Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Team Splits :(

Hi all,
This is most likely the last post from the road is west, but all is well and amazing. On November 3rd, Richard and I drove a long haul all the way back to Liepaja, Latvia to meet up with Jack who had been preparing his motorcycle for the past week. We had to sell the car because we ran out of money as a group, which unfortunately meant that the trip, together, was at an end. We sold it to our good friend Aldis in Liepaja who is going to sell it for us in Latvia. If we couldn't sell it then Jack, whose name was on the title, might not be able to come back to Europe after leaving. So it is good to have this important issue done and finished with.

I have decided to stay in Europe for another month or so to visit Rome, Spain, Portugal, France, UK, and Ireland. Traveling mainly by bus, but hopefully gaining the courage to hitchhike a little bit here and there. Currently I am in Cordoba, Spain. It is absolutely beautiful and I am loving my adventure in this part of the world, though it does get lonely without Jack or Richard around.

Richard made his way down slowly to Zurich where he stopped by a carnival, went to another zoo, and was accosted by three undercover swiss police officers at 3:00 AM. where he flew home on Nov. 10th and should be currently relaxing, eating chipotle burritos, and sleeping in peace in America.

Jack took a motorcycle to Germany where it broke and remains semi-abandoned in a Munich parking lot.  He then vanned/bused/flew to Paris, London, Paris again, Rome, Ireland, Boston, and home on December 11th.

Thank you all so much for the continued support and encouragement. Without our friends and family supporting us, especially during some of the more trying times on our trip, I do not think we would have been able to make it through to the last of our dollars:). There are too many people to thank, but thank yous will be happening over the course of the next year for sure. However, we must thank our families who made this trip possible for all of us and were influential in supporting us when things were tough. Thank you and we love you (and everyone else)

There were a lot of moments in which the trip could have ended sooner rather than later, and it shows courage and determination that it didn't. No obstacle was too great for us to overcome together, and there was never a time when we ever gave up hope, even when circumstances became dire. The places we traveled to together were remote, sometimes even dangerous, and this makes me thankful that we made the journey as one and not alone.  I am glad we were able to continue together for as long as we did. Our travel became possible from the love and support freely given to us from our families and friends, but I also want to recognize more importantly the love and support we gave to each other. This was a greater trip than I can put into words, with greater people than I can put into words.


Hey all.  We're posting this post post its proper time of posting because of me.  Sorry.  While this post-collegiate (hopefully not cliché) trip did not provide me with any epiphanic/life-altering moments I did learn a few things.

  • My opinion of a country is highly influenced by the availability of free WiFi.  
  • Friends are as important as anything if not more important than everything (family excluded).  If it weren't for Mihi, Hena, Misha, Max, Misha again, other Mihi, Mihi's family, Baagi, Bimba, Bimba's pet fawn, Chimga, Chimga's husband, Aldis, Christina, and Melisa, to name a few, we wouldn't have made it as far as we did.  
  • Language barriers will never stop you if you're patient.  But that's not an excuse to rely on English.  Accidents happen.  
  • Swedes speak better English than we do.  
  • There's no way to prepare for everything.  
  • It's good to try to prepare for everything.  
  • Sometimes tattoo covered Russians are trustworthy even when trustworthy looking Russians tell you they're dangerous.  Please take note of the "sometimes" as I am SURE this is not always the case.  
  • It's difficult (but very important) to determine when it's best to assert yourself/yourselves and proverbially (or not proverbially) take the wheel and when it's best to go with the flow.  
  • If you ever need a car to outrun a drunk Mongolian on horseback look no further than the Lada Niva (16 hosepower is faster than one horse).  Look further than the Lada Niva for any other purpose.  

While we didn't make it around the world "from Japan to Alaska" the Road is West was a success in every other way that matters to me.  We're all alive.  Aside from a tramp stamp looking scar courtesy of the Forester roll I'm no worse for the wear.  And even though I don't feel like we failed I have an excuse to try something like this again some time.

- Jack

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Month of October

Well, its been a long time since our last post, and this will be one of our final posts. Before the onslaught of pictures begin here is a brief summary of where we were and what, if anything notable, happened. I believe our last post ended with partying at Oktoberfest. Since then we have been to 8 other countries. Our next stop was Vienna where we had a great time couchsurfing for two nights and exploring the city. From there we met up with my very good friend, more like brother, in Banska Stiavnica. Andy Giandomenico, friend from high school, is living in this small town in the heart of Slovakia teaching english with a Fulbright Scholarship. We had a leisurely four days here as we recuperated from all the fast travel that we had been doing. From there we traveled south to Budapest for another two nights with couchsurfing awesomeness. Then we went to Bucharest and couchsurfed yet again. We decided to leave the car with our new friends Andrei and Christiana, we are very trusting but they were very trustworthy, and made our way to Istanbul by train so we would not have to pay for the expensive car insurance. Istanbul was a beautiful city even though our only days of bad weather this entire trip plagued us for the four nights we were there. Here our paths began to split :(. Jack flew out of Istanbul to Latvia to get his motorcycle and start prepping it. Richard and I began our first adventures hitch hiking. Though successful it was definitely not the easiest day in the world, but we made it to our next destination, Sofia, Bulgaria. Here we had another great experience with couchsurfers and after two days hitch hiked back to Bucharest where we spent the weekend hanging out with our awesome hosts who had made sure the car remained safe and secure. From there we took the car and drove to Belgrade, Serbia to meet up with Jordan Maze, a fellow CCer, who shared this really cool city with us for three days. Inspired by our travels, or so I like to think, Jordan hopped in the car with us on our way to meet Andy G., my high school friend, for a tour in Italy during his fall break. Andy studied in Venice while in college so he was a wonderful guide for two days in Venice. From there Jordan took a train back to Croatia to travel a bit and we continued down to Florence. Florence was beautiful as well and we were there during Halloween which is always a fun night :)
Here are da photos!!!:

The view from the castle in Slazburg, Austria

A castle near Banska Stiavnica, part of the inspiration for the Disney Castle apparently

The three of us in front of the castle

One of the many gold mines in Banska Stiavnica

Andy and Richard in the Tea House

Budapest - Looking at the European side from the Asian

Our host Peter being our guide in Budapest

Our hosts in Bucharest, Andrei and Christiana, who are so badass we left them our car and then came back to hang with them some more. Check out that sticker!

The Blue Mosque, Istanbul, Turkey

Blue Mosque again.

Everyday people fish on the bridges linking the two sides of Istanbul

The bazaars of Istanbul

Jack flew to Latvia and we attempt to hitch hike to Sofia.

The first sign was too small so we made another.

Richard posing at a fountain in Sofia, Bulgaria

While we were there we saw the ceremony of the Prime Minister of Bulgaria welcoming the Prime Minister of Estonia. They looked all fancy playing drums and flashing guns.

The amazing Bulgarians who drove us the final leg of the journey to Bucharest. Momchil on the right and Orrin (sp?) his brother on the right. Another great story here.

First sights in Belgrade, buildings that were probably bombed by us during the Balkan War.

...and down the street a protest going on for construction workers. The riot police and gear came out.

As the sun sets in Venice, myself on the left followed by Andy and Jordan. Rich has the camera.




The leaning tower of Pisa! (a.k.a. the leaning tower of Cheesa)

Letting Andy drive the curvy roads outside Florence while giving some lady friends from the hostel a ride into town.

View of Florence from the Piazzale Michelangelo

A Sfuzo! The greatest thing in Italy. Gotta love Prosecco on tap.

... and, again, Venice :)
-- Ezra

Friday, October 7, 2011

Unkinking the Hose

Sorry it's been awhile. Our blog hose has been kinked. We're finally unkinking the hose so here are all the backed up photos from the past three weeks, hope you enjoy :) 


Ezra and I taking a photo next to the Royal Guard in front of the Royal Palace in Oslo, Norway. 

Stopped by the side of the road while driving through the mountains of Norway to take a picture of an amazing waterfall.

At the bottom of the big Olympic ski jump in Oslo. The top is right above Jack's head. It's pretty intimidating.

Picture of us crossing into Northern Norway from Sweden.  We've been trying to get a picture with every "welcome to ____" sign since we can't get our passport stamped in the EU.

The Mountain Troll of Oslo.

Sporting our brand new ponchos in Northern Norway.


Stockholm at dusk.

Hanging out in the subway station with our friend David. 


Stayed with Mihi (who we had stayed with in Tokyo) the night and then traveled to Copenhagen for a day trip. The city was shut down for the UCI championships. We cheered for the American cyclists as loud as we could.

 In front of the Parliament building in Copenhagen, Denmark.

 Having fun in the royal guard cubicles.

Ezra posing in front of the Royal Botanical Gardens

Jack doing a back flip in the park in front to the Royal Armory.

While we were in Copenhagen they were having the UCI world championship, shout out to Mitch Hoke!

Caught a photo opportunity with the royal guards of Denmark.


We went to the Anne Frank Museum, ate outside, walked around the canals and spent some time in the red light district before going back to Leiden to hang out with Daniel at his school.  

Jack and Ezra making faces for the camera.

Central Plaza in Amsterdam. 

A picture with our friend Daniel who we met across the world in Vladivostok, Russia and who was generous enough to let us stay at his place in Leiden. 


We traveled across Germany to Poland to visit Magdalena, a friend I met while in Spain. We stayed with her family in Warsaw and she took us around the city to museums and parks and at took us to her favorite bars. 

Feeding the Peacocks at Chopin's park

Ezra's showing Jack his love.

In front of the parliament building. 

In front of the tower of Palace of Culture and Science.


We visited Berlin and then we traveled to Munich to celebrate Oktoberfest with Mihi, who we have now stayed with three different times in different parts of the world, thanks so much Mihi! 

The Berlin Marathon: We were there when someone made a new world record!

 Out in front of the Brandenburg gate.

A picture next to some of the remains of the Berlin Wall.

Taking time to visit the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin.

 Mihi sporting his traditional Bavarian Oktoberfest outfit.

Spending time with Mihi's family during his Father's Birthday, which falls (luckily or unluckily for him) at the end of Oktoberfest. 

 In the mix: Oktoberfest is crowded to say the least.

- Richard