Europe – FILIPOKIE

Tag: Europe

Prague

Prague

We rode the train 6 hours from Munich to Prague – it was such a long trip. We had our own room and closed the curtains but at one point the police barged in and said “Passports, now!” in German and we had no idea what they said so they got angry with us. Luckily once we spoke English they gave us a break and scoffed, “Pfft, Americans.”

We had a luxurious hotel room for only $60 split between us. Prague was one of my favorite places on the trip. Why? It was dirt cheap and such a beautiful city with plenty to do. We walked by the Dancing House (weird architecture) and walked along the river and across Charles Bridge – you could see everything in the city from there. Charles Bridge is very wide and since cars can’t drive on it, it’s a beautiful walk with gothic architecture.

Later that night we decided to have a really nice dinner and splurge since we were getting close to the end of the trip. We went to Cafe Louvre, a famous cafe where Einstein was a regular. And I don’t blame him, that place was amazing. If you didn’t know, you have to pay for water at restaurants in Europe. And we bought two large glass bottles. We also had hot chocolate where it was literally melted chocolate with a scoop of ice cream on top, it was so rich and sugary. I got a nice salad with avocado, tomato, and mozzarella and a club sandwich to follow. After I finished the hot chocolate, I got fresh squeezed OJ. Then came dessert – I had some kind of Czech cake then decided to order ice cream after that. How much did it cost? After tip, $18. Insane.

I did some shopping since my boots were wrecked from the whole trip and found some nice ones that didn’t make a lot of noise (Everyone complained my boots were too loud the entire trip). I loved Prague and wish we had more time there.

Prague

New Year 2015 in Denmark

New Year 2015 in Denmark

We spent the majority of our trip in Denmark and learned the ways of the vikings. We arrived in Copenhagen early in the morning and the first thing we ate was a Steff Houlberg hot dog. I think I ate about 30 of those things while we were in Denmark – they were everywhere! I usually got a bacon wrapped hot dog with remoulade, onions, onion crunchies, and sweet pickles but there are all different kinds. We took the train for 45 minutes to Humlebæk, then took the bus to the house we stayed at during this leg of the journey. The 23rd is “Small Little Christmas” so we celebrated by having traditional Danish drinks and treats around a fire. Christmas through New Year’s is a big deal so it’s like a holiday everyday.

On the morning of Christmas Eve I went running at Fredensborg Castle. The park around the castle was beautiful – there was a huge forest with tree limbs hanging over the trail, creating a tunnel. It began to rain and it was a peaceful and tranquil experience, but we ran back to the house. That was a good 6 mile run. Daylight only lasted about 4 hours so night fell quickly. We had a huge Christmas Eve feast of pork and other delicious Danish foods. Dessert is not only almond pudding, but it’s also a game – there is only one whole almond in the pudding and whoever has it, wins and gets a prize. After dinner we sang Danish songs and danced around the Christmas tree and opened gifts. They gave me a traditional glass set for candles, which are elegant and intricate.

This year was the first time I had a white Christmas- snow was falling early in the morning. Christmas Day came and we went to a Danish smorgasbord “lunch.” This was no ordinary lunch; it started at 2 PM and we didn’t leave until almost 1 AM and we had about 20 courses. It started out with different types of bread and lard. I thought it was butter at first, but at a closer glance it was white with clear edges. There were courses of herring, pork, fish, and other delectables. Everyone would cheers every five minutes to anything and we would take a shot (I cheated and took 1/3 shots to survive). We played games and sang around the table and had a great time.

The next day we woke up late after a long night and walked down to Fredensborg Castle to show the other guys. It was a brisk walk and the sun was already setting but we explored the park and ate pastries from the SuperBrugsen (supermarket). I had my first Turkish kabob (durum), which was delicious and packed with meat and fresh vegetables wrapped in a tortilla-like bread.

We went down to Helsingør to Krønborg Castle, otherwise known as Hamlet’s Castle, where the Shakespearean story is based. We watched ducks ice skate on the ice covering the moat and toured around. Across the sea you could see Sweden, which was only a 15 minute ferry ride. We went to a bar to have licorice shots, ate more hot dogs, then headed back to the house. Since it was Saturday night we decided to take the train down to Copenhagen to party. We went to a few bars and met some locals who wanted to show us some of the more local bars rather than touristy ones. It was fun that you can drink out in public and bars don’t close until 6 (same with those hot dog stands), so we didn’t get home until almost 7 AM.

Since we didn’t get home until 7 AM, we slept ALL DAY. I don’t think I’ve ever done that before but we woke up at about 3:30 PM and since it was dark out already we thought it was still early morning and went back to sleep. We woke up at 5 and realized the day just went. Oops.

We went into Copenhagen today to see the rest of the sights. We went into Christiania, which is a “free zone” where all drugs are legal. The only rule there is that you can’t run or take pictures. It was a little sketchy, but interesting at the same time. People just had tents set up everywhere selling whatever and hobo looking people would stand around oil drums with bonfires lit warming their hands, watching you. For some reason I couldn’t pronounce “Christiania” so I decided to call it “Chris Jamie-a” (which is the name of one of our friends back home). We also walked along Nyhavn Canal and ate ice cream as it snowed and the locals looked at us like we were insane.

Guess what we did today? ANOTHER CASTLE- Frederiksborg Castle. Not that I don’t love castles, I just feel like I’ve seen a lot of them at this point in the vacation. Well we went to Hillerød not just for the castle but to get fireworks for New Year’s. The fireworks plan fell through so we looked around the town and the castle and had a really nice dinner at the Rib House. I forgot to mention earlier, but Danes love bread. For breakfast, they have a slice of bread with butter, jam, and chocolate. They don’t really eat lunch but if they’re hungry they have a slice of bread with salami and cheese. So we were tired of eating bread all day and being Americans, we need our meat and protein so we dropped $60 for this meal. Worth it.

New Year’s Eve is hugely celebrated here like I’ve never seen. We woke up early before the fireworks store closed to pick out a funny hat (requirement for the New Year’s party we were going to) and fireworks that are normally illegal in California. We walked down to the woods before the party to drink and found a park where people can work out. At 5 PM we had to meet to go to Fredensborg Castle because the Queen of Denmark was giving a speech for the New Year. It was pretty cool, there was a lot of news press and I got on TV but I didn’t know a lick of Danish so all I said was “skål,” which means “cheers.” We went over to a New Year’s party and had another feast – a lot of food, songs, dancing, drinking – the usual. One of the games we played was pass the cucumber and you couldn’t use your hands. That got awkward since I was sitting next to two older men that I didn’t know. At midnight every single home on the street was lighting off huge fireworks. It was like a grand finale back home in every direction for 2 hours straight. It was probably one of the coolest things I experienced on the trip.

On our last full day in Denmark, New Year’s Day, we didn’t do much except rest and eat hot dogs and kabobs and pastries. The next day on the 2nd we left and headed to our next stop: Amsterdam.

Denmark

Dublin

Dublin

Ireland was probably one of my (and everyone else’s) favorite places. The people were funny and friendly and it was beautiful. We arrived in Dublin early in the morning and immediately began looking for a hostel – nothing was planned out so we were definitely in for an adventure. We rested up for a little and went out to explore the city. The city was small enough you could walk everywhere you needed to go and it was lively with music and people. We ran into an old friend from high school weirdly enough and she was on vacation with her friends that play professional volleyball in Germany. They invited us to drink with them later… and man did we drink. One of the girls was like, “My daddy is an engineer! I’m RICH!” (well my dad is an engineer too but I don’t do that) and she pulled out 100’s from her bra and would hand them to me and say, “Get yourself 2 beers and 2 shots.” I asked, “One for me and one for you, right?” She said, “Nope all for you!” And that’s how my night went. Disastrous.

The next day we walked down to the Guinness factory, which was pretty far so the trip took all day. The factory was huge – 8 stories of a museum and dark beer. At the top of the factory there was an awesome bar that you could look out and see the city 360 degrees and got 2 free beers each. I was so sick of Guinness and Jameson from the night before that I gave my tickets away. Later that night we met up with a cousin who is an actor in Game of Thrones (I don’t watch the show so I couldn’t tell you who it is, but supposedly he has a main role in the next season) and several other popular shows. He took us to all the exclusive bars and we got free drinks, which was pretty cool and he’s super down to earth. This guy’s got Dublin on a wire.

On the third day we were pretty beat so we had scheduled a tour to see the Cliffs of Moher. We made some stops along the way so we could get a feel for classic Ireland. Unfortunately we got to the cliffs and it was so cloudy, windy, and rainy that we couldn’t see a thing but we made the best of it and had a good time regardless. It was nice to just finally sit on a bus all day and chill on some wifi to check emails.

By the last day we had pretty much seen everything so we headed over to Trinity College to see the library but they charged way too much so we went to the Jameson Distillery to do some whiskey tasting. Like I said, I was still sick from all that Guinness and Jameson from the first night so I gave away my 3 whiskey shots and free drink at the end. Just smelling it made me want to throw up. We packed up our things and headed to the airport that night. Next stop, København, Danmark.

Ireland

London

London

Well hello there! Unfortunately I didn’t have much time while in Europe to blog but the following posts are about my trip. We arrived in London in the afternoon, but since we only had one day we hit up the main sights: the telephone booths, Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, and the London Eye. We did a lot of walking with our heavy backpacks so we were pretty tired to say the least. We found a nice restaurant to eat but everything was tiny – tables, chairs, the space in general – so we felt like giants. We took the train from Liverpool to London Southend for about an hour to the hotel so we were ready to catch a flight to Dublin, Ireland early the next morning.

London