Saturday, May 28, 2011

I'm Behind... and lazy read up on

Updated Pics:

Friday, May 20, 2011

Toulouse, France... and the road to Barcelona

We arrived in Toulouse to which we phoned our friend Camille. She very kindly offered us a ride to our first hotel which we could not turn down. After about 20 minutes she had arrived and a little adventure attempting to find the address of our hotel began. It seems once again we were way out on the north outskirts of the town. Arriving at the destination according to her GPS we found ourselves in front of a McDonald's. She asked for directions and we were told we need to back one street that was right in front of us. Shortly after that we had arrived. This was a very nice hotel to which we checked in and made it to our room. Since it was late and we were way out of the way we weren't going to do much that night. I did manage to walk back to McDonald's for some dinner for us. 

The next day I awoke and managed to eat a very slim 7 euro breakfast, which TJ slept through even though he had paid, and we gathered our stuff to make it to our next hotel.  We had the hotel call us a cab and luckily I had written down the address to which the driver knew where to go. After a lengthy cab ride we had arrived to which it seemed they had not gotten our reservation. But luckily they still checked us in and we found our way to our room. We figured that since we had a fiasco finding a place to stay here we might as well book our hostels for Barcelona and Paris. So began the search. After awhile we had picked out two and TJ booked them for the appropriate dates. Soon after we set out to see Toulouse. Being on the southeast side this time we had no idea how to get into the city center but the resourceful reception desk told us which bus (which was right in front of the street to our hotel) to the nearest metro and which stop to get off on. In no time we were in the center of Toulouse. The weather was fantastic and people filled the streets. As we made our way to the Capitole we found a good-sized market that filled the square. There were belts, wallets, dresses, DVDs, books, sunglasses, etc all for sale. We had managed to wander to an old church to which we entered. Since we found our map to be less than helpful we made our way to the tourist information center to obtain a better one. Once we had that we were able to find interesting landmarks to see. Most of the sites were very old churches and parks. After a good afternoon of walking we returned to our hotel and had dinner at the hotel restaurant which was not the best.

The following day I had gotten up and made my way to a market around the corner which turned out to be like a mini Wal-Mart. I purchased a few items before returning back to the hotel. Not long after TJ had awaken and gotten ready. So we set off to the train station to book our train reservations for Barcelona. We then returned to the Capitole and set off for the river. Once again we walked a good afternoon's worth seeing the river, a few more churches, a basilica, and the Japanese gardens before returning to the Capitole to meet up with Camille.  After TJ dined on some expensive ice cream while waiting for Camille she had finally arrived. Mentioning she had some early practice exams and we had an early train (again) we decided to keep it a low-key night. We walked with her to get an envelope and then walked back to the river to a park on the other side where we chilled in grass for awhile just shooting the breeze. In due time we headed back to the Capitole to find dinner. Stopping at place called the Hippopotamus we dined and also filled Camille in how American food is since she will be going to Austin, TX next January as an exchange student. I know she'll have a good time there. After words we headed back to her car via the metro and made our way back to our hotel. Exchanging good buys we arranged to have the hotel order us a cab for the next morning and we headed for bed.

We awoke early and prepared for our trip to Barcelona. Normally I don't write about the train rides but this one warrants a line or two of mentioning. So we arrived at the train station with plenty of time. We waited until we saw on the screen the train to Narbonne, France was set to leave platform 3. So we made our way and found the train waiting. We jumped on and found some random seats since there were no reservations required for this part of the trip. Now the train was set to leave at 6:16am. TJ and I sat awaiting such time when all of a sudden at 6:04am the train began to move forward. We traveled ahead for a 2 or 3 minutes before coming to a stop. Sensing something was wrong we set out to find someone. We only found two other passengers (no workers). One of them was a man probably about early 40s who had said the train was going to Paris direct. The other was a young girl who said the train was going to Narbonne. Enter panic mode here. We began running about and freaking out as to what was going on. We couldn't find anyone. After a minor conference we followed the young French girl back towards the train station. We arrived at a workers building where she explained our situation. By this time our train was headed for Narbonne. However he had advised that we could walk back along the provided paths to the train station. We began the walk back when he ran up and said that another train to Narbonne was waiting near them. We turned around and followed him a ways to a small train where were informed that this train was going to Narbonne at 7am. So we hopped on and hoped for the best. We arrived at Narbonne (the site of our original connection) and asked the ticket agent what we needed to do. She informed us that we could still make it to Barcelona with only a few hours behind. With a few more connections and a few hours of waiting we made it to Barcelona but the stress and anxiety of this mishap had already taken its toll. We decided to make our Paris reservations since we knew when we would be leaving already. Shorty afterwards we found our hostel and decided to relax the rest of the day.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Neuschwanstein Castle

As you can see TJ is an excellent writer. You can also see how much we've been engrossed in to which I haven't had time to write. We sort of came upon the agreement he would write and i would provide the photos from the trip which i will do as soon as we can find some decent Internet connections. 

To continue on we did indeed head back to Munich to see one of the famed castles of Bavaria. Heading back to our old hostel the Wombat they advertised a tour of the Neuschwantstein Castle, however the tour was cancelled. That did not stop us from getting the instructions to get there ourselves. The next day we awoke and made plans at the train station to get to Toulouse, France to see a friend of ours from our trip to Krakow. While there the very helpful English-speaking agent also set us up for the trip to the castle. In no time we were on our 2 hour train ride to see it. After the train ride we hopped on a very packed bus to the ticket center for the castles. Foregoing the option to see two castles we decided to the Neuschwanstein Castle, which is the basis for the famed Disney World Castle of Sleeping Beauty. Enduring another very packed bus ride up the mountain, not deciding to take the 30 minutes hike up the mountain, we were at St. Mary's bridge. From there it was a 10 minute walk mostly downhill to the castle. This truly was something out of a fairy tale. After a small wait and exploring the outside of the castle ourselves we began our tour. A few things we learned about the castle: It was built by Kind Ludwig II but never completed due to his early and mysterious death. The castle was dedicated to the operas and plays of Richard Von Wagner. Throughout the whole castle you will find swans either in paintings, carvings, or statues. This is due to the swan being the symbol of the area and a favorite among King Ludwig II. Throughout the whole castle there is practically not a single wall that is not adorned with an exquisite medieval painting. The unfinished throne room was magnificent. Above where the throne was to be is a painting of Jesus Christ with Joseph and Mary at his side and the apostles looking up. Across the way is decorated by a painting of St. George and the Dragon. The floor itself is a giant mosaic showing the animals of plants of the area created with over 2 millions tiny pebbles. The tour continued on through the King's room which was adorned with gorgeous wood carvings to mimic gothic towers and the legend of Tristan and Isolde. Another interesting fact was learned here; this castle was among the first to have running water due to the flow and supply from a natural spring nearby. His toilet even had a flush system. We got to see the King's personal chapel, a small room with a kneeling bench with large ivory crucifix. From there we viewed his dressing quarters, his living room, the study, and a personal opera stage which never held a performance due to his death. Afterwards we headed down the 120 something stairs to get back to the first floor. Taking in a few sights of the surrounding areas, the kitchen, and finally the exit we were on our way back. Using the opportunity I snapped a few shots and then we were off. After some tiring hill climbing we made it back to St. Mary's Bridge, the meeting point for the bus. After a long wait and one hell of a shoving match to get on the bus TJ and I were headed back. We walked back to the bus station to transfer us to the train station after getting a quick snack. When the bus arrived it was shoving match number two. With luck and my size we were on. With time not so much on our side we made it to the train station to find a hoard of people waiting for the train. It didn't look good. After another wait, some luck, and shoving match number three we were on and had seats. After a 2.5 hour ride we had returned to the hostel where we worked to find a place to stay in Toulouse. After that task we grabbed dinner and decided to call it a night we would needed to catch a 6am train.

Here are links to all the photos so far:











Neuschwanstein Castle:

Monday, May 16, 2011


I know I've been getting behind on this but with all that has gone on... it's gets tough to keep up with. So... if you would please read to catch up. I will share the links for the pics for those who can't access them on Facebook soon.

Saturday, May 7, 2011


We made it to Munich and luckily our hostel was right around the corner from the main train station. To speak to the phrase "kill two birds with one stone" we found Bob here waiting for us. We checked in and let Bob catch up on some sleep. In the mean time TJ and settled in, did some laundry, and got some food. After returning we set out in search of the Hofbrauhaus, a well known beer hall. After aimlessly wandering around we discovered it. This place was packed. To our luck we found a bench where a single guy was sitting. We joined him and started drinking 1 liter beers after another. We also snacked on real Bavarian pretzels which were amazing. During our meal we learned that this guy we were sitting with was a German Catholic priest and was in town for work. By nights end he had paid for our beers and we all took off together since he said he was staying close by. For Bob it was a very uncomfortable walk back.
After sleeping in and hung over we eventually found our selves able to get up to get food. Afterwards we cane back for a little more rest. We then set out to see the sights of Munich to kill a few hours. Upon our return we got ready to join in on a pub crawl around Munich. Now overall I wasn't too impressed with this crawl. The money paid to go on did nit contribute to any beer along the way. We walked way more than we did drink. Also at each stop we only drank one beer. We had no time for food. To add to when the waitress brought a round of beers she slammed the glasses down, breaking one and therefore spilling beer all over my lap. Although I did get a free one out of the deal. At the end we returned to the bar here at the hostel and kept the night going.

Again we slept in and managed to get up eventually and grab some food. We returned back to the hostel where we found our friend Andrew waiting for us. We hung out for a bit before deciding to go find some Spring festival that is supposedly a mini-Oktoberfest. With luck we found the place to which it was more of a traveling carnival with rides, game booths, and food. The one extra catch is they had a beer garden and hall set up.  So we grabbed a beer and a really small snack in the beer hall before deciding to jump into some bumper car action. After a gut-busting time we got another beer in the garden and chilled out. After realizing the fun of the bumper cars we returned for more action but this time others decided to join us. Soon after we returned to the beer garden for another round of liter beers. Once those were down we returned to the hostel to change and headed down to the bar for a few more and a couple games of pool. Not feeling the best (I'm guessing something I ate earlier) I decided to call it an early night and head to bed.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Prague - Day 1 & 2

So our hostel is not quite how the book described. They did get one part correct... it is way outside of the town center. It also appears that the main owner is the only one who speaks the most English. After eating breakfast we went to the local desk to ask if we could buy tram passes (as the book spoke of). They said that they do not sell them and that the tram is a little walk towards the main road which we knew. We asked if you could buy them there and they said no, that you had to buy them at a metro station. So looking at our options we walked out to the tram and found no ticket machine but a sign that coincided with our map that mentioned texting a number and getting a mobile pass. Upon many attempts it failed. Needless to say we stayed at the hostel the entire day... unwinding and relaxing to say for the most part.

The next day we decided to have the hostel call us a cab and take us the main train station. There we made our reservations for Munich and got a day pass. We then took to the sights. Prague is definitely one of the most beautiful cities I've ever seen. The architecture of the buildings is magnificent with the statues and paintings of murals. It is all just stunning. We passed various churches and towers along our route before crossing the river only to climb 100+ stairs to where we found ourselves in front of one of the best views of the entire city of Prague. It was awesome. After a little break I began following TJ down the park's paths which eventually led to the Prague Castle. This was another marvelous sight. As you walk through the inside of the castle walls you find the cathedral just towering over. Soon it began to rain and we were unprepared (although our rain gear was back at the hostel). We made our way to the tram stop we needed and made for the hostel (a little wet of course). After a nap we found ourselves hungry and asked about the little restaurant here. They told me it was closed for the evening and it we did not feel like riding the tram all the way back into town. So we said screw it and made for the tram. Upon getting close TJ noticed a restaurant across the street. We crossed over and found a menu in English posted outside. SOLD! All day I had been graving beef goulash since seeing all the restaurant chalkboards advertising it. This place was AWESOME! We intend to go back. After a delicious meal it was time to sleep.