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Published: August 24th 2011
Waddup followers, JPhill here, blogging from Andy's Laundry Mat in Prague..Beaz and I are SOOO stoked to get some fresh gear especially since I'm pretty sure I've worn the same set of boxers and socks for the past three days (no joke). Prague is a muggy city, similar to London, and much warmer than Amsterdam or Berlin and we've been sticky and sweaty ever since we arrived...I've come to realize that deodorant and AXE body spray, even when combined, unfortunately has its limits. From the serene canals and smoke-filled coffee shops in "I AMsterdam" to the hipster techno Beats in Berlin and the soaring castles and cathedrals of Praha, our travels abroad have been filled TONS of excitement! In a couple hours we'll be catching an overnight train to Interlaken, Switzerland to get in some outdoor entertainment. But before we do, let me try my best to re-cap our adventure since leaving the UK and hopping on over to the mainland for a little (ok, A LOT) of craziness in Amsterdam, Holland.
On the morning of 8/15, we took a Eurostar high speed rail under the channel over to Belgium in an astonishing 1 hour and 50 minutes..I mean, this train was seriously jammin! The ride up through Brussels and onto Amsterdam was our first experience with Eurail and I'm happy to say I've been pleased with all of our train experiences ever since. It's convenient, comfortable (for the most part), and I haven't felt the need to keep a watchful eye out for pickpockets (yet anyways - I hear Italy and Spain are the worst). The countryside through Belgium and Holland is beautiful, sprawling with farms and fields of green and deserted roads for as far as the eye can see...the perfect place to take the road-bike out for a day. After arriving in the train station in Amsterdam, we quickly got situated at our hostel, the Flying Pig Downtown. It's in a perfect location right smack dab in the middle of all the hustle and bustle, surrounded by a number of Amsterdam's notorious coffee shops, restaurants and only a skip and a jump from the Red Light District. The hostel itself was cracking with its own bar and smoke patio. At lunch we met a girl named Betty who surprisingly enough was also from SF and ended up hanging with us our entire stay in Amsterdam..super down-to-earth chick who to our amazement was traveling by herself having just spent 3 weeks in Germany (our next stop). The canals in Amsterdam are gorgeous (I think I took like 30 pictures of just canals lol) and the people there are ALL like 6'2" and some of the most beautiful blonde, blue-eyed people all with a trendy-hip sense of style and rolling all over town on the coolest, European bikes and Vespas, everywhere you look - down cobble-stone alleyways and through the parks. Taking it all in, I finally made sense of a quote from Austin Powers when Austin's pops says "There are only two things I hate: those who are intolerable of other peoples cultures...and the DUTCH!" hahaha who wouldn't want to be Dutch living in Amsterdam!? So jeals.. In addition to all the "good stuff," which for the simple fact that my parents read this blog I'll simply leave out (feel free to ask me later), we went to the Van Gough Museum aaaaaand...lol that's about it!! Hahaha I <3 Amsterdam, the place is wild and sooo much fun, but kinda like spending 3 days in Vegas, we were ready to get the f**k out!
Our hostel in Berlin was a breath of fresh air. Very nice, clean and super friendly. There was a huge group of chill Aussie gals that were staying with us and we all became good friends. Berlin is Europe's new capital for night life and it was pretty awesome. We had heard that most of the clubs were nearly impossible to get into. We were told that unless you were German and spoke German you would not get in. The guy at the desk at the hostel even told us “don't even try.” He said there was a slim chance but don't speak in line, look the guy straight in the eye and whatever you do don't speak English…hmm, this should be easy. The first night out we all tried to get into the Watergate, Berlins most infamous club next to the Bergheim. So this is how it went. First off people don't even head out until 0200 in the morning then party until Monday morning. It was a Friday and so we showed up to the club at 0100. The line was curling around the waterfront. We waited 2 HOURS IN LINE. The girls we were with got turned away first, then our buddy got turned away at the second checkpoint. Beaz and I stayed in line. After 2 hours Bri was first and the guy said and I quote, "Your shirt too nice, your shoes too nice, this club not for you, no admittance." And like that our night was over. Were we pissed...yeah...can you blame them...not really. That's the sick thing, they keep it their very own. We grabbed a few beers and made it home around 0400. Night two would be different.
We spent the next day checking out all the historical sites doing the Fat Tire Bike Tour. It was awesome, and it felt great to get off our feet and on a bike for a change...brought me back to my Chico days. Saw the Jewish Holocaust Memorial, Berlin Wall, Hitlers bunker, etc. and stopped along the riverbank to grab some lunch at one of the city’s most famous Biergardens. Berlin was beautiful. As night approached we all talked about if we would chance it again. Due to FOMA (Fear of Missing Out), a new term we learned from one of our Aussie friends, Beaz and I were determined to give it our best effort. Bri said he would tell them "You NEED ME in this club!" lol. So this time we dressed up super grungy and decided to go early. We headed off to a club called The Weekend. A massive club set atop a skyscraper overlooking the city. Fortunately we got there before anyone else. The large men at the door were daunting but after total silence in line we made it in. An elevator took us to the top were we were met with thundering minimal tech house banging away and a ceiling of lights moving to the beat. The club swelled to over capacity within an hour and we took over the dance floor...what else can i say...sick...big bro had to lead me home that night. Berlin you really rock!!
The following day we decided to head to one of the Nazi concentration camps just an hour outside of Berlin. Talk about a humbling and sobering experience. It was such an eerie feeling walking within the walls of camp, overlooked by solid rock towers and barbed wire, you can get a tiny dose of what it must have felt like (if you use your imagination of course), only in real life it was probably a billion times worse. It’s hard to even comprehend the unreal atrocities these people committed..and even though Hitler was the main criminal, there were thousands others who carried out his orders and never stopped once to say, “I can’t do this, this isn’t right.” I was almost brought to tears on a number of occasions…I don’t think Beaz and I even spoke for the two and a half hours we were there. Kind of takes your breath away.
Back on the train again, our passage to Prague was one of sheer beauty. Once in the Czech Republic, the train follows directly along the Vlatava River which has dissected through the earth to create one of the most stunning canyons we’ve ever seen…it kind of reminded me of a scene out of Lord of the Rings. Our Hostel in Prague, the Czech Inn was just as nice as the Circus Hostel in Berlin, minus the location. However I have to say it was sweet to have a private room for a change as opposed to the ten/twelve person dorms we’ve been staying in up till now. Looking at a map, one might think Prague is small and easily manageable by foot..damn were we wrong. I’ve never walked so much in my life! At the end of every day, our feet were killing us. After walking down to old town to grub on some Thai food and wandering through the cobbled stone streets near town square we passed out as soon as we got home. We slept a good 10 hours that first night. I never realized how exhausting travelling can be! The following day we set out to see all the sights: Jewish quarter (Josefov) and the old Jewish Synagogue and Cemetery where on about an acre of land (at most) there are over 12,000 tombstones and supposedly thousands more buried under the layers below. One memorial had the names of about 160,000 Jews (out of a total of 200,000 who were from Josefov) painted on the walls in alphabetical order. Each person died in the internment/concentration camps such as Auschwitz during the Nazi regime..that’s around 80% of the Jewish population of Prague during WWII..crazy. Walking along the towering medieval buildings along magical cobble stoned streets and across the river felt like something out of a fairytale. I can see why Prague is considered somewhat of a romantics’ paradise despite the ridiculous amount of tourists roaming the streets, which seem like a maze when you’re lost and trying to find your way around. Eventually we made it up the steps to Prague Castle and toured the museums and Cathedrals all overlooking the entire city of Prague, a stunning view to say the least. After throwing a couple beers down at a café atop the castle we hiked back down across Charles Bridge which was lined with musicians, painters and jewelers. Part of me thought it was really cool and another part of me simply thought I was at Disneyland hahaha (they do a pretty damn good job of recreating things there in LA). That night, after a lot of convincing by Beasle, we skipped the traditional Czech food and decided to succumb to American food – good ol’ TGIFridays, buffalo wings, cob salad and a Blue Cheese Bacon Burger, stuffed to the brim. After lounging around for a little we almost literally got pulled in to an irish pub where they had just started the Man U vs. Tottenham EPL game..perfect timing! We posted up and watched the game while a DJ played reggae music followed by a guitarist playing modified versions of Bob Marley and Sublime accompanied by a hilarious tap-dancing English woman who sweated her ass off for tips, well deserving too. Needless to say we had an great last night in Prague. Oh and I almost forgot, the beer in Prague is to die for! By far the best we’ve had on our trip so far. Prague is where Budweiser first started, and still exists today, better known as Budvar, and the people of Prague, from what I hear, are not even close to giving up the name to Anheiser Busch. The Budweiser in the US seriously tastes like horse piss compared to the one in Prague which comes in both dark and golden colors..try the half and half if you ever get a chance, mmmm I want one right now!
Well, our laundry is done, gotta snag an overnight train to Switzerland..catch ya on the flip side!
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