Category Archives: travels

Tour de France

Tour de France

This was defiantely the coolest thing I’ve done in a while. I went to Karlsruhe to watch the end of the stage on Friday. The riders came through so fast that it was impossible to pick out any individual riders, just a blur of colors and helmets. It was over in about 3 seconds. But thrilling none the less because you knew they were racing to the finish line. A friend of mine had a party there Friday night, and a few of us spent the night on not-so-comfortable couches. I decided to get up early Saturday morning after a couple hours of sleep and try to go see the start of the 8th stage in Pforzheim (which by the way means ‘fart home’ in German). It was actually very worthwhile because I was able to get a spot right up against the barriers with a much better view, and the riders start of each day riding slowly as a large group until they leave the start town and start the real racing. So it was much easier to see what was going on and I was able to pick out Lance Armstrong, though I was having camera issues and didn’t get a picture of him.


I spent the last weekend in Regensburg, a town in Bavaria sometimes called Germany’s best-preserved medieval city. I was accompanied by the regular crew, and we had a great time, as we usually manage to do. I really wish I had been able to stay a bit longer yesterday just to see more of the town, but Justin and Kyle were tired. Wimps.
The town is charming, but the middle of January is definately not the height of the tourist season. Don’t get me wrong, that’s nice, and that’s usually my goal when travelling if I have the choice. But our first impression of the town was walking quite a ways to a really cool looking youth hostel in a 300 year old building only to find out that the hostel was closed until the 30th of January. But we ended up in a bed and breakfast type hotel that was a big step up from youth hostel life, so that worked out well after all.
Regensburg sits at the intersection of the Regen River (hence the name) and the Danube, which makes for nice scenery. When we woke up Sunday morning there was frost on everything and the trees along the river were beautiful. The town’s cathedral and Reichstag Museum are definately worth a visit, but I’ll spare you the travel book entry and just say go see it for yourself. For someone interesting in history it’s a paradise.
And for a town without much nightlife we managed to have a pretty good time on Saturday night 😉

frost along the Danube

Berlin and Zurich

On the morning of the 1st I took a train with my parents to meet my sister in Berlin for some sort of family vacation type thing. In the last several years I’ve found it increasingly frustrating to travel with my family, but it went better than I had expected. This was my first time in Berlin, and it’s an amazing city. It’s fascinating to me to see how exposed their history is; you can see it everywhere. Unfortunately I was only able to stay until Monday evening because I had to come back for classes, but I definately intend to go back sometime when I have more of an opportunity to see the city.
Here’s a funny tidbit that I doubt anyone will find as funny as I did. But anyhow, in Berlin my dad was looking for an ATM, which in German is called a Geldautomat. My sister, trying to be helpful, said she had seen a sign for a gelato-mat in the train station. Apparently she didn’t see the letter D in the word, and thought it was pronounced like the Italian word for ice cream.
Liz came back to Frankfurt Thursday night because her flight back home was on Friday morning. Some of my friends and I took her out, in an area completely across the city. The last tram that would take us back an area near here that we could walk home from left at 1:30. Only that was wrong and the last one only went as far as the main train station, which is still way across town. So at 2 am we started the hour long walk home and none of us were very happy about it. But we made it home, and she caught her flight the next morning so it’s all good.
After class Friday afternoon I hopped on a train again and went to meet my parents in Zürich and see my cousins and such. I still think it was kind of a pointless trip. I arrived at 10 on Friday night, ate dinner, and then pretty much went to sleep not long after. Saturday my cousin showed us around some, but really all I saw was the Swiss national museum, which was extremely boring, and the Grossmünster church. I love traveling by train, but I’ve been on so many of them recently that it feels like it’s becoming an almost weekely occurance. Which I guess isn’t a bad thing. So now my parents are gone too and I can relax and quit entertaining people. And get alot more sleep than I did when they were here. Boo for people who get up super early.
Yesterday I went for a really long walk, pretty much all over the city. But that was the first time I’ve been through the downtown business area of town during daylight hours, and it’s a much more interesting place than I had thought. There are all sorts of interesting office buildings, wacky sculptures, random parks, and a few much older buildings that look like they could be pre-war. We also ended up at the main train station, which is in the middle of Frankfurt’s red light district. That was the first time I’ve walked throught the real heart of the district, and it was pretty entertaining. A little reminiscent of Amsterdam. The contrast between that neighborhood, and the business district that it borders is rather striking.

Christmas time is here

Never fear, things are still going well here in Deutschland. My not so brilliant escapades of 2 weeks ago involved running around in the freezing cold as we were walking back from a bar one night and falling down when i ran into someone. The fun ended pretty quickly when I realized I had a badly sprained ankle and did something very painful to my wrist. And neither has gotten much better because I refuse to stop walking and doing stuff I probably shouldn’t be doing. I hate being incapacitated. But hey, look on the bright side. It’s somewhat entertaining to watch the color change of the bruising all over my foot. It’s completely purple right now. Enough about injuries…Yesterday was my last day of class for the year. Yipee! Which means that I have a week and a half free, but not completely free because I actually need to do some school work.
My sister was in Frankfurt all last week, and she spent most of the week in my room sleeping. Exciting. Today she’s on her way to Hamburg, where hopefully she’ll be a little more social and do something interesting. And my dad came through Frankfurt again last week also. We spent lots of time at the Weihnachtsmarkt, which sadly closed last night. Tragic, really. I went to the Netherlands again for a few days at the beginning of the week because Elizabeth wanted to see Amsterdam and I didn’t want to send her off there by herself; it was much more enjoyable than last time. And there are hilarious stories that no one seems to think are anywhere near as funny as Dave, Liz and I do. So I’ll spare you all.
I made a big grocery shopping trip today, involving multiple stores. The Germans are all hardcore about Christmas, so the stores will be closed for 3 days or something while they celebrate. Everyone keeps giving me weird looks when I say that I have no real plans for Christmas, but I dont’ mind. I guess I kind of miss that I won’t be at home, but I’m also looking forward to a laid-back, almost non-existant, Christmas. And Dave and Jesse are around too, so I’m sure we’ll do something. It may turn out to be more along the lines of wild and crazy than lazy, but a non-traditional Christmas will be nice for a change.
Tonight’s plan: go to Mr Lin’s with Jesse, Christian, and Dave, and eat the best Thai food in the world. It’s been a week since we were last there, which means it’s time to go again.
Enjoy the pictures! 🙂
Heineken Experience, part 2
bike hanging on the bridge
Frankfurter Weihnachtsmarkt

Amsterdam, oh baby!

It’s true, the city really is layed out like the levels of hell. And that is a very fitting description of Amsterdam. We got back Monday night, and it’s taken me at least this long to recover and process the weekend to the point where I’m ready to talk about it. Let’s just say it was intense. This is going to be the extremely abreviated, PG-13 version of the weekend. giant clog
Saturday was a pretty crappy day, weather wise and we had to hike around in the rain when we arrived in the afternoon and find a hotel/youth hostel that could accomodate the 6 of us. Though we didn’t really know what we were doing at the time we lucked out and ended up on the outskirts of the red light district. After seeing the area at night that was a far better location than the first hotel we stopped at. After a strange chicken lunch next door to a bunch of hookers on the afternoon shift we went to yes, the Sex Museum. (Most of this trip was dictated by the 4 guys with us, as you can tell.) That was definately the most bizzare museum I’ve ever been to. But hey, how many cities have a sex museum? You should note, however, that we missed our opportunity that afternoon to make it to the prostitution information center before it closed. What a shame. The late afternoon and evening were spent checking out many of Amsterdam’s “coffee shops” and bars.
We went into an Irish pub with some big dude who claimed to be the bouncer and sat next to a table full of very drunk British men who ended up hitting on and harrassing this deaf woman trying to sell little trinkets. Apparently they had made a stop at the sex museum’s gift shop, or the equivalent, and they proceded to demonstrate some of their purchases.
Walking back and forth to different coffee shops we spent quite a bit of time in the heart of the Red Light district on a Saturday night which is really the definition of insanity. better part of the RLD at night Even on a rainy night with biting cold the streets were packed with thousands of loaded people walking up and down, or just standing and gawking at the girls in the windows. The streets along the canals actually almost glow red in the dark from so many lighted windows.
The next morning we started the day off with a visit to the Torture Museum. This was the most wasted 5 euros I’ve ever spent, though Justin would disagree. It’s not really a museum at all, but some hole in the wall that some man calls a museum because it is filled with lousy pictures and a few medieval torture devices and it takes about 10 minutes to walk through the entire thing. Then began my weekend’s diet of fast food and pizza. I’m usually not at all a fan of fast food, but after an extremely disturbing meal at a sketchy Chinese restaurant the night before that I just stared at in disgust I didn’t trust anything else and Burger King and KFC never sounded so good. fast food has sunk to a new low

The afternoon continued with a visit to the Heineken Experience, a well designed self-guided tour through the former Heineken brewery. The tour includes 3 beers at bars stationed along the way and they send you on your way with your very own Heineken glass. We continued on to the Anne Frank House where part of the group took the tour, but I opted to head back because I was getting fed up with walking and concentrating. I’m already regretting the decision, but I probably wouldn’t have enjoyed it all that much. Sunday night started off harmlessly enough but due to more intense recreational activities on most of our parts, ended in a downward spiral that no one intended to reach. It was definately the low point of the weekend for me, but I’ve got to say that a couple of people in our group added entertainment and comic relief to an otherwise somewhat negative evening.
Monday morning we spent some time at the impressive Van Gogh Museum. Then it was a late lunch and one last stop at a coffee shop before heading to the train station. I don’t remember the name of that place, but I wish we had found it much earlier. Monday afternoon was probably not the best representation of the atmosphere on a normal night, but the guy working there was awesome and had all sorts of advice for us. Luckily he happened to be correct in his advice and he didn’t land us in a world of trouble.
I definately crashed not long after getting home that night. It’ll be a while before I’m ready to brave Amsterdam again, and there are things I would do differently if I’m ever back there. It’s impossible to describe that city in a way that does it justice. I recommend that everyone visit and judge it for yourself. Really though, it’s just insane…
water runs through every part of Amsterdam