Posted by: rngerlach | June 28, 2007

Fever in Rome, Beauty in Florence!

So we arrived in Rome on Monday June 25th after an overnight ferry ride from Corfu to Brindisi.  Following that, we boarded a 10 hour train to Rome.  Neither of which was I able to employ much rest at  all for my body.  Thus, the first night and only day I spent in Rome was with a high fever.  It hit me that night in our campground bungalow when I was hit with goosebumps, sweating, stiffness, sore throat etc.  Tuesday was our only day in Rome and I was struggling like I haven’t struggled in a long time.  If we were not in Rome, I would have rested all day in my own self pity.  Yet only one day in Rome no time to waste.  We made it to the Colosseum with me stumbling slowly behind my brother like a lost soul.  The two hours spent around and inside the Colosseum seemed as a dream to me I was so out of my element.  Then we walked over to the Forum and saw where Julius Caesar was assassinated and where the orignal senate was held.   At this point I knew I had to separate my concious mind from body in pain in order to enjoy the sights.  This had taken us up to late afternoon after I tried stomaching a pizza margherita which I couldnt finish half of.  Then we stumbled to the Vatican, I had always wanted to see the Sistine Chapel. Yet when we arrived, it was 20 minutes too late as it had already closed.  I didnt know if I should be upset or happy as I did not get to see one of Michelangelo’s most famous works, yet I could finally make it home to sleep.  The whole day was a step by step process as I would be walking for a couple minutes in chills then sweating, then chills then sweating, then the sore throat and headache took hold.  I could not kick the fever for the life of me.  Needless to say, the short time spent in Rome was in a haze not that it seemed all of beauty anyways,  however the Colosseum was awesome in my walking dream.

The next day I woke up after 13 hours of sleep and felt pretty good except the remainder of the sore throat.  We trained it to Firenze, the birthplace of the Rennaissance.  Once again we arrived at our campground which is placed on a terrace overlooking the beautiful Italian City.  By the time I woke up this morning my sickness is all gone but the ten pounds I shed in three days from loss of appetite.  Regaining the strength is my next step.  Florence is a magnificent city, much more beautiful than Rome in my opinion.  We climbed to the top of the Duomo and oversaw the treasure of the Rennaissance.  Our next mission was to see Michelangelo’s other great artwork, the David.  By the time we arrived around 10am, the line wrapped around 2 blocks.  Half way through the line, a father in line behind us from Chicago was greeted by the pigeons above with a huge bird crap.  This pigeon ate well as it got all over Dana and I as well.  How pleasant that is!  Luckily, the family had two kids and had a year supply of shout wipes.  3 Hours later, we entered the Museo Dell’Academia where the David resides.  Wow!  the most beautiful piece of artwork I have ever witnessed in person.  Michelangelo was commissioned to start sculpting the David in 1502 and he completed it in just over three years in 1505.  In our time here in Europe, I have seen many sculptures but none of them are on the same playing field as the David.  Yes it is a sculpture of the naked David after he defeated Goliath.  So please save your homosexual remarks and shed your cultural ignorance until you have the chance to see this incredible artwork.  The detail and intricacy is unrivaled as you can see the veins in the arms and hands, the muscles in the neck, arms and legs.  Everything is proportionate to the body except the feet and hands which are massive which Michelangelo wanted to portray as physical human beauty. 

Our next stop is in Milano tomorrow and Saturday and we will hopefully get to meet up with Tatiana Hulko who has been studying there for the last several months.  Hopefully she can show us a great place to eat and get gelato as we have been budgeting tightly throught Italy in preparation for Switzerland.  We venture to Interlaken for the Swiss Alps on Sunday and look forward to canyoning (natural waterslides in the mountains), hangliding, and enjoying the outdoors of the mountains like we are back in Colorado. 

Posted by: rngerlach | June 24, 2007

Greece Found a Way to My Heart and Soul!

I sit here in a little Greek village in the town of Agios Gordos on the Island of Corfu in Greece on our last day here thinking of a great spot to live right down the street.  I fell in love with this country like no other country.  One thing about a two month backpacking tour through Europe is that you’re hit with many unexpected twists and turns that keep you on your toes continuously.  The places are only a portion of what makes it special, its really about the people who inhabit the land that you visit.  The Greek people have been most gracious to the travellers as we are a big source of their local economy.  However, they live life to the fullest yet so simple.  We began with 3 days in Athens then came to the island of Corfu to visit the Pink Palace resort for backpackers.  Brace yourselves for a long post; grab a coffee, cigarette, kick your feet up, whichever is your preference.  Here we go…

Athens:

Our journey to Athens began in Brindisi Italy where we were due to depart on a ferry @ 5pm on a Sunday. We arrived on an overnight train, no sleep, without a shower feeling grungy yet full of excitement knowing we were heading to the beautiful land of Greece.  We arrived to the port after walking 20 minutes across the small Italian city on a hot day.  Surprise!  Our reservations never posted, so we needed to access the internet to get the confirmation number. Our mission was to go back to town and find internet access. By this time, siesta time arrived in the small Italian city on a Sunday afternoon. No place was open, we walked the city in  scorching heat with our backpacks getting oh so much heavier.  We must have sweat out five lbs.  Another mental break point, remain calm!  All turned out well as we had to buy deck seats at the port then upgrade onboard to a room as we needed a shower and sleep. In respect of your time reading this I will keep it short and finish this amazing story when I get back home, makes for a good dinnertime story, hit me up for In N Out or Cheesecake Factory!  So we arrived in Athens the next day around 1pm and met up with our dearest friend Tyana and her travel buddies, Ricky and Mindy.  We embarked a day on the city going immediately to the Acropolis and were blown away by the Parthenon and all of the marble stones layering the Acropolis.  We then noticed a hill to the north of us from the Acropolis, our next climbing adventure would take place there the next day.  We closed out the night sitting on our balcony watching the beautiful Athenian sunset drinking Boutari, Greek wine.  The next day was full of walking, we covered nearly 10km of the city seeing some of the ancient rouins and searching for any shady spot we could find.  We then embarked on our climb to the highest point in Athens which took nearly 30 minutes in the basking afternoon heat.  Upon reaching the top, I lost my breath as my eyes captured the most beautiful sight they’d ever been exposed to.  Looking down at the Acropolis and the sprawling city of Athens which was much larger than we had expected.  We could see out about 10 miles to the sea, Olympic Stadium, and the neat layout of one of the most unique cities in this world.  This topped off our Athens journey very respectfully as I will never forget that sight.   Next stop, Pink Palace in Corfu, Lets Party like the Greeks!

Corfu:

Yet another overnight journey and arriving at the Pink Palace at 8am.  Extremely exhausted, yet awake enough to know we arrived in paradise.  We were greeted with shots of Ouzo, Greek specialty liquor.  Whew, that woke us up, then we were given breakfast and ready to party.  Our room balcony overlooked the Ionian sea, not much more we could ask for.  The first day consisted of soaking up some much needed rays on the beach and bathing in the crystal clear blue water of the Ionian Sea.  That night, we were given a taste of how to party like Greeks as we did an Ouzo circle, got plates smashed over our head, and danced to Greek music.  Yes, we had plates smashed over our head, not so bad actually as they’re just made of clay.  The second day, we ventured on the Kayak safari and got the best back workout of the trip. We kayaked up the coast, went cliff jumping, wine tasting, then arrived to Aphrodites Island where the locals party twice a year. We climbed to the top and did a Moonshine ceremony in the name of Aphrodites, Goddess of Love!  The nude beaches also gave us a great sight as we kayaked up and down the coast.  Then our third day here was by far the grand finale as we did the booze cruise which was the best five hours of my life. We began with the shotgunning and body shots then went cliff jumping naked, and more cliff jumping in batcaves which was the best experience of the booze cruise.  There’s nothing like jumping off a cliff in a bat cave, I finally found Batman!!!  The day of boozing could not stop there as we had the grand Toga party Saturday night.  My body will refrain from any alcohol for several days now, as I must get my sanity back. 

In review, Greece was without a doubt the best place I’ve ever visited, especially the islands, I have so many more stories to tell that just can’t find their way into this blog.  I thank the Greek people for being so gracious and having such a passion for the simple life.  I promise to return to Greece and live on an island for a year.  I made this promise to Giorgo and Maria who were the most complete couple I’ve ever met. They have the life I could only wish for as restaurant owners.  I also met Dylan who led the Kayak safari who is from Canada and used to be a consultant in New York and London. Now he is a teacher and traveller, his passion for culture, travel, and life has inspired me even further for Buenos Aires in the fall.  I also made a promise to my new buddies Chenzo and Paul from Toronto to visit them. They own their own nightclub in Toronto so they promised accomodation as long as I make it their way.  Not enough can be said about our vacation away from our vacation, as this was much needed from our mental breakdowns back in central Europe.  Backpacking is not easy, but it is a rewarding experience and Greece was the perfect get-away to collect our thoughts.  Two words to end this blog in my summary of Greece which will be my first tatoo, Dolce Vida!  (The Good Life)

Next Stop, Viva Italia!

Posted by: rngerlach | June 16, 2007

Mas Fotas!

Hey all, I have posted some more photos on my picassa album @ http:picassaweb.google.com/R.Gerlach.MS. Check them, only if you want to.

Posted by: rngerlach | June 15, 2007

Vienna, Salzburg, Munich

Vienna:

The day and a half spend in Vienna was full of relaxation and biking, of course what else.  Vienna was a very laid back city and a great spot for our hangover from Berlin and Prague.  Dana and I used the one day there to rent bikes and tour the city for ourselves. We got split up in no time because European streets and corners are rather confusing.  It was ok though, I figured with no map and a bike in Vienna, this could be really fun.  I rode around for a good two hours on the streets jamming the ipod until I hit a peaceful park with ponds and huge grassy areas among more Austrian sculptures.  I stopped for a moment to collect some thoughts in the journal. Being an idiot, I set my ipod down on the bench and completely let the peace of the park set in. Needless to say when I went back to get on the bike, no more ipod for Robin.  Of course, the first emotion that hits is anger and confusion on how I could be so careless.  No use in wasting energy there, thats just part of life. Some lucky Austrian is now cruising around Vienna with a sweet new shuffle jammin all tracks from Tupac to the Beatles.  I could not let this ruin my day or my image of Vienna.  The Austrian people were by far the most friendly and helpful to us in our whole trip.  I rode around a little more and got lost to the sound of silence in the Vienna parks.  I ended up meeting up with my brother back at the hostel around 8pm stripped of one more possession.  But hey, like John Lennon said Imagine a world with no possessions.  I actually felt better for getting it stolen, weird yes but revealing as well.  Overall I thank the people of Vienna for being so kind and friendly and wish the lucky new owner of the ipod well.  Next stop Salzburg….

Salzburg:

Salzburg is a smaller city on the border of Austria and Germany nestled just north of the Alps range.  This was only a one night stay but what a time we had here.  We had little time to waste after checking into the hostel at 3pm.  We were taking off for Munich the next morning so we had to cover as much as possible.  Salzurg is well known for being the birthplace and home of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. It is also known for the movie The Sound of Music.  The only tourists in Salzburg are Japanese and Americans mainly because of the Sound of Music. We found it funny that most locals in Salzburg had never even seen the Sound of Music movie but they sure loved profitting from it from the American travellers, I can not blame them.  Instead of dealing with any of that, we ascended a steep cliff on switchbacks to get to the castle and check the views of the city along with the history of the magnificent fortress.  The view was breathtaking.  Salzburg off to the north and turn around and you see the beginning of the Alps range. Coming from the west were some thundering dark rain clouds. How sweet it was.  We had to wait it out in a little fortress until the rain passed with two friendly girls from Aorland, which is an island between Sweden and Finland.  Anna and Jenni were very fond of the English language and hoped to learn it more someday by moving to America.  Of course, I gave a plug for Colorado and San Diego being the best spots in America to visit.  Anna hopes to visit someday in San Diego. 

The rain passed and we descended split ways and continued to the hostel, which by the way was our favorite hostel of the trip so far.  We had an incredible dinner served up there for 5€ which.  Then we made our way to the bar in the hostel for the remaining of the night.  The staff of the hostel was three very good looking Austrian women, hard to leave that plus there was not much of a nightlife in the city so we were content rounding the night out chatting with Rob, Haley, Steve, and Herman.  Rob was in his mid 30´s and is a dairy farmer from the island of Tazmania which supposedly makes a good living.  Good enough to take 2 months a year in the low season to travel.  Haley from Vancouver just graduated college as well and is going to be the top accounant in Canada, or so she says.  Herman from Peru was just passing through for a night like us. Steve from Rhode Island is a hockey player and found some time to travel Europa. This was quite a fun crew to say the least and topped off our tour through Austria the right way.  Next stop, Munich…..

Munich:

Known as the beer drinking capital of the world, Munich has two of the largest beer gardens in the world.  We have three days here, today (Friday 15th) being our last day here.  Our first day was spend by doing what else than touring Munich via bicycle.  I think Im falling in love with biking through European cities.  Our tour ended at the second largest beer garden in the world, Chinese Tower.  It was a great stop to get some good donor kebabs and 1Liter beers. The Liter beers are time consuming, one could say.  Once again, the rain clouds came rolling in with mean thunders.  We had to move our table under the Chinese fortress and finish off the Liter beers while watching an amazing rain shower roll through the gardens. 

The next day, yesterday the 14th was by far the most emotionally gripping day as we visited Dachau, a concentration camp just northwest of Munich.  Dachau wasnt just any concentration prisoner camp, it was the first and the model for all other camps that were built during the 1930s.  They have preserved much of the camp and turned it into a memorial-museum.  The five hours we spent here had me speechless and unable to find any thought but a deep sympathy for the prisoners that lived and died in Dachau.  Right after Hitler and the National Socialist party took control of Germany in 1932, they wasted no time on their extermination in trying to have a purely German nation.  Dachau was built in 1933 and became the most feared and known prisoner camp.  Heinrich Hemmler, Hitlers right hand man, started the SS officers who were the men trained (brainwashed) to hate, torture, and inject pain to any human being not German or against the Nazi party.  The museum was placed in the old bathhouses and torture rooms with accounts from different prisoners on what it was like to be treated as less than human.  We saw the bath house which is where they were first brought and put into the zebra suits and get their heads shaved.  The words over the entry of the camp read “Work your way to freedom” in German of course.  Prisoners were expected to work dusk to dawn with maltreatment and malnourishment.  If the prisoners couldnt work anymore, they were either killed or sent to extermination camps (Aushwitz being the famous one).  Seeing the hooks where they used to be hanged and the table where they used to be strapped down and beaten were the most intense.  We also saw the barracks where they slept.  Dachau was originally built for 6,000 prisoners and by 1942-43 60,000 prisoners were overflowing the barracks.  I could continue about all the different things they did to the prisoners but I should spare the details and not depress you too much.  Dachau was closed on April 29, 1945 by American soldiers who came and liberated the prisoners who were still alive.  Ive never felt so proud to be American knowing our role in WWII.  This day was the most humbling of many on this trip.  I ask that you be greatful for what you have and thankful that none of us have to ever endure a Concentration camp. 

Onto a much lighter note, Munich is a great city.  It is much more trendy than Berlin, people are all about designer clothes here. However the mullet is still very much prevalent here in Germany.  Some of the people are stuck in the 1980´s which makes it fun to people watch.  Germany has been a great country for the beer drinking and the history. By far the history we found more important and incredible.  Next we embark on our two days of travelling to Athens.  We train it from here to Bologna, Italy. Then night train from Bologna to Bari (south Italy).  Then take a 18 hour ferry ride to Greece.  Should be very exhausting two days of travel, but we are used to it by now. 

Next Stop, Greece baby!

Posted by: rngerlach | June 11, 2007

Train Ride From Hell

One thing about traveling in the Czech or most other European countries is that it takes twice the time to do some simple things as it would in America, ie. laundry, mailing from post offices, etc. The train stations in Prague were hell, we had no clue where to go and there was no way any locals were going to help two Western travellers. Too many tourists in Prague for the locals to consider being kind to us, which makes for an even more interesting experience.

Well it all seemed that we were golden once we boarded our train from Prague to Vienna. Until we could not find a seat in any compartments. The train has no air conditioning, thus incredibly hot and humid. So we stand for a while at the end of one of the cars by the toilets and wait. Finally a steward comes and places us in a compartment in the smoking section with a German man and a Czech woman who roll through cigarettes minute by minute. So there we are sitting `first class´in our four hour train ride in hot, humid, smoke-filled compartment listening to the couple rabble off Czech and inhale packs of smokes. Beads of sweat rolling down the forhead and second hand smoking my own pack. Quite an incredible experience, I think everyone should experience it one time in their life, it will test your patience. So the only thing I can do is find peace within, throw on the ipod play a four song track for the ages (Pink Floyd´s Wish You Were Here and Comfortably Numb, Lynard Skinnard´s Freebird, and Stevie Ray Vaughn´s With the Wind) Ahhh listen to the guitar strings and look out at the Czech country side. Now I am at ease. I figure if two of my senses are uncomfortable (feel and smell) let me please my sight and sound to balance it out.
All is well on this ride until we get to a train stop outside of Brno Czech Rep. Two hours outside of Vienna. Our trains brakes are out so we are stuck there from 4pm to 9:30pm. What to do but go get a cheap meal and cheap beers across the street. There is nothing like being broken down at a small train station in Eastern Europe with nothing to do. So we meet two girls from Texas getting drunk with two guys from Vienna, all flushed from five bottle of Vino. The two belligerent Austrians grace us with their best versions of all Jon Bon Jovi´s hits, and they were into it. I had never seen anything so entertaining. It shows how creative it can be when you are stuck for multiple hours in the middle of nowhere in Czech. Then we have to transfer stations at the border after our train gets going because it breaks down again. So the train from the border to Vienna is 90 minutes and spent sitting on our bags in the hallway of the train, even hotter and more humid than the first train. By this point I felt my soul had turned to steam like Bob Dylan once said, there were no words to desribe the feeling, or no emotion to label it either.

Needless to say, we arrived in Vienna finally at midnight when we were supposed to arrive at 5:30pm. By far the most mentally challenging day I have had in a long time. It shows that you really have to take the worst situations and do the most with them. Czech Republic and that train ride from hell were the most difficult, yet most rewarding; Such is Life!

Posted by: rngerlach | June 11, 2007

Czech Yourself!

You are a fool!  Well that is only true if you ever make it to Europe and do not visit Prague, Czech Republic.  By far the most unique city we have seen so far with all of the cobblestone roads, and ancient Gothic Architecture.  From the moment we stepped off the train in Praha, we were in for a crazy trip.  It took us quite some time just to find our hostel because maps do not help in Prague, you have to follow your instinct.  Good thing our hostel was in old town Prague where we were in the center of it all. It is the only place on earth beside Las Vegas where there are more people walking the streets at midnight than at noon.  The smell of perfumes and cigarettes permeate in the city all over, mainly perfumes though unless you are in a club.  Charles Bridge which was built in the 900´s is the pearl of the Gothic Age, the sculptures on it were incredible and it must have 1 million tourists visiting it per day.  The Prague Castle overlooks the city and is astonishing when you get there.  One of our favorites was Pietrins Tower which looks like a mini Eiffel Tower and overlooks Prague from the western point of the city.  We climbed to the top of that hill the first day which took a good 45 minutes and it was well worth it when we got to see the beautiful city from above. 

Prague is well known for two things, beer and gorgous women.  Their famous beer is Pilsner Urquell which is a strong but light pilsner that goes for about 30-40CK, ($1-2).  We were on a pilsner frienzy as we could not help but buy at least two or three beers per meal.  Budveis is another one of their famous beers, much better than Budweiser. 

The one thing that stood out from Prague was the beautiful Eastern European Czech women, they were absolutely stunning with their eyes. They look you in the eyes everywhere and it is rude to not look them back in the eyes.  They also walk about 4 miles a day as did we so it is hard for them to keep any significant weight on their bones.  We also found it incredible how they can walk more gracefully down a cobblestone road at 3am than I could in shoes.  You may stop and think I am perverted in writing a whole paragraph about Czech women, but please do me a favor and czech for yourself sometime and you will be forced to agree. 

The nighlife is what also sold us on the city.  First night we went to Monte Ruze which was a sweet little two story bar that really stole my heart with shots of Absinth.  We were hanging out with people from Virginia and Florida at this bar, what a night it was indeed.  The next night, we visited Karlovy Lazne which is a 5-story club next to the river and is the biggest in middle Europe.  The first two floors are Europeano and Discoteca music, 3rd floor is old school music, 4th floor is hip hop, top floor is a posh lounge with couches and bean bags decorating the floors with live jazz.  It seemed all the couples made it to the top floor by the end of the night, its hard not to with bean bags and pillows everywhere.  The clubs in Prague were mind-numbing as you couldnt hear yourself think.  Beat after beat hits the floor and sends vibrations from your feet to your cheeks with smoke and all colored lights filling the room with Europeans jumping around you screaming, one thing you can do just smile nod your head and roll with the vibes.

Prague was the most difficult city to leave thus far on this journey.  We met three different people who were only going to Prague for vacation, but never ended up leaving and just stayed to live there, one from Canada, one from Indiana, and one from London.  In addition, we also met two kids from Vienna on our train ride from Prague to Vienna, (See `Train Ride from Hell´) who were considering leaving Vienna to live in Prague.  Yes you can imagine, my brother and I really wanted to join the club and live in the treasure of a city.  I made a vow that  I would return to Czech Republic, maybe you will join me someday.

Posted by: rngerlach | June 6, 2007

Life as a Berliner

Three days and nights in Berlin are in the books.  The highlights of this city were the pub crawl and the Fat Tire Bike Tour.  Berlin´s pub crawl is supposedly one of the best in Europe so we tested their reputation and they passed the test with flying colors.  We went to four bars and one club. The  bars ranged from outdoor beach bar atmosphere to posh lounges to underground pubs.  My recollections of the night lack enough clarity to describe online, so please use your imagination of a Berlin pub crawl. We had the pleasure of meeting Australian, Japanese, British, and Canadian travellers on the crawl with us. The Australians took the crown as the most insane `crawlers´. 

The Fat Tire city Bike Tour was absolutely incredible. We covered the most popular 20th century city in 4-5 hours on beach cruisers with the most amazing tour guide, Randell, from Australia.  He works 6 months in Berlin as a tour guide then 6 months in Latin America.  Randell was by far the most humorous individual I´ve ever met and made the tour even more amazing than it already made out to be.  I remember studying 20th century history in high school and some in college.  Berlin´s global presence in that century is unmatched by any other city.  None of it hit me until the tour where we saw the infamous Berlin Wall and Checkpoint Charlie.  After WWII, Berlin and Germany was left to be divided by the Soviets, U.S., British, and France.  Checkpoint Charlie was a street where East Germany and West Germany were split.  The brink of WWIII happened at this point as it is where Soviet tanks and U.S. tanks faced off but never opened fire, had they done so the course of history would have been changed and we might not be enjoying this magnificent city right now.  Ultimately, I recommend that anyone who appreciates history to visit the Berlin Wall and Checkpoint Charlie as its aura gave me goosebumps, which is hard to do.  We also got to stand above the bunker in which Adolph Hitler and his mistress spent their last days in 1945 before committing suicide. 

The tour then took us through Tiergarten, which was the most beautiful park I have ever been in. It truly commanded all of my attention and brought me to be fully indulged in its presence.  The tour then ended in the beer gardens where we did what Germans do best, drank the finest Berlin pilsner and ate Bratwurst.  Fortunately, we will also be able to do the Fat Tire bike Tour in Barcelona and Paris.  I can truly say I have a whole new perspective on the city of Berlin and its strange and intense history will hold a new place in my heart forever. 

I would not feel content with this posting if I had not mentioned our hostel.  St. Christophers Inn has been our amazing host in this city they deserve so much thanks.  Their reception desk is placed at the end of a bar, the atmosphere is incredible as it is all young travellers such as ourselves.  Our new best friend Davis, from NYC has shared the hostel experience with us and he deserves much credit for being a great hostel and pub crawl buddy.  Best of luck to him in his travels in Italy.  As for us, we will now try to get some much needed rest before our 5 hour train to Prague.  Next Stop, Czech mate!

Posted by: rngerlach | June 3, 2007

Midnight Riders in Copenhagen

I want to ride my bicycle, I want to ride my bike. Such are the words from the chorus of the hit Queen song, Bicycle. Copenhagen is full of bikers, as a matter of fact there is almost more bicycle traffic than car traffic, imagine that in America- ha what gas prices? Anyways, my brother and I thought it would be a great idea to join the culture here and rent some bikes for 25 Danish Kronos, roughly $5. But first, let me preface this bicycle tale. We start out at dinner in Skan St. Square @ Pussy Galore where we eat a fabulous meal. Thats right, Pussy Galore served up some fabulous dinners. Then we embark on our search for the bike rentals, which took much longer than we expected. As we roam through a beautiful park in the city, we end up running into a mini-Woodstock festival where a hillside of we’ll call the ‘freebirds’ are smoking and drinking. After observing the mini-Woodstock, we finally find two decent bicycles after a couple of heavy beers. There is nothing like riding through Copenhagen, or any foreign city, at midnight drunk when you have lost all cardinal directions. This was the best nightcap of this trip so far but I know there will be many more to come. We might still be out there riding all over the city like we own it had the Police not stopped us for not having lights on our bikes. Why do we need lights? The sun has barely set and it’s midnight.

The people and atmosphere of Copenhagen are much more laid back than in Stockholm. It’s somewhat paradoxical that the people of Stockholm were so at peace and nice yet at the same time more ‘uppity’ and conservative than the liberal people of this city. Take one with the other, Copenhagen is more trashy than Stockholm as graffitti decorates the walls and litter traces the streets. The people of Copenhagen just seemed less pretentious and knew how to just ‘be’.

Tax Those Scandinavians

We also found out why Sweden is so damned expensive. They just built a bridge 5 years ago connecting Sweden to Denmark, which we obviously crossed today. The Swedish Government is trying to pay off the bridge before interest is accrued in a couple years, therefore the taxes have increased more than usual. Can you imagine the American Government raising taxes to pay something off? (Maybe like our record budget deficit). We won’t get into that as that could be a long debate that is all based on how much money you have in your bank.

Two countries down, eleven to go!

Next Stop, Berlin!

Posted by: rngerlach | June 3, 2007

Wrap up of Scandinavian Capital

So we have finished out our three days in Stockholm, capital of Scandinavia.  It was a pleasure getting to see the culture and history of this city.  The architecture is unreal with buildings with an array of colors from red to pink to green and of course blue and yellow, the colors of Sweden.  Our favorite parts were the Nobel Museum, Tobacco Museum, Skansen, and Vasa Museum. 

The Nobel Museum is named after Alfred Nobel, you all know the Nobel Prize.  We got to see the history of how it came to be and all of the Nobel Laureates and their accomplishments.  The Tobacco museum showed us the largest cigar in the world, 5.6 meters long and 112 kg, absolutely incredible, imagine puffin on that.  Skansen was the old town of Stockholm which showed the rich history of the Scandinavians with women dancing around in their blue and yellow dresses.  The Vasa Museum showed us the Vasa Ship which is the largest ever built in Scandinavia and was rescued 50 years ago. It sank in 1628 in the Baltic Sea when it was going to attack Poland.  That was the most incredible sight in Stockholm.

Happiness is the Way of Life 

The one thing that stood out about the culture here in Stockholm, besides the blonde hair and blue eyes everywhere, was the absolute joy and happiness shown in all of the people here.  In America, we always talk about the ‘pursuit of happiness’.  In Sweden, they truly live and breathe happiness.  Everywhere we went, people were smiling, laughing, and at peace.  Couples were affectionate towards each other no matter what age.  Now granted maybe its because of the summer season here, would they be this happy in the dead winter of Scandinavia?  Either way it was different to see a culture just so content with life.

Sleepless in Stockholm

Another interesting factor of this being our first stop, especially with jetlag, was the fact that it never gets dark here this time of year.  My brother and I were complaining over who left the light on in the bathroom the first night in our hostel, yet it was just the sun shining through.  Its pretty difficult to sleep in a place where it never gets dark, yet we managed to get enough to keep us from being grumpy travelers. 

Stockholm is the most expensive city on our 2 month trip, so we are glad to be moving south where we can afford the lifestyle.  An average meal was 75-200 Kronos ( 9-20 U.S. dollars).  Needless to say, the partying was not on top of our priorities in Stockholm since we would probably be broke if we had gone clubbing. We’ll save that for Berlin and Prague. Our next stop is Copenhagen for a night following with two nights in Berlin and three nights in Prague.  We must go catch our train to Copenhagen now.  More to come from Berlin!

Posted by: rngerlach | June 3, 2007

1,000 Words Shy of Your Fulfillment

The unfortunate news I bring all you bloggers is about the pictures.  It looks as if I will not be able to post pics on this blog.  I did not bring my laptop since it would be difficult to lug around a brick of a dell computer all over Euorpe.  My camera will not connect with these computers in the cybercafes either.  Therefore, I do apologize for not being able to bring you closer to my world with pictures.  I will do my absolute best to put everything into a clear description for you.  Please understand!

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