Saturday, July 10, 2010


14 hours of random train/boat connections we are finally in Munich. Yes, I know this update is long overdue--Italy had SO much to do and see, it was next to impossible to find an hour to just sit at a computer and blog. We have much to cover so lets get to it.

Our hostel was small but had a little character. It also made it hard to not meet everyone in it. Which we did. In fact, by the time we left 4 days later we practically owned the place (ask anybody; they'd agree).
Our first night we met a couple Canadian girls who were interested in joining us to go see the Colosseum the next day, so after several hours of sleep we woke up and got to it.

I wasn't sure what to expect when first seeing the Colosseum because sometimes things seem smaller in person than portrayed in pictures and in film...the Colosseum was not one of those things.

Heat. Humidity. Sweat. Heat. Humidity. Sweat.

I'd be told how hot Italy was in the summer, and, well, everyone who told me was right. You just kind of get used to being covered in sweat. Theres really no way around it.

Shade break.

The Roman Forum and Palatine Hill were also impressive and an awesome sight to see.

After grabbing some gelato..

BTW There is an ungodly amount of gelato places in Italy. Seriously. There are more gelato places than Starbucks in the northwest. Probably 3 times as many. And pizza places. Gelato, pizza, gelato, pizza, its all you ever see.

I digress..
After grabbing some gelato we head to the Trevi Fountian and Pantheon. But on the way we are blown away by probably the most regal building we've ever seen..the National Monument of Victor Emmanuel II.

tossing the coins over the shoulder into the Trevi Fountian

Back at the hostel we relax for a little while, cook dinner for ourselves, and then get ready for the night. We participate in a hostel-wide game of kings cup, and then we all decide to head over and have a couple beers on the Spanish Steps. Our huge mob of people (Aussies, Canadians, and Americans) roll through the Roman streets to the steps (which I have to say were a lot smaller than I imagined) and then after an hour or so we closed down the night at a nearby Irish Pub.

We woke up ready to go see the Vatican. We were accompanied by a group of 4 or 5 American girls; new friends from the night before.

There was so much to see and take in it was overwhelming. Michaelangeo was everywhere. And although our "native-english speaking" tourguide (yea, right) was extremely difficult to listen to, we left satisfied and in awe of seeing some a few of the most amazing parts of the world.

Inside St. Peters
(Not a ton of pictures of other places, such as the Sistine Chapel..cameras weren't allowed)

After a long night of dancing we took the next day to relax a little bit and just casually stroll through the streets. The next day we would head to Florence with our new british friends, Sophie, Zoe, and Hannah.

We actually only spent one night here before heading out to Cinque Terre, so i'm going to go ahead and skip to that.

Wow. Beautiful and needed. 5 little Italian towns tucked in the hills along the Mediterranean. Our plan was to meet up with my friend from school, Dani, but she wouldnt be arriving for a couple hours, so we grabbed a bottle of wine and headed down to the Marina to relax.

Because of some slight miscommunication Marshall and I were forced to look for alternate accomodation, which turned out to be our own apartment overlooking the town (which we ended up getting a pretty good deal on and would get used quite a bit over the next couple days).

We showered up and then headed to dinner with Dani to enjoy some Italian seafood.

We left satisfed, however, Marshall and I (who ordered the same thing) are convinced it gave us some kind of food poisoning (which we would experience over the next couple days).

Regardless, it was yummy, and we grabbed a couple more bottles of wine and headed down to the Marina for the sunset. Walking down the path a small group of kids grabbed our attention and asked us to join them on the rocks. It was there we met Sam(antha), our new friend from Montreal, who would complete our group for the next few days.

A late night swim in the Mediterranean completed the night.

The next day Dani, Sam, Marshall and I all took the train out to the furthest town and then hiked to the next. It was unbelievably beautiful. The type of thing that makes you say, 'wow', everytime you look over.

Myself, Sam, Dani and Marsh.

We got back with one thing on our minds. Swimming. But Sam wasn't going to let us just swim...cliff jumping was in order. and we weren't opposed. (okay, well Dani and I weren't opposed..Marshall, well, I'm not going to go into details..lets just say he found a lower ledge to make his home).

That night we all cooked dinner, made homemade sangria, made more homemade sangria, and had a blast.

Time for Florence again..


We got in to our little private room, and while the girls went shopping, Marshall and I caught a quick nap. After their arrival HOURS later, we all headed to a bar to watch the game.

We grabbed some gelato after, walked around for a little bit, and then went back to the room for a semi-early night.

The next morning we hit up the Uffizi (which i'm going to just come out and say it...not too impressed. I don't know if i'd just seen so much cool stuff recently or what, but I think I had more fun with Sam looking at the paintings and forming our own little stories of what they were about than anything else).

We climbed the Duomo..a 463 step trek up through narrow windy hallways, which led to an amazing view of all of Florence.

Hamilton proud after the hike up. (Here you go Brooke)

Afterwards we cleaned up, killed a little time in a piazza having a couple drinks surrounded by statues and then headed to the best Italian dinner any of us have probably ever had.

Hanging pre-dinner.

Our night ended at the top of the town at the Piazzale Michaelangeo.


The next morning we said our goodbyes and headed to Germany. Due to a strike going on in Italy, it took us far too long with too many cancelled trains and a load of connections. But we're here, and we're happy to be.


While it has been a long time since Andrew and my last entry, we have experienced more than our share in new people, places, and things. We're in Munich right now and I'm itching to tackle some beer and pretzles so this is going to be really short from me.

Rome was so amazing, there were so many things to see and so many things to do. Going to the Colosseum was a life long dream of mine and I totally nerded out seeing all the examples of 2,000 year old civil engineering. I mean white marble used as a course aggregate in an ancient cementaceous material?? Come on! The entire building is obviously in ruins but you can see examples of the different levels in certain sections of the stadium since not all of it was sacked by barbarians years and years ago. Our ticket also covered entrance to the Roman Forum and Palentine Hill, which were both really fun to walk around in. The Forum was just a big market place where ancient Romans chilled out and hung out with everyone. Palentine Hill was a combo of ancient Beverly Hills and all kinds of newer museums squished together overlooking the Forum. While in Rome we also got to see some of the other major tourist attractions, like the Pantheon and Vatican City. The Pantheon looked like nothing special from the outside, but onced we stepped in it was a different story. Knowing about concrete domes, I knew that the Pantheon is Italy's largest self supported concrete down and it's measurements are so precise that people today are still trying to figure out how the ancient engineers made such a perfect dome structure down to the centimeters. The Vatican City was unbelievable, so many paintings, so many sculptures, so F-ing hot. The best parts were when we'd get to art galleries because they were always air conditioned. Seeing the Sistine Chapel blew my mind as well, I saw the actual "Creation" painting by Michaelangelo, and only then did I realize that it's only one small painting in a mess of almost 50 different amazing paintings by that old man, named after my favorite ninja turtle.

Cinque Terre was our next stop (besides one night in Florence, but I"ll get back to that) and it was such a beautiful group of small villages tucked into the cliffs of the Mediterranean. From the food, to the swimming, to the greuling hike, I had so much fun. Andrew and I had our own apartment so always having a sanctuary to come back to and relax in was great. We also hosted a sangria party and Sam cooked an amazing dinner, with crepes for dessert (and my breakfast).

After Cinque Terre we headed to Florence. We climbed to Piazzale Michaelangelo and looked out over Florence while sipping some bottles of fine Italian wine (and beer for me). The next day we hit up the Duomo and good GOD that was a hike. Most of the stairways were just so narrow and once we got to the top I was able to forget about all 463 of the steps I had just climbed because the view was incredible. They say that the "Big 3" in Italy are the Colosseum, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and the Duomo. Andrew and I have conqured all three while traveling the boot country and it was a good run. For those of you interested in Italy however, and who don't do well in humidity, be warned that Italy is hot, and terribly humid. I sweat through shirts in the morning and gave up caring about it by about noon, knowing that I would be exploring in my sweat alllllll day until i changed shirts for dinner.

I have so much more to say, but I seriously have a date with destiny at one of these Bier Gartens with pretzels the size of my head and beers the size of my arm. Germany plays for 3rd place in the World Cup tonight and it would be a shame if I was sober in the country where intoxication was invented.

Keep it real!


Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Cheese, Chocolate and Pocket Knives.

After having the pleasure of staying at Amber's grandparents house in downtown Brussells, and enjoying the late night conversations with her grandparents, we hit the train to Interlaken, Switzerland. We stayed in a hostel that is apparently in the "world famous hostels" list and it definitely lived up to it's reputation. Interlaken is most well known for it's extreme sports and it was hard to even look out the window without seeing sky divers gently floating back to earth on their parachutes, or hang gliders soaring through the perfectly clear skies. Some guys we met at dinner time had been canyoning that day (look it up on YouTube...amazing) and had the time of their lives. Andrew and I talked about it and decided that the expensive stuff wasn't for us, as fun as it sounded. We met some girls our first night in town and enjoyed watching the football matches with them and the beer specials at the hostel bar were amazing, so naturally Andrew bought them drinks the rest of the night because he is such a gentlemen.

Clubbing in Belgium...before I passed out

The next day we decided to tackle those big mountains that kept laughing at us from a distance. We took a bus to a town called Wilderswil and then a train to Lauterbrunnen and then the hike started. The trail was listed as 2 1/2 hours, and we had heard it would be fairly steep. While on this epic journey we had many stops, mostly by the waterfalls, and even a quick break by a stream to get a drink of the purest Swiss water I've ever had in my life. The hike was very difficult, but the views made it completely worth it. Once we got to Murren we sat down and started chow down on the bread, cheese, ham, and bananas that we had bought earlier that day from the meanest Swiss lady in the world. On the way down we took a gondola to Gimmelwald and then hiked down to Stechelberg and took the bus and then the train back to Interlaken. That night the whole hostel gathered round the TV for the Spain vs. Portugal match and luckily everyone was Spain fans so it was very fun when they pulled through in the end.

Getting some of that sweet, sweet Swiss spring water

Enjoying our view of the Alps from Murren

The trail we walked down to get to the bus station, the only downhill part of our journey

Today, we took the train to from Interlaken to Milan, and then to Rome. Andrew and I have enjoyed some Italian wine, and some Roman gellato while getting used to the southern Italian humidity. Already we've met a lot of people in our hostel and apparently we've got some dates for our trip to the Colosseum tomorrow, woohoo!

Get it done, Annu.



So Switzerland was unreal. Literally. It felt like I had just stepped into some part of Disneyland.

Little Swiss homes, all complete with window boxes filled with little red flowers. Everyone with their own little garden and little fountain fixtures covered in flowers on every bock.

The hostel was legit. We've gotten really lucky so far and most of the hostels we've been to have been a blast and super social. It felt like a huge Swiss house and was decked out (like everywhere else in town) with Swiss flags. We had a good time our first night and then woke up the next morning for a big hike.

My life was the Sound of Music that whole day. The hike was INTENSE but so worth it. We got to the top at around 4000 feet and looked out at all the mountains that were surrounding us. On the way down we walked through several small Swiss villages...the whole thing was incredible.

Hamilton, proud of himself after the hike up (even though he complained so much we just carried him the entire way)

Time for bed...Rome awaits.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Ah Belgium. Currently sitting in the kitchen with a Sinatra record on while Marsh and Amber cook brunch. We're staying at her grandparents place (giant, old european condo right in the middle of Brussels). Every window is huge and pulls open, and right now a nice breeze is blowing in.

Actually, here is a pic we took last night of Marsh and I sitting in that exact window.

We apologize for the delay in posting another blog update. These past several days have been crazy with lots of traveling. But I guess that just means we've got a lot to say. So ima say it now.

Dublin was awesome. The hostel we stayed at was super cool and really social. It's been awesome to be able to just check in, introduce ourselves to a few people, and then have friends for the rest of our stay that we can go see the sights with (and go out with at night as well). Our second night we did a pub crawl which was a blast. We met a ton of cool people and saw several Irish pubs that weren't the touristy packed ones we'd been in the night before in Temple Bar. It was a good night.

Oh, and Marshall and I represented our country in a beer pong match against our Irish pub crawl guides.
It was an intense match. Down to one cup each. And then Marshall blew it. The ping pong ball bounced off his chest and into our last cup. We lost it. Our country lost it. Thanks Marsh.

Just a quick story: The next morning a guy from our room comes up and tells me that Marshall has met a few girls from Portland and is talking to them downstairs. Crazy. So I head down and I totally knew one them (shout out to Nalina and props if you are reading this). Small world.

We took a bus through the Irish country side to Galway. I'm convinced the stereo type of how much the Irish drink isn't just that, because every little Irish town we'd drive through had more pubs than it did houses.

Galway was much different than Dublin, but in a great way. It had much more of the small town Irish feel with a cool strip of old pubs next to what was called the 'Spanish Arches'. The first night we found this pub called 'The Quays' which was huge (and old; opened around 300 years ago) and had traditional Irish tunes. Plenty of dancing and pints of Guiness later it had been a good night.

We took a bus out to the Cliffs of Moher while in Galway. AMAZING. Seriously breathtaking. Pictures won't do it justice, but here are a couple anyway.

Marshall and I are also going to be submitting a couple pictures to the Blazer's 'Wear in the World' photo contest. We think we've got a good shot. (no pun intended)

Also, it should be noted that although there was a sign that we were not supposed to cross a certain point on the cliffs, we did anyway. (Its where all the best views were).

Here is Marshall clearly breaking the rules.

Matter of fact, here is some 80 year old woman clearly breaking the rules.

The tour showed us ruins of castles sporatically appearing throughout the country side, old monasteries, and ruins of tombs older than Stonehenge.

A couple planes later we were in Amsterdam. At around 11pm we take a train to the central station and then a tram to the leidseplein, and as the doors open I can tell i'm already going to love this place. The plaza is packed with tables packed with people and the bars are overflowing. Music is loud and everyone is having a great time. Everything stays open till like 3 in the morning.

Our hostel 'the flying pig' was off the hook. The reception desk was downstairs in the basement (coincidentally, the same area as the bar). MGMT was on, the place was alive, and we didn't take long to order our first drink and take advantage of all the city has to offer.

The next day we walked through the town to Anne Frank's house as well as hit up the Van Gough museum (literally around 100 of his paintings..unreal).

Amsterdam is a gorgeous city with canals ruining through most of it. One of the coolest we've been to thus far.

Our friend Amber met up with us our last night there and then we drove to her hometown of Brussels yesterday. We went to the La Grande Place, a huge plaza with some of the most regal buildings i've ever seen.

Also, big thanks to Amber for buying Marshall and I our first Belgian waffles, the majority of which got all over my face.

We went to a couple different clubs last night and will be hitting up another one tonight (as well as possibly a friend of Amber's pool party?). We're looking forward to a good time.

Next stop: Interlaken, Switzerland.

P.S. Sorry we have no photos of Hamilton to share this entry. He got a temporary job as a boat driver through the Amsterdam canals, but should be joining up with us again shortly.

--what up marshall.

Words cannot describe how much I loved the pub scene in Dublin. It was exactly the atmosphere I enjoy, exactly the kind of music I enjoy, and everyone is always in a good mood. While keeping up with our pub crawl group I got to know a few of the other crawlers fairly well and specifically had some great conversations with some girls from Lichtenstein and Germany. My German is no where near what it used to be, but a few pubs into the crawl and I was convinced I spoke more fluently than the girls. I embarrassed myself.

While in Galway we got to experience a much smaller town feel. Not as many bars as compared to Dublin, but still probably 4 times more than in all of Corvallis. The hostel was definitely worth only the 8 euro we spent on it but we met some more interesting people, although I'm really missing my Florida buddies (keep it real Kelly and Katie).

Before the pub crawl, Andrew grabbed a guitar from the hostel and we went downstairs with a few of the girls we had the pleasure of getting to know while in Dublin. Hearts were melted right before my eyes and then the drinking began!

There have been many opportunities to listen to music while traveling, my favorites have been in the bars in Dublin though. Munich will be filled with music since it's considered one of the rock hubs of Europe, but until then I have enjoyed the Celtic music and look forward to hearing the mandolins sing to me as I eat pasta in Italy.

Amsterdam was...great. Insane atmosphere, beautiful buildings, great public transportation, cool museums. But in the words of Forrest Gump: "and that's all I have to say about that".

Now, as we enjoy our temporary palace in Brussels, I really get time to sit back and relax. We made a great breakfast today with hashbrowns and eggs and croissants. This pretty much kicks our previous breakfast's asses because the times that we've even been lucky enough to wake up on time (sans alarm clock) breakfast tends to consist of toast and jam and gross instant coffee.

(drinking and biking, legal in Belgium)

I have experience so much since this trip began but so much of it is hard to put into words right now. Andrew and I have seen some crazy shizz and I've been meeting people that I hope I keep in contact with. If anyone gets a chance, ask Andrew about his kitty we found in Galway. Today we are off to explore Brussels some more and hopefully get some more great Belgian beer. Yesterday we went to Delerium Cafe with Amber, they have the most beers available for sale at one time, 2004 beers. Holy catfish, batman.

-Kennedy: out.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Greetings From Dublin!

Hey all!

So London was ACE. (english for: excellent, or the best.)

First off, our hosts were amazing. My good friend Molly hooked us up with a couple of her friends to stay with and we're very glad she did.

Katy made us fajitas.
Henric and I shared our love for Electro music.

They both are are just incredibly awesome people. The first night they showed us all around town. One of the first stops was the House of Parliament. Seeing something like that which you've grown up seeing on TV and in movies is something else. It felt unreal.

We saw the London eye, Covent Garden, Trafalgar Square, Piccadilly Circus, and ended the night sharing a couple pints at a pub in Camden.

Its often better to just show pictures, so here is a few Marshall shot that day. (i'm shooting film the whole trip)

The second day we woke up, had a cup of coffee with Katy, and then headed out to explore the town some more. The first stop was the British Museum, which was really something else. Again, some pictures.

(British Museum)

(Rosetta Stone)

(Some statues from the Parthenon) 

(Easter Island baby)

It was Buckingham Palace next. We took the Underground (which we were getting quite good at navigating through at this point) to Green Park, walked through and there it was: The magnificent home of the queen.

Hamilton was beside himself and insisted we take a picture.

It was time for the US game, so we headed back to Trafalgar Square to find a good pub to watch it at.

But it was too tempting to stop and climb on the big lions before settling down. So we did.

After the game (which we should of clearly won if it wasn't for a terrible call) we headed back home to the flat to relax for a while before the nights adventures. After a couple hours Henric, Marshall and I headed out to meet up with a couple of his mates for drinks at a nearby bar. After a little dancing and a drink or two we moved on to the next one, had another, and then headed to a club called Koko across the way.

AMAZING European club. The Japanese Pop Stars bumped the loud electro tunes and we danced till about 4 in the morning. Our train for Ireland was at 6:30 and after realizing we didn't have an alarm clock, I opted to just stay up for an hour and a half till it was time to leave.

So there is London in an ultra quick nutshell. We'll of course post later of our Irish adventures.

Marshalls turn.


From the traveling I've done with my family in the past I haven't ever been able to see a city like London in such a truly personal way. Staying with two locals provided countless benefits, everything from knowing the hot spots for a quick drink, to short cuts through areas of the downtown. London blew my mind with all of its character and personality. I really thought it would be dirtier but I was pleasantly surprised to see how well kept the ares we were in were. Camden was like Portland, except for the hipsters walking around said things like "mate" and "cheers". Besides that though, I might as well have been walking down Burnside and MLK.

I am extremely interested in historical aspects of all these places we will go so it was great to see all the touristy sights in London like Big Ben and the Tower of London. I even got to walk across the Tower Bridge, which from a structural engineers point of view is absolutely breath taking. Finding bars and pubs has been fun as well, we could easily stop in at any of the cultural stops that can be found on every block in town, but we made a point to find the true English pubs. This backfired on us though as we listened to the locals cheer against the "bloody yanks" as we sat next to them.

The ride to Dublin was fairly uneventful, Andrew and I were as tired as we've been in a long time (thanks to the baptism of bass and strobe lights at Koko) so naps were a common thing as we transfered from train to train to ferry to bus.

Walking around Dublin has been confusing, no one ever got the idea of making right angled roads, or even roads that keep the same name for more than two blocks, so having the address to a location literally means nothing without directions. I guess we got here at a good time because there was some giant bike race that was really fun to watch, but quite the hassle to get around while exploring Temple Bar, the main bar street here. As the day went on though, we were able to find some great fish and chips and PLENTY of beer. One of my favorite parts of Dublin so far is the pub atmospheres, I could write a book about the crazy stuff I saw last night. At least three bachelorette parties were just at the first place we went, and some old man was getting his groove on with some of the ladies. There were also boobs being signed by some of the guys taking advantage of the opportunities presented when women and alcohol come together. As the night progressed we made it to the original Temple Bar (the bar not the street) and that's when I realized how seriously drinking is taken in Dublin...

(me as the racers went by)

(Andrew enjoying his fish and chips, we should have split one order because neither of us could finish)

Today we are headed out to the Guiness store house and then possibly on to the Jameson whisky distillery, with a stop by Trinity College and then tonight is the big pub crawl hosted by the hostel we're staying at. Dublin has been super friendly and I've enjoyed myself while here. We have done a great job at meeting people at the hostel and some of the girls who helped us hit the town last night are joining us for the Guiness tour. We have a lot to do today though so it's about time to get on today's adventure.