With Genoa As My Witness

Got back home today, and even though I've had a smashing time, being back home is kind of nice. I suppose a girl needs to sleep sometimes. Went over the jillions of pictures taken during this trip, and picked out the ones I liked best. So, without further ado, I give you the best from one of the witnesses.


Men of T and D examining crackers of chocolate


Dave during morning coffee


Me and Dave on our hike through the five villages


Beautiful five villages scenery


More beauty


Hollow eyed lovers at Via del Amore


Dr. T during lunch hour


Italian sea side


Wardriving Nik busy bringing down open wifi, the second time around


Gorgeous Saltzbourg


Saltzbourgian walkpath


What Nik looks like after a day of starvation


Nik keeping on the ol' straight and narrow


The best wine I think I've ever tasted


Wine distorted Nisse in Pula


The wonderful Alps


A somewhat failed jump shot in Saltzbourg


Nik and Nisse in Zürich (not the one in Austria)

So what can I tell you guys? It was a fantastic trip. Thank you to each and everyone who helped make it so special.

This is Mia, signing out.

Rolling Home Across the Sea

Last night we had yet another amazing dinner. But this one was different, this was what we in Sweden call "extremt värdigt". I'm not even going to try to describe last night. Just a perfect ending to this great trip. Trip is also something Mia has been doing, a lot. She's tripped in six different countries the last few weeks. Kudos!

I'm in the line for check in at the airport in Budapest. It's time to go home, but not in a sad way. We really squeezed every last drop out of this trip and I believe we all feel that we are utterly pleased with what has been and at the same time quite eager to go home again. Fucking lagom!

There are three free/open wifis at the airport, which is just brilliant. Hungary really knows how to treat people to basic needs such as the Internets. Two thumbs up. Damn, my iPhone has really been a sweet companion on this trip, thought I'd mention that. When we get hone tonight, we'll post some re-cap or best of pictures here. Until then, we will enjoy our flight and perhaps make a toast on the plane, a toast to us for being so compatible and awesome. That's that.

--Nik

Now I'm bored...

Right,

It's 4.48 in the afternoon and it's way too hot to be outside.

An image to capture the three things we do in hotels when we're bored:
Surf
Talk
Drink some wine.

At least after a shower. Before that cooling refreshness, I was sticky and moist and I probably even smelled. But in our nice air-conditioned room with a clean body and clean clothes ... I don't want to leave. That won't stop me from being bored though.

So let's talk about getting into Budapest.

It's yesterday. It's 15:03 and we're supposed to arrive in the capital (according to the schedule at least)

15.03
The train is slowing down in front of a small concrete cottage with one station inspector and one old lady. The only things
visible. We're 20 minutes late. The American backpacker asks "Is this the capital?"

No.

It's not.

15.23
We're slowly moving into what (according to the schedule and the delay) is the main station. It's hot as heck outside.

15.30
We have left the train, and we're getting the sensation that this is the first place we've visited we're it's vital that you hold on
to your bags. It's hot and crowded. We need to get some money of the current currency.

15.35
That would be "Forint". We head for an exchange booth where we realise that we can change our remaining Euros and Kunas to about 60.000 Forint (we're rich!)

15.36
It's illegal to exchange money on the street. Which doesn't stop the "better rate here" guys to try to hustle us within two meters from the legal exchange booths.

Now let's head for a taxi.

15.45
The first taxi we encounter says it'll cost us 5.500 Forint to get to our hotel (we're apparently not that rich...). We explain that our hotel says it should not cost more than 3.300. The taxi guys talk for a while and explains to us that the traffic is terrible today, and that they cannot possibly get us to our hotel for less than 5.500.

No dice.

15.55
We call our hotel.

16.05
Our hotel-arranged taxi arrives. Will take us there for 3000 Forint.

16.15
Fuck me!
Oh darn!
This is a big city.
We're driving for ever.
The "terrible traffic" is nowhere to be seen though.

16.20
We're going across a beautiful bridge with statues in front of it. I bet we're going to walk across it later and take pictures.

Yes, I was right.

16.25
And now where going up.
Up Castle Hill (as "Europe on a Shoestring" translates it).

16.30
After a few toll booths we arrive at Burg Hotel.
What a nice hotel.

16.32
We've gotten the family room!
It has AC!

16.33
We have our own shower!
We have a view!
We have a minibar!

16.35
We have WiFi!

16.35:02
Surfing the Internets.

// Nisse

How To Cool Liquor



Cool cat cooling style


101 mistakes you're likely make on your backpacking trip through Europe.

1. Over-packing schnapps
2. Under-packing everything else
3. Starting your first food order after arrival with the word "Halloj!"
4. Addressing Austrian people in Italian
5. Downloading songs from iTunes on an open wifi network, thus breaking it
6. Repeating #5 the next day
7. Expecting Italians to understand basic English words like "beer"
8. Befriending people who shoot birds from their bedroom window
9. Losing the only set of keys to the apartment shared by five people
10. Breaking the washing machine
11. Ordering veal with tuna sauce
12. Walking around asking for the red light district
13. Getting bitten by insects
14. Trying beer for breakfast
15. Growing a summer mustache
16. Ordering grappa
17. Getting bitten by sleeping girls
18. Paying €7 admittance fee for the beach
19. Breaking your suitcase the first day
20. Posting pictures to Facebook for €4/Mb
21. Riding a train for 6 hours without any food
22. Using vending machines
23. Learning to whistle during a 6 hour train ride in company of others
24. Repeat #5 in another country
25. Pouring beer on someones head
26. Not bringing a purse
27. Not bringing a wallet
28. Walking
29. Accepting a "free good-luck gift" from shady Kenyan guy in the harbour
30. Buying a bottle of wine in Zürich
31. Going to Zürich
32. Banging pots together to make a lot of noise
33. Sending 20+ damn expensive text messages each day
34. Thinking Turkey borders Italy
35. Falling asleep in an alley
36. Chasing rats while drunk
37. Singing the Swedish national anthem in a crowded restaurant to celebrate an Australian guy
38. Trying to have a wee on a moving train -- standing up
39. Planning ahead
40. Getting a hotel room with blood-stained walls
41. Ordering home made grappa
42. Thinking you could write 101 of these

-- Nik

Oh, ADD


I am so bored. Bored, bored, bored. I've not yet mastered the wolf wistle and everytime I start practicing Nik motions to leave the comartment. I'm hot and Hungary smells of rat piss. I've read almost half my book, and even though it's a good one I'm ow bored senseless with it.


Me, climbing the walls backwards, crushing a mars bar with my head

There's nothing to do, nothing to see. Hungary is almost completely flat, and all I can see are fields, Nik and Nisse. I can hear annoying american girls ('Oh, my god, I am so freaking out!') in the compartment next to ours, and they're bothering me to the point where I wish to hurt them. I am probably the least likable person on this train right now. I accidentally crushed a mars bar with my head while trying to touch the top most bagage rack with my toes.

Why is this whistle thing so freaking hard to get right?

//Mia

Well this ain't boring

While my dear colleague and my dear new-found friend is sleeping their way through a bit of this journey to Budapest, I've put away my Lee Child novel ('One Shot', a good suspense story, but the main character is a bit to much he-man to be interesting in the long run) to blog a bit about train rides (yes, again, but I think you've gotten enough 'From Zagreb with Love'-posts to last you a while).

This is just before Mia's starting to (literally) climb the walls.

Going by train through Sweden, you can't help getting a bit bored. The same forests the same lakes I've seen Ljusdal about twenty times more than I like there's always small children who wants to be there even less than I and the smell make me nauseous...

*relax ... breathe ...*

So I was a bit surprised to realize that I Really Love train rides through these countries. The views are absolutely spectacular. The ride through the alps was magnificent, and yesterdays ride, high up in the mountains beside the bay of Rijeka was so awesome we didn't even take any pictures. Nothing could have captured it.

Even the nightly ride from Salzburg was good (despite the full train and the lack of food), although I was reading Dracula at the time, about riding through through the Carpathians, so my imagination might have been a bit skewed (read my previous post to see what I mean).

I guess it's about seeing something new, experiencing something out of the everyday life, enjoying the company of friends, learning to whistle (yes, Mia is awake and trying to learn to wolf-whistle ... she's getting there, but at the moment it's just noise ;-) ), and just having a great, exhilarating, intoxicating journey of a lifetime.

Or as Mia just shouted: "Did you hear that? I did it! That was a squeak!"

// Nisse

How Zagreb Won My Heart

Somewhere in between that that is love and that that is friendship, there is a big space where the two overlap. This is the place where I'll always keep Zagreb. We arrived, hungry as wolves and tired as narcoleptic night workers trying to kick a coffein addiction, to find one of the most impressive cities I've ever seen. The main street was divided in two by huge parks, green and full of flowers, and the buildings where just the right size to be impressive without being vulgar. The people were friendly, and the streets were clean. The cathedral overlooked the city, and every 15 minutes there was a burst of bells sounding from every corner of the city, announcing the time.


Skål, för i helvete!

We found some chocolate to sustain Nik, who was getting noticably grumpy from lack of nutrients, and then headed off to unload our bags at the hostel Nisse had booked earlier on the train. The room was darling, small but quite adequate, and was located in the old parts of the city. We rapidly found a cozy restaurant with limber waitors, and sat down to enjoy the most fab tuna steak I've ever had. Afterwards, I washed it down with a chocolate mousse that made me want to start a religion in its name, and finally had some decent coffee. A few drinks later, and it was time for bed.


Nisse in the Croatian night

This morning we got up at 7, had breakfast and are now sat on the train to Budapest. I would have loved another day in Zagreb, and am certain that I'll someday return.

Zagreb, you sassy hussy, you have won my heart for ever.

//Mia

Beach in Pula

Lovely, no?


Grains of sand, a bit larger than usual

//Mia

Croatia, Baby #2

I remember writing my last post on the delayed train from Ljubljana to Pula, being very cranky at the time. Let me tell you, that crankyness went away like a dog that suddenly moves to a farm upstate! Damn, Croatia. That's some seriously good shit!

When we arrived at the hotel in sunny Pula where we had made reservations for two nights there was an immediate fuckup: "we don't have your reservation."

Damn.

So after confirming with my bank that hotels.com had charged me for the room, I felt screwed. The hotel receptionist looked through all his papers and systems but couldn't find anything. He sent us around the corner to go see the booking agency which handles the bookings for the hotel. We went in there and had a dead-end conversation about our reservation, it all seemed in vain. Until one girl asked my name, and after hearing it the whole office broke into laughter. They had received my reservation from a system they couldn't handle, so they hadn't known what to do with it. They had apparently been trying to work out what to do with the fax with my reservation, given up and put it in some "uhm... ?"-box. Anywho, I've rarely seen such commitment and servicemindedness from hotel/agency staff as I did in Pula. And we got our room.

View from our hotel room in Pula, Croatia.

We stayed at the hotel Riviera anno 1908 which used to be a premium hotel for jet-set people. It has now degraded an awful lot, but the building was still impressive and held a certain spooky charm that really made you feel its former glory. Quite extraordinary.

Beach in Pula.

Pula was an amazing place, everyone spoke good English and the water was the cleanest I've ever seen in the Mediterranean sea. Just beautiful. I'll definitely go back to the Croatian coastline.

Pula by night.

After two nights in Pula, we were off to Zagreb as a pit stop on the way to our final destination: Budapešt.

The Lennart Danielsson train from Pula. WTF?

Three idiots on a train, no food and barely any water. Yes. That's the second time we get on a train for a half-day long trip without anything to eat. I'm amazed we didn't kill each other. Instead we held a straight face and finally arrived in Zagreb. Oh...

Mia and Nisse in Zagreb.

... what a town! It is nothing like I had imagined. Modern, full of life (full av hälsa!) and just so cute -- this town is well worth a visit. We checked in to a private accomodation in the old town of Zagreb where we got a nice two bedroom apartment for less than €20 a pop. Win.

Went out and had a gorgeous dinner, I of course had the tuna steak. (Thank you, Ted! ;) )

After dinner we had a stroll through a park full of bats and of couples making out. It was awful, such decline of youth in Croatia... Tsk tsk. Went to sleep praying for their sins to be forgiven.

Woke up and went for breakfast, found a market where we bought the cheapest fruit I ever saw. Win again. Now we are on the train to Budapešt, sitting next to a gang of American collage girls that drive us mad with their American crap. It's like listening to a cheerleader movie. Fucks sake. But I'm not complaining, heck we're on our way to Hungary! We're flying home on Wednesday which gives us plenty of time to explore Budapešt. Good stuff. And after coming home from Budapešt I'm off to Örebro to see Astro. Great stuff. This is the best vacation evaaaah ftw!!!1$$$

Mia shopping for some fruit.

Posted on the Internets, written on the iPhones.

-- Nik

Captains Log


While trying to sum up the madness that was this night and morning, I realised that I had a very well complete captains log of the events safe in my phone texting history. Therefore, I give to you dear readers, messages in the night:

01.14
At the train station waiting for our train to Ljubljana. I woke after two hours of sleep feeling giggly and unable to stop singing Sound of Music songs. Nik compared having confidence in confidence alone to to only programming through means of meta programming, and ended up calling Fraulein Maria a ditsy cunt. Will do some more sleeping on the train, or I'm afraid I'll spontaneously burst into flames halfway to Pula.


Nik and Nisse at the Saltzbourg station

01.41
We just managed to get seats in the train in a compartment where we were instantly hated for no apparent reason. Two very loud girls are roaming the hallway outside, and due to what must be danish combined with drugs they're totally incomprehensible. A big part of me wants to break their jaws to stop them from yapping.

04.17
Still on the train to Ljubljana, have not been able to sleep at all. Am now exhibiting all the tell tale signs of a mad person, randomly bursting out in either laughter or tears, and due to the evilness that is vending machines and my inability to rock them I'm not only hungry but down three euros with nothing to show for
them.

06.19
Arrived in a rainy but beautiful Ljubljana, waiting for our next train which arrives with promises of a restaurant cart (LOVELY!). Managed to get some shut eye, and am feeling slightly less emotionally psycho. Oh! Here comes our train now. Fab!


Picture taken at freaking 09.16

07.15
Turns out that wasn't our train at all. We still haven't left, and the new train seems to not have a restaurant cart at all. I'm cranky, but Nik bought us some chocolate, which certainly helped. We will miss our final train, though, so we still need to
fix that. Will try to sleep some of this hunger off.

08.48
We're stuck on the same train, still in freaking Ljubljana and along with what must be the most annoyingly loud 18-year old party animals who I all dream of destroying.

09.18
Nik is giving me the sad puppy dog look, convening hunger and despair. Moustache looks rather happy, though.


Beautiful scenery, thoroughly enjoyed

11.31
We're being transported as cattle, cramped up in tiny hallways without food or water. Luckily, we're getting close, only a little under 2 hours left.

11.50
Huzzah! The new cart is fab and I've got some chips. Only 1.30 left now.

14.03
Finally! Now all we need to do is check in to our hotel. Should be easy.

14.17
Shit! They've not gotten our reservation. Fuck a duck!

14.45
Major pfew.


The first thing I had to drink or eat that day. Was drunk as a donkey on radishes after that beer.

//Mia

Rant

I'm sitting on a train that reeks of pee. It is standing still. We're in Ljubljana and the locals tell us in their best English thst something called "The Storm" has "flipped it". So we are standing still. Have yet to confirm what "it" is and how severe it is when it gets flipped.

We passed the Telekom Slovenije main office on our way in to Ljubljana and Nisse seemed rather grumpy about it. I myself felt that it was nice to be able to connect all that jazz that is TS to something in the real world.

We've missed our connection in Hrjepe-Kozina and we need to figure out how to get to Pula, our destination. Guess things will work out just fine. I'm looking forward to buying a proper beach towel and to having a swim. These Slovenian kids are having a loud party on the train despite the fact that it is 7 a.m. They play horrible music and move around and shout and laugh. Bastards. Go away!

Saw quite a lot of the Slovenian country side on our way to Ljubljana, and it was spectacular! Could really consider going to Slovenia "for real" some time. Now I should listen to Tubular Bells to keep my calm. This train ain't a-rockin'.

Sent from my iPhone

-- Nik

Note Eventually we arrived in Croatia and all is well and this place is brilliant!

Night train to Ljubljana

03:05

If you make a list of all the romantic train lines in the world (topped by the Orient Express one guesses), the "Overnight train
to Zagreb" probably won't be in the top-ten (although Mia managed to sing a song about it... granted that was before we
boarded). But I think we've captured another central part of InterRailing here; the actual budget travel.

The boarding of a train in the middle of the night, leaving for a remote location. Sneaking past the grumpy conductor, making your way through the coaches finally finding three available seats and almost room for your luggage. Sitting among friends and strangers, some managing to sleep through the whole journey, some managing a few minutes of shut-eye between stations.

There is a romantic side of it as well, the train moving swiftly but jerking on the old and worn, jagged railroad. The passengers looking out at the night, the dark forests, the distant villages, all watched over by the pale full moon. Lights from scattered houses, blissfully unaware of the train hurrying through the night; it's business is elsewhere.

oh pale and silvery watcher
can we borrow you tonight
can you guide us on our path

// Nisse

Last Night In Saltzbourg


Back in our room after the most amazing dinner of gulash and knudl, followed by a gigantic portion of the local dessert consisting of baked egg whites and raspberries (which was about a jillion and one times better than it sounds). This country is scratching me in all the right ways, and in all the right places.


Austrian nit-picking

We're now looking forward to about two hours of sleep before we need to catch the first of the trains taking us to Croatia, or, as Nik put it:

'I hate to be the one making all the decisions, but I really think we should go for a swim in the Mediterranian tomorrow morning.'


Nik and Nisse outside the house where Motzart was born

This trip is awesome.

//Mia

Croatia, Baby.

So we've made reservations for Hotel Riviera in Pula, Croatia. We will arrive there tomorrow morning, going via Ljubliana, Slovenia. We're all a bit impressed of the fact that we just decided to go to Croatia. That wasn't really the plan. Plans are evil. Croatian riviera is good. Sun. Beach. No alpine rain. Good. Excellent. Excellent...

-- Nik

Saltzbourg's Finest


Went on a slight hike uphill to the Saltzbourg fort today. On the way we made sure to try out some stunning local fashion.


Nisse, Tyroling it

Once up there I quickly climbed up on the wall and ordered a Kodak moment


Me, enjoying the view

while Nik, who's desperatly afraid of heights, kept insanely close to the sturdy walls of the fort.


Nik, enjoying the views in a different way completely

We'll be leaving for Croatia this night, hoping for some sandy beaches, a lot of sun and good internet. Stay tuned, darlings.

//Mia

Plockaråm å Ätarom



Sometimes the most amazing stuff comes out of the mouth of funny man Nik, and yesterday was no exception. At one point he sent me into a 30 minute hysteric laughing fit after a particularly good joke about the reactions to LetherMan (a highly suspicious super hero wearing lederhosen and smoking a pipe) showing up in your room every morning to wake you up. ('Oh, go away!'). I stumbled through the streets of Saltzbourg, manically grasping on to every solid object that could help keep me standing up rather than falling over.



I think it's safe to say that I'm enjoying myself.

//Mia

If Your Horse Is Doing This




...well then I'm sorry to inform you that it's probably broken.

//Mia

The Alpine Trail

Alright, moving through the Alps, recollecting the wonderful scenery from my previous visits to this region. I now remember why I've said for a year now that Austria is the only other country in the world I could imagine living in permanently. Anywho, we were in Zurich a little less than 24hrs, and saw very little of the city besides my and Niks little food-and-internet trip last
evening. But we all felt it was quite enough (the prices, ah the prices). I probably won't return.



Yup, it's as difficult as always to take the Great Alpine Photo ...
won't stop us from trying though

Right now I'm wondering (for the umpteenth time) how one could best experience these countries on foot. Walking through these mountains should be a blast, but the problem is as always sleeping. Tent? Hütte? Hotels? There are no perfect
alternatives. At least in Scotland your allowed to put up your tent for a night or two. Here? Not so much.

On our way to Salzburg. Again :-D And then perhaps a small alp village with priceless views? Who knows? And that's what's great!

//Nisse

All This Beauty Stings My Eyes

Leaving Zurich, strictly on a whim, in the company of Nik and Nisse. I find myself constantly out of breath, constantly oohing and aahing, actually at times fighting back tears.


Me, pining


Nik, pining even harder


Nisse, master of pining

The mountain is my muse, and I'm feeling poetic, sappy and in the mood to write some second-grade poetry. You can't stop me. Here I go.

As clouds caress your perky tops
Turquoise diamonds rest in your chasm
Fluorescent greens so pure and soft
Eyes in constant state of orgasm

Foxes jumping in the flowing grass
The sound of music in my head (I really should get that looked at by the way)
The Edelweiss is white and pure
I want to take the Alps to bed

//Mia

Construction Time Again


7.15. Zürich. Someone is determined to wake us up.



Lovely.

//Mia

A Long Post

Yesterday we left Italy. Such a sad farewell to a country that has treated us amazingly. Got up at 5.20 to catch the morning train to Milan. As we approached Milan Centrale we were able to enjoy one of the most fantastic thunder storms I have ever witnessed. Never seen such huge flashes, it was quite spectacular.

In Milan the rain had put half the station building under water, I guess it doesn't rain that often there. We got on the alpine express to Zurich and ended up sitting together with a Leo Tolstoy look-a-like from Verona. He left us as soon as we crossed the border to Switzerland, though, and for the rest of our journey we were pretty much alone in the cart.

Mia enjoying the trip through the Alps.

The Alps. Oh The Alps. I don't even know what to say, the trip through the mountains was simply one of the most striking experiences I have ever had. The scenery really made my knees buckle. And there was almost four hours worth of continuous display of this mindless crazy picture of perfect during the trip. Oh my.

Mia and I arrived in Zurich where the weather was significantly cooler than what we've gotten used to. We also had no clue about the exchange rates for the Swiss franc, so we took out 200 each and prayed that it would be a fair amount. Went to have lunch at some cafe where there was free WiFi, Switzerland is obviously a good country. We ordered a hamburger each, and as we often did in Italy, also a bottle of wine. Now, in Italy a bottle of wine would cost somewhere in the realms of €8 in a restaurant. Turns out, in Zurich that bottle of wine is €42. Fail.

Nisse and Mia in Zürich.

So we sat there feeling ashamed of having lunch for €60+ when suddenly, out of nowhere, Nisse shows up! Who would have thought!? Nisse had arranged for a hotel for the three of us, so we started walking in the hotel's general direction. I was praying for a decent shower facility because the showers in Genoa were just bull crap. The hotel turned out to be a high standard place, and the shower was truuuuuuuly heaven for a sticky guy like myself.

The... Eh... River in Zürich.

After checking in at the hotel, we picked up some Moskovskaya vodka and some grappa (<-- Nisse's fault) and had a relaxing chat in our room. Mia felt tired so she stayed behind when Nisse and I went out for a quick fondue dinner. As we were heading home, we decided to stop at a bar to have some local beer. Our waitress served us a coaster each on which she put a glass of Falken, a quite sweet lager which was actually pretty good. Now, when I am served beer on a coaster I tend to study the coaster seeing as I am interested in beer in general. So I picked up my Falken coaster, read it and turned it around. On the other side, there was a name and a phone number scribbled. I thought it looked like it was printed on there, so I checked Nisse's coaster. No number. I then realised that, for the first time ever, a waitress had actually flirted with me. Man, I'm telling you that this mustache I'm growing is really doing the trick.

Susie Q!

After the beer we went back to Mia and had some more vodka before calling it a night. Sleeping in the cool mountain air was truly bliss. We got up and down to the train station to find out when the next train east was departing. There was a train leaving within ten minutes, so we figured better sooner than later and jumped on board. We're sitting in the restaurant cart right now, and we plan to spend the entire 6 hour journey here. I'm looking out over Lichtenstein and pondering ordering today's first beer. Oh, life.

-- Nik

No Words


Riding through the most amazi
The most spectacular landscape I've ev
My eyes are just about ready to burst from all the visual candy of
My word, this is gorgeous, I can't belie
Never before have I witnessed such perfection of natu



Nope. Sorry readers. Can't keep my eyes on the screen long enough to finish writing this. It's just all to beautiful, and no picture will ever truly do this justice.



//Mia

Wanna be Italiano



...but unfortunatly we have to leave. Next time you see us, we'll be wearing ridiculously expensive watches, waving swiss army knives at passers by, while hopefully being connected enough to the internet to keep you all posted.

Ciao, bellos!

Mashup

Today everyone but Mia and I went to the ECOOP conference (which is the reason why everyone is here). As Mia and I are here on vacation and nothing else, we didn't go with the rest of the gang but instead prepared for our departure tomorrow. We ordered Nisse to book a nice hotel for us in Zürich for tomorrow, as we're meeting him there. We also managed to book some train tickets and it seems that we're now all set to start our journey-in-journey tomorrow morning.

We also got some shopping done at H&M (...) and had a beer. And now we're relaxing in the apartment before going to the Internet point to post these posts and pics. Enjoy!



Duff beer.



Johan watching the Moto GP and supposedly being very Italian about it.


Next time you hear from us, we will be in Austria. So long!

-- Nik


The 1000 Words Picture


How I wish there could be a picture that would perfectly sum up this trip and all of its wine-nerd-blissfullness, a picture that would perfectly say it all without the use for words. To tall of an order, I guess.




Oh, wait, right. There it is.

//Mia


Meeting Mister Barrista


No one quite knows coffee as the Italian, and lucky for me they're keen on spreading the coffee love by teaching us ignorant swedes how it's done. Granted, my first try came out tasting a lot like the overly milky, half-assed cappuccinos we get in Sweden, but as far as my first try goes, I'm pretty darned pleased.

Also, a big part of me wants to whack him over the head and bring him back home with me. Waking up to cappuccinos like the ones he makes for the rest of my life would so be worth spending a few years in federal prison over.

//Mia


Everetting Love


Out of all the things to do in Genoa, one of my most favouritest things is giving love to the Everetts of the bunch. They're just so fabulous, it's impossible not to constantly hug them. Also, it seems, it's impossible not to take pictures of me doing so.

Me and Everett J Everett (cleverly concealing his new watch behind my back)

Me and Everett D Everett (cowboy scientist man of the world)


Me and Everett T Everett (looking slightly uninterested in

receiving the Everetting love)


Now, all we need to do is find Nik a hat to turn him into Everett N Everett.

//Mia


Surfin' Brrrrrrd

Yesterday was a beach day. Our Italian guide and friend Katrina took us by train to a small village where there were some nice beaches. It was bliss to take a swim in the sea after spending all these days in the hot city.

Katrina, Johan and Adrian in the beachy village. It was ssssssooo good.


Katrina is a local who lives in the neighbourhood who we met at Bar Marika which is the cafe just outside our apartment. She's been great and has taken us all around town to good bars and restaurants. We've also gotten to know a few other characters that hang out at Bar Marika every day. The most notable one is Xavier. This guy drives a yellow Honda motorbike, has a saint tattooed on his leg and is just a genius. He speaks roughly two words of English even though he's lived in London for over eight months. He first made contact with us by trying to give us a taste of his spliff. When he heard we were computer programmers, he just said "programmatorio general de Java" which we've yet to figure out how the hell he could be so spot on. There is no way this guy actually knows what he is talking about. Last night, he told us, he couldn't sleep because the birds were making noise. His solution was to take out his gun and shoot some of them from his window. He said the cats in the street were happy to have some free birds served. He's just a genius.


Johan and Tobias enjoying some urban l00t.


Anyhow, the beach. Apparently all Italians go to the beach on Sunday, which is why everything else is closed. It was extremely crowded on the beach, but still a nice change from the urban settings of central Genoa. Oh, by the way -- the train station smelled like Kärlekstunneln.

When we got back we met up with Beatrice and Nick Cameron who had just arrived in Genoa. Together with them, Katrina and a few others, we went out for dinner and ended up at this amazing restaurant. It was a so called "Michelin restaurant" and you could really tell. The service was excellent, and the food was extremely top-class. I had a mixed seafood platter as starter, went on to have some pasta with pesto and then a grilled tuna fillet. For desert, I had tiramisu. I was in awe. And the whole shebang only cost €40. Crazy stuff.

-- Nik


These feet are made for breaking

Granted, I've not been blogging much, leaving all of the hard work

of providing you, our dear readers (all two of you), with funny

stories about our Genovian adventures to Nikky. I am positive he's

been doing a brilliant job of it.


Genova is fucking amazing. Not just amazing in the sense that ice

cream can sometimes be amazing, but truly, earth shatteringly

freaking amazing. The food is awesome. The weather is

brilliant. Company is great. Beer is cold, and wine is

red. Beautiful.


So. Given the total awesomeness of this place, naturally, my first

instinct was to leave this place and head two hours

south. Well. To be more precise the idea wasn't mine, but Dave's,

but I was quick enough to catch on. Unfortunatly, the other guys

turned out to be big wusses, which ment that me and Dave had to go

alone to visit the five villages of lovelyness. The general idea

of the five villages is that they're located just far enough away

from each other to be at a walking distance, while at the same

time being far enough away from each other to provide a

spectacular challange. At a total, I think me and the professor

did about 4 or 5 hours walking (or rather climbing) under the

scorching sun, and we got to see all five villages. It was

fantastic.




I can't bend my toes without crying today. Nor can I fully extend

my legs. I've gotten a bite on my right tit, and it's starting to

swell up. There's wine in the kitchen. I'm going to go have some

right now.




Why is it I'm not spending all of my time in Italy?

//Mia

Dave in Your Window

A great man once said, "it could be the beer talking, but you've

got an ass that truly won't quit." This is quite an apt quote when

talking about any trip to Italy. Naturally, instead of 'beer' a

delectable Chianti is more appropriate. Many possible subtitutes

for ass are applicable. For instance, the supply of unbelievable

pasta is unending, though I'd have to say the ravioli with nasi

(?) sauce - walnut - is perhaps the most delictable of

ass-alternatives. The adornments and colours of buildings provide

a suitable ass-subtitute, for those into bigger structures. Or

perhaps the five villages, which, due to the significant leg work

required to get between them in the searing heat, are much like

the ass only found on MTV, often in sets of five, gyrating and

poisoning the minds of the youth of today. Even something as

simple as a morning cappuccino is exemplary ass, of the sort found

only in Italy.




-- Il Professori


Mia's offline post from July 2

Stuck in a swedish snaps-song mode, starting with Dave's verse

about Danish cheese, continuing on to sing about the swedish

farmer boy's week, smashing ice from the fridge in hope of getting

it to close. Johan is wearing translusient underwear, Dave is

ignoring swedish lyrics planning tomorrow's trip to the five

villages, and Tobias is bravely struggling on with his work. It's

a very humid night, I'm sweating like a pig and is slightly drunk

from swedig schnapps. It's beautiful here. Truly beautiful. I

don't ever want to leave.

//Mia


(Allow me to introduce myself...)

My name is Nisse* (actually it's Lars, but that's a long story for another day), and I'll be joining Nik and Mia when they arrive in Zürich in a few days time. (Which means I won't actually be witnessing Genoa, but I was "encouraged" to blog here anyway), and accompany them on this awe-inspiring multi-country trip.

 

Eastbound and down.

 

Anywho, past contributors have mentioned the burdens of packing their bags, so I thought I'd do the same... I was on a similar trip a year ago, and at that time I decided to pack enough into my fairly large backpack to make sure that I  Avoid. Any. Inconvenience.

 

Which meant that my luggage became a bit inconvenient.

 

Opposite approach taken this year. I'll focus on travelling light, one simple bag containing only the essentials (which ideally would be "Europe on a Shoestring" and an ATM card, but I should be realistic).

 

I have this notion that it would be cool and smooth just to fling a messenger bag over my shoulder, and don't having to bother with adjustable straps and "did I close that pocket" and hunchback feeling.

 

...

 

I just became a bit distracted. I wanted to show you a picture of my collection of bags, and my difficult choices, when I discovered that my trusted camera is broken. When I take pictures, it doesn't seem to focus correctly, and the resulting image is (for some reason) interlaced ?!

 

The interweb says this might be the so called "Venetian blinds" problem, suggesting an imminent CCD failure (I'll investigate further). I can have it repaired for free (less than a year since purchase) but what will I use on this trip? My old 2Mpix camera? My iPhone?

 

I shall sleep on this.

 

Greetings!

 

// Nisse



*(Approximate pronunciation for English speaking readers: Take the automaker Nissan, and omit the last N)

 


The Country of Closed

The thing about Italy is that it's a really good country in many ways. Great food, nice people and amazng coffee. The other thing about Italy is that it is a crap country in many more ways. Tonight Johan, Tobias and I had to walk around the town for close to an hour to find a pizza place that was open. Around fucking eight in the evening we had trouble finding pizza! That's just insane.

During the day practically everything closes for a few hours. This is insanity, why the hell do shops close in the middle of the day? There are a shitload of people out browsing but no stores to browse. Oh well. At least I found the holy grale (pun) of beer today; beer from Birra del Borgo and Baladin! And also I found a bottle of Duff Beer. Kinda cool.

Right now I'm at this shitty Internet point and the keyboard is so gross I don't want to use it much longer. Also, Mia hasn't posted a single post on the blog since we got here. I'll do my best to kick her into shape because she's been doing too much slacking off with this bloggy-business. In the meantime, please read my rant about Pepsi.

When I was a young boy my father took me into the city, to join the black parade. When I was a young boy I used to think Coke was the shizzle-ma-fizzle and Pepsi was just a crappy nothing. However, as the years have passed and I've grown ever more mature in taste and style, I've realised that Pepsi is just fucking brilliant. Better sweetness, less annoying fizz and a nicer taste than coke. After having two glasses of Pepsi with my pizza for dinner today I realised how fond I've grown of that drink. It has been a while since I had Pepsi so this revelation really made my day.

Last night there was a very strange street party on our street. I didn't really understand what it was about, but all I know is that I fell asleep to the sound of a catholic church choir singing gospel hits. Wierd, wild stuff.

Today, we celebrate the great made-up Swedish tradition nuckeafton to commemorate the un-holy meeting of the Swedish King Oscar II and the Queen of Norway some hundred and fifty years ago. There will be schnapps and an unregulated exchange of gifts and goods. However, the Aussie guy a.k.a. Dave has gone missing. This is a big fucking shame, because we we're planning on dedicating the whole party to him, i.e. making him drink all the schnapps. Instead, I guess we'll just hang at Bar Marika which is the café in our buildning. Let's hope the joint smoking motorcycle dude that J and T made friends with yesterday is there to keep us company.

No pics today, sorry. And no real action either. (No refunds.)

N.B.
I tried purchasing Tubular Bells, the album by Mike Oldfield, on iTunes using my iPhone today. At the time I was connected to the sweet, beautiful open wifi we've found. About halfway through the 100 Mb download, the connection died. And it never came back up. I guess i broke the Internets. Damn.

It's an aterstallare, ta mig tusan!

I just woke up. And just had a beer. Johan introduced me to something I've actually never tried before, which is an "återställare". Good stuff. Last night is blurry, and for some reason all pics I took last night are missing from my camera.   That's a real shame, because I took a photo of a toilet that had a design which captured the look of Berlin anno 1989 perfectly. Oh well. Here is the story of yesterday.

How many computer scientists does it take to mend a washing machine?
Many. And beer. And a knife.

As my previous post stated, the schnapps would come out. And they did. After singing "Jag är en fattig bonndräng" and pouring down some Pors and O.P., Johan noticed that the freezer door wasn't shut properly. So he took a knife and started fixing the freezer. And then, after successfully fixing the freezer door, he took his knife, gathered a possy and went to fix the washing machine. It is still broken.

I'm having trouble remembering what else happened before we went to dinner, but there images might give a hint.

Schnapps + bird = shirt failure

Body fluids (well, beer) + dollar bill = Superman

Shitfaced as we all were, we found our way to some restaurant where I sarcastically ordered a dish called Thai beef. The waiter didn't notice that I was being sarcastic, though, so that's what I was served. Strange as it may seem, it was one of the best things I've ever eaten. Imagine a really mean, the meanest shizzle to tha bizzle thunk da funk-man machine, chorizo -- but without the skin, instead pounded into the shape a beef. 'Splendido.

The sad metrosexual and wine jug Dave, revisited.

So, after having dinner, and after having bought a rose together with Johan to give to Mia, and after having handed it to her singing the Swedish national anthem (which was a big hit at the restaurant, the other guests even came up to us and thanked us for the performance when we were done) we went back to the bar just outside our apartment. Someone ordered grappa and beer and now is where things start to go bad. We hooked up with the first Italian we've met so far who spoke decent English, and she took us to some bar to meet her friends. T-man and I were walking hand in hand probably talking about something brilliant on the way there. God knows. I was told this morning that when the place closed I fell asleep in an alley. I don't know how close that is to what actually happened, but my shorts are rather dirty today. Anywhos, I woke up safe and sound in my bed today, so no harm done. Johan and I just had a couple of 'spresso's and a Corona each, and now we're off to the one place in this God forsaken town where you can actually access the Internet to post these blog posts.

Our sincearest appologies for being to sparse with posts, but we've no fucking way of getting online easily. XXX

-- Nik

"He's gonna pork'er!"


So we're still having a lot of trouble finding the Internets here in this technology depraved country that is Italy. You'll have to excuse the sparse blog updates, we're doing the best we can to keep a nice flow of posts and at the same time enjoy ourselves on our fantastic holiday. I do believe the posts will become more frequent when we enter countries like Switzerland and Austria next week.

Last night Mr. T-Man took us all hiking in the Great Hills of Genoa. After a short pit-stop at a bar slash cake shop where this Italian couple had a hard time keeping their hands off themselves ("he's gonna pork'er!" // Mia) we found ourselves at a beautifully located restaurant in the middle of a classic Italian piazza. The waiters spoke good English (rare ftw!!1) and managed to set us up with a really amazing dinner. I also ordered the beer which the waiter did not recommend ("It is made in Genoa. It is strong. I don't recommend it." // Waiter) and found that it was indeed brilliant. It was a very daring Imperial Stout from true Italian craft brewership that tasted gorgeous. I asked the waiter if he knew where I could buy beer from that local brewery and he said there was a fruit shop on Via della Maddalena where I could get a hold of some bottles. Nice.

Tobias making bad priorities when photographing.

So after having some evening liquor with Tobias and Johan I fell asleep in an instant. However, I woke up at 3.30 am and never managed to go back to sleep because of the raging heat. I spent an hour in the bathroom where it was nice and cool before I finally decided to just go out for a walk and see the town of Genoa slowly wake up. Apparently, this town doesn't wake up at 5 am, so all I saw was a sleeping town, which was just as nice.

When I returned from my walk, Johan had also given up in his attempts to overcome the wet puddle of sweat in his bed and gotten up. After three or so spresso's we decided to take a walk and try and find the beach. And we did find it. A loooong way from home, though. We arrived at a really crappy beach where this anorectic 60+ Italian woman was tanning, so we kept on walking in search of a better beach. We never did find a better one though, but we found a crappy one which cost €7 to enter. We paid and cursed this country for being so crappy, and went down to the water line only to find that there was no sand whatsoever on this beach. Oh well. At least we got some sun and had a nice, cool swim in the Mediterranean.

After getting back to the apartment and after a nice nap, I decided to go find some of that beer on Via della Maddalena, which the waiter from the night before had mentioned. I had trouble finding the street, though, so I asked old Italian ladies that I met on the way "Scuzzi, Via della Maddalena?". Every lady I asked reacted in the same way, which was by smiling and saying "Aaaaw...!" (in a "you're so cute" kind of way) and pointing me in the right direction. When I finally arrived at Via della Maddalena, I realised why they had all been saying "Aaaaw.." when I wanted to go there. Via della Maddalena isn't just the place go get some real Genoan beer. It is also the red light district of Genoa. So I have basically been walking around asking old ladies if they know where I can get laid. Win.

Mia having schnapps and writing offline blog posts in Emacs.

Now we're all hopped up on Corona, except Tobias who is working on a live compiler (I think?). The schnapps is about to come out of the freezer, and then Dave will have to sing his famous "Helsinbora" snappsvisa. God bless Aussies.

-- Nik