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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Talinn, Estonia: Skype, Culture Kilometer, and much more

Synopsis: Two trips in one month!? We crazy people, working to live and not living to work... Since Stephanie is leaving Europe (this is where the audience 'aawws' in sympathy for me), we decide to go see her top place she's wanted to visit, before she leaves. Estonia is not an easy place to get to, as the tickets are expensive or for cheaper flights, the required travel is longer than the alotted vacation days.

Trip Overview:
Day 1: Take off from Brussels, where our plane just appeared out of Finnair, at 19:20. We get a sandwich and drinks on the flight. Land in Helsinki but we don't Finnish there (ok, I'm done). Shuttle ride to the plane is longer than the 52 second flight from Helsinki to Tallinn and we arrive just after midnight, yet I can still see sunlight. We catch a taxi for about 9€ to the hotel.

Thoughts: Just can't get over the ridiculousness of the prices of Brussels' cabs and public transport! It cost us 6€ a piece to catch a bus 3km to the airport in Brussels, yet only 4,50€ a piece to catch a cab about 7km, directly to our hotel, in Tallinn.  Daylight so late in the evening reminds me of my trip to Alaska

Boarding the plane in Helsinki at 23:45

Tere (tear-ay) Estonia!


Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Bucharest, Romania: Well, where's Dracula?

Synopsis: I've have been trying to go to Romania for some time now. Since Ed repeatedly refused to go to his homeland with me, I just never went. Thanks to Stephanie, we will go for the 4th of July weekend. Celebrating American independence in eastern Europe, with style!

This is the first blog that I am recording in real time. Imagine how accurate it will be. Wait, that's more pressure on me. Stop imagining, right now! You in the back, I can see you still imagining...

Trip Overview:
Day 1: At the Zaventem airport waiting to board. Suddenly we hear our names on the loudspeaker, calling for last boarding. Almost missed the first flight! Get on the plane and we have exit row, oh yeah.

Romania heard we were coming from Brussels, so it, thoughtfully, greets us with light rain showers. We board the bus to downtown and we don't do the validation thing correct, so when the transit cops get on, they try to charge me 50 lei ($15.50). Between my obstinance to pay and the cops' inability to speak english, I am not charged.

Bus stops at Unirii Square and we walk toward our hotel. Leave our stuff at the hotel and head toward Palace of the Parliament for a night-time photo op. Then to Old Town. Later, to Carrefour for snacks and water, and then head back to the hotel.

Thoughts: Lufthansa gives you food and drinks... note to self, keep flying Lufthansa. I thought the transit cops were con-men at first, which is why I really didn't want to pay. They ended up just showing me how to validate the ticket. There are many giant televsions on top of buildings and in the squares. Old Town is a lively place and there are quite a few "Hot Massage" and "Girls Night Dance" places. Some of the restaurants/stores have "Non-Stop" written on them, which means they are 24/7. Even Carrefour was non-stop. This is amazing to me, considering EVERYTHING in Belgium closes at 3 o'clock in the afternoon, and doesn't open on Sundays at all!

The fountain started spraying us as we wait for the camera-timer to take the pic

This is totally normal at Carrefour afer midnight


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