23 Jul 10
Day 1 (Friday, July 23)
After just returning home from my sailing trip in the evening the previous day, I woke up early to get to the plane to Dublin.
After landing in Dublin I took the bus to Belfast, where I arrived around 14:30 at my hostel Belfast International Youth Hostel. I went to sleep for a few hours. Then I went for a tour around Belfast and had a pizza in a nice restaurant.
In the evening I met with Albrecht, Håkon, Karl Isak, the groomsmen and some of Albrecht’s friends for beers at Crown Bar, a very famous bar in Belfast.
We only stayed there until 23:00 and we went to our hostels.
Day 2 (Saturday, July 24)
I woke up early and had a Belfast Traditional Breakfast (Ulster Fry) and then got ready for the wedding.
I met with the wedding guests in the center and a bus picked us up and drove us to Portadown. Here there was the wedding ceremony, followed by the German tradition of sawing the log.
Albrecht and Rachel left in a Trabant, and all guests were driven by bus to Brownlow House in Lurgan for the wedding reception and dinner party.
After a photo session and speeches, we sat down and ate good food.
Albrecht and Rachel cut the wedding cake.
After that we danced some Celtic dances and traditional disco dances.
The bus took the guests back to Belfast at 01:00, and I went straight to sleep.
Day 3 (Sunday, July 25)
I woke up early and got a Mega Belfast Breakfast at Causeway Cafe, which the menu says that after this Mega Belfast Breakfast "trust us, you won’t need to eat for the rest of the day". But I was feeling hungry around lunchtime.
I got on the bus which started around 09:45 on the McComb’s Causeway Coast bus tour.
We stopped at Carrickfergus Castle, Ballycastle, Carrick-a-rede Ropebridge, Day 3 – Old Bushmills Distilery 01, Dunluce Castle and Giant’s Causeway.
The tour was great and we had a very funny guide who was making jokes all the time.
We returned to Belfast around 19:00. I met with Håkon, Karl Isak and some of Albrecht’s friends and we went to Crown Bar, then to Laverys Bar for more beers and to play pool.
I went to sleep earlier, while the others continued to play pool.
Day 4 (Monday, July 26)
I woke up early again and went to eat an English breakfast at a supermarket. Then I met Håkon and Karl Isak at the bus station. Together we took the bus to Dublin airport and then the plane to Oslo.
Belfast, Dublin, Giant's Causeway, Ireland, Lurgan, Portadown, Travel, UK Travel
12 Jul 10
Day 0 (Monday, July 12)
I woke up very early in Oslo, and went to the train station where I got the train to the airport. After a short flight I was in Brussels Airport, from where I took the bus to Antwerp under a pouring rain.
When I got in Antwerp the rain was stopping, and I carried my bag from the bus station to the harbour in a nice weather, taking pictures on the way.
In the harbour I went to my ship Christian Radich. After a short tour of the ship I unpacked my bags and went for a short walk in the harbour and to Grote Markt.
On the way I got French fries. I got back to the ship where I met Håkon which I knew from the previous year while sailing with Mathilde, and his girlfriend Danielle.
Together we went to visit the sailing ships in the harbour, then went for a dinner in Grote Markt.
We returned to the ship to see the fireworks, and went to sleep in hammocks.
Day 1 (Tuesday, July 13)
We woke up on the ship and got breakfast while more trainess were arriving on the ship.
At 10:00 there was a general assembly on deck. The Captain welcomed us to the race and the First Mate presented the coveted prize of the race, which Christian Radich held for the past 2 years. It’s a piece of rock from Cape Horn.
After this the ships started leaving the harbour. There was an incident in which 2 ships got their yards tangled, and a few ropes broke and some sailors were injured. But it wasn’t a big issue and the program continued.
During our journey to the river of Antwerp we got a tour of the ship from the Chief Mate Bengt.
All the ships went to the river for a parade through the center of Antwerp.
After the parade we headed to the open sea, where we practiced putting on the life vests and climbing the yards.
Day 2 (Wednesday, July 14)
We woke up early and had breakfast, then we were waiting for the race to start. The wind was not favorable, and the race was delayed for a few hours. All the ships were waiting around the starting line.
Around 19:00 the Captain gave the order to raise all sails and the race was on!
We went to sleep under the smooth movement of the ship going from side to side.
Around 22:45 the alarm sounds! "All hands on deck!" We were in the middle of a squall (big storm) with rain, thunders and lightning. The Captain needed everybody on deck to lower some sails. After some time the waters were more calm and we went back to sleep. Later we found out that this storm hit Europe quite badly.
Day 3 (Thursday, July 15)
I woke up early for my 4-8 watch and enjoyed the sunrise.
There were big waves all day and the ship was moving from side to side. The sergeant was holding the plates so they don’t fall off. We were playing some group games on deck. I almost cut my leg off in the heavy door which was closing before I can pass through it.
During dinner a sail ripped in 2 places. 12 sailors went on the yard to take it down and replace it with a new one, while the ship was moving from side to side.
Day 4 (Friday, July 16)
The ship was stuck in a strange position, on the port side all the time. It was funny to see everybody walk diagonally.
After dinner we were approaching the finish line, and the Captain announced it.
Just as he was saying it the wind changed direction, and all the ships that were behind us needed many hours to cross the finish line.
Day 5 (Saturday, July 17)
In the morning we were scrubbing the deck to clean the ship. We were using the motor to go through Skagerrak Strait to Halmstad (Sweden).
Many people had birthdays on the ship and the cooks made cakes for them and we sang "Happy Birthday" to them.
I got to steer the ship as part of my watch duties.
Day 6 (Sunday, July 18)
In the morning we watched the movie "Around Cape Horn under sail", then I went to do my horizon watching duties. We were polishing the metal parts of the ship to make it look nice for entering Halmstad.
Then we took a group picture of the 4-8 watch and rehearsed our song for the BBQ.
In the afternoon we arrived in Halmstad (Sweden) where we were welcomed with open arms by city representatives. The other 2 big Norwegian sailing ships in the race were also there, Statsraad Lehmkuhl and Sørlandet.
We went for a walk downtown Halmstad and the first stop was a pub where we had some beers. Other sailors joined us, and also from the other 2 Norwegian ships.
We got back to the ship then all the 3 crews moved to Statsraad Lehmkuhl for a BBQ. There was good food and entertainment provided by the watches. There was also a drinking competition with orange juice.
I left the party quite early as I was tired. Many of the others partied until late and even went to the town for more partying.
Day 7 (Monday, July 19)
Woke up in Halmstad and went for an amusement park provided by the town free of charge to the sailors. Then we took a free bus to Tylösand beach and walked back to the ship on Prins Bertils pathway by the coast.
On the way the guys went for a swim. We stopped at a kiosk in Grötvik where we were discussing in Scandinavian with a Swedish bartender for a long time.
Near the ship we met Pia and Hans and got one last beer before going on the ship.
At 18:00 we left harbour while trying to hit Statsraad Lehmkuhl with water balloons, but we were out of range.
Day 8 (Tuesday, July 20)
In the morning we got lessons in types of ships and reading the sextant.
After a few hours on the sea we arrived in Aalborg, and fired the cannon just as we entered the harbour.
The captain addressed everybody in an emotional speech and handed out diplomas to the trainees.
We went for a walk downtown, then in the evening we went to the amusement park and a pub crawl.
We got back to the ship around midnight.
Day 9 (Wednesday, July 21)
In the morning we went to see the movie Windjammer (1958) which is about our ship Christian Radich. It was very emotional to see this movie, which was presented by David Strohmaier and his wife, who found it and restored it. It was nice to see it together with other people from Christian Radich.
In the afternoon we went to have lunch and to the Maritime Museum where we spent a few hours.
We got back to the ship and went out for dinner, at a restaurant where the waitress was Norwegian. We got back to the ship around 23:00 and went to sleep for the last night on board.
Day 10 (Thursday, July 22)
I woke up and had a breakfast, then I called a taxi and left to the train station. I took a train to Hørring, then changed to another train to Hirtshals.
In Hirtshals I had a few hours before the ferry left, so I went for a walk on the beach.
I took the ferry to Larvik, which was actually a 4-hours feast of an all-you-can-eat buffet with lots of different food. In Larvik I took a bus to Oslo, where I arrived around 19:30.
Article about the 3 Norwegian ships
Aalborg, Antwerp, Belgium, Christian Radich, Denmark, Halmstad, Hirtshals, Statsraad Lehmkuhl, Sweden, Sørlandet, Travel Travel
21 May 10
Day 1 (Friday, May 21)
I went to the bus station in Oslo to meet with Petru and Marcin and together we took the bus to the Rygge airport. After a short flight we were in Charleroi airport in Belgium and the adventure to get to our hostel began.
First we waited more than 30 minutes in the queue to buy tickets for the shuttle bus. Then we were trying to buy tickets for the local buses in Brussels but our cards were not accepted. After buying the tickets from an underground kiosk, we took the wrong tram and ended in another part of the city, so we had to go back and take the correct tram. Eventually we reached the hostel after 3 hours from landing, and we waited some time in the lobby while drinking Limoncino.
Already drunk, we went to the city and had a huge portion of French fries in the center. We couldn’t have the fries at the last authentic Friterie where the single girls are not waiting for the bus (as we read in a guide book), because it was closed.
After the French fries we saw a repetition of the Zinneke Parade, and had a big dinner with a few fruity beers.
After the dinner we went back to the hostel for a refill of Limoncino, then we went to the You Night Club where it was a Back to the 80s party. The nice girl at the entrance didn’t want to let us in in the beginning, but Petru convinced her with his charm. The party and the music were great, and it didn’t finish at 3 in the morning as we were used to. There were lots of hats, wigs and pink scarfs around for people to wear.
Around 04:30 we went back to the hostel, not finding a kebab shop on the way.
Day 2 (Saturday, May 22)
I woke up quite early and went to eat something. I found a great place called Aux Cent D’wiches, with great and cheap sandwiches. I got Petru and Marcin there and they liked it as well, eating there every morning. I also sent a message to Carolina to buy some Limoncino on the way.
We wanted to go to Atomium, but instead were just walking and found the Koelkeberg Cathedral by mistake. We were having some beers we got in a local shop while taking jumping pictures in front of the cathedral. We also went inside.
After the cathedral we went back to the hostel where Carolina was waiting for us, with a detour to the same local shop to buy more beers and to the supermarket to get even more beers.
Together with Carolina we went to the city to watch the Zinneke Parade which only happens every 2 years on the weekend we were in Brussels.
After the parade we got some more French fries and took the metro to Atomium. We also went inside and were almost the last ones in.
After Atomium we got some icecream and stayed on the grass in the park outside Atomium. Then we went walking in the park to see the Chinese Pavilion and the Japanese Tower.
After this we returned to the hostel where Petru and Marcin got lots of beers to see the Champions League final, while the rest were sleeping. After the game we refilled with Limoncino and went out to the same club, You Night Club. It was a posh night and everybody was dressed nicely. At first the bouncer didn’t want to let me in because I forgot to wash my sports shoes, but the owner of the club, the same woman who let us in the previous night, came and let us in.
After some dancing and using my newly acquired green sunglasses, me and Carolina left with a side trip to a Greek fast-food place. Petru and Marcin came later making lots of noise. Then the symphony of snoring began.
Day 3 (Sunday, May 23)
I woke up early again and went to the same sandwich shop, and eventually all the others went to the same shop. We got Leia from USA with us and together we took the train to Bruges. While waiting for the train Carolina found a porquinho to talk to.
In Bruges we walked around the town and entered almost all cathedrals, then went up the Belfort and its 366 steps to see the view.
After this we went to a nice restaurant Cambrinus to have some good food and lots of beers.
Wanting to go for the boat tour around the canals, we asked some tourists for the way and they directed us in the wrong direction. Eventually we found the boat tour harbour, and we got lucky that we could get in since it was past the closing time and we got on the last boat. The boat tour was nice and well worth it.
After this we took the train back to Brussels, standing on the floor since it was very crowded.
Back in Brussels we went to the European Parliament and then to see Manneken Pis.
We then went for some Greek gyros and then back to the hostel.
Day 4 (Monday, May 24)
Me, Petru and Marcin woke up early to get the flight back to Oslo, while Carolina had one more day in Brussels. At the airport we got some beers and slept all the way to Oslo.
Belgium, Bruges, Brussels, Travel Travel
18 Jul 09
Day 1 (Saturday, July 18)
Woke up in Oslo at Petru’s place, after a night-out in the city and only 3 hours to sleep.
I walked to the train station, where I met with the sailors with whom I will travel on the ship Mathilde.
We took the train to Dombås, where I was playing cards with Sandra and Jenny, and sitting in the restaurant car alone while the others were sleeping.
In Dombås we changed the train to Åndalsnes, seeing great scenery on the way.
In Åndalsnes we took the bus to Ålesund, where we will stay at Volsdalen Camping.
We set up 3 tents (lavvo) and played some icebreaker games to learn our names.
Later we prepared a BBQ with fish, rice and pølse. While waiting for the food we tied a line between 2 trees and tried to walk on it, with me not being able to stand up on it.
Hakan came to visit me as he just lives in the area in a small town (or village as he calls it).
Later we played volleyball, and card games after I twisted my ankle a bit. It began raining after the rainbow appeared on the sky, and we retreated to our tents.
The population of my tent was bigger than in the beginning, with Edoardo, Sandra, Jenny, Marie, Maxi and Katrin. Plus the food.
It was raining a lot and there was lots of noise from the rain drops falling on the tent.
Day 2 (Sunday, July 19)
Waking up early we prepared breakfast, with me adding instant coffee to the porridge because I didn’t have a cup to drink coffee. Everybody was laughing about it. Later I borrowed a cup from Luba so I can drink coffee like normal people.
We left with the bus to Vigra island, where it was cloudy and cold.
But the weather got better and sunnier, and we spent a full day with hiking, kayaks, volleyballand just enjoying the sun.
We returned to our camping place when it began raining, having to run to the bus stop as we were waiting in the wrong place. We had dinner outside in the rain.
We stayed in my tent for a few hours playing a card game with vegetables and slurping, and then went to sleep.
I woke up in the night all wet because it was raining so much that the water came in the tent, through the matress and the sleeping bag, and my t-shirt was all wet.
Day 3 (Monday, July 20)
Woke up wet and stayed in the camping kitchen to try to dry my clothes.
We packed the tents and left Volsdalen Camping, taking a bus to Ålesund. It was raining non-stop.
In Ålesund we went straight to our ship Mathilde. I borrowed from Michael the first mate an orange costume used by fishermen, to protect myself against the rain.
The ship left the harbour, and we were off to Runde. We got introduced to the crew, and Michael assigned numbers to us and distributed us to different watches (steering, outlook, navigation, "be nice" watch).
We arrived in Runde in the afternoon, and we went for a walk around the island, stopping at Runde Kafe for a long time, to warm up with some coffee and cake.
We got back to Mathilde to learn about knots, and to see a documentary movie about the fish trade in the 1920s on the west coast of Norway.
After dinner on board we left for a walk to Fuglefjellet, to see puffins.
When we got back to the ship we had to tie hammocks to the ceiling using the knots we learned.
Then we went to sleep as all the lights were turned off on the ship.
Day 4 (Tuesday, July 21)
Woke up early on the ship, but nobody was up until 07:30.
Some people went with the rowing boat and came back with a full load of crabs and fish, on which we spent a few hours untying them from the fish net.
Then we left Runde and did a bit of sailing.
We did our watches as they were planned by Michael, while doing some other fun activities on board, like walking the line and eating the crabs we caught earlier. I got to try steering the ship a bit.
We arrived in Kvamsøya in the evening, where we went on a nice hike to the top. We took some group pictures there then came back to the ship. I was walking slowly because I sprang my ankle again and was afraid to walk faster.
We had to go to sleep very early as the plan was to wake up at 04:30 to pass the Stadhavet waters.
Day 5 (Wednesday, July 22)
Woke up at 04:30. To my surprise almost everybody was awake and on deck.
We passed through the rough waters of Stadhavet quite easily, but felt the big waves and the motion of the ship. Fortunately nobody was sick.
After Stadhavet some people went to sleep, while others continued to enjoy the view.
Around 08:30 we arrived in Selje. Me and Jenny prepared the breakfast which we had on deck, while curious people came by and were asking us about our ship.
After breakfast we went to Silja island with the ferry, where there is a very old church. The guide girl was singing a hymn to Saint Sunniva which was very nice.
After the tour we returned to Selje where we used the shower facilities, then enjoyed the sun on deck, even having lunch there. We changed to summer attire as it was very hot, and we did some suntanning on the ship.
In the afternoon we left Selje and did some sailing and steering, and even more walking the line.
We arrived in Rugsund in the evening, where I spent some time playing Fluxx and Munchkin, while Sandra was reading bedtime stories to Jenny and Anders. Other people were at a pub where they went with the rowing boat.
I slept on the bench as the others complained I was snoring too much in the hammock. This apparently didn’t help as I was to find out next day.
Day 6 (Thursday, July 23)
We left Rugsund early and set course to south, going in a zig-zag through the fjords and islands.
I got to try steering the ship with the rope-rudder, trying to hold the course through islands and keeping right when there was another ship coming.
We had some lessons about the names of sails and ropes, which were hard to get because they were in Norwegian.
We passed Florø on the way and were sailing in Brufjorden south of Florø. We got to raise the big sail and changed the sailing direction a few times, going against the wind. With all these activities we had time to make a group picture on deck.
In the evening we arrived at Svanøyna, where we dropped the achor (which had a rusty chain and was not used in many years).
Since the weather was sunny, almost everybody jumped in the water, trying to avoid the poisonous medusas in the process.
After a delicious dinner on deck we were relaxing and learning how to braid hair.
I left with Vidar, Julie, Maxi and Katrin with the rowing boat on a tour around Svanøyna.
After we came back we played cards on deck, and learned how to braid bracelets.
We went to sleep close to midnight, in the middle of the small golf, with no waves. The ship was rotating by itself, but very slow.
Day 7 (Friday, July 24)
I woke up early. This time there were other people from the crew on deck, and I had coffee and cake with them.
After breakfast on deck we relaxed for a bit, while some people tried to climb the mast using only the ropes.
We left the golf and did some more sailing in Brufjorden, stopping on the way for lunch. It was the last meal on the ship. Me, Jenny and Maxi prepared the tables, and I had lots of problems understanding Gunvor’s accent, and many times I had to get some words translated.
After the lunch we arrived in Florø, where we had only one hour for sightseeing.
Then we took the express boat to Bergen. On the boat I slept a few minutes, then enjoyed the view on deck, and afterwards we played cards on the floor, with me winning almost everytime at President. That is until we restarted, and then I began to lose a few times.
In Bergen we went to Peppes Pizza, doing a bit of sightseeing in Bryggen before our train was leaving.
We took the night train to Oslo. There was a dog in our compartment and we were complaining that we cannot sleep with him there, but there was nothing we could do. I slept with the eye cover over my nose, having a beer first in the restaurant wagon.
Day 8 (Saturday, July 25)
Woke up in the train to Oslo around 05:00 and went to the restaurant wagon to have a coffee.
We arrived in Oslo around 06:15. Everybody was sleepy, and we said good-bye and went our own way. Me, Jenny, Sandra and Ingrid stayed in the train station waiting for our trains. I took the bus to Drammen with Jenny and Sandra, and then the train to Larvik, finally getting the bus to Skien from there.
I arrived home around 11:00 and went to sleep for many hours.
Ålesund, Florø, Mathilde, Norway, Stadhavet, Travel Travel
26 Apr 09
Day 1 (Sunday, April 26)
After a 4 hours train and 1 hour flight I arrived in Stockholm, where I met Lucian and Irmi. Together we went to Faro’s place where I met Faro, Tim, Zoltan and Judit, and I was welcomed with a shot of palinka. Tim was trying to extract information from me with his “Do it yourself Freud” kit by hipnotizing me on the couch.
After a tacos dinner we went for a walk around the lake which is by Faro’s place, and then a walk in Gamla Stan to attend the changing of the guards in pyjamas, as Zoltan said. We had some apple cakes in a McDonalds, and the cakes paid for themselves with me and Tim finding 50 SEK on the floor in the McDonalds under somebody’s shoes.
We got back to Faro’s place where we had some Aquavit shots before going to sleep.
Day 2 (Monday, April 27)
I woke up the earliest, around 07:30 and I had my first breakfast, and then the second breakfast when the others woke up.
We went to the City Hall where we met Faro and Andrey and together we had lunch with the politicians in the City Hall restaurant.
After lunch we met Kanchan and Sangeeta who arrived by boat from Helsinki. Together we had a coffee, then walked 10 minutes to find a toilet unaware of the fact that there was one just where we had the coffee.
With Faro and Andrey returning to their work life, me and the others went to the ship, not forgetting to visit McDonalds on the way for a snack.
On the Gabriella ship we were on deck enjoying the view in the Stocholm archipelago, then went for dinner while watching the sunset and to the tax-free shop.
After this we went to my cabin to start a pre-party and to see pictures from Kanchan’s wedding. The elePHPant was having some drinks as well.
Around 23:00 we went to the clubs on the ship, first to karaoke and then to the dance club where there was live music. There we danced some time, and then it was only me and Kanchan dancing and remembering good old times in Uppsala.
I went to sleep around 03:00.
Day 3 (Tuesday, April 28)
I woke up early as usual and had a breakfast in the buffet place on the ship, then had a second breakfast in the market square in Helsinki.
From the market square we took a boat to the Suomenlinna fortress island, famous for its soup. There me and Judit were trying to understand a drunken guy but didn’t even know which language he was using.
After the island Zoltan and Judit went to meet some friends, and the others went to the Helsinki cathedral, where I met with Marius, a colleague from university who I haven’t seen for 5 years. I went with him to the market square where we had some cheap herrings and salmon, all the while trying to avoid the seagulls who were circling above us.
We got back to the cathedral and then me, Lucian and Irmi went to the boat which was waiting for us in the harbour.
I went straight to sleep, thinking that Zoltan and Judit are in the tax-free shop. I woke up and went to the sauna and jacuzzi, which I didn’t like too much. Going back to the cabin I realized Zoltan and Judit didn’t come back and I was worried. I went to dinner and I said to Lucian and Irmi “I have shocking news!” and they were laughing seeing my worried face, because they knew already that Zoltan and Judit missed the boat. Apparently they took another boat in Turku and will be in Stockholm even before us.
We went to the tax-free shop to buy some champagne for Valborg, then to my cabin to pack Zoltan’s pyjamas in his big backpack, and played some Norwegian card games which I lost. Drinking wine we got tipsy and went to karaoke, but again we were not brave enough to try ourselves. We went to the dance floor where there was the same band with the same music. Since the elePHPant didn’t find anyone suitable I went to sleep quite early.
Day 4 (Wednesday, April 29)
After an early and good breakfast at the ship buffet we got down in Stockholm, where we met with Zoltan and Judit who came on another boat. Walking together we took a ferry to Skansen where we spent the whole afternoon and having lunch there.
After Skansen we went to Vasa Museum, and then we took a walk around the city waiting for Faro to come back home.
On the metro we met with Andrey and Alexandra, and together we went to Faro’s place where she prepared a nice dinner. I went outside to get Pavel from the metro station, but all I could find was 20 SEK on the street.
After the dinner we got some shots and went to sleep.
Day 5 (Thursday, April 30)
After the first and second breakfast we packed and went to the bus station together with Faro and Tim who were leaving to Malta. There we bought bus tickets and sold them back because the bus was leaving at 03:00. So instead we took the train to Uppsala which was crowded because everybody in Stockholm was going to Uppsala for Valborg, and we had to stand the whole time.
In Uppsala we walked to Fyrishov where we had lunch, and we met with Andrey.
Ready to party we headed back to the center where there were lots of people dancing in the nations and having picnic outside. We visited our old office which had an automatic gate now, being used as a residence.
After that we went to Triangle where we danced on some Jamaican rap, and where I was speaking with some people in Norwegian and Spanish. Everybody loved the orange glasses we had.
After this we went to Ekonomikum for more dancing, then to the river for a coffee, and to the Tzatziki restaurant for a Greek dinner. It was already cold and we were covered in blankets provided by the restaurant.
After the dinner we returned to Fyrishov, where Pavel returned later after his Flogsta party.
Day 6 (Friday, April 31)
I woke up before 07:00 and went for a walk in Uppsala, trying to find the places which I remembered during my stay there.
I returned to Fyrishov and went to the water park for a few minutes.
The others, inspired by me having so many meals, decided to have first a breakfast at Fyrishov and then a second breakfast at the cabin. I only had the second breakfast, and then a picnic at Gamla Uppsala, where I was watching the clock all the time in order not to miss the bus back to the city and then to the airport.
While the others were still sightseeing in Uppsala I got to the plane to Oslo, then took the train for 4 hours to Skien, where I arrived almost at midnight.
Finland, Gabriella, Helsinki, Stockholm, Suomenlinna, Sweden, Travel, Uppsala Travel
08 Apr 09
Day 1 (Wednesday, April 8)
I woke up around 03:00 and took the train to Oslo airport, where I met Daniel. We had a baguette as breakfast before boarding the plane to Salzburg.
When we climbed down from the plane in Salzburg we were met with a nice view of mountains and horse sh*t smell. The smell persisted throughout the day. Whenever we saw some horses in the city we said "that’s why it smells like sh*t".
Daniel used his high-tech GPS to find the way to our hostel, Yoho International Youth Hostel. It was very nice, with keycard secured lockers and happy hour.
We started our sightseeing tour by walking to Altstadt (Old Town) where we saw the house where Mozart was born. We had a nice lunch in the center where I tried the schnitzel, and we started already drinking beer.
After this we went to Mirabell Gardens where we met a drunken Austrian guy who kept insisting that "Beethoven is first, Bach is second, and Mozart is third". We entered Mirabell Palace looking for the concert place, and we found it but it was quite empty there and we were wondering if the concert will actually take place.
We returned to the hostel to try the happy hour (where a beer is 2 Euros instead of 2.80 Euros), then we set to Altstadt again where we tried to get into Mozarteum where a concert was happening. But the staff did not allow us to get in, saying that the concert was not opened to the public. Even after we insisted that we saw posters of the concert we could not get in. Then we were joking about what would have happened if we came in beach clothes or drunk to the Mozarteum and ask to get in the concert.
Returning to Mirabell Palace we entered the concert hall, where we saw a nice classical musical concert with a small orchestra of only 2 violins, 1 contrabas and 1 fagott (tube-like instrument).
After the concert we walked to the hostel, stopping on the way to get a kebab. Daniel was out of luck as he didn’t find a vegetarian option. At the kebab shop we were talking with 2 drunk soldiers (how come the only people who talked with us were drunk?).
At the hostel where we had more beers, after me failing to pronounce Stiegel (local beer brand) in proper German way.
Day 2 (Thursday, April 9)
Waking up at 07:00 (on vacation?), we took a nice breakfast in the Yoho hostel, and we rushed to the train station where we got on the train to Vienna.
There were lots of people on the train, and we sat by mistake on reserved seats. An Austrian woman with her daughter came and moved us from the seats. We had to listen to a lengthy conversation of the woman with an old man, out of which we understoon nothing. Daniel noticed two girls on the train which he later saw in Vienna and Bratislava, saying that it was a strange coincidence.
In Vienna we relied again on Daniel’s GPS skills to find our way to Hostel Ruthensteiner, which had a nice atrium. A guy was sleeping in our room (around midday).
Leaving from the hostel dressed as business men (with suits) so we don’t look like tourists, we took the metro to the Old Town and began exploring. We bought tickets to a classical music concert at Kursalon in the evening (student price, although I am not a student anymore).
We had a nice lunch (schnitzel again) and beers, and we went to Hofburg and then the Natural History Museum where we spent a few hours, also having a coffee.
From the museum we walked to Belvedere Gardens where we could not get in because all doors were locked and the wall was too high.
We went to Stadtpark where we had an icecream while waiting for the concert to begin.
At Kursalon we were amazed by the luxury and the nice decorations of the interior. Realizing that the guy we bought the tickets lied a bit (he said we will stay in front, but we actually stayed in the front row of the last three rows), we waited almost one hour for the concert to begin.
The concert was amazing, with many superb musical pieces like Blue Danube, Swan Lake, Don Giovanni and other great songs. At one point I almost cried because the music was so beautiful. There was also balet and opera pieces accompanying the orchestra.
During the intermezzo we all went on the Kursalon terrace just like in the old days, with people socializing and having a drink and a smoke.
Returning to the concert we had other great musical pieces.
After the concert we went to a salsa club in Stadtpark where we had a beer while listening to salsa music.
On the way to hostel I stopped to get a hot-dog, and after that we took the metro to the hostel. Around the train station there were so many kebab places that Daniel finally found a vegetarian one for him, and I was regretting that I got the hot-dog earlier. But it was good anyway.
Day 3 (Friday, April 10)
Waking up at 07:00 again we had a nice breakfast in the hostel, and we rushed to the metro station to get to the ferry. By my mistake we ended up in another harbour, and we lost the first ferry to Bratislava.
Having some time to burn until midday when the next ferry would leave, we went to get a coffee at Starbucks, while I explored the city a bit looking for a travelling bag. I entered a nice student bookshop where I saw lots of nice books but didn’t buy any.
After the coffee we went to a pool (billiards) place to play pool (at 10:00 in the morning).
After the pool we went to a nice Chinese restaurant where we filled our bellies with lots of good food, even though we were trying to save space for the upcoming fancy dinner in Bratislava at UFO.
Finally getting on the ferry, we were amazed by the hi-speed and took refuge inside the boat. The trip to Bratislava took only one hour and 30 minutes (Vienna and Bratislava are the closest capitals in the world, 60 km).
Arriving in Bratislava we were welcomed by sexy girls advertising a tourist sightseeing tram. We decided to walk to our hostel instead. Trying to get Slovakian currency at an ATM, Daniel got instead Euros and we were shocked and did not know how to pay for a tram. But walking a bit we actually found Hostel Blues on foot.
At the hostel we met with Jonathan and we had some cheap and good beer while talking with the receptionist.
Finally ready for sightseeing we made a detour to McDonald’s for a quick snack, while Daniel went looking for summer clothes.
In the Old Town we did a bit of exploring, and then we went to the castle hill where we saw a nice view of Bratislava. I got some souvenirs (wrapped a thousand times in paper) while Daniel had trouble finding the toilet (probably because of the language).
From the castle we returned to the Old Town were we had some beers in a nice bar, where Jonathan did not want to leave a tip to the beautiful waitress. We made a stop to a clothes shop were we bought some clothes, and to a supermarket.
Back at the hostel we got ready for dinner, and made a quick stop at the hostel reception for a beer on the terrace.
Leaving by taxi to UFO (also called Taste.A), we got on the elevator up, and first went to the terrace on top to enjoy the view and the sunset.
At the dinner we were met by an army of waiters, each with their own function. First a waitress unfolded the napkins and put them on our laps. Then a waiter came for the order, and another one for the wine. The prices were very steep (but comparable to Norwegian prices), and we got only starter and main course as opposed to the full 6-course meals recommended by the waiters.
With the dinner came lots of small surprises. First another waiter brought us a pre-starter, a potato-foam with bread. The second pre-starter, a tomato-foam with basilicum sauce, was brought by another waiter. Then the starter came, seared foie gras with ginger bread and honey sauce. The wine went down well with the main course, tournedos of veal tenderloin. Daniel had vegetarian pasta which looked very good. After the main course another waiter brought some chocolate with raspberry, and then we had an espresso. And after the bill being paid we got some muffins in a white bag as souvenirs.
We enjoyed the night skyline of Bratislava for a bit then we took a taxi to the hostel.
At the hostel we changed from our waiter shirts in some party clothes and drank some beers, and later we joined many of the hostel guests to club Charlie’s. During the night we went to KGB but that pub was nothing special so we returned to Charlie’s.
As traditional in Norway we went to get a kebab before going to sleep. Jonathan was so hungry that he went to get a second kebab.
Day 4 (Saturday, April 11)
Waking up around 08:00 all the showers were occupied by our Indian next-door neighbours who each took one hour in the shower. After finally getting in the shower, me and Daniel went to get a nice breakfast in the city, then we got ready to leave to Budapest.
At the Bratislava train station Daniel saw the same girls from the Salzburg train. We were suntanning while waiting for the train, and seeing more people from the hostel arrive at the station.
In the train there were some crazy Hungarian dudes who were screaming and did not let us sleep.
Arriving in Budapest we took some money from the ATM, and Daniel tried to change a big bill to small coins at a kebab shop, where we waited almost 30 minutes until the sales lady found someone to change the money.
Walking to the hostel, we took a tram without paying because all the ticket machines we found did not work.
Carpe Noctem Hostel is well hidded inside an old building, but apparently it is the number one hostel in the world (according to hostelworld.com ratings). We were met by a friendly staff who even introduced their names and explained to us all that we can see in Budapest.
Leaving to the city to do some sightseeing, we walked a lot on the Pest side, seeing the Parliament and other sights.
The quick snack at Cafe Montmartre was not enough so we had some traditional Hungarian food in a festival-like place in the center.
On the way to the hostel we stopped at a Puma store to buy some clothes and swimming suits, and where Jonathan was almost locked inside with the sales girl.
At the hostel the hosts prepared a special Easter night with pub crawling and special rules (have a drinking buddy to keep score, drink with your left and with the pinky of the glass, do not say ‘drink’ but ‘consume’, do not point, have a Kinder surprise toy on you all the time etc). This was being taken seriously and talking was being interrupted by people enforcing the rules and making the offenders dri.. consume alchool.
Leaving from the hostel on the pub crawl we walked from pub to pub getting more drunk on the way. At B. City the quota was 1 shot of palinka, one beer in 4 or less sips, and a shot of Unicum. A Hungarian guy was asking me why my drink buddy Manc was happy and I answered that she was happy because of the Unicum and he could not believe it. In this pub we could only talk with the person on the left, so everybody was turning in order to answer.
Some people were taking extra shots and beers to get more points. The toilets could not be used except in certain pubs or otherwise points were substracted.
Instant pub was the last I saw before taking Daniel to the hostel. The rule here was that you needed to say Jizz in my Pants on every sentence. I did see the next rules being followed, some of which were weird at best: tie yourself to your buddy, kiss a baby (!) (where the hell do you find a baby at midnight on a Saturday night pub crawl) and the game ‘pass the ice cube’.
The taxi driver did not want to take Daniel, probably because he was not in the best stomach state. After walking with Daniel to the hostel, I tried to find a disco close to the hostel the dudes saw earlier but did not find it (later I found out that I was actually there but the place did not look promising).
I took a taxi to Kuplung to get Jonathan and together we went to club Play, which was a huge club with 7 Euros cover charge and 3 Euros per beer, and with airport scanner at the entrance. But we stayed there for only 30 minutes, after which we took a taxi to another club, and then getting back to the hostel around 04:30.
Jonathan fell out of bed during the night when the guy who was supposed to sleep in that bed returned, and I found out later that people took pictures of him sleeping on the floor.
Day 5 (Sunday, April 12)
Waking up around 08:00, it was almost no one sober or even awake in the hostel. I went to the train station to get some Euros changed to forint, not realizing that there was an ATM just next to the Exchange Office.
Then I went to a restaurant to get a kebab but was denied because it was too early, so instead I went to McDonald’s where I ate only half of the food.
Returning to the hostel I was hanging out with the guests who were slowly waking up.
Daniel woke up around 12:00 and we went to the restaurant where I didn’t have my kebab, having a great lunch with delicious food, while recounting all the events of the previous night.
Returning to the hostel we got Jonathan and we set on walking to Gellért Baths, with a quick kebab stop on the way.
Gellért Baths was a great place to hang out on a hot Sunday afternoon, with inside and outside pool and even a hot pool, and we got some sun tan outside.
Leaving from the pool we went on a sightseeing in Buda, climbing on the hill to enjoy the view and have some gulash soup and "buni", which Daniel thought it means "French fries".
After climbing down from the Buda hill we crossed the Danube into Pest, meeting an American couple from the hostel.
After quickly changing into nicer clothes at the hostel we took the tram to Jam Pub where we arrived a bit late. There we had dinner with Flora and her boyfriend, while listening to live Cuban music.
After the dinner Flora’s boyfriend took us on a car trip through Budapest, crossing the Danube a few times back and forth Buda and Pest. In the end he dropped us at our hostel, where we packed and went to sleep for only a few hours.
Day 6 (Monday, April 13)
Waking up at 03:30 to get to the airport we saw some people returning drunk from clubs, and dancing without any sound in the living room in the hostel. We said good-bye to whomever was sober enough and left with a taxi to the airport.
We arrived at Torp around 08:30 on Monday morning, and I got quickly on the bus while the other dudes were busy in the tax-free shop. There was quite a contrast between the Norwegian weather and what we experienced on our Eurotrip.
Austria, Bratislava, Budapest, Hungary, Salzburg, Slovakia, Travel, Vienna Travel
30 Jan 09
Day 1 (Friday, January 30)
I woke up around 02:30 AM to catch a train to the airport. At Gardermoen I met with Audrey, Patrick, Hugo, Eric and Jason and we boarded the plane to Iceland.
On the plane I was trying to learn some Icelandic, and fell asleep with the audio course on.
As we were approaching Iceland we saw that it was covered in snow.
At Keflavík airport we made a quick stop to the tax-free shop where we purchased some cheap beer and other booze. Then we took the bus to our hostel in Reykjavík. Resolving the complicated booking took almost one hour, with each paying by card for their share of the room. The receptionists at the hostel were very tired after we finished.
After lunch at Pizza Hut we went to the waterfront, while doing snowfighting on the way.
At the waterfront we admired the sunset and took a group picture on the Sólfar (Sun Voyager).
Then we went to the Reykjavík city center, where we saw Hallgrímskirkja being restored.
We went back to the hostel to meet with the others (Bernd, Daniel, Steve, Jonathan). Together we went to Laugardalslaug swimming pool to relax in the hot tubs (and some of them were really hot). When we were in a hot tub with some Icelandic people and we were talking about the crisis, the Icelandic people got offended and left the tub. With us 10 in the tub there were 2 other girls from Nederlands and Finland and we began talking with them.
Eventually we left from the pool and went back to the hostel where we started drinking some beers and rum, and we rented 2 cars to go see the Northern Lights.
After we drove out of Reykjavík a snow storm began and it was too cold and windy to get out of the cars. But we got out for a bit nevertheless as it was quite an experience.
We moved to a better place without so much wind and we waited almost one hour for the Aurora Borealis to appear, but with no luck. To warm up we started dancing on the music from the car’s radio.
We got back to the hostel around 01:00 and we continued drinking. I went to sleep while the others continued talking. Around 03:00 Daniel, Jonathan and Hugo went out to check the clubs, and they got back around 6 in the morning.
Day 2 (Saturday, January 31)
Waking up around 8 in the morning I went to breakfast where surprisingly everyone joined, even the ones who were partying hard last night.
We started on the Golden Circle road in our cars, making some stops on the way to take pictures.
First we went to Þingvellir which was the first Parliament in the world (930 AD). There I almost fell down a snow-covered ravine while running to the group after setting my camera’s timer. Going down to the plains we were snowfighting.
Next sight was the Geysir. The latino lovers were freezing and wanted to get back to the cars, but they began talking with a group of girls while taking pictures of them and the Geysir, and they didn’t feel the cold anymore.
Gullfoss was close to the Geysir, and we stayed there for one hour taking pictures and checking the souvenir shop.
Driving back to Reykjavík took almost 2 hours, and all of us were sleeping except the drivers. We went to a restaurant for dinner. Audrey heard some French people speaking and it turned out that it was a friend of Patrick.
We went back to the hostel where we relaxed a bit, then drove to another place outside Reykjavík to see the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis). We were already seeing it while driving and we were wondering if it was actually Northern Lights.
After passing through Hvalfjarðargöng (a long tunnel under the sea) we arrived at a good spot to see the Northern Lights (here and here). It was quite a sight to see it in real life.
Using Steve’s camera and my mobile phone’s flashlight we were writing with light, and some cool pictures were created this way. Hugo wrote "Pura Vida" and Patrick wrote "Flamengo" (his football team) and he even tried to do a Brazilian flag (which turned out to be a mumbo jumbo of lines). Steve did a smiley face with a tongue sticking out which was funny.
Satisfied with our Northern Lights experience we went back to the hostel to celebrate and drink. Patrick and Jonathan were dancing a Brazilian dance. Almost everybody got codenames: Patrick = Patrizio, Alexandru = Alejandro, Steve = Esteban, Bernd = Bernando.
Around 02:00 AM we finally decided to call taxis to reach the clubs, and we were waiting for the taxis quite a long time in the hostel lounge.
The first group went to Apotek (which literally means Pharmacy or Drug Store), and me, Bernd, Steve and Audrey went to Vegamót where Audrey was meeting Peter, a friend of hers. On the way to the club we saw lots of Icelandic people in the streets doing some crazy stuff. In the queue we began talking with 2 Icelandic girls and luckily we didn’t talk about the crisis as these girls were quite tall.
Vegamót was a very good club to drink and dance, but eventually we moved to Apotek to meet the others and dance some more.
At 06:00 AM the club closed and we took a kebab while waiting for a taxi. Daniel began talking with some girls just as the taxi came and we all drove to the hostel.
At the hostel we were waiting for the breakfast to start at 07:00 to grab something to eat and go to sleep.
Day 3 (Sunday, February 1)
Surprisingly Patrick came in our room at 10:00 and woke us up. I wanted to go to the bathroom but somebody was snoring inside with the door locked.
Even more suprisingly was the fact that everybody was in the cars and at Blue Lagoon before 11:30, even though my group stopped by a 1950s diner to grab a hamburger and ask for directions.
It was quite a sensation to sit all day in a pool of hot water while outside was -7 C, freezing while walking to and from the building.
We put mud and white silica cream on our faces because it seemed like a thing to do. The cream stuck to the faces and inside the ears and it was hard to get off.
We were kidding around by removing our pants under the water (which was opaque). Steve almost got in trouble when a security guard told him "if you don’t want to spend time in jail until Tuesday you better put your pants back on". We were making fun of this a long time.
Me and Hugo took pictures in the pool by being very careful not to drop the cameras.
We stayed at the Blue Lagoon until sunset, when we headed back to Reykjavík. Again everybody was sleeping and Hugo got his Taco Bell hopes shattered.
In Reykjavík we went to Tivoli restaurant for a good dinner, then we went back to the hostel were we were relaxing and watching the pictures from the trip on Steve’s laptop.
Eventually we all went to sleep before midnight.
Day 4 (Monday, February 2)
Around 04:00 in the morning some of the lousy backpackers went back to Norway, while the others had more time to sleep.
I got up and took breakfast in the hostel then went to the Laugardalslaug swimming pool with Eric. Getting back to the hostel I realized I still got the locker key around my wrist and I was running back to the swimming pool to return it.
At 11:00 our bus came to pick us up from the hostel, and we boarded our flight around 12:50, after a short trip to the tax-free shop to buy some Brennivin and seeing Patrick becoming a celebrity in Iceland.
We arrived at Gardermoen around 17:00 and we took the flytoget to Oslo S, where everybody went their own way and I got on the bus to Skien. I arrived there around 21:00 and went to sleep quite early.
Photo album: www.flickr.com/photos/alex_stanoi/sets/72157613308237309/
Aurora Borealis, Gullfoss, Iceland, Reykjavik, Travel Travel
13 Jul 08
Day 0 (Sunday, July 13)
I woke up early and I was up and running in a short while. Albrecht was still sleeping on the floor. He did not see the message I wrote him about the soup and tortillas in the fridge.
He made his luggage and was stressing Rachel on the phone to hurry up washing the clothes. We had soup and tortillas for lunch and packed some tortillas for the road.
We left around 12:00 to the train station, but when we arrived we found out that Rachel made it there before us because she got a ride.
The train did not go, but there was a bus instead, which was full already with a team of Danish girls. So we had to wait for another bus to come.
From Torp we took the plane to Liverpool. There we played Munchkin Fu and other card games waiting for the next plane, which we took to Malaga.
We arrived at Malaga airport after midnight. We waited quite some time for a car from the car rental company to come. Then with the rented car we drove to Marbella, where we arrived around 02:30. We were looking for the school and my hostel, even asking policemen. In the end we found the school and I went to my hostel. I had a private room with bathroom and shower included, which was quite nice. I set my alarm for 07:00 in order to be at school at 9.
Day 1 (Monday, July 14)
I woke up at 07:00 and walked to school which was 20 minutes away. On the way I met Albrecht and then we met with Rachel at the school. There were quite many people there already.
After a brief Spanish test in which they assesed our knowledge, we went to have a breakfast at a kafe, and walked on the beach a little. It was cloudy so it was not yet hot.
At 11:30 we came back to the school and found out in which groups we are. Apparently me and Albrecht are level A2 (intermediate) and Rachel was A1 (beginner). The course was starting at 14:30 so we went to our rooms to have a siesta, and decided to meet for lunch.
Walking back to the hostel I bought some designer shades (sun glasses) from a second hand designer shop called Utopia, and a postcard.
At the hostel I was speaking a bit with the receptionist who was a nice girl, and who recommended me good places to visit and cheap places to eat. I was resting in my room a bit to the sound of jazz coming from somewhere in the hostel. It was quite nice, but short. I took a shower again and a new T-shirt and went to meet the others for lunch. We had lunch at a restaurant by the beach.
Then we went to the school where we bought books and entered our classrooms a bit late.
The first teacher was Maria, then the last 2 hours David.
After the first 2 hours Albrecht decided to switch to my class together with a Czech girl, Jana, because they thought the level was too high in their class.
After the course (4 hourse) there was a tour of Marbella organized by Alessandro, an Italian guy. We just walked on the beach, then Avenida del Mar, the Alameda park and then in the old town.
After the tour I went back to the hostel to take yet another shower. It was very nice to walk through the old town, and I went without looking at the map, almost getting lost in the labirinth of narrow streets. Then I met with the others and we went on the beach. Rachel said I behave like a model changing my T-shirt so many times.
The water was very nice but only Albrecht swam. I thought he looked like a caveman when he emerged from the water.
After this we went to eat at a restaurant recommended by my receptionist, a fish restaurant. Then we went to have a walk on the beach by the moon-light.
Then we wanted to go to the pub Ocean’s Eleven where everyone from the school was supposed to meet, and we found out it was just there near the beach. Not being used with the Spanish system, we were waiting at the bar for more than half hour while the bartenders were serving people at the tables. There were 5 bartenders and they were doing only one order at a time. Eventually we sat down with the other students and ordered our drinks which came quite fast. Albrecht ordered a mojito but he was out of luck because they finished the mint, so he did not have anything to drink that night.
After the pub we returned to our rooms around 01:00. Walking through the narrow streets of the old town at night was a great experience. There were almost no people around, but I could hear people speaking in their homes.
Day 2 (Tuesday, July 15)
We woke up quite late because we were tired. First I had a very good breakfast at my hostel, with toast and jam and muffin and croissant and tea and orange juice, for only 3.50 euros (which I got back later because the breakfast was included in the room price). The receptionist girl was speaking with me in Spanish as she knew I was there to study Spanish. The other hostel guests were mostly Germans, as the hostel is called Hostal Berlin.
I left from the hostel around 10:00. When I arrived at Albrecht and Rachel’s student residence they were still getting ready. We went to have a breakfast around 11:40. I did not have anything substantial as I already had one breakfast at the hostel.
Then we enjoyed the sun and did our homework on the beach until around 13:00, when I went back to the hostel to take a shower. Rachel was commenting again about me taking showers and changing T-shirts 3 times per day.
I arrived late as usual to the course. The people in my class were: Albrecht, Cristian, Steffan from Germany, Jana, Barbora from Czech Republic, Nicole from Austria, Matej from Slovakia, Pawel from Poland, Chris from USA, and me from Romania/Norway.
After the course we went to Utopia so that Albrecht could buy some sunglasses, and I bought the same model which I bought the previous day, because I already scratched the first pair. And I also bought a nice summer shirt.
Then we had tapas dinner and went for a walk in the Alameda Park and in the old town, and checked out the church and the old walls.
We went to have a drink in a pub while we were doing our homework for tomorrow, by the street.
Day 3 (Wednesday, July 16)
I woke up around 06:00 in order to be ready to go to Gibraltar. Around 07:20 I was outside the hostel looking for the others while the others were looking for me. We had a small breakfast at a kafe, drove to Gibraltar for one hour.
Going in Gibraltar we had to cross the airport runway.
We took the cable car up the mountain ("The Rock"). There the apes (tailless monkeys) were running freely. We were advised not to have any plastic bags, as the monkeys can mistake them for food bags and they will snatch it on the spot (as we saw later some tourists having their bags grabbed and almost snatched).
The view was great from The Rock. We visited first the souvenir shop, then we had a small picnic with yogurt.
Next we went to St. Michael’s Cave which has an auditorium inside and I guess it is used as a concert place.
After this we passed through the ape reserve. From that spot Africa could be seen in the distance over the strait.
Then we visited The Great Siege Tunnels (where we got frightened by a puppet shouting "Halt! Who goes there?"), the City under Siege exposition and the Moorish Castle.
Going down to Gibraltar downtown we took fish & chips take away, to which Rachel was happy because it was wrapped in a newspaper. We were eating in the car with the fingers while waiting 90 minutes for the border queue. So we arrived one hour later at school.
From today the elePHPant was learning Spanish. Nobody asked about it though, and the teacher was using it as a prop explaining different things.
The lesson was about CV and job interviews, and we were all laughing when I asked for 1 million euro as salary during a mock-up interview.
After the class we went to the beach where the elePHPant was enjoying the sun and he met the big brother.
There was a celebration in the evening: many boats and ships were coming from the sea and we could hear music in the distance.
It was Dia del Carmen, the protector saint of fishermen. They carried a statue of Carmen and there were quite many people attending.
After this we went to eat at a restaurant in the middle of the sidewalk. Then I walked back to the hostel on the promenade, and I saw a break-dance show put up by teenagers with their own music.
Day 4 (Thursday, July 17)
In the morning we went to Puerto Banus, a place near Marbella where all the rich folks and sheiks spend their holidays and with lots of luxurious yachts per capita.
We ate an English breakfast, then went to the beach where we stayed until we were cooked. It was so hot that we could barely walk on the sand.
We drove back to Marbella and I was paying Albrecht a few cents for his driver services as he drove me to my hostel.
I arrived at school 30 minutes late, and I entered the class and said "Hola!". The teacher didn’t seem too annoyed by this.
In the evening I put on the nice shirt I bought earlier and went with many people from the class to a restaurant on the beach where we had paella and sangria. During the dinner I could hear Romanian tourists all around me. Rachel was playing the host and was putting food in everyone’s plates.
After the dinner we wanted to see the statue of Carmen, but we noticed the door to the pier was closed. As Rachel was sleeping while walking they decided to go back to their apartment and I went back to my hostel.
Day 5 (Friday, July 18)
Rachel was still sleeping when Albrecht and me went to the beach. After an English breakfast, we decided to take places under the beach umbrellas where we stayed until lunch time.
I went back to the hostel, and I managed to get back to the school in time (for the first time) as I skipped lunch. At school we got our diplomas for doing the Spanish course. The elePHPant had more attention this time and everybody was asking about him. He even had siesta during a break.
Then we went to have a small dinner, together with Claudia. I ordered a rabbit (conejo) which was quite good. I ordered tea and the waiter did not really understand me and thought it was a joke. The cook did not really understand the order either (Que? Te! Que? Te! Como "tepa"! or something like that). And when he got me the tea said "Un te por segnorito" which was a bit strange, but I did not get upset. The dinner was quite funny and in a good mood.
After dinner I went with Claudia to a bookstore which opened in the Alameda park, where Albrecht and Rachel joined us later. We bought some Spanish books to read with our newly aquired Spanish skillz.
Then we wanted to go to see a flamenco show, but did not find the pub in which it was supposed to take place. So instead we went to have another dinner in a restaurant in the old town, on the terrace above the streets. I had only a dessert as I already had a rabbit earlier.
After the dinner we went on the beach. I could hear AIESEC dances being sang and danced by some people on the beach, but I did not join in.
We went to Buddha del Sol to have the mojitos Albrecht was dreaming about since our first day in Marbella.
This pub was quite cool, sitting on pillows like in a Turkish pub. You could even order a water-pipe, but we were not brave enough.
Then we went back to our rooms. I went to sleep at 02:00 after packing my bags, and I was supposed to wake up at 06:00.
Day 6 (Saturday, July 14)
Albrecht and Rachel picked me up from the hostel with the car and we drove to Malaga airport. After returning the car we boarded the plane to Birmingham.
Rachel was leaving with the train to Edinburgh, and me and Albrecht left our baggages at the airport (they had to go through security first) and went in the city to check it out. We were walking a lot trying to find a place to eat, and in the end we went to Pret-a-Manger. There we had some good food (I had the Ultimate Burger which I could not finish) and I almost started a bar fight as I was stepping on everybody’s toes, and everybody was already drunk at midday.
Then we went back to the airport, got our bags back and took the plane to Torp. Many Spanish arrived there also. We took the train to Skien. When we arrived at my place we were hungry and cooked some pasta with tuna fish and watched the Marbella pictures, then went to sleep at 02:00.
Photo album: www.flickr.com/photos/alex_stanoi/sets/72157606319347799/
Gibraltar, Marbella, Spain, Travel Travel
27 Jun 08
Day 0 (Friday, July 27)
Left from Skien around 12:30, and took the flight from Torp to Glasgow. In Glasgow I walked to the other train station and took the train to Perth.
In Perth I had a small dinner (fried goat cheese and sunblush salad) at a hotel restaurant, then took the train to Inverness.
In Inverness I arrived around 23:30 and went to my hostel. There were some people already sleeping in the room. I wanted to go out to have a beer, but a bouncer said I look tired so I went back to the hostel. My room had the most complicated shower system I have ever seen – knobs and buttons and temperature indicators. But with only one flaw – it didn’t work.
Around 01:30 my other room mates came to the room totally drunk and woke everybody up with singing and shouting. Finally they settled and went to sleep.
Day 1 (Saturday, July 28)
I woke up in the Highland Hostel in Inverness in the sound of seagulls and snoring. I realized that the complicated shower system actually worked.
I went out of the hostel and into Inverness. The town was lively on this Saturday morning. First I went to buy some souvenirs in a shop. I was chatting a bit with the lovely girl at the counter, and I bought a postcard and some small statuettes (Nessie and a Highlander with Pipes).
Then I went to the tourist information to find where is my ship. They directed me to the marina which was on the other side of the town. But Dyrafjeld was not there. I was looking around at the reception and asking the other Norwegian ships which I saw. I found out that Dyrafjeld had engine troubles and it was in the harbour.
At the marina there was the ETS Norwegian brass band waiting for the Arctic convoy (Scandinavian ships) to pass through the Work Locks. The Norwegian ship Anna Rogde was part of the convoy. Even if it was raining I was there taking pictures.
The driver of the Norwegian band was kind enough to drive me to the harbour. There I met with the Dyrafjeld crew. Later some more students arrived, and we were 14 in total (me, Carl, Thomas, Ingrid, Katinka, Torbjørn, Jon (captain), Jan, Ærling, Per, Ivar, Alex (cook), Ole, Simen), plus Kai who was with us for a few days only. Ærling was trying on his kilt.
In the evening me and the 5 students (Carl, Thomas, Ingrid, Katinka, Torbjørn) went to have some beers and dinner in town. I had fish and chips and Irn Bru (some kind of Fanta). After the dinner we went back to the ship and met with the crew who was going out.
Day 2 (Sunday, July 29)
It was Sunday. We went to the tourist information in Inverness to find out how to get to Fort George. We saw some Dutch people selling pancakes, and Torbjørn bought a plate of pancakes with whisky, which were quite good. Then we we took the bus to Fort George.
Fort George is still used as a military base. We had a picnic in the garden and visited the expositions, which were mainly about Cameron Highlanders.
Just when it began to rain we caught our bus and went back to Inverness. Then back to the ship.
After the dinner we wanted to see the Euro 2008 final (Spain-Germany). We arrived at The Innes pub 15 minutes before the final whistle, and we did not see much action. After this we played billiards.
Katinka was just learning and every ball that she hit was flying over the table. Then we got back to the ship.
Day 3 (Monday, June 30)
We got some courses in knots and navigation, then we tried the suits used against freezing temperatures. They feel like astronauts suits I think.
In the afternoon we went on a hike to Craig Dunain, near Inveness.
Day 4 (Tuesday, July 1)
They finally repaired the motor on Dyrafjeld, so we leave the next morning. I was mainly on the ship, and in the evening we watch "The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy" on a projector in the ship’s mess hall.
Day 5 (Wednesday, July 2)
Finally we are moving! We left Inverness in the morning and were breezing through the locks. At one lock I was speaking with the girl operator and realized that she is not Scottish but English, by how easy it was to understand her.
Then we entered Loch Ness. The captain let me to steer the ship for a while and it felt great to do that again.
In the evening we arrived at Fort Augustus where we spent the night.
Though it was raining we went for a sightseeing tour, where we saw mostly rabbits.
We came back for dinner, then went out to pubs. The crew went to The Botchy while we were stuck with Lock Inn. But we didn’t like the smell so we went back to the ship. I put my swimming suit on and went for a dip in Loch Ness (but only up to the ankles).
The others, being Norwegian, went for a swim in Loch Ness by jumping from the ship.
Day 6 (Thursday, July 3)
We left Fort Augustus in the morning. There were some locks right in the middle of the town, and everybody was looking at our ship and taking pictures and asking who we are and where are we going.
Me, Carl and Thomas were on the shore most of the time, dragging the ropes from lock to lock ("like slaves" as Jan was saying :). It was cool to try to catch a rope thrown from the ship.
We went through Loch Oich and Loch Lochy. The weather was changing, sunny and rainy. When it was sunny I realized that I did not buy the sun screen in vain.
We arrived in the evening at Banavie where we spent the night.
Close by there is Great Britain’s highest mountain, Ben Nevis.
Day 7 (Friday, July 4)
We went in the morning through 8 locks down to Fort William. We needed to refill the ship with water, so we docked next to another ship, the Ocean Bounty. Then we waited in the sea locks at Fort William for the fuel truck. While waiting we were playing cards and going out to buy icecream.
Around 17:30 the sea locks opened into Loch Linnhe. It was almost the Irish Sea.
The dinner was greek-style, with lamb chops, tzatziki sauce and pita bread, plus a nice dessert.
From now on it should have been 48 hours to Dublin, with 4 hour shifts (sleep 4 hours, work 4 hours). It was so nice outside that I went to sleep only after taking tons of pictures. I was supposed to wake up at 00:00.
Day 8 (Saturday, July 5)
I woke up at midnight for my shift. It was not totally dark as I thought. I stayed in front of the ship for one hour to look if any ships are coming, but it was very hard to see anything.
I was sick when I began my fire watch. The ship was moving more now as we entered the open sea. All the lamb chop went down out of my stomach. There were other people sick on the ship (later I found out half the crew was sick).
I stayed on the steering wheel for one hour, but I was sick during that also. Then ship-watching for another hour until 04:00, when I went to sleep.
I woke up at 08:00 for my next shift. The ship was moving up and down, and the front sail was up. From time to time I was receiving a splash of sea water.
After the first hour I felt sick and went to bed. Per came in my cabin and told me I should not leave the deck without telling him, otherwise they might think I felt overboard. I asked for permission to rest and I was sleeping from now on, waking up from time to time to puke (although my stomach was empty and nothing else could come out).
During my waking hours I saw Alex gathering water from the kitchen with a ladle.
Around 18:00 Katinka woke me up and told me we reached land. The weather was so bad that the captain decided to turn to Bangor Bay instead, near Belfast. It was good to have stable ground again.
We went a bit into Bangor Bay, then returned to the ship to pack our bags. The plan was to take a train early in the morning to Dublin. The ship will continue to Brest from Monday on if the weather will permit.
During dinner the captain praised the crew for keeping cool during the open sea travel, and for not arguing that we missed parts of our trip because of the engine.
I went to sleep early while the others went to a pub in the town.
Day 9 (Sunday, July 6)
Woke up around 07:30. Me, Ingrid, Katinka and Torbjørn said goodbye to the others, then left with the train from Bangor Bay to Belfast, from where we took the train to Dublin. Thomas was taking the same trains but later that day.
On the train we were playing cards.
In Dublin we found the bus station, and I said goodbye to the others who were staying one more day in Dublin. I could have stayed also because I had another plane ticket for Monday, but decided to return home to relax.
At Dublin airport I met Nina who was coming back from a vacation in Dublin with Kurt and 4 other friends. They were nice to give me a ride to Skien, even if it was out of their way.
Photo Album: www.flickr.com/photos/alex_stanoi/sets/72157606070148412/
Belfast, Dublin, Dyrafjeld, Inverness, Ireland, Loch Ness, Scotland, Travel Travel
22 May 08
Day 1 (Thursday, May 22)
I had an early lunch and left from work after it to join the Tromsø trip. I was meeting Audrey, Gautam, Bernd, Putri and Joyce at the Gardermoen airport. The train to the airport took almost 4 hours but it was worth it because of the nice nature outside.
When we arrived at the Tromsø airport it was sunny and it was already 22:00. We took a taxi to our camping site, with shopping on the way.
At the camping site we met Geerdina from Nederlands. We decided to stay in mixed cabins – Gautam, Bernd, Audrey and Geerdina in one, me, Putri, Joyce and Jason in the other. Jason was supposed to come the next day. We called him and sang "Happy Birthday" in each of our language. A German woman told us to keep quiet because her children are sleeping. Bernd was happy to see talk with her in German.
We moved to the terrace around the reception. Geerdina received a "gift" from a seagull and she wanted to attack it with a chair. Gautam proposed that we can get more days from this vacation by living 16-hour days (6 hours of sleep + 10 hours awake).
We went down to the river to check how cold it is. There was a lot of snow around. It seems that we disturbed some people inside a tent, and we ran back to the terrace.
Around midnight we left for a walk. The midnight sun was spectacular (here). We saw people going for a jog, or people fishing and walking their dogs. At a frozen lake we took some pictures.
At the Arctic Cathedral we stayed to admire the view of the mountains and the midnight sun. People were going in and we found out that it was a concert inside. Gautam finished the bottle of vodka before going in. We only stayed a few minutes inside then left back to the cabins. On the way back we were playing with swings.
We lit a fire outside using branches. The wood was kind of wet so we were blowing everytime to make the fire stronger.
Around 3:00 AM we went to sleep, but some people continued to talk outside. It was very hard to sleep because the light was coming in through the courtains.
Day 2 (Friday, May 23)
Woke up around 9:30. Joyce told me to put the sunglasses when I step outside, and indeed it was very sunny.
We had breakfast outside where we talked about all the gossip from the previous night. The German woman was not upset anymore because of the noise we made last night. Around 11:00 we met Jason who was coming from the airport.
We left to the city with the bus. First stop was the harbour where we checked how much does a "see the whales" expedition cost – 900 kr. At the tourist information office we decided to go the next day on a fjord cruise for a much cheaper price. The woman in the office was quite talkative. She explained a lot of things and recommended the cable car to the mountain (Fjellheisen) as one of the 10 best views in Norway.
A small picnic in the harbour turned into a "attract the seagulls with biscuits" adventure, with Joyce throwing fish-shaped biscuits for the seagulls. We got a little burned by staying in the sun.
After a stop to refill at Peppe’s Pizza where Bernd became friend with the waiter, we walked back to the cabins over the long bridge, passing by the Polar Museum. Putting Gautam’s plan in action we slept for some time, then woke up and played cards, while Gautam was cooking Indian dinner for all, which was quite good. Audrey was asking Geerdina in Brazilian if the other guys in the kitchen are cute Brazilian dudes and if they understand them. Later they started talking together and found out that they were English and one was able to understand Spanish.
Gautam went to sleep while the others went for a midnight walk. It was cloudy so we did not see the midnight sun today, but the walk was great.
Day 3 (Saturday, May 24)
Gautam organized the day quite well. The guys were going shopping for BBQ and bring the stuff to the cabins, while the girls were going to buy tickets for the fjord cruise. We were supposed to meet at the cable car.
Thanks to Gautam’s planning, we passed the "rush hour" test: we managed to get to the city with a bus, buy all the stuff that we needed in 10 minutes, take the bus back to the Arctic Cathedral and get to the cable car in under an hour! We even missed a bus from the cathedral to the cable car, which actually arrived at the same time as us.
At the cable car no sign of the ladies. After one hour they arrived there as well, and we took many pictures and play with the snow. There were many people there, skiing and paragliding. We relaxed a bit in front of the fire in the restaurant on top, drinking coffee and hot chocolate. The amount of relaxation was all the time controlled by Gautam, which was saying all the time "we still have 5 minutes to enjoy ourselves". We actually missed a cable car going down by relaxing too much, so we waited for the next one. Jason forgot his backpack up, and the conductor was kind enough to call somebody up to get the backpack down. While waiting for him the girls did a sundance to bring the sun back. We left ahead while Jason was meeting us before 16:00 in the center.
Having only 20 minutes to buy food for the cruise according to Gautam, we rushed through the shops and bought food, then went to the bus station.
The bus was going east along the water and forests, then crossing 2 times with a ferry. Geerdina made friends with a local woodcutter and managed to upset his girlfriend. To repair the damage she offered them some stroopwafel, a Dutch delicacy.
At Skervøy we boarded the cruise ship Polarlys. Just when we entered the ship we had to wash our hands, then received our cards with our names on them.
On board we went to the lounge where we were making a lot of noise, drinking our beer and eating. I went to eat outside in the cold while taking pictures of the mountains covered with snow rising from the sea and other ships and cruise ships passing.
We played the game with the pen where you say statements and they are judged if they are correct or not. On TV it was the final of Eurovision, but we did not watch that too much.
Audrey and Geerdina were on the chase for Norwegian men but most of the people on the ship were quite old.
We went on deck to dance, practice Tai-Chi and enjoy the cruise, then went to the other lounge on the ship. There they had a woman singing some popular songs and nobody was dancing, only old people were watching. We danced a bit and the old people applauded us.
Decided to make a memorable cruise we wanted to put the Tunak Tunak song (which Gautam had on his mobile phone) but the DJ did not want it. Instead the woman sang a Bollywood song which Gautam said it was in a perfect Hindi accent. And we danced on the music, then on the next songs. Some old couples decided to join us in dancing. We left the dance floor doing the conga, while the singer was saying "bye" and we were waiving to the crowd.
Around midnight we arrived back in Tromsø and went to the student club Driv. The beer was quite expensive for non-students (63 kr) but we had a hell of a time dancing. There was a horizontal wooden plank on the top of the dance floor which Bernd was using as storage space for bags and beer, and even climbing it which the security guards didn’t quite appreciate. From time to time we were going outside to stay by the tables on the terrace and see the midnight sun. Gautam made friends with an African dude and they were dancing quite good. The last few songs were my favorite and I was putting a lot of movement in my dances.
At 3:07 AM the music stopped abruptly and we went outside where it was daylight. Some drunk girls were talking with us.
We took the bus back to the cabins. We were talking quite loud and I don’t think we were making much sense, but the other passengers probably did not mind anyway.
At 4:00 AM me, Gautam, Putri and Geerdina decided to go to the river to put our feet in the cold water. Gautam crossed the river and was calling us chickens for not doing the same.
But then Bernd came and stripped to his underwear and actually went for a swim! Running to the hot shower afterwards are we?
Day 4 (Sunday, May 25)
We woke up quite late. But it was Sunday anyway. Me, Putri and Geerdina went for a short hike while the others had breakfast. We decided to go to Polaria but postponed that until the evening because we did not expect that the day will be so sunny (seems that the sun dance worked). So instead we took a bus to the other side of the island then crossed a bridge to the north part of the city.
We met some suburb kids there playing football. One of the kids kicked the ball in Bernd’s face to provoke us to play with them but we did not. A Columbian kid knew some Spanish and was talking with Joyce. As Gautam said that kid’s stock increased a lot because the girls from suburbs were talking with him after that.
Going up the mountain we only had 18 minutes to enjoy ourselves, so we stopped to discuss what to do. Half of us decided to go to Polaria while the rest continued on the hike. Going back we did not want to face the kids any more, but we had no other way. They were quite happy to see us again. We took the bus back to the city.
Polaria was very fun. We saw seals, lots of fish and different exhibitions. We also watched a panoramic movie (on 5 screens) about Svalbard – amazing.
In the kids corner we climbed the wall (Gautam is an expert), watched Pingu, hit our heads on a slide (which I was too chicken to try) and play with plush walruses. Also played with a ship simulation game and a puzzle.
At 19:00 the museum was closing and we saw Bernd who returned from the hike at the reception talking with the "museum girl". Gautam and I thought we saw her in Driv the previous night.
We went to meet Sonam in the city, while Bernd clearly had a crush on the "museum girl" even if she was only 17.
Sonam came to Tromsø with her mom and sister. They booked a luxury cabin in the same camping site, but when they arrived there they didn’t like it and went to a hotel in the city instead. We had some junk food while watching football on TV. The city was quite lively because there was a football game happening.
Me and Gautam decided to see the latest Indiana Jones movie in the Northern Most Cinema (TM) and we had 60 minutes to enjoy the junk food. The others were running after some people running to catch the bus, while other people were running behind them. The bus was staying anyway 5 minutes in the station.
The movie was quite good but we did not really understand the ending. When we left it was raining. Having 14 minutes to wait for the bus we went to Narvesen to buy a grill for BBQ, but the salesperson sent us to 7-eleven with calling first to check if they have it. Me and Gautam were joking that the directions given by the guy were so easy and Tromsø is so small, but we actually got lost and circled around a block 2 times. In the end we found 7-eleven to be on the opposite side of Narvesen.
Having missed the bus we waited for a taxi. Some girls arrived there and we were talking a bit, then an old drunk couple came and they wanted to get the grill which I was using to hide my head from the rain.
At the camping site the others took a nap and then started BBQ. When we arrived the food was waiting for us. Gautam had a pizza which he did not finish and left it for breakfast.
During BBQ we played "Commander says" (a drinking game) with lots of beer. Bernd conducted the game very fast and we were all laughing with tears. We even played Mafia as a drinking game, with drinking everytime before you speak. Gautam enjoyed a lot being the storyteller (or God as he said). We played a trick on Bernd by replacing the detective card with a killer card, and he was very confused seeing 2 killers and no detective! :)
Discussing Bernd’s 17 year old "museum girl" from Polaria, we were calculating the minimum and maximum age for possible partners.
When somebody went to the toilet they would put the hand on the kitchen window like in Titanic and we were laughing about it.
Day 5 (Monday, May 25)
Suprisingly we woke up around 10:00. Bernd was making breakfast using the BBQ remains, and it was a delicious breakfast. Gautam had some pizza from last night which he did not eat in the end.
After cleaning the cabins we had 16 minutes to enjoy ourselves, then went to the city. The hike group visited Polaria, and stayed there a long time to see the seals being fed (which they didn’t) (probably went to see Bernd’s "museum girl", which they didn’t). The Polaria group from the previous day was relaxing in the cinema coffee shop. We played Munchkin Fu, and Gautam was organising our expenses. The cappuccino was quite nice, with a star-shaped cinnamon topping.
After using up all our relaxation minutes we went with the bus to the airport. There we stopped to admire the view and we played "Tag you’re it!" in the parking lot.
Then we boarded the plane and arrived in Oslo.
Photo album: www.flickr.com/photos/alex_stanoi/sets/72157605328593273/
Norway, Polarlys, Travel, Tromsø Travel