Wednesday, March 10, 2010

timing is everything

Well, it has been nearly 2 years since I have posted on this thing. So what better time than now to get back into it.

I arrived in Chicago today for our annual work tradeshow which has been in the works - and responsible for many a late night - for the last month or so. It is somewhat of a relief to finally be here but there is plenty of work yet to be done. Imagine having a CD tower (a dated reference, I know) covering every inch of wall in your home. Now imagine you have to fill it with CDs in a giant illogical pile in the middle of the room, placing them in alphabetical order. That is a close representation of what I'll be doing... except with can openers and whisks.

Anyway, around 8:15AM this morning (my scheduled departure time), I'm sitting on the runway at John Wayne Airport in Orange County waiting to depart for Chicago. We have not yet pushed back from the gate when the American Airlines flight attendant comes on the PA and mentions that our delay - at the moment standing at 30 minutes but soon to be an hour plus - is due to poor visibility and 'flow control' at O'Hare. Now this is common when flying to Chicago but on this particular morning I found it quite humorous. 'Flow control' sounded like something I needed to consult my doctor about and possibly get prescribed one of those medications they advertise on TV with side effects more embarrassing and/or harmful than the original issue. I laughed a little bit aloud but everyone around seat 29D didn't find it as hilarious as me.

In addition to that, moments before our flight departed the gate - remember, this is 30-45 minutes after our scheduled departure (ie. takeoff) time - people were just then walking on the plane finding their seats. Considering boarding time, that means those people were 1-1.5 HOURS late for their flight. How is that even possible?! Why would you even go to the airport?! Wouldn't you realize you were leaving your house at the same time your plane was boarding and consider it a lost cause?! I mean, unless they were adding standby passengers last minute this is baffling to me...

And lastly, why is it that women are more attractive in the airport? Do women feel the same way about men? I find myself paying attention to women I would not find remotely attractive in any other atmosphere. I will take this thought to a whole 'nother level in a future post.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

the final countdown

So I figured a song by Europe, albeit cliche, would be the perfect way to title my final post from the previously mentioned continent. Confused yet? Good.

Wrapping up my final 24 hours in the Czech Republic could not have been any better. For starters, after a rough Saturday (the result of another night with the previously mentioned Australians who - apparently - followed us from Belgium), we got to enjoy an excellent restaurant meal with Tom and JoAnn Glenn. The parents of our buddies Jeff and Greg whom we have known for ages and went to school with in Irvine. We got word they were in Prague the same dates as our stay and through the magic of email (how did people ever do HALF of this before the internet?!) met up for dinner near their hotel. An excellent evening including dinner, drinks and travel stories. It is always unreal to see familiar faces in far-off places.

So anywho, Sunday being our final day of the trip, we decided to head on a bit of a day trip out to a little town called Kutna Hora. While being very remote, the town is famous for a certain 'bone church' called Kostnice. Andrew has posted a video of some of it on his blog. Basically it is a church where the interior has decorations made of human bones including a chandellier made using at least one of every bone in the human body. It was created after a mass grave was uncovered from the Plague. Really weird and unique experience.

But truly the most amazing part to me was the hour train ride to get to Kutna Hora. Here we are outside of the 'touristy' city of Prague seeing the true countryside and suburbs of a country still rebounding from Communism. Abandoned factories with all the windows smashed, miles of new railroad track wating to be placed, and smokestacks. To me, when I think of what a communist country would look like it would be high-rise apartment buildings that are all boxy and look identical to eachother alongside large factories with smokestacks with red and white rings around them pouring out white smoke. And this is EXACTLY what we saw. An unforgettable sight.

Some extra time back in Prague this afternoon was spent re-walking the Charles Bridge since the weather was nearly perfect today - much better than earlier in the week. We got our last fill of being photo nerds for the remainder of the trip. And to top that all off, Andrew and I splurged and had a nice dinner to top it all off and close out the trip. Actually at the same place we had eaten the night before with the Glenn's (thanks again Tom and JoAnn). They called it the BJ's of Prague... and we tend to agree.

So this will be my last post from the road. Hope this finds everyone well back home. A long day of traveling tomorrow and I will be right back into the swing of things. Prague --> London --> LA. See you all shortly.


Thursday, April 10, 2008

czech republic

Well, today is officially Day 1 in the Czech Republic. We actually arrived yesterday afternoon and checked into our hostel but didn't do much besides go to the grocery store and settle in.

We had an amazing train ride from Berlin to Prague with some fantastic views along the way. I have some video and plenty of notes of what we saw. I will likely add a supplemental post when I get home to describe it to everyone. Simply amazing.

Day 1 in Prague has been pretty good. I think this place may have been over-hyped to me as I was expecting to be blown away when I arrived. It has been nice, and the weather has been warmer than previous stops, so I guess I just need to take in more of old town and the city center. Don't get me wrong, it is gorgeous, and with clear skies I will likely see what all the hype is about.

Well, can't stay long as I am holding up the free computer lab in the lobby of my hostel. Will check in again. Andrew has been doing a better job of summarizing the days (since he has his laptop with him) so I have added a link to his blog on the right side of this page.

A few more days of nonsense. See you all again Monday evening.

Olive Juice

Monday, April 7, 2008


Never would I have imagined Berlin feeling as safe, comfortable and manageable as we have found it. This includes the people who have been nothing but friendly anytime us foreigners have been lost or needed help completing a transaction in English. Growing up learning about Germany's brutal history and hearing of the stiffness of the culture, I have been pleasantly surprised. Rumor has it this is all the result of some 'personality training' the locals received leading up to the 2006 World Cup in Germany.

As I mentioned in my previous post, we are staying in West Berlin with most of the sites to be seen located in East Berlin. The city is about 3 times the size of Paris, yet we have managed to make our way around without error both within the city center and outside the city. Rarely do I hear of people visiting Berlin [even those who venture to Germany] yet it is the grounds for an overwhelming amount of world history.

Within 2 days, we have visited major historical landmarks from World War I and WWII through the reunification of Germany after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 [one of the first substantial historical events I remember]. There is a portion of the wall still standing which can be walked. A truly eerie sight and feeling, walking along a wall built to divide a country and a symbol of political struggle going through the middle of one of the largest cities in Europe. The largest portion still standing is now called the East Side Gallery, a couple blocks of wall covered in artists' murals demonstrating the hope for a united world. A must-visit destination for anyone who enjoys history.

As of yesterday, I had officially been gone a week and am astounded at the ground I have covered. Andrew and I have discussed numerous times how valuable a trip like this would have been as students - studying the subjects we are now witnessing first-hand. Instead we are forced to almost re-learn what we are seeing, which I suppose isn't terrible, especially with the more 'adult' concept of the world we now possess.

Oh yeah and, on a lighter note, I had a beer with my McDonald's combo meal today. You can trade it straight-up in place of a large soda. Big Mac, fries, and a beer for 5.40Euro. I knew it existed but had a hard time finding it. Mission accomplished.

One more day in Berlin before we hit a train headed for the Czech Republic and our final stop: Prague.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

riding on the metro

Arrived in Berlin yesterday afternoon after a couple of fun days in Amsterdam. Our final day there consisted of renting bikes and riding down the Amstel River topped off with a trip to the Van Gogh Museum. Both were unreal.

Berlin has been interesting so far. The hostel we are staying at is very nice although a bit away from the sites since it is located in West Berlin. Went out last night to some German techno club and it was ridiculous.

Today we are heading to the concentration camp Sachsenhausen just north of the city. Tomorrow we will wander around the city and see the in-town sights.

Internet access is a bit easier at this hostel so there might be more frequent updates in the near future.

Thursday, April 3, 2008


Sorry for the lack of updates. Internet availability has been limited and very expensive when available.

Z and I just got into Amsterdam after a quick 2 days in Brussels, Belgium. Time has flown by so far but we have been able to see a ton.

Had a good final day in Paris seeing Notre Dame, the Louvre (well, the outside of it at least) and really trekked our way off the beaten path.

A quick 1.5 hour train ride to Brussels and we dominated the city. Covered it all. Had one of the worst meals I have ever had (note to self: Europeans can't do American food). If the place is empty and offers you an English menu, you should look elsewhere. But we were starving and needed something to fill our guts.

Had a rough night with some cool Australians last night in Brussels. You always get a beer or two more than you anticipate when you are out with Aussies. But good times for sure. Might see them again in Amsterdam.

Well, off to explore. Amsterdam is actually a really nice place from my first observations. It is given a bad rap based on a small portion of the city from what I can tell. But I'll report back in a couple days.

So in short. We are alive and well and on schedule... whatever that means.


Monday, March 31, 2008

checking in

A quick note to let people know I've arrived safe and sound. Met Andrew at the airport without a hitch. Spent the day in Paris seeing the Eiffel Tower and walking the city.

The plan for The Louvre tomorrow has been changed as it is closed on Tuesdays. Hooray. So Plan B will be decided on in the morning.

I am exhausted and need some sleep. It has been a long two days. I'll check in again from Belguim which we travel to by train tomorrow.