Monday, May 5, 2008

On our way home...

We are finally at a place where DSL works so I think that all of my blogs for the past few days should upload now. Sorry that it has taken me so long to get the last few days up here.
We are on our way home as I write. Tonight was the final Awards Dinner. We were so sad to say goodbye to everyone. We have met some of the nicest people on this trip. We (our team name was 'Lawyers without Borders') ended up coming in second ... which we felt was an outstanding ranking in light of how many teams were really competitive.

We have had such a great time - and WHAT AN EXPERIENCE. There are really no words to describe what we have been through in the last month. Thank you again to everyone who supported us and contributed to the Great Escapes Foundation and made this trip possible.



We chose to spend the little time we had in Toronto rushing to Niagara Falls since Rainey had never been there. We ended up hitting traffic on the way back in the bus - and got back to Toronto only 28 minutes before we had to check in - and we still had not done one of our mandatory eating scavenges. (If you check in late you are penalized 100 points for every 10 minutes that you are late).

So we took off running... and ran from the bus station to the Dragon City Mall in Chinatown ... gobbled (and I mean - ate whole) a piece of Dim Sum and then ran all the way from there to the CN Tower. We arrived (very hot, sweaty and red in the face) at the CN Tower at 3:19 and 54 seconds (check in was 3:20). YEAH!!! Thank God for the half-marathon training....

The Hague

We also took a train to the Hague to see the International Courts (where the war criminals are prosecuted). It is called the "Peace Palace" and in front of the building (which is a mganificient building looking more like a church than a courthouse) is the Peace Flame which burns 24/7. Around the Peace Flame is a pathway ringed with stones. Written on each stone is the name of a country in the world. You are supposed to walk around the Peace Flame (on the pathway) while reading each country's name and saying a word or prayer for peace in the world and that country. If peaceful thoughts and words count, Rainey and I have added our Peace Flame walk to the effort.

Windmills in Amsterdam

On the second day in Holland, we choose to do some bonus scavenges which took us by train out of Amsterdam. First we went to Zanne Schans - a little town which still has a row of windmills. On the train ride out we saw fields and fields of tulips with the most vibrant colors - in fact colors that are so strong there is really no words to describe them. We are not allowed to use any taxis on this leg - so this excusrion required a train, a bus, a ferry and some walking to accomplish.

Amsterdam - Eating Scavenges

One of the scavenges was to eat herring in Amsterdam prepared in a local way. We found it selling at a booth on the street - and since there was no way Rainey was touching it - I had to eat the pickled fish - covered in onions and pickles. And no, not a favorite...


We has a 3 AM wake up call today as our flight to Amsterdam was at 5:45 AM. SOOO tired.

But we got to Amsterdam to find a ton of scavenges waiting. First, we had to rent bicycles and ride them all over town (a very dangerous experience that resulted in several near misses of me either hitting a pedestrian or being mowed down by a bus). See Rainey in front of the Anne Frank house. Amsterdam is a beautiful city - very clean and organized and so different than the poverty we have seen in the past few weeks. What a difference money and education makes!!!


We left Transylvania and arrived in Bucharest by train on Tuesday afternoon. We immediately got lost on the Romanian subway system as we tried to see the sites - including the People's Palace (a building with the second most number of rooms - after the Pentagon). What a testament to Communism that while the people of Bucharest were living in drab, concrete, government provided apartment building (very ugly), the government built this to symbolize the country's "prosperity".

We ate dinner at this really nice restaurant by a lake - right as the sun was setting. So much nicer than the 10,000 thousand hours we have spent in the last few days on trains... eating nothing by potato chips and flat Coke.

We found out tonight that our next stop is AMSTERDAM ... YEAH .... CIVILIZATION.

Dracula's Castle

We got up early the next day in Brasov, Transylvania and were at Dracula's castle when it opened. Of course Dracula never really lived here - since Dracula is a fictional character - but it is the castle that Bram Stoker used as inspiration for his book. Dracula is loosely based upon a real Count Vlad the Impaler (a horribly mean and sadistic man) who actually spent some time at this castle. The countryside in Transylvania is so beautiful.

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