Browsing Tag: Contiki

Arrivederci Roma, and The Life That Was

Arrivederci Roma, and The Life That Was

This post also has a soundtrack. The André Rieu version of Arrivederci Roma.

It is September 24th, as we left for the sightseeing of Rome. I was a bit worried to go out on the street. There was a long protest going down the street for the freedom and recognition of a people in a region near Georgia. (The country) The parade ended just before go time and my feet were really sore. My last pairs of socks had holes in them and combined with the bleeding heels walking was getting harder. Rome is also not known for the flattest and smoothest sidewalks/streets either.


We hopped on the bus and went to the area near the Italian government buildings. For there we walked around Rome to the Pantheon, the Trevi Fountain and various other buildings. We also ran into a group of protestors that were fighting for the right of deaf people to have interpreters at churches. They made a lot of noise.


Then we went for a fancy supper and my feet were killing me. At supper, I had noticed my feet were still hurting even when not standing on them, and my butt and hip were getting a sensation of falling asleep. I stood up and walked outside a few times to relieve the cramps and asleep feeling but it was getting worse. By the end of the night , my feet were going from sore to numb.


After dinner, we went back to the hostel for drinks as for a chunk of us it was the big goodbye night. The rest of the travellers would be heading to London again over the next week. The place was small and cramped but I didn’t want to miss out as this was the last big night with everyone so I stayed until about midnight. The group then decided to go to a club but I really wasn’t feeling it.


An amazing person that was also leaving in Rome decided not to go out and since I have feelings for her and we are in Rome, we went for a stroll around the block and I tried to hit on her nervously. She explained what was important to her, and I respected her and we continued to walk back to the hotel and called it a night.

The next morning I woke up and the scariest thing happened. My feet were still numb and three fingers on both hands were numb. This had me really scared and the hotel had terrible internet so I had breakfast and checked out of The Yellow Hostel. I knew my next hotel the check in was not until 2 pm but I wanted to drop off my heavy bag to baggage storage there, as I was planning to travel light for 3 days and had the necessities in my side bag.


To my luck the hotel lets me check in early and I started to Google what could be going wrong with me. The main hits were Diabetic Nerve Pain or MS. (In my head better than diabetic as I love good food.) The internet was bad so I decided to go out and went to Termini station to get online. From there I started iMessaging / Facebook messaging and emailing everyone I could back home to get advice.

Since it was just after 6 am back home only a few answered. None suggested coming back and several suggested it could be something even worse and that I should go to the hospital. My sister was one of the few that answered but wasn’t happy I woke her on a Sunday morning. I ate lunch at McDonald’s in the station then went to find Michelangelo’s Keyhole that I missed by a few metres in 2013. Once you miss doing something it really sticks with you.


As I climbed the hill and passed the rose garden, I crested the top of the hill and saw a long line of people. This is the universal sign of you found the attraction.

I waited about 45 minutes in line and then made it to the front and looked in the hole. It was cool but had bigger hype and expectations than I was hoping for. On the way back down there is a park with an overlooking view of the Vatican.

Considering how much my feet hurt, I had to rest. I started to question myself on what I should do. It was at that point that I thought I heard a voice say “Go Home” in the wind. As I was walking down the hill, I need to go to the bathroom suddenly and had little control and didn’t quite make it to the pay toilet, that also was dirty and had little paper left. It was not good and I was so conscious of my smell. I went back to the hostel to look at my insurance papers and get my numbers in line to go to Ospedale Santo Spirito near the Vatican. However , when reading my travel insurance papers, I read it in detail and noticed an Early Return clause and called them up via Skype and asked about it.

The lady explained that it would cover any economy class ticket on a reimbursement basis. I then was worried about trying to contact my travel agent on a Sunday and jumped on the Air Canada app and looked up flights. I didn’t want to miss the Coliseum tour I had booked later that day so flying out that night wasn’t on my radar. (That would have been the smartest option.)

The fastest and cheapest flight back the next morning was to fly Rome to Philadelphia to Toronto to Saint John. I almost booked it but then I noticed that if I went Rome to Munich to Toronto to Saint John I could leave Rome early rather than stupid early, I would avoid the US TSA, get a Munich passport stamp, and fly in a Dreamliner! (Since I wasn’t paying it what is an extra $40 for more sleep and a wish list airplane.) I booked the trip and coordinated with a friend to pick me up at the airport the next afternoon and bring me to the hospital. The internet then crapped out and I left for my tour.

As I went through Termini, my mother got back to me and I told her I was coming home. I then headed off to the tour. I had already done this tour in 2010 so it looked the same as before and I was not really into it. All I was thinking about was leaving the next day. I took a bunch of photos to prove I was there but I was so weak and sore that I was glad it was over. I said no more goodbyes and slipped away and back to the hostel. I ordered a chicken burger and fries at the hostel restaurant and thought my sore throat was coming back, but it turned out probably the muscles were going numb and I was losing my swallowing abilities. I then got my bag from storage and went to bed. I was going to shower in the morning. As it turns out I won’t get to shower again until December.


The next morning I woke up at 5:30 am and am really numb. It is terribly bad, I can barely stand from kneeling without the ladder, and I had the top bunk bed. I didn’t pack the night before and I put all my liquids in my main suitcase and started throwing away clothes that I didn’t want to get at the weight. After three attempts I make it to the exact most I can check in. (Wine bottles are heavy.) I grab my side bag and suitcase and am off. It is only a few blocks to the train station but it is a slight uphill slope and my legs can barely make it. Rome at night is also a very scary place in those parts.

I am starving and I pick up a few things at the convenience store style place in Termini and go to the kiosk to get my train ticket to the airport. I decide on the Leonardo Express train over the local train as I don’t know how much effort I have left. The train arrives and I get on barely enough grip to lift my excessive bag.

I then arrive at the Leonardo da Vinci airport and walk a long hall to the Lufthansa check-in for my first flight to Munich. She checks everything for me takes the bag and then I proceed through security. This is a really simple process as I have gotten good at this. I then find my gate and have a seat. Once it comes birding time I have great difficulty standing. I do manage and get on the flight. Scared to death, I start to be even more scared thinking about my mother’s prediction something bad was going to happen.

When the plane arrived, I went to the other terminal to get my flight that involved lots of halls, trains, elevators and, escalators. After getting my Schengen leaving stamp, I go to the gate and wait for boarding. Then boarding gets announced and I cannot stand up. I am really scared and freaking out just like a bathroom in Amsterdam incident. After everyone mostly boards I manage to use my everything to stand and it is not at all good. I get on the plane and have a seat in the second row of economy class. As it happens to turn out the group of people around me work for Air Canada and used their travel perks to go to Oktoberfest (lucky them). The gentleman to my left was leaving the airline to change careers. My hands were not working well to at all at this point so I couldn’t put my seatbelt on and he helped me. I din. Want to keep asking for help so I didn’t get to watch a movie at all for the flight and got to watch as we flew back the map of where we were. Our flight was delayed due to a technical fault, this made me nervous that this was it, the technical fault was how this was going to all end. After they fixed the plane, it took almost another hour to get a new route, and the route took us north until we followed the UK coast then towards Greenland and then direct to Toronto.

As the meal came I could not eat hardly anything and drank the water and wine and bean salad. (Again the bean salad is always a mistake.) I had the guy next to me open the items I did eat. He could tell something was not right and we talked briefly. He was friends with the crew and I think he told them as I was embarrassed to ask for help. I have a bad anxiety for things like that.

Since I had 8 hours to Toronto left I decided sleeping it off was the best decision. I , however, started around Greenland noticing if I slept I stopped breathing and this scared the hell out of me but not as bad as telling someone and divert the plane in 2 hours to Newfoundland as we were literally in the middle of nowhere and piss off everyone on the flight. I instead waited it out silently as it got worse and worse. I needed to use the bathroom and got up and waited in line to make it just in time. I then returned to my seat. This is the last time I would get up or use the bathroom on my own.

We then land in Toronto. My phone still had my UK SIM card and I physically don’t have a tool to open the SIM card door so I turn it on but can’t use it. If I could I could text everyone or post on Twitter that I arrived. As the doors open, I try to get up and can’t with my own power to the guy next to me helps me up and grabs my bag for me.

I take about 60 steps to get off the plane and the first step is a big one so I roll my ankle and can’t get up and am blocking the door. I am in fear at this point more from blocking everyone behind me, and only have 25 minutes to get through customs and my flight to Saint John. The flight attendant guy was right behind me and I was rolled to the side and covered with a blanket until the rest of the passengers deplaned. Then he took off and the flight crew and airport manager took care of everything asking me lots of questions. The ambulance arrived and I was forced to help due to my weight to get up to a wheelchair and then transfer to the stretcher.

I asked about my checked bag and the Air Canada manager assured me they would take care of everything. I was taken down the sky ramp steps and placed in the ambulance and off we went.

Next post I will continue with the hospital portion of this story. This concludes the travel portion.

All Aboard for the Journey to Roma

All Aboard for the Journey to Roma

As the story starts to get more dramatic we need to get into the mood. I have a fitting sound track for this portion. “Walk to Rialto Bridge”

This is the final day September 23rd before things start to go bad. The morning is sunny. We check out of Hotel Park in Ljubljana. Since the elevator is small I walk my bag down with a lot of effort 12 stories of stairs. I’m not feeling the greatest, I drank too much the night before. (Again)

After a small breakfast it is on the coach for a 2 hour drive to the meal stop where I get a better meal, then over an hour to the causeway to Venice, but we hop a boat that drops us off near Piazza de San Marco. (aka tourist trap/pigeon central) I went with a group to have lunch at a small restaurant, then ditched them.


I grabbed a bottle of wine and got lost for the afternoon. I really didn’t do any of the big attractions since I’ve done most of them before, and the 3 hour line to see in San Marco was not a useful waste of time. I spent most of my time exploring parts of the island I have never seen, and try flavours of Gelati (you can’t just have one Gelato) I had not tried. My heals were bleeding from cracked heals at this point, 25-35k steps a day in sandals will do that.


Late afternoon the group reconvened and went on a gondola ride. This time around they didn’t sell wine to drink on the gondola which was disappointing but still an opportunity to get more canal photos.


After the trip we had a free hour to get more Gelati, and I found the supermarket that I could stick up on bottles of wine for half the price. Also a perk was I could weigh the bottles and knew exactly how much weight allowance I had to make for it.


The next plan on the Itinerary was a tastes of Venice tour where we went to 3 different restaurants and sampled the food and had a glass of wine at each. Most of the food was great but there was a battered seafood place and some of them made my tongue go a bit weird, but not really as bad as an allergy. I think in hindsight that this may have been an accelerator factor of the symptoms to come.


After the tour we had about two hours and the sun had set and Venice at sunset then night is much cooler than Venice in the daytime. I started by going to the Aperol Spritz party in a piazza and with the wine a bit tipsy. Then I went to see the Academia Bridge that I didn’t get to see on this trip yet. I was starting to run out of time so I hurried back to San Marco’s Piazza as we were warned that they would leave without us. At past stops, this was an empty threat as people were late all the time.


Not this time we actually left two people on the island. After a boat ride to the other side, we got on the bus crossed the causeway and checked into Hotel Vienna. This place was a place to sleep and that is about all.


The next morning after breakfast it was on the road again, off to Rome! As the saying goes “All roads lead to Rome” and the tour I was on was even called the “Trail to Rome”. The adventure as well will end in Rome. As we left Venice we had some goodbyes as a few were not destined for Rome and rented a car and drove around for a few days.

The trip to Rome was short, and my feet were hurting a bit so I was fortunate it was a bus day. With only one stop we arrived in Rome around 2pm and had an hour to get settled and then go on a walkabout.

We will leave it here and the next post will be the last of the Europe Trip 2016 story, but not the last of this series.

A Crazy Time

A Crazy Time

We arrive in Budapest around 5pm on September 20th. We were staying at Wombats Budapest and I was hungry. I needed to find a currency exchange place since I had too much Polish Zlotys left and the receptionist recommended this place around the corner. (Ibla Change) I did very well, I got close to 12,050 Forints. ($55 Canadian) Most of the other places were giving 8,700 for it. Now this place was really cheep! (Think the waiter from EuroTrip that would open his own hotel on a US Nickle.)

We went for a river tour that night and it was an amazing buffet and was as pretty as Budapest at night. On the cruise there was one couple that had been fighting the past couple days made up and got engaged!


After the cruise if you read the past posts in this series it was Shots and Beer time. We walked though this ally of restaurants and bars that was incredible. There was this amazing grunge looking place we went to that had many stories and bars in it. It was so packed, after a few beers, I just left everyone and walked back to the hotel. This is when I was approached by a woman of the night, we talked a bit, but I turned her down. She then got upset and started yelling something in Hungarian and then spit on me and said I was cursed.

Totally freaked out I went back to my room and showered. My giant bubble on my head bursts at this point and was filled with yellow puss. I decide to shower and go to bed. As I move the sheets there is a little black bug moving along the sheets. I move the mattress and there is more and then so look at the joints of the bunk bed any there is even more. Then I check the other sets of beds in the room and there is none.I go to reception and they address the problem by cleaning my stuff and giving me a different co-ed shared room for the night as they are fully booked, and would get a new room the next day. As I enter the room it is dark and I use my phone as a flashlight to make the bed (check for bugs) and then I fell asleep.


As I awoke the next morning I awake and look around the room, and there is a Australian blonde laying on the sheets, like Copenhagen, naked. I had a tour in the morning so I got breakfast and placed my stuff in storage until I got my room. The tour was okay we walked all around the Pest part of town, seen the statues, buildings and learned the history. The tour ended in the Terror Museum that was okay, but there are better things to do like the baths


After the tour some of us went to a fancy Italian restaurant that was so good. I then left the group and wandered to the Buda side to climb up to the castle and take photos. I then went to find a restaurant in that ally that was the most expensive local cuisine as I had so much money left (about 5000 forints).


That night everyone was going out again and I joined them for pre-drinks but was not feeling going out. So I just sat and talked until late with those who were sitting around.

The next morning we drove to Slovenia, we were close to the Croatian border where there is a fence and fields to keep out the migrants. Kind of felt like the Berlin Wall in theory. We got to see the biggest tourist trap in the area Lake Bled that has a famous cake. Let’s face it you had me at cake, that was what I was doing getting coffee and cake. The cake was good and the patio views were good too.


We then ended up at the destination city of Ljubljana the capital of Slovenia. Most of the group ended up going to a Mexican restaurant that was really good. Then we ended up at a very cool dungeon bar for drinks. As half the group went to a club, I went with the other group for drinks at a kind of sketchy packed place. It was the most fun I’ve had. I got waisted… again.


As we headed back it was hilarious everyone was following me as I was waisted trying to find my way back.

The next morning it was off to the final country, Italy.

Off To The Death Camps

Off To The Death Camps

Sundays are typically good quiet days to reflect on the week that has passed. It is now September 18th. We are leaving Vienna, and for the first time in weeks, I am not hung over. After a decent but shorter ride we arrive at Olympia Olomouc mall in the Czech Republic and there is a TV in the middle playing a Canada vs Czech Republic game from a tournament being held in Canada. Canada was of course winning. Go Team Canada! However, it was thee lunch stop and since we were at a food court I had to try local food… I at at this local place that serves fried chicken in wraps called KFC.


Back on the bus and we arrived at the Birkenau concentration camp. It had gotten really foggy, dark, and cool as we arrived there with spots of rain. It was very spooky. I went in two of the buildings and there was lots of Jewish groups having guided tours. I didn’t read most of the plaques or go in most of the buildings, the place just hit me with sorrow and I just wandered around the paths.


Next we went across the street to the much smaller and more interesting Auschwitz camp. This place was built in the late 1800’s to house the Polish troops from the Franco-Prussian war. Then around 1940 the entire town was deserted as the Polish peoples were no longer allowed to live in the area and their leaders were jailed here. Then as this place was filled up, the second camp was built across the street. If you went to Auschwitz you were lucky compared to Birkenau.


I managed to go through three buildings, each of the twenty some buildings are dedicated to the story of a different group of people that were “holcausted”. The buildings I went through told the stories of the Polish People, the Politicians and the Cripples. After that I couldn’t take anymore and had to just wander around. Something was just not right and I’m a person that needs to know why to understand and there is just no why when it comes to the holocaust.

Then it was off to Krakow for dinner, and then a night on the town. Not sure how much money to take out, I take out 250 Polish Zlotys. ($90 CAD) I had lots of shots at an awesome shots bar. As everyone else mostly decided to leave to find a club, I wasn’t really in the mood so I went to get a Chicken Kabab that tasted off but I was drunk and hungry so I ate it anyways (a big mistake). The other person I was walking back with wanted to go to the gift shop at the Hard Rock Cafe so I waited outside for her. As we were walking down the street every single place on the Main Street it seems converts to a Strip-club, and get calls to come in. I was really partied out at this point and getting sick from the Kabab.


Since the Summer I was getting these bubbles on my head, and still am but not as bad. This night incredibly drunk, I decide that I need to get a better look at this. It has been worrying me since before the trip, and I didn’t have time to see a doctor. I therefore spend two hours in the shower shaving my head with a face razor. This was a huge ordeal, and I wanted to give up a few times. How can you give up with a partly shaved head? So I had to finish.


The next morning was a free day for the morning, I went to the old town square and met up with the “free” walking tour. We spent hours going around and seeing everything and learning the importance of Krakow since Medieval times, and finishing with the castle. I tipped him 50 Zloty for the amazing tour, which apparently was an excessive amount. On the way back to the hotel, I stopped at another Kabab place for lunch.


The group then took the bus to the nearby salt mine. This place was beyond amazing and we walked for hours through this maze of underground marvels. There was the most amazing cathedral carved in the cave. Although I couldn’t take a picture of it without buying a licence. My feet were so sore this day, the tough skin was starting to crack and bleed at this point of the trip. It was a lot of walking for sandals.

Then we went back to town to make and eat Polish Pirogies and other awesome Polish food. Since My feet were sore I didn’t go out and had drinks near the IBIS Budget hotel.

The next morning we left Krakow, we made a few hour stop along the way in the beautiful town of Banská Bystrica, Slovakia. Unlike Pisa, the whole church is leaning in this town. I had to borrow pocket change in this town as my Euros were in the suitcase and we were transitioning from Zlotys to Forints and I really needed to use the washroom. After touring the town, I found the grocery store and picked up lunch on my credit card. We then took the best group photo of the trip and were off to Hungary.

And It Peaked…

And It Peaked…

“Dream on, but don’t imagine they’ll all come true. When will you realize… Vienna waits for you?” –Billy Joel

This is truly a special city. One does not really understand Europe without Vienna. This was the first of the several cities that were new to me on the Contiki tour. I was starting to feel like I was more the tour guide in some of the previous cities and they started to seem ordinary. Not, Vienna.

Monument on a building


It is September 16th, about 10 days to go until the fateful day and the greatest day ever. When we arrived in Vienna we checked into the a&t Holiday Hostel Vienna then dressed up for a night out. The night started with a concert with a quartet, opera singers, and ballroom dancers. Of course there was an intermission with wine. After this we went to Kern & Waldmann amusement park for dinner. I think the restaurant was called Schweizerhaus. The beer and the food was amazing. 

While here others in the group went on rides as I watched. I was getting more and more depressed by the minute. I was really convinced if I went on a ride, that was it. A scene from the Final Destination movie was about to happen. After the rides a few people decided to go back. I went with them not wanting to have to rely on a taxi to get home.

Amusement Park Ride

At the subway station, I got a 24 hour ticket and got on the train helping a few others find the right train. On the train I realized our tour manager was wrong about the trains ending and I wanted to tell people at the bar. This and I had no excuse for transportation that I stood up half way back to the hotel and decided tonight would be a “Fuck It” night, even with a bit of a sore throat, and ran off the train and switched to a train going back.

I was headed back to the club Prater DOME and there were no regrets. When I got there the amusement park was dying down for the night, but the club was rocking. This place was one that gives you a card and you cover the tab on the way out. I went to the bar and got a drink, and another, and another, and another.

Amusement Park Nightclub


Then I got to the dancing point of the night. The music kept me going and going. I was on top of the world and the depressed me was too drunk to care. That is until I was too drunk to go to the bar and order more. This place had evil bottled alcohol vending machines. So a few more drinks later… it is close to 3:30am and I call it quits, mostly because one of the women on the tour is too drunk to stay and needs help getting back, more so someone to help her get back safe. So I bring her on the subway, and then guessing based on a bad map find the way back. I drank lots of water and slept well for a few hours.

The next day was great but more quiet for obvious reasons. We started with a sightseeing tour of the area around the Royal Palace, and made our way to the Swarovski crystal “museum” that was really just a pay to look at shiny things in a store that you can buy if you a super rich. There was literally 5 things under 10€ to spend the 5€ for a free gift. The breakfast at the hotel really didn’t cut it so the group of us headed to McDonald’s. I had a coffee since Austria is well know for their coffee.

Austrian Coffee


I then wandered around and saw lots of cool things on a “Not the typical tourist traps you would see on a Vienna tour” tour. It included highlights like the cement benches that the locals consider the ugliest, a mural of a cow playing backgammon, the little know lookout for St. Stephen’s Cathedral, and the tiniest alley in Vienna.

Cow Playing Backgammon Mural


After this I had some time to kill and tried finding the movie museum that I ran by earlier but never did find it. Instead I found a museum about the history of stage performance and how Vienna as a centre of music and culture for hundreds of years was ahead of everyone and developed almost every stage technique used today. For stage fans this place is second only the Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London. (technically Southwark)

Theatre Museum Display


Still not feeling the greatest I went to ride the Metro for a bit and see a weird shaped building. Then it was off to the see the Schnapps museum (shop). It was good and interesting how the company was run and then ended. 

Vienna Group Photo at the Royal Palace
Schnapps Museum


We then went to see the Summer Royal Palace, and had a classic Vienna dinner. Since we were practically forbidden to “go big” that night it turned into a quite rest night.

The next day we would be off to the death camps.

Czech Out This Post

Czech Out This Post

The party bus adventure continues. The date is now September 14th, 2016. This day has a stop along the way in the most beautiful city of Dresden, Germany.


As most of the crew were sightseeing, or going to a local restaurant, I ditched them and headed straight for the McDonald’s that was a few blocks over for a quick lunch. I explored the area and curled around the outside of the square to areas I never had time to see and found a building with lots of cool details to photo.


We then proceeded on the rest of the day to Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic. The tour began with the typical castle tour. I never gets old as the church in the castle is the most amazing thing ever. We then proceeded past all the pick pockets to the Charles Bridge, and into the town square to see the astronomical clock that I never found impressive to look at, but has a cool story.


We then checked into the Plus Prague for dinner and pre-drinks. Heading into town, as we jumped on the streetcar we went several blocks then got thrown off the street car for being obnoxious drunks. The guy even let us off on a piece of track that no trains come on. We then got on a different streetcar and made it to town.

This was my first big club night at Zlatý Strom this place was awesome. There was so many room with different feel, style, and music. There is even a pole dancing room. The large drinks don’t hurt, even if it was $23CAD when in a foreign currency I don’t convert it, I just get what I want.
After leaving this place at 2 in the morning, I really wanted a Kabab. Unfortunately, I didn’t get one because the line was too long and got in a cab back to the hostel.

The next morning I did not want to be alive. Everyone else went to a bike tour but my head was so bad that is bad it needed 400UI of Advil. Even then I didn’t get up until almost 11am. Last time in Prague, I had really wanted to see a Honey Badger at the Prague Zoo.

I found out that it was easy to get to with an express bus from the nearby subway station. I spent most of the afternoon there and didn’t even see it all, but for the first time of my life I seen a Honey Badger!!


After the Zoo, I went downtown to visit the mall and get a souvenir for Prague. (Which I Lost) I ran into a big chunk of the guys from the tour, and they were all weighting for the streetcar back to the hostel. I instead convinced them the subway was better, and the pack agreed to follow me.

I had dinner and joined everyone for pre-drinks, but opted not to go out since I was starting to feel a sore throat.

The next morning began another travel day. The trip involved a stop at this amazing and very creepy skull church Hřbitovní kostel Všech Svatých in Kutná Hora.

Damaged in Berlin

Damaged in Berlin

It is September 10, 2016. They day begins with a nice British Breakfast on the ferry from Dover to Calais. It was a sunny and calm day. I have just taken the compulsory photo of the White Cliffs of Dover. Followed by a coffee just to tip and clear out my UK Pounds.


I have yet to mention this but with two exceptions to be mentioned later in the story (Several posts from now), I have a habit of blowing the rest of my currency as I switch currency zones. After passing through customs and getting my passport stamped, it is a several hour drive to Amsterdam. I stayed at Nieuw Slotania Hotel in Amsterdam. I took a walk to the supermarket across the street where I found they sold Brunswick Sardines that come from my home province. While waiting in the lobby I ran into Nunu my driver from my 2011 tour and was so excited to see him. We had a few more run-ins as the tour progressed.

That night we went out to see a live sex show at the Casa Rosso. While waiting out front it was hilarious people up in the hotel across the canal put on a show for us. After the I went to a coffee shop and had a brownie. Then the group found a club and I decided not to go in. I instead went window shopping and ended up depressed that I lacked the confidence to even see one of them, that I in life am alone, that I have no one to share the experience of this amazing trip, and that I feel old and no energy to party. I, therefore, went to Dam Square and got the streetcar back.

The next morning was sunny as well. I didn’t want to take the bike tour of Edam, so I wandered the town aimlessly again like 2011. I, however, found a cool skinny church.


Then we went to a cheese and clog shop. Then dropped off in town. The first thing I got was a stroopwafel, then went with some of the travel-mates to go to a pancake house that was to die for

I went back to the House of Bols that was not as great as 2013. Then I didn’t go to any other museum and just got lost. I followed the wrong canal for half an hour unknowingly before I was surprised nothing I expected to be there was there and I GPSed my location.

I met up with the tour bus again and we went for the optional meal after a group photo to Volendam for a nice dinner. After that, we went to a shots bar and I had a bunch of shots, everyone went to a club. My goal was to party in Leidseplein for the first time ever but I ended up being depressed and called it a night around 11 pm.

The next day was one of the longer travel days. We ended up in Berlin and checked into Plus Berlin around supper time. That night I have several beers at the hotel bar. Then called it a night. The next morning at breakfast I got one of the best pictures of my trip.


The morning began with a need to find Advil for my hangover. I found the Mall of Berlin and spent so much time there it was my lunch stop. After the mall, I found a Spy Museum that was the greatest museum on the whole trip.

From there I hung out around Alexanderplatz until we met up and went to dinner at the Hofbräuhaus, did a tour of Berlin in the Cold War. (different tour than a few years ago) This tour turned into a bar hop and the first bar was nothing more than an abandoned building with a bar, a ghettoblaster, and a toilet.
The second bar was an awesome patio and go a little scary when this drunk guy started to cuddle a female member of our group, then nearly started a fight, was ejected, and then threatened to kill one of the people of our group. (I was drunk so some details are vague) We then finished off at a bar across the street. I had two drinks before a gay German guy started hitting on me and I had to leave. I learned that night what ladies go through.

The next morning I was off to Prague, but that will wait for another post.

Every Turn A Surprise, With New Horizons To Pursue

Every Turn A Surprise, With New Horizons To Pursue

This is part 9 of the series, with my 7th time in London. (Err Camden, and Westminster) The title of this post will make sense later in this post. We are on September 7th as this portion of the story begins.

I arrived by bus to the Victoria coach station, where I found a pay phone and called my bank collect to get my credit card to work again because like in Sweden, it was cut off again. After that was taken care of, I went to the nearest Underground station “Victoria” that involved going through Victoria Train Station at rush hour. This station has 4 overground and 3 underground lines and it looked like every line arrived at once and like bees in a hive, all moving very efficiently but looked nuts to figure out.

I took the Victoria Line then transferred to the Piccadilly Line to Russell Square. I checked into the Generator, had dinner there, and went down the street to The London Pub at the Royal National Hotel. I met up with a few Contiki groups, drivers, and team managers, and had a couple of British beers. There is something about British beers that mess you up.


The next morning, I saw a sign for a free walking tour. So, I plan on doing that for the morning. It was a really good tour and walked from hostel to hostel, and then we get on the tube to Green Park where all the tour wranglers bring the people. The tour guide was really funny and new his stuff. He took us in 5 minutes to get a better changing of the guard view, then people waiting 3-4 hours had.

We then went to the buildings around Parliament and Westminster Abbey and lots of things on the way. The way the free tours work is they pay per person for the advertising costs to the company and then they get paid by tips. I tipped my guy well. After the tour, I only hung around the area for a half hour or so, then took the tube to Canada Water. I originally went here in 2010 since it had Canada in the name to explore the area, but it has a decent but still shabby mall, Surrey Quay. Now, this mall has gone downhill in the last 6 years but still has a full Tesco and a Burger King with free Wi-Fi.

I had broken my Garmin VivoFit 2 band and I was hoping to find a new one but had no luck here. One of the shops suggested you can get anything at the Camden Market, so that was where I headed next. I never found what I was looking for but I have no regrets of going to Camden Market as it was amazing window shopping, although I didn’t buy anything.


I was starting to run short on time so I headed back to the hostel, showered, and changed. One of the big things to do in London was to see a musical. I had got my ticket at a ticket seller in the subway station that had a ridiculous service fee, but I later found out the ticket works out about the same anyway if I had bought it from the theatre. Let’s face it if you are penny-pinching theatre ticket prices, you are not going to a West End London show.


If you recognized the post title, you know that the show I’m going to see is Disney’s Aladdin the Musical. The London theatre crowd is unique and hilarious to watch. From the elite posh couples to the tourists, to the families on a special outing, to the folks that this was the backup since they couldn’t get into Harry Potter. On thing about this show was that no one puts on a show like Disney. The music, story, dancing, singing, special effects (like the magic carpet), and Pyro were spot on and fantastic.

After the show, I did what all Londoners do. I went to the pub, London Pub. Had “some” drinks and chats with the Contiki crowds. Then went back to my hostel and there was a TopDeck party going on. Who was I to miss out on a party, so I partied on.

I had to check out of this hostel and had hours to kill so I dropped off my bag at the Contiki Basement and went to Green Park to tour Buckingham Palace. It was really bad, the hangover was so intense that I couldn’t move far without puking so I slept in Green Park again for a few hours. I then went to St. Pancreas Station used the washroom and got lunch and checked email on wi-fi.


It was time to check into the Royal National Hotel so I went to the Contiki Basement, picked up my London knickknack along the way, got my suitcase and bag and, rested until the evening meeting with the tour manager Kyle and driver Alex. After the meeting can you guess what happened? I went to the Pub…

The next morning it was an early morning and I was excited and ready to go. No hangover for some reason this morning.

Now we are off to Amsterdam.

København (With A Touch Of Malmö)

København (With A Touch Of Malmö)

I woke up in a strange room, it was dark in the eight-person hostel room when I arrived the previous night it was September 5th and a very sunny day. As I looked around the room, across from me was a beautiful young Scandinavian blonde laying on top of her sheets wearing a… There was nothing to describe as there was nothing that she was wearing. 😎

I didn’t get breakfast at the hostel, so I went for a walk. Nearby the hostel there was a beautiful park, Kongens Have (The King’s Garden). It was filled with new university students doing a scavenger hunt of the statues and Rosenberg Slot (Rosenberg Castle/ The King’s Summer Pleasure Palace). There was also a Danish Military parade going on. However, I was hungry and had no Danish Krone, so I went to the ATM at the Nordea Bank and took out some cash and low and behold there was a bakery right next door. So I got my breakfast danishes. (How could I choose just one.)


I then spent the remainder of the morning doing a scavenger hunt of every numbered item on my map of things to see and get a photo of each. I passed by a female Danish Military Officer who was taking a break, and as I walked by taking photos of the buildings (looking like a tourist) she talks to me.
Officer: “Hey, are you checking me out?”

Shocked me: “No”

Officer: “Why not, in the hottest woman in the Danish Military.”

Me: (Says nothing, turns red, walks away.)

I then went back to the hostel to lay down a bit, I was still jet-lagged. I was going to go see some museums that afternoon but that never happened. I instead went for an aimless walk towards the waterfront fortress and since I was nearby going to see the Little Mermaid statue was inevitable.


I then went back to the hostel and had dinner at the bar. The main bartender was this amazing redhead Italian. As I finished my meal and a few Danish beers. It was happy hour, therefore I missed the sunset. I had a free shot of something called Fisk, it was basically like drinking mouthwash. Then the bartender asked who wanted the extra Fisk shot… everyone looks away… I take it. #sayyestolife

Then the beer pong comes out and the teams are formed because some Aussies have huge mouths on how much they can drink, and how great they are, it is AU/NZ vs. CA/US if the 8 people at the bar. Somehow not due to much of my help we win.

The next sunny morning I get up and the plan is to get to Sweden. However, that proves difficult as the ticket machines have English as an option but Danish and Swedish names for the stops and a few abbreviations that make no sense at all and my MasterCard wasn’t working and my MasterCard Debit was only sometimes working on them. I somehow manage to get a one-way train ticket to Malmö Central Train Station. That was only the beginning of my problems. Nørreport station has so many stations and tracks and people going everywhere that it made no sense at all, I needed to ask the security guy if it was the right spot.

On the train we have to stop at the airport I switch trains. Then the train has to stop halfway for passport control. Officially there are no customs but they are looking for migrant refugees. The officer that checked my passport was a hot blonde. It sounded like she was saying “Hey Hey-hey” to everyone. When I arrived I strolled around my plan for the day was really only to see the Marine Technology museum and to get a knickknack for my mantle.

As I walked through the park. (Hungover from the night before.) I came across a castle, Malmöhus Slott. I decided to pay admission and check it out. It was much bigger inside with a museum, art galleries, and an aquarium. It was a very well done history of the area and how the town transferred back and forth between the Danish and Swedish Kings. The admission also included the Science and Maritime House that I originally wanted to see and that place was pure nerdvana no matter what you liked.


After this, I went back to the train station to return to Copenhagen. However, none of my cards would work! I was freaking out and tried to find a pay phone but they were non-existent anywhere in Malmö. In the end, my debit card worked on one machine and I made it back and went to the hostel. It was dinner time, then happy-hour (or hours), then bed as I had to fly the next day.

As I woke up, it was an overcast day with a few showers. I had a few hours before I had to go to the airport, so I determined that going to Starbucks and getting a photo with the Hans Christian Anderson statue was to be the goal. I took a lot of photos and headed to the airport, and flew back to London.

Twenty-Four Thousand Four Hundred And Fifty-Five

Twenty-Four Thousand Four Hundred And Fifty-Five

This is not a random number, it is a big one, but not random. I woke up on the morning of September 2nd, 2016 full of energy and excited as hell. I was about to embark on the most epic trip to date. I thought to myself this is one trip that I will never forget. I remember it was a sunny day. I got up early and walked to McAllister Place and caught the bus uptown to start the day off by doing the same thing I have done for almost 3 years of Saturdays, I went to Billy’s Seafood for breakfast. I remember that I had my favourite menu item the Smoked Salmon Omelette and lots of coffee. Billy’s I always tell people is like dinner theatre the staff especially Billy the owner are a hoot.

For most people, they would have already done the packing rather than go out for breakfast, but that is not my style. After breakfast, I went home and had 90 minutes to get ready for 28 days of travelling. So at this point, you would think I would pack right? Nope! I shaved and took a shower (for 60 minutes.) After 20 minutes of running around to not forget anything, I have my bag packed! Then to weigh it 33kg. Repack 28kg. Repack 27kg. Repack 25kg. Repack 24kg. Repack 26kg!!!! Repack 23kg (cue fireworks!)

I then called a Simonds Taxi and to the airport, I was off! I arrived an hour early for my flight checked in and relaxed there was no turning back. As the plane arrived, I took lots of close photos and emailed them to myself. You never know when and air accident investigator will need them. This was part of the feeling of impending doom that was in the back of my mind from my mother begging me not to go.

I got on the plane and it was a rather unremarkable journey to Montreal. Once at Montreal’s Trudeau International, I went to find my gate, and then to find Starbucks for coffee.

I then got on my flight to London’s Heathrow airport. On the flight, I ordered the beef meal. That was a mistake, the bean salad is to die for, as in your will die. I spent the whole night with the worst gas since the last time I had the bean salad in 2013 on the same flight. It was the overnight flight but I got very little sleep.

We land in London and the first experience with “British Unholy Queueing” happened at the customs halls. This is where people use the seatbelt ropes, and keep changing them so you have no clue how long it is going to take and as you get close… nope, the line has changed again.

After I cleared the UK Border control, I went to the main lobby and picked up my Lebara SIM card so I didn’t pay the ridiculous rates Canadian cell phone companies charge. One of the perks of an unlocked phone.

Since I didn’t want to pay for luggage on my plane to Copenhagen, I decided to drop off my main suitcase at the Contiki basement. So I bought an Oyster Card and hopped on the tube.

“Please stand clear of the doors. Let customers off the train first please.”

“This is a Piccadilly Line service to Cockfosters” (giggle)

“The next stop is Russel Square. Alight Here for the British Museum, please mind the gap between the station and the platform.”

I got to the Contiki Basement and dropped my bag off and then wandered Camden, headed to St. Pancreas train station for lunch and then walked to Russel Square, Then to Green Park where I was a bit tired and had some time to kill so I slept for two hours and then walked by Buckingham Palace to Victoria Station and got on my “National Express” bus to London Luton airport. (That is nowhere near London) It is literally like calling the Fredericton Airport the (Saint John-Fredericton Airport) and assuming it was anywhere close to Saint John.

After a two-hour bus journey, I make it to Luton and the bus stops at the front door. The airport is smaller than a lot of big city airports and was very under construction everywhere. However, in typical British fashion, there was no problem everything was fine. I was really early and hungry and the airport check-in for my flight wasn’t open yet. I asked the RyanAir agent where the food places were and they ended up being on the other side of security. I looked really disappointed. However, the agent early checked me in and I was off to get food.

It seemed like forever that we waited in line and the line was long and was mixed with another flight going to a place I never heard of. I kind of thought I wanted to go there instead for a while. I turned out to be some place in Romania.

As I got on the plane, I once again took photos of the plane and emailed them to myself. This plane was like nothing I have ever flown in. The seats were very basic, no seat pockets, advertising on the bins, no leg room at all, and very friendly flight attendants. (Flight Attendants are always nice.) As we flew we had very bad turbulence and I was scared to death that this was where my mother was right and this was going to be the end, but we landed safely.

I got off the plane and got my passport stamped for country 24, Denmark. This was big as it was a while since I added Turks and Caicos on my quest for 40 countries by 40.

The Copenhagen airport was massive and it was late at night (10:30 pm) I walked to the subway station and then got on the train to my hostel, The Generator. On the train, there was a very drunk man that got on with his big bottle of hard liquor and was rambling in what I assume was Danish. It was heavy raining that night, and I was wet and tired, so after check-in, I went straight to bed.

The step-count on my fitness tracker … 24,455.

Final Preperations

Final Preperations

Let’s continue the story, it is now a year ago last June. It was a great June, I had auditioned again for “As You Like It” and didn’t get a part. I had made Mango Waffles, and ate the peeling, and I booked my trip front bookend.

Apparently Mango skin contains the same chemicals as poison ivy and shortly after I had a face that was totally swollen. On the same day I went for a very long walk and was quite sunburned and my face had really swelled up for a few days. Since then I have had these puss bubbles come and go on different parts of my head. (Important for a later part of this story.)At this point I have decided that for the front book-end I would go to Copenhagen, Denmark. The 2nd place option was Cork, Ireland. Copenhagen won out since it also presented the possibility to day trip to Sweden. For this trip I wanted to try new things and I was debating EasyJet or RyanAir. In the end I chose RyanAir just because every review said that it was the worst airline ever. I thought that everyone must be picky and booked the return flight. My credit card wouldn’t work and had to use PayPal to get the ticket.

The next item I booked was my hotels. In 2011, when I was in Berlin I had fond memories of The Generator so I booked the Generator for my nights in Copenhagen and Denmark.

That was all I planned. Everything else was done improv style for that portion.

For the final piece, I was watching everything book up quickly and decided I could no longer wait for Tony and booked a hostel in Munich. For Rome, the Generator was opening a new location and was advertised as coming soon. It was really stressful and Contiki couldn’t tell me where we were staying in “Rome” and only that it is “usually near Termani”. It wasn’t until mid-August that they opened up bookings and I grabbed it up the same day!

A big part of this trip was to not credit card this trip and to prepay everything that I booked. I had also decided that I really wanted to see Naples and Pompeii. I booked the Tranitalia train to Naples but had heard it was better to get the train tickets there for Naples to Pompeii and Mt. Vesuvius.

On July 23rd I received a text from my mother that simply said “can you call me up country”. Now I don’t call my mother very often, let alone up country. This was out of the ordinary. I called her up and she pleaded with me not to go. She apparently had dreams that if I go on the trip that something bad was going to happen. At that point I had so much booked that it was too much stress not to go, but little did I know it was going to be very stressful and cut down the fun of the trip.

About a week before the trip one of the head bubbles started getting really big, and it was too inconvenient to see a doctor before I left on the trip and resolved to see him when I came back.

Planning and Superstition

Planning and Superstition

In August 2015, it was like Christmas! The Summer 2016 flyer came out and I drooled over every page. Vacation planning is not something I do a lot of, it is more of a familiarization of options. As I reviewed my options, let’s face it, maximizing the number of new countries was the main option.

There resulted in one tour that became the only one that worked for dates to take my mother to Europe, and her need to user the Labour Day weekend to make it work, and the need to still hit Oktoberfest with Tony. That tour was the Trail to Rome starting September 9, 2016. It would leave London, then go to in order; Amsterdam, Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Krakow, Budapest, Ljubljana, Venice, and Rome. This was it or bust!I have always booked these trips through the tour group directly, as it was just easier. Since the past trips, I took some cruises and booked them through a particular travel agent. As a few weeks passed, the trip date after the one I wanted went completely sold out and my trip was limited availability now. So I went online and booked the trip directly with Contiki. Since the rest of the trip dependent on others, I didn’t get the insurance (later in the story this was a very wise decision), or airfare.

Around the end of the year, some things came up and my mother was going to have to cancel. Then the trip sold out and Tony was only going to do the end week. Come April I needed to buy my airfare and the trip was not firmed up but I knew I was going to take book-end weeks before and after the trip so I planned to fly to London (so I could store my big bag and travel light), then after the trip give half a week to plan later and then fly Rome to Munich for Oktoberfest, spend 3 nights there, and fly home from there.

Now I researched my flights and tweeted the flights to perfection and timings to not be too early, too late, or wait times too long or too short. I also planned to try out Lufthansa to come home. Since this was 3 segments and multi-airline, I determined a travel agent would be my best bet, and I needed to get travel insurance still.

Now since I booked my trip my regular agent didn’t seem pleased that I booked the package directly with Contiki. In addition, I am quite superstitious about things and the two cruises I booked through her using different airlines, both had my luggage delayed. I, therefore, decided to use a different location of the same company to book the flights. I showed up with a post-it note that had dates, flight codes, and airport codes that would confuse most people as a pile of gibberish, but to her, it made perfect sense and I had tickets in no time.

I also bought travel cancellation insurance through her. I thought the price was a little high and later found out it was the plus plan, and that was why. By the time I found that out it was too late to do anything about it.

It’s Showtime!

It’s Showtime!

Show Poster

Now to continue the story. The biggest point of fear is the moment before doing something. However, I have at this point completely learned my part and it is showtime for the final full rehearsal and there are a limited number of media and a few other people in the audience. It makes this effectively the first show. I’m standing behind the curtain waiting for my cue, which was in the second part of the first act, and am trembling because although I’m not on stage yet, I have no way to escape out of doing this. After two months of faking it, pretending to be an actor, I step out on stage. I don’t remember much of that show I was in character and pulled it off.

The next day, the first day of paying guests, I trip on my way to work, rip open my knee and elbow, but the most tragic event happened. My coffee cup exploded all over the sidewalk and I lost it. A world without coffee is not a great world. That night I was faking it again and really was focused and didn’t even notice the audience. Each night after the show I got to meet some of the audience. The reason why the story started here was that after the Friday show, I invited my mother to travel with me to see London and Paris on the fateful trip when the story gets interesting.

I did absolutely love the acting and had auditioned again the next year but have never gotten a chance to do it again yet hopefully as I heal, I will get a part in the future. The following April I did perform with my friend Tony in a Shakespeare open mic a bit from Coriolanus. Unfortunately, he messed up his line. (sarcastic supportive emoji 🙄)

It was also at this point that I convinced myself that it was time for Contiki trip number 4. My friend Tony also wanted to join me for the Contiki and to do a post-tour trip to visit Pompeii and Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany. (Do I even need to state it is in Germany. Doesn’t everyone know Munich is in Germany?)

Later, my mother sent me a list of things she would find interesting like the Tower of London, the English Moores, Normandy, and where in Paris that Princess Diana was killed. (Moan, not Paris again…)

So the plan is to bring my mother for a few days, send her home. Meet Tony and then go on Contiki, then a post week of exploration.

Let the saga begin…

Let the saga begin…

Over the past few years, I have not posted as much lately here. Let’s face it FaceBook is where it is at these days to share things. But the main reason has been that I had been in a slump where almost nothing felt interesting to me let alone share.

Back in 2009 when I left university for the last time and decided to leave university and start travelling, I was really in a search to try and find meaning. Then in 2010 when I first set foot on British soil and took my first Contiki it was amazing. Then came 2011 and I tried to duplicate the experience and it was more disappointing and less amazing (just a little). Then when my Great Aunt passed away in 2012, I tried again to travel Europe and it just wasn’t quite the same as that first time either. I wasn’t having any luck at finding meaning in anything, or a relationship.

Then in 2014, I took a cruise and it was impressive. So, I did it again in 2015 and it was very much less so than the first time although it was still special like each of the trips before by the people I meet on the journey.

Although this has now changed and I’m not sure where this will end or how long it will take to catch up to no but boy do I have a story to share, and I will start to post it here.

IG: Europe Trip 2016

IG: Europe Trip 2016

Contiki’s Virtual Travel

Contiki’s Virtual Travel

There are somethings in life that VR will just not replace. One such thing is the experience of a Contiki tour. Or can it? I just read an article on Travel Week where with $149 for 3 hours you can experience a 3D VR experience of world wonders like Oktoberfest in Germany.

I’m sorry but there is nothing close to Oktoberfest in Germany then…

Oktoberfest in Munich
Oktoberfest in Munich

Not Even…

Oktoberfest in Kitchener-Waterloo
Oktoberfest in Kitchener-Waterloo

I have been on 3 and soon to be 4 Contiki Europe trips, and the experiences you get from days with people from all over the globe just cannot be virtually obtained. Especially the smells of cities like London, Paris, Rome, Venice are also part of the experience. Travelling is to me about the experience more so then just seeing the sites.

Check it out here https://www.contiki.com/virtually-unlimited

Note: I wrote this post before visiting the actual Contiki site about this.

2013 the Year of Firsts!

2013 the Year of Firsts!

After the mess of a year 2012 was my New Year’s resolution was that 2013 was going to be a year of firsts. This year also seemed to acquire a slogan as well due to my Contiki trip, and that was #noregrets.

Now I know that I have ignored updating here as often as I should in favour of quick tweets, Facebook posts, and Instagrams. For the year-end post I thought I would take a moment to list my firsts for the year (in no particular order).

1. Had a real birthday celebration.

2. First time in Monaco and Liechtenstein (small enough to be a single first).

3. Went to an adult costume party for Hallowe’en.

4. Exceeded my custom’s limit.

5. First major out-of-town music festival. (Osheaga)

6. My first “snowboard”.

7. Tried out a few new restaurants. (Decimal 81, Britt’s, Lemongrass)

8. Volunteered for my first theatre event. (Fundy Fringe Festival)

I have also included below a gallery of some of this years best moments that I have photos of.

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The most miserable place on Earth! Rome.

The most miserable place on Earth! Rome.

The Face of Truth
Fountain Replica of The Face of Truth

There is not a more fitting way to start this post than with the Face of Truth. The truth about Rome is that it is the most miserable place on Earth.

This was my 3rd visit to Rome and it seems to never get better. Rome has a very limited  Metro system so getting around is not the easiest although unlike many other cities Rome is very consolidated into 2-hour walk to anything. The charm about Rome is its history as the centre of an ancient empire. Though when you get to see the real Rome most of the ancient ruins beside the Coliseum, a field where Circus Maximus was and the Pantheon there is really not much left to see of that empire. The only real remaining Empire left to see is that of Christianity and Catholicism.

When it comes to food, Rome is very lacking in its own identity. It adopts styles from other Italian regions and International Inspiration. On my first night in Rome, I went to a place called Piazza Navona which was loaded full of people eating at all the restaurants that circled the Piazza. I went through a couple of allies and found Ristorante Ottavio. I was small, quaint and “Roman”. In typical fashion, while travelling I ask the server what is really good to try. The gentleman says that the lobster is very “fresh and wonderful”.

I then ask him how fresh it is. He quickly leaves and brings back this poor almost dead looking lobster that to most who have never seen a real fresh live lobster before would be very thrilled.

So instead I ordered a pasta dish that was much more amazing than the plate that that poor unfortunate lobster would eventually have ended up as. While in the Piazza I saw a Seagull catch a Pigeon in mid-air and fly off with it in its beak. This had me thinking that given the number of pigeons and seagulls that we have in Saint John that this is just further proof of the miserableness of Rome.

Rainy Day at the Pantheon
Rainy Day at the Pantheon

Though Rome does have many sides and moments of wonder. Earlier that day I was on a walking tour of the area and as I approached the Pantheon the skies just opened up and dumped as much water as it possibly could on the crowds of tourists and street people who with amazing speed switched from selling collectibles to selling ponchos and umbrellas.

That being said it did not rain for very long just long enough to get completely wet and leave enough water to make it more humid as being evaporated by bright sunshine that rapidly came out.

The Trevi Fountain was amazing as usual and like Pigeons in King’s Square or like any other old thing in Europe was over packed with crowds of people.

And the Coliseum and Roman Forums have not changed a bit since the last time I have seen them in 2011.

I haven’t died… yet.

I haven’t died… yet.

It has been a while since I posted anything and it is not like nothing has happened.

Eiffel Tower at NightI took another amazing trip to Europe. The goal this time was to see amazing new things that I would not have seen if I actually planned the trip. It may not be a surprise to some of my loyal readers that I have a short attention span and my plan for Paris was simple. Do the Eiffel Tower at night, then on my full dat go to L’Arc de Triumph, go in Notre Dame, and see Rodin’s House. L'arc de TriumphWhat did I end up accomplishing? Just the tower and arc from my list.

As it turns out I was going to walk down the Champs de Elysee to get to see the Charles de Gaulle statue and get on the Metro. As I walked down the street I noticed these mini malls and started to check them out until I found one that near the end had a back entrance to an alley. It was in this ally that I found the most amazing baked thing with raspberries that has ever entered my mouth. I should have taken a photo or wrote down the name of it… but it didn’t last long enough. At this point I realized that I spent way more time than I though I would have so I finished the street and made it to the metro. I never did find that statue but I got this amazing photo.

Champs de Elysee

IMG_0053Then I get to the Metro station and I have to transfer twice to get to the Arts et Metiers station. Though I never made it there. Why not you might ask? It is because I ran into a station that the train stopped at nearby called Bonne Nouvelle. For those readers IMG_0060that know some French will know that the name of the station means Good News! What type of explorer would I be if I missed the opportunity to visit Good News. So I got off and then made it to the street and got my bearings to the general direction I needed to go. Then as a continued to walk I found a little hidden gem not one but two really cool old arches that were even more impressive than the main three of Paris.

IMG_0063Then finally after a 20 minute walk to where I was supposed to get the train to, I finally arrive at the Musée des Arts et Métiers. As i make my way around the building to the entrance to the museum I get the amazing welcome that many poor immigrants to the United States got to experience over a hundred years ago. It was a bronze cast of the plaster model original that was used to size to scale the giant version of La Liberté éclairant le monde (Statue of Liberty) that welcomes people to New York harbour. This museum has the original plaster version inside the converted church that is now basically a church of science and IMG_0947engineering. The name of the museum is a little deceptive because it translates to Arts and Crafts but there are amazing gems in this place including a kilogram, a satellite, every measuring item that you can imagine. Very old adding machines up to the Cray-2 (world’s fastest computer 1985-1990). Very old to almost new but obsolete technology. It is a geek’s nerdvana.

After the Museum it was time for some lunch then grab the train to Notre Dame because I had a plan. As I started walking down the street passing station after station looking for a Baguette sandwich that I was craving I realized that this was probably the only place in town where there was no food cafés or I just stuck at noticing things and missed them. Finally I find one and it was the best ham and cheese sandwich that I ever had (at that time and for about a week until I hit up Rome).

By this point I was at the City Hall and enjoyed the square and was getting tired but I could see the Notre Dame in the distance so why not just walk the rest of the way. As I get there my feet are tired because I had new shoes and my gel insoles were still in my bag at the hotel. I see the big line and figure why not take a few photos in front of the church and the head to the Rodin House.

IMG_0083

IMG_0099I then get in the Metro and make it to the Rodin House but by the time I get there my time is up and I need to walk back to the pick up point. I went back to the hotel to get changed then we headed out for dinner where I really enjoyed some wine and great french food. Seen a cabaret style show. Then tried really hard to debate some very good points, lose a stupid argument, and headed back by taxi to the hotel for some sleep and then a really long shower to relax.

IG: Europe Trip 2011/2013

IG: Europe Trip 2011/2013

Ninety-Eight Days but I’m Not Counting

Ninety-Eight Days but I’m Not Counting

It is really cold today. It has been less than a month now since I booked my next trip.

On my last trip my old reliable large suitcase met it’s last days from the cobble-stone sidewalks of Rome. That’s right I have to move on with life and break in a virgin suitcase on this trip.

My new suitcase is slightly larger and a harder case. I bought it at the Zellers liquidation sale. It’s biggest problem is there is only one outside pocket. I’m undecided still on whether or not to by a new dangly thing. My last one was given to me buy my old friend when I had forgotten my previous on prior to my first WordCamp trip.

On an interesting note to me anyways, I was cleaning off my dresser and under the pile of junk was my dangly thing. I tried guessing what was in it as it felt unusually bulky. I thought it might have been the baggage tag for my last Toronto trip. I was wrong. (Even though some people think I would never really say that.)

The tag in my dangly thing was the luggage tag from YSJ to FCO via YUL. (Saint John to Fiumicino (near Rome) via Montreal).

Personally I find Rome to be one of the worlds worst historic cities. From all the thieves to the difficult sidewalks to the crazy drivers to the very long lines almost every city in Europe is better than Rome. Though perhaps my views would be different if I ever found true love in Rome. We will have to see May 6-8th.

A Difficult Goodbye

A Difficult Goodbye

Describe the last difficult “goodbye” you said.

My last difficult goodbye was in London last fall. It was so difficult when you are in such a close group of people on a bus tour, knowing that you will likely never see any of them again to say goodbye.

This one in particular was hard for the main reason I was extremely tired. That day we started the day with an early departure from Amsterdam to try to catch the 1PM ferry in Calais.

When I should have been getting some well needed rest after an incredibly active day of walking many kilometres rather that trying to translate Dutch to take the street cars, the worlds most annoying creation decided that it was time for no one to sleep at 3:30am. That annoying creation was a damned rooster. Although I could probably sleep over the sound of a rooster in this instance, it was several dozen of those buggers.

Last Live Performance

Last Live Performance

What was the last live performance you saw?

London Street
London Streetscape

The last live performance I saw was Legally Blonde: The Musical at the Savoy in London. This was the first time I went to a show in London. I bought my tickets at a little kiosk on Charing Cross Rd.. It was a nice sunny afternoon, I was going to see an afternoon movie but for some reason I decided not to. I think the main reason was I has so much left to see in London and I seen a sign that morning for the Transport for London (TFL) museum and since I love subways I decided that was too important to miss.

I was so thrilled with my purchase and they even gave me a map of where to find the theatre. So after a quick-lunch and email check at the Burger King, I was off to find this museum from memory and some moderately accurate street directions. When I then saw something “shiny” (metaphorically). It was a little stair well to a Ray-Ban designer shop. I when in and tried on every pair. Things appear more magical when travelling.

Then I found the museum and it was 100x better that I imagined the museum to be. It was a second london gem that interested me by surprise like the H.M.S. Belfast that prior to the day before I had not known existed.

Stage setupAfter I when back to the hotel to drop off my new souvenirs and to dress more formal for the theatre. When I got off the tube at Charring Cross I seen the map at the station to get general bar rings as it was about a 5 minute walk. I kept walking and started to question if I had gone too far then I saw the bright pink glow around the bend from the large sign.

I quickly get in created and find my perfect centre seat about 8 rows from the stage about 20 minutes before showtime. After 5 minutes an usher comes and explains that the Ticket seller double sold the same seats and that in typical London hospitality I was given a new seat one row back. Then the show started and was such an amazing musical in such a fashion that held it’s own only differing slightly from the movie storyline and incredibly well acted. It was also really pink.