According To Walter
Its too bad this blog doesn't have an extra-LOUD setting

Jun
08

Excellent!

9 hours and 23498092834 gallons of sweat on the hottest train ever later Im in Belgrade.

But I forgot to mention some things.

For instance, Sarajevo is one of the few, if not only, European capitals that does not have a McDonalds. Luckily, to fill this void, we have this:

And this is burek, arguably the quintessential Bosnian meal:

And this is what I ate on the train, sustenance for 9 hours:

(chicken hot dogs and cream cheese. Awesome)

So after having my passport and ticket checked 4 different times while going through Bosnia, Republika Srpska, and Serbia, I am finally here. Ill send you more tomorrow.

Oh, and I like this picture:

Jun
08

Where to begin?

As Im on a 9 hour train from Sarajevo to Belgrade, I guess it doesnt really matter. Ive got all the time in the world (like one of those worlds that breaks of a larger planet, exists as an orbiting body for roughly, lets say, 9 hours, and then is consumed in the fiery cataclysm of a supernova. Yeah, that kind). But I suppose it only makes sense to start from where I left off.

My last day in Dubrovnik was pretty wild. The weather, although still not ideal, was better. It had moved from sort of rainy and cold to not really raining and dancing the line between uncomfortably warm and unbearably humid. So that was an improvement. I met up with Meghan (my faithful traveling compatriot from Split) and we hit the town early. Sort of. We got lunch at this kickass vegetarian place and then met up a couple of hours to climb the worlds most gigantic mountain peak.

This endeavor would be rewarded by getting to wander the halls of the abandoned and most likely haunted (you know how these things go) castle at the top. I actually dont have a picture of the castle. But heres a picture of me at the top of the mountain. Thats good, right?

Turns out it was not a castle but a fortress (which has a distinctly lower chance of hauntings) and that fortress was actually a museum commemorating Dubrovniks involvement in the Balkan conflict in the early 90s (I cant actually figure out what to call this thing. Its basically the violent break up of Yugoslavia or the Balkan conflict or the Bosnian war or so on and so forth. Anyways, when you see one of those three, this is what Im talking about.). It was pretty fascinating, even though Dubrovnik played a relatively minor part in the whole ordeal but the top of the castle-fortress-museum had some neato views of the town:

Eh? Eh? Pretty good, right?

A handful of hours later we had the largest (and probably the greatest) seafood dinner this side of the Adriatic. When on the coast, right? So we splurged for a colossal spread of fish and squid and some red stuff and some tomato something or other and chatted with an exuberant waiter who guided the meal and gave us a picture book and talked about how some people called him a racist. Dude loved to talk. But moral of the story is that this meal was amazing:

(less blurry photo to come)

Then we parted ways, destined to meet again, Im sure, because the world is small. And the very next morning I hopped a train to, originally Sarajevo, but at the last second switched to Mostar because I heard it was really awesome. The hostel I was staying at picked me up from the train station and drove me to the homiest hostel Ive ever dreamed of. This sweet old woman named Majda (pronounced My-duh) ran the most comfortable, cozy, cake-making hostel out of her apartment. The long and the short of it is that it was a very good place to start my time in Mostar. Mostar is one of the more beautiful towns Ive been to and looks like this:

That being its most famous attraction, the old bridge, which for a handful of marks (Bosnian currency) and a whole lot of balls, you can jump off of into the river and receive a certificate validating you as a badass. Simply put, I must return.

I was only in Mostar for a single night and shipped off to Sarajevo the next morning. I was immediately picked up from the train station by Haris, the guy who runs the hostel, and taken on a six hour tour around town. Pretty wild. Oh, and heres a fun fact about Haris: when he was 15 years old he decided to start a hostel on the second floor of his home and made all of the necessary arrangements, not speaking a word of English, and not until the first backpacker showed up did his parents know about his little quest. HE WAS 15 YEARS OLD. I thought a learners permit was as badass as a 15 year old could get. How wrong I was.

So Sarajevo:


(both night and day)

might be my favorite place so far. Bosnia in general might be my favorite place so far. I pretty much finished up what there was to do in town on the first day, but I found myself not wanting to leave and just hanging out in Sarajevo for the rest of the summer. With those old dudes, you know? Reasons why: the food is awesome, the town is awesome, and the people are awesome. Badabing badaboom. Thats your trifecta right there. Plus the hostel and folks in the hostel were really stupendous:

But one other thing about Bosnia that I love is its history. I realized upon arriving here how absolutely inadequate my knowledge of this area was. Not only just what it is today but any kind of history. So I started doing some research and was recommended to a series called The Death of Yugoslavia put out by the BBC which you can watch right here. (Its split up into sections on Youtube but I strongly recommend going through it all)

So heres what Im going to say, and I dont usually mention stuff like this; like I didnt mention that I went to Auschwitz in Poland because no matter how eloquent my words are, they can only trivialize the thing and the impact it had on me. I cant make you feel what I felt there. I cant make you understand the gravity of things like that. But heres what I want to say about Mostar and Sarajevo: these two cities and the people that occupy them have been through some tough shit. Both were almost completely destroyed during the war and their populations were decimated. And it happened FIFTEEN years ago. Both cities carry with them the scars of that conflict: bombed out shells of buildings, mortar blasted craters in sidewalks, bullet ridden houses all brutally inflicted during the course of extremely violent ethnic cleansing. I cannot know what thats like. I cannot understand these peoples stories. I cannot understand how a 7 year old child has the second floor of his house completely destroyed and hundreds of his friends and family members slaughtered by a four year siege and goes on to start one of the friendliest hostels in the world eight years later.

There are things that happen in this world that are far beyond me. Some of them make my heart very very heavy.

Jun
07

I stood and watched in a park today as two men played a game of life-size chess.

There was a ring of elderly men surrounding the board and I was in awe. They were so distinguished. Like Sean Connery circa League of Extraordinary Gentlemen distinguished. They stood there, in the hot Sarajevan sun, muttering and gesturing at the board, nay, at the arena. Spectacles and berets. White hair and silvery mustaches. Gesturing with canes and and worn-in loafers. As they shouted at the players, the war cabinets to their generals, I muttered as well, nodding in approval or groaning in disagreement as the pieces moved. And as the Bosnian shouts flew past my ears, I felt myself one of them, inducted into their sacred legion. Never have I felt as in the company of great men as I did today.

Someday I will shake my cane at squares in parks, fulfilling the dreams of the idyllic youth standing there.

Someday.

Jun
04

Its about time I did this. Here you are ladies and gentlemen, the long awaited hand stand photo blog from Kacy Lebby (I as her surrogate blogger have assembled photographic evidence of her pained efforts) which I will (not so) cleverly dub The Sky At Her Feet.

You know, instead of the world at her feet? Because shes upside down? Youll get it eventually.

Honorary Hand-Standers:

Amazing? Yes. Dedicated? Yes. Inclusive of the groin? NO!

So, as promised, I now present you with the much less spectacular photo series Stretching Boundaries.

Look at all the amazing places Ive avoided pulling a muscle! And all the spectacular locations that Kacy practiced her amateur geology while keeping the ground at arms length!

Wow!

Jun
02

Dubrovnik has evoked mixed feelings from me.

The city is hands down one of the most beautiful places Ive ever been. The Old Town is a stunning array of white stone buildings and roads. Honestly amazing.

But, not coincidentally, it is one of the most touristy places Ive laid eyes on. The place is constantly awash with tour groups and cruise ship patrons and roving internationals. I dont want to say that I hate tourists (as I am one, and I cant separate myself from that group, no matter how I try) but I do! There is so much dead culture in this place. Its as if every ounce of unique culture fled the streets and soaked into the rocks to make room for kitschy shops and overpriced restaurants with English/German/Italian menus. Gah! It hurts to see. Outside of the main promenades, still within the walls of Old Town, its a little better: a spiderweb of tiny alleys and staircases. Peoples homes. Laundry lines strung across alleyways and in front of open windows. Thats good, right? There are real people living here.

Dont get me wrong, despite this exasperated, negative tone, I love the city. Its amazing. But I wish things were different. I wish people appreciated it. Instead, you have countless groups of people wandering behind tour guides with exuberantly overstuffed paychecks pointing at things to take pictures of. If the great 21st century film, Zoolander, taught me anything, its from the line about how aboriginals refuse to have their picture taken because they believe it steals part of their soul. If that extends to inanimate objects, then we must apologize heavily to the Colosseum and the Eiffel Tower and to tiny gorgeous towns like Dubrovnik.

But if we didnt photograph them, they wouldnt be famous. Not vice versa.

Sarcasm aside, I still paid the money to walk around the towering walls of the town, which immense and lofty, offered amazing views of the city. But I grow weary of taking pictures like this:

or this:

(to prove that I was actually there, you see)

Seriously. Ive got upwards of 65,000 of them. I dont know why. The walls, one of Dubrovniks main attractions, were packed with people ranging in age from the upper-middle-aged to moments-from-death-aged. So I, shuffling along behind the hobbling geriatric throngs, saw the city from above. What began as an amazing thing quickly became a source of sadness for me. The homes of the people that I was just celebrating for being the culture that holds tight against the SwifferJet of commercialism and exploitation, were located just under the city walls. Once the crowds were satiated with views of the ocean, they turned their gaze inwards. It became voyeuristic. And it made me sad.

Phew. Im glad thats off my chest. This will be the last time I guide you through tourist spots of a town (and the negative-ish feelings they evoke in me) because its a tiresome subject and will instead refer you to one of the many excellent reference books I penned upon discovering the Internet: Lonely Planet, Frommers, Top10, etc.

The heavens pretended to rain all day, teasing me with large but infrequent drops. It eventually began to rain more steadily and I sought shelter. Rain, being my most feared adversary as it turns TOMS, regardless of the surface, from shoes to rollerblades to bars of soap on a freshly Zamboni-ed ice rink.

But Ive survived, right? Its a matter of principle. If I change my shoes, then nature wins. And I cant let nature win. Doing so would go against my natural inclination as a human to exploit the world I live in. So take that partially cloudy, scattered-showers sky! I snub my nose at thee.

Here are some pictures Im pleased with:

Ive inherited from my father a certain frugalness (frugality? frugaltude?), ahem, thriftiness. Nothing is ok to purchase or pay for until youve seen every version of that item in existence. This is generally a wonderful instinct to have on my side. It, however, makes Dubrovnik somewhat unbearable in the panic-attack-inducing way. Everything here is wildly overpriced. With tourists comes price hikes which brings tourists (ironically, but its clearly of inferior value if its inexpensive) which brings price hikes and so on and so forth ad infinitum (I saw this in the book Im reading, The Good Soldier Svejk, and am pleased with myself for finding a way to insert this newly acquired phrase). Its heinous.

It seems to have ceased precipitating so I think Im going to grab dinner. And before I forget, heres a picture of one of the best meals I had in Prague, entitled Big Clear Head, from the vegetarian restaurant Clear Heads. Appropriate, no?

Jun
01

So Hvar turned out to be somewhat of a pickle.

Lets break it down, like an episode of Law & Order (sans the violent, disturbing rape, murder, etc.), yeah?

I hopped outside yesterday at the ripe hour of 11 o’clock, thrilled with myself for allowing so much time before my ferry at 2:30. Think how leisurely I could eat my croissant! But as I sat there, on the overcast pier, sipping the cappuccino I decided to splurge on (remember, thrilled with myself for moseying in such a timely manner), a chilly westerly picked up. “I ought to change into jeans,” I thought “because Ill only be walking around. And while Im at it, Ill grab my guidebook.” (at this point I patted myself on the back for such proactive thinking. When you travel alone this sort of self teamwork/praise is oddly comforting)

So I did.

And having already bought my ticket for the 2:30 ferry, snubbing my nose at both the 8:30 ferry and the 2:00 catamaran to Hvar, I strolled confidently towards the ferries. But alas, I had forgotten which dock my ferry was on. “No need to fear,” I thought, “Ill just pop by this ticket booth and ask.” Brilliant! I also decided to ask what time the ferry back was, so I could more accurately plan my travels. To this query, the scraggly toothed (but really very sweet) attendant said “5:30, or 6:30.” (try saying that with a Croatian accent, which is something like a gentle blend of Ukrainian and western Albanian. Got it?) Way to go, Walt. You know what your back deserves? Pat, pat pa–

Wait.

The last ferry today comes back from Hvar at 6:30? Nope. 5:30. Thats 6:30 the next morning. Crap. And oh yeah, isnt it an hour and forty minute ride to the island? Yup. This left me a thrilling hour and twenty minutes to explore Hvar. Excellent.

So with my spirits dampened but not crushed, I boarded the ferry where I had the delight of reading in my guidebooknothing about the section of the island I was going to (Stari Grad). The cool place to be was apparently Hvar Town on the other side of the island. No sweat, Ill just walk around Stari Grad for an hour because a bus to Hvar Town would surely take years (as my other Croatian bus experiences have allowed me to extrapolate).

CLAP! (of thunder) Torrential downpour enter stage left. Violent, angry waves enter stage right.

To say that the rain that started to fall was a apocalyptic deluge would be a gross understatement. It was the kind of rain that falls for 40 days and 40 nights, you know, the kind that floods the earth and destroys everything? It was that compacted into an afternoon of rain. Same quantity of water. My spirits moved from dampened to soaked, but remained weakly upright.

We dock, late, at an island that I cant see due to the rain. I scurry off the ferry towards an awning that I can crouch under like the wet animal that I am. As I run, I see beside me a sign with cheerful yellow letters and an arrow that read “STARI GRAD 2KM –>”.

Well thats unfortunate. Spirits now crushed, having feebly drowned in this mess, I scurry to a supermarket to buy some provisions for lunch. I then scurry back, buy a ticket, and board the ferry. I slip and slide up to the seating area and choose a seat several away from my original seat. You know, so it feels different. I am so drenched that my bones are wet.

Then I assembled a meal out of these delicious, standard ingredients:

Luckily I had my hand travel spoon and miniature Swiss Army knife to aid in the preparation. Its little moments like these that remind me there there is someone very big (dare I say divinely so) watching out for me. Because the man in the security line at British Airways could have taken my travel spoon after saying that it was illegal to travel with them. And the Vatican security guards could have taken my Swiss Army knife away, being the absolutely only thing their signs depicted as being not allowed inside. Instead, these threads were allowed to continue to tie the deliciously useful knot on that ferry boat. And it was one of the more filling meals Ive had. If youre curious, the answer is yes, that is 350 grams of chocolate pudding you see. And yes, that is almost a pound of pudding. And yes, I did eat it all and it was awesome.

As I munched on my sandwich I realized these fun statistics:

I took a $6.50 ferry to buy a $7 lunch for the $6.50 ride back. I spent less than 40 minutes with my feet on Hvar.

Ta da. Hvar island, ladies and gentlemen.

But it wasnt all bad. I was able to read a ton about the places around me and decide on a more definite route as well as beginning my studies of the Cyrillic alphabet (thanks Serbia and Bulgaria). Hooray! The debacle also let me get back to the hostel where I subsequently dried off and chilled and met some really excellent people, a couple of which I will see again in Dubrovnik. We then sat in a teacup. Because why not? Is that not what giant teacups are for?

Then I woke up to beautiful sunny blue skies for a 5 hour bus ride to Dubrovnik. Which, so far, has turned out to be immensely gorgeous as it takes us down the coast: shimmering Adriatic Sea (the most alphabetically advanced sea Ive been to) on the right and splendid Croatian mountains on the left, the coast occasionally dotted with villages of white washed houses with red tile roofs. Stunning.

My next few days here are loosely scheduled: walk the town, lay the beaches (eh? eh?), eat, drink, and be merry.

But there is one question I am struggling with, a dilemma of cosmic proportions: do I dare risk my life on the murderous Croatian roads as the pilot of a scooter? Or do I dare live the rest of my life with the heavy shame of foregoing the opportunity?

We shall see.

May
31

God bless it!

It happened again. Im in a fabulous foreign land and I choose to dine at this or that delicious local restaurant, and a marauding troupe of middle aged men comes up and bursts into vivacious renditions of that country’s songs. And all I want to do is sing. But unfortunately for me, I dont speak particularly good Croatian or Turkish or Czech or whatever. This, my friends, is a video of what happened tonight at a delicious Croatian restaurant called Fife:

Tragic, right? WRONG! Its amazing. Heres what happened in Turkey:

Double tragic, right? CORRECT! Thats all I want to do. Sit down and eat an awesome selection for pan-fried fish, have a couple of beers, and sing at the top of my lungs. But that wont happen. If theres anything I regret about being born American, its that there is nothing like this at home. There are no spirited old men who just decide to bring their two guitars and two mandolins to a restaurant one night to get tanked on wine and sing folks songs with the people there. You know why? Because there are no folk songs in the US of A. All of our “folk songs” are patriotic or stupid. And neither of those things really brings people together over a meal. Gah! Thats all I want. It gives me that much more motivation to learn Croatian or Turkish or virtually any other language. Maybe Ill learn Jewish…Hebrew. Yiddish? Just kidding, Ive spent my fair share of time around members of the tribes of Israel this past semester and (excluding my Semite-induced-narcolepsy, compliments of Mr. Alex Horn) I have to say, I wish I knew their songs. Any songs.

But speaking of learning a different, more song-friendly language, I should tell you about Croatia. First of all, Croatian is comfortingly similar to Czech (which I still dont speak particularly well) in so much as the numbers and various greetings are the same. Spelling is similar and then there is everything else. Ive a long way to go.

Ive decided, after leaving Fife with my heart broken and my need to say something high, to blog on the promenade that looks like this:

But imagine it at night. Yeah. Sweet, right? Now imagine lightning in the distance. Sweet and majestic, right?

So Ill start with that. Because it seems pretty straightforward. Hey Walt, what should you talk about today? Maybe today, for starters? The here and now? Ok!

Croatia is brilliant. Ive heard it called the poor man’s Greece. But whatever. Greece may be cool and all. But Croatia, so far, is dominatingly amazing. Im currently in Split, which looks like this during the day:

and this during the night:

Ive been to Split and Brac Island so far. Tomorrow Im off to Hvar Island and then Tuesday morning its a 5-hour bus ride south to Dubrovnik. Thats really as far as Ive got planned so we’ll see how it goes. The city of Split is beautiful. Outside of the exaltant beaches that are just a bike ride away, you have a wonderful gleaming city. Seriously, it just looks awesome. Here’s a brief history of Split as given by tour guide Walt (I was able to practice my tour-guiding skills in Rome since Id been there before. Basically, it went like “So this emperor was like, ‘Yo, I think Ill build this kickass colosseum, you guys dig?’ and all the Romans were like “Word” and then you have the Sistine Chapel, where Michelangelo was like ‘Forget you Biagio de Casena, Im giving you one last middle finger by painting you as this asshole Minos in the Last Judgment. Deal with it.'” Seriously, thats what it was like). So the Roman emperor Diocletian was like, “Hey bros, I feel like building a sweet summer palace over in Croatia (or whatever they called it in Roman times).” and BAM! it happened. So thats what made this town important. And then once Diocletian kicked the bucket, a bunch of rich folks built their houses inside the palace walls and badabing badaboom, you have a relatively important town in Croatia.

But Croatia is beautiful.

I am currently back in my hostel (whoa, space and time dont seem to factor in but yes, oh yes they do.) and Im reminded that a very nice couple that I saw at Brac today (one part Irish lass, one part Frenchman) giggled and said that I talked in my sleep. More than be embarrassed I was filled with sadness. I wonder how many great soliloques and masterpiece novels Ive composed in my sleep, only to be wasted on the perpetual deaf ears of the walls of my room. Oh well. I dont usually dream in logic-oriented scenarios so its comforting to know that I havent wasted any audible mathematical theories.

Ill let you know how Hvar is, and continue (read: begin) with Cinque Terre soon.

May
29

Just a couple things I want to peck out real quick (because my hostel cant check me in til 11 and I got here at 7:30. Hey, at least I can use the wifi).

1) I have found a noise against which my Bose QC-3 noise-cancelling headphones are powerless: it is the frequency of Italian speech. Slices right through whatever barrier surrounds my head. Luckily, they were almost all above 45 and became comatose before long. Still, not the most restful sleep Ive ever gotten. Id rank it a couple pegs up from bus sleep, and a peg below sleeping while being beat with pillow cases filled with rocks.

2) “Lets dance to Joy Division and celebrate the irony, everything is going wrong but we are so happy…” is a tune that I cannot seem to get out of my brain. Not that I want it out of my brain. Because not only is it a great song (that I now want in your brain) but it is a thread that holds me to three wonderful people that I miss very much. Anywho, Ive got a couple hours to kill. And some bacteria to kill (when I take the shower I oh so desperately need)

May
29

Given the choice to take Bus 12 directly from Ancona Centrale train station to the Blue Line ferry point of embarkation and to meander on foot through the grimy industrioport district of Ancona towards the ferry station, which would you choose? Which would your thirst for adventure choose?

Exactly. Its insatiable.

And after a picturesque stroll through said industrioport district, I stumbled upon the intended walkway for adventurous pedestrians journeying for the ferry. But to be completely fair, my original path was more “as the crow flies” and would have saved me at least a good kilometer of walking had I completed it and not been crushed by port machinery or carried off by giant mutant seagulls. Instead it cost me what can only be described as uncountable distance and immeasurable physical and emotional distress.

Totally worth it.

Upon reaching my destination and navigating the labyrinthine complex only to arrive at a ticket counter that will not be open until 3:30 instead of the convenient hour of now (2:48), I have decided to sit down and peck out a blog entry. This seems appropriate for several reasons, the primary of which I believe is to stave off the insanity that comes with boredom during what Ill politely call my 7-hour layover in the Ancona ferry station.

As for the hike itself, it was not all that unpleasant considering this is my new uniform for the next 21 days:

Although heavy (and poorly photographed), its not quite the heftiness of a full grown human, but feels rather like a large child or one of those elderly people that shrink in their old age but manage to maintain an irrationally caloric diet. The shrinkage does not make them lighter, just more dense (as the law of the conservation of mass clearly states).

But that’s my outfit for a while. Ive got a couple things that will inevitably run out and be left behind and I will, if my predictions are correct, acquire things to take home that I pray are light and small.

Here is one of those excerpts I was talking about:

“Gahhh. With the end of the semester careening towards me (regardless of how stubbornly I dig in my heels), everything speeds up. Time and space collapse. The number of beers I consume in a single hour approaches infinity. So, in an effort to forestall the future, I will relive the past. And you’ll relive it with me. Well. Live it with me I guess. Since you havent lived it yet and all. As far as the current sentiment goes, I feel like Becca said it best. I dont really know where to start. My heads all topsy turvy.”

I cant decide if I was particularly busy or just lazy, but that’s as far as I got. But I think that Past Me had a pretty good idea. I said another round of goodbyes this morning, which being beyond difficult, is now something I don’t have to do again. Am I lonely? Mildly. But Im not lonely for people as much as Im oh so lonely for those people (being the ones I bid farewell to this morning). Anywho, I agree with Past Me. Present Me will relive the past.

So, after perusing the annals of my blog I have come to the realization that the daunting task at hand is to convey everything that has happened since Istanbul. ISTANBUL!? Man, Past Me sucked at making blog entries. Luckily, Im not that man anymore. Or is he not me? Either way, Ive grown wiser (something that you will learn over the course of this blog entry). Or maybe I haven’t grown wiser.

Fine. Not wiser. But Ive definitely grown.

Where to start? Im a big fan of photo-montage/flashback things because its honestly less work for me and (heres the kicker) less of an opportunity for you to get stone cold bored with my prose.

Win-win, right?

Ill try that. But to be fair. This 7 hour (now 4 and a half hour! Arent I good at killing time?) layover will turn into an 11 hour ferry ride. Yup. 11 hours crossing the strip of H2O between Italy and Croatia. Is that annoying? Yes. Is it awesome because boats are awesome and it saves me a night in a hostel? Double yes.

So there goes my excuses.

Here we go. Buckle down, its going to be wild.

Domination in Monopoly at The Globe by friendly real estate agent, Walt (not to be confused with friendly neighborhood banker, Mr Lengel):

Wow. One in and I already feel the need to make a point that interrupts the photo-tour of my semi-important life. Thinking back, there is a lot of mundane crap that goes on in my life that for some reason I feel is valid enough to be compelled to tell you about. Seriously. Really useless, boring things happen in my life. Like Monopoly. Who cares?

I do. I dont know why besides that the company and circumstances of that specific experience bring me such copious amounts of overflowing joy that I want, I need to tell you about it and things like it.

Rollerblading (because its still cool):

Masarykova Open Mic (organized by yours truly):

Red Room Gig (compliments of Jake Nevrla’s sultry voice):

Witch Burning (the Czechs like to do it, so we do too):

WWII Parade in Plzen (and more interesting cotton candy creations):

The Album Cover of Me and Jakes Hip Hop Production (Live Truf):

Berlin (one of my favorite cities this side of the equator):

Street Art (self produced, with inspiration from Berlin’s kick ass grafitti, in order: Walt, Jake, Allie):


Pavement concert:

Rome:

Cinque Terre (as a teaser, theres so much more to this lovely land):


(the girl on the right is Casey Byron. Shes pretty cool, I guess)

Jesus Lord Almighty this is long. And I havent even done my Adopted Parents entries yet.

WAIT! Did someone say Adopted Parents? HOORAYYYYYYYYYY!

Adopted Parents 7

Family: Fahri
Link: Kacy Lebby(‘s father)

A;lkasdjfal;dsjfas;dlkjf (if you’re “with it” you will understand that this is simply me smashing the keyboard because I cant control my excitement and my neurons fire in catastrophic quantities, causing the muscles in my fingers to spasm. Now you know). Fahri is easily one of the grandest people Ive ever met. Partly because of his socioeconomic status of being one of Turkey’s premier camp directors (directing some of the largest, international-est, most prestigious camps this side of the Nile. Time out. Geography check. Turkey is east of the Nile, right? Whatever, this dude is the bomb. This is also his link to Kacy’s father, as an avid participant of world camping conferences, and thus a link to Kacy.) and the other partly because of his ability to stuff me full of Turkeys most amazing food. Half of that food from The Food post was a result of meals with Fahri. The guy gets things done. From informing me that “he’ll choose this bottle of wine” at dinner on Algeria street to successfully connecting with Turkish Airlines (after my countless failed attempts at pay phones) on the first try AND booking us a new flight with help from his friend who is just the regional executive of Delta Airlines. Gah. Anyways, he took us out to various (excellent) meals and showed us around the Asia side of Turkey as well as being the guy who bailed us out when Mount Eyjlkjfaijdfl;dsakjfkjasd.flxkc;klsadfj8929304;fjk erupted in Iceland and dominated our flights. So above all of Fahri’s coolness, I just want to say (hopefully you will all say it with me so that the very foundations of the Aya Sofya shake with the force of our gratitude) thank you to him.

Adopted Parents 8

Family: The Peisers
Link: Becca Peiser

Hooray! Finally I got to meet the wonderful parents of one of the most wonderful people Ive known. Only a stones throw away (if you have a kick ass major league arm) from Austin, Becca and her folks hail from sunny Dallas, TX. Or Plano. Because she knows Alex. It doesnt matter. Up there. It was a sweet sweet joy to meet the respective ingredients that created the noisy Jewish-mama-bear that is Becca Peiser. We went to (surprise) the restaurant in the Dejvicka circle, which I dont know if Ive mentioned, we cleverly call the Circle Restaurant, and had a grand old time. The above picture features Alex because for whatever reason, the picture I have of Alex’s parents features Becca. It seems like a fair trade as they basically grew up together. Altogether, amazing people.

Adopted Parents 9 (Gah, what movie series goes to 9!?!)

Family: The Oxenfords (Oxensmashes)
Link: Chris Oxenford (Oxensmash)

(no picture, womp womp. Ill put one up if I find it)

What to say about the Oxensmashes? They are interesting people just as Chris of the Oxensmashes (who I just realized has never been formally introduced to you on this blog and his picture will follow now):

is interesting. Mama Oxensmash is a psychology professor and Papa Oxensmash, a lawyer. Dining with them at the ever excellent Maitrea was a treat. I really enjoyed eating with these folks and just learning about where yet another of the people in my life has come from. Its like if you could reverse engineer red and blue Playdoh out of purple Playdoh. Before, I had a child’s mind, thinking only “Where the F did this purple Playdoh come from?” and now thinking “Ah, I hereby deduce that the ingredients to the genesis of this violet-lavender Playdoh are the primary colors of red and blue.” (see, wiser. Or at least more intelligent sounding).

Im in a cabin that looks like this:

on a boat that looks like a picture that was too big for my camera, so its smokestack is sort of like this:

sitting with a million different loud, middle aged Italians. I both love and hate my environment at this juncture.

So now, after my Xth number Italian 2.70 euro Peroni beer (just kidding. Ive only had two. Sigh, only two), I am done. And tipsy. But thats because Ive only had an unheated slice of mediocre sausage pizza in the past 7 hours. Damn you euro! Also, for those of you keeping track (and who also hate conversion rates) thats a 2.70 euro beer. Thats like 3.37 dollars. Thats like 68 Czech crowns. There would have been riots in the streets if beer had cost 68 crowns in Prague.

This boat pivo’s for you, Alex.

Lord I miss that program.

May
22

This is it. This is my last day in Prague.

Im sitting in the lobby where I sat 2568 hours ago to tell the world hello from this blog.

Thats 154080 minutes that have joyfully elapsed with some of the most amazing people Ive known in one of the most beautiful cities Ive known.

Its strange, how it seems like so few. My brain has compacted it down into a neat, orderly, carry-on sized cube in the archive of my mind. It seems like it should be bigger. Like I should stagger under the euphoric memory of this trip.

And I will. Ive watched people filter out of Masarykova Kolej towards an airport that will take them many thousands of miles away from me. To homes nowhere near mine. To places Ive never been before.

But its a small world, right?

As for me? My world is very big right now. Big with the strings held up with pins on maps that I dont own. Strings from Prague to Rome to Cinque Terre to Split to Dubrovnik to… Its hard to see where the string goes. Serbia? Albania? Bulgaria? Yes, if time allows it.

And to combat the loneliness of watching the people youve spent every one of the last 616320 quarter-minutes with slip out into the very big, very small world, I hope you will stay with me. Join me on my travels. Live vicariously through my pecked out blog entries from the weak wifi stolen from the Four Seasons that I will inevitably sit outside of.

It occurs to me that, in all my time writing to you from the sweeping vistas of Praha 6, I have never put up a good picture of the city that has been my home. So here, on the last day, I give you Prague:

Ive, procrastinating-ly, got more posts that have been started and left unfinished that I will now (with my seemingly infinite amount of time. Psyche. Ill be traveling, but that means a lot of in transit writing time) finish and deliver to you. So dont be afraid to time travel with me a little. Trust me. Itll be ok.

Or dont. But Id like you to.