I fell off the bandwagon posting day by day due to technical difficulties at first and then because I felt so behind.
After Berlin we got on a very hot overnight bus to Warsaw. Warsaw was pretty great. It had good food. There was this restaurant called Zapiecek where I got this kind of pork stew on a potato pancake dish. Best meal of the entire trip in my opinion. Got it AGAIN the second night, not quite as amazing. Also got interesting desert pierogies with seeds, blueberries and vanilla cream. They were weird and ok. We also got lots of 4 Zloty Lody (ice cream). The hostel may have been our last true free breakfast on the trip. I love breakfast.
The museums were interesting. The Jewish history museum took a surprisingly long view history, not hyper focussing on the last 100 years. The Warsaw uprising museum was also very interesting. Some highlights were the home made guns, how much they hate Stalin now, and the exact equivalent advertising for their special forces as we would have for our seals.
We flew down to Athens. The ancient sites were impressive. They are so OLD it’s nuts. The Parthenon is ridiculous. We walked roughly the same paths Aristotle did, which was a strange sensation. The views you can find from the tops of hills are gorgeous. Gyros were good and cheap. The bakeries there have great stuff too, lots of flaky savoury pastry like spanikopita and others. We also got laughed at for trying so many cookies.
We took an overnight ferry (where we made a buddy) to Santorini, which was the best day of the trip. We rented an ATV and scooted all over the island, which is just naturally beautiful. I like nature a lot, probably more than the great buildings we’ve been seeing if I had to pick. The architecture is also unlike any I’ve seen. Saw a number of the famous blue topped churches. It was too bad maybe that we didn’t schedule more time here.
We then took another ferry to Crete. We went to this restaurant called Amalia’s, which was really excellent and friendly. The temple of knossis was disappointing. Unfortunately, the archeologist from the 1920s reconstructed a bunch and it looks like a putt putt course. It took away from the stuff that was original because I had to always be guessing if it was original or a lie. The archeological museum was great though and the Venezian fortress was also great. We wandered the streets that night and slept in the airport. Matt was in great discomfort.
We scooted on over to Rome. Matt loved Greece so much that I think he got a bug in his butt about Italy and came in with kind of a bad attitude. Rome was very crowded and dirty. I remember looking over and seeing this old woman peeing on the tracks at the train station in the middle of the day with hundreds of people around. It’s not like that only happens in Rome, but it kind of feels characteristic.
We stumbled into a concert the first night
The vatican museum was the best museum I saw the whole trip. The painted rooms were huge wow factors, Sistine chapel, and I really liked the contemporary art section. Matt didn’t come for ethical reasons, which was interesting. He may have a point. A trade off is that I didn’t have time to wait in line for St. Peter’s
The Colosseum was nice but I was somewhat underwhelmed by the forum. That was a long day.
We made a day trip to Pompeii. It really brought home that these other ruins were actually just cities, because Pompeii is almost perfect. Put some roofs on things and you’re good to go. It was kind of spooky to see recognizable hearths and stuff from people 2000 years ago. At that train station, I got this ham and cheese calzone. 3 Euros, up there for best food on the trip, alongside Stockholm’s cheese sandwich and Zapiecek
Naples had good pizza. We were only there for a couple hours scooting between Rome and Pompeii.
The last night in Rome, we slept on the streets. It wasn’t that bad actually. Pretty warm.
We took a train to Florence. The church here was the coolest one in Europe basically. Well, in the running with Notre Dame. And the one in Ghent.
The Galileo museum reminded or taught me how much time and difficulty occurred in the early history of science. I kind of don’t think about much before 1800, but there was plenty happening. The handmade brass apparatus was fun.
We saw the leaning tower of Pisa, which is surprisingly tilted. There wasn’t much else in Pisa though, so we went on a to a beach. I wasn’t feeling the ocean on this trip. I think I was scared of having the skin on my thighs wrecked, which has happened before, and we were walking so much that it would have been miserable.
We hung out with this Australian dude one day.
Then another train off to Venice. Venice also didn’t feel like it had too much going on. The canals are neat but there isn’t that much else. I think my opinion is heavily influenced by Europe fatigue though. If it was your first or only location you’d probably think it was great. Started eating lots of peanuts.
Then a plane ride up to Paris. Saw the main sights, The Arc, The Eiffel, Notre Dame. Got some Vietnamese that night with Ben and Derek.
Baguettes are fine. Crepes are good. French coffee is a bit better than other coffee because it got the closest to American coffee.
Went into the Louvre. It was just too much.
Then took my flight to NYC and dumped the night in Matt Wiener’s swinging pad. Got a huge American breakfast to celebrate being back in the motherland. Was filled with more love of my country than I can recall feeling. Breakfast is the thing we do best. It is the quintessential American dish that everyone else screws up and we didn’t borrow. Got on a bus and I’m back, ready to figure it all out.
What is the takeaway from the trip?
I guess I was kind of hoping for a transformative experience, but maybe I’m too old, or Europe isn’t weird enough, or I’m not that kind of person. Even over there I was basically me. It was neat though and I had a blast. The time flew.
Maybe I stayed too connected. I was chatting with Connie and all my friends, checking my emails, and browsing Reddit and bullcrap almost every night.
I had lots of time to contemplate what I want and what I should do, which was good, but I think figuring that stuff out is more of an active seeking and trying process. I was coming up with more and more project ideas or things to look up, but i couldn’t really act on them because we were always on the move and I didn’t have a computer or equipment, which was sometimes frustrating.
In particular in regards to what I can do for a living, I don’t think there is too much I could do in a vacuum. I cannot just know what people would want to hire me for, and cockamamie self employment schemes need to be tried to know if they’ll even remotely work
I did learn that I probably could live in a foreign country, although it is not preferable. Everyone basically speaks english, but it does add a small extra layer of hesitancy to every interaction, even buying gum.