And for those of you who wanted the last pictures, here they are. I apologize for finally finishing this three months after I got back. In my defense, I had all the captions on these done a month ago, it's just that school is super crazy and I haven't had time slash have forgotten about them. Oops. But here they are. Enjoy!
EDIT: Forgot to mention, Switzerland captions are done now too.. Don't know if I ever mentioned that, but all the pictures (except the Signs album) have captions now. I figure signs can speak for themselves, but I imagine I will go back at some point and write about where I found the signs. Preferably before I forget. Heh.
Thursday after we got back from London, I basically studied for my final that was on Friday morning. Then Friday I went and took my final. We had originally planned on going to see Kirkstall Abbey that weekend, but I was sick and didn't really feel like going, so instead we sat around and studied for our finals. Monday Jake had his final, then I had my Chem final on Wednesday. That's about when we started packing and cleaning the apartment. Thursday we went and saw Kirkstall Abbey, which was pretty cool, and then afterwards we went and saw Terminator. I was not impressed by Christian Bale's acting. They shouldn't have cast him as John Connor. Anyway, Friday was spent packing and cleaning. Saturday we woke up, finished cleaning & packing, and called a taxi. Had a taxi ride to the train station, then got on the train for the 2.5 hour train ride to London. We got to London, then had the 10-15 minute walk to the hostel, dropped our stuff off, and then we went wandering a bit more to see some stuff we wanted to see again, like Big Ben. We ended up getting dinner in a pub and then going back to the hostel to sleep.
Sunday we woke up, checked out of the hostel, walked to the subway, got all our luggage on, and rode to the airport (hour long). Then we checked in, went through security, and ate at another pub in the airport. I finally got around to trying a mojito, and it was pretty tasty. Our plane to Atlanta had video monitor touch screen things in the back of the seats, so I watched Marley and Me. It took like 3 hours to watch, despite the fact that it's only a two hour movie. My monitor kept randomly restarting, and every time it did, I'd have to fast forward to where I had left off. Anyway, we landed in Atlanta after like 9.5 hours in the plane.
Customs at Atlanta is ridiculous. You get off the plane, go through passport control, then you go get your luggage, give the declaration slip to a person, then you give your luggage BACK to some guy who puts it on a conveyor belt, then you go back through security, and then you can go to your next gate. Absolutely ridiculous.
Jake's flight was supposed to be at 6:30, but we landed at like 5:45 or something, so he got put on standby for the 8:00 flight and got the last seat on that flight. Mine was at 9:45, and then I landed in Syracuse at midnight. Monday morning, I was at work by 8.
So that's a breif update on what I spent the last two weeks doing. I'm working on putting pictures up, but I've got a lot to do now that I'm home. My goal is to have everything up by the end of the month.
We left on Sunday for London, got to the train with like 10 minutes to spare this time. Would have been there earlier but I forgot that there's only like 3 busses an hour on Sundays. Meh. So then we got to London, dropped our stuff off at the hostel for an hour while we got lunch and wandered a bit until it was time to check in. Then we put our stuff in our room and went off wandering. Soon as we get off the subway, and I find something to take a picture of, I realize my battery has one bar left. I was very sad. We walked around the parks around Buckingham Palace, and ended up getting dinner at Hard Rock Cafe. That burger was delicious. The British do not know how to make cheeseburgers. So tasty. After, we walked down the street and there were people out with artwork and books and random stuff for sale, and as we were looking at stuff, Belinda runs up, grabs my purse, and goes "GIMME YOUR MONEY!" The funny part is, I was looking through a bin of old coins, and had my hands full of them, so I just kinda turned toward her with my hands open, slightly confused. Hadn't been expecting to run into her. Then we wandered around some more, went past Big Ben at super-happy-magic-sun-time-hour, and then my battery finally died. For those of you who don't know, super-happy-magic-sun-time-hour is that time when the sun turns all the buildings golden and sunny. Somewhere around 7-8pm here, but usually 6-7 in the US I think. It's pretty. After that, we went back to the hostel and slept.
Monday, woke up, put a freshly charged battery in my camera, and we went to the Tower of London. We had originally planned on going to Windsor Castle, but changed our minds when we saw the weather. Tower of London was pretty cool, and we got to see the crown jewels too. After, we walked across Tower Bridge and got some lunch, then spent forever trying to find an ATM. Eventually we decided to get on the subway and go find Eric Clapton, since he was playing and Jake wanted to try and scalp some tickets. Wandered forever, and eventually found a Barclay's ATM. It was out of cash. And it was a bank holiday, so the inside was closed too. Then we decided we'd see how much the scalpers wanted, so we went and did that. Jake says they don't know how to do it right here. They don't know how to do a lot of things right here. Like food. Anyway, we went back to the hostel after that since we didn't really have any money and most things were closed.
Tuesday, we went to Windsor Castle. It was shiny and palace-y like and awesome. One downside to all of London, is that a lot of places won't let you take pictures, like churches and palaces and castles. We got some food at a pub after, then went back to London to try and get into the Clapton concert again, but the scalpers apparently would rather have a useless ticket than sell it for a third of the retail value. So we didn't go, which was probably a good thing since I was really stuffy by then. Good thing is that I'm feeling a bit better by now.
Wednesday we went to Westminster Abbey and St. John's Cathedral, neither of which let you take pictures. It was also rainy outside. After we did the churches, we went to Camden Town Market, and looked around there, didn't get anything though. We went back to King's Cross and had dinner at an Itallian place near the hostel, then went back to the hostel and sat there for a couple hours till it was time for the train. There's nothing to do in the evening, and our train wasn't till 9:30. Then we got on the train and came home.
That's it really. I'm sure there's something I'm missing, and I know there isn't that much detail in this, but I have a final tomorrow that I need to study for. Pictures will be up eventually.
So, last Friday we left for Amsterdam. Landed around 8 or so, the flight was only an hourish, fairly uneventful. Met up with Belinda and her cousin Wing there, then headed to the hostel. We stayed at the Amigo Hotel, and it's great if you need some place to sleep, but the stairs in it are absolutely ridiculous. More like a ladder than a staircase, and it's spiral on top of that. But it wasn't too bad, I only think it'd be a problem if you had a huge suitcase. So after we dropped all our stuff off, we headed out to see the Red Light District in all its... glory? It was pretty much what you'd expect. Any one want details, feel free to ask, but since I have no idea if my little cousins read this, Imma try and keep this pg-13. On our wandering we stopped by a donner place and got some donners for dinner, then wandered around some more before going back to the hotel to sleep.
Saturday, we woke up, and didn't really know what we wanted to do, so we started wandering around some more, went through the Red Light District again, there's an old church in the middle of it, so we went in to look at it. It was mosty empty, and they had a photography of the year exhibit in it. So, a bit disappointing since all the churchy stuff wasn't there, but it was still cool. After that we ended up going in a sex museum and wandered some more until we found this really awesome cafeteria place. There were tons and tons of kinds of foods there, only problem was how long it took because of the lines there. After, we had kind of planned on going to street market and then a museum, but it was getting kind of late, so we just went to the street market. Then we ended up in a liquor store, and found some butterscotch cream liquor. Decided it might go good over ice cream, so we wanted to go see when the grocery store was open till. By this point I needed money, so I tried to get some out, but it wouldn't give me any. I try another machine, same thing. Called home, turns out the bank had called the house, I'm like great, this'll be fun. So we went back to the hostel so I could call the bank and get my card unfrozen. (If your card doesn't work and you're abroad, call your house and see if the bank just tried calling. If they did, then your card is frozen.) It ONLY took me 45 minutes to get it all fixed, and probably a half hour of that was trying to find a way though the automated system to talk to a representative, then when I finally got to one, I had to be transferred and got put on hold. Pain in the ass. But then it worked! So we went out to start looking for some place to get dinner. On the way, it started raining. We happened to be in Chinatown, so we ran in a random chinese restaurant and ate there. After, we just headed back to the hostel and slept.
Sunday, we woke up, went souviner finding, went through another little street market, then got on the train to Paris. Got to Paris, checked into the hostel, dropped our stuff off and went to go see Sacre Cour. It's a big fancy church in Montmarte, and is the highest ground in Paris. We had wanted to go up to the top, but we didn't since we got there a little late and then missed the sign for the entrance. After, we walked past the Moulin Rouge, and over the cemetary in Montmarte, then decided to find some dinner. We ended up at an Itallian place that had carpets on the walls. Food was ok. After that, we ended up walking to the Arc de Triumph, and from there walked to the Eiffel Tower. Arc is better in the daytime, but the Eiffel Tower is super sparkly if you're there on the hour. Then we went back to the hostel and slept
Monday, woke up, had breakfast at the hostel, then set off for the Louvre, where we spent all day. ALL DAY. After it closed, we went and ate at a Japanese restaurant. I got the only cooked thing on the menu that wasn't fish. Go me! Then we went back to the hostel, stopped and got some ice cream on the way, so that we could have ice cream with the liquor we got in Amsterdam. They're better by themselves. Then we slept.
Tuesday, woke up, eventually made it to Versailles, went through the palace, then the gardens, then went back to Paris, and we had planned on walking down Champs Elluysisihsoihfoishfe street with the trees. I apologize for murdering the French language. We needed to transfer subways, but Jake lost his ticket, at this point we were one stop away, he said he'd walk, I said hang on, we'll all go, and then he disappeared and we waited forever, and eventually went back to the hostel afeter not walking down the street and found him there. So... yeah. That was ridiculous. Then at like 10pm we went to another itallian place for dinner. It was tasty. I got some limoncello after, and then all us girls split a creme brullee. Yeah, this is why I took spanish. It's easy to spell. Then back to the hostel and sleep.
Wednesday, woke up, went to Sacre Cour again to go up to the top of it, that was pretty cool. Then we went to Notre Dame, which was also cool, managed to lose Belinda and Wing for a while, then we found them. We walked around the church to see all of it, then decided to go see the bastille and the garden by Victor Hugo's house that James said was supposed to be nice, but was actually kinda boring. We had dinner at a bar there, then Jake decided he wasn't feeling too good so he went back to the hostel, and we walked down the street with the trees. Finally found a gift shop that had charms for my charm bracelet. Then I decided I wanted to go see the eiffel tower again, so we walked over to it, and stayed there for a while, got to watch them turn the lights on. Then back to the hostel and to sleep.
Woke up Thursday morning, went to the airport. France thinks I'm a terrorist too, got pulled aside for them to go through my bag because I had gotten a bottle shaped like the eiffel tower and they wanted to make sure it was empty. *sigh* I hate going back and forth between England and the continent. Continent always thinks I'm a terrorist, and getting back into the UK is a pain in the ass, because they actually ask you 4093854 questions as to why you're there. Every other country we go into is like, woo hoo! I have a stamp! STAMPY STAMPY STAMPY! Anyway, no major problems on the trip, other than losing Jake for a bit.
Friday I had my Statics final, it went pretty good, I'm pretty sure I got at least an 80 on it, probably more like a 90, but not sure. Then I went and got my Chivalry essay back and got the grade for the class, ended up being a "low first" which is basically an A. Dunno, grading system here is weird. Also on Friday, I woke up and realized I was sick. Since yesterday at about 2pm, I've gone through nearly 2 liters of orange juice, a liter of chocolate milk, some regular milk, some water..... Imma drown this sickness, because I don't want to be sick for London tomorrow-Wednesday. And I've still got a liter of apple juice I got that I want to finish before we leave too. Surprisingly, I think the OJ is working. I'm feeling better today than yesterday. Yay.
Pictures... will be up eventually. Sorry for the delays.
So it would appear I had forgotten all about this. Or maybe not all about it, but enough so as to not have posted anything in 10 days. Updates: Captions are on all the Italy pictures. Still need to do Switzerland and Signs. Went to London, Stonehenge/Salisbury, and Dover with Jake and his mom the 1st-3rd; writeup coming soon; pictures coming later. Had an essay due last Friday, that's why I didn't write last week, was working on that.
Now for a breif tangent that has nothing to do with my travels or studying, and all to do with my top 10 favorite movies. Like many people, I like some movies more than others. Up until Friday, my top 10 consisted mostly of Pirate movies, cult classics, and chick flicks. This isn't to say I don't like action movies, it's just that there isn't too much room in the top 10 for them, once you get past all 3 pirates movies, Amelie, Rocky Horror, Moulin Rouge, Princess Diaries, Pride & Predjudice, Real Genius and The Great Race. But I do love the Terminator series, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, while not the best acting, are pretty awesome movies too. Then you have your obligatory, I-read-and-liked-Harry-Potter-so-I-must-like-all-5-movies, although the director for the third one sucked and I really don't like watching it. And then there's all those other movies that I like watching, but I think I might just stop listing them now so I can actually get to my point. Although I need to add that Johnny Depp movies should also be in the top somewhere, but I'm not sure where they all fit in. I'm begining to suspect that there isn't a "top 10" but more of a "giant conglomeration of movies I like watching repeatedly." Annnyway.... My point is this: Pirates of the Caribbean, the Curse of the Black Pearl (hereafter to be referred to simply as Pirates) is (was????) my favorite movie of all time, outshining previous favorites. I'd go so far as to say it's my favorite Disney movie as well, but I like to think of Disney movies as the animated ones, and in that case it would be Beauty & the Beast. But--- When Pirates was in theatres, I saw it twice. I had never before seen a movie twice in theatres. I would have seen it more, but if I remember correctly, I was poor and couldn't afford to. Even if I had been able to afford it, I probably only would have seen it a third time and stopped at that, mostly because it's really hard for me to justify spending $9 to see a movie in theatres more than once when the DVD will cost somewhere between $15 and $20. So apart from how awesome Pirates is, the mere fact that I saw it more than once in theatres would probably be enough to classify it as one of my top 10 movies. At this point, I'd like to describe the reasons I usually go see movies for. I'm sure that a lot of you have the same reasons. 1- The preview made it look cool. 2- It's part of a series of movies. 3- Everyone else is going, the movie doesn't look that bad, it'll be fun. 4- It's an adaptation of a book I like. 5- It has Johnny Depp in it. 6- It's one of those movies that you know everyone is going to see, so I'd have no idea what they were talking about if I didn't go. Sometimes I see a movie for a combination of reasons. When I decided to see Star Trek, it was because of a combination of numbers 1, 5, and 6, only replace Johnny Depp with Zachary Quintos from Heros. It was also because I had just handed in an essay and felt like I deserved some sort of reward. (I routinely bribe myself in order to get my work done on time.) I'm not a Trekkie, never have been, never thought I would be. Dad tried to get me to watch when I was little, I'm sure, but the only Star Trek I can remember watching is the episode with the tribbles, and most of the movie with the whales. That's it. So I walked into Star Trek with the expectation that I probably wouldn't know what was going on. But that since I have several friends who are Trekkies, I felt like I ought to go, just to give it a chance. Plus, Zachary Quintos (Sylar) was playing Spock. So the acting wouldn't be terrible even if I didn't get what was going on. Long story (slightly) short(er): We liked it so much we got tickets to the next showing and saw it a second time. I liked it so much I went back yesterday and saw it for a third time. THREE TIMES IN THEATRES. I have a feeling this means it's in my top 10 by default. Also, I'm planning on seeing it more, but not until I get back to the US. I'm not sure what this says about me. But I'm going to be watching Star Trek in the fall. Like, the real Star Trek. It's like I had Trekkie-ness sprung on me.... I feel like I had no say in this.
....Yeah, that is totally not neccessary for half of you to know about, but.... if you haven't seen it, go see it, you'll probably like it. It's really funny.
London/Salisbury/Dover: I very nearly missed the train to London, got there with 4 minutes to spare. It's a damn good thing my watch is like 6 minutes fast. Then an uneventful two hour train ride to London. We go drop my stuff off at the hotel room, then went and wandered around and got dinner. We went by Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, the London Eye.... Went across the river and back, then eventually it got dark and we went back to the hotel and slept. Woke up Saturday, went to the train station, waited in a really long line to get train tickets, missed one train by like 2 minutes, if that, and waited for the next one. Eventually we got to Salisbury and had some time before the next bus to Old Sarum/Stonehenge left, so we went to the Cathedral for a bit to see it, then went back and caught the bus to Old Sarum. For those of you who don't know, Old Sarum is a castle. Well, it's what's left of a castle, which isn't very much. But it was cool. There were sheep nearby, so we went and looked at them on the way back to the bus stop. Then we got the bus to Stonehenge, and looked at it.... I feel like it has been overhyped my whole life. Yeah, they're big and impressive and all... but... I guess it would have been more impressive if we had been allowed to go out and touch them and stand next to them instead of 20-50 feet back from them. Then we went back to Salisbury and had dinner at the Red Lion, where Jake proceeded to leave his backpack again. Didn't realize it till we were on the train though, and he didn't want to go back and get it since it only had a waterbottle in it. Then back to the hotel and sleep. Woke up, went to a different train station, got the train to Dover. Then we walked to the castle there, which was huge and still in one piece. I liked it because of how big it was, but I think I'm still partial to the falling down castles. We spent most of the time there, then went down to the beach to try and see the white cliffs, but they were kind of around the corner from the castle, so we didn't get a good view. If you were out in the bay/harbor it would have been a better view. Then we got on the train back to London and I got on the train to Leeds.
Pictures from all that will be up eventually. Probably not for a while- tomorrow we leave for Amsterdam/Paris, get back on the 21st, I have a final on the 22nd, then we're going to do things around Leeds, then 24-27 we're going to London, then studying for a final that I have on the 29th, then we'll be here until June 6th when we go to London, 7th we head home.
So that is what I have been up to lately. I'll try and do captions on all the pictures that need them today. Might get around to putting otheer ones up, but that might have to wait till the 30th or so. Not sure.
So, pictures weren't up by Friday, and the captions on Italy and Switzerland and the signs aren't done yet. But I feel bad that it's taken me 3 weeks to do as much as I have, and I don't much feel like doing captions at the moment, so I'm just going to give you what I have, and if you want to read the captions on Italy and Switzerland and signs, you can go back and do that in the future. I'll let you know when they're done. But here are the links to all the Europe pictures.
Pictures are about 75% of the way to being available to look at. I promise they'll be up by Friday. Also, family might not be coming over. If they don't come, I think Jake and I are going up to Scotland again. That is all.
I finally got through all the pictures, and managed to cut it down to less than a thousand. 978ish to be exact. So they will start going up this week since Jake is abandoning me to go to London with his mom while I stick around for classes and then meet them next weekend. Goal is to have them all up by Friday, but I don't know if that'll happen or not.
As for who wins the Duck Throwing thing- I'm going to leave it open until I get back from Paris. That should give someone enough time to attempt to do the math or give me a wittier answer than those currently up. Also, then you can have a postcard from someplace exciting, like the Eiffel tower!
New updated plans: Jake's mom comes over this week, so the two of them are doing Londony things, then I'm going down to meet them and we're going to Stonehenge and Dover I think. After that, there's an essay due on the 8th, and then Jake has another due the 18th. So, the 15th-21st we'll be hitting up Amsterdam, Brussels, Paris, and Versailles. Then back to Leeds because I have a final on the 22nd. My parents then show up on the 23rd or so, we go to the SW of England to look at castles and meet family people who live there, maybe hit up Cardiff in Wales, then we come back to Leeds because I have another final on the 29th. Then sitting around Leeds because Jake has a final the Monday after that, and I've got one on the 3rd. Then packing all our stuff up and heading down to London for the last couple of days before we leave.
So... lots of places to still visit, but the year is definately starting to wind down.
Also, it's starting to get warm here! But it's still not 70's like it is over in the US. :(
Some of you may have noticed, if you've known me for a couple years, that whenever I go to a park and there are ducks, I take pictures of them. I don't particularly like ducks, but they're there and they usually sit still long enough to take pictures of them. Ducks aren't like other birds who fly away as soon as you're within 15 feet, they'll stick around for a bit to see if you have anything to feed them. I might have already put up pictures of ducks in my previous albums, I don't remember for sure. If I did, someone probably wondered why I put up a picture of a duck instead of another picture of a castle. I don't really know why.
But my point is, that I come across ducks in everyday life fairly often. Usually when I go someplace with water. (Duh.) And when I do see these ducks, if I have a camera on me, I take a picture of them. So I probably have a fairly extensive collection of duck pictures. No reason really, I just do. I don't usually think about ducks other than when I see them or when I am looking at pictures I have taken of ducks.
For some reason however, last night I had a dream. In this dream, there were ducks. There were also other things, like boats and buildings and a lake and people and rain. Ok, so it's a normal dream, I'm on a lake in a boat when it's raining. There are ducks. Why are there ducks? Because it's a lake. Lakes have ducks.
Except, it was more of a canal, and I was actually walking in the water which was only waist-chest deep. It varied. It was also raining, and me and whoever I was with were trying to get to a building with a patio with people on it to get out of the rain. Suddenly, a couple ducks float by. Not swim, just float. They don't really care where they're going. So whoever I'm with (I really don't remember who it was/was supposed to be) picks one up. The duck doesn't care that it's being held by some person, it's happy as a duck can be. The guy hefts it a bit, and then THROWS IT LIKE A FOOTBALL. And the duck doesn't try to get out of the spin by opening it's wings and flying away, it just spirals through the air like a football. Then it hits the side of a boat, bounces off, and swims away, no harm done. Whoever I'm with then picks up the other duck, and proceeds to throw it too. Again, just like a football. This one lands by the building we're trying to get to, and some people look up wondering why a duck flew through the air without flying.
It's at this point that I wake up, and immediately start wondering if a duck really would fly like a football if you threw it. I mean, ducks are probably fairly aerodynamic if their feet are tucked up. That just leaves the problem of their head, but I guess if it was sleeping and had it tucked back under its wing it might work. Jake says that if this ever happened to a duck that it'd just stick its wings out and fly away.
So, my question to all of you is: Would ducks spiral like a football if you threw one? (This is assuming you know how to throw a football to get it to spiral correctly. I can't. Half the time it goes end over end. Yes, pathetic, I know.) ((Also, football==American football, not soccer))
Leave your opinion in the comments, best answer gets a postcard. And if anyone can provide me with mathematical calculations showing what would happen, you get a postcard and something else. Not sure what that something is. Make me a computer simulation of a duck being thrown, you get all of the above and I'll make you cookies.
EDIT: Wanted to throw in a disclaimer--- No ducks were harmed in the making of my dream (that I know of), and I do not condone harming animals. Please don't go out and actually try this. Also, if you never looked at my blog before, read the rest of it too! It has pictures and stories of far away lands.
So for some reason, this is going a lot better than I thought it would. I've got Best of Germany and Best of Austria sorted out, they just need to be put online. I just started Italy, probably won't finish going through those pictures today though. Haven't decided when I'm going to put them up. I might just go in on Wednesday and do it then... not sure. But progress is being made!
Despite the exclamation mark in the title of this entry, there are no pictures.
I think I have decided, that instead of doing what I've been doing, and putting up the vast majority of the pictures I took, I'm going to start off with a "Best of Germany" album. Then "Best of Austria," "Best of Italy," and "Best of Switzerland." After that, I might do some themed albums, like "Best of Churches" and "Best of Mountains." Or I might change my mind and put the majority up. Who knows?
Due to the number of pictures (4600ish to be not exact) this is obviously going to take a while. So no pictures right away. Sorry guys. But, I will endeavor to have them up before I go to London with Jake & his mom, since I'll want my SD cards to be empty for that.
Just wanted to let you know, incase you were expecting pictures tomorrow.
And I bet there's someone out there going, but you didn't do anything this week! You could have been going through them then! Uh, no thanks. I'd like to relax for a bit before diving into something as intimidating as 4600+ pictures. I mean, when I went on vacation with my family, the one three week vacation we went on, combined between four people and four cameras, I don't think we took that many. So... that's a lot. A very a lot.
I think my problem is that when confronted with things that number in the thousands that need to be somehow organized, I put it off because it intimidates me. Like my music library. No idea how many songs I have, only that it is several, several thousand. I've never had them all in one place where they were all playable even. My dead (RIP) mp3 player could only fit 30gb, and I think I'm closer to 60 now, and that number is only going up. Only place that has them all is my external harddrive. If it died, I would be really upset. I mean, yeah, almost everything on it is somewhere else as well, but... still. So.. point is, that theres a lot of things to sort through, but I'll get around to it. Probably in the next half hour actually. But things still won't be going tomorrow. Maybe Tuesday. Maybe.
Day 17: Sunday, April 5 We woke up, and actually had breakfast at the B&B. (Didn't have it Saturday since we got up so early.) It was pretty tasty. Then we headed toward the Colosseum. The line there was absolutely ridiculous, so we went to Palantie Hill first. You can get tickets at either place, and it's good for both of them. Definately go to Palantine Hill to get the ticket. We looked around there for a while, it was pretty cool, you got to walk in some of the ruins, and the Archaeological dig is connected, so you can walk through that too if you want. We didn't, because we had looked down on it on Friday, and we were slowly running out of time since we had trains to catch in the afternoon. So we headed on over to the Colosseum, and the line was still pretty bad, but not terrible. The thing about getting your ticket at the Palantine Hill, is that you only have to wait in line until you get through security, then you can go cut ahead of like 600 people and get in and look around. Otherwise, it's probably another hour of waiting once you get past security. The Colosseum is really cool. I took more pictures than necessary probably. But that's ok, my camera is awesome! Adam ran into some people he knew from UNC there. After hanging out there for a couple hours, we went to the Spanish Steps to see why they were so awesome. They were just... really big stairs. That's all. Then we went back to the B&B to pick up our suitcases, had lunch, and realized that we had another hour till the next train because we just barely missed one. So the guys left me at the train station to try and pick up some internet on Jake's laptop while they went out to try and find some gelato. Hour later, they came back empty handed. :( Also, I was unable to catch any internet signals. So then we got on a train to Pisa, and Adam got on a train to Florence. We got there way later, and I had been looking at where the book said hostels were. They were all far from the train station. We didn't want to drag suitcases around Pisa, so we gave up on a hostel and got a hotel room instead. (Yay 2 stars!) Then we found some dinner since it was kind of late, and since we were like the last people there, we got free limoncello. I think it was because they wanted to close. *shrug* Food was ok. Then we went to see the leaning tower at night. It is crooked. By a lot. So we wandered around it for a bit, then went back to the hotel and fell asleep.
Day 18: Monday, April 6 Woke up, the hotel fed us, then we went and dropped our stuff at the train station. Then we walked to the leaning tower, got our ticket and climbed up. You can't really tell that it leans that much while you're climbing. Like, you can still stay vertical, don't have to lean anywhere while climbing the stairs. And when you're on the top, you can't really tell that it's leaning, other than having to walk uphill to get to the other side. But it was still cool. They don't let you lean over the edge to see the tower below you either, but that's understandable. After a half hour or so they herded us out of the tower and we went in the gift store for a bit. They had limoncello in leaning tower bottles! Needless to say, we got some. Along with leaning shotglasses. And a leaning charm for my charm bracelet. And some postcards. And... a lot of stuff. Then we went in the church that's next to the tower. I was kinda tired of taking pictures after 17 days straight of pictures, so I gave Jake the camera. Then we went to the train station and got tickets to Zermatt. Couple train rides later, we got there. At like 8:15 or something. We had to find an ATM to get money so we could pay for where ever we were going to stay. The one hostel there closed at 8. So we started going to hotels and seeing if they had any rooms. Well, apparently Zermatt likes to roll it's streets up early. We barely managed to get a room, and it was.... painfully expensive, and didn't even have a bathroom in it. Also, everyone everywhere was in ski gear and the first thing you see when you get off the train is a North Face store. Not good signs for poor people like us. After getting the hotel room and realizing everything was expensive, we pretty much decided that we should have spent another day in Italy. We had thought about stopping in CInque Terre for a day since there was ocean and beaches and warmth, but we ended up just going to Switzerland. The train ride there was taunting us the whole way. LOOK AT ME! I'M THE MEDETERRANEAN! I'M WARM! Also, Italy was cheaper than Switzerland. But.. we were in Switzerland in expensive town, so the logical thing to do was have McDonalds for dinner and then go to bed.
Day 19: Tuesday, April 7 We had originally planned on taking a train up to the top of a mountain to look at the Matterhorn (the mountain on Toblerone boxes), but it was 38 CHF one way, not round trip like we thought it was. (Damn book lied to us again.) So we just wandered around for a bit, and then got a train to Luzern. Then we walked to a hostel, got a room for 3 nights, paid for the first night, and then started wandering around. We went and saw the sad lion, and the bridges (wait for pictures). Also, Luzern had swans. And you could feed them. So I did several times over the next couple days. Swans are fun because they'll fight eachother. Yeah, didn't do much other than wandering around. Dinner was at a really nice Itallian restaurant. Ended up being a bit on the expensive side, 50-something CHF for the two of us. 1 dollar = .9 CHF roughly. But it was tasty, and we had limoncello included in that. So it was ok. Then more wandering, and then we decided we wanted to get a bottle of limoncello to drink, so we found a liquor store in the train station and got a bottle. Then we went back to the hostel and watched Shaun of the Dead and got drunk. Hehe. No puking this time though! Then sleeping when the movie was done. That stuff is tasty. Tasty tasty tasty.
Day 20: Wednesday, April 8 Woke up, went wandering, and found that they have real pretzels here! So we got pretzels from like four different places, until we found that the Hug Backeries have like, six laugen broetchen stuck together into a ring. TASTY! So those were what we had for breakfast the rest of the days we were in Luzern. We basically just wandered around all day, didn't really do much in particular. If it had been clear out, we would have gone up Mt. Titless, but it was kind of overcast, so we didn't. Dinner was at a restaurant called Pinnochios. DO NOT EAT HERE EVEN IF IT IS THE LAST PLACE ON EARTH. They don't know what pork is supposed to look like, they don't know how to make chicken cordon bleu, and... it was all super expensive- same price as the night before. But this was for just the two meals and water. We decided we'd cook the rest of our meals in Switzerland. Too expensive. Then we wandered some more.
Day 21: Thursday, April 9 Woke up, went and got pretzel rings, and tried to decide if we wanted to go up the mountain. It was hazy again, so we just wandered and watched the geese, then started heading back to the hostel so Jake could switch into shorts and so I could take off my wool socks since it was really warm outside. On the way we ran into Adam, so we showed him the right way to the hostel, and we ended up asking them if we could stay for another night, instead of trying to get to Milan and find a place for Friday night, since we'd be going up the mountain on Friday, and that'd just be a lot of hassle. They rearranged some rooms and found space for us. Yay! Then we went and showed Adam the sad lion and the bridges, and then hit up a grocery store to make dinner. It was ok. Then sleep.
Day 22: Friday, April 10 We woke up, and the sky was perfect out, so after getting some pretzels, we got on a train to Mt. Titless. We all decided that we don't like skiiers. They are pushy. Eventually we got to the top of the mountain, it was kind of cold, but not too bad. No one fell off the mountain or anything, so that was good. It was really pretty up there, despite being a bit cloudy. But the wind would blow the clouds away every now and then, so you could actually see stuff. There was also a glacier cave that they had made. It was.. a room made out of ice with colorful lights inside. Pretty cool actually. We got like the last or second to last cable car down, and then we wandered a bit and got to the train station, then went back to Luzern. Adam got his stuff out of our room, and got on a train to go wherever else he was going. Jake and I got stuff for tacos and made tacos, then went to bed.
Day 23: Saturday, April 11 Woke up early, checked out, went to the train station, got tickets. It was complicated. We wanted to leave at 9, but the second train we needed was full, so we had to leave at 11. But there was only a 3 minute layover to switch trains, so we decided to take the first train at 9, and then spend two hours at the place in the middle. We did sudokus and fed some birds. Then train to Milan, then train to Bergamo, then bus to airport, then check our bags and go through security. We also took advantage of the duty-free shop to get another bottle of limoncello. Heh. Then when we were going though passport people and into the international flights waiting room, the security guy wanted to look at my backpack. Apparently I look like a terrorist to Itallians. :( But there wasn't anything bad in there so he was like, ok, enjoy your flight! Or maybe I was just the magic number to get checked. *shrug* Then after waiting another hour and a half, they put us on busses to take us to the airplane, then let us go race to get seats. Then plane ride, then landing in Manchester, waiting for a train, taking a train to Leeds, then a bus to our street, then home and collapsing.
I would like to apoligize for the less than detailed entries toward the end. But we mostly just wandered and relaxed in Luzern, so there's not that much to write about. Also, sorry again for not having specific names of places and for misspellings. For those of you who were counting or curious, we came back with: bottle of honey schnapps, bottle of peach liquor, two bottles of limoncello, a cuckoo clock, a stuffed St. Bernard, 4600ish pictures, one broken mp3 player, too many shot glasses to count, 3 dozen (ish) postcards, a new (slightly broken) suitcase, and a bunch more miscelaneous souveniers.
Also, for those of you who want to do this yourself, we both went through around $3000 each, Jake had slightly less because he didn't get a cuckoo clock and his debit card wouldn't work for a day or two in Austria and I had to pay for him then and he's still working on paying me back.
Germany is cheap. Austria too. Italy is in the middle. Switzerland is expensive. But they do have cool money there.
Day 15: Friday, April 3 Since we had liked how the Duomo looked the previous night, we decided we wanted to go in. The magical book said that it opened at 8, so we woke up early enough to be there when it opened. This means we woke up at like 7, took super speedy showers, ate breakfast, and walked there. We get there, and there's a sign. We open at 10! :) We were not amused. So we turned around, went back to the hostel, got our stuff together, and went to the train station. Then we got on our train to Rome. We got to Rome, pulled out a map of where we were staying, and started walking. Now, for some reason, I was under the impression that it was a hostel, probably because we booked it on hostelworld.com. It was another B&B. But whatever, it had beds and a shower. We dropped our stuff off, paid, and then went exploring. It was absolutely gorgeous outside. The whole three days we were there. Warm and sunny and clear skies. We accidentally got in through the back entrance of Santa Maria degli Angeli church, looked around there for a bit, walked out the front door, and found ourselves at the Piazza della Repubblica, which has a cool fountain in the middle, but which is really hard to get out of, due to the lack of pedestrian crossings. From there we eventually wound up at the Monumento a Vittorio Emanuele II, which is pretty cool. We got there in time to see the changing of the guards. Basically, it's a giant war monument/memorial thing. From the top, you can see a lot of roman things. After that, we walked past the Collesseum, Palantine Hill, the Archaeological Dig area, then we went past the Circus. Didn't go into anything because we felt we didn't have enough time. Then we headed over toward the river, went across a couple of bridges, one of which is an island. More wandering led to the Area Sacra, which is some ruins that are inhabitated by a bunch of cats, it was pretty cool. Then we went and saw the Pantheon, and on our search for dinner we accidentally came across the Piazza Navona. Shortly after that we found some food. Then we started wandering off, until I realized that Jake had left his backpack at the restaurant. Soon as I informed him of this, he took off, leaving me and Adam to catch up. Luckily we hadn't gone too far, and they had the backpack sitting there waiting for us to come back for. We decided to go check out Vatican City next, so that we'd know where we needed to go in the morning to get into the Vatican Museums. So we walked past the Pope Castle, and into the square/oval thing in front of the church, then wandered over to the entrance to the museums. After that, we got some gelato and took a subway back to our B&B.
Day 16: Saturday, April 4 Since the magical book had said the lines to get into the Vatican Museums were ridiculous and to get there at 6:30, we had thought about trying to do just that. But I really didn't want to have to sit there for hours, especially since they didn't open until 9. So we settled for leaving the B&B at 7:45. This had us getting there at around 8:30, at which point the line was fairly short. We actually got in before 9, since they started letting people in early. So that was awesome. The Vatican has a lot of art. A lot. Like, an insane amount of art. Art which they let you photograph! Except for the Sistine Chapel. "Silencio!!! NO PHOTO!" *giggle* So yeah, you can either look at my pictures from the museum, or go for yourself. There is a lot of stuff in there. Statues and paintings and Egypt stuff.... it's kind of insane. Annnyway, six hours later we finally left, and decided to try and get into St. Peter's. The book really meant to say that the line for St. Peter's is insane. But going later in the day, the line was much shorter, we only waited a half hour, if that to get in. And, like I said before, I was not that impressed. But that's probably just because I've seen a lot of churches, and they're all huge. Then we went up to the top, where it started raining a bit. But that was ok, because it stopped. Again, I'd like to point out how we've been doing a lot of walking the whole trip. But for some reason, after just the Vatican Museums and St. Peters, my feet were dead. So we ended up finding a restaurant not too far from the Vatican. It was empty, so we figured that since most of the places we ate in Germany were empty and tasty, that the same might be true here. Also, we were eating a little earlier than when Itallians eat, so maybe that was why it was empty. Nope. It was empty because the food sucked. And we were hungry enough to want two courses. Meh. Afterwards, we headed toward the Trevi Fountain to see it at night, and because it was on our list of things to see. It was pretty. The people trying to sell us shit were not. The gelato we got from a lady nearby was tasty. Then we went back to the B&B and to sleep.
Only 7 days left to type up! And one of those is how we got from Switzerland to England, so it hardly counts!
Day 11: Monday, March 30 We woke up, showered, and had our oh-so-delicious breakfast of toast. And nothing else. Just toast. So we set off in search of breakfast. We ended up a bakery that had giant pretzels. Unfortunately it wasn't fresh, but it was still tasty and bigger than Jake's head. Then we basically spent the day wandering around Innsbruck and looked at stuff. We went in St. Jakob's chruch, and it was pretty fancy inside. Wait for pictures. Then we went and looked at various statues and fountains, saw the gold roof, and found a mall that had a 7th floor observation deck, so we went up and looked at the mountains and stuff. Also, it was kind of overcast, so that was why we decided to not go to the zoo or anything. But it wasn't raining! Dinner we went to a mexican restaurant. It was very tasty.
Day 12: Tuesday, March 31 Zoo day! We were going to go up to the zoo and then go to the castle, but due to how their buses are not where they're supposed to be, and the fact that the castle and zoo are really far apart from eachother, we ended up just going to the zoo. There were animals! Lots of them! We got to see the wolves run around, and the Bear was all, RAWR I EAT MY MEAT NOW! Then we wandered around the old city some more. At some point, Jake got liederhosen for Landon and I got various things for various people. Innsbruck is nice, because you can just wander around and not actually do anything, and it still felt like you were doing stuff. It was really just nice to stay in one place for a couple of days and not have to worry abou switching hostels every night.
Day 13: Wednesday, April 1 The weather was like, perfect on Wednesday. Perfect. Warm, clear blue skies.. We were originally going to leave around 11 to go to Venice, but because it was so nice out, we stuck around for lunch and then got the 1pm train. Train was once again uneventful, we got to Venice and tried to find a hostel. The magical all knowing book said there was one really close to the train station, we got to where it was supposed to be, and ITS NOT THERE. It's not down any of the little alleys nearby either. So we decide to go to the next closest one, and we kinda get lost, finally find it, it's only got two beds in separate rooms, so we decide we'd rather just get a cheap hotel room since it'd be the same price and that way we'd at least be together. After, we find a suitably cheap hotel (yay 2 stars). Then we went out and found a place to eat. Itallian restaurants like to have people outside, and if you show the SLIGHTEST interest in their menu, they jump on you, and are like, ooh, ooh, table for two? And you're just like, um, no, and then you run away. And there is no exaggeration there, at all. We ran away whenever someone would try and push us into eating there. All we wanted to do was look at the menus to decide, and they were all sorts of pushy. Eventually we went to one of them, since there weren't any places that didn't have people outside. Then we wandered around a bit, but Venice is super sketchy at night, since they don't have street lights and everything turns into an alley. When we got back to the hotel, around the world in 80 days was on in Itallian. So we watched that until the super funny part, which is funnier in English. Then sleeping! Also, I would like to mention, that Italy was way warm. It was nice after being cold and wet for so long.
Day 14: Thursday, April 2 We woke up, checked out of the hotel, put our stuff at the train station, and then worked our way to St. Marks plaza, and the Doge's palace. Again, they felt my purse was too big and made me check it. They also had no picture signs all around, so I figured I'd just leave my camera in my bag. Then we actually get inside, and not only does everyone have their camera out, but it's only certain places where you can't take pictures. I was a bit upset. So we looked around and saw all the artwork and stuff, and the prison/dungeon, and by the time we finished, it started raining. The rain did however shorten the line to the church/basilica next door, but they wanted us to check our bags too, and were like, the bag check place is over there. We did not see "over there" so we just went and found a vaporetti (bus boat) to take back to the train station, instead of trying to walk back. We get to the train station, get in line to get tickets, say we want to go to Florence, and the lady is like, oh, there's one leaving in 6 minutes. You sure we can make it? Oh, yeah, plenty of time. So the trian is on platform 14. Our luggage is over by platform 1. We have 6 minutes. Luckily we made the train! It involved lots of running and running. Itallians also don't like to hurry, so when we were paying to get our luggage back, the guy took forever to get us our change. Meanie. So we get to Florence, and by this point, I'm really thinking that we need to get a suitcase, because all our bags are stuffed and heavy, and we keep buying bottles of alcohol to take back. Venice had a couple of stands of people selling suitcases, but we didn't really have time to get one. So we get to Florence, and try finding the hostel that we wanted to stay at, and where it was on the map and where it was in real life were different, but we eventually found it, and it was really nice. Very colorful. Everyone who stayed wrote on the wall somewhere, so the walls were full of grafitti basically. Jake and I left GT marks. :) After we dropped our stuff and called Adam to let him know we were there, we went out and I got a suitcase for 15 euros ($20). Went back, packed it, and then Adam showed up, so we went out and had dinner at what is apparently the best pizza place in Florence, then we went and looked at the duomo. It was the prettiest church we saw, in my opinion. It's all green and pink and white on the outside. While we were walking past it, we ran into a kid from our Chivalry class with some of his friends. That was kinda weird, although I had been wondering if we'd ever run into people. Then we had some tasty tasty gelato, wandered a bit more, and went back to our hostel. We used their internet for a bit since it was free, then went to sleep.
Day 8: Friday, March 27 We woke up, had tasty breakfast at the Jugendherberge, and then went and dropped our stuff at the train station so we could finish exploring Freiberg. We went to the church, and it was shiny and special... I think it was around here that churches began to not impress me much anymore. Now, don't get me wrong, they're all very pretty and large and impressive, but nothing will ever again compare to being in Liverpool and walking up the hill to the church there and then having my jaw drop at the church there. Anyway, this church let you go to the top (like so many others), and so we went up, and one of the levels is the one with all the bells, and there happened to be a guy there working on them, so we got to hear a couple of them go off. They also named all their bells (like most other churches) and there was a Jacob bell, which took us forever to find, turns out it was the one that the guy was sitting on, which was why we couldn't find it immediately. After that, we wandered around a bit longer until we decided to go ahead and leave for Munich. We had gotten our ticket the night before, and the person we spoke with had given us two different times we could go that were two hours apart. We had to change in a little town Neustadt and then go on to Ulm and then to Munich. Well, we found there was a train inbetween those times to Neustadt, and figured there'd be one to Ulm at the same time after the hour as the other two... well, we get there, and that train only runs every two hours, so we had an hour to burn. We started off following this drunkish guy around, till he led us past a chocolate shop where we got distracted by the truffles and bought some. Whisky truffles are tasty. After that, we just wandered around some more, till we ended up at a grocery store. Jake found some "Cherry Water" that he wanted to try. So he got it, and we ended up having it two nights later in Munich. I will get to this in a bit. Anyway, then we headed back to the train station, and barely made the train... we thought it came at :35 after, but really it was :25. Luckily I was all, "we should be there early to get seats," otherwise we wouldn't have made it and would have been there another two hours. We eventually get to Munich at night time, and head toward the hostels there. Conveniently, there are three right in a row, so we try them all, and end up in a 6 person room with two other people. Not too bad. But that hostel didn't have room for us the next night, so we went to a different one to get a reservation for the next night, ended up getting a 3 person private room with bathroom. After taking care of that, we set off in search of food, and decided that we'd get donners since they're cheap & fast. Our choices were a place that is not named "talk like a llama" but whose name looked close enough to that that that's what I called it, and another place. We ate at the other place, and it was SUPER DUPER TASTY!! Then we went back to the hostel and slept.
Day 9: Saturday, March 28 We woke up, checked out of the hostel we were in, went next door, and put our stuff in their luggage room. Then we set off for Dachau Concentration Camp. One train and a bus later and we were there. Now, I don't know what exactally I was expecting, but... dunno. It was mostly torn down, and the buildings that were left were mostly empty. They turned one building into a museum. Concentration camp buildings are... really, really huge. And it was full of words. Everywhere. I started off reading everything. After the first three rooms I was only reading titles and interesting things. Three rooms later I was looking at pictures and reading the quotes. Then I was just looking at pictures. Also, I'd like to point out that we had been doing a ton of walking every day. Walking through one building should not make you tired. But for some reason it was. Because this building was huge. HUGE. I ended up not even looking at stuff in the very last room because I was just so tired of looking at it. Also, I don't know if it was the content or the skipping breakfast, but my stomach was starting to feel weird toward the end. So, yes, everyone should probably visit a concentration camp if they have the chance, but.. I dunno, pick a smaller one? And eat breakfast first. Only reason we didn't eat was because Munich takes all their pretzels, and cuts them in half and puts butter in. No one wants that. But yeah, it was very informative. And a bit sick. But that's just because it's a concentration camp. After that we had some lunch at an Itallian place by the Dachau train station that was ok, then got back on the train and went back to Munich. We had earlier decided that we wanted to see the Glockenspeil at 9pm since it did a fancy thingie, so we ended up wandering around that area and listening to street performers for a couple hours until it was time. Then it did it's dance, and we went and got dinner at a *gasp* crowded restaurant! They had these fun to play with kartofelknoedels there. After, we went back to the hostel and saw our room. Our room was pretty kickass for only like 20 or 25 euros a person. It was pretty much a hotel. Almost the best place we stayed the whole trip. Euro Youth Hotel for anyone interested. I needed to check some stuff online, so I went downstairs to use the computer, which was next to the bar. German hostels like to have bars for some reason. In the middle of checking my email (which took entirely too long due to their incredibly slow connection), some drunk guy leans over and looks at the monitor and asks me what I'm doing. He eventually goes away. While I was downstairs, the guys decided to bring out their various alcohols. This consisted of: beer, mead, honey schnapps and the infamous cherry water. The cherry water was not so much water, but more like fire. In your mouth. Eventually we went to sleep.
Day 10: Sunday, March 29 Adam had to leave early to catch a train back to Italy since his break was ending, so he left, then Jake and I got up, had breakfast at the hostel (they had toast! and a toaster! and hot chocolate!) and then wandered around a bit more. We went and saw the Glockenspiel do it's usual routine, since the one we saw the night before was different. After that, we went to the palace, but we didn't really have enough time to do the palace rooms and the treasury, and you have to pay for both parts separate, so we only did the treasury. For some reason, they don't like people with big purses going in, so they made me check it. I didn't think to take my camera out first, so no pictures. Oops. I had planned on buying souveniers for people that day in an attempt to minimize time I had to carry things around, but, for some reason I don't understand, MUNICH SHUTS DOWN ON SUNDAY. Every single store was closed. The crazy souviner people weren't even out. I don't understand, especially since the previous Sunday in St. Goar, a town a fraction of the size of Munich, had stores open. So, unfortunately, some people who I said would get stuff from Germany probably won't. After realizing it'd be impossible to get anything, we picked up our stuff, and hopped on a train to Innsbruck. We eventually got there after an uneventful train ride, and found our way to the cheap B&B we decided to stay at. Why we picked it, I don't really remember. But we dropped our stuff off, got advice on where to eat, went, had food, went back, watched Bambi, went to sleep.
I would write more, since I'm kind of on a roll, but Jake wants me to go clean the kitchen and then we're going to watch MIB, so.. maybe no more tonight. Imma try and finish it all up by Monday, only 13 more days to go. :)
Day 4.5: Still Monday, March 23 I forgot to mention that after sticking our fingers in the Rhine, we went back to the train station, got our stuff out of the locker there, and got a train to Heidelberg. From there we got on a bus that got us closer to the hostel we were planning on staying at. It took us a while to find because of how the streets are there and the directions we got at the Information dest at the train station were not perfect. But we got there eventually and got a room. Our room was in a different building though, so we had to go find it too which took a while. We dumped our stuff off and then went and found someplace to eat. It was called Loewen Braeu, and was pretty much empty. But it turned out to be tasty, as would prove to be the pattern in Germany. We would somehow find the emptiest restaurants and they would have really tasty food. Dunno what's up with that. Also, this was the day it started raining. Just started as we were leaving Mainz, and continued to rain on and off for most of the rest of the time we were in Germany.
Day 5: Tuesday, March 24 We had wanted to go to this little town, Neckarsteinach, thats a little ways outside of Heidelberg, and we decided that if it was nice Tuesday we'd go Tuesday, otherwise we'd go Wednesday. Well, Tuesday morning, we got up, went and got pretzels for breakfast, and then went to the train station to get directions. By the time we got to the train station, it was hailing out. HAILING. So the logical decision was to hop on the bus that the lady at Information told us to take and go. Our logic was, hey, the bus is here, let's get on it! Also, Neckarsteinach is in the direction where the sky isn't as icky! So we went. Now, the reason we wanted to go was because there were 4 castles in a row there. Two were privately owned, so we couldn't go look at them, although we did walk by them to get to the two ruined ones. (Private castles tend to be in one piece with people still living in them.) The two ruined ones were much smaller than Schloss Reinfels (spelling??) but they were still fun, mostly because they were falling down but still had towers you could go up and look out. Also, the weather was a lot clearer and not hailing in Neckarsteinach, so it was a good thing we decided to go. Worst that happened was that it would sprinkle for a couple minutes every now and then, but it wasn't that bad. When we were finished crawling around the castles, we tried looking for someplace to have lunch in Neckarsteinach, but everywhere was closed or not what we wanted to eat/pay. So we got a train back to Heidelberg, and ended up getting lunch...somewhere. I don't really remember. After that we wandered around for a while, and eventually went up to the castle in Heidelberg to look around the gardens there. It was really cold and rainy though, so we left earlier than we wanted. We had originally planned on staying till it got dark and the city lit up, since the gardens are kind of above the city so you can see it all, but that didn't really work out because of how cold it was.
Jake says that I'm really not telling anyone anything, since I don't remember the names of places and since I'm not really saying what I think of them. I disagree. There is enough information in here that if you're interested in going somewhere I mentioned, that you could google and find it. Also, my opinions tend to be attached to pictures more than to words when I'm recounting things, so I guess you'll have to wait for pictures to see what I thought of specific things. Annnyway....
Day 6: Wednesday, March 25 We had planned to wake up at 8 to get up to the castle and do it and the rest of Heidelberg things so that we could finish everything before we had to check out of the hostel at 11. The waking up worked good, but it was more or less pouring when we got up. We decided to get some pretzels in the hope it would slow down a bit, but it didn't. So we walked up to the castle in the rain anyway. I think it would have been more impressive if they would let you in more than the courtyard and one room. But, they did have the world's largest wine cask or something. It was actually kind of funny, you walk in, and theres a big one sitting there, and you're like, wow, that's pretty big. Then you walk around to the back side of it, and see this other room that is FULL OF A CASK. You could fit a couple elephants in there and they'd be comfortable. Other than that, you could see the courtyard, and a little bit of the outside that was kinda ruined. There was a museum in there, but it didn't open until 10 and we didn't want to stick around in the rain for an hour. So we left early, and went and had lunch at this restaurant that was all set up like a tournament inside, and the food was pretty good too. After that we went back and got our stuff and went and got a train to Freiberg. On the train, I ended up falling asleep and when I woke up I dropped my mp3 player and it broke. *sad face* Anyway, we took a tram to close to the hostel, went in, and they only had a room for one night, and we wanted to stay for two, so the guy called the other hostel and got us a room there for the next night. That hostel was called Black Forest Backpackers, and they had weird showers. Worse even than freshman dorm showers. They were nifty in theory, but in practice were just plain creepy. Basically, its a giant metal cylinder, with a door with a window in it. So, unless you are VERY careful, anyone can see inside. Yes, there was a guys shower room and a girls shower room, but still... I lucked out, no one came in while I was showering, but it was definately one of the quickest showers I've taken. Apart from that it was a very nice hostel. They had internet for cheapish. After dropping our stuff, we wandered around and got dinner. Again, we ended up in a nearly empty restaurant. Food was pretty good, I had swabian raviolli which is a couple of raviollis in tasty soup... although it's really more like broth than soup. But it was good. The guy there stared at us the whole time we were eating, which was kinda creepy. Freiberg is pretty neat, and I bet it'd be even better when it's not rainy. They have these gutters running through the city that they used to use to put out fires. Ask Jake about them, he knows more than I do since he's been there before.
Day 7: Thursday, March 26 Adam's handy dandy book said that there was a little town near Freiberg that was cool, called Triberg. By this point we had pretty much resigned ourselves to the rain no matter where we went, so we just decided to go on Thursday because it was more convenient since we had to switch hostels, this way we could just drop our stuff in a locker at the train station and then pick it up later. So we catch our train and get to Triberg. Now, I should probably tell you that Jake and I had figured that since we'd be going south and that time was moving foreward, that it would be getting warmer the whole time we were gone, so we didn't bring anything warmer than hoodies and rain coats. On the train, we keep seeing snow, and by the time we get to Triberg, the snow is at least a foot deep. But at least it's not raining (yet). So we wander around, and go look at the waterfall there, which is the tallest one in Germany I think. But it was snowy and the path was closed for the winter, so we only got to go up a little bit. Needless to say, our belief that it would be warm also meant that we just wore sneakers. So our feet were wet. Luckily, just across the street was a museum with some history of the Black Forest, so we went in there for a while to warm up and dry off a little bit. After that, we ended up going to a cuckoo clock store, where I got a cuckoo clock and some other stuff. Then we walked back to the train station and got a train back to Freiberg, picked up our luggage, got a tram to the hostel, another Jugendherberge. This one was definately one of the nicer hostels we stayed in, big-ish room, bathroom, breakfast.... basically it was just really nice. Other places gave breakfast, but this was one of the better ones, and I hadn't been expecting the bathroom. Anyway, it was here I figured out that my mp3 player was dead, I had thought it was just the battery, but when I tried charging it it made broken noises. For dinner, we went out and wandered around Freiberg until we finally ended up at an imbiss (fast food place), where we got pizza. Then we went back to the hostel and I reorganzied my stuff so it'd all fit.
Might be all for today.... we'll see, I might finish Freiberg and Munich up tonight as well..
Day 3: Sunday, March 22 We woke up, left Koblenz as soon as we were up and headed to St. Goar. St. Goar was pretty awesome. For being a Sunday, most stuff was surprisingly open. We headed up to the hostel, which was again up a hill, just not as bad, and this time it was actually open. Jake says I should tell you it was the Jugendherberge. We couldn't check in until 2, and we had a couple hours, so we walked up the rest of the hill to look at the castle, then walked back down to the village to get some lunch and look around. When it was 2 we went back up and got our room, dumped our stuff and went up to Schloss Rheinfels. Also, I'm going to apologize now for misspelling names of places or omiting them all together. I plan on going and buying the book that Adam had so that I actually know the names and how to spell them right, and then I might come back and fix everything. In the meantime, if you care a lot and want to look stuff up, Google is probably more right on the spelling than I am. Annnnyway. That castle was the coolest one we went to. It was falling apart, but was still together enough that there were some rooms and stuff to go through. The best part though, was that it NEVER ENDED. You'd go down one hallway, and there'd be 2-3 branches off it and you'd have to go back and explore them, and then they'd have tunnels, and the tunnels would have splits... Luckily I have a light on my keychain, otherwise we would have been totally blind. One tiny downside, is that I was having so much fun exploring and making sure we got to every corner and tunnel, that I didn't take as many pictures as I did of other places. But I would definately reccommend going there. There's also a statue on the other side of the river that's of a girl who crashes ships. We didn't go across, but my super awesome 18x zoom camera got pictures. :D There's two other castles on the other side too that we didn't go to- one is Castle Cat and the other is Castle Mouse. After we were done with the castle, we went back to town and had dinner, then back to the hostel to plot some more and then went to bed.
Day 4: Monday, March 23 We woke up, and got a train to Mainz, where we had orgininally planned on staying for the night, but we realized that there wasn't a whole lot there to see, and that we could move on to Heidelberg instead and spend more time there. So we got to Mainz, and went to see a couple of churches. On the way, we walked through some Altstadt (Old City) and got some pretzels. We found this other church on a side street that was pretty shiny inside, but no pictures there because it actually had people in it praying and we weren't sure if we were allowed to take pictures, so we just looked around then walked out. There's a big red church that was ok, kind of plain and boring inside, but they did stained glass windows for all their bishops (i think) and you could tell when heraldry became popular in german churches because of the windows. I thought that was kinda cool. Then we went to another church that was supposed to have kick-ass stained glass, but it didn't really. It was pretty and all blue.. but not what we were led to believe. Most of what we did/went to see was out of Adam's guide book. We found many errors in it during our travels. After that we went to check on when the next train to Heidelberg was, and we still had a while, so we walked over to the Rhine and stuck our fingers in it to be able to say we were in the Rhine. We also bought a lot of pretzels. Every day. They were very tasty.
And I will put up more later maybe. I think I'm prolly not gonna do more than two days at a time, just to limit the length of the entries.
Since these take so long to type up and I want to try to not skip anything, I'm only going to do this a couple days at a time. It should also help to cut down on complaints about miles long entries with no spaces between stuff.
Little bit of background info to explain our reasoning: Jake's friend Adam had his spring break the first week of ours and he wanted to go to Germany, so we did Germany first. He also wanted to go to Rome with us, so we had to make Rome fit on a weekend. Everything else just kinda fell into place.
Day 1: Friday, March 20 Yay first day of travel. We started off with just clothes, toothbrushes, camera, phones, laptop, external harddrive, mp3 players and all the powercords and batteries associated with those electronics. All of that fit into my backpack and Jake's duffel-bag, both of which we carried on. But I'm getting ahead of myself. We had to get a bus to the train station, then a train to the Manchester Airport (hour and a half or so), then a plane to Germany (2 and a halfish hours), then a tran from the Cologne airport to the main train station, where we walked to our hostel. Adam had gotten there earlier in the day, so we met him there. We stayed at the Station Hostel, only a couple of blocks from the train station. Picked it because it was close and would be easy to find at night, since we landed at 11:10 and didn't get to the hostel until after 12. All in all, it was pretty uneventful. Getting through passport control in Germany was ridiculously easy, they just took our passports and stamped them, didn't ask any questions at all.
Day 2: Saturday, March 21 We woke up, had showers, locked our stuff in the lockers in the basement of the hostel, and set off to explore Cologne. First thing was the Dom, giant church right next to the train station. It had really impressive stained glass. After that, we wandered to a sculpture park that was farther down the Rhine, and looked at stuff there for a while. After that, we went to see the Roman Tower, the city wall, and an old city gate. Along the way we walked past a park that had a really awesome slide, so we stopped and played there for a while. They also had a zipline that Jake jumped on as soon as the little kids stopped playing on it. Then we went back to the hostel, got our stuff, went to the train station, and got a train to Koblenz. We hadn't made reservations for anywhere other than that first night in Cologne, but we knew how to get to hostels because Adam had a book for backpackers that reccommended hostels and how to get to them. The one that we had picked was one in a castle/fort. You have to take a bus from the train station, and then walk down a street a while and up a large hill/small mountain. So we finally get to the top, and the sun is just setting, so we got a bunch of pictures of that. Then we had to try and figure out where this hostel was supposed to be. After wandering all over it and finding a parking lot, we finally asked someone if they knew, the lady had a map and turns out that it was right by the entrance and that we had walked past it. We went in the gift shop to get our own map (since we were standing right outside it), and then went bak to where the hostel was, only to find that IT WAS CLOSED FOR RENEVATIONS. By now it was like 8 or 9, and we were on the top of a mountain and needed someplace to stay. We didn't know of any other hostels, so we started walking back to the train station and stopping at all the hotels along the way to ask them how much it would be. Finally found a place across the street from the train station that ended up being 105 euros for 2 rooms, split three ways it was a bit more than we wanted to pay, but it was the cheapest that we had found so far, and we were all tired of carrying our stuff around. For some reason, German hotels wouldn't let you put three people in one room, which is why we ended up getting 2 rooms. It was weird. Anyway, after dropping our stuff off, we set off to find some dinner, and ended up eating at an Itallian restaurant we had passed while hotel hunting. Eating there was weird since Jake spoke German to the guy, Adam ordered in Itallian, I did it in English, and the guy was all happy that Adam spoke Itallian. The other people in the restaurant spoke Spanish and spent like 10 minutes trying to get the Itallian guy to understand what kind of coffee they wanted after dinner. It was strange. Then we went back to the hotel, and went to sleep. That was the only time that we were really in trouble trying to find someplace to stay, with the possible exception of Zermatt, but I'll get to that eventually.
That's enough for now I think. My goal is to try and have all the write-ups done by the time classes start next Monday. I think that's feasable. Pictures will hopefully start going up next... Tuesday? Not sure.
In other news! Jake's mom will be coming to visit us, but we have no idea what we're doing while she's up. Belinda is coming to visit too, but we have no idea when we're doing stuff with her since it depends on when finals are. My family is coming, but don't know when.
Instead of talking about everything one day at a time, I might talk about themes instead. Like churches and castles and mountains. Maybe. I don't think that'd be very thorough though. But, there is one topic I would like to talk about now, and that is the delicious foods that were discovered.
For starters: Pretzels Germany (Rhine Valley in particular) is crazy about pretzels. You can hardly go a block without running into a bakery. And at these bakeries they sell pretzels in like a million different shapes. There are your typical pretzel shaped pretzels, there are broetchens which are basically little rolls made out of pretzel bread, there are braids, there are sticks, there are knots.... and when you get into other countries they do different things. Switzerland had rings of pretzels made from six broetchens stuck together. Munich only really had pretzels cut in half with butter in the middle; I didn't try one of those however. One tiny problem too, is that every where uses a different recipie. I think the best pretzels came from the Rhine Valley, but the ones in Switzerland were much softer. So if you are ever in Germany, i definately reccommend that you stop by a baeckerei and get some sort of pretzel. Broetchens have more soft inside than the rest, with the one exception of the giant braids you can get in Freiburg at this one place about two blocks from the train station.
Next: Lasagna I know you can get this in the US, and I know that you can get it at any Itallian restaurant you go to anywhere in the world. But that doesn't change the fact that it is still very very tasty. What's weird is that I had the worst lasagna ever at this place in Rome a couple blocks fom the Vatican. You'd think that in Italy they'd know how to make it. But I'm sure you've all had it before. It's tasty.
Alcohol: Limoncello / Limoncino / Limonce Oh. My. God. Know how I had thought I found my alcohol? And that that alcohol was whisky? I was so, so wrong. I am definately one for the fruity stuff. I had heard of Limoncello before, and knew that they had it in Italy, but I didn't really actively search it out for the first couple days in Italy. Then Jake decided he wanted to try it, and I had a sip. It is TASTY. It's basically really good lemonade, but with that nice warming feeling at the end. Also, I just spent the last hour looking up how to make it, and soon as it's legal, I'm going to try. So we got a bottle and went through it while we were in Switzerland. So, so, tasty. And for those of you concerned about alcohol consumption, it's typically served as a doubleshot after dinner. Along with expresso, but I'm not huge on coffee, and alcohol at restaurants is expensive, so I only got it once at a restaurant.
Also, while we were in Innsbruck, there was a liquor store (looking at the golden roof, turn right, halfway down that block on the left) that would let you sample as many of their liquors as you wanted, they had probably 100 flavors in these funky glass.... bottle/keg things. I tried some peach stuff there and it was pretty tasty too. But the tasting of it and Lemoncello was too far apart for me to know which one I like best, and I haven't gotten into the bottle I bought of it yet to know. But it was tasty too. :)
Dessert: Gelato Yeah, gelato is in the US and the rest of the world too, but it's tasty. And cheap. And tasty. Favorite was by far Peach Brandy at a place in Pisa. Stracciatella was good too, so were the chocolates and creams and caramel and mint and whatever other flavors I tried that I don't really remember right now.
And now you know what the best foods I had were. Also, since I'm probably not going to be talking about food when I do my huge writeup, I'll go on and let y'all know about some weird European food things.
For example, they will not give you tap water. Anywhere. Exept for one Itallian restaurant in Luzern. And that not-tap-water costs anywhere from 3 to 5 euros for anywhere from .5 liters to 1.5 liters. You also have to pay like 4-5 euros for a half liter of soda, and beer... well I don't like it so I never ordered it, but it was only a bit more expensive than soda. Also, most meals are in the range of 7-10 euros at the cheaper restaurants. If you're in Germany and if you are one of the three of us, then go to empty restaurants and they will be tasty. If you are one of the three of us and in Italy, don't go to the empty restaurants no matter how tired your feet are. They will not be tasty.
Also, Munich has fun dumpling type things. The potato ones are fun to play with. Hehe. Kartoffelknoedel. The word is even fun to play with.
And the Swiss are kinda sick. They sell horse meat in their grocery stores. No, we didn't try any.
I think that's about it for food generalizations. Might write more occasionally when I do the detailed writeups.
As you can tell from the title of this post, I am back from Europe. So is Jake. Adam is still there because he lives there. Currently, I am laying in bed enjoying the feeling of having as much free (ok, not free, but I already paid for it, so it feels like it's free) internet as I want, and typing on a keyboard where I actually know how to make the @ sign and the z and y aren't switched. Europe has some pretty weird keyboards. And now, you are all like, WE WANT TO KNOW EVERYTHING! EVERYTHING! And I'm all, no. For starters, the paper that has where I went when is downstairs in my backpack somewhere and my brain doesn't want to think right now. And I'm sure you'd want an accurate recounting of the adventure instead of a half-awake Amanda re-telling. (Jake interjects that we went to the moon, which was made of cheese, where we hibernated. See what I'm talking about?) So, you will have to wait until I get ouf of bed again, or tomorrow or the next day. And now you're saying, ok, fine, no blog, we didn't want to read 30 pages of stories anyway, we really just want to see your pictures. Well, you can't have those either. Why? Because I haven't even had a chance to look at them yet myself, and there are well over 3000, probably over 4000, I really have no idea. But I suppose I can give you a breif overview of the trip.
For a country that is supposed to be rainy 360 days a year, England has been surprisingly dry. We figured out why when we got to Germany. Germany is stealing the rain. I think that exceps for maybe two days, it rained every day we were in Germany. We were in Germany for 9 days. It's a good thing I decided to bring my raincoat to Europe instead of leaving it in England. It is super water repellant. My shoes however, were not. I changed socks 283984 times. Also, good thing I brought wool socks. They are drier than regular socks. Apart from the rain, Germany was cool. We went in a bunch of castles, almost slept in one, but the hostel there was closed for renevations. It would be our luck that it would be the one castle you have to walk up a mountain to get to. We stayed in a hotel that night... that's a fun story, I'll wait and tell it in more detail later. Germany was pretty cool though, really. They make tasty tasty pretzels, which we had for breakfast almost every day. Germany was also fairly cheap. A pretzel was like 50 euro cents, which is like maybe 75 US cents. I think the best part of Germany was probably the Black Forest. It was pretty and they had cuku/cookoo/i have no idea how to spell it in english clocks (kuckucksuhren). I bought one... on day 7 out of 23 days. Also bought a bunch of other stuff in Germany. Ended up needing to buy a suitcase to get everything back to England, which I was planning on doing anyway. But more on the suitcase later. After Germany, Adam went back to Italy for classes, and Jake and I went to Austria for a couple of days. It finally stopped raining, and we got to go to the zoo and wander around and stuff. Then Italy, where it rained again.... And then, even though it was supposed to rain in Rome, it miracously didn't, and it was sunny and warm and perfect. Thanks pope! We got to see the pope church and pope museum and walked by the pope castle. Also went in a bunch of old places. I think Rome might have been my favorite part, not sure yet, I gotta think about it some more. Then up to Switzerland, which was expensive. Then back to Italy to fly back to England. Worst thing that happened on the trip was that I fell asleep on one of the trains, and when I got woken up because the train was stopping, I wasn't awake enough to remember to hold on to my mp3 player, so it fell and the harddrive got cracked. Then a couple days later Jake lost his, unless it's somewhere burried in the luggage, but I'm pretty sure it isn't since I've unpacked an repacked everything a couple times since then. So we both pretty much need new mp3 players, although I'm going to try and see if there's any way I can get mine repaired, otherwise I might get a cheap flash one for now and then get an ipod this summer.... dunno. I think ipods are the only things with enough space for all my music... but I'll be doing some research on that. Also, no one broke in and stole our laptops! Yay for that! And I think I might finally get up so I can go find food somewhere. Yay for coming back on Easter when everythings going to be closed. >.<
Just thought I'd let everyone know I'm still alive and having fun and blowing through slightly ridiculous amounts of cash, but hey, you only get to go through Europe once while you're in college, right? And that's what I saved it for anyway, so that makes it perfectly ok. :D For all you stalkers out there, you aren't gonna find me if you go looking in Innsbruck or Triburg, I just want to let you know that. But hey, I could be in any of a million different cities, so why try and find me? Heh, anyway.... We've seen a ton of stuff, and I would just like to let everyone know that my camera is AMAZING. You may have noticed this from the pictures it's taken before that I have already put on the internet from England places. I haven't even seen them all full size yet because I don't have a monitor big enough since I use Jake's mini-laptop to transfer them, but they will be absolutely amazing. At least, the ones taken when it wasn't raining will be. It has rained for the majority of this trip. It sucks. It's a damn good thing my rain coat is so waterproof and that I decided to bring it to Europe instead of leaving it in England. I just wish I had worn my rain boots instead of sneakers. (Yes, mom and dad, this is the part where you say I told you so. But I still wouldn't want to be wearing just hiking boots every single day, those are heavy.) Anyway, hopefully the next week will be nicer. And this is all you guys get for now, because it's like midnight here and I'm getting up at 7 tomorrow morning.
So, we're almost ready to leave. Plane leaves at 20:35ish from Manchester, we have to be there 2 hours ahead of that, and it takes 75 minutes to get there. We're going to try and catch the 16:55 train, which means we need to leave here in a little over an hour. Hopefully we have everything we can possibly need for the next 3 weeks..... Yeah.... That's it really, I don't have much else to say. Actually, we should prolly go clean the kitchen so it isn't uber nasty when we get back. Yup. So here's a completely useless entry!
Alright, so we finally have a schedule of where we're going for the next *insert number here* days! And you don't get to know what order we did things until afterwards! Woo! So, here are the cities, in alphabetical order! (You can guess the country! That makes it harder to find me! Bwa-ha-ha!)
Yay! I just realized every sentence so far ends in an exclamation point, and I do not want to ruin this trend! Ok, maybe I do. So yeah. Internet will only happen when there is internet at hostels or on trains, unless we decide to bring a dongle and see if it works somewhere. What does that mean for you oh faithful followers of this blog? Basically, don't check it more than once a week. I'm bringing a notebook to write stuff down in, so I won't forget things, it's just that it won't necessarialy get typed up every night. And as for pictures, those will slowly trickle in over the course of the month and a half left after we get back. They'll go up whenever I have time/feel like it, and considering there's an essay due 3 weeks after we get back, there probably won't be a lot going up at first. But, I promise you that I will have all the pictures up by the end of the summer! And now I have to go purchase a return ticket so I'm not stuck on the continent for forever.
Might put up another entry before we leave, dunno.