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