5/01/01: Buenos Aires: Besides dinner and a movie with Becca and friends there's not much to tell. We're ready for Europe.
5/02/01: Buenos Aires - Rome: We said goodbye and thanks to Aurelia, and began our transatlantic flight to London. Most of the rest of the day was spent at 30,000 ft in route to Rome.
5/03/01: Rome - London: It only took us 58 buses, 3 trains, 16 flights, 1 rental car, and 3 ferries to get us to Europe. A little weary from our 20 hour journey to London, we moved into our luxurious flat courtesy of Judd and showered up to meet the first set of visiting Wanderparents, the vL's. We all headed to the London Eye for a great overhead view of the city and then a walk by Westminster Abbey, St. James Park, and Buckingham Palace. A dinner of fish and chips and a few pints in a few pubs concluded the day.
5/04/01: London: A very busy day. We woke up and joined a few hundred tourists for an intimate session of the changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace. We later met the vL's for a visit to the Cabinet War Rooms where Churchill and the gang directed WWII. A pub lunch followed and then off to see a ton of important dead people piled up in Westminster Abbey. Traveling like a true London local, Karen was thwarted in her attempt to ride the Underground for free when her plane boarding pass was not accepted at the turnstile. At St. Paul's Cathedral, we climbed up to the dome to find an impressive view of London. Not much time for nap, barely 1 minute and then off to dinner at the Windermere restaurant. From there we taxied off to the theater district to see the musical Mama Mia. With over 20 Abba songs, the musical is very good and Karen entertained all of us dancing in the aisles, it was contagious. After the show we left the vL's and headed for a London night out at one of the many discos. When we finally slept, it was a deep slumber.
5/5/01: London: We parted ways for lunch with Carlos meeting Paco, Abril and their friends while Scott ate with his parents. We met back up at the London Tower and were dazzled by stories of gruesome executions by our Beefeater tour guide. For dinner we partook of the famous Indian cuisine and were rewarded with quite a delicious meal. More club hopping finished up the night.
5/6/01: London - Dublin: In a rush to meet the vL's for our taxi to the airport, we tidied up Judd's flat, which he was so kind to lend us, as best we could and hitailed it to the airport. A wrong turn at our gate sent us back out to the checkin area where we had to go again through security and walk 10 minutes back to our gate. We are sure the airport security cameras were bewildered. Once in Dublin we checked into Aeriel House a beautifull Victorian style home and began exploring. Our first stop was Merrion Square where Karen was amazed at the impressive array of tulips. Then off to St. Stephen's Green to enjoy the uncharacteristicly beautiful weather which the vL's brought to the British Isles from California. For dinner we ate a great meal and partook in Rich's first experience with a Guinness. Scott and Carlos continued the evening sampling many more Guinness at the local pubs and the M night club.
5/7/01: Dublin: With the whole group a bit sluggish from the bustle of London, we slept in a bit before enjoying a tasty lunch in Temple Bar and then a walk to the Christ Church. The rest of the afternoon was dedicated to the drink synonymous with Ireland, Guinness. We entered the brewery and took in the incredibly well done audio- visual-even scent exposition that describes the story of Aurthur Guinness and his glorious creation. The end ot the tour culminated in 4 pints of creamy goodness at the top of a 6 story glass pint where we could gaze over the Dublin landscape with foamy smiles. We cleaned up back at the hotel and hit a traditional Irish restaurant for some Boxty. Traditional Irish music was added at another pub before Scott and Carlos parted ways for the nightclub. A lot of dancing and a few delicious white russians finished off another great day.
5/08/01: Dublin: We were awoken early by the vL's to get on a tour bus for a trip to a nearby castle and a view of the north coast. Another beautiful day and we did not pass up the opportunity to play hacky on the castle grounds. Back in Dublin we visited Trinity College and took a look at the book of Kells, an illustrated Gospel about 1000 years old. From there we parted ways with the vL's and updated the website. Before dinner we met and had a few pints, at the local tennis club, with the O'Flynns, family friends of the vL's. For dinner we headed back into Temple Bar and had a grand last evening with the vL wanderparents.
5/09/01: Dublin - Galway: We woke up to bid farewell to the vL's and then back to bed for a few more hours of sleep. Ready for our first European train we learned that the Irish railway was on strike so we would have to take a bus to Galway. We arrived in Galway, a small college town, and checked into our Bed and Breakfast. A bit drained from the last week of sightseeing with the vL's and not quite accustomed to the busier days as compared to South America, we enjoyed a fulfilling 2 hour nap. We finished off the night at the Quays Pub a very ornate and fun place.
5/10/01: Galway: In the morning we checked out of the Bed and Breakfast and walked into town to find a cheaper and more centraly located Hostel. We spent the rest of the day enjoying the nice weather, walking around town, First we visited a massively impressive cathedral and then spent some time relaxing on those world famous Irish beaches. An early dinner led to listening to traditional Irish music at the Quays again. To end the evening we decided to visit the upstairs area where an AC/DC cover band was belting some tunes. Much to our surprise and delight, as we walked in they were near the end of playing "Thunderstruck" to a frenzied crowd of headbangers and we rushed the crowded bar for our traditional Kappa Sig Thunder toast. Our best performance ever we finished the toast within 10 seconds with one second to spare.
5/11/01: Galway - Killarney: We rushed out of our Hostel to catch our morning train to Killarney. Surprised at how full the trains were, we realized that our 1st class Eurail tickets (we are too old for 2nd class) have their benefits when we scored 2 seats in the City Gold compartment. We pulled into Killarney and checked into the Neptune Hostel, a great value for the price. Wandering around town we happened upon a great little Indian restaurant that only further convinced us that England and Ireland do have good Indian food. More Irish music and pub hopping followed.
5/12/01: Killarney: A beautiful day and miles of bike trails in Killarney National Park provided us with a full day of activities. We rented 2 bikes and began our exploring by riding to Ross castle. From there we rode on to Muckross Abbey where we climbed all over the ruins. Most of our time was spent circling Muckross Lake with its scenic views and then a stop at Muckross House and the Torc Waterfall. At the end of our ride, back in town, we stopped at Scott's Beer Garden to watch the last 20 minutes of a very good soccer game between Arsenal and Liverpool with the extremely enthusiastic Irish fans. For dinner we decided we would buy some food and cook in the Hostal kitchen. Much to our surprise the kitchen was a flurry of activity with some ladies cooking for a large group. Much more to our surprise a nice lady decided to feed us and bewildered at our good fortune we enjoyed a traditional Irish meal.
5/13/01: Killarney - Cork: With all the internet cafe's closed for the morning, we were forced to kill some time at the train station before our 2:30 train to Cork. We have to say, our hacky skills continue to improve and our hopes to turn pro by Australia live on. Arriving in Cork, we hoofed it all the way across town to find out that all the rooms at the desired B&B were full. Luckily, we were offered a luxury apartment down the street for a nice discount. We took in an early evening showing of "You can Count on Me" before retiring for the night in our comfy suite complete with jacuzzi-bathtub and fake fireplace.
5/14/01: Cork: Our B&B boasts one of the best 100 breakfasts in Ireland. With full bellies and enough cholesterol and fat to provide fuel for an entire day we headed out on a factfinding mission on how to get to France. To our misfortune the ferry left once a week and we missed it by a day. Ever flexible our plans changed and we decided to take a bus the following day to Rosslare where another ferry would depart for France. Our tourist activity for the day was our trip to the Blarney Castle. A cool medieval castle, it is famous for the Blarney Stone. While leaning upside down, all visitors must kiss the stone for good luck. Undoubtedly someones great marketing ploy. After climbing around the castle and making out with the stone we headed into town to update the website, dinner and excruciatingly painful karaoke.
5/15/01: Cork - Rosslare: We stuffed ourselves with all sorts of meats and greese once more before catching our bus to Rosslare and boarding our ferry to France. One look at our desolate seats in the cavernous downstairs was all we needed to convince us to upgrade to a cabin. For only an extra 8 pounds each (with Eurail discount) we were soon enjoying our glorified closet, but at least we had 2 real beds and a shower. On our quest to hacky in the most random places around the world, we entertained the sea watchers on the sundeck hoping to not launch our prized possesion into the Atlantic. We threw down some very mediocre buffet food for dinner and then hung out with some Australians at the bar/disco, pleading silently that the throngs of young French students would leave the party on the dance floor and not terrorize the hallways all night.
5/16/01: English Channel - Paris: We arrived in Cherbourg and were the absolute last passengers to disembark. So much so that we had to inquire how to get off the ship, we hate crowds. In Cherbourg we boarded a train to Paris and in 3 hours, voila, Paris. After a 45 minute walk we entered the tourist office only to find out that every single room in all of Paris was booked and not even the Hostels had room. After 15 or 20 phone calls from the tourism office, Carlos tried our luck with the Let's Go Europe book and to our surprise found a room on the first try, go figure. Not too cheap and not too good, but centrally located, we had to take it. To add insult to injury, our room had no bathroom but we could pay an extra US$4 each to walk down 6 flights to use the shower. Very nice of them. After calming down from our hectic entrance to Paris we had cheap Chinese food for dinner, US$10 each, and a couple beers before calling it a night.
5/17/01: Paris: Maybe confused at what country we're in we started a conversation with our waitress with Scott speaking Spanish and Carlos speaking Portuguese. Oh yea, they speak French here. After our not so filling, included in the price of the room-breakfast, we set out on Paris with the Louve our first destination. With a fine eye for art, we weeded our way through the numerous halls and floors inspired by the brushstrokes and workings of many a famous artist. Content with our effort we made our way to the Arc de Triomphe along the Champs d'Elysees and then to the Eiffel Tower for a spectacular view of the city. We collapsed back in our room for a much needed nap and then enjoyed a fine meal at a French restaurant courtesy of Carlos' Uncle Peter. We danced the night away at a local disco enjoying the familiar tunes of New Wave 80's night.
5/18/01: Paris - Geneva: Down the 6 flights of stairs for the last time we had a tasty breakfast at a sidewalk cafe before heading to the train station. Our train to Geneva turned out to be the TGV where we cruised first class at 187 mph. Once in Geneva we wandered around aimlessly before settling in a youth hostal. For dinner we had some fine tortelini and then headed out for some very uninspiring nightlife. Our first bar felt like a junior high party where we were the chapperones. At the second bar we rubbed elbows with extremely rich old Arabs. The third bar flat out would not let us in. The fourth bar, and all others like it, was not really a bar but a brothel. With those choices we chose to call it a night.
5/19/01: Geneva: In the morning we moved to the more relaxed City Hostel and then set out for our walking tour of the lake and parks. What started out as a Subway sandwich picnic at a park on the lake, turned into several hours of lounging in the sun and some hacky. Additional entertainment was provided by a nearby group of girls who decided to undress each other and exchange massages in broad daylight. We eventually picked ourselves up and walked down the coast to inquire about wakeboarding only to find a Mastercraft X-Star ready for hire. With the water a little too choppy we set up a time for the following day and walked back to enjoy a drink at a lakeside cafe. A few games of Crazy 8's at the hostel was the excitement for the night.
5/20/01: Geneva - Interlaken: Up bright and early for a full day of activities we checked out and took our packs to the lockers at the train station. After a quick breakfast at McDonalds, we met Rico, the boat driver, an hour past our appointed time. With beautiful weather above head we suited up and Scott was first to plunge into the icy cold waters of Lake Geneva for an amazing morning of wakeboarding. Thoroughly and happily tired we dried off and headed for the train station. On our way to Interlaken we decided to stop in Lausanne where we climbed up and down the steep streets and decided to visit a Vivarium boasting to house the most significant collection of reptiles in the French speaking portion of Switzerland. We were thoroughly impressed. Shortly thereafter we proceeded to interlaken where we checked into Hotel Tell and had an amazing meal of the local heart attack dish: potatoes, bacon, cheese, and fried egg extravaganza.
5/21/01: Interlaken: What started out as a mild soreness in Carlos' back from our wakeboarding session turned into a backrenching pain that forced him to stay home all day. Scott toured around town for a bit buying some bread, salami, and cheese for one our typical Euoropean budget lunches, and then hiked all around the nearby hill for a view of the Brienzersee and Thunersee lakes. We tried the cheese and mushroom fondue for dinner and then joined the swarms of American travelers for a few drinks at the Balmer's bar.
5/22/01: Interlaken: With Carlos still relegated to bed rest, Scott set out to tackle the Harder Kulm hike to a nearby chalet overlooking the valley. A 5 hour roundtrip, 2,500 ft ascent proved to be an excellent day hike and a snack of french fries and a Coke Light at the chalet completed the solo journey. We regrouped at the hotel for another heart attack on a plate and another trip next door to Blamer's.
5/23/01: Interlaken: Getting better but not quite ready for mobile activity, Carlos spent the day reading back at the hotel. With another day for solo exploration, Scott took off to tour the waterfalls of the Lauterbrunnen Valley. Lucky for him, he met 6 lovely ladies from the state of Michigan who were gracious enough to adopt him as one of the gang for the day. We strolled through the quintessential Swiss countryside taking time to turn in circles to gaze at the towering sheer cliffs, waterfalls, and snow packed peaks of the Alps. We stopped at the Trummelbachfälle to take an elevator inside a mountain where you can view about 10 different chutes and waterfalls that actually cascade inside the mountain. Continuing on up the valley we took a cable car up to Gimmelwald for some picture taking and relaxing amongst the awesome scenery. We made our way back to town and Carlos joined the gang for dinner in town. The rest of the night was spent at Balmer's with alot of card games and a little dancing. Thanks for a great day girls, maybe we'll see you in Italy.
5/24/01: Interlaken: We woke up and had our usual breakfast at the hotel. We spent the rest of the day catching up on the journal and updating the website. For dinner, we once again ate at the Hotel Tell Restaurant. However, as the meal was sponsored by Carlos' Grandma Libby we went all out with salad, fondue, rosti, and beers. Thank you. Quite full, we spent the rest of the night at Balmer's and then at the Cave.
5/25/01: Interlaken: With Carlos back on his feet again, we set out on a mountain bike ride up the Grindelwald Valley which turned out to be our best bike outting of the trip. Surrounded by amazing scenery we made our way along the bike path to the town of Grindelwald where we had a picnic of ham sandwiches in the park. Another example of our extensive planning, we inquired about the Ice Caves our bike rental clerck mentioned only to find out they had melted. Always up for a change in plans though we found out about a glacier gorge 10 minutes away that would close in 20 minutes. Undaunted, we hurried over and ran through the suspended catwalks just in time and were happy to see such a unique sight totally unexpectedly. We returned to town through a brief thunderstorm for one more dinner at our hotel.
5/26/01: Interlaken - Zermatt: One last breakfast at our hotel, a quick check to our e-mail to see if Byron was meeting us in Zermatt, and off to the train station. A few hours later, arriving on a private railway where our Eurail passes were not valid, we were in Zermatt. We stayed at the Bahnhof Hotel and were delighted to find amazing kitchen facilities. After a walk around town we went to the supermarket to buy food for the next two days. That evening we cheffed up like we had never done before and enjoyed homemade fajitas and indian gin and tonics. Mmmm..good.
5/27/01: Zermatt: We woke up, whipped up some scrambled eggs, and took off on our day hike to the base of the Matterhorn. Passing through two small villages, Zmutt and Stafelalp we were soon wading through knee deep snow with the intimidating Matterhorn looming overhead. We almost could not believe where we were or what we were doing. The only exception to the beautiful day was the bad cheese we both ate which forced a little unexpected Alpine surprise. Back at our hotel, we finished off the leftover fajitas and swapped stories with fellow world-travelers Blake and Nicole. The 4 of us then joined Susanne and Stacey from Florida, who we had met on the train the day before for some drinks and a lot of laughs.
5/28/01: Zermatt - Milan: With only 7.15 Swiss Francs left we headed over to the supermarket to buy provisions for the trip to Milan. A baguette, some cheese, and a Twix bar adds up to exactly 7.15 and thus we left Switzerland having spent our last penny. We arrived in Milan about 4:30pm and through the tourist office found a decent hotel in the center of town behind the Duomo. We searched far and wide for internet access and an affordable dinner and found neither. After hours of walking we settled for fast food and a movie. Those of you who have seen The Mummy Returns, in English, may have to clear up a few uncertainties about the plot as we only understood the words "British Museum" and "bambino" throughout the entire film.
5/29/01: Milan: We woke up and set out on the town. The Milan Duomo, the 3rd largest church in the world, was our first stop. Very impressive in size, it also had the best collection of stained glass windows we have seen. Our next mission was to find a laundry place to clean our ripe clothes. We soon found out that along with no internet caffes, Milan has no laundromats. The rest of the afternoon we relaxed in the park behind the castle and dipped our feet in a fountain. We had a delicious pasta and rissotto dinner and hung out with some locals for the evening.
5/30/01: Milan - Monterosso (Cinque Terre): Xylophone had nothing to do with how we started the day. The day started with a trip to the train station and a few hours on the train to Cinque Terre where we decided to stay in Monterosso, a picturesque seaside town. Upon arrival we went straight to the tourism office where we were twice led astray. Fed up with the misinformation we finally were directed to the unofficial tourism office in "The Net" internet cafe where we were hooked up with a guy who rented us a great room with probably the best view of the trip. For dinner we had a great pesto pasta extravaganza and some wine. Through no fault of our own, the night ended with us borrowing a row boat in a failed attempt to cross the Mediterranean and add Africa to our Wanderlist. 30 feet from shore fatigue forced us to change our plans and we rowed instead to the cove where our room was and called it a night.
5/31/01: Monterosso: Unable to wear our clothes any further, we donned the bathing suits, carted our stinky clothes to a laundry service (where you get to pay someone to wash it, yet we had to load the washer and fold them after drying) and updated the website. We hit the beach the rest of the afternoon in an attempt to darken our pale skin in preparation for Greece. The evening consisted of the same routine: dinner at the cheap but good restaurant, a bottle of wine on the road overlooking the water (aren't we romantic), and some cards at the bar.