The Motherload...

I'm sitting here in my room at the Pension going through thousands upon thousands of pictures from our trip. I think there are around 10,000 total. I'm trying to narrow it down to 500 or so right now. I bit the bullet and bought a Flickr Pro account to upload everything to, and hopefully I'll be able to do that from the Institute later today. Expect a ton of pictures in chronological order from the trip to show up on my Flickr account within the next 8 hours or so.


Okay I've been doing this ALL day and I'm only to Rome, so it will be tomorrow when the pictures go up, but they'll be there some time tomorrow.

Uploading is slow here, so it will take a few installments to get everything up, but the first 100 or so are up now and more are coming. There is a collection called "Tour de Europe, 2009" and within that are sets for the various locations. Here's a link.


More Photos, Finally...



Winceslas Square, government building at the end.


Looking the other way on Winceslas Square, which is kind of like the Champs Elysees of Prague.


Prague Castle and Cathedral on top of the hill across the river.


Prague Castle and Cathedral from that side of the Charles Bridge.


Charles Bridge from the next bridge up on the river.


Charles Bridge again.


Charles Bridge again.


Prague Cathedral from the bridge North of the Charles Bridge.


Going up the steps to Prague Castle and Cathedral, looking back down over the city.


Look closely in the middle and you'll see Frank Gehry's "Fred and Ginger" Apartment building.


The back of Prague Cathedral.


The old castle-fortress of Vysherad is up on that hill...


Jet-ski competition in the river that I ran into South of Vysherad.


Frank Gehry's "Fred and Ginger", along the river on the way back North from Vysherad.


Kuks Hospital, on the way to Northern Bohemia.


Sculpture room in Kuks Hospital, which was originally intended to be a monastery.


Looking back the other way from the front of Kuks.


Solitary grave marker across the street from the road that goes down to Kuks.


Looking out the window in Zdonov, Northern Bohemia... Waking up at 6:30am to freezing and fog, then going out and taking a shower WITHOUT any hot water in a field behind the house.


On the edge of a pretty big drop after a steep hike to some rock formations in Zdonov, Northern Bohemia.


Walking from the cabin to breakfast in the morning, Zdonov.

Love and miss you all... I'm having a great time and continuously exploring the city. Having a bike here is SUCH a blessing... I know my way around pretty well now. More later.


From Prague

Haven't had much free time to do random writing, but I rode my bike to the Charles Bridge tonight and took some photos...

Straight from the camera.


What a trip. What a trip, what a trip, what a trip. It’s not quite over yet, but as I sit here on the German ICE train barreling towards Berlin, I start to get a sense of closure on what I will surely always consider one of the best months of my life. When you have solid memories like these, there is always a very warped aspect of time about them. When I think back to early or mid-August, it seems in one sense like only days ago, while at the same time I have seen an done so much since then that it also manages to feel like ages ago.

I don’t really write about emotions because they aren’t so pin-pointable with words as experiences are, but I gotta tell you… it’s a serious mixed bag with me right now. I’m partly a little annoyed, because our Eurail passes, being valid for one month starting on the 5th of August (first day of use), expired on the 4th. This doesn’t make sense to me, and it means 122E out of my pocket to get to Berlin instead of it being the last trip I could use the pass for. The trip down to Prague I was expecting to have to get another ticket for. But I digress from my emotions. Part of me is pretty sad that this month is coming to an end. It has blown by like a summer storm, and even though I don’t think we possibly could have fit more into our schedule in terms of number of places or time given in each one, I still have a desire to explore more, and I regret not having more time, particularly in Paris and Amsterdam. In a way though, this is good, because it leads me into Prague still excited about traveling and exploring, and not annoyed by bad experiences or tired by too much moving about. I was really worried when we got into concrete planning of this trip that things would fall apart. It all sounded so perfect; something was bound to go wrong… Whether we couldn’t get somewhere on time, or Corey and I had a falling out, or whether moving from place to place in rather rapid succession would get so tiring that we wouldn’t be able to keep up with the pace and actually DO things. I’m not a worrying person in general, and I feel like most of the time I have an unusually rosy view on any situation, but I was dead frightened that what I had worked so hard to put together would end as a result of anger, fatigue, and poor planning. Not so. We have had hiccups, as any traveling person knows are unavoidable, but for the record, this trip went so well that it has all-in-all only whet my appetite to travel more. Also for the record, Corey is a great person to travel with. For me at least. We were almost without fail in constant agreement about where to go, what to see, and how much time to give to a museum or building or whatever it was we were seeing. I have traveled with bad company and good, and the difference will most certainly and without a shadow of a doubt make or break a trip. From its planning stages up until right this moment, I don’t think that any of this could have come to fruition or gone so smoothly and according to plan without such a good friend to travel with. I really appreciate Corey for agreeing to come along on this adventure, for helping to plan it, for being agreeable and quick to forgive, and for bailing me out when I had to go pretty much half the trip with no money. Thanks, man. So I’m annoyed by Eurail, sad that this month is over, excited about Prague, and what else? I miss you guys! It’s no secret that family is a big part of my life. Usually it’s such a big part that I don’t miss getting some time to myself, whether that be by holing up at school or whatever, but after a while you really start to miss the simplicity, like-mindedness and general comfort in existence that comes nowhere else but around the family you know so well and the people you love.

On top of this I really owe my parents a huge thank-you. There’s no way I could have paid for any of this on my own, and I count my blessings every day that I have been afforded the kind of parents who encourage me to expand my horizons in their support both mentally and monetarily. THANK YOU SOOOO MUCH for this. It has been a whirlwind experience as educating as it was eye-opening, and I can’t say thank you enough for giving me this opportunity.

That said, I guess I ought to tell you what I did… Writing was something I hadn’t really considered until the first long entry that I did. I started off using the blog as a means of transmission mainly because I had it stagnant from the previous semester and I knew it would be an easy way to get bits of information all over the family-and-friend-sphere without a whole mess of email lists and forwards from this and that person ex-post-facto. I started to use Twitter, but I figured I’d stick with something familiar, and something I’d already signed up for and created. This was never going to be a diary or journal; more of a “Hey, I’m here… I went to this museum. Here’s a picture.” I don’t know when or why it turned into more, but I guess if I’ve got a captive audience I might as well keep going with it. I stopped writing after Florence because I was really tired of writing and because we did a ton of stuff in Rome. I didn’t ever want to start writing about Rome, and I didn’t want to write about this or that place afterwards because it’d be out of order. I pride myself on having a pretty good memory when it comes to experiences (not so much with other things), and at this point I guess I get to put it to the test. So there’s the excuse, and Lord help me, here’s the story…

Just so you know, this might show up over the course of a few days. Remind me to tell you about the attention span of a spider on caffeine pills, because attention span might come into play getting this done.


No time to write, I'm getting kicked out of McDonalds as they close, but we just came down from up here...

San Sebastian to Paris

San Sebastian to Paris
15:57 08/31/2009

So I figured that this would be worth an entry… It’s been a while since I’ve written about anything, but this morning we found ourselves on the way out of San Sebastian on a train to Hendye, a station just over the border into France. When we got to Hendye to make the TGV reservations to Paris, we got the bad news… There were no seats available on any train to Paris that day and half of the next. After some debating we decided to get on the next train going in that direction, which stopped in Dax, about a tenth of the way to Paris. We got to Dax and heard the same storey about the trains to Paris being full. The TGV to Paris would stop there, but there would be no unsold seats so we wouldn’t be able to take it, basically. Personally, I thought that we should just get on and stay outside the bathroom or where the bags are at the end of each car. Corey thought that this wasn’t a good idea. Instead, he wanted to wait for the train to Bordeaux (the one coming in after the TGV to Paris) and see if we could get another train to Paris from there (even though the man at the ticket office told us that all of them were sold out). After getting some lunch while debating this, I heard the TGV roar into the station on track 2 and told Corey I was going to see if I could plead our way on by saying we had a train to catch in Paris tonight. Turns out they weren’t checking tickets at the door, so we COULD just get on, but Corey still said he thought it was a stupid idea. The baggage areas were packed full of twenty-somethings with packs on, so it looked to me like they were all doing what I was thinking would be the best idea. Walking down the platform with Corey behind me I saw car after car with full baggage areas. There was one after a little while with some space, and I started to get in there, but I wasn’t sure it was enough space to be comfortable for me AND Corey, so I figured I’d head down to the next car and see if it was better. At this point I heard a “beep, beep” and saw the doors start closting, and I turned around to see Corey nowhere in sight. I thought he must have walked away so as not to be convinced to get on, but as I walked back down the platform in the other direction I heard him banging on the door of the next car from the INSIDE. There was NO way to open the door. We tried everything and just before I thought I had better tell him I’d meet him at the hotel, he walked off to find a conductor and at the same time the train started to pull off. Now I’M on the train to Bordeaux that came 10 mins later, and HE’S on the TGV to Paris where I wanted to be in the first place. My objective is to not worry about finding him and just get to the hotel – I’m assuming he’ll be doing the same. We’ll just have to compare stories in Paris however late tonight (or tomorrow as it may turn out for me) and see who had the more hellish time getting there. Oh, boy…

Corey went straight to Paris and waited for me at the station… I got on the next TGV to Paris at Bordeaux. We both got out without reservations. I had to pay 20E to reserve, which I thought was the going price anyway, but it turns out Corey only had to pay 10E. Anyway, we are together and really after all that we only got held up an extra 45 mins anyway…


San Sebastian...

I really ought to start writing again, but it just takes so long. San Sebastian is great... There are tons of people out and about all the time here, but it doesn't feel touristy like Venice for instance. I'm about to head back to the beach now WITHOUT my camera but here's a quick snap before I go... I have some great panoramas to stitch on the train to Paris tomorrow.

Also I should mention that Corey isn't feeling well... We think it's from the food last night but he's been getting sick all morning. He's asleep now and will hopefully be feeling better with some rest at this point...

City of Arts and Sciences in Valencia... Calatrava

Wish you could see the full-size four times this big... What an amazing area. Calatrava is a crazy crazy man.


Photos are in reverse order and story is at the bottom, so just start from there : )

What a crazy crazy festival. We got up at 5am this morning to get ready. Out the door of the hotel by 6am and we were on the bus to the train station by 6:30. We caught the first train out to Bunol and were in Bunol by about 7:30 and in the center where the magic happens by 8. There were streetvendors all over the place selling sandwiches and beer and sangria, so when we got to the center we asked one where the pole was going and he said right where we were, so we got some sangria and ham and cheese sandwiches and took it all in while we waited. Just as I finished my sandwich, the pole showed up, and it was literally RIGHT in front of where we were standing. We couldn't have possibly gotten closer. They greased the pole right in front of us and tilted it up with the ham hanging from the top to massive cheers from the crowd. The bottom of the pole was in a hole, and a man hammered shims all around it to keep it in place. When he finished the perimeter-guys moved and the crowd had at the pole. I was right at the base and rather light compared to some others, so I was the third person to give it a go. I got on someone's shoulders and ended up about 12 feet up, but I slid back down when I tried to go higher. I stayed at the base for another 20 mins or so holding contenders up and helping people balance until someone stepped HARD on my shoulder without any warning, at which point I backed up to where Corey was, about 10 feet back. The crowd was unreal, and there was nowhere you could go where you weren't being compressed between other bodies. Definitely not an event for anyone who is claustrophobic. After another 20 mins or so I talked to a girl who was standing next to Corey about strategy, and she convinced me to give it another go climbing up. Another guy standing right there boosted me up above the crowd and I basically walked on people's shoulders to the pole, where I tried to start climbing, but another guy tried too soon to use my body as a ladder and we all slid back down to the base. I retreated about 10 feet back again and decided I'd let others have at it. There are still no tomatoes at this point, as either someone has to get to the ham on top of the greasy pole or it has to turn 11:00; they release the trucks with the tomatoes when one of those two things happens. Slowly but surely people got higher and higher, taking grease off as they went up. The last good attempt ended about 5 feet from the top, but then the cannon went off signifying that it was 11:00 and everyone started cheering for the trucks and pretty much forgot about the ham. I realized at this point that my watch was gone, surely the band was broken by some guy's foot as I hoisted him up, and I only noticed when I went to check the time. No big deal really. The first truck came in honking and there were people, I assume of the town, in the back throwing out handfuls of tomatoes at people. At this point it's pretty obvious what happens... The crowd goes crazy and everyone starts picking up the tomatoes and chucking them at one another. This happened for five trucks in total, and by the end there were tomatoes about ankle deep in places in the street. Most people went for long-distance throws, which is good I guess, but they hurt more when they come from farther away. The nice thing about that though is that you can pelt somebody and watch their reaction while they have no clue who just threw the tomato at them. The same thing happens to you though... there's no way of knowing who threw what. At one point some guys who were into removing other guys' shirts saw that I had mine still intact and ripped it off me, which was a little disturbing but they were giving me pats on the back afterwards, and it was only a black t-shirt that was, at that point, covered with grease and tomatoes, so I don't feel at a loss. It happened to plenty of other guys too. After an hour of this total madness, the cannon went off again and everyone started moving out via a street marked exit, though lots of people were still throwing tomatoes. This was the scariest part actually, because everybody tries to rush out at once and it bottlenecked reeeeally bad where I was. I was getting compressed HARD from all sides for a little while and some people were pushing so we would move fast for a moment and everyone would trip over the feet of the people in front of them. Eventually I made it out and to the train station. I looked for Corey for a while and decided he must have headed back to the hotel, so I got in line to get in the train station. I realized when I was about 10 people back from the front that you had to have a shirt to get through, so I ran back to one of many street vendors selling tees and picked one up for 10E. I skipped back through the line and got on the train, then transferred to the subway, then walked about 15 blocks from the closest subway stop to the hotel, stopping along the way for some chocolate croissants, water and Sunny Delight (which is everywhere here). I got back to the hotel expecting Corey to be here, but he wasn't. Eventually he came in... Turns out he looked for me for a while, then ran into some people we had met in Barcelona, then headed back this way. My eyes are burning from getting grease and tomatoes in them, and my shoulders and arms are bruised from helping guys up the pole, but all in all it was definitely an awesome experience.

Today in Ibiza...

We´re about to head out to rent a Hobie Cat on the beach... No photos because we´re not dumb enough to take our cameras, but it should be fun...


This is the most beautiful place in the world. Point blank. Can´t write much now, I´m on a lobby-computer and almost out of time, but please, look up Cala d´Hort on Flickr or Google Images. We rented a scooter today and hung out there for most of the day. I bought a snorkel and goggles and saw some really colorful fish in the clearest water I´ve ever seen. It really is incredible here, and at least in comparison to the rest of Europe it´s not expensive. Food may even be cheaper here than anywhere else we´ve been so far. WOW WOW WOW is all I keep saying. If you come to Europe, please come here. You won´t be disappointed. I was worried because my expectations were so high that I figured there was no way it could live up to them, but it has... exceeded them actually. More from Valencia on the night of the 25th, with pictures, because they can tell 1000 words, apparently. Maybe these will tell more.



Hello all,

Sorry I have been so slow with the updates lately. We are in Barcelona at a cafe near Sagrada Familia... The hostel we stayed at last night had wifi, but it wasn't working last night. I'll put some photos up soon. We are flying out to Ibiza on Vueling Airlines at 4:45. The trip is only 45 mins, which is worth the extra cost over a 9 hour ferry. Hopefully our hotel in Ibiza will have wireless. It's going to be nice to relax and "sit still" for a while, if you will. More soon, I hope.