Sunday, September 5, 2010

SIdetracked and really lazy

Sorry everyone for not updating for so long. Take it as a sign that my time in England have been wonderful, particularly my time in Cornwall. It's a beautiful region, lots of natural beauty. I am leaving for the Netherlands on Tuesday to visit my aunt. I will probably stay for two weeks and then move on to France. I will try to catch up during that time. I hope everyone is well back in the states, and I hope you are all with me.
I shall be back, I promise.
Bao

Monday, July 26, 2010

A night in Zurich

We woke up early and headed for the Prague airport. Unfortunately our flight was very late and we were worried we would might miss our connection. Luckily for us we made it with about 10 minutes to spare. Our arrival in Zurich was late in the day, we found our hostel and then walked around as the sun was setting. As with everywhere else we have traveled so far, it was really hot. What made it worst were our Canadian roommates. They didn’t like the noise outside so they decided to close the window, making our room a makeshift steam room, without the steam. Because we wanted to be polite we decided not to open them. I slept alright, but was sweating the whole night. Marra had a difficult time sleeping and woke up early enough to take a morning stroll and watch the sun rise over the lake. I woke up to find Marra gone, but I got prepared anyway. Our Canadian roommates were still sleeping with their blankets on. We both thought it was weird. Breakfast was some bakery goods from a grocery store and then we went for a stroll before going on our way to Gimmelwald.

Prague

We arrived later in the day on the train and the walk to Old Prague Hostel felt long due to wheeling the large suitcase over the cobblestones. We dropped our gear in our room and headed for Charles Bridge, walking through the old town square where the World Cup Soccer match was being shown on a large screen to a very large crowd. The view of Prague as the sun was setting was breathtaking. We returned to the square and ate at a nice restaurant. Marra ordered the beef tongue which was really tasty. The next morning we made a last minute decision to hire a tour to the bone church and Kutna Hora. The number of human bones used to decorate the church was overwhelming. In Kutna Hora we took a walking tour of the town and ate a traditional Czech meal. Upon returning to Prague we took a walk up to the castle. As we were walking around we were approached by a woman advertising a string quintet that was going to be playing in about an hour. We decided to attend and had the benefit of hearing wonderful classical music. On our last day full day in Prague we visited the Jewish Museum. At that point we decided to split up and Marra did some shopping while Bao walked around taking pictures. We met back up at the Hostel and headed for the Mucha Museum. To save some money we picked up some items from the grocery store and used the hostel kitchen to make dinner. While we ate we met some new friends whom we decided to go to a club with later in the evening, ending our adventures in Prague.

Bao’s note: Absinth is nasty!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

A Stop in Dresden

This morning we started our across continent travels. The ending destination for the day was Prague but we planned an excursion in Dresden since it is on the way. We booked EuRail passes before we left Iowa for our longer travel days. Once we made it to Hauptbahnhof station in Berlin we found the ticket office to get our passes validated. The train platform was full of people. Once we boarded the search was on for seats. We quickly found two seats together and stowed our belongings. Not long after the train began moving a lady came and stated she had reserved the seat Bao was sitting in. He searched different cars for open seats. Fortunately he found two together a couple of cars up from where we started. We sat across from two women from Minnesota. We commented on how much the country side resembled home. Our two hours on the train were complete as we arrived in Dresden. Bao commented on how Dresden resembled his mental picture of what Europe should look like. We walked down the main street towards the large attractions which led us to a shopping area. Marra had a great time searching the racks for new wardrobe additions while Bao wandered the rest of the store. At this point we split up (not intentionally, at least on Marra’s part) and explored the area individually.

Bao’s journey:

While Marra was trying on the clothes, I decided to go take a look around for a while. A while turned into a long time because the buildings were so beautiful. In the hour that we were separated, I was able to cover most of the historical buildings in the center of Dresden. On the way, I met

Marra’s journey:
After finding a lot of great deals at C&A, I went looking for Bao without success. Since we had already figured out the time for departure from Dresden I decided to start exploring. Over the buildings I could see the dome of the Brühlsche Terrasse and made my way towards it. I walked though a grand gateway and found the Fürstenzug (Procession of Princes) which led me to the Frauenkirche (Church of our Lady). At this point a saw the first of four wedding processionals. I started walking around smaller back streets and stumbled upon Turmaufzug. I was not really sure what it was but I noticed people getting in an elevator and a price of €3 and a description written in German. I decided to hold off on checking into what it was hoping that I would run into Bao and we could explore together. I headed back towards the main street and journeyed over to the Zinger and Residenzschloss (Royal Palace). I needed to rest for a bit and found a beautiful tree canopy with benches that overlooked the river. Ten minutes later Bao found me and we continued to sit and relax, taking in the refreshing breeze and nice view.


With 90 minutes remaining until the train we wandered the streets and returned to Turmaufzug to investigate where the elevator would take us for €3. We walked into the courtyard and a few people were getting out of the small elevator in the side of an old stone building. We asked if it was worth the price and they confirmed it was. The elevator only goes between the ground floor and the seventh floor, at that point we saw a wonderful view of Dresden from all sides. We knew we were in for a treat when we saw a second elevator that would take us up to the eleventh floor. Not only were the views breathtaking but we found ourselves up close with all the statues on the top of the building. We quickly made our way back to the train station and narrowly made it before it started pulling out of the station. Dresden was a nice contrast to Berlin and Bao is excited at the thought of going back to paint there later in his travels.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Last of Berlin

On our last day in Berlin, we walked to Museum Island from our hostel. There we found the glorious Berlin Cathedral with a beautiful copper dome. We walked up along the river and made our way to the Pergamon Museum to see the Greek altar for which it is named from 180-160 B.C. The other most impressively large piece is the Babylonian Processional Way that leads to the Gate of Ishtar. The colors are grand as are the pictorials of lions that lead the way. Our next planned stop for the day was to Brandenburg Gate. On our way Marra got distracted by a Swarovski crystal store. We then made it to Brandenburg Gate followed by a short walk over to Reichstag, the Parliament building. The wait to get in was long and hot because they only let in a few people at a time but the architecture and views of Berlin made it well worth it. Like most places in Berlin, it was hot. Air-conditioning is not common despite the warm temperatures. The lack of humidity makes walking around much more tolerable than what we experienced in NYC or a typical summer day in Iowa. After seeing all the sights we were ready for some food, we decided on bratwurst from a street vendor next to Branderburg Gate. By that point we were exhausted, sweaty and very ready for some rest back at the hostel. Near our train stop we stopped in a huge department store like grocery store. After short naps we spent some time down in the lobby of the hostel and met Eli and his father from Vancouver. There was a lot of nerd speak and art talk before we hopped back on the train in attempts to find a shopping center but it was too late in the evening and they were all closed. The night was capped off with a walk in the neighborhood around Wombats Hostel where we finally found the Berlin art scene that had been eluding us since we arrived.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Berlin!

The European leg of the journey started with a very hot morning in NYC with walking to the post office and finishing packing. The trip to JFK airport from Mickey’s apartment in Washington Heights took about two hours. After checking in with Air Berlin and making it thought airport security without hassle we were rewarded by an uncomfortable seven hour flight with little sleep but great food and entertainment by the cute babies sitting across the aisle from us. Our connecting flight to Berlin included a stop in Dusseldorf, Germany where we literally ran through the airport to get to our gate on time because we only had one hour scheduled and our flight from JFK arrived late. We were very glad to make it to the Tegel International Airport in Berlin. We did not have to wait long for the checked luggage as Bao’s bag was one of the first off the plane. After Marra figured out the transit system (Bao was a little mentally slowed by the lack of sleep) we arrived at The Wombat’s Hostel, we dropped our bags and started exploring the city.

After two weeks in NYC, Berlin is very slow in comparison. That didn't mean we took it slow though. We decided to push through and explore for the rest of the day in attempts to get our internal clock synchronized with the local time. We decided to go see some museums thinking that they would be free four hours before closing. Unfortunately, not all of them were involved in this. We did see the glorious Stadtschloss palace courtyard since it was open to the public. It was a beautiful view, kind of hot because of the sun, but otherwise cool in the shade. Unlike NY, there's little humidity here.

After the palace and a Picasso Museum, we were ready for relaxation (Bao fell asleep on the train) and decided to head back to the hostel to finish checking in and shower. It was a great decision. I showered and then took a nap while Marra went to get her nails done. An hour later, we met up again and continued to look for museums. On the way, we got sidetracked by a cluster of cool buildings and then by the Sony Center. It was a great place to hang out, very beautiful.

As we walked to The Gemäldegalerie nearby, we passed by the Berliner Philharmonie buildings. Marra thought they look like two golden crowns. We spent about an hour in the museum, because both of us were about done with the day and because they were closing. On the way back to the subway, we popped in the Sony Center again to see it all lit up for the night. We ended the evening with some pizza accompanied by local German beer. We were both too exhausted to talk and had the unfortunate luck to have sat at a table with very stereotypical fashion models in town for Berlin Fashion Week. The hostel has a bar on the top floor and we got the opportunity to talk with some other American’s. The plan today, more museums and parks, and maybe some shopping!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Good Bye NEW YORK!


So, the two weeks have come to an end. I had an amazing time and am very glad I took it pretty easy. Marra had a blast too, even though she's been here much shorter than I have. We tried to get up early this morning to send some stuff back home. No souvenirs from me, just extra weight I'm glad to be rid of. We will be leaving for JFK Airport in about 2 hours. Our flight will be around 5:45pm. There will be a layover in Dusseldorf, Germany, and then we will reach Berlin around 9am. I will hopefully have my cell phone set up later in the day and will try to call home(thanks again Monty).

If you haven't already, check the web album for updates and to see what happens when we're heated up.