Sep 21

You’re Canadian! – Euro Trip Part VI

Category: Euro Trip, Random, Rants

We went on a ghost tour, which was cheesy but amusing if only because the guide kept trying to justify himself to us. He was American and very glad to meet Canadians. Before the tour a Czech woman from a rival tour gave him shit for encroaching on her business. They got into an argument and the personalized tour (we were his only customers that night) consisted mostly of him talking about how that woman never would have dared to bitch him out if his Czech wife was present and how the Czech tour sucks because they don’t even know what orbs are and they employ someone to jump out at the guests with a mask and scare them. Clearly his tour was far superiour. He had a lantern and a cape and everything.

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One night we went to the Museum of Medieval Torture Instruments. At first it was interesting but soon became an exercise in depression. The conclusion of the blurb writers didn’t seem to be that life sucked in the middle ages, but that it sucked for women. Most of the devices were designed to torture and kill women accused of witchcraft or being too quarrelsome. (!) Punishable crimes were arguing with one’s husband or wearing suggestive clothing, or having an opinion. Also illegal was consorting with the devil or the devil’s lackeys. No torture was mentioned for the lackeys themselves though. One didn’t even have to read between the lines. It was explicitly stated that male genitalia was considered sacred and exempt from torture. Rape was not a crime. Being the victim of rape however, was. Chastity belts were worn by women willingly, as defence against rape, even though wearing them was not only painful but dangerous, since one could not wash while locked up in one and was likely to get an infection. Leaving the museum I couldn’t help but feel that not much has changed since those days. Even today victim blaming is the norm and women are accused of “asking for it”. In the hotel we watched CNN because it was an English channel and the depression continued as we viewed a special report on the shitty lives of Afghan women. *sigh*

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Unfortunately the first thing we saw in the museum was not art but an obnoxious woman who personified the ugly American stereotype. She spoke at the top of her lungs, announcing how great it was to encounter Canadians and went on to try to become our new best friend. She looked at pieces of art and voiced her opinion on them, which was rather obtuse. A self-portrait of a man with a skeletal arm was declared to be sad. I walked away and ignored her but Phil told me later on that her husband tried to gently tell her to lower her voice and had more intelligent analyses of the art works.
Eventually the Californians walked on and we were free to view the art in peace, but not for long. They came back and the woman directed our attention to some photographs of several men pouring lamb entrails and blood onto a naked woman. The American lady was horrified. “Would they ever show that in Mahntreal?” “Yes,” I answered honestly.
Now, I must admit the work was offensive and disturbing, especially the picture of the men opening the woman’s vagina and pouring in blood but I almost felt the need to defend the piece simply because the American hated it. As she walked away marvelling that a lamb contained so much blood and wondering how much blood was inside her I quietly suggested we find out. Oh yeah, and her husband’s sole contribution to the debate? “I wouldn’t have sex with her no matter how pretty she was.” Yeah, really. His reaction to a symbolic rape was to declare the victim’s sexual value to be lost. Ugh. And Americans wonder why everyone hates them.

Anyway, the rest of the museum was great and highlights included a Klimt, a Mucha, a room full of blown glass sculptures and an exhibit about the 4th dimension that involved spheres and mirrors.

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Also interesting was the Socialist art, and the descriptions of how modern art was suppressed during communism, and the political art that emerged during the post-communist era.
As is always the case when I visit art museums, I became very inspired and got tons of great ideas about what I would paint when I got home. Now that I am home I have typically lost much of that enthusiasm. Oh well.

We woke up the next day full of excitement over the prospect of going home. It’s interesting to note that travelling within Europe was easy-peasy and the passport control officers barely seemed concerned enough to lift their heads. But once we were going to be entering North American airspace it was a different matter. We had to pass through two passport controls and two metal detectors and got corralled into a small space where there weren’t even any toilet facilities. Then we were bussed to our plane, as though boarding bridges are hotbeds for terrorist activity. The plane ride was kind of fun though because we sat at the back where the flight attendants congregated and chit-chatted about various things, including their exasperation with annoying passengers who wouldn’t stay seated during a bout of turbulence. They noticed me eavesdropping and one stewardess expressed embarrassment but the steward guessed that I agreed with them, which I did.

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My father and step-mother picked us up from the airport and even had groceries for us! Thanks dad and Antoinette! I got home and my legs were swollen again. WTF dude? Even now as I type this my ankles are as puffy as a pregnant woman’s. (No, I am not with foetus). Also, I’m clearly allergic to Montreal since my eyes also puffed up upon my return home. My eczema flare up which caused me much trouble in Europe is healing up quite nicely though. I swear I’m falling apart at the seems. I should hurry up and age another 30 years so I can justifiably complain about all my ailments.

Anyway, the very next day I put on my Berlin booties and we strolled off to Dormez-Vous where we tested out beds, comparing them to the one we’d enjoyed in Berlin. A new bed has been purchased and we expect it next week. Woohoo!

Final thoughts:
Europeans smoke too much.
Berlin is awesome and cool.
Prague is kind of worn out but you have to give the Czech peeps props for recovering from Communism and embracing Capitalism so fully and efficiently.
We have named our puppets Flammkuchen and Super Nacho based on two different meals I had.
My feet hurt.

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