16 August 2007

Post trip wrap-up (link to photos at end of post)

Ok, I know that I've been home for nearly two weeks, but I've gotten some emails and it appears that several people would like me to wrap up my trip - to share my final thoughts, I suppose.

Well, quite honestly, I have been trying to write up something since the day I returned, but nothing, nothing, that I've put down has A. made any sense, and B. really expressed just how this trip affected me.

So, with that bear with me as I try to put into words, how the last 8-10 weeks affected and changed my life..
My trip began, really, sometime in 2006 when I got an email from Patty telling me that I was going to be invited to her wedding in 2007. Europe, I thought. That's for rich people (honestly, thats what I thought). I never would have imagined that taking a trip to Europe, even for a few weeks was within my meager budget.
But the more I began to research online, the more and more possible a trip to Cyprus became - and the more possible a trip to Cyprus became, the more possible a trip through Europe became.

I wont get into boring details here, because, well, they're boring. But over the next few months (Sept '06 through June '07), I learned that not only was a trip like that completely within my budget (ok, I am lying), but it was a done deal. I was going to take a leap of faith (within myself) and take the journey that would turn nearly everything I presumed (and assumed) about the world on its ears.
The trip through Europe was something, I've said, that changed me. It isn't like I can put my finger on a specific moment when all of a sudden the sky opened, the angels sang, and my life was changed. No. It's more of a building up toward something.

During the last eight weeks, each experience, from making life-long friends in Athens, to the old woman and the cheese on the train from Sofia, to the friends I made in Florence, Italy, built up as well a broke down several walls that had been living inside me. My perceptions about the world and the people in it were not only changed, some of them were vanished completely (to be fair, some perceptions, er (read: stereotypes) were actually strengthened).

But enough of all that. The trip was amazing. One of the questions that I keep getting from people is 'What was your favorite part of the trip?'
Honestly, when I close my eyes and think about it, so many memories come flooding back that it's hard to pick just one that stands out more than another. How do you choose between sitting under the 'singing fountain' in Prague with two new friends, and sitting in cafe in Rome drinking espresso and watching the world go by? I simply can't.
<--Sitting under the singing fountain with James in Prague..

Sitting and watch the world go by in Rome --->

So, with all of that said, it was, indeed, a life-changing trip. And like I said, I can't put my finger on the exact moment that my life was changed (man that sounds SO corny). But it was. And if I don't know the moment at which it was changed, I do (at least) know the reason for the change - it definitely wasn't seeing 4567 old buildings - though to be honest, seeing buildings that have withstood hundreds, sometimes thousands of years, really made me feel as though I need to get on the ball and either build something or make a lasting impression on the world somehow (today this blog, tomorrow the world??). Seeing something that has been around for 2500 years is, to say the least, humbling.

No. I think what had the most effect on me was, of course, all the people - from the local citizens of each city and country that I met and spoke to, to the many, MANY travelers that I met and befriended. Meeting new people is always fun, and I think, that with each person you meet, you take away something important as much as you give a part of yourself. I learned SO much from each person that I met - whether the learning that took place was about myself or my country, or about them and their country/culture. It's amazing and incredibly humbling to realize that while America is a powerful force in the world, most people get by in their daily lives without ever thinking of us (amazing, I know).

So, that is my wrap up. There is a ton more that I could have written here and if you've spoken to me recently, you know that this blog isn't even 1/2 of what happened, there is so much more, but those stories are better told in person - preferably over drinks (preferably if you're buying)...

It was a long and exciting (and expensive) trip, but the stories that I now have, the friends that I've now made, and the perception through which I now view the world was more than worth it. I simply cannot wait to head out on my next adventure, and whether it brings me back to Europe, South America, or Africa I know that for each experience that I have, each person I meet, (and each dollar I spend), I will be better off for it.

Thank you all so much for reading. It really meant a lot to me to see that people (not just the required family members) were taking an interest in my trip. Throughout the trip, I took roughly 900 photos.. Out of those, I've put up about half and I am adding more each day. You can check them out at:

John's Picasa Web Albums

Also, and on a lighter note, the biggest physical change would have to be my hair. Before I left I was bald. But over the last 2 months, I've decided to let it grow out a bit.

I think I might stick with the hair for a while. I mean, if I can still grow it, I might as well.. Thanks again,


15 August 2007

And I'm home..

Damn. It all went by much too fast. I'll post a complete update in a few days. I'm in NY and jetlagged... Zzzzzzzzzz

08 August 2007

OK, so yeah.. Florence, Italy..

Well, here we go. Another day, another update...

The last time I updated this was in Barcelona (I think, the days and places are running together quite well).. So, since then, Ive been to Barcelona, Valencia, Ibiza, back to Barcelona, Rome, Naples, and now sitting here in Florence...

Let me start with Barcelona.. Not really much to say. I love the Spanish food, drink, and of course their idea that taking two hours off in the middle of the afternoon is a good idea (it is, in fact, a GREAT idea!). But, as much as I loved the city, I really didnt take to it too. It was a nice place, plenty of markets, pubs, places to eat, etc, but it was hot, smelly, and for the most part, boring. We had with us a stragler by the name of Greg, whom we met in San Sebastian who came with us to get drinks and to eat for two or three days (really, after a while, enough was enough, get back to your own vacation, kid!). There were plenty of things to see and do and we did some of them. It was hot though, so we moved on...

From Barcelona we went to Valencia. Ho hum. I had heard it was a nice fishing village with plenty of beaches and great places to eat. It was. However, it was much bigger than I expected (or liked) and it smelled. The people we nice though. I wouldnt go back, but it was a nice addition to the trip.

From Valencia, we caught the ferry to Ibiza. Yeah. Ibiza. It was pretty much as I expected it to be. Which was, of course, crazy. We avoided the huge 50 euro entry fee clubs (about 70 US dollars) and went to the other side of the island and partied at an Irish pub. It was, to say the least, an incredible time. Sort of like Vegas but with, well, more, Vegas..

After Ibiza, we caught the ferry (just barely, we were the last ones on it and they had to put the gangplank back down for us) to Barcelona.. We caught a flight from there to Rome.

Rome was incredible. Mind bending, even. How can you describe something like that. You cant. So I wont. I took a ton of pictures though, but even those dont do it justice. I was and still remain, without words..

Yawn.. There is more, but its like 5am, I just got in from the bar and Im tired. We're leaving Florence tomorrow morning and heading to Cinque Terre, which is a series of 5 fishing villages on the western coast. The hike is supposed to be beautiful. From there we go to Venice and then Interlaken, Switzerland for a little fun and adventure.

Ok.. So I am going to bed.. I only have a week left before I fly home - a fact which I am finding myself terribly saddened by. There is so much more I want to do, so much more I want to see.

Oh, that brings me to my final thought.. We went to the Vatican yesterday and to the Sistine Chapel.. It was, as I expected, an amazing experience. But it was just that, an experience. While I was there, there were people snapping picture after picture without even taking a look at what they were taking the picture of. It seemed as though they wanted to take the picture just to say they were there! That bothers me a bit. While Ive been in Europe there have been a TON of things that I havent seen or done, but I am confident in saying that Ive more than made up for that by taking the time to know some of the locals. Like I said before, Ive met some amazing people - people who I wouldnt have met had I been waiting in queue for one historical thing of another. I came here not to SEE Europe, but to experiece it. I think in that sense Ive been extremely successful. Hopefully, if youve been reading along, you would agree.

Ok, enough for now. Ill try to update when I can...


30 July 2007

The update you´ve been looking for..

Hola from San Sebastian, Spain.. This update will be a bit longer, since I am sitting here not doing much of anything...

Ok, so I spend last week traveling through Germany, into Amsterdam, through Brussels and into Paris. I met up with Katie (my friend and co-worker) on Thursday morning, and from there we chucked our stuff into the hotel and went out to explore the city of lights..

Before I get into Paris, let me digress a bit.. I love Germany. I was in Munich for a day and a half and I have to tell you, that it is on the short list of places I could picture myself living in. It has parks, beer halls, culture, history, beer halls, parks, beer halls, beer halls.. Er, sorry.. I also took a side trip into Amsterdam to explore what everyone says is one of the most beautiful cities in Northern Europe - blech! I am SURE there is more to see than what I saw in my half-day city hike, but any place that has women in the window beckoning me to come and join them for 20 minutes isn´t a place I could consider beautiful. I left as soon as the train schedule said I could..

Ok, so Paris

What an amazing place! Aside from the fact that everything is incredibly expensive (4 Euros for a Sprite with ice!!?), the people somewhat rude, and the air a bit colder than I´d prefer, Paris is, indeed, an amazingly beautiful city.

The first day, we went right to the Champs-Elysees and walked the mile or so (actually, it was much further, but I kept telling Katie that it ´wasn´t that far..´) to the Arc de Triumph, which apparently Napoleon had built to honor the Army of France.. hmmm.

Anyway, the next day we hopped on the Metro and made our way to the Eiffel Tower which, when we got there, we found a line that at first looked hours long, but quite surprisingly, moved rather quickly. Our excitement soon faded slightly when we got close to the ticket booth we were all informed that the very top of the tower was closed. Slightly disappointed, we took the lift only to the second level, which, though much lower than the top, still provided us with an incredible view of all the little Parisians running to and fro on their way to do whatever it is that Parisians do - buy cheese, I guess..

After Paris, we took the night train to Biarritz, which, if you look at a map of France, is right in the northern crook on the Atlantic side where Frace meets Spain. We were there for a night and discovered that not only was the surf pumping - almost overhead, but Biarritz has a thriving surf community, including several ex-pat San Diegans. It was a nice, scenic place, I sort of see it as California might have been in the 1960´s before the surf explosion (beach blanket bingo, Gidget, etc)- laid back, mellow, low-key.. I could live there.. hmmmm

After a night in Biarritz, we took a quick train to San Sebastian, Spain, which is (if you´re still looking at the same map) a few kilometers south of Biarritz, still in the same crook. I love it here. It has charm. Though I am glad I got here yesterday, because walking down several of the old alley ways, it became apparent that there must have been some sort of urine festival going on because, man, some of those streets smelled!!

Well, urine smell aside, this is the perfect little beach community. On one side there is the ´tanning beach´ that fills up very quickly with topless women and those only looking to frolic in the small surf (if someone knows how to combine the two, send me an email..) Ahem, anyway, on the other side there is the surfing beach. Seeing as the surf was very small here, I only glanced at it for a few minutes before going back to the tanning beach (for research purposes, honest)...

So, now I am in an internet cafe, a few blocks from the water, while Katie is jogging on the boardwalk. I have to meet up with her in 45 minutes, so I am off to shower and get ready.. We´re taking the train to Barcelona tonight...


27 July 2007

A quick update..

In France for the last two days.. I've gotten all the emails and messages and I'm sorry I haven't been able to post any new updates. Germany was amazing. France is beautiful. I picked up Katie at the airport yesterday and we spend the rest of the day, and today exploring Paris. What an incredible place. We're off tonight to make our way to San Sebastion, Spain.

I have some other online stuff to do, but I wanted to let everyone know I am fine, fed, and extremely happy. I'll try to update more in a day or so.

See ya!

22 July 2007

Pacific Beach + Old Buildings = Prague

Well, I know I said I was going to take Berlin, but once having gotten there the other morning, I looked around, walked around, saw the Reichstagg, took a picture of me in front of it, and then hopped a train to Prague.

On the train from Poland to Berlin, the most amazing thing happened.. I ran into 5 girls from Moldova who were on their way to Uni to be teachers. We started talking and long story short they all started singing Modovian folk songs for me. It was beautiful.

Prague. The very name has stuck in my head since I saw an episode of Friends when Phoebe tells Monica that she lived there for a few years.. After that, I had to go there.

Ok, seriously, one of the few things I knew about Prague was that Franz Kafka lived and wrote there, and that Hitler so loved the city, he somehow protected it from Allied bombing during WWII.

I see it a bit different.

I got there on Friday moring, walked around in the heat, found an over, OVER priced hostel (seriouslz, Im embarassed to tell zou what it looked like and how much it cost) and then went for a walk around town. I discovered the the city is indeed extraordinarily beautiful. So, after walked around for a few hours, I headed back to my room, showered up and then went to the Mexican plan downstairs for dinner (i know, I told the guy the same thing). While there I met some ex-pat teachers from the States.. It was one of their birthdays, so they invited me to join them for the night. I did and after our burritos, we were off.

Ill save all the details, but I will say that I was extremelz disappointed to find the same PB-Fratboy communitz living in Prague that lives in Pacific Beach - it was crazy. I decided tht I was goign to leave the next morning. I remembered though that I had made sightseeing plans with two of the girls that I met that day. If they didnt show up, I was happy to be out of there..

So, the next morning, one of them shows up and Im extremely glad that she did. We did the complete city tourist thing.. took tons of cheezy photos, saw the sights, met up with the other friends, ran into random Americans (we tend to stand out a bit). And then had dinner and drinks before I hopped the night train to Munich. Which is where I am now.

I arrived this morning and, always wanting to see the Alps, I hopped a two hour train to Innsbruck a mountain city nestled in, well, the Alps. It was exactly what I figured itd be - quiet, quaint, boring.. So, after lunch I hopped back on the train (the conductor was like Mr Schell, weret you on the train HERE).. Now, I am back in Munich at the Wombat Hostel. I have five minutes left so I am going to check some email, and then head out to explore the city.

PS - while i AM taking a ton of pictures, I have no way of uploading them.

19 July 2007

Finally, a favorable exchange rate!!

I spend the last three weeks wondering how I, coming from the "greatest country in the world," could travel somewhere and have my money be next to worthless. Seriously. In Cyprus, the rate was 1USD to .43 CYP, in Europe where the Euro is in use, it is about 1USD to .74E, In England, it was bad, too. I didn't get it. Imagine my surprise when I come to find out that every dollar I spend here, I am actually spending two. Man. I try to be frugal, but it just doesn't happen that way sometimes. I mean, if I can't sit at an outdoor pub, with my book, and a pint or three, why did I even bother coming to Europe in the first place? Yeah, I don't know either..

All that has changed however, when I arrived yesterday in the beautiful and historic city of Krakow, Poland (very strange, as I sit here, someone in playing 'taps' on a bugal). Once I got here, I was quite happy to learn the for every dollar I spend, I am actually only spending 1/3 of a dollar - er, I think. It's like this.. Something here that is worth 100.00YZ (thats Polish money, I think) it actually only costing me about 33.00 - so yeah, a 1/3.

On a serious note, right after I got here yesterday morning, I put my backpack in lockup and headed to the bus station for the 1/5 hour drive out t Auschwitz and Birkenau - both Nazi death and labor camps. To say that it was humbling, to say that standing on the same ground gave me chills, to say that I am not the same person I was yesterday before getting of the bus would be an understatement. Imagine, standing in the same place where over 1.5 million people were systematically killed - imagine seeing the gas chambers (what's left of them, anyway) and imagine seeing the incinerator where at full speed, 1400 bodies a day (24 hours) were cremated. It was an overpowering and sobering experience. I won't soon forget the sight of it.

Which brings me to this... the idea of tourism to places like Auschwitz and, for example Ground Zero, I think aren't necessarily a bad thing.. However, I take exception to those people who, yesterday, chose to pose in front of the barracks, or in front of the "HALT!" signs - c'mon did they really have to be smiling? I mean at least pretend that the weight of the moment and the history of the place isn't lost on you! I mean, 1.5 million people.. Ah well.. I guess if people can pose at Pearl Harbor and Ground Zero flashing smiles and V for victory signs with their index and middle finger (not kidding), they can pose here, too.

OK. So I'm leaving here tonight and catching the overnight train to Berlin. I hoping that I can stand at Checkpoint Charlie and maybe pretend to get shot as I try to run across from East to West.. I think the people I saw yesterday would enjoy that, right?

Let's see.. What have I forgotten.. Oh yeah.. It's incredibly hot here in Poland. Really hot. So I'm doing a lot of late afternoon and evening exploring.. So it was without too much energy expelled and heat stroke that I used my solar powered flashlight and walked around looking for the Submarine Screen Door factory.. I haven't found it yet, but I know it's here. I'm guessing it's very secret because everyone I ask just gives me dirty looks..

One final thing.. Auschwitz and Birkenau aside, I am in love with this city. It is perhaps the most perfect tourist city. Everything is neat, clean and close-by. There are tons of places to eat and everyone seems really friendly and helpful. As I sit here now there is music and conversation drifting in through the window, I hear laughter and smell great food. I honestly don't want to leave. What Serbia has in charm and wit, and what Budapest has in backpackers, Krakow has comfort. I could live here.
Oh, and did I mention how incredibly beautiful the women here are? They are beautiful. Incredibly.

Tomorrow I take Berlin. See ya!

17 July 2007

Vienna, Austria.. Home of Hitler and Weiners..

Well, I survived Bularia, Belgrade, and Budapest.. Now, on to the C's..

Not sure where I left off but I am just finishing up spending three of the most pleasant days in recent memory here in Vienna. This entire city is incredibly beautiful (ok, at this point, I am going to use the kezboard how it is.. because I am on a limited amout of time and its taking me forever to remember that some of the letter kezs are in different places and then having to go back and fix it.. everztime zou see a z, make it a y and vicez-versz)

So, I was in Budapest the other daz and while I was impressed with its ancient-ness and all, it just didnt (the apostrophe is in a different place too, so I am leaving them out as well) do anzthing for me. Honestlz. I walked around, got lost actuallz, and zes, I was impressed with the buildings and everzthing, I mean, thez are amazing, literallz (I am getting a laugh at this y and z business now.. Its reading in mz mind like Ali G).. the Denaube is spectacular (and real) and but I while I was walking around all I kept seeing were pasty white German tourists in their questionable fashion sense, tons of higher-end fashion stores, and (alas, I was one) backpackers everywhere!! Wasnt Budapest supposed to be this mystical place with Turkish baths and and and.. I dont know.. Mazbe I just read into it wrong, but it didnt impress me all that much. The charm that I found in places like Sofia, Bulgaria and Belgrade, Serbia was definitely lacking in Budapest. I was there for 24 hours, saw what I felt I needed to see and then got the heck out of Dodge..

Interestingly enough, it was Bastille Day in France while I was in Budapest so there was this HUGE festival across the Lion Bridge, extending for almost a mile along the Denaube on the Buda side. French flags, french music, french fries, and to drink.. Peru. (anyone getting that reference is my hero).. I dont know, after a three hours of listening to French music, I too would want to give up and let someone else occupy me (wait, can I even say that here??)

But I digress.. I am now, and have been, for the last three days in beautiful Vienna.. Honestlz, I could live here. The city is old. Very, very old. Its a pleasure to walk around here and just get lost (something I have discovered I am verz good at doing) among the old alleyways and shops.. Also, on the train from Belgrade to Budapest I met a new friend who lives here in Vienna. She is originally from Serbia but moved to Vienna at 15 (just after Communism fell - trippy). Anyway, she was nice enough to show me around the last few days. It has been extremely interesting talking with someone who lived through as much as she and her family has.

As much as I love it here, it is incredibly hot and super expensive, so, sadly, I am leaving tonight and heading for Krakow, Poland.

In Poland, I am planning on visiting Aushwicz (I spelled that wrong). It should be sobering reminder of what took place here not too long ago. I think that we should travel to places like that (included is Pearl Harbor, Ground Zero, etc) so that we are and continue to be painfully aware of what can happen when we let our guard down and sit on our laurels for too long.

Ahem.. Ok. enough of that for now. I am going to hop a Metro and make my way down to the Denaube to sit along the banks and watch the world go by.

Thats is for now. I will update more when I can. I am taking the overnight train to Krakow and I should onlz be there for the daz. I think I might actuallz come back to Vienna before heading to Germany and then to France to meet Katie in Paris..

Oh, the answer to the million dollar question from the last post.. She was using her teeth to cut the cheese. Her friggen teeth. Maaaaaaaaan.

See za!

13 July 2007

Finally, an internet cafe!!

Well, here I am in Belgrade, which is the capitol of Serbia. It has been an interesting trip to get here, for sure.

I left Athens on Wednesday and hopped a train to Thessaloniki, which was, apparently, the first capitol of Greece. From what I hear, they still aren't too happy about it. Anyway, on the train I was in my first class 6-person room when I was joined by three women. Over the next 6 hours, they all proceeded to feed me. I have no idea what it was I was eating, but if there is one thing I've learned it's that you should never turn down an sandwich being offered to you, as you never know when you might get around to making one yourself. It was a good sandwich, by the way. Some sort of egg and ham combination.

After a 4 hour wait in Thessaloniki, I finally boarded my sleeper train to Sofia, Bulgaria. Now, I have been in some hot, stagnant weather before, but being in Greece, specificially the Thessaloniki train station gave me a new means in which to define hot, sticky, humid, and stale. I actually felt the sweat dripping down the small of my back - a first for me.

146 hours (or so it seemed) later, I arrived in Sofia. I walked around the city twice trying to find the hostel, but lucky for me, I couldn't so I walked around some more, admired the Communist building design and several left over artifacts from before '90 and then walked back to the train station to find my train.

Ok. Now, I have read all about how there are two kinds of trains that go to Serbia - slow and slower, but again, my defintion of slow was redefined. What was supposed to be an 6 hour trip took about 12 and it all started with my noticing of just how unclean the 1st class accomodations were. They were filthy and in a minute I learned why..

As I'm sitting there, in come about 5 women each weighing in at a healthy 250+. They, of course, chose my room and then within minutes of sitting down, began pulling bags of food from their bags of food! They pulled one of the chairs out and made themselves a nice little spread of, well, I didn't want to look for too long, but I swear I saw a few dead fish - which after a few seconds they, of course, offered to me.

I declined and away we went. After an hour of sitting there smelling and listening to them, it became too much. My line was cross when the oldest of the group shut the window because she was cold! Ahhhhhh I had to get out of there!

So I did. I moved to the next car which, unlike my car, was a smoking car. Now, in Europe, everyone smokes - even the children (or so it would seem). I sat through three hours of smoky haze, glad to be out of the fish car but kicking myself for not trying harder to find another non-smoking car.

It was great though. What an experience it was. In fact, I thought it couldn't be topped until about an hour into Serbia when I was joined by my new friend, 69 year old Narina. It was great she spoke to me in Serbia, I spoke to her in English, we laughed, we joked, we made hand-signals, we were, in fact communicating perfectly. As we traveled, she would take out the occasional sweet and give it to me.. This led to her taking out some bread and giving me that.. Which led to bread and butter, and then bread and feta. I was quite happy with everything until I looked over and saw just how she was cutting up the bread and cheese (you really don't want to know).

The highlight was when she found out I was from America and she told me, "I love America!!" and then, much to the delight of the other passengers, singing 'America the Beautiful' in her oudest voice. It was great!!!

So, that's it for now.. My timer is blinking 4 minutes.. I have to go. Next stop Budapest!

See ya!

10 July 2007

Cyprus was incredible. My friend Patty had a traditional Greek Orthodox wedding, which of course, was all in Greek. I followed as best I could. The part that really stuck out to me was the reception. It appeared, at first, to be a normal wedding reception. However, when the music started everyone got up to dance - not the Macarena or the Chicken Dance.. Not even the electric slide. No. When people got up to dance they did the circle dance and then, later on, they began the individual dancing. It is the dance to show everyone the person's strength. The part that got me was when both Patty's father and her husband's father got up and danced together. I am getting the chills just thinking about it now. It was a very touching moment.

I'm in Athens. It's humbling, to say the least. I mean, here I am standing, little John, all of 33 years old and in front of me is something that was built by men 2500 years ago. Ugh. Words fail me.

While I was in Cyprus, I met my friend Patty's family, most of whom are my age and most of whom live here in Athens. This morning I met up with them and they gave me the insiders tour of the city. We went and did all the "touristy" things, but in addition, I was able to see and hear things that the regular tourists wouldn't. Like, for example, the Communist and Anarchist propaganda graffiti that is spray-painted all over the walls near the University. My friends translated what they could for me (some of the phrases don't translate from Greek to English very well, if at all), and to be honest, it was very intelliget and often quite witty. Seeing the graffiti led to a very deep political conversation with my new friends - having a political conversation with the Greeks. Not only are they well-informed about their country's history and politics, they are very passionate about it as well. It was a nice, refreshing change from the usual, "don't know, don't care" attitude that I often run into at home.

Other than that, things here are going well. I am checked into my hostel for the tonight and I'm planning on leaving for Thessalonaki, Greece tomorrow night, staying there a few hours and then hopping the train to Sofia, Bulgaria. That should be interesting. I am checking in to a highly recommended hostel called HostelMostel..

I'm off for now. Meeting my friend Marina, her boyfriend, and Marina's sister for a drink. I leave you with a few pictures until my next update..

06 July 2007

This page is half English, half Greek!!

Well, I made it to Cyprus.. I had a great, amazing, incredible time in Oxford.. Met some good people, and had some lasting alcohol-induced adventures (if you're reading this mom, I'm totally lying.. I was straight sober the entire time. Honest!) OK, now where was I? Oh yeah, my new friends and I went on a pub crawl through Oxford on our last night, which, I think was Wednesday and due to a very friendly bartender, we got pretty, um, what's the word I'm looking for?

Drunk, I think. Yes, the word I am looking for is drunk. Well, more like fall-down drunk (honest mom, I was sober)

Anyway, we finished up and made it to our bus by 4am, each of us leaving in opposite directions, but promising to email..

I made it to the airport and after what seemed like 3 days (it very well might have been, it took forever to get through security, I arrived in Cyprus - which amazingly enough resembles San Diego! It's pretty trippy. I'm sitting here in an internet cafe on the beach, with the Mediterranean ocean about a hundred yards from me and all I can see is things that remind me of SD - warm weather, girls in bikinis, flip-flips, convertibles, girls in bikinis, the ocean, girls in bikinis,

So, last night we had the 'bedding ceremony for my friend Patty (the reason I am here, in case I haven't mentioned it, is because my friend Patty, whom with I worked in NY moved here a few years ago to be with her boyfriend.. Her wedding is tomorrow)..

The currency conversion. Basically, the dollar is horrible as compared nearly every country in Europe, England especially. In Cyprus, it's no different. For every 1.00 American dollar I have, I have .43 Cyprus cents. Damn.

The ceremony was beautiful though. I met a ton of interesting people, had some incredibly tasty Greek food, and drank some sort of red wine that tasted more like fruit juice than wine. And it was chilled. Strange.

So, that's pretty much it for now. We had the day off today so a new friend and I went for a walk down the beach and went shopping in old town (basically an old town with new products). I had a chicken burger for lunch.

Ummmm, What else? Oh yeah..

While we were standing on the pier taking pictures, we were approached by an older couple from Scotland who offered to take our picture - sure, no problem..

Then they gave us great advice on where to go and what to see.. Cool, even better!

Then they offered to take us to lunch (my spidey sense was beginning to tingle).. We declined

Then they offered to take us to the ruins (spidey sense getting stronger).. We said, "no thanks" and they countered with not only taking us to the ruins, but sticking around and waiting for us as we explored the area (forget the spidey sense, the New Yorker in me was suddenly in full alert 'this is weird mode')

We politely declined (again) and they walked away.

Now, without getting to heavily into why we declined, I'll just say that during the conversation, there were several things said (by them) that indicated that if we had gone, we would have found ourselves in a conversation that would have begun with one of the two saying, "so, have you found Jesus?"

I didn't know he was missing.

More later!

03 July 2007

Greetings from Oxford University... Oxford, Uk.

So, I made it to England.. While I was on the bus to Oxford, I started talking to a guy who was also heading to Oxford. As it turns out, he is returning back to school here from, of all places, Liberia.. So, an hour's bus ride and a long conversation later, here I am posting from the Oxford University Educational Research Dept.'s computer where he is a PhD student.

Anyway, Oxford is beautiful. I am already in love with it here and it's only 1140am. The thousand year old buildings are one thing, but the people - all outwardly warm and friendly and, man, those accents! It makes me almost feel bad to tell them that they are all driving on the wrong side of the road!

Anyway, I am checking into my hostel sometime this afternoon.. After that I shall be out and about in Oxford town... What's his name (Lyle, I think) has some friends in town and they know some good bars where the beer pours freely...

That's it for now.. I'm off to wander the streets.

01 July 2007

The Night Before and I'm done!

Seriously.. I'm done thinking, I'm done packing, I'm done planning, I'm done talking, I'm done reading Lonely Planet, I'm done everything.. I just want to go.
So now just as the mighty worm, I'm being cast out into the pond of life to see what lies beneath the shimmering surface of.. of.. of.. well, something shimmery.

Anyway, it's late. I'm done for now. Enjoy the worm.

George is getting CONCERNED!!

Ok for real.. Can someone tell me what the heck is going on over there?

Terror Alert Raised, another attack is imminent

29 June 2007

It never ends..

Terror car defused in the heart of London.. Did I mention that I'll be there on Tuesday? They say if you change your plans because of terrorism, or the threat of terrorism, then the terrorists have won. Now, I'm not one to let the bastards get me down, but still.. this is kinda, well.. Oxford is a nice town. Perhaps I'll check it out rather than London.

28 June 2007

All my bags are packed and I'm ready to go?


So, I'm sitting here and it's 315 am, my bags have been packed, unpacked, packed, unpacked and finally packed again. At the moment, it's unpacked.

I am leaving here in two hours, heading to New York for a few days to visit friends and family and then it's off to England.. I suppose I should start looking at a hotel in London.

Pre-vacation nervousness/excitement/anticipation aside, there's a part of me that doesn't really want to leave. I guess it's normal to feel this way - I mean it's not like I'm leaving this terrible place with bad weather.. San Diego is perfect. And although I'm looking forward to Europe I'm still having to fight through these feelings that I'm missing out on my summer.. I have a feeling though, that as soon as I step off that plane at Heathrow all that will vanish and I'll soon forget about, or at least put aside San Diego and I'll be able to get on with my trip with a clear head.

There is another thing.. I spent the last few nights out with friends having a great time.. And in making the rounds with some close friends, I may have let a few other friends down. Err, sorry about that. Thinking clearly was never really my thing..