Went to Berlin for New Year's Eve and met some friends for an amazing celebration! I think Germans take a lot of canned heat for suppressed emotions, but a party of 1.5 million people tends to open up a can of excitement! German sausages and beer booths for as far as your eyes could see! Which actually wasn't too far on account of said beer. But trust me, it was an incredible display of festivity!
After Berlin, I trekked a bit and saw some beautiful European cities, with all their glorious art and architecture. Wearing my life on my back was a feeling I'd not had in a while, and I really, really enjoyed the thrill!
At one moment, it was just me and a crazy looking little old man. He asked in very broken English where I was from. I proudly told him, USA! And we had a very rough conversation about his time in Portland. He was from Romania but living in Hungary for his construction business. I told him that I'm living in Bulgaria at the moment and he switched to speaking to me in Russian. In Bulgarian I told him that the two languages are pretty close and he waved off any differences and told me they were absolutely the same. =)
I couldn't completely understand our conversation because his English was not very good and I don't speak Russian. We made do, though, between the three languages. He told me to follow him out of the sauna to a small pool and we went in. It was freezing! He told me it's important to go in the cold after the hot, but didn't explain why. Just that it's good. In the freezing pool, his fat friend joined us. He was like an old bull in Budapest bath! The original guy told his buddy that I spoke Bulgarian, and the fat one proceeded to tell me that he speaks Italian, Hungarian, Romanian, and Gypsy - but he stressed that he wasn't himself a Gypsy. Just that he could speak the language. And he's telling me all this in German. Ughh.
We took breaks from the sauna to take shots of their homemade plum brandy. It was impressively smooth and deceptively strong. I loved every second of the experience! So unplanned, so unexpected, so pure and fun! They were good guys just out doing their weekly public bath routine, and for whatever reason, they decided to include me in their fun! It was perfect!
I spent the rest of my very little time on the road by visiting friends in different places. Friends I'd not seen in many years. Friends from my travels, with whom at one time we were on the same page in life. My, how time and experiences change that page.
They're still beautiful people, and I'm very happy to call them my friends, but finding other common ground was a bit more difficult than it had been when we met. But, as I learned from the drunk old men in Budapest, you don't really need too much common ground to have a great time with someone.
I kept bragging about the benches I've been building out of waste pallets and how I've started gifting them to schools. Well, my German buddy called my out, and pulled out an old pallet he had covered behind a shed. So, we spent a couple days making it into a bench. This one had a German-inspired innovative addition: two beer bottle holders!
In the last month, I've gotten food poisoning twice, and have been twice otherwise sick with normal winter bugs. I'm hoping my remaining days are nice to me as I try to get through all the projects I started!