Tuesday, July 29, 2003

It has been so hot in Vancouver that I feel like I live in a sauna. Except a sauna would be cooler than my home. Like last summer, we have had an incredible stretch of hot and sunny days. And the forecast calls for many more. I think going to Belize in August will be a relief!

I've been very busy looking for new gigs. It is very slow, and there isn't much. That always means that you have to work harder to find work. And that eats up time to trancribe the rest of the border expedition notes. Though I should get some more done within the week.

I leave for Belize one week from Monday. SO much to do...


Sunday, July 27, 2003

Sunday, July 6, 2003

After the mega-sleep, it is time to go into Copenhagen with Jesper to explore. I have been here before, but nothing beats walking around a European capital. Later in the day, we meet up with a friend of mine, Al Coen, who has been in Prague covering the 2010 Olympic decision. His flight included a forced one night stay in Copenhagen.

Jesper and I meet him at the central train station and then we all go a-wandering. We relax in the evening in Nyhavn, the area of the city with outdoor cafes and pubs. Then we board the brand new subway (ingeniously called Metro) and head back to Central Station. Jesper and I say goodbye to Al, and then we head back to the ‘burbs. Jesper’s internet is down, so that means another early night.


/// Here is the first installment from my Great Baltic Border Expedition notes. This covers the period of July 4 and 5. ///

July 4, 2003

This is the third time in 22 months that I have flown to Europe to take part in a “Great Border Expedition.” This, the Baltic version, promises to be the most interesting yet.

It has been 10 years since first setting foot in Europe. This is the sixth time. Portugal ’93. Bosnia ’97. Malta ’98. GCEBE ’01. GEEBE ’02. And now GBBE in 2003.

As I write this, I am midway between Toronto and Copenhagen. The sun has followed the flight the whole way, creating the longest day. I have no idea what time it is, but I think it is around 3 am Copenhagen time. The plane took off on the 4th, and arrives on July 5th at 7:30am local. I have been aloft since 8:30am Pacific time.

This was a 2 part flight. First from Vancouver to Toronto. That leg was fine, however upon boarding, I was forced to minimize in the world’s smallest seats. The back row sucks. Once airborne, I quickly moved to add another cubic centimeter of breathing room. This landed me next door to a young Frenchman named Christophe.

Christophe was heading home after studying film in Vancouver. He had with him a PD150, the exact same video camera that I own. We talked about all sorts of stuff – and his interest in modern European history. He was reading the Dummies Guide to the 20th Century, something this dummy needs to read.

The sun is shining through the windows opposite. The light is very red, and this multi-hour sunrise will continue as I speed east.

For entertainment, the film “10 Ways to Lose a Man,” was screened. The Kate Hudson (swoon) vehicle was good mind candy. Nothing to write home about, but not the worst thing that I have ever seen.

(Later – Toronto to Copenhagen) I am tired but not exhausted. Two hours in Toronto consisted of a mad dash from one terminal to the other. Luckily my mega-tonne bags were checked through. I am driving myself nuts thinking about creating new revenue streams. It seems this experiment in freelance is not working as well as I’d hoped. Despite huge income occasionally, I find that I am slipping further and further into debt. This is not a good thing.

To chase away the money demons, I fire up my laptop and watch about an hour of the film The Royal Tennenbaums. What is it about this film that I love so much. It is hardly inspirational – and in fact, rather depressing. Could it be that I relate to the characters? All the characters have grown into adulthood, but have not changed since childhood. Hmmmm.

Perhaps it is simply that I love the look, the music, the acting, and the characters? It’s the kind of movie I would like to make. Witty and sad, like real life. Not like “King of Queens” which is what Air Canada is offering the the big screen.

For this part of the flight, I am lucky that the plane is half-full. I have two seats to myself, so I am able to create a little camp. There are lots of kids on the plane, but they are well behaved and starting to drift off.

Officially, the day changes, and it is now:

Saturday July 5, 2003.

The plane touches down, finally, at Kastrup Airport in Copenhagen. I stumble off the plane, head through customs, grab my bags, and walk out to be greeted by Jesper Nielsen. Can it be that almost a year has passed since last I did this?

Jesper drives us out to his home, about 30 minutes past the airport in a suburb of Copenhagen. We take the scenic route and he points out all the commune borders along the way. The border expedition has begun!

I am staying at Jespers for several nights, which is very easy on the pocketbook. His wife, Nicolette, has a big lunch ready for us when we arrive. This is enough to push me over the edge. I take a nap.

When I wake up, we decide to see if I can get Jesper’s internet to work with my computer. We plug in a cable and struggle to make it work. Nicolette calls us for dinner, and I put the computer on a high dresser, cable dangling across the floor.

As we eat our second huge meal of the day, Jesper goes to fetch something from the bedroom. CRASH. He has tripped on the cable and my $5000 computer has flown through the air, landing on the floor. Without leaving the kitchen, I know what has happened. Great timing, I think to myself.

Jesper is apologetic when he walks into the kitchen. Then we all go look at the damage… it could have been worse. There is some damage to the hinges where the screen attaches to the body… and some hairline cracks in the case. But, the screen is unscathed and everything appears to still work. A miracle!

After all this excitement, it is time for bed. I sleep for 11 hours.


Wednesday, July 23, 2003

Copenhagen Airport; Departure Lounge
8:58am local time.

After a great dinner last night with Peter, Nicolette, Jesper and Mike, the trip is really over now. We went to a great and affordable joint called Broadway -- a turkish joint. After a couple of beers and lots of laughs, we called it a night around 10pm.

We took Mike to the train station and saw him off. And then Peter took his train to Oelstykke. And Jesper, Nicolette and I went to thier place. I had a fitfull sleep, as is normal. Thinking about getting more work lined up after some stuff I was counting on fell apart. And then there are the bills, Belize, and real life. However, it is all motivation for getting the Border Expedition stories together.

It's quiet here in CPH. Just waiting for the flight at 10:40am. Security was a breeze, and the wireless internet is a dream. I'm sitting here listening to a news radio station from Vancouver while writing this. All with no wires. Amazing. Of course, there is a small fee. And I only have a few hours left on my battery (my charging unit is packed away).

I think I'll go grab something to eat and see if I can find an English paper to read -- one that is not too expenisve!

There is a 2 hour layover in Toronto before arriving in Vancouver at 5:11pm.

There may be more in case I get bored!


Tuesday, July 22, 2003

Copenhagen, Denmark

It is over! The Great Baltic Border Expedition has passed into the history books. And what an expediton: nearly being arrested in Poland, seeing a Chernobyl style reactor from only metres away and making google eyes with cashiers in Russia.

My note book is full of stories -- and they will start to be posted here in the next few days. It will take a little bit of time, as there is so much to tell. It was an amazing trip filled with history and the chance to see a number of societies in the middle of their transformation from communist to capitalist.

I will be back in Vancouver tomorrow, July 23rd. After scaring myself silly by looking at all my bills and lack of money, I will start posting the tales.

Of course, there is another border expedition planned for next year. A small one around Italy and Andorra. 2005 will be the Great SOUTHERN European Border Expedition. Where else can you see living history? These trips have gone from a quirky journey to a real education.

Until I return to Vancouver,



Tuesday, July 15, 2003

Vilnius, Lithuania

Today marks the last day in Lithuania. This is sad, because Lithuania has been amazing. It is a strange mix of Soviet ugliness and Baltic beauty. I hope to return soon to explore some more.

We are heading to the divided town of Valga on the Latvian-Lithuanian border and then to the Latvian - Belarussian border area.

Yesterday we crossed illegally into Belarus at a divided village. The road had simply been cut in two -- opportunity on one side, hopelessness on the other. Odd.

I must go... my more words will come soon. I can me texted at 1.604.728.1407 should you want to say hi.

Cheers! A-ciu!


Monday, July 14, 2003

Vilnius, Lithuania

It is nearly 2am and we have been on the road for several days. There has been very little in the way of internet access, however, that may change for the next day or two.

So far, we have been to Russia (Sovietsk), Latvia, Lithunania, Poland and Belarus after starting what seems like a month ago in Denmark.

No one has been arrested yet, but we have had some interesting meetings with Russian soldiers in the middle of the woods. And more than one guard dog.

The weather has been ok, with only a little rain. We were at the Baltic Sea today in search of the Lithuanian-Latvian border and it was quite foggy.

Tomorrow we are going to visit the Centre of Europe, the memorials to those killed by Soviet troops during Lithuania's drive for independence in 1991, and the Lithuania-Belarus border area.

This is an amazing part of the world with many reminders of Soviet times to be seen.

Many more words as soon as possible. But the full story will probably not unfold until I return to Denmark around the 22nd.



Tuesday, July 08, 2003

Notes from July 4, 2003...

This is the third time in 22 months that I have flown to Europe to be a Borderfreak. It has been 10 years since I first visited Europe and this is the 6th trip. But the numbers don't tell the story! The places do: Spain & Portugal '93, Bosnia '97, Malta '98, GCEBE '01, GEEBE '02, GBBE '03.

As I write this, I am midway between Toronto and Copenhagen. The sun has followed us the entire way. I have no idea what time it is. 3am? Noon? I do know that we will be in Copenhagen on Saturday July 5 at 7:30am. I've been flying since 8:30am Vancouver time.

The flight from Vancouver to Toronto was ok. Cramped seats, but luckily I was able to move to a little larger baby seat. I sat beside Christoph, a French (France) filmmaker who had been studying in Vancouver for the past 10 months. He owns a PD150 video camera, same as I. Nice guy. We talked about all sorts of stuff. He was reading a Dummies Guide to 20th Century History. Looks like something I could use!

The sun is shining through the windows -- the colour of red seems clearer than on the ground 40,000 feet below. The sunrise that lasts all day.

Film #1 was "10 Ways to Lose a Man." Dumb movie, but gotta love that Kate Hudson. And she looks like a certain groovy ad chick in T.dot. I am tired but not exhausted. Thinking about revenue streams and Estonian borders. I think I have 2 hours and 24 minutes to go before landing.

I have my laptop with me, and watched about half an hour of The Royal Tennenbaums. I love that film -- and wonder why? The look, the music, the script, the characters, the actors, the acting. Its the kind of movie I would like to make. Witty and sad, like real life. Not like "King of Queens" which is the shlock that is showing on the plane now.

Looking forward to seeing all the freaks.

Toronto to Copenhagen was great because I have 2 seats and have created a little fifedom.

--- This was from my July 4 notes...

Tuesday morning in Østykke, Denmark. Another nice calm day here. We're heading into town this afternoon to do some sightseeing. And then getting ready to leave on Wednesday.

I am about to book a trip to Belize -- this time for work. I've had a couple of surprises in my bank accounts... not sure what has happened and not having my paperwork here makes it hard to figure out. C'est la vie. I'll worry about that when I get back as there is not much I can do from this end.

I sure would like to get that nasty debt paid down. One day, I suppose, one day.

The crazy experiences here have so far been limited. Other than some rather large plastic toys on display in a Sex Shoppe in Central Copenhagen, nothing out of the ordinary. That will change very soon...


Doug | Østykke, DK
11:34am - Tuesday


Monday, July 07, 2003

Lack of internet access is slowing my posting down. Now in Østykke, Denmark, about from Copenhagen. All is going well. We don't leave for Poland until Wednesday night.


Sunday, July 06, 2003

Sunday in Copenhagen.
After a nice 11 hour sleep, it is time to enjoy Europe. So far, its been a quiet trip. Jesper and Nicolette made a huge dinner of BBQ ribs and chicken and sausages last night. We washed it down with a couple of tasty dark Danish beer. The beer selection seems much better than 2 years ago.

I went with Jesper to the grocery store -- very Danish.

Today we're heading into Copenhagen to meet up with friends and have dinner. I will be staying here until Wednesday before taking an overnight ferry to Poland.

The fun is yet to come!


Saturday, July 05, 2003

Greetings from Denmark!
After too much time in the air, I arrived at Copenhagen's international airport at 9am this morning. The flight was fine and I had 2 seats for my big self all the way from Toronto to Copenhagen. Nice.

It's been a quiet day so far. Did some shopping. Had a nap. BBQ at Jesper's tonight.

Catastrophe!! An errant foot and misplaced ethernet cable resulted in my laptop taking a tumble to the floor. It works, but there is some damage to the hinges and the latch. Not good.

Accidents happen, I guess.

That is all for now. More details to come later.


Wednesday, July 02, 2003

Big news today: after all the hard work and ups and downs and 5 years... the Winter Olympics are coming to Vancouver in 2010. How cool is that?! The couch is waiting!

Wednesday night and most of the trip prep is done. Just hammering out the deal with Channel 5 regarding the shoot in Belize. Tomorrow will be filled with last minute stuff and packing. And then Friday I take off at 8:30am.