Friday, 26 September 2008

Gluttony and Sloth

Ah, two of my favourite sins. And I have been busy with both of them these days.

When last I wrote, I was halfway through Karthaus training...and it finished as it began: with copious quantities of food. All day, sitting in a classroom; all night, eating huge Italian/German meals. I put on at least 3 kg, I think - and that was skipping most lunches, too. Spare time in the first week, I spent hillwalking - but the second week, any spare time I had in the evenings was dedicated to avidly watching the stock market meltdown. Such entertainment! As I am a general proponent of chaos and disorder, it was an incredible show. (Apologies to any who have lost money this last few weeks; of course, everything will bounce back eventually.)

On the Wednesday, though, was a day of activity. We attacked a nearby glacier, with much uphill walking to the top:

And much more downhill walking/running, when we realized we were late for the last bus back to Karthaus. Here you can see our goal in the distant valley, where the bus was 45 minutes away.

Missed it by 5 minutes. No big deal, as we just got taxis. But it was a strenuous trip down, and pride was on the line. Anyway, many people were sick after this trip - I believe immune systems were low, and a nasty bug was sweeping Karthaus. All my roommates were sick, and I was paranoid. So I began washing my hands once an hour. And it seemed to work! I got a bit of a reputation for a clean freak - a bit of a novelty for me - but I seemed to evade the illness that hit 75% of Karthaus.

And then it was over. There was a party Friday night which I excused myself out of early, as I had a 6:30 taxi the next morning. But there was time for one last crazy run through Karthaus with my camera in video mode: [pending] there you have it. Saturday was spent in the Italian/Austrian/German/Scottish transit system, with one exception. As we sped towards Munich, one of my companions and I speculated about Oktoberfest, and we wondered when it began. I had this niggling feeling, from undergrad days, that Oktoberfest actually began in September. This was confirmed when we arrived in Munich to see several people in liederhosen. We arrived on the opening day! And I happened to have four hours to kill before my flight. So, I managed to haplessly wander into one of the world's best parties purely by chance.

And it was big. With all my possessions on my back, I couldn't get into the big beer halls very well for a drink, but this didn't bother me too much. As a person who can't stand lager, I felt like a devout Jehovah's Witness adherent who got a free ticket to Mecca. But beer aside, there were many pork products and nut products that were enjoyable enough.

Next stop, Scotland. Here, I resolved to undo some of the damage from Karthaus and walked quite a bit, often with my full gear on. However, the good food kept a-coming - I found sushi, a Michelin-star restaurant, and breakfast haggises in the Edinburgh area. Other than that, Edinburgh was uneventful. Nice place, though.

And then finally, a first-class train ticket back to Cambridge. (It was on sale for £45.) And I sit here in my new digs for the next two months in the village of Madingley. I'm sharing the place with my generous hosts, office-mate Julian and his wife Martina.

Which brings me to the second half of my blog title. This place has a television.

I haven't lived with a television since the summer of '03. I had forgotten what it was like. I sat and watched "My Name is Earl". Then "Star Trek: Voyager". And then "Embarrassing Surgeries". And finally "Extreme Slim Celebrities 3".

And then I realized I had a problem. I had forgotten the catatonia that sets in, when one has a bazillion channels of television in a relatively isolated place. I immediately switched off the TV and came up to my room to write this blog.

But it's still down there. I haven't got much else to do at the moment. And there isn't a gym nearby.

The next few months could be trouble, methinks. And very recently, an event occurred that will make me even more sedentary. But more on that next week.


Anonymous said...

We are avidly following your adventures already! When are we going to see you???? How can you leave us hanging for a whole week to find out what's keepeing you sedentary?!

E & G x

westcoastcousin said...

Hi Ryan, nice to read your blog again. Don't get sucked into too much tv watching - I've gone a decade without one, except for once when a friend gave me an old one. After a week of mindless crap I got rid of it in a hurry before the addiction set in. Now of course I have no time for watching even if I had one....