Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Just an update

Hi. Me again.

I'm sitting at home(in Korea), not doing much. It's been a strange 3 weeks back here-job less. I'm holding out for a 'good job'. I get daily job offers but they're usually for either terrible jobs-or jobs not in the city I live(frustrating.) I've still got the money to hold out awhile longer, but I'm really hoping something pulls through soon. (I'm tracking down 2 potentials as we speak.)

The time hasn't been totally wasted though, I'm working to become the next Korean Top Chef. I've made about 5 or 6 dishes I never thought I'd be able to make. (None of which would make sense translated in English, but trust me they're good!) I even made chili for the Broncos game.(Which I ate at 2 AM, but whatever.)

Anyway, it's been strange because it's the first time in, well, probably my adult life that there's no 'plan'. Which I know can be a good thing, it just feels awkward. I've always had a "In 2 years I will..." Anyway, I've been formulating a few ideas. Small and big, and I thought I'd run them down here. You can pick where the blog goes next!

Here's a few small things I plan on doing as soon as I return steady income:
1) Join a boxing gym here in Yongsan. Jeong claim's there's one here. I'd love to do it. Have to, HAVE TO, do something to work off all this vacation weight I've put on.

2) Join Korean academy to try to get serious about learning Korean. (Only if I'm planning on staying in Korea long term...more on that in the future.)

3) Write in this friggin blog. MUST. PRACTICE. WRITING.

Big plans:
Option 1) Work 1 year in Korea. Move to China...just...because. I like China. I'm interested in China. I think there's a lot of potential in China. After a year in Korea, I'd have the cash to either open a business or just chill in China for a year. It's just be a continued travel thing.

Option 2) Stay in Korea long term. (Maybe 5 years) Open my own small business here in a year or so. I'm not sure I want to run my own academy here, but man there is a ton of money in it if I do it right. Like, a lot a lot. If it worked out right, I could move back to the U.S. with enough money to set myself up very very well.

Option 3) Save cash in Korea for a year. Open hostel somewhere...warm.

Option 4) Get offered a job by the Denver Broncos.

I'm still mulling all of this over. I guess mostly, I just need to start by getting a decent job in Korea before I run out of money!

Anyway, keep checking up here, I'm going to try to just write some of anything. Maybe some 'what I did', maybe some 'what's bothering me these days', maybe some fiction even!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Bufana Bufana!

WHen you're going to be somewhere for 7 weeks, getting the roughest week out of the way first is always best...or, at least that's the positive spin Im putting on the first 10 days here in South Africa. I've been in Jo'Burg, for the most part, sitting and waiting but, to be fair-it has by no means been terrible, save for a few scary/crazy incidents I've gotten myself involved in.
I've managed to meet up with long lost friend/roomate Alex. Happened to be in town for his birthday, so a group of us went out for dinner. Which is definitely one of the big plusses of South AFrica. You can eat at the finest places in town for what-after traveling in Europe-feels like free.
The next morning Alex, his girlfriend, and I went out to breakfast at a nice little bistro. Full English breakfast and coffee for $10 Euros. In Rome you can't get bread and jam off the guy on the street corner for $10 eyros.
This is good. This will keep the spending down. Anyway, the next night I had a bit-massive-scare. I had gone to the super 5* hotel-The Melrose Arch-to have drinks with Michael, Ally, and Michael's friend Kev-who works for a major corp and is doing work down here for the world cup and got Michael and Ally in for free-yeah, don't think they're better than me!
Anyway, got a taxi and headed home about 1:30.
Buzzed the gate to the hostel. (All houses are locked gates in Jo'burg.)
No answer
Nothing Nothing Nothingggg
Finally, another guest walked by on the inside of the gate
"Hey man, is there anyone in at reception?"
"Well, could you help me out and go find someone to let me in"
"No." Door slams as he goes into his room.
(Lots of cussing from me after that.)
Luckily, I had asked the cab driver to stick around-otherwise I literally would have pooped myself right then and there-so I was able to just have him take me back, and I slept on floor IN A FIVE STAR HOTEL WOO HOO.
The next day I was feeling a bit down, so I stayed in the swanky area the hotel was in and pretended to be rich. Trying on $1,200 watches and that. Was a nice morning. Much better than sitting around the craphole Im in at the moment.
Anyway, all this is almost over. In a few days I head down to Durban, which Im pretty excited about. For me, it's 18 days in the same condo-with people I already know. No more moving around, no more constantly meeting new people. Just lots of food, drink, sport and friends. Should be a nice change of pace. Hopefully there'll be more(and better) internet access down tehre, and I'll be able to update down there once or twice.

That's it for now. More after the soccer.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Hello agian.


I know. I know. Blog. Fail.

I decided to take a bit of a break and go 'hermit' for awhile. Not just from blogging, but, in fact, sorta from everything. Strangely-or not-when I travel by myself I come up with a lot of Theories that I want to try out. One of them was a bit of seclusion-and in fact, I went back to Korea for 3 weeks to try it out-I got what I wanted out of it.

Now, Now, I'm on the road again. Back in Istanbul(Still not Constantinople.) I'm only here for 2 more days. Then I fly out to South Africa for the start of the World Cup Adventure. I'll try ot update there as much as possible, but due to the lack of internet accesibility often found in SA-no promises. I'll try though.

That's all I'll write for now, maybe I'll come back with more later. Just want to get back on it htough.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Let my people go

Well, stuck in Athens an extra day now. No worries though, I'm used to it by now. And really, you can't be stuck anywhere when you've got nowhere to be, right?

When I last wrote, I said I was on my way to the Greek Islands...I still am, it's just been a week of taking the long route.

I woke up early on the 17th for my 7 AM flight to Athens. Called a cab to the airport. Headed for the door. I thought there was no way a flight from Rome to Athens could be cancelled by a volcano in Iceland.

Shut down.

My hostel was already completely booked with stranded travelers, so I had to move to a new place. All the decent places were booked, so I wound up in a roach motel that smelled of mildew and old curry.

There I met a man who was the opposite of all the great people I've met. Manjul. The dest clerk at "Beautiful Hostel". He was a night clerk at a dive. But if you ask him, he was a world famous titan of hoteleering. A genuis his boss loved so much he was ready to give him the hostel.
Being the kind and gracious man he is, he game me a 'free' coffee on my arrival. (All coffee is free at hostels.) in a dirty cup(and it was cold instant coffee at that.) then said "See, I am a very kind man..hahaha! aren't I? aren't I??" and wouldn't stop asking until I said "Yes, yes, you are."
Then he regailed me with stories of his genius and charity for an hour or so before I, fearing for my sanity, went to bed at 8. (And it wasn't a bed, more a cot with an itchy blanket.)

The next morning I woke up-with a stiff neck-to check my flight. The hostel, obviously, had no wifi and no computers available. So I had to ask to use the office computer to check flight status.
"Of course!" he said "but first, can you check your email?"

I knew where this was going. You see, in the hostel world today the single most important thing is your online rating. My sacrafice of rating the hostel was my betrayal, checking my flight status would be my 30 pieces of silver.

And boy did Manjul get his money's worth. Not being under durress my rating probably would have been a 40% or so and my comment "Not recommended." But with Manjul over my shoulder I tried an 80%. "Oh no. No. We need a 100%! Give us a 100 I'm very good to you!"

Ugh. 100%
Ok, no comment at least.
Not with Manjul!
"Please write: 'Great service. Manjul is the best ever.'"
And, of course, he made sure I spelled his name right.

What a moment of utter shame-betraying fellow travelers everywhere like that.

And my flight was cancelled to add injury to insult. I was pretty aggitated at this point, decided I needed a break from the wait and see if the volcano has stopped game and gave myself 2 days instead of 1 before I rebooked.

So, I bid a fond farewell to the great Manjul (not before he gave me a special breakfast of more dirty coffee and the butt of a loaf of bread-my final shame.) and got the hell out of there.

There were enough stranded backpackers that finding a hostel was a bit difficult, and I definitely noticed the prices go up 5 or 10 euros a night. I spent 2 hours in an internet cafe-banging my head into my rock of stability, Jeong, before she managed to tear me out of my shame induced rage.
I got up, put on a fake smile and headed to the hostel that just gouged me for 30 Euros a night. Determined to be friendly god damn it.

The line was chaotic. A good 20 miute wait to check in. I decided to find like minded people to bitch with.

The girl in front of me seemed friendly so I asked her if she was stuck too. Nope, she'd just arrived on a train from Switzerland. I told her my story and her response was...unexpected.
"Oh, well, if you're here for another 2 days, you can show me around the city!"
"Uh...well...yeah, yeah I guess I can."
Hell, my alternate plan was to brood in my room and read depressing books about starving North Koreans. Giving a tour sounded better.

I have to say, the next 2 days completely changed my opinion of Rome. A few reasons 1) I already knew the city layout, so there was no wandering around lost, pulling out maps. The less stress the better. 2) You take the time to read information, and remember it more, when you're telling someone else the facts of a city. So I definitely had a smoother, more informative time.

So those last two days worked out perfectly, both for her(who doesn't love a free tour?) and for me (we all know how much I love to tell people things.)

The next day my flight to Athens went off as scheduled. Yesterday I took a tour of the city and visited the Acropolis. (Which is the home of the Parthenon.) I had planned to leave for Santorini this morning, but we (me and a New Zealand guy who decided to go too) found out when we got to the port-general strike in the city today. No boats going anywhere.

So another day in Athens. No problem. A chance to write, a chance to check out the museum.
Tomorrow the strike ends and it's off to the islands!
Unless there's a plague of locust, or maybe a down pour of frogs.

(An update the next day. Stuck in Athens again! Overslept this morning. Stupid iPod stuck under the pillow. So, to recap-Volcano, worker's revolution, personal stupidity. Seriously, about to give up.)

Though Athens is really a great city it seems. Fun, clean, easy to walk around. Definitely suggest it.

More in a week or so.

Thursday, April 15, 2010


There's a simple economic term most of you know-diminishing returns-which states, more or less, that the more you have of something, often, the less you'll get out of it. Rome is diminishing returns in city form.

Imagine an entire city made up of historical sites. Like a bad game of Sim City where youve filled your entire city with monuments. Rome, literally, has monuments built on top of monuments built on top of monuments. An example; I took a walking tour through the city on my first day here. We were standing a black from the famous spanish steps-a beautiful monument of its own.
Without moving the tour guide points. First, to his left-"This is the traditional, ancient, home of the Medici family in from." To the center-"This is the home where the famous English poet Keats wrote most of his works" and then to his right-"And this is the Cafe di Greece, where the great Roman artists of the 17th century congregated and, essentially, created the Italian form 17th century art and literature.

All of these would be major attractions in nearly every other city. In Rome, mere asides to a more interesting tour.

It's all a bit overwhelming at first, but days 2-4 I definitely settled in and soaked up as much of Rome as possible. (I think it's impossible to really see ALL of a city like Rome.)

The truly ancient part of Rome is quite ruinous now. (Thanks mostly to Christians tearing things down to create their own monuments.), but I'd studied enough about Ancient Rome-and seen enough Gladitor and HBO's Rome to have a good idea of what the original structres looked like.
Walking through the Roman forum and the Coliseum, and similarly through the ruins of Pompei a few days later, left me primarily with the impression that we take too much pride in our advancements. The technology of 2000 years ago is simply amazing(and even more so, their understanding of HOW to build things.) that taking another 2 millinium to reach where we are now seems like poor progress that would have dissapointed our Roman ancestors.

The Coliseum is essentially the same architectual structure as old Busch stadium, and really doesn't look much more ancient than Wrigley Field...though I think that's equal parts compliment to the Coliseum and condemnation of Wrigley.

The other major attraction in Rome is, of course, the imprint of the Catholic Church. Let me start by saying, St. Peter's is one of the most orntate, detailed, and inspiring places in the world.
This is well known already though. I tried to focus primarily on tihs as I walked through the Basillica and the museum, but I have to admit my personal feelings on all th ehistorical evils of the church put a definite damper on my inspiration.

You see a statue built to a 13th century Pope. Impressive. You find out they built it buy destroying a 1500 year old ancient roman temple and reusing the marble. Less appreciative.
You see the world's largest collection of ancient Roman sculptures. Brilliant. You see the obviously out o fplace fig leaves tacked on. Dissapointing.
The best example of thi swas the Parthenon. Orginally built as a temple to the Roman Gods. It's absolutely stunning from the outside. However, on the inside statues of Christian saints are poorly placed on the walls and uninspired, rather redundant, Christian murals have been painted over the ancient culture. It felt like the midevil equivalent of putting a discotecque in an ancient church. A sad loss of ancient heritage.

Never-the-less, as I said, Roman history is, essentially, the history of me and I was inspired by it. Able to draw lessons from it, and reflect on the lives of peoples past-good and bad-which is the primary reason for going to such antiquated sites. (And, of course, to take the shameless touristic pictures as well.)

Naples-Here's something I wrote while at the castle over looking Naples. I think it describes the city well.

Naples is a step in time. Forward or backward, I'm not sure. It's an ancient city. Used by the greeks thousands of years ago, but also the only city in Italy with a modern skyline that I've seen.

The first impression can only come from the garbage. It's impossible not to notice. It seems to seep out of the streets-like the city's 5 day old beard. The buildings are scruffy, smudged with sut and smog. There is a much heavier crime element here than Rome, and you do have to be careful. The 5 dollar word for the city is "Dickensian".

I find myself wanting to ask the Neoplitans "How could you let it get this way?" as if they were my 10 year old with a messy room. The city is situated so perfectly on the sea. Views from the hills are inspiring. Mountains, valleys, palm trees, seaside.

And yet, Naples has far more charm than any other city I've been to in Italy. The people are more animated, less bothered by the tourists. They are real people. Their ability to still have such a vibrant feeling despite the delapidation makes them far more interesting to me. Naples has the same feel, the same character, as Hanoi. And is much more related to that city than any of the other Italian cities.

Tomorrow I fly(very early) in the morning to Athens. A few days there and I think I'm headed down to the greek islands for a few weeks. Im not sure yet if Ill island hope, or just find one I like and stay there for the duration. Then, instead of going straight to Istanbul, I think Ill head up from the south of Turkey...or I might make a crazy pit stop somewhere else in the world. It's all an open book.

Next post, hopefully from a beach in the Agean, sometime next week.

(PS-wrote this in a hurry. Didnt edit it. All apologies.)

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


What's nomrally the most arduous part of any journey-the long train rides-wasn't awful between Budapest and Venice. Of course 14 hours-from 5 pm to 7 am-got long, but it was shortened the first 4 hours or so by watching the sunset on a cloudless night over the plains of Hungary.

I arrived in Venice right on time. Around the station was a bit ugly, but once the water taxi got around to the grand canal the views got much better. The city was still waking up and was filled sparsley by locals preparing for the day. Unfortunately, this was the best part of my 24 hours in Venice. After I got to the hostel, settled in, and had breakfast the tourists had woke up. And the closer I got to Basillica di San Marco(the main monument in Venice) the more disturbed I got. It was like Disney world, except, instead of being in an amusement park designed for such a thing, they were trampling on some of the World's great heritage.

There's an essay-"Consider the Lobster" by David Foster Wallace in which Wallace discusses how tourists change the thing in which they've come to see, and when enough people do so-the thing worth seeing is essentially destroyed. If he got such a dark impression at a Lobster Festival in Maine, I can only imagine how he would have felt sitting in the center of St. Marks.

Between the pillars of an 800 year old basillica, one of the world's greatest-he would see tours led by guides holding 'funny' umbrellas, street artists making pendants with people's names on them, vendor's selling everything from 20 euro, fake, venetian masks to protraits of Sylvestor Stalone, Nigerians with arms full of 7 euro handbags, italians trying the 'petition/donation' scam, and a 5 hour line to get into the church.

I took a few-ugly-pictures and got out of there. It was not for me. I did find a park about 30 minutes away which was quiet and I sat and wrote for the afternoon and my day was ok, but I didn't need to be in Venice to do that.

More on the tourists in Venice. I know there are some conflicts with me complaining about tourists in a city I too am touring. I'd like to go over those.
First, I know everyone has a right to see the great monuments of the world-They are not for my eyes only. I get that, and it definitely redirects most of my frustratin from the individual people and more to a general consternation towards a situation for which there is no real remedy.

However, there is a certain style of tourists for whom I feel my frustration is justified. The term that comes to mind for them is 'Fat Tourist' but I know that's hardly a far adjective for me to use. A( because they're not all fat and B) because I'm not one who can fairly use the term 'fat' in a derogatory way.
So, the best way I can describe them without using that term is, perhaps, 'unconscious' tourist. They seem to be so wrapped up in the act of being "on vacation" that they don't really consider where they are. Typically, they're the families (Or lots and lots of couples in Venice obviously.) Mom, dad, 9 year old over maked up daughter, 12 year old chubby son. The kids push in line, climb on you in the train. Dad pays no attention because he's on his blackberry. Mom talks entirely too loud. Chubby boy wants an ice cream. He gets it. Then he wants a pizza, a snow cone, a 15 Euro character drawn of himself. He gets them all. Over-make-upped gets angry and watns it all too. Gets it. Blackberry dad has dropped 100 euros waiting in line. Then mom takes a picture of the kids with a fake screen backdrop of David(who stands in a Museum down the road.) and thinks that's just great. As they reach the end of the line, make up is crying because she's had to stand for an hour and wants her PSP. Chubby boy is asking where they are anyway. Dad says "A church".
Bret just walks away. Tese people I am not like. These people destroy what they've come to see. These people do not consider the lobster.
I, at least try to, leave no imprint on the places I've been. Give the vultures no reason to be around.
(And if any of you take pictures in a church or museum that has a "No Photo" sign every 5 feet. Consider of friendship over. That's pet peeve number 1.)

This was Venice and the first 36 hours of Florence.

Although I did manage to witness Easter celebration here:

It was one of the most colorful and grandiose evens I've ever had the priviladge to be at. So much so that I'm not sharing. That experience is just for me. (Or I'll show you the pictures when I get back.)

These 2 and a half days though did teach me my first important lesson of the trip. Ive learned this trip will be less about where I'm going and more about who I'm meeting. And by proxy, where I'm staying. The quality of the hostel, leads to meeting people there, leadns to not spending dats at a time on my own. Which, unsurprisingly, got boring.

However, my second night in Florence I was able to remedy that. I stayed in a hostel in Florence-Dany House-run by an older Italian couple. For 25 Euros I got a bed, free win, and a piano concert from the guy who owned the place. And all the friends I could handle.
I wound up chatting with 4 other people who've been traveling alone. All as desperate as I was to meet some other people to chat with. There were South Caroline, Argentine, Texas, and Lithuania. Names weren't all that important. Sunday night(the first night in the hostel.) we went out serching for more wine-Caroline yelling "Dovè Vino!?" at everyone who walked by while Argentine-who can get by speaking Italian-tried to ask "Excuse me, do you know where perhaps we could purchase some drink?"

Then Monday we went together to Siena-an ancient Tuscan town about 90 minutes from Florence. Lines and museums and Gilato are all better bared with friends-or I guess I should say a days aquantennces.

Now, as I write, Im on a train to Rome. Florence had some amazing art. I've now seen original works of all 4 ninja turtles-including Michealangelo's David. I'm not even going to try to describe what it's like. Suffice to say the emotion evoked is...exhiliration. It's fun to be contrarian, but when they say David is the perfect sculpture ever and none more profound have, or will, be made better-they are not over exagerating. From 30 feet away he is inspiring. Standing under the massive statue is, captivating. Literally, you are in a room of world famous art, and you can't help but stare solely at him.

And to think, it came from a crummy slab of marble laying around when Michealangelo said "Hey, if you're not gonna use that, mind if I?"...
The greatest "One man's trash" story of all time.

(Apologies if this is poorly editied, copying it onto the computer in an internet cafe. Got 5 minutes yet!)

More in a week or so.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010


The flight into Budapest was as uneventful and tedious as any 13 hour flight is.
I was a bit nervous at first. My hostel was in a gothic style apartment with a high arching wood door, which opened into an open air court yard. When I opened the door the court yard and passage way were complete dark. The elevator had been sent down to pick me up, and I could hear it slowly creaking down the shaft. When it reached me I fully expected to be greeted by a throng of vampires. Luckily, I was not.

I made my way up to the hostel, opened the door and...4 people sitting on a sofa, bottles of beer and Modern Warfare 2 on the TV. Ah, my home away from home! They were interested in my travels and shocked by how long it'd taken me to get there. I had planned to go to bed immediately, but Danillo offered me a beer and a seat and I quickly shifted from travel mode to vacation mode.
I met Danillo, a Brazillian studying in Manchester. He was a funny guy full of great one liners and a sort of airheaded-blonde-attitude. He made me laugh, and had a sort of generosity I was surprised to see, but I guess fit the South American stereotype. Always quick to offer a drink or a seat. Even to people we didn't know. Angelo-his flat mate in Manchester-from Chile. Angelo was an interesting guy. Very pretty, long hair, classic South American charm. Gives you the opinion he's not very smart, but he can say some deep, well thought out, things. A nice paradox. Johnny-yet another Manchesterian. and Arwin, from Seattle, and owner of the hostel.

The hostel, which is actually just an apartment with bunk beds in the bedrooms, was a great place to meet people. But Danillo and Angelo were quickly ready to go out. At first, I was just going to go to bed, but as t
hey were leaving they managed to convince me to come out with them. We headed to a few quick pubs for a couple of cheap pints. Then we went to a club in the courtyard of a closed apartment complex. Dark, damp, eurotrash music. Again, I was fully expecting Wesley Snipes to come plowing through the door any minute. Then again, I was pretty much a zombie myself at this point, so vampires would have been fitting.

Finally made it to bed at about 4 AM that night-30 or so hours after leaving my apartment in Korea.

Saturday, obviously, started a little late, but I still managed to make the two o'clock walking tour. Normally, I don't bother with tours, but I really didn't know anything about Budapest, or Hungary in general, so I'm glad I did.

I learned that Hungary is a lot like Korea. In that both countries have been under the rule of a foreign power for most of their existence. Also, I got the official excuse for joining up with the Nazis. (The Nazis promised them land that they still think belongs to them today...ah nationalism.)

But the castle district is absolutely beautiful and the tradition which resonates from the buildings are inspiring and though provoking. The castle stands on a mountain on the Buda side of the Danube river, over looking the rest of the city. It's been there for over 500 years. It's been used during the rise and fall of the Hun
garian kings, it was used as a stable during the invasion of the Ottomans. It was illegally destroyed by the Nazis during WWII. In fact, the hill next to the castle was the last stand for the Nazi army resisting the soviet forces. There the Soviets erected a 'statue of liberty' which was considered a joke for the last half of the 20th century, but now symbolizes the first decade of Hungarian freedom in nearly a century
That's parliament in the distance(There'll be a huge upload of pictures in a few months obviously, just not at the moment.).

Monday morning, Donillo, Angelo, and I. Along with a group of Americans went to the local baths. The baths were built in the 18th century by the Ottomans, and are fully supplied by near by underwater hot springs. At first we were a bit disappointed. It seemed to be only a few tubs in one large room, but as we ventured further and further into small rooms we found an entire cavern of tubs, saunas, and cold pools. It was like a Zelda style map. After going through a door which lead to a room, to a door, which led to another spa, we were in a room with marble floors, cherubims spouting natural hot spring waters into small jacuzzi sized pools, or large Olympic sized pools. Whatever your heart desired. Then we managed to find our way to the outdoor pools. This was, perhaps, one of the most beautiful places I've ever been. There were 3 large pools of varying temperature. Surrounding the pools stood the original Turkish architecture of stone and marble. Small fountains lined the pools. The weather was perfect. You could hear the trees rustle in a near by park. It was a cathartic moment of self fulfillment for all of us. If you don't feel like you're life's pretty damn good while sitting in that spot, I don't know what to tell you.

Beyond the tour of the city and the morning in the baths, I've spent a majority of my time writing, reading, and exploring. Budapest is an inspiring city. Not only the city, but the characters in it. Sometimes I question if they are life imitating art, but I choose to think the opposite. The homeless seem to be friendly, older men-always in groups of 2 or 3, always with a loyal dog on their side. Every underpass has a violinist or saxophonist playing for cash, and the ladies behind the counter at the grocer seem angry and...soviet.

The City itself is, probably, the closest I've coming to a 'mystic' setting. The largest buildings-parlament and the basillica- stand only 96 meters tall, with most of the buildings being no higher than four or five stories. Yet, the small narrow streets which sit between them and the shadows thrown by the intricate crevices in the relief of the buildings create such an imposing feeling of significance, that you feel as though you're standing among giants. Walking down a side street in Budapest, you get the same feeling you might get walking down Michigan avenue in Chicago. Budapest does in 5 stories what it takes Chicago 100 stories to do. The men who designed these buildings, hundreds of years ago were true masters of their craft-in a sense I wonder if we've lost today. And to have Budapest stand today nearly the same as it did a hundred years ago...In Budapest, I feel like I'm walking in history, not learning it.

At, the moment, I'm finishing this between games of Modern Warfare. (Rainy day, kill me.)

This week's been a perfect blend of history, socializing, and relaxing normalcy. From what I gather, I'm a bit lucky-especially to so quickly have met friends. but hopefully my luck continues.

Tomorrow, I leave for Venice, Italy. One day there, then to Florence and surrounding area for 3 or 4 days, then off to Rome for 10 days or so.

From L to R: Angelo, Danillo, Tim, Me, Shy Korea girl who really wanted to be friends with everyone.

Taken on Monday afternoon. Had plans to go out, wound up just drinking and singing songs on the balcany of the apartment.