17 February 2012

Rubber Spring 2011(2) - Northern Europe

Stockholm Dawn

Stockholm was full of surprises.  I had done my research beforehand and had a full itinerary of sights to see, but the train got in a little after midnight. After a call home on my iPad, the unexpected announcement came through that the station was closing but I had not stored my bags and kroners for lockers were not to be had. Grrr!  I was chased out of the station with no place to go and no wish to rent a room for just a couple of hours.  Not the best of planning.  The hotel across the street would not let me loiter in the lobby for more than 30 minutes and I was chased off again to the Casino 4 blocks away, apparently the only place open that time of night in the area. Off I went, luggage in tow and dressed head to toe in full rubber. The casino welcomed my money (requiring about $5 to enter), but did not approve of my attire.  I had to put on some pants. The black rubber shirt and jacket were okay but not the pants! One would think a casino would welcome such a visitor.  Oh well.  I hate casinos, so spending several hours wandering the halls to the incessant chime of slot machines was a real drag. If there had been a show, any shows, it might have helped. Finally as the chill early summer dawn was breaking I gathered my belongs and headed back to the station where I could ditch my bags.  
Station keeping time
A little tired from the long night, I began to wander the cold streets of Stockholm, alone, pumped to see the city at last. The Sun was not yet up though the sky was fully bright. The city was essentially deserted. A handful of cars cruised the streets.  It was sheer delight.  I had the city to myself for the next 4 or 5 hours.  European cities do not seem to wake early the way we do over here. As a result I had few encounters. Although the chill forced me to layer up from time to time, the gear I wore was essentially the same as I had been wearing since before arrival in Kopenhavn.
An exhibit at the museum entitled "The Power of Fashion."
Pity they were closed at the time.  Note the scarf.
One of the first sites on my plan was the statue of the "Sunsinger" (Apollo) in the city center, sculpture I was really looking forward to. It was a shock to find the entire square barricaded for repair of the stone pavement. I searched the fencing for any kind of gap to sneak through but found none.  Wandering off, I looked back and was surprised to see a lone fisherman in the square walking past the statue to the river! I raced back to the 8 foot high fence, motioning to the man for some indication of how he got in. Climb over the fence, he gestured. It was immediately apparent that this strategy would have ripped my rubber suit to shreds. There must be another way. So I propped up one of the fences with a rock and limbo-style snuck under the fence, gingerly avoiding damage to the rubber. In I went to take my pictures of the Sunsinger welcoming dawn. I did not stay long, wishing to avoid any confrontations, but the city was still deserted and no police came by. What the fisherman thought of this guy in full black rubber taking pictures behind barricades I never did find out.

Center city
Night Train
I boarded the night train to Berlin in Malmo Sweden.  This train had only two cars, each consisting of nothing but numerous 6-person sleeping compartments.  Here I am in a compartment filled with essentially college-age student types, dressed in full rubber: tight black sailor pants, and motorcycle jacket.  I settled into my berth for the night.  I found it strange that noone onboard said hello or asked who I was or what I was wearing.  I just wanted some sleep after the long day of hiding out in the casino and walking the streets, so I wasn't going to start a long conversation.  Still, would have been nice to meet some new folks on their travels.
Dawn Arrival in Berlin
Berlin Dawn and the Lady

Arrived in Berlin Station saturday at 6 am and this time had no trouble stashing my bags for the day. After giving my tight black rubber (yep still the same suit) its best shine, I headed into the city. Like Stockholm the city was utterly deserted at that hour. I had the streets and subway to myself, at least until the museums opened several hours later. Early morning in the summer has to be one of the best ways to see and "feel" a city like this. My first stop was the bronze statue of "Sandelbinder" in Lietzensee Park. As I was setting up for photography a charming lady of grandmotherly age approached on her morning walk in the park. She stopped and said good morning, and proceeded to tell me about her friend the Sandelbinder, whom she said hello to every day during her morning walkabouts. She told me some of its history, but I didn't tell her I already knew much of the story. I was completely charmed by this sweet lady who did not seem to mind at all that I was dressed like a pitch black shiny alien motorcycle cop in head-to-toe latex.
Subway scenes
The rest of the day was spent seeing various sights of Berlin, including some of the most famous museums in the world, including the Pergamon. I was briefly chased off a movie set in the city streets but otherwise few ventured any comments as I wandered about. I do remember one hot looking guard in the museum who kept looking my way. I shot a few glances too, but nothing came of it, I had to leave town in the afternoon.  
Art - ancient and modern
Around town
Hunks of metal or metal hunks?
Among of the nicer surprises during the day was the large sculpture group just off the Seigesaule, featuring two larger than life young males hammering and heaving.  Glorious.

I had a great time wandering the city but not everything was rosy during the day. Large groups of school kids were roaming the stations on field trips across the city. Giggling is a common reaction from gangs of teenagers so I have learned to avoid them. But is it also the times we live in? Are folks a little more apprehensive about the future and thus a little less open to the unusual? Although I got my share of compliments, few came up to simply say hello or inquire about the latex. The population just seemed a bit subdued this year compared to past adventures.
At the end of the day I had an appointment with the owner of Rubber Addiction for a fitting (Blackstyle was closed the only day I could be there). He is a great guy and has some hot and rather distinctive rubber gear for sale (check out their website). Sadly I won't have much discretionary cash till later this year so that purchase will have to wait a bit. By this time I was starting to smell like an stale locker room so I took the first opportunity to change and wash up at the train station on my way to the airport the next morning, the end of one amazing rubber adventure.

1 comment:

  1. I am very impressed!Gorgeous gear and your courage to travel 100% in rubber!