Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Europe...Take me...I´m yours...

So it has been a while since I have sat down and expressed my thoughts and experience via blog and realizing without a computer it is tough to write nearly as much as I would like too. I want to give a quick update on where I have been so far, some highlights, and where I plan on heading to next. Right now I am in the comfort of a hotel, the Arcotel Boltzmann in Vienna, Austria..only a few blocks from where the world´s most famous psychoanalyist lived, Sigmund Freud. Hotel you might think, where did you pull that off, what happened to the budget traveling? Well being the child in a family of committed globe-trekkers I was able to arrange my trip and my parent´s trip together to rendesvous here in Vienna, while my pops has a conference at the local Universit├Ąt. So I not only get the comfort of a hotel room with such precious amenities like fresh clean towels, peace and quiet as if I had my own living space once again (although things really never remained too quiet back at home anyways), and of course a maid to tidy up my room around the hurricane of shit that gulf storms out of my backpack when I open the zipper...But I also get the comfort and peaceful-easy feeling of home with my Mom and Dad, and not too mention royal treatment from not only the parents but also the conference. The conference committee last night arranged for everyone to go to the Ballet at the spectacular State Opera House, a private viewing and guided tour of the Van Gogh exhibit in town after the Museum is closed, and tomorrow night a Jazz concert in the city centre. Yes it is good to be in with the family and around the family. Being around my Mom and Dad makes me miss home and other family and friends but also strengthens the continuation of my journey with their nonstop love and support and the encouragement from everyone I have met along the way. Some people when I tell them I am backpacking around alone, hopping from place to place at my own discretion, with a very vague itinerary say that it´s pretty ballsy but I feel that it must be done. The capabilities are there, nothing is holding me back at home, and not living life to the fullest and seeing everything this world has to offer that is just waiting for me to explore would simply leave me with a feeling of regret. Could have, would have, should have...How am I to make a sound judgement of my place in this world, when I have barely seen it?
My voyage around Europe as a vagabond has lasted now for 42 days. Everyday I meet people that I will never forget and that I will always keep in touch with. Everyday I get to experience a different side of life, aside from Southern California, and explore this region for everything it has to offer, whether it be the feeling of walking down the street where once strolled a historical figure that has made a lasting impression on the world or whether it be visiting a city where modernity clashes with tradition and history. In those 42 days, in chronological order, I have been to Rome, Sorrento (Pompeii 2x), Positano, Capri, Naples, Rome again, Florence, Milan, Zurich (and the surrounding lakeside towns), Bourgogne French Countryside, Dijon, Zurich, Munich, Neuschwanstein Castle, Prague, and am now here in Vienna. So officially I have been to Italy, Switzerland, France, Germany, Czech Republic, and Austria. Every place has been so unique and every step along the way has opened my heart and mind to something I would have never imagined. These countries still have much territory to be explored and I have barely scratched the surface. My journey will take me back to places like France and Germany within the next few months, as I will travel through cities like Berlin and Paris and everywhere and anywhere in between. For the other countries I have checked off my list, like Italy, Czech Republic, Austria, and Switzerland: I have gotten a little taste, have suckled the sweet nectar, have woefully pretended to understand and speak your native tongue...but as my time and money here on this great Continent of Europe are limited, I must experience the bounty of what many of your other wonderful and fascinating countries have to offer.
Continuing on...Within the next say 3 months I plan on visiting Croatia and its beautiful coastline and national parks, Greece and the tremendous amount of history and islands you beckon, Turkey and your Kebabs and the only city in the world that sits on two continents, Romania and your crazy Vampire tales, Poland and your damn proud people, Denmark and your happy people and cheese danishes, Sweden and your by the time I get to you freezing temperatures and penis enlargers (Swedish tanning teams), Latvia and your ruins in the city of Riga, Estonia and your olde city of Tallin, The Netherlands and your crazy windmills, canal engineers, and oh yeah AMSTERDAM, Belgium and your succulent beers, France and your, well I think by now you get the point...Truth is, everyone of these countries is so unique and has developed on such a tradition that has infinitely become their own. Whether I get to see and experience as much of these countries as I would like to, I hope to come out of this journey knowing that little taste, that impressionable smell, that linguistic understanding despite occaisionally becoming lost in translation, that picturesque scenery, and that warm and welcoming touch that each of you are just waiting for me to experience. For now, until next time...ciao

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

"If it Must be Done"

And I continue from my friends apartment in Milan overlooking the city, the duomo, and the alps...The rest of the days spent in Capri were very relaxing and consisted of renting a boat, that had no "Exciting Linens," but was sufficient enough for us to make our own way around the island and do some exploring and snorkeling on our way, in between, under, and around the island grottoes and coastlines. The green grotto was amazing to swim through and was great for practicing your jellyfish dodging. The boat ride included of course a packed lunch of calzones and quite a few Birres. Later on in the evening we headed to Ristorante Pizzeria Barbarossa in Anacapri to catch our last meal in Capri before catching a ferry to Naples to take a '100% Naples not so exciting linen' taxi to the train station to end up back in Roma. The pizza and bruschetta were quite delicious and suprisingly accurate despite the efforts of waiter extrodinaire Eugene Levy and the staff that had a striking resemblance to the SNL Italian Restaurant skit.
Well time for me to hit the tracks once more to make head way towards Switzerland. The story continues in Zurich...

Saturday, September 13, 2008

"Yesterday is History....Tomorrow is a Mystery"

Finally I have a good time to update everyone on the journey that has now been a few weeks in. The places that I have covered so far (in 17 days) have been Rome, Sorrento, Pompeii, Positano, Capri, and now Florence. I am in the bangla-net internet point in Florence, only a couple blocks from the Duomo, trying to piece together every bit of memorable and amazing things that have happened so far and trying to drown out the frantic Indian chanting blaring out of the owners sound system. Typing it up and trying to put together in words how the experience for me has been so far seems criminal but here goes my journey so far....
From August 27th to August 31st I wandered through ancient Roman forums, visited Julius Caesars grave (which is striking similar to a pile of dirt), visited the Vatican and climbed to the top of the cupola (dome) and saw the tombs of many Popes that have passed (including the most recent Pope John Paul II), walked up and down the Spanish Steps, Biked throughout Rome with my broham Vic, Walked through the huge park in Rome Villa Borghese, Stared at the dome of the Pantheon, Checked out the Trevi Fountain, went pub crawling around the town for Brendan's birthday, saw this popular Italian rock band Subsonica perform at the circus maximus (where the ancient Romans had Chariot Races), saw the Cemetery of the Capuchin Franciscan Friars where the bones of 4,000 of their dead brothers decorate the corridors 6 rooms from everything to frames to chandeliers, and of course went to the Coliseum. Returning to Italy after 9 years has reminded me so much of what I have forgotten from this amazing country, the history, the food, the fashion, and everything about this culture is certainly one to experience and to never forget.
On September 1st (alongside my mother, brother Vic, and my Aunts B, Kathy, and Ava) hopped on the train to Naples to get to the smaller coastal town Sorrento, south of Rome to get a taste of the coastal life, relax on the not far off island Capri, and mostly to check out Pompeii. Sorrento is an amazing town with a lot of culture, gorgeous cliffs over some of the bluest and clearest waters I have ever seen, and a lot of British tourists coming down to get their sunburn on for the hot summers. On the first full day in Sorrento we hopped on the metro for about 30 minutes to the site of the ancient ruins of Pompeii which at one time housed 20,000 citizens. Pompeii has been amazingly perserved for hundreds of years after the explosion of Mt. Vesuvius, which left the town covered in about 25 feet of dust. Everything from the casts of bodies frozen in time to the artwork and the architecture are unimaginably captivating. I had to return again a couple days later with my brother Vic to walk around on my own for a couple of hours to get a feel of how these people lived their daily lives, what they did, what sexual positions they preferred to pick off the illustration on the wall in the lupenares (brothels), and most importantly what made them think carving a giant penis into the cobblestone street facing directly north to notify the citizens and visitor's of the towns red light district was a genius idea. This is for me the hardest to try and put to words what one experiences when they walk the streets of Pompeii but maybe my pictures and some of my written thoughts can help for further personal discovery of this city frozen in time. I was also able to head to the town of Positano about 30 minutes away from Sorrento on the other side of the coast. Positano and the cliff highway drive over there is gorgeous and at times scary from the continuous steep cliffs that no doubt awaits impending doom. Positano is built almost vertically against the hill that drops off right onto gorgeous beaches and an almost indigo blue water. On the 5th of September the family and I headed to the island of Capri for a couple days of maxin', relaxin' on the island where Roman Emperor Tiberius ruled and where the world's wealthiest and ultimately the most world's most superficial people flock to be seen and to express how much wealth they are worth. But that feeling is only in the few piazzas of the town on the island named Capri, the hilltop town of Anacapri is amazing and had such a tightly knit community that was spectacular to sit and watch. On Capri we were able to visit one of Italy's most visited tourist attraction, the Blue Grotto. The color blue that I saw in the grotto was an almost blinding blue that stunned my eyes on the account of my eyes never having seen such a vibrant and sharp expression of the color.
Unfortunately the hour has just about run up for me here in bangla-net internet point. I am writing in a daily journal to make sure I don't forget one moment of this trip so I can promise you more juicy and exciting daily tales of the European Invasion. I am missing everyone at home and until the next blog entry, ciao!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Strategizing the Invasion

So as I prepare for my journey to Europe that begins in only two days I can't keep myself from thinking of the endless opportunities that await me in the countries that have bore the seeds of modern civilization. This will no doubt be one of the more challenging experiences of my life: traveling solo, knowing really only one language, stepping foot into countries knowing no one, and being away from the best family and friends on earth but I feel absolutely prepared and I know that everyday will be another day to meet new people and experience a lifestyle that I would never be able to witness anywhere else on earth. My goals throughout my journey will be to discover new cities, rediscover previously traveled cities, share my life with those that I meet and open my eyes and ears to those who will share their lives with me. As I will completely immerse myself into this journey, I hope to find the soul and purpose of every unique town and culture I come across. This is only the beginning of what I hope to make a lifetime of...