Bavaria > Berlin

We closed out this trip back where we started, in Germany. We finished up our time in Munich, which quickly became one of the favorite stops for the group. After arriving in the late afternoon, we met up with a friend who is a police officer outside Munich. Our first stop was the Augustiner brewery for dinner and drinks, which was a great introduction to Bavaria. Continue reading “Bavaria > Berlin” »

The “Schnitt-O-Mat” is My Personal Item

The train from Bratislava to Vienna was about an hour and had plenty of empty seats. We spent a couple of days sightseeing around town. The castles and churches are lovely, but the food scene seems to be where it’s at. Specifically, the dessert scene. There are lots of notable cafes with big cases stocked with all manner of exquisitely plated sweet treats. Continue reading “The “Schnitt-O-Mat” is My Personal Item” »

Spend a Couple of Days in Bratislava

Our train from Budapest left  just after 5 a.m. for the couple hour ride to Bratislava. We had a reserved carriage to ourselves for most of the trip and managed to nap a bit before we arrived. We were all a bit tired when we got to Bratislava, so it’s hard to say much about first impressions. However, after checking in, dropping off bags and getting a few espressos and croissants in our systems, we were all really struck with just how friendly the town is. With few exceptions, all the shopkeepers and locals we’ve interacted with have been really welcoming. Bratislava seems to lack some of the (at times) snooty pretension that we’ve encountered in some other cities on this trip. Continue reading “Spend a Couple of Days in Bratislava” »

Avoiding the Evil Eye in Budapest

The overnight train from Krakow was not quite as nice as our prior overnighter, which isn’t saying much. The biggest change was no air conditioning. We left the window open, which kept the temperature ok, but at the expense of a whole lot of noise. Waking up in fits to a blur of Slovakian countryside zipping by was a bit surreal. Despite this, I think Martha and I got a fairly decent night of sleep. Greg and Larissa seemed a bit more tired. Continue reading “Avoiding the Evil Eye in Budapest” »

Just Enough Time To Spend Our Zlotys

The overnight train from Prague to Krakow didn’t really provide an ideal night’s sleep, but it was restful enough to have us ready to face the day (that, and multiple shots of espresso) when we arrived just before 8 a.m. I woke up an hour or so before that and opened the window to the sight of fields of golden wheat rolling by. The land is wide open with gentle hills and farms dotted with functional Soviet-era buildings here and there. Continue reading “Just Enough Time To Spend Our Zlotys” »

Ice Ice… Maybe?

We’re not charting new territory here. Eastern Europe is not part of the developing world. Stable electricity, clean drinking water on tap, and high-speed Internet are a given. With those things in mind, and with temperatures here (in Prague) approaching the 90s, there are a couple of things that are notably absent. The first is air conditioning. I’m going to just say that it’s nonexistent here. The places that claim to have it, well, sorry, they just don’t. Continue reading “Ice Ice… Maybe?” »

(The art of) Train Bathroom Picnicking

Our flight to Berlin was over in what seemed like no time… A few light naps and we were there, ready to go (sort of) at about 0800 local time. We got our bags held at our hostel right outside of central station. The day started out pretty gray and cool and by mid-morning progressed to miserable gusty rain. Things were not looking promising at first since a number of things we wanted to visit were outdoors, so we figured we’d try to kill time in some museums while the rain was at at it’s worst. We did stop by the Reichstag building with an idea of just getting pics of the outside, but managed to get passes to visit inside later in the day with a bit of a wink and a nod from the counter lady. Continue reading “(The art of) Train Bathroom Picnicking” »

Palau: Diving, Swimming with Jellyfish, and Shopping at the State Prison

This trip has been a steady progression in comfort from the Spartan accommodations in the Marshall Islands, to the rugged and underdeveloped Micronesian state of Chuuq, to the traffic and chain restaurants of Guam, and finally now to Palau. Nice roads, streetlights, sidewalks, boutique stores and restaurants, numerous resorts catering to a large number of Japanese tourists mark a real change from the prior stops. Palau is a fantastic tourist destination. The attraction is the natural unspoiled beauty of the place, which is a tricky thing to manage for a destination. Palau seems to strike just the right balance of welcoming visitors while keeping attractions like the rock islands and Jellyfish Lake pristine. Continue reading “Palau: Diving, Swimming with Jellyfish, and Shopping at the State Prison” »

Truk Stop

Getting from Majuro to Truk/Chuuk was about a seven hour journey, with maybe only half of that being flight time. This was the real “pacific island hopper” experience. I must admit that I had had my fill of it by the time we got to our destination. Honolulu to Majuro was the first hop that we did a few days before. The jump from Majuro, Marshall Islands went to Kwajalein Atoll, Marshall Islands (A U.S. military installation), then to Kosrae, Micronesia, then to Pohnpei, Micronesia, and finally to Truk/Chuuk, Micronesia. Each stop had about thirty minutes ground time for redundant security checks. Just for clarification, our final destination was Chuuk (pronounced Chooq). I guess it was decided Truk sounded better when it was under U.S. control. Now that it’s an independent country though, Chuuk seems like the more appropriate title. There are some places (like the lagoon) that seem to hold on to the “Truk” moniker. Continue reading “Truk Stop” »

First Stops on the Pacific Hopper

United Airlines has a route from Hawaii that hops through multiple stops in the Marshall Islands and Micronesia, terminating in Guam. It’s a carryover from Continental Airlines, and it’s a reasonably economical way to travel through multiple stops in the South Pacific. This is the route we’re moving through, and we’re now a couple of stops in. We overnighted in Honolulu and then caught an early morning flight to Majuro, Marshall Islands. Continue reading “First Stops on the Pacific Hopper” »

Here, There, and (hopefully) Back