• Admin Updates

    Hey all,

    If you haven’t realized, this site went a bit dormant the past couple of years. Not sure why, I definitely have enough pictures to keep it updated. I have been occasionally posting pictures elsewhere with this site’s watermark; will try to work on getting those pictures actually on this site.

    Will probably push some drafts out that were all ready to go before I just sat them down and forgot.

    Also, that email I have on the side of every page has also been apparently inoperative for a significant amount of time. Yay. I did some back-end work this morning to hopefully straighten that out.

  • Streetview of Hostels

    I realized Google Streetview covers most countries, so here’s the places I stayed:

    Wombats, London, United Kingdom:

    Plug-inn Hostel, Paris, France:

    Meininger Hotel, Brussels, Belgium:

    Meininger Hotel, Amsterdam, Netherlands:

    Urban House, Copenhagen Denmark (door two buildings to the right, has changed names):

    Private Residence, Stockholm, Sweden

    A&O Hostel, Hamburg, Germany:

    Wallyard Hostel, Berlin, Germany:

    Post Hostel, Prague, Czech Republic:

    It turns out Austria doesn’t like Streetview.

    Haven Hostel San Toma, Venice, Italy:

    One Step from St. Peter, Rome, Italy:

    Ostello Santa Monaca, Florence, Italy:

    Meyerbeer Beach, Nice, France:

  • Nice

    Saturday, July 4th

    Taking the early train out of Florence meant leaving the hostel bright and early at 6:00 a.m. I knew from searching the previous night that my walk would take about 45 minutes to make the two mile trek but I wanted to make sure there was plenty of time before the 7:30 train. Florence was nice and quite in the morning, almost eerily quite compared to most European towns. In a few places around the city I came across the watering crew — as in the crew that waters down the streets! I guess this keeps dirt from becoming dust and helps sweep some of the debris out of the way. I showed up with plenty of time to spare, so of course, the train ran plenty late. The first leg took me from Florence to Genoa.

    At Genoa I had about an hour wait before the train arrived. This second train was set up with groups of three seats facing each other in a pod… and was entirely full. There were some other people who couldn’t find seats, including a mother and daughter from Norway that were backpacking around Europe. After a while we realize that there are pull down seats tucked in the aisle. They are more comfortable than sitting on the ground, but an annoyance when the beverage cart goes by or anyone needs to enter or exit the train. Since this train followed the coast, that meant plenty of stops for little Riviera towns. They were hard to tell apart and felt like nearly continuous development, but they were definitely beautiful. Eventually enough people got off of the train at these little towns that I was able to grab a seat in one of the pods.

    Ventimiglia meant another train swap. The train had the logo for Monaco on the side. I was surprised that Monaco would have any trains for themselves. The train also had air conditioning which was greatly appreciated on a humid day where the temperature was probably above 90 degrees. There were plenty more small Riviera towns along this train ride, and about half of them were in France. The only excitement came at the French border where the police pulled a guy off of the train.

    It was about a fifteen minute walk to the hostel once I arrived in Nice. It was located about a block from the beach, and you could see water from the room if you tried hard enough. The beach wasn’t your normal sandy beach — instead it was rather large gray rocks. Following along the coast for a couple of blocks took me to a park that veered away from the coast, which was probably a mile or so long itself. I followed it until it ended. From there, I found the main shopping street in Nice which really felt like most other shopping streets except the road had been pedestrianized.

    While I had a grocery store close in Florence, it was actually in the same building as the hostel in Nice, so it was even closer! This also meant that it was a good place to find dinner. After dinner was another walk along the beach, as the sun was setting. It felt weird not seeing any fireworks on the Fourth of July.

    Sunday, July 5th

    This would be my last full day in Europe. I spent most of the day in Monaco, which has its own post.

    After returning from Monaco, I was pretty tired. I eventually decided to leave the hostel and search for some food. I started following the long park that I followed the previous night. I wound up at a stage for the Nice Jazz Festival. It seemed pretty good for a free concert. I settle on a restaurant near the stage that was attempting to be an American restaurant, I think. It was called Buffalo Grill. The decor felt very American, complete with country music and an eagle statue. They also had very good hamburgers. On the way back to the hostel I found the bus stop I would need to get to the airport the next morning. I also came across a Slash concert which was just ending.

  • Firenze (Florence)

    Friday, July 3rd

    After the long wait in Rome for the train ticket to Florence, as soon as I stepped off the train in Florence… I was ready to get back in line again. I knew I had to get the connection to Nice sorted out sooner rather than later, especially since I already had my hostel in Nice booked for two nights. Using the Eurail timetable app, I was able to figure out a route that worked, but left from the other train station in Florence. It was also a couple of hours longer than the one leaving from the main station.

    The hostel was only half a mile from the train station but the once again blazing heat made it feel much further. The hostel was in an old convent built in the 15th century or something like that. After resting there and attempting to cool off for a while, I decided to walk around the city. There was a large town hall that looked out of place with its dark stone work and a tower that looked like it was plucked from a castle. It was the original location of the David statue too and a replica stood out front. There was also a neat area full of statues located diagonally from the hall. I also found the main church in town right before it closed and toured the main part of it. The outside was more interesting though. I guess I should also mention that to cross over and visit most of the stuff in town, I crossed the famous covered bridge in Florence. It doesn’t really feel like a bridge when you’re on it and there’s buildings on both sides. It just feels like another street that has a few openings where you can look over the water and realize that it really is a bridge.

    The famous statue of David is also located in town so I decided to go to its museum. It was much smaller than a lot of museums, but was very high quality. While you could get bored at other museums or wonder why certain pieces of art were deemed museum worthy, it was clear that everything in this museum was top notch. The scale of the David statue was surprising, and something that’s difficult to realize when you’ve only seen photos of it. I was expecting a human-sized statue, not something that was at least twice the size of a very tall person.

    I didn’t realize it at the time, but I picked a hostel that was next door to a small grocery store. No more hunting! This gave me a chance to stock up for the next day’s long train ride, which mostly meant buying some butter cookies and Schweppes.

    Leaving this time, I noticed a wedding in the square a few doors down from the hostel. There were a couple hundred people dressed in white. The guys even had white pants. I guess there was a restaurant there next to the church, because they all seemed to be eating. I was on the south side of the river in Florence and decided to continue on towards the east. There was supposed to be a good overlook point, but by the time I got there it was getting close to dusk and I didn’t want to climb the dark hill. I still had not eaten dinner (my last meal was at the McDonalds next to the train station in Rome), so I decided to finally find someplace to eat dinner. I found a reasonable restaurant with outside seating. I had gnocchi. I didn’t realize it was potatoes at the time, but covered with pasta sauce and cheese, it was very tasty.

    Returning to the hostel, the wedding party was still going on, now with more music and dancing. I had a hard time trying to sleep for a while, but the music and noise finally stopped around midnight.