July 07, 2005
I am currently sitting in my cubicle at work. All geared up in camouflauge, clean-shaven, and sporting a Marine high and tight. Yes, I know I must look ridiculous. I seriously enjoyed the vagabond lifestyle and wished it was longer. However, I am not sad to be back either. I am all for free bathrooms, big portions, and refills. I love America. Why else would I join the Armed Forces?
Looking back at my month in Europe, I can think of terrific times with interesting characters, long train rides and people who don't know what deodarant is, scaling the high peaks of the Austrian and Swiss Alps, ice climbing in Interlaken, conversing in German to a nice old lady at a train stop in a small, quaint town in Switzerland, and much much more.
Because it really isn't about the pictures, they do not make the trips, it's the memories. That is the most important thing to me. You can steal my camera. Smash my souvenirs. Even break my David Hasselhof record.
But I'll be fine. Because I will always remember my adventures throughout Europe in the great month of June in this the year of our lord 2005.
Thanks for staying tuned ladies and gents,
James Michael DiBenedetto
View/Add Comments (4) | Category:
July 04, 2005
Whoa. Yesterday was a very fun day indeed. After completely running into George and Asher in the street after breakfast we set off towards the 1€ a piece art museums. Quickly my company became very bored of this. I had to admit I am also quite museumed out so to speak. So we walked towards the Englisher Garten of course. This park is twice the size of Central Park and was used as an Army training grounds in the 1800s.
Wow, now this was a great day. We made it to the Chinese Tower Beer Garden. A very bodacious place, locals kicking back on a fine Sunday afternoon. Listening to traditional Bavarian folk music, munching on some wurst, and of course slugging back a monstrous liter bier. Oh yeah, the brew was sehr gut. In the course of around three hours of chilling and discussing everything from the war in Iraq, the US Economy, and the effects of 9-11 on our lives, I had two big steins of beer. Yes, thats 2 liters. And 4 liters makes a gallon. So imagine how I felt. hehehe
We made it back to the hostel in time to crash out for awhile and mosey on down to the happy hour. I deferred from any serious drinking such as the Jäger shots passed around. I stuck to simple beers. And never got drunk. I am just far to afraid to anymore.
Eventually we rallied up a crew to walk to the world famous Hofbräuhaus. That was a lot more cooler last year with the hot chicks from America and the buddies I met from the Mikes bike tour. This year I wound up going with 4 interesting chaps from North Carolina, yup, REAL interesting, two of which were good looking chicks. But it was too no aveil. The conversation was petty. The girls naive and narrow minded. And the brew and chow subpar. After the place closed down around midnight, we walked across the street into the lame Hard Rock cafe. I just couldnt take it. One of the dudes was ordering up everyone shots and I was sure that I was going to be drilled for more questions about my feelings on Iraq and the military and such. So I bailed. And frankly, I dont give a shit if it was rude or not. I told Asher that I have to get back and I walked straight out the door. I feel much better because of it. I slept for 8 hours woke up without a headache because I was smart and didnt only indulge in beer. Every hour or so, I had some water. And I guzzled some down before I hit the sack.
But all in all, I had a great time yesterday. Its just that I cant go the whole mile anymore, It hurts too much to have to recuperate for a whole day after a hangover. And it hurts even more whenever I feel my chin where my 21st birthday scar is at. Seriously I must have bruised the bone because it still hurst. hehehe.
Good times in Munich. Now I am going to search for souvenirs, purchase a rail ticket, and possibly spend the afternoon in the Deutsches Museum.
Auf Wiedersehen suckas,
View/Add Comments (0) | Category:
July 02, 2005
I'm back in Munich. It is a little bit sad to realize that my journey must end here but at the same time this is one of my favorite European cities.
I'm still traveling with George from New Jersey, he's a really cool dude and we're having a great time together. I just got done having an excellent time with George and Asher, a recent Ithaca graduate whom I met in the hostel. We all hiked over to a local restaurant and had a fantastic meal and a beer for 10 euro a piece. Not to shabby. From there we hurried back to the hostel just in time to catch the last half hour of happy hour. I however have chosen to defer from any heavy drinking. Ive had a half liter at the restaurant and two .3 liters at the bar. So that leaves me a little bit buzzed. Just about right I suppose. I feel great. If one is to have a few beers, one should reach the state in which I feel. Any further from this would just leave me with a soaring headache and cotton mouth. However, I should not be too short winded here. The night is still young and my friends still at the pub. So perhaps we may meet up again and hit up the Haufbrauhaus.
Good times in Muncih though. This morning I finished up Victory by Joseph Conrad. A very fine book if I might say. Now, being the cheesy American that I am, have picked up the Adventures of Huck Finn and am searing through the pages of that fine read.
Well. I hope I do not bore you all too much with this musing and self reflection that I leave on these pages. I am all too unaware as I am writing this, that the whole wide world is capable of staring into my daily journal. Perhaps it would be more fun to read if I told of a tale of captivating women and fighting off a pack of wild skinheads. Much to my dismay, I am not that man. I am only James Michael DiBenedetto. And this trip has really led me to come to terms with that. I will never be Arnold; I cant dance; I am no Tom Cruise; there is no chance of me fighting off more than one ruffian; its quite funny really. But it is also so very true. Most of us, but not all of us, have pipe dreams of what we envision ourselves to be. Sure we may at times pretend to be these characters but is that really the same as devoting yourself to attaining there status. No. It is not by any means. And to get off this huge tangent I have thus far created; I am completely and wholly satisfied with not chasing around women that are not interested or friendly and I have not one intention of harming one hair on any other man's head. I am content with living peacefully, yet I am no pacifist. I will always be ready to fight someone if the time comes. Yet it is the fact that these characters that I idolize are in some way becoming a part of me. It would simply be folly to consider myself unaffected by the plethora of movies and books I indulge. I have decided that in order to be a pleasant person, one must simply not be competitive but instead content. Do not prowl the bars for a lay. Instead go out for a good time. Do not flex your muscles, instead use your wits.
Wow, what the hell am I even talking about. This is some heavy shit. Ya gotta love this bavarian beer.
View/Add Comments (5) | Category:
July 01, 2005
I did a little bit more hiking today, but other than that I just rested up. I walked around much more of the city and wandered in the zoo for 3 hours. Today was a very gloomy, rainy day. I feel the symptoms of a cold however I should be fine.
Ill be in Munich tomorrow, where I finish off my travels and catch my flight home on the 5th of July. Wow, I cant believe that this much time has passed already. Its crazy. I also cant wait to not pay for any internet fee. And be able to scroll through these past journal entries I made.
If you havent seen War of the Worlds see it.
Or read it. Whichever, theyre both great.
View/Add Comments (0) | Category:
June 30, 2005
Here I am in beautiful, scenic Innbruck Austria having a blast. It tis indeed great times my friends. I hate to be on the last 4 days of my trip. This is seriously creeping up on me fast. Wow, I cant believe its really that soon.
It doesnt matter though, I am still having a blast. As you all can discern I didnt go to Salzburg, I kept going west on the train and arrived in a rainy Innsbruck. Stayed the night last night and it was good. Now I am so amazingly tired its unreal. I met a fellow backpacker by the name of George from New Jersey last night. Weve been hanging out ever since. Hes a real cool dude. Last night we set out with a plan to go on a huge hiking excursion.
Today was exhausting yet extremely fun. Now I sit in a laundromat waiting on my dirty clothes. We figured we hiked around 12 miles today. Weve seen all over Innsbruck, not like there is much anyways. It was great. Amazing views from atop the Alps. The fog coming after the storm that sits on the mountain is truly awesome. Good times. I feel so tired yet so complete and satisfied.
Its funny that I take leave from the military to put on a rucksack and hike all day in the Alps. Remember travel is not a vacation, its exhausting and challenging yet very very fulfilling.
View/Add Comments (2) | Category:
June 29, 2005
OK, Im planning on leaving Vienna today yet I have not a single bed that I can sleep in around Salzburg. Im screwed. It looks like I might have to play this one by ear. Reservations are overrated anyways, but THIS lack of a suitable bed is killing the coolness of my trip.
More to come later.
View/Add Comments (3) | Category:
June 28, 2005
I woke up bright and early this morning at 0600 and hit the city early. I tried to land a room at a different hostel but ending up walking for an hour to no aveil. That place was something out of PeeWees playhouse or something, kids running all over, playing tag, and giving me smug looks. hehe. Im used to those by now. I wear goofy clothing, am always toting a bag, and badly need a shave and my ears lowered.
Back to what I was saying about hitting the city early. I went to the most impressive Kunstmuseum (I cant remember the exact spelling) and had a most educational experience. They have an excellent exhibit on Ancient Egypt, many great reliefs, artifacts, and some colossal columns. Needless to say I spent quite a long time in the Museum. Pretty much the whole day. I was upset that the Greek and Roman exhibit is temporarily closed. But found myself with more than ample selection in the Gemäldgerie, main art gallery. Exquisite pieces by many Gothic, Renaissance, and Contemporary artists. I found the museum very suprisingly fun. Sightseeing boredom struck me well early in the trip around the time I was in Berlin.
After the museum I walked to the famous Stephans Dom. Saint Stephans Cathedral. And I found it quite lackluster compared to the astonishing and massive Dom in Köln. Regardless, it was an impressive piece of architecture. The one solid thing it had going for it was the awesome use of flying buttresses to support the roof. But then again, I thing all Gothic cathedrals have them. Either way, they stood out and I was intereted.
I left finding myself with a lot of time on my hands. Seriously, this whole trip is all about that. Having a lot of time on my hands and trying to figure out what to do with it. hehe..yes it sounds so very very rough doesnt it. So I decided to get a ticket to the War of the Worlds premiere. Its at 0001 and yet I dont mind too much. I have been having a lot of trouble sleeping in my hostel. In fact Ive had some insomnia since around Budapest or even if I think about it eariler. Not to say I dont sleep, I just wind up finally falling asleep around 0200 and waking up with only around a subpar 6 hours. Bumer but Im still doing just peachy.
So Ill head off to see the premiere later tonight and I am thinking that it will rock like no other film. Tom Cruise is a very good actor, and I am willing to bet that this might be a colossal blockbuster. Spielberg. Cruise. Should I continue?
Tommorrow I believe I might head to Salzburg. I am having an awful lot of trouble reserving rooms of any sort. This is ridiculous. Hostels are now overrun with grade school students and primary school Germans. It really kills the backpacker feel of most places. I might just head to Innsbruck or even Hall if I may feel so cheery to do so. Thats the beauty of this vagabond lifestyle. No attachments. No places to be. No nothing. I am loving it.
Now that I have a new shirt, I am walking around much happier. The old abercrombie one was getting...well....old. here I go again rambling, Im surprised you all, my loyal readers, are even keeping up with my exploits still.
I still appreciate it though. And I pardon sounding redundant, but although I might do very little. I still learn quite a lot.
Remember, a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
Take that step friends.
View/Add Comments (2) | Category:
June 27, 2005
Pardon my Deutsch, I insist on freshening you all up on some German. So in case you fell asleep in language class, I am in Vienna, Austria.
Today was quite a wickedly stressful day. Train travel can be very fun. Amazing landscapes, interesting people, colorful languages. And then you could travel by train like I do: Budapest to Bratislava then to Vienna. Sounds like fun, right?
Try again. Eastern Europe rocks in many ways. One of the ways it misses is airconditioned trains and a serious lack of English. I couldnt understand a thing! After sweating my shirt through on my way to Bratislava I hit the ground running and started exploring. Lets just say this. I went all over that city, in fact I probably walked a good 10 miles. Ive been to Chicago, New York, and many European metropolises. And by far, this was the nastiest, poorest, city Ive ever laid foot in. I couldnt find a place to stay for the life of me. NO KIDDING! I trekked from one side of the city to the next and back again. All the hostels I checked out were booked up. The last place recommended a place near the train station for me. This almost made me angry. I had just come from the train station. This was another 2 miles back to where I started. So what did I do?
Its pretty obvious, it doesnt take the most inferential reader to realize I skipped town and headed to Vienna. Which I dont regret by any means. Vienna rocks and has tons to see. Bratislava is almost like Eurotrip. Well, not really. Id love to exaggerate its sleaziness. Hehe. But it still was quite awful. So due to circumstance, no patience, and a midday sun killing me, I skipped town.
Vienna is great. I am loving it already. Very cozy and historic. I did manage to grab a crazy bed in a nice hostel. Im not joking, its practically on the ceiling. You use stairs to climb up in an 8 bed room, and this is funny its over the bathroom withing the room. :D This is even better. Its a double bed. Which means I might have to rub elbows with some stranger in this wooden contraption they call a bed. lmao. Sailors have it better than I do!
Great time though. Yesterday I finished my book, David Theoreaux' The Old Patagonian Express. I am extremely impressed with it. Probably the best travel book Ive ever read. It is a great nonfictional story of adventure and the unexpected when the author takes a commuter train from his home in Boston and makes his way entirely by rail all the way to the end of the line. The southernmost tip of Argentina, Patagonia. A very gripping piece. Check it out.
Now I am happy to be catching up on my reading and playing it peaceful. I just started Victory by Joseph Conrad, a free book I picked up in the München Hauptbahnhof (Munich Train Station.) And it is a very well written piece. A classic written in the early 1900s by a former sailor in the British India Company. Merchant Marines seem so fascinating to me. I am seriously considering work on a ship once I get out. It would be a very cool way to see the world. And besides cities and countries are much more fun when they're near water.
I have to retire. Please pardon the long post, however I had much to speak about. Take care and may the force be with you.
Jedi Knight James DiBenedetto I
View/Add Comments (2) | Category:
June 26, 2005
Yes, I know it is really Day 20 but Ill go ahead and post this under Day 19 anyway. Last night was pretty fun, I had a blast with some buddies, Jake and Dave, that I met at the hostel. They are from Detroit and New Zealand respectively. Good times and happy people, UH HUH!!!! Yayahhh!!!
We had a blast in Budapest. Drinking beer and sipping latees in cheap Budapest is awesome. I only had three beers, but still managed to of course have a great time. I cant see myself getting drunk any longer. Not after waking up with deep cuts on my face and no recollection of what or how it happened.
So I had a completely awesome day yesterday. I woke up early had a decent breakfast for 2 bucks and hit the town. I walked north for an hour and arrived at Heroes Square. A really cool place to see. From there I stopped by the Turkish bath houses which Budapest is so famous for. Awesome and relaxing time. It was great, and it only cost 8 bucks. The thermal springs are very soothing and beneficial to your body. I felt so great once I left 2 hours later. Also, I ran into a cool Canadian dude named Mike. Hes a really intelligent law student in Toronto taking off the summer to chill out. We had some great conversation about American politics, the world, cultures, and of course travel. After leaving the springs we went to a nice little streetside restaurant and had a great Hungarian meal (chicken, dumplings, and plums) for around 10 bucks total. Not bad by any means. I love this city. It has a really good chill feeling to it. I could seriously see myself staying here for a long while. Im very glad that I decided to travel to Budapest, this place rocks. After Mike and I parted ways I met the aforementioned dudes at the hostel and had a great night of drinking and talking. Also, the cafes here are great. Dave, Jake, and I spent maybe 2 hours chilling drinking coffee and discussing various subjects. I savor these conversations and these encounters with interesting intellectual travelers. I love this and am having a great time. From here, I think Ill get some reading done and walk around some parts of the city I havent seen before.
peace out suckas
View/Add Comments (1) | Category:
June 24, 2005
I love this city. The rooms are cheap, just 15 usd a night for a nice clean hostel.The beer and food is cheap. Around a buck 50 for a mug. And the sights are inexpensive as well. I went spelunking YES SPELUNKING today in the city for 5 hours for only 25 bucks. this place rocksss. more to come later. this keyboard sucks too much to type anymore....
View/Add Comments (3) | Category: