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5.8.2000
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Runars Grand Europe Tour 2000

Ferðapunktar Rúnars

Runar: Europe 2000 - July

Mail to Runar in Europe 2000 

Pictures - myndir  

place - intended stay in days

Chapters

Pictures
July

As this story is growing it has reached the point where it starts to become divided into chapters:

05.08.00 Until next time! - Runar
Sent:
Saturday,
August 05,
2000 1:19 AM

Subject:
Until
next time

Hello,

I've made it back safely. The trip back was long, but went very smoothly.

In the past three months I've gone from Marrakech to Stockholm, Reykjavik to Prague. I've climbed peaks in the Alps, explored ancient castles on the Rhine, fought hustlers in Morocco, met a wealth of new friends and gathered countless memories that will last a lifetime.

You were all part of it, right there along with me, thanks to this fantastic medium. At some points it was lonely, sometimes scary, but mostly it was just exciting. It was always a ton of work, but well worth it. I'm going to do it again. I don't know where or when, but hopefully you'll be there again.

The past two day's I've been getting acclimated to life back in the States. Today it was mountain biking and this weekend it's a canoeing trip. As far as future plans go, I have not even started. I've got lots of options and am in no rush. I'll keep you informed.

Thanks for coming along, its been great company.

Until next time - Runar

8/2/00 London - 1

Continental Flight 35 leaving London for Huston on 8/2/00 at 9:40 AM - arriving 1:45 PM

Continental Flight 3858 leaving Huston for Pensacola on 8/2/00 at 3:40 PM - arriving 5:15 PM

Sent:
Sunday,
July 30,
2000 6:41 PM

Subject:
An old friend

Hello,
It's only been two and a half months since I last crossed the Thames, but it seems like much longer. Yesterday I bought a ticket to London on the Eurostar, despite the cost.I didn't feel like hassling with the boat trip, as I had once planed.

This morning I got up early and was able to go to the Catacombs before I had to catch the 11:13 train to Waterloo.

What an amazing place the Catacombs are. The ticket booth is in a small building on a street corner. As soon as you enter, you are lead towards a circular stairway that goes down and down and down. Then it's at least a 10 minute hike through long tunnels until you get to the actual catacombs. I was expecting to see a few bones here and there, perhaps a few graves. Not so. There are bones stacked neatly along both walls from floor to sealing for what must have been over a mile. The skulls are neatly ordered, all facing you. There must have been tens of thousands of people buried there, all just looking at you as you walk along. They don't do much with the lighting either, it's dark and very spooky. If ever there should be a haunted place, this is it. After walking up another circular stairway, I found myself in a completely different area than where I had entered-several metro stops away!

The trip to London was uneventful. I had no reservations, and most places are fully booked. After some digging around I found a place called "The Generator"-- It's a huge brick building where they have over 833 beds (that's a lot). The place is very generation X and will do nicely for the night. After a shower I was ready for London. Tonight I have no big plans, just to wander around and go to a few pubs. Tomorrow I'll head out to the Millennium dome. I've heard mixed opinions of it, but everyone agrees that you must see it. The British Museum is another stop that I'll probably make. It's good to be back, despite all the places I've been, London is still a favorite.

I won't go on about how this is my last stop or that I'm leaving on Wednesday, but it weighs heavy on my thoughts.
Thanks for your letters. - Runar

Sent:
Saturday,
July 29,
2000
12:36 PM

Subject:
From
Interlaken
to Paris

Hello, - It's been a busy few days since I last wrote.

On Wednesday morning I took the train deep into the Berner Oberland. Next I took a lift straight up the mountain side, then it was another train, and finally a two more lifts up to the top. After all that I found myself at the Schiltron. That's a famous rotating restaurant at 10,000 feet (3000 M) that some of you might remember from a James Bond movie. I wish I could describe the view, high above the Alps, but unfortunately a cloud had parked itself at the top of the mountain and I could barely see 100 feet in front of me. Nonetheless I decided to hike down to town, a descent of about 6000 feet. It was steep in parts, snow in others, but all in all a successfully hike down. I was exhausted by the end of the day. Thursday I decided to relax a little, and took on a much easier trail. This time the weather was excellent and the magnificence of the Swiss Alps was in marvelous view. The height of the mountains is something I've never experienced before. These are massive monuments to nature. As much as I admire the great wonders and accomplishments of man, they often seem pale compared to natures wonders.

When I woke up Friday Morning, it was pouring rain and didn't look like it was going to ease up. I made the decision to head for Paris, spending the day on the trains. By 18:00 last night I was here in Paris, without a place to stay. The worse part was I didn't even have any addresses or telephone numbers because I threw away those pages from my handbook when I left Paris last time. Going from Memory I went to a few hostels without much luck. But by this time I'd gotten some numbers to call and finally found a bed for the night. Today's been spent going to some of the sites I didn't get to see last time. I went into the Notre Dame Crypt and the Pompidou. The Pompidou has an interesting modern art museum covering two floors. I've come to conclude that 90% of modern art is crack-pot. Blank canvases and paint drippings aren't what I consider real talent. Some of the exhibits were very intriguing though, and I would recommend the museum to anybody. I'm pondering a revisit to the Louver this afternoon, but I know the lines are going to be a mile long.

I'll spend tonight in Paris and perhaps return to London tomorrow. I'd like to have a day to go to Baths (the city) and a day in London. Wednesday morning I fly back to the states and this little adventure comes to an end, for now. - Runar

Sent:
Tuesday,
July 25,
2000
7:58 PM

Subject:
Interlaken
and the
Berner
Oberland

Hello,
I've made my way to what will probably be the last new area of my trip, Switzerland. Yesterday I took the train down from Prague to Munich, and spent the night in the tent again. Today I made my way here and have checked into a hostel for the night in Interlaken. I'm sitting at the foot of the Alps, and can see the peaks that rise to over 4000 meters just south of here. Tomorrow I'm going to take the train deep into the mountains, and then a lift or two.

I've got several good hikes laid out and am looking forward to the challenge.

Best wishes, Runar

Sent:
Monday,
July 24,
2000
8:46 AM

Subject:
Florence,
Venice,
Vienna
and now . . .

Hello,

As usual, I'm in some new exotic place.

They country is the Check Republic, and the city is Prague. After Florence I went to Venice for a day. I wasn't feeling well and spent most of the day reading at the hostel. The book I read was "Hannibal" (follow up to Silence of the Lambs) and that probably didn't help my health. Liver anyone?

Saturday, feeling much better, I walked around Venice for a few hours and managed to get lost in the endless maze of allies and bridges. Finally I stumbled across Piazza San Marco (St. Mark's Square), a breathtaking jungle of tourists. It wasn't flooded, but you could see where it had many times. The public transportation system in Venice is of course boats, and it was quite a treat to ride around the city for very little money.

After a morning of wandering, I got on the train to Vienna. It took about 8 hours. Vienna is another beutiful city. Having been the head of the Habsburg Empire for 600 years, it's sights rival that of Paris or Rome. After a only a day in Vienna I decided to keep moving north, and took the train to Prague yesterday afternoon. It was only about 4.5 hours.

So far Prague's been great. Everything's relatively cheap around here. It's amazing that only 11 years ago this country was under Soviet Rule. The city is surprisingly modern and crawling with tourists. I'm not much of a beer drinker, but Czech beer could easily change that. It's much cooler up here than it was in Italy, a welcome change. While I had decided to relax a little bit here in Prague, I think I'm only going to do the major sites, including the castle, and head towards Switzerland. I'm looking forward to hiking the high mountains, and perhaps taking a few lifts up to the peaks. A slight drawback with Switzerland is how expensive everything is. Switzerland is the last stop on my list, so perhaps I'm truly in no hurry from here. Depending on the route, I might go through Vienna again or more directly through Munich. Some might think that I'm moving too quickly, but when the trains are free, and time is short, why not see as much as possible?

From Interlaken i'll take a train to Paris and then London. I'm going to spend another day or two in London before the flight back on the second.

Thanks for your emails. - Runar

Sent:
Thursday,
July 20,
2000
4:55 PM

Subject:
The Cradle
of the
Renaissance

Chao, I'm writing this from a cyber cafe in Florence.

Rome was a definitely an experience. Nowhere else in the world, that I know of, could one get such a varied bombardment of the senses. The traffic was almost as bad as that of Tangier and there were endless crowds of people. The heat was unrelentless. The city was a maze of streets, shops, smells, and, of course, sites. The Vatican didn't disappoint, and St. Peter's is indeed the largest, grandest, most magnificent church in the world. On the floor were marks, showing where other churches would stop were they put inside. I walked the over 400 steps to the top of St. Peter's dome and enjoyed the magnificent view. Rome has no skyline for one reason, nothing is allowed to be built higher than Michelangelo's dome on St. Peter's church--the largest in the world. After the Vatican I went of to the national Museum in Rome, an assault of statues and masterpieces.

(cont) Yesterday was spent first at the the Borghese gallery, a private museum with some great works, and then it was off to Florence. On the way I started my third novel of the trip, The Pelican brief. After the hassle of finding a place to stay in Florence, I had a chance to hike through the city (with my backpack) to the hotel. It too is a maze of streets and alleys, many of which have been there for thousands of years. I had to pay for a hotel, which cost about as much as 3 nights in a hostel. I guess it's better than sleeping at the train station. The sad thing is that the quality of the accommodations weren't much better than Hostels--whiche are even preferable, because there are always fellow travelers around.

Today's been a blur of masterpieces. First there was The Bergello Museum which included works from Donatello and Michelangelo. Then I hit the Accademia for Michelangelo's must see David and powerful Prisoners. I finished the book. After a short break and more lines, I was in the Uffizi Gallery, The greatest collection of Italian paintings anywhere (Giotto, Leonardo, Raphael, Caravaggio, Rubens, Titan, Michelangelo, Botticelli). I'm actually starting to figure out who these guys were. But I have definitely had my fill of museums.

I'll have to see a few biggies in Venice, but I hope that will be the end of that. I found some cheaper accommodations this morning and am going to spend the night, tomorrow it's the 8:45 am train to Venice, where I'll be for two days. I've planned out the next two weeks and they are going to be quite busy. I figure I can rest when i get off vacation.

Thanks for reading. Runar

P.S.
Remember, your comments are always welcome. I'm not much of a writer and your feedback definitely helps (and motivates).

Sent:
Tuesday,
July 18,
2000
11:15 AM

Subject:
The
wonders
of Rome

The Cinque Terra was awesome, and I stayed a bit longer than I had planned.

After three lazy days of hiking around and a fierce sun-burn, I've made it to Rome. Yesterday afternoon and evening was spent hiking to the Colosseum, studying the ruins of the Roman Forum, lapping the circus Maximus, awing at the grandeur of the Pantheon and stumbling upon a fashion show at the Spanish Steps. Today I woke up early and took the Metro to the Vatican. The line for the Museum still wrapped around the building, but moved quickly. Inside I was pleasantly surprised to find a fantastic collection of Egyptian, Roman, and Renaissance art. Raphael's rooms were awesome. The Sixtine chapel was worth all the hassle, and I found myself staring at the Last Judgment for quite a while--The level of detail, size, and imagery was quite incredible. Next I'm off to St.. Peter's Basilica, supposedly the most impressive church on earth, the atrium is larger than most churches.

Tomorrow I'll check out the Borghese Gallery, a private gallery, and then head north to Florence, where I'll hopefully find a place to stay. The trip is unfortunately drawing closer to an end, and I'll have to make some decisions as to where I'd like to go in my last two weeks. Many people have spoken very highly of Prague, and I want to see it. Some places will have to wait until my next trip.

I'm always in good company while traveling. I meet students from different parts of the world along the way, and am often traveling with somebody.

Best wishes - Runar

Sent:
Friday,
July 14,
2000
1:11 PM

Subject:
Greetings
from the
Cinque
Terre

Hello!

I'm writing this email from the one PC in the one InterNet cafe in town. The town is Riomaggiore, a tiny fishing village on the Italian Riviera. The next two days are going to be spent exploring the ins and outs of the five villages right here next to each other, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore. No big sites, not great museums, just lots of rocky coastline, beautiful beaches, and topless babes. Just kidding. Cars are not allowed into most of the towns, and they are only accessable via the endless train tunnels that wind there way along the coast.

The last day of Munich was very good. I finally made it out to the Concentration camp at Dachau, the first one they built. It was to say the least a moving experience. I spent the rest of the day in and out of the various beer halls, before catching the 23:40 train to Milano. There I caught a train to Genoa, and from there it was the milk run to Riomaggiore. After relaxing a few days I'm off to Florence, and then Rome. I've heard that most of Italy is a madhouse, especially Rome. You actually have to reserve time in the Museums well beforehand.

Chao - Runar

Sent:
Wednesday,
July 12,
2000
4:52 PM

Subject:
Just
a quick
hello

Hello,

Munich's been great.
I haven't made it to the concentration camp yet, partly because of the weather. I did take the day and go through the Deutch Museum, Germany's answer to the Smithsonian Institute. It was well worth the $2.50 entry fee. A huge complex with tons of exhibits about everything from medicine to mechanics.

Bz the waz, y and z are switched on this kezboard, for some reason Bill decided it would be better that waz, who am I to argue.

People have been raving about Raves, so apperantly I'm going to one tonight. Some sort of party with new-age music, whatever that is.

More later. - Runar

7/12/00
08:21 AM

Good
Morning

Good Morning.

I woke up this morning to the sound of pouring rain pounding the circus tent I was trying to sleep in.

I better explain. Yesterday started off with my planned hike through woods and awesome old German Castles. Good part of the morning was spent with a flashlight crawling through underground tunnels in the Castles, nothing was off limits. I then decided to head south to Munic, and was here by about 18:00. The cheapest night sleep in Munich is The Tent. A huge circus tent, where for 14DM you get a camping mattress and some blankets, find some space on the wooden floor, and make yourself at home. I've had better nights sleep.

The city itself is great, and the beer glass is served by the pints (half gallon). Today I'm going to
check out the concentration camp and perhaps a Museum or two,

I'll stay in touch. - Best wishes, - Runar

Sent:
Wednesday,
July 10,
2000

Subject:
Celebration
of the
Reproductive
Process

It's been a few miles since my last email and I'm paying a fortune for this Internet time. I think I was last in Stockholm, now I'm in a small town on the Rhine river in western Germany. Copenhagen was fun again, but the weather could have been better, friday night I headed for Berlin on the night train.

I arrived early in Berlin, 7:00 AM. The train station was already very active. I had no reservations, as usual, and started at the top of my list of local hostels. Everything was full, even the hotels. I decided to go downtown to the Information office. That's when I fist started to notice how oddly everyone was dressed. The trains were packed, this early on a saturday morning. Mostly kids, my age or younger dressed like a bad freak show. At first I thought this was business as usual for Berlin, I knew that it was
a progressive city, and that Berliner's were quite liberal-- but this was ridiculous. When I arrived in the central station, downtown, I realized things were not as usual. The place was packed. Guys dressed as girls, girls dressed in very little, and some people didn't dress at all. The Love Parade, someone said. What the hell is a love parade? It's Berlin's biggest annual party, attracting between 2-3 MILLION people. Every hotel within 3 hours of Berlin was booked.

I figured what the hell, 2 million people came to see it, why shouldn't I? I had no concept of how many people 2 million is. It's miles of bodies, standing room only. It was quite amazing. The parade itself left alot to be desired. 50 trucks, each with a huge sound system and a crew of 20 or more people onboard dancing, inched their way through the endless mass of people. By the time I got out, it was 8:00 PM, and I was ready to get out of Berlin.

I took the night train to Bonn, a town in western Germany. From there I continued south along the Rhine river valley to adjacent valley, the Mosel. Where I staid over night. The weather hasn't been to good, but I managed to spend the day hiking through woods and exploring 700 year old castles. More of the same tomorrow. The area is magnificent. The river flows through these narrow green valleys, with quiet little towns sprinkled here and there. The mountains are green with tall trees, except for the wine fields they seem to put in the oddest, steepest places.

I'm slowly going to make my way to Munich, before going to Italy. Best wishes from Germany

Runar

Sent:
Thursday,
July 06,
2000
1:33 PM

Subject:
Words
from
Stockhom

Hello!

Sorry for my lack of writing.

The entire city of Stockholm has 4 Cyber cafe's, all of which close by 16:00, typical Swedish thinking.

I guess I should say how I got to Stockholm. Last letter was written in Denmark, the night before I took the train to Copenhagen. I finally got to spend a day wandering the city. The weather was great. I didn't hit any major Museums, closed on Mondays. But I did go to Christiania, the Copenhagen Free city. You see, during the early 70's a bunch of hippies set up camp in some abandoned Navy barracks here in Stockholm, that was over 27 years ago, and they're still there. The city is completely free, the government pays for the utilities and and apartments are owned by whoever happens to inhabit them. No real laws either, Pot etc. is legal.

After having wandered around Copenhagen, I caught the train across the new bridge connecting Sweden and Copenhagen. It's actually a bridge and tunnel combination, very nice. Once in Sweden I was going to catch a train to Oslo, my next destination. As it turned out, the next train was going to Stockholm, so I changed my mind and came up here. Vala, my cousin, was waiting for me at the train station in Upsalla, a small college town about an hour from Stockholm. I've staid there the past two nights, and we take the train into the city during the day.

Uppsalla would have been a worthwhile stop without the accommodations. It's Swedens oldest University town, and has over 40,000 students. No comparison to UF or FSU, though.

Stockholm is a tremendously beautiful city. The buildings have a very classic motif. It's like taking a step back in time. Yesterday, after getting a late start, we went to the Vasa museum. This is the boat that the Swedes built around 1660, with two decks of guns. The only problem was the haul and balast weren't enought to support the weight, and 20 minutes into it's maiden voage, it sank. About 50 years ago they were able to raise the ship from the sea, patch it a little, and it was in tackt. The Nordic Museum was the next stop, I wouldn't rate it highly compared to many of the other Museums I've seen in the past months.

The Swedes are great about closing everything very early, even in a big city like this. It's definitely something in the social conscience, that says work must end before 5:00.

The plan.
Take the night train tonight back to Copenhagen, spend another day wandering the city, before continuing south to Berlin. I figure two days in Berlin, and the still further south. Eventually to Florence and then Rome. I'll keep you informed.

Runar

Sent:
Sunday,
July 02,
2000
9:41 PM

Subject:
Moving
on from
Sønderborg

Hello, - things are going well on the road.

Arrival in Sønderborg went without a glitch.

I arrived in Copenhagen around 21:30. The next train to Sønderborg didn't depart until 1:50 in the morning, with a change at 4:30. This didn't give me much sleep by the time I arrived at 7:30. I've had a great few days here with my sister and family. Sønderborg is a cosy small town on the island Als. The next stop is Copenhagen (again), here's the rough plan for the next few days:

Monday Morning, train from Sønderborg to Copenhagen, arrive around lunch and spend the day in Copenhagen. Night train to Oslo. Spend Tuesday in Oslo. Night train to Stockholm. Spend a few days in Stockholm, night train to Copenhagen, spend day in Copenhagen, night train to Berlin. This should put me in good position to tackle southeastern Europe in July.

I want to encourage those of you who are new to the list to check out the archive at http://www.gopfrettir.net/runar.htm

Best Wishes to all, - Runar

Chapters

Pictures
July

As this story is growing it has reached the point where it starts to become divided into chapters:

Efst á þessa síðu * Forsíða