An Average Day: Part 2 of 8

Travel Stories 3 Comments »

A fictional day comprised from parts of many non-fictional days while I was backpacking in Europe

Relatively refreshed, I head down to the common area of the hostel to inspect the “Free Breakfast!” With a reoccurring disappointment, I’m reminded that in no country on the planet do people eat as big of a pre-noon meal as Americans. I gather an array of stale and flakey carbohydrates onto my plate as well as a little slab of butter and a spoonful of overly sweetened jam. For a drink I fill one of the hostel’s shot sized glasses with a pulpy mixture of orange juice, check to see if anyone’s watching, sip the chunks through my teeth drinking it down, then refill the glass again and find a seat.

‘Can you pass me the sugar?’
‘Sure, here you go.’
‘Where are you from?’

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An Average Day: Part 1 of 8

Travel Stories 2 Comments »

A fictional day comprised from parts of many non-fictional days while I was backpacking in Europe

Yanked from my dream by the sound of someone rustling a plastic bag, I lie there with my eyes shut and listen for awhile. What the hell could they possibly be doing that would necessitate all that rustling inside such a tiny bag, I wonder. There are always a few moments I’m mad my dream has ended before I begin to relax and welcome the real world.

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Paragliding

Switzerland 6 Comments »

I was of the impression, despite all the knowledge and advances in science and technology; that it still was not possible for a human being to fly like a bird. I was right; it still isn’t possible, but it’s much closer than I expected! After reading about paragliding, watching videos on paragliding and watching paragliding from the ground, I still wasn’t able to fully grasp what it would be like to fly. One can’t know how much it’s like flying, until you try it and fly.

With the only mechanisms of flight being a single nylon wing and some thin lines, it is so, so simple. By leaning to the left, you fly to the left. By leaning to the right, you fly to the right. By pulling your hands downward, you slow. And like a hawk, like an eagle, entering a thermal of air rising and spiraling from the earth, cheating gravity, you rise hundreds and hundreds of feet into blue sky.

When I discover things like this, amazing things, life changing things, that have somehow existed undiscovered, below my nose for years and years, maybe even my entire life, I can’t help but wonder at the wealth of possibilities the future holds and be incredibly anxious and excited for what the next instant may bring!

Life is good. Life is very, very good.

Wonders of Weesen

Switzerland 6 Comments »

Weesen, Switzerland (pronounced ‘vazen’ in German) is one of the most beautiful places I’ve seen this year. Giant tree covered Alps of dark green and granite stand erect from a neon grass valley and a flat turquoise lake as if they had exploded from the earth just before sunrise. They seem so close; it’s almost as if you could touch them. Beyond and above are higher, stronger, grey peaks capped in bright summer snows. The valley is a checkerboard of fields, whose colors change tone with the direction of mowed grass. Fleets of cows gather under apple trees for shade, chewing and each ringing their bell like that of a lazy ice crème truck driver. Pavement paths dropped like yarn onto the hills of Weesen find their ways to peaks from where can be seen orange roofed cottages clashing wonderfully with the grass and sky and old wooden barns, whose base and doors having been eaten away by rot, barely hide stacks of chopped wood inside; hints of a long, frigid winter. The town center is a familiar northern European village, but cleaner, neater and more luxurious.

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Pictures of Prague

Czech Republic 1 Comment »


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More Northern Germany Photos

Germany 2 Comments »


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Half Used Bar of Soap

Czech Republic 4 Comments »

The loud banging, followed by a pop and car alarm that got me to stick my head out the van window, then hustle to put my shoes on in an outburst of heroic energy, which due to my slow realization that saving someone’s stereo was not worth the risk, ended up taking much longer than usual, and to again stick my head out the window to see a man of medium height and medium build, with black, shoulder-length curls, wearing blue jeans and a white long sleeved shirt dash past me, chest back, legs flailing, stomping to control his speed down hill as he fled from the hollering white sedan and sparkling bits of glass, past my van and around the corner at one AM the night prior, probably should have been enough of a warning.

Staying parked in the same spot for four days straight, on a street where each night I watched the same man take his entire radio out of his car, guts and all, and where half the other parked vehicles had clubs clamped to their steering wheel, probably wasn’t the best of decisions either.

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Parked in Prague

Czech Republic 1 Comment »

I drove around for two hours yesterday, before finding a free parking spot in Prague. It’s on a street called Na Morani near the river and right by a metro stop on the main line that runs through the center of the city. This morning I went for a jog along the river and over the Charles Bridge, then for $1.25 I used the public showers in the metro where all the homeless people go. That price even included soap and a towel! A couple blocks away is a bookstore & café with cheap internet access. It’s a very good parking spot.

Farfegnugen & Bubbly Water

Germany 2 Comments »

I often wondered why companies (specifically BMW since I drove one, which reminds me to mention I’m selling my car and I need to put a link up here) make cars that drive incredible speeds when you can hardly use a third of the engine’s power without facing criminal charges. I figured Germans drove the cars fast on the Autobahn, but I always imagined that road as some long single stretch of wide highway that went from one place to another place and wasn’t driven on very often. I didn’t realize the Autobahn was actually the name for the entire Interstate highway network in Germany, including wide stretch of multilane highways as well as two lane roads with hardly enough space to pass. Having driven on the Autobahn for a couple weeks, I now know why BMW makes cars that go 200 miles per hour. Because in Germany people actually drive that fast. The Autobahn is meticulously maintained, pothole free and even sports billboards with the phrase “Fairplay on the Autobahn” printed over a grass athletic field striped to look like a highway.

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Where is Tall Man?

Germany 2 Comments »

Driving into Berlin was exciting. There was something special about driving just like I do at home, to a place I heard so much about while growing up, yet seemed so far away. I remembered watching the Wall come down on TV when I was little and later talking to my Uncle who had brought a piece back from his travels in Europe. My German history knowledge is weak, but I obviously know the basics, which also made entering the city in fifth gear while listening to my iPod seem a bit surreal.

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