Friday, October 30, 2009

Changing Plans

Scratch all the maybe business. I am going home December 9. :-D

I will save about $600 by coming home early and that's about how much it'll cost me to fly back someday. So, really it's a wash. I am happy with my decision.

Now I get to be home for my birthday, Eddie's birthday, and for sure for Christmas (even if there are flight delays)!


I saw David today. He is pretty cool and very big! I paid extra to buy my tickets a few weeks ago so that I wouldn't risk missing him again as my parents and I did three years ago. Unfortunately it was a waste of money to buy them in advance and pay the extra bit since there was absolultely no line when I went this morning at 10 for my 10:30 appointment. *sigh* Oh well, as Eddie said, I would have been more disappointed had I not gotten to see him again. It's just too bad I don't know the future all the time, it would definitely help me make my decisions now. :)

I spent about an hour at the Academia and then wandered around Florence some more. It's kind of what I have been doing for the last few days. Meandering and wandering. Yesterday I went on a walking tour and then climbed the Duamo. Again, it's too bad I can't tell the future because the weather was much better today, but oh well. I still got some fun shots yesterday. I bought a few souvenirs at the street market yesterday and then spent the evening back at my hostel. This place has been great. As I mentioned they provide free breakfast and dinner and it's fairly tasty. :) My first night I had pizza (Dad's is better) and last night I had spaghetti. I've been having bacon and eggs each morning with orange juice. I am quite a fan.

I also went to the street markets again today. I bought myself a loaf of bread and a pastry as well as some souvenirs/gifts. I am now back at the hostel waiting for the lock-out period to be over (in 45 minutes) so that I can go back to my room and retrieve the rest of my souvenirs and gifts to mail back home so I don't have to tote them through Greece. Tonight one of the girls from my room and I are going to go out and venture around the city after dark. It will be fun to have some night shots of town and it'll be good to be out with someone and not alone.

Tomorrow I take the train to Ancona where I will try to find the ferry terminal to catch an overnight ferry to Greece. Hopefully everything will work out. Worst case there are hostels in Ancona that I can crash at for the night and attempt the ferry on Sunday. I love adventures. I am anticipating an "active" crowd on the ferry as it will be Halloween night. I am not planning to do anything special. I'll save all of my creativity for next year and the years to come.

My last bit of news is that I am contemplating changing my flight home and returning two weeks early. There are a few reasons for this:
1. Everyone I tell that I will be in England/Scotland/Ireland in December looks at me like I'm a crazy person.
2. All the weather information I can find for these countries at that time of the year say how wet and cold and windy it is.
3. Most of the things I want to do involve being outside and walking around and all that jazz.
4. Flights to and from Dublin are not that expensive from Seattle - so I will definitely go back some day.
5. I'm tired and someone put the possibility into my head and now I can't let it go.
6. I'd get to be home for Eddie's and my birthdays.
7. I'd be able to go to Vegas with Eddie for one of his family's celebrations.
8. If my flight is delayed by a few days I wont miss Christmas.

I'm having a lot of trouble making the decision because I am stubborn and don't want to "quit" my trip. I feel like I need to stick it out. But I find myself wondering what the point of my trip is if I can't make my own decisions and do what I want to do. I planned my trip and it is my trip so I should be able to adjust it if I want to, right? Ugh ... I'm a very complicated person. I will probably make my decision in the next day or two, so I will keep you posted as to what I decide - of course.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Islands and Water Busses

Yesterday I explored the islands of Lido and Murano. Lido is the "beach" island of Venice so I found the public beach area and took some pictures. The seashells there were incredible and I enjoyed just picking through them. I also found a little pool of water where there were "alive" shells walking around (AKA crabs or whatever little creatures that inhabit seashells). I happened to video one of them changing his shell. It's posted on facebook and is a pretty cool little video, if I do say so myself.

After Lido I went back into Venice and took the water bus through the grand canal. I stopped a few times to take pictures and see a few things, but I had fun on the buses. I then took the water bus over to Murano, the island where they do the glass art. I had been there a couple of years ago with my parents, but it was fun to go back. I was even able to find a building that I had taken a picture of then (that I love) and took another picture. Hehehe ... I'm such a dork sometimes.

Today I am off to Florence. I am looking forward to my hostel there as they not only provide free breakfast but also dinner! Wahoo! I also will be seeing David on the 30th. Florence here I come!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Back to Venice

Well, I slept well last night and woke up this morning quite refreshed. I had a chance to talk to Eddie in the AM and then headed out for my day around 9:45. My hostel is in what I call "fake" Venice. It's the part of Venice that is not the island, where cars abound. I am near the main train station - which is not the station on the island like I thought. Anyway, I took the bus to the main station this morning and walked around all day. It was great.

The grocery stores were not open yesterday since it was Sunday, so all I had to eat for dinner and then breakfast this morning was one apple, some rice cakes that I bought at the train station, and strawberry jam. What a feast. ;) When I got into "real" Venice today one of the first places I stopped was a bakery and a fruit stand. I bought two fresh rolls (so good!) some apples (also yummy) and then went to a little market to buy some cheese. I don't know what it is about European fruit, but it's way better than anything I have eaten in the states - and I've had some good Washington apples.

I ventured around town all day and have two blisters to prove it. It was quite nice out though, the sun was shining and I was even hot in the sunlight. It was nice enough that I could wear sandals and capris. I did wear my jacket most of the day, but not zipped up all the way like I usually do. It was quite nice actually. It definitely does not feel like the end of October here. I am hopeful that the good weather will stick around in Italy and in Greece and that I wont have to really experience winter until I get to France in the last month of my trip.

There are pictures posted on facebook from my day, as well as a new video (it's currently still uploading). I have put a link to album #7 on the right side of the screen so hopefully those of you not on facebook can still access the photos. Well, I am off - lots of love sent your way from Venice. Have a wonderful last week of October everyone!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Cinque Terre

The last two days have gone by rather quickly. I attribute this to good company and beautiful landscape. My time in Cinque Terre was simply fantastic and it is easy to see why people recommend this location with such fervor. The beauty and splendor of the Mediterranean and the cliffs of the towns put me in awe the entire time I was there. My hostel was interesting, to say the least, but the girls I shared the room with were fantastic and we all got along very well. I ended up hiking the trail from Riomaggiore to Monterosso (through all of the towns, including Manarola, Corniglia, and Vernazza) with one of the girls, Jessica. The two others had started out on the trail about an hour before us on their own.

The trail was 9km and was supposed to take about 5 hours. Jessica and I hiked it in about 6, but that included all of our stops to take pictures, explore a few of the towns, to rest, and to eat lunch. I think we made pretty good time considering all that we stopped for. Our roommates were crazy ambitions and only took about 3.5 hours to do the whole trail and then they stopped at the final town for lunch before hiking back. Jessica and I took the train back to our town instead of hiking back. The weather was hot and then that mixed with hiking we were definitely sweltering and ready to be done walking once we reached Monterosso.

I filled my memory card with pictures and video yesterday. Everything was so beautiful I had to really focus on not taking pictures of every little thing over and over again. We’d leave a town and take a picture and then climb to the next cliff and take another picture of the town. I think I have 4 pictures of the same town from almost the same angle, just different clearings along the trail. It was just so pretty! I am very glad that the weather was good yesterday and that the trail was open, as it hadn’t been open on the day I arrived to town.

While we stopped for lunch Jessica convinced me to try some focaccia bread, explaining that the Cinque Terre region is known for the fococcia as well as pesto. It truly is amazing and wonderful. I highly recommend it. I ended up buying a focaccia type pizza for lunch and then last night bought another large piece of the bread to take on the train with me this morning. I’ve only been on the train for 45 minutes and the bread is already gone. It truly is delicious. Last night the four of us roommates made dinner together. We had some special Cinque Terre pasta with fresh pesto, tomatoes, and broccoli. We also had bread with pesto and tomatoes and of course some vino. I am a fan of Italy.

My travels continue today as I am on the train on my way to Venice and will be there for three nights. I am looking forward to being in a city that I know a little bit about (from being there three years ago). The girls in my room had all just come from Venice and so they gave me a map, some tourist information, a transportation discount card, and a museum pass that they no longer needed. It was quite the hook up and I am quite thankful. I love it when things work out well like that. I am planning to spend some time in the old Jewish ghetto and go to Lido – both things my parents and I did not have time to do when we were in Venice before. I will probably also find time to visit a few museums as well.

I am hopeful that I will get some good sleep in Venice as I did not sleep well the last two nights. I also need to get some laundry washed and make some travel arrangements for the coming week. I am planning to spend tonight taking care of all that business and hitting the city first thing in the morning. It should be a wonderful three days followed by three more in Florence. Then I’m off to Greece! I will be posting pictures and videos tonight, so please enjoy them!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Death Stairs

The stairs leading to my apartment/room at this hostel have affectionately been named the death stairs by my roommates and I. I will have to take some pictures, although they don't look as bad as they actually are when you are on them. At first glance, I thought no problem, but after climbing up and down a few times I refuse to climb without holding onto the railing. They're quite ridiculous.

My roommates are pretty cool people who I enjoy. One is from Hawaii and the two others are from Australia. there is fifth girl from Connecticut but she hasn't really talked much to us yet. The four of us (minus the Connecticut girl) all ate dinner together last night and went out for a drink. Tonight we are planning to have a "dinner party" and all contribute a thing or two. It should be fun. I do think that I will opt out of going out tonight if they go. The bar wasn't that exciting AND not really worth the 4 euro for a drink when I can buy an entire bottle of wine for 2 euro at the store. Hmm ...

The weather is looking good this morning so I am hopeful that the trail will be open and I can go on the four hour hike through all five cities. I will probably catch the train back to town if I did as hiking four hours back doesn't sound extremely appealing at the moment, but we'll see. :) I guess I am off! Tomorrow my train is at 9:42 so I should be posting at least one more update before I leave, although I have a feeling pictures will not be up until I get to Venice. Ciao!

Friday, October 23, 2009


I am in Cinque Terre, in the town of Riomaggiore, which is at one end of the five towns. My hostel room is actually an apartment that I am sharing with a few other girls and let's just say that it's quite "authentic." Authentic to what I don't quite know, but it's nothing like any hostel I've stayed in so far. There are three flights of steep cement steps to climb and then six beds set-up throughout the apartment. The kitchen and bathroom are functional so that's all that really matters. The free washing that they advertised is not available though because the machine is broken. :( I guess that means I will be hand washing my socks again tonight. The best part is that the internet is free but you have to go down the street and sit in front of a Pizzaria and borrow the wi-fi. So amazing.

It has been raining here quite a bit so parts of the trail through the five towns are closed and only one 20 minute section is open. If the trail is still closed tomorrow I will probably take the train from town to town and just explore each one. Maybe (say a little prayer) the trails will be open and I'll be able to enjoy the view along the path instead of from each town. I'll let you know what happens tomorrow as I sit in the street writing my update.

The rest of this blog was written on the train on my way to town today. It's a bit long as I had a LONG train ride. :)

My failure of the day is that I left food in the fridge of my last hostel. Unfortunately it’s not the first time I have done this, however it is the first time I have left a significant quantity of food. I left the $10 block of cheese that I splurged and bought yesterday as well as a bell pepper and some cream cheese that I was going to enjoy for lunch today. :( Lame. I’m a bit disappointed with myself, but I will survive. It’s just $10 right?

I am on my train heading to Cinque Terre. I’m on the second of four trains that I will need to take. The first took me from Bern to Brig, this one is taking me from Brig to Milan, the third from Milan to La Spezia, and finally a seven minute train from La Spezia to Riomaggiore. Riomaggiore is the town that I will be staying in for two nights while I explore Cinque Terre. I am excited about the hostel there as it is supposed to have free laundry facilities, which I need at the moment.

On Sunday I will leave Cinque Terre and go to Venice. I will stay in Venice for three nights and on Wednesday head to Florence for three nights. After Florence I am off to Greece by ferry. I think I will have to stay one night in the town of Ancona, where the ferry leaves from, but that shouldn’t be too terrible. In Greece I will visit a few towns in the northern area before I go to Istanbul for a few days. After Istanbul I will explore some Greek islands and then move on to the Peloponnese area of Greece and then fly from Athens to Lyon, France on November 25. I will spend two nights in Lyon and then on the 27th train to Paris where I will meet up with Eddie for a week.

I’m quite excited about the next phase of my trip. I have heard nothing but good things about the Cinque Terre area and I already know that I love Venice and Florence. I am excited to return to these cities. It will be a much cooler trip compared to when I was last there in July of 2006 and the temperature was in the high 90’s (Fahrenheit). I have my ticket to go see the statue of David in Florence, which I am quite excited about as well. Then after Italy I get to head to Greece, the whole reason for my trip in the first place. I am hopeful that I will not be disappointed, though it is possible that I will be. I have wanted to visit this country since elementary school and even though I was there for a brief time in 2006, it did not satisfy my desire. So I am returning – hopefully it will be everything I have imagined it to be.

After Greece of course I am excited to see Eddie in Paris. I am also looking forward to going to the Louvre and climbing the Eiffel Tower and all that. After France I am in the home stretch of my trip and just have England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, and the Republic of Ireland left. It’ll be a whirlwind of three weeks that will probably be cold and wet but I am excited for these countries as well and am anxious to be in an English speaking place.

It’s hard to believe that I started my journey almost two months ago and that I will be home in two months. I’m on day 60 of my 121 day trip and while the time has gone by fast, this day has also taken plenty of time to get here. It’s funny to me how much I longed for this trip and didn’t believe the day would ever arrive when I would be on it. Now that I am on this adventure it feels like I will be forever traveling and it will never end. Obviously, I know that’s not the case, but there is a part of me that is looking forward to December 23 and a part of me that is dreading the day.

I’m ready to be home in so many ways, but I’m not done with my adventure yet and I know that once I get back home and I look back on my trip it will seem like a brief moment of time that flashed before my eyes. I don’t want to say that I wish I was traveling longer, because I don’t. I think four months is a good period of time for many reasons, but I am sure that come January I will be ready to travel again – just maybe not for such a long period of time and probably not by myself.

In all honesty, I AM loving my trip. I know it probably sounds like I complain a lot, but I know I am seeing things and experiencing things daily that I will never again have the opportunity to. The weight of traveling has just gotten to me in a way that I didn’t anticipate that it would. I was worried about my bag being too heavy, about being lost and confused in each city, and the possibility of feeling threatened or unsafe. So far those have not been real struggles. It’s the comforts of home that I miss, like sleeping in my own bed, being able to do laundry whenever I like, and buying food and not having to think about if I can find a way to cook it and store any leftovers. I do miss friends and family, but the internet helps with that to some extent. Skype, IM, and e-mail are great tools that I am extremely thankful for.

While I am excited for life beyond traveling, I am a little nervous too. I know that I will have about two weeks to catch my breath and enjoy the holidays before I need to start looking for a new job and figuring out what the next step in my life is going to be. At the moment everything is up in the air. I may go back to Seattle, or I may move elsewhere. I am not committed to working in any particular field so the opportunities are fairly wide open to me, but sometimes that makes it harder. I am sure it will all work out and I am trying not to let myself think about that until I get home and have to.

Right now I am on the train going across the Swiss/Italian border and it is beautiful. The hills and mountains and country side are fantastic. We just passed a little village that looks like it was abandoned awhile ago, but the little cottages are so cute and at the same time beautifully old. I wish there was a way to capture everything that I have seen and will see but I know there are moments that I will forget to share and may even forget about myself until I am reminded by something completely random at a later date, if at all. There is just too much to see and do and share.

It has been a grand first half of the adventure for sure. I am sure the second half will be just as great, if not better.

Thursday, October 22, 2009


I spent the last two nights in Zurich and loved the city and my couch surfing host. The only thing that I did not enjoy was the cost of being there! In order to save money, I was there I purchased a 24 hour Zurich card which gave me unlimited travel on the public transportation system and free entry to several museums. I definitely got my money's worth out of it. I used the transportation system at least 4 times (which would have cost over $10 alone), went to two museums (which would have been about $15), and went on a 90 boat cruise through Lake Zurich (not sure how much that would have cost). Ok, the boat cruise wasn't really a "cruise" but more of a passenger ferry, but the promote it as a cruise and 98% of the people on the boat were just taking a trip around the lake, not getting on or off.

I loved my days in Zurich and was sad to go. One reason was that I really enjoyed getting to know my host, Katinka. She was a lot of fun and we stayed up late chatting both nights I was there. I also discovered a new kind of tea that may just be my favorite. It's Lipton's Moroccan Infusion (or something like that). Eddie looked it up on the Lipton website for me and it looks like they don't sell it in the US, so I am going to stock up and send myself boxes so that I will have it in the future. :) If any of you find it in the stores there please let me know as it'll save me the trouble (and cost) of shipping it over. Below is a picture of the box, in case you need a visual to help you out. :)

I left Zurich around noon today and arrived in Bern at 1:30. I checked into my hostel and was out in the city by 2 wandering around! I had a wonderful day in Bern as well and really enjoyed the old town. The city is named after a bear that the founder killed back in the day (Bern, bear, get it?) so there are bears everywhere. They even have a Bear Park where they have bears held captive and on display - like a zoo. They also have a lot of fountains everywhere. I am not quite sure why, but I took pictures of almost all of them and they are up in my album on facebook.

When I arrived to town I thought I needed cash, so I pulled a bit out from the ATM. Well I pulled out about $20 more than I needed and since tomorrow I leave Switzerland I got to spend $20 a little bit recklessly today. It was fun. Granted I didn't really go "wild" as I bought a new pen (my old one is dying), a pencil (so I can do my Sudoku puzzles), some groceries, postcards, and stamps. My big splurge was to buy some cheese from a street vendor. It's not Swiss cheese in the way that it tastes, but it is cheese from Switzerland. :) Yum.

Tomorrow I head to Italy and enter my seventh country of the trip. Tomorrow will be two months until I am home and is the halfway point in my trip. I have a 7 or 8 hour train ride tomorrow so I will make use of my time to write during that time about my halfway point and update you all on my schedule and plan for the next few weeks. :) I am finishing uploading a few new videos at the moment, but new pictures are up already, so please look at them! I am going to try and post links to all of my albums on the right sidebar of the blog so you'll be able to easily access them there, but I need to figure out how to do it still. :) Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


Today I move on to country number six, Switzerland. I have spent the last three nights in Salzburg, the home of The Sound of Music (hence the title of my last post - I guess I didn't explain that very well). The hostel I stayed at played the film every night at 8pm. I never actually sat down and watched it, but definitely heard bits and pieces and had songs stuck in my head the next day because of it though. I liked Salzburg. It was a fun little town (that wasn’t so little actually) and was sad to leave today – especially when I walked outside and saw how nice it was and how crisp and amazing the Alps looked. My consolation was that I am heading to Switzerland where I will continue to see the mountains.

In Salzburg I visited several sights. I went to the big fortress on top of the old town. I walked up to it and then took a little tram like thing down. I also tried to visit a monastery. The site was on my tourist map and it had open hours, so I went and knocked on the door. A monk answered and explained to me that the site was not open to visitors but I was welcome to tour the church on site. Oops! I also got to have some Austrian apple strudel and bought some souvenirs. I also found a reasonably priced charm for my charm bracelet for the first time since Munich.

My trip is steadily moving on and it’s weird to think that I’m almost half way through. I have very mixed emotions about the whole thing and they seem to change daily. My journey (as always) seems to be ever changing. I had planned to make Milan my first stop in Italy (after Switzerland) but I am unable to get tickets to see The Last Supper painting, my reason for going to Milan, so I have decided not to go. I will instead spend an extra day in Venice and an extra day in Florence, which I am quite excited about as they are both cities that I love.

I will spend a total of three nights in Switzerland (two in Zurich and one in Bern) – it’ll be a quick trip, but I think it’ll be the right amount of time. Switzerland is expensive and I would prefer not to spend the extra money. I will be staying with a couch surfing host in Zurich, but will be in a hostel in Bern. I will keep you all posted, of course, as to how things pan out.

I posted pictures of Salzburg, it’s my sixth album on facebook. There are so many pictures to put up, I am impressed that some of you are able to keep up! At the rate I’m going I think I will be somewhere between 12 and 15 albums by December. Goodness that is a lot! I also discovered how to upload videos and that has been my new thing to do. Some of you have found them on facebook and some have said that they’ve had trouble. I discovered that I had the video link hidden, but I’ve made it visible now so you should be able to find it.

Well, I think that’s about it for now. I am sure there are more things that have happened but my mind is a t a bit of a loss at the moment. I’m happy just sitting here being mesmerized by the Alps. I can’t imagine people waking up to these mountains every day of their lives. I am jealous – they are beautiful! I always laughed when I saw pictures of them because they looked fake, like someone had digitally created them, but the truth is that is how they look, but ten times more majestic and beautiful. God knew what he was doing when he put them together, that’s for sure.

Monday, October 19, 2009

A Few Of My Favorite Things

I am feeling better and while I still miss home, I can feel myself moving through my "funk."

Today was a crisp day here in Salzburg. The weather cleared up a bit - enough for me to see the mountains - and I enjoyed being outdoors, though it was still rather cold.

I will write more details tomorrow (as I have an almost 6 hour train ride to occupy myself during) but one of my favorite things about today was the fact that I had appelstrudel in a little cafe/restaurant today. I suspect it was frozen and thawed, but it was delicious none-the-less and it along with the cup of tea I had was only 3.50 euro, not bad.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Mind Funk

I hate to admit it (because I am quite stubborn) but I am tired. I am tired of living out of a bag. I am tired of seeing church after church and climbing tour after tower. There are so many castles and bridges and pieces of artwork that "you just have to see" and it's all a bit overwhelming. The fall/winter transition season is my most favorite because I love getting the changing of leaves, the sound of rain while curled up on the couch in my pj's drinking peppermint hot chocolate. I love the cold on my nose and how it feels when I scrunch it and it feels like it is taking forever to return to its normal look (even though it doesn't take nearly as long as it feels). I love anxiously awaiting Thanksgiving so that the next day I can start listening to Christmas music, and I LOVE when it is finally December, my most favorite month ever.

I am like a little kid when it comes to snow. I love waking up to it on the ground and for the last 20 years of my life have anxiously watched the news to see if school/work will be canceled for the day. I love all the Christmas lights and the other decorations and I love that my birthday is just 12 days before the big celebration. I love everything about the seasonal change and as it nears the middle of October I realize more and more how much I miss being in the comfort of my own home, my own place, with the ability to come and go as I please, sleep soundly in the privacy of my own room, and be as loud or as quiet as I want. I miss driving in my car with the music blasting and being able to sing at the top of my lungs and not worry about who can hear me.

I am thankful that I already have my ticket home and that I am so "cheap" that I would not want to waste the $400 ticket otherwise I am sure that I would seriously consider returning home early. It's not that I'm not enjoying my time, it's just that after awhile, things start to feel the same. I'm in different cities, but they're all becoming a bit of a blur. It's feelings like this that allow me to see how I really tick and function. I miss my friends and family and have realized that I need them around me in order to feel at home. I need to be able to tell people about my day and express my thoughts and feelings in order to feel like I accomplished something. I am so thankful for the internet and my ability to skype and IM and FB chat with friends and family.

Like I said, it's not all bad. I am enjoying myself. I am just tired of having to think 5 steps ahead. I'm tired of thinking about where I will stay and how to keep costs down and when and where to buy train or tram tickets. I am tired of not being able to read any of the labels at the grocery store and stressed that I'm doing something wrong and the clerk will yell at me (again - it's already happened twice). I don't want to look like an idiot and at home I know my way around. I just miss the familiarity and having a base to unwind and someone else to help carry the load.

With all that said, I spent to day trying to recuperate. I caught up on a few TV shows, went to the post office and mailed another package home, bough my train ticket to Zurich (with a stop in Salzburg), talked to Eddie, my mom, and my friend Shera, ate pasta, and drank wine. It was a good day. I'm feeling a little more refreshed and like I might be a bit closer to getting out of my funk. I feel ready to get on the train tomorrow and head into the town where "the hills are alive with the sound of music." (Yes, Salzburg is where the Sound of Music is based.) I will spend two nights there, then head to Zurich for two nights, and then to Bern for two nights. From Bern I will go to Milan and thus begin my southern European dip to Italy and Greece. I can't believe I am already at this point!

Now, for two funny stories and a sad one, and then I will stop my rambling.

First, I forgot to mention that during my tour of the Jewish Synagogue here in Vienna, the tour guide was explaining the stars in the ceiling of the temple and why they were there. This is in reference to God telling Abraham that his descendants would be as many as the stars in the heaven. Well as she explained, she literally said, "Abraham had produced no fruit from his loins." I had to hold back my chuckle because yes, that is the way it is written in scripture, but I don't think I've ever heard someone legitimately and so seriously say that phrase.

Second, today when I was buying my train ticket to Salzburg and then to Zurich I asked the agent if I could apply for the Austrian discount card which would save me $50 in the end. She said she technically could not since I didn't have a European address but then followed with, "I wont tell if you wont tell." So funny. I am thankful for the little wins God gives me in my life.

The sad story is about yesterday and how on my way home from the Belvedere museum I got lost. I walked around district 10 (which is somewhere south of district 5 where I needed to be) for about an 45 minutes before I finally asked someone where I needed to be. The lady I asked (who didn't speak English and I could just say "Westbahnhof" and point in the direction I thought the train station was) pointed me in almost the opposite direction from where I was heading. After about another 30 minutes of walking I finally found a tram station and decided to give in and take it back to the station (I decided the $2.50 was worth it in stead of walking for another hour hoping I wouldn't get lost again). It was a tiring day to say the least.

I have one more week until I am officially at my halfway mark. I am determined to not let my mind funk get the better of me. I know that looking back on the trip I will regret not making the most of my experience, but it is hard in the moment. Every day is a challenge and I can't help but wonder what else I am going to learn about myself on this trip. There is so much time left, unless of course Switzerland turns me into a pop-sickle.

Thursday, October 15, 2009


Vienna is cold. Very, very cold. I was talking to my friend who lives here and he was explaining that it feels even colder because of how the city is built, in rings. So the wind tends to pick up in the streets and swirl through the city. Yesterday when I was at the Schonbrunn Palace I took my gloves off for maybe 3 minutes and by the time I put them back on I thought my fingers were going to fall off and they dryer than dry. I have had to invest in some strong hand cream for fear that my skin will peel off.

Today it is snowing. I have a feeling that my shoes are not going to do so well in the snow and that my few layers of clothing will not keep me very warm. I'm just going to have to walk fast and hope that the body heat will do the trick. Fortunately I shouldn't be outside too much today. I am planning to go to two big museums as well as tour a synagogue, so hopefully the only outside time I will have will be walking between places and back to my hostel.

The last few days in Vienna have been full of mixed feelings. Tuesday was not the best day. I felt like there were a series of things that happened that just caused extreme frustration. First it was extremely cold which I had not anticipated. I ended up buying a scarf from the euro store. I was also a little disappointed with the St. Stephen's Church. I climbed the tower (and paid 3.50 Euro) only to discover a souvenir shop at the top with a few small windows to look out. No 360 view for me there. I was a bit upset. On the way down the tower my sunglasses broke (they had been in my bag) which was also frustrating. I was just very cold and tired and a bit cranky. Not a good day.

Yesterday was a bit better, but I had to will myself out of bed. I went to the Schonbrunn Palace, which was about a 35 minute walk the other direction from town. I liked the palace. It was very beautiful and the audio guide that was included with the price of admission was informative. The gardens were also very beautiful - the only negative thing was that it was so cold and windy! I was glad to get back to my hostel for a quick stop. I changed my clothes and put on make-up (a big deal for me on this trip) and went to meet a family friend for a little while. We caught up some and had a good chat, which was real nice, and then he walked me to the Opera House where I stood in line for standing room tickets for two hours. Then stood for another two and a half hours to watch the opera. There was a nice French man standing next to me who I chatted with for a bit. He was kind enough to explain a few details of the opera before it started so I would have an overview of what was happening. I arrived back at the hostel in the evening around 11, made myself a quick late night dinner and was in bed by 12:30.

I am glad that tomorrow is a slow day. All I plan to do is sleep in a little, mail a package home, and go get drinks with the family friend and a few of his friends in the evening. Should be a good restful day to get ready for the whirlwind of a month that is about to start.

Well I am off to town now. I am sure I will write more later this evening when I return. I hope I don't get too cold out in the snow!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Counting Up and Down

Today, October 13, is another big day of numbers.

Today is day 50 of my adventure.

I have been traveling for seven weeks and am beginning week eight.

This means there are 71 days left until I go home, or 10 more weeks (and a day).

In 11 days I will be halfway through the trip.

In 45 days I will get to see Eddie in Paris.

My birthday is two months from today.

Five months ago I e-mailed Eddie for the first time.

Today is big and yet so small. Tomorrow will be day 51 and will have just as much significance to me as it means I have made it through another day.

Yesterday I listened to part of last week's sermon from Bethany Community Church (my church in Seattle) and Pastor Dahlstrom. I couldn't finish the whole thing, but probably will today. He was talking about being in the moment and not always looking ahead and waiting for the next thing. This is something I fell like I have always struggled with and continue to do so. There is always something out there that is worth looking forward to. I am trying very hard not to disregard each day as it is happening and I think I am doing a fairly decent job - even though I am counting the days I have been here and looking forward to landmarks of my trip.

In other news, it is getting cold here. The weather report says it may snow later this week. That should be fun. I may need to invest in a scarf or hat (or both?) soon. I also need to buy new shampoo as I dropped my little bottle in the toilet this morning and decided there wasn't enough of it left worth salvaging. Should be a full day, I'll be sure to post pictures later tonight.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Budapest Failure

On Saturday I changed lodging locations. I moved from my couch surfing hosts' place to a hostel for two nights. She and I had gone out on Friday so we slept in a bit on Saturday and I left her place around noon. I made it to the hostel pretty easily and checked in. The last few things I wanted to do could easily be done in one day, so I opted to make Saturday a "zero day" (as Eddie informed me they are called) and didn't really do a whole lot. I went to the store and bought salad fixings and some pasta to enjoy for the next two days. I had it for lunch and dinner that day as well as dinner on Sunday!

Sunday morning I attempted to go to the Jewish Synagogue but had my first failure of the day. There was a special closure of the temple for October 11. So lame! I had missed the sign when I was there on Friday so I didn't realize. Ugh. I then attempted to find a restaurant to have some goulash. Unfortunately every restaurant I passed was closed and the few I had marked on my map (that I had found recommendations for online) were either also closed or non-existent anymore. I was set on having goulash for lunch on this semi-rainy day so I decided to go to the next site on my list and take care of lunch afterwards.

I went to the Terror Museum which has exhibits about the terror of the Nazi and Communist control of Hungary spanning from the end of WWI all the way to the late 80's (I think?). Most of the information was in Hungarian and the little English was a little confusing. Anyway, the museum was interesting enough (although I am glad I got my student discount) and they had prison cells and some actual areas that were used to hold inmates during these times.

After the museum I walked to Hero's Square. As I continued to approach the square I noticed that there were quite a few police officers around. I finally saw the monument and the square as well as a huge mass of police officers in their riot gear. My stomach did a little nervous flip but I decided that it was silly to be afraid since I was doing nothing wrong. I discovered that there was a rally or protest of some kind going on in the square (hence the massive police presence) so I opted to maneuver widely around it. I still have no idea what was going on, but I do know that I did survive and nothing "exciting" happened, which I am thankful for.

I continued to fail in my quest for lunch and so ended up back at my hostel around 2:15 to look online again for another option and ask the hostel owner if he knew of anything around the area. I found a few options online and he gave me one recommendation, and with that I set out around 2:40. Three of the four places were again either closed or non-existent, and as I was discouraged and on my way to the fourth option (which was supposed to be more touristy and expensive) I stumbled across a restaurant I had not heard about and they were open! So I went in, had a beer and a big bowl of goulash (which came with bread) for about $7. Amazing. At 3pm that meal was the best thing ever. :)

The rest of my night was pretty low key (which I loved). This morning I went out and bought some treats for myself to spend the rest of my Hungarian currency (except for a few pieces to keep as souvenirs). I then got on a train to Vienna and had a fairly uneventful ride into town. This afternoon and evening have been spent planning the next few days. I also touched base with a family friend who is living in Vienna and it looks like we are going to be able to get together for a drink or something. I am also planning to go to an opera and possibly a ballet performance. If I choose to stand the tickets are pretty cheap (about 3 euro) so that is nice.

Tomorrow I am going out to explore the town, take some pictures, and probably visit a museum or two. I will also go to the Hofburg Palace tomorrow and anything else I can fit in. Wednesday will be another castle and the opera. Thursday is a day of museums and visiting the Stadttempel (a synagogue) which was the only one to survive in Vienna during the Kristallnacht (when the Nazi's smashed as many Jewish Synagogues in one night that they could). Friday will be a little low key and I will fit in anything that I missed and might do a little shopping and try to mail some things home. Friday night I may go to the ballet (standing room) and then will meet up with my family friend and some of his friends. Saturday I am off to Salzburg!

For those of you who haven't seen them yet, I have posted some videos on Facebook. You have to click on the Video box in my profile and find the video's that I posted (not the ones I am tagged in). Some are just fun and some are interesting. :)

I will probably write more tomorrow (hopefully) ... so until then, have a wonderful day friends!

Friday, October 9, 2009


Today I ventured off to Momento Park. It's a museum talking about the communist time in Hungary. A part of the big park is Statue Park which houses several communist statues that were taken down around Budapest when the soviets left. Another part of the museum is a tribute to those who revolted against the soviet occupation, and information about the spies that worked for the government. The government had their own film studio that they made training videos to use to train new spies - everything from how to follow someone and bug their home to how to recruit new members. At the museum I was able to watch some of the videos. It was quite interesting. I am going to try to upload a little bit of video of the video that I took with my camera. :)

After the park I went back to my couch surfing hosts' home (well after going to the grocery store to get lunch). I uploaded a few pics and then set out again. I intended to walk to the Jewish Synagogue(I believe it is the largest one in Europe and second largest in the world), but I arrived a half an hour after they closed (oops)! I will have to return on Sunday (as they are closed on Saturday) to go through it. I then continued on to see the Parliament building close up. It was a bit of a walk and quite the adventure as part of the area surrounding the building is under construction, SO I had to walk on the beach. I am now at a bar enjoying a beer while I use the free wi-fi. In a little while I will head out to meet my CS host and join her at another bar/club for a bit. I do not know how long we will stay there, but it should be interesting none the less.

Tomorrow I go to a hostel to stay for two nights. I am looking forward to it a bit since I have been couch surfing a lot and it will be nice to have some of my own space (well as much as I can have in a hostel) and be able to do everything on my own terms. I love couch surfing for sure, but I need to alternate between that and hosteling or I get a little too overwhelmed by it all.

I posted a few more pictures today - you should be able to view them through the link I posted yesterday when I created my latest album. I'm sure more pictures will be up tomorrow as well. :-D Happy Friday night everyone!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Number 101

I just noticed that my last blog was post number 100, which makes this one 101. I have definitely written a lot in the last year!

A Day of Firsts

I had a lot of "first" experiences today.

1. I was sucked into my first tourist trap and paid almost $6 for just over an hour of internet.
2. I stumbled across my first European perv doing something very private in a public place.
3. I climbed to the top of my first mountain (ok, it's not really a mountain, but it might as well be).
4. I narrowly missed being pooped on by a pigeon for the first time.
5. A priest got mad at me for no apparent reason (that I can figure out anyway) and that has definitely not happened to me before. (He clapped his hands at me and motioned vigoriously for me to go over to him - I opted to just leave the church instead.
6. I spoke Hungarian for the first time and said, "hi" and "thank you." Of course now I cannot remember how to say either of them.
7. A Hungarian man hit on me for the first time. He wanted to know where I was from and how long I was in town for after I bought a souvenior from him. (Don't worry Eddie, I am not leaving you for the castle salesman. You're stuck with me for awhile.)
8. I made my first mistake at the grocery store when I meant to buy yogurt and bought sour cream instead.
9. I almost ran into a monk in the middle of the street. He suddenly appeared next to me in his robe and other monk accessories.
10. I almost fell down the stairs of a tower - oh wait, that's not the first time I have done that, but it is the first time in Hungary. :)

As you can tell I had a very full day. I think that is about it regarding my "firsts," but I did a lot more. I climbed a ginormous hill/mountain to the citadel and took lots of pictures. (Pictures are now up in album #5 on facebook.) I walked a lot and have some blisters to prove it. I visited a castle and two churches. I even managed to buy a few souvenirs and was back at my couch surfing hosts' flat by 4. Wow!

I have two more nights courch surfing in Budapest, then two nights in a hostel. I leave for Vienna on Monday and will be there for four or five nights. I'm sad to be leaving the "cheaper" countries, but am excited to be moving on to some places that I know a little bit more about already!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Not As Long As Usual

A friend of mine e-mailed me the other day and mentioned how long winded my blog updates are. I laughed because I know it is true – even though I’m sure Eddie and my mom wish that I gave more details in each update. I thought, I’d insert a little apology for my long-windedness here. I’ll try to keep this one a little shorter. I am guessing that I have probably lost much of my readership due to the extended length of my updates. :-\ What can I say? I’ve always liked to share extra details and talk and talk and talk and talk – just ask my mom.

I’m on the train to Budapest where I will be couch surfing for a few nights and will then move to a hostel. I’ve just left Brno in the Czech Republic where I couch surfed with a fun girl for two nights. My first night in town I stayed at a hostel and I was very glad to leave the hostel and couch surf. It wasn’t a terrible place, but it was not my most favorite hostel to stay at. In the midst of it all I was fighting a cold, which I’m almost over now, so that presented an extra challenge, to say the least.

Today is a marking point for a few things – it’s the end of the 6th week that I’ve been in Europe, which leaves 11 more to go. It’s also been four months since Eddie and I had our first in-person date, so that’s kind of fun. I have had a lot of alone time during these last six weeks and have realized how thankful I am for Al Gore and his little invention of the internet. Without it would not be keeping my sanity on this trip and I also would not have met Eddie. I am quite glad to be living in the 21st century.

There isn’t a whole lot to report – I think that’s why it’s been difficult for me to find something to write about each day. I think things are beginning to blur together a bit, so I am trying to slow down my pace. I am sure that some of the couch surfing hosts and hostel employees think I am just wasting my time in each city and not taking full advantage of everything there is to see. I however, am realizing that I cannot keep going at the pace I have been or I will burn myself out preemptively. I have seen more churches and climbed more towers than I think most people do in a lifetime. It’s a lot to take in over a short period of time. I am thankful for the opportunity to have this experience though and see these things that many people don’t get to. I’m just pretty sure that every story I tell is going to be about some church in some place that I went to because I wont remember all the details.

So, one story that I do remember is from yesterday when I was at the Peter and Paul church in Brno. I was sitting in the pews admiring the magnificence of the altar when there was a loud crashing noise behind me that enveloped the entire room. I turned around and someone had knocked over the big wooden collection stand. Fortunately the church was not full of people (I think maybe 4 including me were in there) so it was a little funny and I’m sure very embarrassing for the woman who knocked it over. I was just glad it wasn’t me.

I’m sure there will be more things that come to mind to share in the next day or so. I will try to remember to write them down so that you can all enjoy the experience along with me. Until next time friends …

In Budapest

I wrote a new blog on the train today and had intended to upload it once I arrived at my couch surfing hosts' home. I did arrive and was able to locate the flat quite easily, but they do not have wireless internet, so I am using their computer and thus cannot upload my pre-written blog. I will probably hit up an internet cafe tomorrow and upload from there.

I am thankful to be able to be online, but the lack of the freedom to use my own computer has made me feel a little helpless and cut off. I like knowing that I am only a computer away from my world at home. It is comforting to have that security. Maybe these three days will be a growing experience for me before I am back in a hostel with wi-fi.

We'll see ...

Friday, October 2, 2009

Spending Money

I spent a bit of money today. I bought my train ticket for tomorrow. I bought gloves - since it's starting to get cold. I also bought some souvenirs and some food and whatnot.

I'm excited about my gloves - even though the two people I've shown them to seem to think that they make me look like OJ Simpson or a mass murderer. They are black leather gloves, so I understand the comparison, but I'm excited to have warm hands.

It was a good day, but rather low key. I am a fan of that. I think I'm getting a little sick so not doing a whole lot is a good option for me. I have been trying to upload pictures to facebook all night but for some reason I keep getting an error message. I am wondering if the hostel has some sort of firewall up, so I'll try it tomorrow when I go to the new hostel in Cesky Krumluv.

There isn't a whole lot to say tonight, so I'll update more tomorrow once I arrive in my new location. :)

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Giving Directions

Today I visited the Prague Castle and the Malá Strana (Lesser Town). I walked from my hostel to a nearby grocery store to pick up some cheese and bread for lunch and then began my adventure. I crossed the Charles Bridge (Karluv most) and bought some souvenir gifts for two wonderful people in my life. I found my way to the John Lennon Wall and then wandered around the streets until I found the castle. You can walk through the courtyard and visit the cathedral for free, but you have to pay to go into the actual castle. I opted for the free option and enjoyed winding my way through the courtyard taking pictures.

The St. Vitus Cathedral, Vitus being the patron saint for epileptics and preventer or oversleeping, is big and gothic and beautiful – but overcrowded with tourists. From the castle I could see just about all of Prague and took some fun pictures. I could see a garden area that had a giant concrete wall. Someone near me said that it was skulls built into the wall. I didn’t remember reading about this or seeing anything in my maps so I checked it out myself. It’s not skulls at all, just a giant concrete wall that has shapes and figures built into it. Some of the shapes look like faces, but no skulls.

After I made my way down from the castle I was going to go see the St. Nicholaus Church, but for a $3 entrance fee I decided to go get a beer instead since I couldn’t even take pictures inside. So lame. Instead I went to Ceska hospoda to enjoy a .5 L Staropramen for all of 25 czk – about $1.45. I am a fan of that.

I think tonight will be another relatively quiet night in for me. I bought some hot dogs at the store last night and will eat a few of them for dinner tonight along with my bread and cheese and beer. Tomorrow I will finish up the few things I haven’t done yet, like the church with the severed arm and try to go to St. Nicholas’ Church in the old town square. I’m debating about climbing the clock tower since I have my city view from the castle, even though it isn’t a full 360 degree view. Tomorrow I will also go to the train station and buy my ticket for Saturday to Cesky Krumlúv and my ticket from there to Brno. I will also need to figure out my housing situation for Brno. I was waiting on a few leads about couch surfing but it does not look as though it will pan out. So sad.

My five male roommates are most likely going to be out drinking tonight so I should be able to fall asleep in peace, unlike last night as they chatted it up for awhile. I should also be able to avoid them walking around in their underwear. I guess that’s the risk you take when staying in a mixed dorm room. Who knows how loud they will be when they return to the room though, my guess is not very quiet, but we’ll see. I’m sure they will appreciate my 7am wake up again. :)

I am feeling good about Prague. I have been able to find my way around pretty well and I was even able to help two people out with directions today. I think for day 2.5 in Prague – really day two since the first day I didn’t go out into the city – that is pretty good. I gave someone directions yesterday too, but it was from where I had just been, so it doesn’t totally count. I’m impressed with my ability to recognize some street names already and know where they are. Yea me! Hahaha …

Well, that is the update from Prague. Nothing too exciting but nothing too terrifying either. I am safe and sound and doing just fine. I have a mission to purchase gloves while in The Czech Republic as well as a new lock. The cheap factor is appealing here and I know it is going to get cold soon so gloves would be a good idea. Also, the lock I bought in Munich broke last night. Somehow the bar got bent and it wont go back in the hole to lock again, so hopefully I will find something that is better quality but not too terribly expensive. Sounds like a plan eh?

free counter