Thursday, June 18, 2009


I have decided to give out awards to countries I have visited.

Best Country for Parks
And the winner is...United Kingdom. Far and away better public parks than any where I have ever been.

Best Country for Food
And the winner is...America. It has to be America. We have the best of every country.

Best Nightlife
And the winner is...France. It doesn't involve bars or clubs, but rather picnics beside the river, the lawn of the Eiffel Tower, or in parks. Not just regular picnics, but 5 course picnics. Wine is also abundant.

Nicest People
And the winner is...The South. Do I even need to explain?

Strangest People
And the winner is...Europe. Rat tails and mullets are never okay.

Best Looking Girls
And the winner is...France. Maybe it is all the fashion that draws them there? I really don't care. It works.

Gayest Men
And the winner is...France. Maybe it is the fashion that draws them there...

Best History
And the winner is...England. It is everywhere, and very well preserved.

Cleanest Cities
And the winner is...Austria. Especially Vienna's Innerstadt (The old part of the city) and almost all of Salzburg was very clean.

Best Public Transportation
And the winner is...England. London's Tubes are incredible and the taxi drivers are great too.

Best Mountains
And the winner is...Austria and Germany. The Alps, duh.

Worst dressed people
And the winner is...Austria. Jean shorts and tank tops are still a common occurrence. Need I say more?

Best Country to Open a Cigarette Stand

And the winner is...Austria. Smoking is still allowed in restaurants, and people take advantage of it.

Best Healthcare
And the winner is...England. My roommate and friend Ben fell and cut a gash above his eye, blood was everywhere. He went to the hospital and the sewed him up and all they asked was for his name. He didn't have to show ID or insurance. Oh, and it was completely free. Now I know it is socialized healthcare, and it really stinks for the doctors, but it sure was great for Ben.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

God Bless America

In my last blog post I mentioned that because Sunday was my favorite day of the trip it would get its own blog post, well here it is.

Sometime on Friday my friend Clay asked if I was interested in taking a trip to Normandy, and my response was, "Of Course". So we did a little research on the computer to find out how much tickets would cost and how to get there. Nothing on the Internet was very clear. We could find no train schedules and we didn't even know what train stop. Normandy didn't seem like a possibility. Well on Saturday night I checked again, and by checking I mean typing in "Normandy from Paris by train" on Google. This time I actually found a pretty good website. It said that the trains leave from St. Lazare every couple hours to Caen. I found this website pretty late Saturday night and immediately called the girls to see if any of them wanted to go. Three said they were in, and we set up a meeting time of 10:00 at St. Lazare.

The next morning Clay and I arrived at St. Lazare at about 9:45. We went to the information information desk and asked in a mixture of French and English how to get to Normandy. The guy informed us that we needed to get a ticket to Caen, get on another train and head to Bayeux. So we went to the ticket place and tried our best to explain the saleswoman what we wanted, and after about ten minutes we were set up. By the time we had bought our tickets the girls had arrived, so I handed them my ticket and told them to hand the people my ticket and say they wanted the same thing. The girls got there tickets without a problem. Or train didn't leave until 11:45 so we had some time to kill, so we went to go grab some breakfast. We went to cafe where once again everything was extremely expensive. Clay and I didn't feel like spending fifteen euros on breakfast so we just got toast and jam. The girls had huge breakfasts. We went back and hopped on our train and we were off for the coast. The train ride was incredible, it was through the French farm land. Nothing but green and gold fields as far as the eye could see. We arrived at Caen, and hopped on the train headed to Bayeux. The sign said the train was "retard 15" which we took to mean it was fifteen minutes slow. The train ride from Caen to Bayoux is only fifteen minutes, so in no time we were in Bayeux. Bayeux is not a very big city, in fact I would use the word dead to describe it. We saw a sign for tours of the beaches, so went and knocked on the door, but apparently there are no tours on Sunday. There was a sign with a number for a taxi so I called it, and some how through a mixture of English and French the taxi guy agreed to pick us up in five minutes. He came and we told him we wanted to go to the American Cemetery, and we were on our way. I don't know a lot about the geography of Normandy, but I am pretty sure we made about three to four laps around Bayeux before we arrived at the cemetery. It was a pretty pricey cab ride, but we were at the cemetery and the sun was shining.

The cemetery is actually owned by America, so there are American flags flying. It felt good to see Ol' Glory again. It is not just a cemetery, but also a museum and monuments. One enters on top of the hill where the Germans would have been set up, and one can look out over the English Channel and the beaches. We decided to go and see the beaches first. There is a switchback trail heading from the top to the beaches. It was much more lush and green than I expected. Once we got to the beaches I was immediately reminded of South Carolina beaches. The sand was brown and the water was murky. Still very pretty though. We took some pictures in the dunes, and then took some pictures of us standing in the water. I also picked up some rocks for paper weights. We then took about a half mile walk through the dunes and then walked back on the beach. By this time the sun was not shining and a thick fog had rolled in, but that didn't stop a few French kids from playing in the ocean. We then climbed back up the hill to the top and to the cemetery.
I hate to use the word incredible when describing a cemetery, but it was incredible. The landscaping was immaculate and the buildings were subtle. We walked amongst the tombstones for about an hour. It was foggy which added to the ominous feeling, and almost made it feel more sacred. There is a small chapel right in the middle and a statue and monument on the east end, but beside those it is nothing but tombstones, grass, and trees. After about an hour I over heard a guard saying they were about to lower flags, so we headed over to watch them lower the flags. The lowering of the flags was awesome. I was so proud to be an American. We all stood and watched for about ten minutes as someone played the trumpet and the flags were lowered. We then had to leave because the cemetery was closing, so we caught a taxi and then caught the train back to Paris. Once back in Paris we meet some friends at the Eiffel Tower and had some wine before going to bed. It was one of the best days of the trip.
Because it was Sunday no places were open to eat so the only thing I ate all day was toast and peanut M&Ms, until we got back to Paris at 9:30. I then ate an entire large pizza.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Paris and Such

I am now back in London after spending the past four days in Paris. Paris is neat, but London is way better. Don't get me wrong I had a fabulous time in Paris, but if I had to pick a city to live in/study in I would choose London. However, I did see more attractive girls in Paris. Always a plus.

Our train left London at 5:25 in the morning on Friday. We had to be at the Kings Cross/St. Pancras train station by 4:30, and it is about ten minutes away by bus. Since I have had an overall poor experience with London buses I made sure we met at 4:00 in the lobby and were at the bus stop no later than 4:10. I woke up at 3:30, or should I say got out of bed after laying there and not sleeping a wink. It is hard for me to fall asleep if I know I am only going to be able to get three hours of sleep. I guess my mind tells my body there is no point. Once I got on the train I happened to be sitting next to girl who was also from Regent's College. She was from Utah and born a Mormon, but now is an Atheist. I was planning on sleeping on the train, but she was too cool and interesting for me to fall asleep on. We spent some time talking and some time discussing the many tattoos she had on her body, including the two love sick robots on her side. We got to Paris a little before ten, and Clay and I hoped on the Metro (their subway, which is very much inferior to the Tube) and headed to our hostel. Once we got out of the Metro we tried to call our friends Ben and Ross (they had came a day earlier) to get directions, but we couldn't get in touch with them. So we pulled out our map and tried to figure out exactly where we were. As we were doing this a very well dressed older man asked, in broken English, if we were looking for a hostel. We said yes, and followed him there. The French aren't that bad. We were staying at the Aloha Hostel, no idea why Aloha. The place is a dump with a two o'clock curfew. Not that I was planning on coming home any later than two, but if I can travel between countries by myself I don't need a curfew. We checked in and then headed back out. We hadn't eaten so we went to a cafe overlooking Notre Dame, where my first meal in Paris, the most famous city in the world for cooking, was the called the Tex-Mex. A very large and far too expensive mistake. After paying too much we headed over to Notre Dame. I took some pictures, but because I was so tired the pictures are awful, I couldn't hold the camera straight. The cathedral looks like it is falling over. After checking out Notre Dame (yes, we talked to the hunchback) we headed for the Louvre. We decided not to go in, but kept walking down the Champs-Elysees, which starts at the Louvre, passes through the Tuileries Garden, and eventually ends at the Arc de Triomphe. Probably the most famous road in the world. Most of the road is just a pedestrian walkway, and very nice. Let me go ahead and say that the Arc de Triomphe is freakin' huge, and looks a lot closer than it actually is. I thought it was a mirage, it never got any closer and I just kept walking. This probably had more to do with the lack of sleep though. Once we got to the Arc, we sat on lip that goes around the base for about an hour and watched cars drive in hectic circles. Very few words were said amongst us guys during that rest period. I did call home trying to reach my parents, but instead got Jordan Woo, who reminded me they were in the Bahamas. It was strange to call home and have Jordan Woo answer, but it was also good. We then headed to the Eiffel Tower. If one gets lost trying to get to the Eiffel tower, there is not much hope for them. It can be seen from all over the city. However, like the Arc de Triomphe, it looks closer than it actually is, but unlike the Arc, the Eiffel Tower massive size is not caused by a lack of sleep. It is HUGE. Way bigger than I thought. Once we got there we took some pictures, then I promptly fell asleep in the grass at the base. My friends woke me and we went to go get dinner Once again I had a sub par meal that cost way too many Euros. We then headed back to the hostel where I fell asleep at 7:30, exhausted from walking hundreds of miles and not sleeping the night before.
The three guys sitting at the base of the Arc de Triomphe.

The next morning we went to the Louvre. If one spent eight hours a day for a month with a art major one could still not learn or see everything in the Louvre. We spent about a four hours and just saw the highlights. It would have been a much better experience if I spoke French, but beggars can't be choosers. After the Louvre we had another terrible overpriced meal. I had a ham, cheese, and stick of butter sandwich. We then went to a few parks around town. On the way back to our hostel we came across a protest. So we decided to join in. We weren't sure what we were protesting, but everybody was playing drums, blowing whistles, waving flags, and chanting. The French are only good at a few things: baguettes, wine, surrendering, and protests. I can now check off three of the four things, but surrendering...please I am an American. Later that night Clay, Ben, and I met my friend Rohan at the Eiffel Tower for a night bike tour. Rohan is a friend of mine from Auburn and he has a job this summer giving bike tours in Paris, so we went on one of his tours. It was an awesome tour. The tour lasted over four hours and we saw tons of Paris. Not all of it was on bikes though. The final hour was a boat ride up and down the Seine River. Wine was included, and I think some people forgot that they had to get back on a bike after the boat tour, because some people drank a good amount. After the tour we met some friends on the lawn of the Eiffel Tower for some wine. We then headed home.

Sunday was my favorite day. It gets its own blog post.

On Monday, we woke up and Clay and I met the girls at their hotel. We then went out to eat with the girls and had a good meal for the first time, and it was the cheapest. After the meal most of the girls went to a duty free store to buy perfume and purses, while Clay, Jordan and I went to climb the Eiffel Tower. It was raining so the lines were not very long, but I do think every school in France was taking a field trip there. Kids everywhere. we climbed the seven hundred or so steps to the second level and then took the elevator to the top. One is way up there when at the top. I wish it had been clearer so my pictures would have turned out better, but oh well. We then climbed all the way down and headed back to the hotel to pick up our luggage. Once we got down we headed to the train station to go back to London. When we got to the station the same protesters from Saturday were there. However, this time we did not join in because we wanted to clear immigration. We then got on the train and headed back to London. My temporary home. Clay, Jordan, and myself at the top of the Eiffel Tower sticking our head out of the fence.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Pounds and Dollars...Lots of 'um.

Here is a perfect story of how expensive England is. I realized that today was going to be a super busy day and that I didn't have time to wash my clothes. However, I really needed to wash my clothes--same boxers for the past three days. A couple days ago I noticed a place that washed clothes for you about ten minutes from the school, so I thought I will just take my clothes there and if it cost ten or fifteen pounds it isn't too big of a deal, it will cost me five pounds to wash them at the school. Plus, folding clothes is my least favorite chore in the world so it would be nice to have someone else do that for me. I crammed all my clothes, I have way more clothes than I thought, into my laundry bag and took off through the streets of London with my laundry bag over my shoulder like Santa Claus. The walk is about a ten minute walk, but it is a very nice walk, part of it is through the park. I got to the cleaners and set my bag on the counter and the little Chinese woman told me she would have them ready on Friday. Friday? It takes four days to wash two loads? These better be the best washing machines in the world, ones that never wrinkle my dress shirts, press my pants, fold my socks, and make everything smell like heaven. Literally heaven. Then I remembered I am going to be in Paris on Friday and that I would need them sooner. I finally got her down to Wednesday, still two days, but better. She then rang it up and informed me it cost 44.20. What? 44 pounds? That is 70 dollars! I looked at her and simply said, "Never mind" and walked, Santa Claus style, through London back to wash my own clothes. I guess that is what you get for being lazy.

70 Dollars!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

List Number Three

Here is another list of anecdotes, things I have learned, and other things I deem worthy.

-I still hate clubs. Anything with music playing so loud one can't carry on a conversation is a club. London is full of them and I have yet to have an enjoyable experience at one. They are perfect places for people with zero social skills to hang out. No talking required and manners are thrown out too. Just sit, drink, and bounce around. Plus, clubs can have covers as high as fifteen pounds--almost twenty-five dollars. Awful.

-Pubs are wonderful. They don't play overly loud music and the casual setting encourages conversation. The food is good and of course the drinks are good too. My favorite pub is The Volunteer. The Volunteer has a friendly staff, the best food I have had in London (their Sunday roasts are unbelievable), the drinks are not overpriced, great atmosphere, and board games. Yes, board games. Last night the guys went and enjoyed a few drinks and played Trivial Pursuit for a couple hours. A great time was had by all. Oh and my favorite part of all is pubs close at midnight, meaning one gets in bed at a reasonable hour. Why can't every where close at midnight?

-We played Trivial Pursuit Genus Edition and the UK version at that. I probably batted about .100. So hard. Here is sample question: What is a humuhumunukunukuapuaa, one of the official symbols of Hawai'i? I did not make that up. Not only do you have to be a genus to answer the questions, but also to read them.

-It has been a true blessing getting to meet people from all over. I have had legitimate conversations with people from Germany, Hong Kong, Australia, France, Tajikistan, Austria, England, Serbia, Canada, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, India, and the North. They make me feel so dumb for not being fluent in at least one other language.

-The key to taking good pictures is...take thousands with a good camera. Chances are at least ten will be worth looking at later.

-There are eight different types of coins. Way too many. You can hear me coming from miles away. Cling clang cling clang cling clang. It took awhile to get used to coin money that is actually valuable. I had to constantly remind myself that at times I had about fifteen dollars worth of change in my pocket, and that I shouldn't just throw it on my desk and forget about it.

-It is still cold here. Yesterday I don't think it reached 55 degrees here and it can be cloudy for long periods of time.

-I am starting to feel like a local, at least a little. Today I took the tube to church and then walked about a mile back after church and not once did feel lost or out of place, I didn't even use my handy map. There have been times when I have walked all over the city by myself and even eaten by myself. True signs of a non-tourist. The other day I gave directions to a actually tourist. Yeah.

-Everyone needs friends like Dana White and Lindsay Patton--friends that keep things from getting too serious. There is never a dull moment when those two are around...

This upcoming week is going to be my most busy as far as school work goes. I have two papers due and a lot of reading, but then this weekend I head to Paris. I just checked the weather for Paris and it looks perfect--mid 70's and not a cloud in the sky. We should have fun. Well it is Sunday, so off to The Volunteer for a Sunday Roast.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Bertolet and Team Take a Bath

Like every week so far this past week has been incredibly busy. In school alone I had a paper, a test, and had to read Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. I loved Pride and Prejudice. Call me what ever you want for enjoying a "girl book", but it is a good book. At first I thought I was going to hate the book because Mrs. Bennett and the little Bennett girls would never shut up, but once I realized that they were supposed to get on your nerves and they would make you like Elizabeth, Jane, the Gardiners, Mr. Bennett, Mr. Darcy, and Mr. Bingley all the more I understood why Austen made them so annoying. It was also pretty neat to be able to see where Jane Austen lived in Bath and see her tomb in Winchester Cathedral. It makes learning much more hands on and enjoyable.

This past weekend I did some serious traveling throughout England. On Friday, we went to Warwick to see Warwick Castle. Warwick Castle is incredible, but the lame Renaissance Festival going on inside the castle was not incredible. We knew we were in trouble when the signs outside of the castle were claiming that Warwick Castle was "the number one family attraction in England", and that it was possible to buy season passes. Season passes are great if you are going to Six Flags or White Water, but not that great for a castle built in 1068. There was a guy spitting fire, a extremely cheesy joust (think medieval times meets WCW wrestling), an exhibit showing the torture devices used in Warwick, and a falconry exhibit which made my want to chant War Eagle every time the bird landed on the arm of the trainer. That doesn't sound that bad, but think of that with about a thousand other people and the majority of those people are toddlers dressed up in knight outfits crying and waving plastic swords. It became old quickly. The one redeeming factor was the train ride. Warwick is Northwest of London, almost to Birmingham, and it was the most beautiful countryside I have ever seen. I must have seen a billion sheep and cows.

The next day, on Saturday, we went by train to Salisbury and Stonehenge. Stonehenge is one of those things that I am glad I have done, but have no real desire to do again. It does boggle one's mind to think how people 5,000 years ago could move such massive rocks, especially from as far away as Wales, but all one can really do is look and take some pictures. We took some pictures and decided that it was indeed done by aliens then headed to the town of Salisbury. Salisbury sits on the Salisbury plain, it looks like the Midwest, so very flat. It was beautiful though. Nothing but green pastures, hedges, fields of gold flowers, streams, and sheep. Salisbury is a very neat old town, and the cathedral has the tallest church spire in Britain. Salisbury used to be very important and was the place where Magna Carta was signed. Magna Carta (the great charter in Latin) was a document signed in 1215 by King John of England and the barons. The Magna Carta basically said the king couldn't do anything he wanted and that he was not above the law. It also laid the groundwork for trail by jury and habeas corpus (an appeal against unlawful imprisonment). It is the founding document of democracy in the English speaking world. Inside the cathedral is one of four remaining copies and the best preserved at that. Pretty neat.

Saturday was my roommate and friend Ben's birthday, so that night we decided we were going to have a Euro Trash Bash. We went to a couple stores and bought some cheap European clothes: tight pants, bright and tight shirts, fake glasses, and hair gel. I also shaved a moustache and chops (I still have them). About fifteen of us went out to some North African restaurant and had a surprisingly good meal. By the time we were done with our meal it was 11:00 and so we set of to find a Euro Trash club, one with a lot of techno. Remembering my last experience with a club as soon as it was midnight I took off so I could catch the tube home and wouldn't have to walk home like everybody else did.

On Sunday we went to take the waters, or that is what we would have said if it were 1700 and we were going to Bath. Bath is known for its hot springs and its baths. As early as the first century the Romans had built baths there. To this day you can still see the Roman baths. They are pretty incredible. There is not much difference between a modern spa and the Roman baths. They had steam rooms, saunas, hot baths, warm baths, and cold baths. There were even people available to give massages. After seeing the Roman baths we walked around Bath and saw all the sights, including Jane Austen's house. We then headed home to get ready for another long week of school.Remember to check out my Flickr page for more Pictures!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


I have just figured out how to post pictures and videos on my blog, which is great because it gives you a face for my silly writings, but if you want to see more go to my Flickr page. The address is