Monday, June 28, 2010


Whoops! We kinda overslept the next morning and had to book it to the train station. I know, shocker. You can blame it on Jay's phone, which met it's demise when he knocked it off the top bunk. Usually, wooden floors, 6 foot drops, and electronics don't really mesh well together. Alas. Anyway, this is what caused us to set the alarm to the wrong time as we could no longer see the screen on his phone. Luckily, we got there in plenty o' time and hopped on the train. I was kinda afraid there wasn't gonna be a movie but the TV's were flickering so it gave me some hope. They spent the first couple hours being movie teases before finally putting one on. YES! I was super excited! it comes...IT IS...Flash of Genius. Womp womp. Damn. That same stupid movie that they played on the last train. Geez, I mean, at LEAST give me some Zac. Whatevs, it wasn't even in English this time.
The ride was uneventful but we got there in the pouring rain and trekked through the downpour to MAD hostel. It's got a great common room but the dorms are TINY. We took advantage of more free internet and hung out for awhile. Jay and I got invited to an Irish pub to watch the World Cup (England vs USA) so we started getting ready. As I was coming down the stairs, I ran into....Mille! The same girl from the great couple we hung out with in Granada! Small world. I invited her and Craig to the pub. After getting accosted by an insane old man staying at the hostel (who seemed to have a vendetta with Bill Bradely and Rhodes scholars), we headed to the pub. Unfortunately, it was really crowded, beer was getting spilled, the music was too loud, and old English men were "accidentally" grabbing my ass when they tried to squeeze past me. We quickly left and went to find dinner. Craig and Mille are really funny and nice to hang out with. The other girl that we went with, Meg, was nice as well, but sort of a wet blanket. We went to a bar called "Museo de Jamon" to watch the rest of the football match and had a great time. More of Madrid tomorrow!
I'm pretty sure Australians come in a close second with the Dutch to being the nicest nationality. Every Aussie we've met on this trip has been so friendly. We woke up this morning to check out of our stupidly strict hostel (we were escorted into the luggage room and watched to make sure we didn't steal anybody else's stuff) and headed out into Madrid with Mille and Craig. We had a great time hanging out and ended up going to the Prado museum. We said our goodbyes and started off exploring the enormous museum. Lots of Spanish and Flemish paintings. We saw some great masterpieces and overall, it was probably one of my favorite museums. I was scolded for the THIRD time by a museum security guard who thought I was touching a painting. In reality, I was only pointing out a painting to Jay that featured an old king with a boner. I mean, COME ON. Who's not going to point that out?
Madrid is definitely the most expensive city in Spain but we found a really good place with reasonable prices all on our own! Success!
After going to the King's palace, we went back to the hostel to grab our stuff and go to the station to wait for our night train to Paris. On the way, I saw a man drop his wallet without noticing, so, being the wonderful Samaritan that I am, I rushed after him and returned it. He was extremely grateful and surprised that I would return it. I guess he was pretty lucky that an American girl saw him lose it. We got to the station and sat around before they finally ended up assigning us a platform. There was a huge, obnoxious school group from some podunk American town but luckily they ended up sitting far away from us. Unfortunately, Jay and I got assigned to separate seating areas and I was placed between 3 guys. I pouted about this and glared out the window for a good hour, but it actually turns out that they were really nice and we ended up playing a card game that lasted for about 4 hours. Not surprisingly, I lost, but it was still awesome. Jay and I both decided we were going to keep on playing it when we got back home. The train ride was looonngg and I didn't sleep very well but we got to Paris the next morning with no problems.


Yes, yes, I know....Jay and I are not still in Europe but I figured I would update everyone on the end of our journey anyway.
So, we left Sevilla in a downpour and headed to Granada. We were very excited to be spending 3 days there and hoped that the weather would cooperate. The train ride there was fairly easy (although, to Jay's distress, no Zac Efron movies). We were also accompanied by some Yankees (One whose name was Shorty, I'm not kidding) who seemed to have accumulated 15 bags of luggage for the 4 of them. We called a taxi in order to avoid navigating Granada's winding streets and jammed out in the car with him to some American pop music. This was our first time hearing music from back home and unfortunately, as Jay recalls, our first experience with Katy Perry's "California Gurls". Who knew that Daisy Dukes and bikinis could make such a horrendous hit? (I secretly like it, don't tell Jay)
We found our hostel, Oasis, with help from a local man. It took a while to understand, due to the fact that he was pronouncing it "Oh-Wah-Cease". However, we finally checked in and were happy to see that they offered free internet and they had a rooftop terrace. Unfortunately, it began to rain, so we spent the rest of the day hanging out around the hostel and talking to other travelers. We met some very friendly people and enjoyed a really delicious (and cheap!) dinner prepared by the hostel staff. After downing some beers and sangria from the bar, we headed up to our room and went to bed.
I don't really want to know how much meat I've consumed in the past 5 weeks. Usually, I'm not a big meat-eater but in Europe, it's either eat meat or don't eat at all. Sometimes, my eyes will come across a salad and I'll get excited. But oh wait, it has meat on it. Ooo! Or a nice stuffed pepper! Hold's stuffed with meat. And then that meat has been stuffed with more meat.
However, you can't really blame them. They know they have a LOT of meat and they know how to make it damn good. Especially in Spain, where the speciality is pork.
Anyway, we started off our second day with a free walking tour provided by the hostel. Our guide was super nice and informative (although, I'm pretty sure he had rabies. He seemd to be foaming at the mouth the ENTIRE time. It kinda creeped me out.) But, I guess rabies didn't prevent him from knowing a TON about the city because both Jay and I learned some really cool history on Granada that we wouldn't have found out on our own. After the tour, we went to a tapas bar with a nice Australian couple that we had just met, Mille and Craig. The great thing about Granada? FREE TAPAS. Oh my goodness, I'm not talking just a bite. It's like a plate of food that they bring out. Of course, you have to order drinks but it's still a great tradition. Props Granada, props.
We left our guide and his foaminess and went to find a real lunch, though, as we were still hungry. We went to this place called Bodegas Castaneda, which had been recommended by our guide book. The food was fantastic. Silly us, we should have know it would be good since there was trash alllll over the floor. You see, the holy word of Rick proclaims that if people are tossing their napkins on the floor, it must be good because that is the local custom. And if there is no trash on the floor, the place is probably inhabited by those pesky tourists because it would be considered rude to throw your trash on the floor in America. So we knew it was authentic. Jay and I, not wanting to stick out like sore thumbs (like our blond hair and blue eyes didn't already give us away), took note and did the same thing. Although, I had to fight the urge not to pick my napkin up.
After lunch, we took our own little siesta and soaked up the sun/napped in the cathedral square. When we felt rested, we went to Capilla Real, where Ferdinand and Isabel are buried. The cathedral was beautiful (although, kind of gory, lots of pictures and statues with bloody severed heads). Later, we wandered the streets looking for good souvenirs. Jay and I decided to go back to our hostel (after I got purred at by a skeazy dude, which prompted Jay to believe that I should walk in front of him from then on). We then took advantage of the rooftop terrace and what a good call that was. We drank more sangria and Jay polished off a bottle of wine while listening to some freakish bells that seemed to have no pattern and were kind of a cacophonous disaster. But very entertaining, to say the least. We got dinner later on at wonderful Morrocan place (AWESOME mint lemonade, tea, and hummus), then headed off to bed.
So far, Jay and I have really enjoyed Granada. The hostel is great and the city has a cool vibe (the free tapas don't hurt either). It actually reminds me a lot of Asheville due to the massive amounts of hippie shops and hookah rooms. It has been nice just to relax and not have to worry about traveling.
We started off our third day with a hike up to the Alhambra, a world famous royal Moorish palace/fortress. The climb up the hill bummed me out a little bit because I was serious about not wanting to see any hills after the Swiss Alps tore my ass up. When we got to the top, however, it was all worth it. It is absolutely gorgeous and the palace is so unique and intricately detailed. The Alhambra is fantastic, has very cool history, and wonderful views of Granada and the Sierra Navadas (with snow peaked caps!) The gardens were also a beautiful sight to see.
Jay and I wandered around a huge market afterwards and went back to Bodegas for lunch where we got an insanely cheap and delicious meal. Their salmorejo (cold tomato cream) and bacon is phenomenal. And their free tapas of paella is out of this world. We got icecream from this awesome place that looked really gimmicky at first but ended up being really tasty (enough so to make us go back another 2 times before we left). Jay and I relaxed on the terrace for the rest of the day with Mille and Craig, drank some great tea, and ate a HUGE dinner of paella provided once again by our wonderful hostel. Madrid tomorrow!!

Thursday, June 10, 2010


Before I get going on Sevilla, I´d like to describe one more "Rick" incident from Geneva. I´m actually glad we´re headed home soon so Becca can get some treatment for her developing obsession...

Let me give you a snippet of what I mean...

"This marzipan chocolate is good," Becca said while we waited for our night train to Barcelona. "But I like Ritter Sport better."

"I agree," I said agreeably.

And then, out of nowhere, Becca says...

"I wish Rick Steves was made of marzipan. I would eat him."

I was already a little weirded out but I egged her on anyway...

"But then there would be no more Rick Steves," I said.

"I know," Becca replied lustily, "but then at least he´d finally be inside of me."



We left Barthelona early the next morning on a high speed train. Very nice. The seats were comfortable and they even played a Zac Efron movie on the way. Swoon!

We got into Sevilla just after 1 in the afternoon and quickly discovered that the city is impossible to navigate. It´s basically a tangle of one way streets loaded with shops and bars. Awesome. We took a cab to our hotel and set out to explore. The city is refreshingly easy to get lost in, which is nice when the weather is sunny and hot and you have nothing in particular to do. We basically sat around, ate awesome tapas, drank some decent Spanish beer, and soaked in the atmosphere.

When we finally decided to actually do something, we headed over to the Alcazar, a fortress and royal residence dating from the Moorish days of the tenth century. The complex is an endless maze of courtyards and verandas with beautiful artwork and tilework everywhere and some nice gardens too.

Sevilla is really cool because the historic center comprises a significant portion of the city, so actual Spanish people live there and it´s not just a tourist ghetto of gimmicky shops and crappy food. That made it very easy to get a feel for the city and find some great places to hang out. We found another great tapas place (sooooo "Rick," including his holy trifecta of trash on the floor, staff that don´t speak English, and good food) and headed to bed because we were getting pretty tired.

The next day, we slept in for a looong time since we didn´t have to worry about checking out. Well rested and ready, we headed out into Sevilla again. The first thing we did was see the Cathedral, which is very impressive and filled with all sorts of gold and jewels and shit. Sorry to any Catholics out there, but that´s about the only way I can describe their vast collection of artifacts because nothing was in English. Oh well. It was beautiful anyway.

We stopped at a Starbucks so we could use their bathroom (we may have picked up an iced Mocha along the way) and Becca was smelled by a creepy homeless man. We spent a few hours doing housekeeping type stuff (updating the blog, buying train tickets, etc.) and then headed back into town. We went to the city´s riverside park (very nice) and saw the Placa de España, a really cool building that has a tilework facade representing every region of Spain.

Afterward, we went to a nice sit down dinner at a place with cool views of the Cathedral. We got some more dank gazpacho and really good duck and some sort of goat cheese salad (leave it to Becca to seek out the damn goat cheese) and then went to bed...almost. We first had to navigate an alleyway fencing match on our way back.

The next morning we checked out of our hotel and caught our train to Granada. More on that to come.


Ahh, the gentle rocking of the train lulling you to sleep....the classical music on your iPod easing you into pure bliss....the screaming old Spaniards who awake you at 7:00 am by talking at a decibel that is loud enough to make ears bleed. "Wait, what??" you may say. "More Spaniards that wake you up due to their inability to carry on a conversation at normal levels?"
Yes, yes, you would be correct. I'm not quite sure why they both thought the whole rest of our cabin was interested in hearing about the old bird's passport problems, but alas, I guess this is what you get on night trains.
So, to catch you up, Jay and I took a night train from Geneva(where I have NEVER had so many people openly point and laugh at my hair. I think it's because they have a shit ton of money and believe they can do whatever they want). Seriously though, Geneva is sooooo expensive. Jay and I tried to get dinner and couldn't find anything under 17 euro per person. We ended up getting food at the train station because that must be cheap, right?? I mean, it's TRAIN STATION food. Nope, that's where we were wrong. Jay and I ordered two ham and cheese paninis, looked at the total, and actually just laughed. 22 EURO.
Anyway, BARCELONA!! We arrived in sunny and glorious Barcelona early so we could enjoy a full day. We check into our hostel (after Jay was accosted by a man in a nurse costume begging him to feel his balloon boobs) and headed out into the city. We grabbed lunch at a cafe and realized how refreshingly cheap Spain was. After rejoicing in the prices, we headed down La Rambla (a street full of weird performers who spray paint themselves in metallic colors and assume this will get them money. Actually no, they just attract lots of Japanese tourists who want to get pictures). Jay and I found a HUGE market off La Rambla that was selling tons of fresh food and had lots of tapas bars and a really cool environment. Next, we decided to wander down towards the port and check out the beach. The Mediterranean is gorgeous...the immense crowds of Eurotrash blocking your view of it? Not so much. But it was a great place to people watch! Imagine topless ladies, men in speedos, people who should NEVER sunbathe nude, hair gel, and Asian masseuses. Jay called it the Barcelonan version of the "Jersey Shore". We sat on a bench for awhile to rest our aching legs (The Alps finally caught up to us), and headed to the Gothic Quarter to see the cathedral.
Even though it was being renovated (like every other cathedral in Europe, it seems), I was excited to see the inside because it was supposed to be beautiful. But, oh wait, I was refused entry because God would have been offended by my (moderately long) shorts. Damn, I forgot my burka at home!! Next time I go out into 90 degree weather, I'll remember to wear my traditional Amish garb. Whatever. I didn't want to see their stank nasty cathedral anyway. SO. We decided to hit up another one called Santa Maria and I'm glad we did because the inside was breathtaking. Probably the best we've seen so far. Afterwards, Jay and I headed to the Palace de Musica Catalana which we only got to see from the outside but the architecture was awesome. We were definitely excited to be in Spain, so our first thought for dinner? TAPAS!! We wandered the streets trying to find a good place. Unfortunately the first place we went to was extremely mediocre but the good thing about tapas bars is that you can eat as much as you like and then go find another place. So we went to a second one that actually was pretty good, but I still think we could improve. After some Haagen Dazs (What? You thought Jay and I would pass THAT up?), we went to bed due to the exhausting night train experience.

I'm pretty sure the Spaniards are nocturnal. You don't really see anybody until early afternoon when they eat a huge meal and then retreat for siesta. Jay and I, being typical Americans, waddle out for dinner around 6:00 pm and NOBODY is out. Most restaurants don't even open up until 9 pm for dinner. Then it gets soooo crowded! We don't mind, though, because we both enjoy eating sort of late anyway. It just takes some schedule adjusting. The next day we woke up feeling refreshed and ready for a second day in BARTHELONA! We headed to a pastry shop (Bummer, no marzipan, I guess the Spanish haven't caught on yet) and decided to go to the Picasso Museum because it was very rainy and yucky outside. Unfortunately, everybody else in Spain had the same idea, PLUS every museum gives free admission on the first Sunday of the month. So, lucky Jay and I strike gold again, but things were a tad bit crowded. The museum was okay, definitely not as impressive as the VanGogh museum, though. Picasso seems like a really cool dude but the museum itself was really lacking on descriptions and some of his major works.
When we finished, Barcelona was still giving us crappy weather so we headed to the Sagrada Familia to see the famous Gaudi cathedral. It has never been completed after all these years and the only way they can keep construction going is through ticket admission, so we had to pay but it was totally worth it. The cathedral is unlike any other and there are many cool, little intricacies to it. The museum underneath had a lot of the original plans of Gaudi and fragments from the cathedral (unfortunately it was blown up and lots of Gaudiś work was lost, so they kind of just have to wing it and build what they "think" Gaudi would like). After, Jay and I were both starving so we headed out to a tapas bar (which was blasting everything from MJ, to Hannah Montana, to ABBA). Haha, very surreal. We ordered an assortment of calamari, fried peppers, croquettes, shrimp, and oysters. YUM. The food was definitely as step up. Next, we went to a really pretty park right next to Barcelona's zoo. We hung out by a gorgeous fountain and headed back to our hostel. We rested up for awhile and decided to find dinner.
Remember when Jay and I mentioned that we were positive we could keep on improving our meal choices? Well, our dinner at La Rita's personified that statement by the millions. It was AMAZING and so cheap. Dessert was definitely our favorite part. Thin, bruleed slices of orange served with homemade icecream. An appetizer, water, wine, two mains, and dessert all came out to only a couple euros more than our two ham and cheese sandwiches at the train station. Gotta love Spain :) What a great way to end Barcelona...

Jay is next with our wonderful time in Sevilla!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Swiss Alps

Becca and I took a night train from Berlin to Bern so we could get straight to the Alps considering we had already seen a lot of the stuff on the way (Munich, Vienna, Prague, etc.)

We checked into our hostel in Bern after a pretty good night's sleep (for me anyway, Becca spent most of it trying to sleep on her stomach...and failed) and immediately discovered that Switzerland is expensive as shit. Well, I think gilded unicorn shit is actually a better description. We bought some crepes that cost 11 dollars each and did nothing to fill us up. Oh well. We went to a nearby grocery store, stocked up on relatively cheap provisions (aka, every peanut product the store had) and set out to see the town.

Bern was pretty cool. The city is set up on a ride overlooking a river so parts of it are very scenic. The medeival city is neat and has lots of bizzare statues (including a giant eating babies) and another glockenspiel (unimpressive). We wandered around for a bit and had some fun looking at how much everything cost. Internet? 18 Swiss franc per hour (about 16 dollars). A sandwich? 15 Swiss Franc.

I think after three weeks in Europe we were both getting sort of tired of the "Ye Olde Towne" bullshit so we decided to take advantage of the one free thing in Bern and rented some bikes from the train station. After riding through town a bit, we headed downhill to the river and rode along the banks for an hour or so until we came to a giant clearing near a small airport with awesome views of the mountains. The river itself looked like Putt-Putt water. It was mint-green and COLD. Definitely worth it. We rode back along the same river path and pushed our bikes back up the hill into town. We dropped them off at the station before getting cheap dinner (only 12 Swiss Franc each!) at a crappy pizza place

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that the Swiss are obsessed with bears. Not just any bears, but fire-breathing hellspawn bears that they plaster on any available flat surface. We haven't really figured that one out yet.

The next morning we took a train to Interlaken. We arrived at the train station and stared at a map for a while, trying to find our hostel, before a nice bearded man in a van came up to us and offered us a ride.

An instinct deep inside of me kicked into high gear. I was always told as a kid to run far away from nice bearded men in old vans so I was pretty apprehensive but we took our chances and accepted. Turns out the guy was from Charlotte. Weird. He also didn't rape us, which was nice of him.

We get to our hostel, eat some peanut products, and set out on a hike recommended to us by the non-rapist in the van. And by "hike" I mean three hour climb STRAIGHT UP a mountain. Becca was convinced that Sherman Klump was in better shape than the two of us and we both agreed that Maria must have been in badass shape after running her fine ass up from the nunnery to the hills every day. Becca claims it's the only way Capt. Von Trapp would have tapped that.

We got to the top and the views were definitely worth the work, though it was a little cloudy and I was sort of jealous of the fat German tourists who got to the same place by taking a cable car.

We headed back to the hostel (via downhill cable car) and ate some crappy hostel food while I waged a one man war on Switzerland's overpriced bullshit by taking advantage of our hostel's 2 for 1 happy hour special on half liters of Rugen Brau. I'm pretty sure I won but I can't really remember...

The next day we left Interlaken and went to Grundlewald...I mean Grindlewald, sorry. The town is a lot closer to the highest peaks than Interlaken was so we got some incredible views from our hostel, which was perched high above the town directly across from the Eiger, a 13,000 foot peak that rises straight up from the valley floor (elevation 3,000). We then set out on a hike. It was also pretty strenuous but at least it had consistent views of the scenery. The weather was better, too, so we got to see the more distant peaks as well. Absolutely amazing scenery. After about six hours on the hike, we headed back to the hostel. We picked up more peanut products at the grocery store and a few beers on the way. We then sat out on our hostel balcony and admired the views while eating "dinner."

Before we left the next day, we talked to one of our roommates about interesting hikes in the area (flat, easy, hikes preferably). He recommended going to Gimmelwald, a little village on a ridge that's only accessible by cable car. He said Rick Steves knows all 100 villagers by name.

"Do you know who Rick Steves is," he asked.

"Oh, we know Rick VERY well," Becca quickly replied.

There was an awkward moment with Becca smiling dumbly while this poor guy tried to figure out whether we actually knew Rick Steves or if this insane blond girl was just having another episode.

After that little gem of a moment, we checked out of our hostel and took an easy hike through a neighboring valley. It offered different scenery than we had seen the previous two days and the weather was finally perfect. Mid-60's, sunny, slight breeze. We had incredible views of all the mountains and waterfalls and took some great pictures.

After a picnic of more peanut products, we headed back to Grindelwald so we could get to Geneva in time to catch our night train to Barcelona. More on that later.....

Jay and Becca


We're back!

Currently in Spain right now but our time ran out before we could update y'all on Berlin and the Alps so here it is.

I'll let Becca take over soon but I thought I should start off with a warning: never attempt to dry your laundry on a hot lightbulb.

Before we left Prague, I decided to wash some socks in the sink with that detergent we stole from the laundromat in the Hague. Everything was going swimmingly until I realized that there was no way in hell that the socks would be dry before we had to check out. Not wanting to stick wet socks in my backpack, I made the logical decision to dry them on the reading lamps that hung over our beds.

Bad idea. It started off pretty well. The lamps got super hot (I'm pretty sure the Czechs haven't come into compliance with some of the EU safety codes yet) and the socks immediately started steaming. Twenty minutes later they were almost dry and then.....BOOM! The lightbulb exploded all over the room. It sounded like a gunshot. Slivers of glass are probably embedded in the walls. It's amazing neither of us lost an eye.

So we ran. Seriously picked up our backpacks, shoved my semi-dry socks in my pockets, and ran to the checkout counter.

OK, enough about Prague. Here's Becca to tell you about Berlin...

Hey y'all!
So the train ride to Berlin was uneventful except for the entertaining "Uncle Dale" Aussies that were livin it up the whole way there. They were really jolly until we were getting off the train. Then all hell broke loose. One lady on the platform was jonesin to get on the train but it was before the Australian Dale could get off. He was not happy and started telling her off in Australian lingo. Then the lady got really upset and started yelling at him in German. I thought there was gonna be a brawl but we got off the train with no harm done.

So, after getting off the train we headed over to Chang and Judith's (our couchsurfing hosts). Chang was awesome and very friendly. Judith was very nice as well, but it seemed like she had poor Chang on a tight leash. She most definitely wore the pants in the relationship. Jay and I were both exhausted though so we crashed on their futon, ready for the next day.

We woke up to the sounds of elephants and screaming babies above us. That didn't stop us though and we started off our day in the East Side Gallery (the largest section of the wall remaining). The art work was fascinating, cool, weird, and beautiful all at the same time. From there we wandered around the city (Alexanderplatz, Unter den Linden, Potsdamplatz, and Tiergarten). Unter den Linden was lined with beautiful trees and we also saw the sight of the Nazi book burning close to there. The street ended at the Brandenburg Gate which had alot of history behind it (supposedly Napoleon stole the chariot statue that sits atop it and took it back to France at one point). What a jerk. Afterwards, we took in the sights of the Reichstag and Holocaust Memorial, which was very haunting and sad.

So, as y'all know, Joe's Garage was such a disaster that Rick Steves would have burst into tears if he had known what an awful decision we had made. However, our lunch in Berlin was so delicious I think the points we lost were certainly replaced from the tastiness we got from Dada Falafel. It was probably the best falafel Jay and I have ever had. We also, (surprise, surprise) got delicious gelato afterwards and headed towards the Tiergarten. The park was beautiful and Jay led us to a great beer garden. We stayed for about an hour but we were really eager to pick up Kevin so we headed to the train station.
When we reached the train station, however, two nightmares struck. First, all their metro lines were backwards so there was mass confusion among everyone and we got on the wrong train. Second, I got separated from Jay for about 30 minutes, convinced myself he got murdered, and burst into tears. He found me shortly afterwards. So we finally met up with Kevin and his university friend from Berlin, Phillip. We got dinner at a Vietnamese Place and drinks at a gay bar called the Silver Future.

The next day: Jay is "map man" and I am "book bitch". I honestly don't know how I would get around without him. Maps boggle my mind and I usually end up heading in the completely wrong direction. Oh, bother. We grabbed a tasty brunch with Kevin and Phillip and then skyped with Mom and Dad. It was awesome to see their faces. We headed back to East Belin and said goodbye to Chang and Judith. We picked up our backpacks and headed over to another Wombats. We're pretty much obsessed. We met back up with Kevin, Phillip, and Ann(another friend of Kevins) and went to the C/O Berlin, a really cool photography museum. The artists explanations gave a really neat perspective on the cities they were trying to capture through their lens. We got some tasty fries from a street stand and headed over to an art exhibit at an old warehouse. Most of it was really weird, modern stuff that was at times pretty creepy but I appreciated it for what it was trying to accomplish. We went to a bar next door that was pretty badass. It was playing afrojam gypsy techno beats (this is honestly the only way to describe the kind of music we heard) and there was an old man on the dance floor getting crazy with some bubbles. Fire was being blasted overhead from this huge funnel to the beat of the music. AWESOME. I actually hit up Dada Falafel again for some late night because it was just that delicious.

We said a sad goodbye to Kevin(we had such a blast with him in Berlin, it was great getting to see the city with him and Phillip as true Berliners) and went back to Wombats, where as y'all know, I was sat on by a drunk dude in the middle of the night. So, after that restless night, we awoke to a cold and rainy Berlin. We were not happy about that. But we decided to go to KaDeWe, a huge department store that is like South Park on crack. There are about 7 different floors full of the ritziest, most posh stuff you could imagine. Jay and I had a pretty intense, competitive game of "name that price". Most absurd price? A heinous 1,000 euro leather jacket.

Now, here comes what I like to call "the Seafood Blunder". After exploring the expansive gourmet floor, we headed up to the store restaurant to partake in the buffet style lunch. There were so many different stations and you could fill your plate with fruits, veggies, pastas, bread, meat and dessert. I assumed (stupidly), that everything cost the same and they based the price on weight of the plate. I wasn't very hungry, so I stocked up on some veggies and added about 10 delectable looking shrimp on top of that. We get to the cashier and she starts weighing our food. $4.57...$9.63...$10.24...$17.32(WHHATTT?!). The price comes to something like $45 euro for just the two of us. I am mortified. My handful of shrimp cost $17 euro.
Jay and I go to sit down but, uh oh, I started to feel the pout creepin. There was no stopping it and I sat in a self-depricating shadow for about 30 min before I got over it. After the disastrous lunch, Jay and I went to a really cool museum that described life ruled by the Stasi during the GDR. CRAZY stuff went down during those times. They started putting barley and chicory root in people's coffee bean bags. Not cool. Jay and I partook in some "ball sack" coffee afterwards. The cafe was actually named Balzac but Jay and I are super mature.

Alps update next...

Sunday, June 6, 2010


Hey everyone!

We're back after a long hiatus (internet time in Switzerland is about 8 times more expensive than everywhere else) and we have some updates about our time in Prague, Berlin, and the Alps.

Becca and I caught our train from Vienna to Prague after once again sprinting to the train station. It actually wasn't our fault this time. Somehow we were given wrong directions by the lady at the train station.

We finally arrived through Prague after a ride through the beautiful Czech countryside (and a few really sketchy Czech towns) and quickly realized why Prague has become such a popular destination. It's absolutely gorgeous. Becca and I climbed to the top of an old fortress, the Vysherad, that overlooks the city. The views were incredible and we had the place to ourselves.

Oh yeah, Czech people are kinda dicks. Becca's luscious blond locks drew so much attention that a crazy man near the Vysherad asked to take a picture of it and a group of fat, ugly schoolchildren (ok, maybe not fat and ugly, but Becca and I like to think of them as that way) started pointing at her and squawking like birds. Really clever...fatties. We also wandered around the Stare Metska (old town) and admired the amazing architecture. Everything is incredibly ornate. We saw the Charles bridge and took some great pictures of the river and the city.

We ate some dinner and I drank some Staropramen, a delicious beer brewed in Prague. We also found a Ben & Jerry's so we broke our promise of not eating American food and loaded up on Mint Chocolate Cookie and Coffee ice cream.

We woke up the next day and ate breakfast with the London chapter of Hell's Angels. They were going back for third and fourth servings and yelling loudly in uninteligible British accents. Charming. After that, we went to Prague Castle, Pragues main attraction, and joined eight thousand Japanese tourists taking pictures of every brick along the way. It was fun and unique but I think we both enjoyed the Vysherad more.

Disaster struck soon afterward in the form of Joe's Garage (spelled phonetically in Czech, but our keyboard can't handle that right now).

We were both pretty hungry and looking for a place to set down our giant fifty pound backpacks before we took our train to Berlin. We saw a restaurant on the side of a touristry stretch of the old town that had available tables outside. Joe's Garage.

"Rick Steves wouldn't like this," Becca said.

"Fuck Rick Steves," I said. "I'm hungry and tired."

I soon came to regret that.

First off, my beer was sour. Not just "different" for my unrefined American palate but actually sour. It was a Staropramen, that same delicious beer I had drunk the night before so I know what it was supposed to taste like. I've had six day old warm bud light that tasted better.

Second, Becca's salad (supposedly corn, spinach, pine nuts, goat cheese, sun dried tomatoes, and assorted lettuces) turned out to be diced cucumbers and tomatoes. Without dressing.

Third, my chicken sandwich tasted like shit and so did the fries. Gordon Ramsey would have a fit.

Fourth, the Mauve hairs were out in full force. In case you haven't heard of a "mauve hair," they're the eastern european equivalent of American "blue hairs." For some reason, women over the age of 60 in Vienna and Prague feel the need to dye their hair bright purplish-red. The ladies next to us were ALL mauve hairs and each one was chain smoking doo doo cigarettes.

Fifth, it took about forty five minutes to pay because their credit card machine wasn't working and we hadn't sufficiently stocked up on Czech crowns to pay for it with cash.

All in all, a huge disaster.

Sorry to spend so much time complaining about this restaurant. It was just that terrible. Everything else about Prague was amazing, though.

Still, Joe's Garage was so bad that we took an earlier train to Berlin than we had anticipated simply to get as far away from that meal as possible. I'm not kidding. Becca and I had planned on exploring a neighborhood near Prague Castle but were so turned off that we spent our last three hundred Czech crowns on beer and chocolate and got the hell out of there.

Once again, internet time is running out but there will definitely be an update soon. Were not in Switzerland anymore...

Jay and Becca

Monday, May 31, 2010

Munich and beyond

We're back! Although we're actually sitting at our hostel in Berlin right now, we'd like to update you on our adventures this week throughout Munich, Vienna and Prague.

We took a train from Cologne to Munich last Monday, May 24th. The train was late but we didn't really care; we hadn't planned on seeing much of the city until the next day anyway. The few hours of daylight that we had in Munich were still awesome though. We took a stroll through the famous park, the "English Gardens," where Becca had to pee so badly that she squatted behind a bush...really classy. The Gardens are huge, by the way. More than twice the size of Central Park. The scene was really cool too. People were out enjoying the (still) awesome weather, throwing frisbees, grilling out, nude sunbathing...well not that last one but it's supposedly very popular on hot summer days.

On our way back from the Gardens we passed a shrine to Michael Jackson. MJ fans had commandeered the statue of some poor irrelevant German guy and plastered his entire pedestal with pictures, fresh flowers, candles, love notes, and all sorts of other weird shit you can only get from devoted Jackson fans.

We ate dinner at some place recommended by our awesome hostel, Wombat's, and had high hopes, only to be crushed by the massive Rick points deduction that ensued. The restaurant had menus in seven languages, the waitresses seemed to hate their lives, and the food was pretty bad. Oh well. At least the beer was good. We also got Haagen Dazs afterward, which made everything alright.

The next morning, we went out to explore the city. We pretty much continued the trend of walking everywhere (seriously, everywhere) and got a good feel for Munich. The city is really beautiful. It's got more parks than it knows what to do with and has some really interesting architecture as well. We especially enjoyed our walk along the Isay river, which runs along the edge of town. On our way back to the main shopping drag (where we would later buy provisions for a picnic lunch) we stopped to see the old 16th century glockenspiel at the town hall. Pretty cool, I guess, for something built hundreds of years ago but it definitely paled in comparison to the animatronic band at Chuck-E-Cheeze. We then made our way to an awesome outdoor market so we could buy food.

And now for the saga of the "sausage bitch."

After successfully purchasing bread, cheese, produce, alcohol, etc. with a hodgepodge of bad German and sign language, we made our way into a tent that looked like it sold smoked meats. Perfect...or so we thought.

Being a good tourist (and fervent disciple of Rick) I smiled broadly as I entered the store and greeted the shopkeeper in the local dialect (Gruss Gotte, not Gutentag) and asked "Sprechen sie Englisch (do you speak English)?" She glared at me and said "no," then turned around and refused to serve us.

Screw her. We didn't want her stank nasty sausages anyway. Becca and I walked thirty seconds down the road and bought stuff from a very nice lady who appreciated our tainted American money.

We left sausage bitch in our badass American dust and made our way to the Seehaus, a famous beer garden in the middle of the English Gardens. Beer garden tradition allows you to bring your own food, so we spread out our picnic feast. I bought a liter of Weissbier and started working away. Becca wasn't a fan but she did seem to enjoy feeding the ducks (which would come up to you and literally beg) cherry pits, ostensibly in an effort to kill them. I finished my stein and we briefly contemplated heading straight to the train station so we could make our train to Vienna with plenty of time to spare.

I had bigger plans. I wanted to visit another beer garden close by (the Chinese Tower) and have another giant beer. Everything was under control and precisely timed. We were never in danger of missing our train, but Becca wants to take over at this point and tell of her hectic, boob-bouncing run through the streets of Munich. I walked at a brisk but comfortable pace. Apparently having two lumps of fat strapped to your chest makes things difficult, so here she is to tell her side of the story.....

First off, I was all for going to the second beer garden and allowing Jay to work on his solid afternoon beer buzz. I, however, told him that we needed to make sure we had enough time to make the train. Jay told me not to worry and that he would check the time on his phone. He finished his second stein and said that if we walked quickly, we would make our train. For those of you who know me, this task is impossible. I walk at the pace of a turtle. Either that or I'm running. There is no inbetween. So I ran the WHOLE time to keep up with Jay(who seems to grow stilts when he is in a hurry). Mind you that this is a 30 minute run to the train station and we still had to go by the hostel to get our packs. Jay acted like he was completely not worried, but I knew he was. I made him run through Munich with me so I didn't look like the only idiot pushing past poor Germans trying to enjoy their nice afternoon without having sweaty, boob-ridden Becca shoving them out of the way.. We honestly got on the train about a minute before it left. If we hadn't run, we would not have made it. Jay has yet to thank me for saving his ass. BUT, Munich was ridiculously cool. My favorite city yet :)

Now on to Vienna!
Vienna was really nice(although a lil rainy), and Jay and I decided we wanted to stay at another Wombats because they are so clean and friendly. The hostel itself was nice, although it was kinda in a sketch part of town. Lets just say I wouldn't feel safe walking there by myself at night. We shared a room with some really cool people and after checking in, we were starving so Jay and I went to grab some late night Doner Kebabs(these tasty, quick meals have helped us in many a bind). On the way, we passed about 8 viennese prostitutes. Jay really wanted to pick one up but I had to tell him that he was "to only look, not touch." The next day, we woke up and started our exploration through the city. We went to the Haus Der Musik, which was a really cool, interactive museum. You could conduct the Philharmonic Orchestra, write your own composition, or play the many games that they had set up around the museum. It was very cool to learn about the physics behind sound and how it applies to music.
After the museum, we went to grab lunch at this vegetarian place(I convinced Jay to go there only because my body was starting to crave something that wasn't meat and potatoes, which the Germans seem to never get sick of). I also dragged Jay to a cafe so we could buy the famous Sacher Torte(which is authentic Austrian chocolate cake). I mean, Rick Steves had recommended it, so it couldn't be bad right? The moment arrived and I took my first bite. It was.....okay. Honestly, I didn't see what all the hype was about. It was sort of dry and tasted like it was made with raisin juice. Grody. We explored the city some more(the architecture is beautiful and so unique) but it started to rain so we headed back to the hostel. We spent the night at the "Wombar", ordering food and chatting up a super friendly Australian dude. He ended up getting plastered by the end of the night and when I ran into him the next morning, he claimed he was still drunk and was not going to make his bus due to his predicament. Poor guy.

Our time is about up, so I will have to go. But stories from Prague and Berlin later on! I will leave you with this little treasure, though.

I was awoken in the early hours of the morning by a drunk guy who sat on me. I vaguely remember yelling and cursing at him. He stared at me and didn't seem to understand "Get up. GET UP. GET THE FUCK OFF ME!!" and obviously didn't care that I was hitting him as hard as I could. Douchebag. He was really drunk but eventually realized that the bed was already occupied and tried to climb to the top bunk but failed. He fell on his face with a large thunk that woke up the whole room. I gave him a good, long glare this morning before he left. I'm sure I really frightened him :)

We love yáll!
Becca and Jay

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Gouda, Cologne

Hey y'all!
sorry for the irratic blog posts. sometimes it's hard to find a good internet cafe. Anyway, after an awesome time in Amsterdam (We ended Amsterdam with a trip to the Van Gogh Museum, which, although very pricey, was well worth it. It was fascinating to see his paintings change throughout his life, he was only an artist for 10years!) After Van Gogh, we headed to the The Hague, or as the locals call it, Den Haaaaaaccckkaahakkah. We arrived at the central train station and the weather was still awesome (75 degrees and sunny). Our hostel was on the beach so we were excited about enjoying the awesome weather. However, as our tram approached the coast (less than three miles away), the weather turned cold and foggy. Shit. Anyway, our experience in the Hague was primarily defined by the terrible weather and the the Guntheresque (you may know what i mean) beach bar at which we lounged by propane fires while drinking exotic cocktails. Our hostel was actually pretty cool and might have been fun during the 9 days out of the year when the North Sea is actually warm enough to enjoy. We also tried to do laundry in the Hague. Disaster. I won't go into the full details but let's just say that Becca and I came face to face with the European passion for inefficiency and inconvenience. Whatever. The hostel itself was pretty cool and could have been a lot of fun if we weren't dead tired and the weather wasn't terrible. We later went to an Italian restaurant (I know, minus Rick points) where we ate really good food and heard god awful italiany karaoke. The next morning, we tried to see some of Den Haaaagckckaakckc, but we were eager to get to the Dutch countryside, so we took an early train to Gouda (of Gouda cheese fame) where we had reserved a room at a B&B. Gouda was absolutely amazing. We really wanted to take a bike ride that afternoon, but all the bikes from the train station were already taken so we just decided to explore the town a bit. The church was gorgeous (despite the fact that the church bitch made us pay to enter while all the Dutch people got in free) and the canals were quite picturesque. After an awesome lunch and a few hours of roaming, we returned to the sunny central square to grab dinner. On the way, we ran into a group of people taking pictures from some guy suspended above the crowd in a crane. Turns out they were taking pictures for the annual cheese festival (called Say Cheese Gouda!) so Becca and I tried to blend right in. Luckily, we sort of look Dutch so we actually did a pretty good job. Hopefully we didn't poison the Dutch cheese festival with our American influence. Either way, it was fun. Dinner was dank and we got a good night's sleep at our B&B.
The next morning, we left our B&B early so we could make ít to the train station early enough to pick up our reserved bikes. The weather was absolutely incredible and our bike ride through the Dutch countryside would have been a nauseating cliche if it weren't so incredibly beautiful and authentic. Flowers, windmills, pastures...what more could you want? We did more than thirty miles in a couple hours (a fairly quick pace) yet we were still getting smoked by old Dutch ladies wearing their Sunday dresses. Show offs....
After the bike ride, we took a train back to Amsterdam so we could catch our train to Hamburg (and the next day, Denmark). However, the late train and terrible weather in Denmark caused us to take a train to Cologne instead (with the intention of doing Munich/Vienna/Prague on our way to Berlin). Cologne was a lot of fun. We lucked out again and hit the city during the one day out of the year when they hold their local wine festival (Cologne is on the Rhine and is very famous for its Rieslings) so Becca and I took a page out of the Rick Steves handbook and joined in, German drinking songs and all. But mostly we wanted to sleep. Easier said than done. Our hostel smelled like asparagus piss and the Cologne cathedral started ringing its bells at about 5 am. Understandable, since it was Whit Monday or Pentacost or some other extravagant Catholic bullshit, but that didn't make it any less annoying. Thank god for Martin Luther. Sooooo....we caught our train out of Cologne to Munich. Munich was incredible (maybe our favorite city so far) but we'll have more on that later. For now, our internet time is about to expire here at the Wombat in Vienna and we're eager to go to bed. We'll let you know about our most recent adventures (mostly involving beer gardens) when we get the chance. Until then...Auf Wiedersehen!

Much love,
Jay and Becca

Thursday, May 20, 2010


We've been in Amsterdam for two days and it has been wonderful so far. Yesterday, Jay and I took a train here and we immediately noticed the pleasant, laid back vibe that the city exuded. This is probably due to the abundance of "coffee shops" that litter the town but the people are really friendly and the city is beautiful. The Dutch also LOVE their bikes. I have never seen so many bikes in my life. Honestly, you are more likely to get run over by a stoned biker than you are a car. When we got into town, we wandered around and grabbed lunch at a place called Pancakes!. They served these traditional Dutch pancakes. Jay got a ginger one and I got a spinach and mushroom one with huge dollops of goat cheese melting and oozing all over the top. YUM. We wandered around some more (Amsterdam seems perfect for doing this) and found a bar to drink at where we were joined by a hobo(complete with unzipped pants and loud/incessant muttering to himself).
Today, we got an early start and headed to Rijksmuseum which had great, entertaining descriptions of the paintings and artifacts. Rembrandt's famous Night Watch was on display and we saw some other really interesting paintings. We grabbed lunch from this huge open air market and headed over to Vondelpark to chill with all the locals and eat our lunch. The park was beautiful and the weather has been perfect. Later on we went to see the Ann Frank House which was haunting but very informative. I learned a lot of things about her and the family's hiding situation that I previously hadn't known. We wandered some more, grabbed dinner, and are planning our trip to the Dutch countryside tomorrow! Hope to update again soon and Jay and I send our love!

P.S. I stayed in the Red Light District for about 2 minutes before getting the hell out of there. Jay will probably return later tonight while I'm sleeping. I thought I saw him slip out of bed yesterday and he was suspiciously tired this morning...hmmm sneaky little bastard.

Not much to add (again) since Becca did such a thorough job but I'll just reiterate how much we've enjoyed Amsterdam. The weather has been warm and sunny for the first time since we got to Europe, which is a huge plus, and the city is amazing. It's vibrant without being hectic and historic without the pretension of Paris. Very cool place...and I'm not even high. The Rijksmuseum was better than I thought it would be, probably due to the English descriptions next to each work. Unlike the French, the Dutch aren't too up their own asses to post something in a language that more than 20% of visitors will understand, making the experience far more enjoyable. The Anne Frank House was also very interesting, though a bit of a downer. The Holocaust tends to do that...anyway, we can't wait to head off into the Dutch countryside and continue enjoying the great weather and wonderful hospitality.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Strasbourg, Rhineland

Hey y'all!
Back again and I figured I would update y'all since I know you are waiting with baited breath to hear what Jay and I have been up to. We thoroughly enjoyed our time in Strasbourg. It was a really cool town with friendly locals and an incredible cathedral. Jay and I both decided we would never get tired of looking at the cathedral...the outside was so intricate and beautiful. The town itself had a beautiful river running all through out and little canals here and there. We ate delicious pastries and wandered throughout the town. We ate dinner at a nice cafe outside where our snooty waiter questioned Jay's tolerance of "strong" european beer. "Are zou sure?? Zhaatt is a black beer!"
Next we went to the Mainz and walked the town probably about 6 times before coming across the tourist office. Seriously, the Germans are horrible at directions too. But they are wonderful at cheap and extremely clean hotels! We found a great hotel and headed out for dinner. The next day we woke up early and took a cruise(free with our rail passes!) down the Rhine. The views were unbelievable and we can't wait to show you pictures. We stopped off at a cute little town and grabbed lunch where I had some delicious spaetzle( Believe me Molly, it was what spaetzle was supposed to taste like, unlike our failed Oktoberfest experience :) We toured a castle that looked over the town and then got back on the boat to Koblenz. Found another really cheap hotel and ate dinner at a great place with HOMEMADE BUTTER. straight up delicious. This morning we took the train to Amsterdam and are enjoying it so far. Time is about to run out on our computer so we must go! Love y'all lots!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

London and Paris

What up y'all??
Jay and I are in Strasbourg right now and we figured we should update you on our adventures while we have suitable internet access(although still a confusing keyboard).
*Becca: After a very hectic departure from Molly and Kevin's, we took our flight to London. There, of course, were crying babies, so neither Jay nor I got any sleep. However, we ended up passing out in a train station cafe after lunch at a pub. Mushy peas are fantastic!! The Chunnel was quick and easy, although there were definitely some interesting characters: an old man who was eating a sandwich was honestly making sounds out of his mouth that I've never heard. He was actually SMACKING his food. Lots of confused Asians too, but the ride was gorgeous! We got to Paris really exhausted and running on almost no sleep. Our hostel sucked.(way to go Becca on that one) we had to take showers in 15 sec intervals because thats how long the water lasted. Paris itself was great though! Jay and I walked all day and were able to see the Musée Orsay for free!! That was awesome; loved the vangogh and monet exhibits. We also saw the Eiffel tower, cool rollerskating dudes, the outside of the Notre Dame(there was a loonnngg wait to get in; due to some saint's day and the festival of bread?) We saw the Louvre today and then had sone delicious crepes for lunch. Got on our train to Strasbourg and we're here!! Oh, Jay and I spend 80 percent of the trip talking like were Minnesotan tourists, its extremely entertaining and VERY Rick. He would be proud...

Love y'all and talk to you soon!!


Becca pretty much covered everything but i'll add my two cents...

Things Parisians are good at:
1. Public parks
2. Food
3. Museums
4. Making life very difficult at every turn

Things Parisians are bad at:
1. Signage
2. Convenience
3. Making hostels not smell awful

All in all we really enjoyed paris and had a great time (even if we are sore from walking everywhere) but glad to be in the ,ore peaceful city of Strasbourg. We'll keep y'all updated.

love, Jay

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

On Our Way....

Hey y'all!
Jay and I leave for London today and will be taking the Chunnel to Paris tomorrow night. We are staying at Montclair Montmartre, a small hostel right outside Paris. We will update you when we get there :) Right now, we are hoping for a decent in-flight movie, no crying babies, and an absence of ash.

Jay and Becca