Saturday, June 30, 2007


I went on my first dive since being certified today, and it was amazing! We did two dives off the coast of Sorrento. We went to 25 meters (about 75 feet) on one dive and swam through a cave. Then, we went on a 23 meter deep dive and swam through a hole in a rock into a small little beach area. It was the coolest! I saw octopii, eels, lots of fish, starfish, and beautiful coral. I almost got seasick, but I powered through it!

All of this terrorist activity in London has me worried. I will be there in 9 days. Let's hope they get all this mess stopped before I show up!

Friday, June 29, 2007


Those of you who think NASCAR and Formula One drivers have talent... those guys ain't got NUTHIN' on the guys who drive buses on the Isle of Capri and along the coastal road of the Amalfi Coast. Those rides were well worth the money spent. Flying around corners, horns honking to let everyone know "A big-ass bus is coming, get outta the way!" Those drivers slid the buses into spaces I would swear were at least a foot narrower than the bus. At one point, the driver jumped out and pulled in the side mirror to make it around a corner. And the horn that he honked to let people know he was coming was hilarious. It had a high-pitched and lower-pitched tone which he would alternate, so it sounded like "Eeh-aaaah-eeeeh-aaaah!" I was never so glad to be on solid ground as I was after that ride. It was beautiful, of course... straight cliffs dropping to the ocean on one side, cantilevered hotels and houses on the other. Makes you admire the engineers that figured out how in the world to build a road and buildings on that mountainside. After seeing how beautiful it is though, I can understand why they were determined to do so!

Thursday, June 28, 2007


I think I have officially found my favorite place in Europe! I spent the day on the Isle of Capri (not the boat in Bossier City, you hicks), and it was awesome! I am going to try to go scuba diving tomorrow and maybe to Pompeii. I spent the afternoon laying on the beach on Capri, listening to Buffett on my ipod... heaven.

I've decided that the obnoxious american tourist doesn't really exist as much as it gets talked about. The worst offenders are high school kids, but teenagers from anywhere are obnoxious! I saw some German kids eating a pizza in the train station, then they threw the box on the ground, when the trash can was about 5 ft away. It's not that there are no obnoxious american tourists... it's just that they are the people we consider obnoxious back home, too!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Funny how...

one meal can change your perspective so quickly.

I arrived in Firenze (Florence) about 5 hours late after riding on a dirty nasty train in 2nd class. I had paid for a 1st class reservation, but my train got cancelled, so I was just screwed. I had a crappy ham and mushroom sandwich and a Nestea for dinner, and was just pissed off. I was in no mood to enjoy Firenze at all. After a sweat-drenched sleep in a hostel (what the hell is wrong with the Spanish girls who decided the window must be shut??), I spent the morning confirming everything to get the hell out of here. I took a bus, wandered around, read my guidebook, and decided I had played enough of the "Let's see how long I can possibly go without food in order to save money" game.

I went to a little restaurant in a basement that didn't look like much of anything, but it was in the Rick Steves' guidebook and they had a 10-euro lunch special. The food was pretty good, but there was a big group of annoying American tourists (teenagers, no less). Despite that, I had a great lunch. It was an insane amount of food- big bowl of spaghetti to start, bread and olive oil, grilled pork chop, and fried potatoes. Ugh. The waiters were fun. Apparently someone in that restaurant had a thing for me. I couldn't figure out who, but a few different waiters came over to me and asked me questions about where I was going, etc. Then, somehow I got a free shot of Limoncello after my meal. And the manager came up and talked to me for a while. I wonder if they are that friendly with all single women who come into their restaurant, or if there was a reason the guy sat me where I was facing the kitchen and the cooks could watch me?

No matter, it just put me in a much better mood. Plus, it rained, so it cooled way off outside! I'm waiting around to see if I can sneak into the Uffizi gallery just about an hour before closing without waiting in the insane line that is out there right now. Here's hoping...

Monday, June 25, 2007

Italy so far...

It's hot. And crowded.

Venice was pretty and it was fun to ride around in the vaporettos. I went through St Mark's Basilica and the Doge's Palace. The palace had the world's largest oil painting. It looked like... you guessed it, a really big freaking painting.

After a nightmare of train delays and cancellations, I finally made it into Florence last night. I'm staying in a hostel, which is interesting. I'm about to go to the train station to reserve my train out tomorrow, assuming I get the reservation I need at the hotel I want in Sorrento!

I'm beat. I'm ready for Sorrento... 3 days at the same hotel, see Pompeii and the Amalfi coast, and just relax for a few days!

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Did you know?

And now, it's time for a rousing game of "Did you know?"

Did you know...

-Gambrinus is better beer than Starbrno?

-long fringe is supposed to keep flies out of a room?

-John in Czech is Honza?

-the worst polka band in the history of ever rocked our pig roast?

-3 fat Americans will get stuck between floors on an elevator when dozens of Czech kids have been punching the buttons constantly?

-it costs almost 3 times what the wine cost to ship the bottles home and that you can accomplish this in a post office with a HUGE language barrier?

-the cheek of the roast pig really is the best part?

-after 2 weeks of having dessert (deserty) with every meal, you feel a little cheated when you don't get it... even though you are completely stuffed?

-Vienna is just a big, hot, dirty city?

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Stramberk... not Stromboli

Ah, such a lovely little mountain town. And not a damn thing to do but drink. Or swim in the creepy basement swimming pool. Ive been doing a lot of drinking. And I still havent found that damned apostrophe. The Czech people have spices other than salt. I know this. Ive seen pepper on the table and tons of spices at the market and in the soups. However, Im still quite sure that every Czech recipe begins with "2 cups of salt" and ends with "add more salt."

Did any of you know that Brno and Dallas are sister cities? I didn't. THERE'S THAT APOSTROPHE!!!!!! Well they are. And we went and met the mayor yesterday morning. It was all very impressive. He gave us hats and pens.

This morning we went to a factory where they make the most gorgeous Christmas ornaments. They are very cheap to buy there, but I don't think I could get them home without shattering them into a million pieces. My aunt says she has a catalog where they are only a little more expensive, though.

We went to a tractor factory the other day. The one place where I would have loved to have a t-shirt from, and they didn't have a gift shop. If anyone sees a Zetor tractor shirt, let me know.

One more day in Stramberk, then we head for Vienna. Maybe I can find a laundromat there. Socks washed in sinks don't really get all that clean, plus they are a little crunchy when they dry. Anyone know the Czech word for laundromat??

Off to dinner... salt meat and starch discs, I'm sure! I'm ready for Italy where I can get tired of pasta. Dobre mata.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Quick Hit

Im now in Brno, still no sign of an apostrophe. The weather here is much nicer... cool and breezy. Yesterday we went down into an amazing cave. It was so different from Carlsbad, etc. We even rode little boats through the cave and saw parts of the rock formations that are under water. Also, we finally had a decent dinner. Steak with cheese on it. I know, sounds foul, but it was excellent. And the fries were great smeared in the cheese sauce!

Tomorrow we are meeting with the mayor of Brno then we are going to Stromberk for our next hotel. This hotel here in Brno gave gummi bears instead of chocolates on the pillows... cool. Okay time is almost up in the internet cafe. Im off!

Saturday, June 16, 2007

The People Make the Trip

And the people Im traveling with are a trip. Sorry, still no apostrophe to be found.

Lemme tell you about the people riding around on the bus with us.

The Tour Guide- Maria. A native Czech, likes to fill every moment of silence with "interesting and special" facts. Needs to work on not being annoying as hell, "You know?" My favorite thing is to listen for her little foibles... whenever she had to do something in the past, she talks about how she "hadjt to do do it". Ill have to imitate her in person for that to really come across.

The Bus Driver- Honsai, or at least thats how Tim says it. I think his name must be Honsa or Hansel or something like that. He understands English very well, just doesnt speak it very well, and apparently our tour guide doesnt know all that much. Hes pretty funny and definitely likes to stay out late and drink his beer.

The Tour Coordinator- Tim. From a small town in west Texas, Tim looks like he belongs here in Europe. Tall, goofy smile, flat top haircut, and coke bottle glasses. He also likes to get drunk.

The Sisters- Julie, Mary, Jennifer, and Monica. Four women in their 40s-50s all on a trip with just the girls. Except that one brought her husband and one brought her 14 year old kid. They were definitely raised as Southern Belles down in southern Louisiana. They are always dressed up, hot pink lipstick on, and ready for any opportunity to shop. Very funny women, but I feel sorry for the husband and kid.

The Homeschoolers- I think their name is Doubechka. Odd couple from Killeen. She homeschools their 4 kids, has a tattoo of a cat holding flowers on her thigh, and seems like shes just some dumb hick on her second marriage. He doesnt claim her first kid, but talks constantly about how gorgeous his three kids are.

The Backrow Boys- Dan and JoeJohn. No, really, his name is JoeJohn. They tip the scales at over a quarter ton put togther and like to sit at the back of the bus. They spend lots of time drinking, smoking, and searching out casinos. They are somewhat rude, Dan being extremely condescending, and just kind of a pain in the ass.

Mary Katherine Gallagher- Eileen. This woman is crazier than a bedbug. She talks 90 miles an hour and just generally annoys the hell out of you. She always wants to drink a Fanta, but she talks so fast that the poor waiters have no idea what she is ordering. She just has the carriage of Mary Katherine Gallagher as a 40-something woman... picture that.

And all the rest. Several very large men. A few women who have trouble walking anywhere. Some people that I swear I didnt see the first 3 days. And my family.

And the food. Lots of salty meat and starch discs. Still. Last night it was salty duck with beet root and two kinds of dumplings. At least the alcohol is pretty free-flowing, so you can get good and buzzed and not really think about the food. No blood sausage has been offered yet, and I hope to avoid that.

I dont think I mentioned, we went to the Budweiser Budvar factory the other day. This is beer that has been made in the same spot since the 1200s. No relation to US Budweiser. We drank beer straight out of the holding tank, before pasteurization or any of that. That. was. the. best. beer. I. have. ever. had. in. my. whole. life. YUM!!!

Thursday, June 14, 2007


Ways in which things are different -and weird- around here:

-Keyboards. This is how a sentence would look if I tzped it the waz I normallz tzpe. And I just found the forward slash.
-Toilets. Sometimes you have to pay, sometimes there is no toilet paper, and there is always something weird and different about the way they flush.
-Air conditioning. You are lucky if you can find it. However, there is always the option of heading into a basement where its much cooler.
-Body odor. Yeesh.
-Hair color. For some reason Sharon Osbourne-ish burgandy is prolific throughout this country.
-Hair styles. I found a salon with pictures of the latest fashions in hair for women... mullets. I should have taken a picture, dammit.
-Food. Almost every meal so far has consisted of meat and what we have been referring to as starch discs. The starch discs can be potato, dumplings, bread, or anything else thick and starchy and needing beer to wash it down.

More to come later. Its time to go figure out how to make a phone call.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

And yet another castle...

We are on our way to visit another castle today. I finally got my luggage yesterday, so I am happy to report that I am wearing clean underwear that actually has elastic in it. I will have to tell the story about shopping for clothes in Prague when I have more time. Just suffice it to say that cheap underwear in the US is WAY better than cheap underwear in CZ.

My birthday was great. Thanks to everyone for the greetings. I drank too much Slivovice and Becherovka and lots of beer. John, I havent seen absinthe here yet, but I promise I will try it just once for you. I will have to sit down and really tell about all of the things that make this place so different from home... like a 5 star hotel with no air conditioning. Interesting.

Im off to the bus... maybe later I can figure out where an apostrophe is on this keyboard.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Oh yeah

And I still don't have my bag. Rumor has it that it will be on a flight from London to Prague arriving at 7pm tonight. Of course we are leaving Prague at 11am today. I really hope my bag catches up to me at some point.

Off to Ceske Budojovice

Prague has been beautiful, if hot. Yesterday was my birthday and our tour guide attempted to get me completely blitzed on Slivovice and Becherovka. You can strip varnish with that stuff!! After dinner I met up with my friend from high school (Hi Melissa!) and we went out for drinks and wandered the streets for a while. As much warning as I have had about how this place is so bad with pick-pockets and such, I have only felt uncomfortable on the subway... and that was mostly because of the odors!! We are leaving in an hour or so for Ceske Budojovice. I'm worried about our hung-over driver... hope he does okay. We'll stop in some small town along the way and do a walking tour there. I think we are having dinner in a castle in the next few nights... fun!

Sunday, June 10, 2007


Going into night #2 and still no luggage. At least I have family members to mooch off of. I've been wearing my brother's socks, my mom's underwear, and tomorrow I'm wearing my dad's t-shirt. I'm going to go to a store tomorrow and get some stuff (which the airline damn well better reimburse me for), but my bag better show up tomorrow!! Ugh.

On a brighter note, tomorrow is my birthday. I better have several beers purchased for me!

Saturday, June 09, 2007


I finally made it to Prague, after a delay at London Gatwick because the luggage belts weren't working. We sat at the gate for almost an extra hour so that 'all of the luggage can come aboard.'

Yeah, so I don't have a bag right now. Who called that one? At least I met a really nice girl from UT who knows her way around really well and speaks Czech. We put in our baggage claims and shared a taxi. I made it to the hotel about 2 hours later than I was supposed to.

And the tour group has left without me. So I'm wasting time in the lobby hoping they will come back to find me before they eat dinner. The Mediterranean Tuna and Chicken Takki sandwich I had 5 hours ago is not doing much for me. At least I got that, though!

I need a beer! Pivo!

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Off to See the Lizard

My flight takes off Friday night at 5:05pm, if I have a seat. I'll be in Prague the next afternoon. Everyone have a great summer... see you on the other side of the pond!