Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Trying to catch up on some blogging

Hi everyone! I know I haven't posted for a while, but computers have been hard to come by and I've been too busy sightseeing and having fun.
I don't have my camera cable with me so I can't upload any pictures right now so this will be a lot of text (I'll try to get some pictures up before I leave though).

Sooooooo in the past week and a half I've done and seen a lot of stuff! I left Innsbruck last saturday morning at 3:30am to catch my train to Luxembourg. It took me a while but 4 countries later I arived in Luxembourg City, Luxembourg where I met up with Matt who was en route from the Canary Islands, Spain. For the rest of the day we walked around Luxembourg, went on a sightseeing bus tour around the city where we saw the old part of Luxembourg, European Law Courts, the financial district and so on. We then went out for supper. I can't remember what we all had but I know we started out with a plate of frogs legs! We then walked around Luxembourg at night, taking pictures and getting lost. Lots of fun. The next day we walked around town some more, going through the large valley park in the city centre where they had people dressed up in clothes from 100 years ago. Then we tried to get to a castle (that we had all ready seen) but since Luxembourg is so small we took a wrong turn and in 5 minutes we were way outside the city! It was pretty funny to Matt and myself.
Afterwards we took the train to Brussels where we made our way through the city and saw some anti-war protesters infront of some of the EU buildings. We got some funny looks while walking past but because they were protesting war everything was quite peaceful. Then for the next 2.5 days we wandered the streets of Brussels, went on another sightseeing bus tour, went to the chocolate museum, spent a lot of time in the Grade Palace (probably the best square I've ever seen), went on a tour of the EU Parliment building, saw the Automium (a very large building/sculpture in the shape of an iron molecule), wandered through the Brussels Law building where we found our way on the roof of the building (not sure if it was actually open to the public or not) and sat in on a trial in progress where 2 guys were accused of stealing items from a car.
Matt and I sure had our fill of Belgium chocolate, waffels and beer but something we just couldn't resist was the cheap dinner prices. It was really incredible as for €12 you got a 3 course meal. We had a large variety of stuff of the our stay. Some of what I was able to enjoy were mussels, oyesters, snails, lobster, chese fondue and of course steak. . . I sure enjoyed eating in Brussels!
on Tuesday (I think) Matt left to visit relatives while I took the night train all the way to Stockholm. It took me about 20 hours in total to get there but that was partly due to my first train was over an hour late as the conductor went to the wrong station!

So Stockholm was amazing! I don't think anyone should go to Europe without visiting the 'Capital of Scandinavia'. The city is very busy and expensive but the people are very friendly and there was always something to see. I visited the Vasa Museum which was a war ship built in the 1600's that sank on her maidan voyage which was restored using over 95% of it's original material. It was pretty nice to see and the museum was filled with interactive areas, free tours and movies. I also took another sightseeing bus tour. Anyway I'm actually registering for university courses right now so I have to go. Hopefully I can blog a bit more while I'm here in Norway

Friday, August 04, 2006

Goodbye Austria, I'll miss you

This is my last day here in Innsbruck Austria and I am sad to leave. Innsbruck has turned into the place where I call home here in Europe and I am missing it allready eventhough I haven't left yet. People have been so kind to me, the scenery is absolutely magnificent and the memories will last me a lifetime.

This past week has been filled with me getting ready, finishing my 150 page report (mostly graphics) and saying goodbye to friends. There's so much I could say about my stay here but I feel that it may not be all that interesting for others to read about. So I'll just give you a brief idea of what my week went like:

On Monday I said goodbye to Nicholas who left to go back to France.
Me Nesli & Nicholas at Papa Joes

On Tuesday I went out one last time to dance it up.
my favourite disco in IBK: Hofgarten

On Thursday I took the morning off work and went White Water Rafting again. This time I went on the professional course. Rocks to the left of us, rocks to the right of us and raging class 4 rapids ahead of us. The only way back to base camp was forwards! There's nothing like being on a raft staring down a river and not knowing if the next rapid will flip you or not. The only thing you can do is paddle. My best outdoor sports experiences have been right on the edge of danger. It doesn't matter if I'm skiing or rafting the adrenaline kicks in just as you feel yourself about to loose control. . .but of course I regain it and I'm fine. I had seen Pirates of the Caribbean 2 last Friday so the entire time I was trying to sing pirate songs. It was a lot of fun!

me and the other River Pirates

Last night I went out and had a few drinks with some co-workers and had a good time talking the entire night.

So that brings me to today. . . working and booking hostels and planning my next week.

and that's it for now. 4:30am train tomorrow and it's off to Luxembourg to meet up with my good buddy Matt Erhard.

Monday, July 31, 2006

My not so EXTREME weekend

So this weekend was up in the air as to what I wanted to do. At first I wanted to visit friends in either Salzburg (Austria) or Basel (Germany on thw Swiss and French boarder) then after email corresponding and finding out that work schedules didn't line up I flirted with the idea of heading up north to Luxembourg or Brussels. . . but I decided against that for now. Then I thought to myself, ' why leave Tirol when I haven't taken advantage of what it really has to offer'. So I tried to book my weekend full of EXTREME sports:
Saturday - Canyoning & White Water Rafting
Sunday - Sky Diving
But as fate would have it the only sky diving company in the area had its only plane in for servicing and wouldn't be ready untill it would be too late for me. However on Saturday I went to a town just 40 minutes from Innsbruck and started my weekend with some light Canyoning. For those of you who can recall my last trip, I also went Canyoning in Interlaken Switzerland and had a suuuper good time. Now the canyon I went in this time wasn't as big so I was a little dissipointed when it was all over. I mean when you've jumped/repelled/slid down 10-16m waterfalls going to 5m waterfalls isn't all that thrilling in comparison but I made the most of it as I tried always to be the first to go over the fall so I could get the biggest suprise out of the descent as possible.
So then after the return to base camp, I had some lunch, took a short nap and got ready for White Water Rafting!!! Now that was a lot of fun!!! I was so happy I chose to do the course! I chose the more adventerous trip as I opted for the smaller boat with 4 paddlers and 1 guide as apposed to the larger boat with 6 paddlers and 1 guide. The read difference is that in the smaller boat you get more wet, you have more control over where you go, it's easier to flip and more fun in general! We did a 14km treck down the Inn River (Inn + German word for bridge = Innsbruck) where we saw some nice scenery and went over a few class 3 rapids!! If I didn't say so allready, it was a lot of fun. I don't know if it's possible yet, but I hope I can do the professional class 4 route before I leave IBK. I did buy some pictures of my rafting adventure, but they weren't digital so I'm not going to post them. Aswell, there weren't any pictures taken while Canyoning and since I don't have any stock photos from last time you're just going to have to use your imagination :-D
So Sunday I had alternate plans to go hicking in the Alps surrounding IBK, but because my friend didn't think the weather would be good I ended up going swimming in an outdoor pool. The relaxation was probably well needed and it didn't cost me as much as sky diving would have. Something interesting though, as previously mentioned I've jumped off of 10-16m waterfalls before into areas of only a few square meters, but I'm still afraid of the 10m diving board into a large pool . . . any phychology students want to take a crack at that one?

So my weekend went, not to according to plan but I think I made the most of it and had a great time regardless.

I came to work today and talked to my boss over coffee and he basically offered me a job when I graduate where through the work I would be doing I would earn a PhD. in 4 years. Now before any of you get all frantic and think you'll never see me on Canadian soil again, I was very flattered by the offer but right now I don't think it's exactly what I want to do. . . . but I still have a year to think about it (Mom, seriously DON'T worry!!)

So 1 week left of work, 1 week en route, 2 weeks in Norway and I'll be home. . . . wow I still have a month left, best summer ever!

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

AlpS

I know I've been posting a lot lately, but I've felt like writting.

Returning to Innsbruck as I said before has been really nice. A few friends are still around in my dorm, I got myself a bicycle and work has been good. The company I'm working for is called AlpS Natural Hazard Management. There are only about 50 people in the firm and it has only been around for ab out a year. AlpS does pretty much everything you can think of when it comes to consulting for natural hazards. It encompases everything from the processes itself, to engineered remediation measures, to precautionary measures, monitoring, risk management, social effect studies as a result of hazards etc. Because Alps tries to go full circle with natural hazard management they employ a very diverse group of individuals. The young staff here have wide variets of degrees to compliment the work needed to be done: engineering, geology, geography, physics, meteorology, economics, business, law and even phychology! As you can see we're a well rounded group of invididuals. This also makes for a pleasent and intermixed social setting where geeks like me can talk to socialites over coffee and lunch. The entire office has a very organic feel to it and is a very nice place to work.

At the moment my work involves making computer models of the site that I worked on before. I've had to learn a new program for doing this, but compared to other experiences with modeling (in school) it seems to be going very well, and I think my boss thinks so too.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Rome

Well, what a weekend! So as I said last time I was going to Rome for the weekend. I know 2 days isin't a lot of time to take in Rome, after all Rome wasn't build in a day. . . . but it can sure take all your money in 2.

So we took the night train from Innsbruck to Rome on Friday night. . . . we opted for seats instead of bunk beds cuz it was cheaper for non Eurail passers. As we walked to the station I thought to myself: Friday night train to Rome, Sunday night return, we're taking the only non stop route. . . this train is going to be packed! Yup, saw that coming :-( the packed train was full of student groups going to Rome, but lucky for us some of the people in our car weren't going all the way to Rome and got off half way there which left us with enough space to sleep reasonably well.

me waking up on the train (note the sleepy eyes, night shade and ear plugs)

We really did pack in a lot of stuff over the weekend. We stayed in cheap hotels in the city itself so we could stay out longer and start earlier compared to last time I was in Rome when we went 'camping' outside Rome. On Saturday we walked all over, we started at the grave of the unknown soldier. This 'grave' was one of the most visually appealing structures that I've seen in a looong time. I really have no idea how I could have missed it last time. We walked up, down and through the museum inside.

Just call me Maximus

Monument to decorate the Unknown Soldier

Me ontop with a bit of old Rome and the Colesseum behind me

From there we walked to Piazza Navona which used to be the site of an Olympic stadium which was turned into a spectacular Piazza designed by Berninni and still maintains the shape of the stadium. I really enjoyed the Piazza with the 3 beautiful fountians, street venders and resteraunts giving it a nice atmosphere.

Piazza Navona

Me, Nesli & Nichola infront of the center water fountain

After, we stoped by the Pantheon which was a Gothic temple at one point but most notibly contains the tombs of one of the Emperors of Rome and the artist Rapheal.

Pantheon

It was pretty hot in Rome so we needed a break at this point. We headed to the Spanish steps to sit in the shade and drink some water from one of many water fountains around Rome. Not that I didn't before, but I really have to respect Roman engineers for placing so many drinking water fountains around the city which were once supplied by the famous Roman Aquaducts.

Spanish Steps

me filling up my water bottle

Then after cooling down we walked past Villa Medici and through Piazza Popola which at one time used to be the site of many fairs and public executions.

Piazza Popola

me ontop of a fountain

I really wanted to see Trevi Fountain again as I have a love for fountains (which is one of the reasons that I love Rome so much). We walked through the shopping districts to Trevi fountain. The lack of sleep and the summer heat were getting to us so we rested at the fountain, enjoyed some gelati and threw a coin into the fountain to ensure a return to the Emperial City.

Me with everyone else by Trevoli Fountain

Nicola, Me & Nesli throwing coins into the fountain

After taking an afternoon nap in our hotel rooms (I love air conditioning!!) we went out for dinner and walked around the beautifuly lit Colesseum and Roman Forum. We ended our evening in Rome with A drink at a lounge. I say A drink because they were €7 each. Nothing comes cheap in Rome let me tell you. Meals, drinks (€2 for a slurpee the size of a small picnic cup), tour guides, hotels, you name it.

The Colosseum at night

Fountain Republica


I got about 6 hours of sleep before getting up and doing it all over again! No rest for this weekend warrior. We started our day in the Colosseum where like last time we took a tour of Colosseum, Palatine Hill and the Roman Forum. I did see our tour guide from last time but we got a different perspective this time which was nice as we got different incites and went to different locations. That took up a good chunk of our day. After baking in the Italian sun for a few hours we went to see the Vatican. We went to see the tomb of the popes where the late Pope John Paul II was burried. There was a lot more security this time compared to the last but we took in a Mass being Sunday and all and walked around St. Peter's Bascilica.

hotel balcony

Nesli, Nicola & me in the Colosseum

Me in the Colosseum overlooking the Roman Forum

An Emperor to be

The Senate and the People of Rome

Pope John Paul II

Me in St. Peter's Bascilica

After returning the the center of Rome we hoped on board a tour bus which gave us a nice perspective of Rome, allowed us to see more of Rome that we hadn't seen before and a bit of a sit as we had been going for a long time. The day was coming to a close but we headed back to Pizza Navona where I picked up a painting (a little expensive but very nice). We then were going to sit down for another Italian meal when we realized just what we had to do, and where we had to go to catch our train back. We basically ran, caught an express bus, ran, ran, ran, caught a metro and eventually had a few minutes to spare. The train was just as packed and I got less sleep than the train there. So I got back to my room at 7:45 and was at work for 8:30. . . . yeah kinda tired right now but coffee is helping.

Would I do it all over again? Absolutely!

Friday, July 21, 2006

Looong blog - back in Innsbruck

Wow, has it ever been a long time since I blogged.
After getting to Berlin, I got on another train that took me to Potsdam. Jon and Geoff were staying with Jon's relatives in Berlin while Pete (arriving the next day) and I were staying with my wonderful relatives in Potsdam. The first night I visited with Sabine (Aunt once removed) and her mother Hielde (Grandmother once removed). We sat, ate and talked. It was a good relaxing start in Potsdam. Naturally we talked about World Cup but what suprised me was that both ladies knew a lot about soccer. I was really amazed that Hielde (85 years young) watched most of the matches and had pretty good comments on them too. It rained a little in Potsdam that night which was a welcomed sight for the ladies (both gardeners) but not for Jon and Geoff who were in Berlin where it poured :)

Hielde, me and Sabine

The next day I went to meet up with Jon and Geoff in Berlin to walk around and watch the Germany vs. Portugal third place match. We walked around the 'Fan Mile' in Berlin where they had large tv screnes and where fans met, drank and watched the game. After walking we went to Jon's relative Don's place where we sat down and waited for Don. After Don got home and we got some bevies we made our way to the fan mile where I cheered my lungs out as Germany seemed to stomp all over Portugal. After the game we tried looking for Pete but as he has allready mentioned it was very difficult to find him.

The football globe and the Brandenburg Gates

Jon and I watching the game on the fan mile

The next day Pete and I spent the day sightseeing in Potsdam. However, we first went to the beach and swam around for a bit. We then visited San Souci, Belvediere, and a few other places. In the even we met up with Nicki (my cousin who was visiting from Bielefeld) and Olli's (my cousin) friends to watch the final World Cup Match. Out of the entire crowd watching the large screen in Potsdam there were only about 5 Italian fans and Pete was one of them. The game was ok. Most people believed that the Germay Portugal game should have been the final but nothing you can do about it now :-(

Some famous statues at San Souci

Other famous statues at San Souci

Pete & me ontop of Belvediere

Nicki very Zen ontop of Belvediere

Italy vs. France

The next few days were spent wandering around Berlin by day and going out in Potsdam by night. Pete and I met up with Geoff on his last day in Europe (Jon had left the previous day). We walked through the Berlin Zoo which was outstanding! Most of the time I think Zoos are a bit boring because all the ones I've really been to all have the same animals but the Berlin Zoo had so may animals that I've never seen before in my life. The Zoo was very big and I can now understand why it is advertised so much.

An animal that I've never seen before

Baboon

We then walked around Berlin a bit more, sat down and talked about our travels together. It was bitter sweet to think that our time together was at an end, but comforting to know that my time in Europe was only a little more than half over (sorry guys). We walked to grab our last Dönner Kebap in Berlin and said good bye to Geoff (at around 10 pm. this comes into play later on) and took the train back to Potsdam

The following day was the last day in Berlin & Potsdam for both Pete and myself. We started the day off with a bang. Nicki, Olli, Frnazi (my cousin), a few of their friends and Pete and myself went go-karting. Now I've been go-karting in europe before and I've said how in comparison north american go-karting is horrible but where we went today put the other European go-karting in it's place. The course was build on an old Russian army airport so the track was huge and very well made. We obviously got the fastest karts which clocked 85 km/hr on the straight aways. It was outstanding! you could really rip around on those things. The speed around the corners, the handeling of the karts and the control that the track provided made for a very enjoyable time. We planned only to go one round but we decided to stay for 2, € 50 later we were smiling and enjoying our ride back.

In the pits

racerzzzzz

When we got back to Olli's place we had some lunch, talked about cars a little too long and then Pete and I headed for Berlin again. We missed the bus sightseeing tour we wanted to get but ended up catching another which was shorter, but we didn't expect to catch another one anyway. The tour was pretty good. We went around East and West Berlin and the guide told us all about the history behind the buildings and the area.

A french building in Berlin

Me & Pete at Check Point Charlie

Palace in Berlin

After, Pete and I wanted to see a few specific things in Berlin yet before leaving but we ended up only getting to Adidas, H%M and an ice cream store. . . . we quickly realized that we needed to race back to Potsdam, grab Pete's stuff and get him back to the Berlin Hbf to catch his night train to Paris. We got the the train station as soon as we could and got onboard. We were riding along fine when 2 ticket controlers came over to check our ticket. We actually hadent seen any thus far but it wasn't unexpected. So Pete and I showed our 24 hr day passes we had bought the night before at 10pm. They looked at Petes and looked at mine and said mine wasn't valid. I told them it was as it wasn't 10pm yet but they showed me the fine print that said it was good for 24 hours untill 3am. . . . well that's just perfect I thought. I tried to explain that we thought it was for 24 hours and why would we buy a 24 hr ticket at 10pm. They didn't seem to care and asked me to step outside to talk. . . . great. So they started asking me all these questions like where I was coming from, where I was going, where I was staying etc. Now because they were getting pretty technical with me I wanted to speak in English instead of German which I was speaking up till then. They quickly asked me why I changed to English and very firmly told me not to speak English anymore with them. . . . . again great. They then tried to write me a € 40 ticket and asked for my ID. Well I didn't have my passport on me and the only thing I had was my international student card. They asked me for my drivers license and again I told them I didn't have it. Now at this point they could have put me in jail but between them being frustrated and me trying to co-operate but being persistant they again said firmly that this was my last warning and if I didn't have a valid ticket the next time they would not be so forgiving. Well I was surtainly glad that was over, however because of that little incident Pete missed his train.

So the next day Nicki and I left for Bielefeld. We were welcomed by the family and had a wonderful dinner. The time I spent in Bielefeld was mostly family oriented and lots of time was spent just talking or catching up on sleep. I had a great time looking at vacation pictures, talking and plain getting to know them better. We went out for a deliciously German meal one night after visiting Nicki at work where he works as a paramedic at a firehouse, very cool stuff there. We got to see a fleet of vehicles leave the station on a call. The last day my aunt Connie and I went shopping for chlothes as I had lost 2 shirts allready and H&M was having pretty good end of summer sales. I ended up getting some nice stuff so you'll probably be seeing pictures of me in different chlothes than before.

Nicki & Connie at Nicki's work (Paramedic)

Nicki & me outside the firehouse

Going out for an authentic German meal

Nicki very proud of his paintball gun . . . if only he had told me he was into this stuff ahead of time. . . . .next time i guess

So now I'm up to my arrival in Innsbruck. I got back Sunday evening and was delighted to see two of my friends (Nesli and Nichola) that haven't left the dorm yet. It feels good to be 'back home' here in IBK. I'm happy to see that not that much has changed except for the people in the dorm. All of my friends from the dorm have left and have been replaced with Chinese students. The Chinese students seem to always be in a pack and never speak German and only English when they need to. Needless to say I don't get along as well with them as I did with my other friends. I've spent the past week working and getting over a cold that developed a few days ago.On Tuesday I went to the IAESTE trainee dinner where IAESTE Innsbruck (the people who found the job for me) treated the trainees to an authentic Austrian meal including various delicious types of knoedel, salads and apple strudel yummmm. Yesterday I went to an ultimate practise as a few of my co-workers are on an ultimate team. It was a lot of fun and I plan to go as often as I can. Another thing different this time here in IBK is that I have aquired a bike which I take to and from work everyday and whereever else I want to go. Biking is pretty good here as there are many bike lanes on streets and it is actually accepted as a vital mode of transportation unlike back in Winnipeg (I have a few issues with the city planners). The bike is well. . . . not the best bike but I like riding a bike around town a lot more than the bus.

Wow that was a long blog. This blog has turned more into a journal for myself than anything else so if you're board reading about every detail skim over everything and just look at the pictures :-)
I'm taking off for a weekend in Rome tonight with Nichola and Nesli so hopefully I'll have a nice new blog ready for you to read early next week.

Good times are still being had

As always I dont have a lot of time and this time I apologize in advance for my bad grammar but the keyboards here are really different in Madrid and it makes spelling problematic.

So when I left Karls family in Potsdam I headed over to Paris and saw the Eifel tower and the notre damn church. I am always inspired and moved when I see such grand works of art build so many years ago and am dissapointed we dont take on such projects now adays.

The moment I arrived in Paris was good because some good looking girls were my room mates and answered the door in what I thought was their night attire. Not a bad way to start off Paris. Well after some introductions and me singing in the bath tub, we headed out to see some sights, the ones above, and just got to know each other. We spent 2 whole days together and went to some clubs and had such a good time together that I was asked to come with them to Amsterdam so I did. Funny things about Paris. Cab driver asks for 7 Euros for the ride when it clearly shows 4.40. Why would we pay more we ask? Because your american he says. We give him 4.40 and he kicks us out. Last day in Paris, we needed to get to the train station in a hurry because Kim, one of the girls, forgot her rail pass in the room and had to run all the way back so we were really pressed for time. Cab driver says I dont drive you to the train station you can walk and drives off. Thanks France for the good time, I am even more glad you lost the world cup now after your hospitality showed me that there is a lot to be desired.

Amsterdamn!! What a great place. Went to the Van Gogh museum and had a good time there, went to the Hineken factory but it was closed so I headed to the right museum to find a few hundred million dollars worth of Rembrandts. Those were also pretty cool and my appreciation for art has gone up as a result. I met some more Americans there and a whole bunch of Irish and just partied there for 2 days. Those were the 2 most expensive days of my entire vacatio thus far but so worth it. Those irish guys really took a liking to me and we had 2 great nights until 5am and I wont forget it. Thank you Ireland it was gas.

I next headed to Barcelona and met a guy who I stayed with in a hostel in Brussels and the train station. We got a hostel and went to the Gaudi Cathedral for a really good first night there. We ended up spending the whole day there and found a secret pathway to the absolute top of the Cathedral which made for some good pictures and we signed our names there. All this secret passage involed was a very unsturdy 15 foot ladder and what I can only describe as a fire escape. It definetly wasnt the safest of places to be but how many people can say that they have been to the absolute top of the Cathedral?

After the Cathedral, Jeff, the guy from Brussels, and I started to make out way to the olympic stadium which was pretty cool and I was going to take a ton of pictures however I am lacking a converter for my rechargable batteries so when they died at that moment I was a little upset because I am now taking a ton of picture to make up for the lack at the beginning and once again there is no proof that I was at these places just what is in my head. Anyways, like I said it was worth the few Euros to tour the village and the stadium and after that we were hungry so we made our way back to the hostel.

On our way back we saw some very good street performances and Jeff took a lot of pictures and will be sending them to me so I can capture the moment and share with all of you. Why we didnt take picture at the Olympic park is beyond me but that is neither here or now. After dinner we went clubbing and on the way to the sea front we saw some Jamacians putting on a street show that really needed to be seen. They were running and doing backflips over each other, doing coreographed street fighting, and climbing up each other to the point where there was 3 people standing on each otheres shoulders. Not only where they in really good shape and I mean totally ripped, but they had a good sense of humor and pulled in quite the crowd. I would totally pay to see a show like this back home but here... I can just sit back and let Jeff take pictures and enjoy it all later for nothing.

The next day, and last day in Barcelona, we went to Camp Nou where FC Barcellona plays and having already been to the world cup stadium in Stuttgart this one looked the same and we didnt want to pay the 10 Euros for the tour. One thing I will say about that town is that on literally every corner you can find a store selling Barcellona gear and it isnt cheap. It no wonder they are one of the richest clubs in the world, their merchandising department must pull in a few mil a year easy.

Now I am in Madrid and after what turned out to be an interesting night I am posting what will likely be my last entry before I head home. The night was interesting because 1: there is only 1 train that leaves for Lisboa a day and it left by the time I got here at 11pm 2: the trains and everything stops running at 12 so with no hostle to stay in and not wanting to sleep in the street I thought I would kill some time by using my rail pass to start heading to San Sebastion but wait!! At the station while waiting for a train I met this girl who wanted a knife to cut this.. necklace thing she was working on. naturally I started talking to her and she said she was heading out to some clubs for the night and invited me along. OKAY!! I ended up walking around Madrid with this girl and 3 of her friends going to different clubs until 430 am. Wow what a good time. No one speaks Spanish but my Portuguese was good enough to have a conversation with them all and they spoke slowly enough that I was able to understand them while not appearing mentally retarted. I really had fun and didnt feel like me walking around clubs with my cumbersome pack was a problem at all. On a side note, I feel sort of bad in a way for one of the guys who was out with us because it was his first date with one of this girls friends and I sort of stole the spotlight because I was from out of town and they thought it was brave of me to just hang out with some stranger I met at the train station a few hours earlier. Obviously they dont know me very well.

So, now this is likely the final blog I will make before heading home to see my family and celebrate little Joao Pedros birthday. Things I still need to do include getting a tshirt for Gosias brother, an FC Porto fan!! And finally get a place ticket from Lisboa to Frankfurst so I can get my vacationing butt home. If I dont write again I would like that thank everyone I met on this little excursion for making my life so much happier, easier and changing my perspective on a lot of different parts of the world. When I started travelling I really thought this would just be a big party all the time but it turns out I learned more about myself than anything else and while there were parties there were only a few nights, maybe 3 or 4 where things got really crazy. I would love to keep in touch with all the people I met and also extend an invitation to come and visit me any time you wish in Winnipeg.

This vacation always was supposed to be the best vacation of my life and it has definetly lived up to that expectation!

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Travelling madness

OMG, this last 24 hours have been horrible for travelling. I also just wrote an entire post that took me an hour and because I can read German its all lost.

Here is a summary, lacking all the flare of my first post. Karl and I woke up yesterday and went go carting, then touring Berlin. Carting was cool, the cars are faster than home and you need to actually use the brakes and the afternoon really flew by.

At 4pm ish Karl and I headed to Berlin for a city tour, we missed what we thought was the last bus, went to train station and got me a ticket for the 945 train to Paris. we ran out of the train station and ended up catching a tour bus that took us around for about an hour. we got good pictures and learned a lot about Berlin. Olli, Karls cousin, was a bit of a history buff and had a lot to add to what we learned on the tour and whatnot. Pretty cool stuff actually. We went to a bride that was used to bring over people from east and west berlin and have our picture from the exact middle that divides the two.

Anyways, the day got more interesting as Karl and I had a phone that was about an hour off (late) to guide us on the time. We hit up 4 H&M stores and some häggendäs place thinking we had all the time in the world but no. We left Berlin thinking we had 2 hours but in fact only had 1 so that gave me enough time to literally get off the train, gun it to the house, pack and gun it back and if I was lucky make the last train to Berlin. Well we ran into some ticket squad people. Long story short, we had got the wrong tickets and they wanted to fine Karl, and wouldn`t let him speak English and kicked us off the train. So now we were not gonna make it for sure. I ended up staying at the train station sleeping on the floor for 4 hours until my train showed up but then it got better.

Everything is closed at 12am so I can`t buy reservations meaning at 430 I got on the train but was kicked off in Köln because it was mandatory reservation. of course by the time I ran to get one the train would have left so I tried for the next one. Ahh full train, so now I got the 430pm train to Paris. Woot Woot. lets quickly recap shall we. Pedro missed the 930pm train, the 1230 train was full, so I cought one at 430am, 6 hours later. Now I get off in Köln at 10am and have to wait until 4pm, 6 more hours. Total time wasted, 12 hours.

I`m really not that upset just tired and cranky and havn`slept in 24 hours. I really wanted to thank Karls family for being so cool and letting me stay there and show me around everywhere. Thanks Nikki for showing us some cool parties and driving around, and thanks Olli for all your germany wisdom and showing me some good times as well. I hope I left a lasting impression as well as a lot of food in your fridge.

I am going to go now and will hopefully have more to write when I get to Paris. Have a good one.