Tuesday, March 10, 2009

New Blog

Hi all.

My new blog is http://brenstein.wordpress.com/

It is mainly about things that happen in my mind. It may not be interesting to fellow backpackers, but I hope it does one of the following to its readers:

  • Gets a laugh
  • Gets a cry
  • Makes someone pensive
  • Makes someone curious
  • Teaches someone something they did not know
Thank you for your time.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Being Home

Being home has had phases of sorrow and joy. For the first few months I had mixed feelings about not being able to find a job in Sligo.

Having no job allows much time for the development of my piano and guitar skills, but there is no savings going on. Which means it is not certain when we will be able to continue our travels of the planet.

The light at the end of the tunnel is merely an oncoming train!

This concludes this blog, until the next time I travel. I hope it was enjoyable to those of you who followed it!

Take it easy.

Your friend and mine,


Monday, November 24, 2008

Fear and Loathing

Having no idea how to play Blackjack or Poker or anything else, Vegas was still class. Money tastic though. Despite the absolute wealth of Vegas, I saw more cockroaches in 3 days of Vegas than in 2 months of South America. They are ugly little yokes.

The receptionist of our hostel was an absolute asshole, but we tried to ignore that fact, and enjoy Vegas. The rumor that if you sit at slot machines a woman comes along and offers you free drink - it's true. Classic. One thing I didn't expect was the crapness of the slot machines. I thought that it would be a bit fun because we'd win a bit of money then lose a bit more, and so on... But really it was just feeding money into a machine and getting nothing in return.

It was mad watching Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas after being in the place. There are so many areas referred to in the movie that we had been in. Like the Circus Casino. Being in Seattle, Vegas, San Fran and LA was like walking into all those movies and TV shows we had seen in the past. Except it wasn't quite what I had envisioned, every time, in a good way!

There was a lot of Heineken and rum drank on our last 3 days of the year away. Vegas was our last stop.

We had visited many parts of Ontario. Keswick, Toronto, Newmarket, Niagara Falls, Ottawa, Brockville, Algonquin Park, North Bay, Kitchener, Mount Forrest, Owen Sound, Tobermory, Manitoulin Island, Newliskeard. Montreal Quebec.

We had been through NY State, and all through BC (Vancouver, Kamloops, Whistler, Lake Louise, Banff, Jasper). Seattle, Phoenix AZ, El Paso TX, Juarez Mexico.

Santiago Chile, Valparaiso, Mendoza Argentina, Buenos Aires, Rio de Janiero Brazil, back to Buenos Aires, Puerto Iguazu, Salta, La Quiaca Bolivia, Tupiza, Uyuni, La Paz, Copacabana.

Cuzco Peru, Aguas Calientes, Machu Pichu, Lima, Mancora, Puerto Lopez Ecuador, Quito.

Hollywood LA, Reno, Black Rock City, San Francisco, Santa Cruz, Yosemite, Death Valley, Grand Canyon, Las Vegas.

Dublin. Sligo and Navan.

That was our 51 weeks.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Yosemite and Death Valley

After Santa Cruz we drove up to Yosemite National Park. I kept thinking of the little red moustache lad who hates Bugs Bunnys guts. Yosemite Sam. He has two massive handguns. I'd say he HATES foreigners aswell but they can't show that in cartoons... Anymore.

This park would be in my top 5 most beautiful places I've ever visited. It's truly pure and there is an amazing natural feeling that there's life around you everywhere you look. MILLIONS of trees obviously. And bears everywhere. We were very careful when camping with our food. They have special containers you put your food in, for every camping area, because even putting it in your car is not good enough. Bears can pull the door off.

I can't go into what we did in Yosemite. It's too much of a visual place where you have to have physical presence to really understand what its about.

When we drove into Death Valley, we listened to 'Welcome To Sky Valley' by Kyuss. It was pure rifftastic desert rock. There's no better album for such surroundings.

We stopped the car and walked out into the desert. I had my guitar, and had to keep banging it so Elaine would know that rattlesnakes would be scared away. There were small holes in the desert floor. I'm pretty sure they were snakes lairs. But I didn't tell old Elaine that.

Then we took a video of me playing 'A Horse With No Name', by America.

Parts of Death Valley are actually below sea level. Imagine that. Think about that. When you stand in Death Valley, you are below the surface level of the ocean. Damn that place is hot. And you would die there if you were lost. No question.

We were driving for 10 hours. After taking that video we went onward through Vegas, got lost, and got out the other side to the edge of Grand Canyon National Park. We stayed in a motel there because it was too dark to pitch a tent. Besides, every 'campsite' in the area was actually a feckin trailerpark. So no thanks.

When I looked into the Grand Canyon, I'm pretty sure I couldn't take it in. It has an overwhelming depth and vastness. We could see for 53 miles across it.

There were alot more people there than I expected, and it was not how I imagined it. But it was definitely as dangerous as I expected. If you take a wrong step too close, you'll fall for a million years.

We headed back to Vegas, not having died. A long road trip. And the petrol costs were a KILLER!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Santa Cruz

We met wonderful people at the burn who invited us to stay on their boat with them for a weekend. So we did. It was delightful.

We were amazingly locked. I love boats. I will never forget that sound invitation. Their kindness will remind me for years to come that being sound can really be appreciated. I will invite people to do stuff if they are coming to Ireland and don't know what to do. Because we appreciated this so much.

All we did all weekend was sit on the boat and listen to music, drive around on the boat, and eat food. We gave Donny a giant bottle of Southern Comfort as a reward for the soundness displayed. He still has not drank the full bottle, even nearly 2 months later. He says it's the only drink he ever stopped drinking due to it making him so sick one time.

Lightweight, Moo haha.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


Apparently the reason it was so hard to escape from Alcatraz not only because it was a maximum security prison, but also due to the freezing temperature of the water surrounding it and its dangerous currents. It is a known Tiger Shark Territory. And those things are mean. There is no known successful escape.

Al Capone was one of the highest profile inmates, he got 11 years for tax evasion.

There is a great audio tour of Alcatraz that I would recommend to anyone going. I stood in prison cells and saw the methods of escape that were implemented. I also stood in one of the punishment cells where it was completely dark and all you can do is sit on the floor for days.

The funny thing is that the families of the wardens actually lived with them on Alcatraz island, and the children would take the boat to school every day.

After that we were in a cool aquarium where I got to pet baby leopard sharks, and bat rays. I was terrified to do it at first. But then I did. I could not leave the place without being able to say I had done that.

That pic above is old Elaine in a tunnel aquarium looking at a giant shoal of fish. There were giant fish in there. Awesome.

This blog is more like a diary because it's not very likely that people actually read all this shite that I write. haha. I'm ok with it.

Monday, October 13, 2008

San Francisco - sound place

If you come to San Fran after 2 months in South America minding the pennies, you are gonna be shocked. Pints are up to 10 times the price of those in South America. But you just have to accept that you're back in the developed world! There were other people obviously coming back from the burn. When you saw them, the thing you greet each other with is "Happy Re-Entry."

For 3 or 4 days after Burning Man I felt as if I'd had my heart removed. I was so sad not to be there anymore.

From a bus station full of absolute MENTALLISTS in Reno, we got the Greyhound to San Francisco. I was in and out of sleep for the whole journey and when I looked out the window into the desert at night I thought I was still at the Burning Man. I could see lots of colourful lights and camper vans. I don't know if it was a mirage or not.

It was lovely to have a real bed and a shower in the hostel we stayed in. We walked around on our own for the first day. It's a lovely city. Obviously full of money, but that's not a resentful statement. It's just that when you were in an earthquake wrecked town in Ecuador a few days before, you notice a slight difference in budgets!

Next day we were in the area where Will Smith's 'The Pursuit of Happiness' is based. A poor area of San Fran where a preacher helps the needy. This preacher is actually in the movie. Surprise surprise. Lots of hills in the city, actually. You'd be a fit cyclist. A ROIDE. The tour guide said he was bringing us to 'one of the most beautiful sights in the world'. And he brought us to a hill overlooking the city. It was nice, like. But it makes you think how open your mind becomes from travelling alot. It was just another city view to me. It was nothing like the views we saw on our long journey. It makes me sound like a spa, but that's how it was.

We saw Janis Joplins old house, across the road from The Grateful Dead's old house. Brilliant! The whole area was made famous by the Summer of Love. There are still some hippie type people hanging around there, trying to hold onto that dream. When will there ever be an occurrence like that, again?

We went though areas that had places owned by Sean Penn, George Lucas, Lars Ulrich, and Francis Ford Coppola. The guide told us that San Fran is a gay area because of all the sailors and navy that came to live there after spending so long out at sea. It's plausible.

Some of the tallest redwood trees in the world are preserved outside San Fran. All thanks to John Muir, otherwise The Unthinking Majority would have come in a cut them all down after the San Fran earthquake to rebuild the city.

I wish everyone in the world had the same mindset as John Muir.