Sometimes, we get advice from people on where to go. It’s not something we can heed all the time, but every once in awhile a recommendation comes along that makes us want to go. The Ginger Monkey was one of these.
We met David in our first hostel in Krakow. He had told us about the Ginger Monkey, which was the top rated hostel in Slovakia, in the High Tatra mountains. On top of that, it had been too long since we had seen mountains, so off we went to the High Tatras.
It was actually too far to get from Wroclaw to the small Slovakian town of Zdiar (projounced like “jar” with an “s” on the front), so we ended up staying on the Polish side of the border in the mountain town of Zakopane.
We woke up at 7:00 in the morning in order to hop on the early morning train, which took us from Wroclaw, through Krakow and to Zakopane by four o’clock. We thought there were no more trains going to Zdiar, so stayed in a hostel for the night.
Zakopane was very touristy, but an excellent little ski-town. There were a plethora of restaurants, shops and whatnot in the middle of a fun little carless street. We picked a place in the middle to get some dinner and had one of the most bacon-laden dishes I’ve ever experienced.
Believe it or not, Leslie ordered it and despite the fact that the menu was in Polish, German, English and Russian, the word “bacon” did not occur. In actuality, it was just part of the sauce. She had ordered pierogi stuffed with a local type of cheese and potato and was not prepared for the bacon-ness that graced our presence.
Leslie was excited at first, as she thought the dish had come covered in walnuts. In fact, it was bacon fat that had been cubed into pieces about 1/2 the size of playing dice and fried. Crispy on the outside and bacon-y goodness on the inside. It tasted wonderful and I ate over half of it before Leslie convinced me that it probably wasn’t good to eat pure fried bacon grease.
Later that evening, we met an Englishman named Jacob who was sleeping in the same dorm room as us, who also so happened to be on his way to the Ginger Monkey. I immediately became a bit nervous that everyone in Zakopane was going to be heading to Zdiar.
The next day we slept in and did a bit of shopping in the morning. Breakfast was at the same place, as we enjoyed it, but the Polish Highlander breakfast I ordered “eggs, ham, cheese and tomatoes”, was atually ham, cheese, ham, cheese, egg, ham, cheese, tomato, ham and cheese. It was great at the time. I purchased a pair of shoes as the sneakers I’d been wearing for four months had a four inch whole in the side.
We caught the 3 o’clock bus out of Zakopane and before long had crossed the border into Slovakia, a country that really hadn’t been on our “must see” list.
An hour later, Leslie, Jacob and I got off the bus in the middle of the smallest town we’ve been in on this entire trip. There may have been 2000 inhabitants. The downtown area consisted of a very small grocery store, a restaurant and a gas station.
A short walk later we found ourselves inside the Ginger Monkey, which was everything that David in Krakow had said it was going to be.
We got a very enthusiastic greeting from Wally, the hostel dog and were immediately made to feel at home by Rosa and Frank, some university age students from Holland and England who were staying for free in exchange for work. The hostel was a good sized ski house that slept about 20. There was a friendly communal kitchen, a living room with a plethora of movies and a dorm room for 4. A double-level porch out front had a hammock, a swingset and a view of the High Tatras. Finally, we had left the city.
Our first day saw us do “The River Walk”, which was a fairly easy hike along a nearby river.
The second saw us head to a nearby cave that was quite amazing. Unfortunately, pictures were not allowed without a rather exorbitant fee. Fortunately, the mandatory tour was in two languages. Unfortunately, they were Slovak and Polish. This was also the time that all the bacon, ham and cheese I’d been eating chose to catch up with me.
I’m not sure if it was something I ate on the third day, or just Bacon’s Revenge, but for the second time on the trip, I was down for the count. The next day saw me sleep in, move to the living room and watch Game of Thrones for most of the day. Leslie was a great sport. Thankfully, I felt much better that evening and even made it out with the gang to Renata’s, which was the local hangout for the staff.
I have to give a mention to Slovakian Garlic Soup. So many places around the world use garlic in their soup, but it’s always in a supporting role. The Slovaks make the garlic the star and Renata’s does it best. It’s a thin, brown soup, which looks a little like french onion. At the bottom is a local sheep cheese that had been shredded along with garlic and cooked in the broth. The whole thing is topped with floating, crunchy, rye croutons. We had other ones that used regular croutons, but it was much better with rye like Renata used. This soup was wonderful and had to be one of the more pleasant surprises of the culinary variety we’ve run into. Who knew that the Slovaks made excellent soup?
Our final day in Zdiar saw us head to AquaLand, a waterpark that was about an hour away on the bus. There wasn’t the emphasis on slides like the USA, but there were a ton of pools with fun water features, a pool bar and the largest hot-tub we’ve ever seen.
There was a stage where a young woman ran competitions amongst the crowd to provide entertainment and we saw one of the reasons people from this area are good at strength competitions in the Olympics. There was two competitions amongst men. The first competition saw four guys put a full beer in each hand and hold them out straight. Whoever lasted the longest won. The second was similar, except this time all they had to do was lift a pony keg. Whoever lasted the longest won.
The highlight of the day had to be the spa, which was the most decadent spa I’ve ever seen. Then again, I think this might have been the first one I’ve ever been to. It had a bunch different steam rooms, two herbal spas, a menthol spa, a regular steam room, a cedar spa, a salt spa and a flower spa. Another was built to resemble a meadow with sun-lights for tanning and another was just a nice, normal room to hang out it if you wanted normal temperatures for a bit. The one we actually went in the most was the “Arctic Pool”, which was incredibly cold, but refreshing after a hot steam room. It was next to an artificial snow room. The entire thing was built off a central room containing a hot tub that was about 12 feet in diameter. I’d call it big, but it was nothing compared to the one outside that fit 200 people or so.
Unfortunately, we barely missed the 7:20 bus and ended up waiting to catch the 9:30, which put us back in Zdiar to late to hang out much at the hostel. Fortunately, we went to a pizza place that gave me the opportunity to try Kofola, which is a Slovak cola. Slovakia is one of the few places in the world with a legitimate challenger to Coke and Pepsi. Kofola is a bit sweeter and has some spices in it that give it a bit of a bite. I liked it. Leslie didn’t at first but it seemed to grow on her.
At the end of day 5 we realized that most of the volunteers were leaving at the start of next month and had a serious discussion about volunteering on staff at the Ginger Monkey for a month. On the other hand, there was more parts of the world to see. In the end, we decided to move on. Even though the Ginger Monkey was great, there is plenty of other places we would be giving up on if we stayed, and who knows what’s around the next corner?
As of August 17th, we will have completed our fourth month on the road. As always, here’s our best of awards for month 4. To recap where we were this month: Amsterdam, Holland – Copenhagen, Denmark – Hamburg, Germany – Nuertingen, Germany – Berlin, Germany – Prague, Czech Republic – Krakow, Poland – Wroclaw, Poland
Sleep in Heaven – Copenhagen, Denmark
We walked in and they were playing Leslie’s favorite band, The Fleet Foxes. Unfortunately, we accidentally booked one week to late, but they helped us find another hostel and we checked in the next night. There were four distinct common areas where we could hang out, relatively cheep beer and wine available, a pool table and friendly people. We didn’t find a bunch of amazing hostels this month, so this is probably the weekest of our winners, but still an excellent hostel nonetheless.
B&B Hausmann – Neurtingen, Germany
We met Kerstin and Michi Hausmann in Koh Phangan, Thailand three years ago so we looked them up when we were coming to Germany. They have a great flat outside Stuttgart in the small town of Nuertingen. Not only that, but we had a private room, with a personalized welcome note and a chocolate on the pillow! It was awesome.
Pancakes! – Amsterdam, Holland
Yes, the exclamation point is in the title. This little restaurant is set between a couple of the canals in the hip Jordaan district of Amsterdam. It was also our first destination on our bikes. Leslie got muesli pancakes and Bryan got the daily special, which was a pancake with slices of sausage and spring onions mixed into the batter. We don’t make many savory pancakes in the USA and this place made me wonder why not. It was tucked into a two story building with the cafe tables packed together very tightly. Nevertheless, there was a short wait when we got there. We actually asked for directions from the bike shop where we rented bikes. The Australian guy behind the counter hadn’t heard of the place, yet helped us find it on the map because we had an address. The Dutch woman behind the counter overheard us talking about Pancakes! and said, “That’s a good place.” We definitely agree.
BEST PAID ADMISSION
Our Saviour – Copenhagen, Denmark
So this wasn’t the most impressive old church, nor the biggest, but it was oozing character. In fact, the reason it stuck out so much was that it was nowhere near prepared for the amount of people that wanted to get to the top. It was about six stories tall and the staircase actually wrapped around the outside of the steeple, so you could make it to the very top. The problem was that the staircase around the steeple was barely wide enough for two people to pass. It basically forced one way traffic. We got into the church and walked up to the point where we were about to get onto the steeple, but couldn’t get through the trap door above us because people were coming down, so we waited… and waited… and waited. Half an hour later we could go up the trap door. Because we waited so long, the steeple was empty and we very easily and quickly got to the top for some awesome views. After getting some pics and feeling the steeple sway back and forth under the weight of all the people and the wind we decided to go down. We joined the line heading down and saw the next group of waiters wondering when it would be there turn to climb the ascent of Our Savior.
BEST TRAVELLING EXPERIENCE
Amsterdam, Holland -> Copenhagen, Denmark
So this month was marked by difficult travel days, but the train ride itself from Amsterdam to Copenhagen was beautiful. We took a train from Amsterday to Hamburg and then tried to catch the connecting train to Copenhagen. Unfortunately, there was nowhere to sit. We decided to wait, get some food and catch the next train. This time, there was a wonderful first class cabin we shared with a young Danish couple and their well-behaved son. Free coffee and bottled water was waiting for us as the train rolled along the northern coast of Germany and into Denmark. Expansive water views were fun, but paled in comparison to what came next. One of the reasons that the previous train was so crowded was that the train was very small. The reason was because the entire train rolled onto a ferry boat to navigate through the collection of islands that is eastern Denmark. The sun set as we hung out on top of the ferry. Denmark has also built a ton of wind farms in the middle of the ocean to get renewable energy, which were fun to see. An exhibit in Danish, German and English told us all about the project and gave information about it’s output. The windfarm we saw provided enough electricity for a city of 200K for a year. True, we later ended up a week early for our hostel and walked across town at 11pm, but in a month of rough travel experiences, this was relatively easy.
WORST TRAVELLING EXPERIENCE
Berlin, Germany -> ?????
Oog. This day started rough. We were planning on going to the grocery store to get fruit, muesli and yogurt, but ended up grabbing pretzels and other baked goods before getting on our first-class German train to Krakow. This should have been easy, but as soon as we crossed the border the Polish conductor came through to check tickets, at which point we learned that the Eurail Global pass we have isn’t valid in Poland, even though the routes are clearly marked on the map. Looking back on it, we should have just paid the money to continue to Krakow, but instead, we ended up getting off the train in the little town of Legnica in Poland.
There was nothing there. It took us awhile to find the ticket counter, where we found a woman who spoke no English. We wanted tickets to Zgorzelac, Poland, which is back on the German/Polish border, but we had no Polish Zloty and they didn’t take Euro. Eventually, the woman felt bad for us and exchanged our money from her purse and we got tickets. We then headed to Zgorzelac, stayed on the train illegally for a stop until we crossed back into Germany and the Eurail became valid.
We then had to decide where to go next, so we hopped on a train south to Zittau, Germany, which is on the Czech border. The goal was to walk across the border and find a train to Prague. Instead, at about 6:30 we realized it was going to be tough to get all the way to Prague, so asked if there were any hostels in Zittau. There were three according to the guy who apparently didn’t know how many hostels were in Zittau. Two hours later we left Zittau with the goal of getting back to Dresden, Germany, which was the central hub of the region and a place where we thought we could find lodging.
The hostel we found from the lonely planet looked wonderful, but two steps inside the woman behind the desk said, “I hope you have reservations. Everything in Dresden is full!” She told us that she had called all the good hostels already and everything was filled up. Fortunately, she knew about the A&O, which is a passable, corporate chain of hostels throughout Germany. We’d stayed in one in Hamburg. She called, and they had a room, but would not hold it.
Off we went, back to the umpteenth train station of the day to catch a train to the other side of Dresden. At this point we even toyed around with the night-train back to Amsterdam just so we had somewhere to sleep as we were getting dangerously close to sleeping on the street. Fortunately, we made it to the A&O, which was much better than the one in Hamburg and they had a room for us for the night. Ug.
BEST RANDOM SURPRISE
“Subben” – Nuertingen, Germany
So what do you think of when you think of land-locked southwest Germany? If you answered, “paddle-boarding” give yourself a pat on the back! Kerstin and Michi’s friend Rolf lead a gang of friends out onto the river and rented paddle boards. For those who aren’t familiar with it, it’s a sport where you get a surf-board and stand on it with a paddle. It’s pretty common in Hawaii and you can now do it on the river in Nuertingen.
FOOD MOST LIKELY TO MAKE LESLIE GAG
Mystery Food Stick, Febo – Amsterdam, Holland
Febo is a fast food place in Amsterdam with a wall of slidey doors. There’s a wall with small plastic doors that fit snacks about the size of a McDonald’s hamburger. Instead of ordering at the counter, you slide in some change and open the door to take your treat. The cook then replaces it It’s kind of like a vending machine on steroids. Unfortunately, it’s only in Dutch, so we had no idea what we were getting when I slid the 2 euros into the machine and pulled out something that looked like a supersized mozerella stick. Even after eating it, we’re not sure what it was. There was definitely some sort of ground up meat. Bryan thinks there was some pea-soup-like stuff in there as well. Whatever it was, it was rolled into a log and breaded before being deep-fried. Bryan thought it was okay and offered Leslie a taste. She made a disgusted face and we ended up with a piece of semi-chewed mystery food stick going “plop” on the ground.
BEST TOURIST TRAP
Gnomes – Wroclaw, Poland
There’s over 150 small gnome statues you can go hunting for in Wroclaw, Poland! And you know what they say… when in gnome…
“The Slaughterhouse” – Nuertingen, Germany
This isn’t the right name, but we’ll always remember it as The Slaughterhouse. After subben we all went to this brewery that was in an old slaughterhouse. The food was good, the friends were great and the beer was excellent. We went on a little tour to see the meathooks where they used to hang cows.
BEST PLACE IN THE WORLD NOMINEE
Backpackers usually end up going to similar places, usually called “The Loop”. “The Loop” changes depending on where you are. Amsterdam, Paris, Barcelona and Rome are “The Loop” for lots of people who stay in Western Europe, usually with a couple other places thrown in. Amsterdam, Berlin, Krakow, Budapest and Dubrovnik are “The Loop” in the East. We’ve heard a ton of different “Loops”, but the common denominator is always Amsterdam. The reason why is pretty simple.
Amsterdam. Is. Awesome.
Dutch food is good, but the openness of Amsterdam means there’s food from all over the globe. Canals lining the street mean that everywhere you look is photogenic and most importantly, the entire city is built for bikes. It’s a bike culture, which means it’s incredibly easy to get around. Amsterdam packs much more life into much less space than anywhere else we’ve been, simply because there’s no need for parking lots all over the place. Even the fast food is different because instead of drive-throughs, people lock up their bike and walk in. There’s communal interaction, less stinky smog and still fast-food to go. We did not try using chopsitcks while biking like many of the Dutch leaving Wok 2 Walk, but we became pretty expert at fitting into the bike traffic after a few days. I’ve never seen another city that is so interdependent with the bicycle and the result is a unique and wonderful way of life.
“How about Zamosc?” asked Bryan, working on figuring out where we’ll go after Krakow. “It’s a little town over by the Ukraine.”
I wanna go home, I thought.
“Or we could go to Warsaw,” he continued. “It’s the capital, but it’s another big city.”
I wanna go home, I thought.
“Or how about Wroclaw? I don’t think I’m saying that right… Its a place in Western Poland where they have tons of gnomes we could go looking for.”
I wanna go… “gnomes?”
Why yes, I would love to go gnome hunting in the cute town of Wroclaw, Poland.
Gnome hunting seemed like the perfect activity to do to recover from the worst week ever in Berlin and Prague and help ease us into the world of exploring and backpacking again. So, on the train we went.
The train ride from Krakow to Wroclaw consisted of being too hot and sharing a compartment with a screaming mom and her screaming son. The mom would get mad at her son, scream at him, spank him, and then the little boy would get mad at the spanking and proceed to spit and kick his mom. Then she would give him a sugary drink. I pretty much got spit on the entire 6 hour train ride, but other than this, it was a relatively easy travel day.
We made it to our hotel 10 minutes after arriving…and we didn’t even get lost. Yes! We decided staying in a nice private room hotel would be the last for awhile, so we were pretty excited about spending three nights in a four star hotel.
Later that evening we ventured into town to eat dinner and found a traditional polish restaurant/beer garden. The restaurant was in the center of the old town square. We have been pretty impressed with the polish squares as there is usually a really cool building in the center with restaurants, bars, and cafes circled around it. The old town in Wroclaw was particularly neat because of the vibrant colored buildings, bridges, and a fountain that looked like ocean waves.
Wroclaw is a pretty interesting city and has been apart of more countries than any city in Europe. It’ been in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Kingdom of Bavaria, Kingdom of Prussia, Germany, the Third Reich, the USSR and Poland. As a result, there were so many ways of pronouncing and even different names for it, including Breslau which was the name of the train stop. It was a bit confusing to say the least. We think “Vratz-wav” is the right pronunciation, but were never sure.
The next morning we made our way to tourist information to purchase a gnome map. Yes, there was a gnome map.
We found many gnomes. We found snoring gnome, music lover and busker gnome, prison gnome, geology gnome, newlywed gnome, and so many more. Many of them had their own stories from a book we purchased for $3. This was the most fun we had since Nuertingen, and I remember turning to Bryan to say “I like traveling again.”
Who knew gnomes would do the trick, but this is one of the best parts of traveling…finding quirky and random things in places you never heard of before.
Later we went to the same restaurant where I had a variety of traditional polish dumplings, also called Pierogies. My favorites were the ones stuffed with potatoes and cheese as well as the ones stuffed with traditional Ukranian beef and onion. Bryan had the potato pancaked filled with beef stew. Polish food was so good, but just a tad bit unhealthy. Okay, maybe more than a tad.
The next day was spent people watching in Old town, taking pictures in the botanical garden and on top of the really tall cathedral, and of course, gnome hunting. We tried to find the “laundry gnome” which is basically a gnome washing his underwear in the river, but we failed. We could not find this little guy anywhere. Oh well, I presumed life would go on, and thankfully, it did.
This was also the first day of English Premier Football League, and Bryan was looking forward to watching Arsenal. Unfortuanly, no one wanted to watch Arsenal, they only wanted to watch Poland play. Who would have thought. Poor Bryan was pretty sad, so instead we found a restaurant on top of a really well known hotel called the Monopol for a couple of drinks.
The Hotel Monopol was one of the most visited destinations during the USSR. It was closed after the fall but recently reopened as a historical building. We watched the sunset and enjoyed the stellar view, well except for the big cathedral in the way of Old Town.
We went back to the hotel to relax before having to get up early the next day. We decided we missed hostels mainly because of the common rooms, kitchens, and meeting backpackers who have a similar budget as we do. I think we’ll try and find more private rooms in hostels, but usually there aren’t many.
Next stop, hostels in the Tatras Mountains in Poland and Slovakia.
We rolled into Krakow tired, worn out, and wanting nothing more than to watch TV for a week straight. We checked into a private room on the outskirts of town in a well rated hostel called 4 Friends and immediately took up residence in front of the Olympics. (Women’s race walking was surprisingly entertaining!)
Our goal was simple. We wanted to sit on the couch for a week. We told the front desk that we’d like to switch our reservation from 3 days to 6 and were told no problem, but we might have to move rooms.
Day 4 comes around, and we learn that “moving rooms” means that nobody wrote down our request to extend and we needed to move on.
It felt like bad luck returning, but instead, it turned out to be the best thing that could have happened to us.
We ended up renting a fifth floor apartment right outside of Old Town. When I say apartment, I mean a full unit in a “Angel City Apartments”, a building built for young professionals. It was walking distance to Old Town, had a private fridge, electronic locks on the outside door, kitchen, jacuzzi tub, balcony and satellite television. Most of the channels were in Polish, but we still had the news and the fashion channel. Minor drawbacks aside, we had our private room to bunker down in for the remainder of the week, so bunker we did.
I’m not going to give a blow-by-blow of our week of lazing around Krakow, but here’s a fun story.
A fifty year old man named Milon and his fourteen-year-old son Adam were also staying at 4 Friends hostel. They came into the common room while we were watching Olympic handball and eating a smattering of food from the grocery store, including pickles. We tried saying hi, but soon realized that the Milon spoke no English. After about a minute, we got names exchanged. A few minutes later I learned they were from northern Poland and I offered them a pickle.
Adam said no, in the geeky, nervous way that 14 year olds can have. I think he was too nervous to take a pickle. Milon accepted the pickle. I held out the jar for him, at which point he pulled a six inch buck knife out of his pocket. I guess that’s what you’re supposed to carry. He took the jar, and in a well practiced motion he stabbed and removed a pickle. Later, the woman at the hostel informed me we had purchased something “very Polish” and that pickles are “good for the digestion.”
Milon put away his buck knife and happily ate his pickle, standing a bit awkwardly over his newfound American friends as we ate our lunch. He and Adam then spoke to each other in Polish, Milon trying to talk Adam into something. He looked at us and waved his hands a couple times.
Adam stepped forward and licked his lips. He then started, very hesitantly, to speak in English.
“Do…” he started, surprising me a little.
“Yes?” I asked, trying to encourage him.
“Uh huh,” I said, trying to let him know I understood.
“Do you… like you…” he said, completing half of a poorly formed sentence.
“Do you… like you… computer games?” he said. A huge smile came over his face and he backed up a few feet, proud of himself for getting his question out.
“Yes!” I said. He smiled and his dad looked very proud. Milon had no idea what was said, but his boy had said something in English. “I like computer games!” I said very slowly.
Adam looked like I just gave him $100.
“I like computer games, too!” he said, gaining confidence.
“I like…” he tried.
“I like…” he tried again.
“I like…” he tried a third time. Now, I try not to judge people by appearances, but Adam didn’t look like he was the most popular kid in school. He looked like a geek, and like other geeks, I can recognize my own kind, so I helped him out. “Warcraft?” I asked.
“I like Warcraft!” he said, jovial in our bit of communication.
“I like Warcraft 3! and I like rap! Do you like rap?”
“Yes, I like rap!” I said. Maybe I’m not a huge rap fan, but I wanted to encourage the kid. He stuck out his lower lip, frowned in the tough guy face that’s so common on MTV and nodded. Adam is thug life Poland.
Like so many teenagers, he then disappeared into his mobile phone, but his dad was smiling. Adam had made his father proud, and somewhere in northern Poland, Milon is telling this story to his family.
Milon stood awkwardly for a bit longer. We would have loved to chit-chat, but we had gotten about as far as charades would take us. He eventually left, but we kept running into them in the hostel and smiling.
At one point, Adam started playing some rap on his phone as loud as he could, looked at me and nodded. I smiled back.
Another highlight of Krakow was our last day, which was our third wedding anniversary (thanks to everyone who commented on the last blog!) It was our second, back-to-full-exploring day after our recouping. We visited Wawel Castle, the Old Jewish Kasimierz district and went to a wonderful Italian place called Il Calzone that we found in the Lonely Planet.
Our first full traveling day was the day before, where we went to a small and tragic town called Oswiecim, which is better known by the name the Nazis gave it… Auschwitz. We didn’t really want it to be our first day, “back in the saddle,” but didn’t want to go to Auschwitz on our anniversary either. We’re not big fans of touring all the sites of tragic events around the globe, but there is no way to learn about the history of Europe without touching on the holocaust. We skipped Dachau and the plethora of smaller camps, but felt we should go to at least one. This was it. I’d like to write more about it, but I think it needs its own blog to do it justice.
Anyway, we had gotten close to coming home, but relaxing in the apartment was a bit rejuvenating. Once again, we packed up our gear, swung the packs onto our back, and took off to the next place. We’re not quite ready to go back to the full budget backpacker mode, so we booked a private room in a hotel in the city of Wroclaw, Poland.
For a quick recap, our last blog brought up the possibility of heading home. We’re tired, worn out, and haven’t really had much fun since we left Nurtingen. We have been in a really nice hostel in Krakow for a night now, and have five more nights booked. Our hope is that we can recharge and regain our love of traveling. Whether or not this happens remains to be seen.
The last blog was the Top Ten things we miss about being home.
This is the Top Ten things we’ve liked about being on the road.
10. Learning to say please and thank you in a plethora of languange! Djinky! 9. Seeing places that we’ve only read about in history books. 8. Finding a hostel that we feel safe and comfortable. 7. Discovering a whole ethnic group that is amazingly friendly and funny. Poles! 6. Getting to experience things we didn’t know existed. Bamberg and bacon flavored beer. 5. Wandering around small streets in old towns. Hi, Seville! 4. Finding random foods that end up being really good. Hello, onion stuffed with meatloaf! 3. Finding a good map that helps us around the city. (Street lookup, public transpo marked, easily foldable to highlight relevant places, fits in a pocket, etc.) 2. Finding people who will help foreigners out of the goodness of their heart. 1. Getting to spend all of our time together.
It’s time to admit it. We are worn out. We’ve been on the road for almost four months now and we miss having a home. It’s been very tiring and the idea of buying a nice comfy couch is growing on us.
Our backs hurt from carrying around backpacks. A string of bad luck including busted bike chains, getting kicked off trains in Poland and learning the “cheap” spa in Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic isn’t so cheap doesn’t help. We would love to snap our fingers and spend two weeks with friends and family.
I’m not positive we’re having fun anymore. It doesn’t make sense to keep traveling if we’re not having fun.
Everyone loves lists, so here’s the top 10 things we miss from the good ol’ US of A!
10. Pine trees – There’s trees elsewhere, but not like our trees. 9. Phones – Making a simple phone call or sending a text message would be great. 8. A Kitchen – We would love to have our own kitchen again. We’d like to be able to know where all the dishes are and buy food that will last longer than 2 days. We haven’t seen a gallon of milk since we left. 7. Saturday Morning – There’s something special about a Saturday Morning where you get to laze around your house. It’s different when you have to figure out how to get breakfast. 6. Mexican food – ’nuff said. 5. Seattle Sounders FC – They just played the US Open Cup final. We didn’t get to see it… and they lost. 4. English language television. Leslie would love to see Ellen. NBC has blocked all non USA IP Addresses online, so no simple online option. 3. Coffee – Bryan got a coffee in Prague that had less than an ounce in it. No refills. Ever. 2. Free water at every restaurant. Sometimes we ask for tap water. Sometimes it works. More often, we get fancy sparkling water and get charged. and the thing we miss most 1. Friends and Family – We miss you guys!
We booked a private room in Krakow, Poland for the next couple days. It’s pretty cheap and has 90%+ ratings on hostelworld. We’ve also heard wonderful things about “Cracov” from everyone who has been there.
The plan is to hunker down for a bit. We’ll probably go buy a cheap DVD player and spend the next couple days hanging around the hostel, hoping we get recharged.
Help! We’re far behind on the blog and need to catch up! We’ve spent the last week and a half or so in Nuertingen and then our final stop in Western Europe, Berlin.
Nuertingen is definitely not somewhere that most people visit, but it was such a cute little town and we have friends there. Kersten and Michael Haussman are friends that we met in Koh Phanang, Thailand over three years ago. We kept in touch over Facebook and when we told them that we were going to be in Germany they put us up for a few days and it was so good to see them.
When we got there, they had a great little note on the pillow welcoming us to Bed and Breakfast Haussman and encouraging us to ask for any help that we needed at reception.
Neurtingen is outside of Stuttgart, so we spent some time exploring there when the Haussman’s went to a wedding, but our favorite day had to be the “subben”.
Nuertingen is landlocked, but believe it or not, they have a local surf shop… on the river. “Subben” is German for paddle-boarding, and the Haussman’s friend Rolf rented five boards for the group of friends. There was probably 10 of us sharing and splitting time with the boards, but we had a lot of fun.
There were other people on the river skulling. You might recognize it from the Olympics. They have long, thin boats with many people rowing. As you might imagine, they don’t exactly like that they’re now sharing the river with the paddle-boarders. Kerstin and Semi actually collided with one of them!
We stayed in the Friedrichshain neighborhood of Berlin, which was on the eastern side of the Wall. Berlin oozes history. The recently completed Holocaust Memorial is really well done and the city is mending itself back together post reconciliation. The Branderburger Gate was impressive, and while I’ll never forget seeing the place Hitler died, it wasn’t all that much to look at. Hitler’s Bunker is now a parking lot.
The people of Berlin are quite interesting though. It’s very much an alternative city with lots of art, organic food and hipsters.
If we can get this blog posted soon, we will actually be caught up, as we left Berlin this morning with the intention of getting to Krakow, Poland.
Instead, we got kicked off the train when we learned the Eurail doesn’t work in Poland, even though it’s mapped on our “Eurail Map”. Grr…
Right now, we’re doubling back, on a train to Dresden, Germany and likely to go to Prague tomorrow. Krakow will have to wait. (They’re sooooo disappointed).
Also, Bryan wrote a new feature for the blog….click view all for pictures.
Hamburg was completely destroyed by WWII. As a result, the city has been entirely rebuilt. Unlike Munich, Hamburg decided to build anew, without rebuilding the past. It’s the second largest city in Germany, and a major-metropolis that has been engineered in the modern era. Most of Europe makes the United States look new, but Hamburg makes us look very old.
We had a layover in Hamburg while going from Amsterdam to Copenhagen, but had found The Generator Hostel, so we booked a room for when we would return. Three days later, when we arrived we knew exactly where our hostel was, it was near the train station and we were booked.
“It’s so nice to have an easy travel day,” said Leslie, thereby jinxing us.
We arrived at The Generator at 6:35pm and were informed by the hostel that there was a note on our reservation. It said that they will give the reservation to someone else if we don’t check in by 6. We’d been bumped.
They pointed us to the A&O Hostel, but it was a bit far away and we were only shown a walking route. Later, we learned that the U-Bahn (subway) was much faster, but we were not told that at the time, so off we went, lugging our gear through Hamburg.
Half an hour later we checked into the A&O, which wasn’t bad, and actually cheaper at €12 per bed. Plus, the room we were in was full of interesting people. We met a couple men from Sweden who informed us that the east coast of Sweden was much better to visit than Stockholm because there’s more heavy metal music there. There was a man who worked at a nearby hotel from Zimbabwe who was the only person I’ve ever seen wear a suit every day while in a hostel. We made a friend named Mohammad from Morocco who we bonded with over some similar experiences. He was on his way to Oslo, Norway to look for work.
That night, we went to a strip of restaurants by the train station.
The next day, we woke up late. Too late. There was a pretty good looking all-you-can-eat buffet at the hostel, but we would have only had 15 minutes or so, so decided to take a pass and look elsewhere for breakfast.
Soon, we found ourselves on the U-Bahn, flying over the city of Hamburg. For part of the ride, the U-Bahn was about two stories above-ground, like the monorail in Seattle. It was a great way to see the city and has the distinction of being the only place we’ve ever decided to stay on the subway system just for fun.
Eventually, we stopped by the wharf for some breakfast. We got ham, cheese and egg sandwiches that were unique as the ham and cheese were like a normal sandwich, but the fried egg was on top of the entire thing, making it difficult to pick up. Nevertheless, it was pretty good.
The Rathaus was our next destination. Rathaus means “Town Hall” and it had a huge square out front. A large bay was nearby as well as the Alsteralkaden, which is streets and canals with little shops and streets. That was our goal.
But we got waylaid. We found one of the most beautiful malls we’d seen in a long time, and darn-it, sometimes you just have to shop. Plus, we knew we are about to leave Western Europe and we’re a bit sketchy about the quality of goods and services in the former eastern block. No offense to anyone over there, it’s just an unknown to us while we know Germany has a reputation for quality goods.
As a result, Bryan once again owns a pair of jeans while Leslie stopped by the salon for a color. So maybe it wasn’t the most cultural of days. Then again, that’s probably what a lot of Hamburgers do. (LOL! “Hamburgers”)
The next day we woke up, availed ourselves of the all-you-can-eat breakfast and left the city. We went on a day-trip to Lueneberg, identified in The Lonely Planet as “The Wobbly Town”.
Lueneberg’s a little village about thirty minutes outside of Hamburg by train. Historically, it’s a salt-mining town, with many of the salt mines directly below the town. The “white gold” dried up in the 1980s, leaving the city built on top of a shifting landscape. Add this with flexible mortar built into the walls and the entire city is wobbly. Walls aren’t strait, streets wobble up and down and the entire thing can make you feel quite disoriented. It’s almost like you’re looking at the world through a glass of water.
It was also nice that it was cheaper. We could get an ice cream cone for 80 cents. We stayed through the afternoon before returning to Hamburg.
We had one more goal before leaving Hamburg. We wanted to see the canal district, “Speicherstadt”, so we walked over to canals built off the Elbe river. New bridges and buildings lined the place, which was quite interesting, but my feet were getting tired, so we decided to try and see Batman.
In Bangkok, they play movies in English and Thai. You can pick which you want to see. In Netherlands, they do not dub the movies at all, so they’re in English. In Germany, well…
Leslie asked a young woman if she could point us to a theater and she obliged, but did not know if English was available. Two U-Bahn trips later we found ourselves outside the theater with a big, rotating, triangular Batman promotion out front. The promotion was completely in English, so we thought we might have a chance.
We got up to the gate and learned that only German language was available. D’oh.
My feet were still tired, but we were getting hungry. Leslie wanted this thing called “healthy food”. We heard some music and saw a lot of people walking over a bridge, so we headed in that direction. There was a fun little cafe with some beatnik style music going on. It looked like they were just serving drinks and the occasional sausage, so we moved on.
A neat little city-park that grabbed our attention. It was quite clearly man-made, but it was a fun park. A little stream ran through the center with trees and forest-like areas covering either bank. There was a large grass area surrounding the central forest part with a walking path for strolling. Little hang-out spots had been cut into the forest for people to sit on while lots of people brought blankets or books for the grass.
The guidebook actually came through for us with regards to “healthy food” and we soon found ourselves back on the U-Bahn heading to the other side of the city. The guidebook didn’t tell us that there would be a carnival going on. We dropped €6 on a Ferris Wheel that purported to be “The Largest Mobile Ferris Wheel in the World”.
Soon, we were looking for the cafe as identified in The Planet, but we did take a short detour.
There were two streets we could walk down. One had a bunch of cafes and shops. The other was the Reeperbahn, which is the largest Red Light District in Europe.
I was expecting something similar to our recent stop in Amsterdam, but it was quite different. In Amsterdam, sex shops, coffee shops, sex shows and prostitutes in windows line the street in the Red Light District. All shops have something “red-lighty” about them. In the Reeperbahn, the “red lighty” shops are interspersed with regular buildings. For example, the Opera House is on the Reeperbahn. We didn’t see any prostitutes hanging out in windows, either. There is a street nearby called Herbertstrausse that is lined with brothels. Women aren’t allowed on that street, so we didn’t visit.
We eventually found our way to the cafe, only to find it closed. It looked out of business.
With the healthy food mission in jeopardy we made our way back through the Reeperbahn, looking for restaurants with some sort of salad. Fortunately, we found one. It was a pub, but they had salads on the menu that ended up being pretty darn good.
So it turns out that our last experience in Hamburg was eating good, wholesome food in a place that was anything but wholesome.
Next stop, Nuertingen, Germany. Home of our friends Michael and Kersten Hausmann, who we met in Koh Phan Ngan, Thailand 3 and 1/2 years ago.
As of July 17th, we will have been traveling for three months. To recap, here’s where we’ve been in month 3. Molietz, France – Paris, France – Milan, Italy – Rome, Italy – Napoli, Italy – Tuscany, Italy – Venice, Italy – Munich, Germany – Bamberg, Germany – Frieberg, Germany – Geneva, Switzerland – Lucerne, Switzerland – Zurich, Switzerland
The Tent – Munich, Germany
As a rule, Munich is about €30 per person per night. At The Tent, it’s €10 to be in a 100 bunk circus-tent. No pillows, but you can request as many blankets as you want. We’re pretty sure the blankets have never been washed. No worries for us because we have our cocoons, which are sheets sewn into a sleeping bag to keep off bed bugs. Breakfast is a la carte, so you can pile your plate with hard-boiled eggs, mueslix, cereal, coffee, bread, OJ and pay about 50 cents each. Because it’s Germany, there’s also cold-cuts and cheese slices. To top it off, there’s a bonfire every night and a cheap dinner served. The best was the BBQ where you could get a sausage with a vein of cheese running through it for €2. A steak cost €3.50. €4 would get you a 1-liter mug of beer, that’s about 2.5 pints. The staff was helpful and the people were friendly. Sure, there was a mouse in the room every once in awhile, but what did you expect? It’s a tent… I mean The Tent.
The Heart of Tuscany – Tuscany, Italy
We give out this award with a heavy heart, because The Heart of Tuscany had a great view, there was an infinity pool, the food was great and we met some nice people. It qualified as a “hostel” because of dorm beds, but it was really a Tuscan villa. Unfortunately, we were in the top of the main house and had to make a difficult choice. We could either keep the windows shut all night and boil like lobsters or open the windows and risk on onslaught of mosquitoes. The first two nights we boiled. The last night we opened the windows. We were still scratching mosquito bites two weeks later. All the other hostels in Italy were like this, but not as bad. This was horrendous. PUT A MOSQUITO NET IN THE ROOM OR GET A FAN!!!!
Osterhaus – Bamberg, Germany
This is not just a restaurant, but a brewery that’s been open since the 15th century. They make Rauchbier, which actually tastes like bacon. Yes, it’s bacon beer! On top of that, the food was wonderful. Leslie had one of her new favorites called the zwiebel, which is a full onion, peeled, with the inner layers removed. It’s then stuffed with a meatloaf-like mixture and baked. Bryan had a pork shoulder, which was great, but the people pushed this place over the top. We were served outside on picnic tables, and each time we met the other patrons around us. Once, there was a Germany family from out of town. The other time was a 50 year-old-man who was acting as care-giver for an 80 year-old with dementia. Good people + good food + good beer = award winner!
Pezzafina – Frascati, Italy
Pezzafina is about 25 minutes outside of Rome, right next to the place we stayed in Frascati. It’s run by the Pezzafina family. They serve up moderately-priced Italian food in a friendly, atmospheric setting. The entire restaurant is on top of a cave, where they store some wines that are older than I am. When they realized we were new to the restaurant they opened the doors and let us explore the cave. I also had a bacon and cheese-sauce pasta that was heavenly. We’d never had crispy bacon in a sauce before, but it’s definitely worth experimenting with at home.
BEST PAID ADMISSION – Disputed
Leslie’s Winner – The Eiffel Tower, Paris, France
The one and only!!! You’ve seen the pictures, you’ve seen the movies, but none of those do it justice. Even seeing the “metal asparagus” from across Paris won’t allow you to realize the massive undertaking that went into it’s creation. The grandeur of the structure doesn’t really hit you until you’re right in front of it. We walked up to the “first floor”, which is half-way up. It made for some great photos as the light and shadows played off each other.
Bryan’s Winner – The Colosseum, Rome
The greatest treasure of antiquity is a still an emotional powerhouse. The floor is gone, so you can see the complex (if antiquated) system of pullys and counterweights that used to cause rampaging elephants to appear while two gladiators were battling to the death. The ancient spectacle was a cultural center, chance to win glory for slaves and freemen alike and a chance for the rich and famous to share an experience with the commoner.
The Bread – Geneva, Switzerland
Okay, so we weren’t actually in Geneva when this happened. John and Danielle Dolin of the wonderful blog A Mr. And Mrs. Live with the Swisses took us across the border into France, where we went to a little street market. We tried some bread that looked wonderfully decadent, and was! The samples were so great we decided to purchase two slices. Bryan chose the chocolate bread and the baker acted like he’d cut a slice 1/4 inch thick. “Bigger!” he said, stopping him when the slice reached an inch and a half. Leslie then ordered an inch-wide slice of the orange bread. Little did we know, these slices were sold by weight and that bread was heavy. We spent €13 on two slices of bread. Oog.
BEST TRAVELLING EXPERIENCE
Freiberg, Germany -> Geneva, Switzerland
Usually, we get lost, have to take multiple trains or end up playing charades with someone who doesn’t speak English. On this day, we woke up, went straight to train station, took one train and found a smiling face on the other side in the form of John Dolin. He took us right to his apartment, gave us water, homemade cookies and turned on American television. Easiest. Travel. Day. Ever.
WORST TRAVELLING EXPERIENCE
Paris -> Rome
This day deserves a blog of it’s own, which we’ll hopefully get to someday. It started with the person at the hostel sending us to a Parisian train station. We walked twenty minutes through the largest underground subway station we’ve ever seen in order to be informed that we had been directed to the wrong train station. There are 4 major train stations in Paris. We walked twenty minutes back through the train station, lugging our backpacks, in order to catch the metro to the other train station. Then everyone had to evacuate the train because there was a dog on the track. Seriously. We eventually made it to the right station, and all direct lines to Rome were full for Eurail passengers. The woman behind the counter told us we’d have to pay full price. Leslie sat outside with the bags and quietly cried. Bryan figured out we could go from Paris to Lyon to Geneva to Milan, spend the night and take an early train to Rome the next day. Worst. Travel. Day. Ever.
Hofbraushaus – Munich, Germany
Back in the day, Bavaria was an independent country. The Hofbrauhaus was the Royal Bavarian Beer Hall. 1 Liter Beers served in a beer garden by people wearing traditional German garb. True, it’ a bit Disney-like nowadays with the way they cater to expectations and hold older styles, but it’s still pretty cool.
BEST RANDOM SURPRISE
The Lake Parade – Geneva Switzerland
Twenty semi-trucks that have been turned into mobile dance clubs moving slowly through the waterfront of Geneva blasting techno music. We’re not big techno people, but that was fun.
BEST LITTLE SLICE OF HOME
Chateau Dolin – Geneva, Switzerland
Sometimes, we miss home. Some times, you find something that reminds you of home. Every once in a loooong while, a place is like a little bit of home has been moved overseas. That’s what it was like with our friends John and Danielle Dolin. All the movies and books were in English, the food was familiar and (thanks to the magic of SlingBox), even the television had shows from Seattle. We actually got to watch Seattle Sounders FC play live! If this were a hostel, it would have won best hostel hands down. However, we could never categorize this home as such.
BEST PLACE IN THE WORLD NOMINEE
A walk-able downtown area, quaint old buildings, people playing watersports in the river and of course, the local delicacy, beer that tastes like bacon! On top of it, the food was great, with traditional German fair dominating every corner. I would not have expected the city with the best food this month would be German as opposed to Italian, but the world is full of surprises. Bamburg is one of the best.
We left Amsterdam at 10am and didn’t arrive to Copenhagen, Denmark until 12:15am. The day consisted of 3 different transfers, including a three hour layover in Hamburg.
Needless to say, we were incredibly tired when we finally arrived, and all we wanted to do was go to bed. Instead, we had to find our hostel late at night. We hopped on the bus, got a little bit of help from the bus driver and made it to our hostel called Sleep in Heaven without getting lost. Woohoo!
When we walked into the hostel, the music and cool atmosphere made me think this was going to be a good place. I was pretty excited….and then the conversation went something like this.
Bryan – “We need to check in under the name Wokich.”
Receptionist – “What was the name again?”
Bryan – “Wokich.”
Receptionist – (a quisitive look) “Hmmm….I don’t have you scheduled until next weekend.”
Bryan – “Are there any beds available for tonight?”
Receptionist – “Sorry, we’re full.”
A look of panic came across our faces, and I thought I was going to have to cry again (last time I cried was going from Paris to Rome). She was quite helpful and called another hostel to see if they had beds available.
Luckily, there was room for us at a place called City Hostel. However, we liked Sleep in Heaven so much that we decided to reschedule for the following two nights and then booked it across town for one night at the other place. Before we left, Bryan asked if we should be worried about walking across town so late at night. She said there were no worries and that Copenhagen is “ridiculously safe.”
It’s nice walking around cities defined as “ridiculously safe.”
It took us about a half hour or so before we arrived, and at this point we were miserably tired.
City Hostel consisted of 68 bed dorm rooms, so they had plenty of room for us. Overall, the hostel was not my favorite for several reasons, and I was very happy we left the next morning.
We walked through the doors of Sleep in Heaven and the sound of Fleet Foxes gently made its way to my ears. Fleet Foxes is one of my favorite bands, and it felt like a little bit of home since they are from Seattle. I loved this hostel.
We ate Muesli, bananas, and strawberries for breakfast and then explored the so called city of Copenhagen.
Bryan had once been to Copenhagen, so he was excited to show me one of his favorite cities of his one month tour of Europe 12 years ago. We explored a bit of downtown which again consisted of incredibly wide streets where cars are not allowed, and then we headed to a church called “Our Savior” simply because it had a big spiral where people could climb to the top for a view of the city.
The journey to the top was full of humor, to say the least. They did not think about tourists when they built it, and we spent the majority of our time waiting for other tourists to come down as there was only room for people going one direction. The further to the top we got, the more steep and narrow it became. At one point we waited 20 minutes for people to come down and were scooted as far as we could to the side in order to give them room on the steep stairs.
We all had a good laugh about the situation and met a lot of people along the way. Meeting people is easy when one does not have a lot of space between one person and the other.
When we finally made it to the top, the whole thing felt a bit shaky and then the guy in front of me asked if it felt like it was moving. It sure was. We quickly snapped a picture as there was only room for one person at the very, very top.
After leaving the steeple, we decided to check out a little place called Freetown Christiania or just simply Christiania. Christiania is a sort of commune like place founded in 1971. Christiania has its own laws and currency. Denmark will tell you Christiania is part of Denmark, but Christiania disagrees with this. The whole thing was quite interesting to me and walking around was even more so.
There is an open cannabis trade (No hard drugs allowed) in Christiania and is sold on a street called Green Street or what used to be called Pusher street. We walked through this street and were not allowed to take pictures as there were no picture signs everywhere. Cannabis is illegal in Denmark, but the Danes have not been able to stop this from happening since cars are not allowed and Christiania have people watching for cops.
After walking through Green Street, we went to eat lunch at a little local cafe which was by far my favorite sandwich I have eaten in a long time. It had whole wheat homemade bread, Cajun Chicken, leafy greens, some sort of spicy sauce, and quality tomatoes. Maybe I was just starving for some healthy foods, but it was sure good.
Bryan and I debated whether or not to include this story as it feels a bit mean writing it, but figured I might as well share it. Here’s your ugly stereotypical American.
We were waiting in line to order our food, and a woman about 100 pounds overweight interrupted the people in front of the line to ask what she was supposed to do in order to get food. She didn’t know if the other person would speak English, so she decided to speak loudly and immediately grabbed the attention of the surrounding area. Why oh why did she have meet every stereotypical description of “Americans,” I thought. She had been waiting off to the side for awhile, so we offered her the place in front of us in line. Bryan was trying to diffuse the situation before she started arguing why she shouldn’t have to wait in the line.
She ordered nachos and asked for “hot salsa, or hot sauce.”
“Would chili sauce work,” asked the woman behind the counter.
“No, hot salsa,” said the southern lady, probably not realizing that “salsa” is Spanish for “sauce” and there’s not a jalapeno for 100 miles.
Bryan told her that the chili sauce would be fine.
After we sat down at the table waiting for our food, the southern lady heard us talking and said “do I hear Americans over there.” She then asked if she could sit with us, and while we said yes, I felt a bit embarrassed because of what happened earlier and sort of didn’t want to be seen with her. (I know, awful of me to think).
Then, she started talking about how McDonald’s was so expensive in Scandinavia, how her dad almost shot a cat but then decided not to and ended up having the cat for several years, and how she hadn’t left the district by her hotel as she was just there for a cruise and had been stuck for several days.
Overall, the lady seemed nice, but it’s always hard to meet people who reinforces stereotypes of Americans. It’s often thought that we must be loud, fat, obnoxious, stupid, gun-toting militarists who are ready to declare our country greatest in all things when people hear we’re from the USA. One guy actually told Bryan “You’re clever for an American”.
I think we have done a pretty good job at helping people understand the United States is pretty darn big and diverse and generalizations like this are not a good way of thinking… then we meet someone like the lady at the cafe and the stereotypes are reinforced. Danielle from the blog A Mr and Mrs Live with the Swisses said it best when she said “nobody notices the quiet, normal sized Americans on the train, because you are being quiet and blend in to the crowd.
After leaving the cafe we walked around Christiania where all the locals live. All of the houses were unique with lots of character. They were not the typical looking houses so it was fun to see. There were many families, young and old, and it seemed like a nice quaint place to live.
The next morning we decided to rent bikes since Copenhagen was a lot like Amsterdam as in most people commute on bikes and there were also street lights for bikes.
We made our way to the history museum of Denmark to learn more about the Stone and Ice ages, but Bryan was more excited to learn about the Vikings from the Danish perspective. The museum itself was full of information and artifacts from those times, it was actually pretty impressive. However, I think Bryan was a little underwhelmed with how little they had about vikings.
We were thinking about heading to a small town in Sweden since it was only a half hour away, but we decided against this as we had to pay extra for our bikes. Instead, we sat a usual danish hangout spot on a bridge and enjoyed the views.
We then went to see the famous Little Mermaid statue. Bryan had once seen the statue and told me it wasn’t as big as he thought, so I was prepared for a small statue. However, it was worth seeing as it was placed in the water around cool looking rocks.
We rode our bikes back to the hostel after eating a Donor Kebab and met a Dutch guy who ended up playing pool with Bryan. It was nice hanging out in a hostel that played good music and had comfy couches. One of the things we miss about having a home, a comfy couch.