Friday, July 29, 2005


Prague, Czech Republic

I bumped into Emily on a street corner last night and we went to a hostel and decided to travel together. Okay, so that's not exactly how it went. She said she was getting in at 9:15 and I assumed for some reason she was getting in the train station. I was supposed to get in just before that so I emailed her and told her I'd meet her there. Then I realized there are 4 train stations. Then I found out she had actually taken a plane and so was not at any of the four train stations but I should meet her at the hostel. So getting directions from the loverly william I got to the right metro stop and as I was wandering around looking for the hostel I bumped into Emily who was also looking for our hostel. And now everything is all good, except it's a bit hot here.

Vilnius needs to do something about their hostel advertising. Getting in on a sunday evening with no place to stay (not so smart I know) the tourist office was closed and there were no signs for hostels in the bus and train stations. There are usually signs! I was about to give up and go on to poland but a nice woman at the news stand had seen a hostel on her way to school and took me there. And now I'm glad that I decided to stay. I went to the museam for genocide victims which I think might be the most disturbing museam I've ever visited. The building used to be the headquarters of the KGB and the Gestapo (but not at the same time) and part of the museam is the preserved prision in the bottom. So you can see the cells and where they tortured prisoners and even farther in basement is the execution chamber. They have lists of victims but what I found most disturbing was the photos of the guys that actually were involved in the KGB and executions. How could someone do that to other people? Oh, and most of them had no profession and only an elementary school education.

I met a nice italian guy who coaches kids in basketball on my way into the museam and later I ran into him again in the cathedral as he was starting this walking tour thing. So I went on the walking tour with him which was good, although his booklet had two copies of the map and was missing eight pages describing the things you were walking past. So it goes. Then I got on a bus and took a 9 hour trip to warsaw, spent 5 groggy hours there trying to see something and not seeing much and then another 9 hours to prague. And wow is it hot here. But the rain has gone and I'm going to have clean laundry soon!

Sunday, July 24, 2005


Nida, Lithuania

The rain has been following me since I got to Tallinn. I think that it's rained, or usually poured at least once a day, sometimes it rains all day. It has been cooler which is nice and happy. Between Estonia and Lithuania there's latvia, so I went there too. Riga, the capital, is a good place. Like Tallinn it has a great old town, but this one feels a lot more real and lived in. They also have freedom mounument that has armed guards protecting it...hmmm. My hostel was painted all orange and was named fun friendly franks or something like that. One of the guys staying there is a computer science grad student at UNC...the world gets smaller all the time. His backpack got stolen somewhere, so now he has a russian man purse. There were also 4 finnish guys that I went out dancing with one night. I don't know about all guys from finland, but these ones could dance. I think european guys might in general dance more than american guys.

Last night I got into Palanga (a little bit north of where I am now) and got a room in this woman's house. She lives with her mother and father who are grandparent age. And they don't know any english, but they're really nice. When I was trying to ask how to say thank you the lady called her friend who spoke english because she thought I was trying to ask something important. They make it really hard to get to Nida (which is on the curonian spit) from Palanga. You have to take a bus to klaipeda, and then walk (or in this case take a taxi because it was pouring and we had no map) to the ferry dock. But that ferry place had moved so we had to go somewhere else. And then you have to walk into town (3km) and get a bus that goes down the island. Fortunatly I met some nice dutch guys making the taxi part easier and the rest more laughable.

So this spit is kind of barrier islandish, except much bigger and spanning two countries. And between the spit and the mainland is freshwater, not brackish water. You can take this hike up in the dunes so that you have a view of the lagoon and the balitic sea at the same time. It's pretty awesome. This should be longer but I need to go catch the bus so I can do that whole thing in reverse now. Oh, my hair is really short now.

Monday, July 18, 2005

and there was much rejoicing

Tallinn, Estonia

The new harry potter has arrived! And although I may have missed the potter parties at home, I found it in a bookstore here and umm finished it last night at about 2 in the morning. I was reading it in this bar/cafe that's kind of in the town hall and on the main square. I think I might have looked kind of funny with my beer and harry potter, but I had a great time. And there were a bunch of drunk britts singing. Why don't americans sing when they get drunk?

Tallinn is great. Or at least the old town is great because I haven't really seen much else. Although Sweden and Norway were beautiful, after having lived on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for 5 days, it's nice to be where the food is cheaper meaning I can eat more exciting things like estonian pancakes...mmmm. I went to a free concert thing yesterday which featured dances of the middle ages complete with people dancing in period costumes. The last dance was so modern for it's time that it was banned by the pope which is pretty funny when you see it 400 years later.

I took a boat here from Sweden but instead of getting a bed in a cabin I decided to get a seat in the seating lounge. It was really funny to see everyone trying to sleep there. They were sprawled across seats and on the floor which kind of made it hard not to step on anyone in the dark. There were some nice german guys on the boat and one of them looked like John Lennon. He didn't know who I was talking about when I told him. His name is ingmar which I remember because it was strange and seemed very viking like or something. We were the only ones on deck at two in the morning when you could still see the sunset.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

fjords anyone?

Stockholm, Sweden

While it may look like I've been in Sweden since I last wrote I actually did go to Norway. For some reason, I guess because they are printed on flat paper I always think that a country is going to be flat until proven otherwise. Norway is definatly not flat. I stayed with a family friend in Oslo and got to see cool things like the Nobel Peace Prize museam and the Munch (he was a famous norwegian artist) museam. I had no idea that the nobel peace prize is awarded by a committe of Norwegians. The rest of the nobel prizes are decided on by Swedes, but Nobel decided since at the time of his death they were in some kind of alliance he shouldn't let Norway feel left out.

The train ride from Oslo to Bergen which is on the west coast was absolutely amazing. It goes through many mountains, litterally through with lots of tunnels as well as through in a not quite so litteral sense. The highest point was at this town called Finse, and there's a glacier up there. I took a detour and went on the Flåm railway which has the steepest grade of any railroad in the world. It manages to be even more spectacular than the normal rail route. And it goes by this huge waterfall. They even stop the train so everyone can pile out and get misted. They have fake ruins and a fake nymph up on the rocks though which is just kind of stupid. But there's more...a boat ride on pieces of two fjords and then a bus ride that went from the valley where the fjord was up the steepest mountain road I think a bus could possibly get up. And according to the package that this came as, that is norway in a nutshell.

Bergen is a super cute town. There's a fish market where if you look longingly at it they might give you free samples of salmon and smoked whale. Yes there is commercial whaling in Norway, but they tell me they only hunt two species and that it's very highly regulated. There's also a row of wooden houses from the middle ages that are very tilty and cool to walk around. The town or maybe city is surrounded by mountains and so I went hiking one day with this Aussie girl named Teresa. We kind of hiked longer than we meant to and we were at it for about seven and a half hours. So when we got around this big long ridge we had been hiking along we took the cable car down. Fortunatly the fog came up right then so I didn't have to see down the 642 meters.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

the library

Gothenburg, Sweden

I think my family is currently in a plane over the Atlantic ocean. Think good flying thoughts for them. The kidnapping of my brother was a lot of fun and he was very good natured about the whole thing. I'm not sure if he's had any vegetables for a week though, unless you count french fries. And according to the USDA they do count as vegetables...scary.

Berlin. Berlin was a good place to go, although if we had been there a few days later we could have gone to the live8 concert which would have been awesome. We stayed at David's cozy little backpacker's hostel which is a great place. Ian found one guy there to play magic with and another guy that he played a million games (okay, maybe not that many) of backgammon with. The guy working there is Greek and he yelled at me (and most of the people there) for not visiting greece. Maybe next time.

There are many amazing memorials in Berlin but one of them made me cry. I don't remember the exact name but it's something to the extent of a memorial to all the vicitims of tyrany and injustice. It's in a building that used to be used by the Prussian military and now it is just an open room with a statue of a mother holding her dead son. And below the statue are buried together the remains of an unknown concentration camp victim and an unknown nazi soldier. And over the statue is a hole in the ceiling so that if it snows outside it snows inside too.

Copenhagen. I love Tivoli!! And look at that name backwards now and see what it says. It's this amusment park built sometime in the 1800s by the king for the citizen of the city. And it has rides, but they are mostly cute and the most amazing gardens and fountains. At dusk when all the little lights go on it's like a fairy land or something. It's better than all those magical worlds I imagined. Words just really aren't describing this well enough. Just go see it. And wow do they have a lot of bikes there. The bike lanes are wider than roads in some other cities I think. And beware of confusing the sidewalk and bike lanes because that would be bad. I only confused them once. At the entrance to the harbor they have windmills!! Yay for windmills!

I'd just like to share that of the countries where I've been to the doctor I think Sweden is winning for cure achieved (and cute doctors). However Italy does have a strong point in it's favor as they have yet to make me pay anything. There were pigeons flying through their hospital though.

I'm not really sure what there is to see in Gothenburg. There is a really big super nice public library with free internet access. Guess where I am. This is my second day here, I've just kind of been hiding. Ocassionally I feel it's necessary to take a few days to hide. But don't worry I'll be back out again soon and I'm going to Norway to take a look at Slartybartfast's creations...the fjords!