after a while, when more people we played with got busy and parts of their own lives (university, job) changed.

Sure, I could ask them, the other local friends or some of the coworkers that don’t live two hours away from me to do stuff, but it’s not that easy to me. They do have lives and partners and other friends of their own. They have other stuff they do regularly that eats up some time. And there’s the little fact that I already feel imposing when I ask some coworkers if they mind me tagging along on their lunch break. I know they don’t mind, I’m pretty sure they’d tell me if they did. But still, it’s how I feel, can’t change much about that. I occasionally do join them when time permits, but if that sometimes feels awkward to me, imagine how difficult it is to be the one to constantly have to ask people to spend their free time with, if almost nobody else ever initiates.

A former coworker who’d moved away is now back in the area, only a 25 minute drive from where I live, less from work, we already met up for dinner once, vowed to do that more often, I guess that’s something, and I’m really glad.

Other than that: sure, I have my “social circles” on twitter and irc and other people I mostly talk to via the internet, but having some of your closest friends being anything between 200 and 10.000km away, I still sometimes am really fucking lonely.

Ok, that’s enough, brb, gonna go donate to Syrian refugees. If you can afford it, think about doing it. I suggest this place to start: Pat Rothfuss’ blog with a link to his worldbuilders fundraiser

 

 

Footnotes
  1. Another acceptable answer would have been: Lonely. Really fucking lonely. []

Roadtrip 2015 – Meeting up in San Francisco

After three days of constantly being shunned by cats and not being danced for by the bird, Cairn finally had to let me go. It was time to see new places and people, and give the cats a break from hiding. I waited a bit to avoid the worst of the traffic and stopped twice on my way from Sacramento to San Francisco. Once at my probably last chance to get Chick-Fil-A on this road trip.1

The second stop was right before going down past Vallejo, but nothing spectacular happened there. The weather was so-so, no animals, the view was mediocre so I did the next thing on my schedule. I crossed the Bay Bridge and entered San Francisco.

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Sadly it was still a little hazy, so the view from Twin Peaks, which was not exactly optimal. Driving up through those steep streets was VERY interesting though. Thank photoshop for clearing up the haze and thank automatic cars. I’ve driven stick all my life, but that …

EosRoadtrip 942 EosRoadtrip 952After that I headed down to Fisherman’s Wharf to check into my hotel. Took me only two rounds around the block to find the entrance to the $50-a-night-parking garage. I was rather happy that I’d only need it for one night. Next up, after freshening up at the hotel was a new exciting meet-up.
Justin, who I used to play Eve Onlin with, had immediately started preparing when he heard I’d be coming to California and forced his brother to join him on a 6 or 7 hour drive from Lake Arrowhead just to meet up with me. And get back home the next day because they had to be at a wedding. You should totally check out his stuff, he’s an amazing artist. And a really cool guy.
We met up in the hotel lobby and he admitted that it felt sort of like a first date. Well, yeah, it can be interesting meeting people in person for the first time. We got over that fairly quick, had a stroll along the Embarcadero, checking out the piers, the sealions until we got back to Pier 39 to eat at Bubba Gump’s. I’d totally recommend that. Depending on where you are (I assume) you’ll always get tourist trap prices, but the quality, service and atmosphere are worth it. Just check out the slideshow, you’ll see what I mean. Well, part of it.

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The Coronarita was excellent and so was the food. And the company of course. After we finished stuffing our faces and got our souvenirs stowed away at our hotel rooms we ended the day in a nearby pub with a few beers.

And thus endeth my first daye in ye olde San Francisco. Or something like that.

 

Footnotes
  1. It was okay for chicken based fast food. Would not go out of my way to have it again. []

Roadtrip 2015 – Goldrush

As if showing me part of the most gorgeous scenery in the western U.S. wasn’t enough, awesome Cairn treated me to something else on my second full day visiting her. Which was as well since the cats still weren’t to pleased by my existence.

But first she showed me around old Sacramento so I could see old buildings, the Wells Fargo Museum and the Pony Express statue! Look here:

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After that (and a well-deserved breakfast at Eggie’s we hit the road towards Coloma, the place of the original gold findings in California and the start of the gold rush. We even arrived there after taking only one wrong turn into the barren wildernis that is California. At the national park we hiked about a bit, joked with the park ranger, took pictures, bought a plastic pan and tried our luck on the banks of the draught-ridden and therefor not-so-mighty American river.

And guess what:EosRoadtrip 935

 

Gold!

Well…a little. And we lost it again. But we had fun, and that’s what matters. So here’s a bunch of pretty and informative pictures, including signs that scared me. And made me hope to actually see some of the animals mentioned on them. No such (bad) luck, though. Still, good times were had by all. Thanks again, Cairn!

After that we headed home, found another funny vanity plate and had dinner at that Mexican place, where I had watermelon agua fresca which is probably the best drink ever ever ever ever and I really need to make some here and find a container to bring it to work.

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Roadtrip 2015 – Yosemite

While Cairn’s cat continued to shun meEosRoadtrip 755 I got a big dose of hospitality today. After starting the day with a berry big breakfast at the Black Bear Diner, my awesome hosts drove me all the way to Yosemite National Park to take pictures of rocks and waterfalls and squirrels and stuff. We had tons of fun on this road trip within the roadtrip even if the weather wasn’t ideal at times. Vanity Plates and bumper stickers provided some entertainment as well, but the main attraction was the quite beautiful scenery of the national park itself. And some of the fattest squirrels I’ve ever seen, darting around between the visitors protecting their sandwiches from them at the visitor center. I didn’t take a picture of those, though. No fatshaming squirrels.1

As you’ll see in the slideshow below, Yosemite is worth a look even when it isn’t bright blue sky all around, so here’s what we saw gallivanting about the park itself!

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After seeing all that we drove back Sacramento-wards, only stopping to pick up our well-deserved dinner at this place:

EosRoadtrip 898“Wait, what?” the non-US ones of you will say. Wiener Schnitzel? In the States? As fast food, by the looks of it?

Nope. It’s a hot dog chain.

“So what?” the Americans not “in-the-know” will say.

Let me explain.

THIS is a Wiener Schnitzel.

click me

 

Footnotes
  1. also my camera was in the car at the time []

Roadtrip 2015 – Smokejumpers and Redwoods

Today started with the most adorable surprise. I decided to have breakfast at my motel, because…well, it was included and I was hungry AND curious. And I wasn’t disappointed. Nothing special, not at all, but they did have waffle makers and batter. I made my waffle, stabbed at it with my plastic fork when one of the more native people indicated to me that using a waffle stick would probably be easier. Yay, waffle stick!1

Disappointment followed! No butter! Eh, whatever. I grabbed some syrup and made my way to my table. Munching happily on my waffle I probably made a rather funny face when a little kid, 6-8 years old walked up to me and said something not quite comprehensible to me. I can understand a lot of English accents across three or four continents, but kids often elude me. He repeated twice and pointed into the general direction of buffet. Well, table laden with foodstuffs. At that moment a women, I assume it was his mom said “He says there’s butter again.”
I thanked him and went to grab some, overhearing assumed mom saying to her kid: “That was nice of you.”

Yup. That kid, barely out of kindergarden, decided to be nice to this random stranger without being prompted to.. Lady who had breakfast at the Super 8 Motel in Grants Pass on May 16th of 2015, you are raising your kid right. While there’s people like you left in this world, not all is lost. I salute you with the oddly specific waffle stick of respect and admiration!WP_20150516_08_30_43_Pro

 

Thusly invigorated I made my way South towards Cave Junction, home of Great Cats world which I didn’t visit. I did pull off at the Siskiyou Smokejumper Museum because it looked like something to do with planes and I’m kind of a nerd for those.
If you ever are in that general area I can only recommend you do the same. After I got out of my car and looked at the sign to see what this place was about, an elderly but very alive looking man came out of a building and asked me if I was interested in a small tour of the museum. Of course I was.2
He asked me if I knew what smokejumpers were and I admitted that I literally had just seen the sign and randomly pulled off to check it out.

Let me paint you a picture. It’s the mid 50s. Someone spots a column of smoke rising above the forest in the distance. They radio it in, the column is triangulated. At the same time a siren sounds, phones ring. Men in their 20s rush to the base, suit up, grab food for 3 days, a few tools, no water and board a plane. They parachute out of the plane in the middle of nowhere, no roads, no GPS, no cell phones. They look for the fire and maybe a cargo drop. Before the fire spreads they cut fire lanes around it and save thousands of acres. Those are smoke jumpers. The man who gave me the tour and told me stories? Donald Thomas, veteran, used to be a smoke jumper in 1957, loved every second of it until he got married and his wife would rather not have him jump out of airplanes. He told me about their gear, procedures, planes, special incidents and his second training jump ever. When he got dropped over a herd of cows, tried to evade and practically landed on top of one. He could hardly move, there was a bull, his buddy tried to literally just “shoo” it away before he made a beeline. Then his instructor (I forgot that one’S name) literally kicked him in the ribs, screaming “You’re not in pain, get up and run!”
He also took a picture of me in front of the plane that got donated at some point. The same model as one of the later smokejumper planes, not an actual one, though.

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After this unexpected but actually really awesome3 stop I made my way towards the coast, right through the Redwood National and State Park, following Redwood Highway. I made a few stops to hike a short trail, take a few pictures or just look at the scenery. Have you ever been in a place that is so breathtakingly beautiful that it’s almost physically painful not being able to stop at a particular spot? That place is just like that.

Also the corndog at that one rest stop was rather tasty. Here’s a gallery of the few times I actually managed to stop on the way to Eureka, California. Particularly bad and odd was the Trinidad Scenic Drive at the end of this day’s trip. A road…well, no a street or actually a path that felt barely wide enough for my small rental car, cliffs and the Pacific ocean to one side, winding along…suddenly turning a corner and you see those large birds, a dozen of them, hanging around in a tree. Remember how happy I was to see those two turkey vultures I saw on Rogue River? There was a dozen taking flight there and I just slammed the brakes excitedly. Then watched helplessly as they took flight before I even thought of grabbing the camera from the passenger seat. Anyway, here’s the pics, enjoy those!

 

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Later that day I arrived at the Motel in Eureka, and the less we say about that, the better. The steak at Adel’s steak house was okayish, the Sierra Nevada Ale was good, there was no free wifi and the rooms and location where subsubpar compared to the other motels I’d stayed in on the trip. But hey, one night, who cares? In retrospect, of the days I spent driving along the coast (and on Maui), this was the most beautiful and interesting day of the whole trip. I had fun, and a corndog!

Footnotes
  1. you guys have the weirdest specific tools []
  2. It would’ve been rude to just say no, also I WAS interested []
  3. please check out their website []

Roadtrip 2015 – Going to Crater Lake and beyond

After doing some research before my road trip I’d decided to make Crater Lake a destination, because, well…it’s absolutely gorgeous! Going there from Eugene, Oregon, via the west entrance, supposedly takes three hours, so I got up at around 2am, because hey, might as well try to catch the sunrise, right? And if the sky was clear, maybe some stargazing/taking pictures of a star-filled night sky? Armed with sandwiches and two large energy drinks I made my way Eastward and upward. Turns out google maps had lied. When you’re driving in the dark, in rainy-ish weather, and a totally unkown route, those 171 miles stretch to about six hours. And, the rain did come from clouds, so no pretty sky either. I did make a few stops for a couple of minutes each, at possibly pretty scenic stops out in the middle of nowhere. Clearwater falls was one of these stops, and even in the rainy twilight of 6am it’s pretty, so the detour was far from being a waste of time. EosRoadtrip 370

I also count myself very lucky that I did NOT hit that deer that tried to tackle me maybe 20 minutes later. It jumped at my rental car, I slammed the brakes and it passed maybe a foot or two in front of my car. I probably had a minor heart attack back then, but thankfully nothing else happened. I doubt I would’ve had cell signal up there, I was far away from every where and waiting for rescue and repair would have seriously messed with my schedule. Driving further along past weird signs I finally arrived at Crater Lake, marvelling at the snow that was still piled up on both sides of the road, and, up at the top, nearly everywhere. EosRoadtrip 383

Sadly I somehow messed up taking pictures when being at the actual crater rim. Even though I couldn’t so much as guess where the actual lake was for all the fog, the snowy slpes and trees where rather pretty. So here’s a view from the visitor center parking lot, up to the snowy crater rim.EosRoadtrip 394I did stay up there for 20 minutes or so, hoping it might clear up, but decided to turn back when it started snowing. No sense in getting stuck up there. I quickly grabbed a few postcards from the now open visitor center (seriously, who commutes here? wow!) And made my way further south stopping at Rogue River Gorge and a few other scenic stops along Rogue River Scenic Byway, where I spotted a pair of Turkey Vultures, and at one point I THINK a Bald Eagle carrying a large branch. Didn’t get a picture of that one, though.

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At some time in the afternoon I arrived at Grants Pass, where I took a stroll from my Motel down to the River to see if there was anything I could tonight. But after kind of a long day I just ended up getting pretty good food and service at a Thai BBQ place. And asked to photograph the wedding of a local woman’s daugher by the end of the month.

Folks, if you see someone with a DSLR taking panoramic pictures of a bridge, the chances are pretty slim they’re actually a professional photographer looking for jobs. Here’s a few impressions of the town:

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Roadtrip 2015 – One hell of a whale fail

As many of you know, I ‘ve been a little obsessed with whales (and aquatic life in general) since I was a kid, and I might have been trying to go whale watching a couple of times. On my third day of vacation I had booked another attempt. A seaplane flight from Lake Union to San Juan Islands followed by a whale watching cruise. Sounds good, eh?
I’d booked it in advance, so I took a taxi to the terminal to check in, had breakfast and we took flight to the encouraging words of the attendant: “There’s a bit of fog but don’t worry. Worst case you’ll have to turn around and try again in an hour.”
Didn’t happen, as you might have guessed from the title of this post. We took off, had an actually nice flight around. I was watching the compass quite anxciously and after 30 minutes or so we’d returned to Lake Union. WP_20150513_09_12_34_Pro KopieA muffin and an hour later they told us that they still hadn’t got clearance to start, so I called the whale watching tour to tell them. No way I’d make the boat. They assured me they’d do a full refund, which was nice, but I still was in one hell of a mood.
I started a little call to arms on twitter, to see if I could do anything else to take my mind off my more than miserable temper. Since there was no taxi in sight, I decided to walk towards the hotel, cursing under my breath. Pretty much non-stop, the whole 4 miles.
Back at the hotel I remembered there was another whale watching opportunity up near Seattle, but guess what: The one tour my schedule would have allowed ended their season on May 1st. This was May 13th. But my twitter call to arms had worked. Sara, who I’d met the day before in person for the first time had managed to get off work early. She’d told her boss about my day going bust and basically got told “Go cheer him up!”

Sara, I have to say this again: You saved not only my day, but probably the rest of the week. I don’t think I’d been a fun travelling companion for myself if not for the awesome afternoon that followed. Ever been on vacation, on a roadtrip, all by yourself, in a foul mood? I haven’t, and I don’t like myself in a foul mood on other occasions.

We decided on the Tacoma Zoo, met up on the parking lot and tried to find animals, more or less successfully. Had a great time chatting about animals, travel, work and other stuff.

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The awesome didn’t stop here. After our slightly wet zoo adventure we went to the Anthony’s nearby, had bread with shrimp/artichoke dip, oyster burgers abd Rhubarb Slump for dessert.
ALL THE TASTY FOOD! With a side of more awesome conversation about various topics which I’d love to repeat some time. My Scuttlebutt Pale Ale1 was pretty nice, too. Sara’s Whiskey Sour was more wiskey than sour, though.

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After that it was time to part ways, but not before taking goody selfies and enjoying a hug.

Again, thank you Sara! And Sara’s boss! Thanks for making this the best day of all the days that so cruelly denied me whales! It was awesome even by non-whale-standards!

 

 

No murdercorns where harmed in the creation of this blog post.

Footnotes
  1. I adore that name []

Roadtrip 2015 – tweeple against humanity

After a successful day one of my vacation it was time to crank it up another notch. Time to meet more people, as scheduled. I started out by walking all the way from my hotel to the Space Needle. About 4 miles. Yeah, I’d planned to take the bus, but I had an early breakfast1 and too much time on my hands. So why not?
EosRoadtrip 080
I did well, too. I arrived just in time to meet up with the great and awesome KariAnn who wouldn’t have time in the evening but agreed to take me to the EMP Museum where we saw C3PO, took pictures together and played with musical instruments.

Look:

After that we went down to the market, ate at a crab cake, listened to tourists bang their crustaceans with wooden hammers and giggled. We also took the monorail!2

Unfortunately Kari had to return home after that, so I spent the rest of the afternoon looking at fish in the aquarium, buying stamps and sitting around at Starbucks, getting asked for money about three or four times just that day, just to kill some time.
The evening was devoted to twitter people again. I turned up on Jackie‘s doorstep after negotiating that fun combination of hallways and elevators leading to it. A bit later Jill, Carey, Megan and Sara arrived by various means of transport. We did a pretty good job of decimating the wine and cheese Jackie provided, only to move on to Carey’s wine.
Lots of wine. Tasty, tasty cheese and wine. We also talked a lot, about people we all stalked on twitter, ourselves, travel, writing, reading, books, words (I guess that’s what you get when you put people together who mostly write and/or read whenever they can), The evening went by far to quickly, though. Since we hadn’t planned on how long the evening would go, Sara went rather early to catch her ferry back home and Jill left soon after that as well. The rest of us took it upon us to endure the hardship of playing Cards against Humanity. We had to explain “smegma” to one of us and I’m not saying it was Carey. Thankfully the wine helped along and we managed to reduce Megan to tears and gasping, as well channel Sara in at least two rounds.

You guess which was which.

 

I am not ashamed of playing this one. Or winning that round.

Great minds…

Another highlight of the evening:

We all wish we’d be living it. We all do.

But even this part of the evening had to end some time, so we left Jackie in a pile of empty wine bottles and cheese rinds. Carey was nice enough to get me back to my hotel AND show me THE BRIDGE TROLL on the way, even though we almost didn’t find it. Nobody died on the way, but not for lack of trying.

 

Footnotes
  1. crabcakes benedict. YUM! []
  2. It’s more of a Shelbyville idea. []

Travel Blogstravaganza – Intro

I’m back!
Wait, I was gone? blogroute
YES!
Most of you will probably know I’ve been away  for most of May, taking a vacation, exploring the US west coast, meeting people, eating things, taking pictures…

And of course I’ll show and tell some. This is the introduction. Think of it as an appetizer and incentive for me to dish out the main course as soon as possible.

On this trip I took about 2500 pictures, most of which pretty redundant. Also there’s some missing, for I don’t know what reason. Sad, but nothing really spectacular for what I can see.

Okay, roadtrip, what did I do?

I travelled 1300 miles1 along the US west coast, traversing 3 States. You can see what that looks like in the map on the right. I only included the parts I drove myself, but more about that in the following posts.

After that roadtrip I drove another 300 miles on Maui (in a Jeep! That was kinda fun).

In those fun three weeks I mailed about two dozen postcards. Actually I’m pretty sure it was exactly 25, but who’s counting? I met 8 of my twitter friends and one friend back from when I was playing Eve online. I ate (nearly literal) tons of things, too. Mostly stuff I usually don’t get at home, or stuff we simply don’t have in Germany. Or not like that. I only bought two t-shirts and a zippered hoodie but I brought three signed books back home. All in all I had a hell of a time and I’d definitely recommend doing that sort of thing.  See you soon when I get into the details of my trip. Maybe Friday?

Footnotes
  1. ~2000km []