50 Days, 7.14 Weeks: An Ode to the Hard Sciences

August 24, 2010

In an attempt to ward off the severe atrophy of my left brain, I have decided to diversify the otherwise abstract and philosophical nature of my previous posts. This afternoon, inspired by the sharp cuts of the Swiss Alps, I began botching my journal with rigid slash marks in order to document my travels via the cold hand of a quantitative mind. As a sociology major who chose not to take social statistics, what follows is the first installment of what I hope will become a paint by numbers perspective of my touchy-feely travel adventures:

An Explanation of Categories*:

Days and Weeks: A simple count of beginning to end.

Countries: Whether I stayed for one month or momentarily perched my size five-and-a-half foot just over the border.

Cities Visited: Excludes layovers and bathroom breaks.

Beds: The running total of the numerous places that I have laid my happy head. Subcategories include hostels, campsites, hotels, homes (ex. farm, chateau), and the various collection of sleeping surfaces utilized via couch surfing (www.couchsurfing.org). [Note: the sum of the subcategories does not match the total number of beds due to location changes within hostels or homes – aka, a literal mattress count.]

Transportation: Composed of subcategories such as trains, planes, buses, funiculars, and ultra-safe hitch-hiking experiences.** All modes of transportation except for funiculars must exceed thirty minutes in length.

Swimming [Read: Doggy-Paddling] Sessions: A numeric collection of the various bodies of water that I have momentarily immersed myself in.

Showers Taken in the Month of August: Monthly reports of my hygiene habits [subject to change upon crowd reaction]; does not include swimming excursions.

Trips to the Pharmacy: The reasons for which will not always be disclosed [and the connection to the previous category has been duly noted].

Self-Diagnosed Injuries: The sprains and pains that momentarily prohibit or noticeably restrict the ability of my body to a notable degree.

Cultural Faux Pas: A count of my more embarrassing moments – explanations included only on the basis that knowledge of these events cannot be used to justify the consequent termination of our friendship or any other type of social association.

*For the purpose of soliciting suggestions, I have decided to add the “comments” function to my blog. None of the comments will be posted publicly, so feel free to type sweet nothings, give feedback, or say hello.

**Family and pseudo-family: please take note that hitch-hiking has only (and will only) occur when sanctioned by overly reliable sources. For example, my cautious host-mother encouraged Whitney and I to hitch-hike ONLY during the holiday season in the towns surrounding Le Pompidou.

Now that the rules have been stated, let the games begin.

The Numbers as of August 24, 2010:

Days: 50

Weeks: 7

Countries: 3

Cities: 14

Beds: 17
-Hostels: 5
-Couchsurfing Surfaces: 3
-Hotels: 3
-Homes: 2
-Campsites: 1

Trains: 10

Buses: 4

Planes: 3

Funiculars: 2

Ultra-Safe Hitch-Hiking Experiences: 2

Swimming Sessions: 4

Showers Taken in the Month of August: 3

Trips to the Pharmacy: 3

Self-Diagnosed Injuries: 1

A few days ago, I decided to join the endless parade of pre-pubescent boys jumping from a very high platform into Lake Geneva…twice. Weighted down by an excess decade separating my body from those of my platform peers, I am now paying the price of plummeting into the water with legs and arms akimbo.

Cultural Faux Pas: 3

#1: At a flea market in Barcelona, I asked an unsuspecting man how many Pesos he was selling his watches for.

#2: While drinking beers with European biker dudes and international student volunteers at a campsite in Le Pompidou, I interrupted a conversation to “correct” a perceived mispronunciation of the infamous movie character, Scarface. Turns out the members of this dialogue were engaged in a slightly more sophisticated conversation about French President Sarkozy.

#3: While talking with my seventeen-year-old (and highly educated) host-brother in Le Pompidou, I revealed my unfortunate belief in the ill-conceived notion that the Swiss speak, ahem, Swiss.

Stay tuned as the tolls of my travels gain momentum! Numeric updates will be posted at random. In the meantime, wish Whitney and I luck as we head out on a four day backpacking trip in the Interlocken Region of the Swiss Alps where we will come face to face (or peak to camera) with the beast that is the Eiger!

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