Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The calm before the storm

I'm back in Germany, trying to drink water and rest up in preparation for the storm that's going to hit on Friday. Four of my best friends are flying in from Seattle and we're going to embark on a 16-day road trip through Western Europe. We're starting here in Frankfurt then going from Stuttgart-Munich-Prague-Wiesbaden-Cologne-Amsterdam-Belgium-Paris-Luxembourg-Wiesbaden. Once again, I'm going to be the 5th wheel on this trip but it's a role I've grown accustomed to over the years.

This weekend I took a short trip up to London and I got to see one of the most incredible concerts of my life. Jay Z opened for Coldplay and he killed it with a 16-song set. I was surprised how many Londoners knew all the words to his songs and how receptive they were. I was blown away and I can't believe I got to see Coldplay on the same bill. This was the 159th and final concert on their Viva La Vida tour and they, too, did a phenomenal job. The 80,000 people in the crowd were really into it as well but that wasn't as much of a surprise since the band was performing in their home town. About 10 minutes before Coldplay hit the stage, it started to dump rain and those of us on the floor got absolutely soaked. Almost no one seemed to care and it really enhanced the experience when they came out 10 minutes later. I will never forget standing int he pouring rain, singing along to Coldplay with 80,000 people. I shot a few videos and put them up on youtube and I'll link to them at the end of this post.

I got home from the concert and hopped online hoping to be able to watch the end of the UW-USC game but it was already over and amazingly, the Huskies won! I must have watched the highlights 100 times that night and could feel my chest swelling with Husky pride. The downside to traveling is that every once in a while you miss the incredible moments that happen right at home. Oh well. I do feel like getting put in the top 25 is a bit of an overreaction but time will tell if we deserve it or not. I really would love to go to a bowl game this year.

Anyway, that's it for now. For the rest of the week I'm going to play a lot of poker and try to balance all the spending I've been doing. Wish me luck.

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Friday, September 18, 2009

Schneckenhof Mannheim

Once again, the Schneckenhof party did not disappoint. I am really lucky to have made such a great group of German friends. I don't know why I always find youngsters to hang out with but I enjoy their youthful exuberance and they don't seem to mind my old man-ness yet. These college parties are unlike anything in the US...they are held on campus, in a Quad-like area, and there are booths set up on the periphery with beer, shots, or wine. There's a huge stage set up on one end and people drink, dance and kick it. And they do it every Thursday night. I love it.

Here are some pics and a video from the night. I took it easy tonight and I'm flying to London early in the morning. I can't wait for this Coldplay/Jay Z concert, it should be phenomenal. I'm having a blast out here but I'm really sad about missing tailgating back home. GO HUSKIES!!!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

In Deutscheland

I've been in Germany for the past few days, hanging out with my brother Cliff. He made it home early from wherever he was and it's been really great having him around. No offense to the other best friends out there but there's really no one else in this world I'd rather spend time with. We got extremely plastered on Tuesday night and the past few days have been pretty slow and laid back. Tonight I'm heading to Mannheim for a Schnekenhof, which is a German college party, and I'm fired up.

I left Italy on Monday and I was really sad to go. Everything about the experience was awesome: the people I met, the food I ate, the things I saw, and of course the friends I got to see. Kristi and Davide, the couple we stayed with, are two of the nicest people you'll ever meet. They cooked for us, showed us around Florence, drove us to the beach, laughed, played and drank with us. They really could not have been better hosts.

On Saturday, we drove out to the beach town of Tonfano and partied it up. The beaches in Tuscany are pretty wack...the entire beach is divided into 20-foot sections, each owned by a different guy, and you have to pay some insane fee to rent space under one of the umbrellas that he has on his stretch of beach. There is no public beach and it creates kind of a lame atmosphere: rich old people lying around getting tan. If you want to see something sad, look up Tonfano, Italy on maps.google.com and put the map on the "satellite" setting. Look at the millions of umbrellas covering the beach and shed a tear for humanity.

Regardless, I had fun playing beach volleyball with Davide and his friends. One of his friends is a member at one of the clubs so it was cheap for us to get in. Afterwards we went to his beach house and started to prefunk for that night out. The high class beach clubs become high class night clubs at night time. We ordered a ton of pizza and bought a bunch of beer and vodka. When the pizza arrived, there were 16 of us and one table that could seat 6-8 people comfortably. I got my pizza and was going to look for somewhere to sit in the living room or wherever but Davide grabbed me a chair and told me to sit at the table. Everyone ended up crowding around this table, eating pizza, drinking beer and chatting about nonsense. The moment really struck me because I know that back home, the scene would never happen. People would break up into small groups all around the house, watch TV, etc. Basically, the whole moment of 16 people crowding around a small table showed the importance of family and dinner time in Italy. I really liked it and the next time I have a pizza and beer party at my house, I'm going to make everyone crowd around my small dining room table and we're going to have real conversations. Word.

Anyway, that just symbolizes the feeling I had during my entire trip. I loved how much the Italians valued their friends and family and they were all kind enough to make me feel like I belonged in that circle. I will be back in Florence soon, that's for sure.

On Saturday, I'm heading to London for one small poker tournament and one big concert featuring Coldplay and Jay Z. I've never seen either act in concert before and I'm really pumped to see them together. I leave London on Wednesday then 4 of my best friends fly into Frankfurt on Friday and we'll embark on the greatest Western European road trip of all time. I can't wait. I'm really missing home but having them around will help with that a lot.

Here are some final pics from Italy. Holler.

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Saturday, September 12, 2009

Mi dispiace!

That means "I'm sorry" in Italian. Sorry it's been a few days since the last post. We decided to stay in Florence for longer than anticipated because we're having so much fun with Kristi and Davide. I'm going to miss out on Ljubljana and Croatia and just fly to Germany on Monday. Today we're driving out to a beach town called Viareggio for one night and then, on Sunday, I'm hoping to attend the Fiorentina-Cagliari soccer game. I will have tons of pictures to unload on Sunday night but I just wanted to throw up a quick update before heading to the beach. Go Dawgs!

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Buena Notte

This is gonna be a quickie. I just finished watching the US National Team beat Trinidad and Tobago in World Cup qualifying and it's time for bed. Today was an awesome day. Siena was beautiful as always and after a long day that featured a lot of walking, we were treated to a huge home made Sicilian-style dinner. I will let the pics do the talking, life is good. Ciao.