India – A Place of Incredible People, Delicious Food, and a Massive Culture Shock!

When people first ask me about my trip to India I immediately start by describing the experience as a massive culture shock for most Westerners. The sounds, smells, sheer amount of people, and never ending eye contact can be very surreal to people who do not travel frequently. Everyone in this country is inquisitive especially when you look American. There’s Billboards spanning the packed motorways advertising prominently american looking models with their blue jeans and polo shirts. They are enamoured with the Western lifestyle and so their endless stares are simply a compliment and excitement to know you. Thats where I can start this post by talking about the people I met in India and that was the goal of my trip actually. The entire reason I traveled here was to visit members of my development team that we’ve been working with for 4 years now.

I can’t say enough how passionate, driven, kind, and caring these people are. They have a Phase in Hindu and I saw it in action first hand so many times ‘Guest is god’. Even if someone doesn’t know you they treat you like family. They also have a kinship for each other that is unmatched in my opinion. While the country was so foreign to me. I never once felt uncomfortable. I always felt safe and like people were being honest with me. This particularly hit home when I met one of my developers family. His mom and dad were some of the nicest people in the entire world. I even got invited to to their sons wedding one day. No he was not engaged or even in a relationship yet (completely arranged) but his mother insisted that I be there. *UPDATE* as of August 2017 he is officially engaged and I did receive my invite but sadly could not go!* Please note she did not speak English but I was able to gather this all via hand signals and smiles.

I honestly can’t say enough about the people there. His family also insisted that I go next door and meet their neighbors where the experience continued. They all were so excited to meet me and everyone was telling stories about how their cousins daughter is studying in America and sends pictures all the time. It was fantastic and shows how humble these individuals are. The thing that really struck me is how caring they all were and smiling even though their lives are very simple. They have simple small homes in large apartment buildings. The entire family lives together (even when they get older). And it’s very simple. Always with a prayer room. It makes me appreciate so much what I have in my life. I’m very lucky to have been raised in a world with as much opportunity as I have now. This is something most Americans just don’t understand. You have to get outside of your comfort zone and experience another culture to really appreciate your own as well.


One of the other highlights from the trip is that I took the entire development team out to dinner at one of the nicer restaurants in town (I let them pick). Everyone was so happy and thankful that I was there. We had smoking non-alcoholic drinks (yes drinking is illegal in the State I was in), multiple soups and appetizers. Flaming veggies and just a crazy experience overall. End of the night I got the tab for 14 people and a 3 Hour dinner was $120…. I don’t get it lol.

During the trip I also got lucky enough to travel when I wasn’t working. I got to visit the beach resort city of Goa, the massive metropolis that is Mumbai, the country side of Gujarat and meet friends from everywhere. This trip had too many highlights to count but I recommend any open-minded traveler to give India a try. I wish you best travels and safe trip. It’ll be an adventure I can promise you that.


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Landing Tickets to Red Rocks *SOLD OUT ILLENIUM SHOW*

Wow where can we start with this incredible trip. First was landing an invite to the pre-sale Facebook group where they gave us an early access code for tickets which went live 2 days before general public. Luckily, we ended up getting 2 tickets within 10 minutes of their release and thank god we did because they sold out on the same day.

Now that tickets were bought we needed to buy a flight I guess, right? We’ll we figured we could always sell them in case flight prices were too high but lucky us we found great deals on South West. Now the only thing left was to plan the rest of the trip.

Seeing as neither of us had stayed in Denver we figured we needed to make a trip out of it. What’s not to love about Denver? Breweries, incredible hiking, fantastic people and some unreal music venues *cough* “Red Rocks”.

This place has redefined what I constitute as a music venue. The pillars of rock reach sky-high into the beautiful Denver air and make for incredible acoustics for any band that comes through. On the night of the show we arrived an hour early to grab some drinks in the parking lot and people watch everyone coming to this show. At a nice age of 28 we were about twice the age of others at the concert.

As we walked up the steps, following the massive crowds into Red Rocks all I could think about what an unreal night we were about to stumble into. After we made it through the crowds we ended up getting a spot about 1/2 the way up the steps. Red Rocks is setup as a giant general admission amphitheater which has a beautiful view of Denver Colorado just in the distance behind the stage.

Our openning acts were Bass Physics and Said the Sky who both put on an incredible show. Said the Sky had so much energy and got the crowd pumped for the main act, Illenium. This is what we flew thousands of miles to see and the show did not let down. It was a mix of electronic music and old school rock style performance. At one point Illenium even smashed the guitar he was playing in a truly Jimi Hendrix style experience.

I could not say enough about this show and how the energy in the crowd was ecstatic. I also appreciated everyone around us who was insanely friendly. Because of the massive lines and distance to the water everyone had a Camelback on and whenever someone needed water they would ask around so 1 person could carry 3-4 back for others. I thought this was really kind seeing as though no one wants to miss the show. This really left a positive experience in my mind. I also loved having so much space at a concert. It was crazy to have so much room around you because each step in the amphitheatre is about 3-4 feet long so you have a ton of space to dance and enjoy the show. I would come back here time and time again.

On top of everything about 1/2 way through the show the moon rose over the stage which really set the mood. The experience was unforgettable. The laser lights lit up the amphitheatre in ways I didn’t know were possible. The show was magnificent and this topped the night. He closed with an incredible light show and one of his latest songs “Crawl out of Love” which was one of my favorite ones. I highly recommend checking out Red Rocks for anyone interested in live music. This is a place I will return to time and time again without hesitation.


Here’s to many other trips out west and continuing the music trend of seeing incredible acts in unreal places.

To wrap up I’ll post some more pictures from this incredible trip.

Coffee shop with 400 Mbs WiFi speed

Hiking FlatIrons Colorado
Flatirons Denver Hiking
Hiking the Flat Irons
View from the Flat Irons Hike of Boulder Colorado
View from the Flat Irons Hike of Boulder Colorado
10 Barrel Brewing
Drinking at 10 Barrel Brewing


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Interlaken, Switzerland

For our first adventure through Europe we chose the unbelievably beautiful destination of Switzerland. The shear fact that we would stand in luscious green fields with nothing more than a windbreaker while starring up and seeing breathtaking snow-capped mountains just in the distance is astonishing to say the least.
The beauty held within Interlaken, Switzerland cannot be expressed through a nice photo or short typed caption. The incomparable feeling of fresh air in your lungs and a cold beer in your hand as you are sitting at a restaurant atop a mountain has altered many of our outlooks on nature and life.
After making this first trip we can honestly say Switzerland is the most beautiful place on Earth.

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Barcelona, Spain “All Because We Flipped a Coin”

The fact that all of us actually made it to visit this wonderful country is simply mindboggling! With a French air strike, nearly 1000 miles of distance between countries, and poor weather all pulling against us we embarked on our second trip.

The first surprise came to us just two days before our flights were set to depart, the French Traffic Controller organization decided to go on strike and forbid all air travel over their country. As many of you may know pilots typically fly over land as long as they can for safety reasons, this is why when you fly out of the East Coast US you typically head north along Canada’s coast for as long as you can. We were very uncertain of the stance of our trip since two of our members were flying out Thursday evening while the other three were set to depart on Friday afternoon all while the end dates for the strike were still uncertain.

Being determined young travelers though, we decided to not let these huge/massive/difficult challenges stand in our way. After a few phone calls and a short trip to the grocery store for “supplies” a.k.a. cider and beer we all met up Thursday evening and started planning. We looked into nearly every option we could think of short of swimming the English Channel. Every direct flight had been canceled and flights with layovers in countries that would avoid flying over France were way out of budget for a couple of college kids.With “Timmy the Tourist” fast at work we had quickly gone through ever mode of transportation from, air, car, bus, train, and betting Dave he couldn’t walk it was becoming a soon-to-be reality. As the bottles of cider started to dwindle and the cases of beers diminished we realized we had only one option, a 21 hour train ride which had two transfers in both Paris and Perpignon, France. Since we were not considered “European Travelers” we had to make all the bookings in person when the ticket booths opened the following day. As we finished off the rest of our drinks we all went to bed quite uncertain of whether we’d all be sitting on a beach in Spain or on a train station somewhere in Western Europe come Saturday.

Friday came quickly, Thursday’s flights had been canceled while Friday’s were set to fly. This meant in order for all of us to make it to Barcelona, two of our friends needed to take the 21 hour bus ride as the other three would fly out that afternoon. The other wrench that played a deciding factor was that since we booked through two separate airlines, not taking the bus trip the two individuals would forfeit those nonrefundable seats.

The three of us bored our flight and after some rough turbulence had landed in Spain. Katie and Dave on the other hand had shown up at the ticket booth first thing in the morning and found that the seats online had been sold out for that particular price category and the only spots left would be nearly 400 pounds per person. The only option left was checking into buses but the only ones available would take over 2 days to arrive so they were worthless. With both their hopes of sanded beaches and sangria in the gutter they left the bus station. After a short discussion, that was when they decided to put the whole trip up to chance and simply flip a coin. “Heads we go, Tails we stay.” While the other three were already up in the air so was the coin. As it landed both stared in sheer amazement as it spun for what seemed like forever. Heads it was! Now off to the train station! Luckily as they arrived they had found out that two tickets had become available for the same trip at 1/2 the price. Both looked at each other and nearly simultaneously smiled and whipped out their debit cards.

The rest of the trip was incredible. Friday night was spent on a pub crawl that didn’t start until 12:20 AM and ended around 5:00 AM. Saturday afternoon was spent on the beach and the utter amazement of finally getting the group back together around noon that day was unbelievable. We spent the day in the crystal clear waters of a “optional” nude beach sipping Spanish Sangria and enjoying the great company around us. 


We laughed in the sun as some people got 5 euro massages on the beach while the others just people watched.

Our evening was an adventure that will have to be recounted in many other posts… (but to sum it up)….. A trip to Razzmatazz, a 10,000 person club, had us lost in minutes as laser lights spun around us while fog smoke filled each room. Two members of our group forgot they had spent all their money on drinks and could not afford the taxi ride back to the hostel. These two spent the early morning hours navigating their way through the, lets just say, “less than welcoming” streets of downtown Barcelona. The next morning was the festival “La Merce” and we felt purely immersed in the Spanish culture as hundreds of “castells” as they call them formed human pyramids towering 60 feet high.

As the final day of our trip came to an end we spent some time thinking how lucky we were that we had all made it to Spain and survived it’s fiasco’s!

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Santorini, Greece

Our trip to Greece could not have been more perfect. We spent our days on the water in an 18th century sailing ship or swimming in the crystal clear waters of Amoudi Bay. We dined on the most delicious Greek food and flavorful wine.

On our first day we went on the Bella and Thalassa tour that took us around the Aegean Sea, onto the Volcano of Santorini, into the lukewarm hot springs, and into the bay to watch the remarkable sunset. We tried Ouzo on the rocks while we ate traditional Greek appetizers.

After our truly unforgettable day we arrived back into the port and rode donkeys up the 400 ft. cliffs that encompass this islands scenery. We made our way to Alexanders Boutique where we were spending the night and had a late dinner at a local family owned restaurant. We finished off the night drinking all types of local wines and liquors and relaxing in the cool refreshing air. The island was truly our own private paradise.

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Meet the Staff

Well now that we have a few posts and photos up we figured we should tell you a little bit about us here at Unlock Europe

We are all college students and world travelers who have been blessed with the opportunity to spend a semester aboard in the Fall of 2010. We visited over 13 countries and met hundreds of individuals from all sorts of cultures. We made it from the beaches of Barcelona to the pubs of Prague. From the subways of London to the frigid waters of Interlaken. Those few short weeks have sparked an undying passion for travel within us and a thirst for adventure. New languages, foreign concepts, unique cultures, and once in a lifetime opportunities fueled us on our travels and have created unforgettable memories. We boarded the planes with one thought in mind…..”We’ll sleep when we’re dead”

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Summary of Our Trip [In Map Form]

Well now that we’ve mentioned a few of our trips we figured its time to give you a better understanding of our trips. Here is a travel log of all of our weekend adventures courtesy of www.tripline.net. As you can see for many of our trips we had to return “home” to Edware Road, London where many of us lived. Also, check out some of the photos we posted for each “leg” of our trip. We hope this gives you all a better idea of how much we actually accomplished with our short time in Europe.

Enjoy!

Total Distance: 14,165 miles (not including the flights between USA and England)
Time: Just over 3 1/2 months
Memories: A million (corny I know)

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“Barcelona, Spain – All Because We Flipped A Coin” (Throwback – originally post 2012)

Below is a fun throwback to our trip through Europe. The original post was made on www.unlockeurope.blogspot.com in 2012 as a recap to a wild trip to Barcelona, Spain. Enjoy….

The fact that all of us actually made it to visit this wonderful country is simply mindboggling! With a French air strike, nearly 1000 miles of distance between countries, and poor weather all pulling against us we embarked on our second trip.

The first surprise came to us just two days before our flights were set to depart, the French Traffic Controller organization decided to go on strike and forbid all air travel over their country. As many of you may know pilots typically fly over land as long as they can for safety reasons, this is why when you fly out of the East Coast US you typically head north along Canada’s coast for as long as you can. We were very uncertain of the stance of our trip since two of our members were flying out Thursday evening while the other three were set to depart on Friday afternoon all while the end dates for the strike were still uncertain.

Being determined young travelers though, we decided to not let these huge/massive/difficult challenges stand in our way. After a few phone calls and a short trip to the grocery store for “supplies” a.k.a. cider and beer we all met up Thursday evening  and started planning. We looked into nearly every option we could think of short of swimming the English Channel. Every direct flight had been canceled and flights with layovers in countries that would avoid flying over France were way out of budget for a couple of college kids.With “Timmy the Tourist” fast at work we had quickly gone through ever mode of transportation from, air, car, bus, train, and betting Dave he couldn’t walk it was becoming a soon-to-be reality. As the bottles of cider started to dwindle and the cases of beers diminished we realized we had only one option, a 21 hour train ride which had two transfers in both Paris and Perpignon, France. Since we were not considered “European Travelers” we had to make all the bookings in person when the ticket booths opened the following day. As we finished off the rest of our drinks we all went to bed quite uncertain of whether we’d all be sitting on a beach in Spain or on a train station somewhere in Western Europe come Saturday.

Friday came quickly, Thursday’s flights had been canceled while Friday’s were set to fly. This meant in order for all of us to make it to Barcelona, two of our friends needed to take the 21 hour bus ride as the other three would fly out that afternoon. The other wrench that played a deciding factor was that since we booked through two separate airlines, not taking the bus trip the two individuals would forfeit those nonrefundable seats.

The three of us bored our flight and after some rough turbulence had landed in Spain. Katie and Dave on the other hand had shown up at the ticket booth first thing in the morning and found that the seats online had been sold out for that particular price category and the only spots left would be nearly 400 pounds per person. The only option left was checking into buses but the only ones available would take over 2 days to arrive so they were worthless. With both their hopes of sanded beaches and sangria in the gutter they left the bus station. After a short discussion, that was when they decided to put the whole trip up to chance and simply flip a coin. “Heads we go, Tails we stay.” While the other three were already up in the air so was the coin. As it landed both stared in sheer amazement as it spun for what seemed like forever. Heads it was! Now off to the train station! Luckily as they arrived they had found out that two tickets had become available for the same trip at 1/2 the price. Both looked at each other and nearly simultaneously smiled and whipped out their debit cards.

The rest of the trip was incredible. Friday night was spent on a pub crawl that didn’t start until 12:20 AM and ended around 5:00 AM. Saturday afternoon was spent on the beach and the utter amazement of finally getting the group back together around noon that day was unbelievable. We spent the day in the crystal clear waters of a “optional” nude beach sipping Spanish Sangria and enjoying the great company around us.

We laughed in the sun as some people got 5 euro massages on the beach while the others just people watched.

Our evening was an adventure that will have to be recounted in many other posts… (but to sum it up)….. A trip to Razzmatazz, a 10,000 person club, had us lost in minutes as laser lights spun around us while fog smoke filled each room. Two members of our group forgot they had spent all their money on drinks and could not afford the taxi ride back to the hostel. These two spent the early morning hours navigating their way through the, lets just say, “less than welcoming” streets of downtown Barcelona. The next morning was the festival “La Merce” and we felt purely immersed in the Spanish culture as hundreds of “castells” as they call them formed human pyramids towering 60 feet high.

As the final day of our trip came to an end we spent some time thinking how lucky we were that we had all made it to Spain and survived it’s fiasco’s!

See all of the pictures and the original story at www.unlockeurope.blogspot.com

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