Extreme Road trip Europe 2005

 

Monday August 1 2005

Hello everyone, hereís our little journal of our 2 month mission to Europe. I've been waiting for 8 years in a padded cell (cube) for my sabbatical and it's finally here. So all bets are off, were in a foreign country doing what ever we cant do legally back at home.
Our flight leaves Portland at 8:30 am and arrives in Prague at 9pm on Tuesday night. I think the time difference is 9 hours so when you're all having lunch at work on Tuesday at noon we'll be landing in Prague. The flight it self is not as long as it seems. Were flying to Atlanta first with a 2.5 hour layover and then from Atlanta were flying to Frankfurt Germany where we have an 8 hour layover. Were going to tour around the city and spend the day there since neither one of us have ever been to Frankfurt. We leave Frankfurt at 7pm and arrive in Prague at 9pm. Another reason the flight wonít be so bad or as long is that I had enough miles to get us first class tickets so we get all the great plane food we can eat and free drinks so we'll be there before we even wake up from our hangover.
Were staying the first 3 nights in the Clown and Bard hostel and then moving to the hotel Esplanade for 5 nights. Our plans around Prague are pretty basic. Weíre going to go to the Konopiste (sp?) Castle, Prague castle, Charles Bridge, and a place Emily told us about. Itís a really cool bluff in the woods that overlooks the city and the river with a brewery there. She is finding out the info from one of her friends because she doesn't remember the name of the place. I don't think she can remember because she drank too much Absinthe and the green fairy erased her memory. But either way it sounds like a really good place to hang out at night. BTW Absinthe is legal in the Czech Republic so itís not that big a deal unless you drink so much of it that you cut your ear off because the green fairy keeps talking to you and you want her to stop. At least thatís one of the stories I've heard about Van Gough. Next time we write we'll be in Europe so all of you take care and we'll chat later.

Sunday, August 7

Hello all, weíve been in Prague since Tuesday night. We have toured the city and have seen all of the popular tourist sites. We also found the beer garden. Itís located in Lentz Park above the city tram 18, 26 and a few others. Itís the stop before or after Sparta Prague stadium and its called Lentz Nametski or something close to that. What a view! Itís definitely worth going. Thanks to Emily for suggesting it.
Today we went to see Konopiste castle. It was beautiful. A bit on the musty side, but beautiful none the less. The castle was built in the 1300s and the last changes and renovations were in modern times by the last owner Franz Ferdinand in 1912-1914.
The weather has been warm and sunny until today. Itís still warm about 70 degrees but raining. Itís supposed to rain until Friday, but since weíre leaving on Wed, it wonít do us any good. Were planning to head to Chesky Krumlov Wednesday morning before heading to Vienna Austria . Chesky Krumlov is 3 hours south of Prague and is a city that has been preserved since the 1400s. They don't allow cars in the city and the shops/buildings etc. are required to keep to the time period. Weíll check the weather before we go and make adjustments if needed.
As for Prague itself, any single hetero guy would love this town. Beer runs about $1 at the cheapest bars to $3 at the trendy tourist bars. The alcohol content is 12% so you can do a lot of damage for only a few dollars. Plus, the attractive ladies are plentiful. Of course you will need expensive shoes since that's what they all wear. While beer is cheap, food is only slightly cheaper then in the U.S. To use a bad joke from my not so famous Jewish porn star friend (Bennie Boner) "If you come to Prague and itís not Baroque, Don't fix it." We didn't fix it since no fix is needed. Prague is great, if you get a chance to visit, take it.


August 21 2005

Itís been a while since we last wrote so weíll catch up now. We went to Zagreb and Dubrovnik in Croatia. You can skip those cities as they pretty much suck all the way around. Dubrovnik looks cool but once you get into the city itís just a big expensive tourist shop for all the cruise ships that stop there. Prices were higher then the US for food and brew. Wish I would have gone north towards Dracula's castle instead of heading south to Dubrovnik.  We rented a room from a local lady who was very nice with very nice neighbors who shared their fresh figs that were so good. As much as I didnít care for Dubrovnik the people around town make up for. After all travel is really more about the people you meet and not the stuff you can check off as having seen.
This brings us to where we currently are in Greece on Corfu Island. It's our last night of 6 nights here as we ferry out tomorrow for Athens and then on to Mykonos. Corfu is not a large Island but very rocky and steep with switchback roads that go everywhere and tons of drivers that drive as if there are no road rules. It kind of adds to the excitement of renting a scooter and driving as if there are no cops. We overtake cars on the left or the right, we just had to watch out for bigger faster scooters as ours was only 50cc and could go about 25 mph with both of us and that's downhill with the wind at our backs. We are staying at the pink palace which is an old hostel trying to be a real resort. We have had private bath and showers but not everyone here gets that luxury. Our first room had openings at the top of the wall so you could here your neighbors taking care of business in the bathroom or talking in their room about how drunk they got. One night had the bonus of some chick getting it one with a toy or a girl or guy that didn't make any noise. After two nights there we moved to a room with AC. They include breakfast and dinner here and weíre paying 50 Euro a night for both of us. Lunch is about 3-4 Euro each in the little cafe they have. Weíre located right on the beach of AG. Gordis, the weather has been about 85-90 but the ocean water is balls hiding cold. We went on a quad safari the other day and it was a lot of fun and worth it if you go. We were out on 4 wheelers for about 6-7 hours and saw all parts of the island and climbed some tall peeks for great views. We also went on a booze cruise which took us to some cliffs to jump off, a cave to swim through and a private beach you can only reach by boat. The drawback to the cheesy booze cruise is that you have to buy your own alcohol. So I wouldn't call it a booze cruise per say. If the damn water wasn't so cold it would have been fun. If you come here only do the cruise on a warm day with no wind, and don't forgot plenty of euros to buy drinks to stay warm. They have a dance club here with a DJ every night after dinner. Last night they had a toga party that was pretty cool. The owner of the pink palace came out and lifted a table with his teeth. The table had a chair and 12 bottles and a few plates on fire, pretty damn impressive. They also lit the floor on fire in a circle and he danced around in the circle with the table in his mouth. Drawbacks to this place is that itís a bit old and not kept up well but if your here to drink like an Aussie and have random sex then this is the place for you. One last note is to remember to bring your mosquito spray they have eaten Alyssa alive.

 
August 23 2005

We just arrived in Athens this morning at 7:30am. We had an overnight bus from Corfu that left last night at 10pm. It was a bus ride from hell, or should I say Hades since were in Greece. First, were told that we can take the overnight bus and save on a nightís accommodation. Sure, I thought, we can sleep on this large tour bus and be all fresh for a day in Athens. I know that we have to take a ferry since were on an island but they make us get off the bus to load the ferry which looks like a boat used to land on the beaches of Normandy on D-day. Then we could not get back on the bus until after we docked on mainland Greece 2 hours later. So far it's only taken about 3 hours out of our sleep at this point so maybe we can get enough on the remaining 7 hours of the trip. 2 hours later the bus driver pulls over at a 24 hour cafe and yells "food, 30 minutes" OK fine, we can make a pit stop for the bathrooms and then look at some of the food. They have hot food, sandwiches, ice cream, cockroaches, chips, etc...Oh wait did I just say cockroaches???? Yes I did. They have enough cockroaches to make any 3rd world country jealous. There were hundreds of these things running around. This quickly made us change our mind for any food from this place. So we do a little cockroach dance before getting on the bus to make sure we don't have any hitchhikers and down the road we go. Another 2 hours passes before another ferry ride. Wait a second, were on mainland Greece why another ferry??? I guess we don't want to pay the road toll for the bridge that runs right beside the ferry or they are trying to keep ferry captains employed. So we have 10 min ferry ride that takes about 45 mins counting loading and unloading the ferry. And once again we have to get off the bus and stay off till were on the other side. Now it's only 2 more hours to Athens and we've had about 1-2 hours of uncomfortable sleep. No wonder Greece is no longer a world power like they were back in the day. We hope to make it to a ferry at 5pm tonight to make it to Mykonos for another week of R&R.


August 30 2005

We just arrived back in Corfu this morning. We are on our way to Italy (Sicily) tonight. Internet sucks here at the pink palace so we'll update from Italy but in short our last week in Mykonos was the best. In other words you could just say that Mykonos kicks ass and you pay for it later. We'll fill you in with all the details of 75 degree water, 90-95 degree days and parties that start at 2am, and looking at yachts I couldn't afford if I won the Oregon lottery, btw, did I mention this was a typical day every day last week???. Talk to you all later, were off to get massages and a good days sleep on the beach before the overnight ferry. Ciao for now...


September 13 2005

It's been awhile since we've written. Travel is pretty fast paced now with all the sights. Plus with Intel taking over the world it's harder to find internet cafes. I suppose everyone has a computer at home so there is no longer a need for as many cafesí when I was first here in 1999. We are currently in Venice, Italy and since we last wrote we have been to Palermo, Rome and Florence. We love it here but were getting a little tired of pizza and pasta. A nice big steak or some sushi sounds great right now. The weather is still plenty warm but not so warm that we need AC at night, at least not since we've arrived in northern Italy.
We spent about 5 days in Sicily researching the family tree. I've found out that my great grandparents were married in 1900 and had 2 children in Sicily before coming over to America. My Great grand parents were Giorgio Logreco and Grazia DiMarco. They married in 1900 and had a son in 1901 and a daughter in 1903. He left for the US in 1903 and she came over in 1905 were they had 5 additional children. My great grand father parents were Giovanni Lo Greco and his mother was Vita Stassi. My Great grandmotherís parents were Francesco DiMarco (Father) and Giuseppa Riolo (Mother). We also found records of 2 siblings to each of the great grand parents. Giorgio had a brother and a sister named Giuseppe and Marianna while Grazia had 2 brothers named Pietro and Giorgio. The city has all of these records on ledgers and its all hand written. It would be nice to have a computer to look things up. It would have also been easier if we were able to speak Italian because no one speaks English in the little towns so to get around this we had to think of every question we were going to ask and translate it on one of the free internet sites then write it all down on paper to show the people at the city hall/records what we were looking for. What also added to the difficulty was the fact that they take 4 hour breaks in the middle of the day so everything closes and you just wander around or go to the beach. Plus the first day we went to Piana we took the bus so we had to leave at 4pm since that was the last bus out of town. The next day we rented a scooter and can I tell you what it's like to drive a scooter in Italy? I could, but then I would sound like a sailor. It's insane driving which made it fun and a real adrenaline rush for me. Alyssa on the other hand was having a heart attack every time I drove between cars or trucks or scrapped the muffler when taking corners. After a few whacks up side the helmet I slowed down and drove like a tourist, sort of. I equate riding/driving in Italy with pretending that you've just robbed a bank and the cops are right on your tail. Traffic signs and lights are only suggestions and not the law. After Palermo we headed up to Rome and did all the normal tourist things. Rome is one of the most impressive cities I have ever been too. Even though it was my second time I was still impressed. I think everyone has to go to Rome it's just amazing. Plus if you go check out the catacombs. They have about 500,000 tombs in the largest catacomb that goes about 100 feet underground. It's cold and dark and would make a great place for a movie or haunted house since you could get lost in the around 20 miles of tunnels and graves. Florence was our next stop for a couple of days worth seeing if you can but not much to see in the city unless you're into paintings, sculpture, Ferragamo, or the birth of the renaissance. We saw the statue of David, the Duomo and some sights including a 3 hour trip to see the leaning tower of Pisa without the cables and weights holding it up.
Then on to Venice where were at now. Venice is a great city to visit. Having no cars and just waterways is great. It's an amazing city and I would love to come back during Carnival in Feb/Mar even though it's very cold here and could be snowing. Were off to Milan next and Lago de Como. I'll write to you all later. Side note: general observations so far; 1: The world economy must be great. I've never seen so many people from so many different places out traveling. We've met people from Peru, Mexico, Ukraine, Chile, all parts of Asia, Oregon along with the customary Australians who are traveling for 1 year at a time with multiple passports. 2: When it come to politeness and waiting your turn the term "When in Rome, do as the Romans do" applies to everywhere in Europe. If you're nice and try to wait in line 40 people will just walk in front of you. You need to push your way to the front or you wonít get anywhere. 3: Damn Europeans love to smoke way too much....In my opinion they have passed Asia up by a long way in the smoking at all hours of the day and at every meal.


September 16 2005

Hello to all from Como, Italy. Were going to be spending 3 days here with an excursion into Switzerland before heading to Zurich on our way to Paris. Itís hard to believe that itís been about 2 months and that we are returning home in 6 days. It went by so quick it feels like it was only last week that Julie was dropping us off at the airport. I'm looking forward to being in my own bed but I'm going to miss Europe. I guess I need to get a job over here. Kevin if you're reading this don't worry, I'm still coming back and I will return to work on Monday but I will be working from home if I still have electricity or internet access. We had a blast in Milan. We had only planned to pass through but ended up staying for 2 nights. We lucked out and got tickets to the opening night of at the Opera house La Scala to see "The Barber of Seville". Of course it was in Italian but they had installed a new screen into every seat that followed the opera in English. It was pretty nice. La Scala is the 3rd largest Opera house in the world and its set up in the old school style of having boxes to the left and the right of the royal box which is dead center. The farther left/right you go the closer you get the stage so you canít see anything. We were on the 6th floor on the far left hand side. The seats were terrible, we could barley see the curtain but we lucked out and the usher helped us find 2 seats in the center so we were able to watch the opera. It was pretty cool although I don't think I'm much of an opera fan.
The shopping is unbelievable. I used to like D&G but everybody here wears D&G and all knock off places sell it so itís sort of a crap brand since everyone has it. Prada, Gucci, Rich etc... are the bigger brands that everyone was trying to get. We backpackers' of course didn't get much of anything since we canít carry it. Thank goodness for that otherwise we would have to sell our first born to afford the clothes. I'll try to write one last time from Paris but no telling if well be able to find an internet cafe close by since they are a dying breed here. The rest of our trip is to go to Zurich from Como then overnight train to Paris to fly out on the 23rd. We fly straight from Paris to LA so itís going to be a long flight but at least itís all first class. See you all soon.

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