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When visiting, how a city isn’t a country

Posted by Christopher Wink on Nov 12, 2008 in Commentary

WDSTL at Tour Eiffel by We Don't Speak The Language.

I haven’t really been to the United Kingdom or England or whatever you’d like to call it. I spent less than a week in London, the country’s most populous city and de facto capital. That doesn’t offer much insight into the English mentality. Come to think of it, five days doesn’t allow me to know much about London itself.

I am on year five living in Philadelphia. I started out in a secluded dormitory for the city’s largest university, before renting out the ground floor of a fine rowhome in the Lower Tioga neighborhood.

I don’t know Philadelphia.

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Amsterdam versus Brussels, others: Euro frites to the death

Posted by Christopher Wink on Nov 11, 2008 in Commentary

Sean enjoying a sausage and fries at Curry 36, a food stall in Berlin, Germany.

Sean enjoying a sausage and fries at Curry 36, a food stall in Berlin, Germany.

I try to avoid American foods when traveling. So I can focus on local delicacies; so I can return home and appreciate it all as I stuff my food bag.

But I had to change plans for one of my favorite American foods: french fries. A handful of European cities have stalls that lay claim to being among the best.

We started the pursuit in Amsterdam and Brussels. Both cities have a rich tradition in French fried potatoes, seriously.

In Amsterdam, Mannekin Pis - like the statue in Brussels, confusingly enough - claims the best fries in Holland - and beyond if you ask the right person.

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Belgians say they developed the technique though. We were sent on a long walk south for the best fries in Brussels. They were good - the sausage burgers weren’t - but not worth world renown (video forthcoming).

Then, at a noted sausage stand in Berlin, we came across some more noted fries - Sean’s favorite on the trip.

I think I have to go with Amsterdam’s. Ooh. eating. Anyone have any good Euro-french-fry eating experiences?

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The French Sneer

Posted by Christopher Wink on Nov 6, 2008 in Commentary

A sign on a the window front of a cafe in Paris, France.

The Paris Sneer is it there. Oh it is.

Sean likes to take photos, particularly of signs and images that remind him of his own name.

So, while we were strolling down a French street, ambling towards the Eiffel Tower, Sean wanted to grab the above photo: a Paris cafe promoting its English. That’s where the trouble began.

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When abroad, the quality of American food may vary

Posted by Sean Blanda on Nov 4, 2008 in Commentary

Yep, we're all that and a bag of chips.

Yep, we're all that and a bag of chips.

As mentioned before, I love me some Coca-Cola.

Despite trying to avoid consuming the same food and drink products I would in America, sometimes it is unavoidable (i.e. I cave in to the craving for Doritos).  However, while many American food products have made the jump across the pond that doesn’t mean you will be getting the same Uncle Sam taste.

Doritos, Coca-Cola, Hamburgers, French Fries, and Pizza are all classic “American” items that taste just different enough to notice.  As we experienced in Brussels (PUT IN VIDEO), sometimes all you want is a little taste of home only to be disappointed.

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Social network with us: grow our readership, make Sean feel better about himself

Posted by Christopher Wink on Nov 1, 2008 in Commentary

Sean and Chris in Pragues Old Town Square on Oct. 25, 2008.

Sean and Chris in Prague's Old Town Square on Oct. 25, 2008.

We’ve gotten a few e-mails from viewers that made us realize that perhaps we weren’t clear.

We have way too much content to sensibly place all on this blog. So if you’re itching for more WDSTL, then let us scratch it - or something like that.

Lots of extra videos get uploaded, so subscribe to our Youtube channel and like totally be our friend. Speaking of which, it is so crazy that you aren’t a fan of ours on Facebook or friends with us on MySpace.

Follow our Flickr photostream and see our best photos. If you have an account, friend us and follow our travels that way, too.

Make us feel better about ourselves, and, more importantly help us grow our readership.

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Watching the World Series in foreign lands.

Posted by Sean Blanda on Nov 1, 2008 in Commentary

Sadly, no roiting in Berlin. (Jessica Griffin / Inquirer Staff Photographer)

Sadly, no roiting in Berlin. (Jessica Griffin / Inquirer Staff Photographer)

Like many events in my life, I had pictured it much differently. I thought I’d see the Phillies win it all somewhere in Philadelphia surrounded by red and white-clad die hards. Instead it was Chris, a Canadian, and I in an empty bar in Germany.

But, hey, I’ll take it.

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The pros and cons of the pub crawl

Posted by Sean Blanda on Oct 31, 2008 in Commentary

On a pub crawl, things can often get ... out of hand.

On a pub crawl, things can often get ... out of hand.

There seems to be two sides to the backpacker culture that Chris and I are weaving in and out of.  On one hand you have a group of young, open minded travelers attempting to absorb a culture that is unlike their own.   On the other, you have an international group of under 20-year-old with a nearly limitless amount of free time and a little bit of discretionary spending at their disposal.

In many hostels we have stayed, the latter half of the backpacker culture often manifests itself in the form of the pub crawl/tour combo offered by local companies.  If you never have had the privilege, a pub crawl is when a group of people are led from one drinking establishment to another often receiving discounts and free entry.  In most cities, Chris and I would glance at the flyers and not think twice.  However, in Berlin we decided to change our routine up a bit and tag along with NewBerlin’s pub crawl.  The change in routine had several pros and cons:

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European flag similarities

Posted by Christopher Wink on Oct 30, 2008 in Commentary

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A country’s flag is integral to nation-building, identity fostering. It’s a shame so many are so lame.

In Europe, where much of this world’s geopolitical structure developed - for better or worse - you might think their flag choices would be more fun, or at least original.

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1

Notes on seeing Europe from a train

Posted by Christopher Wink on Oct 23, 2008 in Commentary

You take trains from big cities to other big cities. Lands, untold by tour books and unseen by sloppy tourists like yourself, unfold beneath your high carriage of jetsetting: two months, 10 cities 3,000 miles wide and two or three days deep.

You are riding great dividers of place and time, laughing at great empires of history. Slicing corridors of culture. Other trains pass with silent screams at 70 miles per hour. You mull issues of personal importance and navigate narrow bathrooms.

There’s the old story of the boy who took a train and came back a man. No great story of accomplishment or adventure, but stalking late-night cars and toeing empty rail yards. Sleeping with a bag in his lap until he wanted someone to know him again. Until he learned who is chasing whom.

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Why I’m not coming home until the Philadelphia Phillies win the World Series

Posted by Sean Blanda on Oct 22, 2008 in Commentary

I was doomed from the start.

The byline of this post will read “Sean” but it almost wasn’t so. My mother, an ardent fan of all teams Philadelphia, nearly named me Reggie after a Flyers winger. She also considered naming me Seth after an Eagles defensive end. In the end, my father’s protests became too much and they settled with my current moniker. Although she lost the name game, my mother did make sure that I would bleed orange and black. Or midnight green. Or whatever Philadelphia team was in season. My first word was supposedly “hockey” as the Flyers were riding Ron Hextall all the way to losing to the Edmonton Oilers. Being a young sports fan, that was only one missed championship opportunity, surely there would be others, I would just have to wait.

So when Joe Carter hit a Mitch Williams pitch out of the park, I waited.

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