Alaskan Bookend

sgwaltney

Alaskan Bookend

I have never traveled outside of North America and have only been to a handful of states. I spent my schooling years doing exactly what people are expected to do, completing college and moving into a career per the "respectable adult" timetable. Now I find myself with a little time on my hands and no tethers... time for an adventure before I do something silly and get tied down until who-knows-when.



Europe » Italy May 10th 2013

So far the Italian portion of my journey hasn’t been as evocative as the first half. I can’t report on any strange experiences that leave me with feelings of awe, humility or some other gut check; though Rome did include some pub crawls that rivaled Edinburgh’s first few. In fact the only unique moment I distinctly remember occurred after walking out of the train station onto the aqua-streets of Venice. I couldn’t help but drop the Indiana Jones quote, “Ahhh Venice.” ...Or was it Bugs Bunny who said it first? Relaxing in the sun and beauty of an Italian spring is hard to beat. Seeing the Statue of David and the various other sights in Florence has been a treat. I caught the Rome-Florence football match, which was fun and very intimate. My sense memory from ... read more
2013-04-28 18.33.33
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2013-04-30 10.40.01

Europe » France » Lower Normandy » Bayeux April 28th 2013

For those of you following along and know that I spent a few days in Paris, perhaps expecting a blog about Paris, let me say this... Fuck Paris, except for the Louvre. In fact, if I had made the mistake of not coming to Normandy, which I considered after my experiences with Parisians, I would have robbed myself of one of the most impactful and enjoyable days of my life; not to mention, been sour on France. For those travelers considering France for the first time, please do not spend the majority of your time in Paris. Get in, see the Louvre and whatever other cultural sites mean something to you, and get the hell out! Now, having said that, let me tell you about the first 24 hours of my life spent in Bayeux, France ... read more
2013-04-25 14.07.06
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2013-04-26 09.15.40

Europe » United Kingdom » Scotland » Aberdeenshire » Aberdeen April 21st 2013

I arrived via the train between Edinburgh and Aberdeen on a Sunday. For some reason my reserved seat was occupied by an obstinate woman who couldn’t seem to understand why she wasn’t allowed to sit with her family. Instead of arguing the merits of “reserved seating” I decided to find a different coach and deal with the substantially more appealing option of sitting next to someone other than this woman’s husband, daughter, and mother-in-law. After all, I was sick and in no mood to listen to a family bicker. This illustrates the importance of two critical perspectives when traveling: remain flexible; always look on the bright side. The train ride itself was pleasant enough and had some great scenery. I am very impressed with the amount of stone walls. I expected the tradition of stone walls ... read more
2013-04-15 10.35.08
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Europe » United Kingdom » Scotland » Midlothian » Edinburgh April 13th 2013

I took the Ryan Air commuter from Dublin to Edinburgh on Tuesday morning. Expecting full customs and passport checks I arrived at the Dublin airport 2 full hours in advance. Big mistake. Apparently travel within the EU is much easier than I expected. Perhaps I mistakenly took the wrong line, but it seemed like everyone from the US was going through the same line - group think at its finest. At least if I was wrong I will have plenty of company in jail. The flight itself was extremely uncomfortable. Ryan Air crams people onto their planes with almost no leg room at all. Even though I had no sleep (again, despite my best efforts) I couldn’t get into a position that allowed me to sleep on the plane. Once I sat down my body was ... read more
What a View
Old Town
The Castle on a Rainy Day

Europe » Ireland » County Dublin » Dublin April 8th 2013

I scheduled my train and ferry to Dublin the morning of my 2nd day in London. I had a total of four usable days in London including my half-day trip to Stonehenge, which wasn’t enough time, especially given certain distractions. Thus I left without seeing the Tower of London, a Shakespearean play, or any of the musicals. Good thing I don’t have to be anywhere at any particular time after my trip to Scotland - London will be visited for the second time, before Paris. I boarded the afternoon train to Chester at Euston Station. I missed the direct train to Holyhead, but the flexible tickets make it easy to switch things up. What isn’t easy for first time riders is figuring out where you need to transfer to get to your destination. I used the ... read more
2013-04-05 12.08.45
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Europe » United Kingdom » England » Greater London » Westminster April 4th 2013

My first full day in London was packed. I fully expected that the second day would be equally as aggressive, however the first day’s evening festivities got the better of me. I spent the majority of the day in bed, recovering in my normal sleep-until-the-pain-stops routine. This is actually the best time to sleep in a hostel. No one is snoring through the afternoon and you aren’t interrupted by assholes (such as myself) stumbling in at 4 AM. People walking in during the afternoon use much quieter voices and are generally sober & respectful of those sleeping. The same cannot be said for those walking in during the middle of the night. The evening of Day 2 was spent in great conversation with a lovely Irish lass, who sympathized with my condition from the night before. ... read more
2013-04-03 11.25.52
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2013-04-03 16.10.23

Europe » United Kingdom » England » Greater London » Westminster April 1st 2013

Sunday I flew to London on no sleep thanks to a group of Austin, TX based flight attendants I met Friday night. Well, I should say I got some sleep between Friday and Saturday, but the hangover and physical exhaustion really set in at the airport on Sunday morning. The flight to London felt like it went quickly (all airlines need to pick up the habit of putting complimentary movie screens in the back of their seats regardless of ticket class). Heathrow is an easy airport to navigate, but I had some helpful advice from a friend of the family on how to get through the Underground quickly and hit the right stops to cross London and get to my hostel in the London Bridge area. The Underground ride was long and annoying after my flight, ... read more
2013-04-01 09.08.14
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2013-04-01 11.02.42

Europe » Iceland » Southwest » Reykjavík March 29th 2013

Icelandair flies into Keflavik International Airport. The airport is about 45 minutes away from Reykjavik by bus. When I arrived at 6:30 AM (2:30 AM by my biological clock) I had no local money and only a vague sense of where I needed to go. The passport check and customs was a joke. I am not sure if the boarder officer even looked at my passport, instead just passing it through his scanner and asking me when I planned on leaving. Customs appeared voluntary and I just walked through the “nothing to declare” line without so much as filling out a statement or anything. There wasn’t even a guard that I could see, although there were several cameras. This is not what I expected. As soon as I left the duty free area (turns out that ... read more
2013-03-28 14.02.49
Blue Lagoon Resort
Reykjavik Lake

North America » United States » New Jersey » Wall March 27th 2013

Once we returned to Thomas’ house in NJ life slowed down. Andy left on Thursday for NYC so that he could make an early departure Friday morning. Thomas and I were left to our own devices. Without reflecting poorly on Thomas, I can honestly say we are getting old. Thursday didn’t bring any partying or youthful nonsense. We took a ride in the BMW side car to Johnny Mac’s, sat quietly for dinner at Brick Wall in Asbury Park, and returned home early to watch movies and play chess. Playing chess with a friend is one of the things I miss about my family home. My dad taught me the game when I was a young boy. We would play on lazy Saturday afternoons while watching the old James Bond films. My brother and I may ... read more
The Side Car
I don't know...
New Trade Towers...


Thomas, Andy and I set out for the gambling adventure, destination Atlantic City, relatively early in the day. The drive to AC isn’t anything special and rain added to the mediocrity. We had a solid night’s rest and a good breakfast so we were definitely ready for some afternoon boozing. Grab bag of shooters arranged and distributed, we checked into the Topicana a little after 3:00 PM. The hotel room was nicer than we expected for the $60 special on Priceline, or whatever. We had a view of the ocean and downtown from the 56th floor. The room itself was a little dated, but it’s distinct 80s casino feel was authentic and apropos. A few pulls off the bottle of Dewars we brought with us and we were ready to hit the pit. I have never ... read more
Andy trying to help me tie a bow tie
Chi Chi and the Brothers
Limo Laughs




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