31.3.08

Opening Day


Its opening day and the Reds are on the radio. What could be better? Well I could be in Cincinnati but its OK, I'll just listen to MLB radio on the computer. There is a rain delay so you know what that mean. . .Banana Phone!

Anyhow, here is some fun reading for baseball fans today. A special story about a special player.

Jon Fay has his preview here, specifically about NON-arguably the most underrated pitcher in MLB as well as some fun facts on his blog, here. Dayton Daily News has a article about Dusty Baker's sleepless night, and some information about the cuts that have been made to get the roster down to 25.

Reds.com has their preview here, so let's play ball!

New Jib Jab

30.3.08

London Livingspace and Mary Poppins

video



Knight Helmets, Chinese Takeout (Again) and the 390


Yesterday, after the hangover (not literal) of an incredible theatre performance turned by London's best cast (bias), Becky, Amy and I traveled to Portobello Road Market.

As I had intentions of doing a number of things, I thought there is no way I will spend all day at this place but, let me tell you this thing is big.

Noting that the market is broken up into three sections, well four sections, we began going through the antique section that is at the beginning, closest to Notting Hill Gate. Sifting through the immense crowd and ducking into the occasional shop we looked at old silver, tea pots, knight helmets, kilts, coins, glassware, and old camera's.

The next section was the food. The initial part was mainly market style produce stands but travelling further and further toward the Midlands, we found Uganian and German food stands juxtaposed to one another. Although I didn't have Uganian food, I did have a Bratwurst with onions on it from the motherland.

Continuing on, the third section began and there were more vintage clothes than I have seen in all my days as a citizen of earth. However, there were several interesting stores and stands that had textiles and whatever you would like to put on, that has become the fashion of today. (however, not noted in the V&A)

After going through the clothes we got to the fourth section, what I like to call; "The crap no one wants, thrown on the street," section. And that is what we got to see before realizing it was almost 2 o'clock and we had been there since 10 a.m.

At that time we headed back toward the flats. Having purchased spinach, limes and mint at the market we headed for Tesco where I purchased bread and cheese. Now, I know what you are thinking, you were thinking I was going to make omelettes and mojito's, well if you did then you were right. And that is just what I did before we headed out last night looking for a jazz club, not finding one, getting Chinese takeout for the 47849823th time in a row before taking the 390 bus back to Leinster Terrace.

Department Store Opera Singers and Defying Gravity


Although I felt juxtaposed against all who were actually shopping at the store, it was an incredible experience walking through Harrod's on Thursday.

After journeying through the Victoria and Albert Museum for over two hours, seeing everything from sculpture to the history of fashion, I set off on a wonderful day which will highlight as one of my favorite days in London.

As the days fleet and the time here seems like a dream, I have been cramming more activities in the last week or so than stuff I'll have to cram into my suitcases on Tuesday.

Thursday started as Kyle, Becky and I awoke early, hopping on a bus headed toward Victoria station. Were we taking a train somewhere? No. We were going to buy tickets to the best show this side of Les Miserables: Wicked.

After hopping on the bus we wandered through Kensington and stopped in Notting Hill. We walked back to Kensington High Street, and I watched Becky shred "Paint It Black" in the entrance of PC World on the ever-famous game, Guitar Hero.

After failing in an attempt to buy something, I made my way to the V&A. I started in the British design section and then moved to sculptures, maps, ironwork, and then fashion.

For those not in the know, the V&A is a history museum of design for the fields I just mentioned. My favorite part was the history of men's and women's formal wear, reaching back into the late 17th century.

More to come on the V&A later

After departing I made my way in the rain, sun, rain, sun, rain, sun before arriving at Harrod's, deep in the heart of Kensington

Upon entering this mecca of plasticine faces and commercial bliss, I wasn't that impressed. It wasn't until I began wandering deeper and deeper into Harrod's that I realized why this is a special place.

The Egyptian escalator is perhaps the most bizarre thing I've seen in London aside from the Animal's in War monument, but was breathtaking in its design and use.

Making my way up the levels stopping periodically on each floor to check it out, a women with canned music supporting her was belting Ave Maria for what seemd an eternity. It was so good but yet so different than an experience at Elder Beerman, the closest thing we have in Indiana to a Harrod's.

As I reached the top I made my way back down and then to the food emporium and grocery area which is attached to a number of cafes. While walking through all the fresh meat and produce sections, that are grown for King's (and priced for them, mind you), I began hearing the voice of yet another singer, a man this time, belting his heart out.

As I turned the corner the scent of fresh garlic and burning wood floated into my nose. There amongst a crowd of people was a brick oven pizzeria with a chef, dressed in full regalia, throwing pizza dough in the air and singing in Italian a piece from an opera. It was incredible and what was better, was that the crowd of people mirrored my thought on it as they snapped picture after picture.

After this experiece I made my way out, smile across my face and made my way toward Hyde Park. At this time I walked through the park around the Serpentine, as the Sun was out in full form by then. I stopped for tea at a cafe on the Serpentine before walking straight through grass and mud to Leinster Gardens.

At 6:30 p.m. Kyle, Becky and I made our way to Queensway where we all topped up our Oyster Cards, before grabbing Chinese takeout and running to catch the number 148 bus to Victoria. As we scarfed on the bus, we ventured toward the Apollo Victoria theatre to see Wicked.

The show started at 7:30 and didn't disapoint from the start. It was every bit as good as the Wicked I saw in New York last year, with a different spice of English linguistics.

As the intermission drew closer and Defy Gravity began the hair on my neck stood and I sang along with Alphaba as she rose above the stage. In my mind, that is the best song or part in a show I've seen and as I've become somewhat of a theatre aficionado, you should listen to me. No, but really it was incredible.

After the show we made our way to Picadilly Circus and then to a bar to meet most of our group before we headed back toward Oxford Street, the Cornish Bakehouse and then home on the 390 bus.

28.3.08

The End and Greece are Near


In a few day my semester in London will be over and I will depart on a trip to Greece.

On 2 April I 'll be leaving the UK and London and heading to Zurich, Switzerland (layover) and then Athens, Greece. I'll be there for 5 nights and then flying back to London 7 April and then out of London 8 April for the United States.

I haven't booked my hostel yet but will either tonight or tomorrow. I'll let you know the details.

I have my hostel booked now and am staying at the Pagration Youth Hostel in Pagrati, Athens, Greece, for the first two nights and the last two nights. The third night I am staying at Simeon Apartments on Neorian Bay on the island of Poros.

I leave Wednesday 2 April at 1:50 p.m. from London Heathrow airport. I have a layover in Zurich, as I told you and am scheduled to arrive in Athens at about midnight, Athens time.

From there I will be leaving Monday 7 April at 2:10 p.m. and will be arriving in London after Zurich at about 7:00 p.m. London time. From there I do not have plans for accommodations but am researching my best options.

27.3.08

On Baseball and the Reds


Baseball is one of the authentic American establishments that goes with BBQ and Apple Pie. It is America's pastime and always will be, even with the emergence of the NFL and the rise of a fast paced society that has pushed baseball aside time after time. Baseball is why I love summer, it is what reminds me of my favorite times in life, and it is one of the central ties to me and my dad.

When I was younger and still living under the hoop of my basketball goal at 10 S.W. 14th Street, I remember warm summer nights as the sun would go down, the smell of the grill and the sound of Marty and Joe on the small transistor radio my dad would leave at the top of the steps on the deck. On the beat down grass that turned to dirt by the time August came around by that goal me and my dad would play basketball while my mom finished up dinner at the sink that left her viewable to us in the back yard. Baseball was there at that time and as a young kid I didn't realize that it was essential to those summer nights and times with family.

Now, I think, Baseball has become very important to me because of these memories and because of the love my dad shared with the game and the little transistor that his grandpa had. Times are a changin' now and I am spending my summer in Muncie, attending classes and working for The Star Press. But, there will still be nights at home this summer with basketball in the backyard, dad minding the meat on the grill, mom finishing up dinner in the kitchen and the Reds on the radio.

Hope Springs Eternal in the Queen city

Baseball is almost here and the anticipation from this baseball fan has reached epic proportions, similar to the week leading up to Christmas for a 6 year old boy.

Optimism in Tampa Bay, drama in New York, and sleeplessness in San Francisco in the wake of an interesting Spring Training, leads me and other baseball fans up to the 'real' opening day on March 31.

As I've put off mentioning the Cincinnati Reds for nearly three lines, the time has come for my optimism on my team this year. For the first time in my own modern age of really caring about baseball I feel the Reds are going to be a surprise team. And although they play in a cracker box, the pitching staff COULD overcome its home surroundings and be one of the best in the league.

With the emergence of Johnny Cueto and his potential as a frontline starter, which I projected in the middle of last year, the Reds have a legitimate pitching prospect that LOOKS like a young Pedro Martinez, according to a number of reputable sources. And while Josh Hamilton is absolutely raking like no one in history, Edinson Volquez has looked every bit of what the Reds were hoping for when they traded Hamilton. Volquez has continued to look like a front of the rotation starter, with nearly a 7/1 SO to BB ratio and having given up only 6 earned runs all of Spring Training.

As if that wasn't enough the bullpen looks much better, according to more reputable sources including Hal McCoy, Jon Fay and Jayson Stark. The addition of Francisco Cordero has legitimized the closer's spot and pushed David Weathers back to his true role as setup man, despite 33 saves last year. The move, although extremely expensive for a small market team, has some saying that the Reds are really contenders this year just from one move and makes them TRUE players in the division with the Chicago Cubs and Milwaukee Brewers.

However, I feel that if the Reds do have 4 legitimate arms in the rotation there will be no contest this year and perhaps in the next few years. The offense has been there for some time waiting on the pitching to catch up and while I don't like Corey Patterson in CF I don't think it will matter come August with this guy waiting in the wings.

26.3.08

Before and After

Now, before you say I've seen that picture, note that this is the day I got to London. The second one is today. And although I am standing on my tip toes with my neck stretched, note the obvious weight loss from a change of diet, walking and exercising regularly. Don't worry I am healthy, for those that think I don't look it.

25.3.08

Egg, Mayonaise, Ham and Cress Sarnie?



A most delightful aspect of British life and culture comes in a plastic triangular carton, three inches across and six inches long. These incredibly delicious representations of British cuisine at its best come in the most obscure combinations, yet are enjoyed by millions every day; including me, today.


Yes, the sarnie, as we British call them, or sandwich for the noobs out there, is a staple of increasingly fast British lifestyle and can be found in nearly every Iraqi grocery store, petroleum station and department store in London.


The truly interesting thing about the sandwiches though, which are opened faced to show their brilliant colors, is the odd combinations as I noted earlier. Just today I had for myself a ham, egg, mayonaise and cress sarnie, a mainstay in any British diet. Other combinations available today were: smoked cheese and turkey; cucumber, bacon and mustard; wenslydale, lettuce and orange rellish (which I just had to have one day last month).


Now we all know that the fourth Duke of Sandwich, an Englishman, gave the food staple its name but what you didn’t know is the inventiveness of the British in regards to combinations which are not limited to ham and cheese.


About this time you have begun to salivate or, in what I'm guessing, you have clicked your mouse on the red X at the top having realized what the minority of readers have not yet, that I'm am full of utter rubbish.

About the sarnies though, I have been unable to Google with any amount of success more of the combinations, but if they come available I will make sure to provide you with them, because through their oddity they are quite entertaining. Hmmm, maybe that is a ploy to get tourists to try them.

23.3.08

Happy Easter!

AND, I baked two Apple Pies!

More on that Later. . .

21.3.08

London, Oh London


This weekend marks the second to last weekend I'll be in London. I know, I know that is sad, but hear me out.

I figure at this point I have seen ALMOST everything I want to see and done almost all I want to do in London, BUT on second thought I have not.

The fact of the matter is that London is too great of a town, and place to scrunch into even a three month stay and I want to illustrate some of my favorite things starting with the area in which I live. (sorry for the lack of illustration.)

I live in on Leinster Gardens in Bayswater, close to Paddington in the central belly of what is London. I enjoy a fine urban living atmosphere, much different than that of my living condition in Richmond and even Muncie. I rely on public transportation, be it the London Underground or the Bus service that is run by the same London Transport Authority.

My most used individual areas of transportation are the Bayswater, Queensway, and Paddington Underground station as well as the no. 94 bus that picks me up and drops me off on Bayswater, right in front of Leinster Terrace (which become Leinster Gardens).

Just tonight I made my way via Paddington Station and the Bakerloo line to Charring Cross to meet a couple of my aunts friends, who I consider my friends at this point, for a pizza and talk prior to a concert they were attending. After a brief talk over dinner I made my way to Parson's green, on the District Line to find a restaurant entitled "The Fest." This restaurant utilizes women, as waitresses, dressed in German outfits while showing sporting events on televisions scattered throughout the bar.

However, as I made my way down there (10 stops from Charring Cross) I soon realized that in this residential area, and more importantly the restaurant was not going to be inviting to me tonight. Approaching the outside of "The Fest" I read a sign on the door which said "Private Party." (You know what that means as I do) So I left and headed back the way I came toward Parsons Green Tube Stop.

After arriving at Parsons Green, the actual Green and/or Park space I found a bar on the corner that intrigued me and as i had nothing else to do and no where in particular to go, I thought why not try out the local Hammersmith and Fullham atmosphere in the form of a pint, or two, or three.

I walked into the bar, entitled the "Swan" and ordered a pint of a real ale I had not had before, which I have been doing since I arrived in London. It was called Harvey's Sussex Best Bitter and it was rather good. A bit fruity in the beginning but definitely bitter at the end, as I like it. I stood next to the bar and drank down as I took in the atmosphere.

After almost gulping down the first one I belly back up to the bar and ask the barmaid for a "Freeminer Speculation." This is yet another I have not heard of. The first sip sends me on a ride of non-content. I enjoy the beer but it is not, by far, my favorite, especially in the Ale genre. I drink it slowly and enjoy it for what it is, all the while taking in more of the atmosphere; the couples, the groups, the older man spilling his beer onto the floor as he stands at the bar and the families.

Hmmm, yes, the families. Until now i have not really thought about it like this but the fact is people in Britain take their families to pubs, which often times are restaurants, but more importantly pubs. While choking down the pint of Ale, I watched as a lad of probably around 6 grasped the bar and balanced himself along the brass foot bar that ran the length of the bar. I watched as his father asked him what he wanted to drink. And then I watched as his father allowed him to try the Stella Artois he had just bought for himself, which the youngster gave an uninspired face in response to.

I guess when I first arrived I took in all that was different and this was one thing that was. Families in bars. I thought it strange because in the U.S. it is almost a crime, punishable by jury to bring a kid not barely kindergarten age into a place where grown men come to drink their problems away.

However, as I pondered over the fact that I have become accustomed to this in the UK, I also was quick to distinguish between the classy establishments (The Swan) against the not so classy (Ye Old Cheshire Cheese).

I began to think, as I was on my third pint and final for the stop, that although families come to eat in these establishments, I have not once seen someone bring their young kids into places that are considered nothing more than boozers and might as well throw the menu out. I figure that in the UK, they are comfortable with their drinking enough that distinguishing between the family restaurant, which is often a pub, and a boozer, like some I've been to, is not that hard.

Anyhow, I left there after three pints and headed toward Parson's Green, taking the Tube toward Westminster and then changing at Charring Cross heading North on the Northern Line toward Leicester Square. After running into a couple arguing and clogging the escalator, I made my way out and then wandered to the nearest pub. The pub, also clogged with people, served as merely a urinal prior to my quick departure toward China Town.

After arriving in the Red area of London I found a restaurant that seemed to suit my fancy, serving King Prawn Fried Rice and Won Ton Soup.

I pushed my way into the Fried Duck and ordered prior to hearing the waiter argue with the group next to me. I also ordered tea, by the way, which was 0.50 and was unlimited, make a note.

The meal was excellent and filled my tummy to the brim. After paying the 10.50 i owed I left and headed down Shaftsbury Ave. toward Oxford Street, before hopping on the no. 94 bus back to Leinster Terrace.

18.3.08

A Couple Funny Video's





16.3.08

Last Week


Last week I had a visitor and I got to play tour guide through the windy streets of London.

As you may or may not know, Andi made the 4,000 mile journey across the Atlantic to see London and more importantly, yours truly.

Sunday

Sunday I made the journey to Gatwick airport to pick up Andi. After waiting in the international arrival area I spotted her and walked up behind her and asked her if she needed someone to carry her bags for her. To say the least we were both excited to see each other.

After purchasing tickets and making the journey to Victoria station, we boarded the tube for her initial journey on the London Underground.

Soon after we made it to the flat and quickly departed for a long walk through Hyde Park and then down Oxford Street where we picked up the no. 15 bus.

For those of you not in the know, the no. 15 bus is one of the most scenic routes. We took the 15 down Oxford Street, navigating through Oxford and Picadilly circuses as well as Trafalgar Square, the theatre district, Fleet Street, past St. Paul's Cathedral and ending at Tower of London. The entire time I played tour guide telling Andi about everything she was seeing and also throwing in stories of my adventures at all the individual places.

Once we arrived at Tower of London we headed toward the Tower Bridge, which is adjacent and then turned after taking pictures of course, back toward Tower of London, where we began our river walk back toward the palace of Westminster.

Along the way I told her about all the sights along the river, throwing in facts that I remembered from the walk that I took all those weeks ago with Lyndon and the rest of our group. We also talked about the week and it was so nice to have her there to finally share some of what I have enjoyed for a couple of months.

After we got to the Millennium Bridge we crossed it and headed into Tate Modern Art Museum, where we warmed up a bit and walked around. I showed her the highlights and then we continued on the South Bank of the river. Once we got to Westminster Bridge she was ecstatic at the sight of Big Ben and the sunset that seemed to be timed just right behind the palace.

Continuing on, slowly, we passed the palace having crossed the bridge and headed past Westminster Abbey prior to walking to Pimlico station where we hopped on the tube and came back here. That night we got Chinese food, Orange Chicken and King Prawn fried rice and talked about the week ahead.

Monday

We headed to my class, which wasn't meeting that day as we soon found out, and instead headed down Edgware Road and then down to Maida Vale where we walked on the canal's of Little Venice. We stopped at a traditional famous British establishment; Starbucks, for a bite and cup of coffee. Afterword we walked back to the flat and then headed back toward Hyde Park in the pouring rain. After walking and taking the brute of the storm, we escaped into Primark and some other stores along Oxford Street prior to heading back to get ready for dinner that night and the musical we were to see. I bought tickets to see Spam A Lot at a discount ticket broker off Shaftsbury Ave. that came with a special deal. For 25 pounds a piece I bought two tickets for the show and for a 2 course dinner at Sugar Reef restaurant in Picadilly Circus, a short walk from the theatre.

We departed for dinner after cleaning up back at the flat and had our dinner at Sugar Reef, which was surprisingly good. I had a baked chicken with roasted potatoes while Andi had a pasta. Soon after we finished we walked to the Palace Theatre for the show, which did not dissapoint. The show was a compilation of original story from Monty Python and the Holy Grail along with original songs that were every bit as ridiculous as the original movie. Very funny however and I think she enjoyed it as well.

After the show we walked through Soho and Chinatown prior to walking back to Oxford Street and taking bus no. 94 back to Leinster Terrace.

Tuesday

14.3.08

Hal McCoy's Blog

Hal McCoy, the Cincinnati Reds beat reporter for the Dayton Daily News has a blog entry that might be of interest to those that remember the good ol' days. I certainly don't.

Enjoy and be sure to check the Real McCoy often.

10.3.08

London Adventures

A bit of a delay, but that is OK considering the fact that Andi arrived safely and we have had a wonderful two days so far. Tonight we are going to see Spam A Lot, the musical Broadway version of Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

Hope all is well in snowy Indiana.

More To Come. . .

6.3.08

Roy Hobbs, err Josh Hamilton


Even though he is gone I still long for him and here is a video that brings back some memories. However, I hope to see him again.

3.3.08

Spring Training



Here are a few video's giving somewhat of an update on spring training.

Dusty Baker on the state of the Reds, so far.

Ken Griffey on his spring, so far.


And, this other guy people are excited about, for some reason or another.

From my seat, I am happy with the spring so far, and you should be too. That is unless you aren't a Reds fan, because I see bigger things for this team this year. You can't deny the young talent that is emerging.

More to come. . .

2.3.08

Berlin


Yesterday, I awoke later than I wanted but I figured it was ok. With thoughts in mind of visiting Sachsenhausen, a concentration camp north of the city and of my fantasy baseball draft that evening I headed out without breakfast.


I headed down to Turmstraße station where i hopped on the U-Bahn (subway in Berlin) and soon found out after reaching Freidrichstraußen station that the train heading north was not going the entire way, which canceled my plans of going to Sauchsenhaußen. A bit disappointed I headed in the opposite direction toward Potsdam and made the hour long journey on the train.


I was only in Potsdam for about 90 minutes as it was a bit blowey and the city didn't offer what I had been hoping for. I left and headed back toward Berlin, having wasted about half my day on the train already, I headed back to Freidrichstraßen and then to the same Starbucks to find out if they had internet that I could use to do my baseball draft with my friends back in Indianapolis. I found out that to use the WiFi in Starbucks or to use any WiFi in Germany it cost about 8 Euro an hour. Crazy!


Needless to stay I didn't pay it and left after about 90 minutes of sitting and sipping AMERICAN coffee, something Italians did not get.


Now, I didn't waste my day as most of the trains in Berlin are above ground, so I was able to see alot of the city even though I did quite a bit less walking than the previous day.


I made my way back toward my hostel and then chilled there for a tick or two before heading to an internet cafe I had used the day before. I checked in, paid for two hours (1 Euro per hour) and prepared for the draft. After a few minutes I checked into the chat room on our Web site and proceeded to be taken aback by the result of the draft that laid out before me. However, after 3 hours and a 1/2 departure of my finger nails, I was pretty happy with what had taken place.


At this time you are asking yourself: Why in the world was Nathan in Berlin, Germany worrying about his fantasy baseball team? Well to answer; hmmm there is no way to answer a question like that, I think you would just have to understand the dedication and more specifically the guys in our league. They are some of my best friends and it is really a good time.


Anyhow, I left and headed to a bar next door to my hostel, where I asked the bartender for a menu. And then I asked him slower for "Food" and "Menu." To which he said, "Beer?" It was as if an earthquake was building within my insides. I had to try so hard not to laugh and instead of laughing said, "Yes." He had no idea what I wanted even though there were food specials in English on the outside of the pub.


After that I grabbed a burger and fries and headed back to my hostel. It was then that i met 4 gay guys staying in my hostel who were finishing dinner before going out to a club, dressed as, well, something I wouldn't go out in. But they were nice and they soon left me to eat my burger with the tenant of the hostel. We talked for a bit before I gave him my key due to my early check out this morning, and went to bed for the night.


This morning I made my way to Zoologischer Stad? to catch the S9 train to Berlin-Schoenfeld? I met two English guys there arguing about what to do because of the lack of S9 trains that morning. I told them about another thing they could have done but instead they stayed and waited the 45 minutes I had to wait for the next trip to Schoenfeld.


My trip to Berlin was short but amazing. It was my favorite European city so far and has many things for everyone. It is incredibly modern, yet has a vast amount of history. It is also inexpensive and best of all everyone is friendly. I hope to go back one day.

1.3.08

Herzliche Grüße Berlin


As you may or may not have guessed I am in Berlin, Germany.

The past two days have been eventful and after those two days I have found that this is one of my favorite, if not my favorite European city I have been in.

Yesterday

I arrived to the city centre of Berlin at about 1130 and proceeded to realize I had no idea where I was. However, i found my bearings and proceeded down the Spree river toward Reichstag and Brandenburger Tor, two famous Berlin sights.

I knew Berlin was a modern city in terms of architecture but I didn't realize that nearly both sides of the river held modern buildings that seem to be very, very young.

As I continued my trek down and then across a pedestrian bridge, I made my way to the Reichstag and then to Brandenburger Tor, one of, if not the most recognizable Berlin landmark.

Standing in front of the Tor, or gate, I watched as a man portraying a soviet soldier took money from people as they took pictures with him. For you not in the know, the Berlin Wall that seperated East Berlin from West Berlin passed right behind the Brandenburger Tor. Also, the celebration of the fall of the Berlin wall took place mainly in the square adjacent to the Tor, in November 1989.

I didn't pay for a picture or the fake passport stamp you could buy. Walking on I took a few minutes to admire and question the Holocaust memorial. As you can see in the picture, it is a most peculiar looking thing. Taking up an entire city block, there are black stone rectangular pillars even distances apart from each other. At the same time the ground rolls slightly every few rows of pillars with the level of the ground lowest in the center. While in the center looking in all four directions the ground moves upward, the pillars are over 10 feet tall and most of the sun is blocked out. Quite interesting.

From there I left and headed toward Potsdamer Platz and then toward (T o T). There I read about the ground at which this memorial sat. Apparently it is where the entire 3rd Reich operation took place from. This was where the administrators of the Nazi terror machine coordinated everything from the concentration and death camps as well, torture of enemies as well as the plan for taking over the the whole of Europe.

After there I was in quite a good state of mind, which may seem strange considering my activities the previous hour or so. I then headed toward Checkpoint Charlie, where the American controlled section of Berlin began or ended depending on the way you are looking at it. There is a museum there but I didn't go into it. I instead went into a true Berlin trademark; Starbucks. There I sat for a bit and had a cup of AMERICAN coffee, something Italians did not get, sadly.

From there I made my way toward the Jewish Museum but found it too expensive and then walked back toward down town. While there I walked through Alexander Platz where ( - ) is and then toward the Berliner Dom, where I stopped to have a Brat and some fries. While there I sat at a table with a older gentlemen, who I thought at first was talking to no one in a loud tone of which I could understand nothing. As I began eating he turned to me and began talking in German, and as soon as he began talking he reallized I was catching nothing of what he was giving, probably due to the blank stare I was giving him.

He asked where I was from, to which I told him the United States and Indiana. At that moment, there started the some of the best few minutes I have had since arriving in Europe. He talked about travelling to America, politics, London and Berlin. He asked me questions here and there but mainly just talked about America and his adventures working in Chicago, Ohio and New York. The entire time I didn't reallize it but I was speaking to a fellow journalist. As we finished our conversation that interestingly ended on the subject of music and the Beatles, interestingly enough, he asked for my address in the U.S. and he gave me his business card. It was then that I realized Helmnut Ratzlaff was a journalist and lawyer.

I headed toward my hostel at that time and about an hour later, I walked upon it, as it was getting dark. That night I wasn't hungry until about 10 p.m. I ate at a small Kebab and Pizza shop, where I had the later with a pint of Berlin's finest (Schulleritz?)

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