Saturday, July 3, 2010

When the moon hits the sky like a big pizza guy, that's the morning

So it seems we've been a bit more diligent with the carousing part of the blog than the blog part of the blog, but here's a quick update on what we've been doing over the last week or so, which in this writer's opinion has included some of the best stops.

First of all what hasn't been happening: sleep. From some heartwrenching soccer matches to gorgeous beaches to surprise picnic invitations, whitewater rafting trips, nightlife, etc. it's been a whirlwind. We're all exhausted but making the most of our time here.

After Prague we spent a few days in Munich at Hotel Jaeger, which while not seemingly associated in any way with the liquor of the same name does attempt to capitalize on the branding, with one free Jaeger shot for every guest and the Jaeger deer plastered all around the building. This was definitely our most social hostel emvironment. The bar downstairs serves a mass or liter-glass of Augustiner pilsner for a scant 3 euro. This became our home base for soccer viewing, and here is where we saw the Yankees run come to an end with an uninspiring 2-1 overtime loss to the lone African representative in the elimination round, Ghana.

Here also we met up with Krystian and his friend Mike, who helped us navigate the nightlife. We were also lucky enough to be able to spend a day at the lake house of his second-cousin-in-law-5-times-removed (or something)who hooked us up with an incredible spread of food, foosball, and mosquito repellent and were just all around some of the nicest people I've ever met. Other highlights included a trip to Neuschwanstein castle (on which the Disney castle is modeled) and the famous Hofbrauhaus. No need to search for the local liquor here; there is such a bevy or cheap, delicious beer that we stuck mostly to the brewskis. Franzinkaner, Lowenbrau, and Paulander are all based out of Munich, and are much tastier without all the modifications that must be made to American imports. People drink outside at all hours, and it was nice to stop in for a half liter or two every now and then to try something new and beat the heat.

After Munich we ventured down to the Croatian city of Split, a city we must evangelize. Croatia lies across the Adriatic from Italy and has a similar climate and drinking habit. We found an abundance of cheap, serviceable wine, and spent most of our days lounging on the beach, treated to beautiful vistas both at sea and on land courtesy of some generous sunbathers. People here all spoke English, but it seems Americans haven't yet invaded this town and scarred the locals. Overall, this is an incredible place to visit. We took a day trip to the nearby island of Hvar and Corey and I spent another afternoon whitewater rafting on the Cetina. Literally a minute into the trip Corey hits a low-hanging branch and gets knocked ass backwards into the river, losing a sandal and being forced to limp around town with a child's flipflop he bought in the small town we launched from by the river. It wasn't all Corey's fault though - when we started asking questions about the rafting outfit and the topograpy of the river, it became apparent that we had about as much rafting experience as our guide, and one of the customers on the raft with us took over shouting orders while our pony-tailed guide sulked in the back. "This is my first time down the river," he said. We are now apparently certified Croatian rafting guides.

We then took an overnight train to Budapest, Hungary. After 15 hours of sweating and attempted sleep (Thanks Krystian for closing the window in the middle of the night...twice), we landed in the great city of Budapest. Exhausted, our host suggested we go to the Baths, a collection of naturally thermal springs in northern Pest. Expecting some sort of heavy, hairy, nude European manfest, we wavered but ultimately decided to go. Thankfully a bathing suit required policy was in force and we enjoyed an incredibly relaxing day. Before leaving the Baths, we decided to literally cook ourselves in a sauna that registered in at 100 degrees Celcius.

Budapest is cheap. Not quite presidential suite for 52 cents in Bratislava cheap, but cheap. Like 1 dollar beer cheap. Changing out our remaining Forints (roughly 235 to the dollar) for British pounds is bound to be a sobering experience. Aside from the baths, we've enjoyed the club scene here, with labyrinthine basement entrances and huge open air drinking grottoes.

All in all, it's been a great week, but I have to admit that I am excited to return to English-speaking territory. Hungarian is one fucking crazy language.

And speaking of language problems: Charlie enjoys doing ad lib remixes of popular songs, all of which feature a strange approximation of DMX. We requested "That's Amore" by Dean Martin, which Charlie chose to reinterpret as found in the subject line. Idiot.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

A subject line is like a screen door on a submarine

And here we are in beautiful Prague. Many sites have been seen, acquaintances met, and booze boozed all since our last post.

After the cataclipse (you'll have to ask Charlie) in Attnang-Pucheim (pronounced pooheim...POOOO-heim) we arrived in Halstatt, a small town that has a lot of salt and old people. It's also ridiculously beautiful. Like a beautiful painting. I could think up more metaphors that compare one thing to a likeness of that thing in a completely unhelpful manner or you could use the google already and look it up for yourself, or wait till I get back and sit for an hour while your eyes glaze over as you placidly feign interest in my photo album.

Halstatt also closes at 6. Like the entire town. And every bar sells one beer, Zipfer. This is apparently the Budweiser of rural Austria, except deliciouser. So at night for our entertainment purposes we purchased some locally brewed bubble wine, and two types of schnapps - peach and dandelion. I think it was dandelion at least - there was a picture of a dandelion on the front but it smelled and tasted like fermented grass clippings. The wine wasn't all that much better. Alas. I did win two games of poker, so at least it was a wash.

After a day in Vienna admired the mighty fortress (and jawlines) of the Habsburgs, we arrived in Prague, which is my favorite stop on the trip so far. We went on a walking tour of the city and broke a bottle of Becherovka, a Czech liquor which does in fact "taste like Christmas," to quote the girl who talked us into the purchase. There is Absinthe everywhere, and we'll probably pick up a bottle for later in the trip. The real highlight is definitely the beer. Pilsner Urquell, the original Pilsner from the Czech town of Pilzen can be had in most bars for 30 koruna (about a buck fifty) and it pairs excellently with World Cup soccer.

Speaking of which, we're off now to watch the game in the Old Town square. Go Yanks!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Stupid Americans

Welcome from Prague!

Before arriving here, we spent a few days in Austria. Our main location was Hallstat, a picturesque little town built in the Alps around an absolutely beautiful lake. A place like this would certainly be extremel commercialized and exploited in the United States, but this quiet town was incredibly peaceful and often empty. Walking the street(s) past 8pm, and we were unlikely to run into a single person. Even on a Saturday night.

We went on a tour of the worlds oldest salt mine (somewhat neat), and the naturally occurring ice caves of Hallstat (incredible). Thereis a USB port on this computer, so I'll try and upload a few pictures here soon.

Off to explore the Czech Republic! Hope everyone is doing well back home!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Sailen Oon Da Poezenboat

Our trip began bleary eyed, stumbling through the city in a jet lagged daze. The local liquor project began with a bottle of Jenever that we purchased from a corner store. Jenever is the traditional spirit of Belgium, Netherlands, and Northern France. Like Bourbon and Champagne, it can only be designated as Jenever if it it produced in select counties in these regions, making it a truly local phenomenon. Juniper flavored, it is the precursor to herb-heavy liquors like English gin.

After sampling a bit before venturing out to watch some soccer, we packed the rest in our bag and shared it with some fellow travelers in need of a sleep aid the next day. I can't say we really splurged on the good stuff - apparently Jenever can be quite enjoyable in the proper context - but the majority of the group found the stuff nearly unpalatable, some bastard mix of rum and table wine. Not that it stopped us...anything seems drinkable
after four Natty saturated years in college.

Amsterdam, though a bit touristy, was a lot of fun. We biked through town checking out the parks and museums and happened upon an advertisement in the tour book for a floating feline sanctuary. As visions of Charlie, wildcat aficionado, being mauled by a pack of mangy alley cats danced through my head, we arrived to find some lame ass pet shelter with some lame ass cats not one of which attempted so much as a swipe at old Chuck. Apparently they hadn't been told how much he appreciates a good scratching.

After some misadventures on the train to Hallstatt, where we lost Andrew and then my baggage, we arrived intact to the Alpine utopia of our next destination. Hopefully I can figure out how to post pictures, as words hardly do it justice. And now, time for a nap. Steve OUT

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


June 16th:
Steve and Andrew depart JFK 9:50 PM

June 17th:
Steve and Andrew arrive AMS 2:20 PM
Meet Corey and Charlie at Heineken Bar in Schiphol Int'l
Stay at Durty Nellie's Irish Bar and Hostel

June 18th:
Depart Amsterdam on Red Eye Train

June 19th:
Arrive in Hallstatt
Stay at Gasthof Bergfried

June 20th:
Stay at Gasthof Bergfried

June 21st:
Depart on Red Eye Train

June 22nd:
Arrive in Prague
Stay at Hostel Tyn

June 23rd:
Stay at Hostel Tyn

June 24th:
Depart Prague in the morning
Arrive in Munich
Meet Krystian at Jaeger's Munich at 7pm
Stay at Jaeger's

June 25th:
Stay at Jaeger's

June 26th:
Depart Munich on Red Eye Train

June 27th:
Arrive in Split
Stay at Mediterranean House

June 28th:
Stay at Mediterranean House

June 29th:
Stay at Mediterranean House

June 30th:
Depart on Red Eye Train

July 1st:
Stay at Origo Hostel

July 2nd:
Stay at Origo Hostel

July 3rd:
Exit Krystian, pursued by a bear
Steve, Corey, Andrew, and Charlie depart BUD at 6:55 PM
Arrive LHR @ 8:35 PM
Stay at Charlie's bro's

July 4th:
Stay at Charlie's bro's

July 5th:
Stay at Charlie's bro's

July 6th:
Stay at Charlie's bro's

July 7th:
Stay at Charlie's bro's

July 8th:
Steve and Andrew depart LHR at 7:30 AM
Arrive JFK at 1:10 PM


Stay Sweet, America

The notion of going to college to get a good job has been engrained in me for as long as I can remember. I went to college, and it only took me four years to graduate! I mean seriously, shouldn’t people be begging to hire me? It hasn’t exactly gone according to plan. Who cares? That’s why it’s Eurotrip time with two of my best friends, and two acquaintances I’m bound to like a whole lot or very little by the end of this.

Andrew, Charlie, Steve, and I will be flying into Amsterdam this Wednesday. After abandoning Charlie in the Red Light District, We’ll be spending time in Salzberg and Prague before meeting up with Krystian in Munich. From there we head to Split and Budapest before spending the final days of our trip in London with Charlie’s brother. Hopefully Charlie has caught up to us by that point.

I see Steve has already begun his attempt to convince you that our consumption of alcohol will be the most culturally broadening of our European experiences (Heck, he almost convinced me with that fancy Ivy League vocabulary). I’ll do my best to provide some semblance of reality with my posts and pictures as we imbibe (See? I can use college words too), feast, and party our way through this 21 day, seven nation tour de shenanigans.

See you in a few weeks, America. Good luck ASU baseball in Omaha!

Monday, June 14, 2010

To the Old Country

Alcohol has flowed bountiful through pitchers and pipes and pint glasses since the dawn of average looking men trying to entice above average looking women to sleep with them. It provokes all manner of songs and crashes and fights and embraces. It is the lifeblood of social gathering. Men and women flock to the bars for the communal celebration of their triumphs and the assuagement of their disappointments. Ideas are shared, disputes are settled. While the living goes on outside, here is where it gets recognized and recorded (and often just as quickly forgotten).

Andrew, Charlie, Corey, Krystian and I will be in Europe for scant 3 weeks. In this time, we face the challenge of every tourist: the enormous task of understanding and reorienting oneself to a culture that is hostile to one's own provincial schema - all in a laughably short window of time. Does the Eiffel Tower tell me anything about what it means to be a Parisian? Does a tour of Buckingham palace teach me about any Londoner (God) save the queen? Not to belittle these experiences, but from my point of interest, probably not.

In this blog, we'll seek out the local liquor in each region in which we stay and attempt to give a brief history. A nation's identity can be revealed through it's drink of choice, and how it is consumed: the comforting warmth of a Scotch highland whiskey, the easy decadence of a glass of French wine, the carefree belligerence of an American kegstand. We'll find the neighborhood bars, drink with the yokels, swap some stories, share some yucks, and try to sell Charlie for bread money.

So, a toast to our followers: may you always drink well, and never drink alone.