Adieu, Adieu, To You And You and YOU!

Since this blog is going on hiatus until our next trip, we thought we’d revisit the people and places that made this so memorable. We always seem to highlight the weirdos we meet along the way, but rarely do we highlight the exceptional ones.

In Tallinn, Rolf and Geidi saved us from homelessness and gave us a couch to sleep on and copious amounts of food and wine. We took full advantage by sleeping in the next morning until noon when Kelsey yelled “Guys! We are in somebody’s house! Let’s get out of here!”

Marju, our next host, was just as helpful. She brought us all around town to find bikes and also warned us about bike thieves. The joke was on us.

We cannot forget Viinistu where we fished in the Baltics, enjoyed their homemade sauna, ate the fish we caught, and then sang songs about it. There was never a shortage of food and tea from their backyard garden. We could not thank them enough!

In fact, we cannot thank any of our hosts enough. Kinga, who cooked for us and showed us around Krakow. Effie in Salzburg, who went above and beyond out of her way to make sure we saw the Opening Ceremonies of the Olympics. Though it was not important to her, she made sure we made it back in time. Lara, who read on our blog that we were in Dresden, insisted on hosting us for dinner and finding us accommodation in Dresden and in Amsterdam. Netty gave us our own cosy room, introduced us to Brighton, England, and helped us with the challenge of ordering pizza-a surprisingly difficult task in an English speaking country. Did we mention she was from Brunei and English was her second language? Elfi, who did not even know us, kindly opened her home to us for two nights in the center of Amsterdam overlooking the canals. All in all, the weird and wacky people made for great stories, but these incredible people made for a great trip.

The long awaited visit from Lexi was one of the more special events. It was so special that we wished she could have stayed longer. Actually, she did. She missed her flight, lost her wallet, and slept in the terminal before she finally returned to Dublin.

Speaking of missing things, we came close a couple times. In St. Petersburg, Kelsey and Scott lost all of hope of escaping Russia until Kaley threw herself in front of our bus as it left the bus terminal. Another close call came in Lithuania when Kaley and Scott thought it was essential to make a McDonald’s run during a break on our 14 hour bus ride to Warsaw. The pit stop nearly gave Kelsey a heart attack when the bus began to make moves before the two returned.

Aside from close calls and awesome people, we were able to check places and events off our “historical bucket list,” even if they were all under construction. First off, we got to see every identical Old Town in Eastern Europe. We devoured every World War II museum. Even better than the museums were the actual locations of these historical events such as the Nazi rallying grounds, Auschwitz-Birkenau, the courtroom of the Nuremberg Trials and the Berlin Wall. We even saw Sigmund Freud’s famous couch. We also saw history in the making when we got to London to catch the men’s marathon at the 2012 Olympics as well as the closing ceremonies at nearby Victoria Park.

In addition to history, we immersed ourselves in the local culture of each city. The famous St. Petersburg ballet, sharing our hostel dorm with eight Russian twelve-year-old girls, the Latvian ethnographic park, the Viennese orchestra, the Red Light District of Amsterdam, frolicking with sheep in the English countryside, and of course, sampling every kind of Dutch cheese in The Netherlands have been some of our highlights.

Then there were the non-cultural events that include trinket crawls, 22+ Doner Kebab stops, Kaley eating chicken for the first time in six years, The Dark Knight in Germany, movie nights with every available computer and countless pubs where we previewed as many Olympic 2012 events as possible.

After three months, thirteen countries and 268 individual modes of transportation, we now have three individual flights left: one to Boston, one to Chicago, and one to Connecticut (not before making one last kebab stop of course). We would like to thank the academy our loyal followers and avid readers who have read our stories and passed them along. The blog is not over and done with. It is merely taking a break while our bank accounts recover from China, Cambodia, Thailand, Laos, Burma, Russia, Estonia, Latvia, Poland, Austria, Germany, Great Britain and The Netherlands.

See you soon! Zai jian! Lear heouy! Sawatdi! La gohn! Nauq twe dhe da paw! Do svidanja! Head aega! Sveiki! Do widzenia! Pfueatti! Auf Wiedersehen! Cheerio! Tot ziens!

Good Bye!

Scott, Kelsey and Kaley

@1 year ago
#adieu #goodbye #travel #end of trip #europe #eurotrip #kelsey buttendorf #scott krier #kaley sweeney 
@1 year ago with 3 notes
#nazis #germany #nuremberg #rallying grounds #world war ii #wwii #europe #crematorium #auschwitz #birkenau #holocaust 

It’s A Thing: Watching the Men’s Olympic Marathon, London 2012

@1 year ago with 4 notes
#europe #england #great britain #uganda #kenya #marathon #men's marathon #olympics #olympic marathon #london 2012 #london #sports #running #united kingdom 
It’s A Thing: Underground Underwear

Feeling droopy? Hanging loose? Maybe it feels extra nipply out. It sounds like you have forgotten an essential piece of undergarment. But not to fear, your daily commute has you covered. When stopping to get your morning coffee, don’t forget to pick up your new undies and bras conveniently located in every underground walkway. Only available in select locations throughout Eastern Europe.

It’s A Thing: Underground Underwear

Feeling droopy? Hanging loose? Maybe it feels extra nipply out. It sounds like you have forgotten an essential piece of undergarment. But not to fear, your daily commute has you covered. When stopping to get your morning coffee, don’t forget to pick up your new undies and bras conveniently located in every underground walkway. Only available in select locations throughout Eastern Europe.

@1 year ago with 1 note
#underwear #bra #europe #eastern europe #underground #walkway #russia #poland #estonia #latvia #travel #humor 
It’s A Thing: Bizarre Border Crossings Part 2

A traveler’s greatest souvenir is his or her passport. Each stamp is its own precious little trinket; whereas, a visa is like a grand Christmas present. Crossing a new border is like Christmas morning, being able to open your passport to a shiny new stamp to compare to all the rest. 

So when leaving Russia for our grand European tour, we were especially excited for our plethora of stamps during our whirlwind tour of the Baltics and Western Europe. Much to our surprise, we’ve now gone through eight countries and have received a measly single stamp. It wasn’t even a good one. 

Take Russia. We were surprised they didn’t ask for our blood type to get out. Actually, we were surprised they let us out at all with such a scrutinizing exit.  Our passports felt violated as they bent them, picked them, scratched at them, smelled them, and whatever else one can do to inspect a passport. With a grunt, we were checked out of the country, got back on the bus and drove a mere 30 meters before being ushered off the bus and through one last duty free vodka stop before crossing into Estonia.
“Is Estonia really that bad if everyone needs this much alcohol?” Scott asked as the entire bus fumbled to fit their four vodka handles in their carry on luggage. 
We should have known that our passports wouldn’t get much more action that day as our crossing into Estonia didn’t even warrant a glance by border patrol.

From then on out, no other countries bothered to check us. 
Lithuania sent some dogs on board who were useless, as they didn’t even stop to smell a Big Mac (much to Kelsey’s relief).
Slovakia only looked at one out of every four passports, disappeared, then redistributed the passports to the wrong individuals - stampless, we might add.
Austria’s immigration was a shack.
Poland didn’t even have an immigration stand.
To cap it off, our couch surfing host in Salzburg actually lived in Germany, and we crossed back and forth every day without even realizing we were going between two different countries.

We finally received our stamps flying into London. Too bad it was the weakest and ugliest stamp possible. Fingers crossed our next destination will get our stamp of approval.

It’s A Thing: Bizarre Border Crossings Part 2

A traveler’s greatest souvenir is his or her passport. Each stamp is its own precious little trinket; whereas, a visa is like a grand Christmas present. Crossing a new border is like Christmas morning, being able to open your passport to a shiny new stamp to compare to all the rest.

So when leaving Russia for our grand European tour, we were especially excited for our plethora of stamps during our whirlwind tour of the Baltics and Western Europe. Much to our surprise, we’ve now gone through eight countries and have received a measly single stamp. It wasn’t even a good one.

Take Russia. We were surprised they didn’t ask for our blood type to get out. Actually, we were surprised they let us out at all with such a scrutinizing exit. Our passports felt violated as they bent them, picked them, scratched at them, smelled them, and whatever else one can do to inspect a passport. With a grunt, we were checked out of the country, got back on the bus and drove a mere 30 meters before being ushered off the bus and through one last duty free vodka stop before crossing into Estonia.
“Is Estonia really that bad if everyone needs this much alcohol?” Scott asked as the entire bus fumbled to fit their four vodka handles in their carry on luggage.
We should have known that our passports wouldn’t get much more action that day as our crossing into Estonia didn’t even warrant a glance by border patrol.

From then on out, no other countries bothered to check us.
Lithuania sent some dogs on board who were useless, as they didn’t even stop to smell a Big Mac (much to Kelsey’s relief).
Slovakia only looked at one out of every four passports, disappeared, then redistributed the passports to the wrong individuals - stampless, we might add.
Austria’s immigration was a shack.
Poland didn’t even have an immigration stand.
To cap it off, our couch surfing host in Salzburg actually lived in Germany, and we crossed back and forth every day without even realizing we were going between two different countries.

We finally received our stamps flying into London. Too bad it was the weakest and ugliest stamp possible. Fingers crossed our next destination will get our stamp of approval.

@1 year ago with 2 notes
#passport #stamps #border #immigration #eu #passport control #bizarre border #europe #eurotrip 

It’s A Thing: Sheep Frolicking

@1 year ago with 1 note
#sheep #brighton #england #english countryside #great britain #frolicking #animals 

You asked for pictures: here they are! Introducing some of the beautiful animals we met along the way that provided the inspiration for our latest musical: Songs About Animals (more to follow).

@1 year ago with 1 note
It’s A Thing: Making Yourself at Home
Our hostel mates sure know how.

The heap includes but not limited to:
•Propane Canister
•Bottle of Ketchup
•Carton of Water
•Loose Grapes
•Jug of Chocolate Milk
•Fold-Up Chairs
•Cereal
•Cookies (opened and crumbling)
•Clothes, Clothes, CLOTHES!!

Each time they walked in the door, they threw all their clothes that they were wearing into the heap and proceeded to lounge out in the nude while they’re bunk mates were still present. Talk about no shame.

It’s A Thing: Making Yourself at Home
Our hostel mates sure know how.

The heap includes but not limited to:
•Propane Canister
•Bottle of Ketchup
•Carton of Water
•Loose Grapes
•Jug of Chocolate Milk
•Fold-Up Chairs
•Cereal
•Cookies (opened and crumbling)
•Clothes, Clothes, CLOTHES!!

Each time they walked in the door, they threw all their clothes that they were wearing into the heap and proceeded to lounge out in the nude while they’re bunk mates were still present. Talk about no shame.

@1 year ago with 4 notes
#shameless #roommates #hostel #shared room #travel #amsterdam #humor #heap #packing 

It’s A Thing: Too Many Museums

Springtime for Hitler and Germany.
Winter for Poland and France.
Summer for Kelsey, Scott and Kaley as they tour every single WWII museum throughout Eastern Europe.

We found some discrepancies with these historical accounts. This puzzled all of us as we didn’t know what to believe as truth. Let’s start with Russia. As with everything in Russia, they are cold, bitter and a little self-righteous, which would seemingly explain their account of WWII. The war they claim they won. Sure, they made significant contributions, but our skepticism crept up when we came across a plaque that claimed they won the war in Japan singlehandedly after defeating the Japanese army in Manchuria. According to them, after this one decisive battle, the Japanese surrendered unconditionally. Nope, no mention of Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Pearl Harbor, or even the American presence at all. Instead, it was Stalin’s armies in Siberia that defeated Japan and liberated China.

But let’s face it, as the Russian’s view Stalin as one of the greatest military leaders of all time - no mention of his post-WWII political career. We found this telling, as Germany owns up to all its mistakes, while Russia seeks to sugarcoat the truth. In fact, Germany makes no excuses for its Nazi legacy; instead, they make every effort to rectify the wrongs and educate future generations. For example, their Jewish memorial for those persecuted in WWII lies right in the center of their capital: no tourist or public official can make their way through the city center without acknowledging it.

But now back to Russia. What’s more, when describing the fate of Poland, Russia claims Stalin was forced to enter an agreement with Hitler because the Americans and English would not commit to opposing Nazi Germany.

But the Polish see things very differently. Poland’s WWII museums claimed that Stalin entered into an agreement with Hitler in order to partition eastern Poland into the Soviet Union to place the Poles into slave camps (the same thing the Nazis did in western Poland). Furthermore, when the Soviets liberated western Poland, they moved the Polish from the concentration camps there to their own camps.

Where was the United States, you might ask? Knitting sweaters, for all they care. The Polish seem to think we did nothing to help their cause, and maybe that’s true. They believe that by 1945, America was already engaged in the Cold War with the Soviet Union and did not recognize the Polish rebellion as a legitimate allied combatant. Thus, the Soviet Union was allowed to take over and establish a communist regime.

Have we mentioned we have gone to every museum in Eastern Europe?

You’ll never encounter these accounts in an American WWII museum, but history is in the eye of the beholder, or in WWII’s case, in the eyes of the powerful and the oppressed.

@1 year ago with 3 notes
#wwii #poland #soviet union #russia #getmany #nazis #europe #cold war #travel 
It’s A Thing: Wenlock Ben at London 2012

It’s A Thing: Wenlock Ben at London 2012

@1 year ago with 5 notes
#london 2012 #olympics #wenlock #eurotrip #big ben #wenlock ben #great britain #team gb #uk