The last stop of our trip was Amsterdam. One of the first things we stumbled across was the Amsterdam pride parade where the streets were packed with partying people and the floats went by on the canal. The canals themselves are spectacular and there are way more than I had pictured before going. Amsterdam also reignited my love of dutch pancakes that my childhood friend's mom used to make for us when we were kids. We didn't have many sites that we planned on visiting so we spent most of our days strolling around popping into shops and cafes. Some of the places we did visit included the Van Gogh Museum, and the Anne Frank Museum. On our last day, after a few communication mishaps, Andrea and I managed to meet up with Manav and a few friends who had just arrived in the city before embarking on their own trip across Europe. Spending time with friends in a city like Amsterdam is pretty hard to beat.
September 17, 2012
After hopping on the train in Prague it was a 4 hour ride to Berlin. Our hotel was in a nice leafy district and only a short walk to an s-bahn station. Our first stop was to visit Mitte to do some shopping and sample Berliner Weisse. The next day we did the usual tourist sites of Berlin. We took a walking tour around old Berlin, checkpoint Charlie, topography of terror, the Brandenburg gate and more. When we got to the zoo the following morning it was pouring so we visited the aquarium until the rain died down. After the zoo we explored the east side gallery, did a little more shopping, ate some tapas and called it a night.
Hotel room view
September 4, 2012
Back in July a couple of friends and I managed to get some backpacking in. The drive to the Pinto lake trailhead was around 4.5 hours from Edmonton. The first leg of the hike was a brutal 3 km trek straight up for around an hour. This was followed by a picturesque meadow for a while before breaking into another uphill to the Sunset Pass. After the pass it was a 5 km hike down to the lake. We arrived shortly before sundown and had time to set up camp in the light. The sun set quickly and we ended up eating a rushed dinner in the dark before bed. The next day we tried to figure out how to cross the creek in order to climb up to some pass that I forget the name of. After a few hours we reached the pass exhausted. We ate lunch at the top before heading back to camp to relax for the night. On Sunday we packed up and hiked out. Overall it was a good hike. It involved a lot of elevation changes but the mountain meadows and the numerous waterfalls were worth it.
Break location after the initial uphill portion
Paul as we first reached the meadow
Trying to figure out how to cross the river
The pass that we reached during the day hike
2/3rds of us were exhausted
View of Pinto Lake from above
Hiking back through the meadow
August 29, 2012
From Munich we hopped on a train, where our cabin smelled of puke, for a 6 hour ride to Prague. We'd been told that Prague is one of the most beautiful cities in the world and within minutes of leaving the hotel to wander about we had no doubts about that being true. Our hotel was a former restored theatre with art nouveau architecture. We spent the first day walking about aimlessly. It was mostly spent looking at all the intricate buildings. The next day we ventured over the famous Charles Bridge to visit Prague Castle. We ended up eating at a delicious vegetarian restaurant for dinner, which was a nice change, as the trip had been fairly meat heavy to that point. The highlight of the last day was listening to the Prague Royal Orchestra perform at the Municipal House. After checking out of our hotel, we made it to the train station with a few minutes to spare. On the platform we realized we had left the stub that showed our seat reservation numbers in our hotel room. We hopped on, guessed a cabin, and were off to Berlin.
Breakfast area at the hotel
Inside St Vitus Basilica
The Prague Mango store
Symphony venue inside the Municipal House