Erik heads back to Europe to visit friends in Berlin, Geneva, Aberdeen, and southern England for a couple of weeks, and takes in the scenery and sites along the way — including the nuclear physics research facilities at CERN, Scotland’s Highland Games, and even a kung-fu master who started to show off his moves at the legendary Stonehenge.

TRAVEL DISPATCHES (in chronological order)

No Sleep ‘Til Berklyn

Posted: August 22, 2012

PART 1 (DAYS 1-2): Everything was going exactly as I’d been informed. I was following the detailed email directions from my friend Dani, who had explained in the simplest terms, how to get from Berlin’s Tegel airport, in the northwest part of the city, to her and her husband’s home in the Neukölln neighborhood in the southeast. It was an easy affair — even after being on a sleep-deprived redeye from New York via Brussels — except for the last part: the key she said she’d leave under the doormat in front of the apartment door wasn’t there. So I rang the bell, hoping someone was home.

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The Jester in Geneva

Posted: August 26, 2012

PART 2 (DAYS 2-4): “See the name of the building? Les Florentines? It’s got my name on it. That’s why I got it,” Florin joked to me as we pulled into a parking spot of his condo complex in Ferney-Voltaire, the French/Swiss border town outside Geneva on the French side. It was just passed 12:30 a.m. — two hours later than we’d expected since my flight from Berlin was delayed — but we were still in good spirits. In fact, Florin, who I befriended on the W trek of Torres del Paine in Patagonia, was still the fast talking, wisecracking guy I remembered. Back then, John McClain had declared him the court jester of our trekking group, and twenty months later, nothing had changed thus far.

“I’m still a clown, but I’m a lot worse now,” Florin joked.

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When You’re with R. Kelly, It’s Always Friday

Posted: August 28, 2012

PART 3 (DAY 4): “It’s a trick. They won’t honor it,” my witty friend Rachel said as I looked at the restaurant menu’s specials valid Monday through Thursday. “Because in here, it’s always Friday.”

“You gotta get down on Fridays,” I said. (Coincidentally, we were both sort of obsessed with the famous accidental pop song “Friday” by Rebecca Black.)

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Men in Kilts

Posted: August 29, 2012

PART 4 (DAYS 5-6): London may have hosted the international Summer Olympics just a few weeks before my visit to the U.K., but up north, in Scotland, another traditional sporting event was getting underway. I’m talking about the Highland Games, an action-packed event not to be confused with The Hunger Games or even Highlander. When it comes to Scottish sporting events, there can be only one.

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Plains, Trains, and Kung-Fu Masters

Posted: August 31, 2012

PART 5 (DAYS 7-8): “How many coaches does the train have?” my Filipino cousin Joey asked, with the slight English accent one acquires when you’ve lived in the suburbs south of London for five years.

“Eight!” answered the young English voice of his four-year-old son Adam, who I was meeting for the first time. If you’ve followed this blog for years, you might remember that the last time I was in the Philippines, Joey was not with his comic book-inspired, Anchorman-quoting siblings, for he had moved to the U.K. for a job — and a new life. Now married to a fellow Filipino engineer Niña, they lived with their son Adam — a boy that I soon learned was sort of obsessed with trains.

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Ich Bin Eine Brooklyner

Posted: September 03, 2012

PART 6 (DAYS 8-11): “Can you believe Erik is making us have another party?” Phil noted to Dani, as the three of us tidied up before company was to arrive in their Berlin flat. He was referring to the fact that, for the second time this year, I had suggested they have a social gathering — by already inviting some of their friends. (The first shindig was their going away party when they left Brooklyn a few months prior.) Dani was excited about the idea of a party — she set up the Facebook invite for it after all — for it would be their first as residents of Berlin, a sort of housewarming.

Soon, the buzzer rang and rang and guests arrived. And my last night in Berlin was about to go out on a high note.

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GONE EUROPIN' (in chronological order):


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