214. Berlin to Prague in Stop Motion

When driving over the Swiss Alps, I was trying to get some good shots of the scenery around me, but we were whizzing past them all so quickly that I ended up holding down continuous shutter to see if I could catch them. When flicking through the photos really quickly the effect was really cool! I’d just recently seen some amazing stop motion videos made by my friend Marc and thought maybe I could give it a go too.

My attempt was not at all planned, just a few bursts in some more interesting places, and when we hit town I passed my camera around and it came back with some pretty hilarious shots! If I were to do another such video it would be good to have the camera properly mounted on the dashboard of the car, but nonetheless it was a fun experiment, and an efficient way to share my road trip snaps!

205. Das Boot

For anyone that has seen the movie beerfest, there is a quite hilarious scene where the lead characters are challenged to drink a beer out of a glass in the shape of a boot as fast as possible without it splashing in their faces. Our hostel, Grand Hostel Berlin, happened to have a wee deal on beer served in such a vessel. The incredibly enthusiastic bartender explained to us it was actually a drinking game, where a group each drinks as much as they can out of the boot, and if it splashes you in the face or you are the last to finish, you lose and have to buy the next one. We thought to ourselves, when in Rome, do as the Romans do, so naturally we gave it a go. I found it was actually quite easy to drink it neatly if you just turned it on the side…

148. Bartending in Danish

In return for my free ticket to Northside Festival I volunteered for a few hours on one of the bars. A few less than normal, as I had helped design/set up one of them. I had worked at the bar at Studenterhus Aarhus (the student bar) a number of times and didn’t think anything of it. What I didn’t realise was that at Studenterhus it is a lot easier as the clientele knows most of the bartenders are exchange students. No-one expects the bartenders to be speaking English at a festival though! It was a real test of my Danish knowledge, particularly when people started asking specific questions like how many litres the jugs of beer are, but by the end of the weekend I felt my Danish had improved significantly! There were only a few hiccups, like right at the beginning when someone asked for what I heard as ‘a can of beer’. As it turned out ‘can’ is how to pronounce ‘kane’ which is actually a jug. Only minor confusion!

The bar was right in front of the main stage too, so I still saw all the acts that were on whilst I was working. Finally, the highlight was surprisingly enough late on Sunday night when the weekend was nearly over and I really wanted to go to bed. There were a whole bunch of opened boxes of shots (they come pre-packaged in test tubes) that needed to be sold, so eventually we were selling 15 for 100Kr (around $20). No host responsibility rules on how many can be sold in one go in Denmark it seems. Some lovely young gentlemen who were in a relatively sober state when they approached the bar found this deal so exciting that by the time they left (after multiple rounds of 15 shots) they thought I was the best bartender in the world for giving them so many and were serenading me with “Call Me Maybe.” Great entertainment.

145. Design a Bar

As a total sucker for saying yes whenever anyone asks for help and any opportunity for a creative project, I volunteered to help design/decorate the Studenterhus Aarhus bar that was featuring at Northside Festival. The festival has this great system where sports teams and student associations can man bars in return for free tickets and exposure for their causes and they of course get free labour. On the food side of things, local restaurants and caterers provided the food, leading to fierce competition for the best food. So much deliciousness, hands down beating any festival food I have ever encountered.

The theme of the festival was sustainability, and Studenterhus wanted their bar to reflect that. One of the other great aspects of the festival was that there were a whole bunch of activities and initiatives throughout the whole area, not simply music and drinking. From the University having a tent promoting innovation and business ideas, to novel seating areas, to art projects, to Ping Pong tables from by favourite bar, Shen Mao. So of course they were being all very Danish and promoting sustainability.

My original proposal was to have the bar covered in grass – a really bright, visible way to promote the bar and the green theme and a relatively simple way to decorate it. What was a simple idea quickly became the kind of occasion where sayings like “a horse is a camel designed by committee” come from. From the festival continually changing how the bars were to be set up and all the measurements, to being accused of greenwashing and having to go through a process of investigating using real grass, to brewery reps who shat themselves the day before because they didn’t have enough visible branding, to having to include the city’s branded “with us” campaign.

Some of the inspiration:

The main issue was the sustainability/greenwashing one. Initially I had thought that a sustainability theme at a music festival was more a talking point than actually making the entire festival an environmentally friendly one. As it turned out, they did make a huge effort to have as many cups/bottles etc recyclable, though I’m not sure they could do much about food production, power usage etc. So the grass covered bar turned to investigating “environmental grafiti” – where you make a moss mixture and it grows exactly where you paint it. Unfortunately timing and logistics meant that one didn’t work either. I would still love to do something with it though!

Finally, with the help of the University gardener, we discovered the ivy that grows all over the main campus buildings was about to be cut down from one of the buildings and we could use some of that. Perfect! It was also fitting that being the University student bar, we would then be covering it with the University’s iconic ivy. So the day before we spent an hour or two hacking away at one of the buildings, and attached the ivy to chicken wire that was around the tent poles. When getting hardware materials we came across some grassy carpet that we used to cover the front of the bar (as instructed by the festival organisers), only to have a Royal Brewery Rep have a giant tantrum over covering their logo. Some quick thinking managed to smooth over that problem and we were good to go! The final touch was a hefty dosage of fairy lights, and I must say, we definitely had the best looking bar at the festival! And as predicted, everyone was too busy drinking and enjoying the music to care what materials it was made of. Nonetheless, I had a lot of fun, from coming up with the idea, dealing with all the various interests to come up with something that worked and actually installing it, despite it being quite different from the original vision.

One of the iconic Aarhus University ivy covered buildings

Running off with our spoils

Ivy: From campus to Northside

Keeping with the City’s “With (Aarh)Us” campaign

Some quick thinking to keep the sponsors happy

The end result, minus the fairy lights in the evening

The neighbouring Innoside tent decided they quite liked our ivy too

The bar in action

…And with the lights at night

142. Ping Pong Bar

Also known as Shen Mao, the Ping Pong bar in Aarhus has quickly become our local. It is a truly novel and amazing concept – a tiny little hole in the wall with great music, cheap drinks, and a ping pong table.

The rules are simple, and make for a fun challenge rather than the usual drink/dance combo most bars employ. You can get a paddle for 20kr from the bar, and then at the start of the game anyone can join, and is signalled over by prospective players banging their paddles on the table. When everyone is ready the first person serves, then each person is allowed to hit the ball once, and must very quickly move on afterwards so the next person can have their turn. If you miss, you are out. Eventually the game wittles down to two players, who keep playing until one person is 2 points ahead (according to normal table tennis rules). When it gets below 6 players, people are literally running in circles around the table so they don’t miss a shot! There’s no prize, just the glory/satisfaction, but it is still a whole lot of fun!

They also have some pretty sweet cocktail deals, and I have sinced learned that optimal playing ability is somewhere between cider and Long Island Ice Tea. Or ‘Loong Island Is Tee’ as they call it, with the engrish theme.