Cock and Bull Stories

The adventures of a 20 year old student traveling around Europe.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Amsterdam/Mysteryland


I want to get one thing out there before I update this past week...Amsterdam is officially REDICULOUS, but more on that later.

And Secondly, I apologize for not having pictures uploaded. The program that I use isn't working. I will probably have to set up another account. Please be patient.

This week was a hectic one with orientation, start of classes and a boat load of meetings and forms to fill out. As for classes, if you care, I am taking Thermodynamics, Fluid Dynamics, Deformable Bodies and European Society/Culture. A total of 12 hours.

Wednesday night was really fun here in Metz. After class and everything, there was a social gathering at the GTL building with some snacks which was OK. Afterward, a lot of people went downtown for a free concert playing in front of a 500+ year old cathedral. The music really sucked but the venue was awsome. Check out the short video I took with my camera:
video.google.com/videoplay?docid=5501016371523560391

After that was all said and done, I finished out the week with plans to go to Amsterdam for this giant one day techno-fest at a national park on the outskirts of town called 'Mysteryland', and by giant, I mean GIANT. This very well might be the biggest concert/festival I have ever even heard of. Imagine taking six flags and instead of roller coasters, put huge 5,000+ person tents with enough speakers to blow the three little piggies across the globe. Ok, so before I get into that...

Getting to A'dam was fun in itself. The 6 of us, armed with 5 bottles of wine, playing cards and no idea what to expect, made our way to the 7:13 train to Amsterdam. The trip got us into Amsterdam at around 3:00am and we checked into our B&B that looked like they hadn't renovated since 1974. After some hassle trying to sqeeze and extra person into our room, we hit the sack before Mysteryland later that morning.

So, back to Mysteryland...this place was so incredible, its almost impossible to explain it because I wouldn't know where to start. However, I will do my best to help you understand it.

I knew I was in for a treat when, on the train to the bus that would take us there, the conductor got on the speaker and said, "Mysteryland Station" when we arrived at our stop. Forget anyone else that might want to go to this station then, this day was for Mysteryland and Mysteryland alone. After navigating our way though the sea of people buying bus tickets, we boarded and arrived to our desination shortly there after. Right from the get go, I wasn't sure where to look! To my left, there is a motorcross demo on the lake. To my right, there are three girls wearing 30's style red/white checkered dresses dancing around a 3 foot birthday cake! I've never been so weirded out in my entire life but I LOVED it. Funny thing, these first events don't even hold a candle to the madness that ensued.

My favorite part of the day didn't happen until sun down at the open air stage. During the day, this was already my favorite stage. It looked like the Princess from Mario Brothers Castle with a DJ table front and center. However, once the sun went down around 9:15 in A'dam, it transformed into something else. As the DJ did his dramatic slow down you could feel the tension building like when your at the peak of the huge drop in on a roller coaster. Then BAM, 30 foot flames burst out of the back of the stage followed by spotlights and 10 bright green lazers shooting a cournucopia of designs flooded the croud. Just when I thought that this was the greatest concert I will ever attend, the tension started to build again and right before the croud could take it any longer fireworks covered the sky to the left of the stage. As I playfully dodged the green beams of light strew threw the croud, I around and everyone was just in complete and utter awe. Check out the video:
video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-3167585567142010198

Imagine that happening for over 30 minutes and you will have 1/4 the idea of how insane this concert was. From the 7 foot pink elephants, hundreds of euro mullets, countless shots of Fruggals, lazers, fireworks, mud and croud, I emplore you to go to this anual festival if you are anywhere near Amsterdam on the last weekend of August.

So after possibly the most fun day of my life, we headed back into town around midnight and proceded to go hang out at the red light district for a little. Funny thing, aside from the disguuuusting hookers standing in their windows, I wasn't phased one bit. I guess thats what Mysteryland does to you.

The next day, after a late morning wake up, our group headed over the the Heineken brewerey just down the street from our hotel. A definite must do if your in Amsterdam. For 10 EURO you get a kind of 'world of coke' of beer place to walk through, 3 of the best tasting Heinekens you will ever find and a free gift. Ours happened to be a credit card sized bottle opener. So after we had our beers and drank them too, we headed back to the hotel, gathererd our things and tried to catch the 2:15 train leaving for Metz. Empisize TRIED because after a run around trying to find tickets for two of us who didn't have eurorail passes, we totally missed it. At least there was another one...at 5:30pm that arrived in Metz at 5:00am!

So, after finding a place at the train station to buy beer, we sat down at the train station playing cards, wating for our time. The reason that it took so long to get back into Metz was because we had to transfer trains 3 times. One transfer was in Saarbruken for 3 hours. While in Saarbruken, we figured, we might as well go to a bar to kill time. We and a guy we met on the train from Germany caught some cabs and told the driver to go to the nearest bar/club. They drop us off at this scketchy place 20 minutes away where there happens to be a strip club. We figured we might as well check it out while were here but after dragging my suitcase through 100 feet of gravel, a bouncer told us that we weren't allowed in all while 5 super shady looking dudes walked out, got in their cars and drove off. Haha, I can only imagine what was going on in there.

Well, after all of the hectic mess the trip was well worth it. It's amazing what a good group of people can do for a trip. For instance, instead of sleeping on the way back to Metz like regular kids might do, two of the girls, in search for a few beers, brough back 6 redbulls, 1 bottle of Jaegermeister, 1 bottle vodka, 2 bottles of champagne, orange juice and a bag of baybel cheese wheels...all for only about 40-50 EUROS! I love Europe. It's the only place in the world where the bottled water is more expensive than a bottle of wine.

Haha...well, thats it for this week. Next week will be my first regular weekend here. Trip: Brussels, Belgium for a Beer Festival. It's like the Belgian Oktoberfest (which I will be going to in 2 weeks).

Till then, au revoir!

Friday, August 25, 2006

First Weekend in Metz, France


So finally, I checked into my room this past Friday morning. Luckily I got myself a room to myself with my own bathroom and everything. Unfortunately, my kitchen wasn’t as nice as I was expecting. Instead of a normal kitchen with a nice fridge, stove, oven and microwave, I have a nice fridge/freezer (thank god) and a two hot plates. Needless to say, I don’t think I will be able to do a whole lot of cooking this semester.

Before I could even get settled into my room, I bumped into Tony on his way to IKEA with the other Americans. I had nothing else to do so off I went where I got a few things I needed for my room. After I got back I set up my room and took a little nap before the first celebration of the semester.

Our Friday night started out at these guys Gavin and Mike’s room with a few drinks with plans of going out to an Irish bar in downtown (yes, I went to France to go to an Irish bar). At the time we got to the bar (11ish) there were about 10 people in there which allowed us to just takeover the entire back area with our group of 15+ that couldn’t have been more American if we tried with our obnoxious yelling and butchering of the French language. 3 games of darts, four 3 liter tubes of beer and 5 hours later, we decided to head back to the dorm and crash.

On Saturday, after waking up at 2:00pm, I went to the store for some food, ate and got showered up for our second party night to welcome in some new additions to the group. We started the night with a few games of champagne pong using the big 3 liter bottle of champagne that Gavin bought 2 days prior. Needless to say, I think everyone that played was trying to loose. After someone broke my wine glass, a few of us hitched a ride with a French guy we were hanging out with to L’RETRO, a club in downtown Metz. The car I was in was the first group to the club so we just started dancing and next thing I knew, the rest of our group had arrived and taken over a big couch area, ordered 100 Euros worth of booze, followed by 240 Euro more later in the night. Thankfully, I didn’t drink, or pay, but a little of it, unlike a handful of us that aren’t really sure how they got home that night. Surprisingly, almost half the songs that I heard at that club were US pop songs so I felt right at home…aside from the 200 other French people there.

Sunday was started off by a nice 2:00pm wake up after arriving back at GTL around 5:30am. A few of us decided to go downtown to walk around and get some food. While we were there, we heard about a concert that was happening later on at around 9:00pm. We walked around the city, got some food at some restaurant and by the time we were done, it was 9:30 and RAINING! We walked around trying to figure out if the concert was still going on but couldn’t find it. Assuming it was canceled due to weather, we headed home only to find out that it actually was a traveling concert and only finished where we thought it was. Bummer!

Well, if this weekend has any gauge on how the rest of this semester will be, I’ll probably be returning to the states with half my brain cells searching for a new liver. Haha, I’m not sure if that’s a bad thing or not…but yes Mom and Dad, I will keep studies first.

Next planned events…2nd concert in downtown Metz on Wednesday (happened on Aug, 23rd but posted late) followed by Mysteryland in Amsterdam.

Till next time, au revoir!

Traveling to Metz


So last Thursday (Aug, 17th) was the day that I took my first step into the European culture. Little did I know, that step ended up being big jump.

Let’s start from the beginning. After spending a good 3 hours in the LAX airport prior to my flight, I got on my plane, a big 747 headed straight to London Heathrow (an 11 hour trip!). I got a window seat and fell asleep for the first hour and a half then did a combination of watching movies on my personal TV and talking to my two ‘row mates’. One was an older man probably in his 60s or early 70s on his way to see friends in London and the other, a 27 year old girl who spends half the year working and the other half pretty much being a wanderer on her way to see her boyfriend in Prague.

Once I got into London, I had to make a journey to the other airport via bus in my 5 hour layover which turned out to not be too bad. The Gatwick airport that I was transferring to had tons of duty free shops to check out so it was easy to kill time. Finally, I boarded my final plane to Luxembourg…this is where I started getting really nervous.

The Luxembourg airport is so small that all planes board/de-board on the tarmac and a bus takes them into the terminal (a 5,000 square foot building). After I got my bearings, I asked someone who spoke English how to get to the train station, which I thought was only a few minutes away…30 minutes on the bus later, I arrive at the train station looking like a kid who lost his mom in the Wal-Mart . Unfortunately, in all the mix of getting my stuff off in this strange location, I left my European travel book on the bus! Finally, after getting my ticket and managing to find my train, I awaited my arrival in Metz with an immense amount of anxiety.

On the way to Metz, the train passed a few euro-ghettos covered in graffiti and old dirty concrete square buildings (Think of those dark scary scenes in the movie Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels). With each and every city I passed, I was praying that it wasn’t Metz. Seeing all of these cities made me kind of depressed. I suppose it didn’t help that I was tired, dehydrated and hungry from the kid size meals and new regulations not allowing liquids (even water!) on the plane.

After a few more euro-ghettos passed by, my city came up which is way nicer than I was expecting, after seeing all of the slums on the way. I got off the train and got into the nicest cab I’ve ever seen (brand new 5 series BMW). 10 minutes later, I got to my hotel, laid down for a minute and got some amazing food at the hotel restaurant.

As I was about to eat, my cell phone rings and it was Tony (a fellow American student that I was trying to be in contact with so I could stay on his floor instead of spend money on a hotel). He told me that he just now got internet access and didn’t have my phone number written down. After dinner, I met up with him and we went to his building to hang out (I’ve never been so happy to hear American accents in my life). After I got inside, I was introduced to some other Americans, was given some wine and hung out until 1:30am before passing out from exhaustion.

All in all, the trip was very nerve-racking but thankfully ended like I had hoped…with a bottle of wine and new friends.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Do French girls really not shower?

So, the time has come to once again, venture into the unknown. For many, the unknown makes them uneasy and worried about how they will cope with what is to come. However, for me, it makes me giddy with exitement. See, for all my life I've been a traveling around the world. More than half of my life I've been moving every two years. From Texas to Wisconsin to Singapore (near Thailand) to Arizona to Georgia to California I've been there, done that and never regreted it once. Beacause with each and every move, comes new and different things, people and places. Maybe I've just come to accept my fate as a traveler or maybe it is in my blood. Whatever the case, I'm in over my head, and can't wait for the challenge.

For those who may not know, I am going to study abroad in the Fall semester in a town in France called Metz. A city within 50 miles of both Luxembourg and Germany, it has traded hands many a time during wars.

"What is in Metz?" you might ask. Well, there is a Georgia Tech campus located there that I will be taking some Mechanical Engineering courses at.

Others might ask, "why France?". Well, Western Europe is one of the few places on the globe that I havn't yet discovered and I have always wanted to see where my ancestors came from.

As I sit here at work writing this, all I can think about is that in exactly 12 days I will be on a plane that will most likely, lead me to the greatest 4 months of my life. That reason, is why I have created this site. In order to give not only myself the power to recall all the great adventures that I have come across but to also give you, the reader, an insight into what life is like for a young, single male on the prowl in Western Europe. I will try and post about my journies at least once a week. From the museums to the clubs.

I hope that you enjoy further reading my blog and might consider making your life a little more adventurous as a result.

My next post will take place upon my arrival in France. Take care, and wish me luck.