28 Mar, 2018

Philadelphia – The Place To Be

By | 2018-03-28T18:31:25+00:00 March 28th, 2018|Off Topic|0 Comments

I’m seeing a lot of Philly gear on fans who I have to question if they are new fans or actual fans. Eagles hats. Sixers shirts. Phillies jerseys. Flyer whatever hockey fans wear.

There’s nothing wrong with wearing the apparel of your city. It’s a bit bandwagon to start wearing it now that the Birds won the Superbowl and the Sixers are crushing lower class teams on a run to the playoffs. Here are a few simple questions that you have to be able to answer if you want to wear a Philadelphia sports team’s gear.

  • How many games are in a season?
    • If the answer isn’t 16, 82, or 162, you shouldn’t be wearing sports attire of that sport. I honestly don’t know hockey, I’d guess 80 without looking it up).
  • Can you name the best player on the team?
    • If you can’t name Carson, Jojo, Ben, or guess Mike Schmidt or Chase Utley – no dice.
  • Do you know where the stadium is?
    • Acceptable answer is South Philly, near the Xfinity center, right off the subway on Broad.

That’s it. If you know that much, support the team as much as you want. If you don’t, you’re a fair weather fan who shouldn’t participate. I’m not saying you can’t go to a game, I’m saying you’re a huge phony who should re-evaluate their life because if you can convince yourself that you are a Philly fan, I’m sure you have WAY bigger life issues that go deeper than that as a human being.

I’ll be the first to say that I haven’t supported these teams to the degree I know others have. The difference is that I don’t fake it. If you asked me if I was an Eagles fan or a football fan this season, I’d 100% say football. I cared more about my DK lineups and fantasy than the Eagles. I didn’t think the Eagles had a chance with Foles as the QB. This didn’t mean I root against the Birds, it means that I don’t cry myself to sleep if they lose. I can still enjoy rooting and supporting them when the time is right. I’m a fan. I know the game. I know when to cheer. I can make educated opinions on what I’m viewing. I’m a sports fan.

People in the city now are riding the wave of success which has been long overdue. Philadelphia has always been a class city that didn’t get the respect it deserved because the sports teams didn’t get it done. We are seeing an age where Philly is delivering and it’s awesome. The die hard’s will always be around. The next level of fans are the people we need to worry about to maintain the authenticity that Philly is.

27 Mar, 2018

Support Support

By | 2018-03-27T21:27:13+00:00 March 27th, 2018|Off Topic|1 Comment

Comcast Customer Service

Press 1 For Sales, Press 2 For Support
*Presses 1*
How can I help you?
*Presses 2*
Automated response – Your wait time is 26 minutes.

What gives?

The answer is obvious, sales makes a company money and support costs it. My take on this is that businesses don’t handle this concept appropriately. Sales are the brain, but support is a company’s backbone. I honestly don’t find Comcast support that bad. Sorry Evan.

The Case For Caring More About Sales

  • Makes a company profitable.
  • If you don’t answer a consumer ASAP, you may lose the sale. Live chat when web shopping has become the norm.
  • Sales are the most important part of every business.

The Case For Disregarding Support

  • They are already a customer
  • Support agents have no incentive to do their job well. Not compensation based so who really gives a shit about job performance as long as you do your job well enough to get your salary.
  • If the consumer can’t figure it out themselves, that’s what Google is for. Support rarely gets penalized for not solving the problem, it’ll be on the customer for having some problem on their end.

Real World Example

Sage Software is who we use for our business accounting and is a major culprit of this take. If I want to buy an upgrade, no wait. When I need support, 45 minute wait. I’ll will add that they’ve added a call back feature which is better than sitting on hold, but still annoying because if you miss the call back, you’re back in the cycle. The worst support is when dealing with the credit card / fraud department where support excels at keeping you on hold while they “check” on the situation.

Why do companies put their best people in sales and the worst in support? Frustrated customers don’t lead to a profitable business. Usually upset customers write scathing reviews and bad mouth the product. What’s the point of having shitty support?  We recently had an annual support charge for enough money to make me say, “this is ridiculous. We give you 30x that in credit card processing fees and you treat us like a sack of potatoes.” They didn’t budge. They are a soulless company.

My IT Experience

I worked with StableHost in order to get our sites pointed to different servers and exclusive from one another. I had tickets that would have 20 back and forth’s on them. IT doesn’t want to solve the problem. They want to tell you how to solve the problem. What they don’t understand is that if I knew how to solve the problem myself, I’d do it. They have all my credentials. I tell them what I want to do. They refuse to use the credentials and solve the problem repeatedly coming back to me with what “I have to do”. Extremely frustrating to say the least and I’ll be honest, I still don’t understand where this data is on which server.

I could tell that they didn’t want to do their job well. They have no incentive to do so. What’s the point? I know with our business, we treat our customers like gold. It’s the smallest type of company possible, but we answer every phone call. We call you back. We answer your emails. We solve problems. It’s not that hard. Support needs to be supported by better pay or else it will continue to get a negative reviews and be looked at as unimportant. I would make the case it is more important than sales. Websites can sell products in today’s age. They can’t fix specific issues like my fucking Outlook moving recently sent emails to my draft folder or why it searches through my earliest emails first. Infuriating.

26 Mar, 2018

Getting Torched by the (Blue) Devil

By | 2018-03-26T15:59:52+00:00 March 26th, 2018|Off Topic|0 Comments

Starting on March 15th, I lost a $59 dollar wager on Wright St vs Tennessee. Since then I’ve been 24-14-1 for a total win of $325. I’ll also say I’m 11 of the last 14 after joining the Action Network. How can someone who is 24-14-1 only be up $325 you may ask?

  • One of those losses was a $300 play at Duke on Saturday night.
  • My online blackjack lesson isn’t quite learned after sputtering $264 in a 3 minute window with a rebet x2 that lost 6 in a row.
  • I took Bubba Watson at 12-1 for 10 dollars to add to the roll which did hit. Unfortunately, I hedged on JT for $75, so I didn’t nail that.
  • Duke losing yesterday also cost me a shot at $800 in our 9 man pool.

Bovada gave me a free $200 deposit bonus so I’m still running around even after all this. At this point I’ve paid for my entertainment but if you had to ask if my $400+ is going to be in my account by the end, good fucking luck.

This is how I felt after Duke lost yesterday.

 

Blogs are a few days from being fully recovered. I’ll help Sam get back to a better theme and then we’ll be back to normal posting. I’m sorry that I got hacked and the entire network was taken down, it shows the vulnerabilities of owning a site with little understanding of security. I am learning more about servers though.

19 Mar, 2018

The Hack Is Resolved

By | 2018-03-19T13:23:17+00:00 March 19th, 2018|Off Topic|1 Comment

I spent $99 dollars to a random human being in Transylvania to get my site back online and free of MalWare. To expand, and I can’t say with full certainty, the site was infected with a virus on the same day I opened up a CoinBase account. If you don’t think that treading into Crypto currency can be dangerous, get your head checked. Essentially a Trojan horse was uploaded into my WordPress files. This caused Google to return back to anyone who tried to go to the site that it was dangerous. I’m actually waiting for a response on how it happened and I’ll return the details.

Bansheemann7 is currently offline as my account is the primary and his is an add-on. I’m told having 2 sites under one main domain is not safe and we’ll be changing it in the future. This has been a headache. Targeting this website is pretty useless. At first I thought I was providing too much racy material and I was being flagged (this is actually what the guy at Sitelock told me which was a complete lie). I removed a few posts that I thought may have gotten me in trouble but it was bullshit. Now that the trojan is all cleaned up, life can move forward. Sam and I have yet to iron any true idea of how we are moving forward so you’ll have to stay tuned. Everything would have to be more expensive and I’m not sure where we lie exactly.

Below is a humorous transcript with a company I was looking to do the website work before I found a guy who would do it for $99. Think about that carefully though if you read through it.

—————————————–

On Wed, 14 Mar at 1:36 PM , Tom Stortz <tom@stortz.com> wrote:
We’ll go ahead with the cleanup of 2 sites, rnningfool.com & bansheemann7.com. There is a 3rd site on there (southbowlleagues.com) that I don’t care if it survives. It’s not urgent so you can bill the card for $160 (I don’t think there is anything wrong with Bansheemann7 so if you want to charge $260, I’m not for that). I don’t know if I ever intend on writing on these websites again and think I’m going to start a brand new domain and move the Wordfence API over. How do you prefer I send the access for the control panel?


Tom Stortz

—————–
From:
Sent: Wednesday, March 14, 2018 7:00 PM
To: tom@stortz.com
Subject: Re: [#65171] Site Cleaning Request

Hi Tom,
I am performing an initial review of your case, and I verified that I’m able to log in with the usernames/passwords you provided. I did find that there are 3 additional installations of WordPress in the hosting account. In a hosting account like yours, one hacked site can be used to infect any others, so it’s our policy to clean every site in the account. Otherwise the hackers can just undo our work after we’re finished.

You have a few options to continue with the site cleaning:
– Add the other 3 sites to your order. We have volume pricing for this service that is dependent on the number of sites. The discounted price in your case would be $75 for each additional site, which includes a one-year Wordfence Premium key for each one.
– If you don’t use them, delete them from the server.
– If you do use them but don’t want them to be cleaned at this point, you can move them or your primary site to another hosting account, such that the primary site is the only one there to be cleaned.
– You could cancel the order entirely.

Thanks and have a great day!

Chloe

———————

On Wed, Mar 14, 2018 at 7:11 PM, Tom Stortz <tom@stortz.com> wrote:
How about this question, are the other ones currently infected? I’ll move them to another domain if they are not.

——-
On Mar 14, 2018 9:00 PM, wrote:
To give an idea of what’s going on here. It’s a personal site that I have years of data on which is the only reason I want to clean it. I plan on buying a new domain name and moving all the info on this current site over to the new domain name. Spending hundreds of dollars to make it happen doesn’t make sense. I’ll just get a back up of the current info and then I’ll see what happens moving forward. I have to imagine you can see if the other domain names are infected the same way a random representative from Sitelock told me mine was. He wanted to sell me on a package for 140 / month if you want to know how I even got started on this path. I’m just a dude with a personal website. If you can’t do the work for the $180 I paid already, just refund me and I’ll figure it out because the whole thing seems outrageous to me to begin with. I’d create a backup and then manually delete the files the same way WordFence tells me. Rather than try to money gouge me for 2 sites that aren’t even affected, how about you just clean the site and tell me what to do. If you can’t do it, let’s move on.
————–
On Thu, Mar 15, 2018 at 8:50 AM, Tom Stortz <tom@stortz.com> wrote:
A final thought on this matter, if it’s your “policy” to do the other sites, then please refund me the $80 and I’ll figure it out myself. I’d like to get this moving.
————–

On Thu, 15 Mar at 5:12 PM , Tom Stortz <tom@stortz.com> wrote:
Is Wordfence a professional company or what? When I was a customer you were going to make money off of I got a reply in 5 minutes. Now that it’s not going to work like that, i’m down on the list. If you don’t want to do the work, refund the money. If you want to do the one site, do the one site. If not, refund the $80. Let’s make a decision.
————-

On Mar 15, 2018 9:00 PM, wrote:
Hi Tom,

Chloe had presented you with several options. She explained that we can’t exclude other sites from the cleanup. The reason is simple. One malicious script can infect all 4 sites. We see this all the time. Now, if we want to exclude sites, there are ways. You could move the site you want us to clean to another server to that it is the only site in that account. In that case we can clean one site.

You asked if the other sites were infected. We don’t know. That is exactly why we need to scrutinize them in the same way as the one site that we know is infected. We do back our work with a 90 day guarantee. We can’t do that with other potentially infected sites left behind.

So again, we have a few options:
– Move the site you would like us to clean to another server
– Delete the other sites
– Add them to the order for a fee
– cancel the order and get the refund.

Please let us know what you would like to do.

Regards,

——————-

On Thu, 15 Mar at 9:05 PM , Tom Stortz <tom@stortz.com> wrote:
Please refund the $80.

Tom Stortz
—————

On Thu, 15 Mar at 9:10 PM , Tom Stortz <tom@stortz.com> wrote:
Prorate the api too. I don’t need that either. Whatever you think is fair for my use.

Tom Stortz

———–
Nice negotiating though. Really proving your worth.

Tom Stortz

————–
The final thought I have is that I bet you guys can fix it in 5 minutes. You see it all the time and the other sites have no infection warning. I’m going to dispute the charges with no service rendered (aside from one scan) and we can see what happens. It was never about the money to me. I just wanted it handled by professionals. Perhaps I’m wrong here, but I promise you we’ll be getting a few opinions. Thanks for the effort and I apologize for the time spent.

Tom Stortz

—————–

From:
Sent: Friday, March 16, 2018 1:10 AM
To: tom@stortz.com
Subject: Re: [#65171] Site Cleaning Request

Hi Tom,

It takes our site cleaners 2-6 hours to clean an infected site depending on the infection as they manually go through by hand to inspect, remove, and ensure everything is free of malware. I’ll be happy to help. We have canceled your order and issued you a full refund to your credit card. I have also went ahead and deleted your key and provided you with a full refund. You should soon receive a separate email with a confirmation of the transaction.

Thanks and have a great day!

Chloe

————————

13 Mar, 2018

Blocked

By | 2018-03-13T14:17:46+00:00 March 13th, 2018|Off Topic|Comments Off on Blocked

Rnningfool.com has been blocked by Google. I have an inkling what the issue was and have since removed the post which took the entire site down. Sitelock is trying to sell me on $140 a month and I’m not doing that. I paid $100 for a yearly subscription for a web firewall and this is what it feels like to get really scammed. I’ll report back but there’s no sense posting on the site if no one can read it. Creating a new site may be my only option. Doesn’t seem fair.

9 Mar, 2018

The State of Affairs

By | 2018-03-09T01:00:09+00:00 March 9th, 2018|Off Topic|2 Comments

Sam and I haven’t actually ironed out any details and I think the storm is brewing. I don’t think I will ever see Rnningfool.com die as I have a many year attachment. I only feel that my time is better spent on a collaborative effort. I think Sam must agree because he was the one who introduced the idea. I didn’t think about it much and want to run with it.

Coordinating the website will take a bit more effort because we are going to have to be on the same page with regard to content. I see it as a debate like issue on certain topics. Some current events. Some philosophical. Some sports. Typical everyday thoughts. What I’d like to see happen is that more people get involved. Start small and try to bring in more thoughts all the time. That means that we are going to need some people who make comments. You know who you are. You’re called lurkers. Not the Starcraft character who was known for hiding. I would never force anyone to comment. That’s not the game. It’s if you see a point that you may feel strongly about or can add a viewpoint, take the 30 seconds and comment. It helps tremendously.

I finished Altered Carbon and this would be a point of discussion that I’d bring forth as an idea. The show takes place 300 years in the future and the wealthy don’t die. They become “godlike”. What this means is they have “stacks” which are their (I have no idea how to describe this) lives. You can transfer your stack to different “sleeves” and essentially live forever. They put people on “ice” which is where the story begins with an “envoy” being brought back to solve a murder mystery. I liked it and don’t think many people will watch it.

That being said, the idea of a future is a great topic. What to actually do with these ideas…I don’t know. I try to visualize how I see it happening and it’s not so easy. The idea is that it’s not being done for money. It’s being done for truth. I relate to Catcher in the Rye and the term “phonies” used a lot. I’d like to think that what we would deliver would be as real as it gets. People in today’s age are abusing this notion. You don’t know what’s real or fake any more. I believe 95% is bullshit. That’s why this site could succeed. We want nothing. In return, we’ll deliver whatever facts we can bring to the table. I see Crypto being entertaining. I use Labs for insider info that has to be valuable to some people. It can become a a SITE and not just a blog. Picking the title would be done carefully.

Is it possible we lose an entire fan base going this direction? If you’re already reading this and I stop posting on it, are you seriously telling me that you wouldn’t read what is going to be better information on a different site? I’d like to hear any downside I may be missing. I have no problem with the way I’ve been handling the blog since it started but it’s time for a change.

8 Mar, 2018

Blog Brother Part 2

By | 2018-03-08T16:03:00+00:00 March 8th, 2018|Off Topic|1 Comment

Read Sam’s Take

Why would a well established blog like myself join forces with a blog with the name Bansheemann7? The owner would have had to have had a stroke to make a decision like this. That, however, is not the case.

What I learned in life is that 2 is stronger than 1. Do I find many flaws with Sam’s blog? F5’ing the front page. Lack of attractive side bar. Probably hasn’t even looked at the customization of the theme since inception. These details are all parts of blogging that I probably look at with a tad more frequency than he does and we can make some joint decisions with the idea that they’ll come to fruition.

Sam is worried about a strain on the relationship…I’m none too concerned. I don’t think I care enough about it to ever be a strain. Now if he starts shit talking my work or gets a big head if the blog explodes, you never know. I don’t think it’ll matter.

What will the website become? This is where I get a little excited. I have no idea. I’ve been maintaining an individual blog for years on years and nothing ever came of it. The vision was cloudy. Will a new duo have different results? I think so. We’ll have to hash out the details if we want to keep both personal blogs and start a brand new site or sort of merge all the posts which I don’t think will go over too well.

I like the idea of being more topic oriented and less personal oriented. We could even pick topics and both give points like Around the Horn. I honestly don’t know. It’s smart to keep it fresh though and I think it also gives us the ability to grow whereas this is too individualized. I’m sure if anyone wanted to participate, we’d be open.

These are my initial thoughts.

2 missed birthdays to the Sheee (3/4) and J-Smash (3/6) over the last few days. Apology for not knowing, but I don’t know if this will change much moving forward, so don’t get your hopes up. If i’m a bad person for not knowing the day you were born, egg on me. My priorities lie in other areas of life that have nothing to do with birthdays. If I was sitting home all day eating bon bon’s and watching soap operas, I’m sure you’d get a card from me.

7 Mar, 2018

My Life Would Be Radically Different Without

By | 2018-03-07T09:43:41+00:00 March 7th, 2018|Off Topic|Comments Off on My Life Would Be Radically Different Without

Spotify – Just a reminder that the SPOT initial public offering will take place later this month. I read its gross margin went from 17% to 24% in the 4th quarter of last year vs 2016. Netflix has a 34%. Private equity firms value Spotify at 19 billion, roughly 19x last years gross profit. The equivalent using Netflix is 30x which shows some room for growth. The big question mark is how can it grow being under the control of the “big 3” – Sony, Universal, and Warner which account for 87% of the music on Spotify’s playlist. You’ll notice that Netflix has started to produce its own content which inevitably gives it more control and the ability to turn higher profits. How can Spotify move from under the record companies thumb? That we will have to wait and see.

How does Spotify intervene in my life? Virtually everyday I use it. That was pretty much my basis behind this post and what’s important. I’m not alone as subscriber growth went from 30 million to 70 million in a mere year. So not only is subscriber, recurring, revenue a factor, Spotify can make money getting involved in the sale of show tickets, promotion from artists for their own material, and *gasp* advertising. I will be purchasing some SPOT.

Samsung Galaxy 8 – What do I not use my phone for? Writing long emails. Researching. Creating DraftKing lineups. For most other activities such as email, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and golf updates, I use my phone. I’ll even watch Netflix on my phone while I have a sporting game in the background. The sound is better on this device than my Kindle Fire which has 3x the screen. The 8 isn’t that much different than the 6, but the bottom line is that I’m satisfied. I didn’t have a battery issue one time in Europe. It lasted at least 16 hours and probably would have gone for 30. The GPS is rock solid on Google Maps. All in all, well worth the money.

I’m going to take a moment and respond to everyone who reads this and says, “buy an Iphone”. I’ve wrote many posts about this, but there is one key reason why I don’t like Apple, and it has virtually nothing to do with the actual device. Apple uses iOS. iOS is, to my understanding, a closed source operating system. When you do Apple, you are using all material produced by Apple developers specifically for Apple products. Android is open source and that’s my general life philosophy. It’d be like the USA saying that they don’t accept any material from anyone outside of the USA. This isn’t a great analogy because I’m sure there are millions of developers in other countries, but just go with it. Steve Jobs would argue that having complete control over what goes on your device is incredibly important for safety and quality reasons. To say I know better than Steve Jobs is idiotic. To me though, Apple products seem more dictatorial, loyalty induced / brainwashed, than Android and Google which give me the feeling of open thinking. Like I wrote, it has nothing to do with the product, strictly the mind set.

Pilot G-2 – One of the funniest parts of my life is when I write something down and Sam says, “here’s the first thing you’re doing wrong, you’re writing it down instead of typing it.” I still use a pen everyday of my life and I like this one specifically. First off, it’s cheap. You can buy 20 of them for 10 bucks at Sam’s club. Maybe cheaper. The ink doesn’t smear. This is the most important part of a pen. When the ink comes off, how long does it take to dry? They seem to last a long time as I lose them far more than I throw them out. The clicker works great and I don’t find myself inking myself when the pen is in my pocket. Finally, the grip on it is comfortable and the point is sharp for consistent writing. I’ve used the cheap Bic’s and gel pens and this is by far the best.

6 Mar, 2018

Dance Monkey Dance

By | 2018-03-06T22:23:59+00:00 March 6th, 2018|Off Topic|Comments Off on Dance Monkey Dance

After falling asleep from being too tired, and watching a few too many episodes of Altered Carbon, I decided to take an IQ test online because they were doing it on the Howard Stern show.

I stumbled across this test. It takes about 15 minutes to complete. Here was my result:

I could really use some affirmation that everyone doesn’t get this score.

Have I ever thought of myself as brilliant? No. Flat out. No. No fucking chance.

I never tested into enrichment. My SAT scores were 1,150 or so out of 1,600. I got into one honors history class and literally would cheat on every exam by copying off of Jane Bloomgarden. I was by far the dumbest kid in the class. Even in college I didn’t earn great marks. 3. something GPA. So when I saw this random internet test describing my intelligence as “brilliant”, I knew it had to be wrong.

It begs the question though, what is intelligence? It’s quite possible on questions I didn’t know what the answer was, and I either put “I don’t know” or I guessed correctly, it would up my results. I also think I answered the questions quickly which I know helps on these types of tests. Nevertheless, being able to do identify some patterns in numbers and letters is hardly a useful skill. Show me how to sell a product or give a speech in front of a thousand people and you have my attention. Telling me what number comes next is bush league.

I will complete this post by saying that I’m far more intelligent now than I’ve been at any point in my life. I spend more time reading for leisure and learning skills that I actually want to learn whereas in formal education it was info that I never cared for. Can that actually make me smarter? I don’t know. You tell me.

4 Mar, 2018

EuroTrip Recap

By | 2018-03-04T10:31:21+00:00 March 4th, 2018|Off Topic|1 Comment

Summing up 8 days into one post is not easy. Jeff and I traveled to Europe for a trade show in Germany on 2/20 and returned from London on 2/28. It was a jam packed 8 days that I’ll sum up as best I can with my thoughts and experiences.

Cologne, Germany

Our flight was at 5:45pm and landed in Frankfurt the next day at around 9am. I watched Dunkirk which I’d recommend and Suburbicon which wasn’t so hot. We arrived safely and had to catch a train from Frankfurt to Cologne. What was a little bit odd is that our bags didn’t go to baggage claim, but rather to another destination in the train terminal. It took us a little bit to figure that out as we stupidly sat at baggage claim for about 15 minutes. The train to Cologne was easy because we had reserved seats on an ICE train. These trains make Amtrak look silly.

In Cologne we checked in the Maritim hotel and went straight to the trade show. After the show we napped for an hour or two after being awake for nearly 30 hours. After a short nap, we went to eat at a very traditional German restaurant. We walked in and I used my “mein Deutsche ist schlecht” to which he replied with something that sound like German for “practice”. Being ever so quick on my feet, I replied with “Zwei”. He sat us immediately next to a group of two people so we became a table of 4. I ordered the Sauerbraten because it was the only dish I could read in German. Jeff got some chicken. A tradition in Cologne is the beer served everywhere is Kolsch. They come to your table with these 6oz beers of Kolsch that cost about 2 Euro and don’t stop bringing them until you put a coaster over top of your beer. We didn’t really know this exactly and drank about 10 Kolsch’s that night.

The next day was more of the same with the trade show and we went bar hopping at night to about 4 places. Being a Thursday night, the city wasn’t jumping, but still fun.

The next day we got up early and went to a train station to buy tickets to Amsterdam. We bought tickets that had about 4 transfers which was a mistake. We had to go to the help desk and get new tickets on an ICE train. The total cost for the two of us was about 150 Euro. We arrived at the train with no problem and headed north west.

Amsterdam, Netherlands

Amsterdam Canal

I’ve been to Amsterdam before so I sort of knew the lay of the land. We were feeling pretty good and decided to do some bar hopping. Our first bar charged us 35 Euro for 4 drinks of Barvaria beer which was a bit of a rip off. Our spending money wasn’t going to last at that rate. Nevertheless we probably went to about 15 bars and cafes that night just experiencing Amsterdam. It was by far the most debauchery that took place on our trip. Some highlights included an Argentinan Steakhouse, the house cat, some bizarre UFC kick boxing at a cafe, and the worst slice of pizza I’ve ever eaten. This is also a city where it feels like you are going to get hit by a bike or motorist at all times.

Everyone rides a bike.

We were both pretty baked on Saturday morning but got up and tried to do the best that we could. We vistited the Rijksmuseum and tried to do the Vincent Van Gogh museum but the line was too long. We ended up finding an English Pub and watched the Ireland-Wales Rugby game. We had booked a canal tour ahead of time and did that afterwards. It was ok because we drank about 4 Heineken’s each but still sightly overrated. That night was finished with another pet in a bar 9see below). If we would have went too hard this night, the trip could have taken a wrong turn.

We headed to the train station again the next morning and bought tickets to head to Brussels. I think total cost was around $150 Euro for the both of us. We caught the ICE train without any issue.

Brussels, Belgium

We incorrectly spent most of our time in the 1st class train unbeknownst to us. It probably should have been knownst because it was pretty nice and comfortable. After being sent back to second class, we got to Brussels. Our hotel was on the smaller side but still nice conditions. It wasn’t ready when we arrived at 12 and we had to put our bags there because we had a beer tour scheduled at 2pm. We ate some crepes and found an English pub to watch a few minutes of Spurs before meeting up with the group.

Our tour guide was a Frenchmen who was noticeably French. There were 7 of us and we visited 4 authentic Belgium bars and sampled 2 beers at each spot. Belgium definitely has a different feel to it. After the tour we checked into our hotel and freshened up before touring Belgium. We hadn’t purchased our train tickets to London yet and we hit a little surprise. To get to London was going to cost us 224 Euro…each. We hadn’t expected this much money for a train to Brussels but considering it is on the EuroRail going under the English Channel, we should have. Since our flight was out of Heathrow, there wasn’t much we could do but suck it up and pay it.

After having dinner at a Belgium Cafe, we took some amazing pictures of the city square and Jeff had a waffle. We also went to a Brew Dog Brewery where we incredibly met a human from Philadelphia at the bar. We were both pretty tired at this point and called it a night.

The EuroRail had an actual security check point that we got through and made it to London.

London, England

I was excited to get to London but we were down to our last 400 bucks or so which I knew wasn’t going to last. We exchanged a 80 Euro at a rip off exchange in the train station in order to get some pounds. Our cabbie took us to the Royal Horseguards which I picked because it was a 5 star hotel. It was in the middle of essentially everything.

We converted the rest of our money to Pounds at a better exchange and that left us with about 350 and the cab driver told us the taxi to Heathrow will cost about 60-80. Great.

In London we did as many of the sight seeing things we could. We saw Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, Soho district, the British Museum, the Shard, and Jack the Ripper’s museum. London has too much to offer and 2 days obviously wasn’t enough to take it all in. We probably stopped at about 20 pubs along the way and it’s very similar to here. When people speak the same language as you, you tend not to feel like an outsider.

We closed the trip with some high end whiskey drinks in our hotel and were ready to fly home. We woke up at 5:30am on Wednesday and got our expensive cab to Heathrow. We ended up the trip with all of  our money spent and I even had to dig into my pocket a bit to complete it.  It had snowed in London but it wasn’t enough for any cancellations and we got back safely. It was a long journey and I think we were both pretty exhausted and glad to be back. I slept from 6pm to 4am to give you an idea when we got back.

 

Final Thoughts

If you’ve read this far, thanks. I know not everyone has the opportunity to travel like this so I like to give my exact thoughts on my experience. Here are a few of the observations I have:

  • Strongest mouthwash on the planet

    Most people speak English in Europe. Although I definitely felt out of place in certain spots ordering or talking in English knowing it’s not the primary language, it’s not hard to get by.

  • Traveling in Europe isn’t that bad. We had to catch multiple trains and make many destinations and with the help of a GPS, it’s not something to fear. To get to 4 cities, we spent about 12 hours on a train which is considerable when we were only there for 8 days.
  • As an American, you don’t have the sense that Europe thinks all that much about us. Americans are very American. What I mean by that is we don’t think that much about Europe either. Gaining a perspective of how Europeans think and live helps mold a better shape into being a human being.
  • The tipping process is an American thought. We were tipping after beers and food and people looked at us with incredulous responses. I left a 5 Euro tip on a 32 dollar order for some beers and the bartender thought I had two heads. You just don’t do it like we do here. I also noticed that there were very rarely bar seats at English pubs and you ordered from the bar even if you were sitting down.
  • Traveling like this was a bit excessive. For 8 days, I’d say 3 cities should have been the max. Adding the 4th made it feel like there was too much time spent traveling by train. Extending the stay and not feeling rushed in each city may have been more enjoyable. That being said, I don’t think cramming as much as you can into these trips is bad practice. We may have only spent 1 day in Brussels, and it made travelling a pain, but I’m glad I saw it.

That’s about it. There’s no better way to spend money or time in my estimation. Having traveling experience in different cultures is what life is about. It definitely cost a lot of money (about 3k+ each), but I enjoyed it more than some of the travels I’ve done on my own. Having a second person removes the feeling of feeling isolated. Hope you enjoyed the read.

 

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