I left the bustling city of Bangkok and arrived in the quaint town of Karlskrona, Sweden two weeks ago.  I had a 12-hour layover in Dusseldorf, Germany, so I got to spend my first night sleeping in an airport!  It ended up not being too bad; my flight got in at 6pm, I ate dinner, played on my laptop, then found a nice quiet bench to sleep on.  I woke around 4am to the sound of the awakening airport, and caught my flight at 6.

Sweden

The first stop on my Europe trip was to see my friend Luke, who is just finishing a year-long sustainability masters program in Karlskrona, Sweden.  (For anyone interested, Luke runs TheSocioCapatilist.com.)  Sweden was insanely fun.  I helped cook for 200 people, rode bikes into the Baltic and ran a half-marathon in a skirt (Sorry gents, I’m not gay; we decided that we’d run the half-marathon and do it in silly costumes the night before after a bottle of whiskey).

Video

Karlskrona at night

Half-marathon in Gothemburg.  From left to right: Luke, me, Chris.  I finished in 2:29, Luke in 2:07 and Chris in 1:37.

Gothenburg at 3:00AM (just getting light out)

Running the half-marathon without any training in 2-year old running shoes turned out to be a horrible idea.  My legs were hurting so bad that I hobbled the last few km.  My feet hurt so bad the next day that I could barely walk.  They finally felt fully recovered yesterday, 10 days after the run.

Overall, my impression of Sweden was very positive.  Most people speak really good English, the country is beautiful and the girls are very pretty.  Sweden is definitely on my list of places I’d like to re-visit for a longer period of time.

Holland

I said goodbye to the niche of Karlskrona and flew into Amsterdam to meet my friend Mariele (from California) on Monday.  My feet were killing me, but we rented bikes and had a blast cruising around the city.  I’ve never in my life seen such a bike-friendly town; there is even a special sidewalk for bicycles.  We hung out with tourists, but the locals were very friendly and typically spoke very good English as well.

I mostly forgot to take pictures in Amsterdam, but manged to get a few:

Lots of bikes.

A seemingly excessive amount of fire protection features in our hostel.  I found this rather interesting at the time of taking the picture.

My friend Tom from the bar crawl.  From San Francisco and went to St Marys.  Small world.

Overall, I thought Amsterdam was such cool city that I didn’t get to spend as much time exploring as I had wanted to.  Definitely on my list of places I’d like to re-visit for a longer period of time.

Belgium

Mariele and I took the train out of the mayhem that was Amsterdam to the quiet town of Bruges, Belgium.  It was definitely a nice change of pace.

Canal tour.  We were the youngest by ~35 years.

View from atop the brewery.

I enjoyed my 2-day stay in Belgium, but nothing really inspired me to plan a longer trip back.

What now?

I went through France, Spain and I’m currently in Italy.  Will post pictures from those countries when I have time.  Heading to Prague next, around eastern Europe, then flying from Vienna to Edinburgh.  After Edinburgh I’m heading back to the States!  Will be back sometime in July.

 

3 Responses to “Sweden, Holland, Belgium: First Three Countries in Europe”

  1. Therese Noonan says:

    Hi Tom,

    You ran a half-marathon in a skirt the day after you and your friends drank a bottle of whiskey? And you drove bike into the Baltic?

  2. Tommy says:

    Yes. And yes. And pulled it out too. Didn’t leave it there! Wouldn’t have been very “green” of us (Luke was doing a sustainability Masters).

  3. Davo says:

    Italy….. Have you considered touring Pompeii ??
    Lots of creepy statues in the ruins.

    Other than that…. enjoy the food!!

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