1: RTW '06
Student protest Vienna
Bratislava 11/8 - Making my way into Slovakia from Budapest didn't go as smoothly as I hoped. I had heard good things about a city called Banska Bystrica in the center of the country. After taking a train to the Slovakian border and walking across I had a difficult time figuring out the buses I needed to get there plus nobody spoke English. Figuring it out as I went along, I reached the city around 7pm only to discover that every pension was full. This left me with a choice between paying for an expensive hotel room or just moving on to the capital on the 5am train. I spent most of the night talking with some locals at a cafe, then went to the train station to get out of the cold and kill the remaining 4 hours before my departure. The police came up and questioned me, then took an interest in my travels. They warned me to keep a close eye on my bag because of the shady characters spending the night inside the station. It was definitely an interesting 4 hours. One of the crazy gypsies was provoking everybody and alternated between shaking their hand
House party Vienna
and threatening to fight them. Got into Bratislava around 8am picking up a few hours sleep on the train.
Vienna 11/10 - This high class city with high prices did not fit in with my backpacker budget too well. The city has plenty of sights to take in. Some students marched in the streets protesting the recent end of tuition-free University. One of the guys from the hostel got in touch with a local he had met traveling. Her and her friend took a few of us out to check out the Viennese nightlife, but we ended up at an Irish Pub. The next night we went to a party at her apartment. Most of the Austrians I talked to don't like Arnold and feel sorry for California.
11/12 Cesky Krumlov - I got plenty of recommendations from travelers to come here. I walked through Krumlov castle passing many Japanese tourists with camcorders. I crossed over a pit containing a bear that looked miserable. A few of us found a cool underground dungeon-themed bar for some cheap Pilsners. On the way to Prague I stopped in Cesky Budejovice (Budweis in German) for a
House party Vienna
tour of the brewery of the original Budweiser. I won't go into details of the ongoing legal battle against Anheuser-Busch, but I will say that they make a much better beer here.
11/15 Prague - It's low season for traveling in Europe, but you wouldn't know it by the amount of tourists in Prague. There are way too many souvenir shops in this city. Didn't get much sleep the first night at the hostel due to the sounds of snoring, sex, and some guys speaking spanish. Talked about the war with an old Iraqi refugee that took political asylum in 1990. He said he liked Bush. Weird. Partied with some Aussies and Americans at a 5-story club called Karlovy Lazne. Wandered around the largest ancient castle in the world and then checked out the old fortress-Vysehrad. After the craziness of Prague I took a train to a chilled-out town called Olomouc to spend a couple days.
11/23 Krakow - Made the journey here on Thanksgiving. I got to my hostel at 7pm hoping to find some travelers cooking turkey and baking pumpkin pie in the kitchen. But instead I had to settle for a chicken kebab.
House party Vienna
I made a daytrip to Auschwitz and found it to be as disturbing as I had anticipated. Walking around the location of the massive genocide was sad and surreal. Caught a bus to Zakopane, a beautiful mountain town near the Slovakian border. Climbed the small Mt. Gubalowka then I entered the Tatra National Park and headed up toward Mt. Giewont. Coming out of the forest area I took in some spectacular views of the Tatra Mountains and got trigger happy with my camera. The final stretch to the peak required holding on to a chain bolted into the rock and climbing the steep incline. The 360 degree view from the top was excellent. Headed back to Krakow very happy that I made this side trip for a couple days and got lucky with the weather.
12/2 Berlin - Got in late after a full day of riding trains from Krakow and checked in to an overly trendy hostel called BaxPax. Spent some time wandering around the city and seeing Checkpoint Charlie, Brandenburg Gate, and some remains of the Berlin wall. There were Christmas markets and stands selling communist memorabilia everywhere in this lively city. I was denied
House party Vienna
entrance into the poker room because I didn't have leather shoes on. Headed out to Hamburg and spent a couple relaxing days with my cousins at their place in the countryside.
12/6 London - Flew in to this huge expensive city. I checked out the Science Museum which had a crazy exhibit on neurotechnology and the abilities of our brains to communicate with computers. The Natural History Museum was good as well. Went dancing at a Brazilian club with a couple of friends. Everyday I woke up it hit me that I was that much closer to the end of my trip.
12/11 New York - After a stopover in Iceland I finally stepped foot on U.S. pavement after close to 10 months away. I stayed with my Aunt for a week. I wandered around Wall St. then the WTC site, checked out the gigantic Metropolitan museum, and played chess at Washington Square Park.
After going through 301 days, 20 countries, $14k, 36000 miles, 19 books, 12 languages, 960 photos, 4 journals, and 1 incredible experience I was back home in California.
Beach - Pasir Panjang on Perhentian Kecil,
Cesky Krumlov, Czech
Hostels - Cool Bananas in Agnes Water, Australia / Green Bridge Hostel in Budapest
Big city - Belgrade, Serbia
Small town - Pai, Thailand
Food - Thailand
Islands - Ko Phi Phi, Thailand / Perhentian Kecil, Malaysia
Interesting country - Cambodia
Friendliest countries - Serbia / Thailand
Scenic countries - Vietnam / New Zealand
Cheapest country - Thailand
Cleanest country - Singapore
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