Saturday, June 19, 2010

Athens


After a week long TIME in Corfu, a squad of us from the Pink Palace decided to travel together and make our way, via bus, across Greece to the capitol city of Athens. We shacked up at the Athens Backpackers Hostel for 3 nights, which was actually a great location and walking distance to the Acropolis, Olympic Stadium and other main sites! The hostel itself was pretty decent, with a good crowd, and actually the whole squad of American students came on the 3rd day that we were there, which was cool to see some friends again.

As for Athens itself, I was very impressed. The history of the city smacks you right in the face, with ancient artifacts and sites seemingly everywhere! The Acropolis was really awesome. Even though there was tons of construction/rebuilding, you can't actually describe it unless you've been there. This might seem cliche, but many of the temples etc, actually seem as though gods made them! They were massive. You also get an incredible view of the entirety of the city of Athens, as the Acropolis is situated well above on a small mountain?/hill. We also hit up many of the main historical sites there too, such as the Gateway to Olympion, and the original stadium of the Olympics. We also cruised around the streets for a while, and just checked things out, and nursed ourselves back to working conditions after the Pink Palace!

There were a few random things that happened, highlighted by us walking down the street and seeing a spray-painted logo of BORF (who knows what that is>) but it looked identical do Dave!
We also had surprise guests, as on the third day we were there, when just starting the day, who roles into the room but Brock and Emily (the girl who drove off the cliff in Corfu). And this would not be the last random meeting we had. We had a few good nights at the bar in the hostel and sharing stories, and on the 3rd night we hit up the bar with the Americans, which was pretty funny and a good time. However, we also had one of the biggest rip offs happen to us in Athens as well. One of the days there we decided to go for a decent lunch, so a squad of us hit up Gods Kitchen.....well after what we thought was getting a sweet deal...the arsehole fleeced us, and when we argued that he was ripping us off/ charging us well above what we had agreed to....he threatened us to call the cops!! SO if you go to Athens, dont' eat at Gods Kitchen!!

Unfortunately, this is where our squad ended, as the Corfu folks went their own way.....Dave took off on his own adventure, and Dan, Brent and I headed for Italy.

I really enjoyed Athens, and especially the unreal and orginal Gyros there! AMAZING! I would definitely go back!

Friday, June 18, 2010

CORFUUU & the Pink Palace





So, after spending the night wandering around Bari, Italy, and sleeping in the park, we found ourselves on yet another ferry to Igoumenitsa, Greece, then on to the island of Corfu. Well, when we arrived in Igoumenitsa we quickly found out that it was a popular port for many illegal middle-eastern men to try and jump ship and make it to Italy or elsewhere. Anyways, at one point as we were waiting around for our ferry to Corfu, Brent and Dave went off to use the washroom or something, and the next thing you know I'm surrounded by guys. Now I have all of the backpacks, and had no idea what to do. So they start talking to me in broken English, and I find out they're all Kurds from Iraq. For some reason they kept saying "George Bush good" and I said no I don't think so....and that I'm Canadian. Finally, when they heard Canada, they didn't believe me...so of course like an idiot I yank out my passport and show it to them. Next thing you know they're all passing it around, and I'm thinking that's the last time I'll see it. At this point Brent and Dave come back to see this and have no idea what to do. Anyways, long story short, I got the passport back no problem, they were nice guys actually, and they told us that a lot of the time they get beat up by security on the ships.....which we saw first hand as a guy was beaten on a ship to Italy and brought back, as we were sitting there! hahah. Off to paradise!

When we arrived at the Pink Palace, we were met by an American staff member, Matt I think, and he promptly gave us our welcoming Ouzo shot at like 6am. He then proceeded to tell us that we had booked only for a few days, but we'd definitely want a week, as a ton of American exchange students from Florence were coming....so we obliged and stayed the week. We then crashed for a few hours, awaking to Dan and Jesse arriving, in what was a nutzo trip for them there too!

The whole week there was crazy....we were wasted the whole time, thus where the classic shout outs of "Your MOM (Dave)" "F*** youuuu (drunken Dave) and "Yimmmmyyy" as I was referred to. We also went on the Booze Cruise with Cpt. George....a dirty dirty old man....but that was a good time, made some really good friend, and went cliff jumping from a ridiculous height...we also met a great crew of ppl who we ended up traveling to Athens with (Wade-Aus, Rory-Irish, Spencer-Can, Sarah-Aus, Cathryn-US, and me brent dave and dan).....anyways, other highlights included the Americans (about 200) who were fun to party with, but at that time we also had a crew of our own, a great kayak trip, the Crazy ATV trip and the toga party. Side story...back to the "Your Mom," and "F- You" that Dave so loved to say, especially drunk, led to a pretty funny happening. So dave kept telling Matt, the bartender, about his mom, yada yada, therefore Matt kept making Dave drink more....leading to Dave getting FAF and going to the room and passing out. Therefore, Dan filled a bucket full of water, we all snuck to our room and threw it on Dave......but, he was so drunk, he didn't flinch, or even know it happened. The video of it is priceless. This also led to me and brent being locked out of our room. We tried boosting brent through the bathroom window, to know luck, so I took it upon myself (while hammered) to scale the balconies from Dan and Jesse's room to ours. However, this also involved a little leap to another balcony...all the while about 20ft up or more! I made it to our balcony to find that also locked......how did i rescue myself you ask? Well i went to another balcony, knocked on their patio door, walked through their room and let myself out! hahah.....later we found the key on the ledge of the bathroom window.....

First, the toga party was awesome! Everyone dresses in a pink toga, eats dinner, and then there's a disco. It's highlighted by the owner Dr. George carrying a table in his mouth that's on fire, plates being broken on his head, and a ring of fire around him.....then to top it off, we all get massive shots of Ouzo from a bucket! what a timeeeee!

The ATV tour was a sick 4 wheel trip all over the island, with some beauty spots. However, this was crazy bc a couple Brock &Emily were on it. She was only a little girl, and when we were driving up a cliff (with no guard rails) she punched it, and literally went straight off the cliff! Seeing it, we all thought she was a goner, but somehow she managed to catch a branch of some shrub, and only went down like 50 ft! the 4 wheeler went down a few hundred! She walked away with minor injuries, but it was crazyyyyy. Cristo, the tour guide, was the man too....he seemed like he belonged in a porn or something! haha

All in all, this place was awesome. Not just for the party, but the price is right too. At the time it was like 14 Euros a day, which gave you a decent 2-3 person room, breakfast, lunch and a 3 course dinner!! It really was sick. Plus this is where I learned to bartend the FLYING SAUCER, which would come in handy in Portugal.

Incredible Croatia



Well upon leaving Krakow late at night, Brent and I were venturing all the way down to Croatia, via Vienna. Taking a sleeper car to Wien, we lucked out and had ourselves to the room. I was out like a light, and apparently snoring like a madman to the chagrin of the people in the next room I was told! haha. Anyways, we made it to Vienna where we had to wait a long time to catch anther train to Split, Croatia.....all in all it was a 27 hour journey, but very beautiful. Once we finally got going again, we were astonished by the beauty of the Alps in Austria! They were really amazing. We were also lucky again, as we had a whole cabin to ourselves, and decided to get on the bottle.

** I believe at this time Brent and I were very well considered alcoholic.....no joke**

Passing through Slovenia, we made it to the Croatian Capital of Zagreb, where we had to switch trains....unfortunately we were shit out of luck once again...or so we thought. Upon getting on the train, we found ourselves in a very similar situation as when we left Assclaw, going to Krakow. We set up shop on our bags again, but this time we had good fortune. A female usher came to us and asked where we were going, disappeared, then returned to tell us to follow her. Getting some mighty dirty looks from other commuters, we were taken to a cabin that was occupied....however, she opened the door, kicked an old man and told him to sit up, and gave Brent and I two seats! What a doll she was! Again, with some dirty looks flashed our way, we weren't too comfortable. But, out of nowhere, one of the guys spotted our Canadian flags (cliche yes, but does actually come in handy!) and proceeded to tell us that he had previously lived in Vancouver for a period of time. After a long chat, he left us, and soon we arrived in Split.

Split

Arriving with the sunrise, we didn't know where to go, and were a bit out of it. We also knew that we wouldn't be able to check into the hostel for some time, so we just sat down on the main promenade and enjoyed quite a beautiful boardwalk. Eventually, after regaining some energy, we set out to find the hostel....which became quite a task in this tiny walled town....but eventually we found it. However, upon checking in, the dink who worked there (and i think had a broad in the common room with him) wouldn't let us check in yet, so we had to go back out and kill some time. Actually, when we were initially looking for the room there was this old guy who kept trying to convince him to go with him....throughout our 2 days there we kept running into him, which was good for a laught...guess you had to be there. Anyways, we stayed at the Silver Gate Hostel (recommended, again, by the Gorsebrook fools) and it had a really nice view of the old city.

The little town was like a maze of marble paths, that you could just get lost in, but it was incredibly beautiful. The old town square, St. Dominus Bell Tower, the cathedral, boardwalk, and market were all classic, and actually reminded me a lot of what I expected Italy to be like!
We also made it to a club one night there , which was ok I guess, and we also had quite an entertaining meal with an British guy who had the most ridiculous stories from his travels through South East Asia.

Split was beautiful and I'd love to go there with Andy, but I am afraid it will lose it's appeal if it becomes a tourist trap!

Dubrovnik

We took a bus from Split, going along the Adriatic coast and through a part of Bosnia, to reach Dubrovnik. And let me tell you, the coast is beautiful, but it's like taking a bus here in the Philippines...you honestly think you're going off the cliff at any moment! Actually, when we made a pit stop in Bosnia, we ended up meeting a guy, Jessie, from Fredericton....he simply saw Brent's X-ring, and knew we had a Maritime connection. Upon making it to this city, we were at a loss from the beginning. Once getting off the bus, we were bombarded by old ladies trying to get us to rent a room (again, just like the Phils!), but we got out of there and took a public transit bus down to the old wall city. Little did we know that our hostel was far away. What made it even worse was that we forgot to write down any information about the hostel! haha......after a few hours, and getting pretty pissed at each other, and thanks to the girl at the local tourist bureau letting us use her comp, we finally made it to "Yuitsi's" ? I think...hahah....anyways, it was a family run hostel, and it was amazing!! haha. The son ran it and was so excited "HEY BOYS," the mom was cute and just sort of out of it, always just commenting "oh my god," and the dad was a beauty. He actually had just came back from Bosnia, and decided to share his homemade brew with us (moonshine)...needless to say, we were all in a good mood. This is where we also met Dave & Dan, whom we'd travel almost the next month with! Dave was from London, Ontario, and just a youngin', while Dan was actually Jesse's buddy from Fredericton, and it so happened that we had many mutual friends....more about them later.

Anyways, we made it to the old city, which was really cool. Still in great shape, you can walk all the way around the old city on the top of the wall, and some really spectacular sights! The pictures speak for themselves. I'd love to go back, but again, very touristy. This is also where, when walking within the old city, a ton of pigeons flew by my face, so I promptly shaved the beard I was growing when I got home. SICK!! We also went for a swim at a nice beach....my first time encountering a stone beach! And the water was frigid, but it was all good because I found some money on the way home! haha. That night we had to make some hard decisions where to go, and we decided on going to Corfu, Greece....and more importantly THE PINK PALACE. However, we took strange routes. Dan and Jesse decided to go by land through some sketchy countries, while me, Brent and Dave went by sea. However, you can't go directly to Greece, so we had to cross the Adriatic, stay the night in Bari, Italy.....where we slept in a park....and then made it eventually to Greece!

Croatia is definitely one of the most beautiful places we went!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Krakow - Round #2

So, as I mentioned, Brent talked me into going back to Krakow instead of going to Budapest. It really wasn't all that bad of a decision, I mean Hungary would have been cool...and it would have been cool if the dinks at the hostel wouldn't have taken my deposit....but Krakow was good, our buddy/ hostel employed party guy Chris from Britain was still there, and we knew good times were in store. When we first got there, we just rolled up to Tutti Frutti, as we had no reservations and didn't think it would be a problem, however, there were no beds to be had, so we booked for the following nights and ended up going to the Flamingo Hostel across the town square. The next night we moved back to Tutti Frutti, where we'd stay for 2 more nights. That night I ended up going out with a few Brits and a Welsch guy and a couple British birds, which turned out to be sooo funny. After a hard night of boozing, we made our way back to the hostel, which of course on the way we got a few Kebabs (of which the chubby brit was craving). Anyways, once we got back to the hostel we mowed down on the kebabs, and the fat one starts singing about them....well next thing you know he's up on the kitchen table and whammo off goes the pants and he's commando.....everyone lost it, including the girl who worked there, who had just walked in.....quite the end to the night.
Other interesting happenings were grabbing a bite to eat with Brent and some Aussie who had the most ridiculous story about being gored at the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona...he also couldn't resist saying "Yeah....Righttt" when he was at a loss for words! Also there was a little mouthpiece Aussie girl who was in our room ( who actually was on a British reality show recently about Aussie girls getting lessons in being a lady in Britain!!). She had a mouth like a sailor, and let it fly after finding out Brent's gal, whom we came from Prague with, was just leading him on. Hahaha, good ol' Krakow. Love that place!

Praha-ably Still Drunk



Well, after the gongshow known as Oktoberfest, we continued our journey onto Prague. However, right from the get go we didn't have the best of time. Again, the train seemed to be almost over booked, so we were facing the possibility of no seat. The three of us ended up splitting up, and it was every man for himself. Luckily, I got a decent seat behind some teenagers who seemed rather upbeat. I was still half in the bag, they shared some vodka, and one of them had a rather entertaining Borat impression, which all led to a decent ride, but leading to a killer hangover. When we got to Prague, we were all still a bit messed up, shared our stories, and ventured off to find the Elf Hostel. I'll give you a recap I wrote immediately after we left " Prague- probably the most overrated place so far I think. Nice sites, but so touristy, and it was dirty. Our hostel was brutal - 3 seat cushions to sleep on!! - The walking tour, Kunta Hora and Torture museum were good though. Probably all due to my massive hangover."

And that gives you an idea. The hostel wasn't the best at all, but met a cool guy from BC who me and brent ventured to Kunta Hora with to check out a Bone Church! Literally, in the basement of this place, everything was made of bones! Even the coat of arms. It was cool, but not sure if it was worth the time....The walking tour and sites of Prague were pretty nice indeed (town square and clock, St. James Cathedral, Charles Bridge, the canal, the Jewish Quarters, and the Salvador Dali exhibit!) However, looking back, but we didn't have the best weather...which also led to my immediate dislike. Some other things also occurred in this phase. During our 5 night stay, Nat decided to take off on his own way to meet a friend in Slovakia, while Brent and I were supposed to head to Budapest....however, he was a little infatuated with a certain lady, so we ended up traveling back to Krakow for a few days!

Prague.....it was pretty good, and I think I'd like to give it a 2nd try. Definitely touristy though.

Monday, June 14, 2010

OKTOBERFEST!!!!!!! das boooooooooooooot


Well, we finally made it to the gong show known as Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany. When we pulled into the train station, you could just tell it was going to be nuts. People were all over the place in the train station, camping out basically. **NOTE for anyone who is backpacking through, you're almost just as well off trying to crash somewhere instead of reserving....we booked at WOMBATS in munich...nice place, but there were tons of ppl who definitely didn't belong and just slept in rooms on the floor at the common rooms...it was ridiculous**

Anyways, upon making our way to Wombats Hostel in the rain, we checked in and headed straight to the grounds. Luckily for us we got right into one of the beer halls....i can't remember which company....Schotenheimal? (Any Germans reading this help me! haha)....but it was everything you'd think of......HUGE steins of beer, girls and guys in their traditional dress, Bavarian music....it was just silly! We met a group of american girls who we drank with and hung out with. Oddly enough, there is like a fair attached to the beer grounds...whoever puts rides and booze together is an idiot...but anyways we checked that out for a while and finally we drunkenly made our way back to the hostel.

Early in the am...like 730am! we trekked back to the grounds in order to try to get into another beer hall....well that didn't work cause literally tens of thousands of poeple were already there....after going for lunch at a little hall, we pushed our way into a beer garden and somehow ended up at a table with some Americans and Kiwi's...initially we were just using their table to buy beer ( you can't buy beer unless you're at a table), but next thing you know we were in the mix, and I was at the table with a group of middle aged Scots who were at the table next to us! These guys were awesome! We were literally there all day, and pounded back double digits of those massive steins! We were also witnesses of the bouncers cleaning house! They don't care what happens, but they'll knock your fucking head off, as we saw a few times!! haha Some of the other highlights were the continuous playing of John Denver "Country Roads" people chanting the Seven Nation Army beat by the White Stripes....but to the tune of "ALL THE ENGLISH GO HOMMEEEEE" And i believe a few more doozies were in the mix too...
Unfortunately, this was also the beginning of the end for our trio....After I went for a delicious bratwurst, I can back to Brent and Nat not in the friendliest of moods....soon after in Prague we would go our separate ways.......However, we werent there yet. When we got back to the hostel, after a litle pass out/nap, we made it down to the hostel bar for a few more rounds, and ridiculousness incurred yet again...including a few guys in Russian womens boblsed uniforms! Looking back, this was one of the most fun experiences of my life!

WIEN-ner schnitzel


Well, our 4 night adventure in Krakow then took us to Vienna for 3 nights. Of course this was a place that we wanted to see, however, remember that we were in and out of these places b/c our ultimate destination was OKTOBERFEST!

Anyways, we made it into Vienna, Austria, and it was actually a pleasant surprise. We stayed at the Hostel Ruthensteiner, which was a nice little place....very friendly people, met a few cool ones. Unfortunately, two incidents occurred involving Americans....1st, there was some jackass playing the smoooth role, thinking he was gods gift to women...especially when he tried to overtake some Spaniards who were singing. This arsehole jumps on the piano to try and woo some broad...anyways he all but got booed out of the place......the 2nd story involves a gut from Tallahassee.....I don't know why I remember that, but i do....anyways, me and brent were talking to him and some people..he was a really nice guy, and then a few blond girls from Iceland end up coming and sitting with our group...anyways to make this short, then asked where we were all from, then got up and left b/c they said "we don't like Americans." I guess sometimes it isn't all that great to be a Yank.

Anyways, the buildings and architecture of Vienna was really something else. The city really was beautiful, and there were some wicked sights from the observation deck of St. Stephen's (?) Cathedral. There were also some wicked statues of a little boy giving the finger, and guys punching horses....WTF! haha

Aside from those things.....me and brent creeped on people with my trusty little mirror....we ate a full weiner schnitzel meal....which was basically a deep fried platter....just like Uncle Moe's Family Feedbag (for you Simpson's lovers)...and we went on a pretty sweet pub crawl, highlighted by someone singing kareokee to.......yes you guessed it...the HOFF's "Baywatch Theme Song!"

So Long Austria....until I visit Josef!

Krazy Krakow


Again, due to my severe lack of writing.....as if I've been doing something important....it has been quite sometime that I have continued my Eurotrip extravaganza recap.....anyways, as you all remember we had just completed the Train Ride from Hell and arrived in Krakow in the early morning. I do remember that it was a crisp morning and we knew we were in the East! The first impressions of the city were pretty good. It looked old, yet very beautiful...however, we had a hell of a time finding out hostel....yes...the TUTTI FRUTTI. Eventually we did find it, and made our way upstairs to find the receptionist in a bit of a pickle....as in the common room there was a rather good sized lad passed out, with his ass half hanging out! haha....welcome to Krakow....anyways, since we were all still messed from our journey, we went to the room and crashed. Upon waking, the fella with his ass hanging out, turned out to be in our room along with his buddy. Shane and Mark....two Irish beauties, who we ended up hanging out with quite a bit and sharing some good times. I don't really remember the sequence of happenings while in Krakow, but we did party quite a bit, hit up a few pretty good bars and pubs. We were there actually during the RUGBY WORLD CUP, so we went to the Irish Embassy Pub, to catch a few of the heartbreaking defeats of the Irish...yet still had a good time!

Then for a literally sobering experience (Nat coaxed me into going early, even though we were both hung over) me and Nat made it out to Auschwitz Concentration Camp. And when I say sobering, I am deadly serious. The importance of this place literally smacks you right in the face....and it is one place that I will forever be thankful that we visited. Now unfortunately, not everyone took this place quite so seriously, as we saw a girl posing for risque pics in front of an oven.......but for the most part the people there were very respectful... I must say, and in the right context...it is quite beautiful there, in the fact that you totally feel what happened there, and you learn a lot.

Finally we made it back for a few more good times....including a trip to ROOSTERS ( the polish version of Hooters) where we went for Brent's birthday! This place was recommended by the Gorsebrook folks (jackasses...for those of you who don't know, these are our friends who went to different Junior High Schools back in Halifax).....however, our waitress didn't seem to care about Brent or his birthday as she aptly put it " So what?"

This was not mine nor Brent's last experience with Krakow......Off to Austria!!

Grand Turk Finale


Well, I guess I didn't really do a good job of keeping up to date with my blogging, as I had intended...in fact the whole "fit" trip I had planned didn't really go so well once my brother got to Grand Turk, as we ended up drinking almost everyday, and I also ate incredibly poor for the most part ( a trend that has carried over somewhat back here in Manila).

Anyways, the rest of the my vacation was pretty great. It was quite nice to be with the family again after about 1.5 years, and I really think we all enjoyed it. The 2nd half of the trip was highlighted by a trip to Salt Cay, where we got to swim, feed, hold, etc Stingrays! I also ate some raw conk....which was actually pretty good! Aside from that, I completed my Advance Open Water Scuba Diving, where I got to see reef sharks, sea turtles, stingrays, barracuda, tons of tropical fish and a drop off of about 6000 feet +.....pretty cool! It actually looks like the end of the world...just underwater! haha

Other than that we spent some quality time boozing around Margaritaville at the Cruise Center, and just a lot of talking...as that's what we do best! haha. Once Ryan left, things were a lot more quiet. I spent a few more relaxing days working on my tan, and then I left for Miami. There I did some power shopping...mostly for Andy, and then I had the long journey home!

Since I've been back, things have been great! School starts today, so I'm back in the grind of daily life, and looking forward to my next adventure with Andy