Thursday, June 10, 2010

An EarlySummer Night's Dream

It no longer gets dark in Norway. Seriously. The decision to use a white Ikea sheet as my curtain has turned out to be a rather poor decision. But hey, I suppose it's better than when I first arrived and the sun would set just a little after 3pm. I also enjoy staying up late so it doesn't make me feel like such a night owl, but it certainly takes some getting used to. This change in weather also signifies something more important - summer. For me that means some extensive traveling of a huge chunk of Europe, and I couldn't be more excited. That being said I am going to try and post a few blogs before I head off for the long haul. It occurred to me that it will be impossible for me to keep up with all my adventures on my blog while I am truly living a new adventure every day. In response to this conundrum I just purchased my first (of probably many) Moleskine notebooks. If you don't know what they look like check out the photo of the little intellectual gem to the right. I am quite excited about this because I can keep track of my thoughts during my expeditions, or as the pamphlet inside the notebook states, I will be "capturing reality on the move, preserving details, impressing the unique aspects of experience upon paper." Moleskine also dutifully notes that it was the trusty notebook of such thinkers as Van Gogh, Picasso, Hemingway, and Chatwin. Staring at the book full of empty pages makes me anxious to explore the world. If I do get the chance to write a blog on the run I can imagine it will be a little grammatically deficient. This is due to the fact that I won't have as much time, and I may or may not be writing the blog in a cramped bus somewhere in Lithuania. Needless to say, before I transform this blog into book form I am going to sit down for a good while and edit it to perfection. As my trusty (and seemingly forgettable) grade 9 English teacher always said, "Edit! Edit! Edit!"

I have talked a lot about my summer travel plans, but haven't given any specifics. Where am I going anyway?I provided a little map to help you visualize the whole adventure. I know what you're thinking...How am I supposed to see anything on that map without my glasses? or perhaps even without a magnifying glass. Well that is kind of the point, Europe is a tightly knit conglomeration of countries with each carrying a definitive culture, language (or at least dialect), set of social norms, and history. All of these concepts are interrelated between countries, but I can say with absolute confidence that Spain and Norway differ in all of the aforementioned respects, and yet both maintain a European identity. On Friday, I will depart for Munich then head back for 4 days to pack up my belongings, then it begins. It all starts with Jon and his brother in Helsinki, Finland. From Helsinki we are off to Riga, Latvia to celebrate their renowned summer solstice celebrations. Sadly, I will say my goodbyes to Jon from there and embark on a solo journey of epic proportions. In reference to the statement before, it is only sad that Jon is leaving, and not that I get the wonderful opportunity to travel alone. I am truly relishing the opportunity to wake up and discover each city on my own terms, and be responsible for the way in which I experience each city. From Riga, I will head off to Vilnius, Lithuania, then making my way from there over to Warsaw and eventually Krakow, Poland. Post-Krakow I will shoot over to Hungary and welcome the famous Budapest into my life. From Budapest I will be going to another capital city of the "B" variety - Belgrade, Serbia. The last leg of my solo journey will be celebrated at the world renowned Exit Festival in Novi Sad, Serbia. The homepage illustrates the venue best when stating, "it takes place in the historic Petrovaradin Fortress, which is built high on the banks of the River Danube and offers stunning views over the city of Novi Sad. The ancient fortress site was originally occupied by the Romans, and re-built by the Austro Hungarian Empire to defend against the Turks in the 17th Century." This is what it looks like from the exterior (pictured left), but I am told it is a rather different picture inside the venue. In the interest of not making my parents terrified I will leave the pictures of the interior to the imagination, or google images. On a serious note, it is a highly reputable festival where the crowd is only there to enjoy music, and to accompany others who appreciate music as much as them. The historic venue will be welcoming famed artists such as; Mika, LCD Soundsystem, DJ Shadow, Boys Noize, Crookers, David Guetta, Dirty South, A-Trak, The Chemical Brothers, and the completely and utterly out of place Missy Elliot. There are dozens and dozens more artists that are going to strut their stuff at this festival, and I couldn't be more excited for it. If you are unfamiliar with it you should really consider getting familiar with it ---> http://www.exitfest.org/. Surely you must now be thinking...is that really all he is going to be doing? the answer is of course - not a chance.

I will bid my solemn farewell to Eastern Europe as I head off from Belgrade. From there I will be heading to the seemingly crucial tourist cities located in England and France, but I guess the picture has the effect of giving it away. This will mark what I am deeming the "second leg" of my journey, as I will be joining forces with my brother. The Mitchell duo will undoubtedly enjoy our stay in London and then head off to Paris to meet his friend Gotham. I am truly looking forward to traveling with my brother as I can recognize more and more how lucky I am to have such a great brother in an equally wonderful family. Now that I have placed a glaring smile on all of the faces of my family members, I'll kindly move back on track to my travels. After spending a few days in awe of the Eiffel tower we will scale things down a little bit by arriving in Luxembourg City, Luxembourg. Stopping here, I felt, allowed us to smash the pre-established euro trip and diversify our travels a little. If we don't get lost in the monstrous city with a whopping population of 82,000 then it's off to Bruges, Belgium. Originally it was going to be a combined Belgium duo of Brussels and Antwerp, but after speaking to many sources this seemed to be the best option. From Belgium it will be time to go to the Dam - Amsterdam. I visited Amsterdam earlier for Queen's Day, but haven't been able to post a blog about it yet. Hopefully I will have that ready by the time I embark on all of these travels. It will be great to re-visit Amsterdam again though because I was unable to see sites such as the Anne Frank Haus, Van Gogh Musuem, and other tourist havens due to the city being overhauled by orange enthusiasts. The city of Hamburg will be our next destination which will lead us to our last city of the second leg - drum rolllllll please.... --> Berlin, Germany. This is a city I have been aching to go to for years, thus it is a strong part of my mid-summer night's dream that seems to reoccur every night (lame Shakespeare joke --> check). The first and second leg without question provide an array of incredible opportunities for me. So now you must still be thinking...well alright I was wrong the with my first question...but surely, I mean surely, you must be done with your travels? The question was different, but the answer is the same - not a chance.

My rather sleep deprived and probably tired self will head off to meet my wonderful girlfriend for the "third leg" of the European bonanza. It will be an unbelievably welcome change to see her in person, and not just on skype. I'm also really excited to get to explore the world with her, sharing one of our seemingly many shared interests, which is of course travel. The plans aren't finalized yet, but a few places are up in discussion. It appears as if Switzerland and Italy are fairly set in stone. A country which many of you may not have heard of which is under strong consideration is Liechenstein. Forget hearing about it...just try and pronounce it. Liechenstein is roughly the size of Manhattan measuring in at 25km by 6km. To put it in perspective, on their National Day (August 15th) the prince invites all 32,860 Liechtensteiners back to the castle for a glass of wine or beer. Now that is some serious loyalty from the royalty. There are also a whole bunch of other countries under consideration such as Austria, more specifically Salzburg, where Briana was quick to point out the filming of a certain movie took place. I'll give you a hint...it rhymes with pound of cusick. I wouldn't say that it is my favorite movie on the planet...but hey? Austria is beautiful no matter what, and all the better to be there with Bri. I'm also pretty interested in the little countries like Monaco, San Marino, and Malta just out of sheer curiosity. As I found when planning the "first leg" of the trip though, my ambitions outweigh my realities, so obviously you more or less have to go with what is cost-effective and make sense for you logistically. Originally this blog post was going to be in regards to my adventures in Croatia. However, I began on a tangent and, as many of you know, once I start something (especially talking) it's almost impossible for me stop. Hopefully the Croatia post will make an appearance in the next 24 hours though. When all is said and done, I will arrive in Oslo again in what I am sure will feel like saying goodbye to an old friend. I suppose it's fitting, however, that I end my journey in the very place that it was born.

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