Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Back For Breakfast

My last days in America heralded the coming of winter, with heavy snowfalls and freezing temperatures. On the one hand I was glad, as low temperatures mean more layers of clothing, which in turn leads to a lighter backpack. However that does not help balance out the discomfort of colder and shorter days. Plus I had reached the end of the road on the American continent. The only way was back to Europe. It was time to go home. Not that this was a decision that had pounced on me suddenly out of the blue. In fact I had already decided a year before that I would be home for Christmas 2013, and was sticking to my plans.

My only possessions (apart from my backpack) to have survived the entire, 45 month circumnavigation: my sleeping bag, my sleeping bag liner, a base layer shirt, my Czech passport, comb, razor and my toothbrush.

Sunday, December 08, 2013

Not The Home Of The Braves

From Montreal it was due south to New York, my last stop, not just in America, but of the entire trip. It was strange for me to be thinking about being back home after so long on the road, so I decided not to think about it and instead concentrate on exploring New York. For many New York is America. Its dominance, both economical and cultural, is unparallelled. Its locales made famous from innumerable Hollywood films: Times Square, Wall Street, the Brooklyn Bridge, the Statue of Liberty, Fifth Avenue, the brownstones of Greenwich Village, the Empire State Building, and Central Park are as well known to people from Panama to Peshawar as much as they are to the populace of Pensacola. I had, actually, been there before, way back in 2001, as a young student on my summer holidays (ah, how innocence fades) and was interested to see how I would see it with more jaded eyes.

Manhattan's exclusive 5th Avenue looking uncharacteristically empty on a Sunday morning.

Monday, December 02, 2013

The Real Melting Pot

America is famous for being a melting pot of ethnicities and cultures. And it is true that it is a nation of immigrants from all corners of the earth who have come, throughout the past few hundred years to escape persecution, gain an education, live in peace, and work towards a better life for themselves. Americans will regale you with details of their ethnic stock (one sixteenth Sioux, another English, one quarter Irish, one quarter Polak, and three eighths Chinese) and proudly proclaim that they are African-, German-, Chinese-, Italian- or Irish-American despite a complete lack of connection to this urheimat except for dressing in green once a year during Saint Patrick's Day, a penchant for sweet and sour stir fry, or a little more rhythm than your average citizen. Canada must be just the same, right?

"I am Canadian!" Canadians are quick to distinguish themselves from their southern neighbours. This beer add humourously captures these differences in a proud ode to Canadia. (Just a shame the beer itself is so bad.)