Cock and Bull Stories

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

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Ben Harper Concert then Saltzburg, Austria

This post will cover two weekends since one of the weekends would be a very short story. Firstly, lets cover the weekend after Fall break where Katarina and I went to a Ben Harper concert. We were dropped off at the concert hall only 20 mintues away from Metz by a friend of Katarinas and then manuvered our way as far forward as we could while not getting crushed. My initial thoughts of the concert (before any music started) was that it was not very smoky. Usually at places like this in the US, there are tons of people smoking who knows what which then covers the entire croud.

I told Katarina this and she didn't really understand what I was saying but right after Ben Harper came out, the croud screamed and then the lighters were busted out and it actually turned into more a stoner fest than it is in the states! A few guys were so out of it they were falling on the ground and one girl actually had to be carried out of the pit after having some kind of seizure or something...typical Europe I guess! After the show, Kat called her friend, he picked us up and we went back to his place and hung out with him and his girlfriend for a while before we headed back home.
Ben Harper rocking out


As for the next weekend, Dustin and I, on a whim, decided one Wednesday afternoon that we were going to Saltzburg, Austria. We had planned on going there to see the sights and hang out with some friends we had made while we were in Interlaken, Switzerland but they never emailed us back. We decided to go anyway and sent them one final email with my cell phone number in case they wanted to hang out with us.

We took an overnight train and got to the hostel around 5 or 6 am, again, too early for check in so we sat in the lounge area and took some much needed naps. We woke up from the pain in our backs caused by the wooden benches we were sleeping on and decided to look at the parifanalia that the hostel had strewed about. We found a group tour package that took us on the infamous Sound of Music tour then followed by a tour of the salt mine the city was named after.

Sidebar: for those who don't know, the academy award winning musical 'The Sound of Music' was filmed in Saltzburg, Austria in the 70's. Also, Saltzburg is German for Salt City. Okay then, back to the story...

Greesy haired and sleep deprived, we hopped on the bus to go see the film sights of Dustin's favorite childhood movie as well as some georgous Austrian countryside. We finally picked up all the people on our tour and soon realized that Dustin and I's age COMBINED was still younger than 60% of the tour group. On our way around the picturesque conuntryside our tour guide, a Scottish man dressed in full liederhosen, bantered us with Sound of Music facts as well as pointed out all of the other sights Saltzburg has to offer, such as Mozart's birthplace, Hitler's summer cabin among many other things. On our tour we saw the, actually two different, houses that scenes were filmed at, the church where the main character, Maria, attempted to be a nun, the gazebo (which was actually moved from its origonal location for some reason) and then had a stop at some small town to get lunch before the tour continued.

The house used for the backyard of the Trap Family house

After our sandwitches we made from stuff at the grocery store, we jumped back on our retirement cruiser for more super exciting times. Our bus then took us on more of a landscape tour around to this small village on a lake where we walked around for a while and got some great pictures and tried on traditional Bavarian hats.

A small girl that I thought looked cute feeding the swans

We finally got back to the main station of our tour company where Dustin and I boarded a second bus that took us to the salt mine tour. An hour and a half nap later, we arrived at the salt mine, jumped out of the bus, dressed ourselves in protective clothing (a canvas jacket, pants and a leather butt pad), and boarded the little train that would take us through the caverns deep into the moutain. The caverns were so small that I felt like if I had moved my head a foot to the right or left that it would have been taken clean off as we were flying down the tunnels at 20 mph sitting longways on, literally, a bench.

My attempt to get a picture on the train in the two lane section

We walked through all sorts of dusty caverns, watched a cartoon on how salt mining works, slid down these strange 50 foot slides on our leather padded buts, tasted the supersaturated salt water and took a small boat through one of the caverns used to extract the salt from the rock around it. After that was all over, we got back on our bench and flew through the caverns all over again until we made it to ground level just as the sun set over the top of snow capped alps. Once this was all done, the bus took us to another small village just across the border into Germany where we got some food and scoped out the small trade shops and got back on the bus to take us to our hostel.

Dustin and I at the end of our tour dressed the stylish gear given to us

At the hostel, exausted from not having any sleep, we had dinner and played cards with some other people we met there and enjoyed a beer or two before getting some much needed sleep so we could get up nice and early to walk around the city. But before we got our pijamas on, our friends from Interlaken called and said that they were in town and would love to meet up with us the next night, cool!

The following day took Dustin and I through a farmers market, the beautiful gardens that more scenes from the Sound of Music were filmed at, played in another crazy playgroud where we rode the slide and giant swings, the town square where we played a game of chess on the lifesized board, looked through the main entryway to the wax museum where Dustin and I showed the Mozart playing piano a thing or two, took pictures next to a crazy looking old lady figure and finally, made our way up the big hill to the famous castle.
Mozart can never get it right

At the castle we saw took in some great view of the city, took a tour up to the top of the castle, saw the torture chambers, some crazy humiliation/torture equipment, and a bull painted half black and half brown. The story behind the bull is as follows...The castle was under seige and in hopes to get the seiging army to back down, the people of the castle paraded around the last remaining brown cow to show they had one, then they painted it black and paraded it around again. The seiging army, thinking they had at least 2 cows, gave up figuring that they had plenty of food to survive...ok then.

At the top of the castle overlooking the Saltzburg river

So after we had our fill of tourist stuff we went back to the hostel, got some food and met up with our friends from Interlaken, Switzerland at a bar downtown. We hung out at this Irish style pub that had a live band then migrated to another bar down the road where we hung out and where one of the Aussie guys that we brought along with us made out with one of the girls that we met there for about half an hour next to everyone trying to act natural.

We made it back to our hostel late and woke up the next morning to go to a Red Bull museum. As it turns out, Red Bull's headquarters is in Saltzburg. We caught the bus and got to this wild looking hangar and inside was a small exibit to a few different Red Bull sponsored sports cars, motorcycles, airplanes and even a small exibit dedicated to a guy who straps wings to his back and jumps out of airplanes so he can travel a few lateral miles in the air before hitting the ground. There wasn't much to see here so after an hour or so, Dustin and I got back to the hostel to grab our things, get a Kebap and board the train back to Metz
Amazing flying guy!

All in all, this trip was good. We got to see some friends from other travels which was awsome as well as check out an awsome castle, salt mines, and a surprisingly good nightlife.

Next weekend I think I stayed in town to study for test but the following one I met up with my brother and we went to Paris for Thanksgiving on Champs Elysees. Have a nice day and until then, Chao!


Monday, January 15, 2007

GREECE!

A long time has passed since my last blog entry. Basically the reasoning for this was just due to sheer lazyness as well as computer troubles which got me behind. Regardless, I wanted to write short stories of the rest of the trip for those who might care the read stories about them. I will keep it up about once every week and include more pictures this time...yippe!

I think I left you guys at Greece. Our group of 6 made it to Athens for our first 2 nights where we cruised around almost all the sights while trying to avoid the thousands of wild dogs and cats roaming the streets looking for table scraps. It was here we tried our first shot of Ouzo, a traditional Greek liquor that tastes very strongly like black liquourish (not always a good thing), got confused for being Greek 8 or 9 times, made friends with a few stray dogs and ate some plenty of feta cheese and baclava to go around. After this, the group split up. Two of the girls decided they would like to go to the islands in SE Greece (Santorini, Mikanos, etc...) instead of the trip we had planned before: A hostel/resort called the Pink Palace on the island of Corfu off the western coast of Greece.

View of the Acropolis from the streets of Athens

After our LONG travel on a bus and then a ferry, we got to the island and were met by a Pink Palace representative, a crazy old lady named Magda who, when asked, claimed she was 'concieved, born and raised at the Pink Palace'...ok then. We had an interesting drive up winding, olive covered roads in a big van going way to fast. When we were, thankfully, let out of the car, we checked in and got a complimentary shot of Ouzo at the front desk (yeah!?). The 4 of us proceded to get bags into our rooms and sat on our balconies as we enjoyed the sun setting just over the cove that our rooms looked over.
The view from Gavin and I's balcony

That night we got on our pink togas and had an actual Greek toga party at the bar down the road from our rooms. After a night filled of all sorts of debauchery, and 5 ounce shots, I woke up the next morning, drank a big glass of water, got Gavin and I's togas folded up for return and noticed that his was COVERED in dirt, blood and everything else I didn't want to know about. When I returned Gavin woke up and the first words that came out of his mouth were; 'what the fuck happened last night?!'

After I stopped laughing, he goes to tell me he lost his glasses, he had someone elses sandals and there were cuts and bruises all over his body. Not to mention, he doesn't remember anything after the first drink that followed dinner. After a little more histeria, we realized that we didn't really have much more time to dilly dally since the booze cruise was coming up fast and we had to sign up to make sure we could get on. I knocked on the girls door, Janine answered it looking like she spent the night awake in a lesbian jail clenching a big bottle of water. After I talked her into drinking more on a boat in a few hours, we had our suits on and got on the boat for even more good times.

Gavin and I before the Toga Party

The Booze Cruise took us first to a 50+ft cliff that I did twice and what a rush a 5 second free fall is! Our next stop took us to an halfway submerged cave which had a second cliff of about 30 feet for us to jump off of. I gathered some courage and after a few practice jumps, did a front flip off the rock, climbed back on the boat with adrenaline induced shakes and we were on our way again . The last stop was a secluded beach where we call played frisbee, had a few more brews and made our way back to the hostel.

On the way back a thing happened that I think will stick in my mind for the rest of my life as one of the most rediculous moments of my days...This one Aussie guy was completely smashed, laying on the boat's bar, playing with the dildo attached to the end of the beer bong when I, after he tried to stick it in my face, pointed it back at him jokingly. Immediately after I did that, he went from laying down to up on his feet and off the side of the boat at full throttle in one leap. It seemed that only the boat driver and myself realized what had just happened and since I was too busy laughing my ass off in amazement, the captain threw the Aussie a life saver which he proceded to start swimming on to the nearest island (about a mile away). We got the Aussie back on the boat, tied him down (no, not really) and got back to the hostel where we all showered and got ready for another night at the club near the hostel. At dinner, the boat jumper's girlfriend was sitting alone and said that her boyfriend was so pissed drunk that he couldn't even wake up for dinner!
Me jumping off the big cliff on the Booze Cruise

The next day we planned to go on an ATV safari. We got geared up and had a short chat with the tour guide who couldn't help but talk tits and ass every 30 seconds. I have to admit, it was pretty funny for the first, say, 5 minutes but this thing lasted over 5 hours which = not so funny. So, after going on trails faster than I thought could be safe, almost rolling my quad and getting some amazing views of the island, we got back and did our regular routine.

The Group on one of the many picturesque views of the island

The next day was October 31st and for those involved in satanic cults, it means Halloween. Now, usually no one else but Americans celebrate all hallows eve but since this hostel was populated by more Americans than not, they thought it neccissary to throw a party...well not so much a Halloween party as it was just another excuse to get hammered.

After deliberating on which t-shirt and pair of jeans would make a good costume, I had the grandious idea to dress up as Kevin Federline (the ex-husband to Brittany Spears who is known for being one of the biggest wannabe gangstas in the buisness). My costume consisted of a camoflauge shirt, my muddy jeans from quadding, a pair of fake Dior sunglasses and most importantly, a 5 day old beard with cornrows. For the 40% of the people at the party, all I had to say was K-Fed's signature line, 'po-po-zow!' and I had them going crazy...actually that phrase turned into pretty much all that I said to anyone by the end of the night, haha!

Pre-Halloween dress-up party

The week was coming to an end and all that the rest of us wanted to do was chill by the beach and relax while we got a little fall time tan in the 75 degree weather. The last day and a half we were there, things started to wind down at the hostel as well as a storm front came in which cooled it down significantly which made it easy for us to part ways with 'The Palace'.

We got back to Athens a day before we had planned and when we arrived there at 4am, we couldn't check into our hostel until 11am so we went for a hike up the acropolis again and hung out on a biblical rock, awaiting an Athenian sunrise. After a few hours we couldn't wait anymore so we got some food and took a nice nap on the hostel louge's couches.
Me at the higest point of Athens viewing over all its glory

We finally woke up, played some chess, ate some toast, took a shower and went on another walkabout around the city for one last time before we departed from where has been thought was the location of mythical city of Atlanis.

All in all I did a lot this trip, saw ancient ruins, jumped off rediculously high cliffs, swam in bat caves, danced in a pink toga, rode a quad to views better than anything I'll ever see again and spent time with great friends. I hope you enjoied this latest installment of the "Cock and Bull Stories". Send me a message if you like this style of posting better than the old...or if you want to see anything different.

Next entry will tell the tale of a journey to Saltzburg, Austria where Dustin and I explored salt mines, lived The Sound of Music, saw where Mozart was born and got into the typical nightlife scene.

Alright, thanks again for reading and until next time, goodbye!