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night train from paris to barcelona

August 13, 2011 Leave a comment

one of the reasons to take an overnight train is to not waste a whole day traveling when you could be exploring.  and then it just turned out that the train schedule from paris to barcelona just wasn’t that accommodating, so i went for it.  the train left around 7 and was due to arrive around 6am the next day.

you should know that i had a pretty big suitcase on my trip.  it didn’t fit into the compartments on any of the trains i took.  just hung out in the hall blocking traffic and annoying countless travelers (the train employees seemed just fine with it).

on the overnight train, i was placed in a small cabin with 3 other men.  the cabin was tiny to begin with.  i’d guesstimate the length at about 8 ft and width at around 6ft.  add 4 grown men (more like 4.75) and 2 large suitcases (mine and someone else’s) and other smaller bags, and there’s just not much wiggle room.

i find my cabin, figure out my seat, and cram my suitcase in a corner.  it’s not really out of anyone’s way, but it’s better than putting it directly in front of you so there’s no room for your legs or the legs of the person opposite.  the other travelers join me.  one by one they enter and realize the situation we’ve gotten themselves into.  this cabin is a sleeper.  a tiny little sleeper cabin.  and 4 (almost 5!) grown men are just not going to fit easily.  the extra large man also isn’t as respectful with his large bag as i am, so he basically blocks another guy from sitting down.  we eventually resolve the issue, but it’s just not comfortable.  and there’s no way there will be any room at all in the cabin once the sleeper beds are pulled down for the night.  i want out.

but the lack of space isn’t really the issue.  no one speaks a common language.  one guy is from somewhere in africa…i think senegal.  one is from egypt.  and i can’t remember the details of the last cabin-mate.   we try for 5mins to make small talk, but it’s too painfully small to go on.  i want out…now.

a woman comes to check out tickets and take out passports (b/c we’re crossing over a border?).  and then i signal that i’m going to the bar.  and i don’t intend to come back.  and i spend the next 6 hours drinking and reading and chatting with random travelers.  in all, a good, long night.  but at around 2am, the bar closes and after a bit, i’m forced back to the cabin.

i quietly enter the cabin to find the lights on – seems 4 strangers on a train can’t quite trust each other in the dark – and the extra large egyptian snoring away.  and i mean a serious snore.  freight train is coming down the tracks and you better get out of the way type of snore.  everyone else is up tossing and turning and every once in a while we say something, but the guy just won’t stop snoring for more than a minute or two.

so i read a little more, catch a couple mins of sleep here and there, but basically count the minutes until the train arrives.  not fun.  not comfortable.

i’m not high maintenance, but that overnight train proved that i’m not low maintenance either.  so nice to step off the train and find a sunny beach around the corner!

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Categories: Uncategorized

hvalfjörður iceland – kayaking (but no pics of kaying)

July 6, 2011 Leave a comment

went kayaking yesterday.  about 45 mins outside of reykjavic at Hvalfjörður, which means whale fjord.  the fjord was used as a base of ops for british and american naval forces during ww2, supposedly it is deep enough for submarines.

the kayaking was completely chill.  nothing serious.  nice, relaxing end to my journey.  just appreciating nature.

at times, the water was like glass.  unfortunately, i didn’t bring my camera with me (for fear of drowning).  but here are some pics from the ride in and the aftermath.  the only other time i’ve seen the water reflect the surrounding mountains so clearly was during a backroads trip through montana and wyoming.

Categories: Uncategorized

how i know it’s time to come home

July 6, 2011 1 comment

1. i still haven’t kicked this cold/flu thing.  coughing.  runny nose – nightmare being congested when flying.  😦

2. i hurt my foot yesterday.  hurts when i walk.  not good when you’re walking an average of about 3 miles a day.  (oddly, it didn’t impact my run this morning)

3. my cocyx hurts.  i think i must have hurt it while kayaking yesterday.  it’s just not comfortable walking, sitting, coughing, anything-ing.

i’m a wreck.  but find this all kinda funny.  i mean, for 2 and 3 to happen on my 2nd to last day…just have to smile and move on (gingerly).

Categories: Uncategorized

being sick on the road stinks

July 3, 2011 Leave a comment

cold?  flu?  bad food?  whatever it is, it’s slowing me down…not stopping me.

Categories: Uncategorized

it’s not about how much you can cram into a day

July 2, 2011 Leave a comment

part of the point of this trip was to get the hell out of the intensity of silicon valley.  and more particularly, to just go with the flow…which is contrary to the way i ran singlefeed.  as ceo, i planned.  i kept lists.  i tracked.  i analyzed.

the best decision i made when i got to eurioe was just to do whatever felt right.  in this way, i hardly planned.  i gave london about 3 days notice.  i book rooms on airbnb the night before i’m supposed to arrive.  i walk into the train station and say i want to go to prague…budapest…munich…wherever.  and it just works.  and if something goes wrong, so what?  let it slide.

in each city, i haven’t seen everything i wanted to see.  it would probably take months to see everything.  but not seeing everything is perfectly fine.  i wake up in the morning and go down the list of top spots that tripadvisor has so graciously put together and just pick a couple that sound great.  and part of the time, i don’t even get to those spots because i just wander instead.

in copenhagen today, i picked a brunch spot, the nyhavn, and the museum of danish resistance (more ww2 stuff!).  the brunch spot was going to happen as i was starving!  but from there i had a vague idea of how to get to nyhavn…but didn’t really care if i made it there or not.  because i meandered as opposed to making a b-line towards nyhavn, i got to see the oldest observatory in copenhagen (didn’t go to the top, but might tomorrow), tons of cool architecture/monuments like the christiansborg palace, and i even got to listen to some jazz as the copenhagen jazz festival is in full swing.  and when i finally arrived at the museum, i was tired and the museum was closing in about an hour and a half, so i decided to grab a beer instead and visit the museum tomorrow.

right behind the museum was a restaurant.  great location, overlooking kastallet, which i now know is one of the best preserved forts in northern europe.  so who cares if i didn’t go to the museum.  i relaxed (which i needed…feel worn down, even a little sick), drank 2 beers, talked with the owner of the restaurant (one of two sisters managing the place – this was supposed to be her day off, but the sun came out so she was called back in), read my book, and walked around a really old fort.

(pictures coming soon)

Categories: Uncategorized

my (former) company sold

June 28, 2011 1 comment

vendio acquired singlefeed.

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prague – missing flower

June 28, 2011 Leave a comment

went to an irish pub to watch the end of the nadal match. had a couple beers: pilsner urquell (good) and gambrinus (not as good).  then tasted my first becherovka (really good!).  talked with a husband and wife from ireland and two girls from england.

then ended up at the bombay bar again with my two new english friends.  enjoy vienna!

4:45am.  time to sleep.

good night, prague…off to berlin in the morning.

-brian

Categories: Uncategorized