I must say that I am slightly biased as to which online products I like for various activities. I recently came across Google 2008 U.S. Elections. This has many different Google products that bring up various election features. One of these that I think is very cool is the Google Maps Elections ‘08 Map Gallery. One example of the maps that are available is Candidate Queries Map from Google, but their is a host of other ones listed in the gallery.
This Cartoon was taken from the blog Good Deed A Day . It features a Lost and Found Booth with boxes of various human feelings. While on my trip I didn’t loose my feelings, I felt it was a good picture to use.
During my trip I lost, broke, or other crazy events happened. The following is a list of all the things big and small.
- I didn’t get stickers for my water bottle (the one souvenir that i got from every where I went) in Denmark and the Czech Republic.
- In Berlin, before we even left for our second city… I forgot my favorite hoodie at the bus station. I must say that while in the US I’ve had people offer to buy this hoodie off of me while at coffee shops… maybe I should have taken them up on the offer.
- I lost my time. I bought post cards to sent to friends and family in Prague… but never sent them off. I actually thew them away when I got to the US, even though I filled them out.
- In preparation of flying, I sold my tent for €10.00 (about $13.48800)… probably worth at least $100.
- Vienna was the first country that we decided to fly from… well actually Bratislava. I threw away a number of other camping gear, rain gear, and several sets of cloths (leaving me with 2 shorts, 1 pants and a bunch of shirts and other stuff) at the airport.
- In Barcelona, we lost an airplane ticket… we though we were staying an extra day.
- I also tore one of my shorts, leaving me with 1 pair of shorts and 1 pair of pants.
- Due to my computer breaking (see later item in list) I lost many of my pictures of Rome and Bergemo.
- In Lativa, I broke my computer (or maybe the hostel I was staying at… not exactly sure). Luckily I was able to purchase an accidental protection plan when I got home. This still cost me close to $400, and made be very broke!
- In Riga, I told a friend that I would get him a souvenir. The shops closed before I made it there, and I didn’t get him the one I wanted to (cool leather covered liquor bottle).
- Somebody stole my €10.00 plastic watch that I bought because I was tired of never knowing what time it was and being late for check out time.
- In Krakow I tore my only pair of pants beyond repair… leaving me with one pair of pants. Also, my flip flops broke forcing me to walk in the rain with my right foot continually falling out of the thong.
- I also did cosmetic damage to the second watch that I purchased in Warsaw… due to losing the first one.
- In Budapest, we missed another plane, and I think I got bit by bed bugs.
- In London, I lost a cool zippo lighter that I bought in the Czech Republic.
- I bought a map that my “Lets Go Western Europe” suggested and realized it was worthless, so I traded it for a much cheaper better one.
- The button on my last pair of shorts broke, almost leaving me pants less while going though airport security.
- I lost Trevor in Europe, he decided not to come back with me and is currently in Spain.
- After getting home to Seattle, I lost my cell phone in a taxi.
- I got home, and my computer was broken, I lost my cell phone so I felt very disconnected from life… and realized that somebody stole my bike.
- Finally I lost my financial security. I’ve gone back to donating plasma (first time today in a long time), haven’t bought groceries and am hoping to get paid before my rent is due… other wise I’ll have to figure out something quick
Although that is quite a list of lost items, I wouldn’t trade my trip experience for any of it or all of it. It was a truly amazing trip. I really could have made a longer list of all the things I got from the trip, but thought that this was a bit funnier. When / if you have traveled, have you lost, broke or done something else to your stuff.
My bike chain cut on my porch.
Currently I am sitting in the Airport at Heathrow in London… and absolutely huge airport. But to catch you up on events, I have about 18 minutes until it’s time to go and catch a plane home. So this post might be trying to fit a lot in, with a very short time.
Krakow, Auschwitz, and More Rain
I loved Krakow, except for all of the rain. All of my clothes where dirty (also, sorry about any spelling mistakes in this post… the computer I’m using has some stupid browser, so I can’t do much) so I wondered around in shorts and flip flops in the cold rainy days in Poland. I finally broke down and bought a new pair of pants too from the local mall. The last day that we were in Krakow we made a expedition to Auschwitz.
I went to the Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C. years ago with the Master’s Commission. It was probably one of the most impactful places that I’ve ever been. It was really quite a different experience to actually walk on the ground where so many people were murdered. We also went to Birkkenau, where all of the crematoriums were. The whole place just had an airy sad feeling to it.
Budapest and Spa’s at 2am
Budapest is one of the few cities that I’ve been to that I really could see myself living in. I would highly recommend if you are making a Europe trip to go to Budapest (and lots of Eastern Europe). There are lots of great sites to go and see. We saw a church built into a rock cave (cave church), climbed a hill with a spectacular view of the city and cool little shops. There are many different Thermal springs in Budapest, and we went to one and stayed there late into the night. Really it was such a great place, that we ended up staying longer than we planned and buying a second plane ticket.
When traveling it is a great idea to be very through when making travel arrangements. For example if you buy a ticket going to the airport, you should know if it is the only stop or not. We ended up going to a town in the country of Hungary instead of the airport. We met the nicest young couple home for the weekend from University. They took us to their parents house, made food for us, drove us to the train station and even waited for the train to leave us. They were an amazingly hospitable family and was a great experience.
London only for Three Days
London is a huge, world class city. It took almost 2 hours to get from one side to the other through the underground. The sites were beautiful. I will upload pictures when I get home. We took a free walking tour which was interesting and the Australian leading it was hilarious. It was a great stay, but way to short. London really needs at least a week to do it any justice, but I was glad for the three nights.
I stand here now, needing to leave for my plane (I don’t want to miss this one, it wouldn’t be a good idea). I am sad to know that I’m going to be stopping traveling, but happy to come home and see friends and family. I hope to see all of you soon.
Still a bit sick, but I slept in very late and probably wondering around in on a cold rainy day isn’t the best idea. I really didn’t want to stay sick all day, so I figured I would just tough though it. After sleeping in late, I made my way to Wawel Castle and the Cathedral that is their. It is very beautiful, and houses the kripts for many influential people from Poland. Listening to my audio guide I was struck by how many of them had so many scenes depicting their lives. On their caskets, it showed the major events that transpired in their lives. It got me to thinking about what at the end of my life might go on my casket or what I would want to be remembered by. Above is a song by Tupac, “How long will they mourn me.” It also made me think about this. Anyways, just a thought. Also, be advised that the song has a lot of explicit lyrics.
Tonight I sat around the hostel most of the night. I think I’m coming down with a cold, which is a stupid thing to have happen when your traveling. After eating a Kabob (the most excellent type of vendor food out there), a couple of us sat down a watched a movie. I’ve been dowsing myself with green tea, hoping to fend off this cold quickly. While checking stuff online, I stumbled across Google’s new Google Chrome Browser. I have been a strong supporter of FireFox as a default browser. But a new browser coming from Google might change my stance. I spent the last 15 or 20 minutes reading the Comic Book description of the browser. It was very interesting and something I’d recommend to anybody that has a bit of a technology-geek inside of them. I was fairly convinced about the new browser. It will be a while for me to test it out and see what I really think once I get home, but I might have to change.
All Roads Lead to Rome
I guess it’s time to play a little catch up for everybody. It’s been a while since I’ve posted and since I’ve lost my computer I’ve been very much more at the whim of public computers with weird keyboards, high costs (not too bad… but not as cheap as free), and slow old hardware.
Trevor and I spent four nights in Rome. We arrived into Rome city center fairly late (maybe 2300 hours). We had a couple of ideas of hostels, but they all seemed to be booked. We ran around the city center for about 2 hours with our packs but were unsuccessful in finding a cheap hostel. We finally settled to stay at this over priced place (about 30 Euros a night) for the first night. The next morning we made our way to Camping Plus about 50 km outside of town. It was pretty perfect, and probably had the best showers that we’ve had the entire trip. I made my way back into town and wondered around the Vatican. I spent most of my time in a the St. Pietro. It was an amazing church. You can see about half of my photos from Rome and the Vatican, but the rest will have to wait till I get back to the states and figure out what to do with my computer. I also found my way to the Pantheon, an amazing building. I came back before it got to late and hung out with some travelers from the UK in the bar at the campsite.
Trevor and I ended up not seeing the sites together in Rome. Maybe it was time to have a break from hanging out 24 7. The next morning, sleeping in was a glorious experience. I made my way to the Colosseum. It is truly a massive building. Laying out in the grass in front I got to hear a part of a English speaking tour for free. In front of the Colosseum, there were all of these guy’s dressed like Romans for you to take your picture with. I should have expected that they were going to try to rip me off, when he asks if my watch was a rollex (I spent 10 Euro’s to buy a watch because I was so tired of never having a clue what time it was). I asked him how much to take a picture, and he said a tip. Got a couple of amazing pictures. Then he held onto my camera and said that it was going to be 10 Euros (about 16 USD). I told him to just delete the pictures.
I made my way back to the campsite to go swimming for a bit. Then I met up with some travelers that I had met the night before. A girl from Sweden and one from Ukraine. We had planned to go out into Rome that evening. After getting some food and making a quick stop back at their tent before taking off, they found out that somebody had stolen a bunch of their stuff. Some of it was very expensive too. We spent much of the evening trying to talk to the police (so they could get money back from their insurance). Then we played Mao until early in the morning. Good times. Me and Trevor met up with them again and wondered around the city later the next day. Our plane left the next morning at like 5am… stupid early. We decided not to sleep and just go to the airport with our bags. We ended up not figuring out how to get to the train stop that we were attempting to, but found a group of Italian youth who were actually heading to the same airport.
You must really attempt to imagine this. We are o a bus, and realize that we just missed our stop. I hear some people talking to the bus driver about the Camino airport (another Ryan Air stop). We are trying to communicate with them, although they don’t speak English. After following them, we find out that they are planning to walk to the airport. We see them stop and ask for directions several times and go the wrong direction at least once. The entire trek took about an hour and a half, while carrying our bags. By the end we were drenched in sweat, but proud of ourselves.
Cities Instead of Capitals, the Town of Bergemo
Much of our trip so far, we have only really hit up capitals and major cities within a country. Bergemo was a nice break from that. Although less people spoke English, people were more willing to help. We met a waiter who was very excited to meet us when he heard us speak English. As soon as he heard we were from the USA, he asked Obama or McCain. We spent two nights at Bergamo Youth Hostel. It was pretty fantastic, except that it cost 8 Euros to do laundry.
Do You Really Have to Know Where Something is to Fly There, Riga
We weren’t sure were we were going next so we decided to see where was fairly cheap to fly to, and stay (i.e. Eastern Europe). We found a city, Riga in Latvia. Neither of us had ever heard of Latvia or Riga, but it sounded like a great plan. We just went, not knowing anything and it was a great city. We stayed at Friendly Fun Franks Hostel. What a name hu? It was a really great place, although a bit rowdy. Any place that you walk in the door and they tell you take your backpack off and ask you if you want a free beer before even checking you in is pretty amazing. We wondered around Riga for two days. We got to see the view from the tallest church that overlooks the city and the river. We met some pretty cool Irish travelers. We explored a lot of the old USSR buildings. It was a great time.
It gets colder, Poland
Currently I’m in Poland. Krakow to be precise. We took a 12 hour overnight bus from Riga to Warsaw, and spent the night before last in Warsaw. Then Yesterday we came to Krakow. Krakow is a pretty cool old town. Much of it dates back to the 13th Century and it was left un-touched during the War. More to come soon.
So you can expect to not have me uploading more pictures for a while. Currently my computer is broken. I don’t know if it is from stuffing my computer bag into my backpacking bag (which I have done the entire trip) or from keeping it in the hostel safe in Riga. I tried to expect something to happen to my computer during my trip, but it still sucks when it does. Some how the computer screen got cracked and now I can’t see out of it (using one of the hostels computers). I think that it might be that back in the states I am way too attached to my computer, but whatever, it will work out. Anyways, to everybody out there who has had their computers broken or to people who got expensive things stolen from them (i.e. Nadja).
Bratislava… just passing though
Devín Castle is a castle in Devín, which is a borough of Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia.
View from Devín Castle
You can see pictures of Bratislava and Castle Devin on my Facebook album Ahoj, Bratislava here we come. We have taken a couple of flights though a cheap airlines in Europe, Ryan Air. They never fly to the major city that you are trying to get to. For example they advertise flying to Vienna but they really fly out of Slovakia (about a 50 minute train ride). I’m really glad to have gotten to go though. It can be very worth it if you can find flights for like 10-30 Euro’s, just watch out for all of the added fees… and luggage restrictions.
We got into Bratislava and were both ready for a relaxation day. We wondered around town for a little bit, found our way to a grocery store. We bought some random meat and cheese that we weren’t exactly sure what it was. I bought some fish kabobs and some potatoes. We returned to Patio Hostel where we would be staying the night. Trevor cooked what he called a travelers meal. We chilled out and watched a movie and just relaxed for the night.
While doing some laundry in the middle of the night (that’s when everybody does laundry, right?) I had my first cup of cool water experience. It has been a little while since I spent some time worshiping, and it seems as if we have had many Sunday’s as our travel days. Sitting in the laundry room I got to spend like an hour just worshiping, reading my bible and praying. I was very dry and thirsty for some of God’s Presence.
The next morning we made a trip to Castle Devin. It was a spectacular castle, and the first very old one that we have gone and toured. It was first started to be built a bit before 900 A.D.
Over looking the river the view was spectacular. I was hoping to find a dungeon, but everything below the castle was locked up.
After wondering around ancient castle it was time to catch a bus and then an over priced taxi to the airport. It was then that I found my second cup of cool water. We met a fellow traveler Jaume. He was in Bratislava and traveling back home to Barcelona. We shared some coffee and some conversation. It was not until we later that we would recognize him as one of the coolest and most hospitable travelers we had met so far
Barcelona, Beaches, The City By Night, Missed Connections, and Prostitutes
Beach at Barcelona
Jaume offered to drive us to the city. We stopped and had a sandwich on the way for some dinner. He called our hostel for us and made sure that they had rooms, giving us our first reservations on the trip. After taking us to the door and making sure everything was alright at the hostel for us he went home to get only a few hours of sleep He also offered to meet us the next night and show us around Barcelona.
The next morning we headed out to the beach. You can see all of my pictures from Barcelona on Facebook Album Barcelona, burning at the beach. It felt so amazing to just be able to lay on a beach and go and jump in at will. I must say that my shorts collection has thinned out considerably due to RyanAir. They only allow 15 kilos (about 33 lbs) on any of their flights, so my first flight I let go of a lot of different items. One of these items was my swimsuit I packed. My cargo shorts worked just fine.
Barcelona by Night
After a day wondering around the beautiful beaches, we found our way back to La Ramblas a very touristy area. We just relaxed for a while until it was time to be picked up by Jaume. He came and took us to some places that it would have been impossible to find ourselves. First we went some streets and showed us some of the Gaudi architecture, which is very impressive. The next stop was at Basilica of Santa Maria del Mar. A very impressive work in progress. It is being built completely from public donations. A very amazing feat, not to mention the math that was required to be done when it was designed. He then took us up to the top of a two mountains and showed us city by night. It was phenomenal. We then went to get some drinks and Jaume left us on our own. We found our way to the beach and took a midnight swim with some travelers from France, Australia, and the UK. Coming back at 3 am we ran into some of Barcelona’s prostitutes. They whistle and kiss at you. Then they grab your arm and don’t want to let go. It was quite disconcerting.
After waking up in the morning at Hostel Fernando and going to check email we realized that we had a problem. We were supposed to fly out that morning. the whole time we thought we had three days, not two nights. It can be so confusing traveling. Anyways, my paid time for the internet is coming up and I will tell you about Rome later.