Saturday, 31 May 2008

Day 26 - Athina - Berlin

I'll be flying to Berlin tonight at 2030 and will be arriving in Berlin at 2225. - 118.49 Euros

Will probably be in town for at least 3 days, before heading over to Amsterdam!!

=)

Now, I have to pack... Eww... I hate packing! All my hosts should know by now... packing is a challenge to me... especially because I have my stuff all over the place!

Greetings!!

Among the many things I've learnt at this point of my trip, is the way they greet here in Europe. It is really interesting. Unlike;

Malaysia
-Smile and an awkward wave

U.S.A.
-Smile and/or a hand shake

Italy and Greece
-Kisses twice on the cheeks, on the right, then the left

(For Italian guys, they do a 45 degree handshake [the cool kind], then holding on to each other's hands, kisses on the right, then left)

France and Germany
-Kisses 3 times, the left, right then left

**So you got to remember who you're greeting and which side you should start so you don't end up with an awkward kiss on the lips your first time meeting this person. =) Just a tip!

Keeping track of the dates/days of my Europe adventure!

Day 1 - May 6 - London

-- Paris -- Bern -- Interlaken  

Day 8 - May 13 - Barcelona

-- Foix -- Nimes -- Cannes

Day 15 - May 20 - Florence

-- Rome --

Day 22 - May 27 - Athens

-- Delphi -- Paros Island --

Today - Day 25 - May 30 [still in Athens]

Day 29 - June 3 - Berlin or Amsterdam

-- London -- Coventry

Day 36 - June 10 - Edinburgh

-- Dublin --

Day 43 - June 17 - London

Day 45 - June 19 [ Final day - flying back to reality ]

Day 11 - Dining with my long lost aunt and her husband in Nimes

video

Friday, 30 May 2008

Time of reflection

This 7-week Europe trip was a big step for me. I did it to "see the world" and sort of discover myself too. I've never traveled alone for such a long period of time before, especially not in a foreign environment.

Today I had time to just kind of unwind, and catch up on the news. I've been reading quite a few articles about the Cyclone in Myanmar and the earthquake in China. 

Here's an article from a journalist's point of view on reporting from China.

China quake's horrors leave an imprint


"Friends sometimes question the sanity of being a journalist, and particularly a foreign correspondent. When everyone else is running away from danger, reporters head toward it. "

"In the rush, you didn't have a whole lot of time to think very deeply about what you were seeing. There was too much to do, too many editor demands, too many logistics problems."

"Around day three or four, though, you started thinking about the intrusion you represented as a foreigner asking deeply personal questions about love and loss of those coping with undreamed-of suffering."

"I vow to treasure life and those I love more fully and to appreciate the vulnerability of life. But I'm also aware that my record on living an ideal life is spotty, with reality more often one of unkept promises, incomplete checklists, important things left unsaid."



Reading this article kinda of reeled me back to my aspirations. To be a journalist, and make a difference - hopefully.

I spoke to Justin Hane (my first couchsurfing host in Switizerland) who happens to be a journalist, about his one year stint in Africa. It was obviously a whole different experience for him. I just wish that his blog, www.livefromfreetown.com when he was in Sierra Leone is still up. (Come on, Justin!!!)

That idea has been lurking around - so has the idea of heading to Myanmar and/or China. But I don't want to head towards that direction blindly. Being an aid worker is a great way to offer help and is obviously greatly in need. But I would rather go under the direction of a journalist - to teach me the ropes of how to do this the best way - be objective and yet not sink and drown with the presence of all the emotions and proof of the vulnerability of life.

I just wish I have more time and more financial flexibility to do what I want.

Day 25 (Friday, May 30) - Back in Athina

I got of the ferry at 1 a.m. this morning. I had no choice but to take a taxi back to Ubava's apartment because the subways stop operating at midnight. Anyways, it costs me 30 Euros!!! What a killer... I had no choice.. =(

I got back to her apartment and she was wide awake! I took a long, warm shower... felt amazing! Then, I got on my MacBook and kinda just tool around with it... then, the bell rang. Both her friends, Jon (Yannis) and Vasilis came over... and hung out... and at 5 a.m., Vasilis and I were starving. so we went to this place near the police headquarters which opens 24/7 oh yeah! and had Fileto me manitaria (Fillet with mushrooms - with fries and cheese!!! )


It was amazing! so good... I truly am in love with Greek food! Uba was falling asleep at 6 a.m. - her friends left... I decided it's time to go to bed - even though I wasn't tired or sleepy at all! surprisingly...

I woke up at about 10 a.m. just minutes before her friend, Dimitris came over to get his applications for University in Finland done. He got me a Frappe to start off my day too!!! 


I am really spoilt. I love how Uba's friends are embracing this whole couchsurfing idea and even though they don't host, they take on the role, to make Uba's guests as comfortable as possible.

Thursday, 29 May 2008

Remember Foix?

Remember I was stuck in Frenchland? Here's the video when I was still in the train.... all alone....

Day 23 - Paros Island


I stayed at Villa Galini for 20 Euros a night. I got there at 5.30 a.m. and that was considered one night. I was going to stay till Friday but decided to leave today instead.

I spent all day on the beach - I was too cheap to buy  14 Euros sunblock. So, I decided to burn myself and get skin cancer. Oh well, it's just for a day... I'm sure I'll survive. For dinner, I went to this plac recommended by my hostel. 

I ordered a "traditional greek dish" - Pastitsio. It looked and tasted like lasagna more than anything else.

I was really disappointed. But, I did get a glass of free Oozo - Greek liquor (it tastes like Samburka)

Day 22 - Tuesday - Delphi

I woke up early today - surprisingly, enough time to take a shower and ever leave early! I got to the bus station at 10 and the bus doesn't leave until 10.30 a.m.

I met a couple for Florida on the way there. I told them all about my trip and how my parents didn't know about it until I got to London. They liked my story and were very excited for me and wished me luck for the rest of my trip.

It was a 3-hour ride to Delphi. We got there at 1.30 p.m. and by the time I walked to the ruins, it was 2.15. They close at 2.45!!!! Yikes! I managed to see most of it - except for where the oracle used to be. =(

Here's more information about Delphi from Wikipedia =)
"Delphi was the site of the Delphic oracle, most important oracle in the classical Greek world, and it was a major site for the worship of the god Apollo.
Delphi was revered throughout the Greek world as the site of the omphalos stone, the centre of the earth and the universe."

I got back to Athens at about 8 p.m., caught up with Ubava and Adam for a little bit. I found out that Adam didn't even go out for the whole day! He has been uploading pictures on Facebook... all day!!! lol...

Then, I rushed out to the port... I was late... shocker! So I took the taxi to the port which cost me 12 Euros. Then, from where the taxi dropped me off, I had to walk for another 20 minutes with my bags!!! Arghh!!! I seriously thought I was about to die.. 

Then I saw the ferry... and it was moving!!! I tried running towards it but I seriously can't because of all my bags! People on the ferry were cheering me on and helping me with my bags.. I think they were yelling "hurry - jump!" in Greek... but I guess I'll never know exactly.

Dang, I wish I spoke Greek. Anyways, I honestly thought I would have fallen into the gap between the ferry and the port.But, I was safely on board and reached Paros Island at 5.30 in the morning.

Day 21 - Monday, May 26 @ Athina

Adam and I head out to the city center. Before anything else, we went to look for Savvas - a place known for their amazing Greek food. 

Then he head over to the Acropolis first while I went to the travel agency to buy the ticket for my ferry to Paros Island on Tuesday night.

We met up -  I was sweating like a pig at that point! Acropolis was really cool - but I wish I knew more of the history to appreciate it... oh well... maybe I'll do my research for my next trip! ;)

Then we kinda walked around and decided to head back to Ubava's to do laundry. It was so darn expensive!!! 5 Euros to wash and 2 Euros to dry! yikes! 

Anyways, it was pretty funny coz Adam was wearing an Italia shirt and almost everywhere we went, the Greeks were like "Yeay Italia"!!! and he has to go "no,no - Canadia!"

He could have passed for an Italian, I swear... but what do I know.. "all whites look the same"... LOL!  

We spent the night "YouTubing" - Ubava and Adam share the same taste in music... I can't say I do too...

"The holy trinity - Pink Floyd, The Black Sabbath, (I'll have to ask Ubava what it was again)"

I slept at about 2 a.m. coz I had to catch the bus to Delphi tomorrow. Adam hung out with Ubava and her friend, Stelios (from Crete Island) till about 3.30 a.m. 

**I'm glad I introduced couchsurfing to Adam. I know he likes stayin in Hostels coz he could meet other travelers like himself - but couchsurfing is a whole other experience... ya know???

Monday, 26 May 2008

Roma - Bari - Patras - Athina

On Saturday, as usual, Alex and I rushed to the train station... I'm never early for these kinda stuff... dang it!

Anyways, I managed to catch the train from Rome to Bari. It was about a 5-hour ride... which wasn't too bad... then, I had to catch a bus form the Bari train station to the port. For some reason I thought it would be right there... and I haven't even made reservations! yikes!

Luckily there's a bunch of people who speaks English heading over there too! I met Adam (from Canada, traveling for 3 months), Christian (form Mexico City, traveling for 2 months) and Tomoko (from Japan, traveling for 2 months)

On the ferry, we met more people! Yeay backpackers!!! There were 2 Canadian girls, Michelle and Emily (who happen to be couchsurfers too!!) and 3 guys from New Jersey (Chris, Bob a& Phil). We're a fun bunch!

It was a 15 hour ride, from 8 p.m. to the next day at 12.15p.m. - and we all got the deck passes - 17 Euros, on top of our Eurorail pass. 

Anyways deck passes meaning we're only allowed on the deck, out in the open, all night. So you can imagine, it was freezing cold and we had to use our sleeping bags and either sleep on the floor or on the bench.

It was an interesting night though - long... but interesting. We watched Juno on my macbook at about 10 p.m. , then... we started this really intense political conversation about the United States.

Chris, Bob and Phil seem to really know what the hell is actually goin on with the country, unlike many other American kids. And they were trying to explain to the Canadians (Michelle, Emily and Adam) about how things work in the States.

I'm not going to get into details but it was entertaining to listen in. So it went on till 3 a.m. We all decided to try to sleep. I was out the minute I was in my sleeping bag. As always, lol.

I woke up at 8a.m. sweating like a pig coz the sun was right there! And we got breakfast! (2 eggs, bacon, sausages - 4.50 Euros) 

At 12.15, we were in Patras and walked to the train station to head over to Athens. We had to wait for 2 hours - we met another 2 Canadian girls. I swear they are everywhere!!!!

On the way there, we were told to switch trains, so we all went down and had to wait for like an hour. As always, things are never uneventful. Adam left his phone in the toilet. He realized it right after he came out though, and went back it to look for it. It was gone. I tried calling it with my phone, then someone picked up!!! And everything I heard through the phone, I'm hearing right where I was standing! So, we figured someone must have had the phone and accidentally answered. We found out that it was a guy, who's in the toilet - taking a crap probably =)

So Adam was like knocking and yelling "Dude, you have my phone!!!", about to knock down the door, then this creepy looking man came out and gave him his phone. He took it out of his pocket. Pretty sketchy....

Anyways, we got to Athens and took the metro to the stop near Ubava's apartment - my 4th couchsurfing host. 

Oh, and I just converted Adam to be a couchsurfer!!! LOL, anyways, Ubava was nice enough to let us stay over. 

For dinner, I had the best souvlaki ever!!! (2 of them and a coke - 5 Euros)

According to Wikipedia:
Souvlaki (Greek: Σουβλάκι) is a popular Greek fast food consisting of small pieces of meat and sometimes vegetables grilled on a skewer. It may be served on the skewer for eating out of hand, in a pita sandwich with garnishes and sauces, or on a dinner plate, often withfried potatoes or pilaf. The meat is traditionally pork in Greece and Cyprus, or in modern times increasinglychicken. In other countries and for tourists, souvlaki may be made with other meats such as beeflamb and sometimes fish (especially swordfish).

We got back, took a shower and went to a bar nearby.We met George, another Greek couchsurfer, yeay!!! and a couple of Ubava's friend came and join us. I had 2 pints of Alfa beer (Greek beer) - 8 Euros and at another club, a bottle of Heineken - 5 Euros.

Her group of friends were really fun and they speak good English! yeay again! they met through role-playing games... pretty interesting..

It's 4 a.m., time to go to bed.

Saturday, 24 May 2008

Finally! Video from Barcelona

Day 8 - Barcelona
I finally got it done!


video

Day 18 - Roma!

I started my day early... I know, shocking...! 
Anyways, I left the house before Alex was even up and went to Trastevere to buy coconut milk for the dinner party tonight and the city centre after.
The strawberries look so g0o0od I just can't resist! So I bought 1 kg of strawberries - 2 Euros and a bar of white chocolate... for lunch.... it was realllly good but I gotta admit I felt a little sick after.  LOL


Anyways, from Trastevere,
 I hopped on a bus to go to Roma Termini (Main station) but on the way there, I saw the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.


...where I met...


We spent 15 minutes 
trying to "make small talk" with my horrible Italian... and he doesn't speak English at all, of course...
Oh well, man in uniform.... aaAAaaAahHhhh.... ;P

Next, I took a bus to San Pietro. Oh by the way, if you happen to be in Rome, don't waste your money on maps and guide books... not that you won't use it, but everybody else has them!!! And they usually don't come to Rome unprepared (like myself) most people have a pretty good idea on what they want to see and where they want to go first. 

As for me, I just kinda go with the flow... which was great!!!! So, the lines were extremely long to get into the Vatican Museum, I hung around ...  but not too long.

The Pantheon's next - it's pretty cool because as I walked in, everything I read about it in The Da Vincci Code (Dan Brown) comes to mind. I wouldn't know a thing about Rome if not for Dan Brown, lol... not that I know a lot now. But I gotta say the "Demon's hole" is pretty sweet. 


Then, I went to Piazza Navona, which wasn't all that great. I tried to find my way to the Jewish Ghetto but couldn't find it. =(
I decided that it's time to head home and rest, prepare for tonight's dinner party.

This is only a quarter of meat we had for the night. - Yumm.. fresh T-bone steak!!

Pasta with fresh mozzarella cheese, fresh tomatoes, eggplants, chili, basilThey like it bloody and rare... just add salt and pepper! It was S0o0o0 Delicious!!!

Friday, 23 May 2008

Day 17 - Roma

For breakfast, Alex made really good cappuccino with his professional coffee maker... yum, and we had some bread with honey and biscuits...

Anyways,
I should have followed the advice I read online somewhere...

Should have bought the Roma Pass - 11 Euros for 3 day metro usage and free admission to the 1st two sites..

Because, when I went to the Colleseo, it costs 11 Euros!!! So does the Forum!!! yikes!!!

I decided to skip them

It rained when I was at the Colliseo =(

When I was doing my stand up in front of the Coliseum, an old couple from San Diego came over and asked me what I was doing that for... they were really interested... when I told them that I go to school in Ohio, he was like, "People in Ohio speak such good English?" Lol, don't know what that means.. I just thought that was funny...

After that, I wanted to go to Circo Maximus and when I got out of the metro, I didn't know what to see or where to go... and obviously there were some tourists with maps, so I asked them what is there to see around there

This guy told me about the Bath ruins - Terma di Carcalla. It's 4 Euros to get in, not too bad but... nahh...

So, I headed to the Spanish steps next, where there's the steps, urm... yeah... then to Fontana di Trevi... I really liked the fountain.. pretty cool stuff...

**Lol, I have to apologize, I don't know too much about the history nor do I really know how to appreciate the artwork... I wish I do, but I don't. Oh well....

Then, I headed back to the Ponte Galleria train stop, where Alex came and picked me up. 

We went to Trastevere ( which means beyond the river - it used to be an area for the really poor, not anymore obviously) where we went to this little pizzeria... OMG the pizza was amazing!!!!! 
Anchovies + Zucchini flower
Fresh tomatoes + fresh mozzarella cheese + fresh basil!
Then we had gelato again!!!! yeay!!! I lo0o0oo0o0o0ove Gelato!!!
 

Thursday, 22 May 2008

www.facebook.com

Something is wrong with Facebook!

The page doesn't load!!??

End of Day 16 - Rome!

Wednesday, 21 May

I arrived at Roma Termini at 10:50 p.m. and Alex, my 3rd couchsurfing host came and picked me up! We drove around the city center and got Gelato!! yeay!!!! I can survive on only Gelato, I swear...!!! yummy....

Anyways, still trying to figure out what I want to do in Roma tomorrow...

Wednesday, 21 May 2008

Guest Rules

Well, Manfred and his mum have guest rules.... I don't know them all but these are some of the things I've learnt after spending a day with them

-You can't wash dishes
-You have to let the host to pay for everything
-Ladies get his bed, and Manfred gets the couch, etc

And he's addicted to hosting, really!

So now he is hosting myself and Katrina... I'll be gone by tonight but Katrina's gonna be here till Friday, then some Taiwanese guy will be here by noon, and tomorrow some guy from Chicago will be coming too!!!! lol...

By the way his apartment is really nice and cute... and the shower's amazing... small but the water pressure, temperature, everything was perfect!!! I felt like taking a shower forever last night but of course I can't coz they were waiting for me to watch "Eye of the Beholder" - a really good but creepy movie, starring Ewan McgGregor and Ashley Judd.

After the movie, Manfred drove up to Piazza Michaelangelo to show me the night's view of all of Florence. It was incredible!! I wish I had a better camera/video camera so you could see too... too bad. 

Then, we went to get Gelato at 2 in the morning!!!!! It was s0o0oo0o0o goood!!!!!!!! yummy...

Anyways, I think I want to walk around Florence more today... and tonight I'll be heading to Roma!!! yeay!!!

End of Day 15 - Firenze (Florence)

We just had an Italian/Asian dinner... so good.....hhmm...

Manfred, his mother, Katrina and myself had a warm Italian/Asian dinner.

Manfred prepared ravioli with some kind of cream sauce left over from some meatloaf dish earlier.. , some appetizer - some kinda dumpling, coconut milk rice (nasi lemak), a spicy chicken dish and a stir fry cooked by Katrina yesterday...and Italian salad

And.... drumrolls please.....

Tiramisu made by Manfred's mother!!

accompanied by red wine of course.... P-E-R-F-E-C-T-O!!!!

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Day 15 - Florence

So, I'm in Florence now... yeay! but it's raining =(

Anyways, my couchsurfing host #2, Manfred seems like a pretty cool guy... there's another couchsurfer at the moment too! Katrina and she was born in Seremban, Malaysia but she's raised in Montreal. Pretty cool eh? LOL

So, it's raining... I think I'll just stay in, edit my videos and watch movies maybe? Manfred has a huge collection of movies!! yeay!!! Maybe sightseeing tomorrow...

anyways, I got a new camera!!! YEay!!


Monday, 19 May 2008

oh p.s.!

By they way, I forgot to say this but you can get beer in McDonalds!!!! I think all over Europe.. I've seen it in France and Spain.. I'll let you know about Italy. 

I'll be in Florence at 7 a.m. Tuesday, May 20!!!

Can't wait!!!

Day 13 - Sunday, May 18 Cannes!! - 61st Film Festival!!

It's a Sunday, and usually nothing's open on Sundays in France... but thanks to the film festival, there were tourists everywhere and almost all the shops were open.. We took a taxi to the city, which cost us 40 Euros coz our hotel was so damn far from the train station/beach/film festival/city ... 
Then we went to a supermarket and bought stuff for our picnic on the beach tonight!!! I was really excited.. we got 3 long baguettes, a bottle of white wine, goat cheese and nutella!!! 
We went to get the tickets to watch one of the movie screening at 2 p.m. for 7 Euros. It was kind of a weird movie I gotta say.. but good nonetheless...
We got out of the cinema at 3.30 p.m. and decided that Harrison Ford was worth waiting for, for 4 hours... So we waited, and waited, got squished, and waited, burnt under the sun, and waited, got wet, under the rain, and waited.
Finally, at 7, he appeared with Calista Flockhart, Cate Blanchette, Shia la Bouf, and Salma Hayek! Oh I got Natalie Portman on film too! Pretty sweet!!
Right after that, we left the crowd.. it was too much ... seriously!! We went to the beach and had a lil picnic and waited for out Looney Tunes screening!! 
I was really cold.. but we stayed and watched it till 10nish I think.. oh before the screening, JuliJul (don't really know how to spell French names) - a band... performed.. I'd def check them out on their myspace page. They were good.. and the lead singer was hot!
We went back to the hotel - taxi cost us 47 Euros!!! yikes!! And had our bottle of wine and played Rummy!!

2 nights at hotel and a dinner - 100 Euros
 

Day 11 & 12 - Finally in Nimes

I got up late, as usual... my train was at 9am and i woke up at 8.40.. i rushed out of the hotel in Foix, without a shower/brushing my teeth whatsoever.. yeah gross!!.. then i took a taxi.. whom i have to explain what a "train station" is for a whole 5/10 mins... and it cost me 6 euros!!!eek.. anyways... good thing there's another train at 11.30 to Toulouse to Nimes... i got to Nimes at 5.30 and saw my aunt and uncle! they seem to be really nice and Uncle Philip is a real joker... Aunt Sybil started explaining how we are related.. it's funny really... even my mother nor Uncle Gary has ever met her... they are cousins... they share the same grandfather...

anyways... it took us 40 mins to get home.. it was kinda cool... a walled city.... on the outside it looked kinda old and small.. but on the inside it's actually pretty cool.. i didn't get any pictures but i did get a video tour of the house... it'll be up soon! I promise!

i was going to stay for another night but i found out that chris and melinda's gonna be in cannes tomoro evening... and the only time there's a train is to leave agues nogue at noon... to nimes, to marseille to cannes... i got there at 5.30 .. so i decided to make reservatons for my tic to go to florence next which cost me 5 euros.. then to the tourism office to find out about the film festival and how we're gonna get to the hotel.... they got there at 7.30 ... then, we met this girl from indiana.. melissa too!!! anyways... the bus to the hotel was too full... so Chris decided to walk around... we saw Woody Allen on the screen!!! anyways.. i was about to die walking with my packs and with the amount of pppl there..

anyways..we got on the bus and walked a good 5 mins up hill before we got to the hotel... it was a nice hotel... and we had dinner down stairs... i ordered dori fish which was really good but melinda ordered something that looked like raw hamburger meat.. she was disgusted.. so we exchanged.. i didn't really care... then we had 3 free shots/ mini pots of bubble gum, strawberry and mint vodka!! then we watched lars and the real girl.. which was kinda weird and i fell asleep a couple times..


** So glad to see them, finally....

Day 10 - Supposedly Pau but in Frenchland (Foix)

It's 9:45 p.m. and I'm in Foix, somewhere south of France. It's been a crazy day. I was supposed to take the 6:55 a.m. train this morning to Pau, but I got up at 7... so...


Anyways, so there I was still drunk and disoriented, trying to pack my stuff and leave the hostel. It was drizling, I had to take the cab which cost me 10 Euros to get there. Anyway, once I got there there's a 8:25am train to Cerbere to NArbonne, to Toulouse to Pau. Fine, I'm supposed to get to Pau by 7:40 p.m.


On my last train, when I woke up, I was alone. It was pretty creepy. I didn't think any of it. But half an hour passed and the train hasnt moved yet. So, I walked around the train, not a single soul, not even the driver. So, I tried to get out of the train. It was locked...I spent the next 15 minutes just trying to figure out what's goin on (I was still a little hung over at the time) 


In  the end, I started banging on the window to get other people's attention. Finally, this guy turned after like 10 minutes of nonstop banging on the window. I sign at him to get someone to get me out. He did.. then the guy came and opened the door. I went to the end of the train and got my backpacks, only to come back to a locked door again. I had no choice. I pulled the emergency button for the door release. The alarm went off but I managed to manually pull the door apart.


So I went to the counter only to find out the soonest I can get to Pau will be tomorrow afternoon.. Chris and Melinda would probably be gone by then, so no point going there. I can't believe I was in tears talking to the lady. She speaks no english! it was so frustrating. Anyways, I figured i gotta find a place to stay for the night and head to Nimes tomoro. But then again, I remember my aunt telling me that she's not free tomoro. Anyways I walked aimlessly around this french speaking little town and found a hotel... after 20 minutes of walking with my packs. I felt like dying. It's a small little hotel connected to the bar downstairs. It was 45 Euros for the night, I had no choice. It's clean and fairly small. It's a queen size bed though the bathroom looks like one of those in an airplane. And there's a small tv.


I've never felt so helpless/frustrated/desperate in my life. Nobody speaks English here. Anyway I decided to head to Nimes whether my aunt is available or not because it's too expensive for me to stay for another night and nobody speaks english anyways. 


I guess it is good in a way that it gives me time to relax and just edit my videos.. which is the last thing i want to do right now.


**Frenchland (Foix) is not for me.

Day 9 - Still in Barcelona

I got up, pack.. and rented the locker for 1.50 euros.. went to the train station.. only to find out that i cant go to Pau today.. the soonest will have to be the next day, early in the morning.. so i head back, got the same bed for another night and walked around Las Ramblas... i found out that i can get free dinner at travel bar.. i went there and checked it out.. everyone spoke english!!!! and they were really cool and laid back.. 


I walked around even more... saw a three-piece orchestra.. violin, cello.. and something else, I have to look at my video again =) it;s a cool little town i have to say.. then at 6, i head back, took a shower and got ready for my free dinner.. i chatted with the two girls from montreal a bit.. they didn't seem to be too excited over the free dinner... oh well... so i went, and got a plate of pasta! it;'s really good.. i had a glass of san miguel too.. 2.50 Euros.. then, halfway eating.. i heard someone aksing for the 1 Euro meal.. which was the same thing i was having.. they were speaking english too,... so i turned around and told them about my free meal... 

-had another pine of German Beer 4.50 Euros


I started talking to Jillian and she told me she's traveling alone too!!!! for 3 months!!!!! it's her first time traveling outside of Canada too!!! Pretty impressive I must say.. Jon and Bart on the other hand were friends from high school!! they were traveling together and Jillian met them at the train station... they were all canadians (they had flags on their packs... lol) they invited me to join them and i did.! 


they were really a fun bunch... then in the bathroom, jon started talking to this girl... i was peeing and i heard UT! i was like i go to UT too!!! but then i found out she was talking about Uni of texas... anyways... we invited her to join us.. she did later.. with her husband... Parker.. they're a fun young couple... 


Anyways, when I was peeing, I read this poster in the bathroom stall that there's free beer in travel port... another bar.. i told my new found friends about it and we decided to head over, after a while.. 


on the way there, some guy just came over and took a picture with us and french-kissed Carlye... it was scary but hilarious- her husband was just standing there... so apparently he was high on meth or something... anyways.. it was weird..


on the way there, we met Lucio who told us about this bar which had 1 Euro drinks.. so we went over and met this crazy old, gay irish guy..


btw the drinks were budweiser and they weren't 1 euro.. dang it!! anyways it was the weirdest encounter and we had the craziest conversation ever!!!! The Irish man was quite a character (can't remember his name) i wish i had filmed it... but anyways... we met Jim at the bar too... he's from Maine.. his story was that he's actually in barcelona for 4 days initialy... then it turned to 2 weeks.. then to 3 months... now its been 3 years... crazy eh? but don't u love hearing stories like that??  --it's so inspiring!!!


anyways,.. he told us where Travel Port is.. so we went over there and had free beer!!! yeay!! it was great!!!


then we deicded to go to the beach.. where Jon decided to tackle Jillian and Parker me... i didn't even know what happened.. we were just rolling on the beach by the water.... yeah... my camera was in my hand... and it got wet (and it's not working anymore =( ) .. i got wet and covered in sand.. anyway... Bart realized he lost his camera so we decided to find our way back to Travel Port.... on the way... some guy was all over him trying to get a cigarette or something... pretty creepy... anyway.. back to the bar, no camera =( he was pretty pissed.. I would be too...


i was walking barefoot.. with my heels in one hand and my face covered in sand, drunk... pretty hilarious... the boys were nice enough to walk Jillian and myself back to our hostels... i was so grossed out that i had to take a shower.. by the time i was done, it was 4 am..


i was supposed to leave at 5.45am.. so i thought a little nap wont hurt.. i was sitting upright too! anyway, i woke up and it was 7... 

I packed and rushed out

i was so loud that i got yelled at.. oops....


Goodbye Barcelona!!!!! I'll be back!!!!!

End of Day 8 -Barcelona

I decided to head over to the beach - Villa Olympico and interview some tourist... I've never seen so many gorgeous people - half naked.. lol in one place before..
The girls were topless... and i've heard that there were naked men sun bathing too.. but i guess i missed it.. not sure if it was a bad thing though... lol
anyways... look out for my video in barcelona!!!

Then, I went to Parc Guel, thanks to the advice of my producer, Dawn... the park was nice.. it's declared a UNESCO heritage site.. because of the interesting and long history behind it.. as I was walking... I was thinking to myself... I remembered Lauren showed me pictures of her trip to Barcelona and there's walls of lil ceramic pieces... i was wondering where that was...

Literally, within the next minute, it was right before my eyes... it was so beautiful!! I've never seen anything like it... well, except in Lauren's pics... I'll post them up soon... =)

Then, I head back to Hostel Fernandos, took a shower, and head out for dinner.... I went to Bar Del Pi and had tapas and half a litre of Sangria.. dinner was good!! 

At the end of it, i was just staring into space (like I always do) and enjoying being just where I am... then I thought of getting a cigarette from this girl... I was going to pay her but she said it's okay and invited me over to her table.. she was with a friend, Pau and it was their first time meeting up in 8 months!

They prove to be very fun and interesting... (they're not a couple but I think they're at a flirting stage.. if you know what I mean) anyways, the girl, Anna is from Germany but she met Pau at her first job in Barcelona.. Pau on the other hand was raised in Barcelona...

They sound really excited that I'm from Malaysia... they say they'll come visit!! 

Anyways, they told me they had to work tomorrow... and it was 11 p.m. I asked if it was normal for working people to go out and drink on weekdays... they say yeah! y not?? I told them about the drinking age in the U.S. and they were shocked... lol.. I think the drinking age in spain for beer is 14 and for hard liquor is 16.. that's what they told me...

anyways, the bar we were at were closing, so we head over to another bar and had more drinks...

they told me to give them a call if I were to stay longer.. too bad, I'll be leaving tomoro.... They walked me back to the hostel... it was 1 a.m.

Tuesday, 13 May 2008

Day 8 - Barcelona

It's 1: 45 p.m. in Barcelona. I got here at 10 a.m. but I told my couchsurfing host that I'll be here at 9 a.m. I tried calling the number he gave me but no one answered. So, I decided to just stay at a hostel for the night. I found Hostal Fernando on Ferran street which is just next to the famous Las Ramblas. 


Anyways, since I got here I kinda ran around trying to figure out a way to get to Pau from here. There's no train or bus that goes there. I was thinking maybe I should skip Pau and head to Nimes to meet my "aunt" instead, on Saturday. That gives me more time here. Then again, I was really looking forward to meet up with Melinda and Chris in Pau on the 14th. 


I don't know what to do now. Should I wait till Francesc e-mail me, or do I go ahead and start shooting for my stories? OR should I try figure out a way to get to Pau?? 

Monday, 12 May 2008

Day 6 - Switzerland





It's a Sunday and basically nothing opens on a Sunday in Europe. So, I took the opportunity to update my blog, edit my videos and upload photos.

Tonight, for dinner, Justin prepared a typical Swiss meal for me. It is  called raclette. This meal is usually enjoyed during the cold weather months and consists of melted cheese on a miniature frying pan, accompanied by a small roasted potato and some savory side dishes like pickles and marinated onion salad.

It was delicious!!!!

After that, we watched "No Country for Old Men". It's a good movie, but didn't like the ending and won't necessarily watch it again. Then Justin had to call it a night as he had to work tomorrow. I decided to watch another movie, "A Mighty Heart". Angelina Jolie's performance was amazing and the story of Miriam Pearl, how she's not "terrorized" by the inhumane act of the terrorists was really inspiring.

I'll probably be walking around old town in the morning tomorrow, then head back and pack. I'll be leaving to Barcelona at  9 p.m. by train.

video video

Sunday, 11 May 2008

Day 5 - Switzerland

This is the river I walk past every day from Justin's apartment to the train station, It's gorgeous!!
I can't believe I drank out of the water fountain yesterday! Eww! And after the girls washed their feet, a dog came drank from the fountain.

Day 5 - Switzerland

Switzerland = Happyland!

The weather was perfect, everyone was by the river in their bathing suits, tanning, smoking, drinking... kids were roller-blading, cycling... some were walking their dogs (and a lot of them, I swear are as big as a pony!!) People were grilling at the park, playing frisbee....

I don't ever want to leave Switzerland... not too sure how my couchsurfer host would feel about that... LOL... 

(Don't worry, Justin, JK)

So today was supposed to be my crazy adventurous day.

Not so much.

Sky-diving was too expensive, so was bungee jumping.

I was a little too late for Canyon Jump, so I settled for paragliding.

Don't get me wrong, the view was gorgeous and it was fun. But I didn't have the mad adrenaline rush I expected to get when I go "crazy" in Switzerland. I've para-sailed before, it felt like it was the same.

I'll have the video and pictures up in a moment.

Then in the evening, I got into an argument with my "superior" and how I should be more aware of the "hierarchy" and he's the BOSS. 

Well, boss, I know as the news editor, I'm not the one with the most experience, nor am I claiming to be as good as the former news editor who was in her position for 2 years, besides the fact that she's very good at what she does. 

Nor is he. He's not exactly the most familiar face among the administrators for the past two years, nor had he as much experience in news writing as our former editor in chief or news editor.

He kept saying, "Don't think that I'm just the photo guy and I don't know anyone/anything that's going on." I've never said anything close to that.

All I'm saying is we're both new to things so don't throw this HIERARCHY bullshit at me.

As you know, I'm out of the country at the moment and I won't be around for our first two summer issues. But I'm not trying to push all my responsibilities to him.

All I asked of him was to do the "Who's That" (for those of you who reads the IC would know) which is really short and simple. He had once said that he don't want to be bothered with small/unimportant assignments/stories. He wants to "focus on the big stories".

Also, I got an e-mail from an administrator yesterday about something that had happened on campus. I replied him immediately saying that I'll have someone from the IC give him a call. (the BOSS would probably be the best person since it's a "big story". So, I forward the e-mail to the BOSS and tell him to give the administrator a call once he's got the time, stating that it's really important.

There he goes with the hierarchy bullshit and how he has a problem with me assigning things to my "superior" and I've "committed him to something that I don't even know if he could do". So, he's in Toledo, and he can't even find 5-10 minutes to call an administrator about something major that had happened? Oh I'm sorry, I didn't know the editor in chief are not supposed to help his "subordinates" out. I thought this will be teamwork since we're all students and we have other priorities in life too.

I'm trying to do my job here, from halfway across the world. Trying to keep myself and my fellow colleagues updated with things happening on campus. And yet, I was being told off.

I know I'm not wrong. So, when I get back to Toledo, and if this bullshit is thrown at my face again, I'm not going to tolerate it. 

On a lighter note, Justin and I went to a nice little Italian restaurant. He had lasagna and I had Gnocchi. They were both really delicious and we both had a big glass of Swiss draught beer. Walking home, we decided to stop by the "sketchy place" where we went last night and got the big bottle of "cheap" beer.

It was a tiring but a good day. Looking forward to resting and lazing around tomorrow. (Everything's closed on Sundays in Europe)

Paragliding 160 CHF
Photos from it (yes, it costs money) 25 CHF
Lunch ( Ham & Cheese Sandwich) 4 CHF
Dinner (Italian) 30 CHF

Saturday, 10 May 2008

Day 4 - Switzerland

You know what's really cool? 

My blogspot.com's option (i.e. sign in/ register) changes in every country I go to according to its language! Pretty cool.

Anyways, I got up 10 minutes before 11 a.m. which is way later than I expected. I slept at 3 a.m. the night before by the way. Justin has already left to work. So, I kind off rushed and left the house at 11:30 a.m. and kind of found the way to the train station. (Justin actually wrote the directions down, but as usual, I left it in the apartment)

I walked along the river, which was really nice, it was warm out and there were a lot of people swimming and sun tanning by the river. I got to the train station and tried to make reservations to Madrid for the next day. Unfortunately, everything was full because it was a holiday weekend all over Europe, I think. So, I decided to skip Madrid and head straight to Barcelona.

So, I'll leave Bern, Switzerland on Monday at about  9 p.m. and arrive in Barcelona and meet Francesc Dalmau sometime in the morning.

Now, what I did today, Friday, May 09, 2008.

I met up with Justin in the train, which was kinda crazy because I nearly missed it and there were so many sections that it was kind of impossible to find each other. But I bumped into him within the first minute I got on, which was pretty coincidental.

The train ride was about 3 hours to Interlaken. I didn't get to do anything crazy, but I might do it tomorrow. (i.e. paragliding, canyoning - not sky-diving because it cost about USD 300) We walked around Bern, which was really nice but small. Then we decided to take to train to Lausaunne. I took us about 2 hours. We got there, walked around, got a Sangria for 5 CHF and a beer. It's nice because the weather was perfect, not too warm, not too chilly. And even till 9 p.m. it was bright out. 

We took the train back to Bern, which is about an hour or so and went to this "sketchy" area, which wasn't really. But the beer was cheap = 6 CHF for a big bottle. The was music playing out and I guess the people there are kinda punk rockish. Once we got there someone asked us if we wanted weed. I didn't understand it at first because he spoke in German, but he said "grass" which was pretty universal, I think.

We walked back to his apartment at about midnight, with the bottle of beer in our hand and talked about things. Guess what? Kevin Sites is kind off like his personal hero too!!! Which I thought is kinda cool.

Back to uploading pictures and videos!!

Surcharge for the train ticket to Barcelona 74 CHF
International stamps 5.40 CHF
3 Postcards 1.20 CHF
Lunch 8.50 CHF
Sangria 10 CHF (Justin + myself)
Cup of Beer ?? (paid by Justin)
Tram in Lausaunne 2.60 CHF
Bottle of Beer 6 CHF

1 CHF = 0.96 USD = 3.06 MYR

Friday, 9 May 2008

End of Day 3 - Switzerland

I just arrived in Bern, Switzerland at about midnight and I'm at my couchsurfing host's apartment! His  name is Justin Hane and he seems like a pretty cool guy. He grew up in Waterloo, Canada but his parents were from Switzerland. Here's a video of him!!


video

He speaks perfect English, so it was really funny when he pulled out the Swiss-German accent. LOL!

Thursday, 8 May 2008

Day 2 & 3 - Paris

I arrived at Paris de Nord (train station) by the Chunnel/Eurostar at 10:15 a.m. I took the metro to Auberge Internationale de Jeunes and checked it. It cost me 13 Euros for the night. Then, I head out to the Notre Dame Cathedral (which is free!!), took a 40-minute train ride to Versailles (the beautiful city on the hill). The area was pretty cool and there were beautiful chateus. I saw something about Marie  Antoinnette which is pretty cool but it cost about 8 Euros to enter. I opted out and walked around the are instead. Next, I took the metro to Eiffel Tower and bought the ticket to go all the way to the top of the tower which cost me 12 Euros.

Oh, another great way to save, I bought a baguette for 0.58 Euros! and that lasted me a whole day!

And guess who I bumped into on the way down from the Eiffel Tower? Ooi Jin Ann, my high school senior! It was almost unbelievable... when I saw her I was like... are you who I think you are? lol... it was pretty weird. She was here alone too. She was studying in Malaysia but is in Norway for a semester, I think, to work on a project. Her trip to Paris was random, she just took a week off from working on her project. 

Crazy I tell ya!! It was her first day in the city too!!! We went to the famous Arch together, then headed home at 9 p.m.

At night, I hung out with other fellow travellers. It was an easy/relaxing night. 

It's Thursday, May 8 now, 12:45 p.m. / 6: 45 a.m. in Toledo. I'm at McDonald's because Starbucks is not opened today. It's a French Public Holiday today. Something about celebrating their victory during WWII, I think. Anyways, for the rest of the day, I think I'll just edit my video and plan for my trip.

Later today at 1730, I'll be taking the train to Bern, Switzerland. My couchsurfer host is Justin Hane!

Come back for more updates!!! =)

Day 2
Reservation for train to Bern  5 Euros
Metro 1.50 Euros
3 Postcards 0.75 Euros
3 international stamps 2.50 Euros
Metro Day Pas 5.86 Euros
Hostel for the night 13 Euros
Baguette  0.58 Euros
Dinner(Ham & Cheese sandwich, glass of beer) 8.60 Euros
Eiffel Tower 12 Euros
2 small bottles of water 2 Euros

Day 3
Metro 1.50 Euros
Baguette  0.58 Euros
McDonald 2.50 Euros
Big bottle of water 0.41 Euros

1 Euro = 1.54 USD = 4.94 MYR


 

video