I've been in Berlin since Monday evening, staying with a friend of Peter's. This is the first time I've stayed somewhere without Internet access at “home,” and perhaps not coincidentally, Julie isn't a NetBSD developer, or even some form of nerd that I can detect. Yes, there are plenty of net cafes, but many of them have little to no provision for uploading photos, or it would cost lots of time and/or money to sit around for hours while they transfer. I miss being able to set the process in motion and then fall asleep! But I'm completely nerd-quibbling here. I'm glad computers haven't kept me from my touristy responsibilities during my short time here, and Julie's wonderful.

Berlin is always changing, bearing the stamps of many influences, many recent, some old, though none older than a few centuries. There's an interesting argument among the locals that perhaps they oughtn't tear down the Palast der Republik and replace it with something less ugly: the city has a history of removing evidence of its history. “Sure it's a hideous building, but how about we stop doing this?” seems to be the gist. Berlin seems a fascinating place to be. I'm almost glad I'm not staying longer, because then I'd start to scratch the surface and leaving would be even harder.

It feels worlds away now, but before Berlin, I spent a week in and around Munich. I loved it. It's like Berlin in that it's a huge German city with great museums and easy mass transit, and the English representation of the city's name is six letters long. In all other ways, it's unlike Berlin. (Prove me wrong and get 5 points.) I already miss the beer and food. That little area of the world with Bavaria and Bohemia I could drink and eat until the end of my days — which, as a direct result, would occur in a few short months.

While in Bavaria, I had to work hard for my tourism. A hike to the Andechs monastery (and brewery) was several kilometers in length and ended with a solid climb. The next day I went to Neuschwanstein Castle, which is nothing but climb. Beautiful weather for both (it's been picture-perfect in Berlin as well), and of course beautiful weissbier after both.

Amusing trivia item: none of the cars in the parking lot at the BMW Museum were BMWs.

I hung out with Zuck over the weekend in Munich. Very enjoyable to have so much time with him. I leave in less than two hours for Paris. I hope to get together with some NetBSD folks there, and I've already planned to meet up with Henri Draque and his royal entourage. In the Czech Republic and Germany, I've felt badly that I don't speak the language, but there's no pressure: I never knew those languages. In France, I may feel a little performance anxiety, because once upon a time, I was pretty fluent with the Frenchness. Certainly I will be called upon to act as the language ambassador for my American cohorts. We'll see how it goes!

The Deutsches Museum had one of the coolest kiosks of all time: what it looks like to fly at increasing percentages of light speed, using the following examples: Eiffel Tower, Saturn, Brandenburg Gate. Holy awesome. I've never seen the concepts so tangibly presented. It was part of the exhibit celebrating the centennial of Einstein's theory of special relativity.

P.S. Germans love asparagus. It's asparagus season. Every respectable dining establishment has an addendum to the menu consisting solely of asparagus dishes. Instead of ordering meat with asparagus as the vegetable, often you're instead ordering asparagus with sides of one kind of meat or another. It's so cute!

P.P.S. I haven't told any actual Germans what I think of their annual asparagus ritual.

P.P.P.S. The following day, the Czech Republic won it all. I think I'm glad to have been safely out of the country by then!

P.P.P.P.S. In case you were wondering: nobody requested that I write much less often. It just happened this way.

P.P.P.P.P.S. Good thing capitalism won here. You can get as many of any letter as you want.

P.P.P.P.P.P.S. Seriously, about the capitalism, the 6th floor of KaDeWe is a veritable shrine. Five kinds of every food from everywhere.