Archive for May, 2009

May 17, 2009

I am cruising through the Stockholm archipelago, on my way to Helsinki. My word selection in the previous sentence was deliberate — I am on a Viking Line cruise ship! My EUrail pass covers a shipping line from Stockholm to Finland, but it also gives massive discounts on this cruise. I only paid $40 for a bed in a cabin I am sharing with a French dude. Also, I just booked my ticket to Beijing — I had many choices for my layover and I went with Cairo. It is a longer and more expensive ticket than the one via Brussels, but the people watching will be much more interesting. Also, I selected the ‘Muslim’ special option for my meals. I am hoping they reward me for this with something tasty! Regardless, it will be interesting.

I had a spectacular time with my Swedish friends from Stanford: Robert, Erik and Andrea. Highlights included the vasa museum and homemade elk burgers. The Stockholm archipelago is gorgeous.


May 13, 2009

I put my Eurail pass to the test yesterday, and zig-zagged through six countries, with no real destination in mind — I simply wanted to head north. I am going to do the same this morning — heading East! My ultimate goal is to arrive in Sweden on Friday. Also, I am compelled to spend Thursday evening in Copenhagen. I have no idea where in Germany I will sleep tonight!

May 8, 2009

Lisa and I have been exploring Vienna for the last 24 hours. There is a lot to see, but it is remarkable how much ground you can cover if you take the plunge to get out of bed, and then walk all day. Yesterday’s highlight was probably a painting titled: “Lago di Garda” in the Upper Belvedere Palace museum. I am having trouble finding the artist’s name!

We are about to continue our exploration of this marvelous city — possibly housing the most culture citizens I have ever encountered. We are taking an overnight train to Zurich this evening. We are excited for our fancy two-person cabin!

Also, I bought a $30 RyanAir ticket to Stockholm for May 14th! I am ecstatic to visit some of my amigos up there!

May 6, 2009

Lisa and I chose an excellent route for our adventure and have been upgrading our lifestyle with every passing kilometer! Sofia was charming, and Bulgaria had a beautiful country-side, but the hospitality we experienced left much to be desired. However, we did eat a couple spectacular meals in Sofia.

We essentially only transited Macedonia, and had a rough time at the border, but the experiences we did have were very positive. We had a three hour bus layover in Gostorov, and were spontaneously stopped by a few different locals who simply asked if they could help us with any information. All three times that we attempted to buy fruit from street vendors, our money was turned away and the fruit was given to us for free.

The hospitality in Macedonia was remarkable, but it was outdone in Albania. In particular, we had an incredible cab driver named Mark, who called upon his border patrol officer of a son, Edvin, to enable us to bypass the Montenegro border. This father-son duo had an amazing family history of persecution in the dark dictatorial years of decades past.

We have been enjoying a cultured lifestyle in Budapest. We visited the cities two major art museums yesterday. We  lounged and exfoliated in the Széchenyi baths this morning. Moved on to a cute cafe fora couple Cappuchinos and Machiatos. Bought $4 Opera tickets for tonight’s performace of Handel’s Serse (Xerxes) in Budapest’s ornate opera house. Walked to the train station and purchased a pair of tickets to Vienna. Currently, we are on our way to the great market here, to find some goodies for lunch, before the performance and on our train ride.  The rest of our afternoon will probably take us to castle hill on the Buda side of the Danube.

My brain is exploding with ideas relating to math, physics and businesses. It will be interesting to see what happens.

Sorry for such lackluster updates.

May 4, 2009

We made it to Budapest! Before arriving, we had a couple hour layover in Zagreb and made the most of our time. We will have more time on the internet tomorrow, and you can expect a more pronounced upate!

Shaun the Laggard.

May 3, 2009

Lisa and I have made major progress over the last couple days — we transited Bulgaria, Macedonia, Albania and Montenegro at a pace that exhausted even myself! We took today off and splurged in Dubrovnik, Croatia. Yesterday, we walked approximately 18 miles and explored the beautiful walled city of Kotor, Montenegro. We stayed the night in a Tivat, Montenegro hostel that was a front for Kosovo’s independence movement. We met a beautiful family who was tragically touched by Albania’s previous socialist dictator — the grandfather was sentenced to 25 years in prison for leaving the country, and the father to hard labor unloading boulders. The hospitality in Albania rivaled that of Syria and the natural beauty was remarkable, but detrimentally affected by the mountains of rubbish that have accumulated on the roadside.  The fjords, castles and classic architecture in coastal Montenegro were inspiring, and we are both confident that this country is on the brink of a massive reputation boost — it is undoubtedly the region’s next ‘Croatia.’ Despite the cruise ships and mounds of tourists, Dubrovnik is charming and we ate one of the most spectacular meals of my life here this afternoon.Allegedly, the internet in Tivat was provided by Canada’s richest man, as he sweetens the city council in preparation for a wave of development. However, everyone uses it and it was extremely unreliable.

These are all things that I need to expound upon when I have more time and a reliable computer.  Jumping back to Croatia, we are about to jump on a night bus to Zagreb. I am under the impression that we briefly pass through Bosnia to do so. This is a fascinating region of the world that has seen many rough days and has a rich history. I owe you a massive update.