A few days ago I went for a ride on the French Alps at ‘Les 2 Alps’ in the Rhone area just south east of Grenoble. The mountain was massive and made any previous California, Colorado, or East Coast ski experience seem like a joke. The funny things French people scream on the slopes (and the large numbers of Dutch folks) made it an even more incredible snowy experience.
It wasn’t too cold, and the mountain itself wasn’t that steep. But the few slopes that were the equivalent double black diamond were steeper than a dutch staircase and loaded with 3 feet wide moguls. I made sure to spend a lot of time on the tricksy area of the mountain. The jumps were fantastic and clearly mowed together with care.
Much of the living I’ve done over here in Europe has been made more enjoyable and cheaper because many of my high school friends and college mates are studying here with couches mattresses and beds for me to sleep on. Besides these friends I’ve also had luck meeting people who know people who have places to stay and of course with the help of Couchsurfing.com and Hospitalityclub.org. It’s really slick to see a city with the help of a local or a friend.
I’ve been abroad since September 20th, and I’ve been to these cities:
London, York Brighton, Edinburgh, Dublin, Cork, Stockholm, Copenhagen, Rome, Florence, Cinque Terre, Pisa, Lucca Bologna, Rome, Barcelona, Madrid, Hillerod, Amsterdam, Budapest, Bratislava, Vienna, Prague, Milan, Verano, Trento, Venice, Brussels, Bordeaux, St. Emilion, Granada, Lisbon, Sintra, Grenoble, Strasbourg, Wolfisheim, AND Selestat.
Years I have been far from anything like a home, or so it seems. I know there’s so much more to see and do and I’ve broken promises to visit many people over here. There’s nothing quite like home, so that’s where I must return to. My last stop will be the Interlacken area of Switzerland where I hope to become one with the Swiss alps and lock into the ideal natural resonance of the peaks (or something like that). Looking back on this trip I wish I had done more stuff outdoors so I’m ending the trip with some mountain gazing to make up for it.
I’ve used my Eurail pass to its tattered end and logged over 110 hours on European trains in the past month and a half. I would imagine I’ve spent about ever 8th day moving from one place to another. Through these travels I’ve read over 25 books, and I’ve been to over 100 museums. I try to see the top three in each city: National Gallery type, Contemporary Type, and a specialty museum (Aquariums, War Museum, Communism Museum).
I head back to JFK on March 3rd and I’ll be in LA by the 15th. Moneydick.com will resume normal activities. Look for more of Tim’s Diary entries, and stay tuned for some afterthoughts from this trip.
My Favorite Museums
I’ve been to a lot. Listen up: Best national museum is the Hungarian National Museum in Budapest. Maybe because the Hungarian story is so dramatic and pivotal in the study of European history did it really knock me out (as only Museums can.)
Best Contemporary Art Museum: Moderna Museet in Stockholm, Sweden. They have everything, and it’s organized and presented in the most fluid way. Video art still gives me the creeps, and they have a lot of it on interactive displays in the basement.
Best Fine Art: Louvre
Best one Artist museum: The Picasso Museum in Barcelona. History of life, pottery, illustrations and detailed history of friendships with writers. Includes his early work (self portrait at age 12) and all sorts of goodies.
Best Aquarium: I know. Not a museum. I’ve only been to two over here. The Lisbon aquarium in Portugal calls itself the largest and coolest in Europe, but I found the Barcelona aquarium much more interesting. It feels like the tanks go on forever, and there’s one of those awesome conveyor belts that carries you under the wrap around tank.
Best food: Italy. Specifically, Bologna. You just can’t lose.
Best wind: Scotland. It hits you from the front, then flattens you from above, then knocks you down and pick you up. Cold and loud, blustery and bloody awesome. Good luck peeing outdoors. Scotland also wins for best moss.
Best Trains: France. Reservations are easy, they are never full, and the folks are nice. The tracks are the best in Europe, I believe. Smooth as silk.