Back to Travel Home Page
J's Travels
My Email Diary from Europe 2001 Trip
JES #1 July 1- July 21 Montreal, Vermont, London, Sweden  
JES #2 July 21 - Aug 4 Herrang Dance Camp, Sweden
JES #3 Aug 4 - Aug 10 Stockholm, Island of Faro
JES #4 Aug 11 - Aug 25 Copenhagen, Munich, Luzern, Interlaken
JES #5 Aug 25 - Oct 11 South of France, Italy, Dubrovnik, Budapest, Prague, London

100 Highlight pics from my 4 months in Europe!

London, Sweden, Copenhagen, Munich, Lucerne, Interlaken, South of France, Italy, Dubrovnik, Budapest, and Prague.

JES #1 - Montreal, Vermont, London, Sweden
JES Update #1 July 21st. 3 weeks travelling so far. Lovin' it!

MONTREAL <<Swing Dance Camp & Jazz Fest>>
Best performance I caught at Jazzfest: Kristi Johnson, local blues act
Hour you need to dance to for the sun to be up when you come out: 5 am
Favorite new teachers: Bill Borgida & Sarah Baldwin
Streets most densely populated w collegiate partying coeds at 3:30am: St. Denis, and Rue St. Catherine
Dominant form at the fantastic museum exhibit, "Picasso Erotique": Line drawings
Alma Mater I was able to revisit after over a decade since my semester there during under grad: McGill University
Item that I bought taking advantage of the brutally strong US Dollar in Canada: RIO portable MP3/CD player

VERMONT <<Road trip from Montreal to visit childhood best friend John Capen in Middlebury>>
Age of Johnnie's incredibly beautiful and playful daughter Ella Bella: 1 1/2
Ella's favorite thing to say in french: La Petite Souris
Reason why John is in Middlebury this summer: Bredloaf Language Program for Masters in English
My major in Undergrad: English
% of John's classes I sat in on: 100 (he only had one)
Hours after landing in SF that I bought the text from that class, "Aristophanes" (greek comedy), to read in Europe: 4
Factory we toured in Waterbury VT: Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream
# of flavors in Ben & Jerry's "Flavor Graveyard": over 200
Flavor I wish they would bring back to life: CoffeeCoffeeBuzzBuzzBuzz
BJ's current best selling flavor worldwide: Cherry Garcia

LONDON <<Visit Jen Mullin, Layover before Sweden>>
Attendees at lovely Dinner party thrown by Cathy Halligan for Evite / Prophet Reunion: Me, Jen Mullin, SelinaTobaccawala, Brent Pickett (a soccer bud of mine who works w Cathy for Prophet Brand Strategy)
Single purchase made in London: Mini soccer ball at Niketown
Favorite thing about London: Cultural diversity & the accent
Number of connecting legs between Jen Mullin's flat and my cottage in Herrang sweden, including walking, light rail, subway, transfers, express train, airplane, and buses: 14
# of London Tube (subway) stops that I recognize from Soccer team names: 4
Number of consecutive nights of 0 to 5 hours sleep in a row since leaving SF: 3
% of my two flights to London (layover in Toronto) that were upgraded to first class: 100

SWEDEN <<Swing Dance Camp! one week down, more to follow>>
Distance from Stockholm to Dance camp in Herrang Sweden: 100km north
Population in Herrang: 350
Attendance at Dance Camp: 500
Number of stores other than post office, hamburger stand, and convenience mart in Herrang: 0
Hardest word to pronounce in Swedish: "7" - pronounced "shhhrrrrüü"
Only hours of darkness in Herrang: 11:30pm to 1:30am
Typical Sleep time: 5am - 10am, w afternoon & evening naps
Most pleasant surprise so far: delicious nightly fish dishes despite summer camp-stye cafeteria
Most useful swedish phrase: Skavi Dansa, ellur skavi basta furst? ("would you like to dance, or shall we take a sauna first?").
Favorite new song: "Would You" by band Touch and Go
How I would describe the nightly "camp meetings": Swedish Letterman
Hardest thing to translate between different languages: Sense of humor
Countries from which I've danced with partners: Australia (!), Russia, Latvia, Sweden, Switzerland, France, England, Denmark, Germany, and yes, New Jersey.
Length of one "Swedish Mile": 10k or 6.2 miles
Favorite topics covered during the hour long Q&A rap session with special guests Frankie Manning, George
Reed, & Dawn Hampton (from Harlem Savoy scene back in the 40's) here at Herrang: The Savoy 400 club which
young kids in harlem could join as the lindy hop farm team, and how Duke Ellington & Jimmie Lunceford were the "dressin-est" bands in town. (Changed their outfits during each act, and in between each of 4 performances every day)
Most unique swing dance move specific to Herrang: Swing-out Mosquito swat.
Most commonly heard from the brits: "I'm knackered"
Most commonly heard from the Aussies: "Auzzie, Auzzie, Auzzie, Oy! Oy! Oy!"

* Next Up: 1-2 more weeks dancing, then possibly Swedish Island Gottland, the Fjords in Norway, Copenhagen, and Prague *

JES #2 - Herrang Dance Camp, Sweden
JES Update #2 - Saturday August 4
<<Herräng Dance Camp has just ended. After 3 weeks of dancing around the clock, am taking a day to recover>>

Meal I miss most from America: Breakfast
What Sweden and most of Europe, pass for Breakfast: A bunch of bread, cold cuts, a block of spam, jelly, Cold Cereal, and salty swedish porridge/rice pudding.
Most Glaring Omission from European Breakfast: Eggs, homefries, pankcakes, or anything hot.

# times swimming in the Baltic Sea: 4
Book I'm Reading and loving right now: Good Omens, by Terry Pratchett, Neil Gaiman
# of batteries I've gone through with my portable MP3 CD player: 8

Most memorable dance in Herräng: Dawn Hampton
New favorite Song: Bli Blip, by the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra
New countries represented by partners I've danced with this week: Hungary, Greece, Finland, New Zealand, Alaska, Estonia, Spain!
Age range of dance partners in classes so far: 15 - 60
Name of the Swedish Dance Troop that many of the teachers here perform with: Rhythm Hot Shots

Most Elusive so far to me: A Haircut.
Time of day when many (most) barbers and hair salons close on Saturday: 15:00. (3pm)
Number of hours they are open on Sundays: 0

Finnish for Hello / Goodbye: Moy / Gaytörs
Swedish for Shit, as an exclamation, for example if you stub your toe: Fa-an! Or, even better; Fan Ochsa!

Likelihood of buying the WRONG type of milk in a grocery mart: Extremely High.
<brief explanation> Say you're thirsty for a glass of milk to drink. You find the dairy section in the store, and are faced with a row of 6 differently colored cartons, each with a picture of a cow, and some variation of the word Milk in the title… you must choose between……. 1). " Vispgradde Mjölk 40%"(Cream) - which doesn't even pour, but seems to hang in the air, 2). "Filmjölk 3%" (sour milk) - which doesn't really poor either, but rather oozes, and is truly quite sour), 3). "Mjölk 3%" (heavy milk) - which they claim is milk, but seems more like half and half, and pours very slowly 4). "Mellanmjölk 1.5%" (regular milk) - but by now you are quite confused, 5). "Lattmjölk .5%" (skim milk) - The best choice in my opinion, but requires some luck to pick this one, and 6). "Minimjölk .1%" (non-fat milk) which is basically water with white coloring:

Likelihood of buying fruit SAUCE, that you EAT with a spoon, instead of fruit JUICE, that you can DRINK: Very High.
<explanation> You are faced with a row of a half a dozen fruit flavors with beautiful packaging featuring vibrant pictures of various delicious fruits, versus the only two flavors of actual fruit juice (apple and orange)
Strangest topping they offer on pizza here: Banana

Week 2's Big Final Party theme and funniest costumes: Health club / someone dressed up as a carrot, someone dressed up as a red pepper.
Week 3's Big Final Party theme and funniest costumes: Love, Love, Love / "blinded by love" blindfold, prisoner of love jail outfit
Week 4's Big Final Party theme: Olympics / someone dressed up as a greek salad (with olive and feta necklace for real, and bell peppers and onions etc. safety pinned all over), A guy with bright red hair dressed as the olympic torch, being his head.

Funnest new dance that I expect Paul & Sharon to be bringing back to Bay Area: Lindy Rueda
Names of some of the moves that get called out in this: Coca Cola Dame (pronounced Dom-ay), Amoeba, Sushi Roll, Dame Dos, Stop Texas, Boing Boing

Most interesting jewelry / piercing I've seen: Tooth earring of tiny Gold tear drop w/ miniscule diamond in it, prominently visible on the tooth adjacent to the front two uppers by the way.

Nightly snack food in cottage with 11 Norweigans next door: Homemade Belgian waffles, w Jelly or chocolate or cheese.

Number you dial to get information in Sweden: 118118

Beats per minute during the Lindy hop dance sequence from the movie Hellzapoppin: 312
Beats per minute at which we practiced part of this routine (minus the aerial) in class: 308
How I would describe that speed: damn fast
Frankie Manning's dance partner in that scene, and in general in Whitey Johnson's Lindy Hoppers group: Ann Johnson.
According to Janice (incredibly bad-ass lindy teacher from Harlem), the percentage of leaders that Frankie Manning at age 87 today is still stronger than when he dances: 85%

Day of the week that is always Blues night in Herrang: Wednesday

Likelihood of me returing to Herräng next year: Very High
Degree of effort I will expend to convince friends and siblings to join me: Very High

Next stops for me on my tour: Stockholm, Norway (Oslo, Bergen, fjords, Stavangen, Prekistolen), Copenhagen and cycling in Italy!
JES #3 - Stockholm, Island of Faro
JES Update #3   August 10 - The Ballad of Fårö
<<Just arrived in Copenhagen, after 5 days in Stockholm/Sweden>>

4 Items I have on my person at all times when travelling: Wallet, passport, journal, and camera.
Next most important items in order of importance: Smile, water bottle, rain jacket, guide book, fleece vest, bandana.
Amount of clothes I packed that I could happily survive without: 50%
Amount of additional money I could easily spend. 200%
Biggest over-estimation so far: How much reading I would get done.
Activities that fill the time I thought might be spent reading: Meeting fellow travellers and talking, looking at the scenery, writing in my journal, listening to music, enjoying the trip.

Number of hours after leaving Herrang Sweden before I met a travel companion in Stockholm: 6
Days spent in Stockholm before leaving for the Swedish Island of Goltand, and the Island of Fårö: 2
Name of the "old city" in Stockholm, that is breathtakingly beautiful: Gamla Stan
Last year that Sweden partook in a war: 1814, helping to defeat Napolean
Location of the "A.F. Chapman" Hostel in Stockholm, where I stayed my first night: A fully rigged 100-year-old sailing ship (converted to hostel)
Cost of one night housing there in US Dollars: less than 14.
Flavor of pizza I was kindly offered by a complete stranger as I boarded the ship: Tomato, Olive & Tuna
Language of the conversation I had in the Hostel kitchen/dining room while consuming said pizza: French
Number of people from Herrang that I ran into at the this Hostel my first night there: 3
Colors of the bike I rented from the Hostel: Bright royal blue and yellow (swedish flag), incl. the wheels and hubcaps.
Number of speeds the bike had: 1
Mechanism for braking: Pedal backwards
My age the last time I rode a bike like that: 12
Difficulty of climbing steep and narrow cobblestone streets on said bike: High
Suggested speed to de-bike and move to the sidewalk when a Mercedes truck approaches down one of these streets: Very Quickly.
Duration of the excellent boat tour I took of the "Bridges of Stockholm": Two Hours.
Languages that the boat tour's headphone narration was offered in via push buttons on the seat in front of you: Swedish, French, German, Norweigan, English, and Japanese
Contents of the Vasa Museum in Stockholm: The Viking ship built under the Vasa Dynasty, in 1627
Number of whole Oak trees used in the Vasa Ship: More than 1000
Number of wooden carved sculptures on the ship exterior (serving as propaganda of the day): more than 500
Number of years to build said ship: more than 3
Number of gun decks originally including in the painstaking ship designs by famous Holland ship builder: 1
Number of gun decks that swedish King Gustavus requested on said ship: 2
Degree of "top-heaviness" this created in said ship: A lot.
Amount of Ballast included in the bottom of ship to keep her balanced: 120 tons (of stones)
Amount of ballast engineers now estimate she should have had: more than 240 tons.
Reason more ballast wasn't added back in 1627: It would have sunk the ship so much that multiple rows of canon holes would have been underwater.
Amount of minutes afloat and total distance covered in miles when the ship set sail before it capsized and sank: 15, less than 1
Under interrogation, the condition the captain of the ship described himself and the crew: Sober
Method for testing the ships balance as conducted by the Admiral: 30 men stood on the deck and ran across it to the other side.
Number of times they completed this test before the admiral ceased the test to prevent the ship from capsizing: Less than 1.
Real reasson why the Admiral (and Captain) didn't tell the king that the ship was not sea-worthy: Fear of King's wrath
Additional reason quoted that the Protestant Swedes believed this war ship would survive and triumph in battle against the warring Catholics from Poland: The hand of god would intervene if needed.
Years before the ship's short and only voyage that the ship builder died of natural causes: 1
Reason that the King himself was never questioned or blamed about the ship sinking: Politics

Opening line that my friend Al would give me the most shit for: "Do you run every day?"
Number days that passed after deciding to take an overnight ferry to the Swedish Island of Gotland that my friend and I were on said Ferry: Zero
Duration of Ferry Trip: 6 hours.
Location on that Ferry where we slept: The Cinema (with lights out for a floor full of sleepers).
Degree of sleep deprivation I felt that morning when we arrived in Visby, Gotland: Very High.
Attempted cure for said sleep deprivation: Napping on the beach
Elapsed time before we were awoken by rain: Less than 30 minutes
Reason why the next sight we saw was a Father and Son dressed in Medieval garb, (which was quite surreal): There was a Renaissance Fair on the island that weekend.
Transportation required to get from Visby, Gotland, to the Island of Fårö: One more bus, which then boarded a ferry, and then continued driving after docking in Fårö.
Closest U.S. island to Fårö: Nantucket
Population comparison of Nantucket to Fårö: 500 to 1
Comparison of the combined number of Windmills, stone roads, and barns with straw roofs on Fårö vs. Nantucket. 100 to 1
Quality of beaches on on Fårö vs. Nantucket. Roughly equal
Number of speeds and rough time period of the bikes we rented on Fårö: 1, 1970.
Number of nights we camped, and number of nights we stayed in a hostel on Fårö: 1, and 1.
Three nicest things about Hostel in Fårö: Hot Bath, private room inside during a rainy night, and location.
How I would describe the incredible natural-wonder huge stone relics on the northern and western coast of Fårö: Swedish Stonehenge.
Name of the sites where the most impressive and awesome of these stone wonders are: Langhammarshammaren, and Gamlahamn.
URL of a someone else's picture of the flagship rock in Langhammarshammaren:
URL of a someone else's picture of a classic windmill on Fårö:
Number of pictures my digital camera 96mb RAM card holds: 165e
Number still available after I left Fårö: Zero
(Number available when I arrived at Fårö: 42)
Degree of excitement I have to get those pics online and shared: Very High
Items lent to us by strangers at a bus station, procured from lost and found, and used as a "to go" container for coffee, in that order: huge awesome tent, sleeping bag, empty plastic coke bottle.
Name of the song I composed real time and played on the guitar in a Visby Coffee House that is for use by it's patrons: "The Ballad of Fårö"
Chord progression of said song is the same as chorus from this song: Black Orpheus.
Percentage of songs that I make up on the fly that use this chord progression: almost all.
Total days spent on Fårö: 3
Sleep location on the return overnight ferry back to Stockholm: Private sleep cabin.
Cost of said sleep cabin in US Dollars, and qualitative description: 40, priceless
Number of hours after arriving in Sweden before boarding a train for Copenhagen: Less than 1
Type of Train: X2000
Speed of Train: 200km/hour
Hours to get to Kopenhavn: less than 6
Coolest sensation on said train: going on any curve, the tracks are banked, so you get up on the side a bit.
Expected duration of my stay in Copenhagen: 3 days
Danish word for "please": none - they never say please, only thank you, which is "Tak".
Likely to be my next stops: Interlaken, Switzerland, and then Italia!!!

JES #4 - Copenhagen, Munich, Luzern, Interlaken
JES update #4   August 25th. (kind of long)

# of islands that make up the country Denmark: +400
# years since last time I saw my college and ski team friend Mikkel who lives in Copenhagen: 12
Amount he has changed: 0, (except for getting married and having 2 daughters)
Authentic Danish meal he took me out for: Red Pecker Fish, complete w skeleton, potatoes.
Rank of the Foosball team from Mikkel's Advertising Agency (Publicis), among all Ad agencies in Copenhagen: 1
Favorite indoor exhibits at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Copenhagen: Giocametti sculptures, Warhol paintings.
Favorite outdoor exhibit at the Louisiana: Calder sculptures in their cafe garden, basking in sunshine.
Most unusual vantage point of a Calder sculpture: Lying directly underneath it on the grass (see picture)
Name of 16th Century Castle built for the Prince of Denmark in town of Helsingor: Kronborg
Name of Shakespeare play featuring said Castle and character: Hamlet
Name of the Theater group performing Hamlet in the Castle Courtyard, on the night that I happened to visit the castle: Birmingham Repetory Theater Co., from England.
Despite being sold out (opening night), seat I was able to procure and see the play: B 36 (quite good)
Person I met who made it possible for me to get this seat, normally reserved for Press, and who I hung out with until the play started: Rasmus, the backstage manager of the show.

Rank of Carlsberg among Danish Beers: Oldest and most popular
Worldwide rank of Carlsberg Group among beer and beverage distributors: 4
Notable figure who was one of the 5 residents of the Carlsberg institute for research and cultural contribution: Neils Bohr
# of free beers allocated per person upon completing the free tour of the Carlsberg Brewery: 2
Favorite exhibit at the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek (Museum): Degas sculptures & paintings of balerinas
Best Art / Photography I have seen so far, out of Every Museum: "Earth from Sky" photography exhibit
Name of Alternative Living community founded in 1971 by Danish youth with a "critical attitude" towards society, and tired of paying taxes, in an abondoned military barracks on river in Copenhagen: "Christiania"
# times police and politicians have succeeded in shutting it down since then: 0
Products sold on "Pusher Street" in Christiania, in open market place at dozens of adjacent stands, displaying their produce in neatly organized little bins, complete with signs depicting cost, origin, and qualitative description: Marijuana, Hash, and Mushrooms.
Quality of said products based on my lifetime exposure: Best.
The only item I purchased while in Christiania: home-burned music CD of Cuban Hip Hop Group "Orishas", album called "A los Cubanos", from a skate-boarder dude playing it in the grafitti-covered indoor skateboard rink warehouse.
Amount he asked for it: 1 US dollar.
Places Christiania remind me of: Berkeley, Amsterdam

Amount it costs to use a "city bike" in Copenhagen: 0. (You deposit a 20 kr coin, and get it back when you return the bike)
# of Sidewalks alongside every major street in Copenhagen: 2. (one for walking, one for bikes. Do NOT get them confused).
Days since my last jar of Nutella: 6
Average number of "Rita Sport" chocolate bars consumed per day: 2
# Times I have had fast food so far: 0
Number of mintues it took me online to lookup, find, and book reservations at Interlaken Hostel: 3
Number of minutes I had before needing to catch the train: 4
Duration of train from Kopenhavn to Munchen: 14 hours.

Days spent in Munich Germany: 1, en route to Switzerland
Single place I visited all day: Dachau Concentration Camp and Memorial Museum
Ability for me to put into words the emotion from that experience: zero

What I did on my 34th Birthday: Went Cycling all day in Luzern with 2 friends Eva & Renata, saw fireworks in the city at Night!
Name of the caves we explored during our bike ride in Swiss Mountains: Hurti Grotten. (Stalactites & Stalagmites galore)
Name of lake we swam in during our bike ride : Hugirisee
Favorite items in the pastry shop we stopped at for snack: Cow Meringues, Teddy Bear cookies
Width of trail through forest we cycled on: California Single Track!
Part of my bike that a cow fully wrapped its whole tongue around while I leaned it against his fence to take a picture: Handle bar bar-end
Name of gorgeous town and lake that we descended to at end of our bike ride: Zug. (Recommended for visiting!)
Site in Zug overlooking the lake where we had birthday drinks: Schiff Cafe
Music that Eva and I had a few swing dances to before eating home cooked fresh pasta dinner: Natalie Cole

Additional car insurance policy that is normal in Luzern: Hail protection
Amount of damage to car left outside possible from average to bad hail storm: Total
Name of club famous for prostitutes in downtown Luzern: Cafe Niza
Number of times I had my sideburns trimmed for free at hair salon in Luzern: 1

Height of Mount Pilatus that I took the world's steepest cog-wheel train up to: 7000 ft.
Visible from Pilatus Summit: Swiss Alps (Eiger, Monch, Jungfrau) Luzern lake & town, rest of Swiss countryside, bird silhouettes.
Audible from Pilatus Sumit: Cow bells below
Best 4 US dollars I spent between Gondolas on the way down from Pilatus: Alpine Slide
Desire to return with Mountain bike and ride all the way up Pilatus: High
# of homemade chocolate croissants consumed on top of Pilatus: 2
% of fat in the milk they also offered: 3.8
Amount of said milk I consumed. One-half mouthful
Average number of pictures taken per day in Luzern: 150
Number of pictures my 96mb and 256mb RAM cards hold respectively: 112, 400+

(Eiger Gletscher, Base of Jungfrau, Switzerland - 2 days)

Name of awesome Hostel I stayed at for 6 nights at 34 fr/night ($20 USD): Backpacker's Villa
Favorite attributes: Friendly and helpful staff, excellent beds, quiet and respectful clientele, Hot showers, great kitchen for cooking, view of Jungfrau from balcony of rooms, central location.

# Outdoor adventure companies in Interlaken that offer trips: over 15
Best ones: Alpine Center, Alpine Raft, and "Ice Climbing" (Joyce & Hana)
List of Outdoor adventures I experienced from Interlaken with the following attributes: Cost (in US$), Location, duration, description, riskiest element, thrill, recommendation:

1). Ice Climbing. $100. Stein Gletscher (Glacier). 1 hr. Travel ea. Way. 4 hours total on Glacier, walking around in crampons. 2 hours actually climbing and belaying other climbers. 30 min. Eating lunch on glacier. Not that scary. Exhilarating to hold an ice axe in each hand, with pointy crampons on, and ascend a vertical wall of ice in a glacier crevas. Felt awesome to swing an axe, get a good grip, bang toe points into the ice, and step up, and do it again. Felt like spiderman, and like Stallone in Cliffhanger. (yes, I took my shirt off for one climb. Pictures taken. Not for public viewing.) Recommended for anyone who likes to rock climb or mountaineer.

2). Hiking to top of Monch! We summitted! 4,100m (13,450 ft). Requires 1-2 nights of acclimatizing at 2,500m prior. $200 for guide. ($80 for train RT to Jungfrau Joch starting point, $40/night to stay at Eiger Gletscher Inn). 2 persons per guide max. Went with my friend Suzy. Stayed at Eiger Gletscher, right above Kline Shidig for 2 days and nights beforehand to get used to altitude. Crampons, harnass, rope, ice axe, pack, bad weather gear all provided. 6 hours of climbing. EXTREMELY technical climb over 3 sections of rock and 3 sections of snow. Some details follow below. EXTREMELY risky because of height and narrowness of trail. Not for the faint of heart, only for the sure-footed. INCREDIBLE views, and exhilaration, and reaching the summit is a high beyond belief. Recommended for anyone with good balance (dancers, climbers, athletes), and anyone w/ experience mountaineering.

3). Paragliding. Take off from Interlaken Mountains, fly around above lakes and Interlaken valley. $90. 10-15 min. Flying time guaranteed. (My flight was 45 minutes!) Wear harnass connected to Paraglider, in tandem with pilot who is right behind you. Paraglider laid out on steep mountain open slope. Take off -- you both run down hill 15 feet and then you are flying. Awesome feeling of flying like a bird. Incredible views of Lakes, countryside, Interlaken below, and Alps in front of you. Pilot has this cool electronic device that reads out altitude, and beeps as you are ascending or descending. Higher tone beeps mean you are gaining altitude. Low tones mean your are descending. Pilot looks for "Thermals" (updrafts) to regain altitude. Not for anyone afraid of heights or rollercoasters. Exhilarating for anyone else. At your request the pilot will go into spirals and twirls so you are almost upside down and can feel the g-force pulling.

4). Canyoning. $100. Most extreme canyon is Chlire Schirer. 1 hr. Van ride each way. 4-5 hours coming down in Canyon. You are provided protective water booties, sleeveless one piece wetsuit with thick padding on knees and shins, wetsuit jacket with padded elbows, life jacket, helmet, and harnass that includes thick rubber protection for your ass that looks like a bright orange diaper. You are dropped off at the top of a Canyon, and make your way down through it by jumping off cliffs into pools of (very cold) water, and going down slides that have been formed naturally in the canyon also into pools of water at the bottom. Important to be able to jump from heights, and be comfortable going down a slide with no visibility. Only risky for people with bad aim. Extremely fun for anyone not afraid of heights.

5). Mountain Biking. $16 for full day rental of high-end bike (shocks, toe clips). Can ride anywhere for free, and many AWESOME trails. Fun, difficulty, thrill, and risk is all up to the rider. Excellent value. Recommended Trail: the "North Face" trail, from Murren.

6). Free Hiking. Explore the mountains and trails, swim in lakes, commune with the birds and cows.

As you can tell, I had action packed days in Interlaken. Here are some more details:

Number of hours during which one mis-step would be fatal while climbing Monch: 3
Width of the trail during snow sections up Monch: less than two feet adjacent to each other.
One major risk while climing: one foot's crampons will catch a strap or clothing on your other foot/leg.
Number of times this happened to me or my friend Suzy: 0
Amount you are dependent upon your hiking partner and guide for your safety: Completely
Amount the sun had softened the snow on Monch during our day: A lot
Most treacherous part of whole climb: Final snow traverse to get to summit.
Average amount your foot would slide before catching and gripping w/ crampon per step on way down: 6 - 12 inches
Most suprising thing about what we took on our climb: Very little water -- we hydrated before leaving -- couldn't afford the weight.
Amount altitude affected me during the climb: Almost none
Degree of headache once we were on the train down after finishing: Raging
Most demanding element of climb: Non-stop 100% mental concentration

Highest Jump while Canyoning: 30 feet.
Typcial description by guide of target landing spot: "between the water falls white water and where you see the sunlight reflection"
Reason why accuracy on jumps mattered: Depth of water. (if you don't hit the target water, you hit bottom, very unforgiving).
Longest Slide while canyoning: 25 feet.

Best Mountain biking trail I discovered: "North Face Trail" from Murren down to Lauterbrunnen.
Stunning view from said trail: Alps and Valleys in every direction.
My former favorite trail, that is now a distant second to this one: Flume Trail in lake Tahoe

Amount of time I spent yelling "Wahooooo" and "yeah" while paragliding: 3 full mintues
Key indicators that help paraglider pilots find thermal updrafts: birds
Number of notable injuries I sustained in all of Ice Climbing, Monch, Paragliding, Canyoning, Biking: 0
Worst injury to date: Blisters from playing volleyball barefoot at "Funny Farm" Hostel on court that was coarse pepples.

Best time and place to recharge camera battery: 1st class trains. They have outlet at every seat.
Current location after Interlaken: South of France - Cap D'Ail, Nice, Monaco
# Trains and total travel time to get from Interlaken to Riviera: 5, 11 hours
How I spent that time: Journal writing, absorbing scenery, brushing up on Italian and French
Next up: Italia!

JES #5 - South of France, Italy, Dubrovnik, Budapest, Prague, London

JES Update #5   October 11th - The Final Chapter & Summary.

SUMMARY - Where I spent the days of my last month and a half:
South of France - 6
Italia - 1 month
     Bologna, Rimini, Firenze - 4
     Toscana, Elba, Cinqua Terre - 12
     Firenze - 3
     Roma - 6
     Pompeii - 1
     Positano & Capri - 3
     Leuca - 4
Dubrovnik, Croatia - 2
Budapest - 2
Praha - 4
London - 1

$12: Cost per night to stay at the Cap D'Ail Hostel located on the beach (between Nice and Monaco)
Mosquito's: Daily alarm clock between 6:30 and 7:30am built in to the whole French Riviera coast
25 mintues: Time to run to from Cap D'Ail to Monaco and back on coastal trail
25 minutes: Time to stop along the way to take pictures of sunrise and surroundings
427 meters: Altitude gain during the 2 hr hike from Eze Sur Mer (train stop) to Eze Le Village, 14th century castle village
Sentier Friederich Nietzsche: Name of this hiking trail
Thus Spake Zarathustra: The book that Neitzsche spent much time contemplating and finishing while on this trail
Cactus Garden: Contents of the "Jardin Exotique" - at the very top of Eze Le Village Castle
It was still technically part of Italy: Reason Louis XIV ordered the castle and summit demolished in 1706
Mid-60's: Age of the three french women who shared their chicken drumsticks and tabouli with me on top of Eze
Total disaster/quasi-mohawk: Outcome of the haircut I got in Nice due to communication breakdown
It's their own country, so they can: Reason why police randomly stopped me to check my I.D. in Monaco while hitch-hiking to Cap D'Ail.
The same police: Source of my eventual ride almost all the way home to Cap D'Ail
"Who's my favorite Music Dog?": Funniest language misunderstanding… Musician -> Music Chien -> Music Dog
1 degree of separation from fame: Playing soccer on boardwalk in Nice with the older brother of Ronaldo, Brazillian National soccer star
Beach sites in Nice: Topless women and men in god-awful tighty-whitey grape-smuggling bikini-brief bathing suits

Sequence: Bologna, Rimini, Firenze, Toscana, Elba, Cinqua Terre, Firenze, Roma, Pompeii, Positano, Capri, Leuca, Bari
Trouble: What I'd be in if I used any of the Italian that my first host, Marco Bini taught me!
Train conductors, waitresses, shopkeepers, friendly strangers everywhere: My other language professors
Infinitely nicer than the French: Reaction of every italian when I made sincere attempts to speak their language
Hotel Medici: Great place to stay in Florence, adjacent to the Duomo (ask for Gabrielle. 325-284818)
Florence By Bike: Great place ro rent bikes in Florence (055-488992
Connecting with Gloria Beck (close friend from SF): The best thing about arriving in Florence, after 2 months of solo travel
1 week: Duration Gloria and I cycled through Tuscany
Impruneta, Greve, Radda, San Gimignano, Siena, Piombino: The towns we covered
Favorite closeup: Face to face with grapes on the vine in a tuscan vineyard
Favorite panorama: hilltop castle surrounded by vineyards in tuscan countryside
Where to see this: Every place you look
1 bottle minimum: Quantity of chianti consumed every day in Tuscany
A lot: Quantity of pasta consumed every day in Tuscany
Lasagna: my favorite thing to order for dessert
Our typical picnic: Baguette, proscuitto, mozzerella, basil, tomatoes, olive oil, olives, chianti, chocolate, and sometimes gatorade
"Squisito" (delicious), "Bellisima" (beautiful): Words I almost wore out
All of San Gimignano and staying in a Castle Bed & Breakfast in Radda: Highlights from Tuscany
Vecchi de Mure & Chiliberi: Amazing restaurants in San Gimignano
Acqua al Due: Favorite restaurant in Florence (055-284170)
Mid-email at an internet café on island of Elba, off Tuscany, waiting for the Ferry: my location on September 11
Watching Italian news coverage of WTC on big screen in Ferry bar juxtaposed with the sounds of laughter and merriment from the on-ferry children's indoor playground right behind us: Most surreal audio/visual experience about Sept. 11
4 hours: Duration to cycle from 1st to 5th town of Cinque Terra
La Grotto: Favorite restaurant in Riomaggiore, Cinque Terra
North end of Monterosso: Favorite Beach in Cinque Terre
1) Ancient Rome 2) Trastevere (Jewish Ghetto) 3) Vatican Museum: The three walking tours I took in Rome
"Enjoy Rome": Recommended walking tour company (06-445-1843 Via Magera 88, 3 blocks N.E. of Stazione)
Sheer size: What I still can't get over about the David sculpture
School of Athens: Favorite Raphael Fresco in the Vatican
Hallway of Maps: Favorite part of the Vatican museum, after the Sistene chapel, sculptures, and Raphael Frescos
300: Number of stairs to top of the Cupoloa of St. Peters, worth climbing for panoramic views of Rome
Less biased coverage, Dave Barry, Calvin & Hobbes: Why I love the Herald International Tribune
Campo di Fiori: Awesome farmer's market and great part of Rome to stay in
Roman Sports Center, Spagna metro stop: Site of the only swimming pool I could find in Rome
21: Number of grotto's along the perimeter of the island of Capri
2 out of 3: Number of days on Capri that high/rough waters prohibit entry to the Blue Grotto
"Pizzaman, Pizzaman": Self-proclaimed name of our rolly-polly illegal boat guide that stealthily took us in to the Blue Grotto
Stretched white t-shirt over massive belly with name "Pizzaman" on it, and him singing "pizzaman, pizzaman" like a jingle: How you know this is his name
Michelle Piretti: My friend that I owe a million thanks to for hooking me up with friends all over Italy
Old World: Description of the family that I stayed with in Leuca, southern tip of Italy
Orichietti & Cavatelli: Pasta that "mama italiana" (my adopted italian mom) was making by hand at 6am
Zero: Number of pasta dishes that I have ever tasted in my whole life that were better than this
Rappa: Name of delicious italian vegetable that only grows in and near Leuca, similar to brocolli rabe
Vittner: What Cosimo, the father of this family, has been for 30 years.
Potent: Cosimo's home-made wine (which he also sells to restaurants and wine shops)
"Mangia, mangia…. piano, piano…. ": How Cosimo would coax me into eating to oblivion (translation: Eat, eat,…. slowly, slowly)

Waking up in Yugoslavia: Most bizarre travel experience on trip, overnight ferry from Italy
Desolation Wilderness, California: Closest thing to the mammoth, barren, taupe-colored Yugoslav mountains
1: Number of cities or towns where I didn't feel safe during my whole trip - the port town of Bar, Yugoslavia
$90: Cost of 5 hr taxi cab ride thru Yugoslavia, to major city Podgorica, then to border to cross into Croatia
Shady characters who didn't speak any english: Reasons why I didn't feel safe in Yugoslavia

Dubrovnik, Croatia: Single most beautiful town on my whole trip
1.5 hours: Time it takes to walk the whole perimeter of the old city of Dubrovnik _on top_ of the ancient city walls
Far more difficult than Italian: Trying to converse in native languages in Eastern Europe
Mishi: Name of highly accomplished Russian professor, businessman & diplomat that I partied with in Dubrovnik
What I wish I had in Dubrovnik: More time

1.2 million: Population of Budapest
2.5 months: Time between last swing dance at camp in Herrang sweden, and swing dancing in a Budapest Bar
Twilight: Time of day when my friend gave me a comprehensive sight seeing tour
Not Many: Number of Hungarians I could find who spoke italian
6: Number of major bridges that connect Buda to Pest over the Danube River

No less than 8: Number of times my passport was checked on overnight train from Budapest to Prague
One for One: Ratio of Chocolate baclava traded for German Beer on train with cabin neighbor
5 seconds: How close I was to foiling a train robbery in progress
100 feet: Distance from the Charles bridge to my Hotel in Prague's Old Town Square
4: Number of walking tours I did in Prague
Prague Castle, Mysterious Prague legends, Jewish Ghetto, and Velvet Revolution: Titles of walking tours in order
3: Number of armored people carriers (tanks) positioned outside of Radio Free Europe building, Wenceslas Square.
Broadcasting to Iran and Iraq: Reason that Radio Free Europe building in Prague is considered a terrorist target
Jo's Bar, and the Globe Café: Two spots in Prague where you're guaranteed to meet americans
Buns and cheese only: What I received from newbie waiter at Jo's Café after ordering a "cheeseburger"
James Joyce Pub: my location in Prague the night U.S. started bombing Afghanistan
USA world cup qualifying soccer game vs. Jamaica: Reason I choses a sports Bar over the CNN pub
Landon Donovan: My favorite player on the U.S. national soccer team
Saving the Best for Last: How I feel about ending my 3.5 month trip in Prague

Canon PowerShot s100 Digital Elph, 2.1 megapixels: My Camera
96, 256: Amount (mb) of memory cards I started with
Interlaken & San Gimignano: Sites where I was given & purchased additinoal 128mb memory cards
960: Total number of pictures I could take to fill up all my memory cards
3: Number of times I had all my pictures burnt onto CD so I could clear and reuse the memory cards
$10: Avg cost for getting duplicate CDs burnt so I could send one set home
Near heart attack: How I felt when photo service center told me one of my memory cards was corrupt and that the 450 pictures on it were garbage
Stubborn: Quality of Swiss store owner who initially claimed it could not possibly be the fault of his employees
A free 128mb replacement memory card, and free CD burning: Our settlement
$300: Cost of recovering the pictures from that card at DriveSavers, in Novato California!
Ecstatic: My reaction to this successful recovery
2,500: Total number of pictures taken on whole trip
Not done yet: How long it has taken me to select pics and create the complete slide show
1 month: How long it took me to write and send this final trip email

Topline Summary - my very favorites:
· Swing dancing in Herrang, Sweden, around the clock in 21 hours of sunlight
· Natural rock wonders on the beach in Faro, Island off Stockholm
· Calder Sculpture Garden at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Denmark
· "The Earth from the Air" Photo Exhibit, Copenhagen
· Unspeakable emotion at Dachau Concentration Camp, Munich
· Morning runs at sunrise along the coast from Cap D'Ail to Monaco
· Hiking to Eze, Le Village, south of France
· Summitting Monch, Swiss Alp
· Cows
· Every mouthful of savory local pasta in Tuscany
· Chianti that cost less than water in Italy
· Being in crowded toursist spots and not hearing any english
· Completely forgetting that I ever had a cell phone
· Writing in my journal every night
· Swimming at the base of the old city walls, Dubrovnik, Croatia
· Karlstejn Castle in the Fog, outside of Prague
· Reading Milan Kundera at a Prague café
· Charles Bridge at sunset, Prague
· London Eye at sunset
· Seeing my brother and sister at SFO after 4 months
© 2010  Jonathan Shambroom.  Feedback