I've visited every country in Western Europe before blogs existed. Therefore, you won't find a blog about each one, only on the countries I have re-visited recently.

I'll confess. Technically I haven't been to ALL the countries in Europe. I still have to go to Iceland (most of the island is in the European continent).

I've visited all the other European countries at least twice. This section covers the Western European ones.

I've done fewer drugs than the Pope. However, Amsterdam would corrupt me.

Pretty homes in Amsterdam

After having spent a month in Central America, the Netherlands was a shock: the flight arrived on time, there were clear signs everywhere, the streets were clean, and it was as butt cold.

I stayed in Toek's apartment in Amsterdam. Toek and I hiked together for about two days on the CDT. He is the only one from the Netherlands to complete the Triple Crown (AT, CDT, PCT). Like most thru-hikers, he has benefited from countless trail magic. He always wished to give back to the trail community, but he lived too far away from the trails to do much. However, this time the smelly trail person came to him, and he was happy to help.

Unfortunately, Toek wasn't there when I arrived. He was in Scotland, doing what he likes best, hiking. He left me the key to his kingdom and I was in Sin City: Amsterdam.

<img src="images/travels/europe/netherlands/tiny/IMG_4525.JPG" border="0" alt="Canals everywhere in Amsterdam!" title="Canals everywhere in Amsterdam!" hspace="9" vspace="9" align="right" />

Amsterdam blew me away and I didn't even do blow. First, it's one of those rare cities that has what I adore: lots of canals. Like Venice and St. Petersburg, canals crisscross Amsterdam, making it irresistibly romantic and charming. Nearly everywhere you look, you'll see a quaint bridge, a docked boat, and the sound of ducks roaming the waterways. Unlike Venice, there are cars, but thanks to $10/gallon gasoline, the cars are small, cute, and relatively quiet. Quaint shops and elegant restaurants abound. Nearly every building is a work of art. In short, Amsterdam is a classic European city: a place that makes you feel sophisticated and worldly, even when you're not.

Happy Bloomsday!!!!

Ireland is for traveling wimps.

Don't feel like roughin' it? Don't want to speak a different language when you travel? Do want to travel with the fear of death or mugging at every corner?

Come here.

I was so tired of feeling so comfortable that I set up my tarp in a park a couple of days to rough it up a bit.

Ireland is nice

The mountains are nice: not too high, not too low.

The summer weather is nice: not too hot or cold.

The people are nice: not too mean and not too sober.

How to survive without alcohol

It was tough to go to pubs and ask for an OJ. They said, "Don't you want a Guiness with that, laddie????"

Nevertheless, I survived and fortunately none of my bus drivers were drunk at the time.

Bloomsday century!

So what's Bloomsday? It is a major event in Ireland, especially Dublin.

James Joyce, a Dubliner and Nobel Prize Winner, wrote Ulysses. The entire book takes place on June 16, 1904. Today is the 100 Year Anniversary of that event!

He selected that date because that was the first time he went out on a date with his future wife.

Today, I went to see readings and celebrations throughout the city. James Joyce is a BIG DEAL here. I'm pretty fortunate to be here during the 100th Bloomsday.

Besides, I took a class on Joyce at Amherst, so I actually like the guy.

...a long a last a love along the riverrun pass eve and adam from swerve of shore to bend of bay.....

Next stop: Finland!

June 16, 2004

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