Sunday, June 30, 2013

Czech it out!

Here are a few photos from the weekend in Karlovy Vary where one of the largest European film festivals was going on. Great times!

Kristina and I in front of the Thermal Hotel with the main theater

Working the red carpet as always

Locals drinking the hot spring water, as prescribed by the doctors at the spa

Getting healthy from the fountain of youth!  Warm and full of iron.  Good taste!

My new traveling companion

Feeding the goats


Marek and I by the thermal spa colonades

Friday, June 28, 2013


The capital, where it all happens.  So much going on in this amazing city. It's been a great finish to the German leg of the trip so far.  My German language skills are at the top of their game (as good as they'll get without more classes) and my shoes have properly walked in over half of the German states (there's 16 of them). Just fun being out and about in this wonderful country and exploring.

I've been staying in Berlin with Steffi, my foreign exchange sister who almost 10 years ago started her year long stay with my parents.  Very cool to still be in contact, and to have a lot in common.  As someone who has couch surfed around the world, she easily eclipses my records.  We've been having a blast out in the city, from a huge free music festival, to Turkish markets, to the local gym to great food at her apartment.  It's been a grand time, as life should be.  Nice to relax with good people on a trip with no end date.  Good to feel like a normal person as opposed to just a traveler at times.

Berlin is a super funky, alternative city.  Definitely a fun side to the city which is also where the government resides, high fashion exists and numerous museums almost outweigh the amount of Turkish kebab cafes.  It's by far the most international city in Germany.  Pretty diverse around the streets or on the U-Bahn.  I keep hearing all different languages, from Spanish (loads) to English to Italian.  And of course, German. 

The city feels alive with people. A full, vibrant city where people enjoy the cafes, the squares and dont seem to be working all the time.  Makes it fun and easy to strike up a conversation and see if my German passes the test.  Always something fun to do in Berlin, with many adventures all over.  One of the highlights was definitely the Berlin Wall art gallery.  Very impressive 1.5km long stretch of the wall that is still standing and is now covered with amazing art from around the world.  It was first painted in 1990, and then in 2009 the same artists came back to repaint their paintings, so they are pretty fresh right now.  Photos coming soon!
Got to run and catch that train!

Amazing local art in Berlin

Part of the East Side Gallery, the real Berlin Wall

Me with one of the most famous paintings on the wall

Berlin Wall art
Meditating and elevating

Steffi and I at the Brandeberger Gate, just a few days after Obama spoke there

Legit Berlin currywurst!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Frankfurt & Heidelberg Photos!

To open in a new page use those sexy fingers to click here, Frankfurt & Heidelberg Photos

Saturday, June 22, 2013

To the top of Germany

To the top, as in both the northern part of Germany as well as the top two cities.  Hamburg and Berlin!  Boom, these places are funky, large, alternative, crazy, amazing and wonderful all in one.  Been grand to explore and check them out, visit some old friends and make new ones.  Plus put some good miles on the shoes.  Walking all over without an end in sight, and loving it.

I explored Frankfurt for a couple days after the fun long weekend in Heidelberg, staying with an old friend Christian.  Good times there in the city, with an awesome long park along the river Main.  Great times hanging out and relaxing there.  It was super hot in the city, so I properly sweated through most of my clothes (no double wearing of anything this time) as the weather reached 38 degrees Celsius (I started with 2 degrees in Iceland, had 10 in London and normally 15-25 the last couple weeks).  We won second place at a pub quiz, and explored the cool areas in the city.

Then came the impromptu visit to Hamburg.  Everyone raves about how cool the city is, so I changed the plans (quite easy on this trip) and booked a bus two hours before I left after sorting out a couch surfing host in the city.  Done.  Just like that, I was off to my first new city in Germany.  The last few weeks have been with old friends in places I've been before, which has been amazing, fun and a bit relaxing as I haven't needed to go all over exploring a new city.  Now, it was back on!  Get those feet moving!

Hamburg is a wicked city, that although spread out, seems quite walkable.  From the funky bar area of St. Pauli, to the city centre in the Altstadt, with the large lake Alstor there, it's got lots going on.  Plus the whole harbor scene with more land below to explore.  In my two days in town, I saw more than most people do in a week.  Definitely made the most of the time there.  I was hooked on the city, already one of my favorites in the country. 

It all started with meeting my host at a city park where loads of people were listening to a concert (for free outside the fences) picnicking and fire dancing.  I showed up hungry and was fed homecooked food.  Can't beat that.  From then on, just good times in Hamburg. 

Now I'm in Berlin, staying with my foreign exchange sister Steffi.  Great times in about 24 hours so far.  And more to come.  And more words to come later on.  Stop reading, enjoy the pictures:

Frankfurt and El Capitan!

Local street artists working their magic

Hamburg street art

Part of the harbor in Hamburg

Hamburg City Hall (Rathaus makes it sound classier than city hall) on the lake

How about a sail around the lake in Hamburg?

More Hamburg street art

What box will you choose?

The Chile House which is has ship-like characteristics in Hamburg

Friday, June 14, 2013


More good times around Bavaria, as I've been bouncing back and forth between Bamberg and Nuremberg, both cities I've been to a few times over the years and know pretty well.  Perhaps my favorite two Bavarian cities as they both are quite easy to get around, and yet offer numerous typical German sights to see (cathedral, churches, amazing bridges, history, architecture, etc.).  Been great to have a few more days in this region to explore, attempt to be a local, see friends, eat the local Nuremberger sausages and have some of Bamberg's imfamous Rauchbier (smokey bacon like flavor).

The Bamberg town hall is amazing in the fact that it stands in between two bridges on an island in the middle of the river.  A very impressive building, and down below in some rapids are kayakers practicing their runs in a course.  Fun times hanging out on the bridge with the students and watching the action as well as the sun going down.  A fun pasttime for me these days.

I'm staying with an old friend from university, Kirk, who has a wicked view of the Nuremberg castle from his balcony.  Quite nice to wind down the day up there with the reminder that yes, this is Germany, and yes, life is good.

Off to Heidelberg today to visit Gerda, an old friend from New Zealand.  Heidelberg is Mark Twain's favorite town in Europe and is known for it's red castle.  Looking forward to hiking around the area and exploring the city, also full of students like in Bamberg.

Some few technical difficulties with the vertical pictures deciding to take a nap and lay on their side.  Please turn your computer on it's side for the maximum effect of the picture to take place.

Nuremberg bridges with a filter on the camera

Tourists spinning the gold ring for good luck (and you know I did too)

St Lorenz in Nuremberg.  Quite some loud bells inside the church

Acting like a local in Bamberg

Little Venice in Bamberg

The old town hall and I living the good life in Bamberg

Full effect of Bamberg's old town hall

A river runs through Nuremberg

Part of the Nuremberg Castle, looking mighty medieval

Now that is a door!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013


I've been bouncing around Bavaria for a while now, from Bamberg, to Munich, to Nuremberg, and today back up to Bamberg.  Great vibes down here.  Quite fun to reconnect with old friends, and see familiar cities.  We've been hiking in the hills, and swimming in the lakes, as well as exploring each city and enjoying some fine sunsets.

It was great to catch up with Anisa, an old friend from studying in Cologne.  We had a great time all over Munich and got to meet up with her sister, Teuta, a few times too.  Teuta showed me around Albania when I visited a few years back, so it was fun to talk about the crazy times down there, and how I ate a whole platter of cow tongue then.  The food is still as interesting as ever, as the Germans find ways to use the whole animal and serve it in new methods.  Mainly dozens of variations of sausage, but I've seen my fair share of large pork knuckle down here as well.

Still eating lots of pretzels here in Germany, perhaps my favorite food.  They go well alone, with beer, as a sandwich, as a roll, as a pillow.  Tasty!

Been able to get in some swimming in Munich, to try and keep the body in decent shape.  Loads of walking and eating carbs isn't cutting it.  Quite nice to get the upper body in action again.  Not exactly Michael Phelps out there, but I'm still breathing which means it was a success.

Me outside the old Town Hall, on an island with bridges on both sides in Bamberg

At the touristy Hofbrauhaus munching on a huge pretzel

Turkish protest in Munich.

Munich having fun with some old classic buildings

Munich statues

Rocking Gypsy music on the streets of Munich

The English gardens on the weekend are always packed with fun


The band I tried out for, and didn't make the cut.  I play a wicked harmonica

Saturday, June 8, 2013

German road tripping!

Spent the last 5 days road tripping around the country with my old roommate, Stefan and the legendary Australian, Ben.  Great, crazy times enjoying German culture, eating loads of bread and meat and just going with the flow.  Unfortunately the flow of the river was against us and after loads of rain, there were massive floods all over, so the mission to get to a great hike in the Czech Republic didn't happen.  Ended up doing a great hike in Germany right next to the border due to roads being closed.  Saw lots of flooding, sandbags amongst the small towns and Dresden in the east.  Didn't stop us from having a great time and seeing some great things.  Here's a few pictures:

Bouncy ball action in Erfurt, compliments of Kathrarina

Traffic jam on the Autobahn means football!

Stefan and I in Dresden by the Frauenkirchen (totally destroyed in the war and rebuilt using some of the old stones)

Massive flooding in Dresden

Sign under water

Bier Garten wet with something other than beer for once

Jumping in the Artist Passage in Dresden

Not going on that street afterall

Relaxing on our hike through the rocky mountains

Beautiful area with the Czech Republic in the distance.  Just couldn't get there due to flooding on this trip.  I'll be there in a few weeks

Enjoying the small natural pond at 761m above sea water

Little bit of a water problem in this alley

Camping out in a field

Best campsite ever!  Enjoyed badminton, grilling local meats and playing uno for the last hours of the day

Ben walking up to take a picture of the sunset

The boys drinking Rauchbier (smoked beer that tastes like liquid bacon) in Bamberg

Beer garden in Bamberg!