In 80 days around the world?

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… are the measures that will accompany me out of this country. Yes, indeed, it is true:

Levent is about to leave the building!

It will be to the two years, when I embark on my flight to my new home….

Switzerland!

Lausanne, to be precise. Now, if you are still wondering about my not so curvy travel mate: those numbers are the weights of my three suitcases that gonna carry my stuff (made in china electronics, made in china pants, made in china.. well, you are getting the picture…) straight into the heart of…
… the home of the International Olympic Committee!
Yes, the IOC, International Overlord of Corruption, is seated in Lausanne! If that gives rise to hope for some good ol’ fashioned fear and loathing, what else will?

Let’s be honest: The reason I had gone quite wasn’t so much that I didn’t have anything to write about, it was just too much! In the mother nation of all democracies, fear and loathing can be encountered around every corner. Be it 2000cal burger menus, cars that look like tanks and consume 25l per 100km, students that don’t know how to dress and talk, or the accelerating decay of the US government, it is fear and loathing overload! I have to be honest with you guys, I could not handle it! But in la Suisse, things will be much slower, quieter, easier to digest. I bet there will be a lot to be reported when I start my job there next week.

Well, now that an era is coming to an end, certain questions arise: What was learned in two years in the US? What do I take with me as positive or negative impressions? Do I leave for good or is there a chance that I might be coming back? I don’t have any answers at this point, I am afraid, they will require both the distance in space and time. In the meantime, I will have fun with trying to get settled in a country whose language I do not speak (Lausanne, the capital of the canton of Vaud, is in French-speaking Switzerland)! Cool, eh?

I also have some unwritten blog entries, which I finally may finish and publish. I am not promising anything, but stay tuned… :-)

… they do come: Cosmic Rays. They penetrate time and space, traveling Megaparsecs of distances to give us a glimpse of the most exotic and oldest objects in space. Accelerated in the process to violent to imagine, they reach energies which are well beyond our technical capabilities.

Oh, all right, stop it! Obviously, the real picture of the radiation that is bombarding our little planet is a bit more complicated and actually not very well known. And this conference I am stuck at is summarizing more or less the status quo in experiment and theory in unraveling the mysteries of a radioactive space…

So, to make it short: Iam thrilled and enthralled and tired to the bone. After four days of constant sessions (8.30 – 13.30 with short breaks, and then 16.30-18.30) I am completely saturated and cannot digest any more information! But, to my luck, the tour day is coming up tomorrow! I will be visiting Chichen Itza while slowly cooking/broiling in 36C in the shade. And there is no shade on that pyramid…

Otherwise, there isn’t much to report from here. I will have some time to do some museum tours on Monday or Tuesday, but otherwise I just try to get away long enough from the conference to get half an hour or so at the pool! Couldn’t do it today, though, we just had a major downpour… sigh…

Ok, I am falling asleep while typing this, so I will switch off. Expect some stories and pix tomorrow!

So, here I am, slowly burning in Mérida, Mexico. I arrived here from Atlanta on Monday, and the needle hasn’t gone down below 35C during the day! Well, I have to admit that it gets reasonably cool in the night… And I am spending my days in a climatized, darkened, windowless conference room (aka “Überlandkeller”), so I can’t really complain.

Trip here was funny, at Atlanta I was one of the last to register at the gate, and they wouldn’t let me and two other passengers on the very small plane, since they had to check the weight and balance… I was already getting ready to stay night in Atlanta, but then everything was fine and I hopped on a plane that had basically been taken over by physicist. Scary….

What can I tell you about Mérida? Nothing. We went to the central square on Tuesday, but were on our way back after only 1.5 hours, it was just too hot! The cathedral at the square is the oldest on the continent, but that is basically all I know about Mérida. Sunday I will go on a tour to Chichen Itza, that will be certainly interesting, but I am not sure if I can manage to get away another day… We’ll see.

So far, Montezuma hasn’t shown up, but I have been only eating/drinking in the three hotels where the conference is held. Maybe it is time to risk a bit? Well, maybe not… Anyway, the food is great, though I am sure that these big hotels tailor the food to the tourist’s taste. Hope I can get some more authentic stuff later. I already had a few beers here, very nice, and the Tequila rocks, obviously! Yumm!

Ok, so much from here. I doubt I will have much more to tell you since I am basically stuck in the conference, but you never know, right?

Hullo!

Well, just came back from another journey. This time, my destiny led me to Barcelona, Spain, to witness the wedding of two very dear friends: Mireia and Roland. Needless to say that there was a big party, amazing amounts of food, and some tears here and there between the smiles and laughter. I will write in a bit more detail about it in the coming days…

… right now I want to share a thought about traveling: Please, no more! There comes a time where there is a tiredness in your bones which comes from being on the road too often or too long. Or both. Right now I am looking forward to a weekend with no journeys, no travels, no nothing. Just sitting at home and “eierschaukeln”…

Don’t get me wrong: The next trip is looming up at the horizon! My presence at the next International Conference for Cosmic Rays is expected from the highest level… The big event happens in Merida, Mexiko…. At least the time shift is moderate!

All right, so much as a mini update from the tired traveler…

So, I finally started sorting through my pics. I’ll take me at least two weeks to post the ones that will survive the rigorous selection process, so please, be patient. You can find three new sets on my photo page: “Christchurch”, “Edoras”, and “Hobbiton”. Enjoy!


Having a bit of time here at LAX, I decided I should let of some of the steam that has accumulated over the past weeks. Besides, I haven’t really ranted for such a long time, I guess I deserve a bit of fun….

Traveling a a so-called backpacker (which does not require actually having a backpack) means shabby shelters, overcrowded buses, and a lot of other travelers to meet. Now, all of these things are not too bad or should be actually fun. However, especially the fellow backpackers can turn out to be a huge pain in the neck…

Imagine this: A guy or gal, mid twenties, traveling New Zealand now for weeks. They have been to any conceivable corner on those two rather small Islands, have done all the must do and should do and even the maybe do things. Of course, they have figured out the country, so by the time you meet them, they will not only freely and wholeheartedly want to share all the fun and adventure stuff they have done, no, they will continue to lecture you, how things work around there!

There is a common denominator to all these young boys and girls (spoken like a real mid-thirty, balding guy….): They are all so full of themselves that just after talking for a few minutes to them I get terribly bored. In a sense it is amusing that someone really thinks that they know what a place is about without actually having lived there. However, there is a certain limit to that. I know that traveling through New Zealand requires a certain time, if you wanna not only see but also enjoy all the places in a relaxed manner. But after five, six, ten weeks, what have these kids seen or done? Jet boating, rafting, kajaking and bungy jumping. So, what do they have learned/experienced by going through all the adventure stuff? What do they possibly have to share about this particular country that you can’t read in any brochure?

Sure, just as package tourism is geared in a specific way, so is backpackerism. It is just another niche of the entertainment industry, it gives a certain type of traveler their desired experience: Instead of all inclusive beaches you get shared dorms and hop on/off buses. To make it short: It is mostly geared to be cheap (“budget” in the official language). The second important factor is individuality, at least the illusion of it. Let’s face it: Just because you end up booking a certain activity at your own leisure doesn’t make that particular venture any more individual than having it booked and organized by a third party in a package. Most of the things I did in NZ were shared by any type of tourist alike…

Darn, I shouldn’t have started listening to music, I feel my rant mood fading…. Well, guess I’ll just have to let go…. So, to summarize: I had a great time, met fun people, enjoyed my travels a lot. But equally I don’t romanticize or glorify the way I choose to travel. And I certainly don’t preach about life in New Zealand and their ways, though obviously I would be much more qualified than any of those kids….

Indeed!

Well, well, well, what a trip! But as always, everything ends. I am sitting at Auckland airport, ready to board my flight home. It has been almost 40 days now since I left home and went where not a lot of people have been. It will be difficult to go back to work, but probably all will feel like a dream in a matter of a few days when routine takes over again…

Let me recapitulate my journeys last stage,when I was making my way through the North Island:

Napier
Napier is a remarkable little town at the east coast of New Zealand’s North Island. In 1931, an earthquake of 7.8 (or 7.9) destroyed large parts of it. though New Zealand was going through the same difficulties of the depression, in an unseen effort the city was mostly rebuilt in just two years. Having a tabula rasa in front of them, the city builders decided to make it the most modern city and to follow the latest methods in building and architecture. So, Napier (and partly Hastings) are probably the only cities in the world, that were built according to the Art Deco movement. The city is very proud of that and is celebrating its uniquiness with the Art Deco weekend. And guess what? I stumbled right into it! This resulted in a very entertaining evening in downtown Napier, listening to music in the streets, watching people dressed up in 30s clothes parading around, and enjoying the classic car show. As a final treat, my host gave me a lift to the bus station in his old Austin Seven 1937. Cool, ey?

Rotorua
Rotorua lies in the heart of volcanic New Zealand. Well, at least it is rather volcanic… It also is one of the centers of Maori culture. I spend three nights there, enjoying a Maori culture evening with dinner, traditional song and dance display and a formal welcome to the lands of the Mitai family. Sure, the whole thing was rather touristy, but I enjoyed it nevertheless. The following walk through “Rainbow Forest” in the night was interesting as well, since I got to see one of the shy and cute indigenous bird of New Zealand: the Kiwi. The other day I visited the thermal park Waimangu. Boiling springs, hot steam vents and acidic lakes are a few things you can see there. It is located in valley where in 1886, Mount Tarawera erupted and reshaped the landscape massively.

The final treat in Rotorua was in the same time my second indulgence into the Lord of the Rings: Hobbiton. Lying in the rolling hills of Matamata, this private property was the location of one of the most beautiful sets in the whole trilogy. Though most of the sets were removed, it is the only place where some things were left to be seen by the curious traveller. Besides, it is a gorgeous place! Pictures will come when I am home….

Auckland
On my way to Auckland yesterday we stopped at Waitomo, where you can enjoy beautiful caves that were carbed into the limestone by water over ages past. Between stalagmites and stalagtites you can also see hundreds and hundreds of glowworms, silently emitting there bluish light to attract flies and other small insects for food.

Auckland is New Zealand’s by far largest city, a third of its population lives here. So, civilization had me back for good when I was wandering around downtown today. Since I didn’t see much, I won’t pass judgement on it, I just like to point out that it was probably the least interesting place I have been to in the past six weeks….

That’s it, folks. Levent’s on his way back home. Nothing else to report.

Kia ora.

After spending an hour at Anchorage, a bay in the Abel Tasman National Park, bathing and swimming, the night stop was in Nelson. From there, I travelled first to Picton and then took the ferry, the Interislander, to Wellington, where I am right now. The ferry ride started out very nice, while it was making its way through Marlborough Sound to the open sea, but then it got rough! Towards the end, my stomach was not feeling well at all and if the trip would have lasted just a little bit more, well…. You get the picture.

Anyway, since Wellington turned out to be very difficult in regard of accomodation, I am off already to Napier. I do have some time, though, to walk along the harbor and have a look at the Te Papa.

Last day in Queenstown was fun, did a wine tour, hmmmm, very nice indeed. A bit expensive though, again: If you have your own car and a few guys, you can do a lot of things much cheaper. Oh well….

Then I travelled to Fox Glacier and did the half day glacier walk tour. Now, coming of the ice and going on a glacier walk sounds a bit weird, but it was great views and experience!

I met an American girl who lives in Auckland on that trip and she and her American friend offered me to take me as far as Picton in their car. Which is cool, they are both fun guys and we just came back from a Brewery tour and some more beer in a local poub in Greymouth!

All right, I am off to bed. Tomorrow, we’ll make it to Nelson and the Abel Tasman national park.

Nothing much today. Had a relaxing day with a bit of a boat tour and a nice walk at Lake Tekapo. It is very beautiful here, the right place to shift down one gear and take it easy. Shortly, I’ll be off to Quennstown with a short stop at Mount Cook.

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