After Prague I flew to Stockholm as my last stop before returning home. I arrived to my Airbnb just as rain started pouring. After dodging the rain for a little while I headed out for lunch and Museum of Medieval Stockholm. Most museums in Stockholm were free but unfortunately the free ones also closed at 5pm. I spent the rest of the day strolling around and enjoying sunset at 11pm.

Next day I did two different walking tours, both for the old town and the new city. I had the same guide that Andrew did when he went to Stockholm and the guide repeated the same joke. The city tour was more interesting and I did not know that H&M was a Swedish company. I enjoyed some fish soup in between and struggled to pay to use the toilet. America had switched to chip and signature credit cards but unfortunately some places require chip and pin cards. Thankfully the toilets had a lesser security requirement.

In Stockholm I also bought my subway tickets from an app for the first time. It's quite convenient and almost made me forgive how expensive the rides were. Virtually everything at Stockholm was more expensive than the other cities I've visited on this trip.

Saturday I went to both Swedish History Museum and the Army Museum. Both were excellent. I returned to the old town to stroll for a while and ended up at Stampen for some jazz. I was told that Swedes don't like talking to strangers so I was surprised that someone made small talks with me. Turned out he was Norwegian. I had too much to drink and thought going to an outdoor club was a good idea, but gave up after I saw the line at Trädgården. I decided to end my adventures and headed to the airport for the night.

See Google Photos for more pictures.

by khc on Mon Jun 19 23:05:04 2017 Permlink
Tags: travel

Munich and Berlin

I took anther six hours train ride from Prague to Munich to meet my friend Andrew Gaul. This time the train ride was more miserable because of the lack of wifi. I would write about my days in Munich and Berlin in detail but Andrew already did so I don't have to.

andrew and I

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by khc on Mon Jun 19 21:46:29 2017 Permlink
Tags: travel


After Vienna I went to Prague first so I can meet up with my friend Andrew later in both Munich and Berlin. Czech Republic also didn't use the Euro and some places accepted Euro but would give you back the change in Czech koruna. I mostly spent the first evening people watching at the Old Town Square and sipping beer. I had more fantasy about Czech beer before I arrived but I suppose living in SF I probably already had most of the great beers and the rest I lack the palate for anyway.

old town square me

Second day I slept in a bit and went to the castle area. It's free to go in but the inner exhibitions required tickets. I was tired to pay to see another church so I opted to just walked around. I met a friend that day and went to the monastery to have a beer. After that we shared a giant pork knee and went to the Hemingway Bar and got a Star Wars themed drink. We ended the night at the 5 story club Karlovy lázně with each floor having its own music. I was sightly embarrassed that my new Indonesian friend knew more American oldies than I did.

castle stairs bridge beer

The next day I wasn't able to get a reservation at Alcron so I ate next door at La Rotonde which was surprisingly excellent. Afterwards I met my friend at National Memorial to the Heroes of the Heydrich Terror which was at the site where the final battle of Operation Anthropoid took place. During WWII German SS Obergruppenführer Reinhard Heydrich was assassinated in Prague and the rebels hid in a church during their final days before they were discovered. All of them were either killed or killed themselves. I had only recently watched the movie based on the event so I enjoyed the small museum which gave more background for the real event.

dancing house

I then met my friend's flatmate who happened to also be Indonesian. I learned that there weren't many Indonesian in Prague and they all knew each other. We strolled to the north side of the river which is apparently where the younger locals hang out. We ended the night at Cash Only Bar and headed back after I got spilled on.

I was supposed to head to Amsterdam and Belgium after Germany but returned to Prague due to travel fatigue. Didn't do a whole lot in those few days except visiting the passable Museum of Communism and went to a great hike near Karlštejn Castle. Also hit my Micheline star restaurant #2 at Alcron. Made the mistake of getting the 6-course with wine pairing because in the end everything tasted like wine.


See Google Photos for more pictures.

by khc on Mon Jun 19 23:02:33 2017 Permlink
Tags: travel


I took an European train for the first time from Budapest to Vienna and I was quite impressed. Later I would find that much of the experience depended on the companies that ran the trains. There was an outdoor party by the river when I arrived and I had a decent sausage sandwich. I mentally prepared myself for relatively boring Austrian and German food and that turned out to be wise.

Wien Museum

The next day I did a forgettable walking tour and then went to the forgettable Wien Museum. It's Sunday and by law most places didn't open and I ended up having Pho for dinner. On Monday I did a bike tour at Wacho Valley which is their equivalent of Napa Valley except they mostly produced white wine. My colleague and friend Christine recommended me the tour and I highly recommend it to anyone who find themselves stuck in Vienna. I ate schnitzels for both meals that day which was a bad idea.

I was mostly unimpressed with Vienna down to the room I stayed in because some kids were partying next door until 2am. On my way out I went to the Museum of Military History which conveniently was close to the train station. The beginning was horrible because nothing was translated but the latter periods were great. I found the different point of view from Hungary about the Austria-Hungary relationship interesting and unsurprisingly the museum also had a very thorough section on both world wars.

See Google Photos for more pictures.

by khc on Mon Jun 19 19:29:17 2017 Permlink
Tags: travel


I got to Budapest at early evening and found a pole in my room at LOL Boutique Hostel. Hungary didn't use the Euro and after some math wizardry I realized everything was really cheap. A 1.5L of carbonated water costed about $0.25 and an above average meal would set me back $10. I also realized it was very difficult to find plain bottled water. All the grocery stores sold either carbonated water or lightly carbonated water. I attributed this to Americans' obsession with bottled water which most Europeans don't share.

I spent the first day at House of Terror which portrayed life under communism when Soviet Union effectively ruled Hungary after WWII. I found the museum a bit confusing to follow which would become a recurring theme in Budapest. The outdoor exhibition about a two weeks revolt was great though. I was surprised that they were able to fight off the local communist army and had a short lived democracy until the Soviets brought the big boys in. The rest of the day I strolled along the river and stopped by their most famous ruin bars, Szimpla Kert. I was quite tired and only stayed briefly but made mental note to return the next day.

house of terror shoes me

I bought the europass earlier to travel around by train so the next day I went to the train station to make sure I know how it worked. Had another great meal at Rosenstein Vendéglő which had an asparagus menu but I opted for more traditional items. Then I went to the Hungarian National Museum which was huge but needed a lot of work with the narrative and even just the placement of the plaques. On a whim I made reservation for the Winehouse for the next day and chilled at Szimpla Kert for most of the rest of the evening.

Szimpla Kert consists of a dozen bars or so mostly selling cheap drinks. I wasn't impressed by Hungary beer but I really liked most of the Hungary red wine, even those I ordered from the unfriendly bartender at Szimpla Kert. The live music was meh despite it being a Friday night and I definitely enjoyed the band from the previous night more. A friendly Spanish couple invited me to join them and we chatted about Spain and also the future of European Union since they both work in Brussels. They were both way more optimistic than I am about the future of the Union but recently election results are encouraging.

The last day I found a small Jewish protest site and frankly I didn't quite understand the controversy. I was looking forward to have my first European Michelin star meal and Winekitchen did not disappoint, especially considering that it was only $60. I don't normally go for fancy meals in San Francisco because I don't think they are worth the hassle so I was very happy that great meals were relatively easy to come by and a lot more affordable as well.


See Google Photos for more pictures.

by khc on Wed Jun 28 22:51:47 2017 Permlink
Tags: travel
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