Biking in Prague

I want to make some notes about biking in Prague. First of all, you should find a bike map. there are posted and marked bike routes and you should know where they are. Second, have your hotel on the castle side of the river, somewhat north of the castle. The ground there is flat and in the newer sections, there are less cobblestones. Third, have a bike with a lot of gears. three is not enough if you are towing a dog, for example. Fourth, the sidewalk’s cobblestones are much smaller than the street’s cobblestones and will make you feel less shaken to bits. Also, the traffic is scary and the sidewalk feels safer, even if slower. The natives seem to use the sidewalk. Also, the natives wear helmets, which is a sign that you should too. Sixth, watch out for doors. People do not look before jumping out of their cars and could easily smack you. Prague is definitely a ‘bike to the edge of the section you want to see and then park your bike’ kind of town.

Bike Travel

I have not yet worked out the perfect kit, but this is what I’ve got so far.

The bike

You need a bike that is comfortable going long distances and which can carry baggage. Also some bikes are unwelcome on certain trains. I picked Brompton because they’re light and fold and can go on any train or in any hotel room and have adequate baggage-carrying ability. Also, they are comfortable for going long distances. There are a few other makes of folding bikes which can also be used as touring bikes. Make sure you get lights on your bike and also luggage-carrying ability.

Rent or buy?

If you are towing a dog, you will probably need to buy, since you are attaching a hitch to your bike. Otherwise, it depends on a few factors, including how long you’ll be travelling and how you will be going. If you do train, bike, train, bike, etc, it could be wise to rent a bike at each town rather than lug a bike on all those trains and pay a supplement on every trip (unless your bike folds).
However, if you’re going to be out for a while, you can buy a used bike and sell it at the end of your trip. If you don’t break anything on the bike, this can be cheaper than renting. There’s two drawbacks to this plan: 1. Used bikes tend to sell out of shops at the start of the tourist season, so you’ll have to plan ahead with overseas ebay. (Used Bromptons don’t go for much less than new anyway.) 2. If you get a really cool bike, you won’t want to sell it back. (My bike is so awesome! I love it.)

Clothes to pack

This list is still in flux for me, but here’s a draft. Note that your needs will change depending on whether you plan to camp, stay in hotel rooms, with the weather, how much time you spend in urban areas, etc. In all circumstances, you want stuff that dries really quickly. Wrinkle-free is also very nice. Unless you plan to pack an iron.

For biking
  • 1 or two pairs of non-dorky looking bike shorts. These are shorts that have removal, padded liners, so you can wear them to bike around, but also walk around in them without looking silly.
  • One or two under-layer bike shirts. These are the really tight shirts that wick moisture away from your skin. they dry crazily fast. I wash mine in the shower and it’s dry for the day as soon as I put it on. Mine is currently a dark color and I think I might also want a lighter fabric, lighter color one for when it’s really hot.
  • One or two bike jerseys. I have one that looks like a normal t-shirt, which means I don’t look goofy when walking around, but those back pockets are very handy and I miss them and the lack of collar means my neck is more likely to sun burn. Also, mine is a dark color which can get too warm in direct sun.
  • A bike rain jacket. Waterproof, windproof, breathable. Ideally, you want one where the sleeves come off and with a removable liner. Thees are awesome because they adjust very easily to changes in temperature. They look a little goofy for just walking around because they’re long in the back, but are super comfy anyway.
  • Bike sleeves. These are spandex sleeves which are like arm warmers. They are really handy even when you’re not biking. If you are going in cold weather, you might also want spandex leg warmers which work the same way. And if it’s going to be really cold, you can also get a helmet-liner, to keep your head warm.
  • Bike gloves. You put sunblock all over your arms and hands. You bike for a couple of hours. You stop at a toilet. You wash your hands. You bike 4 more hours in the sun. Your hands are burnt to hell because you washed them and didn’t re-apply sunblock. Screw that. The gloves also add some nice padding for when you’re on cobble stones. (Remember that stupid joke about the nuns, the bike and the cobblestones? Who the hell came up with that? It should go, “‘Oh my god, I’ve lost all feeling in my genitals except for some pain!’ ‘Yes, cobblestones make celibacy so much easier!'”)
  • Glasses or sunglasses. You know what sucks? Getting bugs in your eyes. Or dirt. Or leaves. Or blossoms. Protect your eyes.
  • helmet. You only get one head in life. Besides, it completes that roadie look that you’re now sporting. Yeah, all this stuff might make you look like a dork, but you’re a comfortable dork who is protected and dressed in layers.
For touristing – Male / Masculine IDed people
  • swim trunks. These also work for shorts. (and a swim shirt if you get sunburnt easily)
  • A short-sleeved shirt with a collar. (2 if your bike jerseys can’t be worn around as regular clothes)
  • a tie or bow tie. (seriously)
  • Pants that zip into shorts
  • Pants
  • A hat or two. I take two hats. One keeps the sun and rain off. The other is warmer and more formal looking. Both pack flat.
  • A nice swearer. You throw on your pants, collared shirt, you bow tie, your more formal hat and your niceish sweater and suddenly, you can go anywhere. (If you don’t do a nice sweater, bring a blazer)
  • Nice-ish shoes. Well, you can’t go anywhere unless you have niceish shoes. I want to pack light, so I just got tan shoes which are really comfortable and sporty enough for biking, but nice enough for the Mister Rogers look described above. I kept gravitating to the golf shoes at sports stores. I can’t tell you how alarming it is to discover an interest in golf shoes.
  • Flip flops or tevas. For avoiding athlete’s foot in shared showers
  • Two pairs of underwear. One if you can get the super amazing fast drying kind, but make sure it breathes or you’ll be unhappy.
  • 2 or 3 pairs socks. Yeah, that means you’re always hauling around an extra pair of dirty socks, but we can pretend. I’m going to investigate biking socks tomorrow.
For touristing – those who prefer femme clothes

I got help with this list, but I’m not sure about it.

  • swim suit.
  • A piece of fabric that you can wrap around your (silly) bike shorts for an instant skirt. If it goes past your knees, that’s a bonus for getting into churches.
  • one or two shirts. (Two if your bike jersey is too silly to wear around town.) Make sure at least one of them covers your shoulders so you can get into churches.
  • Pants that zip into shorts.
  • Pants OR a skirt or dress.
  • a nice looking sweater or other wrap
  • Nice-ish shoes.
  • Flip flops or tevas. For avoiding athlete’s foot in shared showers
  • Two pairs of underwear. One if you can get the super amazing fast drying kind, but make sure it breathes or you’ll be unhappy.
  • One or two sports bras or tanks with one of those bra thingees built-in. These also work for undershirts and can be used instead of the bottom layer when biking.
  • 2 or 3 pairs socks. Some of these might have to be matched with your nice-ish shoes. You know how to do this better than I do.
  • a hat
  • bling. For looking dressy when needed. (Let’s put makeup in the “bling” category.)

Camping gear

  • Tent. Light is good.
  • Sleeping bag. Light is also good, but you want one that will keep you warm enough at your lowest likely temperature.
  • Flashlight

Optionally, of course, you can add pads to sleep on and a little cooking kit and a light weight espresso maker and dishes and all the other cool camping stuff. Depending on what you want to take uphill with only the power of your own muscles.

Toiletries / first aid

  • tooth brush, tooth paste, normal stuff, you know the drill. Make sure to also bring dental floss as it not only prevents cavities, but can also be used as a clothesline and to repair ripped fabric. don’t get travel versions of these things, just bring a regular size.
  • soap, shampoo, conditioner, comb, etc. Again, you know the drill. It’s possible in some places to find shampoo in bar form. This is way lighter, takes up less space and is more economical.
  • razor, shaving soap, etc
  • A pack towel. These are tiny, light weight microfiber towels that dry out really fast. Worth the price.
  • Sun block. and after-sun lotion. If you go to a drug store in France and ask for after-sun lotion, they will sell you the most soothing moisturizer ever, which totally helps sun burns. It may still be the case that European sunblock is better than American due to differing regulations.
  • Hand sanitizer. Keep a small bottle of it in your pocket at all times. This will make you happy and keep you from contracting strange toilet doorknob-borne illnesses.
  • toilet paper. Especially if you’re going to camp.
  • some sort of clothes washing stuff. you can bring laundry powder or super-concentrated laundry soap or just use your bar soap / shampoo, but you’re going to end up hand washing your underwear and socks, so you’ll need some kind of soap for it, even if you take all the big stuff to laundry mats
  • bug spray. DEET repels ticks.
  • vitamins – keeps you healthy even with a weird tourist diet
  • any pills or medicine that you take, including for allergies.
  • pain killers
  • moist towelettes. For cleaning wounds.
  • a tiny bottle of vodka. For cleaning wounds.
  • band aids.
  • ointment that can be applies to things like rashes, dry spots, bee stings, etc
  • a sewing needle that can use dental floss as thread.
  • tampons or whatever if you need them. This might be a good time for the diva cup, but it’s not a good time for luna pads. Unless you want to bike around with nasty, bloody, dirty, washable pads. If you are really that granola, may I suggest a water-tight container filled with water and hydrogen peroxide / oxygen bleach? Stick them in there until you can clean them properly. (Same goes if you have a baby with you that uses cloth diapers.)

Other stuff

  • Pocket knife.
  • hand pump
  • tire patch kit
  • bike lock
  • blinky lights
  • rain cover for seat
  • clip to keep your pants out of the chain (unless your chain is covered)
  • if your bike folds, get a canvas cover for it.
  • water bottles or camel back thing (or both.)
  • camera (w/ film or extra memory stick)
  • rechargeable batteries and charger – for your camera and your lights and flashlight. These can be purchased very cheaply in Europe. don’t bring your own from America. (or vice versa.)
  • (optional) cell phone. Get it unlocked before you leave.
  • maps.
  • travel book.
  • diary or laptop. (yeah, seriously, but be careful.)
  • a pen and some paper
  • a watch. analog watches can be used for navigation

augh, that’s so much stuff!!!

No it’s not. Especially if you get the REI/ travel versions of listed clothes. They pack very small. You want to carry as little of this on your back as possible, so look into saddle bags, back racks, front racks, etc. If you have a brompton, get the front luggage attachment and the back rack. There is a 28 liter bag that can go on the front and carry all of this stuff for one person with no problem. They also have bags that specifically fit the back, but 1. Your tent might not fit. 2. The way the bike folks makes this back rack hard to use, unless you’re towing a dog, in which case, you’re not folding the back up anyway.

this sounds complicated

It’s not. You’re taking all your normal tourist stuff minus a few street clothes and plus a few bike clothes. And a few bike gadgets. A lot of this stuff can be picked up as needed. I didn’t add bandaids to the list until Cola cut her foot in Berlin. (alas.)

this sounds expensive

Cheap acrylic clothes dry fast too. Buy used when you can. Borrow when you can. Silly bike clothes are more comfortable but not required by any means. (I never owned padded shorts before this summer.) Camping is really cheap lodging. You can buy food at delis and bakeries and eat it outside. Also, being on a bike means not having to buy metro or tram tickets. If you buy a used bike and sell it at the end, I don’t think this ends up being any more expensive than any other vacation.
However, budget more money than you think you’ll need. You may end up in hotels more nights than you expect and you might need bike repairs, etc.

This sounds hard

So start with an easy ride. If you follow the Loire, for example, there is always a downhill tendency, since water always flows downhill. The towns and villages are pretty close to each, so you can find lodging (although maybe a hotel) at many, many points along the way. If you have a problem along that route, the locals will help you out as much as they can. Seriously, if you do an easy ride, you don’t need to train in advance. It might be a good idea, but it’s not required. (All the usual disclaimers about seeing a doctor before starying to exercise apply.)
But seriously, don’t strain yourself. Pain is a way of telling you to take a break for a while. This is not sprinting, so you shouldn’t ‘feel the burn.’ Stretch when you stop (not when you start) to keep from being sore the next day. If you feel like you’ve pulled something, take a day or two off from the bike and walk around instead. Eat fruits and vegetables. Make sure you get enough iron, because you’re probably going to end up with a lot of bruises, alas.

Dog Travel

One of my friends here was impressed with the logistics of bike travel and the logistics of dog travel. However, neither is particularly diificult. In the interest of being informational, here are some tips.



First of all, get a microchip put into your dog. (In the case of pets, this is literally a mark of the beast.) Put a collar and ID tag on it too. Dogs in Europe need something called an EU pet passport. If you are in the EU, get this from your vet. If you are in America or another country, find the website for your country’s embassy/consulate for the EU member state in which you intend to arrive. They will have a form which you bring to your vet in your home country a few days before you leave. (Some countries require advanced planning in the form of rabies tests done at least 6 months before arrival. Those countries suck.) Have your vet stamp the form several times with an official looking stamp. Many European countries love official-lloking stamps and will request them whenever possible. The pet travel form is good enough for airlines. Take your dog’s pet passport with you whenever you travel.


You need a dog carrier to take a dog on a plane. Your dog is checked baggage, alas. The airline’s website will give you information that lets you figure out what size carrier that you need. Put a dog pillow or newspapers down in the carrier. Throw in a toy of some kind, like a kong stuffed with treats. You will also need hamster-style water bottles, maybe a couple of them in large dog-size. Fill one of them the night before and stick it in the freezer. Fill the other at the airport (or before you go to same). My dog had panic attacks for 2 weeks or so after fyling, but was unharmed in the long run. Do not drug your dog.


Most countries want you to buy a ticket for your dog. Alas, as far as I know, you can’t get a eurail or interrail pass for your pet. The price of dog tickets varies widly country by country. In Germany, it costs the same as a child ticket. In the Netherlands, your dog can traverse the entire country for around 3€ / day. Small dogs in carriers/bags travel free everywhere. Theoretically, you dog must be muzzled, but so far, this hasn’t been enforced in my experience. Heck, my dog is so quiet, so sleepy and blends into shadows so well, that most train conductors / passport agents haven’t noticed her at all. I hand them her ticket and they say “This is for a dog!” as if I have tried to save fare by passing myself off as a caninie.
At least in Germany, taking a dog on an overnight train with sleeping benches is insanely expensive. This may be true in other countries as well.


This is a really fun way to travel with a dog, imo. It combines all the best things in life: dogs and bikes. If your dog is small, there exist baskets especially designed for them. There are also specifically designed trailers for any size dog. Doggy Ride is cheaper than kid trailers (that I looked at) and is a better shape for a dog. The trailer hitch will attack to almost any kind of bike. Realisticall, though, your bike should be multi-speed if you want to tow a dog. Three speeds at least. Probably more if you’re going through especially hilly areas.
I threw down a very cheap foam mat on the bottom of mine to provide padding. There is also a hook thing that (theoretically) keeps your dog from being able to successfully escape. In practice: make sure all the zippers are closed because your dog can jump out the top. Also, zip the zippers around to the top of the openings rather than leaving them at the bottom, because a dog can “dig” them open by scratching if they’re easy to reach. You dog will probably be unhappy the first few times out. I calmed my dog by asking her co-gaurdian to ride behind the trailer saying “good doggie” over and over again, which helped. Now she’s happy to jump in, but that took some time. She’s still nervous some times, alas.
The trailer folds up to a reasonable size and thus can go on any train.


Obviously, campgrounds are fine with dogs, but most will charge a tiny supplement and demand to see a pet passport. Most two star hotel chains are also fine with dogs, but will also want a supplement of around 5€. Guides published by trourist offices almost always contrain information about whether listed hotels take dogs. Most hotels do. Most hostels do not, but some will is you are with a group that takes up an entire offered room. (ie: two of you in a two-bed room).

Stuff to bring

Aside from the documentation mentioned at the top, bring some sort of small plastic bowl that can be filled with water. Make sure to offer water to your dog very often. And obviously, it will need walks, so bring a leash and also plastic bags in case you walk it in a city. Even Paris is getting serious about making people pick up dog crap, so don’t be a part of the problem. Also, getting a ticket sucks. Also bring treats, food and a toy or two. I didn’t want to bring a whole sack of dog food, so I pre-measured many days of food into zip-lock bags and brought those. The dog could eat straight out of the bags and I had baggies for picking up after her. My first time out with the pooch, I brouht along her pillow, but it got wet in the rain and was heavy, akward and smelly. Now, I just bring a foam pad, which is lighter. I wanted to get her a thermarest, but they’re incredibly expensive in Holland. anyway, she’s happy to sleep on the foam.


I prefer taking my dog with me. I can take her into almost every restaurant and even department stores. However, I can’t take her into churches, castles, museums or grocery stores. It’s ok to tie her up outside a store or a church, but she barks like crazy when left alone in a strange place, which might bother other people. And museums take too much time – I can’t leave her barking alone for hours or somebody will think she’s abandonned. I also cann’t leave her alone in her trailer, as she will destroy it by trying to escape. In the past, I have left her alone in hotel rooms, which was fine, even if against the rules. It’s also possible to leave her alone in an airline crate. Dogs find it soothing being locked in boxes and they can’t hurt airline carriers.

Is this REALLY a good idea?

Yes! Well, if you like your dog and it’s healthy. I wouldn’t bring my dog on a grand tour of European capitals because those trips are all about slogging through museum after museum. But if I want to go across a countryside from village to village (which is more fun anyway), the dog is great to have along. Also, people like dogs and it opens up communication.

i’m back

I’ve been in Berlin, Prauge and Dresden in the last week. It’s 10 hours from Dresden to Den Haag and if you have a dog with you, in order to get a sleeper car, you have to reserve the ENTIRE compartment, so unless you find 5 other people to go in with you, it’s 200 extra euros. Also, Czech border gaurds don’t notice dogs unless you hand them petpassports and if you do, they think you’re trying to pull something. Alas, pet passports don’t get stamps.

More later. I’m really tired.

Offline Blogging about France

I am sitting in a room in a hostel in Berlin. The hostel is called “Generator.” The reception floor is anti-skid polished steel, like you see on loading dock sort of area. The walls are a bright blue. There are drunk German kids shouting and running up and down the hallway. I think I may seek a different hotel come morning.

And now, back to our story

When I last left my story of my adventures in France, it was the evening of the 6th of May. On the 7th of May, I walked over to the tourist office in the morning and learned that the municipal campground for Orléans does not open until June. However, the nearby town of Olivet had camping, only 8 km away. I made a reservation and then called the campground to ask when I should arrive. 20:00. So We walked around the cool medieval stuff going on.
Medieval germans had machine-loaded cross bows. The bow was spring steel. To pull it back, two people used a winch and then one of them aimed and pulled the trigger while the other got read for the next shot. The same folks also demonstrated a trebuchet, launching a soccer ball at the cathedral. Then they set off a cannon and we had to leave, since poor Xena was ready to run all the way back to Holland from fear of the noise. As it was, she ran towards a cage bear, which she had surprising little fear of. Bears look a heck of a lot like dogs. Why haven’t people domesticated them? I want a domesticated bear for a pet!
We went to the medieval market and it was nearly identical to the year before. The same booths in the same spots selling the same stuff. I felt disappointed at first for the lack of innovation, but realized that the search for innovation and the search for authenticity were often at odds. Having it the same very year is the point. The authenticity derives from the traditionalness, which comes from slow change. So then I felt better about. Well, that and a glass of honey mead.
One new thing was a vendor of natural horn trumpets made from the horns of former bovines. This instrument is what was meant by the word “bugle” until they came to be replaced by brass version. In modern French, they’re called clairons, but in medieval French, they were called another word, which I can’t recall, but is a cognate of the English word “bugle.” They were used mostly for signaling, especially in military operations. Recall the horn of Boromir in The Lord of the Rings. They play only one pitch well and all the rest sound kind of choked. I got a zebu horn.
One of the food vendors took pity on Xena and brought her some steak. He was feeding it to her with a caution: “C’est chaud!” “It’s hot!” She swallowed it anyway. Thus, all happy, we hopped on bicycles to head for the campground, free tourist map in hand.
We followed the directions provided by the tourist office, and it looks us over streams and next to old water wheels and stone buildings and little bridged and lakes with swans and by all sorts of flowers, and woods and nature. We went back and forth down the street looking for it and then went to a small island in the middle of La Loirette, a tributary of the Loir. It was 19:40. We were standing in a shaded meadow, next to an ancient waterwheel in a picturesque stone tower. The sunlight filtered down through the trees. It was incredibly beautiful, but we were totally lost.
A man biked by and I called out to him, asking if he knew where the campground was. Luckily, he did. He told us to follow him and lead us all the way there. Morever, when I was struggling to get my loaded bike and dog trailer up a steep hill, he went into a super low mountain bike gear and pushed it along. I don’t even know his name.
The camp ground was nowhere near the location the tourist office woman had drawn on my map. It was about 5 km away from there, in fact on an island in the Loirette. The camp ground woman told us to camp in any part of of the tip of the island. It was a small green peninsula, with a picnic table, green grass, wildflowers and several trees, all of which were slowly dropping blossoms like lazy snowflakes. Some ducks were meandering around the island and quakcing, and coming up to peck around. The water floated lazily by, until disturbed by a crew team, quietly rowing past. It was entirely lovely. Xena ran in broad happy circles, pausing only to roll in the grass or chase the ducks. She was the happiest I had seen her in ages. Until I tried to get her back into the dog trailer. She trotted off, with the idea that she could avoid me by wading out into shallow water. But there was no shallow water, only a sudden drop off, so with a look of surprise, she plunged into the Loirette. She confusedly got back on the island and promptly started rolling in dust and dirt to dry off. Once this strategy was successful, I put her in the dog trailer anyway and started back to town for the evening events. She started trying to escape again and succeeded in getting half way out!
We showed up for the evening ceremony and illuminations. Like all big French public events, it started with a speech, which was pretty good about how French identity would not have existed today without Orléans in the 100 years war and Joan of Arc in particular. It went a little long. Then another speech started, so I wandered away in search of dinner. I still have never seen the illuminations.
The night parties were set to go until very late and included more cannon shots, dancers, musicians and all sorts of stuff. Some of the musicians had firecrackers, which they set off quite close to their audience. Between that and the cannon shots, Xena was terrified, so we went back to camp. I calculated later that we rode about 30 km that day, even though it was not supposed to be a biking day.

May 8

the next morning, I woke up exhausted. The ground was harder than I remembered from previous camping experiences. It had started to rain and attempts to get the dog under the rain flap had proved fruitless. The dog was wet, and I hadn’t slept much. However, the campground provided bread. They gave us 2 croissants and a baguette. It was fantastic. We went back into Orléans for the parades. We missed the start of the first one, but still got to see the traditional dancers perform with traditional instruments. We were very close to the Brittany contingent, who had an extremely loud and fun bag pipe band. The music made me feel like dancing, which is not what I ever would have expected from a bag pipe.
The second parade began with a long speech from some official about how happy he was to be in charge of things this year and probably some other points which I missed. Then a perpetual scholar in the French Academy started to give a long speech about the historical and social role of Joan of Arc and how it’s changed over the years.
this shall be continued

Back from France

I’m back and I want to share all. I wasn’t sure where to start, especially since the trip ended much as it began: biking across Paris, towing a dog, trying to make a train connection. The second trip was a bit more hectic than the first because it involved a much farther away train station, a shorter time and a case of wine. Some Parisian yelled «Bravo!» as I struggled uphill across and intersection, trying to pick up speed to make the train on time. We had an hour and 5 minutes, two foldy bikes, a foldy trailer, dirty clothes, camping gear and the aforementioned dog and case of wine. And a medieval-style bugle that I bought in Orléans. 20 minutes to unfold everything. 20 minutes to bike from Montparnasse to Gare du Nord, 20 minutes to refold. I highly recommend sprinting across Paris with so many things, especially down the hill from the Sorbonne to the Seine.

We arrived in Paris the day of the election. The streets were crawling with Gendarmes, prepared for possible unrest following the results.
First stop, was the bakery near where my apartment used to be. God, they make the best bread in the world. First thing off my bike and I step in dog shit. Yay Paris. Some older French ladies approached me and spoke to me about my dog trailer. Maybe it was the nice weather. Maybe it was the expectant air around the election, but probably it was the dog. I almost never had conversations like that when I lived there.
The streets were full of flics and first-time roller bladers. At every corner, there were grim-looking cops in riot gear and young people on wheels desperately clinging to phone poles. Xena was trying desperately to escape her trailer as we slowly crossed the city. Nicole rode behind me, repeating “good dog!” over and over again. She said the scowling gendarmes broke into amused smiles as they spotted the dog.
We arrived in Orléans later that evening and went to the tourist office, which was closed. They also had cops everywhere. I tried to call the campground listed in the guidebook, but they didn’t answer their phone. Rather than ride the 5km to the campground with the risk of having to ride another 5 km back, we went to the Ibiss, a 2 star hotel chain in Europe, roughly equivalent to the Motel 6 in the US.
And everywhere I went that day, I head over and over «C’est un chien!» It’s a dog! but I felt very proud of myself when a kid added, «C’est genial!» That’s brilliant! indeed. My goal was to take my dog with me and avoid the hassle of trying to find a sitter, but I don’t mind amusing the French also.
Over dinner, I learned that Sarko had won. I hate that guy. He said several months ago that the (poor, immigrant) suburbs should be cleaned out with a pressure hose, a comment that contributed greatly to the riots that followed shortly thereafter, leaving many cars burned. His parents were immigrants! He’s like the Ward Connerly or Clarence Thomas of France. In the time leading to the run off, he actively courted supporters of Le Pen, the ultra-right nationalist who adores Joan of Arc. Not because she was an awesome cross dresser who could place a cannon, but because she drove France’s foreign enemies out of France – you know, like um, immigrants. Because immigrants are totally against the country they want to live in (yeah, I hate France and want to destroy it). And Joan of Arc was not accompanied by a huge bunch of Scots who were also foreign and there to help her.
As I was walking back to the hotel, I heard whistling and shouts. A huge crowd of youths came up behind me on the Rue de Jeanne d’Arc. They had a bedsheet banner that had an anti-sarko slogan on it. Other folks were joining them as they marched. The joiners had their cell phones in hand and busily SMSed and called their friends to let them know to join in. (I heard one guy saying something about “le podcast.”)
as they marched down the largest street in town, towards the cathedral, under the huge patriotic banners and flags the town hung for it’s yearly festival, the older, whiter, richer Orléanaise leaned out their apartment windows and looked worriedly on the crowd below. In the expensive apartment, old white folks worried. In the street, a young, diverse crowd marched, whistled and gave speeches.
WhenI heard Sarko won, I was disappointed, but not surprised. The poll numbers were in favor of him. He was running against a woman. Her “yay I won” speech after the first round was wooden and boring in a manner unsurpassed by even John Kerry or Al Gore (although maybe Bob Dole could give her a run). But still, I hoped somehow she would win and I was angry that she hadn’t. But then, I saw these other angry kids and marched with them for a while. They were unhappy, but engaged. Their actions demonstrated hope. They weren’t in the street just because they were angry. They were in the street in their smallish town because they knew it mattered. Their participation in this semi-spontaneous march meant something, not just to them and the worried old folks, but to their whole nation.
I felt tears in my eyes. How can such a great country be so stupid? I went back to the hotel to sleep.

Travelin’ / Upcoming Concerts

I will be playing in Berlin on May 18th at Zentrale Randlage as a part of a conference going that weekend. I’ll be playing tuba &/| laptop and Nick Fox-Gieg will be playing computer and doing visuals. It will be cool. Our part will only be about 12 minutes. I don’t know what time, yet or much else, really.

And I will be playing a short set of a larger “show and tell” concert in The Hague on May 24th. The venue is Verhulstpl 17. I don’t know what time yet. I’ll probably be playing some tape music, but might also do some live laptop.
I’m leaving Sunday to go to France for the Joan of Arc festival in Orleans. It turned out to be cheaper to buy something called an interrail pass instead of buying a ticket to Paris and another to Berlin. Theoretically, this means that I can go anywhere within commuting distance on the 21- 23 May or 25-27 May. Realistically, this means: Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, France maybe Denmark. It would be nifty if I could play some music someplace, since my transit is already paid, but, yeah, it’s way last minute and I’m not sure who to contact.
Xena now has a very official looking pet passport. It’s a little blue booklet with a Netherlands flag and an EU flag on it. Getting citizenship in the Netherlands is so easy for dogs! she can legally travel all over the EU (except for England). I got her a trailer yesterday, so I can pull her around with a bike. The trailer doubles as a crate/ “pup” tent. (ha ha ha). I’m now looking for a human tent. The idea is that camping is cheaper than hotel rooms. The reality is not so clear however.
Long-time readers will recall that last summer, I was planning a bike trip, but got lyme disease and had to cancel it. This year, hopefully, I’ll avoid dread disease. Nicole, Xena and I will be heading out along the Loire, following the route of Jeanne d’Arc on the the anniversary of her having travelled that way. Except she got to ride a horse and not tow a dog. On the other hand, she was wearing armor and had the constant risk of death, so I think it will be more fun for me than it was for her.

Off to Birmingham

I’m going tomorrow morning to visit Birmingham. I applied to the University there and I’m having an interview. Hopefully they will let me in.

I failed to realize how soon this trip was looming and failed to find free lodging for myself, but found some for my dog at about 23:15. Thank gods.
Why Birmingham? Well, everybody says it’s SuperCollider heaven. I’ve only ever heard good things. Several people told me to apply. So I did. I haven’t done other things like read a prospectus or apply for funding or even discover how expensive the tuition is (yeah, I forgot Britain is stupid in the same ways that the US is and so education is probably ridiculously over-priced). £9,200 ack.
Early flight, off to bed.

Twitching Dog

So it kind of alarms that Xena shakes and twitches while lying down. I went to look at a vet website (since my Oakland vet office is closed and it’s late at night here and doesn’t seem like an emergency). Apparently, some twitching can be cured with Serotonin Re-uptake Inhibitors.

Lovely. I’ve given my dog anxiety. Will I have to share my zoloft with her?
I went out for dinner and left her crated at home, but put on my ipod to keep her company. I chose a text sound playlist, so she would hear people speaking. She really did not want to go in her crate. When I came home,the ipod was making airplane sounds.
Good lord. If anybody has any dog-calming suggestions, I’m all ears.
In completely unrelated news, I spilled granola under my space bar.

In the lowlands

Xena and I have arrived. After spending several hours in a little crate, Xena was very happy to get a walk. As far as I can tell, she drank no water while in transport. When she got back to my place, she drank a few litres and then fell asleep.

Carrying a big heavy suitcase, a dog and a dog crate on the train is a bit of a chore. When I got to the station in Den Haag, none of the taxis wanted to take me because of Xena. Finally one agreed, as long as certain conditions were met, including the dog staying off the seats. It’s hard to explain to a freaked out dog that the normal rules of car travel don’t apply.
My street is a pedestrian street, so after the cab dropped me off, I still had to walk with crazy dog and stuff. It was ok though. We went for a walk and Xena already recognizes the apartment. She’s smart.
Nicole cried at the airport when Xena was carted away in a cage to go into the baggage hold. It’s weird, but it makes me feel better when Cola cries. For two reasons. One is that if I’m stressed about something and she cries about it, then I feel validated. Yes, checking a dog into cargo is alarming. The other is that when I reassure her, I say reassuring things and internalize them, thus reassuring myself. Also, it kinda makes me feel all butch and stuff.
Yay, I’m here. Oh my god, my head hurts. It’s 3:00 pm now. How much longer should I force myself to stay awake? I’d be jealous of the dog for being asleep, but she’s having nightmares.