A Travellerspoint blog

October 2006

Paris, Normandy and Bordeaux

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Paris was a lovely city. dad i'm really not sure why i got spit on. and i'm glad to hear gonzo still lives, think he'll make it another 4 weeks??

anyway back to Paris. I mastered its metro systems, which i am very proud of since so many people said it was confusing. The Louvre was fantastic, i literally spent 2 hours in one half of one of the 4 floors. this is not so hard when you consider e"ach floor is the size of 2 football fields. saw notre dame that day as well and rounded off the evening with ice cream at the eiffel tower (which you can see in my pics)

the next day i walked the champs elyesse to the arch de triomphe which was another example of napolean having a napolean complex. just had to have the worlds largest triumphal arch didnt he? i also tried fitting in with the parisiens by getting a baguette and eating itin the jardin de tuiliers. lovely day.

the food was great aunt pam. crepes from street vendors have def topped doner kebab as my favorite fast food in europe.

i didnt get to versailles but may be able to on mly way back to london from italy later in my trip.

I did however go to a little village in Normandy near Mt St Michele where i stayed in a lovely little b and b style hostel run by an english couple. i stayed there 4 nights and in between sleeping in a room all to myself with clean towels and the possibility of instant coffee in my room if i felt so inclined; i was able to ride bikes to mt st michele(really neat old fashioned island but very touristy), take a bus to st malo (where they happened to be having a very famous bout race and i got to walk on the brach) and a train to Bayeux (where i went to a dday museum and saw the famous bayeux tapestry) great ti,e there thanks to steve and liz (owners). they even let me have a book i started to read while i was there.

now i am in bordeaux and the town seems ok, but my hostel kinda reminds me of the hotel that tom hanks stayed in in the movie BIG. lil scary. i'll be in nice in é days and then on to italy for 10 days, then back to london to meet up with luke, then after a week, home again home again, jiggity jig.

thank you to all who are commenting and sending emails, i really appreciate knowing what is going on back home. though i think that for having a blog thats gets 40-50 hits a day; it looks like more people could leave some love here :-)

later!

btw, it is consistently 10 degrees warmer here than in NJ :-)

Posted by Brainford 10:41 Archived in France Tagged backpacking Comments (4)

New Pictures

here is a sample-more pics are in my gallery

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here we see some fine examples of communist propoganda on a former nazi building (luftwaffen HQ) that is now home to the tax office.

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ice cream in prague looks almost too good to eat

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how about this jaunty item for an adventure hat???

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The festung in Salzburg had three main defenses
1.) Steep climb to exhaust invading armies
2.) Massive walls

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and 3.) Fierce warriors with spears!

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Jed, Max, and Me at the base of Jungfrau AFTER ascedinding 1000 meters

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and last but not least, ny postcard shot

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all is well, be home in less than a month

Posted by Brainford 08:12 Archived in France Tagged backpacking Comments (4)

French keyboqrds qre qnnoying

so iù, just gonnq type qnd you cqn figure out zhqt keys qre ,ixed up:::sqcre bkeu

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ok so internet is free here which is a good thing. oh and here by the way is paris. i arrived at 7 pm and found my hostel, attempted to do laundry but the owner of the laundremat said it was too late. well actuqlly he just motioned at me despite the fact that i was using broken french with him. i left and somewhere in the next 10 feet i got spit on. yup real big loogey on my shorts. cute.

things got better qfter that (as could be imagined) and i went for dinner, and on the way saw some people i had met in berlin and we decided to go out for crepes later: this was a good idea as crepes are delicious, esp w/nutella or applesauce and cinnamon.

FLASHBACK

1 Day Ago...i was hiking the swiss alps with a couple of guys from boston, and no we did not talk about baseball as this prob would have resulted in us not travelling together anymore. we took a train up to grindenwald (1034 meters) and from there we set off on a fairly well travelled trail that at times was more challenging than the grand tetons trek that i did with joel a couple summers ago. We ascended up to a town at the base of Jungfrau (2072m). it was supposed to take 4 hours. We did it in 3. and stopped for lunch. a lunch that included cheese that i cut with my NEW SWISS ARMY KNIFE!!!! needless to say the views were amazing and i was just really happy to get out of the cities and experience nature on a meaningful level again. i also can't imagine the labor it takes to build up there.

3 Days Ago...i was in Munich and went to Dachau (great pics for a powerpoint lesson) the public baths (interesting...and i was glad i got a chance to swim) and then the Haufbrauhaus (drank 2 very good liters of beer)

aaaand thats about it...bed time...bon soir

Posted by Brainford 14:35 Archived in France Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

WE HAVE A WINNER...OR TWO??

internet is way expensive in interlaken (4 bucks for 30 min)

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And the winner is..............

Cole Little

aaaaand

Katie Ghilain

both guessed 8 dollars (american) but cole was the first to answer correctly. congrats to both of you and you will be recieving postcards soon. and thanks to katie for critically analysing the phrasing of my contest rules (silly lawyer).

To everyone else who guessed, thank you for your attempts, esp to Brian for guessing in crwons and alex for guessing in obth crowns and us dollars.

keep tuned for more contests (like "who knows where the exclamation point is on a german keyboard???)

Posted by Brainford 11:54 Archived in Switzerland Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Wow, embarassing...

sunny 16 °C

ok so not everything is peaches and cream over here. Over the past week or so my propensity to lose myself has moved onto other items. This really wasn't so serious until yesterday. This list is as follows, see if you notice a trend:

1.) My glasses (York, later recovered)
2.) my nalgene bottle (on the way to amsterdam, -$10)
3.) 100 euro (Berlin, -$130)
4.) my swiss army knife (Berlin, personal value, dad bought it for me when i was 7)
5.) my eurail pass (Prague, -$900°)
6.) my airline ticket home (Salzburg, for about 5 minutes)
7.) my mind (Salzburg, for that 5 minute period)

°i bought the insurance package for this so it should just be a matter of getting reimbursed

hopefully this is the end of the trend because i have nothing more valuable to lose. needless to say i will be very careful in the future. But when i couldn't find my eurail i was pretty frantic. to make matters worst, the conductor on the train (austrian) told me i could either buy a ticket or walk (exact words). When i tried to ask questions to another autrian transit worker in salzburg, he began speaking in english, and said he couldn't give me another ticket, which was not what i was asking him to do. he then said "this is austria, we speak german. sprekken zee deutch???" in such a sarcastic manner that i do not know how i managed to politely (seriously) explain that i just needed some info. he eventually sent me to another worker, where i bought another pass.

i then had to file a police report (for insurance) and thankfully the police were very nice and understanding.

silver lining of the day was when i checked out and found greta and lindsay (1st entry minnesotans) who happened to be staying there. we exchanged email and decided to meet up again in paris.

After that whole ordeal (ending with the police telling me to relax :-)i was really able to enjoy salzburg. its a gorgeous city, and in a valley that is phenomenal. Again, i have tons of pictures but have been having trouble getting them uploaded. Now i am in munich for a few days and might relax at a spa tomorrow...after i go to dachau of course.

Posted by Brainford 11:34 Archived in Germany Tagged backpacking Comments (1)

Your chance to win!!! Read Below!!! Not SPAM!!!

14 °C

WIN!WIN!WIN!

Wanna win a really cool post-card from Prague, written by yours truly??? All you have to do is answer one simple question, the answer to which will amaze all and make you want to come to Prague...to eat!

Last night I saved my money and instead of going to little dinky museums, i instead spent 500 crowns (about $25) on a ticket to see a chamber orchestra perform Bach, Mozart (Little Night Music, Concertina in C), Vivaldi (Summer and Winter), Smetana (From my Country), and Dvorsak (Songs For a New World). Great stuff, but i wanted a cheap to dinner. I wandered around and found a great deal! A 3 course meal (vegetable soup, beef goulash, apple strudle) + hlaf a liter of great czech beer + tip = ???

If you think you can guess how much all of this cost, i will personally send you a postcard from Czech Republic. All you have to do is...

1.) Think of a number (dollars or crowns)
2.) Send it to me (post it here, email, myspace, whatev)
3.) include your mailing address so i can send you your prize!

Contest to close when i get to munich (10-22-06) So getyour guesses in NOW!

The winner will be announced on this very website it 3 days!

  • **minimum of 4 entries required for winner to be chosen.

Posted by Brainford 01:39 Archived in Germany Tagged backpacking Comments (1)

A Tale of Two Clubs

A Comedy in two Acts

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Act 1

Setting: Cologne, 10/11/06, a Thriving west german city with lots of shopping and lots of students (ie lots of bars)

Cast of Characters:
Bret-a young, obnoxious South African, good looking and he knows it
Antonio-yound, balding Spaniard who has difficulty when ave amounts of beer are inbibed
Brian-our hero, smart, handsome traveler with a propensity for getting lost in new cities
Thom-german bartender with great knowledge of Cologne night life

Scene 1: The Hostel-Brian enters from stairs and walks to counter

Bret: Where are some clubs where i can meet some girls?
Hostel Worker: Well, you can take the A to the station, cross the river and walk up dykdlv gfhlbf and ougflf (conversation continues in series of uniteligible german names)
Bret: Forget it i'm just gonna get lost.
Brian: Yea thats usually my plan, I'm Brian.
Bret: I'm Bret,you got any ideas for tonight?
Brian: Walk around, find a bar, drink some german beer.
Bret: Nice, mind if me and Antonio come along? we're hoping to find some german [girls].
Brian: Sure, lets go. I just need to get some water before we go.
Bret: Yea, maybe i should get a beer for the road, Antonio lets get one.
Antonio: Yea.
All: Cheers!
Characters exit hostel and walk towards shopping district hoping to find some excitement

Scene 2: The Streets of Cologne
Bret(to girls passing on the street): Sprekken zee English?
Girl: Nien
Bret: Yea right, (expletive censored-I am writing this is Eastern Europe :-)
Antonio: Yea (censored) you! (as he finishes his first beer)
Brian: um...maybe we should ask someone else.

Scene 3: A dark bar.
after learning the student district is a few tram stops away, our gang boards the tram and heads downtown,where they eventually find an almost empty bar that was recomended

Brian: What beer do you have on tap?
Thom: Jever is good. A pilsner.
Bret: 3 of them. And where can we find girls? (ignoring the fact that 3 girls are at a table in the corner)
Thom: Well, the Rose Club is a good place, just take a right, a right, a left, and a right, but it won't get busy till 12. There's another club called (the author and friends immiedatly forget the name as they try to sort out right from left) But thats mainly for younger people.
Brian: (checking watch) Well that gives us some time to hang out here. How do you say cheers in German?
Thom: Prost!
Brian: Proost?
Bret: Brost?
Antonio: Proosht?
Thom: I better right this down for you guys...

Scene 4: same bar
1 hour elapses, new beer is sampled, a type of hefeweizen, Brian is in love with this beer, antonio has different opinion.

Antonio: In Spain we don't drink beer like this?
Brian: How so?
Antonio: No, we have tapas with beer, a little snack, and we usually only have one or two beers, and they are smaller than this (holds up half liter glass)
Brian: Well you know you don't have to keep up with us if you don't want to.
Antonio: eh its not so bad (grimaces as he finishes his 3rd beer of the evening)

Scene 5: Streets of Cologne
After settling the tab our heros find themselves at a cross-roads.

Brian: he said right right left right
Antonio: Yes, right right.
Bret: But the first right was out of the bar
Antonio: Yes, right.
Brian: i don't think so bu well go your way.
(walk brets way 20 yards and there on right is the rose club)
Bret: told ya so
Brian: i really have no idea where i am. Well the Rose clun looks kinda dead, what about that other place across the street, it looks packed.
Woman on street: Hey guys you should come in, they have 1 euro beers and 1 euro tequilla shots. 6 euro cover.
Brian: What kind of beer?
Woman: Yarick, its good.
Brian: Sounds good to me lets go.
Bret: Are you sure?
Brian: 1 euro beer, 6 euro cover, we just have to drink three beers for it to equal out, and we have plenty of time to do that
Bret: Ok, lets do it!

Scene 6: Inside the bar.
Brian: Three beers please.
Bret: Buy me two.
Brian make that 4.
Bartender returns with 4 glasses that hold about the same amount as a sippy cup.
Brian: (Knowing his calculation is totally foiled) Hm.
Bret: they have foosbal, lets play.

After the American soundly beats the South African and with their plan for attracting women through displays of foosball athleticism having failed, the group takes a moment to look around the bar. What they see is rather dissapointing

Brian: How old do you have to be to drink in germany?
Bret: 16, 17?
Brian: Well we just found out where they all hang out...we need to get out of here.
Antonio: yea, i can't drink anymore beer. (stumbles into table)
Bret: lets go.

They cross the street to the Rose Club. Antonio is visibly drunk

Bouncer: You guys can go in. Watch the beer Spanish.

Bret orders another round.

Brian: Let's go check out the dance floor.
Bret: It looks good, lots of chicks!

The guys enter the fray, looking for cute german girls, find them, but after an hour of trying to dance with them, all guys strike out multiple times.

Brian: You wanna get outta here?
Bret: Yea this place is lame. (continued by long rant on why german girls are lame, german guys can't dance and how hes surprised the country has the ability to populat itself. This continues in various forms of language, with some insults in dutch to passing german girls, until the trio arrives back at the hostel, usually with antonio walking about 20 yards behind. Or trio calls it a night after very little luck with girls in germany.)

Act Two: Wurzburg, Southern Germany

Characters
Alex: Cute, short-haired german girl brian met in Galway
Her Friend: Who's name started with a C, but has since left the Author's brain. (corina?)
Brian: Our hero makes another appearence

Scene 1: Alex's house, the new trio has a few drinks and checks the time.

C: its 11:30, we should probably get goin
Brian: I hope, i can stay up with you guys, i'm kinda used to going to bed at 12.
Alex: [german word for wimp]

Scene 2: The club
Strains of rock/dance music flows over a surging crowd of young people (18 and over thankfully, and most are older university students) Shots are ordered, and Wheatus' "Teenage Dirtbag" begins to thump through the crowd, followed by Green Day, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Blink-182. Brian dances, hilarity ensues, and a good time is had by all.

Finis.

(Sorry i got lazy and internet costs 1 crown per minute here in czech republic)

Posted by Brainford 02:06 Archived in Czech Republic Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Berlin never is, Berlin is always becoming

I Love it here

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So everyone i met on my journey told me how cool Berlin is, and they were right. I spent the first day here getting organized, cleaning out my pack, doin laundry, etc. No one else showed up to my 8-bed hostel until 11, when i was in bed writing, but when they did show up we had a great time!

I mentioned the 4 internationals last time, so u should have read about them already. anyway they convinced me to go out for dinner (at MIDNIGHT!) and the restaurants were teeming with people. I think people in germany actually stay out and party later than students at rutgers.

We got up eary the next day and went on a free tour of berlin and saw all the highlights in east berlin: The Reichstag, Brandenburg gate, Memorial for those killed in the Holocaust (this was a serious memorial costing millions of dollars and also included a museum), and we saw Checkpoint Charlie, parts of the Berlin Wall, Humbolt University (guys named Einstein and Marx went there) The Opera House, and finally Museum Island. The tour was 3.5 hours, amazing, AND the guide worked on tips. To give you an idea of how profitable this was, there were about 30 people on the tour, and each gave between 5 and 20 euro in tips. You do the math. (maybe we could start one of these in NYC???)

Next, a nap, but then we hooked up with some of my friends other friends who are working in the French embassy over here. We played pool till midnight and it was a surreal experience hearing german cursing, french arguments (at lightning speed, some of which i understood) and english being spoken almost at random since it was the common language. Hearing so many people with an affinity for multiple languages (most spoke at least 3) again made me feel guilty for speaking like 1.1 languages. but again the others told me that no one in europe really cares because they realize the need for a common language and it might as well be english.

Oh and they love Bruce Springsteen in France, and Kevin (Keh-veen) got so excited when he found out i was from NJ. We later went back to his flat and watched a concert on DVD. Oh and then at 2am they all decided it would be a good idea to go dancing. Me and my dormmates decided we should prob call it a night, but still we didn't sleep till 3am after traveling on the freakishly empty subway. (pictures to prove)

I need to call Uncle Ernie's relatives now, and figure out when i am leaving for Prague. Hope things are going well at home and ACT broke legs this past week.

will write more when internet becomes free again.

Posted by Brainford 08:25 Archived in Germany Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Cologne Cathedral

Religion Light

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When you first exit the train station in Köln, Germany, you are confronted with a MASSIVE gothoc/neo-gothic cathedral that takes up 2/3rd of the horizon. However, once you get past the size, you realize that people are everywhere around the base, and not just tourists either. While germany has become increasing secular over the years, the cathedral has remained a place for teenagers to socialize, families to take their kids, street artists to perform, draw chalk portraits on the sidewalk, and for people like myself to sit back and enjoy. While i was inside i learned that the cathedral was begun in the 12th century, but it actually took 700 years to complete, so it started out in the then-modern gothic style of france, but ended up being completed in the neo-gothic period. I have great pictures but the USB at my current hostel is out of order.

But Köln is more than just a giant church. Thats right folks, it is also one of the largest areas for shopping i have ever seen. We're talking 4 H+M's, at least 7 American fast food stops, and in a great twist of irony, 2 Christ jewelers. And that was just in a 2 square km area. Needless to say, it reminded me again how underdressed i am in Europe and how i wish i had more room in my pack for more stylish apparel.

My net time is about to run out, and i am going on a free walking tour of Berlin with a group of 4 international students who are in my dorm room (1 German, 1 italian, 1 French, and 1 Turkish, needless to say VERY interesting political discussions, esp concerning armenian genocide and frances latest political maneuver)

Next up "A Tale of Two Clubs"

Posted by Brainford 01:03 Archived in Germany Tagged backpacking Comments (3)

Soooo busy...and naps are sooo nice

sunny 21 °C

ok I am very sorry that i have not updates lately, i really have been all over the place and besides matt anderson said he would kick my butt if i was on the internet too much. I´ll just leave these few tantalizing details before i go out for the evening.

I was in Bruges for two days (belgium)

It was fairly boring, but had really good chocolate and pastries which i somehow only spent 10 euro on. Also met a really cool guy in a bar who explained the belgian voting system (vote or get fined, 5 parties, up to 47 candidates from each party) Tried 3 new beers, reviw to follow.

I was in Rotterdam for two days

Not the most exciting city either. Hated the art museum there. Met a couple germans and we went out and tried some more belgian beers. There are over 400 to choose from so you can see how this activity can take many nights.

After that i was in Amsterdam for 3 days.

This city is just intriguing and forces you to deal with a lot of questions about morality and community and how the state defines criminality. I really have why more to think about and say on the subject, but i must move on. Fortunatly i met a guy from Seattle, Gene, and we got to go to the Anne Frank Museum. This was by far the most moving experience of the trip. no matter how much u study the holocaust, standing in the house where so much fear and sorrow was felt is downright shocking. Many people go there everyday but it will never be enough. That will only occur when people start to do something about the other attrocities that are taking place in the world such as Darfur. I also have many complicated thoughts on this matter that will need more time to write out.

I am in Cologne (aka Köln).
Tomorrow i will be in wurzburg.
After that i will be in berlin for three days.

German keyboards switch the y and the z to facilitate the german languages love for "z" and this key (Ö) exsists. That should make diction fans happy.

I am thirsty and will now go get something to drink.

Hopefully i can more pictures up soon. I got bored in Amsterdam and did a study on "The Cats of Amsterdam"

Mom and dad, please do not let kyle make phone calls with my phone.

And don´t worry about leaving my morals at home dad, i "remembered who i belong to" as pop-pop likes to say.

Posted by Brainford 10:38 Archived in Germany Tagged backpacking Comments (2)

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