Dan & Kyle’s European Adventure

Well. Where do I start? What an adventure. After parting ways with
Rebecca at the Tirana Airport, I flew to London Gatwick on Thursday, June 23. I
checked into the Yotel which has “Japanese” style hotel rooms…I thought
it more resembled a prison cell. I awoke early the next morning to meet my
friend Kyle at the arrival gate only to find him fairly inebriated as he
upgraded himself to first class which, of course, includes complimentary
drinks. We soon found ourselves in downtown Amsterdam. We quickly ditched our
belongings at the hostel and headed out on the town. It is quite a place with
the bicycles, canals, coffeeshops, and the redlight district. The next day, we
toured the Heinenken Experience, did the Hop On-Hop Off bus tour, and took a
canal cruise. That night, in our hostel, we also found the bottom of a very
good bottle of Absinthe.

Heineken Experience - they made me sample one

Sunday morning, we had an early train to Berlin. I was asleep when
we were approaching Berlin and Kyle woke me very abruptly shouting, “We’re
here, we’re here!” So I grabbed my stuffed and jumped off the train. My
first thought was, “This can’t be Berlin Central Station?” I was
right, we were on the western outskirts of Berlin and had to take 3 city trains
to get to our hostel. That night, we went to a huge flea market that is only
open on Sundays. We toured the city the next day by foot and saw all the
sights, Brandenberg Gate, Checkpoint Charlie, the Wall, the Reichstag, etc.
That night, we saw a band play at a local bar. The next day, we were able to
meet up with my step brother Brady, his wife, Lena, and their beautiful little
girl, Ida. They took us to a park in their neighborhood and we had a BBQ with
some of their friends. Mmm…bratwurst. On Wednesday, we picked up our rental
car, a Peugot, and hit the open road, or Autobahn, as it’s known there. Kyle
drove first and we quickly reached speeds of 190 kph as we raced southwest
towards the Rhine River. That’s all our little car could muster. We reached the
city of Koblenz and drove south along the Rhine to Mainz. It is very scenic
wine country with a castle around every bend. We took the ferry across the
Rhine and were soon in Heidelberg.

A little slab of the Wall

Me and Ida

Heidelberg is a very nice city with a huge castle looming on the
hills above. We toured the old town and got a good Schnitzel dinner before
turning in. The next morning, we toured the castle with great views of the
river and city below. We then drove further south to the city of Lahr. Kyle’s
father served at a Canadian military base there in the late seventies – early
eighties, and as a result, Kyle and his sister were born there. We checked out
the city, the hospital he was born in, and what is left of the old base. Then,
we drove to the little village of Schutterzel where his parents actually lived.
We stayed with a very lovely lady by the name of Annalise, she was Kyle’s
nanny. She has an amazing house that is over 200 years old and still has a
working stable attached. It was so nice to be out of the big cities and
relaxing in such a beautiful place.

Kyle and Annalise in front of the Dewar's old place

Kyle at Heidelberg Castle

Friday morning, Canada Day, we dropped off the car and hopped on a
train going south. Three connections later we found ourselves in the global
city of Geneva. We were greeted by an old friend from Strathmore, Casey, who is
there working for the United Nations. She took us to her flat that overlooks a
park and Lake Geneva. She had to go back to work, but that gave Kyle and I a
chance to check out the UN, Red Cross, and the downtown area. Casey surprised
us with some matching Canadian Olympic shirts (women’s mediums!). She dressed
up in her cowgirl duds and we hit the town. She took us to an upscale fondue
restaurant where we got some laughs from the patrons. We then went to a bar
which was having a Canada Day Party. We saw a Mountie uniform, a Canadian Tire
hat, drank Molson and Canadian Club, and listened to Canadian tunes.

Canada Day in Geneva

The next day, we were on a train to Zurich which we purposely
booked through Interlaken to see some of the Alps. Next time we will have our
skis with us! Zurich was an interesting place and very expensive…$12 for a
happy meal. We toured by foot, went to the zoo, and checked out a Latin America
festival called Caliente. By this point we were both eager to get to the
Albanian beach and chill.

A cold one at Caliente

Zurich from the University

We flew to Tirana through Budapest and got a furgon (minibus) to
Vlora. It was a long day of travel, but we were happy to get here. We had a
nice dinner downstairs at Sotir’s and then got mixed up with the guys at
Hannover Bar. Kyle had his first and almost last raki. The next day, we went to
Sunset Beach, met my friend Ilia, and relaxed on the patio. We had learned that
a portion of Miss Albania was being held at the club down the road so we
thought we’d better go and see what was happening. I made sure Kyle got to the
Bazaar and saw the sights of Vlora. On Thursday, he started his long journey
home. I was sad to see him go, but I had a great time. A trip like that with a
good friend may never come along again.

Chillin on the patio

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