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My name is Patrick. I am an amateur traveler on a very important mission. The only problem is I don't know where I'm going and I don't know what my mission is yet.

Out of the Heat & Into the Darkness

Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Alas the lack of nutrition is beginning to take a toll on my health and all the walking is starting to take a serious toll on my right knee. I’m beginning to feel weak and I’m starting to get sick. I’m beginning to run out of money and Western Europe forced me to spend much more than I intended and now I’m very off budget for the rest of my trip. More often than not I get by with less than one meal a day. I can’t afford to eat out and easy to cook food in markets is hard to come across. When I’m feeling hungry I drink water until I’m full. I try not to eat until the evenings because if I eat early in the day I will just be hungry again later. It’s very hard to avoid buying some roasted corn or the various little things vendors on the street offer. Also now that my cash flow has become quite limited homesickness is beginning to set in. Fortunately I have the best mom in the world and her advice is comforting and very helpful. Usually I wake up with a better attitude anyways and nonetheless, Croatia is a beautiful country and Split is a gorgeous city. It’s hard to be in a bad mood when you’re in a place like this. Besides, I’ve come to terms with the fact that I under budgeted the entire trip. It’s not like I don’t have the money. I just didn’t want to spend that much. So I’ve managed to get over the whole thing and transfer over some more money.

The day I arrived I went and explored the city. It is very small so it is easy to see most of the city on foot. The water is a beautiful shade of dark blue and the water is calm because several islands protect Split from storms in the Adriatic Sea. There is a large sector of the city with these huge apartment complexes that were old communist housing blocks. Each building is the same and each room is exactly the same size. From the beach you can see the old ruins of the city that Diocletian was born in. During his reign he had a massive palace constructed in Split that still remains to this day. Over time a city grew around it and now people have built houses using the palace’s existing walls. Shops are on streets that used to be hallways and corridors. There are stairways that lead to nothing and numerous sphinx’s that were imported from Egypt two thousand years ago.

All around split there are ancient Roman and Greek structures that are still standing. They’re all in ruins of course, usually just bits of old stonewalls that don’t really amount to much. Glynn, the owner of the hostel I was staying at, told me that it isn’t uncommon for people to pick their potatoes and an old Roman gold coin pop out of the ground. Apparently Split (and I’m guessing most of Croatia) is a land developer’s worst nightmare. People will buy a piece of land and decide to build on it and it’s a 50% chance that they will discover an old Roman ruin beneath their land. When this happens an archaeologist has to come in, uncover the rest of the structure, map it out, make a plastic mold of it, then seal it with concrete. All this takes a very long time. So nine times out of ten when people find a structure they just build over it really quick, which is illegal and a shame.

While walking around the city I came across an interesting series of stairs and I wanted to see where they would lead me too. Eventually after what seemed like a thousand steps I was on top of a mountain that overlooked the harbor and bay outside of Split. My first reaction was to take a picture, but the pictures just don’t do it justice. Well I was pretty high up so naturally, being a male, my first reaction was to pee off it, then take the picture.

The next day Glynn and some of the other guests and I woke up early and drove about an hour and a half to Krka national park to go swim in the river, the views at the park were one of a kind. We went for a swim, played some Frisbee and worked on our tan, and/or sunburn. From the bridge I could see sail boats below making their way down the winding river below to the Adriatic Sea for a sail. Once we started walking through the park there were huge waterfalls that spilled into a dark blue and green river.

I took the ferry to Hvar with Rob and Sinead, an English couple I met back in Split. Hvar was nice but it got old really fast. I was unable to book a hostel, but when I got off the ferry these groups of women were renting out rooms in their apartments and I was able to get a room with them. The water is crystal clear and the port is filled with sailboats. The island reeks of wealthy people. They all cruise up to the docks in their huge $33 million yachts, step off and have a couple drinks and down a kilo of lobster and then disappear into the darkness. I can hear their snooty little laughs half a mile away. Hvar is the most expensive place in Croatia, followed by Dubrovnik. The best way to determine if the place is expensive or not is to check the price of ice cream, beer and a coke.

Mom and Dad, that could be you out there.

While waiting for the ferry to Korcula I met Abby and Hannah from Wales and Dean from Melbourne, Australia (which is better than Sydney). We became pretty good friends and managed to split the cost of a room in Korcula. Korcula was considerably cheaper and Hvar and much more laid back.

We were planning on leaving at 11:00am but we managed to catch a later ferry, so Dean, the girls and I went straight to the beach, forgetting our swim suits of course. Dean caught me in mid action pose…

Dubrovnik was okay but I wasn’t the biggest fan. It reeked of tourism so I bought a ticket to Bosnia the very next day. Don’t get me wrong, Dubrovnik was beautiful, but Croatia is expensive and hot. I’m glad that I got to see it before it joins the E.U. It will be a completely different country in the next five years. I figured out what has been making me sick here. It's a small shrub that is common throughout Croatia and many people get hay fever from it. Here's your fun Croatian fact too: Croatia does not allow Polish people to enter the country with food because the Poles flock to the beaches by the thousands, fill up miles of coastline and never spend a dime (or Kuna) because they bring enough food to feed their family for a week.

I arrived in Mostar, Bosnia today. It’s a very interesting city. Half of the buildings are in ruins and bombed out pieces of historical crap filled with memories and bullet holes. I grabbed a handful of dirt earlier and pulled out several machine gun rounds. The shops around the city even sell old combat knives that once belonged to fallen soldiers. There are cemeteries all over the city that are separated by the various religions. They all share one thing in common though, 1993. There isn’t a single gravestone that doesn’t say 1993. It’s an eerie feeling knowing that all these people died the same year. They were all innocent civilians too.

I saw a diving competition today as well. Every Sunday there is a large televised diving competition off the 25 meter high Stari Most bridge. I went down to the bridge and witnessed some gruesome belly flops.

I also saw my first gypsies too! They’re awful, lazy, dirty and disgusting; Everything I expected. They all drag their little kids around with them to help gain sympathy while they try to hustle everyone. Families will be sitting outside eating at a restaurant and the gypsies will come and beg them for money and just make a scene. They can be seen just about everywhere begging. They teach their kids to pick pocket and steal so when they come close I clench my pockets.

I apologize but as I've been moving farther east wi-fi and kebab stands are becoming more and more scarce. The only things found in abundance are gypsies, ice cream vendors, and cigarettes. I believe I am the ONLY person in Europe who doesn't smoke. I’ve decided not to visit Greece. They say that it’s the most expensive European Union country so I guess I’ll save it for another day. Tomorrow I’m going to buy a train ticket to Sarajevo and then possibly go to Montenegro after that. I'm just happy to finally be somewhere cheap.

Peace, love & positive vibes,

permalink written by  pathaley on July 27, 2008 from Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina
from the travel blog: Eurotrip
tagged Croatia, Mostar, Bosnia, EasternEurope, Hvar, Split, Korcula, Dubrovnik, Gypsies and NoodleyPoodelyGreatGoodness

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Good Stuff

Split, Croatia

I’m now writing this entry from my bus to Ancona, Italy. Lasts nights journey was long, tiresome and boring. We left around 9:00 and then had to watch the same stupid bus safety video three times; The first time in Hungarian, once in Italian and the third time in English.

The bus from Prague to Bratislava and then to Budapest was only seven hours and played movies through entire duration of the trip. Good movies too. Well they were in Czech but they had English subtitles. The bus to Bologna played “Wild Hogs” in Hungarian with no subtitles, so I just sat there listening to the gibberish spewing from Tim Allen’s mouth and laughing when everyone else did.

I really enjoyed Budapest. It was a beautiful city and I go back again if the opportunity came up. But it seems that the Hungarians’ taxes are wasted on employing 10,000 people doing the same job. Every time I entered the metro station I purchased a ticket for 270 Forint. Then you walk five feet to a machine that stamps your ticket or sometimes even punches a hole in it. Then you get on the metro. Next to every machine there would be anywhere from 2-10 guards next to each machine to make sure you don’t sneak by without paying. The guards can see you the entire time and you are no more than ten feet away from them at all times yet sometimes they still persisted to check my ticket anyways. Even though they watched me purchase it, then validate it. Once I had my metro ticket checked four times! One guard right after the other…
Metro tickets are a pain in the ass. That is why I’m still bitter about Prague. Don’t get me wrong, I had a great time in Prague, it was a gorgeous city. On my last day there I was cutting it really close to catching my bus. I hopped on the tram and was about to hop off when a man with a badge approached me asking for my ticket. I presented it to him but he wasn’t satisfied. Apparently the tickets are only good for 72 minutes at a time. Meaning the one I had would have expired about 5 minutes before he approached me. He demanded 700 koruns or he would call the police. All I had on me was 150 koruns. I pleaded with him telling him I have no money, I’m going to miss my bus. He asked if I had a credit card and I said yes and he took me to an ATM. I told him I don’t have enough money and that I won’t be able to eat for several days, but he was a heartless bastard. Before I handed over the cash to him I called the police over and had them check his ID and badge to make sure he wasn’t trying to scam me. The police said it was real but I can tell this embarrassed him. Serves him right, I barley caught my bus.

Anyways, back to Budapest. I had arranged to couch surf with someone when I arrived but they bailed on me at the last minute. So I arrived at late at night and was about to go sleep in a park but of course I got off at the wrong metro stop. I was out of money and there was not an ATM in sight so I started to walk to the park when I came across this little hole in the wall hostel named “Home Made Hostel”. They didn’t have a bed available that night but Jimmy, the Dutch guy at the front desk/living room, said I could have the employee bed because he had to stay up and let people in all night anyways.

Home Made Hostel was one of the coolest hostels I’ve stayed at. It was basically a large flat or apartment. There were several rooms and a kitchen and kitchen. I don’t believe this place could host more than 20 people at a time. It was great, small hostels mean small groups of people. Right away I got along with this English guy named Robbie Lang who ended up in Budapest by himself as well. We are the same age and were very similar so we went for a night on the town. This particular night ended around 5:00am after we checked out some local pubs and then gorged ourselves on McDonalds on the way back. Ironically Robbie looks uncannily like my friend in San Antonio, Tyler Bravin. I showed Robbie a picture of Tyler and he freaked out. He immediately called his dad to make sure he didn’t have some long lost twin or anything.
Separated at birth? You be the judge.

Right: Robbie Lang Left: Tyler Bravin

(yes he's drinking beer through a straw, he lost a bet)

I explored the city for a bit my first day there. Later in the afternoon I went to go check out St. Steven’s Basilica. I was standing in the square in front of it when all of a sudden 200 people of all ages sprang out of every nook and cranny, every street, every building, little kids seemed to popping out of the cracks between the coble stones and before I knew it, I was in the center of a massive water fight. Water balloons whizzed overhead and people acted as though they were hit by a hand grenade. Everyone had water pistols and water guns of all sizes. One kid who couldn’t have been older than 10 had a portable pressure washer strapped to his back. Before I knew it I was soaked from head to toe. Luckily a girl gave me one of her back up water pistols so I could defend myself. Whenever we ran out of ammunition we sprang for the numerous fountains and reloaded. This free for all lasted for about an hour before the Police showed up. There were only 2 of them and they tried to assert their authority, but they just ended up getting drenched by countless water balloons and buckets of slimy green fountain water. Then just as quickly as it had started, everyone disappeared. All that was left were a few people staying back to help clean up the broken balloon bits. I was talking to a group of Hungarians afterwards and they said there is this organization that organizes this kind of stuff every month. For example, they told me that last month they had a massive pillow fight.

Later the Hungarians I was with took me on a tour of the city.

They next day was pretty lazy and I woke up late. I didn’t want to do anything too extravagant because I had to catch the bus later that night. So I decided to hit up the Hungarian spa. It was this huge castle like building where you go in and there are hot tubs from warm to boiling hot. There were even pools with water so cold that your bones started to ache after being in them for 10 seconds. Some corridors led to saunas and therapeutic steam rooms. Outside in the courtyard there were largest pools I’ve ever seen. One was a normal pool and the other was just as large but it was a huge communal hot tub. There were crowds of old men dawning the most revealing Speedos playing some of the most intense games of chess I’ve ever witnessed. I made a couple friends while I was there. One American girl who was couch surfing and backpacking around Europe by herself as well and 2 Australian sisters doing the same.

I caught the bus and 12 hours later I was in Bologna, Italy where I had to wait a couple hours for the next bus to Ancona. Italy is an interesting country so far. It is home to the world’s worst drivers. It is next to impossible to cross the street without killed. You may have the green light to walk across but Italian drivers won’t stop. Not because they want to hit you, but because they’re all too busy honking at gesturing wildly at each other. It’s the most contagious form of road rage I’ve ever witnessed so heaven forbid a car switch lanes and pull out in front of another Italian driver even though there is more than enough room. We’re driving on an open country road and I’ve heard the bus driver honk about 30 times already. Italian’s seem to have a very short temper. I saw a man walking earlier and I could have sworn he was about to explode. He had ones of those pulsing veins on his forehead that grew larger with each step. I was afraid to actually walk in to the station because I could see people at the check in counters flailing their arms and arguing with the people behind the desk and then the attendants replying in the same manner, so I just chilled outside in the terminal. Oh, and Italians have no concept of waiting in line. We took a 30-minute break and I was standing in line to get a sandwich and I was bumped all the way to the back of the line. It’s like being back at my school cafeteria. Everyone is constantly screwing each other over. One man even cut in front of me twice. It took so long that I was unable to get anything to eat because it was time for the bus to leave. Aside from all the hostility, the Italian is everything I imagined it to be. There are these green and yellow rolling hills littered with Tuscan and Mediterranean style homes all with they’re own vineyards. It’s just like the movies.

I think one of my favorite things about traveling so far is not knowing anything. I swapped books in a hostel in Amsterdam and picked up a book by Bill Bryson called Neither Here Nor There where Bryson retraces his steps through a previous European trip he took in 1972 except this time he writes about the differences. One quote in particular really caught my attention because it is very easy for me to identify with.

“When I told my friends in London that I was going to travel around Europe and write a book about it, they said, “Oh, you must speak a lot of languages.”
“Why, no” I would reply with a certain pride, “only English,” and they would look at me as if I were foolish or crazy. But that’s the glory of foreign travel, as far as I’m concerned. I don’t want to know what people are talking about. I can’t think of anything that excites a greater sense of childlike wonder than to be in a country where you are ignorant of almost everything. Suddenly you are five years old again. You can’t read anything, you only have the most rudimentary sense of how things work, you can’t even reliably cross the street without endangering your life. Your whole existence becomes a series of interesting guesses.”

I also love talking to people from the different countries and hearing they’re opinion on Americans. It dawned on me that most people back home have no idea what’s going on outside the country. In fact most people don’t even have a passport. It’s sad really. Everyone in Europe has a passport. It seems as if everyone likes to travel here. So I encourage anyone who actually reads this to go get a passport (if you don’t already have one) and go see the world.

I’m out for now, I’m about ten minutes from the bus station and by the time I get around to actually posting this blog on the internet I will be in Split, Croatia.

Quick update: The bus dropped me off in Ancona, well near Ancona. It seems that I was the only passenger to Ancona so the closest they took me was about 18 km outside the city. I wandered around a little bit and asked strangers if they spoke English or Spanish. I had no luck. I ended up interrupting my dad’s beauty sleep in Hawaii to see if he could get on the internet and try and help me find the nearest bus station, but I wasn’t sure where I was in the first place. I ended up going to finding a small office across the street and asking for directions but no one there was able to help me either. Then the rain came. I was in this parking lot off a highway huddled up under my umbrella when a man pulled up and offered a ride. I was very grateful, but he was heading the opposite direction. Several minutes later an Italian woman who looked like she should be on the cover of Vogue magazine pulled up and asked me if I was all right. She spoke a few words of English and Spanish so our conversation was a mixture of the three. Her boyfriend came to meet her there and he spoke very good English and they were very helpful. They said that they would love to give me a ride but they were heading the opposite direction.

I walked a few kilometers to the town of Callefearete and found a bus that would take me to the port in Ancona. I was snug as can be in the bus when I noticed everyone else was paying and somehow I managed to walk by the driver without paying him. I didn’t have (and still don’t) have any money on me and I was not prepared to pay him. He kept eyeing me to make sure I didn’t get off the bus, and I couldn’t afford another stupid fine like in Prague. So I offered my seat to this older woman and when she got off I dashed off the train with her. I didn’t even bother trying to get on another bus. I was in Ancona though, so I just walked to the port from there (a good 5km). As I got closer there were two ports about 1 km apart. I obviously looked like I didn’t know what to do, and southern Italy is that last place you want to look like a helpless tourist. Then this shady looking fellow approached me. He looked like a gypsy so I started clenching my pockets. He had this big goofy grin on his face when he said, “Eh boi!” I was expecting him to beg for money but he didn’t. “You lookin’ for la fiera righ? It dat one.” He turned out to be a really nice guy and we shook hands and went our separate ways. So the moral of this update is that you just can’t judge a book by its cover. Italians aren’t as ruthless as I portrayed them to be earlier. Except one thing’s for certain, they still don’t know what the hell a line is.

So now I’m on the ferry to Split, which I’ll arrive to at 6:00 in the morning. I took a couple pictures but the weather was bad.

permalink written by  pathaley on July 22, 2008 from Split, Croatia
from the travel blog: Eurotrip
tagged Italy and Croatia

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Prague, Czech Republic

I made it to Prague, Czech Republic yesterday after a long bus ride that can only be described as "epic." I left Amsterdam at 10:30pm and arrived in Prague at 2:30pm... My bus to Italy is even worse. On Friday (July 18) I have a 6.5 hour bus ride to Budapest, Hungary. Then on July 20 at 8:00pm I'm taking the bus from Budapest to Ancona, Italy. I'll arrive in Ancona around 2:00pm but then later that night I have an all-nighter ferry to Split, Croatia. It's more hectic and time consuming to do it this way, but it is considerably cheaper.

Now when you hear about the Czech Republic you probably think of the Soviet Union. And when you hear about the Soviet Union (or eastern Europe in general) you probably think of Buildings with huge holes in them and paint chipping off the walls, or something along the lines of these pictures:

While I did take those pictures in Prague, that's not what it looks like at all. Prague has surrendered to almost all European wars in order to preserve it's history. Prague was never bombed or anything so everything here is ancient. You can see huge golden tipped spires and cathedrals as far as the eye can see in all directions.

Today I took the metro to the Old Town Square and saw some of the sights there. The Astronomical Clock in the square was gigantic and very intricate. I even got the chance to walk up to the top of it. I also checked out the Salvador Dali exhibition they had going on in the square; Unfortunately I was unable to take pictures of the exhibit.

Here's the Church of Our Lady Before Tyn from the top of the clock.

Notice the gold on all the buildings.

Everything is very cheap here too since they don't use the Euro. A pint of premium Czech beer downtown cost me 22 koruns (pronounced crowns). That's like $1.51 American. The hostel I'm staying at has one of the priciest drink menus in town. Here I believe the same pint of beer goes for 46 koruns.

The day I arrived I was very hungry. I have been craving tacos for a long time now and I decided that an "authentic Mexican" Czech burrito would be a good substitute. And at 39 koruns from a local bakery, how could I resist? Well I now know why back home why there is Taco Cabana if you want a taco and Krispy Kreme if you want a donut. I also know why you don't see Mexican restaurants in the Czech Republic and why you don't see Czech restaurants in Mexico. Czech food is to Mexican food just like a goldfish is to a telephone pole.

It may look legit at first glance, but it's obviously not a burrito when you crack it open.

Also I tried a traditional Czech dish today. Goulash! I don't even know what to say about it or how to even describe it. It wasn't bad, but it was far from good. Interesting dish that's for sure.

Yo Andrew Minard, what it do?

permalink written by  pathaley on July 16, 2008 from Prague, Czech Republic
from the travel blog: Eurotrip
tagged Castle, Prague, Czech, Praha, Goulash and Burrito

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The Big Canal

Amsterdam, Netherlands

I’ve been in Amsterdam for a few days now and it’s a fun city. I’m ready to leave though. I was supposed to leave today (July 12) but due to complications with bus schedules, I won’t be leaving to Prague until July 14. I went a head and rented a bike for a few days. Bikes are the best and easiest way to get around Amsterdam. Most of the roads here are designed specifically for bikers and the trams.

Cool parking garage for bikes.

There are only two places I’ve found that have free wi-fi so It’s hard for me to write here or respond to emails. The hostel I’m staying at in Prague has free wi-fi so it should be easier to keep in touch.
I’ll finally be making my way east so my money should be worth a lot more than it is in the west. Now my dilemma is booking hostels/trains/buses/flights far enough in advanced so I don’t get stuck somewhere like I am now. I decided since I’m losing a couple days, I am just going to skip Bratislava and just go straight to Budapest. I’ll try and be there on the 18th.

It’s cool how this city works. The entire city lies below sea level. I found this diagram in the hostel.

Left: View from the top floor of Amsterdam’s library, the largest one in Europe.
Right: View from the city up close

Here are a couple pictures from the Red Light District. Sorry I know they’re blurry but I still think they look cool.

permalink written by  pathaley on July 12, 2008 from Amsterdam, Netherlands
from the travel blog: Eurotrip
tagged Canal, Amsterdam and RedLightDistrict

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Kaiserslautern, Germany

So far Germany is really fun. What I like about where I'm at is I'm not in some huge city like Berlin or Munich. I'm in Queidersbach which is basically a suburb of Kaiserslautern, which we call K-Town. Downtown K-Town is small but really neat. The way a lot of these German cities work is there is one main downtown area, but there are surrounding towns and villages that are only a few kilometers apart that make up the main city.

Here's an interesting photo of a local pizza joint (according they have good pizza).

There were actually seven or eight of those delivery cars but I only managed to get one and a half cars in the photo. They're called Smart Cars and they're very energy efficient. There are a lot of small cars here. Gas is extremely expensive. Last time I looked gas was €1.63 a liter. That would be $2.56 per liter and there are 4.56 liters in a gallon! So technically gas is $11.63 per gallon.

So people do a lot of walking or cycling. Kaiserslautern has a great trail system that has about 800 kilometers worth of trails. The other day Kevin and I went for a good hike. We walked from Queidersbach to Linden and then from Linden to Hordbach. Somewhere in between Linden and Hordbach we stumbled upon this ancient graveyard, it was actually quite peaceful. We turned back at Hordbach because we worked up quite the appetite and surprisingly Lara is a good cook.

Today I was supposed to catch the train to Amsterdam, until we noticed that Lara had booked the train for the wrong day. So I leave for Amsterdam tomorrow instead. It was a simple mistake and I wasn't upset or anything. Besides it gave me a little more time to explore the countryside. We didn't find out until around 8:30p so as soon as I found out I loaded up my backpack and took off. It doesn't really get dark here until around 10:30 so if I left by 9:00 I could make some distance and then set up camp when it got later. I had Kevin take a picture of me before I left.

I hiked through Linden and over a mountain before it was too dark to see. I found this meadow and I thought it would be a good place to set up camp. I turned on my flash light and noticed I was surrounded by beady little eyes that shimmered with the light. This freaked me out and all I could think about was Hansel and Grettle. So I decided to keep going. I made it down into the valley and found a spot under some trees. I figured it was a decent place because I heard a river nearby and also some train tracks. So I made camp in the woods and read a little before dozing off.

Here's my camp, it's very minimal.

Of course I was very cold throughout the night and sometime early in the morning it began to rain. Luckily Kevin let me barrow one of his army toys. It was like a Gortex sleeve that you get inside of with your sleeping bag so it kept me dry. I woke up this morning and noticed I had made camp next to a creepy fog covered lake and also right next to this old building that looked like an abandoned insane asylum. Oh and I had slugs all over me when I woke up. There are slugs everywhere! It's hard not to step on them while walking.

I made it back to Lara's place at 8:00a So I'm guessing I left camp around 5:00. I was early, but still very scenic. I estimate that the whole trip was about 15 kilometers. It was fun but I could really use a shower. It also appears that I'll have to clean myself really good because I just found a tick on my arm... Oh well I guess it was worth it.

Until next time,

permalink written by  pathaley on July 6, 2008 from Kaiserslautern, Germany
from the travel blog: Eurotrip
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Last Days in Barcelona & First Days in Queidersbach

Barcelona, Spain

My last few days in Barcelona were great. I was really sad to leave. I spent the last day by myself long boarding around the city. I decided to take this picture too.

Also I put a couple videos I filmed on YouTube. You can see them both by visiting the following links.
Video 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CEk4I7q6seg
Video 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BkqHi0f6k8w

By the way, I love this picture. The yellow stuff on the ground are flower petals that fell from the trees. The trees were in full bloom and the entire city was covered in these yellow flower petals.

When I got back that night we had a video in honor of me. It was fun and here are a couple memorable photos. On the left you'll see an egg dripping from my face, it's pretty self explanatory. Then on the right you see Paul, myself, Carly, and Paulina.

Also I took a couple videos of Las Ramblas literally about five minutes after Spain beat Germany.
Video 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fx-rk1EwffM
Video 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4f5MsmTU4pk&NR=1

Unfortunately my time in this city has come to an end. I woke up early Tuesday morning and caught the train to Barcelona Sants to catch the bus to the city of Reus, where my flight was. At the bus terminal a goofy short man started speaking to me in Spanish.

Now this was a challenge because I speak a very broken Spanish. Meaning I can somewhat understand and somewhat communicate with him. I usually just pick out key nouns and verbs and piece them together into one sentence and hope for the best. And to speak the language is another thing. For example when you go to a restaurant you say, "I would like a water and the paella." When I speak it though it sounds like this, "I want water and paella." But I always seem to be excited when speaking Spanish so it comes out as, "I WANT WATER AND PAELLA!........please." All in Spanish of course.

Anyways the man told me that I had missed the bus to Reus. I was freaking out because the next bus wasn't until 4:00p, several hours after my flight. Then he offered to take me in his taxi to Reus... By then I knew something was up so I told him to go away. He was trying to trick me into a nice €70 ride. Well low and behold when the bus finally showed up I was able to relax and all the anxiety of travel disappeared.
I awoke to the sudden stopping of the bus and I was in hell... The Reus airport. It was very small and seemed nice. When I stepped through the front door I was greeted by a frenzy of Scottish, Irish, and German tourists. It was sooo incredibly loud and there were too many accents for one room. I stood in a long line to check my bags. Well as it turns out my bag was 2 kgs over the limit so I crammed some stuff into my carry on and then had to file back into the end of the line and made my way back to the front. I guess I didn't realize how much a kilo was because I was still over by one when they weighed my bag again. I tried to take some more stuff but they said I had to pay for it because they didn't have enough time... It was already 12:15 by this point and my flight departed at 12:30. So I had to go to another desk and pay €15 and then file back into line again. Well I made it to the terminal and the plane hadn't even arrived yet. I noticed the sign on the wall for Ryanair. The banner read Ryanair: The on time airline. It was 12:20 ten minutes until departure when the plane arrived. I thought the banner was ironic but somehow we were in the air at 12:31. And not only were we on time, but I think they made everyone with small children and babies sit in the back of the plane! That was the best part about it. However it was like all the crying children were eerily in sync with one another.

Well when I landed my cousin Lara picked me up at the airport and now I'm sitting on her couch writing this blog. Lara and Kevin have a cool little apartment in Queidersbach, Germany. Let me tell you, this is wine country. The hour long ride from the airport was very scenic and had rolling hills as far as the eye can see that were covered with vineyards. I'm really looking forward to my time here. Sometime soon is Chicken Fest. I can't remember the German name for the festival but you basically walk around, drink beer, and eat fried chicken. That's all I have for now from Germany.


permalink written by  pathaley on July 2, 2008 from Barcelona, Spain
from the travel blog: Eurotrip
tagged Spain, Travel, Germany, Flowers, Europe, Barcelona, LongBoarding and Euro

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Update: Barcelona

Barcelona, Spain

I absolutely love this city and would love to live here one day. One of my favorite parts about Barcelona is it's artistic graffiti scene. I came across this wall a few days ago with François.

I was going through my camera today and came across my mate Pete. He was a cool guy and we parted ways several days ago. Hopefully we should be in Amsterdam the same week though.

I've also been getting quite a few questions and emails about the mansion I'm living in. It's a huge villa located a short train ride from the city center in a suburb of Barcelona called Montmeló.

Here's the back yard of the place. The hairy Englishman you see in the picture is my mate, Greg. He is one of the owners of the house and is a cool guy. He's one of those people who has a thousand stories to share.
  • *edit: I have a feeling that Greg and I are going to be friends for years to come. I know we'll be parting soon, but I'll come across him again one day.**

  • Today has been a lot of fun. I met these two Canadian girls a couple days ago and we've been hanging out all day. We went for a swim in the pool and then took a walk around Park Güell.

    It's a famous park in Spain, but I don't want to bore you so I'll spare the details. We took the metro to the beach and chilled there and just watched people for a couple hours. We came home around 8:30p because all of Paul's and Thijs's old school mates came to visit for a few nights and Greg, the house chef, cooked us a paella feast to celebrate. This weekend will be an interesting one. Not only are there a bunch of crazy dutch guys running around, but Greg's mates from Manchester will be arriving soon too. And to top it all off, Sunday is the final match of the UEFA Euro; Spain vs. Germany. Luckily both England and Holland have already been eliminated or it would be a blood bath in the house. The last few games when Spain progressed through the quarter and semi finals Barcelona has turned completely chaotic. Whenever a goal is scored the entire city erupts with fireworks and cheers of joy. I'm looking forward to seeing the game from the city center.

    Here are my Canadian friends. Melissa (left) and Tammy (right). When we got back from the beach all of the Dutch guys were passed out all over the house so they decided to stir one of them from his slumber. He was very surprised to say the least.


    permalink written by  pathaley on June 27, 2008 from Barcelona, Spain
    from the travel blog: Eurotrip
    tagged Spain, Europe, Barcelona and GoodTimes

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    First Few days in Barcelona

    Barcelona, Spain

    Here's an update on my trip from day one:
    The flight over here was great. Houston to London was long, and when I found my seat on the plane I was seated next to some old nagging German women. Apparently their chairs weren't comfortable enough so the demanded better seats. This was great for me because I now had a whole row of seats to myself. And to top it off I was a preselected seat to take a survey of British Airways. Along with the survey I received complimentary wines of my choice. I managed to fall asleep for part of the flight, however when I woke up finally there was a creepy Filipino man in the chair next to mine. The layover in London was gruesome and painstakingly long. I I made several friends on the flight to Barcelona though. This couple from Florida and these two girls from College Station. When I landed I took the first train to Montmelo.

    So far everything in Barcelona is great. I'm staying in this mansion run by four friends. Pablo who is from Spain, Thijs and Paul who are from Holland and Greg who is from Manchester. The place is really cool. It is sort of like a hostel and mainly fellow couchsurfers are staying here at the moment. Some of the guests and I went to la playa naturalista. It's pretty much the nude beach of Barcelona where all of the tourist that spill off of the cruise lines avoid or don't know about. La playa is really a huge beach party. After that we wandered around Las Ramblas which is the main street here in Barcelona. We missed the train that night because the last train runs at 12a and the first train doesn't start until 5a. It was a long night so I stayed on the beach with my friends Niels and Tina who were catching their bus back home in Denmark at 3. They were really nice and they said I can stay with them if I go to Denmark, so I think I'll take them up on that offer.

    Yesterday I walked around Las Ramblas and found some cool little alleyways to explore. I found a small tapas restaurant that is kind of off the beaten path and had a good Catalan meal and read my book. About 2 hours later I was standing near the Christopher Columbus statue and someone bumped into me. My first reaction was to check my pockets and sure enough € 20 was missing from pocket. I sprinted after him and he grabbed another man's bag on the way. I chased him down through the metro and hopped the gates after him. He dropped the man's bag on the platform and then jumped across the tracks right before the train came and he got away. I returned the man's bag to him and as it turns out he is a wealthy architect and resort owner in Mexico. He owns a 5 star hotel in Nueva Vallarta and after posing in some pictures for him he handed me a business card and said I am welcome to stay in his hotel anytime I am in Mexico. That night the neighbors invited us over for a dinner party and paella.

    Today François and I explored the west side of Barcelona on foot and walked around the gardens on the outskirts on the residential areas. We saw the olympic statdium and a really cool Greek theater. After a meal at a tapas we took the metro to see Camp Nou. Camp Nou is the massive soccer stadium that is home to the pretigous FC Barcelona.

    In the next couple days I am going to try and catch a train to Portugal or the south of France. Depending on which is cheaper. I apologize for updating everyone as often as I should. I will try to update more frequently in the future. I would upload some pictures for you but it's currently 2:30a and I don't feel like doing it. No worries though, I promise to show you some pictures soon.


    permalink written by  pathaley on June 24, 2008 from Barcelona, Spain
    from the travel blog: Eurotrip
    tagged Spain, Barcelona, Paella, Catalunya and Catalan

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    Seperated at Birth?

    San Antonio, United States

    I was looking through my camera when I stumbled across these pictures.

    The duo bear a frighteningly striking resemblance to each other. I have come to the conclusion that they were separated at birth.

    Thank you to everyone who came to visit me on my last day in San Antonio until August. I've been gone about eight hours and I already miss everyone so much. Well with the exception of this guy, he never came to say goodbye.

    No worries John. I understand you were tired and I still love ya.

    My flight to Barcelona leaves on June 20 and on the way back I depart from Istanbul on August 14 which should put me back in San Antonio around 11:00p on the fourteenth. I will have my laptop the entire time so if you want to reach you can leave me a comment on here or by one of the following methods:
    Email: patrickhaley18@gmail.com
    AIM: particlepat
    MSN: patrickhaley18@gmail.com
    Skype: cpt.pat


    permalink written by  pathaley on June 17, 2008 from San Antonio, United States
    from the travel blog: Eurotrip
    tagged Houston, SanAntonio and Twins

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