Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Hot Zones

For some reason I've been thinking a lot about this book I read back in 8th grade called, "The Hot Zone" by Richard Preston where scientists are dealing with an Ebola outbreak amongst some quarantined monkeys near D.C. (great book by the way).  My guess, as I sit here chewing on a nice fresh cucumber and some great sprouts, is that it has to do with the fact that I visited the Warsaw Zoo the other day, or maybe because there is a massive Ecoli virus going on all over Europe.
Could this monkey that I took this picture of really be a deadly Ebola carrier?  He does look a little sinister.
Anyways, for those of you that know me, especially after that Oprah special I watched in 9th grade on food safety (R.I.P. The Oprah Winfrey Show), that I have been staying as far away from vegetables in Europe as possible.  Honestly, this is getting really annoying because I don't mind vegetables, and they are healthy and a lot of food include vegetables.
My friend Emily and her dad who I visited in Poland couldn't even get me to eat my greens.  
Initially when I first started hearing about the Ecoli thing going around in Europe, I was in the process of recovering from being the sickest I had ever been in my life before.  I didn't start really thinking about it until they started saying that the epicenter of the outbreak was in Hamburg, which is where they think I contracted whatever I had.  Then I started seeing that many of the symptoms I had were similar.  So, I can't be 100% sure, but I may be, as my friend Emily puts it, "A cucumber survivor."  Anyways, enough about that.

Last time I wrote I was in Helsinki with my dad amazed at how light outside it was.  The next day in Helsinki we went around and saw more of the older parts of the city, went to the outdoor market, traveled around the parks and just relaxed and had some great Italian food (Italian food cooked in Helsinki, Finland, by an Asian chef that is).  The next day we got up, took the ferry back to Tallinn, then we got on a bus, which strangely enough actually had a "bus attendant" that walked around and gave us refreshments and stuff while we sat there.  It was really weird.  But also really nice.
Here are some exciting pictures!

The next day I flew from Riga to Berlin.  There I met up with Garrett, which was really exciting!  We walked around a bit, went to the Brandenburger Tor, the huge radio tower, and went and met up with some of his other friends and went and had some great kebabs, ice cream and then some beer.  It was a great night.  We went back to our hostel which was great.   The funny thing is that we stayed in this room with one of those crazy religious fanatics who holds up the signs and yells stuff at people while you walk by.  He was reading a book on Hitler and had another book on "Jew Hate in the new Age."  He was also missing a finger.  I was a little afraid.

The next day I had my first currywurst which was exciting.  Garrett and I also went and walked around, went to some parks and saw Checkpoint Charlie and the East Side Gallery, a famous part of the wall that is left standing that many people have painted murals on.  The day after that we walked around some more and went to a new hostel, with a swimming pool!  There were also bunnies in the courtyard.  Of course this was really exciting.  We decided to catch the bunnies and pet them.   I thought this was a great idea, but the staff at the hostel didn't.

Hotel where Michael Jackson dangled his son out of a window, definitely what I wanted to see in Europe!

That night Garrett and I had some beers and then went to sleep.  The next morning we woke up and went to the airport where Garrett met up with the Willowbrook gang.  After another day wandering Berlin, I went to bed early because I had an early train to Warsaw the next morning.

The train ride to Warsaw was fun.  I made some new friends from the UK and met a Canadian couple who had moved from Warsaw to Vancouver.  They were really helpful in giving us information and talking to us about stuff.  It was fun.  When I got off the train I met up with my friend Emily, who is staying in Warsaw for the summer with her grandma and taking polish classes.  Her dad was also there visiting for a bit.   After dropping my bags off we went straight to Old Town and had some Polish beer.  Then we walked to an awesome ice cream place...and they piled that ice cream on!  It was amazing!  It was great to have the two of them there because they were able to point a lot out and make great suggestions.  They even pointed out the plaques that were randomly throughout the city that indicated where "16 people had been killed" during WWII.  Some plaques showed where hundreds were shot dead.  Unsettling, huh.   We found a really great beer garden and sat and relaxed while I told them my tales from Europe.

The next day included a lot of eating, mainly because Emily's grandma likes feeding people apparently.  She didn't really speak any English though so she would just say something in Polish, everyone would laugh, I would feel left out, and then food would appear.  Weird, but rewarding.  Then we went to Emily's dad's friend's house.  He gave us lots of beer and he was a really animated guy, so it was fun.

The next day, i met Emily's dad and he took me to a museum while Emily went to her Polish language class.  The museum was on the Polish Uprising during WWII.  It was really intense, but good.  After that we went to the Warsaw Zoo.  Emily's dad knows people who work there, so we were given a private tour, it was really great!

After that we went back to a beer garden and then parted ways.  I decided to leave for Krakow the next day and booked a train.

Krakow was really great, I spent most of my time there relaxing and having ice cream and beer.  Here are some pictures.  (My hands are getting tired from typing, sorry for the lacking descriptions, but I guess you will all just have to talk to me when I get back, if you want to know more....)

I took a night train to Prague, which was really weird, especially because of the guy who kept trying to speak to me in Czech, or maybe Polish.  Anyways, Prague was really beautiful!  I ended up hanging out with an American girl Katie while I was there, she is from South Carolina, but is working in South Korea now.  We had an awesome time!

This morning I went back to London...but that is its own blog post in its self.  I'm headed to the shore tomorrow to spend some much needed time laying on the sand and resting.

Love you all and miss you!

1 comment:

  1. Hi Stephen,
    Thanks for the great update! It sounds like you had a wonderful time in Poland and ate really well! Can't wait to see the pictures and hear all the stories when we next talk!
    Give my best to your London friends!
    Enjoy every moment!