Saturday, 23 August 2014

A Calgary Summer

After many posts from the diverse, cultured centres of urbanity on the European continent, the travel bug is not quite out of my system. As I have used up all my vacation time -and then some - for the remainder of 2014 and I should probably attempt to stay employed for a while, my options for travelling abroad are limited.

Lucky for me I live in the most diverse, engaging and fast-changing city this side of the Rockies and before Montreal: Calgary!

I hope this will give a taste to some of my new friends around the world of what my city is like. Perhaps even a few locals might learn a thing or two as well. Let us begin!

Mural on 4th Avenue Bridge pier into Downtown Calgary, near the East Village District
Calgary is the largest city in the province of Alberta, and 4th largest in the country - behind Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver. Founded in the late 19th century, the city has grown quickly into a modern cosmopolitan city over the past 120 years. As of 2014, the city is  home to 1.2 million people, with several smaller satellite cities immediately surrounding the city, bringing the metropolitan area to nearly 1.5 million. It wasn't always this way: Calgary has doubled in size since 1980. An oil-fuelled economic boom is responsible for making Calgary the largest city within 700 kilometres.

Condominium towers in East Village, a redeveloped area of parking lots and empty fields a few blocks from the major business district of Calgary. Over 1,000 condos/apartments are being constructed here, with some 8,000 under construction elsewhere in the city centre in the next few years.
Calgary's Downtown is dominated by office towers; most of these built in the last 30 years as the economic boom continued. Calgary has more office space in the city centre than many larger cities: nearly twice as much as Vancouver, a city of more than 2 million people.

The Calgary skyline is below. The Calgary Tower no longer dominates the skyline, the office buildings around it reach up to 60 storeys and top out at 230 metres high, the tallest in the Canada outside Toronto. The towers in the foreground are residential towers in the Beltline district, the urban hub of Calgary where thousands of apartments, hipsters, bars and restaurants serve as the beating heart of the city:

The skyline from Ramsay, a inner city neighbourhood in south-east Calgary. The Saddledome was built of the 1988 Winter Olympic Games, an now hosts the professional hockey team the Calgary Flames. Noted for it's curved roof, the design was meant to reflect the western / cowboy history of the city (saddle) and save energy heating the arena in winter - yes it gets that cold here that we need to heat our hockey rinks in the winter.
An criticism that is often levied on urban Calgary is that as a business-only town everyone goes home after-working hours and the city centre is quiet in the evenings. While there may have been some truth to this statement in the 1980s or early 1990s, it could not be farther from the truth in 2014. The city centre has many lively and diverse districts, with bars and restaurants teeming with thousands of people to the early morning hours in areas like the Beltline, Mission, Stephen Ave and Chinatown amongst others.

Stephen Avenue during Sled Island, a indie-music festival of 200+ bands spread over 30 venues in the beginning of the summer. Sled Island celebrates urban life, music, bicycles and the arts; a true gem on Calgary's diverse and busy festival scene. Check out my daily play-by-play during Sled Island 2014 for more details.
Immediately surrounding the business core is where all the action is. In addition to the Beltline, popular districts include Mission, Sunnyside, Bridgeland and Inglewood. All are within a few minute walk of the largest office buildings that dominate the skyline and are home to thousands of Calgarians.

Mission neighbourhood, 15 minute walk south of the city centre on 4th Street SW. The Mission Diner is a popular breakfast place, one of several local favourites. Cafes, shops, bars and restaurants line this neighbourhood strip. 4th Street connects to the infamous 17th Avenue in the Beltline. 17th Avenue is long known as Calgary's prime night spot and is home to dozens of bars and restaurants.

My old apartment in the Cliff Bungalow-Mission area - looks like a house, but is restructure inside as 6 apartment units. The house was built in 1911 by the Canadian Pacific Railway for railway workers as the area was first being settled. Long before the oil industry, railways dominated the western Canadian prairie provinces. Calgary was a railway town much like places such as Brooks, Red Deer and Medicine Hat. Unlike places like Brooks, Red Deer and Medicine Hat, Calgary out-competed similar railways towns and became the predominate urban centre of the the prairies.

Only 3 minute walk from 17th Avenue, 15 minutes from the main office core. Most other houses like this have long since been replaced by apartment or condominium towers. Notice that the new tenants are not as cool as we were with the lack of vintage yard-sales and front-yard neighbourhood barbecue parties in this picture.
surrounding the city centre are two rivers: the Bow and Elbow. They are popular destinations for joggers, cyclists, walkers and general recreation activities. Unlike many cities, Calgary never had a large industrial base that polluted and channelled the local rivers into concrete canals. The result of minimal industrial usage, the length of the river valleys are filled with a series of pedestrian and bicycle pathways connecting many kilometres of parks and public spaces. Most parks place priority on preserving the natural look and environment of the riverbank. Natural enough that birds, muskrats, deer and beavers are common sights all along the river park system. Every once in a while even a moose makes it into the urban core of the city!

The East Village Plaza, connects to a new pedestrian bridge - opening Fall 2014 - to St. Georges Island, home of the Calgary Zoo. The Plaza hosts events year-round, currently the Calgary Opera in the large white tent in the centre is doing a summer series. This picture is only a few metres from the large condo projects in the earlier East Village picture.

Prince's Island is Calgary's "central park" and is one of the most loved public spaces in the city. Today it was hosting Carifest - a celebration to Caribbean-Canadian culture. Unfortunately it was a cloudy and cold day so it was otherwise quite quiet. On sunny days you will see thousands of people slack-lining, unicycling, sun-tanning, frisbee-ing and generally loving the outdoors in this pristine park at the heart of the city:

A new addition, but quickly becoming the place to see in Calgary is the Peace Bridge, a designer pedestrian bridge spanning the Bow River between the Sunnyside neighbourhood and Downtown. Wedding parties, buskers and photo-takers are always out in number here. It actually doesn't function well as a bridge because too many people stand in the way trying to get the perfect picture in the middle of the bicycle lane. I can't argue with them though it is an amazing bridge:

Inner-city Calgarians are typically a fashionable bunch but not this fashionable: this is definitely a prom/graduation photo-shoot. Picture from June 2014.
The view from the north bank of the Bow River. The Peace Bridge is a single span, gracefully crossing to the south bank with no support columns. A new landmark of the inner city:

One thing that these pictures cannot describe is the attitude of the city. While Calgary lacks the history and some of the human-scale elements I noted during my European urban posts, it makes up for it in the way that citizens deem their city. Unlike some of other places I have visited, Calgary is a place where people believe that they can change their city for the better. There is no stagnation here only relentless progress; the city changes faster and more extensively in a few years than many cities will change in a lifetime. Everything is renewed, questioned and challenged in the name of improving the city that so many here love. There are many challenges that come with the speed that Calgary changes, but many opportunities too.

Sunset at Olympic Plaza, during a concert for Sled Island. In the winter the Plaza hosts a skating rink.
Calgary made the transition from being a shabby fort of a few dozen settlers in the frontier of western Canada to a modern, diverse metropolis of a million people in 120 years. There are entire quadrants in Vienna, Amsterdam and countless other European cities that do not have a single building that was built after the first European settler stumbled across the intersection of the Bow and Elbow Rivers.

At this pace, imagine where Calgary will be in another 120 years?

This is only the summer: there is another whole season here called winter. That post might be a little bit longer :)


BONUS PICTURE: Hello friends from Munich! Guess what I found on the Bow River today?? Turns out the 2013 floods were not all bad when they diverted the river in unexpected ways. Bring your boards and come for a visit!

This is along the Bow River pathway system, looking across to Sunnyside from Downtown near the Louise Bridge.

Friday, 15 August 2014

Silence & Noise

Travelling alone allows you to disconnect from your regular life in a way nothing else does - to spend days in a city that you never planned to visit, that you barely know anything about, and with people you never expected to meet is an incredible feeling.

Have you ever been in a city where no one you have ever known knows you are there? You are free in a way that you cannot get in your regular life; even if you switch wholesale careers, friends, families or apartments. You still know the streets of your city, you still know the culture, and you still have all the memories of events and people in your life that have defined you. In this strange new city there is nothing; no expectations, no memories and no one to connect you to the world you are from.

One of the most subtle - yet most important - feelings when travelling is the feeling of silence. When you are in a country where you do not speak the language or understand the cultural norms, even the busiest city squares seem strangely peaceful. Your ears and brain have been acclimatized to your native language so all the sounds of other ones tend to blur together if you don't know them. The sounds of thousands of people chatting, yelling and screaming all around you begin to gently fall on your ears as your brain gives up searching for something familiar to interpret and understand in your own tongue.

After a while you realize it is not just the sound itself. Your own sound is quieter. With few people to talk to, words become scarer and more valuable. Cultural expectations and norms soon melt away; you are too far removed from the only place you truly understand thousands of kilometres away. You eventually lose the voice in your head trying to figure everything out to not seem out of place or commit some horrible cultural faux-pas; you just live in this strange world without thinking. That doesn't mean you know all the rules, it means that you don't mind that you don't.

Soon even the loudest voice in your head starts to quiet as well. All the ideas, schemes and concerns of your regular life are slipping farther and farther away.

They don't even know where you are.

This peaceful bliss can envelope you in a cloud of silence for days or weeks; only pierced by the excitement of a new and confusing place or meeting an interesting travel friend along the way.

It all comes to an end rather abruptly. One day you are at the base of the Eiffel Tower watching the dazzling light show with a girl from Texas and an Austria body-builder with such a focus to reach the perfect viewpoint for the 10 PM light show there is nothing else in your mind. Even one of the busiest places in the world seems calm and quiet:

The next day you are in a crowded Toronto Pearson International Airport seating area waiting for a delayed connection home, surrounded by a cacophony of people chatting, people complaining and intercom announcements. Your brain must now switch back into listening mode and interpret this loud and chaotic world as fast as it can. Your brain doesn't have a choice; five weeks off will not undo 25 years of conditioning to activate to familiar sounds.

Noise - like silence - is neither good or bad; but I think it is important to realize whether it is noise or silence you have more of in your life.

You should experience the other one from time to time.

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Berlin - A Strange Millenial Wonderland

Guten morgen from Berlin!

I arrived at Berlin Haptbahnhof on July 19th. What a sight. Berlin Hbf is largest train station I have ever been in and a striking  open-concept design; you can see everything unlike the Paris monster stations buried in a network of tunnels and low ceilings. It's all open concourse, with 2 levels for trains: the upper most floor and the lowest floor. The upper level holds 10-12 platforms of local S-Bahn - one of two metro systems in Berlin, it different a from the U-Bahn by being largely above grade. Regional commuter trains also connect here. The lower floor is the big intercity trains and high-speed lines: 8 platforms all around 400 metres long. Between the two train platform levels is 5 stories of shops and other services. Two 20-storey office blocks also straddle the station in a cantilever fashion to add to the enormity.

The scale of the station is impressive: the S-Bahn tracks and intercity tracks approach the station from nearly perpendicular angles, meaning it's a giant footprint to hold all the different 300 and 400 metres long platforms. It is probably one of the larger buildings built in the world in the past 10 years:

The train from Amsterdam had a problem with air conditioning meaning my car went up to 40 degrees and they evacuated it. So I was forced to spend 3 hours in the air conditioned bar car drinking expensive water (3€ or 4.50CAD) and cheap hand-crafted German beer (2.50€ or 3.75CAD).

I actually don't know how Europeans handle it, it's nearly impossible to stay hydrated. It's 35 degrees and no wind in Berlin today, I literally haven't stopped sweating in 2 days. And I mean change-a-shirt-every-6-hours-sweating , not just a little too much sun sweating. Water doesn't exist in the city, it's always a weird request it seems. Might have to stick to beer.

A patio beer in the uber-cool Kreuzberg area of Berlin:

Coming off the train in Berlin is daunting compared to the other cities I have been too. Berlin is simply huge. Unlike Amsterdam, Dublin or Rennes, the station is central but that doesn't mean much. You can't simply wander into the streets without knowing where you are going because it's endless in each direction. Berlin - due to it's near total destruction 70 years ago and 40 additional years of bizarre, super-powers-locked-in-a-ideological-battle-influenced land use policy for the remainder of the 20th century has made the city quite spread out. There are many areas of huge activity but are all scattered in the inner city with no real focal point. 

A remenant of the superpower battle over Berlin. This piece of wall straddles the north part of the Berlin-Mitte area, which was formerly in East Berlin:

The scale of the maps are also deceiving. Again, unlike other cities, it was not a comfortable walk to the hostel. It was a gruelling 35 degree trek down strangely empty roads of new offices and modern Berlin-Mitte - largely rebuilt from post-1991 era - to the hostel.

The hostel is amazing. German house music plays 24-hours a day, it features a garden patio pool, lounging chairs, bar service in both ground floor and the rooftop patio. For 22€ a night it's cheaper and better than my apartment.

Rooftop patio view:

I met an Aussie and we went around to the Brandenburg Gate: 

Reichstag (German parliament):

 and over to the ever popular Kreuzberg area, which is very close to the Berlin you may be imagining; mega clubs, street art and graffiti, discotheques, hidden alley underground parties and heavy euro-beats on every corner. If you go prepare to be asked if you need help about 100 times: note these are not helpful people unless you want cocaine.

Kreuzberg street art:

Berlin feature a whole new level of grit; some of you may remember my rants about enjoying Hamilton's grittiness or Montreal's  graffiti. Forget everything I said - assuming you were listening anyways - those cities might as well be the polished white floors of the Van Gogh museum compared to this. Garbage, trash and spray paint coat every inch of the city and most subway stations / trains. Everyone drinks in the street, so hundreds of bottles - smashed or otherwise - are everywhere. It is very common to grab a beer in a bar or club and just walk out into traffic to the next spot. Unusually people also like to sit in the street. Literally on spaces like where a car would park, people in clubbing clothes just lying in piles of trash waiting for the best clubs to open. Strange.

There is also apparently no police force or social rules at all. Random yelling on the trains, blatant vandalism, smashing bottles, free expression and constant vigilantism against any sign of oppression from a higher authority - be it the police, government or anything else. Curvy Village in Kreuzberg is a perfect example of this: essentially a free-expression shanty town that exists on a large empty lot. Garbage and debris are piled high, all manner of people live in it's walls in an expression of anti-authority. No rules, no codes, no norms. Weird people doing weird things in weird clothes - or sometimes none at all. Signage covers the walls in a few languages detailing the struggle against the "oppressors", the local Berlin civic building code authority that periodically tries to evict people from their shanty-town structures made of garbage and bits of debris. The oppressors failed their last attempt five years ago to evict them and residents are set on seeing them fail again. A strange place indeed.

Kreuzberg at night at Gölitzer Bahnhof (station):

The clubs are what people say and more. Germans don't go to them until 2 AM or so, and they are often open until sunrise. If you go before 12 you will find most aren't even open yet. And they are just crazy euro-techno, drug-fueled dance halls featuring all options for club goers. A very popular one has a secret entrance that is a naked club - literally they give you a bag to put all your clothes in - but you wear shoes still. And they still screen out people if your shoes aren't good enough. It's crazy (I didn't go in by the way).

I get the feeling that Berlin is a city that literally almost falls apart and collapses into anarchy on a nightly. Every morning it's almost like the city itself says "woah, that was a close one ... I didn't think we were going to make it. Let's try again". It strikes me as a very Icarus-too-close-to-the-sun place. Yet somehow it works.

The Fernsehturm in the Alexanderplatz area. At ~380 metres high is one of the highest towers in Europe and the world. For the Calgarians, think 2 Calgary Towers stacked on top of each other:

A very tasty and common street food of Döners, yet another variant on the kebab/schwarma/donair food group found the world over:

Bode Museum on Museum Island, a collection of national galleries and art museums:

One of the coolest things I went to was the decommissioned Templehof Airport, famous for the Berlin Airlift. Originally built by the Nazi regime as part of their "world capital" project of grand public buildings and spaces, Templehof is now a heritage site with the runways remaining intact. Interestingly the area has be retooled as a giant-scale park. Runners, cyclists, kite-surfers and anyone else can come there. I rented an electric scooter and zipped around the runways. It was a blasty-blast!

The original terminal build is intact and open for tours. Supposedly one of the largest buildings in the world at the time of its opening and one of the best examples of 1930s architecture around:

A final note: a theme in this trip is a constant conversation people have about what place is the best in Europe. The consensus - and nearly everyone I have met has said this - is that Berlin is to our generation as Paris was to our parents. It's the place to see and be right now. The more I hear it, the more I agree. Paris is beautiful, but feels like it belongs to someone else. Berlin is definitely a world leader in arts, culture and general attitude for young people. Every step and breath in this smelly, sweaty, dirty city feels that way more in a strange way. 

Monday, 4 August 2014

Best of Europe: a Memoir

As the end of the dream rapidly approaches and the bleak reality of "normal" life looms ever larger on the horizon, it's time to look back at the previous 34 days of travel and do some completely subjective rankings.

Here is my trip summarized in easy-to-digest bullet format for the pop-travel audience screaming for content.

The winner and runner-ups are listed below in a completely random set of categories. Enjoy!

Best Big City:

With a strong sense of youth, one-of-a-kind canals, a perfect transportation network of trains and ricketty old bicycles, and the incredible hospitality and friendliess of the Dutch people, Amsterdam is the answer to the question: "what should a city be like?".

Runner-ups: Munich (hospitality, beer, attractions), Vienna (public spaces, coffee, beauty)

Best smaller city or town:
Ennis, Ireland

Charming city in County Clare, towards the west coast of Ireland. Narrow cobble-stone streets, restaurants, pubs and Gaelic-singing street artists. You listen to The Band's The Weight sung by a banjo playing octogenarian in Irish and you would fall in love too.

Runner-ups: Utrecht, Netherlands (canals, beauty, atmosphere); Rennes, France (architecture, atmosphere, hospitality)

Best Country-side:

You don't need to visit rural Ireland. It's exactly what you think: beautiful rolling green hills, small towns, charming pubs, great accents and friendly locals to sing and drink with in every town. Ruins and castles for the landscape every few kilometres, as if the landscape needs more charm. Every moment is a fairy tale.

Runner-ups: Austria (Alps)

Best Döner / Kebab / Kebap:
Berlin - Hauptbahnhof 

A delicious flavour bomb of sauce and perfectly cooked meat in the traditional Döner bun. Perfection. Locate the Döner shop on the 2nd level of the Berlin Hbf (station) just about the intercity train level.

Runner-up: Dublin, Ireland (wild, Guinness-induced party night make anything delicious)

Worst Döner / Kebab / Kebap:
Rennes, France

Who puts fries in a kebab? It isn't bacon; fries on everything does not make it better. A disappointing showing from clear winner of the best food quality category (not listed).

Runner-ups: all the rest of France that partakes in this bizarre French-fry addition to a beautiful thing.

Best Beer:
Munich - weissbier
Turns out the rumours are true, Munich knows their beer. But stay away from the plain lager (helles bier); it is good but nothing fancy. Weissbier is the way to go.

Runner-ups: Anything Belgian (surprised?); Stadskasteel Oudaen, Utrecht (micro brewery on a canal in an old castle)

Best Patios:
Stadskasteel Oudaen 
Utrecht, Netherlands

Like a quiet version of Amsterdam, Utrecht's uniqueness lies in having it's canals one level below the street level. The result? Amazing patio spaces away from the busy city core above, with only beautiful old cathedral spires and buildings towering around you.

Amsterdam. The picture below explains why it is one of the best:

Munich Chinesischer Turn Bier Gartens (a perfect beer garden located in the beautiful English Garden park in central Munich)

Worst Patios:
The Irish fear for rain and general pessimism regarding everything to do with the weather means you won't see a patio seat outside of Dublin. The action is all inside the pubs rather than out front. I had seven days a beautiful sun in Ireland and not a single patio spot can be found.

Best Street Art:

Murals, painting and graffiti cover every inch of the city and have an amazing amount of diversity and creativity. Go see it. 

Runner-up: Berlin

Best Coffee:

The melange, a traditionally Viennese coffee with milk foam, is the best coffee I have ever had. The ambiance and attitude of Viennese cafés are best I have ever experienced, including international newspapers, marble counter tops and tables, beautiful decor and mandatory water delivered with every order.

Runner-up: none. 

Fastest Train:
Paris-Nord to Arras, France TGV

It actually peaked at 321 km/h but my fingers weren't fast enough for the screen capture.

Most Cool & Hip Neighbourhood:
Gartenplatz, Munich

Expensive (only compared to the rest of Munich, not to Canada) but super cool area around a park situated in a small traffic circle. Bicycles, restaurants and young people dressing nicely with glasses. With the help of a lovely local who guided me, I recieved an excellent tour of the sights and sounds of this hipster haven. Perfect. 

Runner-ups: Kreuzberg, Berlin (would have won easily with all the street art and all-night theme clubs, but too covered in broken glass and drug dealers for 1st place)

Best Public Space
Museum Quartier, Vienna

Museum Quarter is home to many museums, late night parties and an informal culture of public lounging on street furniture and benches. Coupled with the MUMOK, an enormous national contemporary art gallery, the squares of Museum Quarter are lively and filled until the wee hours with vienniatans celebrating each other and their city.

Runner-ups: Englischer Garten, Munich (enormous green park, filled with beer gardens and surfers [seriously] ); Champ de Mars, Paris (crowded but perfectly situated next to the Eiffel Tower for lounging with the world most famous view)

Best Lucky Moment
The Venus de Milo, Louvre, Paris

I stumbled upon this randomly at 9:30am while completely lost in the world busiest art museum. Apparently so were the rest of the crowds as I was treated to a near empty exhibit room, along with two new friends from Austria and America. You can keep your Mona Lisa and the chaos associated with it. Alone with one of the most famous statues in the world at the world's busiest art museum is a special moment.

Runner-up: In Innsbruck, Austria I found myself woefully unprepared in a completely full mountain town and no reservation. Quick thinking, rudimentary Spanish skills and helpful Polish staff resulted in sharing a luggage room with some new friends from Spain for 8€ a night. Beats sleeping at the train station!

Friendliest Country / Biggest Myth Proved Wrong
Germany, Netherlands & France 

So many acts of kindness and special moments to list. Everyone I met was kind and helpful and I met many new friends from all these countries. New friends in Netherlands and Germany were excited to show me their local favourites and help me learn bits of language and culture. Everyone in France I met were equally estatic to assist me and provide me with tips, language lessons and local hidden spots. Don't listen to any of the stereotypes; the people in all these countries were some of the nicest I have ever met despite what Canadian and American media may have told you.

Biggest Myth Proved Right

As I mentioned all you have to do is picture Ireland in your head and it's exactly like that. A damn fairy tale.

Best Monument or Statue
St. Gregory Fights the Dragon, Berlin

Criticized for not being realistic when it was dedicated in the 1850s by the equestrian club of Berlin. Apparently the objection is that the horse wasn't realistic enough. No mention on the realism of the dragon from the dragon club.

Runner-up: Vienna - Angel murdering an unarmed man

Munich - angry man eating a baby

Best Unexpected Activity
Scooter ride at Templehof Airport, Berlin

The now defunct Templehof Airport has been converted to a public park. After a 8€ electric scooter rental and I was off on a surreal ride around the abandoned taxi-ways and runways. Kite boarders, cyclists and runners all take advantage of this enormous public space in a country where open space is a premium. 
Runner-up: Hidden café on the roof of the Munich University architecture school

Climbing the ~600-step Dom Tower in Utrecht, Netherlands with views of the distant skylines of Rotterdam and Amsterdam

Topic that Best Brings Cultures Together
Game of Thrones

I am pretty sure everyone in the world watches this show. Seriously: every single person I met talked about it. I've had entire conversations in Polish, Spanish, Korean and a dozen other languages.
Runner-up: World Cup, Breaking Bad, How I Met Your Mother

Most Annoying Conversation
Being confused with Americans
The seasoned travellers could easily pick out the Canadian accent, but the less experienced ones were quick to assume I came from America. It is only after I would apologize for something, offer to help with something or drop an "eh" by accident when people would say "oohhh you must be from Canada!"

Now time for the short list for those quick factoids:

Length of trip: 34 days
Number of pictures taken: ~800
Number of Austrian body-builders met: 1
Number of Countries Where I Watched a World Cup Match: 5
Number of Languages I Watched World Cup Matches in: 7
Best Hostels: Munich
Worst Hostels: Dublin
Best Trains: Ireland, Austria
Coolest Trains: TGV, France
Number of different modes of transport for the entire trip: 12
Number of cars driven: 0
Average Kilometres walked per day: 20km
Number of Museums visited: 7
Cheapest City: Berlin
Most Expensive City: Dublin, Paris
Cheapest Bottle of Wine: Innsbruck, 1€ = $1.50 Canadian
Cheapest Pint: Munich, 1.20€ = $1.80 Canadian
Most Expensive Pint: Paris, 7.20€ = $11.70 Canadian
Most Romantic City: Vienna
Least Romantic City: Dublin
Acts of Robbery Witnessed: 1
Number of times Pitpocketed: 0
Number of clueless 18-year-olds I met that said they were robbed and didn't seem to realize leaving your purse alone at the bar in Prague is not a good idea: 3
Number of laundry Loads done: 3
Best Street Food: Antwerpen - Belgian waffles
Most Memorable City: Munich
Language I Most Want to Learn: French and German
Country with the best bears: Korea (seriously look it up)
Worst thing in Europe: Near total lack of Vietnamese pho soup on the European continent
Best Moment: touring Munich with new German friends
Worst Moment: going home

I have several other posts for different European cities that need to be posted but can't from here due to technical difficulties but will aim to get them up in the coming weeks.

Au revoir / auf wiedersehen / dag / goodbye from Europe!

I will be back.