Friday, May 18, 2001


I had the BEST breakfast I've had during my entire stay in Europe this morning. There's a McDonalds near the train station (which is right near our hotel) that advertises American Breakfasts. the McDonalds in Europe don't serve breakfast, except for some disgusting thing called a McToast. I was praying they had Sausage and Egg McMuffins, and they DID!! Mmmm, was it ever good. They had the entire American McDonalds line of breakfast, including pancakes. Pancakes must be a North American phenomenon, never seen them over here at all.

Took subway to the Capitolioni (?) musem, and toured it. They have lots of Roman atiquities (sculptures, paintings and the like). It was pretty cool, but getting sick of seeing old stuff.

Went and saw the remains of Circus Maximus (that's where the chariot races in Ben Hur took place). All it is right now is a big open grass field, nothing left. At least they didn't build apartments or something overtop of it.

Walked through Ancient Rome once more. This is still astounding. A must see.

Had a lunch/supper at a Chinese Restaurant.

We are all worn out, and are sick of seeing things, so we decided to head to the airport, even though our flight doesn't leave for more than 12 hours yet. We left our baggage at a baggage depot place, and we'll pick it up tomorrow morning (5:00am or so, or flight leaves at 6:40am).

A funny story about getting to the airport. We bought tickets for the 4:21 train, and Ryan was off somewhere buying yet another coke (he needs help). Well, we're waiting for him, and waiting, and waiting, and we only have, like 6 minutes before the train leaves, and the track is a million miles away, and we have to walk to it. I'm pushing Ryan to get hurry up, get his stuff and lets go. We're almost running, Ryan is fading. Well, we didn't make it in time, the train left. The guy there indicated it was no problem for us to take the next train (in 30 minutes). Ryan finally makes it, heaving and sweating. He makes a remark about he thought he was gonna have a heart attack, and no train was worth that, that's why he slowed down.

I sit at the airport right now, they have an internet place, so perhaps I'll play on the internet later this evening as well. Anyone that wants to e-mail me, please do! Put me out of my boredom!!!

Thursday, May 17, 2001


Last night, we were sitting around our hotel room, Ryan was in bed, writing in his journal, Dave and Neil were laying on their beds, I was sitting there. We decided to have a pillow fight, so Dave, Ryan and I started smacking each other. When we realized Ryan was naked under the bed, we ended it right then and there.

This morning we went inside the Collisseum. We walked there from the hotel, and as we were getting close, a guy in a car stopped us, he was looking for directions. He spotted our Canadain flags, and started on about how part of his family lives in Canada, or something, and he really likes Canada. He was a rep for a big fasion company, can't remember the name, Vittori or something. Anyway, he liked us, he had some Antelope leather jackets in the car (samples), so he gave us 3. (Ryan wasn't with us, he wandered off earlier in the morning to do his own thing, and was gonna meet us at the Collisseum.) He asked us to give our word that we wouldn't sell the jackets, because they were samples, not to be sold. In return, he wanted a some money in return. I pulled out my wad, he grabbed at it, and took abotu 300,00 lira from me, then asked for another 50,000 lira from each of Dave and Neil, total of 400,000 lira, about $285 CDN, then shook our hands, and took off. We don't know if we got took to the cleaners or not!! The jackets *SEEM* very nice, and Neil figures they don't feel cheep. He told us they sell for about $600US each. If they are authentic, and they're not hot, then we were at the right place at the right time! If not, well, another lesson learned, I guess. At the very least, we did get cool looking jackets out of it!

We continued on to the Collisseum, carrying the jackets (in a bag...and they're HEAVY too!), and paid 10,000 lira to get into the Collisseum, about $8. The Collisseum is much more magnificient from the outside than it is from the inside. I'd say, don't bother doing the inside if you're in Rome, just admire it from the outside, looking in. Just my opinion, though.

Took the subway back to the hotel, and dropped off our jackets, then took the subway to the Vatican. We signed up for a walking tour of the Vatican earlier in the morning, the tour started at 1:00. It wasn't that interesting, the Sistine Chapel was actually kind of dissappointing. Michelangeloo spent years painting the ceiling, and while it's neat, I was way more impressed with the artwork and massive paintings at Versaille, for example. The one thing that did impress me at the Vatican was St. Peters Cathedral. This church is MASSIVE! It's the biggest church in the world, and I was in awe at it's size, especially from the inside. This is worth the price of admission (18,000 lira). We got to see the windows where the Pope lives. I was hoping he would stick his head out, but he didn't. They have a lot of stuff at the Vatican, though. Tons and tons of paintings and statues.

An interesting tidbit. Most Greek and Roman statues feature nude males. The church was getting a little "upset" at this, and in the 1800's, I believe it was, deicded to cover the private parts of all the statues with a fig leaf. More recently, the churches attitudes have changed, and they've been taking the fig leaves off of the statues again. In the process of removing the fig leafs, the private parts of the male statues sometimes comes off as well.

Another interesting note. You can't show a lot of skin in St. Peters. You have to have long pants (applies to both guys and girls), and no shoulders showing either. If you plan on coming to St. Peters, dress appropriately!

Well, tonight is our last night in the hotel. We fly out Saturday morning at 6:40am. We are supposed to be at the airport 2-3 horus before the flight leaves. So, we'll just head to the airport tomorrow night and spend the night there.

I don't know when I'll get access to the internet again, it could be that I won't until I get back to Moose Jaw.

So, to all who have been following my trip, thanks. I enjoyed reading all the comments (especially Nancy's anonymous ones!) I'll post one last one on our last day in Rome (Friday), we might go to a museum or something.


Wednesday, May 16, 2001


Well, the pub crawl! It was a lot of fun, actually. We had some Canadians on it, some Americans, the two organizing it were from Denmark and Nigeria (or somewhere in Africa, I forget now). From 8-9, we get to drink all the beer and/or wine we want in a park (it's legal to drink beer on the streets in Rome), then at 9:00, we caught the bus to the first bar. We used public transit, and you're allowed to drink beer on the busses as well. At each bar you get a free shooter. I don't know what the shooters were, but they weren't gross or anything. AFter the first bar, we walk to each successive bar. At the third bar, the pub crawl guy dumps the alcohol right down your throat from the bottle. No choices here! At the fourth, I knew I had had enough, and passed my shooter onto some girl. At this point, I was drunk, and my stomach was feeling a little queezy, so I knew I had to stop. So, at the fifth, the shooter is administered via a water gun (in this case, it'd be an alcohol gun!) He squirts it directly into your mouth. He had too much, so he was giving out seconds in the bar, so I ended up having two shots there.

It ended about midnight, then we all kinda stood outside the bar and "mingled", then about 12:30 or 1:00, Dave and I walked home. Well, if truth be told, I kinda wobbled home, but was OK. We had no idea where we were at the end of the pub crawl, so we just started walking in the direction we thought would be the right direction. AFter about 15 minutes, we spotted the Colliseum about 6 blocks away. Once we made it to the Collisseum, we knew how to get back to the hotel from there. The pub crawl started at the Collisseum. It's cool, how many people can say they drank beer in a park in front of the Collisseum!!!

Dave and I got home abotu 2:00. Ryan and Neil got home about 3:00. I had a very slight headache this morning, but was OK. I'm very tired tonight though, no pub crawl for me! We all got a t-shirt, which is very cool.

We get a discount for each pub crawl we go on, starting with a 5,000 lira, then 10,000, then 15,000, then 20,000 lira. If we do another one, it'll only cost 25,000 lira (the first one cost 30,000 lira). Divide by 1400 to get canadian dollars, I'm too lazy to figure it out right now.

We got up about 8:00 this morning and walked around and did some shopping. Dave bought a $900 CDN leather jacket, and some games. Ryan bought some games and Star Wars stuff.

At 1:30, we went on a walking tour of Ancient Rome. This was very cool! Ancient Rome is buried 25 feet under the earth. If you bulldozed all of Rome and dug 25 feet down, you could discover incredible treasures. You can't believe what they have uncovered now. You've all heard of the Collisseum, which is very impressive by itself. Most of you have probably heard of the Panthen, which is also very impressive. But those just barely scratch the surface of Ancient Rome. They have SO many archeological dig sites and excavations, it blows the mind. There's massive marble pillars laying around the ground everywhere you walk in the Ancient Rome part of the city. Old temples, arches, pillars, shrines, etc, all being dug out, it just blows the mind! All of it, 2000 years old, and they're digging it all up, and restoring it. This was very cool to see this stuff. This is a must see for everyone!

The tour was 3 hours, so we got supper near the Pantheon, then meandered back to the hotel.

When we got to Rome, we were expecting the same chaos as we experienced in Naples. We were in for a surprise. It's very calm and orderly here in Rome. A red light means stop in Rome. You can cross the streets a little more safely, although vehicles still have the right of way here. And very clean as well.

Oh, and the fountains!! They have drinking fountains all over central Rome, coming out of statues and stuff. All the water coming out of these fountains is drinkable, it's all supplied from a spring, and it's cold and good!

We keep running into people we've met earlier as well. We ran into a girl we met in Naples on the subway station today in Ancient Rome. We met an older couple on our tour of Pompei, then ran into them again in Capri. We ran into a bunch of people from our pub crawl last night today. And of course the story of running into Michelle, Colleen and Scott in Berlin.

It really is a small world!!

I think that's it for now. I'm just going my memory for this journal, I don't think I forgot anything!

Tuesday, May 15, 2001


When we went to pay for the hostel in Naples this morning, it was supposed to be 30,000 lira a night, per person, about $21. They ended up only charging us 25,000 lira ($18). Pleasant surprise.

Anyway, I've done it. I'm all red and quite sore, finally! Being in the sun all day on Capri, combined with the sun on previous days has finally burned me. Woohoo!

We got up about 8:00 and had breakfast and went to the train station, via subway. Got on a 9:50 train to Milan. It stops in Rome, so we got off there.

We kinda got took at the train station in Naples. We were walking to the first class cars, and some guy in a conductors type uniform asked us, "First class?", we said yes, and he started running, indicating for us to follow. We thought he was a conductor trying to get the train loaded. He took us to the first class cars, and herded us into one of the compartments. Then he wanted a tip for his services. We tried giving him our change, but he wanted 10,000 lira (about $7.00CDN) from each of us. Stupid us forked it over. Beware of scam artists in Europe!!! Ryan was whining about it for half an hour afterwards.

Arrived in Rome about noon about noon. When we got off, a guy approached us and askied us if we had a place to stay. We didn't, so he asked us our price range, then he took us to a hotel a couple of blocks away. The hotel was clean, and the room is 40,000 lira, less than $30CDN each, so we took it. It also saved us the hassle of finding a place to stay, seeing as how the main HI hostel was full.

This guy represents about 30 hotels, from 1 star to 5 star hotels. Kind of a good idea to drum up business for the hotels, but kinda a nuisance if you don't want to deal with them.

We walked to the Hard Rock Cafe, and had lunch/supper, then bought souvenirs there, and came back to the hotel.

Every night in Rome, they have an English-only pub crawl. I remember Darryn Monaghan and his wife telling us about the pub crawl when they came to Rome last year, and we had a few other people mention it to us in our travels throughout Europe. They meet at the Collisseum at 8:00, then take you to a bar where you can drink all the beer you want for an hour, then you take a bus to a bunch of bars. You get a free shot at each bar. At the end of the night, you get a pub crawl t-shirt, it lists all the bars visited on the back of the t-shirt. We are going to do the pub crawl tonight.

So much for Ryan not drinking for the rest of the trip!! By the way, Ryan's gonna be in for a shock when he sees the picture we took of him after he crashed on his bed after the beer house in Munich. (Kara, if you're reading this, don't say anything to Ryan about this on the phone or after he gets back, until he sees the picture himself!) He has no idea this picture exists!!!! Is it every funny, though! That makes two compromising pictures of Ryan we have (the other one being him trying to break the lock on his locker at the hostel in London, in his underwear).

I will report on the pub crawl in the next journal.

Monday, May 14, 2001


We went to the island of Capri today. AWESOME! A complete contrast to Naples. Clean, very attractive, and also very pricey. It's a tourist destination, big time. They have beautiful scenery, tons of stuff to see.

We started by having an expensive lunch in the dock area, then we went on a hike to the Natural Arch, an arch in the rocks that was created naturally from erosion, then continued on to a big cavern the ancient Roman's used as a "Nymphaeum", whatever that is. There were some AMAZING views on this hike, it was incredible. As we were standing by the wharf, a guy approached us and asked if we wanted a tour around the island (by boat). You can do this through one of the many tourist places around the wharf, but they use big-ass boats. This guy had a small 25 foot boat, and it was just us 4 and him. He took us to a bunch of the grotto's, essentially caves eroded by the sea water. Some of them are pretty amazing. The last one, for which Capri is famous, is the Blue Grotto. It's an extra charge, you have to get out of the boat, and into a very small row boat, and get taken through the very small opening into the grotto. WOW!!!!! Since the opening is so small, there is no light in there, but you can see the suns rays reflecting in the water in the grotto, and you can't imagine the incredible blue glow the water gives off.

Capri was easily the best part of the trip so far!

Out of curiosity, Dave went into an expensive hotel and asked how much for rooms. The price ranged from 800,000 lira for the low-end rooms, to a high of 1,500,000 lira for the best suite. Divide by 1400 to get Canadian dollars. Very expensive, but it's probably worth it.

We then headed back to the hostel, and had supper at a restaurant near the hostel.

If anyone ever comes to Italy, Capri is a MUST!!!

We leave for Rome tomorrow. We tried to book hostel rooms at the HI hostel, but they are all booked up for the next three nights, so we'll go and see what we can find.


Sunday, May 13, 2001


Got up at 7:30 and took a train to Pompei. WOW!! This is quite something. For those not in the know, Pompei was a city of 10,000 that got buried in 25 feet of ash when Mt. Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD. It is now a huge excavation site. It's essentially an ancient city frozen in time, with frescoes (paintings) still visible on and in the buildings, preserved for years by the ash. Very impressive. The city even had a brothel. Got lots of good pictures.

Erotica and sex is a predmoninant factor in Pompei and the lives of the people who lived there.

Finished Pompei about 3:00 and got the train back to Naples.

The train to Pompei is privately run, a round trip ticket cost us 3200 lira, about $2.30.

I walked a few blocks in search of an automated teller and a store that could sell me a phone card. I found the automated teller, but all the stores are closed on Sunday. Continued walking down to the wharf. The wharf is crystal clear. Lots of pleasure boats docked. Lots of activity around the wharf.

I don't understand the sun here. I should be burned to a crisp by now, but I'm not. The sun isn't nearly as "deadly" on the skin here as it is in Saskatchewan.

Naples is crawling with stray dogs and cats. They are everywhere, train stations, sidewalks, Pompei (!). The hostel seems to have "adopted" quite a few stray cats.

We walked for dinner down by the wharf, and found a phone card on the way. If you ask at the hostel if they have phone cards, they will deny it. If you tell them you want one, they will sell you one!! Go figure.

Saturday, May 12, 2001


Walked to the train station last night to make reservations for a fast (EuroStar) train from Bologna to Naples. We have to pay a supplement to use certain high-speed trains (of which this is one). The supplement was 52,400 Lira, or abot $37.00 for all four of us.

Up at 6:00am to catch a train for Napoli (Naples). We had to switch trains in Bologne to the high speed train.

When we went to went to get on the high speed train in Bologne, we found out the reservation we made was for second class. Ryan inquired about sitting in first class,because our EuroRail passes were first class, and the guy told us if there was room, we could, but we'd probably have to pay more We ended up findin one four seat compartment that had power seats, music in the armrests and such things. Then the canteen guy came by and asked us if we wanted anything, and that it would be free. Then the ticket guy came and figured out the difference we had to pay. 25,000 Lira, about $18.00 total. We were expecting a minimum of 100,000 Lira.

We decided to have a 3-course meal on the dining car. When we sat down,we overheard some Americans at another table say something like, "Oh no,those guys look like they can't afford this." We got a kick out of that.

Got to Naples and made it to the hostel and booked for 3 nights. Took the subway back downtown and went to the Archeological Museum. They have a lot of the artifacts found at Mt. Vesuvius. Interesting museum. We then walkd to Ciro A Santa Brigada, a restaurant listed in my Fodor's Italy book as having the best in the world. And I ended up not ordering pizza!!! It was late opening up (the owner was at a soccer match),and while we were waiting outside, we started talking to a woman from California. We ended up having supper with her. Dave and Ryan had pizza, Neil and I had riggatoni, and Ruby had fish. The brought out the whole fish for her to inspect before cutting it up. She was not too happy about that...she didn't like the idea of her supper looking back at her. The four of us ended up buying supper for her.

We walked back to the nearest subway station and took it back to our hostel.

Naples...absolutely filthy. It's a pig-stye. Absolute chaos. No one pays any attention to traffic lights. Cars drive on the wrong side of the street. Motorcycles race up and down the sidewalks. Crazy. They actually need traffic cops to direct traffic at intersections that already have traffic lights. Yellow and red means go as fast as you can!!!

We've had a few people help us too. Some are nice, most seem arrogant and upset all the time. We've had quite a few people tell us it's not safe to carry our cameras with us, or help us with directions.

Overall, though, it feels very unsafe.

Word about water. You can either normal water or carbonated water. They ask if you want "gas or no gas" when you order water. That's funny!


Friday, May 11, 2001


What a night!! First off, the train we're on is circa 1960 or something. There are 3 seats on either side of the cabin we're in, and the seats can be pulled out from the wall to form a half-ass bed. It's hard and lumpy, and not long enough for anyone to stretch out. And not enough room for 4 of us either. So Ryan and I pull 2 of the three pairs of seats together, and proceed to lie down, in a squished up manner. Neil and Dave decide they will try their luck sitting in the seats. It's very uncomfortable. We tossed and turned.

When we got to the Italian border, the train stops for a long time. I can remember all kinds of commotion going on in the train car. Cabin doors being opened and closed abruptly, people talking loudly and authoritatively. We're just trying to ignore it all and get some sleep. All of a sudden our door rips open, which startles us all, and a guy in a uniform sternly says, in an Italian accent, "Passports, please." We get up and start stumbling around for our passports. He then says, "Where are you from?", and we mumble Canada. He says, "It's OK then", and abruptly and loudly shuts the door. We then hear the same procedure happening in the next compartment.

AFter this, I remark that they must be looking for someone, and Dave agrees. He heard the officers ask the person/people in another cabin if they were Russian. They must be on the lookout for a Russian coming into the coutrny. It was quite an experience, and kinda cool, actually.

Later in the night, the ticket lady comes by wanting our tickets. We showed our tickets (Eurorail passes) to another guy when we got on the train, but now a woman was checking too. I was on the verge of falling asleep when she came in too.

Then later yet, we made a stop at a station somewhere, and abunch of people got on the train, being noisy, and as they passed out cabin, two of the ripped open our door and slammed it shut, just to see if the cabin was empty. They couldn't be more subtle about it.

Needless to say, no one really got any sleep last night.

When we got off the train, I cashed in $200.00 in travellers cheques, which got me almost 280,000 Lira. I could be a millionaire here!

We had trouble finding rooms at any of the hostels, they were all full. At the train station, some guy approached us and gave us a card for a cheap hotel, so we ended up taking it. The hotel is small, but nice. It came in at a heft 60,000 Lira, which is about $43.00CDN each.

AFter checking into the hotel, we talked around Venice, and took a gondola ride through the canals. That was neat.

Venice will just blow your mind away. The streets are water. They busses are boats. Their taxi's are boats. They don't have garbage trucks, they have garbage boats picking up waste. There is, literally, no motorized transportation in Venice, unless it's on the water. The front entrance to the Casino in Venice is a dock in the Grand Canal. You drive your boat up, and get out and go gamble. Very cool, but very strange to comprehend.

Walked to San Marco square, the "happening" square in Venice. It's on the waterfront and there's lots of touristy stuff there.

Took a bus boat to Murano island, where most of the glass blowing takes place. The glass museum was boring, but the glass blowing we saw them do at one of the "factories" was cool.

Took the bus boat back to the "mainland" and walked in random directions for an hour before finding something we recognized, and were able to find our way back. Ate supper at a pizzeria, and had Italian pizza. Very tasty.

Thursday, May 10, 2001


Ryan and Dave got up at 7:30 to go golfing. Neil and I slept in until after 9:00. I didn't intend to sleep that late, I was going to go hiking/walking this morning, but got up too late.

The room at the caslte cost us about 375DM, or about $280.00CDN.

Neil and I just hung out waiting for Dave and Ryan to get back from their golf game. Then we took a taxi back to Ansbach and got on the 1:13 train for Stuttgart. Ryan wants to see the Porsche museum there.

The first week and a half or so just dragged, but the last week and a half just flown by.

And beautiful weather today, warm, sunny, not a cloud in the sky. Finally some shorts weather. I just might come back with a tan/burn yet!!

Took the train to Stuttgart to see the Porsche museum. YAWN!! Ryan loves Porches. I'm sure if he could, Ryan would marry a Porsche.

Tried to get a hostel room, but they were all full. So we had supper and decided what we wanted to do. We thought about going to Zurich, Switzerland, and trying to get a room there, but didn't for some reason I can't remember. AFter much humming and hawing, we decided to take a night train to Venice. We had to go from Stuttgart back to Munich, then another train from Munich to Venice. We wanted to take a day train so we could see the Alps. But we might make a day trip from Venice to the Alps. We'll see.

The train from Munich to Venice is a dive...

Wednesday, May 09, 2001


The name of the place we stayed at the last two nights was Pension Locarno, just for anyone's information.

After last nights bender, Ryan barfed this morning. He swears he will never drink again. He then amended that statement, indicating he will not drink any more on this trip. He kept claiming last night he WASN'T drunk, but he admitted today he was VERY drunk. It was pretty funny anyway. Will he ever be in for a surprise when he sees the pictures from that night.

Went to Dachau Concentration camp this morning. Very interesting to see how the prisoners lived, the bunkbeds in which they slept, and especially the crematorium and gas chambers.

The weather today is beautiful. Mostly sunny and warm. FINALLY!!

Tonight we sleep in an old castle near Ansbach. We got on a train for Ansback, 1st class as usual. The train car was HOT. When the conductor comes by again, we ask him if he can turn the thermostat down or turn on the A/C. He tells us he can't, the only thing we can do is open the windows. He then tells us we can move to second class, because it IS air conditioned. Everyone else in our car proceeded to move to second class, then we opened up the windows. Go figure...2nd class gets air, first class doesn't.

Had to take a taxi from the train station to the castle. It's about 15 km out of Ansbach, in the town Colmburg. The castle is very cool. Originally built pre-1269, and is still original. Of course, they've renovated a lot of the interior. The castle is called Castle Colmburg.

We ate supper at the castle. I had rumpsteak with pan fried potatoes. It was amazingly good. Best pan fried potatoes I've ever had, and the steak was really good as well. The other guys had cordon blue, because that's the only thing on the menu they could understand, and they didn't want to take the chance.

After supper I walked down to the Cronburg townsite. Nice, quiet town. A lot of townfolk were doing yardwork. Walked for about an hour.

Monday, May 07, 2001


We couldn't get a hostel last night because they were all full, but we managed to find a hotel that had 2-two bed rooms for 50 DM per night (about $35 CDN), and that included a breakfast, so that was OK. It was right across from the train station too. Small rooms, but what do we care.

There's also an interent store right across the street from the train station. They sell internet access dirt cheap: 83 minutes for 5 DM. We were paying 1 DM for 1 minute at the hostels!

We went to the Deutches Museum today, a museum of science and technology. It's HUGE, and has sections covering every science and technology imaginable. It took us all day to go through it, and that was rushing through a lot of the sections. Definately a must see if anyone is in Munich.

Went to the Hofbrauhaus Am Platyl for supper ( They serve BIG beers, in one litre mugs, and Ryan wanted one. And then another. Then, an old German guy from another table came over and talked to us in his broken english, wondering where we were from...he had a hard time saying Saskatchewan. Ryan eventually joined them, and kept drinking, then us 3 joined them, and they bought us shooters, and Ryan kept drinking. And then he kept drinking some more! They eventually left, so we went downstairs to the actual traditional beer house. Talk about cool. I really liked this, and took a few pictures of what's it's like. They had a band playing Bavarian music, people banging their mugs on the wooden tables, and dancing, the waiters/waitresses dressed in the traditional garb. Very cool.

Ryan ordered another 1 litre beer, and finished about 1/10th of it, and ended up passing out. Got lots of pictures of this too!!! He is gonna have such a hangover tomorrow, it's soo funny. Even our waiter was laughing at him, and the waiter took a picture of him with my camera too.

We eventually had to take Ryan home, and got Ryan back to the hostel about midnight. As I write this, Ryan is sitting on a chair in front of the sink in the hotel room, spitting in the sink, drinking water. Hangover city!!!

Munich is a very nice city. Very clean, and I do like it a lot. Definately a must visit for anyone.

Sunday, May 06, 2001


The hostel last night had Internet, but it didn' render Live Journal correctly, so I couldn't update the journal.

Anyway, got up and headed to the train station on our way to Munich. We had to switch trains at Dresden. Berlin to Dresden was a couple of hours, Dresden to Munich is a 7 hour, 20 minute train ride. We originally planned to take a night train to Munich, but the other guys didn't like the idea of another night train. Plus, according to Mr. Timetable (i.e. Ryan), we are a day ahead of schedule, so by taking the day train, we'd kill a day travelling, and we'd be back on schedule!!! What would we do without him!

Since there's nothing really interesting about today, I'll entertain you with a couple of stores about Ryan and his "organization". In Brugge, a bunch of us were sitting around the hostel, and someone was talking about something they had seen on a tour, and Ryan wanted to know every detail about the tour, the time it left, how long it was, exactly what they saw, how much, everything. Michelle, watching Ryan in action, remarked to all of us, "Geeze, Ryan, you're way to organized!", at which point, me, Dave and Neil burst out laughing, then Ryan, looks up and wonders what everyone is laughing about. Even people who don't even know Ryan can see that he's trying to be too organized. Anyway, fast forward a day or two. At the Hard Rock Cafe, Michelle has a paper journal, and she pulled it out to show us a picture of something they saw earlier in the day. The journal was very neat and orderly. Ryan remarked that she's way to organized. Of course, everyone at the table roars out laughing, because it's the king of organization making the remark. Hmm, that didn't sound funny as I typed it in, I guess you had to be there.


The sleeperette was OK, actually. The train was due in Berlin about 6:40am. The attendant gave us a wake-up call about 5:45. The beds were kind of hard though. I slept OK, which surprised me. I didn't think I'd be able to sleep on a moving train. The other guys didn't sleep well at all. Sucks to be them.

When the train arrived at our stop, Neil was still in bed, so we missed it! We got off at the next stop, and took a local train back a couple of stops. They have storage lockers at the train stations here, so we unloaded our stuff, bought an all-day bus/tram/subway ticket, and hopped on a bus that goes around in a big circle.

The bus ended up not finishing the route because of a marathon in the city. So we walked to the Victory Tower, which was OK, but I'm getting sick of towers. Then we walked through Brandenburg Gate )well, a picture of it anyway).

Then checked Checkpoint Charlie, and went through the museum there. Then went to theck out another museum, but the lineup to get in was massive, so we decided to leave it until tomorrow. Started walking to another museum, and had to go through the Brandenburg Gate again. As we were walking past, Neil hears his name being called, but ignores it. After all, who would he know in a city the size of Berlin. Again he hears his name, and I recall him muttering something like "What the...someone's calling my name...". So we turn around (Ryan is 50 miles ahead of us, as usual) to see Michelle, Colleen and Scott, the Canadians we originally met in Brugge. They were on an 8 hour walking tour of Berlin, and their tour just happened to be at Brandenburg Gate when we were there. What a coincidence!! Anyway, we decided to get together for supper.

After that encounter, we continued to Pergamon Museum, a massive building that has collections of ancient Greek, Roman, and Islamic "antiquities". Admission is free on the first Sunday of every month, which happened to be today, so it didn' cost us anything. This would probably be why there was a line-up at the other musem too. This museum was amazing!!! They have massive recreations of Roman and Greek pillars and buildings. Even some of the original stoneworks that the Germans stole, apparently, many, many years ago.

Trained and cabbed it back to the hostel.

Got an e-mail from Colleen, Michelle and Scott telling us to meet them at a restaurant (Allo Ro) near their hostel. Stayed there until after 10:00, then took the subway back to our hostel.

There is TONS of construction happening in Berlin. A lot of their old buildings are still showing the scars of WWII, they're all black and pitted with machine gun fire and what have you.

Oh ya, we also tried to find the bunker where Hitler committed suicide, but couldn't find it. Ryan REALLY wanted to see this, as it's essentially where WWII ended!

Saturday, May 05, 2001


Got up, had breakfast at the hostel. I've finally succumbed to the sickness the other three had, I woke up with a sore throat this morning. Those bastards!!

Took the tram to the train station, made reservations for a night train to Berlin, then hopped on a train for Den Haag.

Went on a bus tour of Den Haag. It was fairly interesting. Got to see the "jail" where Milosevic will be held when he is on trial for war crimes in Yugoslavia, which was interesting to see.

Headed back to Amsterdam on the train. Walked back to the hostel, collected our backpacks, then trammed it back to the train station. Had Pizza Hut and Burger King combo's for supper, while we waited for our train.

Got on the train, we have a sleeperette, it has 6 bunks (3 on each side) and not much room for anything else. The sleeper cost us 45 gilders (about $30.00 CDN).

Notes about Holland
1. A lot of sheep here!!!
2. Everyone speaks English, which is great! Even the older population, they ALL speak english, and good english too. No one should ever hesitate about coming to Holland because of their language barrier fear, it just doesn't exist here!

Friday, May 04, 2001


Went to the Floating Palace Chinese restaurant for supper last night. Very nice restaurant, but very expensive. We were going to get a Chinese meal for 4 for 110 gilders ($85.00 approx), until Ryan notices that that price was PER PERSON!!! Yikes! We just ordered individuallz, but it was still expensive.

After that we walked to the train station where we were going to meet Colleen, Michelle, Scott, Ben, and Cara, some other Canadians we met. While we were waiting, we witnessed the cops arresting some black guy. The guy started fighting back, so the cops got out there billy clubs and started beating on the guy. Within minutes, there were at least 30 cops there. Quite a sight.

When the other guys showed up, we walked around the red light district for a while, went to a Greek restaurant/bar and had a drink, then back to the hostel.

We had planned on going to the Haag todaz, but no one except me heard my alarm, and we all woke up late. So Ryan, Neil, and myself took the train to Nijmegen to see the Canadian War Memorial/Cemetery and Museum. Had to walk about 2km to get to the cemetery. This was a personal thing for Ryan, as his dad's uncle is buried here. Ryan found the grave and took pictures, and stuck a Canadian flag in the ground at his gravesite.

Got back to Amsterdam and we met Colleen, Michelle and Scott at the Hard Rock Cafe for supper. Then went down to the main square for their Rememerance Day ceremonies.

Colleen, Michelle and Scott trammed it back to their hostel, we walked and got back about 9:30.

Thursday, May 03, 2001


Went to the Floating Palace Chinese restaurant for supper last night. Very nice restaurant, but very expensive. We were going to get a Chinese dinner for 4 for 110 gilders ($85.00 approx.), until Ryan notices that that price was PER PERSON!! Yikes!!! We just ordered individually, which was quite a bit cheaper, but still expensive.

After that, we walked to the train statino where we were going to meet Colleen, Michelle, Scott, Ben, and Cara, some other Canadians we met. We had met Colleen, Michelle and Scott in Brugge. While we were waiting, we witnessed the Amsterdam police force in full force! There was this black guy causing a little bit of commotion, and these two cops were trying to calm him down or something, and he got upset, and started swinging his fists at the cops. Well, the cops got out their billy clubs and started beating on this guy, in the meantime, one of the cops radioed for backup, and before you know it, police were coming out of the woodwork, like you wouldn't believe! Within 5 minutes, there must have been 30 cops there! It was unreal. I should note the female to male ratio of police officers in Amsterdam, must be 70% female, 30% male. They have A LOT of female cops here.

Anyway, when the other Canadian's showed up, we walked around the Red Light District for a while, went to a Greek restaurant/bar and had a drink, then back to the hostel.

We had planned on going to The Haugge (sp?) today, but no one except me heard my alarm, and we all woke up late. I woke up when it went off at 7:00, but no one else got up, so I thought, "If no one else is getting up, I'm not getting up either!", and we all slept in. So Neil, Ryan and I took the train to Nijmegen to see the Canadian War Cemetery and the Canadian War Museum. We had to walk about 2 km to get the cemetery. This was a personal thing for Ryan, as his dad's uncle is buried here. Ryan found the gravesite and took pictures and placed a Canadian flag in the ground at the gravesite.

Got back to Amsterdam and we met Colleen, Michelle and Scott at the Hard Rock Cafe for supper. Then went down to the main square for their Remembrance Day ceremony. We missed the first half hour, which was unfortunate. Tomorrow is a holiday in Holland, Liberation Day, it marks the day the Allies (Canadians specifically, I believe) liberated Holland from the Germans.

Colleen, Michelle and Scott trammed it back to their hostel, which is actually just on the other side of the park from our hostel. Compared to their hostel, we're staying in a 5-star hotel! Theirs is a DIVE! You can smell the pot when you walk in to their hostel, ours is big, clean and awesome (and more expensive!)

We walked back to the hostel, under protest from Ryan, who wanted to go party, but me and Neil are simply beat. We couldn't keep our eyes open coming back on the train from Nijmegen. I must have had a poor sleep last night or something, and Neil, well, he's always sleeping anyway.

Just a note about the Holland people. They all speak English, and excellent English at that. No one should have any fear of coming to Holland and not being able to communicate. It's the complete opposite of France, where if you don't know French, your SOL.


Went on a boat tour last night on the canals. Kind of lame, but it was OK, I guess. Me, Neil and Ryan came back to the hostel and Dave went "touring" around Amsterdam after that.

This morning, had breakfast at the hostel. A decent breakfast, had lots of different stuff to eat.

Walked to the Heineken Beer Museum, but it was closed for renovations. YAWN!

Ran into a diamond cutting factory that had free tours, so we took one. YAWN!!

Went to the Van Gogh Museum. YAWN!!!

Walked down to the harbour (took us a long time!), and went to the Sheepvaaer Museum, a historical naval museum. This was pretty interesting.

Then went to the Red Light District and went to the Erotic Museum. This was certainly different.

Did a quick walk through of the Red Light District. The girls sit in windows and try to entice customers to join them. Very different. Most of the women were FAT and ugly. In this one building, there was this fat chick, and this guy was standing outside on the sidewalk looking at her. She started motioning him to come in and join her. He's, like, "No way", then she indicates he can join her and another fatty in the next window, and once again, he declines. She starts asking why, and he points to her and the other girl, and spreads his arms wide, to indicate they're fat, that's why. She starts making all kinds of rude gestures, and grabs her boobs as if to indicate, she thinks she's sexy, and to take a look at what he's missing out on. It was quite humourous (she was having a good time reeming him out too), and she certainly put him in his place.

It's supper as I write this, we're going to a floating Chinese restaurant in the harbour for supper, we're just waiting for a response from 3 other Canadians we met in Brugges, who are in Amsterdam at another hostel to see if they want to join us for supper.

Tonight, we're going back to the Red Light District, I guess it gets REALLY busy after sundown, so it should be interesting.

By the way, I should note that you can smell the "aroma" of marijuana all over Belgium, especially in the Red Light district. It's "legal" to have up to 5 grams of pot or hash in Amsterdam, and you can buy it (and magic mushrooms too, even though that's illegal in Amsterdam) at any coffee shop. It certainly is very different. I didn't expect this "underground" world of Amsterdam to be so available, but it is. It's VERY available, you can get whatever you want here, without any problems (not that I know from direct experience, of course), but coffee shops ADVERTISE the fact that they have mushrooms and pot for sale.

Till later.

Tuesday, May 01, 2001


We're in Amsterdam now, they have regular keyboards here. I've got so used to the other ones, I'm having trouble adjusting back now!

Anyway, last night we ate at Le Francais (or something like that), a restaurant with a snobby waiter, serving inadequate food for a lot of money. Walked back to the hostel and played Risk (Dave won). Then me, Ryan, Dave and Jennifer (some Canadian chick staying at the hostel) walked around Brugge at night, until about 11:00. Everything looks very cool at night, all lit up, but of course, I didn't bring my cameras!!

We had some guy from Malaysia in our room last night (dormitory room), and he cut down trees all night. Between him snoring, and Dave, Neil and Ryan hacking, coughing, wheezing and sneezing all night, I didn't get much sleep. I still haven't got the cold the other guys have, which is amazing, living in such close quarters with them.

After breakfast, we walked downtown (market square). We had to stop at a department store so Dave could get a new towel, as he left his at the hostel in Brussels. We are still trying to figure out who's fault that one is. On the way there, Dave got hit by a truck. He's OK though.

Went to the Belfry tower, which was pretty cool. Then went to the Basilla of the Blood. When we walked in, some old guy (83 years old) approached us, and tells us how much he loves Canadians, and he has so much respect for Canadians. He then takes us on a tour of the Basilla, explaining what everything means. We are not allowed to take pictures (still or video) in the Basilla, so Dave asks the old guy if we can. He says, "Normally we don't allow it, but because you're Canadian, go ahead!" So Neil started snapping pics.

He then took us outside and started giving us the history of some of the buildings. Very interesting. He then took us inside city hall, and told us stories about some of the paintings and sculptings. One painting they have is of Napolean and the mayor of Brugge. The story goes that the people of the town thought the mayor was a traitor, collaborating with the Dutch, and killed him (cut his head off), then cut the head out of the picture. Post mortem, they realized they made a mistake about the mayor, and pasted the head back into the painting. Viewed from the correct angle, you can see where it was cut and pasted back in. The old guy was also a veteran of WWII, he fought with the Belgian Army.

After lunch, we got to the train station and jumped on a train for Amsterdam. On the way to Amsterdam, blue skies started to prevail!!!!! Hopefully we'll be leaving the clouds and rain behind from here on in.

Arrived in Amsterdam. What a difference compared with other European cities. Amsterdam is very modern, and very western looking. With the exception of the canals, it could be any city in North America. Very different than other European cities.

Ate supper at Burger King, then walked to the hostel, but kept getting lost, and walked about 3x further than we needed too.

Hostel is amazing, very big, very nice, probably better than half the hotels in Amsterdam. We think it's just under $50.00CDN/night.


Friday, April 27, 2001


First off, I`m using a stupid french keyboard, so it`s slow going, a bunch of letters
are in different spots...I`m reduced to hunting and pecking.

That old guy in our room last night, he`s 74 years old, and been hostelling for 14
years. His uncle farmed around Moose Jaw. What a small world. Humphreys was the

Woke up at 5:30 to catch a 7:35 train to Rennes. We are in first class, very nice.

Arrived in Rennes about 9:45. Tried to rent a car, but none available, because we
found out it`s an extra long weekend in France. So, we decide to take a bus to Mont
St. Michel. is Free bus, our EuroRail pass covers it. We`ll figure out what to do
when we get back. We don`t even have a room for tonight, we`re just winging it now,
and Ryan hates it.

It`s sunny and warm this morning, at least.

Grabbed a ham sandwich and drink for 25 francs (about $5.00 CDN), very cheap!

Made it Mont St. Michel. There was a strike, so there`s no charge to get in. Regular
group price would have been 160 francs (about 35CDN) or 200 francs (about 40CDN)
for an individual. Lucky us. It`s been a cheap day for us.

Mont St. Michel is very impressive. Originally built around 1016 or so, then parts
just kept being added on. Very gothic looking, completely different than Versailles.
Neil got accosted by a bunch of Spaniards. Two oof their names were Salo and Kelly.

Started raining and got quite cool later in the afternoon. Had to wait for ann hour
and a half for the return bus. We also had to travel with all our backpacks today,
we had no place to store them.

Got back to Rennes and decided to spend the night iin the hostel there and catch
a train to Caen in the morning. Also got a car rented in Caen, so we can drive to
some WWII beaches.

The hostel is 74 francs (about $22CDN). We paid 120 francs in Paris.

Both Neil and I agree, Ryan needs to calm down a little, he`s completely stressed
about everything!!!

OK, enough with this weird keyboard, check back soon.

Wednesday, April 25, 2001


Woke up at 8:00 AM. A lot quieter this morning that yesterday morning. Ate breakfast and caught the subway to the Louvre. Massive place, some of the old 17th and 18th century paintings are incredible, especially the large format ones (the ones that take up a whole wall!) Saw the Mona Lisa.

Unfortunately, there is absolutely no English at the Louvre, so we couldn'd read anything about any of the art.

Went the the catacombs, but it was closed for renovations. Apparently, the catacombs is this massive "catacomb" made out of human skulls and skeletons. It was first created in the 1800's, if I remember, then the government shut it down in 1830 or something, because they thought something like that was not very "proper" for a civilizes society.

Found a photo place downtown that would put Neil's digital pictures on a CD for him. I have lots of room left, so I don't need that service (yet anyway!) So, perhaps we can send a few pics in the near future! Neil has to pick up his CD-ROM tonight after 10:00 PM.

Ate supper at McDonalds.

Got back to the hostel and got a room for tomorrow night. The previous two nights, we got a room with 4 beds, for the four of us. Tonight, we are in an 8 bedder, two of the other guys in the room are from the US, one from Missouri (an old guy, at least 50 years old...his grandfather and uncle farmed near Moose Jaw, if you can believe it!), the other guy was a younger guy from California.

After booking our room, we decided we had to head back downtown, to a EuroRail place and make reservations to get out of Paris. We catch a train to Rennes tomorrow morning at 7:35, we'll have to be up early tomorrow morning!

There are a lot of beggars in Paris. Then there are a lot of "buskers", that play instruments or mime for money. On the subway today, there was some guy playing an accordian. After he was done playing, he went around collecting money.

Ok, traffic in Paris is HORRIBLE!! Traffic jams, everywhere! It's a nightmare, traffic doesn't flow well at all. Ryan can't beleive it, coming from a civil engineering background.

On the way to the train station, one of the subway systems was shutdown, presumably some accident of some sort. Anyway, it made the alternate subways crazy busy.

That's all for now, I think. Hopefully our next hostel will have internet access.

Tuesday, April 24, 2001

April 24, 2001, 10:48 update

Just a quick update. We had supper at restaurant in the hostel. I had a chicken and steak fajita (sp?), was it ever good, then a massive piece of apple pie. Mmmmm, it was excellent.

We hung out in the bar in the hostel afterwards. met a guy and girl from Ontario, Timmins, I think. She was wearing a "Canadian Girls Kick Ass" t-shirt, she bought just for the trip.

Anyway, over and out till next time.'


Woke up to screaming kids and and slamming doors this morning, about 7:30...yippee! The hostel is just crawling with young people. Ate breakfast at the hostel.

The hostel is nice on the outside, and it has lots of cool extras, like the bar, restaurant and stuff, but it is noisy and kinda grungy inside. The showers are the type you don't wanna use them in your bare feet, you wanna wear sandals or something on your feet. Oh well, the price isn't too bad.

Headed to Notre Dame Cathedral first. The main cathedral is free to walk around, but to see other parts, costs money. We went to see the treasury part, the Tower and the crypt. The treasury wasn't too great, the Tower (where the great bell is, as well) was pretty cool, got some good photos and video up there. That bell is MASSIVE! The crypt is actaully an archeological dig site, where they unearthed ancient Paris, the origins of the city of Paris. This was actually cool, you actually see the dig up close and personal. Notre Dame Cathedral was built around 1160. Notre Dame and Westminister Abbey are completely different. Notre Dame is completely wide open, Westminister Abbey is tight, super crowded.

Neil, Dave and I had pita's for lunch. Finally some real European food. We got them at some small place down some back street, where the small shops are lined one right after another. Ryan didn't have anything.

We hopped on an train for Versailles, it cost about 30 French Francs, which is about $8.00CDN.

Versailles...AWESOME. Better than awesome. Magnificent. The castle is stupendous. The courtyard is massive, and amazing. As you walk around the treed paths in the courtyard, you keep running into these fountains hidden in groves all over the place. Unfortunately, a storm in 1999 uprooted about 80% of the historical trees and vegetation, so they're working hard to restore the vegetation. It must have been amazing to see before then.

This is one place I'd LOVE to revisit again. We didn't have the time to explore all the nooks and crannies in the courtyard, it's simply massive.

Caught the train back to Paris at about 4:15. We then walked to the Obelisk, then caught the subway back to our hostel.

I could've been killed on the subway back. I got on, and sat beside this guy...he seemed to be preoccupied with something in the front of the car. All of a sudden, he get's upset and starts muttering to himself, in French, visibly upset. He then turns and stares at ME, for, like 30 seconds, right at me. I didn't look back at him,I was afraid, I just looked forward. He then started staring at another women for about a minute. Neil and Ryan saw the whole thing. At the next stop, he got up, and was looking for someone at he front of the bus, and he marched off, and started looking around, upset, presumable because he had lost whoever he was "stalking". Weird!

While this was happening, another guy, got on the car, and immediately dropped to his knees, made the sign of the cross, then started praying, then started walking around on his knees, begging for money (in French). The French definately have some weirdos among them.

Weather today was good/bad. Cloudy, sunny for a while, then a little rain, then wind, then the sun comes out. It's relatively warm, though, which is a good thing.

Neil just noticed a message above his head on the ceiling above his bed. It says: "I jerked it here. Have a good sleep."

Anyway, tomorrow we rent a car, and head to the north west coast, I think. These guys want to see some of the WW1/2 beaches and whatever. Should be interesting.

Check back soon!

Monday,April 24, 2001

Ok, quite a day today. Got up about 8:00, Ryan and I went to the post office to mail stuff (postcards, etc.)

Then headed the Eurostar station to catch our 11:53 train (through the Chunnel) to Paris. The other guys ate at Burger King (I ate at the hostel in the morning)...more fine British cuisine!!! So far so good for Ryan, he's had no beef yet!

Security is tight at the Eurostar when you go to board. You go through a metal detector, and if you beep, you get pulled aside and frisked, quite conscientiously (I beeped, so I had to go through with the frisking part). The examine everything closely.

Arrived in Paris about 4:00PM, and headed to the D'Artagnan hostel. Very nice, they have a restaurant, a bar, free movies every night, video games and the whole gamut. It's $25.00 a night, and that includes a breakfast.

French countryside is very prairie like. The only thing seperating it is the archtiecture of the buildings, other than that, it's pretty flat, lots of open land, farms.

A note about customs. There is none. We got off the train,and expected to go through customs,and get our passport stamped, but there was nothing. Nada. We got off the train, and walked into Paris, no questions asked about foot-and-mouth, nothing. I wonder if this means we're illegal aliens?????

Went the the Eiffel Tower and the Arc De Triumph, then ate at a fine French establishment, McDonalds!! When we got out of McDonalds,it was night, so we took a boat ride on the Siene (?) should see some of the buildings lit up at night in Paris. Very impressive.

Paris is dirty, though. I liked London, I don't care for Paris.

We got took my a scam artist too. He bought some subway tickets for us, claiming they were 1 day tickets, unlimited use, then we gave him money for them, ended up they were 1-way tickets.

Dave was watching some prostitutes, and ran into a pole! HAHAHAHA! We had a good laugh about that one.

We got kicked off the Subway, because it was 12:30 and shutting down, and we wondered around Paris for an hour,trying to find our hostel. Ryan is paranoid! He's convinced we're gonna get mugged and stabbed, he doesn't want to be wandering around Paris at night. His paranoia is gonna get him into trouble!

Times almost up, I'm sure there's more, but gotta go. Plus it's 1:45 in the morning, and I'm tired. Later

Sunday, April 22, 2001


Another busy day today.

Ryan, Neil and I decided to check out the nightlife last night (Dave didn't come), and went to Picadilly Circus, which seemed to be a pretty busy place when we were there during the day. We stopped into a couple of pubs and had a pint of beer at each, then walked around "downtown" London. It's lit up pretty good, and quite busy, people hustling and bustling about. Westminister Abbey and the Parliament Buildings and Big Ben are lit up pretty well at night. We got to hear Big Ben chime 10 bells last night, which was kinda cool. We then headed back to our hostel area, and headed to a small dance bar (called the Down Under, I believe...the woman working the bar was from Australia too). We were the first ones there, but by midnight, it was packed. Small bar, probably half the size of the Cornerstone, but it was fun. Ryan and Neil got drunk (at $7.00-$8.00 a drink, I passed on this one!) {Todd is a wimp} Shooters were cheap though, about $3.50 CDN, same you'd pay in Moose Jaw.

I left earlier (about 12:30), I guess Ryan and Neil left about 1:00. When they got back to the hostel, Ryan went to get a Coke, then passed out at the couch, and woke up about 3:00 and then went to bed.

We got up about 9:00 and headed out. First stop, Buckingham Palace, but we couldn't get in. Don't know why, but the ticket place just wasn't anywhere to be found. Perhaps the London Marathon (which was today) interfered with it. We got pictures of the outside, though.

On our way to Buckingham Palace, stopped in at Wellington Gate, a big arch in a park. Nothing special about it.

We then headed to the Imperial War Museum. I wasn't expecting much, but WOW, this is impressive! They have display after display after display of war related stuff, including tanks, planes, guns, bombs, nuclear weapons, etc. They have this really cool WW1 Trench Exhibit that made you feel like you were in the trenches. Also had a display simulating being in a bunker in London during the German bombing raids which was WAY cool. After the bombs drop (and bunker actually shakes!), you exit the bunker and check out the damage. Very real stuff. Had a huge Holocaust display, very interesting.

Spent a lot of time at the Imperial War Museum.

We then headed to the London Aquarium. Very dissappointing. The London Guide says it's one of the biggest and best aquariums in Europe, but it SUCKS! Don't go see it, if you're in London. The one Ryan and I saw in Japan was much better.

We then headed to Madam Teaudeau's (?) Wax Museum (this is the famous one). Right beside it is a planetarium, so Ryan, Dave and I went to the planetarium, and Neil checked out the Wax Museum. Planetarium was OK, not great.

We ate a small restaurant across the street from the was museum, and then decided to try and catch a play. We walked and walked and walked, past all kinds of theatres, but they are all closed on Sunday evenings, which sucks. We really wanted to see a play, and they have LOTS of theatres to choose from. Ah well.

So, we headed home (to the hostel).

Tomorrow we catch a noon train from London to Paris. Hopefully we'll have easy access to the internet wherever we stay in Paris as well.

Our feet are absolutely KILLING us. We've been walking and walking and walking for 3 days, our feet and legs can't handle it anymore. Ryan has blisters, he can barely walk. It's SOOO nice to sit down on the subway (when there are seats available), but no sooner do you sit down, your station comes up and you have to get up and walk again. YOWSERS! I'm sure we'll all appreciate the train ride tomorrow.

There are NO garbage cans in the subways! It quite aggravated us, because we have to carry our garbage around with us. Someone then imformed is, it's because people put bombs in the garbage cans, so they don't put garbage cans in the subway stations anymore. Interesting factoid.

All of our names have four letters. Neat!

Time's almost up! Check back soon.

Saturday, April 21, 2001

Day 4, Saturday, April 21, 2001

Ok, day 4.

Just a note about Ryan, first. He constantly complains about the cost of supper and buying other things, but has no complaints whatsoever about spending $2.50 for a 500mL bottle of Coke!!

Now, for the funny story of the trip. Last night, we were all getting ready for bed (we sleep in bunks, all in the same room, and each of us has lockers, with padlocks on them). Anyway, Ryan gets undressed, down to his underwear, and throws everything into his locker and climbs into bed. Then we hear, "Oh shit...oh shit!" We ask what's wrong, and he tells us he's locked the keys for his padlock in the locker. He rummages around, and finds a butter knife in the room, and tries to break into his locker, to no avail. We calmly suggest that he go down to the front desk and they probably have bolt cutter to break the lock. He then informs us that he can't do that, because all his clothes are in the locker too...all he has on are his white undies. Well, we start laughing, hysterically...this is FUNNY!!! Dave, being the nice guy he is, offers to go to the front desk for him, and comes back with bolt cutters. Now, close your eyes, and imagine this. Here's Ryan, naked, except for white underwear, scrunched down beside his locker, trying to cut the lock with the bolt cutters. The rest of us are laughing hysterically at this gross spectacle. Dave also has the brilliance to grab his camera, and without Ryan's knowledge, snap a picture of the event!! You should have seen the look on Ryan's face when he saw the flash go off, and he realized Dave had just taken a picture of him. Priceless!! Neil decides to jump out of bed, but keeps his blanket wrapped around himself (Dave still has the camera in hand!) and helps Ryan cut the lock. Dave then takes the bolt cutters back downstairs, and buys Ryan another lock at the front desk. While he was away, Ryan, Neil and I are laughing about this, Ryan seeing the humour in it. I then remarked that it's too bad we didn't have a fire alarm go off while Ryan was "without clothes", then he's have to run outside in his undies, and that's it! He envisions that in his head, and starts laughing uncontrollably on the floor, while Neil and I continue to laugh from the whole thing. And guess what? 5 minutes later, the fire alarm GOES OFF!! The second night in a row (false alarm, again). Too bad the fire alarm didn't go off 10 minutes earlier!! It would've caught Ryan with his pants down, literally!

Anyway, on to our day. Went to Westminister Abbey. WOW, very impressive. A lot of the past Kings and Queens and other "notables" have been buried here over the centuries. Unfortunately, no cameras or video taking is allowed, but I turned my video camera on, and just let it shoot, I don't know how much I got, but hopefully enough to give people an idea of what it's like in there. Oddly enough, Charles Darwin (of evolutionism fame) is actually buried here! Go figure!

Then went on to Greenwich, of Greenwich Mean Time, and read all about the Royal Observatory, and astronomy and time and clocks. Quite interesting stuff. Our passes didn't cover this, it was 6 pounds (about $15.00) to get in.

Then went to see the Cuddy Sark, a sailing ship, similar to the Bluenose in Canada. This was OK. It was free (our pass got us in).

Then we went to the Royal Air Force Museum, where they have lots of British and some German planes. The other guys (Ryan and Neil especially) are big war buffs, and they really wanted to see this. Once again, free, courtesy of our passes.

We finished all this about 5:00 or 5:30, I guess, and headed back to the hostel. We decided to sample some British cuisine tonight, so we went to Subway again for supper!

We originally planned to leave London Sunday, but we've extended it to Monday. Tomorrow we'll go to Buckinham Palace, and I'd like to check out the London Aquarium, one of the biggest in Europe. The other guys seem to be for that, so that should be cool. Maybe we'll take in one of the MANY plays that show here daily. Tomorrow is the London marathon too, hopefully that won't interfere with our plans.

Anyway, until next time!

Friday, April 20, 2001

Day 3 from Europe!

Day 3 from Europe. We saw and did a lot today. But to start the day off GREAT, we had a fire alarm in the hostel at 3:00AM!!! Everyone had to evacuate, and, boy, when everyone's standing outside the hostel, there's a LOT of people at the hostel. All standing in the freezing cold in their pajamas and underwear (actually, most people spared the time to put some clothes on and grab a jacket before evacuating). The fire trucks came (3 of them), went in, found nothing, and left. Apparently, someone on the third floor left a tap on, it overflowed, and shorted out the fire alarm system. At least we know it works, I guess.

Got up about 9:30, went and saw the Tower of London...this is quite something, parts of it date back to 1080AD. Crossed the Tower Bridge, but our London pass didn't cover admission to this, so we didn't do the tourist thing here. Then did a tour of the HMS Belfast destroyer (battleship? Where's Ryan when you need him!) I at lunch on the Belfast, and spent $8.00 for a BLT on the restaurant there. But I was hungry and had to eat, so what do I care?

Passed by a Forbidden Planet store, Ryan was in his glory. They are a 100% sci-fi and fantasy store, and had LOTS of Star Wars stuff, most of which Ryan already has, but he did buy one small "doll" that he didn't have.

Did the London Dungeon, London's "worst" tourism attraction. This you have to see, it specializes in gruesome deaths, plague, murder, and has quite graphic scenes depicted of heads cut off, Jack the Ripper, lepers, disfigured people, and people with their guts hanging out all over the place. Got lots of pictures of it! Definately different and something interesting to see. Our London pass got us in to this for free.

Went to the British Museum. WOW, impressive. HUGE building, with massive displays from the four corners of the earth. They have a special Cleopatra display right now, which was interesting. Mainly saw the Egyptian and Greek sections, featuring mummies, massive statues and stuff like that. It's a free for anyone, which is nice.

By this time, it was about 8:30, so we came back to the hostel. Stopped at Subway for supper.

The weather is crappy though, cool, windy, cloudy, with rain every once in a while.

Anyway, we're at this hostel one more night (at least), so I'll update again tomorrow night.

Thursday, April 19, 2001

Day 2

This is day 2. We arrived in London, very tired, we hadn't slept for more than 24 hours.

Take the subway to Earl's Court subway station. Ryan thinks the subways are cool, because the cars, are like 6 inches apart, and they sway and they don't derail. When we got off teh subway station, a guy approached us, drunk, looking like trouble. He wanted us to come to his bed-and-breakfast instead of the hostel, so we went and checked it out. It was nice, and we originally decided to stay there (it was cheaper than the hostel too), but later in the day, changed our minds. We're gonna stay at the hostel for the rest of the stay in London.

Ryan wants me to say that the cars zoom past everyone, just barely missing them...EVERYWHERE!! It blows him away. I experienced this in Japan, so it's no big deal to me anymore!

Anyway, we went to Trafalgar Square and saw the Parliament Buildings, Big Ben, Picadilly Circus, Westminister Abbey, the Thames River, etc. Saw lots, actually.

Oh, ya, the Dutch women have really cute, sexy accents. The service on the non-North American airlines is excellent, as usual.

Quality and quantity of food and service (this is according to Ryan), is really bad, the worst service he's had in his entire life. And it still cost him $25.00 for supper, and he's still hungry.

Anyway, we called it a day about 5:00, we were so beat. We're at the hostel now, they have internet terminals, which is nice.

The culture shock isn't nearly as bad as it was when I went to Japan, though.

Anyway, Ryan is having his eyes opened to a whole new "way of life" and culture. He's so accustomed to the Western way, but anyway....

I'm gonna sign off now, check back later! I'll probably have another update tomorrow night.

In Amsterdamff

We are now in Amsterdam, waiting for our connecting flight to London. It's 7:30 AM, and we are TIRED! Didn't sleep at all on the plane, and we have a whold day to go yet. We've been eating well, anyway!

Everyone's doing good so far, not too many pics yet, but lots of time.

Check back soon!