Friday, 28 December 2007

Italia and the Rest!

After Prague, we were tired. But we decided to run through [literally] the rest of Italy, for sake of completion. At this point in time we just wanted to get to Finland, and rest our heavy luggage in our rooms. Italy was a bit disappointing from here on.

Some of the factors that hindered our enjoyment of this end of the trip were:
  1. Our Heavy luggage which we had to drag around all day since we did not book a hostel in these cities. We ended up having to pay the train station baggage check to keep it. and in Venice it was way too expensive so we paid a Chinese guy who owned a hotel to keep them in his lobby. Unfortunately he could not speak English, Italian, Spanish or sign language so he communicated in sharp prehistoric grunts and expressions of pain and agony. It was quite entertaining.
  2. Trenitalia, the train system in Italy was the worst, stinkiest trains in the world! i will never travel in italy by train again. There were people in our seats, people on the floor, ticket problems with the conductor, bad smell throughout and a lot more. We did mange, however to sneak into first class and sleep on the beds. Once in our trip to Milan, we almost missed our connection train at Bologna and had to run from one end of the train to the next, hopping over people to ge tour luggage and exit before the train left again.
  3. Since we didn't book hostels, we not only had now where for our luggage, but also no where to shower. Our solution? McDonald's of course! We started off the trip hating McDonald's, but in the end we loved it! There were free toilets, and rooms to wash up, free wifi in some places, coffee, food, warmth, hott girls [check out the Romanian cashier in Florence], and great maps [better than those in the tourist office], there was even a free McDonald's Bus in Florence! Our entire trips, began to be modeled around McDonald's and finding a McDonald's branch.
First: Venice. Not the romantic city that everyone talks it up to be, it was totally touristic and we were bombarded by tourists, tourist shops and souvenir sellers. You could not move, there were so much tourists, and every "house" was not a house but a tourist shop. IT raped the romanticism out of the entire city. Of course it was a beautiful city, but it was masked with this cesspool of tourists. There were however the dark lanes and corners that were tres romantique, but of course the reason there were no tourists there was that it looked like a total area where you would get mugged, robbed and raped. At the end, we sat in a park with some whiskey waiting for the train, like two homeless people :).

Florence, more impressive and romantic than Venice, this town was quiet, peaceful, serene, lovely. Of course the works of the genius Micheal Angelo was there, including the intricate sculptures such as the naked David. Since Pisa was so close, just 1 hour away and cheap, we decided to visit the famous leaning tower while we were there and had so much time to kill. Pisa was a beautiful small town as well, and we had a wicked sizzling pizza in Pisa! After this, we began our final trip to Milan. Now this famous capital was utter disappointment as well, since we had some administrative problems with our hotel [no wifi access :(], but this was mainly because we were so tired from our travels and just needed to get to Finlandia!

Italy was ok, maybe it may have been enjoyed more with the woman-love of your life rather than with just a guy-friend.
More Pictures?

Wednesday, 26 December 2007

Prague: Spy Capital

Prague is the capital and largest city of the Czech Republic. Its official name is hlavní město Praha, meaning Prague - the Capital City.

Prague has architectures quite unlike any that I've seen in my life, or in southern Europe on my adventures thus far. It is, without a doubt, the most beautiful city in Europe, with it's uniquely-architectured and vibrantly coloured buildings. The golden city, as it is sometimes called, is home to the largest ancient castle in the world: Prague Castle. We visited this, but to us, it was not impressive, though fairly large, the structures seemed almost new and reconstructed and far from ancient.

So, we settled in the world's cheapest hostel [cheapest that we've found so far] at 10€ per night and free wifi and great rooms: Aparcay Hostel. Then explored the city a bit, saw the sights: Charles Bridge, Prague Castle, New Town, Old Town, Jewish Town, Lesser Town, and to kill some time in the end, we even visited the sex-machines museum :|. The machine to the right is an anti-masturbation device :| what?! These Czech people...weird.

More adventurous pictures of Praha can be seen on the Prague: Spy Capital web album.

Tuesday, 25 December 2007

Pardubice: The Real Czech

Who goes to Czech Republic!????!? Having met a Czech girl, Marketa, in France, we decided to spend our Christmas 2007 with her and her family in Pardubice, Czech Republic.

Let me rephrase: who goes to Pardubice??? We were blasted with positive impression! Czech republic was by far, the best European country we've been to, beautiful landscape, beautiful and different architecture, beautiful girls, and completely different from southern Europe.

And of course we were simply just fascinated by being in Czech, a country where we had no idea what the language was about, a country whose capital city, Prague, was featured as the Spy Capital in many movies [including the Bourne Identity], and in my favorite video game: Soldier of Fortune. Their language was quite astonishing, we had no idea what the hell they were saying, and it had no similarities whatsoever to English or any of the Latin languages; luckily all Czech children get a sound education in English language and thus, most of the younger people speak English.

I have to say, Czech people [or at least girls] are the most friendly, amicable and nice people in Europe. On our flight to Prague, both Marcos and I met two Czech girls each on the plane, who both offered us rides from the airport afterward. The one i met, was a bit crazy though, student studying language translation [Czech - French - English], and reading a bible, but then admitted openly that she did marijuana quite often with her boyfriend. :|.

So, after taking a ride with these girls from Prague airport, and a train to Marketa's, we had the traditional Czech Christmas dinner, dumplings, potato salad, and carp. We then had some whiskey with Marketa's dad, :), then went to explore the Real Czech: Pardubice. It's always better to steer away a bit from a country's capital city and the touristic areas and just visit the real small towns, that way you interact more intimately with the country and its people. Pardubice is a really beautiful town, small, compact, and Czech. We even got muzik original from Pardubice, Czech: it was Metal of course.

A bit freezing, since the temperature was significantly lower than the almost warm southern Europe [in Italy], next day, we saw a bit more of Pardubice. We went to a glass museum, WHO goes to a glass museum??? :| but it was part of an armory museum as well, so we got to see those small spy pistols that were sooooo Czech. Afterward, Marketa took us to Vesely Kopec: a small open air museum that exhibits preserved traditional Czech housed and barnyards. That was definitely worth it, and exposed us to some of the history of the country, plus we got to walk on a small frozen lake [just to show how cold it was]. The Pictures at Pardubice [The Real Czech] will reveal it all...

Sunday, 23 December 2007

Rome: Roman Pillars

So our Euro-Super-Trip begins, in Rome:

"Rome wasn't built in a day"
"All roads lead to Rome"
"When in Rome do as the Romans do"
"Roman Pillars"

We've grown up on these words and famous quotes, and i would never have imagined myself being in what was once the greatest empire on earth! Rome, Italy was impressive, huge structures [more like ruins] that were built so long ago without the technology existent today. It was one of the most impressive cities in Italy. The streets were cobblestoned, but a bit dirty, i expected more.

We managed to cover most of the famous sights in two days, doing some sightseeing in the night as well; checking out the hott Roman Girls. :) and Roman nightlife. I managed to see the pope at the Vatican delivering a speech, not much people in this world gets to see the pope. And of course we sampled the fine Italian cuisine, pasta, pizza, the works.

The better pictures are published at the roman picasa web albums Rome: Day 1 Roman Pillars and Rome: Day 2 The Vatican .

Saturday, 22 December 2007

Super Trip

Ok, so it's the end of France, and 2 weeks free until Finland. what do we do? Euro-trip of course! the route:

Aix-en-Provence [France] > Nice [France] > Rome [Italy] > Pardubice [Czech Republic] > Prague [Czech Republic] > Venice [Italy] > Florence [Italy] > Pisa [Italy] > Milan [Italy] > Helsinki [Finland] > Turku [Finland]Wow. tired just by typing all those places, far less for visiting them. This trip was exciting, exhausting, and exasperating at times.

The following posts will give a bit of details of each place, starting with Rome...

Thursday, 20 December 2007

Last days in the southern France

12-12-2007, a day we will never forget, the last day of school in France, the beautiful, warm, south of France, south of Europe, Mediterranean sea, our last taste of French culture, French cuisine, French girls....

On this sad day, we had our last lecture with the entertaining Mr. Paul Laifa all of use dressed in suites. After which they took us for lunch at a typical country-side French restaurant. We had a nice afternoon with most of our lectures along with the coordinators of our programme for France [Monique, Robbe].

As we all departed that afternoon, to return to our respective home countries, travel Europe for two weeks, or just have a Christmas in France, we all felt as if we would never see each other again; SO strong has the bonds been built in us. Yet, we all will meet again in Finland in no more than 3 weeks, it felt hard to leave.

It's so strange how quickly one can develop ties to a place [not to mention my girlfriend, but that requires an entire blog post on its own]; within 5 months, we were all attached to France and felt the pain in leaving it behind, considering especially the harsh, dark [oh my god there's the sun in that picture!] winter that awaited us in Scandinavia.

We'll hold this beloved country in our minds and hearts forever.

Jevin :(

Check the Picasa Web Album for more pictures on our Last Days

Wednesday, 19 December 2007

Moelleux aux Chocolat

In our last days in France [*snif snif*] we [Biljana, Slavica, Mark, Marcos, Anna, Thulan] decided to go to an authentic French restaurant for dinner. At the end of the meal, not knowing what i was up for, i chose the Moelleux aux Chocolat for dessert. It looked like a stupid cup cake, but delivered a culinary orgasm when tasted. Its a very soft, very moist cake, filled with warm, rich chocolate syrup. nice...definitely the best dessert in the world!