A Travellerspoint blog

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


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

semi-overcast 13 °C

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

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.


(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

overcast 1 °C

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

semi-overcast 21 °C

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)

Sad News from Home


OK, i really want to tell you about belgium and struggles with the ducth language and beer and dogs in bars, but the yanks are losing 7-0 in the 5th and i really can't handle writing about Europe right now...

i really home i can write a happy entry when i wake up (its 0:00 right now, midnight, and i went to this awesome bar where i would buy a drink and the get a drink on the house, good deal huh?

Posted by Brainford 14:59 Archived in Netherlands Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Why Wim and his friends are awesome

travels in southern UK(footnote) (footnote) trying footnotes for this entry, feedback welcome


After i left york, which i would later return to but thats another story, i meant to meet up with Wim Shih, a former resident of mine from Travers 10 Intensified Study (and partying) floor. A quick two hour train ride and a brief introduction to the London Tube(1) system and i found Wim at Marlybone station. We walked for 1 min and arrived at his flat, which he shared with one other guy and about 8 girls (i think i remembered 3 names) we went out for a drink, did some catching up and then returned to the flat, where i found the couch i would be gratefully staying on. The next day i decided to explore the West End. Found there was a TKTS there, but no shows i really wanted to see so i walked around some more and found a movie theatre that shows less recent films for 1 pound 50. sweet. so i get in line to see the inside man, when i get inside i find that fridays are special one pound days so i buy myself a 1 pound haggen daas(2) ice cream to celebrate the cheaper ticket.

Afterwards i went to a net cafe and got an email from the last hostel i stayed at. it seems that i left my glasses there. they asked me for my credit card info via email so they could ship them to me. this seemed kinda shady so i decided to just use one of my rail passes and go back up and get them(3). Later that evening I met wim and another group of his friends at a piano jazz bar. very nice. it was there that i met wasseem and we teamed up the next day to go to Dover. Dover Castle was amazing. we spent 5 hours exploring the place and attending a tour on the secret underground command tunnels used during WWII and the Cold War(4).

On Monday I took a day trip to Cardiff. Really neat city in wales, although only recently built up. It has many arcades lined with shops and eateries(5) not to mention one of the best amalgamations of architecture in the UK. Cardiff Castle was originaly (you should see a pattern here) Roman, taken over by the Normans, and then molded into the British Kingdom. But this side had the added oppurtunity of having a Victorian Neo-Gothic pseudo-mediveal townhouse built on it by the Marquess of Butte(sp?). The tour included a visit to a modern falconer (6). I met a lovely lady there who suggested i go to St. Fagans Village to see example of welsh village life, but i did not have enough time and was sorely dissapointed.

The next day i went to Bath to see the Roman Baths. nuff said, they were awesome. It was also on this day that i met up with megan smith, who rocks(7) and i bid farewell to my hosts by buying them lots of homeade fudge(8). I spent a total of 6 nights with wim and that is why he is awesome.

The next day i left london at 8:30, took 1 subway, 1 train, 1 ferry, and then 3 more trains in order to arrive in Brugge, where of course it was dark and raining as i tried to find my hostel, which i did. More to come later.

Brian (in Brugge)

(1)I love the Tube. Ian said that if you have ever taken a the NYC subway, then you can easily handle the tube. he was sooo right. It is twice as clean as NY, much easirt to navigate the tunnels to trains, and has CUSHIONS on the seats even. only downside is no air conditioned cars. oh well. also where we have guys playing old trumpets and pickle drums, they have guys playing harps for spare change.

(2)They have sit down haggen-daas restaurants here, how cool is that! Oh and there appears to be quite a few ben and jerrys stores as well. so far i have resisted the urge to go there.

(3)I went on sunday and much to my dismay the 1 pound Mr.Sandwich was closed. BUT i took this oppurtunity to sample 2 cornish pasties (stilton and steak and cheese and onion fillings) wow were they good.

(4)it was thought the cliffs would protect those inside from nuclear fallout, but then they realized the white chalk was porous and really offerred little protection.

(5)where i had the worst mixed grill of my life, should stuck with a pasty.

(6) who mainly uses his hawks to scare away pigeons at the football stadium. he also has a bird that is a cross breed of a merlin and a peregrin falcon. While it is one of the quickest birds alive with the ability to fly verticaly, it is also the size of a merlin and can only hope to "ride" rabbits, not actually kill them.

(7) and said she would only read my blog if i mentioned her in it.

(8) which, according to the guy in the store, tastes so good it will blow your face off. it was good but not quite that good as everyone's faces remained intact.

Posted by Brainford 04:26 Archived in Belgium Tagged backpacking Comments (1)

For those of you having trouble finding my pics



Don't worry, i was never actually locked up in Kilmainham Gaol


Did you know the Toucan was last used in a Guinness marketing campaign in 1985?


Greta, Me, and Lindsay at the Brazenhead pub, est 1128. old.


Kylmore Abbey, originally a house. a very big house.


Kylmore Cathedral and its not really all that big.


Mom here is proof that i am still in one piece and in the nicest lift i have ever been in.


i loved walking around the city walls of York (and only pretended i was fighting off orcs once or twice)


Roman lighthouse in foreground, Dover Castle in back, used to defend England from 1128 till the 1970's.

Posted by Brainford 10:24 Archived in Belgium Tagged backpacking Comments (2)

Pictures are up

go to my photo gallery to view selected photos


more are saved but can't get them all up at once

Posted by Brainford 14:19 Archived in England Tagged backpacking Comments (1)

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