Traveling the world, learning languages, and immersing myself in new cultures.

Vlog on YouTube (SUBSCRIBE!)

For all my adventures in China, check out my new and exciting vlog.
All my travels, encounters with language and culture, and of course, learning the language.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Istanbul, Turkey: Tryptophantastic Turkey Day

Synopsis: On my quest to visit all of Europe, and then see Asia, I found a place that will give me both in one visit: Istanbul, Turkey. I found a host on couchsurfing and I will stay with him for a few days. And, I spend Thanksgiving in Turkey.

Trip Overview:

Day 1: Head out of Zaventem in the early afternoon, to AtaturkIstanbul. It's a 4 hour flight so I have plenty of time to learn some Turkish...that I quickly realize is super hard to learn and I immediately give up and watch spongebob on my iPad. I land in Istanbul and catch the bus to the stop where my host, Ibrahim, is going to meet me. He eventually finds me and he takes me back to his place. After dropping off my stuff, we go out for something to eat at a local spot that he frequents. I tell him to order me something really Turkish, and I end up with a tripe sandwich and wash it down with yogurt. Head back to the house for the night... a bit traumatized.

Thoughts: I am greeted with rainy weather, though it is warmer here than in Brussels. Initially I didn't know it was a cow stomach sandwich, and after eating 85% of it, I asked him what I was eating... which meant I had to struggle with that last 15%.

Ibrahim, my host, and I

The mosque next to his house that had loud speakers that announced the 5 daily prayers

Işkembe and ayran = Cow stomach and yogurt! 


Friday, November 16, 2012

Ljubljana, Slovenia: Going to "Luh-jub-luh-jah-nah"

Synopsis: I was talking to Ed about all the traveling I'd been doing and he tells me he wants to join in. I tell him I saw some cheap flights to "Luh-jub-luh-jah-nah" and after he finishes wiping his tears from laughing so hard, he tells me he has friends in "loo-blee-yah-nah" that we can stay with.

Trip Overview:
Day 1: Ed and I arrive in the early evening. We catch a bus to the neighborhood we're stay in, and walk to the house where Amer, Ed's friend hosting us, is staying. We meet 4 other guys that live in the house and we hang out for awhile playing card games. Since its Friday, we head out to Cirkus to go dancing. From there, we go over to Parlament Pub for a little while before heading home.

Thoughts: Amer is really cool and I can tell he and Ed were pretty close when they were at university.   Ljubljana is really cheap! Our cab ride was 5€! Brussels, charges way more and is way less friendly.

The crew the first night

One on the bed and one on the floor


Friday, October 12, 2012

Bratislava, Slovakia: Hotels Cost More Than a Nickel

Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, Bratislava is NOT like this

Synopsis: After having a blast in Warsaw, Agnieszka's friend, Gabi, has so kindly offered to host me for a weekend in her home in Bratislava. If she is anything like Agnieszka, this trip is going to be amazing.

Trip Overview:
Day 1: Leave Charleroi in the early afternoon and land in Bratislava to be met by not one, but two lovely smiling ladies. Gabi, and her friend, Nelly. We catch a bus to Old Town and walk around a bit, taking photos and seeing the sights. We stop for some traditional Slovak food. Then, we head to Gabi's place to drop off my stuff. Her friend, Barbara, is having a house party so we head to meet another friend, before heading to Barbara's.

Everyone is really friendly and we all end up going out after the party to a bar. This guy sitting at the bar discovers I am American and asks me every possible question imaginable. Go ahead, imagine a question...yup he asks that too! After hanging out for a few hours, I catch a cab back to Gabi's. Agnieszka comes in by bus really early in the morning, about 4am, shortly after I get back.

Thoughts: Gabi speaks English, but Nelly doesn't. She and I were communicating with google translate, each time we went somewhere with free wifi. Then, with no wifi, we just used non-verbal communication and pretty much got the gist of what each other was saying. It was quite fun trying to communicate. People are what make a lot of my trips so much fun and interesting. This one is turning out to be very much about the people.

The gold package: Met at the airport by two lovely ladies


Friday, September 7, 2012

Warsaw, Poland: The Po' Land Saw War

Synopsis: Searching Ryanair and Wizzair and found a cheap flight to Varsovie Modlin (Warsaw, Poland). Then, searching and I find a host fairly quickly. Her name is Agnieszka and she is going to give me the local's insider exclusive tour of the city. Eurocup 2012 is being hosted here soon.

Trip Overview:
Day 1: Get to Warsaw in the early evening and I meet Agnieszka at the McDonald's under the main train station. She takes me back to her place to drop off my stuff and then we head out into the city. Along the way, we are talking and then we pass a statue of Copernicus, and I say something dumb, typical American, "I didn't know he was Polish. I thought he was Greek or Italian." which is the wrong thing to say. I quickly learn about every famous Polish person and their impact on history, plus an appreciation for the uniqueness of the Polish culture. (Did I say everything you wanted me to say Agnieszka? :-P)

I get a fantastic tour of the Old Town and as we are walking back, we see a group of guys huddled around a large black guy. I recognize Bob Sapp, in town promoting his upcoming MMA fight, but I know him from movies as the big guy/comic relief. I go say hi. From there, we grab some food and drinks before heading back to her place.

Thoughts: I learned the Polish and German and Russian languages are not the same. Matter of fact, it is forbidden to say that anything Polish is similar or like anything German or Russian, at least not to a Pole's face. It is also amazing how little I know about the different European cultures, but what more fun way to learn than saying something dumb and being corrected?

My wonderful host, Agnieszka


Friday, July 20, 2012

Alaskan Cruise: Lumberjacks, Whales, and Glaciers

Synopsis: After going to my aunt's birthday party in San Francisco, my parents and grandmother are planning to cruise seven days to Alaska, from Vancouver. After visiting Alaska, Michigan will be the only state I have never been to.

Trip Overview:
This will be the first blog I do entirely in photos!

Day 1: 

The Fearless Four fTravelers 


Sunday, July 1, 2012

Multi Throwback: Germany, Italy, France, England, Austria, Spain, Malta, Belgium, Czech, and the Netherlands

Synopsis: I did quite a bit of traveling from 2008 to 2012, but I only have a few photos and sporadic memories. So, here are some pics from each trip and the random memories I have that serve as captions.

Trip Overview:

Speyer Cathedral, Germany - Dec 2008 - Then go to the Speyer Technical Museum

Skiing in Garmisch, Germany - Jan 2009 - Dad has a bad fall and pulls a muscle in his chest

Rothenberg, Germany - Feb 2009 - Quaint little fortified town where I learn about medieval living and torture


Thursday, May 31, 2012

Panama City, Panama: No Hablo Español... Todavía

Synopsis: Since I've known Jairo (about 1999), he has invited me a few times to go with him to Panama, whenever he was going back to visit family. After never taking him up on his offer for over 10 years, I am ready to do this. But he hasn't invited me yet, so, I'll invite myself!

Trip Overview:
Day 1: Arriving at the Panama airport around 8pm local time (after 17 hours of traveling) and I am met by Jairo and his family. It is hot and humid outside, but I am just happy to be here. First, we stop to say hello to few folks, and let them know Jairo's in town. Then, we drive home and Jairo introduces me to the family at the house in San Miguelito.

Thoughts: In the house, there is no air conditioning, no hot water, no internet, and no microwave. Despite that, everyone is happy and very friendly. I am the only person in the house that doesn't speak spanish and only Jairo speaks english too. This is going to be interesting!

Bienvenidos in Panama

Jairo in his room

Jairo's mom, Nieve, and me

Friday, April 13, 2012

Budapest, Hungary: Great Place to Take a Bath

Synopsis: Found a pretty good deal on flights to Budapest and Julius found a host on couchsurfing, so nothing left to it but to do it!

Trip Overview:
Day 1: Fly into Budapest and we catch the train into town. Our host, Karolina, won't be home from work until later, so we have a couple of hours before we meet her. So, we hit the gym and get in some reps, while studying our broscience manuals. Afterward, we wipe off the equipment we use, because that's just courteous, and then head over to meet Karolina. We stop by the store for special ingredients, on the way to her place, so that we(I) can share our(my) love of cooking gumbo from my native land of Zataran (Julius didn't do any work). The girls do not like the gumbo but they're trying to be nice about it, excusing themselves to the bathroom after each bite. Julius and I ended up eating it all. 

Now that we are feeling good, we head out into the city and our first stop is a random bar where we try palinka. Wow, that stuff is strong! Then, we go to Szimpla. This bar is really cool. It has two stories and part of the downstairs is outside. There are so many people in here and I am hearing several different accents and languages, but mostly english. Next place we go to is Morrison's 2, which is like 5 clubs and 4 bars all in one big building. We stay there for awhile, hopping to different sections and dancing and having fun.

Thoughts: Karolina seems really nice and friendly. There are a lot of clubs in Budapest, and we actually got carded at a few, which is flattering, except Julius forgot his ID, so we couldn't get in. Plus, the trams were running well after 3am, which is super convenient and should be adopted in more major European cities.

At the train station

First thing we did was find a gym to get our (not so) swol on

Friday, February 24, 2012

Lisbon, Portugal: Couchsurfing the Capital during Carnaval

Synopsis: Last minute decision (a few days before) to use a three-day weekend for travel and I want to go to Portugal. Porto, Faro, or Lisbon? RyanAir times don't work for me so I'm gonna have to pay a bit more. Let's go to couchsurfing to see if I can find a host. Hmmm, got a response in Lisbon, guess I'm going there! And this will be my first time staying with someone from couchsurfing.

Trip Overview:
Day 1: Land in Lisbon in the late morning and I hail a taxi. I am trying to speak spanish to the cab driver, who is nice about it, but tells me, in broken english, that they speak portugese and I am saying everything wrong. He tries to drop me off and I say I don't see the house and he is just pointing. The cab fare is 8€ so I give him a 10€ and say keep the change. He directs me to stay in the cab and then drives me the extra distance to the actual place of my host, in Alfama. Money talks!

So, I'm in a pretty sketch neighborhood and I manage to figure out which house is my host's and I ring the doorbell. Apparently, I woke him up and he tells me to come in. He introduces me to his other surfer, Diana, from the Philippines, who is touring Europe. She arrived last night and has no plans today so I invite her to walk around the city with me.

First we head to São Jorge (St. George) castle. It offers an impressive view of the city and there are peacocks all over. From there we go down to the Praça do Comércio, the main square, and go down to the harbor. We sit with all the teenagers and tourists, watching the boats go by.

Thoughts: I won't describe in too much detail about my host's place, but it is not the most well-kept apartment. There is also no heat, and my "couch" that I surf on is actually a mattress in the attic, accessible only by a ladder (yes, a legit ladder). I slept with all my clothes on, including my shoes, because of the lack of heat and the uncleanliness of the place.

My new pose for pictures. The Superman


best eBook ever

Subscribe & Travel with the TMax

Popular Posts

Countries Visited

Blog Archive



Online Fitness Course

Online Fitness Course
Functional Fitness for ALL Levels

Online Kettlebell Course

Online Kettlebell Course
Kettlebells For You, Me, & Everybody