Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Thursday, July 31, 2003

It has been a couple of days without writing because I ran out of pens; actually those 2 I have been using lasted longer than I ever figured. Things have been going as normal, till last night, more on that later. I have had a couple afternoons of tourist stuff and it makes me realize how much there really is to see here and I feel bad for not seeing more, but that is not really my fault cause of the classes in the afternoon and a couple gloomy days here. But I have seen quite a bit and some things that are pretty obscure and not well traveled.

Anyway, Monday was another late night/early morning. Got back at a decent time and then stayed up till sunrise just hanging out. Then slept from like 7 till the morning on Tuesday, which felt really refreshing.

Then Wednesday happened. Not really sure how to put a good spin on my actions. They are not that bad just not good. Everyone that knew any better gave me a lot of credit actually for not going any further, but we are getting ahead of ourselves. Last night a whole large group of us went on a jazz cruise on the river. It was a great place. The music was lively and the drinks flowed. Everyone was doing different kinds of shots and getting retarded, as was I. Nobody was dancing because there was not any room to do so. There were a couple of people talking about doing it and you know me, I was interested.

Ended up, I was the first out there with this blonde that is not part of the program, but was a friend with someone from the program. We were dancing and a couple joined us. It was really tight quarters and we were not doing a very good job of not running into people and things. Did I mention the liquor and shots? Well we danced a couple of songs and gave the band something to laugh at and that seemed to be the end. Turns out that the girl I was dancing with was, not a lesbian, but trying it out, and was there with another girl. They had just started trying to make it serious from what I could tell.

So, we started hanging out and I watched these girls and everyone else get belligerent with me and we were having a blast. Then the boat ride ended and we had to do something else because it was only 11 and we could not go home that early. So we went to the place called Bombay where the night continued and would eventually finish. A large group of us were at Bombay and along with these 2 that were a couple, there was some dancing. You know me, I was also dancing. It seems that the 2 took a liking to me and we 3 were dancing pretty much the whole night.

It was dancing that would make Patrick Swayze proud. More than a few times the 2 were upset when I told them I had a girlfriend and would not go home with the both of them. That will be the part that most will not believe or the part where guys will smack me stupid for turning down. I will not say I was not a little tempted. It has been a long time since I have held Michelle and every part of my being is anxious to be touched like these 2 would have.

But all that came out of it was a few kisses with the blonde and some pecks with the brunette. Well, that is the long and short of it. I got kissed by 2 almost lesbians. I do not know really how to feel. I feel bad for letting my guard down, but good that I was able to stop. Especially the state I was in. And that is really not a good way to say it. I am really starting to realize how much Michelle means to me.

This test, I passed. Not with flying colors, but passed. And from the reactions out of most people, most would not have, especially when I tell them it has not even been 5 months that Michelle and I have been together. They do not realize that 5 months does not mean a normal 5 months, but I think I managed ok.

Well, enough of the taxi-cab confessions. I was lying here, hung-over, trying to think about what I could learn from this experience. The only thing I can come up with is, wow, is dancing powerful when used properly. Look at me. I have not had a haircut in 3 months, wearing the same cloths for 2 months, a ridiculous beard, curly hair, surrounded by these preppy rich boys and those girls would not give them the time of day, at least it seemed.

Oh well. The stories are starting to get pieced together when everybody starts talking. I realized there as a lot that is pretty blurry. Not bad stuff, more funny. Karl says I came back last night bragging about my dancing ability. Do not remember taking my contacts out or the cab ride home. Last night was a massive case of debauchery.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Sunday, July 27 , 2003

Well, another interesting day. On the bus there was a teacher from Vegas and a chef from Montreal. They talked the whole time and the trip went pretty fast, although we hit construction and it took and 1 ¾ hour longer than it was supposed to. Then got back, told mom and dad I might let Michelle drive me down. They said that was ok. Nick is helping with the quest and Nathan with the mini TEC and Brittany is going to be on the Quest so things seem to be going pretty well on that front.

Did not talk to Michelle yet because no one was home. I will try again before I o to bed. Went to the Stones concert. Did not go in because I had no ticket, but you can get pretty close without one. There were tons of people there. I think somebody said around 500,000. It was outdoors so there were a ton of drunken parties in the parking lots having a blast.

The trip back was weird. It really felt like I was coming home. I was really anxious to be back here. I do not know why, just getting comfortable with Prague or something, but I am glad to be back. Do not feel as ready to go, but I think everyone is getting to that point because people are talking about home a lot more than they used too.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Saturday, July 26, 2003

That scene from Crocodile Dundee when he goes out and drinks with the taxi driver, which was last night. The Italian and I went out and he got shit-faced, I taught him that one. He was trying to pick up Polish girls and they were laughing at us. It was good times. And boy is Polish beer strong. Least it seemed to be.

The tour was great. It was just me and the Italian and the tour guide and she knew quite a bit. We saw pretty much all of Krakow in about 3 hours. Not the most beautiful, but the most interesting part was the Jewish quarter. The tour guide said that there were 7000 Jews in 1939 and only 500 after the war. And there are only 100 Jews in all of Krakow. 5 Synagogues and only 2 are used and only 1 by locals. I guess I always thought that Poland was still the home to many Jews, but she acted like that was not true.

The Italian says that they do not have cappuccino here. They make murder of it. The Salt mines were quite fascinating. They had 3 chapels, the third being the biggest, with different carvings in each. The best was a recreation of Leonardo DaVinchi’s Last Supper in 3D. It looked very deep but was only 10 cm in actuality. The elevator was a trip. It was not really enclosed, and had not lights so at certain times it was completely black.

The whole day was quite nice. Spent most of it with Jonathon, the Italian. He bought coffee with a shot a vodka at 1:30 in the afternoon. Met a chap from Dublin and on the tour were 4 people from England. It is starting to dawn on me how much I have actually seen. One of the girls from London was telling me about what a big deal it was going to Edinburough, Scotland. I did not really think that was that far away. And one of the guys from England had never been too Dublin. It seems that when youth get around the age I am, they travel, but to mainland Europe, where, as I am doing this, but I am from the states. I guess I just figured everything was so close that everyone has been everywhere. But I guess that was a stupid assumption seeing as I have not really been anywhere in the states.

I believe I am getting more comfortable with the whole traveling bit. I do not think I was ever too worried, but I seem to know more. Or John just does not know much. There were a lot of times he was clueless and I had to help, which made me pretty happy seeing as it was 3 weeks ago I was clueless when no signs were in English.

One job I would not want is selling train or bus tickets in a European tourist town. Man, what a mad house. Everybody expects everyone that works there to speak their language, especially Americans, but they do not. Although that is frustrating and you know they deal with Americans everyday, you cannot be too hard on them. We would not give them the time of day in the states.

Well, the salt mines were east of Krakow, so that is the farthest away from home I have ever been. The air, they say, is good for you. They have a department for asthma and other things in the bottoms where people stay to recover. Maybe it is all in my head, but I do feel better, not that I felt terrible, but better. And so the journey home begins. To Prague, Berlin, Hamburg, Cologne, maybe St. Louis, and then home. Maybe that is why I feel better. I think there will be a smile on my face from here on out. This weekend has gone pretty slow or maybe just seems that way because it was four days long, but I imagine it will start going pretty fast, or I am hoping so. Call Dad, Mom, and Michelle tomorrow when I get back. Till the bus.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Friday, July 25, 2003

I do not know quite how to describe the feelings from Auschwitz. It is definitely not something that I have ever been close to before. I did not cry, but came close a couple times. In the gas chambers at Birkenau there was a Jewish ceremony going on. I really did not have enough time to take it all in that would take quite a while, but I would have liked a little more. The vastness of Birkenau is what really hits you. 300 or so shelters spread as far as you could see. Most were just chimneys left after wooden buildings had fallen around them. There was a pool of water that was the resting place of many of the ashes left behind. You see the video and even walk around and you still cannot begin to realize what it must have been like. I bought a book for Nathan that is the story of a survivor. Maybe after reading that, you may have a better idea.

Saw the cell that Saint Kolbe was put in when they were starving him. I had thought that he was shot, but the cell said that he starved to death, and then a postcard said he was shot. I guess it does not matter how someone died at a concentration camp, just that so many did. The railroad tracks were kind of spooky. Just knowing that a million people had been brought along those tracks to be exterminated gives you chills to walk along it. I took a rock from the tracks as a reminder, though I do not see how anyone could forget. The museums and pictures were quite graphic and some of the stories that were told were quiet gruesome. Something I had never heard before was that they would put your hands behind your back, tie wrist, and hang you by your wrist. I did not see any pictures of this, but I would think that this would just break your arms, not that that is not bad; it just does not seem like torture.

I am kind of curious, I know the Nazis were about quick massive killing, but when they wanted to torture a person to death, why not crucify them. Was it too religious, too messy, and not quick enough? They would starve you to death; witch could take a very long time. If they hated the Jews so much, why not resort back to the cruelest ways to kill them. I also did not realize their gas chambers would take at least 12 minutes to kill those inside. Once a person realized what was going on and that they were not heading for the “showers”, you had 12 minutes of agony and pain. I still think the worst punishment they could give a Jew is cremating the dead, which they did give that job to Jews, but I do not know if it was as a punishment.
I am rooming with a guy from Pisa now and we are heading on a tour of Krakow in a little while. I do not think there are too many doing it and I am not quite sure what all we are going to see, but since I do not know too much about the town, it should be interesting.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Thursday, July 24, 2003

Towers upon towers of cement housing units. That is how you describe the cities in Central Europe. The "dorms" we are staying in are a pretty good example, but you do not get a feel for the amount of them till you see a city from a distance. All the same, all around, 15 to 20 stories, all bland, and all of them the homes of people that are living in an ever changing environment. It has only been 14 years since they were freed. For them the complexes must seem as everyday as the towers of Chicago are to those who live there, but to me it would seem to be a reminder of the pain and strife suffered for so long.

Three hours in and it has been all interstate, or whatever they call them, so I think it would have been ok to drive, so far. Looking around outside makes you realize why they call it the Great Plains. There seems to be no large flat area anywhere in Europe, at least from what I have seen. There are fields here and there, and some are quite large, but nothing like you could find in Illinois, let alone Kansas or the rest of the plains.

The farther east I go the farther away from home I am. This trip will be the farthest east I will go. I keep thinking of Sam. Every step so far has been the farthest away from home I have ever been. When I leave Auschwitz, not only will I have just over 2 weeks left, but every step will be heading towards home. It will be my journey back. That being said, this leads me to believe that this is the climax of the trip. Feeling down, by myself, heading for a concentration camp. All roads have led to this moment. I assume now that I have hyped it up, nothing phenomenal will happen, but who knows.

I just thought of an argument if I ever see father Chris and he mentions Wal-Mart being bad (which it is), but that is besides the point. 4 numbers: (Not accurate, but guesses) Population of the U.S. =600 million, Percentage of unemployed=2.5 percent, Number of employees at average Wal-Mart=300, Number of Wal-Marts=100,000. If we closed Wal-Mart, 30 million unemployed. We now have just over 8 million. Can you justify that increase. Those numbers are high, but the argument will still hold value with real figures, I think

Monday, July 23, 2007

Wednesday, July 23, 2003

Well, the test is done. Do not feel all that good about it, but the teacher did not really give us a chance. I think a lot of people felt the same way, so that is a little comforting. Bus leaves tomorrow for Krakow. Leaves at 11:30 so I will have to skip class, but that will be the only one I will miss so teach cannot complain too much.

Three nights for Thirty dollars. Going by myself, what is new? The more I think about it, the more I am glad to be going alone. I think it will get pretty emotional and though I do not care really what others think it will be nice to be free from having to think about it.

No soda today and a salad. Hopefully I will start to build up a little more energy. I think I will take it easy tonight, this weekend might take it out of me. I cannot remember if the TEC weekend was this weekend or last. I think t was last, but it would be neat to be in such a religious place, which some told me Krakow is, on the same weekend a TEC is going on. Someone left a CD player in my room and I am listening to some Paul Simon, so it is all good.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Tuesday, July 22, 2003

Last night was a blast. Had a huge party on our floor and played some drinking games, listened to some music and threw paper airplanes off the balcony. Then, today, I got pulled to the side by Mrs. From and snapped at in front of Iverson, the head guy, for being too loud and what not. Moreover, this morning I was yelled at by the housekeeper, who has not been in here since we got here, for my room being a mess. I deserved those two things, but I was not the only one that did the shit, but I was the only one to be lectured.

Worst of all, I heard that some people were asked whether they were there and they said they went to bed early, which is BS. I am not home sick as much as I am sick of these people. They are not bad people, some are nice, but I am sick of it all. The bitchy leaders, getting stuck in elevators, uptight workers at the dorms and uncooperative too, the fact that you cannot drink the water, disorganized program, unorganized classes and anything else I cannot think of right now. It is not Prague, except for the water thing, it is the program and the fact that I have been around the same "law students" for too long. I miss the friends that are not law students and the ones that are but are not here. I hate listening to people complain and people that think they know it all and do not and I hate watching people make out in the streets and not being near Michelle. That may be more homesickness. I want to be done with USF shit and rid of most of these people. There are too many games being played, it seems like, for such a short period. I am just sick of it.

You cannot drink the water, so everyone is living off soda and beer because that is all there is and we are all de-hydrated. Trying to save money so I am not eating well. I feel weak and not in the mood to do anything, sightseeing or study. Have a test tomorrow in a class that seems to have no structure or point and still the class clapped after he was done because USF students are unusual in that way.

Three more weeks and it will be over. Do not know how I will feel then. I am just wondering if this is a wall that, once I make it past, things will look brighter and I will not want to leave or is it going to be just miserable longing for home for the next three weeks. I am kinda curious as to what I am supposed to do to snap out of this funk. I thought Sunday's mass was going to do it, and I think it did, it is just that today was a bad day. Talking to Dad and Michelle yesterday was nice. I really am starting to think it was just a bad day. Get this test over with, start drinking water and eating fruits again and do some sightseeing in the afternoons, hopefully my spirits will rise. Probably does not help that I plan on going to one of the most depressing places in the world this weekend. One must suffer to realize happiness and isolation is a learning environment to help you know yourself. I figure its working, but because I am a lazy human, I want it to be over. Patience Matt. Off to read more useful information that I will not understand.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Monday, July 21, 2003

Went to church yesterday. First time in 3 weeks. It was powerful. They had a choir of children from Belgium and they sang beautiful Latin. The church was glorious, organ was wonderful, the readings said a lot, and it was just really fulfilling. I think I am really starting to miss home. Not homesickness from time away, but I think the fact that, I am realizing when I get back the summer will be over.

Just figured it out, and we are really only 2/3's of the way through this thing. Still a long way to go. It may go fast or slow, but it will be 1/3 of the way to go. Does not seem that far away. I think the fact that I have not talk to them in 2 weeks makes it harder. I am going to break down and buy a phone card tonight I think.

Watched the end of the British Open last night. Tiger blew it, so I was happy. The scores were low, or high I mean, so it must have been tough conditions, but it did not look like it was raining or anything, so it must have been the wind.

It is warm here. 90's most the time, with no breeze really. It is quite draining. On the other hand, maybe the late nights are the draining part.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Saturday, July 19, 2003

Well, on the way to the spa. Last night was a blast. Went to a club where they played 80's and early 90's music and they had a huge screen where they played the music videos. I danced my ass off and got home around 4:30.

Jenn took off for Krakow today. Glad she let me know. Not that she needed to, just in case something happens or anything. I did not know until somebody told me last night. I am going to have to avoid her cause I do not want to hear too much about it before I go. She also said that she would not be bouncing around because she lost her train pass, so I am going to be alone again. This time it is not her fault, but I am wondering what I am going to do, because without her bouncing around, my motivation to go bouncing around is lost. It is going to be hard not staying in one spot. However, I cannot think of any place as good as Rome to spend time. Figure I need to hit Berlin, Amsterdam, Cologne, and not sure what else. I will have to work on that. Just found out that it might be difficult to find a car to Poland because they do not like renting cars for across the border.

Karlovy Vary was like a movie set. One street, beautiful buildings, a river running though it. Went swimming, which was great. It was small, but a lot to do. You could definitely spend more time there. The hot springs are supposed to cleanse you. Stay there for a week and drink the water with every meal and you will feel right as rain. Had a drink that the city is suppose to be famous for. It tasted like Hot Damn. Most people said they enjoyed it while I struggled through. I think I am a little burnt, but not too bad.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Friday, July 18, 2003

Classes are not hard, but they are making me think. For as long as I have been able to form an opinion, I have been what I would consider an isolationist. I thought the U.S. should keep its nose out of things until it solved its own problems. I am beginning to think it is too late or not an available option anymore. From class, it seems the entire world is moving in a certain direction and the U.S. is the only thing blocking its path. A unified World Government is a long ways off, but a unified world set of laws should not be. The U.S.'s greed and power lust are keeping the rest of the world from making some very historic steps to peace and unity, all because we would lose so much power.

It is for this reason that George Washington was such a phenomenal character. The ability to give up power for the good of others. The U.S. has lost sight of this attitude, and might never have had it.

Was caught in the rain yesterday while sightseeing. Was stuck in the elevator while going to supper. People started making a big deal about it. I did not think it was that bad. It was warm, but it only lasted 20 minutes maybe. Got to school and heard that it had been pushed to 45 minutes through gossip.

Prague is beautiful. We are going to a spa tomorrow and probable swimming. We may be driving to Auschwitz next weekend if we can figure it out in time.

Still have not figured out what is wrong with the phone card. I am going to try them everyday, but I have a feeling they have just gone bad or run out. Not sure how, but I am sure I will think of something.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Wednesday, July 16, 2003

Another day, just like all the others. Tomorrow we have class early so it will be my first day to go sight seeing, so I may have something to write about. Went and seen a Dutch movie tonight. More people were supposed to show up, but I did not see them, so, oh well. It is not like it is not normal for me to ho to a movie by myself. Still have not figured out how to use the phones. Either something is wrong with the card or the system. I cannot imagine it is out of minutes because I only used it once, but that was the Italy to U.S. to Italy card and I imagine it zapped it. Do not know if anybody has tried to call here because I have not been around the room too much. The movie was good. Definitely different than what I am used too, but that is the point of the trip, right.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Monday, July 14, 2003

Well, I am glad to be in Prague. The city is gorgeous. The view from our dorm is amazing. We can see the whole city. We have a balcony and everything. Not quite sure what to say about Jenn. She did fly, so I called that one, but it was not for the reason I was thinking. She was robbed on Tuesday. Her little pouch thing was ripped off her neck. I feel so bad, but there is nothing I can really do about it. I am afraid that it is going to dwarf the whole summer talk. Whenever we are at school, it will be "We went to Europe and Jenn got robbed."

It is probable bad to think about it like that, but I do not know what else to think. Man, I bet she was a huge bitch all week, not that she did not have good reason, but I am glad I was somewhere else. She was at it last night. Too cold, too slow, too tired, need shower, this and that. Did not slow her down a bit. This is really wrong to say and I know we cannot hold Jenn responsible for being robbed, but, it was hot in Barcelona, and she was probable wearing the pouch outside her shirt and criminals know that is where the goods are. When we were walking around together, she always had that thing outside her shirt. The point is to conceal it. Oh well.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Sunday, July 13, 2003

One month left. Thought I would write some things about the language barrier that never occurred to me. First, names of people are all the same, but names of towns change. Why? Wouldn't it be easier if Prague were Prague everywhere. Or have it be Praha everywhere. What is the difficulty there. Wein or Vienna, Rome or Roma. What is the point. Just something I never thought would be an issue. I thought a city name would be like a person's name.

Another thing that you just do not think about until you stop and think about it. All these people talking about, sounds like gibberish to me, but a cough sounds the same. I don't think I really thought a cough would sound different in German, but I never had to think about it before. Same with a sneeze, throat clean, and all those other quirks humans have. I guess I thought about it because when you are on a train with like 20 conversations going on in another language, the only thing that sounds familiar is those quirky noises that are universal.

The view out my window reminds me of home. No more mountains. Just fields and it looks like wheat. They bail there wheat in round bails. How lazy. Reminds me that Dad must have bailed at least twice since I have left and at least once bucked bails. Looks just like home minus the visible roads. They are there, they have to be but just not as visible as the highways that cover the states. I guess there are more trees than home, but this is the closest thing I have seen for a while. Seen a few fields of sunflowers. Cannot say I could say that before.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Saturday, July 12, 2003

What an up and down day this was. The sunrise in the Alps was amazing. I took some pictures that probable will not turn out, but if they do, they may rival the Killarney weekend pictures. While taking the pictures, I found an empty room. The overnight cars have six seats. The one I was in had five people and this one was empty. So I went in and past out. Only the second good sleep I have had on a train. Woke up refreshed.

Got off the train and started taking the trains and buses to the place I thought the hostel was. Walked for and hour and a half. Then found it about half a block from where I had gotten off the bus. I could blame it on bad maps and all, but I just had not taken down enough info and was wandering without a map. Therefore, I got to the hostel and went out to see Vienna.

There is one Cathedral, Steven, and that is all. They have nice buildings and some statues and maybe the buildings were old or made by someone special, but I did not think they were. I think I was just still on a Rome high that Vienna could have been spectacular and I would not have cared. So, that was disappointing. Went to the train station and got the ticket for tomorrow, which does not leave to early, does not arrive to late, so that was good.

Came back and took a magnificent shower. Showers after bad days or train rides always seem to lift my spirits. Went to dinner at this place on the sidewalk. Did not know what I was going to get. Ordered "Mozzarella" which is what I thought I ordered in Rome. In Rome, it was bread with sliced tomatoes and some cheese on in. This was tomato slices with slices of cheese on top. That is it. So, that was not too enjoyable. But the fettuccini that I ordered was some of the best I have ever had.

Like I said, up and down. I think I have a good handle on what is going to be happening tomorrow as far as what trains and buses to look for and where I am going to be. That is usually when the bottom falls out, but we will see. They give us a hardy breakfast here. About time somebody does. Wonder if Jenn is going to make it or where she is. I do not want to bet on it, but I would not be surprised if she flies into Prague after miscalculations. I wonder if the San Francisco people she stayed with all week got sick of her bitching. It should be an interesting day tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Friday, July 11, 2003

Another day in Rome. Train does not leave until seven tonight. May head to the Vatican and look for souvenirs. Have not really bought any yet. Last night was great. Planned on walking around and taking pictures of Rome at night, but as with most things on this trip, that is not what took place. Everyone went to eat at this good restaurant. I did not go, but I had a good time trying to find them so I could see what was happening the rest of the night. It happened that our tour guide, Dillon, walked by with some friends. So we went out to a little bar where we listened to early 90's music, watched sumo wrestling, and just had a ball. It was nice to go to a bar where people here would go and not a pub made for tourist, although those were fun too.

Thought I was going to mass this morning because from the way the sign looked they have mass at eight and nine thirty everyday. Evidently I read the sign wrong or today was a day they do not do that. But I did spend a while in the church. It was a gorgeous church too. It was one of Michelangelo's last projects. The whole "gorgeous church" part is probable getting redundant. Every church over here is amazing.

I guess we can blame the newness and the facts that Catholics never had the pull in the states for the reason our churches are not all as beautiful. I mean, most of these are older than our country.

I have left what has thus for been my favorite city. I went back to the Vatican, but could not get in to St. Peter's because I had shorts on. I thought the pants thing was only if you were going to see the Pope. Just kind of walked around, enjoying my last hours there. Got back and watched Count of Monte Cristo. There is a scene there when his son is in Rome and they are running around a fountain and I was like, "I was just there."

Boy, Jenn would have been bitching about something all week. Whether it was staying in one place too long or not doing enough walking or too much or the heat or the reservation mix up. I am looking around a bunch of empty seats and thinking that I did not need reservations and probable could have left last night, but I am glad I stayed. I do not mean to be hard on Jenn. There was a lot of bitching going on most the time from others, but I could leave others, cannot leave Jenn, and just have to listen.

This was nice to have a week alone, do things my way, the lazy relaxed way. I look out the window at the mountains and just keep thinking about Bilbo. I wonder, no I know, when I get back I will be saying, "I want to see mountains again Gandalf, mountains." But I am more like Frodo I guess, not the adventurous type, at least in the backpacking sense. When I get to Prague, we will have one month left.. Like all things, it went slow when it was tough, and seems like yesterday now that it comes to the downhill side. Why is that, I wonder. Jenn was right about some things that you just cannot take a pictures of. The sun is now setting over the mountains with only a few clouds in the sky. All the colors of the rainbow fill the view. I tried anyway. We will see if it comes out.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Thursday, July 10, 2003

Well, matt the inexperienced traveler strikes again. Evidently, Rome needs one-day reservations for trains out of Italy. First I have heard. So I am stuck in Rome. There is actually nothing wrong with that. I love this town. There is so much to do that I needed to spend a week solid to just scratch the surface. Last night was great. Nicole showed up and we all had a great time. My head is saying I had too much fun, but that pounding will stop eventually.

I just hope the hostel in Austria has a room open for Saturday instead of Friday. E-mailed them and apologized for my stupidity, but I have not heard back. Met a girl from St. Louis last night with season tickets for the Cards. We hung out, she was pretty cool. Suppose to give her a call and head to a game with her when I get back. It is strange who you meet doing these things.

Even with that, the question as to whether I am a backpacker or not have been answered. I am a "come to a town, stay in a town, see the town, move on" kind of guy. I think that Rome is so much fun, besides the fact that it is such a great city, but I will be here four days and four nights. No rushing around, just relaxing with friendly people. Spring break in Rome would be excellent and pretty cheap. Besides the airfare, 22 Euros a night, 5 nights, cannot beat that. Pub-crawl every night. 7.50 Euros plus just to be lit. I think I have stumbled on to something.

I am really looking forward to Prague. I have not heard a bad thing about it. A couple of stories that have not made it in yet, but I want to write them in before I forget. When I was walking around Rome Tuesday, some guy form France pulled over and asked me for directions to the Vatican. I told him the best I could, he had a map, but evidently he could not read it. In return for my help he said he was clothing designer/salesmen and wanted to give me some samples of two coats. He said they were worth 1,ooo Euros together. They were probable stolen or something. Anyway, he said I could take them as long as I did not sell them. Then he asked for some gas money. That is when I walked away and checked my wallet and chest just in case. Not that I had room to carry the extra load anyway, but it makes you think about the times we do not do something, or all the things we think are shams but would really work out well.

And last night on the bus back, I was joking around with a bunch of drunken Italians. I think they were making fun of me more than anything, but I enjoyed it anyway.

Monday, July 09, 2007


JR and Daren. A group after my own heart. I haven't forgotten about you two. Just haven't worked out how to put it. I figure I will copy and paste the whole discussion and make my response. A little teaser. It will probable involve contraceptives and why we are not pushing them to be illegal when we believe it is just as bad. But like I said, not quite polished.

And I hope you are enjoying the European Vacation.


Wednesday, July 9, 2003

Wow. The Sistine Chapel is just something every person should see. Mike did it in 2 1/2 yeas. At least that was the ceiling. The wall took another year or so. Painstaking work. Saw the Pope for a little while. Sat him down, talked some hockey, and talked world issues. Second time in my life I have seen him. There were just tons of people. The Vatican is enormous. Compared to the feeling at Belfast to the feeling today is a complete opposite.

Just so I do not forget, the crucifixion is a lot different from how we see it today. Nails just below the elbow and knees, and the reason they would break the legs is so that they could no longer lift themselves to breath and would suffocate. They would only do it if they needed them to die quickly, usually they would keep them up until they died slowly.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Tuesday, July 8, 2003

Found out that Nicole is in Rome. May get a chance to see her. Going to see the Pope tomorrow and am going to stay here until Thursday. I do not think I am going to see a lot of Italy, but that is ok. Rome has been enough. Everywhere you look; there is something else that deserves a picture. For over 800 years, this was the center of the world. Walking the same roads as great men. There are archeological digs going on everywhere in the middle of town. It makes it hard to fathom the streets of our old cities in the U.S. and makes me wonder what kind of sightseeing a person could do after coming to Rome.

Things might be unbelievably gorgeous and take your breath away, but there has never been a place with so much history and power belonging to it and the home of the Pope. I am really looking forward to tomorrow. Another comment about drivers. Here, there are barely any crosswalks or signs, but even when there are, it does not matter because people cross the street whenever they want. You can tell a tourist because they are the ones waiting to cross. The natives stop traffic, are honked at, do not care, and move on.

And here, the honking does not mean the same thing. In the states, honking means, "get out of the way, I am in a hurry and you are slowing me down." Here it means, "Hey, get out of my way because I do not want to hit you." There is a huge difference between the two. I have also seen what could be called a viaduct, but smaller and many of them and only big enough for one car. There was one that was at the tail end of a junction of two streets and cars were flowing pretty smoothly. I just picture the same street in the states and traffic would be backed up for miles, because some guy had to get through before someone else. Here, nobody seems to care about time. They drive slowly when they have to and fast when they can, but never mix the two.

And the number of bikes and scooters is incredible. And they park them all over the sidewalks. But they get by. It is controlled chaos. They just started Braveheart, but I just finished my bottle of wine, so I cannot imagine I will finish the movie. If the Scotts hate the English so much, why don't they do as the Irish and finish what William started. The cheese curls here are white so your fingers do not turn orange, like they will in the states. I have been saying I am "from the states a lot. The guy that plays William's uncle is in many movies as the bad-guy. I am glad he gets to play a good guy here. That bad man is the Colonel for Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Watching the battle scenes just shows how random war is. Even Wallace gets shot with an arrow, the old guy gets it like 3 times, but that is really all it takes, one stray arrow. Makes you think of the randomness of like and when your time it up, it is up.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Monday, July 7, 2003

I have just assumed that Michelle will read this someday, but I think I should write everything that happens, not that anything inappropriate has happened yet. I just bring it up because I have had a whole bottle of wine; it is like 2 in the morning, and I am stuck in a train compartment that is 6 feet by 6 feet with four Italian females. Three are quite old, but one is quite attractive and it is like 130 degrees in the compartment. The cute and young one is the only one that speaks English, so she was trying to translate the conversation for a little while.

Then she left and took her contacts out and put coca-cola bottles on that would rival what the Fosters used to wear. I may be strange, but I think glasses are sexy. Anyway, still no sleep and cannot imagine any coming soon. I think they were shopping in London and are heading home. And the cute one's mom is lying next to me asleep. It is just an odd place to be. Not so much odd, but unexpected.

Oh, and I do not know if I wrote it, but getting the reservation, although did not pan out on the first train cause there were gobs of seats, was definitely needed for this one or I would be sitting on the floor.
The Italian ladies just closed the shades and started putting money in my pants so I got to go.
A 30-hour trek, but I am here. And I am eating at a real Italian restaurant. I am actually the only person in here. Do not understand what I just ordered, but oh well. It is a nice little place. Looks like it was a house they turned into a restaurant. I am ready for some real food. I am surviving on lonely soda and snacks for the last two days.

Well, I am definitely coming back to this place when they actually serve pasta. I guess they do not start that till two. This must be breakfast. 1/2 a chicken, salad, bread, and wine. It was excellent though. Going to head back to the hostel, read my book till one, then change into shorts, and head out. Probable make it an early night. The view coming in was amazing. They all have been. I do not think I have seen one ugly place outside the city. You could probable say the same for the U.S. and this trip really makes me realize how much of my own country I have yet to see.
The cook/waiter/receptionist also lets out a tune every now and then. When you think about a traditional Italian place, this is what pops into your head. Not really sure what the charge is going to be. If it is under ten Euros, I will be surprised. Nine Euros.

Just had the greatest lasagna and the best wine I have ever had. Ate on a sidewalk café kinda thing. The Coliseum was huge. It really makes you wonder what it all looked like way back when. Going to see the Vatican tomorrow. I think I got a little burnt today. First day of intense sun since we have got here. Probable have to use sunscreen tomorrow. Talked to Michelle. She said it was storming and she had to drive so she was nervous. Told her I loved her, but I think it came off goofy. Hope she did not take it that way. Have not figured out what I am doing Wednesday. Have to be in Vienna by Friday, which is all I know.

July 7, 2007

I did not go back to that place I first ate, but I still remember it clearly. Exactly what is looked like, where I sat, how they served the wine in a glass pitcher and not a bottle. Man, I loved Rome. I scanned a bunch of pics so that I can keep up teh pace. It is fun to look at them and remeber.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Sunday, July 6, 2003

Here we are at the airport. I am not going to miss Jenn's bitching. "I need sleep; kids are loud, blah, blah blah." Get some sleep then. Oh well. There is also more ass crack showing in Dublin than I ever saw before. Guys and girls. I am ready to get out of Dublin but not sure, if I am ready to leave the English language behind.

We figured out why the flights are so cheap. They charge you out the ass for your bags. if it is over 15 kg. it is extra. Unbelievable. And Jenn still has my camera case. Hers broke when we first got here. Wonder if I will ever get a thank you for that. And guess who the last person up this morning was.

It is still hard to imagine that the gibberish that I hear around me is understood. Even harder to imagine is that to some English sound like gibberish. Well I am off on my own. Really, do not know what the hell I am doing. Evidentially these trains, seats matter, so I was standing because I did not have a ticket with a seat. But the train cleared a little so I am sitting now.

I guess there is a gay parade in Cologne today so the train is packed more than usual. It seems that we always hit the bad times. Oh well. I am on my way to Frankfurt, where I hope to catch a train to Rome. That is the plan. When they do the train messages, they do English last so I am at a disadvantage time wise. These next few days are definitely going to be a challenge. Here is hoping I am up to it.

Another train adventure by myself. This is not going to be 24 hours, but it will be around 22 1/2. I think. But we got on the plane at 7:30, so it will be 27-1/2 hours of traveling. I have a cough that will not go away. I think it will if I get good nights sleep, which is not going to happen tonight.

The views have been gorgeous. I am afraid we are going through the Alps at night, but I should see them on the way back up. The cough reminds me of the one I had at Southern Indiana Camp. If I breathe in through my nose, I can contain it, but if I breathe in through my mouth, I cough. Told mom and dad today that I am alone. They took it better than expected. It is going to be another summer of "Matt died pictures."

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Saturday, July 5, 2003

This has been a long day considering I did not get out o bed until 12:30, half twelve. Bought new socks today. My feet have never felt better. Last day in Dublin. I am about ready to leave. It is a neat city, but enough is enough. I am ready to go exploring again. Went and seen the Book of Kells. It was not anything spectacular, but interesting just to think how long it took to make those books. Off to have my last Guinness of Ireland. Last night we drank Coors Light and Budweiser in honor of the fourth and a girl from LSU went out in the middle of a cricket game wearing the stars and stripes. I thought it was funny, but most people just thought it was stupid. Some blamed me for provoking her, but that does not sound like something I would do, wink. The Intellectual Property test was around 50 true/false instead of eight, so it is anyone's guess how I did.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Happy 4th of July everyone.

Friday, July 4, 2003

Happy Independence Day. First test did not go too bad. Off to take the second of the day. Wish me luck. Eight true/false questions.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Food for thought JR says. That is a full course meal. But intial reactions. Really the only intial thought I have is about your Nazi/Jews connection. That went on for a while without anybody raising much of a fuss and I believe if you go back and read history very carefully, it would have gone under the radar if Hitler and Japan had not been so agressive. We didn't fight WWII to save the Jews much like we didn't fight the Civil War, or at least it didn't get started, because of slavery. They are results, but not reasons.

You used a lot of big words and I am going to have to think about it all some more, but I am enjoying this.


Thursday, July 3, 2003

Well Michelle did have the postcard, but her mother had not given it to her. Her e-mail replied in like terms and she stated she felt the same and probable has for a while.

I think the test should be ok tomorrow. I probable will not have a chance to write till the 5th, but trust me, well I hope, it will be a great 4th, although there will not be any skinny dipping as that date usually entails.

July 3, 2007

Probably no skinny dipping this year either. I guess I am just getting to old and mature.


Monday, July 02, 2007

Thanks again for the comments, even though they have nothing to do with the Europe trip. I am thinking about Fr. Daren's comment. People still smoke. It still kills people everyday. I do believe things are starting to shift and making it so hard for people to smoke that they are losing interest. If we know the media is pro-choice and you don't think grassroots have worked, what is your suggestion, because I don't believe a strict automatic ban would work or ever happen? (This isn't coming out the best, just typing while thinking.)

I am afraid (and this is going to come out bad) I don't know if the canyon can be crossed. Something is really going to have to shift in order for that to happen. The problem is not that people think abortion is bad or ugly. The problem is the definition of when life starts. That may be stating the obvious, but let me try to get this all out. Here is the hurdle I can't seem to get around and it bothers me still.

This country and or system of government does not allow me to force my religious beliefs on the rest of the country. Forcing our definition of life on the rest of the country is against our American Freedom of religion. We can believe what we want and we can tell others what we believe, we can tell them and convince them to believe what we believe, but the is a bright line, a brick wall, an iron curtain, that stops us from forcing our beliefs on others. That's the way it is in this country. If you say that isn't right, that babies are dying, that it needs to stop now, to hell with the consequences, you need to look at the freedoms that we take for granted because it is a slippery slope, all down hill, when we chip away at a freedom here and a freedom there.

After thinking about all that, I two points. First, it is going to take time. Fr. Daren, I am sorry, but grassroots is going to have to work. It is going to take time. It is going to take people that are persistent and un-wavering and patient, because things in this country don’t change quickly. Ask those involved in the Civil Rights movement. Look at Suffrage. Even our own independence to years and 2 Constitutions (one was called the Article of Confederation). Things that happen over-night, tend not to last and if you are looking for a change that works and last, it is going to take time.

Second, before I commented about being worried about what the Religious Bush Backers have done with the credibility of religious people in general. Now I worry about what Bush’s Homeland Security and stripping freedom in order to protect policy has done to the ability to chip away at abortion. I think we were on the right track. I think the momentum was shifting, but now, civil liberties are being fought for even harder on every front and I believe the fight to end abortion has taken some steps backward. I think things will change. I believe things will get better. But not overnight. Don’t give up, even if it takes another 30.

Wednesday, July 2, 2003

Well it has been 4 months with Michelle. I am going to give her a call later. Whether she has gotten the postcard will decide how it goes. More relevant will be how she took it. Got a cheap headset so I can listen to music, which is nice. The week between is starting to form itself up. Sunday, to Brussels, head to Rome, stay there two nights, head to Nepalese and Assisi, then up to Venice, Vienna and Munich. Think we might head to Poland one of the weekends in Prague.

Fourth of July is going to be crazy. We are done with everything by 5:00, so nobody has anything to do on Saturday. It is going to be a long, long, night. I cannot imagine some people not getting in trouble. People have been talking about burning a British flag and starting a riot. I cannot see that happening, but it should be and will be wild, whatever happens.

I cannot decide if I will spend more or less money without Jenn around that week between. I imagine more since I will not be finishing some of her meal, but oh well. One of our tests is a take home and the other is an eight question true/false test, so I really do not know what to think. I really cannot imagine they can grade them too hard, but the true/false is just a right or wrong deal.

Well Michelle did not get the postcard, and I am not sure if she suspects anything. I guess we will just have to wait a little while longer. Did not tell her, thought about it, but did not. Did not tell dad that Jenn and I are separated. I am getting a cough. I figured I had to get sick at least once in the trip. I just hope it does not last. Going to get some sleep tonight so that should help.

July 2, 2007

Michelle did have the letter, it just hadn't been given to her when I called.