Sunday, May 30, 2010

Amsterdam Grand Slam, and The Bird Battle

So I'm sitting on the ferry that leads to London, which then leads to Minnesota, and eventually Grand Rapids-- home sweet home. Dan is finishing a glass of true Dutch Heineken, and I'm blogging away. Typical.

To quote the Dead, "What a long strange trip its been." But I would like to add the adjective "great" to the quote as well. Because its been one of the most incredible experiences of my life, and I think its safe to say I will never forget it.

So back to our time in Amsterdam. It was really a very beautiful city! From the adorable Dutch architecture to the canals cutting through streets with houseboats galore, how could it not be a marvel?

Dan and I met at the hotel lobby around 1PM, and decided to hit up the city until we were to meet Phil at 4. Walking through the neighborhood, we hit up a local cafe for some lunch, and sat outside enjoying the view of the canal and the breeze of bikers whizzing by. After that, we decided to go rent a couple of bikes from a rental place recommended by the hotel concierge. It was called Black Bike Rental, and it was great. The idea is that they rent black bikes so you don't look like a tourist, and you blend right in with the other thousands of bikers in the city. It was a relatively cheap and amazing way to get around.

After biking and enjoying the city, it was quickly approaching 4PM so I headed back to the hotel to meet Flip. A short 3 hours later, he appeared in the lobby. Apparently we had a little miscommunication and he thought we were meeting at the train station. Oops! But no matter, because we were in for a great time...

Once Phil got settled, we left for the Red Light District. I mean come on, how could we not? And it was great. We passed tons and tons of tourists, and probably a hand full of locals... Windows lined with women, coffee shops left and right, and a few good places to eat as well. We decided on an Indonesian place towards the edge of the district, and what a good choice it was! Mmmmmm boy. After a little more wandering through the district, we decided to head back to the hotel and call it a night. But one thing's for sure: there is nowhere else quite like that district.

The next day around 11AM we met our first friends of the trip, Madelon and Wilco! They are from Utrecht, but are very familiar with Amsterdam as its only a 40 minute drive, so they come here all the time. We wandered through Waterloo, the main square (the Dam), and a few of the vintage and urban footwear shops. Of course, the vintage shops were for Madelon and I, and the footwear shops were for Wilco, Dan and Phil. It worked quite nicely! We also stopped by a few cafes and meandered through other bits of the city guided by the amazing Dutch couple, but soon it started getting dark and we had to say our farewells.

It started raining shortly after we parted with the couple, so we went back to the hotel and asked the concierge where are good place to eat would be. We ended up going to an Italian restaurant right near the hotel, and it was AMAZING! Spaghetti Carbonara, pizza with ham, cheese and egg, focaccia bread... Y-E-S.

After that, Phil and I quickly fell into a food coma and headed to bed, and Dan--being unperturbed by said food-- explored the Red Light District again.

The next morning we woke up to raindrops trickling down the windows, knowing full well that we had to take on the rain and get to the Van Gogh museum. What we didn't think about was that we only had 2 free passes (courtesy of Phil's friend from his academic program), but we had 3 people. This soon lead to 2 nice people and 1 lucky one (Dan). Said lucky one was able to see the museum, and the other 2 saints/awesome heroes decided to walk to a cafe and enjoy some local Amsterdam scenery.

Then it happened. The most epic bird battle you could ever imagine. We were walking around in the rain, enjoying our time together, and decided to sit at the bench overlooking a canal. There were a couple of ducks swimming around, it seemed pretty tranquil and nice for a conversation. Then it happened.

I looked to my left and saw probably twenty pigeons landing roughly on the spot a few feet from us, pecking about, being gross... And then a family of five swans came swiftly paddling over, with the biggest one leading with his wings propped up, as if to say, "It's on."

Then a seagull came crashing down to the water, squawking and flapping its webbed feet in the water. Two seconds later another seagull came rocketing after it, and started pecking at the other seagull's eyes! The swans are circling the area madly, and the ducks dive underwater for cover. Then the pigeons start fleeing and flying only centimeters above our heads, making cooing noises that I'm sure are of fear and hate.

After that, I ran as far as I could as quickly as possible. I have an irrational fear and distaste for birds, and this was the LAST place I wanted to be. But it makes for a good story, and I hope you enjoyed it. Please know that I did not.

Then we met up with Dan again, and headed towards the train station. It was here that Philip and I said our goodbyes and parted ways for the next 7 weeks. I wished him a great time in Maastricht and beyond, and left for the train to the Hoek van Holland, where we boarded our cruise ship and are sailing towards London as we speak.

It has been the greatest trip of my life, and I couldn't have asked for more. And with that I will end my final blog post on my epic back-packing romp through Europe... Until next time!

A big thanks to Mom and Dad, Phil, Dan, and the Dimond family for an amazing experience. I couldn't have done it without you! Also thanks to the readers out there. Your support means so much, and I hope you have enjoyed reading this blog as much as we have enjoyed writing in it! I know I will look back on this stuff for years to come, reminiscing about the times I have had and hoping there are similar adventures yet to come.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Flippin' Maastricht


As Daniel has informed you Dear Readers, I have been in Maastricht for the past couple of days, spending some time with the BF as I like to call him. He also goes by Philip (one L, Dan), Flip, Flipdawg, etc. He is a good guy. He is studying in Maastricht, teaching english to really adorable Dutch children.

So let's rewind back to how I got there... Its a lovely Tuesday evening in Paris, the sun is setting, and a beautiful shade of violet fills the sky, the smell of coffee and cigarettes fills the air. Dan and I are sitting in a quaint little cafe with free Wifi, trying desperately to get ahold of Hannah. But to no avail. However, Phil is online, and we start chatting. I let him in on the situation, and say I've seen Paris before and we have nowhere to sleep, so I'm thinking I'll just roam around Paris at night (which is the best anyway), and then get on a train in the morning to go somewhere else. Then I'm looking at the train schedule, and I leave for Maastricht at 7AM and get there by 10AM the next day. So why not? And now you know.

So my past couple of days have been spent meeting some great people and exploring the city of Maastricht, in the Netherlands. My favorite thing about the city was the bikes. There are probably 3 bikes to every car in that city. I absolutely LOVE biking, so it was pretty amazing. Phil and the rest of the students in his program were all given bikes at the beginning of their stay, so I rode side-sattle style on the back, breathing in the scenery and enjoying the ride every time. Its really amazing how the entire city caters to the biker more than the car driver. Bikes have their own lanes on main roads and highways, with parking lots filled literally with hundreds and hundreds of bikes.

I stayed in the dorms of Maastricht University, along with the other students in Phil's program. We had some great times. I even sat in on a class on Wednesday! Pretty interesting, they discussed some of the major differences between the education systems in Europe versus America. They also talked about their various experiences, as they are all assigned to different schools throughout the city.

Ah, but the bikes were the best. That, and the people. The people in Holland are among the best people in the world, in my opinion. I think its safe to say I could live there. In fact, I could live in almost any of the cities we've visited. Maybe one day I will be so lucky!

Paris and Train Problems

Next up after Barcelona was Paris. Our original plan was to get in to Paris at around 5pm and meet up with Hannah, a friend we had met in Nice and who had offered a place to stay in Paris. Well, this didn't exactly work out. From Barcelona, we needed to get a connection to Paris at Montpellier. When we got there, we learned that all trains to Paris (and there are about 10 a day) were booked until the following evening, at which point the only open spots were first class at around 100 euro per person. At this point, we were really scrambling for ideas of what to do. After a little while and after the train we were supposed to be on had already left, we talked to the ticket people once more. One of them mentioned that it might be possible for us to hitch a ride standing up on one of the trains if we talked to the conductor when it arrived. And this is exactly what we did. Crisis averted. However, we had no real way to effectively communicate with Hannah other than email and this resulted in us having to book a hostel before we eventually got in contact with her.

I'm very glad we did because we were able to meet up with all our Nice friends, plus a few more additions. Hannah took us to what was apparently a bridge party. We brought a couple of bottles of wine and took a seat on this bridge with the Eiffel tower glistening in the background. Right as we got there, an impromptu hip-hop party broke out. Someone setup a boom box, a circle formed, and the French entertained us with their dance moves. Some of them were quite good. My favorite was this guy juggling a basketball with his feet in time to the music.

This is where me and Josie decided to split up. Philip, her boyfriend, had just arrived in a town on the border of the Netherlands and Belgium and she was going to take a train to meet up with him early in the morning. I had never been to Paris before so I decided to stay for another day and take a night train to Berlin, where we would meet up the following morning. I can't speak as to what Josie did the next day, but I picnic'd with our friends in the gorgeous Luxumberg Gardens and then went allllll the way up to the top of Eiffel. Unfortunately, I didn't have a camera, but I got a few mental images for myself.

Upon arriving at our hostel in Berlin the following day, I learned that Josie had again encountered some train problems and wouldn't be making it to Berlin. So now, we're just rolling with what comes our way and the new plan is to meet tomorrow in Amsterdam. Until then, I'm burning daylight writing this post until my train at midnight. The oldest beer garden is now calling my name, so I gotta go.

The rest of Barcelona

So it's been a while since our last post and a lot has been going on. I'm personally sitting in a very nice hostel in Berlin sans Josie, but I think I'll start at the beginning first. I believe Josie left off with us about to hit up the night life in Barcelona. And boy did we do that.

As she mentioned we would do, we took a bike tour of Barcelona in the afternoon, which is a great way to see ALL of a given city in a very limited time. We saw (and took pictures) of all of these things: the famous, uncompleted Gaudi cathedral, the Cataluyna Parliament, the "offices" (more like a castle) from which some Spanish monarchs ruled, a gorgeous fountain (again by Gaudi), the pier, and probably several other areas that I'm forgetting. All this in four hours.

Probably the greatest benefit of the tour was meeting the tour guide, an Irishman named Peter. He mentioned to us that all his friends would be watching the Champions league final (more on this in a second) and wouldn't mind showing us around some bars as he was looking for company anyway. So after the tour, ourselves and a few others started bar crawling. At the first place, I saw that there was a TV showing a birds-eye view of a giant, packed stadium. There were no words on the screen except, "Madrid" as if the sight needed no explanation. I felt it was something important so I asked one of our fellow bar crawlers what was going on. Of course, this was the aforementioned Champions League Final, essentially the super bowl of soccer. In some respects, its bigger than the World Cup.

Naturally, many of the bars we visited were absolutely packed and there wasn't a television screen that wasn't showing the game to be found. Peter seemed to know all the proprietors or bartenders of every bar we visited and shots kept appearing out of nowhere. At one quieter tapas bar, Peter procured three jugs of "panthers milk" which apparently is made from real panthers, or at least that's what the owner claims. We also enjoyed many tapas (essentially appetizer sized plates of random goodies) here. As I haven't known the time this entire month, it's hard for me to say how long we stayed out. It might have been until sunrise as had been my goal; when in Barcelona... Regardless it was an enjoyable night filled with new friends from many different places.

The next day was a little more tame, seeing as we went to the beach, well the nude beach to be exact. In general, we found ourselves rather wishing it was not a nude beach. But it's all part of the Barcelonian experience. This all occurred several days ago so I'm trying to remember exactly what we did after. I can say that at night we went to this fountain light show, which was absolutely stunning. We have many many pictures of it and basically there are 15 minute segments every half an hour of this giant fountain spraying water in rhythm to various forms of music. We did a little bit of climbing around some of the surrounding terrain to gain an amazing (and illicit) vantage point. All in all a great way to cap off Barcelona.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Playing Nice... and a little Barcelona


Sorry for the delay, things have been really going quickly now!

So we are in Barcelona, and last night I fell asleep listening to a crowd of men singing in the street below me. The city that never sleeps! We got in around 8:30 last night, went to dinner (which was delicious), and came back to our hostel, wiped from a day of traveling from Nice, France.

Now let me finish telling you about how nice Nice is! Our first stop was at the Hostel, which was rated one of the Top 10 in the world, if that tells you anything. For more info on this, click here:

After getting settled in our new rooms (of which Dan had three-- he had to change every night because we booked a little late), we went to the Hostel's bar area. There we met some great American friends: Angela and Justine from Atlanta. They are hilarious!

The next day the 4 of us decided to go to the Cannes Film Festival, as it was only 30 minutes from our hostel. What a great decision this turned out to be. On the way, we met more new friends, Amy and Hannah from Chicago! Hannah actually has been living in Paris for the past year teaching English though, which sounds like it was an amazing experience for her. She actually later offered for us to stay at her place when we go to Paris and she'll give us a grand tour! I'm really excited... But back to Nice!

So we spent an amazing day in Cannes, exploring the city, the beach, the red carpet and the Louis Vutton store. (Hey, I can dream!) At 9:30pm we were able to go to a premier showing of Women Are Heros, an excellent submission to the film festival. And the best part? We got to watch it on the big screen right on the beach! We got lounge chairs and blankets, not to mention a bottle of wine. What an amazing night!

The next day, the 6 of us made plans for a beach day in Cap D'Ails, near Monaco. Again, itw as a short 30 minute ride to our destination there. Even on the bus ride, the scenery was breathtaking. But when your in the south of France with cliffs and oceans, how can you go wrong?

So we spent a good 3-4 hours on the beach, enjoying the sun, the swimming, and a great lunch. After that, we said goodbye to Angela and Justine, and they left for Paris. Dan also left with them because he was feeling a little tired-- the sun tends to do that! But Amy, Hannah and I continued on our journey to Monaco, a sovereign state just 15 minutes from Cap D'Ails by bus.

It was amazing! I had no idea they were independent from France, but they sure were. They had their own flag, their own license plates, even their own royal family! So we went to see the palace, and turns out the philosophy at Monaco is LUXURY. More cliffs, more beaches, more ocean, and plenty of yachts. It was definitely an experience in itself to see Monaco, and yes, the casinos were pretty fun too.

Then that night we said farewell to Amy and Hannah, but for Hannah it wasn't really goodbye... We'll be seeing her again in just a few days when we go to Paris! So exciting...

But I'm really excited to be in Barcelona now! We've only been here for a day, yet its quickly turning into one of my favorite cities ever. It is so beautiful, and the people are extremely friendly. Everything is much cleaner than most of the cities we've been too, and much more artsy if you can imagine. Full of young people and loud people, its a great and unique experience. Even the street performers take things to another level here.

For the first part of the day, we wandered around the city, shopping and enjoying the architecture. In about half an hour we leave to go on a bike tour of the city, which takes 4 hours. The sidewalks here have specific designated areas and lanes for bikers, and it seems to be very accommodating for bike tours and the like. So it should be really great!

Then later tonight we are going to go on the Hostel's pub crawl... In case you didn't know, Barcelona isn't just known for the architecture, but for its clubbing too. So that should be really excellent too. We'll definitely keep you posted! But for now... enjoy this music video by the band I'm From Barcelona: (Yeah, I saw them live at Lollapalooza a couple years back, and now I can say they truly reflect the way of life here)!


Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Rome, etc.

So it's been a while since our last post. I'm actually sitting in a very nice hostel in Nice, but one of us will cover that later. From Italy on 'til the end, we're spending about 3 nights in any given location, which gives more or less 2 solid days to explore that area (on account of travel taking up the majority of the other days).

This was still plenty of time to get to see Rome, especially since Josie could act as my personal tour guide. Honestly, my favorite part about the city was probably eating. We had some great dinners accompanied by excellent (and cheap!) house wine. There were also plenty of "bars" (translates to cafes) which offered some quick and delicious lunches. We also ate gelato at pretty much every opportunity.

Of course, there's more to Rome than food! Our first whole day there we attempted (and failed) to get up early, but that didn't really matter. We went straight to the colloseum and saw the surrounding ruins. You can pay money to get in to see the ruins a little closer, but just wandering around the outside gave some great views (pictures to come). The earth has gradually built up so that Rome is at a slightly higher elevation than what it originally was, so we were able to get somewhat of a birds eye view of the forum and where the senate deliberated. There's this giant white marble building with a pair of chariots on top of it that I really thought was cool. I have no idea what it's called (I'm sure Josie does). Apparently some soldier was entombed there and there's a guard umm guarding the spot at all times.

A great thing about Rome is that everything is very central. You could probably walk from one edge of the map that we had to the other in about an hour and see everything you would want to see. In fact, later that night we pretty much did this. We went to a restaurant favorite of Josie's for dinner and then to Campo de Fiori, a more American square that has quite the night life. It was Sunday when we went, so it was a bit subdued, but it was still quite the sight. There were several street performers in the middle of the square (for example, a fire dancer) and bars all around the outside. After we'd had our fill with Campo, we walked around the city to see some of the other famous areas of Rome. Like I said, everything was very walkable. We went from Campo to the Pantheon to Trevi Fountain. The fountain is gorgeous, especially at night which is when we saw it.

This all took us to about midnight and we knew we had to get up early the next morning so we headed in for the night.

After that, we visited the Vatican City. For pictures, see Josie's Facebook.

I was actually really impressed with all that we saw. From St. Peter's Basilica to the Sistine Chapel, it was definitely worth the hour long line. My favorite part about St. Peters was that we went there first, around 7:30am, so there was no line for that, and it was almost completely empty. As we were walking along the grandiose marble halls, we could faintly hear chanting coming from the basement below.

On the right hand side we were able to get right up to the glass to see the Pietra, the only work that Michael Angelo has ever signed. When you see it in person, it really is better.

Speaking of statues, there were some really cool ones in Vatican too. Though when we were walking through one of the rooms of statues, we overheard a tour guide telling her group that "this one is of the Roman emperor Commodus! You'll know him from the movie Gladiator." The tourists responded with a chorus of ooh's and ahh's... But little did they know that when Josie looked down at the label for the statue, it said it was of Hercules. Classic.

After that, we headed to the extremely crowded yet stunningly beautiful Sistine Chapel. Of course we weren't allowed to take pictures in there, but it was really incredible. Kudos to you, Michael Angelo. 10 years well spent.

And I think that concludes our time in Rome, because then the morning after that we left for the beautiful city of Nice, France, where I am now. But I think I hear a glass of wine calling my name. 'Til then, ciao!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Roma, my Home-a

So I wish I had time right now to write a post of epic awesomeness, but alas, I do not. I have plans with the German ladies to take a walk on the beach and chat while we lay out in the Grecian sun.

It's our last day here in Greece, and we leave tonight for an overnight ferry to Italia. Then we take a train from Bari (which is on
the east coast of Italy) to Rome (which is closer to the center). We were trying to leave tomorrow, but this is the last ferry out until Sunday, and then we would have one less day in Roma, which would be unacceptable indeed!

It has been a great stay at The Pink Palace, but I must say I am very eager to get to Italy. For those who may not know, I studied abroad there a couple of years ago, and fell in love with Rome. I can't wait to show Dan the ropes! He's really excited, especially for the Vatican and the Colosseum. Hey, I can't blame him.

We also plan to go to the Trevi Fountain, because it will be my third time there! And you know what they say... Actually, I don't entirely know what they say. I think it's something like, the first time you visit the fountain you will go back to Rome. Check. The second time you visit the fountain, you will fall in love. Check. The third time you visit the fountain, you will have a great and long life. If you know how the legend really goes, please comment! Otherwise, I'll just keep thinking that I'm right and that's fine.

But we're off for a walk on the beach, so until next time, YAMAS!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Pink Palace: Corfu, Greece

So, here we are in Corfu, Greece. Interesting story is how we actually got from London to Corfu. Well let me tell you.

OK, so we woke up at 5 AM on Monday morning, packed and ran to the underground. From there, we went to a train station, and that train took us to the airport on the other side of London (called Gatwick, but I kept saying Gastric, as in Gastric Bypass Surgery). Anyway, from Gatwick, we took a plane from London to Athens, Greece.

We debated the whole plane ride about whether or not we were going to see the Acropolis. Of course we both wanted to, but we didn't know if we would have time because we had to catch another train at 6 PM. We knew it was a three hour flight from London at 9:30 AM, so we assumed we would be there at 12:30 PM. I thought we would have plenty of time. Then it was brought to our attention that there was a two hour time difference from London to Athens... We arrived in Athens at 3 PM and sadly had to sacrifice our trip to the Acropolis in order to catch our train. Sigh.

We got to the Information Desk at the airport, and asked how to get to the train station. She said it was an hour ride on the metro. So, carrying our HUGE backpacks, we set off. Rode the metro for an hour to the train station, got a bite to eat, waited a little for the train, got on the train, and rode it to the last stop. On the train, we met a very nice older French man, and I was STOKED to be able to use my French speaking skills. Felt awesome.

Anyway, so we make it to the last stop, and then we realize that it's definitely not where we're supposed to be. We ask someone, "Is this Patras?" He says, "No, you take this bus. This ticket (points to our ticket as we hold it out cluelessly), goes from train to bus to Patras."

So we get on the bus. Another hour and a half goes by. Then we finally get to the port, and see dozens of gigantic boats waiting to take us to Corfu, the Greek island on the west coast. Our ticket was for the Minoan line, so we go to that boat and get on. Little did we know it was actually a full-functioning cruise line! We had a cabin with beds, a bathroom, shower, and closet! When we went out and ventured, there were a number of bars and restaurants, lounge rooms, and a pool and hot tub out on the deck! Needless to say, we kept ourself occupied exploring for about an hour, and then were so wiped that we had to go to bed.

Three hours later, we awoke to an announcer saying we had arrived at Corfu, and it was time to leave the boat. Then we got off the boat, saw our savior holding up a "Pink Palace" sign, got in the car and arrived a short 20 minutes later to this place, the Pink Palace.

So now, I'm sitting at the reception lobby of this... very unique and FAMOUS hostel, The Pink Palace. When we finally got here at 6:30 in the morning yesterday, the receptionist greeted us with three shots of this Greek licorice-flavored vodka called Ouzo. But it was colored pink in light of the namesake-- The Pink Palace. It was hilarious. The receptionist did the shot with us and then sighed, "I'm an alcoholic."

That kind of shows you the type of place this is. Party all night, sleep all day on the beach. Needless to say, I think it will be an eventful 4.5 days. Breakfast and dinner are included in the price as well, and free lockers and showers and towels and etc... all for only 25 euros a night! Yeah, pretty awesome deal. (Of course everything else on this trip is going to seem like a pretty awesome deal compared to London. I mean, I loved the city, but REALLY?! The prices were a little intense.)

But yesterday was amazing, consisting of drinking a shot at 6:30 AM, then putting our bags in the room, and sleeping for a couple of hours. You have to remember we had been traveling since 5 AM the day before, taking every route of transportation possible. Underground, train, plane, underground, train, bus, ferry, car. Yikes!

But after we slept in the room, we decided to go down to the beach (of course)! We pulled up a lounge chair, and laid out in the hot Greek sun, listening to the waves crashing up at our feet. We fell asleep again there for another couple of hours. Then we decided we were scared of getting sunburnt (which was good, because Dan actually did get burnt), so we went up to the room... and slept some more until dinner time.

Then we had dinner at 8:30 with the rest of the guests, and met some amazing women from Germany! I really connected with them, and while Dan mingled around the bar for the next few hours, the women and I shared some great conversation, and a few bottles of wine. We plan to meet up with them throughout our stay here at The Pink Palace, and I can't wait!

I have to say, one of my favorite parts about this trip has been meeting new people. Speaking of which, Dan has graciously allowed me to talk about the couple we met in London, from Holland! Madelon and Wilco... they are some of my favorite people ever. And in their last email, they asked for the address to our Blog, so if you're reading this guys, now you know I love you.

The girl was obsessed with vintage clothes, and we talked about that for a long time, because so am I. Then we got on the topic of music, and we shared a plethora of great bands with each other, which was great. And the guy, Wilco, is hopefully opening his own store of urban street wear and shoes! He's calling it Ill, and I REALLY want to come back and visit it when he opens it up in September. Check out his video about the store here:

We exchanged email addresses, and have planned to meet up with the couple again in Amsterdam for our last weekend of the trip. They actually live in Utrecht, but it is only 40 minutes or so away from Amsterdam, so they are going to make the trip up to see us. It will be a perfect way to end it, I think! And I can't wait to see them again.

But Dan just walked by and said he was going to the beach, and I can bear it no longer! I must follow. But I hope this extreme post was enough to keep you occupied and informed for the next day or so. Until then, OPA!!!!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Tower of London and the Rest

We've got a lot of pictures posted without all that much context below. I'll attempt to fix that here.

 A couple of days ago (maybe 2?) we went to the Tower of London. It was very similar to South Hampton Court in that it was a castle where monarchs of old lived. We got very lucky with timing here though. Some group was being given a tour of the place and we became honorary members for a couple of hours (unbeknownst to them). The guy --you can find him in those pictures below-- was very knowledgeable and a great speaker, too. We got a great account of all the beheadings that occurred in the castle, as well as some awesomely corny jokes: "We'll be heading that way next." I'll spare you all the history, but let's just say a lot of people died there in gruesome ways for not very good reasons.

The Tower, of course, is home to the Crown Jewels, of which we unfortunately were unable to get any pictures. They were pretty amazing though. A couple items of note: a 553 carot diamond (ladies were informed by the tour guide to promptly hate their husbands after seeing it) and a wine cistern made out of pure gold. The cistern was probably bigger than me and seemed like a quaint way to serve wine. 

After seeing the Jewels, we ventured into the center of the complex where they had an exhibit of armor "Fit for a King." I didn't bring any water with me and it was about 2 hours after when I should have eaten lunch, so I felt like I was going to pass out at this point. Honestly, nothing really stood out for me here. 

Last night, and I'm sure I'm skipping stuff here, we went to the Ministry of Sound. The hostel we're staying at loosely organized the event, so we went with a very large group of foreigners to the place. They were playing house music at an incredible volume. Some famous (to people who know) DJ was spinning. We were dancing. In sum: it was awesome. Except for the 5 pound beers (that's $8). 

I'll let Josie write about the Dutch friends we met later. She absolutely loves them. I'm sure more is coming later. 

Friday, May 7, 2010


Ladies and gents, we now have pictures! Enjoy!

The park right next to our first hostel: Kensington Gardens.

Obnoxious tourism at its finest!

Our view from Shakespeare's own Globe Theatre! We saw MacBeth.

It was actually pretty awesome the way they had the play set to interact with the audience. In fact, you might say it was "bloody awesome!" ... Cheap thrills, people. Cheap thrills.

Here I am at the Hampton Court Palace!

This is where King Henry VIII and his plethora of wives would sit and watch Sunday mass.


Here is a picture of the legendary maze at Hampton Court Palace! We totally got lost in it, for a pretty decent amount of time...

The Hampton Court Palace Gardens

Not a bad view, eh?


Dan in front of Big Ben and Parliament!

Another view of Big Ben

A couple of our roommates from the first hostel. Max (left) from Italy, and Jay (right) from Brazil!

Hilarious! We saw a Steelcase office on our way to the second hostel in London!

In front of the Tower of London!

Our amazing and hilarious tour guide at the Tower

The home of the Crowned Jewels! Unfortunately, we weren't allowed to take pictures in there... but WOW.

The smallest and largest armor ever made... Crazy!

The Tower Bridge! (Not the London Bridge...)

And that's all for now, folks!