Thursday, October 30, 2008

Snowy Switzerland

Today was the first day of snow in Zurich. I just arrived to town. Not too sure if I will stay here for Halloween or continue on to see the Matterhorn. I am super sleepy from traveling so much. On the other hand, time is running out.


Luxembourg looks like a scene in a fairytale. A striking forest covers Luxembourg city and in the distance a mist wraps around the countryside. It is especially pretty here because all the leaves have changed colors.

This mini-country has a lot of wealth because of it being known for the capital of international banking. The valley is where the town's people live while the hill has all the historical stuff including a castle where the great Grand Duchy (no joke) resided and left over galleries built into the hillside from the 17th century that was used to protect the city's fortress.

I only have a day to explore this city before I go on.


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

In Bruges

I made it to Brughes. I know, I know, I saw the movie and heard how its a tourist trap and a bit fake. But look here, the first thing I did when I arrived was attend a Belgium beer tasting at the hostel. Find my notes below about Belgium beers:

Duvel beer : 2nd most favorite drink amongst the locals. Give the bartender the hand sign of devil's horn when ordering it in Belgium. Each Belgium beer has its own distinct bitterness and served in the proper glassware. The glassware brings out the beer's distinct and original taste and smell. The glassware in particular for duvel has a laser engraved "D", in the bottom of the glass. The glassware makes you drunker faster apparently.

A good bartender serves beer should leave a bit of beer in the bottle and give the bottle. Beer here, should not be drunken fast, it is about savoring the flavor with good conversation.

Trappist beers are brewed by monks. There are only 7 Trappist beers in the world, and six of them are from Belgium.

These beers aren't for commercial sales, they make the beer just for appreciation of the taste. The money goes back to the monks only so they can make more beers.

2. Orval beers- 6.2 % alcohol. Monasteries brew this beer. The legend of how the beer was developed is the following. A woman's husband had just finished battling in war. The only thing she had of their love was a ring. The wife lost her ring while bathing in a pond. She lost her ring and prayed to God that if someone found her ring she would build a monastery. A giant fish jumped out of the water holding the ring in its mouth. And she opened a brewery that to this day brews orval beer. This beer is bitter and has a sour aftertaste.

3. West malle triple- strongest of most of the Belgium beers. 9.5 % alcohol. Any beer over 13% is considered a sparkling wine. This beer has a alcoholic finish with a sweet start.

4. Chimay- comes in three colors- blue, red, and white. The blue is the darkest of the three. It is a sweeter beer, but not sugary sweet. It's a full body dark beer with malted hops.

5. Brugs - more refreshing than most beers. It should be served cold and goes down the smoother than most beers.

More notes to come the internet connection is good in Brughes.

Monday, October 27, 2008

I cry a river over you.

I had a wonderful time in the Netherlands for all the conventional reasons. The Anne Frank museum was more moving than any of the concentration camps or any sadness I've seen while traveling. I wanted to go to Amsterdam for educational reasons. Anything but, would just be futile. I am hear to learn about history, culture, and myself. In order to do this, I need to be crystal clear.

I spent half my stay in Amsterdam and the other half with my new friends Asa (from Norway) and her boyfriend Simon in Ulrecht. We rode bikesaround medival gothic cathedrals and talked about politics and music till late. They are both studying music at the conservatory here in town. When I left early in the morning for Brussels, Asa gave more a slice of her banana nut bread for the road. One of the many acts of kindness they showed me.

The title of this post is after a jazz song that is playing in the background. Dutch Jazz is another thing Asa and Simon introduced me to. They showed me a video of a french horn musician who played a beautiful piece to the meter of the donging of the church bell's in Ulrecht's dome.

Internet connection is shit in Brussels. I went to the NATO headquarters today. More to come later.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Coffee shop...

... I am at my first. hrmm


I am here for the weekend. I took a night train from Berlin to Amsterdam. It was the first time I had a night cart all to myself. I slept very well and woke up early and had a Caprisoone (caprisun) and fitness bread with chestnut paste.

It's rainy and grey. It feels fitting with the landscape here. Today, I am going to the Van Gough museum and later tonight I will check out Stubnitz, a boatparty with bands playing along one of Amsterdam's canals.

Tomorrow, Rembrandt museum and then Sunday Anne Frank house.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Party

Roman Polanski´s short film called "The Party", was set in the courtyard of Lodz´s National Higher Film School. The film was of a social gathering of students and faculty. In order to add some excitement to his film, Polanski hired a group of local "hooligans" to disrupt and cause some mayhem to the clueless guests. Polanski was kicked out of school for this stunt, but created his most acclaimed short film.

The fountain from "The Party":
From Warsaw, Lodz, Poland


Another American told me I could go down to the embassy and vote early. She voted at the American Embassy in Hungary without any problems.

So I went down to the American Embassy in Berlin to get it out of the way. I spoke with a stoic German guard who thought it was funny that I wanted to vote so soon. At first, I thought he was lecturing me by his expression and the tone of his voice. I was keyed in he was joking around when he said he wanted to help me vote for Obama. After telling him I was registered in California he said I shouldn´t worry about voting that there are enough Democratic votes and my vote really didn't matter. This conversation lasted for five minutes before he told me that I couldn't vote at the embassy. Who says Germans don't have a sense of humor?

I will try the American Embassy in Holland.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Weekend In Hollylodz

I arrived in Lodz (pronounced Woodge). Met up with my friend Matt at the train station and walked over to his girlfriends house. Matt is my friend from Los Angeles, he just finished his degree in directing at the local film school. Matt is working on a documentary. He has about 17 hours of film he needs to shorten to 20 minutes. He is excited to have a big project to work on especially after just graduating. Roman Polanski also went to school here.

Olla had prepared a delicious Polish dinner for us to celebrate Matt turning 26. Along with the delicious food we drank vodka with slices of cucumber and apple juice. Later that night, we went over to a film school party in Downtown Lodz. Since most of the people at the party were from all over the world everyone mostly spoke English.

The next day, we walked around town sightseeing. Matt showed me an area were a bunch of abandoned industrial warehouses were recently bought by David Lynch. Lynch plans to convert the area into a film center and a camera image area. Lynch filmed part of his last film, "Inland Empire," in Lodz. The city is already known as Hollylodz for the famous film school and Pola Negri, a famous silent film actress. The Polish government is trying to make Lodz the center of arts. Recently, they put stars along the streets with the names of their famous actors, directors, and so on. It looks identical to the Hollywood walk.

We walked to his film school and some of his buddies were giving a demonstration on the red one camera. The red one is produces high quality digital film and can be edited on the spot. We watched a group of Spanish speaking guys set up this little black camera.

We ended the weekend by seeing the new Cohen brother movie. I am not sure what the title is called in English. Its been awhile since I've been home.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Warsaw Rising Museum

During the postwar Poland was a battleground. 90% of Warsaw was completely destroyed. Many insurgents were persecuted and imprisoned. It was not uncommon for them to be killed in a martial law sanction. During the 40ś and 50s communism army waited until the Polish and Nazis battled it out. The communist came in from the back and accused the Polish (who had a small army called the Home Army) of committing treason and cooperating with the Nazis. The army consisted of young men and women with homemade weapons. The communist accused them of this in order to justify their later attack on the Polish without coming across as playing cheap.

During the occupation the Germans imprisoned 100,000 Polish and 37,000 died. This information was from the Warsaw Rising museum. It was very informative with colorful interactive displays.

Nowadays, Warsaw is a industrialized capital city. There are many museums and public gardens. I only had a day to sightsee, but I liked what it had to offer.

I just made it to Berlin. Today I am going on an all day walking tour. More to come on my weekend in Lodz.

Thursday, October 16, 2008


I woke up early this morning had coffee and mueslix and checked the train schedule for Warsaw. I found a fast train that takes only 2 1/2 hours. The other trains are cheaper, but can take up to 8 hours. I decided to book the faster one so I would have time to roam around Krakow. I checked out of the hostel and walked over to the train station to lock up my backpack and buy my ticket. One of the best secrets I've learned is that Europe train stations have secure lockers for storing your belongings. Knowing this makes sightseeing a lot more bearable.

Wawel's Castle
Krakow's main attraction is the Wawel Hill where the Wawel cathedral and castle reside. I visited both locations and wasn't too impressed by the interior of the castle. The beauty in this case was only seen in its exterior. The Wawel cathedral had a crypt where all the Polish royalties are buried. King Kazimier's tomb was there, which dates back to the 13th century. Most of the tombs are made out of stone and are garnished with medieval skulls and cross bones.

Jewish Quarters- Kazimierz

After my self-guided tour of the castle I walked down to the Jewish Quarters. The Jews in Krakow were expelled and forced to resettle inside these small Jewish quarters. Kazimierz was named after the King who tossed the Jews out of Krakow in the 13th century.

I've been inside most sectors of Christian churches, mosques, but haven't been into a synagogue. Today was my first experience. I went inside one of the oldest synagogues in Poland called Remuh Synagogue. It is from the 16th century and looked more like an old house than a synagogue. Outside of the synagogue was a Jewish cementary with old Renaissance gravestones. The cementary was enclosed with a cobblestone wall.

I came across a little hole in the wall restaurant that advertised homemade periogis in large font written with magic markers. A Polish girl helped me figure out what to have with my limited funds. I could only afford desert and ate banana filled periogis with chocolate sauce. I was really hungry and gobbled them up and walked around for awhile more.

There was a large gathering at one of the main cathedrals by the city center. Hundreds of candles and lanterns were infront of a huge poster of Pope John Paul II. There was a stage with an orchestra getting ready to perform. The stage surrounded by blue lights in structures that looked like reverse umbrella frames. I asked a girl watching the event what all this was for. She told me that today was the 30th anniversary of when Pope John Paul was annotated. I wanted to stay longer and listen to the orchestra, but needed to get back to the train station.

Along my way back I asked a girl if I was on the right path. She said she would walk me to the train station. All I needed for her to do was point me in the right direction, but she insisted otherwise. She and I walked to the train station making small talk. We walked through Rynek Glowny (the main market square), which is Europe's largest medieval square and she pointed out the smallest cathedral. It was so tiny and only held 20 people. A direct contrast was St. Mary's cathedral located in the northeastern corner of the square. I went in the church before and it has some of the finest sculptures I've seen on my travels. I made it to the train station and said thank you. This act of kindness is generally what I've been experiencing in the four days I've been in Poland. Everyone is friendly here.

When I arrived in Warsaw it was pouring. A car went over a puddle and splashed me with dirty cold water. I was soaking wet by the time I reached the hostel.The hostel that I booked for online told me they never received my email and were fully booked. I walked along and lucked out by finding another hostel 5 minute walk from the first hostel. I am here now and the hostel's computer is slow and clunky, but at least it works. Tomorrow I will run around Warsaw to see Chopin's heart displayed in a cathedral in town and visit the Rising History museum.

Krakow to Warsaw

Going to the substantial castle, (Castle Wawel) that stands on a big hill in Old Town today. Then to the Jewish Quarters to visit the Old Synagogue from the 15th century and to a museum or two. In the early evening I'm taking a fast train to Warsaw. I plan to only be in Warsaw for a day. I don't have a desire to go except to see the Warsaw Rising Museum and learn more about the tragic history of Warsaw during wartime.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Notes from Auschwitz- Click here for pictures

"The history that does not remember is bound to live through it again." - George Santayana

I went to Auschwitz today. I was worried about how it would affect me. I have a low threshold for handling human suffering probably a result of spending the summer watching over a sick Grandmother. Though, I am glad I went. I understand why it is important for everyone to see. It made the idea of the present day genocide in Darfur more real to me and makes me want to learn more about how I can do my part to help. I transcribed my notes on Auschwitz below.

The concentration camp was founded in June 1940 in the suburbs of the city known as Oswiecim, which Germans occupied during World War II. The Germans changed the name of the city of Oswiecim to Auschwitz and gave it the same name as the concentration camp.

The camp was divided into 3 parts:
Auschwitz I -Earliest Section
Auschwitz II (Birkenau) - was later built when I ran out of room
Auschwitz III (Monowitz)- built when II was filled. It was completely destroyed by Nazis before the liberation by Soviets.

Auschwitz (as a whole) Has over 40 subcamps. Poles were the first to be imprisoned and perished in Auschwitz. Polish prisoners were political prisoners mostly the Polish intellects were kept. They included doctors, lawyers, writers, and even priest. 7,500 Poles were killed. 23,000 Romas were prisoned and only 2,000 survived. Later the camp imprisoned Soviet prisoners of war, Roma (Gypsies), and other prisoners and nationalities. The Jews were the last to be prisoned here.

There was a prison set up for certain prisoners. One of the punishments was to be starved to death. A man was sentenced to starvation. He pleaded for his life and a Polish priest said he would take his place. The guards agreed. According to survivors the priest lasted for two weeks. The guards got impatient and shoot the priest. The man who was supposed to be in the starvation prison survived the camp and lived up until 13 years ago. There are memorials all over the camp for the priest.

Extermination of Jews
Began in 1942, Auschwitz became the largest mass murder in all of human history, which was committed against European Jews as part of the Nazi's plan for complete extermination. Nazis murdered 6 million Jews. Their goal was to kill 11 million. 1944 was the biggest year of extermnation. 8,000 people arrived everyday and were killed.

Nazis burned all the records before the liberation. They tried to destroy all evidence of their crimes. Auschwitz was liberated on Jan 27th, 1945.

Museum opened July 2nd, 1947. Since Poland entered into the EU for years ago they get over a million visitors a year.

The first thing you see when you enter Auschwitz is a giant that says in German,
"Work sets you free." This was only one of the lies that the people entering into Auschwitz were told.

Prisoners had several jobs including preparing food, burning dead bodies, and sorting luggage. No matter what conditions the prisoners worked 11 hours a day and were allowed to use the toilet twice. Their meal consisted of cold coffee for breakfast, soup with rotten vegetables for lunch, and a small piece of bread for dinner. Hunger and hardwork primarily were the main methods of death of the prisoners.

Hitler was elected in a free election. He had the first camp called Dachau built outside of Munich. Auschwitz was not first a extermination camp. It started off as a concentration camp, which means the prisoners were workers. Then later became a extermination camp. There are 6 extermination camps in Poland. By the time they had Auschwitz built the Nazis were very knowledgable about running concentration camps.

Nazis wanted to create a master race by getting rid of what they thought were inferior people. Jews were the first in line then would come the Slavic people. The Jews were deported from every European country. 1,000,100 Jews were sent to Auschwitz and 90% were killed.

There were only a few photographs taken. The purpose of these photographs were unknown. The Nazis wanted to keep the extermination a secret from the rest of the world. 200 photos were found by survivor named Lilie Jacob Meire (Meyer). She accidently found the photos after her liberation while searching for clothes to wear.

Jews were deported to concentration camp from all over Europe. People transported from Greece took up to 17 days without food or water. The people were told to bring their most valuable possessions and the items needed to survive.

Women and children were seperated from men then the guards determined who was fit to work and those who weren't were exterminated. In the beginning those unfit went to the gas chambers. They were told they were going to take showers. The Nazis had set up fake waterheads and water pipes to convince the Jews. This wa done so that there wasn't mass panic. They were told that they were going tobe safe and would be with their families after they were clean. The gas chambers held 1,500 people at a time. Then the Nazis dropped 5-7 kilograms of Cyclone B in 8-9 canisters into the room. 15 minutes everyone was dead. The death was very painful. The Polish Jews were the only ones that knew what was really going on. They knew because of rumors and were the only ones who tried to fight.

The bodies were shaven and all the gold teeth were removed. Then the bodies were burned. They burnt the bodies in an open air cremation because cremation units were very inefficient. The human hair was used in the textile business to make outfits, uniforms, and wigs. After liberation Russian soliders found 7 tons of human hair.

Allies knew about Auschwitz since 1944. They had aerial photos of the camp. Some prisoners who escaped had told the allies. The allies didn't do anything at all. Russian solidiers found a lot of proof of extermination. Rooms in the exhibit halls were filled with 80,000 shoes, glasses, prosthetic legs, bowls, brushes, etc.

200,033 children were sent here and must of them were executed. There were even medical experiments on the children. If the child had blue eyes and blonde hair they were brought to Germanization centers. Later to be adopted by families from Germany.

Camp uniforms were marked with different triangles to identify what group of religion or race the prisoner belonged to. Jews had a red/yellow triangle. Most of the Polish prisoners were not Jewish. In one exhibit there were pictures of the first to come to Auschwitz. This record indicated date of birth and date of death. German criminals were used as the supervisors. These criminals were mostly convicted murderers. Only 400,000 prisoners were registered , 200,00 were Jews fit for work. Most the otheres were Polish political prisoners. Everyone that was registered was murdered.

The Nazis wanted to find the most efficient way of execution. The first people to be tested with Cyclone B were 600 Russian prisoners. It took over two days to get the right amount of the gas to work during the trial. May 27th, 1942 - 168 Polish actors were executed by firing squad.
(Here's an interesting link

Roll call was done twice a day. It was another form of punishment. Sometimes it lasted 19 hours without food or water.

8,000 guards served at Auschwitz. Most of them were German and Austrians. There were some who were Yugoslavian, but they were on watch on the outside.

The mass exterminator incharge of the cremators was Rudolf Hoss. He lived right next to the cremators with his wife and children. His wife was reported to have described Auschwitz as paradise because they were not risking their life from the war going on outside. Hoss was executed as a war criminal. He was hung infront of the cremators.

In 1943 the gas chambers were turned into bomb shelters for the Nazis troops.

When the liberation finally happened in 1945 there were only 7,000 prisoners. The reason there were such few prisoners was because most of them were transfered to other German concentration camps. The Germans knew that the war was coming to an end and thought they could use the prisoners to help them win. Most of the solidiers were forced to walk and most died. This was called the "Death March."

17 days after the liberation of Nazi Germany, Poland was invaded by the Soviet Army. Only 15 years ago did Poland gain its independence. 30,000 people were killed after WW2.

Genocides are still going on in present history. Bosnia, Rwanda, Argentina, and currently in Darfur.

Here's a link to more information about
and the history of genocides:

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Click Here for Pictures from Kiev and Lyiv, Ukraine

Krakow, Poland (Wonderful First Impression of Poland)

I can't believe the difference from non-EU countries to EU. It is a big contrast. After walking across the border, I had to wait in line with extremely pushy Ukrainians most of them smuggling in cigarettes and booze. It felt like we were sheep trapped in a small cage. People shook their heads at me and another girl (Sara from NYC) when they found out we were American, which meant that it would take two extra minutes to speak with the border guard than it would for them. When I got to Poland territory I checked the schedule for the train only to find out the next train left at 10:30pm. One of the girl's at the hostel in Lyiv told me it ran every hour and that the trip to Krakow takes about three and a half hours from the Polish border town. She got the latter part right. Feeling tired and low, I walked a short distance to the bus station to see if taking a bus would be any faster.

A Polish backpacker came up and asked if Sara and I needed a ride to Krakow. He said he was going that way and knew how hard it was traveling by train. At first, I was weary and said we would be alright. We started talking to him and I could tell instantly he was sincere and a very nice man. His car seat in the backseat made me believe it was more than safe. We accepted his offer. He had just been hiking in the Carpathian mountains with some of his Ukrainian friends. Robert asked if we were hungry and we both said yes. We went to a small Polish bar and had Polish borscht and periogis. Robert paid for both of our meals telling us it was customary for him to buy us our first Polish meal.

After dinner we walked to where his car was parked at his wife's Grandmother's house. He told us we needed to come in and meet her. She was 89 years old and had been living in the loft for about 60 years just after WW2! She made us hot tea and gave us some wafers. She said that Sara and I were the first Americans to ever visit her. I could tell she wanted to talk to us, but since neither one of us knew Polish we just exchanged smiles and nods. Robert told us she used to be a gymnasitic coach and ski instructor. Robert told us that her late husband helped fill the graves after the war ended. She talked only briefly about the war. When we left her house she gave both Sara and I a big hug and kiss and gave Robert sandwiches for the road trip.

During the ride Robert talked about his favorite bands and how he got into Punk during the fall of communism. He also told us he studied French literature in Paris for three years and he met his Polish wife who was also studying abroad. It was a fun car trip even though I got a bit car sick.

Going to Aushwitz today. I want to see it first and then spend sometime doing more uplifting activities. More to come from Poland.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Lyiv, Ukraine

They say Lyiv is the new Prague, the Florence of the East, or even comparable to Paris. All these comparisons are crass and a cheap way to attract tourist. It is a city of its own decadence. Lyiv has a rich history which is most noticeable in its architecture and churches (especially in the Armenian church). And even more fascinating is its the least Soviet city that I have visited in Ukraine.

The city center is popular amongst locals and has plenty of interesting museums along cobblestone roads. However, it is rough around the edges. If you travel outside the center you will be in contact with poverty, plenty of drunks, Romes, and busy roads with endless amounts of construction.

I walked around the city and went to the "Under Black Eagle" Pharmacy Museum filled with 8000 old bottles and formulas. The museum had a functional pharmacy that had been open since the 60's. The pharmacy itself was on the grounds of the old pharmacy that was run by a Ukrainian pharmacist named Mykhaylo Terletsky during the 1700's. I bought a bottle of the unique "Zalizne Vyno," or iron wine, which they make at the pharmacy from an ancient recipe.

There is an international theatrical festival called Golden Lion. I lucked out and got tickets to the Ukrainian ballet and watched a performance in the S. Krushelnytska Opera house.

I am leaving to Krakow tomorrow. They say that the border check takes about 3-4 hours if you take the bus or train. I am planning to walk across because its a lot faster and then I will hop on a bus on the Polish side. It will be an adventure.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Get there.

This past couple of days have been a whirlwind of traveling. I left Brasov, Romania to travel back to Bucharest and picked up the overnight train to Moldova. The sleeper train to Chrisnau, Moldova was cozy. On the train I looked for the town where Borat was filmed without any luck.I had one of the top bunks and slept incredibly well.Three other women were in the cart with me. We chatted for a bit and I fell asleep at midnight and only woke up for the passport checks at 3 (for Romania) and five (for Moldova).

The following day I took a bus to Odesa, Ukraine. I met two Americans who are working in the Peacecore in Moldova. They invited me out to see their village and stay with them for a couple of days. They said that Chrisnau's biggest festival called "Winefest" is this weekend. The Peacecore girls said I should come back to see them, which I eventually will if I decide to go back to Moldova.

Today, I am heading to Kiev. I already experienced Ukrainian life in the melting pot city of Odesa. Everyone here seems to speak several languages and no one is discriminative they all just seem to live peacefully. For example, the hostel owner is from Iraq lived in Germany for decades and now lives in Odessa with his Ukrainian wife.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Bucharest and Brasnov Click here for Pictures

Finally. I made it to Bucharest. I had to put faith in the hostel that they got my email and my reservations were set. When I arrived 14 hours later I was happy to find that they did get the email and all was well.

Bucharest is not a charming city. This city has some bad rap for its shabby appearance. It seems all of the buildings are covered with advertisements. The advertisements don't discriminate what buildings they hit. It could be a block of communist buildings or architectural masterpieces. I would think the EU with all their strict guidelines wouldn't allow this, but maybe this applies only in cities with less corruption in their government. Thick black cables tangle the city's skyline. The city makes no attempt to hide these ugly cables for internet, tram, and so forth. It is a bit odd.

I once read that The Economist called Bucharest one of the most corrupt cities in the world. I did not witness this firsthand. Though, I did see the darker side of things. For instance, the stray dog problem is out of control. There are thousands of dogs strolling around the city.

It was hard finding charm in this rather charmless city. I did have some helpful Romanians direct me where to go, which made me believe the city would have been more appealing if I had a local as a guide. I wasn't alone. My travel companion was a wonderful Turkish girl who befriended me at the hostel. Ceran and I walked around and chatted about our countries. It was fun having her to talk to and I learned a lot about Istanbul. I think it might be my list of places to visit sometime.

Brasov. Transylvania, Romania.

I woke up today with the very ambitious idea that I was going to view all the castles around Brasov. It was pouring rain and lightning outside. I was woken up by Jill, my British companion for today. We walked outside and were soaking wet within minutes. We decided it would be best to rent a cab. Cabs in Romanian tend to be really reliable and super cheap. We went back to the hostel and found three more older Australians and along we went. Our first destination was Bran Castle. The castle that inspired Bran Stoker's Dracula. Vlad or Dracula rather was held for prisoner here for only a short while. The other castles were impressive, but there is a line to use the computer. More to come later.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Bucharest today Brasov (Transylvania) tomorrow

Hiking to Castle Bran.

Read this in an ad in Newsweek for international schools.

"I think having exposure to many ideas, politics, cultures, and ways of thinking can help me adapt my views on the world and finding my place in it. Meeting people with different backgrounds than my own means that I will inevitably learn from them. I want my background on culture to go further than my birthplace."

Szeged, Hungary

Szaged was a very cute relaxing town with a university in the middle. I must have walked around for hours admiring the Austria-Hungarian architecture and the music fountain that played classical music in sync with the spurts of water. Not many people here spoke English, which made it difficult to order food and find my hostel. I walked around town and saw a lot of young people hanging outside a building. I was sure this was my hostel, but when I walked inside I realized it was really a police station.

I eventually found my hostel, which was actually a hotel. I literally had the third floor all to myself. I had fun running around, eating jam and toast for dinner. Finally having privacy and a place to myself. I slept very well that night.

Bratislava, Slovakia

The difference between Western Europe and Eastern Europe are subtle differences when you go to places that border the West like Slovakia.

#1 Difference: Old brick communist buildings are scattered all over the city of Bratislava. These buildings look cold they serve a purpose and that's just about all they do.

#2 Difference: The trains are old and ragged. These trains are not pleasant. They smell and everyone smokes even when sitting next to you. Not to mention to toilets dispose the waste onto the track. Shocking, I know.

#3 Difference: Bake goods are tasty and dirt cheap. I got a croissant for 30p. It was still warm.

#4 The main cities are usually off set by stunning landscape or a huge castle. In Devin and Bratislava have huge medieval castles illuminating the so/so looking cities. The castle in Devin (thus named Castle Devin) was the setting for Dragonheart I, Peacekeeper, and Kull The Conqueror. (

#5 No tourist and not many English speakers.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008


Ironically, Crystalworld was a rather dark and surreal place. I remember my mother telling me she had a bad reaction to CW when she visited. I never knew what she meant, but now seeing it firsthand I could imagine its because of the very strange exhibits. One of the rooms contained a musical box that played music that could easily have been from a horror movie. The pictures from the fairytale that went along with the music was of a dog getting cut in half by a butcher knife. I haven=t a clue what this has to do with crystals.

My favorite exhibit was one created by Brian Eno. He called it a growing crystal of 500 million crystals. Every second it would slightly change shape or color. He wrote the score for it, which was ambient and soothing. I sat and watched it for about ten minutes in a calm trance.

Last week in Munich

On the train to Munich. Everything fell right into place. Last night, I was fortunate enough to get mz own room at the Jugendherberge Innsbruck hostel.The hostel was an ugly building looked like a concrete block from communistic era. The wooden beds were as comfortable as what I would imagine prison beds to be and everything had a charge from heating the stove to checking email. This was a complete contrast to the utopic hostel I stayed at in Monte Negro. After a long day of travel and walking I fell asleep at 10 pm.