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!