Well not really offically halfway, but its been almost a month since I took off from NYC. I am currently back in Germany, in Mannheim staying for a few days before I head off to Salzburg, Austria. Austria was not on my initial June travel plans, but I've heard rave reviews of it so figure work the railpass out. The railpass has been great, and my slick NYC sense of mind has known how to get free rides. Today for example there was the England vs Ecuador game in Stuttgart, I arrived in Stuttgart and the train ride was 31Euros to Mannheim, i knew the train would be packed with people and especially drunk Brits coming from the game, sure nuff it was and only 35 minutes on the ICE(Super fast awesome train), there was no time for the inspectors to get around, so basically everyone rode for free... Anyway now a top 10 list of sorts from the first month. Been to 12 Countries, handled 7 different currencies, and stayed in some 11 different hostels. Here goes some thoughts
1. Biggest Suprise. By far Luxembourg City blew me away, I didnt know too much about it, and given the size of Luxembourg my guide book didnt say too much. Yet when I arrived I knew the city was something special, definately a must go back and spend some time sort of place. It has lovely scenery, lush green trees set in a valley with the main city up high and the houses/apartments set down in the valley. For such a small population of 84,000 you would never feel it, as the city comes alive on a Friday. The Hostel I stayed at was top class, almost like a Hotel feel to it, very clean and nice and only 20bucks a night.
2. Biggest Disappointment. Tallinn, Estonia. Sadly it again could have been the overhype job that I had heard about before I left. Between being on the Maxim hot places to visit, reading and seeing pictures of the famous Club Hollywood with parties all night, and stories of tons of blond women just roaming everywhere I was expecting more. Now not to say its not a great place, the old town is very nice, the beers are cheap and selection is good, but somehow didnt live up to the hype, yet met some really cool people.
3. Best Hostel. By far the Argonaut in Riga, Latvia. I will in fact write a more detailed review of this place, but in terms of location to bus station, bathroom sitution, security keycard, and people staying there plus great staff, this stands out as the best Hostel so far. the one in Luxemoburg is a good runner-up for sure, didnt spend enough time to really take advantage of all it could be.
4. Worst Hostel. This is almost a tough catagory as every place so far has provided with me a safe and cheap bed. Yet the Hostel in Amsterdam just wasnt up to snuff. Between the bunkbeds that were too low so in the bottom bunk you easily banged your head. The location was close to the main train station, but anyone who has been to amsterdam knows the Central Station is basically right in the middle of the red light district, while its a totally safe area. All of the late night craziness it made it hard to sleep unless you just simply stayed up all night. Plus getting sick as a dog, and spending every 30 minutes in the middle of the night in the bathroom didnt make for much fun.
5. Best Beer. By far Prague, hands down. Between tasty brews, cheap prices, and overall availbility everywhere you went Prague wins. While there are only 4 or 5 main brands of beer, Budweiser Budvar, Gambrinus, Pilsner Urquell, Staroprem its not Belgium by any means, but the beer they have is good. And nothing like going to the top nightclub in town and paying less than 2 bucks for a beer, try that in NYC where your Heine will be 9 bucks.
6. Best Food. This is tough, being the super cook I am, i have missed the hell out of being able to make my own food. I dont eat out much in NYC, so being forced to eat out everyday has been tough for sure. In many ways the best meal I had is when I was in Warsaw, went to the supermarket used the point and nod method to buy steak and cooked up some steak, onions and potatoes in the kitchen at the hostel. Also must say had a good authentic meal in Latvia that was on point. Still as this trip continues I will be doing more cooking of my own, cause while I am not a super picky eater, they just dont make the stuff the same as back home.
7. Friendliest People. Germany doesnt really count as during the World Cup its been great, have stayed with super cool stranger met off the internet/housing web boards and some have not charged me, some have picked up me from train staion and all have been great. So excluding the Germans, the people in Prague were very helpful and the Latvian people were also very nice and helpful.
8. Most interesting Travelers. For sure the Aussies take this cake. In every hostel there are aussies, they travel the world, for months at a time, they have a funny accent, they love to drink, they tell great stories, they are great great people. I have actually seen so many aussies between traveling and also here in Germany for the World Cup, i joke with them that when I finally get to visit Australia who will be there to hang out with since you are always traveling the world.
9. Worst Sight Traveling. This hands down goes to drunken british tourists, usually they are on a stag weekend. The whole image of the so called Ugly American Tourist is nothing compared to a group of drunken, pale white hairy arsed brits. The stag parties are so bad in Riga, the lovely latvian women stay away from bars/clubs on the weekends to avoid the stags. Also saw many stags in Prague, yet it seems the Czech women, or really I should say girls as they all seem young, took a liking, a SERIOUS liking if you know what I mean to the foreigners mostly brits. Every nook and corner of the club was a makeout session like at your high school dance.
10. Looking forward to most. Well coming up in the month of July, I will be able to travel a bit more free with less restriction on getting back and forth to germany, my schedule is open with only a few scheduled flights. For the countries I am most looking forward to Croatia, hanging in Italy with Toto, and the Black Sea beaches in Romania/Bulgaria.
Alright, just a little review of the past month. I am at friends house in germany with seemingly good internet, so hopefully i can upload the next 100 megs or so of pictures in the next few days, keep an eye on the Fotki site, and i'll let you konw when more is up.