High in Switzerland

Switzerland 2 Comments »

Michel, Myriam and their roommate Julian offered up their hospitality once again, feeding Mike and I amazing food and giving us separate beds, fresh towels and our own key. They worked late while Mike and I explored Zurich and did some Christmas shopping. In the evenings we cooked and ate great foods, including nearly two gallons of Swiss cheese Fondue.

When I saw the Alps for the second time, I knew I wasn’t going to make it through Switzerland without paragliding again. I was disappointed at first when Michel told me the school was closed for December, but I sent the instructor an email anyway. Thomas replied promptly informing me that yes, they were indeed closed, but offered to take Mike and me flying anyway; and at a reduced price.

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Moving Fast

Italy, Switzerland, Thoughts & Reflections 1 Comment »

Moving fast has its long list of drawbacks. I always enjoy a place most when I can slow to the pace of life there, meet locals and get a feel for the culture. However, I am finding it can also be exhilarating to move quickly.

On Sunday morning, I woke up in Venice and ate breakfast sitting on the stone walkway along the Grand Canal. Then Mike and drove Northwest. The sky was blue and made for a clear cut, jagged horizon at the peaks of snow covered Alps. By afternoon, we were crossing the Italian Alps, watching the snow get closer and by sundown, crossing into Switzerland, the weather had gone from mild in Venice, to the dead of winter. The road was covered in patches snow and mountains we rode through already preparing for avalanches. I’d never seen so much snow in my life. Entire mountains, over 10,000 feet high, were completely blanketed so that not a single rock or tree was visible. All the white made size and distance difficult to estimate.

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Back in Venice

Italy, Thoughts & Reflections 1 Comment »

Walking in Venice brought back memories I’d almost forgotten. Standing in places so far from home where I had stood five years ago, often froze me in thought of passing time. On a bridge over the Grand Canal, I gazed at the empty façade of a hotel, where once before I had watched red, white and green flags wave, lost in daydreams of Italian history. Approaching a café I had flashbacks of sitting at an outdoor table, discussing plans of travel with a hostel friend. Coming down a set of stairs, I found myself in a spot where I had once sat up all night with an older Russian girl who was drunk on wine, listening to her tell endless tales of home. In these moments of reminisce, I found it shuttering that Venice had been here so long before me, welcomed me once, awaited my return and will be here still, long after I’m gone.

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Athena to Venezia

Greece 1 Comment »

After two days in Athens getting settled back into the van and touring the Acropolis again, Mike and I began our road trip to Amsterdam. From there we will fly home in time for the holidays; Christmas, New Years and my 28th birthday! :-O

We’re only half way as of now. It has been a fast paced tour. In five days we drove from Athens to Venice, with stops in Albania, Serbia & Montenegro and Croatia.

Albania is a poor country, but one that looks to be making fast progress. Driving through the countryside we spotted only a handful of females. Islamic conservatism is supposedly on the rise there, so we figured all the ladies were probably hiding indoors. Then we came to the capital city of Tirana and found that’s where they all were. We spent two days gazing at the fashionable girls with platinum black hair and don’t-you-dare-ask-me-for-directions LA attitude.

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Pyramids of Giza

Egypt 4 Comments »

I’d asked around.

“Are the pyramids as amazing as they seem in pictures?”

I was told I wouldn’t be disappointed and I wasn’t. Not even close.

Desiree, Mike and I spent an entire day wandering around the Pyramids of Giza, taking in their massiveness and wonder. We crawled on hands and feet inside the steep, Indiana Jones’ style tunnel into the tomb of the largest pyramid. Having run ahead, winded, I came alone into a small dark room.

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Sound of Islam

Egypt 2 Comments »

Two weeks in Egypt passed in a heartbeat. My friend Mike had joined me partway through. We stayed with Desiree and her American friend Sara at their new apartment on the cusp of downtown Cairo. It was an old, dusty place, with oversized rooms that came halfway to life after much sweeping and scrubbing. We woke early to sounds of car horns and street peddlers climbing through our grand, but thin 4th floor windows. We cooked big feasts for ourselves and for local Egyptian friends of Sara. The shower head was fat and hung straight over a ceramic bath tub. The water fluctuated between scolding, frigid and at times turned from a plentiful flow to popping gasps of air and a drip.

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The Acropolis

Greece 7 Comments »

I’d heard the name before, but I didn’t really know what the Acropolis was until reading “Sophie’s World: A Novel About the History of Philosophy”; a phenomenal introduction to the subject and one of my favorite books this year. If you are interested in Philosophy, then definitely pick up a copy.

Acropolis means ‘citadel’ or ‘city on the hill’. People have lived in the Acropolis in Athens since the Stone Age. That’s 9000 years of history on one hill!

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The Paprika Parade

Audio & Video, Hungary No Comments »

Video footage from the October 23, 2006 protest in Budapest, Hungary. Shot and edited by my new friend William, an independent animator from NYC who is currently residing in Budapest.

Taxi Driver from Anywhere

Greece 3 Comments »

Late at night, awaiting the last arriving ferry, yellow taxi’s sit double parked on both sides of the street outside of port Piraeus near Athens, Greece. It’s a huge collection of idling Mercedes Benz’s and during the winter months there are about twice as many of them as there are passengers getting off the ship.

Outside the gate, Desiree and I are sized up and lightly harassed by the most desperate of drivers who have left their post by the sides of the humming, yellow cars. They have come here to the gate, where they are surest to make a catch.

Calmly and thinking back to those much more aggressive fellows back east, I report to the three men who surround us that we will be taking the bus. We maintain our cadence to further express this position.

One man falls back, but two others keep on. They ask where we’re going. I tell them, but they are expecting the usual and so try desperately to decipher a hotel name from of the words “Volkswagen” and “parked”.

“No thanks, we’re taking the bus,” I reiterate.

“Buses are no more. Too late!” blurts one of the men.

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Santorini

Greece 3 Comments »

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