Paige's Return to Deutschland!

Hallo Berlin! This blog will be a place for friends and family to get very occasional snip-its on Biggs' life in Germany.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Going out with a bang

Greetings from beautiful Eugene, Oregon. Yes, it’s official, I’m back stateside for a bit. I made it home safe and mostly sound – except for a bit of a mono relapse. But don’t pity me because the last few weeks rocked my world. Let me tell you about them…

In my last blog, I mentioned that I extended my time in Bergen. Well, I shortened it again because Berlin was calling me back. Berlin, in my opinion, was the coolest city in Europe, but now it’s in a tie with Rome. Rome has the most concentrated amount of art, history, and other “cultural stuff” while Berlin has a fascinating recent history, a bike friendly atmosphere, and a much much more exciting nightlife. Before you start thinking that I am a big Euro snob, you’ll notice below that I, with the help of Leif, created ten ways to dirt-bag Italy. We were both on a budget so we had to get a little creative. Instead of giving you the blow by blow of our awesome trip to Italy, I just explained some of the pictures below.

My flight home left from Budapest. So I spent Easter weekend there. I got the pleasure of spending some time with my friend Inna, see Krakow pictures for a reference. Inna spent the first semester of her Fulbright in Pecs and then moved to Budapest. That worked out great for me. You’ll see some pictures of us and her friend Alla below.

Well it looks like this will be my last blog update for a while. I’ll post something once I find a job just to keep you updated. The plan is to hang around the North West of the United States through summer before heading abroad again for at least a year. Feel free to pass my name along to any people you know in the international health community. Ahhh…networking.

10 Tips to Dirt-bag Italy (what Rick Steves didn’t tell you):

  1. Wherever you go, act like you own the place. This tip scored us crashing a free champagne and horderves party in Venice. It can also work when looking to use a bathroom in a fancy hotel. See tip 2 if a fancy hotel isn’t available.
  2. McDonalds is your friend. The popular chain has many negative attributes but on the plus side the bathrooms are almost always free. I’m loving it. Public bathrooms in Venice were 1 Euro a pop. We know how much water I drink so this tip saved us a lot of money.
  3. Two words…water pumps. People might look at you funny when you fill up your water bottle at public fountains. Just double check that the water is potable and then you’re ready to go.
  4. Travel light. RyanAir and other low budget airlines charge to check your bags. So one up them and don’t bring one. Ha.
  5. Brown bag it. It might not be glamorous to get most of your meals out of your backpack, but it’s cheaper. Yahoo for picknicks, boo 4 Euro pre-made sandwiches.
  6. Be sure to check the price before you eat. This tip will help you avoid the 6 Euro slice of chocolate cake or 3 Euro cappuccino.
  7. Don’t buy a guide book, just do a “book exchange”. I admit that I “stole” a Rome guidebook from a hostel book exchange. But, if you give it back to another book exchange than it’s ok, right? If a book exchange isn’t available there’s always guidebook shoulder tapping.
  8. Choose your guided tours selectively. There are some tours that you must spring for - for example the coliseum tour for 10 Euros. But why pay 30 Euros for a Vatican City tour guide when you can shoulder tap for Rick Steves?
  9. Convents = cheap, centrally located housing. If you want to meet friends that party – don’t stay here. But if you want a place where you can fall asleep at 8:30 pm with out people waking you up, you’re in. Another plus is that girls don’t have to share a room with stinky boys. My room in Venice smelled like shampoo, Leif’s like gym socks.
  10. Get a mileage plus credit card. If you’re going to put most of your vacation on a credit card you might as well get miles for it, right?

We love free champagne, I mean art exibitions.

In Answer to your question - yes, we did see the Pope

The Pope addresses a crowd outside of St. Peter's Cathedral every Wednesday. We took a picture of the screen because let's be honest, the Pope is so far from the crowd that he wouldn't appear in a picture. He does speak a lot of languages in that cute German accent.

Trevi Fountain

We didn't actually throw a coin over our shoulder. We'll just have to hope we come back to Rome.

Weird picture but delicious gelato...yummm

Soviet Statue Garden

This was a paticularly educational fieldtrip because Inna knows a ton about Hungarian history. Also both girls lived in Moscow until the middle of primary school, thus they know some fun soviet facts.

Ritzy restaurant in Budapest