Murmansk. Alyosha.

I waited my five days in three different places, with three totally different kinds of people, who were all so kind. The last two nights I stayed at Evelyn’s, a member of couchsurfing and a German who teaches Russian in Norwegian (!). So I enjoyed a conversation about linguistics, history, politics, which nourished my mind and prepared my for the huge country I will be going to. Evelyn told me a lot about Russia and the Ukraine, for example about the historical towns of the Golden Ring around Moscow, of which I was ignorant, and about the 3th class in trains called “platzkart” where traveling is not only cheaper, but also funnier since you meet many talkative Russians. I will go and see for myself.

Without problems I got my visa (someone at the consulate told me, I should have brought a confirmation of my payment, but it was already lying on his desk, right in front of him. Puh-ha! So the topic of the “dokument” and “your papers are not in order” was safely overcome), and I took the minibus to Murmansk. We arrived at the border when it was already dark and had to go to several cumbersome checkpoints, just like in airports. Our bags were driven through a machine that bleeped, but the officers didn’t care. We got back in the minibus and drove another three hours to Murmansk.

Alyona picked me up with her mother, and I was invited to their flat (which was somewhere away from the center on the 9th floor with the elevator broken) like a special envoy. I gave her my small gift, a box of chocolates and was shown around her place. Together with the rat Gonzales I had some Soljanka with Mayonaise, and was shown my own room. This could not have been better…

Thank you so much! Alyona and two friends showed me around Murmansk during a nighttime stroll, and I got a glimpse of the atmosphere of this rather large arctic town. Murmansk is a relatively young city (in fact, the last Russian city to be founded, in 1916). A lot of sailors live here (Alyona’s father was at sea). They showed me a huge statue with an eternal flame in front of it. It was a concrete soldier standing 35 meter tall, watching out over the bay of Murmansk, and the monument for the marines who died in the submarine accident with the Kursk in 2000.

It was cold and windy, and we decided to walk back home. A very good night.

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Murmansk. Alyosha.

I waited my five days in three different places, with three totally different kinds of people, who were all so kind. The last two nights I stayed at Evelyn’s, a member of couchsurfing and a German who teaches Russian in Norwegian (!). So I enjoyed a conversation about linguistics, history, politics, which nourished my mind and prepared my for the huge country I will be going to. Evelyn told me a lot about Russia and the Ukraine, for example about the historical towns of the Golden Ring around Moscow, of which I was ignorant, and about the 3th class in trains called “platzkart” where traveling is not only cheaper, but also funnier since you meet many talkative Russians. I will go and see for myself.

Without problems I got my visa (someone at the consulate told me, I should have brought a confirmation of my payment, but it was already lying on his desk, right in front of him. Puh-ha! So the topic of the “dokument” and “your papers are not in order” was safely overcome), and I took the minibus to Murmansk. We arrived at the border when it was already dark and had to go to several cumbersome checkpoints, just like in airports. Our bags were driven through a machine that bleeped, but the officers didn’t care. We got back in the minibus and drove another three hours to Murmansk.

Alyona picked me up with her mother, and I was invited to their flat (which was somewhere away from the center on the 9th floor with the elevator broken) like a special envoy. I gave her my small gift, a box of chocolates and was shown around her place. Together with the rat Gonzales I had some Soljanka with Mayonaise, and was shown my own room. This could not have been better…

Thank you so much! Alyona and two friends showed me around Murmansk during a nighttime stroll, and I got a glimpse of the atmosphere of this rather large arctic town. Murmansk is a relatively young city (in fact, the last Russian city to be founded, in 1916). A lot of sailors live here (Alyona’s father was at sea). They showed me a huge statue with an eternal flame in front of it. It was a concrete soldier standing 35 meter tall, watching out over the bay of Murmansk, and the monument for the marines who died in the submarine accident with the Kursk in 2000.

It was cold and windy, and we decided to walk back home. A very good night.

Murmansk. Alyosha.

I waited my five days in three different places, with three totally different kinds of people, who were all so kind. The last two nights I stayed at Evelyn’s, a member of couchsurfing and a German who teaches Russian in Norwegian (!). So I enjoyed a conversation about linguistics, history, politics, which nourished my mind and prepared my for the huge country I will be going to. Evelyn told me a lot about Russia and the Ukraine, for example about the historical towns of the Golden Ring around Moscow, of which I was ignorant, and about the 3th class in trains called “platzkart” where traveling is not only cheaper, but also funnier since you meet many talkative Russians. I will go and see for myself.

Without problems I got my visa (someone at the consulate told me, I should have brought a confirmation of my payment, but it was already lying on his desk, right in front of him. Puh-ha! So the topic of the “dokument” and “your papers are not in order” was safely overcome), and I took the minibus to Murmansk. We arrived at the border when it was already dark and had to go to several cumbersome checkpoints, just like in airports. Our bags were driven through a machine that bleeped, but the officers didn’t care. We got back in the minibus and drove another three hours to Murmansk.

Alyona picked me up with her mother, and I was invited to their flat (which was somewhere away from the center on the 9th floor with the elevator broken) like a special envoy. I gave her my small gift, a box of chocolates and was shown around her place. Together with the rat Gonzales I had some Soljanka with Mayonaise, and was shown my own room. This could not have been better…

Thank you so much! Alyona and two friends showed me around Murmansk during a nighttime stroll, and I got a glimpse of the atmosphere of this rather large arctic town. Murmansk is a relatively young city (in fact, the last Russian city to be founded, in 1916). A lot of sailors live here (Alyona’s father was at sea). They showed me a huge statue with an eternal flame in front of it. It was a concrete soldier standing 35 meter tall, watching out over the bay of Murmansk, and the monument for the marines who died in the submarine accident with the Kursk in 2000.

It was cold and windy, and we decided to walk back home. A very good night.

Quantum of Solace at World´s End

Although it is not really that spectacular, Kirkenes has been called the end of the world on several occasions. Of course, during the Cold War, it was obvious. It´s on the edge of Europe, often not on the map (I have to tilt my google maps all the time). That is why the cinema complex blew my mind, and when I was offered a free ticket for the current Bond movie, I couldn´t resist. It began with a mind-blowing chase in northern Italy, cars scratched, crashed onto rock walls, flew through the air, all before the opening tune kicked in. The movie itself has an interesting story line with a serious twist for environmentalists. I think though, that they could have gone into more detail on that particular topic (which I don´t name here because most of my readers would like to surprise themselves). What´s good about the movie? The imagery (it was shot more on location than any other Bond), the acting (Matthieu Amalric does an amazing job), the oily reference to Goldfinger, the pace, the choreography of the fighting (especially in Siena), part of the plot, the soundtrack. What was bad about it? That the story was a bit vague at times, compared to older Bond movies, the lack of humor, the absence of psychological depth when the subject of consolation is dealt with (as the title promises), and some scenes that could hurt the soul of a classic Bond fan, where his coolness becomes a kitschy caricature.
Nevertheless, I enjoyed the movie, and I have hopes for the future, that one day they could come out with an amalgamate of Connery-cool and Moore-wit.

Quantum of Solace at World´s End

Although it is not really that spectacular, Kirkenes has been called the end of the world on several occasions. Of course, during the Cold War, it was obvious. It´s on the edge of Europe, often not on the map (I have to tilt my google maps all the time). That is why the cinema complex blew my mind, and when I was offered a free ticket for the current Bond movie, I couldn´t resist. It began with a mind-blowing chase in northern Italy, cars scratched, crashed onto rock walls, flew through the air, all before the opening tune kicked in. The movie itself has an interesting story line with a serious twist for environmentalists. I think though, that they could have gone into more detail on that particular topic (which I don´t name here because most of my readers would like to surprise themselves). What´s good about the movie? The imagery (it was shot more on location than any other Bond), the acting (Matthieu Amalric does an amazing job), the oily reference to Goldfinger, the pace, the choreography of the fighting (especially in Siena), part of the plot, the soundtrack. What was bad about it? That the story was a bit vague at times, compared to older Bond movies, the lack of humor, the absence of psychological depth when the subject of consolation is dealt with (as the title promises), and some scenes that could hurt the soul of a classic Bond fan, where his coolness becomes a kitschy caricature.
Nevertheless, I enjoyed the movie, and I have hopes for the future, that one day they could come out with an amalgamate of Connery-cool and Moore-wit.

Quantum of Solace at World´s End

Although it is not really that spectacular, Kirkenes has been called the end of the world on several occasions. Of course, during the Cold War, it was obvious. It´s on the edge of Europe, often not on the map (I have to tilt my google maps all the time). That is why the cinema complex blew my mind, and when I was offered a free ticket for the current Bond movie, I couldn´t resist. It began with a mind-blowing chase in northern Italy, cars scratched, crashed onto rock walls, flew through the air, all before the opening tune kicked in. The movie itself has an interesting story line with a serious twist for environmentalists. I think though, that they could have gone into more detail on that particular topic (which I don´t name here because most of my readers would like to surprise themselves). What´s good about the movie? The imagery (it was shot more on location than any other Bond), the acting (Matthieu Amalric does an amazing job), the oily reference to Goldfinger, the pace, the choreography of the fighting (especially in Siena), part of the plot, the soundtrack. What was bad about it? That the story was a bit vague at times, compared to older Bond movies, the lack of humor, the absence of psychological depth when the subject of consolation is dealt with (as the title promises), and some scenes that could hurt the soul of a classic Bond fan, where his coolness becomes a kitschy caricature.
Nevertheless, I enjoyed the movie, and I have hopes for the future, that one day they could come out with an amalgamate of Connery-cool and Moore-wit.

Kirkenes. Writing and a Do-it-yourself Crashcourse Russian.

I started to realize that getting to Russia from here was too easy to let the opportunity pass, and I got the necessary documents. The travel agency provided an “invitation”. So I was invited without knowing anybody in Russia. Well, they knew me, or they knew all they wanted to know about me, and that was of course that I have money. The invitation was slightly under 70€, thanks more to the strong euro than to the Russian hospitality. The embassy sold me a visa, I left my id there and was told to wait until Wednesday.

So I had five more days in the quiet little town of Kirkenes, which I spent writing and learning Russian. Yes, I got hold of a penguin complete course for beginners, which was pretty good because it had the right pace of repetition. Isn´t it amazing that I could just walk in the community library and issue a card? I found so. All free of charge, no strings attached. So I picked up some literature too, to improve my not so vivid English you know from this blog. Actually, I picked Virginia Woolf, Henry Miller and James Joyce, so you know what you can expect here, language-wise. The library also offered internet free of charge, and I finally got my blog up to date (even a little bit ahead of me, since the Ullyses copy still resides on the library shelf (it has on own shelf) as I write.

I write this account in the local cinema by the way, a metropolitan-style big theater with comfy red chairs with cup holders, popcorn, cola, a well-paid employee, and a 50.000€ surround sound system. You just can´t believe it! We are talking about a 3.500 people town in a 10.000 people community here, and they have a (state owned, as you already guessed) movie theater that easily surpassed the standards in Berlin, Paris, London. This reminds me of another nice anecdote about Norway. When Michael Moore shot his documentary “Sicko“, he also produced some footage on Norway, but did not dare to include it in his film because it was just too unbelievable! (if you don´t believe me, go check it out on YouTube). The Norwegians get a full year paid pregnancy leave, everything is provided for, it has the strongest social security system, in short it is the world´s wealthiest country, first on the WHO-list, where the US has a lousy 66th place.
So here I sit in this incredible cinema complex, which includes a small stage and bowling lanes as well, and two brand new apple computers (one of which I am staring at as I write). I met the employee and convinced him of the Cause, that is, of Couch-surfing and I stayed in his really nice apartment. To make myself popular, I said “I am the best pet you ever gonna get”.
My novel grew as well. I write on paper, with a pen (a lengthy stick with blue or black ink flowing out of it´s tip by an ingenious process which makes use of capillary forces that you hold between your index finger and thumb and let travel over a sheet of paper in a suitable angle and towards undiscovered territory of your mind). I am so grateful I can do this right now, and I hope the result of my scribbling will rejoice – you, yes you, dear reader.
On a few nights we went out to a bar. There are four bars in Kirkenes, and they are frequented by the locals, who enjoy each other´s company. It was what I expected here in the North. I remember accidentally putting that black ball in the neighboring hole at the end of a billiard game with Thomas (the new friend I made in the cinema), thereby letting him win and saving my honor.
Thomas could also hook me up with a ticket for the new James Bond movie which they played, so I will go in as some kind of special guest tonight, which will make me feel like Bond himself, the exceptional One, the guy with a big heart, the guy above the law. I will write a review on the movie, and tell you whether or not it gave me the Quantum of Solace it declares in it´s title.