23 June 2010



12 June 2010

Day 25 – Prague’s Viet-town and Munchen

In the morning we went to the Viet town in Prague. Apparently there is a huge Vietnamese population in Prague due to a soviet communism exchange program. (Vietnam is communist, and the Czech republic was under Russian control.) Many Vietnese people stayed in the Russian Federation so there is apparently a lot of Vietnese people everywhere. Interesting stuff.

We took the train and then a bus to Viet town. According to our Viet Friend, there is supposed to be a bustling market, but it turns out that the market is more of a distributor for goods made in Vietnam. That is, the items are only sold by the dozen. Of course we had Vietnamese food. Had another beefy noodle thing.

Spent the rest of the day agonizing in the car. We were planning to drive to the bridge and castle, but that was the biggest mistake in the history of mistakes. What would have taken us 30 minutes by public transit ended up taking 2 hours by vehicle. There also simply isn’t any parking space in the touristy parts.

We arrived at Munich late in the evening, and vent immediately for the world famous (or at least German famous) Hobflaradfausdfagafalsdfagtn Bar. It is the biggest and liveliest bar in Germany. The reason for that is that it is the brewery for some of the best beer in the world. Om nom nom.

Day 24 – Berlin to Prague

I just couldn’t stay away from Asian food. Went to another Vietnamese place in the morning for lunch. Om nom nom. Beef noodles.
The drive to Prague took way too long, but it was ultimately worth it. Arrived at probably 7-8 pm. There was a restaurant right at the Hostel, which is the most impressive one I’ve seen. The food wasn’t that great, but there’s everything at this hostel, and it was cheap. Had some pizza and some Czech Goulash. We rented all 8 rooms for the 5 of us, which cost a fraction compared to other cities. Internet was free and flowing. Everything is good

Day 23 – Berlin, Wall

Five hour drive to Berlin. Arrived at approximately 3pm. It was at the autobahn that our car broke the 200km/hr barrier. I would post photos, but I don’t want to have any incriminating evidence of any sort.

The architecture of Berlin is a little bit interesting. I’m guessing because of the Berlin Wall, there were different styles on each side as time went on. The east side seems more heavily focused on the ‘red’ Moscow-ish buildings.

Just walked around most of the day. Saw a big giant bear, an inverted ‘little Paris’ section in a mall. It was here that I met a group of travelers from Hong Kong. By meet, I mean I just followed them and acted like I couldn’t understand the language. Was particularly funny when a bunch of them had trouble ordering meat at the fancy French meat place. The staff was speaking English in a French accent trying to explain to the Chinese why they’re getting charged more while in Germany.

Went to a really boring museum. Afterwards, we went to see a boring old victory celebration thingy.

The Berlin wall was interesting. Apparently it is illegal to deface or vandalize the walls, but not because of historical significance. All along the wall, there are murals and paintings with the whole hippy message of one world, everyone being prisoners, love one another, etc. I saw some that were painted in 2004. I liked some of them, but others are way too abstract for a 30 second viewing experience. The rain interrupted and cut the day short.

Ate dinner at a Vietnamese restaurant which was by the train station. I enjoyed the meal and thought it was delicious and fair-priced.

At the hostel, I watched the finale of Lost. Disappointment.

Day 22 – Nurburing (Race track), Koln (Cologne)

From Amsterdam, we took a train to Essen and picked up our car. I got to ride in a VW Jetta or whatever.

Brian had the BMW car. I was stuck with the naked one for the entirety of the driving trip.

So, from Essen, we were supposed to drive to Nurburing, which is a race track that is apparently quite popular in the Grand Turismo games. Brian told us that we were going to get some food first. We didn’t. His aggressive driving caused us to lose track of his car. At this point, we didn’t know where our hotel/hostel is, so we had no way of meeting up with the rest of the people. All we knew was that Brian wanted to race his car. We got to Nurburing at approximately 1 pm. We waited a while to see if Brian shows up, but he never did. The naked one and I were definitely at the correct place. It was the place where we ordered our ticket to ‘race’ on the track. There was only one parkade, so we decided to just park and have a siesta (nap) while waiting for them. Three hours passed without interruption. The chance of meeting them now is incredibly low. If only we had a way to communicate with the other group.

We were ready to leave to head to Berlin, which was our next stop after staying in Koln. By chance, we stopped and turned into a parking lot. Didn’t see anything, so we were about to head out. At the last possible second before we turned, a car honked. It was Brian. We met up and spent a little time on the tracks.

When we got to Koln, we went for a mexican dinner. Om nom nom. Delicious. I had spare ribs.

Day 21 – Amsterdam Proper. Laundry Day.

Apparently none of the museums were open on Day 21 due to a public holiday. It seems like this kind of situation has been happening a lot. We’re just going to places when other places are closed. Anyway, we had to split the team up in order to plan for the rest of the trip. Team Alpha goes to do the laundry while Team Omega goes to the library, gets internet, and book hostel and tickets.
I navigated my team into success. Laundry was done. We split the teams again to try and get train tickets and other stuff. Failure. Due to the holiday, the library was closed early. We walked around as a group and bought some goods.
The naked friend decided to go ingest mushrooms all by himself. The smart shop seller said that it was absolutely amazing if he did it at the park, which was a little ways away. The rest of us went to an absolutely amazing Indian restaurant. I. Love. Butter Chicken.
Since I knew better from the previous night, I did not sample the local goods. Two other people did, and I tried my best to freak them out and to take care of them. One of the people was completely afraid. Not sure how to describe it other than in compooter terms.
Imagine that all the sensory data that a person obtains is only 10 MB/s. When you are on drugs, you can only process 8MB/s . As time goes on, you start to get data that is obtained seconds behind. The overall result is that if you focus on one thing (visuals), you can get the data in almost real time. Senses like audio or sensory feelings might come in a little bit slower. The two data streams are not necessarily synced. You also never fall behind so much. I’m guessing some sensory data just goes away.
Taste is also affected. There is definitely a delay on taste, but the flavor seems to come all at once. The first few seconds of ‘tasting’ something is pretty mild. A couple seconds later, the full force of flavor comes. If you’re still eating the thing a couple seconds later, then the taste becomes unbearable. I thought everything would taste incredibly salty. Bleh.

07 June 2010

Day 20 – To Amsterdam

We started the day late and went to the train station. One of the ideas which popped up the night before was to perhaps rent a car and then drive to Amsterdam. It would have saved us more money than having six people ride the train to Amsterdam. Unfortunately, no cars were available and we stuck with the plan. Had to make a reservation for a later train leaving Amsterdam just so we can have more time. We boarded the train at approximately two in the afternoon and arrived at about seven in the evening. There were intermittent problems with the electrical system of the Phallus train.
When we arrived at the station, I immediately went to one of the wall vending machines. Kip Burgers, I missed you. In case you don’t know, there are vending machines connected to a kitchen on the other side. You just insert coins into the slot and then open up the box on your side. The burgers or snacks found in these vending machines are usually very fresh.
I navigated our way into the hostel, which is situated on a boat to the east of Centraal.
The two drunkest people from the previous night just passed out in their bunks. The three more active people decided to scout around the city and look for things. When we came back, the sleepyheads were just stirring. Got some local delicacies. Ate some Chinese Food. The rest of the night is a blur. Pretty sure I time travelled some.

Day 19 – Extra day in Paris. I hate Trains.

This is supposed to be a free day, but we managed to waste the entire day at the Train Station. Found out late last night that we couldn’t buy the Phalus ticket to Amsterdam with a North American Credit Card. Oh, and apparently if you order the ticket before the day of the schedule, you can get it for significantly cheaper. So, the plan is to go to Amsterdam the next day instead.
Mostly chilled out. Bought a new luggage because the handle broke on the old one.

Day 18 – Eiffle Tower, Notre Dame, Louvre, Arc de Triumph, Eifle Tower.

Last time I went to Paris, I wasn’t able to get to the very top of the Eiffle Tower due to bad weathering or whatever. This time, we went to it in the morning. Nice view. Neato. Day 18 was supposed to be a day full of events, but as usual, things don’t go exactly as planned. The visit to the eifle tower took longer than expected. Once again, I was plagued with a bunch of wandering black merchants who were trying to peddle some trinkets. Honestly, I think I’ve only seen like three non-black guys doing the exact same thing they’re doing. They just go to tourists with a bunch of items and try to sell it. I guess they’re the newer form of the gypsy types who give a card to English speaking tourists looking for donations. As a policy, I don’t give money to anyone.
By the time we were done the eifle tower, people were hungry. Went to a semi-fancy restaurant near Notre Dame. Medium tastiness. I bought a Crème-Boulez which was fantastic. Went inside Notre Dame for a little while and became separated with one of our people. Naturally, I don’t believe in leaving people behind, but other people don’t seem to care. We lost the person inside the Notre Dame and there were really two options. Either we continue to wait inside, or leave. In a situation like this, and assuming the person wants to be found, there’s not much choice. The lostee can either stay inside the Notre Dame or wait outside. The problem for us is that if someone goes outside, they can’t get back in without waiting for a 20 minute long line. Utlimately, I made the decision to wait inside for a dozen minutes or so before going outside. Everything went fine.
The Louvre is an extremely huge place with way too many pieces of art to appreciate. I think that a visit to the louvre shouldn’t be longer than 2 hours because the mind is simply not capable of assimilating anything more than that. It becomes a “oh look, that’s neat, lets’ go now” situation.
Had an extremely expensive meal at Champ Elyse. Wasn’t a big fan of it, but it was necessary since it is supposed to be the last night there. Wholly unremarkable. Went to the Ark and then went back to the Eifle for the light show which occurs every hour. We tried to go to the one at 9:00, but we missed it by a minute or so. Waited for the 10 o clock one. I didn’t think it was anything special. When we got back, I asked about the itinerary
Wine and drinks before bed.

06 June 2010

Day 17 – Palace of Versalles, Musée d'Orsay

In the morning we went to Versailles via the RER train system. It took a little while, but we made it. To me, the palace represents another inequality between the rich and the poor. King whoever had all of this to himself while the serfs pretty much had nothing. Went to the famous Versailles Gardens right after and was severely disappointed. Wasn’t particularly pretty or impressive except for the size of the garden itself.
I got split up with the group on the way back to the train station. Thinking that everyone is on the train already, I ended up going to see the museum D’Orsee. More art, except that this one had one of the eight Van Gogh self portraits in existence. Had Donairs for a light dinner. When the rest of the gang returned from shopping, they decided to leave me and my good friend Nelson behind. I accompanied him to a nice restaurant where he had some seafood dish while I tried out some rabbit meat. The meat was actually pretty hard to stomach. Definitely not one of my favourites

Day 16 - Ibiza, Madrid Travelling, McDonald’s Victory, Paris, Sleep

Early Flight. Earlier checkout. Still didn’t have a printed copy of the boarding pass, and it was far too early to do it in Ibiza. The first thing we got to Madrid was to get this printer situation sorted out. Asked a man about where to get it, got to the Ryanair counter and the lady printed it for free. She said something about how she wasn’t supposed to do it and that she’s doing us a favour. Or something. Great. Now there is four hours left and we’re hungry in the airport.
That’s where Team Alpha and Team Beta comes in.
One team (let’s call it Alpha) goes to get food for everyone while Team Beta looks after the Luggage. I was obviously the person to lead Team Alpha.
I’m not sure what happened to team Beta, but my team had a most excellent adventures, dudes.
Three of us went first into a parkade area which is filled with rental vehicles. I waited there to get a satellite lock on my phone. Once we had it, we followed my NOKIA N97’s location of the nearest4 McDonalds. 2.7 kilometers in a straight line. Not a problem.
Except for the two highway intersection that is blocking the path.
In some versions of the story, there were close calls to being hit by vehicles. In other versions, I was being chased by a dog. Unfortunately, the real version of the story is just about a group of three people struggling against the blistering bright sun on a quest to find and retrieve food for hungry people back at the base. I must admit that there were times when giving up seemed like the best option. We were on the wrong side of the highway, and there didn’t seem to be a pedestrian path. Another time we could see the actual centre which contained the destination, but another highway separated us from
A huge fence blocked the path leading to the other side. It took a huge kilometer long detour to finally get there… and it was the most amazing site I had seen on the trip thus far. I am talking about one of the largest indoor malls I have seen in Spain. It was three stories tall with at least 200 stores inside. Before I even stepped inside, I could feel the cool breeze from the air conditioning unit. Wonderful.
The three of us stepped inside in stunned amazement. This is Mecca. This is exactly what we were looking for and was completely worth all the trouble. We would have missed the singular most amazing thing in the day if we had bailed earlier. We had a quiet lunch and everyone celebrated with a New York Crispy burger. Basically it feels like a bigger, meatier Big Mac with bread that has bits of bacon incorporated. Stayed within the mall for another hour or so, just wandering and experiencing the success.
On the way back, we took a different route now that we have practical information about the local topography. Instead of the two hour long trip, this only took us about 45 minutes. The sun was still blazing way too hot, but we took precautionary measures with frozen icecream sticks.
When we made it back to our meeting spot, we delivered all the tasty treats to our hungry compatriots. Apparently if we arrived 15 minutes later, Team Beta would have just paid for expensive airport food, which was definitely not cool.
The rest of the trip was mostly uneventful.
Ryanair is actually pretty interesting. Because we print our own boarding passes, there isn’t any assigned seats on the flights. Neat. I thought the whole experience was pretty ‘fast food’ flight. Their seats are not movable at all, and are made of a yellowish plastic. Unfortunately, for all the work that we had to do, the whole boarding and luggage check-in process still took forever. I think it would have taken the same number of staff the same amount of time to do the luggage check in as any other airline. We arrived in Paris-Beauvais and had to take a bus back into the main city. For future references, I think flying direct to Paris Orly or Charles Du Galle would have been better.
Got to the hotel in one piece, but it was late. All the rooms were full. Even though there is only a queen and a single bed in the room, we had to cram four people inside. Nelson took the floor duty honorably, and I had to sleep with a naked man.
For dinner, we made a fine choice of going into a Chinese restaurant. Expensive. Of course, the whole of France seems really expensive. There is no longer any dollar menu at McDonald's. The cheapest burger starts at 2 Euros and pales in comparison to anything in the dollar menu in Spain.

Day 15, Ibiza Part 2, RyanAir sucks

We started out the day with a rude awakening call from one of my friends. Because we already paid for breakfast, and because the breakfast buffet is only available for a limited time, we had to go get it.
And a feast we got. Every hotel meal at Ibiza was a buffet.
Immediately afterwards, we went to rent scooter bikes to go explore the island. I was on a bike for less than 20 seconds before the renting lady noticed I was a complete failure at riding bipedal devices. I volunteered myself out of the bike group.
At night, we met up with some friends for the dinner buffet. Then, we spent the majority of the night looking for an internet connection. Our next flight from Madrid to Paris is with RyanAir, and they require everyone to print out their own boarding pass or face a 40 euro fine. With six of us travelleing, that adds up to a lot.
Unfortunately, most of the internet cafes are closed by this time. Though the hotel has a printer, they refuse to print it. Jerks.