Winter Vacation

My winter vacation began just before the new year when I left for Tbilisi with several other Peace Corps volunteers. This was my second trip to the city, though this experience was quite different. We stayed in a rented apartment outside of the city center, which was both cheaper and more comfortable. Our New Year’s celebration was one to remember, involving five-gallon jugs of wine, a few hours with some young and educated Georgian Marxists, and dancing to Beatles´ songs played by a live band in an Irish bar.

From there I flew to Belgium to meet the mom. It was great to finally meet up, and we had a great time exploring the streets of Brussels and Bruges. Lots of good beer (9% alchohol!) and food. I was glad to see so much diversity in the capital, where I heard several different languages being spoken and people from all sorts of different backgrounds. It was both interesting and saddening to learn about the language issue in Belgium. The Flemish communitz in the northern half of the country speaks Dutch and the people in the southern half French, with a small minority in the east who speak German. In Brussels, the lingua franca is French, though all the signs are in both Dutch and French (confusing when trying to navigate through the city).

I am now in Hamburg visiting a friend I met the last time I was in Georgia. I´ve been impressed bythe city so far. Many interesting neighborhoods, a modern and clean downtown area, and predictably a very good public transport system. I´ve heard about the Turkish population that lives here many times before, but it was really interesting to walk through some of the streets near my friend´s apartment. I walked into a supermarket that could have been placed in the heart of Istanbul. Everything being sold was Turkish and all of the people shopping there appeared to be Turkish. Unfortunately, the only Turkish words I know are the curse words (which are used in Armenia), so I just stuck to English.

Also, the German keyboard has the places of “y” and “z” reversed, so if zou notice anz mistakes, sorrz.

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