The video for the trip is finally done! It took a bunch of meet ups and some expert music production but my buddy Jesse Josef Nanton has made a sweet video once again. The music is great as always. Many many thanks to you for making this happen.
Where to begin… I’ve been home for some time now, been programming full time and even picked up a full time position working. I find myself thinking about my trip often and have been wanting to get back out on the road and do some more traveling. Unfortunately, I don’t forsee any travel in the near future. I’ll be focusing on other dreams, growing up a little, and hoping to make some awesome websites or apps.
While I’m doing that I will often be thinking of this trip. Here is the final itinerary.
Day 1: 25-Jun New York, USA
Day 2: 26-Jun Rome, Italy
Day 3: 27-Jun Rome, Italy and Vatican City
Day 4: 28-Jun Umbria, Italy
Day 5: 29-Jun Siena, Italy
Day 6: 30-Jun Assisi, Italy and Castiglione del Lago, Italy
Day 7: 1-Jul Tuscany, Italy
Day 8: 2-Jul Florence, Italy
Day 9: 3-Jul Cortona, Italy
Day 10: 4-Jul Citta Della Pieve, Italy
Day 11: 5-Jul Genoa, Italy and Monte Carlo, Monaco
Day 12: 6-Jul Nice, France and Marseille, France
Day 13: 7-Jul Montpellier, France and Barcelona, Spain
Day 14: 8-Jul Barcelona, Spain
Day 15: 9-Jul Ibiza, Spain
Day 16: 10-Jul Valencia, Spain
Day 17: 11-Jul Madrid, Spain
Day 18: 12-Jul San Sebastian, Spain
Day 19: 13-Jul Bordeaux, France
Day 20: 14-Jul Versailles and Paris, France
Day 21: 15-Jul Paris, France
Day 22: 16-Jul Lyon, France
Day 23: 17-Jul Geneva and Lake Lucerne, Switzerland
Day 24: 18-Jul Interlaken, Lauterbrunnen, and Oberwald, Switzerland
Day 25: 19-Jul Zermatt, Switzerland
Day 26: 20-Jul Milan, Italy
Day 27: 21-Jul Venice, Italy
Day 28: 22-Jul Innsbruck, Austria
Day 29: 23-Jul Salzburg, Austria and Munich, Germany
Day 30: 24-Jul Brussels, Belgium
Day 31: 25-Jul Amsterdam, Netherlands
Day 32: 26-Jul Hamburg, Germany
Day 33: 27-Jul Copenhagen, Denmark
Day 34: 28-Jul Gothenburg, Sweden
Day 35: 29-Jul Stockholm, Sweden
Day 36: 30-Jul Oslo, Norway
Day 37: 31-Jul Drive to Preikestolen, Norway
Day 38: 1-Aug Preikestolen, Norway
Day 39: 2-Aug Bremen, Germany
Day 40: 3-Aug Berlin, Germany
Day 41: 4-Aug Nuremberg, Germany
Day 42: 5-Aug Zurich, Switzerland and Vaduz, Liechtenstein
Day 43: 6-Aug Lake Como, Italy
Day 44: 7-Aug Home
12,000 miles of driving.
There are a lot of great memories from the trip. I got to see a small portion of this beautiful world that we live in. Everyone I met was suberb. The people I traveled with made the trip incredible. My darling made it the absolute best.
When I think of this trip there really were 3 parts of the trip. The first was in Italy with my girlfriend’s family. We stayed in a villa and took day trips around the Italian countryside.
The second was with my love, traveling to France, Spain, and Switzerland. We went to all of the best spots and ate and drank to our hearts content.
The third part was just myself traveling, sleeping in the car every other night, driving more miles than any part of the trip. Each of those three parts of the trip were different. Different emotions. Different costs. Different freedoms, challenges, experiences, and sights.
I loved all three parts of the trip and I would not have done it differently. I saw a lot of things. I missed a lot of things. I loved it all. I went. I saw. I conquered. I grew up. I achieved my dream of seeing (Western) Europe and traveling extensively for the first time in my life. My schedule may be tight once again but I will be back on the road at some point.
I would be happy to answer any questions that anyone might have. Generally people ask about how much it cost, so here’s a detailed breakdown. A lot of this had to be pieced together from bank statements, emails, and memories, so it is far from accurate. I’m pretty sure I overestimated somethings. I paid less for some things and I paid more for some things. Staying on a villa in a spare bed was of no cost, but paying for nice hotels for my lady sure did (smiley emoji). But she’s the best and I have to spoil her at least a little. By myself, I slept every other night in the car to save some bucks and build character.
This was my trip. You could easily spend much less or much more money and still have a great time or a terrible time. Money doesn’t ensure a great time. For example, just going to Ibiza for one day cost almost $1000 because we had to fly there and back, get a hotel, eat, pay for tickets to see the homeboy Nas in concert, etc. It is one of many examples of how you could spend a lot less or a lot more on this or any other trip.
The total price really reflects paying for myself but I also paid for my darling as much as possible, although sometimes she refuses to let me. Also keep in mind that this trip was 44 days. You could increase or decrease that length. I’ve been wanted to travel to Europe for many many years and I didn’t have any reason to hold back. I knew someday I would be back working and unable to get any serious time off (already that happened lol) and probably not be able to do something like this for a couple years, if I ever get the chance. It was truly a dream trip of a lifetime and I loved it tremendously.
July 31 – Drive to Preikestolen, Norway
August 1 – Preikestolen, Norway
August 2 – Bremen, Germany
August 3 – Berlin, Germany
August 4 – Nuremberg, Germany
August 5 – Zurich, Switzerland and Vaduz, Liechtenstein
August 6 – Lake Como, Italy
August 7 – Home
Well, here we are. The end of my Eurotrip. 45 days later. It sure went fast.
Since the last time I have done a lot of traveling, both by driving and by taking several ferries. I wanted to see Preikestolen in Norway (Preacher’s Rock or Pulpit’s Rock as it is called in the English translation). Norway has a tremendous amount of beautiful things to see and experience and they are dispersed throughout the country. This is great because there is always something amazing within driving distance, but not that great because you can’t see it all in a few days. You have to spend a lot of time in Norway to see it all. For me, Preikestolen looked like the best place to go to in Norway. Even with the 8-hour trip from Oslo, I thought it was worth it.
So off I went, from one side of the country all the way across to the other side of the country. It was a lot of driving, but the scenery along the way was gorgeous. I couldn’t really stop to take pictures of the beautiful scenery but I did get this picture of some horses for my sis who’s been asking me the whole trip for pictures of horses.
That was the only picture I really took all day. When I finally got to the Preikestolen area, a trip that included hopping on a ferry, I drove up to the top to scope out the situation for tomorrow’s hike. Or at least as far as the road will take you. There is a parking lot at the top that is 2.4 miles away from the final destination. From this point it looked nice, and I was hoping the 1,100-foot increase in height would make for some better views. Plus it was cloudy, raining, and getting dark when I got there.
I grabbed some sleep in the car, thinking about the hike the next day.
I was slightly worried about the whole hike, but I was more than committed at this point. The round trip would be 5 miles, up and down through some steep rocky terrain, and it was still raining and cold in the morning when I woke up. I didn’t have any rain gear. My outfit consisted of pants, a t-shirt, and boat shoes (the best shoes that I had for the hike, which I thought would be dearly inadequate). I looked around at all of the other hikers who had the works; rain gear, nice boots, and proper backpacks. Oh well, this was something that I had to see, so I was off.
I took an umbrella with me as well so that I could protect my Norwegian baguette and camera if the rain became bad. As I start hiking, the weather started clearing up. By the time I had got to the first picture spot, the rain was gone and the blue sky was out. The clouds turned from grey to white. Looks like maybe I would be all right with the weather after all. The boat shoes were holding up fine.
Further and further I climbed. There were a decent amount of people hiking and the crowd was very diverse. People of all ages were making the trek up to Preikestolen. Apparently in Norway they start hiking with their children at a very early age. I remember a decent amount of people carrying babies and small kids, some sitting on their parent’s shoulders, up the mountain like it was no big deal. I remember seeing two girls hiking with her mom, one of whom you could tell was just finishing up learning how to walk. I was pretty impressed that a 4-5 year old was attempting this hike, but she was smiling and enjoying it.
Further and further up I climbed. The hike up is a decent hike. It’s similar to doing stairs for a long time, only the stairs are just rocks that you have to navigate across. I thought I was getting somewhere but I couldn’t see the Preacher’s Rock so I knew I had to go on further. I climbed a couple peaks that I thought surely would be it. Thinking I was further along then where I was, there was one point where I joked with myself that the place where I was standing was the halfway mark (I later found out it was). The views along the hike are great and there are plenty of places to stop for a water/food/picture break if you need to.
Some of the views that open up are tremendous. The bad weather had completely gone away and you could see for miles in the distance at some openings. These views were great, but you really have to make it to the top to fully appreciate this hike. When I saw this, I knew that I had to be close.
Turns out, I was pretty close. Here’s the first shot of Preikestolen. It is a very steep cliff that is 1,982 feet above the ground. If you hate heights or easily get vertigo, you might want to skip the next couple pictures. It might not look like it from this picture, but it goes straight down.
This picture shows how vertical the cliff is. It also shows the beautiful water that runs beneath the cliff. The views up here are astounding. You forget all about the hike when you are up here looking around. But you have to be careful. The cliff drops straight off, so if you happen to go over the cliff, there is no saving you.
There have not been many accidental deaths off of Preikestolen, which is surprising given that people go right up to the edge. Some people even sit with their feet dangling off. I think the first accidental death happened in October 2013 and I haven’t seen a story documenting another since then. There have been several suicides off of the cliff but that number is also low given the difficulty of reaching the top. I’m a pretty cautious fellow, so I thought for sure I would be staying far away from the edge. But I also had to make sure I got the best pictures that I could get. So here’s a picture that I took at the edge of the cliff, with Preikestolen on the right side. You can see how it just drops right down. It’s pretty wild being this close to death.
That was enough for me. Thumbs up for Preikestolen and not falling over.
Here’s just one more shot of the fjord. Tremendous place that I definitely recommend to anyone.
Preikestolen was what I thought would be that last major stop on the trip. The rest of the trip would almost be like a victory lap. Back through Denmark, Germany, Switzerland, and Italy, all places that I had already been through, only this time in different cities. I wasn’t sure where I would be spending the night. I really wanted to make it as close to Bremen, Germany as possible, but that was fourteen hours away and included two ferries. The roads in Norway were mostly 35-50 mph due to winding around all the mountains and lakes. I hopped on both ferries. I drove and drove. Eventually I got three hours outside of Bremen and decided to grab some sleep for the night.
In the morning I made the three-hour drive to Bremen. I was able to check in early at the hotel. I’ve been able to check in early at almost all of my hotels. They usually have a check in of 3 PM but I generally get to a place around 11 AM and get a room no problem. I grabbed some extra sleep at the hotel and showered up and got to checking out the town. Bremen Cathedral, or St. Peter’s Cathedral sits in the market square in the center of Bremen. Like many of the churches in Europe, its history is a long one. Parts of it collapsed. It was knocked down. It’s had bombs dropped on it and lightning strike it and every other thing possible since the first church was built there over 1,200 years ago. It’s been rebuilt, refinished, and restored a whole bunch of times.
I had plans to go to a place for dinner but I saw a bunch of tents and outside seating along the water with German beer and German food. I grabbed a Franziskaner Hefe-Weisse Dunkel and bratwurst at one place, and followed that up with a Paulaner Hefe-Weissbier and some currywurst, which is a sausage, cut up and drowned in a curry ketchup.
Paulaner’s had a bunch of tents and tables by the water and they also had their outdoor and indoor seating at their restaurant. Sure, Bremen isn’t Munich, but Bremen still is Germany. I’d recommend this waterfront area for when it’s nice out and the tents and outside seating is setup. It’s felt like a mini-Oktoberfest.
After dinner I strolled around to the opposite side of the river. I scored this pick of the tents and the people. That’s where I was having my dinner. Melissa told me to take some good night shots on this trip so I’ve been trying to get some good shots and I think this one is pretty good. I’ve definitely learned a ton about photography on this trip. I still have quite a bit more to learn but I’m getting some respectable shots for something I consider just a small hobby.
Bremen was meant to give me a break from the absurd driving that I was doing the previous days. The drive to Berlin was a short three and a half hours. Driving on the Autobahn is incredible. Every driver is very aware of the other drivers and they only use the left lane to past. I’ve been cruising on the Autobahn between 90-100 mph, not pushing my little Opel past that. Even at that speed cars are passing me. It’s a beautiful thing.
When I got to Berlin, the first stop I made was to check out the Berlin Wall. Parts of the wall have been left up but almost all of it has been knocked down. This portion is from near the Berlin Wall Memorial. This side is clean but the other side is bombed with graffiti. I like graffiti when it’s done right, but I think the plain wall looks so cold. The cloudiness and rain helped add to the effect.
A short walk took me to Mauerpark. It’s a pretty neat place that is a hipster’s dream. There’s a flea market where you can score cool stuff. There’s a grass area that is a wasteland. It seems like Berlin in general is a hipster/hippie mecca.
A short walk from the flea market leads you to outside seating where they do karaoke on Sundays. A lot of people are there to watch whoever is brave enough to get up on stage sing their song. The acts I saw might not have been the best at singing, but they made up for it with the humor.
I decided to head back to grab my car. On the way back I happened to get this horse and carriage riding along the Berlin Wall.
I hopped in my car and drove off to Berghain, one of the craziest clubs in the world. Yes, it was Sunday at 7 PM and I was going to a club. And no I wasn’t early. I was late. The party does not stop here. People have been partying inside here for over 24 hours straight. Sunday mornings are a very popular time to go to Berghain. The write-ups of this club make it seem like something totally out of control. No cameras or picture taking allowed. It’s extremely hard to get into and you can be kicked out of a long line if you aren’t wearing the right thing, don’t talk German, or a slew of other reasons. It’s sex, drugs, and rock and roll (although rock has been replaced with house and techno). Hence, no pictures. Anything goes. And in a world where everyone is taking pictures of everything and posting it, I thought it would be interesting for that aspect alone. I wanted to go in to experience the place. I’ve been to some of the greatest churches in the world on this trip. I’ve seen all sorts of art at different museums. I’ve seen some of the world’s greatest nature and had some of the world’s best foods. I wanted to see what one of the world’s best clubs was like.
I pull up and I hear the hum of 808’s bumping techno and house. I get out of the car. I take a picture of the place. And I just can’t bring myself to go. I don’t know why, really. Maybe it was the cloudy, rainy day. Maybe I had been traveling too much. Maybe it was the realization that it’s time for me to grow up and move on. And so I hopped back in the car and had some Pringles (Paprika flavored, that’s the European way), and thought on it. The answer became more and more clear. I wasn’t going to go. I was going to take a slow, leisurely drive to Nuremberg. And so I did. As I drove out of Berlin, a rainbow appeared. It looked like the cloudy, rainy weather that had been around me for the previous bunch of days might finally give way to some sunshine.
Nuremberg is a much smaller city than Berlin. There are a dozen things I would still want to do if I went to Berlin again, but I would be happy enough with my one visit to Nuremberg. Nuremberg has its churches, this one being St. Lorenz.
I thought this was pretty sweet. It’s a 14th century fountain called Schoner Brunnen, which translates to Beautiful Fountain. It looks unlike most things I’ve seen on this trip, but that’s probably because of the perspective. It’s really pretty similar to any gothic spire that you would see on any of the gothic churches of Europe, but the detail and style is greater and different. The colors are eye-catching. There are two brass rings that have been seamlessly welded into the iron fence and they bring you good luck if you spin them. The Frauenkirche, or Church of Our Lady is seen in the background of this picture. It’s another amazing building.
Nuremberg isn’t exactly known for being the most beautiful place in the world, but I’m going to miss walking down cobblestone streets like this.
For dinner I was planning on going to Albrecht Durer Stube, which is highly rated German restaurant that has the classic fare and beverage at a reasonable cost. It’s what I was in the mood for, but it was closed. I decided to head to O-Sha Thai Restaurant which had rave reviews. The tom young soup was out of control good and the crispy duck was good, but they weren’t kidding when they said spicy. Good thing I had a German beer to cool the taste buds. I’m also going to miss eating outside just about every day. I love how eating outside is such a big part of European culture.
Zurich, Switzerland was up for the next day. I was told Zurich was a place where you can go for fancy things so it was nice to see this building totally bombed. Everyone tags everything in Europe. There’s a lot of graffiti here, but usually not on buildings. There are at least some attempts here to move beyond tagging and into street art, but it’s most just tags.
I had to get some more Swiss chocolates. The chocolate out here is amazing. This is Sprungli, one of the best. This is the original gangster of Swiss chocolate that is still doing its thing. There were a couple chocolatiers that started before Sprungli, but companies like Nestle and Kraft Foods now own them.
Zurich is a beautiful city. The river that runs through it is great to walk along. There are plenty of the usual shops, restaurants, etc.
By now I have become an expert at getting into, parking in, and exploring a new city and I think I can get a feel for a place in a couple of hours. I broke down Zurich pretty quickly and wanted to get out of there. I would have had too much time if I just went to Lake Como directly, so I pulled up a map. I would not be going to Luxembourg like I thought I was, or Liechtenstein. My country count would end up being 13 and not 14 like I thought. Yes, I decided to count Vatican City as a country after all. Mainly because I needed to make up for the two countries I wouldn’t be able to see, and well, also because it is actually a country. It may be the smallest country in the world, but I’m counting it.
So I’m looking at the map and I realize Liechtenstein isn’t that far away. It’s only about an hour from Zurich to Vaduz, the capital of Liechtenstein. I decided to make the drive and get my country count back to 14 like I said I would. The drive was gorgeous. The mountains provided a stunning backdrop that had me cursing the darkness as it rolled in. Of course I had to see the Vaduz Castle, the number one tourist attraction in Liechtenstein.
And that was it. I was out of there. Liechtenstein was pretty dead. It’s a weird feeling being one of the only people out and about in the capital city of a country. Feels kind of like Will Smith’s character in I Am Legend. I made the drive to Lake Como. I really wish it wasn’t dark because I had to cross over a mountain and it looked beautiful driving to Lake Como. The area around the lake looked gorgeous too, but I couldn’t see too much because it was night out.
In the morning I was pleasantly treated to the view of the pool, with Lake Como and a neighboring city in the background.
I decided to get some relaxing in while I was staying at Lake Como. There are several different places that you can stay at when you are in Lake Como, so really I was staying in Menaggio.
Had to get a little swimming in between tanning sessions.
After freshening up, I grabbed a ferry over to Bellagio to spend some time hanging around. Bellagio is probably the place you think of when ever you hear about Lake Como. Here’s Menaggio from the ferry. My hotel is the yellow building on the left, right by the ferry stop.
And here is Bellagio. The towns around the lake look pretty similar. They all have similarities and differences. Bellagio was a nice place to stroll around. Although it’s the bigger, touristier town, it’s still very small. I grabbed a final dinner of spritz, caprese, pizza with prosciutto, and espresso and finished with gelato from a gelateria.
I hopped the ferry and got back to Menaggio and strolled around. Took one final picture, chucking up the deuces.
And that pretty much wraps this all up. Have to do some packing and I have an early flight out of Milan, but I should be back home tomorrow.
This trip has been quite the experience. I’ll post a full wrap up when I have some time and when it all can sink in.
I have a ton of video footage that I’m going to break down to make an awesome video of the whole trip that I will post later.
I’m happy that I am doing exactly what I want to do with my life. I look forward to continuing that by starting up a business in the near future, of which I will also make posts here.
Hopefully I have inspired you to achieve some dreams of your own. Life is too short not to do what you really want to do. If I can help you in any way with your dreams then reach out. I’ll be happy to help.
I can’t wait to see everyone back home and get back to working on some other dreams of mine.
Thank you for taking time to read this. I don’t foresee any world travels in the near future, but if you want to go somewhere and you are looking for a travel buddy, you might be able to twist my arm.
July 22 – Innsbruck, Austria
July 23 – Salzburg, Austria and Munich, Germany
July 24 – Brussels, Belgium
July 25 – Amsterdam, Netherlands
July 26 – Hamburg, Germany
July 27 – Copenhagen, Denmark
July 28 – Gothenburg, Sweden
July 29 – Stockholm, Sweden
July 30 – Oslo, Norway
I’ve been traveling around Europe all by my lonesome self. It was very sad at first but I’ve been enjoying the time to myself. I’ve been doing tons of walking around the cities, several miles every day. I’ve had some time to my thoughts and myself and it has been great. I’ve been sleeping in my car every other night and that’s helped me to appreciate the simple things like having a bed to sleep in.
The first stop by myself was Venice, but I wrote about that in the last post. After Venice, I ventured off to Innsbruck, Austria. Innsbruck is a nice town. The towns all start to look the same after some time. Nice painted buildings, statues, squares, outside seating, churches, souvenir stores, etc. but each town has it’s own identity. I was hoping that the weather would be better in Innsbruck so that I could see the mountains, but it was cloudy. Half the fun of Innsbruck is the beautiful mountains around the town and I wasn’t able to see them. Anywhere you see clouds in my pictures of Innsbruck, there should be mountains there.
This is the Goldenes Dachl or the Golden Roof. It was a wedding present from an emperor to his bride, completed in 1500. The balcony was used to observe festivals and jousting tournaments. It was raining out but plenty of people were there to see the Golden Roof. It’s a big deal in Innsbruck.
Here is a view of the town from almost underneath the roof.
I had started off the solo leg of my trip in search of some good value. I wanted to rough it a little more than I was when I was with my lady, so I found the Himal Nepali Kitchen, which was a restaurant that served up some delicious Nepalese food for a good price. I scored a cucumber salad and a chicken masala. The reviews were very high for this place, and the food was good, but there are several Indian restaurants nearby home in New Jersey that could rival or exceed it. As I was in Austria and starting to move from wine countries into beer countries I had to order the Franziskaner Weissbier, which is one of my all time favorite beers. It hails from neighboring Germany.
After dinner I strolled around town. There was some classical music being played in town. I stopped to listen for a few minutes. There has been a lot of live music played throughout the places that I have been and some of it is definitely worth a listen. The clouds started to pull back a little but not much. I wouldn’t be able to see the mountains but I will eventually make my way back into the mountains again on this trip.
The next day I decided to spend a few hours in Salzburg, Austria and then head on to Munich, Germany for the night. Salzburg is a nice town. There are squares and statues and fountains. I’ve been trying to get some good horse pictures for my sister but usually the only horses are off of highways and there is no good place to pull over to get the picture. So you’ll have to settle with this horse fountain until hopefully sometime next week when I finally get a decent picture, lol.
I strolled by Mozart’s birthplace. He was born and lived in Salzburg for many years. Mozart’s body of work includes over 600 pieces, but he would spend his late years broke. He died at 35 and was interred in a common grave in Vienna, with maybe four people attending his funeral.
For lunch I went with the cheese pretzel. Delicious.
They built statues for Mozart after he passed away. He is pretty much immortalized. This is something that happens with lots of great artists. Sure, Mozart was acknowledged during his life. He had performances as a child prodigy at a very early age. But it is not until later that some artists are fully recognized for their work. Many die broke; some don’t get any recognition until after their death.
I had to make one more stop before I ventured off to Munich. I tried to find some of the head honchos at Red Bull Arena in Salzburg to have a talk about the New York Red Bulls soccer team. For those of you that don’t know, there are two Red Bulls soccer teams. The one I root for is from New Jersey/New York, but the Salzburg one is where the global soccer operations are. Actually the entire Red Bull brand is headquartered in Salzburg. I tried to find some of the big bosses to have a chat about the teams progress this season, but they weren’t at the stadium. Actually, I’m pretty certain I wasn’t even supposed to be here. I drove right up to the stadium, parked illegally in some VIP spot and then ventured into the stadium. I was just planning on walking up and seeing if I could see the field or anything but the gate was open as they were doing construction on seats behind one of the goals. I saw the open gate and I walked in. “Act as if.”
The outside of the stadium is pretty lame looking in comparison to the gem of the stadium that we have in New Jersey.
I got out of there before I had to explain what I was doing in there and got on my way to Munich. Munich is a pretty big town that has new and old buildings. The Marienplatz is the city’s main square and has been since 1158. No big deal. Just an 850-year-old meeting place. It’s a nice square.
This is pretty much the longest my beard got.
I decided to grab a haircut and finally found a place that was open. It was a pretty straightforward process. For about a day though I had the sides of my head shaved and had the beard at it’s full grown length. I don’t think I have any pictures of it, which is fine as it was a pretty ridiculous style.
After getting my fresh new cut I ventured off to the Hofbrauhaus, which is a very popular Bavarian brewery. There is a lot of beer served at this place.
The seating inside is pretty beautiful. There was a band playing songs and everyone was in pretty good spirits.
I chose to sit in the outside courtyard, which had maybe the only single seat available in the whole place. I asked the waiter what he recommended and he suggested schweinshaxe, which is pork knuckle with potato dumpling. I’m glad he recommended it because it was delicious. I found out that it is a very typical Bavarian dish.
The next day I was planning on heading to Frankfurt because it was halfway between where I was and Brussels, which is where I wanted to be. I decided to tough it out and make the drive straight to Brussels after hearing Frankfurt was nothing too special. I got to Brussels without any major happenings. I thought I would be a little more tired after the night sleeping in the car but I can drive forever and I wasn’t tired at all. I checked in to the hotel and showered up and chopped my beard off in replace of a mustache that would last for two days.
I stopped by Grand Place or Grote Markt, which is the central square in Brussels. I promise you this is not a picture of the one in Munich. They do look very similar though.
I forgot how many of my favorite beers were from Belgium. Delirium, Chimay, Lindemans, St. Bernadus, La Chouffe. I realized this walking through the city and seeing places like this.
I wanted to stop in but I needed dinner first. I had to get the mussels and fries with a Chimay Blue. Apparently mussels and fries is the official dish of Belgium and I was happy to order it. This is a dish that is not popular in the States but it’s hard to beat a bowl of mussels with some fries and a beer for a meal. After dinner I walked around a little more and then ventured back to the hotel to score some sleep after the long drive.
In the morning I walked around the city some more. I had to get Belgian waffles in Belgium and so I did. They guy said chocolate and cream was the best way to get it. It was delicious, but the waffle itself is tremendously better than any waffle I’ve ever had. I kind of wished that there wasn’t all that chocolate and cream to destroy the subtle beauty of the Belgian waffle but it was delicious regardless.
I got on the road and headed off for Amsterdam, Netherlands. There are a lot of canals in the city. It kind of looks like a more boring version of Venice.
I stopped by the Anne Frank house, which is where Anne and her family hid during World War II. It was weird driving through and hanging out in areas that played influential parts in such major wars. It’s a little hard to grasp that this is in the same location as the coffeehouses that sell weed and buildings that let you pick which prostitute you want to spend the night with. It’s the same place and it’s only a few years later but you could never tell that stories like this happened here if you didn’t know the history.
You could never really tell from looking at the house if you didn’t know it, but this is the Anne Frank house.
I grabbed steak and fries, which seemed to be a popular choice in the city, and it was alright. I was a long ways away from Belgium so my beer choices where pretty much Amstel or Heineken. I went with a Heineken, which tasted less skunky than it does in the States. Nothing special though.
I walked all over Amsterdam, back and forth over canals and down alleyways. I was told that there was great street art or graffiti in the city but I couldn’t find too much of it. I assume it’s more on the outskirts.
I ventured around the Red Light District. Later on at night these booths would be filled with mostly naked women begging the boys passing by to throw their money at them.
There were places offering sex shows and sex shops. People were very drunk and high as you can smoke weed anywhere in the city. I really wanted to find a place that was playing some hip hop so I could do some dancing but I think everyone is too high in Amsterdam to dance and I couldn’t find a place. I scored some good Chinese food at this place called Wok to Walk, which cooks your Chinese in a wok fresh for you to take with you as you stroll around. It was a great late night snack, although I probably was the only sober person eating it.
Amsterdam went kind of how I expected it to go. The city’s big draw is the marijuana and the red light district, neither of which I was really interested in. The city is still worth a visit, and might be fun if you didn’t have a bedtime or manners. One thing I wanted to see but couldn’t because of the hours was the Van Gogh Museum. I’ve always thought Van Gogh’s work has a great appearance, something about those brushstrokes.
Hamburg, Germany was the next stop. It also has a popular square called Rathaus. There was a food and wine festival that was going on, which made for an even better time.
I had to get one of these wursts. I ordered it by pointing and saying “that one.” Pretty much everyone talks English that you come in contact with. Those that don’t you can always point and use hand gestures or whatever to get what you want.
Hamburg also has a famous red light district located along the street called the Reeperbahn. It’s quite a bit smaller, more tame, and less popular and renowned than the red light district in Amsterdam. I wanted to check it out because this is the area where the Beatles played for a couple years before they became mega popular. I realized that Saint Pauli was playing Celtic in a preseason friendly that would have been pretty tremendous to see, a game that was being played only a few blocks away. I could tell by all of the Saint Pauli supporters who were decked out in their punk/skull and crossbones gear.
After checking out the Reeperbahn area, I ventured off to the waterfront at the port. The Port of Hamburg is massive, one of the biggest in the world, ranking in the 15 spot. The waterfront around the port has restaurants and bars and shops.
Copenhagen, Denmark was the next stop. I was following my GPS and it took me to a ferry terminal, so I took my car and hopped on board. Ferries are a way of life in the Scandinavian culture. It’s not the only one that I was on and I still have a couple more planned for the last leg of my trip. The Puttgarden to Rodby ferry was a short ride that got me about an hour and a half outside of Copenhagen. It was a nice change of pace from driving.
Copenhagen has a nice area called Nyhavn, which has a bunch of restaurants along the water.
I decided to go to one restaurant and get lobster bisque and lobster. The lobster bisque was good but had shrimp in it, which was strange. The lobster came with some dill sauce. I miss lobster in Maine. They give you a huge lobster and it comse with butter and you open it yourself. You can’t beat that stuff when you are in Maine.
I strolled around Copenhagen, stopping here or there. I ventured off to the Tivoli Gardens, which I didn’t end up going into because there was a fee, and I have seen enough gardens on this trip already. I walked over to The Little Mermaid, which is a big deal in Copenhagen. It’s a bronze statue that was commissioned by the son of the founder of Carlsberg brewery. He was fascinated by the story after seeing the fairy tale performed at Copenhagen’s Royal Theatre. The statue has been vandalized many times as you can easily get access to it. Although apparently the statue located in Copenhagen harbor has always been a copy, with the sculptor’s heirs keeping the original at an undisclosed location.
Sleeping in the parking deck didn’t work out well. I got a knock on the window a minute or two into sleep and was told I couldn’t sleep there because of safety reasons. The guy tried to offer me a hotel that his friend had. I politely told him no thanks and decided to make the drive out to Gothenburg, Sweden. It was supposed to be a short drive but the GPS took me to another ferry terminal. So it was the middle of the night and I boarded a ferry. It’s just a way of life over here. I made it to Gothenburg as the sun was coming up. I asked to check in to my hotel ten hours early and surprisingly the host said that it was fine. I went right to sleep when I got there and when I woke up headed out to explore the southern archipelago of Gothenburg. There is a collection of islands that you can hop on and hop off on with a ferry pass, which included in the public transportation pass for the city. For a couple bucks you had access to a bunch of awesome little islands.
Since it was a little late in the day I only got off at Branno Husvik (the southern part of Branno) and walked around the whole island and departed back for mainland from Branno Rodsten (the north east part of Branno).
I had an entire beach all to myself.
The ferry ride was great. It seems like hanging on the rocks is popular to do.
I strolled around Gothenburg, Sweden. I tried to grab some food but the place wasn’t serving food so I settle for some kebab sandwich that I was afraid would make me sick by looking at it. The freshness of the place wasn’t near what I thought it would be. When I got back to the hotel, I grabbed some sleep so that I would be rested for the next day.
Stockholm was a nice drive from Gothenburg. I saw a moose on the way but couldn’t get a picture. I think it was a baby moose but it was still absolutely the biggest thing in the world. It was about half the height of a pine tree.
I was told that I had to go to Marten Trotzig’s and get the reindeer. I had a Swedish meal there. It started with a cloudberry martini, which is a berry only found in the Northern Hemisphere. After I had the herring plate which featured blueberry and vodka herring, lingonberry herring, mustard herring and pickled herring. It definitely felt a little Polish with the dill, cream, onion, and potato on the plate. Apparently the Swedish way to eat herring is with an O.P. Anderson aquavit, which is a digestif spirit.
After the herring I had the reindeer, which came with a black currant sauce and some oyster mushrooms. Reindeer tastes delicious just like any of the more exotic meats. I thought the meal was good, but the restaurant gets hammered on Google Reviews with a 2.3 rating. I think this is because the price is high, but a decent price comes from the liquor at this restaurant. If you eat here and don’t order any alcohol I don’t think you can complain too much. I dunno, most of the time I agree with the online reviews but I don’t think I agree with them here.
I spent some time strolling around the Old City or the Gamla Stan as it’s called. I grabbed an ice cream and messed around with some photos. Here’s Stockholm.
And here’s an amusement park that looked like fun. It was way too far of a walk that late, otherwise I was in the mood to stroll around.
I couldn’t sleep so I decided to make my way to Oslo. I made it about halfway before I pulled over and decided to sleep in a rest area. My eyes were a little tired and it was fine because I couldn’t check in until the next day anyhow.
One of the big things to do in Oslo is to get out to the fjords. I chose not to do that because I plan on heading out to Preacher’s Rock or Pulpit’s Rock (it goes by many names) tomorrow. I strolled around town. I went in to a game place and they had some Magic the Gathering cards. This Black Lotus is pretty reasonably priced at $2,500 US dollars, but I didn’t buy it.
I grabbed some dinner at Lokk. It was a three-course meal that was fairly priced, a steal compared to what many of the restaurants charge for good food in Oslo. Cucumber soup with pork, a fish dish, and a chocolate ice cream with custard.
After dinner I ventured off to Frogner/Vigeland Park. It was a decent walk through the city. There were some great sculptures and statues that expressed the human emotion pretty well.
The grounds were also nice. It reminded me a little of the gardens at the Palace of Versailles but nowhere near as impressive.
On the walk back I saw some guy fall off of his bike so I went to make sure he was alright. His name is Chris and he said he was drinking all day and it was the second time on the drive that he fell off of his bike. He said he was heading back to his place to meet up with his girlfriend and some friends and he was going to do some cocaine and then he was heading back out for some more drinks. He invited me out for a beer but I told him I was all good. I got a decent walking head start on him while he was figuring out his bike situation but after a couple minutes he was zooming past me off into the streets of Oslo.
So yea, that’s pretty much been what I’ve been up to for the last week or so. Tomorrow I’m making the drive out to Preacher’s Rock in Norway and tomorrow I should be hiking to it. Eventually I’ll get back into Denmark, Germany, Switzerland, and eventually Italy where I fly out of on August 7th. I have another week left, which I’m excited for but I’m also excited to get back and see everyone and get back to some computer programming. I miss everyone a whole bunch but I’m excited to finish out the trip.