Helsinki City Tour, and IAN?!


So today I went to the city to take a bus tour around the city. It was really cool because it was in one of those double decker buses and it took you to all the nice places around the city. Now, I bet everyone is going to start thinking that I am making up some of these stories.

I was walking down one of the main streets in Helsinki, having my map out trying to check where I can go and find a tour bus. All of a sudden I hear, Ben! I look up and it’s Ian, who is from UT and dated the french girl Carine during the 2001 year. How random is that?! So he says that he has moved to Finland with a girlfriend and he is learning Finnish and was headed to an interview. So I gave him Miia’s phone number for him to call and perhaps we will meet up together before I leave back to Stockholm!

Gamla Stan & Mikael!

Today we went to the city center to look at Gamla Stan, or the Old City. It is really cool, because the oldest buildings are lining the street with all types of shops of traditional goods, tacky souvenir shops, and tons of foreigners. After we walked around there for a while, we decided that the weather was perfect for a nice panoramic view of Stockholm from different areas on the hill. We went to different places to take some really nice pictures of the city and then headed back down to go back home for dinner. On the way through one of the subway stations, which of course, Stockholm being a big city, there are several, I run into Mikael. Of course, it was about time I run into someone that I know randomly again, because it’s only been like eight times throughout this trip that I have run into people I know!! Mikael was an exchange student last year at my University from Sweden, and he lives in Stockholm. Walking through the station I never thought I would run into him, but low and behold I see him. We talked about how his trip was back from the states and decided that we should try to meet before I leave Sweden. Fun fun, I really love travel.

Looooong Day to Pisa, then to Cinque Terre

This morning I got up to head to the station in Naples to catch my train for La Spezia up in the north of Italy. It was a VERY long ride, and I hadn’t had much sleep the night before so I was really tired the entire day. So, I made a connection in Rome, and then headed for Pisa, to see the Leaning Tower. I got out and made it to the tower, and took the picture of of course me holding it up, and my finger pushing it up and such, so it was nice. I then made it to La Spezia to get to Cinque Terre. So after a full day of train ride, I started the hike from the station up hill to find a place to stay. Unfortunately, right when I arrived I went to the reservation area and they said, no rooms in Cinque Terre, go back to La Spazia. I was NOT about to get on the train to make another journey with all my stuff. So, I went to the street, found an American, and was asking if they knew how to get a room. Then a girl in front of us said, is it just you? So I said that I was the only one needing a room and she offered their apartment, because there were 6 beds, and only 5 there. I said if that was fine with them, and she said of course, because none of them knew each other before either. So, here I go into this apartment which is absolutely amazing. Leslie is from Colorado, and will be a freshman. Melissa is a sophomore at Colorado State, then there’s a guy from Atlanta who goes to Georgia Tech, and two Seattle people who are 27, and traveling for several months. So, it was nice to have been saved by them, and the apartment is 2 stories, has a terrace that looks out to the Mediterranean Sea, and all floors are tile. It is a sweet deal for just €21.50.

So, after dinner with my flatmates, I decide to get stuff from the grocery store like water and juices. On my way to the grocery store, I see Alex, who studied at UT on an exchange program. It turns out that he lives in this paradise!! So, we talked for a while, and he was meeting one of his friends, Daniella, from San Francisco. So, Daniella has 5 friends from San Francisco visiting with her, so I got to meet all of them, and hang out. After I met all of them, we decided to meet the next day to go to the beach together. After I left them, I headed for the grocery store again, and then I hear someone whistling at me. At first I wasn’t sure it was at me, because I usually am not whistled at, but I turned around and saw Brian, who was in my Logistics 411 class with me this last semester. How random is this.. So, anyhow, I decided to hang out with him for the evening, and we sat out at a pub just meeting people and chatting. I love Europe.

Day on the beach of Positano and Anya Miller

Talk about amazing. This place was something that looked like out of a fairy tale. Now, I consider myself to have seen some of Earth’s most beautiful places, but this one has come close to being the best I have seen.

The bus ride is one of the scariest too, for you must go on these tiny ledges to weave your way across the mountains to get to the town. It is located right on the Mediterranean and is absolutely breathtaking. This town is perched up on the cliffs and weaves all throughout the hills. The houses are all covered in pastel colors along with magenta colored flowers, and the entire town will cheer for the World Cup at each point for Italy. Even the boats on the water were honking their horns in participation of the excitement. The water was still a little bit too cold for me, but I got in anyway just to float around, then sat on the shore and enjoyed everyone’s company. These people are really cool, and one of them knows Anya Miller, from an exchange program they did in Australia together. How random!

Wandering around the Colosseo

This morning I boarded the Eurostar anticipating paying an extra charge because it is an express train nonstop to Rome. Well, good thing I never filled out my Eurail pass for today either, because no one came by to check my ticket. So, now I have traveled from Venice to Rome for free! So, perhaps my plans may change after I leave Italy..

After I check into my hotel.. yes, hotel, because everything is FULL in Rome at the moment, I went out and headed for the Colosseo. While I was walking around the Colosseo, I saw a car accident. It was really sad because the girl was really upset and it bounced her car all the way onto the sidewalk.. good thing I was not there at that moment. Anyhow, it was lucky for her because the accident was caused by some official looking people.. possibly even police. So, I am sure everything was taken care of. Since I am meeting Matt tomorrow, I decided to just walk around the Colosseum and not go in or stay for a while. Plus my allergies were acting up again so after lunch I headed back to the hotel for a little relaxation. Oh, and PS, when I was making my reservation for the hotel, he asked my last name, and I said, TROTTER, and he said, ah like GLOBETROTTER. I laughed and thought about trying to explain my website, but decided it was not worth the effort. Ha. ROME.

So this afternoon I spent walking around the city to try to understand the city layout. I made it to several places including the Vatican and the President’s Palace. It was a tiring day mainly because I wasn’t feeling the best either. I had to go to the Pharmacie to get some allergy pills because my nose will NOT stop running. I don’t know what’s in the air that is making me react like this. Anyhow, when I was at the Quirinale, I saw Jason Sharp, a guy that went to school with me. It was pretty random, as all my meetings seem to be. Anyhow, they are flying back from Rome back to Tennessee next week sometime. Just another fluke meeting! Off to dinner!


Tonight I spent walking around the city seeing what sights were lit up nicely. Of course the Colosseo is really cool at night. The night is really nice. It did drizzle a little bit, so I headed back to the station after I took some cool pictures. Low and behold, guess who I run into–but the guys from Huntington California who stayed in my dorm room in Florence with me. Funny how random these meetings are. So I spoke with them for a while, and then headed of to get some food and back to the hotel to watch tv and eat. Nice quiet evening.

Haarlem Visit

So, this afternoon I took a train to Haarlem because someone in the Youth Hostel suggested that it was a cool place to visit. Sure enough it was. It was about a 15 minute train ride from Amsterdam Centraal, and I arrived and just walked around the city. They had a unique city center, which looked very nice with all the cafés and all the chairs pointed toward the streets. While I was walking down one of the shopping arcades, again, I hear someone say, “BENJAMIN!”. Low and behold, another person I meet! Ha. Well, even though it was random, it was just a group of people I had met in the hostel this week, and they were doing some sightseeing there too. Still, thought it was cool to have my name yelled out =) So, I walked with them for the rest of my time in Haarlem, and then went back to the train station for Amsterdam. I’m going to take a quick nap, because I’ve been invited to Sigrid and Paul’s house for dinner (they’re two students that were at UT for a year). I’m off!