David Paparelli's Blog

Matthew 19:26

Archive for June 2010

Boa Noite Budapest

with 4 comments

I am on the train to Vienna right now. A few questions are running through my head as I write this. How did this happen when Vienna wasn’t even close to making my list of cities? Where am I going to stay when I get in the city? Is this a ridiculous move on my trip? Will Dantes be able to get any sort of satisfaction in killing Danglars and Fernand? Well, I think I can answer all of those questions except the last one (I’ll have to finish the book I’m reading to answer that one).

The Brazilian guys I met in Prague told me to send them a message when I got in so we could meet up for the soccer game. I sent them a message well before I got in with my arrival time. With the game about to start and no reply I had to go with a group of people from the hostel to watch the game. The group was lead by one of the people working at the hostel. In the group were two Americans from the Air force Academy and two Londoners. All having recently graduated from university, we had a lot to talk about.

We walked into an outdoor bar of another hostel. It was absolutely packed and we were late to the game so we had trouble getting a view of the tv. Nothing was right about this game. I was late, when I arrived we were already down one goal, and I couldn’t see for a good part of the game. With all this having gone wrong it was only appropriate that we lost the game as well and were eliminated from the World Cup. Disappointed, I bought a hamburger and hung out with the Englishmen and Air force graduates.

Man, what an entertaining group. They all had great stories and great personalities. One of the Englishmen was in a fraternity (not sure what the word is in England) at his uni. This experience yielded some hilarious stories. Even better, since the air force grads were swapping stories with this Englishmen, it almost became a competition to which organization had worse hazing. The Englishmen came pretty close to taking the top spot, but how do you beat the Air Force Academy? I don’t think its possible. It was entertaining watching him get close though.

When we got back to the hostel I finally received a message from my Brazilian friends. They were sorry they couldn’t make it and asked if we could meet up later on. I responded yes, of course. They never responded back. I hung out with the Englishmen the next day because the Brazilians were not responding. We spent the day eating, looking at the largest church in Budapest, and watching soccer. England played Germany in, what was called, payback for 1966.

It was getting close to game time and we had not found a spot to watch the game. None of us knew any bars in the area except for the one we were at the night before so we rushed to the outdoor bar. England lost by three goals. My friends were not surprised, but still decided to drown their sorrows as any good Englishmen would. Somehow we managed to have a better time this night than the last.

The whole night they were trying to convince me to go to Bratislava with them in the morning. The only thing holding me in Budapest was the Brazilian girls I met in Prague told me they wanted to meet up the next day. We had not made any firm plans so I told the Brits that if plans were not made by the morning I would get on the train to Bratislava. When we got home I checked my message and the Brazilians had told me where to meet them and given me their number. As much as I hated to say it, I would have to call that firm plans.

After shouts of “bros before hoes”, cursing, and a handshake the Londoners got on the train to Bratislava without me. Before they left, I promised them I would meet them in Vienna. The bromance (their words not mine) was not over yet. We still had Vienna to look forward to. The boys left me and I left to meet the ladies.

The Brazilian girls and I were meeting at Buda Castle. Some frustration for both parties finally led to us finding each other. We headed for the Cathedral in the center of the Castle from the National Museum where we met. To our right was a beautiful view of Pest so we decided to go take a look. We took pictures and while we were admiring the view I got slapped on the back. I stepped to the side, looked back, and heard a shout in my ear. “Brazil! ” The noise brought a smile to my face. I had just, coincidentally, run into the two Brazilian guys from Budapest! I introduced all of my Brazilian friends and we made for the cathedral again.

I was catching up with one of the Brazilian guys and he told me they were headed to Vienna. They would be staying at the same hostel in the same room as the English guys. It was settled. There was no way I was going to miss Vienna. The room at the hostel only holds six people and five of the spots were taken up by me and my friends. This should make for a great time. The rest of the day we spent looking at the castle and walking around the city.

Since I watched the English game with Englishmen I guess it was only fitting that I watch the Brazil game with Brazilians. That night Brazil played Chile. All my Brazilian friends and I went to the park and watched the game on a huge screen. The atmosphere was filled with songs and beer. Brazil won and I spent the rest of the night celebrating with a Brazilian flag wrapped around me.

Today, I was able to relax after a couple hectic and fun filled days. I woke up, paid the hostel to do my laundry, and went to the famous baths. I got to the baths and got a massage then went to the pool and just relaxed. I was torn away from the warm water because Vienna was calling me. The train is just pulling into Vienna and that is where I will end this post.

Written by davidpaparelli

June 29, 2010 at 4:42 pm

Posted in Europe

Brazilians Everywhere

with one comment

My first day in Prague I slept. I arrived to the hostel too early to check in and decided not to go out and explore the city. The fifteen hour train ride and the little sleep I got on the trip had exhausted me. The wait to check in went quickly because the hostel had a bar and restaurant in it with wifi.

I checked in and finally got to my room. I walked into the room and the window shudders automatically opened and the lights came on showing me clean beds supporting comforters and giant pillows. Since I had stayed in one or two pretty bad hostels I was incredibly happy to find such a comfortable room. I picked my bed and went to sleep.

At around 6:00 pm I woke up to two Brazilians entering the room. They introduced themselves and we talked about our plans for the next day. I did not have plans so I did not have much to talk about. They were going to Prague Castle and that sounded much more exciting than what I had planned. I asked them if I could come along and they happily agreed.

The next day we walked across the Charles Bridge and up the hill to Prague castle. The castle was enormous and yet there wasn’t much to see. The Vitus Cathedral, in the center of the castle, is the most recognizable part of the castle from a distance so not knowing what to do we headed for the large gothic tower.

The line to get into the cathedral was thirty minutes long, but we had to see it so we waited. The exterior of the gothic church was intimidating to say the least. It is dressed in statues with horrified expressions, gargoyles, and dark jagged edges. Thankfully the interior was a little more welcoming.

The paintings and the statues on the inside were colorful and their expressions were more joyful and less terrifying. The cathedral itself was a little strange. It was built over a period of more than five hundred years and you could certainly tell. I felt like I had just walked into the Russian doll of churches. There was a church inside of a church inside of a church. The whole thing was open air, but you could see each specific church and the different architectural styles and statues within the large building. There is even a couple statues of people in twentieth century suits because the building was finished in the 1900’s and the architects felt like they needed to commemorate themselves. It was interesting to see five hundred years of progress even though Vitus is not the most beautiful cathedral in Europe.

After the Vitus Cathedral we explored the rest of the castle grounds. We saw the changing of the guard and bought tickets to see ‘the story of Prague Castle exhibit’, the old royal palace, and the convent. It was good that we bought tickets to the exhibit because a large part of the royal palace was taken up by the exhibit. If we did not go to the exhibit we would have missed a lot of the royal palace. This wouldn’t have been too bad because the palace wasn’t much to see.

The palace wasn’t very large and only had a few rooms. I was looking forward to the exhibit because I do not know very much Czech history and I figured this would catch me up. After having spent five days in Prague I can say that I still don’t know very much Czech history. I read through the Exhibit, saw pictures, watched a movie, and saw animations and the history is so confusing and hectic I could barely remember any of it. Next to the old royal palace is the convent so naturally we headed into it.

I told you in my last post that I was going to avoid national galleries and try and do other things. Well Prague Castle was in the ‘other things’ category. When we entered the convent, I was horrified to find the national gallery. The convent houses the national gallery. The Brazilians and I briskly walked through most of it. I did stop to look at a few paintings. Most of the paintings were beautiful landscapes of old Bohemia. They showed what life was like and what the country used to be. It ended up being a good thing that we stumbled upon the gallery because I learned more about Czech history from these paintings than I did from anything else on the trip.

Once we were outside the national gallery we looked at each other and knew that it was time to leave Prague Castle. So after three hours, we moved down the hill, saw some of the gorgeous views of the city the castle had to offer and headed towards the hostel.

We had to get back to the hostel because the U.S. was playing Algeria soon. This game was going to decide if we were going to move to the next round of the world cup. The two Brazilians and I walked into a private room, apart of the hostels restaurant, to watch the game. The room was full of Americans ready to watch the U.S. win after such a long and unfair world cup so far. In additional time the team finally scored to make the final score 1-0. The room exploded! People started flipping tables and chairs, hugging, jumping up and down, and of course yelling at the top of their lungs. The owner had no idea what to do and neither did the American fans. We just won our group and were moving onto the second round!

I stayed at the bar for dinner and then watched the next world cup matches that decided who we would play next. I met a couple of Canadian girls who said they were doing the free walking tour of the city the next day and they offered for me to come along. So the next day I met up with them and we walked to the old town to begin our tour.

The walking tour was fantastic. The German tour guide was the perfect mixture of hilarious and informative. The tour was four hours and he managed to keep everyone interested the entire time. We saw the famous astronomical clock, several squares, the historical Jewish part of town, and the Charles Bridge. The history of Prague became a little more clear on this tour, but I would still call it unclear in my mind, just less unclear. The best part of the tour was the German’s emotional and sympathetic story about the Jewish Museum/Synagogue, which I was going to go to the next day. The tour finished and I left my two new Canadian friends.

I started walking along the river back to the hostel and I ran into a guy from Mexico City I met the night before. He was sitting on a bench, relaxing, and looking out at the river. After walking for four hours, this looked great and I joined him. Looking out on Prague Castle and Charles Bridge was almost as good as giving my legs a rest. Motivating myself to move, I got up and, again, headed back to the Hostel.

I was almost back in the hostel and I ran into the two Brazilians I hung out with the day before. This is how my entire time in Prague was. No matter where I went I would somehow run into someone I knew and through the people I knew I would meet more people. I think by the time I left the hostel I had met twenty people, probably ten of which were Brazilians. Anyway, I told the Brazilians I would meet up with them later too watch the football match and continued on to see if I could actually get back to my room.

The next morning my two Brazilian friends left for Budapest and I went to see the synagogue the German tour guide talked so passionately about. He was right when he said that it was the one thing everyone should see in Prague. The synagogue is now a museum and it pays tribute to the Czech Jews who were killed in the Holocaust. This was the most heart wrenching holocaust museum I had ever been to.

The 100,000 names of the Holocaust victims lace the walls of the synagogue. When you see the walls the number of people killed is no longer just a number. I started to read the names and where the people were from and they became real people to me. I was no longer able to distance myself from the event. If seeing the names wasn’t enough, the museum also contains a gallery of art made by children in concentration camps. The children were encouraged to draw by the older Jews as a form of therapy. Most of the pictures were not of Nazi’s or Terezin (the concentration camp), but they were of their homes and old lives that they would never return to. Holocaust museums have always contained a powerful message, but this one, in particular, had a powerful delivery. Somber and reflective, I once again walked back to the hostel.

I walked up to my room and found the two girls that replaced the two Brazilian guys. I asked them where they were from and, sure enough, they were from Brazil. Well I had such a good time with all the other Brazilians I met I figured why stop now. They invited me to get some food with them and I ended up hanging out with them the rest of the night.

Today, I said good bye to my newer Brazilian friends, knowing that I would probably see both sets of Brazilian friends again in Budapest, and hopped on a train to Budapest. It has been a gorgeous train ride so far, taking me past fields of flowers, mediaeval castles, and old towns. When I started writing this lengthy post I actually felt kind of bad that I was not enjoying the view. After seeing how long this post became I realize that it is good I took the time. If I would have waited another day I think I would have had to publish it as a novel. Well, if you made it this far you are probably one of the few. I hope this one was worth it and thanks for reading.

Written by davidpaparelli

June 26, 2010 at 2:46 pm

Posted in Europe

The Royal Wedding

with 2 comments

Well, I made it to the royal wedding. Not the actually wedding, I would not be staying in a hostel if I was invited, but the festivities. I use the word festivities because that is what the Swedish government called it. The festivities during the day consisted of sitting or standing outside for several hours waiting for the wedding to end and the new prince and princess to make a lap around the city. I was not sure when the wedding was supposed to end so I waited and waited and waited some more. I was sitting on the lake right outside the National Museum facing the Royal Palace. I gave up after a few hours and found a large screen to watch the wedding on. They were just getting to their vows.

The prince and princess were successfully married, left the church and got into their carriage. I rushed back to my spot to see if I could get a good view. The seat was taken, but the view was the same. I probably should not have sat there for three hours waiting to see the over publicized caravan because I was able to get the same view by just walking up. So I got to my spot and the waiting began again.

Once again I waited and waited and waited. What seemed like two hours later the couple got off their carriage and onto a boat to see the city by water. All of a sudden the battle ship across the lake, which I thought was a museum and is apparently a working ship, started blasting off its cannons. Victoria and Daniel rounded the corner and started waving to the thousands of people waiting for them. I successfully saw the couple and took some pictures. They entered the palace and I left feeling a little disappointed.

Seemed like a waste of a day to me, but all the women in the waiting audience loved it. The Germans, especially, were extremely excited. I personally did not understand the whole thing. The people of Sweden did not seem happy about the wedding and so it became a festival for tourists. Coming to Sweden I thought that it would be for the people of Sweden, but like I said before, the wedding ended up being for the Germans I think. I needed to cheer my self up after the wasted day so I went to a real smorgasbord.

In going to one I found out what it is. A smorgasbord is a five course meal starting with a cold section, then deli meat and cheese, then fruits and bread, then hot foods, and finally desert. It is served like a buffet. My smorgasbord included raw fish, shrimp, pot roast, potatoes, reindeer deli meat, Swedish meatballs and some great deserts. It was incredibly expensive but if you are in Stockholm it is worth doing. A little happier and a lot poorer I went back to the navy vessel I called home.

When I got back to my room I started talking to two German girls about the wedding. They were just as ecstatic about it as the rest of the German population. They had bought post cards, mugs, and stolen flowers. Unlike me, they had a great time. Both girls invited me to the night time events and we agreed to meet up in a couple hours. This gave me time to watch some soccer and them time to buy more memorabilia.

We met up and they had invited an Australian girl as well. So we all left for the free concert Stockholm was having in Gustav Square. The concert was three D.J.’s and the only one I knew was Basement Jax but I had a good time. It was definitely an experience. I had finally found where all the Swedes were who were not at the wedding. The rowdy crowd kept me thinking that this is probably not what King Gustav had in mind for his memorial. Being at the concert, I was up late enough to see the sunset and the sunrise.

This was one of the coolest and most surreal parts of my trip. The sun set in Stockholm at 1:00 and it rose at 2:00. The sun does not actually fully set. Twilight becomes dusk and the evening fades to the morning. It was great to see and hard to describe. I made it to bed by 2:30 and fell asleep immediately.

The next morning I packed up because I was leaving Stockholm. I had time to do one thing before I left and I decided to go to the National Museum. I ate breakfast with the Australian and two Germans and then moved on to the Museum while the Germans stayed behind to mail wedding picture plastered postcards to their various family members.

The National Museum had a few Rembrandts in it and a feature on the royal family. I think I have started losing interest in National museums and need to do other things in cities. It was great to see some of the paintings, but I felt the energy sucked out of me right when I walked in. Well, I enjoyed what I could of the museum and headed to the train station.

I got on the train to Lund which lead to the overnight train to Berlin. The Berlin train was awesome. The train travels for an hour or so then enters a huge cargo ship. The cargo ship takes the train to Germany. Once on the ship you can get out of the train and the boat has great views, a buffet, a convenience store, and multiple tv’s. Its a great way to travel. I got to Berlin at six in the morning and absolutely exhausted I tried to find my train to Prague.

It was hard to sleep on the train to Germany because the train was powered down and the cabin became unbearably hot. I only slept for two hours and had to catch up on some sleep on the way to Prague. I found an empty cabin and passed out. Every time I woke up I found a new person in the cabin. I didn’t pay too much attention to them and went back to sleep. I made it to Prague and found the hostel without a problem.

I am really excited about this hostel. It is better than a lot of hotels I have stayed in and is cheaper than any hostel I have been to. Prague seems to be that way though. Everything is incredibly nice and incredibly cheap.

 

Written by davidpaparelli

June 22, 2010 at 8:25 am

Posted in Europe

I’m on a Boat

with 3 comments

I changed hostels in Stockholm yesterday because I wanted to give the famous Rygerfjord Hostel/Hotel a shot before I left. The hostel is a boat. It sits in the lake and offers great views of Stockholm along with a unique experience. The things I had read about Stockholm told me this was the place to stay.

On the way to Rygerfjord I had to stop and pick up my train tickets to Prague. I had a good cheap hostel already booked in Prague so I was praying that I could get a ticket that would get me there on Monday for my reservation. Everything worked out! I thought I would definitely be changing my hostel reservation based on train availability or times. The three trains I needed to get to Prague were all open. What a relief, but a part of me was disappointed because I would be leaving Stockholm in two days. The tickets were booked and the reservations were made and I was off to find the docked boat.

This must have been the easiest hostel to find. I knew the general area it was in and all I had to do was follow the water. I am in a twelve bed dorm and as you can imagine it is a little tight. It has been relatively comfortable so I can’t complain too much. My biggest complaint is that I keep hitting my head on everything. Windows, ceilings, plumbing pipes, shower heads, fire sprinklers, and the list goes on. If I make it out of here with only a minor concussion I will call this stay a success. With all this going on I have to say the view does not disappoint.

The left side of the boat faces Gamlastan (the historic center), the central line, city hall, and all the things that go along with them. I stayed up until almost 1 AM and saw the sunset. It remained light but I’m pretty sure the sun had set. I got to the hostel at around noon and had a general plan for that day.

I decided to give my bike card a try. Stockholm has city bike posts everywhere. To get access is really cheap and it is a quick and easy way to get around. They give you a card and you scan it at one of the posts, the machine will tell you which number bike to grab, you take it and you are on your way. You can return it to any of the city’s bike racks. Instead of public transportation or walking I thought this would be a good way to see the city.

I biked around four or five islands and managed to end up on Djurgarden. Djurgarden is the most touristed island in Stockholm and definitely the most beautiful. The entire island is a city park. There are a lucky few who live on the island, but there houses do not get in the way of the greenery or the views. I am going to try and get back to Djurgarden before I leave Stockholm to see the open air museum dominating the center of the island. I biked around this island and took some pictures before i had to head off to find a pub to watch the US soccer game.

What a game! We were down by two goals going into half time. Landon Donovan drove the team to an amazing come back and we should have won. Bad officiating cost us the game. Luckily, later on that night I watched the England game and they tied as well. So the USA has control of their own destiny in the next match against Algeria. Hope to get to the next round is remarkably still alive. Let’s not blow it.

The royal wedding is today. The princess of Sweden and her personal trainer are getting married and this event happens only every forty years so I should probably go join the festivities at Love Stockholm 2010. The updates will keep coming and I hope that my hostel in Prague has good wifi to make this possible.

Written by davidpaparelli

June 19, 2010 at 8:35 am

Posted in Europe

It’s a Gorgeous Day in Stockholm

with 3 comments

Markus (one of the Swedes I met the night before) called me wednesday morning and asked me what time I wanted to get together. He had not heard from his friend who worked in the tunnel we were about to see yet. We decided to meet in thirty minutes and if he hadn’t heard from his friend by then we would just get breakfast. I got ready and set off walking in his direction. When I saw him he was already with his friend.

We piled into his friends truck and drove to the tunnel. The tunnel, as I said before, is being built to connect northern Stockholm to the harbor. It is an enormous project. I was surprised to find that the tunnel was still being created with dynamite. The mixture of the dynamite has changed a little over the years but the process of creating a tunnel through rock has not changed very much. The drive through the tunnel was cold and interesting. I’m not sure I would want to work in that environment, but it was cool to see it.

After the tour we went to an Italian restaurant to eat. Stuffed to the rafters, one of the guys drove me to central station so I could start looking more like a tourist. From Central Station I didn’t know where I was headed I just walked. I found a place by the lake and I couldn’t resist, I took a nap in the sun. It was the perfect temperature, sunny, I could hear trains going by and I could hear locals enjoying the weather. I woke up for the second time that day and walked on.

Seeing the historical center in the distance, I crossed a bridge and entered this medieval part of town. There were a ton of people playing live music. I heard someone playing “Don’t know Why” by Norah Jones in the distance and I followed the music until I stumbled upon the Nobel Museum square. The guitarist was great and the female vocalist was even better. I sat down on the steps of the Nobel Museum and listened to them play for an hour or so then headed into the building I had been sitting on.

The Nobel Museum doesn’t have too much to talk about. It was interesting that the morning I learned about the process of using dynamite to create a tunnel was the same day I happened to see the museum honoring the man who invented dynamite. So once again I learned about the uses and the dangers of dynamite. I watched a couple movies and read some excerpts about Alfred Nobel and then walked out of the museum to see what else I could find.

I started walking and came across the Royal Palace. This is a huge building that isn’t very pretty in my opinion. If you saw the building on its own you would not think it was a palace. Definitely some kind of government building, but not a palace. I walked around the courtyard and throughout the outside of the palace then decided to move on.

It was getting close to dinner time and another soccer game would be on soon so I headed back to the hostel. I ended up at Retro again to watch the game. None of my friends from the night before were there but it was just as crowded. I stood by the bar to watch and near the end of the game I started talking to a Swedish girl. She invited me back to her table and I joined her a few minutes later. She was sitting with two of her girlfriends.

We reviewed our favorite American music and tv shows and had a few drinks then they told me they were headed to a bar called Spy. They said it wasn’t too far and that I was welcome to join. I tagged along. Spy was not a bar. It had a bar so I guess in that sense it was, but it was definitely a club. I had a good time regardless. We headed out of the club a little bit later and the girls were nice enough to drop me off at the hostel.

From the weather to the sightseeing to the nightlife, this day was great. I hope the rest of my travels bring me to places like Stockholm and I have days like this.

Written by davidpaparelli

June 17, 2010 at 2:41 pm

Posted in Europe

Smorgasbord

with one comment

The Swedes are incredibly friendly beautiful people. By chance my hostel is right next to a local pub called Retro. I have met more locals just from hanging out and watching soccer games than I l ever thought possible. Before I start talking about the Swedes I met I think I’ll walk through my first few days.

My first day in Stockholm I met an Australian. He was staying in the same room as me and I saw he had a Ukulele. Naturally, I sprung up a conversation about music. He is actually a professional trumpet player in Australia and plays in a funk band. His trumpet has been neglected for the past three months because he has been traveling, but he bought a ukulele to keep him self occupied. It was impressive how well he could play it in just three months. We had a great time playing and sharing stories and then we were off to watch Australia play Germany in the World Cup. The Australians got killed. After the game was over he went out and I went to sleep.

The next day I just hung out in the hostel all day. I needed a day to catch up on sleep and give my legs a rest. I find that I need this kind of thing once or twice every couple weeks. This was a good day for it as well because I desperately needed to do some laundry and this gave me plenty of time to do it. I was in fresh clothes on tuesday and geared up for a day in Stockholm.

The weather wasn’t great, but the city was still beautiful. I walked around the city for most of the day and tried to get a sense of where everything is. Stockholm is fourteen islands and it is connected by over fifty bridges and tunnels. During the winter the lake that it is built around freezes to a point where you can walk in between the islands. Although it seemed freezing, I was not able to walk in between any islands and a boat tour seemed like a pretty good alternative.

This tour was a little better than the one in Amsterdam. It was still a prerecorded audio track, but at least it seemed to align with what I was looking at. We cruised under 14 bridges and I think we saw all the islands. The most talked about island was the historical city center Gamlastan. It is a very small island and it houses the royal palace and several museums. I think what I enjoyed most about the tour was just being on the water.

Feeling the cool breeze and seeing the geographic beauty of Stockholm was incredible. The historical buildings and piles of information seemed to fade away after I started enjoying the city for purely its location. The cruise ended and even though I was barely paying attention to the audio track I felt like I had a better understanding of Stockholm. I got off the boat and started the long walk back to the hostel.

After spending the day alone I wanted some company to watch the World Cup match that night. I asked the Australian guy and an Indonesian guy to join me but had no success. So I walked over to Retro alone and grabbed a beer and tried to grab a seat.

There was only one seat available in the whole bar and it was at an occupied table. I walked up and asked if I could sit down and the occupants were gracious enough to allow me to rest my legs. They told me that their friend may be coming and if so I would have to leave but I could sit until then. When they found out I was a backpacker their tone immediately shifted. They said I could sit as long as I want and started excitedly talking to me.

A night of conversation lead to a few invitations. It was a large group of locals and a girl offered to cook for me after hearing about my experience in trying to find authentic swedish food and a highly involved group brainstorming session on trying to define what exactly a smorgasbord is. Surprisingly, no one could define it and she offered to show me what real swedish food was. I was also invited to see a tunnel being built in north stockholm. The tunnel is being built to alleviate traffic and will connect the northern part of the city to the harbor. This guy was working on the tunnel and his friend was going to tour it with him tomorrow and he offered to have me come along. I accepted both invitations.

The bar was closing and the night was coming to an end. So I headed home and attempted to recall all of the names of the people I just met. It was impossible.

Written by davidpaparelli

June 17, 2010 at 12:27 pm

Posted in Europe

Kobenhavn

with one comment

My first sleeper train experience was pretty good. I took the train from Amsterdam to Kobenhavn and did not know what to expect. The room I stayed in was about eight feet high and six feet wide and they managed to pack six beds into it. There was not enough room to sit up in bed and just barely enough room to lift my head to read while lying down. On sleepers they do not give you a seat with your bed so you have to go find an empty seat and hope that you do not get kicked out of it by the staff or the owner. The other option is what the girl in the bed under me did which is sleep for the entire fifteen hour train ride. I chose to stay up for a little bit so I went and found a seat.

Once I got into bed I had no trouble falling asleep and slept for ten to twelve hours. I was woken up a couple times to get my passport checked in Germany and Denmark, but other than that I slept through the night. It’s not a bad way to travel and I will surely take a few more sleepers before my trip is over. I got on the train in Amsterdam and woke up in Copenhagen what more could I ask for?

When I got off the train I immediately went to the tourist information center. I had the address to the hostel I was staying at, but no other information. So I found a map and searched for the street the hostel was on. I actually found it pretty quickly. Now certain I was moving in the right direction I headed off.

Copenhagen was much easier to get around than Amsterdam. This is not saying much because I’m sure all of the cities I visit will be. On my way to the hostel I ended up in an area where people were offering me cocaine and ecstasy so I decided to get back on a main road and into a coffee shop to find an alternate route. I bought a chocolate croissant and a cinnamon roll and they were both fantastic. This is one of the best things about Europe, you can wander into a random coffee shop and eat some of the best food you have ever had. After enjoying the pastries and finding an alternate route to the hostel I moved on.

The hostel was relatively near central station and as I approached I heard live music playing. Both of these things got me pretty excited about my choice. As I got closer, to my horror, the music was adolescent rock bands covering American pop and metal. The singers were worse than the music selections. I dropped off my stuff and got out of range the “music” as fast as possible.

I walked back towards central station looking for the national museum. In the museum you walk through over ten thousand years of Danish history and, I must admit, by year 0 I was getting drowsy. Most of my time was spent reading about the stone age, bronze age, and Iron age. There was agriculture tools, weapons, stories about pagans and vikings, burial mounds, and modern toys. I walked quickly through the modern age because I could not possibly read anymore and just wanted to get outside. I stepped out of the museum and took a deep breath. It felt good to be free again. Later on that night the USA was going to play England in our first 2010 World Cup match, but before I posted up in a pub I made a quick stop at the hostel.

The music was still going on at the hostel and somehow it managed to get worse. It was now Danes roaring death metal. I dropped off my backpack and ran away from the music again. I watched the soccer game in a pub in Central Station called O’Learey’s. I thought this would be a good location because the pub’s walls were lined with American basketball stars. Larry Bird seems to be very popular in Denmark or at least in Copenhagen’s Central Station. With so much American Memorabilia I figured it would be an American friendly environment.

Sure enough the English started flooding in around game time. I sat next to a guy from Nappa Valley named D.J. and we both timidly watched the game. During half time I got to hear D.J.’s story.

He graduated high school and instead of going to college he went to culinary school. The last few months he has been in Denmark apprenticing at the best restaurants the country has to offer. He actually worked in the research and development department of the recognized best restaurant in the world. There were some great stories that came out of his experiences, but after hearing all of this he told me that he was thinking about going back to school and becoming a stock broker. He told me that working in restaurants is incredibly hard work and it does not leave room for other things in life. Stock brokers make a lot better money and work shorter hours. I have a feeling he will end up somewhere else besides stock broker and will use his huge amount of experience in the food industry for something else.

It was great talking to D.J. and to see the USA pull out a tie. The next day I would leave for Stockholm but it was a short and sweet trip to Kobenhavn.

Written by davidpaparelli

June 14, 2010 at 1:25 pm

Posted in Europe