Monday, June 30, 2008


June 20-22nd 2008

On a bridge looking at Independent Monument Square.

Day 1
Waking up early and catching flights is becoming a regular event in my life! This time I did it to go to the Ukraine. I had to fly out of Koln/Bonn airport. So I took a bus to the S-bahn station, then a train to another train, and then finally arrived at the airport. At the airport I learn that my flight was cancelled! I thought, just great, I’m going to get there so late, or there isn’t going to be a flight at all! I had to wait in line for 30 minutes for them to tell me that I was already re-booked on another flight. Luckily I arrived early and had time to run to the other check in counter and still make my flight. I fly into Prague and had a lot of time in-between my flights. I tried to sleep but that didn’t work out so I walked around. I found this free place to use the internet and as I was getting ready to sit down at the computer I glanced over to the guy next to me and he was looking at Eastern European women; naked and doing interesting poses. He was taking notes and writing stuff down on a piece of paper!! I thought weirdo! Anyway, I checked my stuff online, walked around some more and then ate KFC at 10:30am, a first for me so early. After breakfast I went to board the plane. I finally got to Kiev by 2:30pm, and hour later than scheduled. I attempted to follow the direction that the hostel gave me. So I took the bus to the train station, got lost, asked for directions and finally found the metro. I couldn’t read anything so I just followed the crowd, going down, down and down. I asked this girl, by pointing, how to get to my desired stop. She pointed in response. I had no idea if I was going to the right place or not, but I had to take that chance. I got out of the metro station, baffled as to where I was or where to go. So I said, screw it I’ll just walk and take a taxi, and that is what I did. I walked and ran into some interesting stuff, took some pictures then hailed a cab. It took less than 2 minutes in the cab, indicating that I did in fact get off at the right spot! I checked in, rested a little, and then went to find food. I ate at this place called Pizza Leggera. I had lasagna and it was delicious! After that I just sat around, met some interesting people, chatted for a while, watched TV, and then went to bed.

Day 2
The bed was total crap so I didn’t sleep long even though the day before I had slept less than 4 hours. I felt more refreshed then I did the day before, so it wasn’t bad. I got dressed, and then went to the TV room to wake up more. I talked again with the people that I met the night before. They were heading out for breakfast so I joined them. We ate this bakery down the street, then I went back to hangout some more and these American girls that I met the night before were going out, so I joined them. We walked all around the city seeing the St. Sophia’s Cathedral, and Assumption Cathedral. We then ventured to Independent monument, which was a huge square with an underground mall right in the center of it. The mall was just like the ones that you would find in the states. I was impressed. Anyway we ate at Double Coffee the great chain diner that I mention I found when I was in the Baltics. They had it in the Ukraine too and it was just as good as I remember! After lunch we headed back to the hostel to take a little break. On the way I decided to go into St. Sophia’s Cathedral, which was a good idea considering right when I get in there it starts to rain. It was small on the inside but interesting and very old. After that I decided to go to the opera house and see if there was anything playing that night. There was so I bought a ticket. I didn’t know what the show was, but I didn’t care. I went back to the hostel and rested until the opera. At the opera I found out the name was Norma, an opera set in ancient Rome, so naturally it was all in Italian. The only downfall was that the translation was only in Ukrainian! But I read the acts before it started, so it was fine. After the opera I went to the hostel and talked to this German lady for an hour in German, which was pretty challenging considering it was late and I was tired! I finally went to be at midnight.

Day 3
As usual I woke up early, changed, watched TV, and then headed out for breakfast at McDonalds! After that I just walked down the streets that I hadn’t been before in hopes to explore more of Kiev. I succeeded. I saw some really nice parks and buildings along the streets I choose. At the end of one street, I found more underground shops. I went under to check it out, and then came up totally disoriented! But what I had stumbled upon was great. They were filming some type of old film in the city of Kiev. I’m not sure if it was American or Ukrainian film or what really, but they had all these old time cars, and the extras had 60’s looking clothing on. I hung out there for a while watching the movie come to life, but decide that I needed to rest so I headed back to the hostel. I watched TV for a while, and then the American girls were going for lunch so I joined them for another round at Double Coffee! After lunch I had to go back and get my stuff to go to the airport. I took a cab, and enjoyed the hassle free ride! I got to the airport early and yet the flight was still late. So that meat that I had to run to my next flight. I thought I was going to miss it, but oh wait it was an hour late; which meat that I was going to miss the train and maybe not get another one to Düsseldorf. AAAHHHH. It all worked out though although I did arrive home 1.5 hours later that expected!

Kiev was a 3. Big, pretty, modern with plenty of interesting people and good food!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


June 14th 2008

This is Amsterdam minus the all the bikes, the cheese shops, and plethora of tall people!
Day Trip

Procrastination is the word to use when it comes to me seeing Amsterdam. I have been living in Dusseldorf for 4 and a half months now, which is only a 2 hour train ride to Amsterdam. Well at least I made it. The morning started early, but I didn’t get into Amsterdam until 12:00 because my train was late. Leaving the train station, we headed immediately for the Dam square with the historical museum and royal palace/town hall. Wandering east we walked through some of the Red Light District, which proved to be rather tame during the day. The only thing you really noticed was a slight hint of marijuana in the air. For lunch we first tried to find a local café that was recommended by one of our Dutch friends. Unfortunately, it was packed and the Dutch proved to be too much for us. We ended up eating at a café along the flower markets, trying “Amsterdam’s best pancakes”, which really turned out to be more of a crepe. We also stumbled upon one of the best used bookstores we have seen in Europe. They had three different floors of books, with every topic imaginable. It was basically just a “Half Price Books” (but not really half price because of the whole Euro thing!), but we hadn’t been able to find anything like it in Germany. The best we have is where you can post and trade books. Anyway, the rest of our afternoon was spent people-watching in Dam Square and shopping. But before we got to the train station we decided to get some cheese, Dutch cheese is amazing, and eat it on a wall over a canal. Then we took a train back to Rheine, and that was the end of Amsterdam!

Amsterdam is a 4. The Dutch are great about keeping things real. They don't dub films, and they read English novels! Not to mention the city is beautiful.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


Albanian Boarder!!!
June 5th 2008
They don't really like you taking pictures of the boarder, so this is all I could get!!
My first Albanian Attempt...


June 6th 2008
This is city centre in Prishtina! It reminded me a lot of Mesa, Arizona but with a few less buildings!

Day 3 cont
I took a bus from Skopje to Phristina. It was about a 2 hour ride. The Kosovo border control was a lot easier to get through than Albania’s, since I didn’t need a visa. We just sit on the bus, and the Macedonian police come and look at all the passports to clear you to leave the country. Then you go 2 seconds to the Kosovo border and they do the same thing, except that they actually stamp the EU and USA passports. Then you are one your way. We arrived in Phristina at around 1pm. I bought my return ticket for 3:30pm, because upon arrival I saw that I wouldn’t need anymore time! I walked around, just checking the place out. It’s really poor and desalinate. There is a lot of UN activity there since they are doing a mission to re-build the country. The UN activity is really good for travelers, because it has created a safer environment in the city. The city reminded me of Mexican cities, because it’s so hot, dry, and tree-less! Like Macedonia it is really hard to find shade. Anyway on my way back to the train station I bought some lunch and water, which was cheap even though they use the Euro. I got on the bus at 3:30 and started the journey back to Skopje. The ride back to Skopje was beautiful, and interesting. You see so many houses and from a distance they look so amazing, but then when you take a closer look you see that they are half done. They don’t have windows, doors or furniture, yet people still live there. The few houses that were done, however, were pretty amazing; I would have bought them in Arizona! Needless to say you don’t need much time in Kosovo, although I have heard the night life is worth wild.

This is the type of house you would find in Arizona!!
I want it!! Makes you wonder who lives there!!

Kosovo is a 1. Right now in Kosovo there is a lot of UN activity so it is safe to travel there. The only thing is, there really aren't any sights to see! It was a good experience, but it might not be worth the trouble!


June 4-8th 2008
This is the main square with a view from the stone bridge; which seperates the city from its outskirts.

Day 1 cont
The day continued from Thessaloniki, Greece to Macedonia. I arrived in Skopje relatively on time considering how long border control takes. On the train they come by and ask for your passport and tell you that you can pick it up in 10 minutes. So you go to the police office and they just call out the names, and only half glances at the pictures. That’s safe! Anyway, when I arrived in Skopje, this random kid was asking me where I was staying. I was a little taken aback at first but I warmed up and told him. He was just looking for a hostel to stay at. We met this other kid who was staying at the same place as me (Hostel-Hostel), so we all shared a cab. We arrived at our hostel checked in, then the three of us headed out to get some food. We ate at this great place, with traditional food. Everything in Macedonia is dirt cheap. We went to into the center of town to get drinks. We hung out for a while and then headed back to the hostel; I went to bed at midnight.

Day 2
I woke up at 10:45, ate two pieces of toast then went out to see the city. I walked, and walked without a map, or destination. I surveyed the people, buildings, poverty, and trades going on within the city. I was out for about 3 hours, and it was really hot. There weren’t that many places to seek shade unless you stepped into shops, but those shops weren’t even air-conditioned so that doesn’t help! I decided to leave Skopje early and make my way to Albania. I had seen enough. My new friend and I took a bus that left earlier than I had planned to; we made it to the border and had to come back (see Albania for details). So we went to a border city called Tetovo, which was practically Albania. We headed back to Skopje at around 5pm. The drive there and back is really pretty and it was kind of soothing. Anyway, since I had screwed my plans to go to Tirana, I decided to stay in Macedonia for the next two nights, and then head to Thessaloniki. On my way back from the train station I decided to walk a little then catch a taxi. While walking I met this girl who was look for a place to stay. She was from South Korea. I took her to our hostel, we talked, had pizza and then I went to bed early.

Day 3
Since I had an extra day that I wasn’t suppose to, I decided to go to Kosovo (see Kosovo for details). I came back at like 5pm, hung out and talked to the friends that I had made. Then I got food, made it and talked some more. I also went to bed fairly early that night too, because I had to wake up early the next morning and go back to Greece.

Day 4
Every day proves to be interesting when traveling in countries like these. You really have no idea what to expect, and it’s impossible to predict how long things will take. Our train to Greece was two hours late. My friend missed his flight and I missed crucial sun time for tanning! Oh well it all worked out nonetheless, and it’s not the end destination that is important is the journey in between; which is very true. Although you often weigh the end journey to the end destination and wonder if it was all worth it. In this case it was. I had a good time with the people I met, nothing bad happened and I didn’t spend that much money. It was a good journey and an interesting destination!

Macedonia is a 2. It is a very poor country, but they are working toward EU membership. The people are fragile, but interesting and make the best of what they have. It was an interesting trip to say the least!

Thessaloniki, Greece

June 4th, 7th & 8th 2008
Not many beaches in Thessaloniki, but the city is unique with plenty to do!

Day 1
What a long travel day this was! It all began at 5:50 am in Dusseldorf Germany! My flight was 30 min’s late arriving in Greece, which was only the beginning of the long day! It was about 10:15am when I finally found fresh air again. Well almost fresh, everyone was smoking by the bus stop, which I had to take into town. The bus was due to come in 15 mins which was nice considering they only come every 30 mins! I bought my ticket for 50 cents, got on the bus and continued making process. My goal for the bus ride was to get to the train station; unfortunately I couldn’t read or understand Greek. So it was really just a guessing game! Randomly I decided to get off the bus. Then I asked someone how to get to the train station and was told to get on this bus and take it to the end. So I did and it took about 45 mins for us to get to the train station. Later I found out that I could have just stayed on the bus from the airport and it goes to the train station, oops! Anyway, I bought my train ticket to Skopje, Macedonia my end destination for the day! I had about 4 hours before the train left so I stored my bag in a locker and then went to explore the city. I went to the water first, naturally, and took some pictures then gazed at the boats far off in the distance. After day dreaming for a while I decided to sit down and read. I found these amazing outside restaurants with big cushy couches and tables. I sat down and ordered a chocolate milkshake. I was there for about 1.5 hours. It was great. But then I decided to head back to the train station. On the way I people watched and window shopped. I arrived at the train station got my bag and boarded the train and was on my way to Macedonia!

Day 4 cont
I arrived back in Thessaloniki after spending time in Macedonia, Albania and Kosovo! I took a train from Macedonia, which was 2 hours late, to Thessaloniki. I walked to the hotel that I booked the night before. It was cheap and I had my own room, double bed, bathroom, TV and balcony! How exciting! After checking in and putting my stuff down, I went in search of dinner. I decided on Goody’s, the Greek version of Wendy’s (not McDonalds because it has more healthy choices like Wendy’s does!) I had the Golden Special Green Edition. After that I walked around enjoying the weather and atmosphere. I bought ice cream on my way back to my hostel. After that I was in for the night. I was too excited to just relax and watch TV!!! I never get to watch TV, let alone TV shows that are not dubbed in German or that are LAME! I watched TV until late then fell asleep.

Day 5
I woke up at around 9am, unfortunately. I was trying to sleep in more considering my flight wasn’t until 8pm that night. But I stayed in bed for a while, watch TV, repacked, showered, ate breakfast then checked out. I stored my bag, so that I wouldn’t have to walk around with it. I went out and walked, walked, and walked. I ate a late lunch at Ruby Tuesday’s, and it was delicious! After lunch I read outside for a while, enjoying the fresh air. Although the weather was beautiful, I was a little tired of being outside so I want inside to watch TV at the hotel. Now don’t think that all I do is watch TV, it’s not that, it’s just that I never really get to at home!!! Anyway, at about 5pm I went to go to the bus stop that goes to the airport. It takes about 40 mins to get to the airport by bus. I arrived there at like 7pm checked in, and waited. I finally arrived in Dusseldorf at around 10:30pm

Thessaloniki was a 2. the city is nice with lots of shopping to do, but it lacked the beach scene!