Long due Update

Yeah, I know it’s been a long time since the last post … a tip for the impatient: I update the photo-gallery more regularly.
As quite a lot has happened in the meantime, I’ll just start in the past, working my way to the present, sipping on my icecold sweet tea.

Victor Wooten Concert
Ben and Zach had been telling me about Victor for quite a while, claiming he is one of the best bass-players ever! As always I was a bit skeptical.
Arriving at the Variety Playhouse in Little Five Points, Ben first went to the Turkish place next door for some falaffel. Sitting in front of the snack bar, we started chatting with the owner, who told us that they just opened that weekend. A little into the talk he realised where I was from and started talking German! He and a few more of his staff had spent a few year in Germany before coming over to the US. Being a really nice guy, he offered me a free falaffel, which I couldn’t refuse, and it indeed was very good!

With some food in our bellies we went back to the Variety Playhouse to see the concert. And I must say Ben and Zach were SO right with their raving! Victor Wooten really is one of the best, if not the best, bass-player I have ever seen performing! Toghether with a really amazing band they just blew my mind away! Every single musician was so good and as they seemed to be playing just for the fun of it, the whole concert felt more like a jam in some friends livingroom.
You can find the photos i took right here in the gallery.

In the meantime I switched from sweet tea to Pilsner Urquell, but lets just go on …

Graduation Day in Columbia
Three weeks later Zach and I drove over to Columbia for a weekend, as it was Mitul’s graduation day.
This being the second trip to Columbia (we went there for St. Patrick’s Day as well) I must say I really like this city with its central bar district and pretty much all of Ben’s and Zach’s friends living really close to the downtown area. One funny thing that evening, highlighting the absurdity of some of the regulations over here, was that we got refused to enter a bar because Zach and Steven were wearing “Gang Style”! Yeah! Those two guys really look dangerous! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Everybody being a bit tired from the night before (hanging out at Chubby’s) we just went to a nice spot at the river and relaxed there, playing with Jerry, Janna’s crazy dog. In the evening we went to a nice restaurant where they were brewing their own beer and got some nice southern food.

Plum Hollow Bluegrass Festival
Steven, who I just got to know on our recent visit to Columbia, told me about this Bluegrass and Moonshiners Festival in northern South Carolina and that he planned to go there. As I always liked small festivals and Bluegrass we planned to meet there and camp out for the weekend.
After a relaxed ride north to Spartanburg on the interstate 85, I arrived in the area around noon and soon realised that this is as cliche as it gets! When I had to ask for directions I could barely understand the heavy southern accent. The whole town was decorated with US flags and on the roads you could only see pickup trucks. After a few extra turns I made it to the Plum Hollow farm, where Steven was already setting up his special campsite. A nice hidden spot, with quick access to the whole festival.

As I expected sitting around a campfire at night, i had prepared some stick-bread, which is mostly unknown in what the Americans call the world and the rest of the world calls the Unites States (sorry i couldn’t resist ๐Ÿ˜€ ). So the first evening Steven and I were wandering around the campsite, joining different groups around their fires, spreading stick-bread and trying moonshine people brought along. Soon I was known as “The German with the stick-bread” all over the festival (around 200-300 people I would guess).
The stage was set up nicely right in front of the forest with a well needed tin roof providing some shade for the listeners. So bluegrass bands were playing pretty much all the time till around midnight, when people would move to their campfires and start playing their own music, jamming with others.
I managed to record two songs with my camera and converted them to mp3-format:

the first two pictures below show that scene at about 2am around a pavillion.

Overall I must say this was all I hoped it would be! I really enjoyed spending the weekend with these friendly and down-to-earth people sharing food (thanks for the fresh-hunted deer burgers) and a great time!Well … that’s about it … hail to those who made it all through this long post, I know how short the average attention span these days is.
Hope I manage to get my lazy bum up and write more often, so I don’t end up with these almost “half-year-reviews”.

To cite Tony Blair: “That is that, the end.”

Georgia on my Mind

Hi every one!

I’m sorry I haven’t updated this site in the last few weeks, but I was pretty busy settling in at my new town.

Let’s do this in a chronological way. After doing my thesis-presentation, I had three days left to get my bags packed. With a little overweight, I left from Stuttgart airport, boarding a direct flight to Atlanta, GA.
As I had slept pretty bad the night before, and just had a few short naps on the plane, I was pretty worn out by the time I arrived at Hartsfield-Jackson. The long immigration procedure and the double checks of my luggage didn’t really relax me either.
After I picked up my rental-car outside the airport, I made it to Kristi’s place rather easily, meeting her again after three years. She had invited me to stay at her place for the first few days, which was soooo helpful! (Thanks so much Kristi!)
flight Atlanta Skyline
During this first week I managed to find a nice shared flat, just about five minutes away from my new workplace, Engineous, Inc.
My new flatmates, Zack Zach and Ben, are two really friendly, laid back Americans, both from South Carolina. Ben works as a webdesigner while Zack Zach studies epidemiology. We share a nice kitchen connected to a well equipped livingroom (Cable, XBox, RC-Heli,Stereo) and two bathrooms. Amongst the amenities are a washer, a dryer, a mircowave, an ice-cube-making fridge and a really nice “Lean-Mean-Fat-Reducing-Grilling-Machine”. In the appartment block we also got a swimming-pool, a tennis-court and barbecues in the garden.
livingroom1 livingroom2
my room grilling machine
ben with beer and helicopter burrito

My workplace at Engineous is really nice as well, a small professional team and I got my own cliche cubicle! ๐Ÿ˜‰
The last few days I was pretty immobile, as I had returned my rental car. To get to work, Ben gave me a ride in the mornings and in the evnings. As America is really organised around cars (drive-thru-everything), I was looking for a used car. Last weekend Zack Zach and I were driving around the area, looking at some offers I had found on craigslist. In the end we found a 2000 Toyota Corolla, which is said to be one of the most reliable cars over here. As I didn’t have an insurance yet, Paul (another friend), whose insurance would cover any car he’s driving in, brought the car to my place, where it sat the last days, as I was waiting for my insurance to kick in. After getting all the needed paperwork together, I took “Heart-of-Gold” (her name) for a ride and got my the registration plates just today!
cubicle appartments
Heart-of-Gold tennis-court

Actually I just came back from a round of tennis with Ben, though I lost 0:4 it went way better than I had expected after a break of ten years or more!

Well, so far for now, I’ll try to keep the updates coming more regularly.
Cheers, Tim.

Back in New York

After a long ride from New Orleans up to New York, I visited Kim (an american friend I know from back in Spain) in Norwalk, CT. We had a really nice time, amongst others just relaxing in a nice park with really good wraps ๐Ÿ˜‰ live can be soo simple ๐Ÿ˜‰
After she dropped me at the Trainstation I made it back to New York, staying in the Chelsae International Hostel. The next two days will be quite busy with touristy stuff and nightlife, as my flight back home is already on friday! Time flies, it feels so unreal, thinking about being back in Stuggi in just 72hrs!!! It really doesn’t feel like I was away for a whole year!

Cheers, Tim!

Washington – New Orleans

Sorry for not updating for such a long time, but the recent weeks were quite busy travelling! Just a rough idea for now, once I find more time and a place where I can hook up my own PC I’ll write more and upload actual pictures.

Washington – did all the touristy stuff, Capitol, War Memorial, Space & Aviation Museum

Boston – met up with my parent who are touring New England in a Caravan. Went to Providence and the Cape Cod.

Chicago – Stayed in Linking Park, a really nice area with lots of bars and restaurants. Got 2 free nights in the hostel for fixing one of the Internet Computers.

St. Louis – Once more the touristy stuff, took the ride over The Arch, went to Forest Park and the Science Museum there and visited the Union Station on the way back to the Amtrak station.

Austin – Got friends with some locals, had a marvellous time with them! First night we went to a Frat Party, the next day Sherry showed me around town, the green belt, a street festival and a very nice mexican restaurant. In the evening we all went to the concert of The Polyphonic Spree, a damn good experence!

New Orleans – after a verrrry long ride on the train for 34hrs (got a delay of about 10hrs!) I just arrived in NO yesterday, met some other germans and just had a relaxed evening in the hostel, still worn out from the trainride. I guess I’ll get some live music today and the next days, thats what NO is famous for.

That’s it so far,
cheers, Tim.

First train out of Miami

When the first train after Francis left Miami on Saturday, the tracks towards New Orleans were still damaged. I decided to do the tour I had as a rough shape in my mind the other way round and take it up to Washington DC next.
Though the trip took 26hrs, it was quite entertaining. The first day I met a nice mexican guy in the restaurant on the train. We kept talking about ‘Life, the Universe and Everything’ till the late evening when he had to get off. As the seats are quite comfortable I managed to get a fair bit of sleep over the night.
After a simple breakfast in the morning I just enjoyed the nice senery passing by, sometimes playing around with the linux on the laptop.

Arriving at Union Station right in the heart of Washington, it took just a short taxiride to the hostel, which immediatly felt comfy for me. It’s more some kind of shared accomodation with an interesting owner. He spent quite a while in arts and in architecture and so we surfed the net together (free wireless internet in the hostel) looking for interesting housing concepts using shipping containers.

Enjoying Miami Beach after the storm

The days after the strom I sticked together with the others from the shelter, staying at the same hostel.

One day we rented a car to go to the Florida Keys for snorkeling. (renting a car for 5 of us was way cheaper than eny organised bustour) Near Key Largo we went on a boat which took us to a reef ashore. Compared to the reef I saw in Thailand years ago, this was quite alive and populated by heaps of different colorful fish. Though the water was quite muddy (maybe still because of the storm?) snorkeling was great fun and we enjoyed the rest of the day at a nice reopical beach in the national park. (Mo even managed to get a fresh coconut from a palmtree! ;-))

Miami Beach after Frances

What looked like a severe cat 3 hurricane a few days ago, clamed down on the way and when Frances hit Florida it was just a minor cat 2 hurricane. Just like any usual autumn storm in Germany.
But the experiences at the shelter were a thousand times worth all the trouble!!! After Tom helped me and some other backpackers form the hostel to get to North Miami Beach Senior Highschool, we reported to the redcross as volunteers, and started working that day. First it was just getting people registered when entering, the next days we helped whereever a hand was needed. The handing out of the food each day was a big thing, as people started queuing an hour before the kitchen actually opened, so we had to sort them and get it all done in a civilised way, elderly and handicapped first, then families with young children followd by the rest.
As most people were really friendly and thankful this was a nice experience, some kids even drew a picture saying thanks for the help and stuff like “When I grow up I wanna be like you!”.

As the “storm” is over, we moved back to the Tropics Hostel, enjoying a shower and a room with just 6 people in it.

Cheers, Tim. (aka Tally – a nick one of the kids gave me ๐Ÿ˜‰ )