2007 Europe Blog

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18 days till I leave!

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Hello everyone,

This is pretty much my first blog....other than the fairly brief ones I have posted on my myspace page. I've never been one to pour my heart and guts out onto the internet, and I'm not about to either. That's not what this is about. This is about keeping you posted through my upcoming trip and adventure to Europe. That, and also documenting for myself exactly what the hell it is I will have done over there for 10 weeks. Because come a year from now, or less, and definitely more, it will all blend in and become hazy. And my time over could quite possibly be some of the best days I'll ever have, and I should try to preserve it in words as much as I can. And I mustn't forget my camera. Or my passport.

So with only 2 1/2 weeks left until I leave, I thought it would be a good time to get this blog rolling, and perhaps brainstorm a few ideas as to what I'll do when I get there. There is a very loose, flexible plan, but I really need to organize a few essensial things in terms of routing, reservations, getting cheap deals...etc. This needs to be done tomorrow. In fact, I think I've missed out on some of the cheap deals. Maybe I'll just leave it until Saturday.

Last night I bought my Eurail train pass. It's valid for 15 days within a 2 month period. It's on it's way to my house via FedEx. Not that there's ANYTHING wrong with UPS. Anyway, so here's the rough plan. I fly to London, train it to Scotland, fly to Amsterdam, take is eeeeaaassyy there for a while, then train it to Paris. Then I'll probably go east to somewhere in Germany, perhaps take a boat down the Rhine into Switzerland. Maybe ski, maybe hike, maybe just take in the scenery, and then make my way into the South of France. Cannes, Monte Carlo, Nice....etc. Then over into Italy...Florence, Venice, Pisa, Rome. Then I'll take a boat over to Greece. After that I'll probably take a short excursion over to Ireland. Then I'll fly back to Vienna, then take a boat down the Danube into Budapest. 5 days there, and then up to Prague. After that, I should have a few days to go back somewhere?...or go somewhere else?...or get more Guinness in Ireland?? I will need to get my bottle of Irish whiskey to bring home. Perhaps it'll be Ireland.

Well I guess that's all I have to say right now. Lots to do still before I leave. We'll be in touch.

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Time to ration my milk

Thursday, March 24, 2007

It's that time now. I need milk, but I leave in two days. Do I get the 2 litre and hope that it lasts me until I walk out the door? Or do I get the 2 litre and the 1 litre on top of it just to be safe? There's nothing worse than dumping milk though. I suppose it'll depend on what time I make it to the store today. So much to do this weekend. I tried to make a list of all the things I need to do, but unfortunately I only got one thing on paper...and that was "make a list of things to do".

So yesterday was my last day of work. After weeks of flip flopping, bargaining, silly conditions, and other things I'd rather not even discuss.....they finally made the final decision that they wouldn't give me a leave of absence. Which is really what I wanted in the first place because it's the easiest way out of that place. Unfortunately after all of it though, I'm left with a bit of a bad taste in my mouth. The biggest shame is leaving the people though, because I really do like some of them. But...such is life I suppose. I'm so glad though that the last minute "leaving the job" bash turned out to be such a good night. My head still hurts.

So now a new chapter. A new leaf on the tree. On Monday, I leave my place in a time capsule, and when I return, this life now will seem like a lifetime ago. It'll be a new season, a new era, and hopefully I'll have a new found conception of how to accommodate a regular pay cheque into the pursuit of acting and film making career. Always a struggle. One thing I certainly hope for when I get back is that my car will start. Otherwise, I'll be forced to finally come up with a new blurb on my myspace profile. And that can be a lot of work.

Well I guess that's all I have to say for now. I really don't know how much I'll be doing this blogging while I'm over there. I really don't know what anything is going to be like once I get over there. It'll be a day to day, playing it by ear, winging it type of 10 weeks....and maybe...it'll be a bit longer. I'll play that by ear too. At least I don't have a job to come back to.

Until next time, take care.

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London

Friday, March 30, 2007

Leaving WinnipegThat was me in Winnipeg just before I left! Small bag for 10 weeks?? Nahhh.

I can't even tell you how much fun I'm having. In fact...it may have to be a 12 week trip. London was a blast. The first day I got there in the morning...went and had a pub lunch, then had a little snooze in Leicester Sqaure. Then I saw an afternoon play, an excellent version of Hitchcock's 39 Steps.

Then I headed back to the hostel where I met some other Canadians with whom I drank with until the wee hours. That was a long day 36ish hour day....but an excellent start to the trip. We Canadians, after many a beverage, were the first to sign the Canadian flag hanging over the bar. It had looked a little barren next to all the other countries on the ceiling. The next morning...I got a picture.

Canadian Flag

Wednesday I met up with relatives who I hadn't seen in 5 years. Great to see them! I also managed to see my brother that night as he was passing through London on the way back home from a business trip.

Yesterday I went to Stonehenge. Quite something....

Stonehenge

Now...I've just arrived on train in Edinburgh. So far...what a city! EVERYTHING is sooo old, and everything is made of stone. Every single building is a castle. All I've done so far is walked to the hostel, but wow. The Scottish countryside is quite spectacular also. My Scottish friend Sheena and her boyfriend are meeting me here any minute, and I think we are going out with a bunch of her friends tonight. Tomorrow we'll head to her town, Aberdeen, where she'll show me around.

What else can I tell you? It's been so busy...it's nice to finally have this opportunity to sit and check email and what not. I know I'm forgetting to write something....I've been brainstorming blog lines in my head....but they're not coming to me.

I'm in Paris on Monday...maybe you'll hear from me again then!

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Sunny Scotland??....to Paris, France

Friday, April 6, 2007

Well I've got a bit of catching up to do I guess. It seems I never have the time, or the right kind of computer to do the post I've been wanting to post. It's been super busy. The last place I was at I couldn't upload photos...so that was no good. And it would have taken me a day and a half anyway, because it was in Paris where all the keyboards are completely backwards. Many of the keys are in different places, and you have to press the "control" key to access all the numbers...and also...the PERIOD! Seems a little inefficient to me to have to use the ctrl button at the end of every sentence. But whatever...I'm just passing through.

Anyway, Scotland was great! It was sunny the whole 3 days I was there. I think the whole rain thing is probably a myth. Edinburgh is lovely. I met up with Sheena and Dave and we went to Edinburgh Castle, followed by the undergroung Vaults tour, which was quite interesting.

It was also in Edinburgh where I had a sampling of Haggis. It's an aquired taste.

Haggis

Later that day we drove up north to Sheena's home town of Aberdeen. Very nice place. We went to a ruined castle along the coast which was the perfect thing to do in the short amount of time I was there. It's situated on it's own private rock amongst absolutely gorgeous scenery with nothing else around. The landscape looks exactly how it had back when it was lived in 400 - 600 years ago.

After that Sheena let me take the wheel and practice driving on the left side of the road, and the right side of the car!

Driving in Scotland

It's actually much easier than I thought it would be. It's a bit intimidating when you're sitting on the passenger side, but it actually came to me rather quickly. I even went around some round abouts! It's all in good practice for when I rent a car in Ireland for 3 days!

The next morning I caught a train to Glasgow where I caught my flight to Paris. And I had a lovely picture of the Eiffel Tower to post here, but I'm on a Mac, and apparently you can't rotate pictures on a Mac, so I've decided not to post it all. I'm rather annoyed. I hate Macs.

In Paris, I went the the Louvre, the Rodin Museum, did a hell of a lot of walking around, and also went to the Salvador Dali museum, which was excellent. He's my fav. Paris is just how you'd expect it to be. Music everywhere. In fact one of the highlights of my time there was when I was riding the metro. At one stop a couple guys got on and played The Sound of Silence on guitar. Then everyone clapped afterwards. On the subway no less!

Other than that, Paris was great. Tricky to find your way around sometimes, but great once you figure things out. French bread seems to be extremely popular there.

Anyway, so last night I took the overnight train to Berlin, which is where I am now. I'll be here for 3 nights, and then I'm off to Amsterdam.

Auf weidersehen!

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Berlin

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Kaiser Wilhelm MemorialBerlin was fantastic. I loved it a lot more than I expected I would. In fact originally, skipping it altogether was a possibility. But I'm glad I didn't, and I may even go back at the end of the trip.

It's a different city than other cities because it's almost all new. Everything was bombed flat after the war. All that really remains in West Berlin from before the war is this church to your left. They left it only to stand as a reminder of what war will do.

Having said that, the history is unbelievable. There is so much. And again, unlike other cities, the majority of it takes place in the past 100 years. I had an excellent tour guide for two days. Very informative, interesting, and educational. It is mind boggling how much the Nazi's deceived the rest of the world, and what they got away with. And equally to follow them, the Russians and their propaganda. No war movie, no Holocaust movie, and no history documentary gives you even close to the same sense it is to walk around these places, and be in the space, and see the propaganda that still stands in the city, and also in their museums. Unbelievable that all this took place until less than 20 years ago.

Anyways, that was perhaps my biggest interest in this city. But Berlin is also a big party town. There are a ton of bars, and there is nothing like having a delicious Schnitzel sandwich for breakfast. On Saturday I went to a football game at Olympic Stadium. That is the stadium that Hitler had built and opened the 1936 Olympic Games with. Also where Zidane did his famous head butt last year.

Olympic Stadium

Very cool to be there. And of course, Germans love their beer. Well, everyone loves their beer. There is endless amount of selection, and it is all so good. They don't mess around with their quantity either. This is the 1 litre size plastic cup that my delicious Warsteiner came in at the game.

1 Litre of Beer

So go to Berlin, it's great. I will go back.

So now I'm Amsterdam. Heh. I think right now I'm going to head to the Van Gogh Museum.

Eiffel TowerAnd I guess on an unrelated note, and while I'm at a place where I can rotate and upload pictures, here is my Eiffel Tower shot. It really is quite a fascinating site from wherever you can see it in Paris. It's so majestic.

I should have mentioned before, but you can track where I have been and where I am going on my hostelworld page. It is here.

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Time to move on

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Hello from Amsterdam. Or perhaps I should say...Hi, from Amsterdam.

Well today I start a new segment of the trip. I'm off to Cologne very shortly. Tomorrow I catch a boat down the Rhine River part ways, and then I'll end up in Frankfurt tomorrow night. The next day I head into Switzerland.

Always on the go. Always getting used to a new place, learning my way around. Usually hungry, but I guess that's pretty normal for me anyway. Always guarding my things with my life. So far on this trip I've met two people who've come to Amsterdam and have had either their wallet or passport stolen. Always trying to find things...wall outlets to charge cell phone, batteries, and ipod...laundromats so I don't smell too bad after my 4 day clothing supply runs out. Always have to been thinking about or planning things. Never knowing anyone for more than two days. But...it's fun. Definitely definitely so much fun!

Amsterdam is everything you'd ever thought it was...and probably more. There's a few attractions, but really, other than that, there's only one thing to do here. Well...perhaps one group of things. Sex, drugs, and booze....but mostly the first two things. And definitley a different crowd here because of that. It's a bit harder to meet people here because everybody has come in groups and there aren't very many solo travelers, like yours truly. Everyone told me three days would be plenty here, and they were right. There's really only so much drinking and smoking one person can do by themselves, unless you're in the comfort of your own home that is. You know that atmosphere that's around when you go to some crazy outdoor / festival type concert? It's pretty much like that everywhere here...at least in the red light district where I'm staying. But...again...it's good! It's also a bit of a maze around here too. Although somehow, it seems that whatever you direction you head in, you always seem to end up in the same place. Very strange.

Other than that...I went to the Van Gogh Museum which was excellent. I also went to Rembrandt's house, the Heineken Brewery, and Anne Frank's house. All good.

Now, I'm hoping there's a plug on the train...I'm in dying need of electricity.

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Chocolate and Cheese

Sunday, April 15, 2007

BernNo, I'm not referring to the Ween album. I'm referring to Switzerland, which is where I am now. Switzerland, where they have all the best things. Swiss banks accounts, Swiss army knives, Swiss chocolate, and of course, Swiss cheese. The scenery here is simply spectacular. I could ride the train around all day and be perfectly content. And the weather has been gorgeous, +25 for the past three days.

I spent last night in Bern, which is where this photo was taken. It's a very nice city. There's a ton of places to eat, shop, and there's a ton of nightlife. I spent the morning walking around the banks of the river that runs through there. Gorgeous.

Then today I caught the train to Geneva, which was such a good train ride. So much scenery to see. So far it's doesn't seem like there's a heck of a lot to do here in Geneva, but I'm happy to be here for two nights just to relax and stay in this awesome hostel I'm at. After being in a different place for the past 3 or 4 nights with 5 or 7 other people crowding the room, it's nice to be here in just a 3 person dorm for a couple nights. And it seems as though there's only 2 of us taking the room as of yet. So, that is alllllright. And, I apologize if I seem to rambling a bit. I went for a delicious fondue dinner tonight, had a beer, and then ordered what I thought was a glass of wine for 5 Swiss Francs, but it ended up being 5 glasses of wine...for about 22 Swiss Francs. No problem though, she was a lovely Italian waitress, and of course, I don't mind drinking 5 glasses of Swiss wine. And, Swiss Francs are even a bit less than the Canadian Dollar. So...here I am...drinking some Heineken while I write this blog in case the evening carries on somewhere else.

Anyways, I've yet to tell you about my journey down south and into Switzerland. From Amsterdam I took a train to Cologne. As soon as I got off the train I couldn't believe the weather. It was +25 and it hasn't let up since, even coming into the foothills of the Alps. From just south of Cologne, I took a boat down the Rhine River all the way to Mainz, where I caught a train to Frankfurt. The boat ride was fantastic. There are ruined castles all along the banks of the river up on the hills. It's really spectacular. And with the weather and the sun, I got my first 2007 tan.

I can't say much about Frankfurt. I only stayed there one night, and didn't really look around much. From what I could tell, it basically seems like a big business city. Nothing really exciting.

Off to Nice on Tuesday. Should be...nice. On the same stop I'll see Cannes and Monte Carlo. The French Riviera! And then into Italy!

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Into the thick of the Alps

Monday, April 16, 2007

MatterhornI apologize if the blog entries are coming a little fast. I just figure I'd take advantage of such occasions when the internet, and usb, are so easily accessible. And of course also, when I have something worthwhile to post about.

I knew I wanted to see some sort of scenery here in Switzerland, so I made a fairly spontaneous decision to make the journey out to see the famous Matterhorn today. It was well worth it. From Geneva, it's about a 3.5 hour journey to Zermatt through some fanstastic mountain scenery. About 2 hours of that journey is on the regular high speed trains, and the last part is on this old rickety mountain railroad track, winding up the edges of mountains, through tunnels, and over bridges. It was great.

Finally you get to Zermatt, a small village where there are no cars. There was skiing there, and I was a little upset about not taking advantage of it, but it was 22 in the village and +1 at the very peak, so I don't think I was missing any spectacular skiing, just the novelty of having said that I had. Next time I will, and next time I'll go in the winter.

Either way, I got to see the spectacular Matterhorn on a glorious day. The village is very nice too. It's pretty much a ski village now, perhaps even a bit like Whistler, except with much more charm and history. If you walk down the old streets, there are still buildings from the 16th century. I don't think they were as much into skiing back then, but I'm sure they've always loved the Matterhorn.

It was here that I decided to purchase my shiny new Swiss Army Knife.

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Murphy's Law??

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Well just as 90% of all the French I've ever known creeps back into my mind, and I finally order a complete meal without anybody even knowing I don't speak the language, I'm about to leave for Italy.

I pretty much had two full days here in the French Riviera, and most of it went out the window. Dans la toilette. The best part of my time here was the train ride in, when I saw the most spectacular volcanic rocks just west of Cannes. These bright orange rocks looked so nice against the turquoise water and the sunny skies, I had immediately hoped to make it back there just to take some pictures. But upon arrival at my hostel, mon ami, Frederick, who runs the place, suggested I go east towards Monaco and see a place called Eze Village. He also told me about this train strike which was to happen the following day and told me I'll need to take the bus there. So then I settled into my hostel, and welcomed my new roommates, three French Canadian girls. The next day we all planned on going to the beach at Eze Village, but after learning that there is no beach there, we took a different bus. After a 30 minute bus ride, and after it clouded over, we got to a beach. We stayed for a while, they got cold, and we left. We got on a jam packed bus, in traffic, and about an hour and a half later we were back where we started....and it was sunny again. That was day one. Should have gone to Cannes for the beach.

Today I decided to check out Cannes and also try and make it back to those volcanic rocks. First I had to reserve my ticket for tomorrow to get out of this place, so I stood in line for an hour. Then I got a ticket for Cannes (trains come every 30 minutes), and ended up waiting for an hour and a half because the trains never came.

Cannes is nice. The beaches are great, perfect sand. I also saw where they have the film festival, and there seems to be a lot of preparation going on for it right now. Everybody is walking around with id tags.

So I started to walk west, for about 45 minutes until I decided it was kinda far to walk, so I went to the train station and got a ticket for the next train going that way at 14:36. So I wait for 30 minutes and get on the train that came at exactly 14:36 (it was the only train there was, and I was the only one at this station). It goes about a half a kilometre and stops. They come and tell me I'm on the wrong train, or it broke, or something. Don't know....I got on the only train that stopped there, and at the exact time it was supposed to be there. They told me the next train was at 16:00, so in all my frustration and wasted time, I decided to screw it and I walked all the way back to Cannes on the beach.

At that point I decided my luck isn't happening here, and I'll just wait until I get to Italy, where I can fight the mobs of Italians all trying to pick pocket me.

On top of all that, my toes hurt now. I did all this walking in these cheap sandals I bought here. It was too hot for my shoes, and they were stinky, so I got some temporary sandals. They're the kind with the wedge in between the toes, and that is totally new to me. My roommate said I'd get used to it, and I did a little bit I suppose. At least by the middle of the day I didn't have to limp anymore, but still, overall it seems about as uncomfortable as sitting on a poorly designed bicycle seat.

So that was my time in Nice. Real nice. I didn't even get to see Monte Carlo, although my hopes of playing some poker there was kind of silly anyway. The casino there is for serious high rollers, and it's highly unlikely they'd have the dollar table I'd be looking for. Perhaps I'll attempt some missed points on this trip the next time I'm back around here. Maybe one day when I get invited to the Cannes Film Festival.

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Ahhh Tuscany

Sunday, April 22, 2007

PisaJust when I thought Berlin might end up being the best stop on this trip, I arrive in Florence (aka Firenze).

Of course on my way here though, I made a quick stop in Pisa to have a look at the Leaning Tower. It is in fact still leaning, and has yet to fall. It won't be long though, relatively speaking.

I've decided there's four very important things which make a stop on a trip like this exceptional, as opposed to just good. They are, good food, good drink, good company, and a great hostel. In Germany there was obviously a wide range of delicious beers, succulent schnitzels, and I met a lot of people there. Here it is much the same so far. The pizza, the pasta, and the wine, oh the wine. The wine is so good I can't even tell you. I'm also in such an excellent hostel with great people running it. It makes all the difference. In fact last night, I even had the entire 4 person room all to myself! That was a treat.

The first night I arrived, I immediately met my two American roommates, and we went out for a delicious dinner, and then some drinks afterwards. So right away I was introduced to how unbelievable this city actually is. There is so, so, so much to do here. And it's all within such a small area. It's almost overwhelming at first. The architecture is stunning. It really hasn't changed very much in the past four to five hundred years. Everything is how it's always been.

The next day I went to see the Michelangelo's David. Incredible. It's so big, and it's so detailed. I took it easy the rest of the day, and then found some excellent Canadian company (hello Chelsea!) to have one of the best meals I've had yet on this trip. We found a totally non touristy restaurant with excellent food, and of course, the best wine I've had yet. The beef I had was most certainly comparable to our Canadian beef. The oil is excellent here too. They give you oil and vinegar at every restaurant to have with your bread. It's so much better than at home. I could eat it forever. In fact today for lunch, I was even dipping my pizza into it. Deeeelicious.

Today I went to the big museum here, The Uffizi. The museum itself is a work of art. It's also been a musuem since the 16th century, and a lot of the stuff there has been there since then. Mind blowing. Anyway, then I walked around a couple gardens and got some excellent city pictures. I'm used to my thong sandals, although my feet hurt. I guess that's what you get for €6.

Tomorrow I'm off to Venice for the day, then on Tuesday I'm doing a bike tour in and around the country and vineyards.

And then Rome on Wednesday. Ciao!

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Venice and a bike tour

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

VeniceVenice was nice. It was a long day with the three hour train ride each way, but worth it.

The first thing after I did after I got off the train was buy a map for €2.50. I figured it would help me in some way as to decide what there is to do there, and maybe help me find my way around. Well, it gave me a couple ideas of what to do, but otherwise, not even a map can save you from getting lost there. The city is literally a rat maze. Unless you find yourself at an obvious landmark, the map is completely useless. Everything looks the same, the street names that are on the streets aren't listed on the map, and you're simply at the mercy of luckily ending up at the train station, or a water taxi stop where they can take you there. Most streets are as small as the one to your left. You endlessly wind your way around, and occasionally come out into a clearing, where there's probably some monument and a bunch of restuarants. Quite often you might think you're heading somewhere interesting, but you end up at a dead end brick wall. Or in the case below, a dead end into the canal.

Venice

There's not really that much to do there really except see the beauty of it all. However if you do go, you should really give yourself lots of time, just so you can find your way out.

The next day I went on a bike tour through Chianti. This was a great day. I luckily got a day with a really small group of only 4, and of course, continued gorgeous weather. I hadn't ridden a bike since the mid '90's, but it all came back to me pretty quickly. We started with a winery tour which is inside a 12th century castle. Then we rode around up and down the hills of Tuscany. Gorgeous. It was so nice to get out of the crowds, see some scenery, and feel the wind in my hair. We had a huge lunch, with a ton of bread and wine, and then continued on. A good day.

I bought a nice bottle of wine at the winery, and I think I'll probably save that one for Ireland. Why Ireland you ask? Well there's been a slight addition to my trip since I left. My lovely Amber, whom I met on New Year's Eve, has decided to join me for the Ireland and Salzburg segment of my trip. So I thought I'd save the good bottle for her arrival. It's so nice to meet someone adventurous, and willing to step out of the mundane for a couple weeks to do something fun, worthwhile, and memorable. I look forward to it!

Now I'm in Rome for five nights. Then off to Cinque Terre on the Mediterranean coast to kick back for a couple days before I head to Greece...where I'll kick back some more in Santorini!

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Roma and the ghastly Pompeii

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Tomorrow it'll be five weeks since I've left. That will theoretically be half way through my trip, should I decide not to extend it by a week or two. I'm not sure what to say about that. It feels like it's been much much longer, and yet at the same time, the time is flying by. I guess that means that I've been busy, which is certainly true. I've been infinitely more productive and have lived a lot more than if I'd stayed home and slaved away with work. I certainly don't miss it, and I am certainly glad I'm not returning to that job, especially under the undisclosed circumstances in which I left. I don't think I'm going to need it anyway. Lately it feels like the connections at home and around have been growing and bringing new opportunities. Whether it be in the acting world, or in the world where I will work and make money, without having to dread every single day. Change is good, and the unknown will always open new doors.

ColosseumSo, back to Rome. Rome is obviously an incredible place, and it certainly wasn't built in a day. It is an incredible amalgamation of the past and present. It is a thriving, bustling, busy city, and yet in the middle of all of it, are the remains of an empire that once was. History from over 2000 years. From a civilization older than Christianity. And it all stands in the middle of this city with busy traffic going by, restaurants, and of course, tourists. I'm a little touristed out. I'm sick of line ups, the crowds, the tour groups, the slow walkers, the expensive food, .....the American accents. This is actually the last touristy stop I have for a few weeks. This next week is the perfect time for me to train off to some beaches where I can kick back, go for some hikes, get some sun, and take a break from the sites and the continuous planning of what to do next.

Anyways, the highlight of Rome is the Sistine Chapel. It is absolutely incredible. I can't say anything else about it, you just have to see it. The Colosseum is interesting too, but there isn't much left on the inside because it was all gutted in the 16th century and used to build St. Peter's Basilica and square.

PompeiiYesterday I took a day trip to Pompeii. Pompeii is the Roman city which was buried by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD. To your right, you can see a typical street with the fateful volcano in the background. Now, much of it has been excavated and you are able to walk around the old Roman town which has been left in a time capsule for 2000 years. It is very eerie. It is also a great eye opener as to how these people were back then. Suprisingly, I don't really think it's that much different than we are now. They were certainly much better architects. The wealthy lived in big houses with big gardens. They had many bedrooms, lots of art, and nice kitchens with marble counters. All of this still remains too. You can see how they cooked. And you can see the incredible amphitheatre they used to attend, which was built in 70 BC. A lot of their art and frescoes still remain quite clearly. In the brothel, there are many rooms with stone beds, as well as some fairly explicit paintings. In fact, I was surprised how explicit they actaully were. I'll post the pictures when I get home!

MummyAnd then of course there are the bodies that were found. Mummified by the molten lava. Their togas visible too. Frozen in time from that last second. Some of them were struggling, one was praying, and one of them you could see he had his hand over his mouth, gasping for air. Unbelievable. A city frozen in time.

So what does it all mean? What of us is going to be remembered 2000 years from now? Our art? Our buildings? Our Hustler magazines?

Who knows. Maybe it'll be the simplest things we do today that civilizations will marvel about in the future. Or maybe some of us will do or create things which will last hundreds or thousands of years and make our names as timeless as Michelangelo's or Ceasars'. For me though, it wasn't going to happen at my day job.

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A little slice of Heaven

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Well if I live to be 90, I'll probably look back on my life and remember last night as one of the top five nights of the entire ride. For my last night in Cinque Terre, I headed down to the beach with a bottle of wine and my ipod. It's a completely secluded beach enclosed by rock cliffs, and the scenery is unbelievable. Anyway, to my suprise I had the entire beach all to myself with absolutely nobody in site. I sat back under the moonlight with the waves, drank my wine, and freely cranked out my favorite music in the world. It was an absolutely perfect couple of hours.

Solitude was actually the theme of the day yesterday. There are many hiking trails in the area. The day before I did the main one along the coast which was great. It's supposedly supposed to take five hours, but I did it in just over three. Anyway, yesterday I did one of the inland hikes which goes much higher up in the hills. The entire hike I never saw anyone else and I had the entire mountain range and valley views all to myself. No one as far as the eye could see. It was superb. The only real shock I had on the hike was running into some strange animal...which I slowly backed away from. I'm not sure what it was...I've seen it in movies. A realy ugly thing...it might have been a wild boar...I'm not sure. Anyways, all this peace and scenery was just what the doctor ordered after all the crowds and busyness in Rome.

I'm now crossing the Adriatic on the ferry from Italy to Greece. It's an unbelievable ferry. I feel like I'm on the Titanic. There's several bars, a casino, a few restaurants, internet, a game room, and....I've got my own bed! It's a 21 hour crossing which I've been looking forward to since before I left. There's shorter routes, but I wanted the long one.

Anyway, off to Santorini on Saturday, then a day in Athens, then off to Ireland.

Start packing your bag Amber, and don't miss that flight!

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Greece

Monday, May 7, 2007

Well the rest of that ferry ride was fantastic. After I'd finished that last blog entry, I also found a pool on the top of the boat. And as it turned out, I not only had my own bed, but I had the entire dorm area (which sleeps 18) all to myself! So it was a pretty good ride. One of the bars turned into a night club at night too.

Anyway, once again, after getting used to Italy, and somehow almost making sense of some the language, I change countries. Funny how that happens. After learning my basic words and using them on a regular basis, I could start to understand other things too, like train station announcements, standard questions in restaurants. I just knew somehow. So after all this, I finally arrive in Greece and it's all brand new to me. And of course here they don't even have the same alphabet, so it's completely different. I don't know one word...it's all Greek to me.

So after a, shall we say, interesting, night in Athens, I caught an early ferry to Santorini. I had hoped Santorini better be bloody gorgeous, just so it would clear my mind from the previous stressful night, which you can ask me about when you see me. Anyways, it was indeed gorgeous enough and the good times of this trip resumed.

It's incredibly cheap here, especially compared to Rome. Every night I've gone out for dinner so far, I've had a full meal, sometimes two courses, a half litre of wine, and always a complementary desert drink, all for about 10 euros. Although this is supposedly a romantic island, it hasn't bothered me too much being here alone. Probably mostly because I'm used to it by now, and also because there's only 3 more days before I have my Irish company. But mostly the biggest issue with being in a place like this on your own, is trying to apply suntan lotion on your back. I didn't really want to ask the guy running the hotel, so I went ahead with it myself. And although I think I did a pretty good job, I'm nevertheless burnt anyway. Oh well, it's difficult to try and get a proper tan within only a three day period. It's a fine balance between spf and hours in the sun.

BathroomAnyway, I'll leave you with this picture of the bathroom I have in my place here in Santorini. Take note of where the shower is. There's no separation or anything...just a drain on the floor. It's almost like they completely forgot about the shower and they said, "oh gee...well let's just put it here." I made it through though...it's just messy and wet. Also in Santorini you can't flush toilet paper...you put it all in the garbage. Yeah...I'll leave you with that lovely thought. Other than that I've got a hell of a deal. My own room, with my own bathroom, a tv, an air conditioner, and a balcony, all for 20 euro a night. Pretty sweet.

Back to Athens tomorrow where I'll see the Acropolis, then off to Ireland on Thursday.

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So ya, thought ya, might like to, GO TO THE SHOW!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Well after getting stuck in a traffic jam in Milan, and missing my connecting flight to Dublin, I had to pay an absolute fortune to buy a new last minute ticket. It was a disaster of a night knowing that I'd already paid for a nice hotel room right by the airport in Dublin, where I would sleep like a baby, shower like a king, and be all fresh and clean for Amber's arrival. Instead I got to spend the most expensive night of my trip on a marble floor in a Milan airport. Stinky, exhausted, and annoyed. And unfortunately it wasn't even worth all the extra money I'd ended up spending either, nor the overwhelming frustration. Anyway, after arriving more than 13 hours late in Dublin, and two hours after Amber's arrival, it didn't take too long before my new company had calmed my nerves, and lifted my spirits once again. We picked up the car I had reserved, found the highway, and drove off to Galway in the west of Ireland. Amber and IMy little bit of left side driving in Scotland paid off for this section of the trip. I quickly familiarized myself with the ways of the road here, and actually had quite a lot of fun driving around for three days. Round abouts here are absolutely brilliant. They are so much more efficient and sensible than our ridiculous overuse of stop signs at every single block and intersection. I loved the driving here.

Anyway, Galway was very nice. And of course the Guinness in Ireland was as amazing as I had remembered it from only just 10 months ago from the last time I was here. We didn't have too much planned for our trip out in the country and decided we would take it easy, explore things as they came, and play things by ear for the most part. However after looking at a few flyers and brochures, we did in fact discover that there was quite a lot that we could do outside of our hotel room as well.

Fast forward a few days and we found ourselves back in Dublin. Immediately upon arriving I was amazed and floored to hear the rumours that my most favorite musician, the incredible Roger Waters, was to be playing in Dublin the very next night! Roger WatersI couldn't believe it! What was even more strange and incredible was that when I was unpacking my bag, I mysteriously found at the very bottom a my bag, a TICKET for that very show the next night! Can you believe the coincidence?? Anyway, we decided to seize this opportunity, and went and lined up early for the show to try and get ourselves a good standing spot on the floor. Well, the venue's capacity is 9000, and I can't lie to you, our two spots were better than the 8998 others. We were DIRECTLY front and centre, right in front of Mr. Pink Floyd himself. Now as some of you may know, I had also had front and centre for him last year in Ireland too, and I had thought I would never ever be so close again. In fact the thought of that was almost saddening to me for some months after that previous show. So, when we got to our spots at the front, I really couldn't believe where I was standing again for the second time for my favorite music in the world. Twice in a lifetime. Incredible. Perhaps it is just the luck of the Irish passed on to me. This country certainly is good to me. The Guinness is like candy, the Irish coffee is delicious, the English is spoken wonderfully, and everybody is always your friend here. Good things happen in Ireland, and I will certainly be back yet again. Comfortably numb indeed.

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New love in Salzburg, and old roots in Budapest

Monday, May 28, 2007

Well I knew my trip would inevitably change after the Greece portion, mostly because I had done most of the major cities, and also because I would have Amber's company for a while, followed by my grandma's company in Budapest. Now I said in my very first post that I'm not one to pour my heart and guts out on internet, so I'm not going to get into how much more crazy me and Amber are about each other. Nor will I get into how much it has not only changed the rest of my trip, but also my life, and my excitement about getting home. Yes, I am finally looking forward to getting home, but even more so, I can't wait to get back to Berlin. Berlin was one of my two favorite stops on this trip, so I thought I would go back and fill in the holes of the things I missed. I look forward to that part of it, but I'm also going to be there on my birthday. And for my birthday, Amber is coming BACK! Could this trip get any better? We'll meet in Berlin, spend a couple days there, then go to Paris for a couple, and then back to London where we'll both return home, only 2 days apart. Funny how I had to come all the way to Europe to find the love of my life all the way back home. Wasn't there a movie about this?? Hmmm...I guess if not, I could always make one.

So anyways, Salzburg was lovely. We went to Mozart's two residences and enjoyed some fine schnitzel and beer. We then went on to Budapest where met up with my grandma, which had been planned since last July. Amber stayed one day, then flew home after a hard goodbye. My grandma showed me around her old city, and showed me the places she used to live with my Dad before they escaped the Hungarian revolution in '56. Very interesting and lucky to have her show me those places first hand, and to hear more stories of their life there and the way things were.

I left Budapest, had a quick walk around Vienna in the afternoon and then came up to Prague, which is where I am now. I'm staying at an old friend's place who I haven't seen since I was about 14 or 15. It is nice here, and very cheap. The first night we went out and had 2 half litre beers, two shots, a glass of wine, and a whiskey, all for about $10 CDN. Tomorrow I head down to Cesky Krumlov, an old picturesque town just south of here. Thank you for the recommendation Lindsay, I'm sure it'll be a few days of just what I need right now.

So there you have it. I'm pretty much on the last leg of this trip. The posts have been slow lately because I haven't had much internet time lately. Oh, and despite my desire to come home now, I have gone ahead anyway and extended my trip the extra week I had expected. Right from the start I wanted to finish with a week around small German towns, which is what I'll do after Cesky Krumlov. So although I'm partially "going through the motions" right now, I still really want to do that and get back into my solo traveling mode again for a short, and final leg of this trip. And then my birthday will come before I know it! Only 10 days now. I don't think I've looked forward to a birthday so much since I was probably 7. The end of this trip has gone a direction I never expected, but I'm so glad I did, because it's looking to be just perfect.

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Munich

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Munich is a very intersting city. For one, it is the beer capital of the world. It is also home to almost any German stereotype you've ever seen before. The beer, the German outfits, the music, the men with funny hats. It's all here, and more so here than anywhere else in Germany. The Kingdom of Bavaria. I had been wondering why I hadn't seen many of those things yet, but then I arrived here, and it is all a part of the day to day life.

On the darker side, it was also the birthplace and capital of the Nazi party. This is where Hitler rose to power, where he dodged assassination a few times, and where he wrote "My Struggle" while being imprisoned for the death of 16 Bavarian police officers while trying to revolt the government in 1923.

The Hofbräuhaus beer hall is one of the older beer halls in town and also the most tradional beer hall. I went there for a couple litre sized "masses" of local beer, and it is quite a neat place. If you read the restaurant and beer garden guide, you would read about how the Hofbräuhaus is just what I told you...a tourist must see, and a great place to take in some local beer and live Bavarian music. However if you read the history and landmark guide, you'd find out that on the second floor of the Hofbräuhaus, Hitler made his first public speeches for the Nazi party in 1920.

Like Berlin, there is a lot of dark, and recent, history that has taken place here. Berlin though, is much more open about it, and the past is much more integrated into the present. Munich seems to not be so open about their past quite yet. Their monuments and memorials are harder to find, and when you do find them, you often wouldn't even know what you're looking at. Nevertheless, perhaps that quality makes it even more of an interesting city with a very visceral and recent past.

I am now in Hamburg for the night, and then I head to Berlin tomorrow. I have a date there tomorrow night!

Happy Birthday Freya! Wish I could have been there for your first birthday! Love Uncle Steve.

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Around part of the world in 80 days

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Well I'm back in London now with my relatives. Amber met them the other night and we all had a nice dinner.

80 days it will have been since I left Winnipeg and when I return. It was an incredible trip, and it was the time of my life. I also had the most incredible birthday thanks to Amber. She went way out of her way to make sure it was great, and I love her for it.

80 days and 12 countries. This trip has been an adventure, a history course, and a love story all in one. I don't quite know what'll happen or what I'll do when I get home. I am a different person than I was, and I'll be able to feel like I can settle more into life. This trip was always on the back burner of my mind, but I kept putting it off because I didn't want to miss a phone call for acting work. So when I made the decision to go, I quit my job, and said goodbye to a life and way of being that I knew I wouldn't be returning to. I did end up missing a few jobs unfortunately, but such is life. I got more out of it in the end anyway. I really found what I was looking for in this trip. And of course some problems do not go away as maybe I had hoped they would, but with a new and clear mind, they will be remedied when I return.

I fly home tomorrow, and I will put a blog up soon with a link to my pictures. See you soon.

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Home, home again

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Back home in Canada. Back in the land of the English speaking, the non smoking, and plentiful free toilets. There are clearly many good things about this country, however there are definitely things that the whole of Europe has us beat on. For example, public transport. If I hadn't of been lucky enough to have gotten my car working again for such a reasonable price, I would have been lost and stranded in this city. I have only one option for a bus I can take, and it will only give me two options for a final destination. Those being, west, or not quite as far west. However if Winnipeg happened to be placed somewhere in Europe, I would likely only be a five minute walk from some sort of subway, be it a tube station, the metro, the RER, the S Bahn, or the U Bahn....depending on what country we were in. And yes, Toronto and Vancouver are better than Winnipeg for public transport, but they still don't compare even in the slightest to cities like London, Paris, or Berlin. So that is one definite advantage that Europe has over us. Another is their budget airlines. How nice would it be to be able to fly to Vancouver for the weekend for $100 round trip? It's unheard of here. I will also miss all the good schnitzels and tasty beer. But it's not the end of the world, I will be back.

I apologize it took so long for this final blog entry to be posted. It's taken a while to settle in, and I've been very busy with odds and ends. It took a bit of time to finally get all my pictures up online, and you can find the link to them below. We shall see what will happen in my life now. This trip definitely opened my eyes to a few things and allowed me to explore some of my other interests which I wouldn't normally have done. For example this blog. Out of my whole trip, one of the most enjoyable things that I could keep looking forward to, was writing this blog. At times I felt behind on it, but it always felt good to write something, be creative somehow, and get certain things or ideas out of my head. On top of that, some of you would tell me how much you enjoy reading and keeping up with it. And that would really be very nice, and encouraging to hear. So perhaps writing will be one avenue for me to look at in some form or capacity. Another thing I've always loved is taking pictures. After buying my new camera for this trip, and then getting there and actually having things to take pictures of, I didn't feel quite as limited as I might have in the past. There are definitely a handful of my personal favorites which I may try and do something with. Even if it just means blowing them up and decorating my place with them, which I will definitely do.

Anyways, thanks for reading. It was an excellent trip and the best time of my life so far.

All my pictures can be found at this link: http://trippplecheese.spaces.live.com.

Scroll to the bottom album called "England" and work your way up to the most recent album, "Back to Berlin, Paris, and London".

Ciao!

Grass Stains Pumpkin Scare Another Me: Special Edition