Ordering an 8th of marijuana from the bartender & finding the world’s cheapest 24hr. Internet Café (30 cents an hour in the middle of the night - EasyInternetCafe.com) completed our voyage around town, before we returned 2 a full on Monday night at The Flying Pig with a live DJ spinning some kickin’ tunes in front of a 24hr. bar. Down stairs inside “the happy room” everybody was stoned off their @ss & guess what I found… A FREE video e-mail machine! 10, 20, 30 video e-mails later, it was time 4 bed. Time check: 5am.
My flight 2 good ol’ Scotland left 5 days later, so I decided 2 take an early break from Amsterdam's craziness & visit Poland (before it entered the EU). Damn it! It looks like I’m just chasing down passport stamps & look where I ended up – Bialystok! 4 those of you who don’t know where Bialystok is on the map, don’t worry, neither did I until I got here. Bialystok is located north east of Warsaw. I’m only 80km from Belarus & not far from Russia. Why Bialystok? Good question.
Kjartan- I'm sitting here in Amsterdam with an old Vegas friend & I'm showing her your e-mail. I'm showing her the type of e-mails I get & how everybody "rambles" every now & then. I love that! It's those few paragraphs of rambling that I publish onto The PHOTOhype site.
I realized a long time ago, that whenever people start 2 ramble, they're actually being REAL. Thinking REAL. Acting REAL & most importantly, feeling REAL. When you find yourself rambling, you'll notice that there is no hype or any fancy goggles 2 help you along your travels. Your just freeing your mind of those wandering thoughts & that is what PHOTOhype's readers want 2 hear.
For instance, if you were 2 replace my name with the word "world" (ironically, the word "GEO" means "WORLD"), you'll end up with the same story. Therefore, when you ramble, you are not talking 2 me anymore, you're talking 2 The World! Rambling is what really makes the world go round, Kjartan. Thanks 4 your letter, I think I'll publish a few lines from it. -Geo D. Oliver, Alaska
I sat in this room, yesterday, with a bunch of photographers @ a photographic society meeting & I realized how much I don't belong there. Hm, that's funny. I created this web site in hopes of bringing together the type of photography & photographers, I know is out there. Yet, after 3 amazing years, I am still alone. You'd be surprised at the amount of rejections I continue 2 receive from "PHOTOworld". They treat me like the bastard child.
Pembe replies: Travelling is hard work, I agree. And the mind as well as the body begin to get tired after a while. You'll find that you also start to feel blurry - not centered and like you don't belong anywhere. I've been there and I know what it's like. That's what you're feeling right now. But somewhere along the way you'll reach a point where the picture gets clearer and your sense of purpose resonates. Hang in there and just keep on doing all that great work with your project. If you feel it's not going where you want it to go then maybe take a break, and a few steps back and revisit the situation with fresh eyes. -Pembe Mentesh, Australia
Wow, imagine that! 3 full years & we're still receiving a record number of visitors! Sweet as. 3 years ago, at the end of our 1st month, I broke out a bottle of sparkling apple cider & rejoiced over the fact that the site received 389 visitors. Today, I'm looking at January's statistic report & we landed a whopping 8,869 visitors, while reaching out to 70 different countries! Hm, not bad.
You know what, I actually thought that by this time, I'd be running this project with a team of backpackers, writers, photographers & NEG (my Non-Existent Girlfriend). I'm pretty sure she would handle all the advertising & marketing, because that's where I find myself lacking the most. I'll never doubt the power of the Internet, so don't laugh if I open an "application" page titled: Girlfriend Search.
I'm gonna publish a book. I'm gonna publish 3 amazing books about photography. About all the world travellers I met & had the opportunity 2 photograph. About hostelling, the Internet, backpacking, freefalling thru life & the friendships that were established 5 minutes after we met. That's right, true believer, 3 amazing books about the journey's we shared & the nights that seemed 2 go on forever...
Here are the questions the publishing company sent me:
Just like this web site, I want the books 2 be written by YOU, a few of my hostel friends, as well as myself. How many contributing writers are we talking about? I don't know & I don't care. My father always told me never 2 do a half @ss job & I'm not about 2 start. So, if you can answer 1 or all of the above questions, please do! Please title your e-mail "PHOTObook" & e-mail your comments to: Neg@PHOTOhype.com. Thanks in advance! -Geo D. Oliver, Alaska
Tonight, this Greek photographer from the Associated Press (Thanasis Stavrakis) took me 2 this ARTshow reception at the Manifactura Art Shop. It’s a pretty weird world, because I just met Thanasis yesterday at lunch. I found his web site while surfing the net in Scotland & sent him an e-mail about my visit 2 Greece. 2 days later, Thanasis & I are cruising in between cars on a fancy BMW motorbike thru the over crowded streets of Athens! Now that, true believer, is what I call "sweet-as-a-nut, baby!" Anyway, The ARTshow was pretty cool. 3 rooms, 22 Greek artists, a lot of new friends & after 2 or 3 cups of red wine, I was bouncing all over the place. Hm. Maybe it's time the PHOTOhype went digital with a few videos, short movies, photographs & stupid interviews.
Remember Emma & Virginia's swimming pool video from when we were at The LVBP? Well, I also have Tim Deluxe's "It Just Won't Do!" music video on file, so let's see how this one does (NOTE: the file size is around 35MB, so don't even try 2 download this cheesy, kick-@ss beautiful bikini-clad babes booty shaky music video if you have a slow connection).
Hm. I’m recalling that conversation I had with this one hostel owner in Utah. I was just passing thru, looking 4 some information, when he remembered me from The Missing Link Tours. He sat me down & sobbed over yesterday - how hostels used to work together. "Back then, " He said. "It was about the people. The travellers, friendships..." & the nights that you never want 2 end.
I remember one night in San Diego when our hostel was totally full of guys. I took off that night 2 meet some friends at the other hostel & it was totally full of girls. Amazing! Both hostels were dead on energy that night, but if I had the power 2 bring both hostels together, I could only imagine what kind of photographs would pop up the morning after. -Geo D. Oliver, Alaska
Hostel life is so much fun. 2 days after I published that last entry, realizing that going digital with this project is a must... A young energetic team of documentary film makers showed up at the hostel. They were the friendliest bunch of British travellers & they totally welcomed me 2 their team. They were all characters & I got 'em all on film!
All in all, they were a great bunch of individuals & without them, I don't think my time in Athens would be so memorable. They even asked me if I would be interested in performing a college lecture on photography, hostel travelling & the Internet. Hm. Now that, my friend, isn't such a bad idea...
Where did I go? What did I do? Yeah, I bet 'cha like 2 know.
The guide book told me that most travellers consider Belgium dull & boring. Hm, that's funny. Belgium is where I met a lot of cool friends & unlocked the door 2 my greatest inspiration inside a pub called: Café La Fête. There really isn't much there, but the people who visit the place... Wow, what a treasure! However, as the old saying goes: "Without vision, the people will perish".
I can't really judge The Czech Republic, because Christmas was just around the corner. I went 2 Switzerland, because my Swiss friends e-mailed me every day, since I left The OBI. My Swiss friends were absolutely brilliant 2 me, but I learned the hard way, that there's a difference between Swiss Travellers & Swiss People. 2 weeks in Switzerland robbed me blind, just like London did, so I had 2 get out. Scandinavia (Norway, Sweden & Denmark) lived up 2 it's beautiful reputation & everybody was beginning 2 wonder if I'd ever leave. I was there for 3 weeks...
Poland was the perfect gem. On my way 2 Poznan, the conductor was so determined 2 throw me off the train, however, a Polish girl named Anna (E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org) & 2 Polish guys stood up 4 me. They forked up the extra 30 zlotys I was short. Apparently, my train ticket was 4 the slow boat 2 China, rather than the empty express train, I was on. Anyway, I'm glad I made it over there before the EU did, because 5 zlotys for dinner didn't even dent my wallet. Sweet-as-a-nut!
Then, there was Amsterdam & all it's craziness. The Flying Pig Downtown hostel was just as mad as Vegas, just without the casinos. Scotland was pretty quiet & I didn't want 2 go 2 Greece, because my money was running low & visions of home were not so clear. The waiters treated me like sh*t & the Acropolis had 2 much construction going on 4 my 12 Euro entrance fee. Song of the day: "I want my money back, you b*tch!" -Ben Folds Five.
On a different note, Greece did pull threw in the end. I met a team of digital film makers at The Student & Travellers Inn hostel who carried me & my web site 2 higher grounds. Definitely, it's time this project went digital. Anyway, it tells you a lot about a person who writes down their personal cell number on the back of their business card or the established Associated Press photographer who takes a total stranger out 2 lunch, just 2 days after he received my e-mail, stating that I'm coming 2 Athens 4 a week & I want 2 meet some Greek photographers... Again, sweet-as-a-nut.
Europe, it's people & all the different cultures - what a treasure that only a foreigner, like myself, can fully appreciate. I'm glad I came here in the wintertime, because they said there wasn't anything 2 be found in the wintertime. They were wrong. I found a lot of new friends & a few good stories 2 write about. Will I be on that plane, come Sunday afternoon? I don't know. If I'm not, that definitely means I'll be here in the summer time, when the sun comes out... -Geo D. Oliver, Alaska
I can see the sun rising over the eastern horizon & I bet 'cha wondering why the hell am I here. Answer: It was a FREE first class flight & I didn't feel like waiting another night at the Philadelphia airport, now that the storm has passed. Besides, it feels good 2 be back at the scene of the crime. I'll spend a few thoughtful nights here, before I conclude this chapter in my life & return home 2 sunny California.
Karyn & I did our rounds, mapping out every inch of the airport, while stopping 4 a chat with pretty much anyone who wanted 2 chat with us. 1 full day & pretty much no sleep later, Karyn & I were the hosts of The KGB (Karyn & Geo's Bunker) & Movie House. "It looked like a campsite..." spoke an airport maintenance worker. Karyn & I built a McGyver style tent & borrowed a film projector from a group of missionary students 2 broadcast the movie: The Matrix. Our movie house was packed with 15 to 20 people in attendance.
The overall scene of the past 2 days felt more like "The Breakfast Club", because a lot of bizarre friendships were made. At one moment, we even had our own little daytime talk show, when this married airline pilot confessed 2 us about arranging a lunch style date with a married lady he's been chatting with over the Internet. Man, there were over 10 people at our daytime talk show & you know this shameful act of broken vows didn't fly well with anyone. One girl was clearly outspoken over his confession & you could actually feel her voice go scorn.
The morning after the storm, we all woke up & our breakfast club was gone. The businessmen were back from their hotel rooms, Karyn left, the missionary students flew home & hundreds upon hundreds of travellers flocked the now opened airport. I too, disappeared into the crowd, until one of the guards at the security check point looked at me & said: "Hey, McGyver... Aren't you that guy who built that tent?". I returned a smile & he nodded his head in respect of what I did.
After a tiresome 5 hour wait, my flight 2 San Diego was already gone. However, my McGyver reputation eventually paid off. US Airways handed me a FREE first class flight, which brought me back 2 the scene of the crime in fabulous Las Vegas, Nevada. I did my rounds & I'll do a few more, but just between you & me, true believer, no smoking gun has been found here since "we" left.
If you're wondering why I left Europe, an untouched gold mine for a photography project, the answer is quite simple. I wasn't prepared & lacked the funds & digital equipment 2 make it happen the way it should. So, what's the plan? Good question. I think I'll go home, unpack, repack & come back. I'm pretty sure you've heard that line plenty of times from other travellers, right? -Geo D. Oliver, Alaska