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.
A cool cup of water.
Trevor Unhappily Eating Breakfast in Vienna
In traveling, it seems that there are seasons of just going and doing. There are also some times that are refreshing like a cup of cool water. It has been a few days since I have written last (about four) and I’ve been in three different countries (Austria, Slovakia, and Spain). Within this whorl wind of visits, I have also found some amazing cups of cool water but I will have to get to those in a minute.
We arrived super early to Vienna Austria (Wien Österreich), about 0500. We planned to stay at the Wombats Youth Hostel, a place in our travels that has come highly recommended. They let us reserve some beds in their dorm, but we were not allowed to actually check in until 1400. Tired, we took showers in their guest showers and ventured into the early morning streets of Vienna. After stopping for breakfast (if you can call a few slices of cheese, meat, garnish, and coffee that) we were both exhausted. We walked about a couple of parks hoping for a bench or nice slab of grass to pass out in. We made our way back to the hostel… but it was still way too early to check in. We both ended up passing out on the sidewalk in the front of the building. After checking in, we took a short nap. I wondered around the city for while and hung out and meet some travelers in the hostel bar. When Trevor finally woke up me, him, Lisa and Chris (a couple from Australia) decided to sneak into the other Wombat bar. It just sounded like fun. We shared Jägerbombs with a couple from Belgem and talked with some film makers from Texas.
The Naschmarkt is Vienna’s most popular market. Located at the Wienzeile over the Wien River.
As always, the next morning came too early and it was time to check into a new hostel (Wombats was full the next night). We found a room at Hostel Ruthensteiner, really a close walk. We again wondered around Vienna. We walked along a main shopping district and watched all of the various street performers. After walking in circles for a bit trying to find our way, we found the Naschmarkt. This seems to be a mixture of open air stores and a flea market. Following all of the winding trails under umbrellas and throngs of people, only to find some very interesting pictures. You can find all of the photos from Vienna on facebook.
Riding the underground to the Schönbrunn Palace it was breath taking to see. The garden behind had millions of little areas to go and explore. That night we went out for a couple of hours. The next morning we were on our way to Slovakia. You’ll have to hear about the cool water experiences a bit later. It’s almost 2130 and I’m supposed to meet up with Trevor in a couple of minutes. Currently I’m in Barcelona… so I’ve got quite a bit to catch you up on.
The Schönbrunn Palace is a former imperial 1,441-room Rococo summer residence in Vienna, Austria. One of the most important cultural monuments in the country, since the 1960s it has been one of the major tourist attractions in Vienna. The palace and gardens illustrate the tastes, interests, and aspirations of successive Habsburg monarchs.
Great Beer from Hofbräuhaus. The Staatliches Hofbräuhaus in München is a brewery in Munich, Germany, owned by the Bavarian state government. The brewery owns the Hofbräuhaus am Platzl, the Hofbräukeller and the second largest tent at the Oktoberfest (Hofbräu-Festzelt). Its own brew is the only beer served.
A photo of a guy surfing at Englisher Garten. The Englischer Garten, German for “English Garden”, is a large public park in the center of Munich, Germany, stretching from the city center to the northeastern city limits.
I am really glad to have been able to go to another German town other than Berlin. Berlin was a blast, a very young hip town. Munich (Münichen in German), seems to be more conservative and upper class than Berlin. Although you won’t see throngs of people walking around the streets with their beer in hand, you will see some great beer halls and gardens. Munich is probably most famous for Octoberfest, a holiday that I am sad we will be missing. We did go and see a number of sites around Munich that are notable. After arriving in Munich at about 05:30 am, we figured out their public transportation system and how to get to our next Hostel. We arrived very early in the morning to a place called The Tent. It is a very neat idea for a place to stay. Generally you can stay there for €10.50 or €5.50 if you want to utilize your own tent. They have these giant circus type tents, I think that two of them accommodate 150 people. A lot of the travelers tend to just hang out at the camp around the fire. We slept till later in the afternoon after checking in and decided to take the 15 minute tram ride to the center of town.
We wondered for a couple of hours around the center of town just taking in the sites. We saw a fairly neat church Saint Paul. We returned to the tent fairly early and just hung out with a everybody around the camp site.
Trevor cooking a chicken over the fire while we are at The Tent Hostel in Münichen.
The next morning, after sleeping in some and lounging around the campsite reading, we decided to really start our touring around Munich. The first stop was Englischer Garten Places Page (Wikipedia article about Englischer Garten)one of the worlds largest city parks… and much larger than New York’s Central Park. We found some locals who were heading to the park themselves and we made it there perfectly well from the subway system. Right at the entrance is a man made permanent wave, where people come and surf. It is a very neat site, fun to watch all of the surfer wipe out. Wondering down the path there are tons of people sitting out in the sun or the shade all over the park. It is also not uncommon for the locals to sunbathe nude in the park… it’s all just kind of mixed in. Although we didn’t lose our cloths around the park, we did loose some of our money at the parks great beer garden for lunch. There you can order an expensive L. of beer, some some traditional bavarian food (like a pork knuckle), and listen to the traditional music played by musicians in lederhosen. It is a fun experience. After wondering around the park for several hours (and still not seeing all of it), we decided that it was time to continue on. You can check out all of the pictures from Englischer Garten and my trip to Munich on facebook. We wondered around downtown for a while, finally deciding that we wanted to head to one of the most famous beer halls in Munich, Hofbräuhaus. I would have to say that it is a must see for anybody traveling in Munich.
After stopping at the grocery story, we headed back to the tent with a few surprises for our fellow guests. First we picked up some marshmallows (no chocolate and gram crackers… we’re having to live poor). Their marshmallows are smaller and don’t cook as well as ones in the USA, but everybody enjoyed them. The later it got, we started realizing how hungry we really where. We had bought some frozen chickens, and had started boiling them. They were taking a long time. Trevor was cooking, and when I went to go and check in on him I find him stabbing the chicken with some large pointed sticks. He hands the chicken to me and explains that I am supposed to go outside and cook it via the open fire. When this all starts, everybody body starts yelling and getting really excited. They even made a wave around the fire. We were the talk of the camp site. After about an a half hour of attempting to burn our chicken (maybe I should call it… cook it Cajun Style), we decided to take the blackened chicken back to the kitchen and cook it there. All in all it was a fun night
The following morning we checked out of the hostel and hung out till it was time for our bus to leave, heading to Vienna Austria. On the overnight bus, I had the opportunity to sit next to a German girl studying social work in Vienna. We ended up talking the whole night and was a really great connection. Too bad she had plans to be camping with her boyfriend over the weekend, so she wouldn’t be able to show us around. It was a really interesting connection though.
Overview Photo of the City of Prague
Trevor in Front of the National Museum in Prague
Our stay in Prague has been a blur of beautiful tours of the various sites, long walks back and forth to our hostel, late night to early morning going out, cathedrals and castles. All in all a great trip.
Our first day we went to the [Národní Muzeum National Museum. We did not buy a camera pass so, there are no pictures from the inside. It was full of a zoological history of the world. So many ancient and modern species were represented. there was also history about the Czech Republic and their decent from communism and Russia. It was a very informative museum, although much of it was only in Czech. We spent much of the remainder of the day wondering around the winding streets of old Prague. I find the area to be very confusing. The buildings tower over the cobblestone streets. The old rock streets wind in and out of each other (changing names every few blocks) and never following a set grid. We found our way to [the Astronomical Clock in the town center. From the top you can see over the entire city (the top picture is taken from here, and shows the Prague Castle). After wondering around the town all day, we made it back to the Hostel about 20:00.
Crowd on Charles Bridges in Prague
At the hostel there was a group of travelers getting ready to go out on a Pub Crawl. Neither me or Trevor had heard or been on a Pub Crawl before. The idea is that Travelers from all over (various hostels) all meet together at a specified location. Then they pay a local to get “free drinks” for the first hour and then to be taken to the cities best clubs. We found this to be a great way to meet people. About 10 people from our hostel went and we met up with about 50 other people. It was a pretty fun evening. Me and Marcelo (a guy from Brazil) didn’t get back until about 5:30 am.
After living up the night life in Prague, I woke up to go and see some more of the sites. Me and Trevor traveled to the other side of the river heading towards the Prague Castle. Along the way, there were a number of neat shops and amazing views. We crossed over Charles Bridge which was jam packed full of people, street vendors, artists, and musicians. On the other side of the Charles Bridge we found the greatest statue that we found (and we saw a lot). I guess it might be a little mature, so don’t play it if you are easily offended;
The Prague Castle is a castle in Prague where the Kings of Bohemia, Holy Roman Emperors and presidents of Czechoslovakia and the Czech Republic have had their offices. The Czech Crown Jewels are kept here
We wondered up to the Prague Castle, which really was more of a old Cathedral. Positioned at the top of the hill just behind Prague, it gave a breath taking view of the old city. Standing in line waiting go to hear some of the history of this building and about the Gargoyles that rest around the edge. After wondering around the Castle it was back to the Hostel to meet up with some people. We went out with some girls from Ireland… and had a pretty relaxed evening. The morning came too early and with that time to check out. Our bus leaves for Munich Germany at 23:55 and arrives at 05:30. hopefully we will be able to sleep on the bus. As for the rest of the day, I see us just spending time relaxing.
Facebook is currently not letting me upload the pictures… I will post links after it starts to work.
As promised, we did go to Prague (or in Czech “Praha”). It took 6 and a half hours to travel there by bus. We spent the morning wondering around the bus depot. Upon arriving in Prague, we figured out where we were fairly quickly. But we ended up wondering around in the rain until about 1:30 in the morning. We also talked to three different hostels. Our 16 person dorm room in the Hostel Marabou is pretty nice.