Monday, December 21, 2009

Sidenote

To see how gay Miller is, check out the hilarious video he made!

http://sendables.jibjab.com/view/JJGvw4Uwnx8jqfYj

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Yet another month goes by...

Wow time is still flying by apparently... Now to recall what has happened since the last post...


3 weeks ago there was a grand ski trip to Les Diablerets (french Switzerland). It was a great time, including 2 days of boarding and a cheese fondue! The boarding wasn't great but was good considering how early in the season it was. The snow feels different from the snow in the Rockies. When you biff, your cloths actually feel wet. Not a feeling I'm particularly used to. I'm riding a midget board, which doesn't help so much in the powder. But the lack of abilities still rests with me. Cheese fondue was fantastic, and I discovered the best thing to put in melted cheese EVER. Chocolate croissant. It has the perfect blend of cheesiness and sweetness. All in one bite.


This last week was very busy with holiday festivities. Monday night was an intern gathering at Millingerstrasse for a beerpong tournament and a secret Santa. Rachel chose my gift, which was 10$ in budget-brand chocolate bars. I hope she appreciated them. Dave and I didn't fair so well with beerpong, but it was still a good time.

Wednesday was the department Christmas party. We went to Waldshut (Germany, just across the groceries. The avid readers will recognize this as the place I buy my groceries from). It was at a billiard/restaurant place. So we got free beer and wine, supper, and pool payed for. It was pretty sick. I learnt from my supervisor that I work like a Frenchman. He would know, he did study in France... Although I respectfully disagree with his belief. I enjoy procrastinating until I KNOW I need to do something to reach the deadline. He just doesn't wait that long to put pressure on me. All things considered, I am OK with this tactic. It will result in me doing more work on the days I like to call "minimal motivation day". Anyway, back to the party. Phillip and his boss challenged Frank and I and said that if we won, he would do the recalculation - which I requested from him a month prior - the next day. Guess who won. Snap.

Thursday. Didn't start until 10:00. I could have been there at 8 as usual, but I had the excuse of the prior night. Other in the team arrived around that time as well. Ah Switzerland, so loving to your employees... The grand Alstom Christmas party was that night. I was content with eating a bunch of free food and calling the night early (coupled with laundry duties). It ended up not being an early night, just a sober one. Big surprise. I stand by my belief that the only time I go to bed before 11:30 is when I start drinking by 4:00 on a low-key night.

Saturday was a day in Bern for the Christmas Market. I went with Ryan and Robyn. It was slightly cool outside and should have worn long johns for the sheer comfort of them, but Glühwein did the trick as well. Nothing particularly caught my eyes, which is probably a good thing because it probably would have costed my Christmas bonus.


Rachel finally posted pictures from Halloween. So here is what I did to myself (with Rachel's assistance). Clearly Dave is as shocked as you are.

Probably no new posts before Christmas, so there should be something good to read in the New Year upon my return from Oslo.

Until then, ciao

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The sole November post...

After destroying my bank account on the trips to Oktoberfest and UK, I had to hold back on the excessive travelling I have grown accustomed and addicted to. That and summer ended, which means most places aren't quite as nice as they are in August. That being said, I feel like I've burnt a month accomplishing nothing in my adventures. Along with this, the party lifestyle has "evolved" into something that no longer interferes with the standard 8 hour working day and the level of consciousness required to make it through one without a spontaneous 3 second nap at least once. I think the fact that it is as dark when I leave work as it is in the dead of night is highly demotivating to do things.

In summary, life got boring. Hence the lack of posts in almost a month.

Don't get me wrong, there are still things going down and they are great fun. It's just not at the same level as travelling the world. I'm probably to blame more than anyone, but whatever. Paragliding was planned but the weather was no good, and a visit with Ksenija in Slovenia was planned but schedules didn't work out. It'll have to wait until Spring. Maybe some crazy sledding next weekend will bring me to my joy of snow.

All this being said, it has been brought to my attention that boiled potato water and boiled carrot water both taste awesome. I am also capable of making damn good carrot muffins and banana bread (even if I do say so myself).

I watched the Flames crush the Kings last night online. I've also been keeping up with some primetime television and teaching myself how to play guitar. I need a soundproofed room so I'm not embarrassed with anyone hearing how bad I am...

One very big thing to look forward to is the upcoming snowboarding season. I found bindings to go with the snowboard I found in the attic, so now all I need are boots that fit me. And a helmet. Anyone who has gone down a mountain with me knows how I gravitate toward trees...

Otherwise, I booked a flight to Egypt for March and am going to Oslo from the 26th to 30th of December.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

UK ROADTRIP!!!!

The long-awaited trip to the UK finally happened. And we have been pumping it up for a good two months. Like true Miller and Steve fashion, the trip initially was just going to be a flight to London and check it out for a few days. Then it got amped up. Miller got in touch with a few people he knew were staying the the UK and we talked to Taylor. So we were going to train it to Durham to see Taylor and maybe go one other place. Then it got amped again. We talked about renting a car, followed by a unanimous yes. Then the locations for pit stops just kept coming in.


We arrived in London Stansted at around 16:00 on Thursday after working a half day at good ol' Alstom. We got the car, which was supposed to be a Voxhaull Corsa. It took about 3 days to realize we definitely weren't driving a Voxhaull Corsa. I think we ended up in a Seat Ibuza or something, but this is unconfirmed. Regardless, it was an upgrade. Which was awesome.

Miller got his licence stolen when he first arrived in Switzerland in June, and I'm not old enough to drive a rental car. So Chan was our very important driver for the long weekend. Oh, I should mention than our car was a manual, and Chan didn't know how to drive stick very well. Miller and I taught him while driving on the backwards British road system. In the end, he was pretty solid with stick.


The GPS Pat let us borrow saved our asses significantly while causing the most irritation any road trip has ever seen. It was first set to shortest distance so instead of just taking the M1 north we ended up going through 3 little English towns before we realized it (including Cambridge, which isn't what you'd call car friendly). We eventually figured it out and made it to Durham where we managed to get a parking spot right in from of Taylor's residence. We partied in a club that was once named Western Europe's second worst clubs. Then the worst one burnt down and it inevitably became Western Europe's worst club. It was renovated a couple of years ago and lost the title, but it was still pretty awful. The rugby team froshing was happening that week, so there were a couple of head turner moments. The quaddies there were really good. 4 shots of vodka and a mix of OJ and cranberry juice. Only 4 quid.

After partying the night away and closing down the club, we went back to the dorms and had a couple more before crashing on some vacant couches in a TV room. There were some incoherent explanations in the morning as to why we were there before we stumbled back to Taylor's actual room and crashed on his floor for some time.


The following day, we headed up to Edinburgh, Scotland. We stopped at the border for a photo op.

We also stopped at a small town on the coast called Dunbar. The tide was coming in and the salt air was rather refreshing.

After arriving in Edinburgh, we headed to a pub for a beer and then went to Chip's place. We got groceries and made burritos. They were absolutely phenomenal. We then played flipcup for some time then headed to a houseparty. There is nothing like getting a feel for a city by hanging out and partying with locals.


The following morning, we got up early to check out the Edinburgh castle before we headed north to check out a little more of Scotland. Then we were to head way south to Birmingham to another university residence where Chan knew someone.

Heading north, we went to a town called Aberfoyle. It was arbitrarily chosen because it was in the middle of a large national park. I was expecting to see absolutely nothing there but it was pretty cool. They had a bunch of foresty stuff going on that weekend and Chan and I went for a walk to a place where fairies supposedly live. We couldn't find any. We went through Glasgow on the way south to Birmingham but we couldn't find anything super cool to see or find parking, so we just went straight through. I'm sure there's lots to see there, we just couldn't find it.

Birmingham was a long way south and Chan was tired from a morning of driving. So I may or may not have driven for a few hours. This won't be verified because if I had driven, that would have been slightly illegal. The speeding that may have occured would also have been slightly illegal, but the roads are VERY well kept and the English do enjoy driving quickly regardless of the fact that the speed limit is only 70mph. In the event that I did do some driving, I'm sure it was very enjoyable to get behind a wheel again.

Arriving in Birmingham, we learnt of the existence of Mr. Brains Pork Faggots. "For faggot-loving families. YOU asked for it! Now with MORE sauce". So funny. We then played flipcup and went to a club. Andy spontaneously started a dance-off with a girl and won! Also, snakebites are pretty damn good. After leaving the club, we went and got chicken steaks. They were ridiculously amazing. I got two.

Before we headed out to Wales in the morning, we stopped in Chinatown for some Dim Sum. In a parking lot, we were trying to figure out how to make the back windshield wiper move. While figuring this out, we learnt that the washer fluid in the back wasn't directed at the window. It was directed away from the car, with the stream landing 3meters behind the car. We had an anti-tailgating mechanism!


Wales is awesome, and full of people who speak Welsh. That language is SO weird... The landscape was amazing, and Cardiff was a pretty cool place. The hostel we stayed at was pro. We went to a pub for sum Welsh food. I had Cawl (a sheep tripe soup) and a steak and ale pie. Fantastic. The beer was also really food (as expected). The sleep was short again that night, because we had to leave early to make it to Stonehenge before ripping to London.

Running very low on GPS battery, we decided to attempt to get to Stonehenge without our GPS. Just like we travelled through Wales with nothing more than a crappy googlemaps printout. We ended up messing up the instructions, but we got there eventually. And it was pretty cool. You cannot touch the stones, but you get relatively close. And you can make amusing pictures like pushing the stones over. Classic tourist photos. Also, I'm pretty sure I got some solid photo-bombing in while we were there.

We got to London pretty early, and found our hostel using the GPS until it died. Luckily, Miller knew where we were and we actually made it there. I'm not actually sure how... but kudos to him.

We went to an Irish pub in London (yah... I know...) and had ribs and chicken. I miss proper beef sooooooo much. I will eat nothing but beef for the first week I come back to Canada. And I will drink nothing but Timmy's double doubles and slurpies.

Wandering around town, we came across Buckingham palace. There were no amusing guys in red with giant hats to mock. Tragically. We did the general touristy stuff like seeing Big Ben and the Westminster church and the London eye.

I actually got invited by a pleasant chap to watch the British House of Commons at work. I pleasantly declined. I could do that in Ottawa and I'd actually understand what they are saying. Damn I should have gone. Not knowing what they were saying would probably been really amusing. I'd have to assume they were all being cheeky bawstards. But we were pressed for time.

Miller wound up in a phone booth.

Going back to the hostel, we wound up at the hostel bar and played Foosball with an Irish guy who kept giving us the English version of the finger. We aren't English, so we just thought it was funny and he looked like a goof trying to be gangsta.


The following morning, after charging the GPS overnight, we headed back to Stansted. The GPS hadn't charged. And it was completely dead. We only got lost once, and some friendly civil servants (is that the proper term?) spilled off some instructions for us. We made it to the airport with lots of time to spare. I must say,in the 5 days we had the car, we sure did accumulate a large quantity of garbage...

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

"I just dry-humped a nuclear power plant!"

Apart from the title, the blog is back to PG. the quote was just too good to pass up.

So after Oktoberfest, life settled down a bit. But only for a bit.

The weekend after Oktoberfest was Thanksgiving, so I organized a rather large potluck with something like 17 people in attendance. At my house. Room for about 8 comfortably. Needless to say, we all got fairly cozy with one another and we all had our fair share of food. Although no turkey was to be found, Miller tracked down some prize ham that we BBQ'd. Quite possibly the best ham I have ever had. Other dishes included sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, squash (my responsibility), roasted chicken, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and more. All finished with pumpkin pie and another pie I never got around to trying because I was too damn full. It was nostalgic.

Prior to the Thanksgiving meal, there was an IAESTE trip to a nuclear power plant. It was pretty cool, and we got to experience what 26°C is like at 100% humidity. We had security access cards and Miller had his clipped to the left side of his pants. The scanner was always at the right side and every time he went to swipe the card on the reader he looked like he was trying to hump it. The quote in the title is quite literally what he said. Haha... I learnt about nuclear reactors and their radioactive waste. It gave me something to inform myself about in more detail for the following work week via Wikipedia. I can safely say that I know how both a uranium and plutonium bomb work. I also understand the basics of a hydrogen bomb. Cool huh? I should have become an explosives engineer.

So now that you know what I did for the work week, I can skip ahead to last weekend. Almost. Recap goes as such: Miller and I went to Germany for groceries and opted for a 20-pack of beer. It was worth the 8-Eu investment. And the best part is that 3 of that was the bottle and crate deposit. So that comes to 5-Eu for 10L of beer. That's cheaper than Prix! And substantially better too!

This weekend was super chill because I'm trying to save some cash for the upcoming UK road trip.

Tonight I baked cookies and went to Schad for a movie night. We ended up watching a few Youtube videos and watching a skiing movie. We are supposed to be watching a snowboard movie tomorrow night which I am super stoked for. Watching that movie and the amazing stuff they do just pumps me soooooo much for the upcoming snowboard season. Its gonna be gnarly. Also, today I booked a flight to Ireland for the end of February. 141CHF round, which is pretty solid. We might even have a local we know from Alstom joining us. A local showing us around would be wicked...

Thursday, I have a half day of work then leave for the UK for a road trip up to Scotland making whatever pit stops along the way and back. Crashing with people Miller knows, so it should be a party for a few days (aka all of them). It'll be pricey but I haven't done anything the last couple of weekends, so the savings should level out.

There's so much to be excited for I don't even know what to be happy about. I'm just SUPER HAPPY ABOUT IT ALL!!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

München is the Batcave

So last weekend was the final weekend of Oktoberfest 2009. It was also the drunkest weekend of my entire life.

**Spoiler alert** If you have a respectable option of me, you may want to skip this edition of the 'Adventure. The only censorship here will be what I cannot remember or what I truly wish I didn't.


<--- To start things off in true Bavarian fashion, here is a happy guy with a funny hat holding a lot of empty mugs in a very large beer tent.





So on Thursday night, a group of 10 interns embarked on an adventure of epic proportions. And seeing as we had a 4 hour train ride to a festival of beer, we thought it was necessary to bring some roadbeer for the train. A 6 pack should be sufficient. It was. As it turns out, a whole bunch of Swiss people in our car thought the exact same thing! They brought champagne and we all just drank on a train. The nice ticket man brought us big plastic bags so we could chuck our empties instead of making a mess. Probably a really good idea.

We got to Munich and trammed it to the campground (which is in the middle of the city). We set up tents and went to sleep.


Friday, a day of sunshine and excessive amounts of beer. We arrived at the festival grounds at 9:30. The beer didn't flow until 10:00. So Dave, Miller, and I bought a giant pretzel. We went into the Hofbräu tent and got a table. Luckily, 10:00 hit and we were one of the first groups to be served. A few minutes later, a large amount of beer mugs arrived and there was a resounding PROST. And we drank. I can proudly say that I was the first to finish the mug within mere minutes with Bruce and Dave not far behind as all. Then we ordered three more!

The second round was definitely won by Bruce and Dave, who decided to chug the final half of the beer. Then the third round was ordered. In the end, the three of us power-halfhoured Oktoberfest when we drank 3 liters of festival beer (approx. 6.2%) in less than 30 minutes. Then another round.

It was at this point that the day becomes slightly fuzzy. We had previously decided to make a tick on our arms with a marker every time we finished a beer so we'd actually know how much everyone had. Bruce, Dave, Olivia, and Rachel disappeared at some point when I was in the washroom. Beyond this point, I recall almost nothing except that I lost everyone but remembered that Miller wanted to go on a roller coaster. I had tried phoning people but I was beyond comprehending the fact that I needed to add an area code for the phone because we were outside Switzerland. Then I found some horses and pet them for a while. After I got bored of that and remembered that I had lost everyone, I walked to one of the roller coasters and luckily found Phil. Everyone else was on the ride I think... Then we went... somewhere... and I went on a different roller coaster. It had lots of loops. It was awesome.

Next thing I know, we are sitting around waiting for people to go on the swing ride. This may or may not have been the time Luke decided to bring Phil and I and talk to girls. I was beyond drunk, so I just swayed there and smiled like a big dumb idiot. Or so I've been told.

We left the grounds shortly after and went to a grocery store. I bought a bag of chips and some iced tea. And a yogurt dessert thing. It was delicious. And we also found the rest of the group. They had also decided to go for the grocery store for some munchies.

Arriving at the tent grounds, Miller , Phil, Dave, and I made friends with some Belgians who gave us beer.


Saturday, another day of sunshine and more beer. We arrived a little late to the grounds and a lot of the benches were taken already, but we managed to get a table and squeeze together for some beer. We were in the Hipodrom tent, which sells Spater beer. It isn't nearly as good as the Hofbräu beer, so I only had one. Then when we left, people wanted to do rides again. Miller and I were too sober for that, so we convinced Dave to come with us to a Carousel Bar. We stood facing the stationary ground with people on it and Prosted everyone we went by. We prosted some people three times because that's how long we took to drink our beer. It was good beer too. MMMmmmmm...

Next thing you know, all of the guys decided to buy 1/2m sausages, then Luke and I went and got a 1/2 duck. Then we bought souvenirs and said goodbye to the Oktoberfest grounds. Phil and I used a washroom to fill our big mugs with water, and we walked around the city drinking from large beer mugs. People on the street watching us drink from big Oktoberfest mugs probably had the wrong imrpession... We went to the English gardens for a nap and then the Hofbräu haus for some more beer. It was too busy, so we made our way into a beerhall across the street. Turns out they make the best beer on the entire planet. That turned out to be a pretty tame time, revolving around eating amazing meals, singing, and making as much noise as we could until the waiters yelled at us to shut up. The Germans across the room were egging us on and doing the same.

Going back to the tents, we bought a couple of brewski's and played Telephone Pictionary. I used "Big Gay Luke and his Big Gay Toque" twice in a row, yielding very different results. But two people down the chain, Pat knew exactly what it was the second time around. Beautiful. Then the keg ran dry and we were kicked out of the nice sheltered building. Sleepy time quickly followed.


Sunday was a sunny day from the beginning, although you could tell autumn was setting in because of the golden leaves everywhere and the chilly wind (I'm going to stop blogging like I'm writing a novel now). We took the tram to the Hauptbahnhof and walked to a square some 20 minutes away for a free walking tour of the city. At 2 hours, it was a pretty long walking tour considering we were wearing our backpacker bags with tent equipment because we had to check out before noon. But it was pretty informative and an overall good time. I also learnt that doing a Hitler salute in Germany gets a local arrested and a foreigner deported. Nifty fact, although not at all surprising.
The walking tour ended with beer. Not a lot of beer though. Only 1.5L. Then we went to the Hofbräu haus. Then we sang songs loudly, Miller stole two mugs, and I drank 3L more. Drunk Steve then stumbled back to the train station. On the way, Luke sang Allstar and I got excited. Then I tripped and skidded across some pavement. I don't remember this, but I've been informed. It also explained why my entire left side hurt on Monday and Tuesday. I do remember Rachel being concerned and me just laughing. I think...

When we were almost at the station, I decided the entire group was going the wrong way, so I went on my own and wound up in Yorma's buying more beer. Then I had to find the train, but I couldn't remember where I was going (ie home). Then I found a train to Zurich and was happy. People yelled at me to hurry up and get on the train. I did. The train left shortly after.

I passed out on the train. Luckily, I didn't drink the two beer I bought at Yorma's.

The End. Oh and I remember nothing about switching trains in Zurich either.


Monday sucked. Then we went to Schad and watched Fight Club. I've never seen fight club. It was really good. I had dreams that night about driving a semi, Oktoberfest, and possibly about being a psychopath. Not really sure. I think I was trying to drive a semi from Calgary to The Farm to help with the harvest.

Tuesday, I watched House.

Wednesday was Dave's birthday, so we had a BBQ by the river. Don't try to cook a pizza at a BBQ, it doesn't turn out well if you aren't prepared. I wasn't. Then we went to the castle and I chatted with a German who Andrew had taught English slang to. He was from Ludwigsburg. I stayed in Ludwigsburg. He thought I was awesome because I actually knew what was there and the highway number for the autobahn nearby.

Today is Thursday. I had meetings all day. They were mostly good, except for meeting with my actual boss because I'm pretty sure he believes I'm useless. It's a good thing I don't actively work for him, because I'm already only half motivated at work as is. And that's because I like my supervisor because he is awesome. Otherwise I'd probably just read Dilbert all day. Who at Alstom does that?


Thanksgiving meal on Saturday! Woooooooot

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Coming Soon to a Swiss Town Near You

Not a lot of time, gotta blast through this blog before I forget the last week of my life completely...

Frankfurt. lots of cars. Huge engines, super shiny. See below.







We were at the Motor Show for 7 hours of something, and Luke and I were photo monsters.

Wayyy more pics on FB.

Then we went back to our hostel and had Caprehnias (I know I spelt that wrong) and went on the worst pub crawl on the planet. I say no more apart from late night pizza was not so good either. Here is a happy pic regardless of the night, of me with my new Torontonian friend Greg. We don't know his last name, so I can't find him on FB. If anyone can help, I'd be grateful.


Then on Sunday we drank a beer in a biergarten by the river. Then we got Kebabs. Then we slept for 3 hours on some grass by the river. We woke up verrry confused.

Monday was movie night, we watched Reservior Dogs. Tuesday I watched House. Go online streaming! Yesterday we went to Germany for all you can eat sushi. We took it as a challenge. I ate 8 creampuffs for an intermissions snack.

Tonight, a whole bunch of us head off for Munich for Oktoberfest. Hence why I said "before I forget the last week of my life". Should be ridiculous.

Friday, September 25, 2009

In Clouds, Then in Beer

So the blog is officially bi-weekly due to my being too busy on weekdays to write anything on a more regular basis... I hope that changes but it seems unlikely at this point. Just too much social time!

Last word was that I got hit by a car...
Since then what has happened?


A rather large group of us went on a 3 day hike in the Alps. The net elevation gain for the first two days was something like 1.7km. The elevation drop for the last day was approximately 1.4km. Oh and I forgot to mention, we did the recommended two days hike in 7 hours. It was the earliest morning I've ever had in this country and quite likely the earliest morning I've ever had outside Canada.

The sites were amazing and you could actually see yourself walking through the clouds. I regrettably didn't bring my camera (I've forgotten it the last 3 weeks... ugh) because there was an amazing sunset at the mountain hut we stayed at.

So yah the mountain hut! A big building on top of a mountain essentially sums it up. It costed 60CHF for the night which included supper that night and breakfast the following morning. The food was fantastic, simple but enough to fill you after an entire day of exercise. Needless to say, it was a very early night.

The following day was also long, but not as long as the previous. High points include eating cereal, watching clouds go by, and awkward conversations on the train hoping no one in the vicinity understood our English.

Hiking is a really exhilarating experience. The only thing weird in Switzerland is that you go hiking and there are always lots of people around. I look forward to going hiking in Canada and doing weekend trips into the wilderness where I will be completely removed from civilization. Such a solitary experience will be nice after a year here.


Last week was uneventful, and work sucked more than usual. I'm the intern. I do the stuff no one else wants to do. I think that's about all that needs to be said.


Last weekend I went with Dave and Luke to Stuttgart, my old Deutschland stomping grounds. We crashed with Andrea who no longer has all of her children living at home any longer. So there were spare rooms. We carpooled there on Friday night and got dropped off a kilometer away or so and wandered using my memory and a crappy google map to find our way. We wound up at a Burger King and had a delicious combo for 5-Eu. Instead of the 14-CHF we'd pay back home in Switz. We then made our way to the house and I actually remembered how to get there!

When we arrived she was very happy to see me. She explained where everything was for Dave and Luke (I remembered pretty much everything) and we put our stuff away and got ready to PARTY. BTW, her instructions were all in German and I understood everything. Further proof that:
1) She speaks slow enough for me to pick out all the words individually
2) She speaks to me like I am a child because that is the extent of my vocabulary
3) Swiss-German is retarded because I understand NOTHING

So PARTY!
We went to a club that Nikolas and Karina used to go to. It was around 22:00 I think. We were the first ones there. We skipped the clubby part and found a bar-style on the top floor. It was super chill. We had Jägerbombs (I had to explain to the bartender what they were)and a few beer. Then one time, we ordered beer and the waitress told us that it was double-time. That was when the wheels were ripped off the bus (on what was planned to be a tame night). Needless to say, Dave and I aren't exactly sure how much we had and we met some cool Germans! They were 18 and one of them was absolutely plowed. We had a J-bomb with two of them as double-time came to an end, then the upstairs bar closed. We paid for 6 beer, 9 Jäger, and 5 redbull in the end. Now we aren't sure exactly how much we had, but we know it was more than that. Anyway, we hung out in the club below for a little longer then decided to get back to the house.

We opened and closed a bar in Germany.

On the way home, we walked by the BK again. Yah, we went in again. And surprisingly it was still open at 2:45 in the morning. We ordered combo's again and the employees came out with a stack of burgers that were never purchased. They had too many and gave us each one. It was great. Then we got kicked out of BK because they were closing.

We closed a BK in Germany.

We got back to the house without issues apart from being followed by some creepy guy. As it turns out, he was just going the same direction (but it was funny watching Dave trying to piss in a bush when he knew there was a guy no more than 30sec behind us). Lol, oh Dave...

Waking up groggy very early (9:30), we stumbled slowly down the stairs for juice and tea. It felt great. We made our way into Stutty to the Mercedes Museum. I've seen it before, but it was cool to go again, and we went to a soccer game afterward! We missed half the game trying to find a way in and then buying food and beer. When we finally went down to our seats, we got in someones view during a play and he wasn't pleased with us. But my Mohawk scared him and he didn't bother us any more. The game was pretty good and we were really close to the field. The seats are cheap because you don't get a good depth perception from so low and there aren't soccer fights for anyone to want to be close like hockey :P. Stuttgart lost 2:0 to Köln. How sad.

We went back to the house and lazed around for a long, long time. We were going to go back out, but we opted for sleeping instead.

We awoke and had breakfast, packed our stuff up, said our goodbyes, and left for the Porsche Museum. Before I get too ahead of myself, I need to do a little more focusing on the goodbye for comical relief on this sad moment. I was first, and I got a hug. Dave was second and he was supposed to get a handshake because that's what Germans do. But Dave being a very happy and loving Canadian, he stole a hug. And that made Luke and I laugh for a couple of minutes following the occurrence.

On our way to the Porsche Museum, we got stopped by a couple of old guys in a beetle also looking for the museum. I gave him some terrible directions of where I thought it was (turns out they were actually right) and they figured out I'm German incompetent and asked where we were from. They apparently like Canada which is always nice to hear.

The Porsche Museum was pretty good and had lots of cars (as expected). We spent some three hours there before heading to the biergarten by the Hauptbahnhoff for some good old fashioned Schnitzel and weissbier. Glorious. Apparently beer is lost on the Swiss, because its nothing like what you can get in Germany. After the biergarten we strolled down Königstrasse and found a market. We checked it out before heading back to the Hauptbahnhoff to get pretzels and beer for the train ride back.


This week was also pretty awful, but there were a couple of really good nights. Ksenija got back from her visit to Canada and she was only here in Switzerland this week. So of course, we went to the castle Tuesday night before Honza headed home in the morning and we had a few beer. And by a few, I mean a lot. Dave and I brought a flat up and as it turns out, Ksenija and Honza already had 30 beer themselves. It was a messy night. I don't know how much we had but it was definitely substantial... We ended up going to Nooba and wandered home sometime around 2:00. Ksenija missed her last bus by an hour so she crashed in the spare room in Ziegel-D.

Wednesday we watched "Ghost in the shell", an Anime move and played Settlers of Catan. It was pretty good.

Thursday, Miller, Dave, and Ksenija came over and had a couple of beer for her last night in Switzerland.

We said our goodbye's this afternoon, although it really isn't goodbye. Dave and I are already planning a weekend trip to Slovenia for a visit. And if Christmas plans don't pan out for some reason, I'm supposedly welcome to spend Christmas with her family. Sweet.

Tomorrow morning, Luke and I are headed to Frankfurt for the Autoshow. Should be a good time, and I swear I won't forget my damned camera this time.


Cheers,
Steveo

Friday, September 11, 2009

Straight Up is Better Than Piddling Around

So where to begin, it has been a long time once again. It would seem I am out of the blogging habit. Although life is slowing down a bit, so there isn't as much to report on. Highlights...

Stomp last Thursday, as well as a department party with work. So I went and got free food, ate my meal in about 5 minutes, ran to the train station and saw Stomp, came back at 22:00 and drank free beer for 2 or 3 hours. And danced, of course.

Last weekend I went to Zermatt, the town at the base of the Matterhorn. The town is pretty small and there are no combustion engines allowed to there will never be smog blocking the locals' view of the mountain. So there are a bunch of electric cars there which are silent. They need cowbells or something so you know when they approach.

Anyway, I went up wayyyy high (some people were passing out from altitude sickness) and touched snow and felt cold. It was awesome. I got to wear my toque!

The following day we hiked along a glacier. But before that, while other people were eating lunch, Bruce, Chris and I decided to climb to the peak of the mountain we were on. There was a path to the top, but that was too easy. We just pointed in the direction of the peak and went straight up. No climbing gear, no climbing shoes, no hiking boots (only the best equipment for Steve, skate shoes). Chris has a good pic of me on FB. We went through a big tunnel through a mountain, and Swiss trains were late (OMG!!!!!!!! WTH????) going back to Baden.

This week, I got hit by a car biking on my way to work. It turns out, getting hit by a car hurts a little. It also turns out that I'm clutch and can pull off sick front stoppies. But seriously, don't worry about the accident. It could have been a whole lot worse than it was. May have bruised a bone in my arm, and skinned my shin a bit. No biggie.

And I ate a horse steak yesterday. It was actually really good. Like cow, but it tasted more horse-like. Imagine that?


Take 'er easy,
Steve

Sunday, August 30, 2009

In Loving Memory of Tequilla Shirt

Once again, I've missed a week. But with good reason. I took a mid-week vacation to Spain!


Getting back to the chronological order of things, I need to go back to two weeks ago. Mike and I decided it would be a good idea to make a giant beer bong in the apartment. A permanent one running from the loft (my room) to the main level. So we went to Jumbo and got supplies on Wednesday night and set it up. Naturally, Thursday night was a night of christening the Hulk (named due to the green watering jug we used for a funnel and the fact that it has wicked power). Needless to say, Friday at work was just terrible. Friday night was pretty chill, going over to Liam's for some epic guitar hero.


On the weekend, Bruce planned out a nice hike along a big gorge in French Switzerland. So that's where we went on Saturday morning. The hike was supposed to be 23km or so, but when we got about an hour into the hike, the trail became closed and we had to take a detour. In the end, we walked an estimated 30km. It was pushing my happy limit...

We were supposed to camp that night in Neuchatel but we got to the train station too late to make the campground before final check-in time, so we went back to Baden.

Sunday, I can't remember if anything happened, so it's safe to assume that nothing happened. Maybe a movie...


During last week, the crazy began. Monday was a super productive day at work, mainly because I have to get a whole bunch done for Tuesday morning and I didn't expect Friday to be very good. As usual I suppose... Monday night, Chris and I got our stuff ready, said goodbye to Riley (who was headed back home to Toronto), and went off to the train station to meet up with Phil and go to the EuroAirport. Before we get into details here, there is one very important ideal we were living by on this trip: Be Hobos. We had no places planned for sleeping and were fully prepared to sink to new lows. Now, back to the story. Our flight didn't leave until Tuesday, but it was so early that we couldn't use public transport to get to the airport in time. So we G7'ed it there for free the night prior and slept on some benches.

<--- Said benches (sleeping location I)

For anyone out there wondering if the EuroAirport is a good place to sleep, the answer is no unless you have earplugs. Especially right now with Schwein Grippe and all... Announcements about safe baggage and Swine Flu were on every 20 minutes (each, and offset). Hence there was an annoying announcement every 10 minutes. Hence the earplug recommendation.


We awoke tired as hell, but ready for a ridiculous trip. We had to be ready, because it was going to be ridiculous whether we were ready for it or not.

We got on the airplane for Alicante and Chris and I passed out almost immediately. In fact, Chris slept through takeoff. Easyjet seats are pretty comfortable (sleeping location II).

When we arrived in Alicante, we weren't sure where to go but we knew we wouldn't be taking a train to Valencia for a 7 hours so we went toward a giant castle on a mountain. on our way, we found a beautiful beach with sand that had the consistency of flour (soooooo nice but gets absolutely everywhere). The water was nice and cool in the warm Spanish air. It was still the morning, and the heat was just beginning.

We made our way to the castle on the mountain, finding a tunnel into the rock that looked like it potentially had stairs to the top. It didn't. It had an elevator to the top, but it wasn't free. So we walked out and followed the street around the mountain. Eventually we made it up to the top. But before we did, we passed a funny old guy. When most people stare, they will look away and act like they were doing otherwise when they are caught. This guy didn't. We was staring at me so much, I turned around and looked him right in the eye. And he just kept on staring! I don't think he was very appreciative of my haircut. And he wanted me to know it...

<--- Me, looking like a retard in stupid green EuroShorts.

In my defense, I bought those shorts so they would last for 3 hours and would then be tossed into a dumpster. You'll see what I mean soon.

The castle was pretty cool and had a great view of the beach, port, and the city.

Once we became bored with the castle and being under direct sunlight, we headed down the mountain toward the train station to buy our tickets. On the way, Chris pointed out a large building on our right that was under restoration outside. We checked it out and the sign outside said library. We felt like going in, so we did. As it turns out, the "library" was actually a huge flea market where you could buy an obscene amount of meat, fish, and produce. We hadn't eaten lunch, so we decided to buy some plums and nectarines. We had to buy by the 1/2kg, so I wound up with a half kilo of yellow plums and it only costed me 0.40Eu. Why the hell can't Switzerland be that cheap?

After getting to the train station and buying tickets to Alicante, we had some 3 hours to waste before the train was departing. We were also tired and didn't want to spend a whole bunch of time in the hot mid-day sun. There was only one solution. SIESTA!

<--- Park between two streets (sleeping location III)

We slept on the grass, across the path from two actual hobos. We learn fast! When we woke up, two other travellers were also doing the same. Not only do we learn fast, we are also trend setters!

After our nap, I decided I was too hungry to wait until we got to Valencia to eat supper. So I went to find the bakery we had come across earlier that day. It was closed. But as if by an act of God, Subway was across the street. And it was open. That is the first time I've eaten fast food in Europe since I got here (excluding the kebabs I have in Baden twice a week of course). It was great. And the guy behind the counter was super nice!

So bellies full, we took the train to Valencia. We passed out on the train (sleeping location IV).

After we arrived in Valencia, we found out when the last train went to Bunol and went hunting for a restaurant. It was still fairly early by Spaniard time (20:00), so we found a table fairly quickly and ordered a beer and paella. Neither was very good, but it was better than going hungry. We then went back to the train station and put all of our valuables in a locker. In the end, we were down to the cloths we were wearing, a waterproof disposable camera, and enough money to make it back to Valencia. We then took a train to Bunol, home of the annual festival La Tomatina.

Upon arrival, we immediately tried to scope out a nice flat and hidden place to sleep. That didn't really work... We found a large hill and decided it was a good place, so we climbed and climbed and climbed. At the top, we realized that it was a garbage dump, which explained why it didn't smell very nice. We ditched that idea and wandered some more. We ended up finding a park in the middle of town, with some flat concrete that would have to suffice for the purposes of sleeping (sleeping location V).

For a country known for being hot in the summer, it was damn cold overnight. The reason I come to this is because I would like to point out the thought process of an engineer. We all got cold, and we all shimmied away from the ledge toward a small "wall" (ie the vertical part of a step about half a meter tall) to minimize the affect of the breeze. To solve the problem of a pillow, Chris and Phil used their water bottles. I was just too stupid for that. Then to solve the further cold of the night, we each had our own solutions. Chris analyzed and remembered that you lose most of your head from your head. So he tied a bag around the top of his head like a toque. He also put his foot through a plastic bag to utilize it as a long sock. Phil used a larger bag and simply put both feet in and pulled the sides up as far as they would go without breaking the bag. I, on the other hand had no such bag material. So I did as small children do and put my arms inside my shirt and pulled the shirt around my legs and slept in a fetal position.

It was a very sleepless night, especially with the DJ over the hill cranking up the bass every time the party started dying (probably due to him using the same beat over and over). That being said, a van managed to pull up in the middle of the night without any of us noticing... It blows my mind how that happened.


We awoke, sore and deathly tired, but ready for a red tomatoey massacre. We hid our duct tape backpack in a rock crevice and went toward town hall. On the way, I picked up a breakfast sandwich and a refreshing beverage. I had a bacon and cheese sandwich with a beer for breakfast. If that isn't a breakfast of champions, I have no idea what is. We met up with the rest of the Canadian interns near the grease pole, which was at the moment just a long, very well sanded wooden pole sitting on the ground.

The clock struck 9:00, and the people in charge of the grease pole pulled out the buckets of soapy water and lard. They applied the greasy concoction with great vigor, and pushed the pole into its final resting place, a hole in the ground that normally has a cover on it. They pushed a whole bunch of wooden wedges down the hole to make the pole remain steady, and the Spanish Ham up a Greasy Pole event commenced. The goal of this event is for someone (generally using teamwork) to climb up the 50ft greased pole and cut a chunk off the Spanish ham attatched to the top. Shannon and Bianca were climbing before any of the other Canadians, but I wasn't far behind. I got some assistance from a burly Aussie behind me and a few guys bent over in front of me so I could walk on them. I got to the pole and didn't get far up at all, but at least I can officially say that I took part in the spectacle!

After two hours of failed attempts at reaching the ham, the alarms went off and the main event began. Stupid green EuroShorts, Tequila Shirt, crappy EuroShoes that I bought off Pat for 5CHF, and ski goggles in place, I was ready for the worst. The trucks rolled into the busy streets, with people up top chucking their acidic ammunition in all directions. Within moments of being within range, you are hit in the face with tomatoes and the whole world goes red. The thirst for blood was upon you (not really, but it sounded pretty cool like that didn't it?).

Sometimes, you were lucky enough that the truck dumped their load in front of your feet, leaving you with a lot of tomatoes to throw and an endless number of heads in both directions. I managed to end up backed against a metal door, with a tomato truck stopped directly in front of me for quite some time. I cleverly held one arm up to protect my face and used the other one to catch the tomatoes dropping down after hitting me. I also learned of the glory of being behind a solid wall. Everything that missed me sat directly below, leaving a lot of throwable objects within easy reach. I also squeezed the already broken tomatoes on to peoples heads in front of me, but you couldn't do that with the solid ones. They were too perfect for a head shot 10 feet away.

After one hour of all out battle, the horn sounded to end the fight and become civilized people again. That's when trouble started. Walking back, I was approached by a gleeful local who decided that I shouldn't be wearing a shirt. Now by all means, he was correct. It was stupid to be wearing a shirt and it was very disgusting, but I required a shirt to get on the train back to Valencia. So I told him no. He didn't like that answer. He tried anyway but I wasn't about to allow that to happen. Needless to say, I had a tussle with a Spaniard and learnt that they have short tempers!

I met back up with the rest of the Canadians (who I had lost prior to the fight) and we went to the train station. Prior to boarding, passengers had to be deemed "clean", so I went to the provided showers and cleaned the main chunks off of my clothing. Surprisingly, my shorts survived the experience quite well. They didn't get stained at all! On to Valencia!

Valencia. We decided to meet at the beach, so Chris, Phil, and I grabbed our stuff and took a bus to the ocean while the others went to their hotel to change and clean up. Arriving at the beach (after screwing up and getting off the bus too early), I proceeded to take off the now tomatified Tequila Shirt and threw it in the garbage.


I would like to take a moment of silence for Tequila Shirt.


Luke pointed out that it defined me and that we had very good times together.



Oh Tequila Shirt, I will miss thee so. Finding your replacement will be a challenging task.



Proceeding to the waters edge, Phil and I ran in and cleaned off. No more tomato in the ears, no more tomato in the hair, no more tomato residue on the skin. It was heavenly. We then went on to the sand and I proceeded to lay directly on the beach (due to my neglecting to bring a towel). I also briefly slept (sleeping location VI).

The rest of the Canucks arrived and we moved down the beach toward them, but we didn't stay long. Soon we left and searched for a restaurant. We ended up at a relatively classy restaurant with a moronic waiter. The three of us had purchased lunch at a supermarket earlier, so we ordered drinks and Phil and I attempted to order dessert. No go. Schmuck. So we settled on a Cola. At the table, had some good conversation and all that while people ate. I was still hoping dessert would be a go after the meals, but the waiter rushed us the bill (they do that in Europe?). He had managed to forget an appetizer (which had been pointed out to him earlier), and still charged it on the bill. Schmuck. Good thing Luke called him on it.

After the meal, the main group was headed back to the hotel after an exhausting day. We didn't want to sleep on the street or the beach that night, so we opted to go to the train station and search for a hostel in the vicinity. We didn't have to search long, regardless of the city being packed from Tomatina. San Jose Hostel is a savior (sleeping location VII).

<--- Two very happy travellers.

Nights away from Baden: 3
Total cost for accommodations per individual: 20Eu

Lol...


On Thursday, we awoke early to catch the cheap train to Alicante. Guess what we did on the train. We slept! (sleeping location VIII)

Arriving in Alicante, we explored Old Town and ended up at a little cafe and ordered Churros. They were awesome. I had iced coffee with it, which was also fantastic. We then went to the beach and relaxed and went swimming for around an hour before we had to catch the bus to the airport.


On the flight, we once again slept (sleeping location IX). The funny part of the flight was touching down. The wheels touched down and an amusing tune came on over the intercom. Everyone cheered. I'm assuming they were all just super happy that the Ryan Air plane didn't fall apart... Just for the record, Ryan Air plays that tune at every touchdown. I just thought it was really amusing.

Jumping ahead, we got home and I called Dave up. I figured he'd be lonely with his two roommates being gone in Spain. We watched a really funny movie called Lesbian Vampire Killers. Gotta love low budget British films.


Friday was a pretty bad day at work, but not excessively so. A group of us went to see Inglorious Bastards at the local theater. It was amazing. See it. "Each and every one of you owes me one hundred Nazi scalps. And I want my scalps."


Saturday, Mike, Chan, Arthur, and I went to Biel/Bienne for a day trip. As it turns out, there was an international festival that weekend there. I swear, there is always something cool going on wherever we go. Why can't Canada have cool festivals ALL the time?


Sunday was a lazy day which included a trip to the Schwimmbad. The first time in quite some time, and possibly one of the last times. The season is coming to an end rather quickly. In fact, summer is pretty much over... That's disappointing.


Parting words. La Tomatina is amazing, but I never want to do it again. Once is enough. In fact, I would like to never be that messy or grungy ever again. Unless its another major festival I need to check off the list.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Of Dancing, Mockery, and More Dancing

So apparently I managed to miss a week... It was a rather busy one last week I guess, with my life spiralling out of control and all...


Two weeks ago seems so long ago, and yet it was so amazing. It is called Street Parade. It is the biggest party in all of Switzerland for the entire year. And it happens in Zürich. And it is AMAZING!!! It consists of a great many people, most of whom are drunk, high, and/or nearly (in some rare cases completely) naked partying in the streets of Zürich in a giant parade of electronic music. I took no part in none of that, except for the dancing. I was a dancing fiend. But before I get too ahead of myself, lets go back to the morning.

I definitely woke up and decided I wanted a Mohawk. Celia was happy to oblige. I now have a Mohawk. The end.

I also put on face paint and had a giant heart on my neck. And an anchor on the other side, because skeletons are cool but were too hard to draw. Haha oh Rachel...

So yah, STREET PARADE! Got to Zürich around 15:00, got lost with Andrew and Ryan rather quickly and just danced up a storm. Then we got pizza. Then we danced some more! Next thing we know, it is something like 22:00 and Paul van Dyk is supposed to come on the main stage in half an hour. Waiting. Waiting... Waiting... He cancelled and some other DJ shows up.
I missed half of Guetta for you Paul, and you bailed. I am not happy with you. Not happy at all...

<-- Picture taken before I became displeased with PvD

After I realized PvD wasn't playing, I rushed off to the Zürich Hbf to get over the the Hallenstadion, where the biggest afterparty in Zürich was taking place. ENERGY 2009!!!!!!!! On the way, I met some Swiss guys calling me, due to my name being written on my head in a Sharpie. Thankyou Riley, for not being an ass and writing something else on my head. This happened the morning of Street Parade, and yes, whether you believe me or not, I was sober. In fact, I had been paranoid people were calling me all day. Now I know I'm not paranoid. They actually were. Anyway, back to Hallenstadion.

<-- Steve happy at ENERGY 2009!!!!!

I made it for half of David Guetta, loved it. Absolutely amazing... Wicked atmosphere with so much energy. Then Tiesto came on and rocked the entire universe.







<-- Tiesto rocking the entire universe

Then Fedde le Grande was up, and he wasn't quite up to expectations. He was definitely good, but not Tiesto good. So I sat down in the bleachers and had a 20 minute power-nap.

Summary of the Zürich Street Parade:
Mohawk. Face paint. Music (throughout). Dance. Get rained on and get paint all over my shirt. Dance. Get lost. Dance. Dance more. Eat Pizza. Dance. Dance more. Get mad at PvD. Meet funny Swiss guys on the way to Hbf. Realize I'm not crazy, just retarded. Go to Hallenstadion. Love my life sooooooo much. Dance. Dance more. Dance even more. Redbull. Dance. Dance more. Dance more. 20 minute power-nap. Dance. Stagger home in a tired, sweaty mess. Happy. Home at 8:00 Sunday morning. So happy.

What a ridiculous life I have over here.


During the week, oh God... Sunday night we had a BBQ. I woke up at 16:30 and had an hour to make burger patties and prepare myself for a walk up a mountain. We walked up a mountain and had a hell of a time starting the charcoals on fire. The obvious solution was definitely to use excessive amounts of lighter fluid. It worked after a while. We had burgers and they were amazing. I also caught a frog and almost caught a snake. I named the frog Kermit. Original, I know. Give me a break, it was a long night prior.

Tuesday was the last night for Riley in Baden that would start sober, so naturally, we did a beer mile. In Canada, you'd be hunted down by people and thrown out of the track when doing this most awesome of sporting events. In Switzerland, you get cheered on by EVERYONE at the track. And this was a very public beer mile. Long story short, my time was 9:19 and I came in second for the event. Bruce destroyed everyone as expected, but I can proudly come second to him. Pictures will be on facebook soon if you are interested. I will say no more of the beer mile. If you are actually curious about it, I'm sure that Google would be more than happy to oblige.

Wednesday was Riley's final day at Alstom. I cannot declare what happened that day due to the fact that this blog is public and my boss could read it. So I will just say that it was a day that changed the way I see work. Forever. Then we went to the Biergarten, and I ignored the fact that I desperately needed to do laundry. A few of us ended up on the castle, and tried to watch a meteor shower. They didn't happen.

Thursday and Friday consisted of movie nights, being The Soloist and Jurassic Park II. The Soloist was good. Don't ever waste you're time watching Jurassic Park II. It was just awful. How could I have thought that movie was good years back? Saturday. Liechtenstein. Their national day, my chance at mockery of epic proportions. I can't remember if I have explained the story of this trip planning or not, so I'll just indulge you once again. One Friday, Mike and I thought it would be funny to just go to Liechtenstein for a day just out of boredom. That afternoon we had decided it would be funny to walk across the country in a day. In a matter of a few days, we had decided to run across it. Now you know how everything here escalates on such a grand scale.

I repeat, my life here is just so ridiculous...

So we were going to run across the country. I mapped out a route that ended up being 12.3km (that's right, and its not even going the short distance, that's going out of our way to make it longer so no one can question the validity of our claims). We took a bus to the Austrian border and prepared.

<-- Look Austria!

Riley, Bruce, and Chris made the whole run. I lacked motivation and Mike and I took a little longer but still jogged more than half the distance. I could probably put some blame on the fact that I was running in skateshoes and it was over 30°C outside, but I will stick with blaming myself. Also, we may or may not have taken a shortcut through a cornfield. That detail will never be official. The finish line was a covered wooden pedestrian bridge over the Rhine, and it took something like 1:40 to make it across. Check out a map on google from the Austrian border between Feldkirch and Shaanwald to a bridge across the Rhine just west of Vaduz if you're a nonbeliever. It was done. 12.3km. How many people do you know that can claim to have ran across an entire country besides Terry Fox?

Just as a side note, you know you're in a small country when the sign pointing in the direction of a town doesn't bother to have the distance included on the sign.

So we ended the run and got some greasy food and beer and danced. Until late. Some cover band was playing and it was the first time I had heard rock or punk in over 3 months. We went nuts. Mike, Pat, and I also had the most public 'gun of our lives. Again, end of story. There were also fireworks being fired from the top of a mountain. They even surpassed the epicity of the Lugano fireworks on Swiss national day. What else can you expect form a country with the highest GDP per capita in the world?

Some time later and taking the bus to the campground 15 minutes out of town, people must have just thought I was the biggest mess in the world. Grungy Mohawk, sweaty, and overall not at 100%. Probably more like at 30%. If that. Getting off the bus in the middle of nowhere alone. I wonder how many people on this continent just think I am on the final leg of one messed up life.... Hahaha oh to ponder... I love this place so much. I was so unmotivated about walking up the hill to the campsite that I seriously considered sleeping in a field. I realized I would probably wake up a few hours later regretting that decision, so I carried on. But not all the way. I needed to do a pitstop and stop in the middle of the road and lay down to look at the stars. It's a good thing no one decided to drive around the campground at 1:00...

Liechtenstein is my favorite country so far. It is like Switzerland except I can buy food at a real grocery store on Sundays and they like having fun.


Sunday, a slow morning getting up and ready to leave. Very slow. We eventually packed our stuff up and went hiking to Sargans, back in Switzerland. I have no idea how far it was, but it was really hot. And I can also safely say that apart from one town and the backs of 3 mountains, I have seen the entire country of Liechtenstein. We dipped our feet in the ice cold Rhine, which was amazing given the heat. We also slept in the shade under a bridge. 8 Canadians. Under a bridge. Sleeping. So funny...

<-- This is literally the border between Liechtenstein and Switzerland. The photo quality on here isn't great, but it says Liechtenstein (on the left) and Schweiz (on the right). Talk about tight border controls. Ease up guys! Holy...

Mike and I waited in Sargans for a while until we could take free trains. The rest were crazy and spent money. We saw Riley briefly on his way to Croatia.


My legs are ridiculously sore now. And I am officially never running again. Ever. Unless someone plans a trip to run across another country like Luxembourg or something... Is Luxembourg small enough to run across?

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Best Weekend EVER

I don't even know where to begin. Maybe Friday? I cannot remember anything before Friday night, other than Friday during work in which is was ridiculously unmotivated and it is safe to say that it was the least productive day at Alstom yet. And it's not like I had nothing to do either...



Anyway, Friday night...

After work, Mike and I went to Manor to buy us some fireworks, the only time of year that you can buy them and the only time of year it is legal to set them off. And people did light them. Everywhere. But I'll get into that later.

In the evening, a bunch of us went to the castle to meet the newest Interns. He had a few beer, light some bottlerockets and smokebombs, and just had a jolly ol' time. Tragically, it was an early night because we had to be on the train early Saturday morning to get to southern Switzerland. But before leaving, we watched people at the bar by the train station light fireworks from the patio and aim them across the tracks, probably at people.


Saturday. Early. Very early. How early? 6:00 early. Just to get a feel for how early that is, I get up at 8:00 for work. On weekdays. This weekend had better be worth it, because it was off to a not so great start... That changed rather quickly. Someone pointed out the most important garbage can/ashtray in the world. I'll nab a picture one day. Took the train to Airolo where we rented bikes and started an epic cycling trip. It should be pointed out that this was a planned weekend with IAESTE, so there was no planning whatsoever on my side apart from signing up for it and having money in my wallet.

Cycling. I would call it peddle-biking, but peddling would be the wrong word because 80% of the trip was downhill. And 15% of it was flat, but still coasting from a previous downhill part. Not the most exhausting experience. Which was a good thing. I managed to crash into a guardrail on a steep downhill part. It's the only accident I've been in where I was laughing going into it (knowing fully-well that I was about to hit something), laughing during the contact, and laughing afterward. I'm such a retard... Hahaha I'm still laughing about it.

As a side note, you know you are in Switzerland when the one time you decide to look at the Autobahn, you see a Ferrari go by. Cycling was broken up by frequent pit stops at generally nice locations with something to look at, and at a restaurant where we used their giant grill to have the biggest BBQ I've ever seen (minus the Stampede, you can't top a BBQ where thousands of rednecks congregate together like that).

When we got to the hostel in Lugano, we had an hour to shower and get ready to go out for the night. The Canadians decided it was a better idea to go to the pool. Every single one of us. We really are a peculiar nationality. Or maybe it's just chance that every one of us in the group are crazy. Who knows. In the end, it is irrelevant.

We went up a mountain to see Lake Lugano and the surrounding cities and towns. It was a really nice view, but something much more important occurred on that mountain top. We found a church that had stairs up to its roof. Atop this roof, a large group of us shotgunned beer in a race. The most important race of our lives. The winner had rights to be the first to jump the Verzasca Dam. More on that later. There is definitely a video of the gun posted on fb if you're interested. Damn you Bruce, why were you born to be a gunner? I was sooooooo close too... Then there's Riley, who was authentically pissed off about it. That in itself was worth the gun. Go Riley!

On to supper at a pizzeria restaurante. We had huge food, free wine (managed to choose the table upon which the ice bucket remained at) and watched a parade go by. The parade wasn't right there, but we heard explosions and we weren't being served, so a few of us deemed it acceptable to run to the next street and see it. There were actually a lot of explosions, and if I hadn't known it was Swiss National Day (and that I was in Switzerland), I'd have thought there was a small war going on. Fireworks went off at 10:30. I had just finished eating. I just booked it off to the lake without a care in the world. The organizers stopped me to try to decide on a good meeting place, but I just said come back to the piazza where the restaurant was, and ran off.

FIREWORKS!!! Everyone loves fireworks, but these were just amazing. I can't even explain, more free (terrible, but free) wine may be a contributing factor. The finale was so bright you could have read a newspaper. It was just shy of daylight. Afterward, we pulled out the bottlerockets and roman candles Mike and I had bought from Manor and had ourselves a joy of a time. We tried to blow up Mike's phone with bottlerockets, but only managed to damage the screen because we had no way of focusing the explosion on the phone instead of out of the open end of the plastic cups we had holding the two close together.
The roman candles on the other hand were a roaring success, as pictured here with Riley, Bruce and I firing them into the air while dancing. I'm also very sure this is how I managed to get burn marks on the back of my shirt. That and the really enthusiastic kid lighting fireworks beside us all night...

We managed to start a dance floor beside a random outdoor DJ on the walkway beside the lake, IAESTE people being the only people dancing and the Swiss just watching like we were nuts. Go figure. CITY LUGANO! I also met up with Penny and had a goodbye beer with him on the way back to the hostel.

What an epic day. Could the Sunday be any better? Yes it could. And it was.


Sunday, up early again and surprisingly not that hungover. Although it would be a blatant lie to say I was on the top of my game. One early and long/strenuous (and mostly residential, which is my first of the kind) hike up to Verzasca Dam. The longest single-cable bungee jump in the world, and something like only 13m less than the world's longest bungee jump. 220m from top to bottom, and 220m of complete glory. To anyone paying close attention to the following media devices, you will notice that this is the James Bond bungee jump from the intro to Goldeneye!

It could take an entire blog just to explain the experience, and I still wouldn't do it justice, but I'll give it a summarized go, followed by a VIDEO. Yah, I have proof I had the kahunas to do it.

So jumping. You get strapped up and you think "man this is going to be AWESOME!" You walk up the steps on to the platform overhanging the dam and someone hooks you up asking if it is your first jump. You smile, and say yah. You look over the rail at where you will be falling in a matter of a minute. It looks surreal, like the picture above. You can honestly fool yourself into thinking that you are dreaming. It is THAT surreal. I have video of myself actually laughing with the people hooking me up (relaxed, not that nervous laugh you can get) and I was just jamming away to the beats like I had been doing since we had arrived. You are hooked up and you realize it's not a dream. You are told to walk up to the edge and put your toes over. You do it and realize you are about to do the coolest thing you will probably ever do.

"Are you ready?"

*Nod*, "yes".

"On three. 3, 2, 1" (I would write three, two, one, but it goes by too fast for that)

Jump. Your legs do not want to leave solid ground and lock up a bit, but you've got the jump momentum to carry you through. You are falling, and you realize you've made the worst decision of your entire life. You are going to die. That feeling seems to last an eternity, but once you are over it, it is the best feeling ever. It becomes the most peaceful place in the universe. Nirvana, if you will. All you hear is the wind whistling by, and see the concrete blur past you. You realize that it is definitely the BEST decision you've ever made in your entire life.

To get an idea as to how long it takes to get over the initial fear, watch the video and note when my arms go out from in front of me. It is at that point that I cease to be afraid and think about how bad my form was jumping, and that I should put my arms out so it would look cooler.

The bounce up was crazy, and I don't remember it very well because it didn't seem like anything more than a super huge jump upward. The second fall was the best part of the whole jump. You can hear people yelling when you bounce up the first time, and then it goes back into complete silence. And you feel like Superman.

You get towed to the top and you reach the platform again. They unhook you, and you are just SO pumped up that you are shaking. It was just ridiculous. You are pumped for soooooo long afterward. You want to do it again, immediately.

While still feeling like I was on the top of the world, the remainder of the group finished jumping and we went to the other side of the dam to do a commemorative gun. Surprised? You really shouldn't be...

Once you are back to a stable self, you also come to a horrible realization. The only way you can top that rush now is by skydiving, because there isn't anything substantially bigger to bungee off of. If that's not an allusion, I don't know what is...

After the jump, we took a bus to a local town which has a river that feeds the dam. It also has a bridge 12m from the water that you can jump off of. Hahaha... After jumping off a dam, that bridge jump was a joke. No fear what so ever. Then again, I didn't give myself time to be fearful. I just asked one of the locals if I was at the right spot and was airborne before I even looked down longer than to make sure it was clear below before I vaulted the rail. It didn't even hurt, which was a pleasant surprise. You get a fair bit of hang time on 12m, just for the record. Afterward, we explored the river downstream and slept on some big rocks.

After we had dried off and got back to the bus, we went to a train station where I jumped off a curb. It was epic. We went on a train. I jumped off the train. It was epic. It was also stopped. We had an hour to burn in Bellinzona, so we went kebab hunting. We found a castle and some of us went exploring. I jumped off a castle.
Sunday was just a jumping type of day.

I don't want to ruin this blog by going into what has happened this week because it will just water down the epicicity of the weekend. So I won't. I will just say that I officially have fellow interns in my building, on my floor. And it is great.

Even two full days later, I am still SO high on life.


And now, without further delay, I present the "Steve is better than Pierce Brosnan - Goldeneye Bungee Jump" video:

video

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

What the hell just happened?

So since the big trip East, what has happened... ... ... I don't even know. Last weekend consisted of a couple of drinking nights. Actually those are mildly amusing stories, so I'll indulge.

I tried explaining this weekend to Rachel and I just couldn't do it. I'll try again here but it probably won't live up to reality.

Friday night was a pasta party because half of the interns were running in an 11km race on Saturday. So we made lots of pasta. As in something like 1.5kg for 4 people. I think it's the first time we have had leftovers last longer than the following day's lunch... Anyway we ate pasta and hung out, watched some Youtube vid's. Good time. When people started heading out, we wound up going to the Berg with Riley and met up there with Rachel, Olivia, Rachel's friend Marshall, and Mike. We were there for a while drinking then headed out to attempt to get into a club even though the chicks didn't have ID. Needless to say, it didn't work out. Just for the record, we totally could have gotten away with that in Germany... Oh the Swiss...

That night ended for me at that point, as I headed home. There was always Saturday right?

Saturday, schwimmbad. Burnt back and diving board. That about sums it up. Oh yah, really burnt back.

After schwimmbad, we went to see if we could get some cloths for clubbing in Zürich. Didn't work due to the fact that country closes on the weekends. Oh well. A doner kabab and a walk later, I was at Luke's house with a fresh 6er of beer and we made our way back to the Berg. Hung out there until around 11. Then the mayhem began...

Zürich. Needed to finish road beer, so we went to a bridge over the river and finished whatever it was Mike had brought. Had a cigarette. Had another. Never again. Gross.

A group of women approached us with a hockey net, sticks, and a ball. Mike won something, I can't remember what. The importance of this moment, was that I decided to take a shot at Mike when he was in net. Straight over him, into the river. Who didn't see that coming. Surprisingly, the women weren't too concerned and just left. Strange?

Amber Club, near the Hbf. 25CHF cover, so we didn't bother. Instead, we went wandering the "red light district" of Zürich. Ended up at a biker bar where Mike claims there were prostitutes. I don't recall this moment, but at this point, I'll just take his word on it. After all, it is definitely possible. We then went to some other bar that had a more clubby atmosphere where Olivia managed to pull in a very "zeroed-in" Swiss guy. Not quite appreciated, and we left. He tried intervene. Didn't happen. We went to the Hbf to take a train home and watched it pull away as we got to the track. Waited an hour, don't know how or what we did to pass the time because next thing I knew, the next train was in the station. Took the train home and Marshall managed to evade the ticket guys.

Got home at 5:00 in the morning Sunday. To this day, I don't think anyone who was there understands what the hell happened that night or how we passed so much time. Regardless, it was a great night.

Sunday was a day defined by pizza and pasta for breakfast, and going to Schad to watch Fubar and Animal House. Not as epic as the night prior, but at that point, it was definitely better that way.

This week, nothing crazy has happened. Monday night Chris and I went to Germany with Bruce, Rachel, and Mike for cheap meat, peanut butter, cereal. Needless to say I've been eating cereal for breakfast the last 2 days. With great delight I might add. I plan on participating in a Halfmarathon in mid-September, so I did a relatively long run Tuesday evening. Tonight I met up with a few at the schwimmbad and did some diving, soccer, and volleyball.

I had better get back to the distance training soon if I plan to survive that 1/2er, so that's on the agenda tomorrow.

If you don't hear from me sometime next week, it is because I died bungee jumping this weekend. On that bombshell, I bid you all adieu.


Ciao,
Steveo

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Where am I supposed to even begin?

Due to the length of this blog, I will be formatting this post slightly differently than usual. Each major checkpoint will be labelled as such, with a picture separating each section. Hope this satisfies the curiosity rather than bores you to death...


The Week Previous to Departure
So last blog was a few weeks ago and a LOT has happened. And that is by no means an exaggeration... Two weekends ago (I think) I went on a hike in Zug, which is somewhere between Zürich and Luzerne. Most of the interns went to Amsterdam for Sensation White, so the few remaining banded together for a day. The hike was rather nice, all-be-it I was wearing stupid euroshoes which are uncomfortable to say the least. We made our way to a pretty lake, which was the highlight of the day. Otherwise, it was a pretty uneventful time, as was the following week until Friday.


--->For you keen-eyed folks, did you notice the rather human-shaped boulder falling over the cliff on the sign?


Predeparture
Last Thursday, Jen arrived from good ol' Calgary, which meant the start of vacation time for me and the beginning of what finally fits the name of the blog, a EURO ADVENTURE!




Hungary
First on our list of countries to hit up was Hungary, specifically Budapest. Our itinerary didn't have a lot of down time, and seeing as neither of us were super-set on staying for an extended stay in Hungary. So, we decided when we arrived via night train that we would leave that night. We arrived at the train station and the second we got off the train, I was pretty sure we were going to die. It definitely had a different feeling around the station than anywhere I had experienced before. Luckily, I feel like I'm going to die at every place we arrive at if it is more than an hour east of Austria (aka Hungary and Romania) but the feeling passes in about 10 minutes. Considering how little time we spent in Budapest, we walked a LOT which was rather strenuous after a night lacking of proper sleep. We wound up climbing two mountains and had some amazing eats for both lunch and supper. As you'll see, this was a rather hop topic. To get into specifics, we used the magic that is Wiki travel to find a restaurant with traditional Hungarian food. We had a 4 course meal and wine for supper and it costed about the same as a biggie-sized Wendy's combo back in Canada. We were going to go to the Turkish baths, but it was just too bloody hot out. So we skipped out on that and headed deeper into uncharted territory.

---> Bridge surfing is cool!


Romania
I have a feeling my parents weren't too enthused to hear I was going to Romania for a vacation, but that wasn't a serious issue. On the other hand, I did know deep down that if anything ever happened to Jen, I'd probably have been killed via her dad. So with that useful tidbit in mind, we headed off via night train to Brasov. It turns out that we travelled over 1400km in a day and a half. Talk about ridiculous...

Keeping in mind that we had no hostels booked for the entire trip, we arrived in Brasov in the early afternoon. We got off the train and made it through the train station to an ugly grey sky and a substantial amount of rain. Again, I was pretty sure I was gong to die. We had no idea where to go or where anything was, so we picked a direction and began to walk. We found a random hotel advertisement and followed the signs and arrived slightly wet but happy we had a clean place to get mugged in front of. Romania being Romania, we stayed a night in a 3 star hotel for less than it costed for a hostel in Prague (which is an inexpensive city by its own right). We classed it up and took a taxi to old town for 4 RON (a whopping 50 cents?) and looked at all the cool old buildings and met some nice Romanian lady who only spoke Romanian, a little English and a little more French. She helped us find the "narrowest road in Europe", which was a lot like a walking path between two buildings come to think of it... Anyway, once we had seen enough of old town guess where we went? A restaurant recommended by Wiki travel that served traditional Romanian food! And it was fantastic. The waiter must have thought we were pigs because we ordered a soup and appetizer and a main course. The soup which was labelled as broth was huge and was definitely composed of more than just broth (ie potatoes and an undetermined meat).

The day after, we took a short trip to Bran Castle, which is home of Dracula! The castle is definitely overhyped and was not nearly as good as was hoped. But it was still a good day trip, with the whole finding of souvenirs and all. We then took a train up to a "student city" called Cluj, where the parties are bumpin! Or they are supposed to be. They weren't on a Monday night, that's for sure. So much for those hopes.

The day after, we were still in Cluj and were feeling like some shopping was in order. I had been looking for new shoes since Brasov because I was sure that they would be cheapest in Romania. I never had any luck with that quest in Cluj, but I did find the most ridiculous pair of euro shades EVER. I also found a stylin' hoodie for 20$ equivalent. That afternoon we took a train to Alba so we could transfer on to a night train going to Vienna. It was at this point that the entire trip began to fall apart...

Alba was the only time in Romania (short of the first 10 minutes in Brasov) where I actually felt there was a possibility that I could get robbed or murdered. Or both (or many other various not-so-nice experiences that I'll leave up to you to come up with). It was definitely a poor city. To add to the possibility of death, we ordered food from the restaurant in the station. I pointed at the food I wanted in the display. Needless to say, I got what was in the display. Literally. To make this situation positive, we made it out of Romania without being mugged or getting food poisoning. I think the Romanian beer I had with the food killed off the bad monsters in the... sandwich? To this day, I don't even know what the food was supposed to be.




Slovakia
The previous statement about the trip falling apart was just an attempt at being ominous. It didn't fall apart at all. We took a night train to Vienna and arrived in the morning. We made our way to a train going to Bratislava, capital of Slovakia. Vienna was a treat at this point because it is officially part of what I like to call the civilized world. I don't mean to knock anywhere we went that isn't part of the "civilized world", but I felt safe there from the get go. And they had schokocroissants! Its always a bonus to be able to understand what they are saying when they speak to you. AKA German I can actually understand unlike Swissdeutch... Anyway, SLOVAKIA. We phoned up a guy named Juraj when we got there and he came to meet us at the station and took us to his hostel. If you ever go to Bratislava, go there. 15Euros for a student and you get a great clean room, clean beds and sheets, he'll do your laundry free of charge, and tells you the best place to go for a bite to eat and to get your drink on. Fantastic.

We ended up taking a nap because we didn't feel it was necessary to go exploring in 32°C heat. It was glorious. Then it was time for a quick bite to eat at the 1st Slovakian Pub. I had dumplings with sheep's cheese, which was exquisite. I still haven't figured it out, but the Slovakian beer was ordered as either 10° or 12° on the menu. I figured out easy enough that ° means %, but 10 and 12% is ridiculous for a standard beer. After our late lunch, we checked out old town and continued on my quest for new shoes. For supper we went to a restaurant recommended by multiple sources, including the one and only Wiki travel! As it turns out, the waitress was not a fan of anyone, because we and 2 couples were completely ignored by her. So we left and went to... the 1st Slovakian Pub! We saw our waitress from lunch and she must have thought we were mentally challenged. We got an awesome supper (figures) and went back to the hostel for sleepy time.

For those of you who have seen Eurotrip, you were probably laughing to yourself when you read the nice little name Bratislava. I was also wondering about the communist remains of the city, so that was the goal for the following day: find the commie buildings. Luckily, I had read in some guide of a place called the concrete jungle, so I figured I'd start there. On our way, we wound up in the nicest shopping mall I have ever seen and ordered Slovakian fast food, which was amazing. I also saw the "concrete jungle" from afar and it was definitely similar to the scene in Eurotrip. You can check out fb pictures if you are curious. We then headed back to the train station to catch a train to Prague.

<---- This is actually in Alba, but look at the shades!


Czech Republic
We arrived in Prague sometime in the evening on Thursday. We found a place to stay at a hostel with a reputation for partying and immediately met four guys from Costa Rica downing beer outside our door. Naturally, we joined them and got ready to go out clubbing. We asked the bartender downstairs (the hostel had its own bar) where a cool club was that would be kicking on a Thursday night. She told us the CrossClub would be good no matter what day of the week. We managed to make it there with only one amusing mishap where one of the Costa Rican guys didn't make it off the tram before the doors closed on him and took him to the next stop. On to CrossClub, it was the coolest club I've ever seen. They had some amazing tunes, being live music of Reggae mixed with Techno. I know, I know. It sounds weird, but it was phenomenal. The decor was ridiculously unique as well, with metal stuff hanging from the ceiling and some sweet lighting systems. If anyone reading this goes to Prague and is up for some partying, GO HERE. I'm going to go back to the city just for that club. And hopes for some better weather to see the town as well... I guess....

We managed to get lost in the city after we left the club at some unspeakable hour. After wandering to a McDonald's, we made it back to the hotel. I've been told it was right around the same time as sunrise, but I'd be a liar if I was to say I can recall this myself.

We got kicked out of the hostel at 1pm because they had overbooked, so we had to find a new place to stay for the next night. This turned out to be easy enough. That being said, Friday was uneventful to say the least. We slept most of the day and didn't do much in the evening apart from order fried cheese at the restaurant and received french fries. Oh AND I FINALLY FOUND SHOES THAT FIT!! Officially, my stupid euroshoes are sitting in the bottom of a Czech dumpster somewhere in the Helosovice district of Prague.

Saturday was a different story. We were up bright and early to go on a free walking tour of the city. It was a great time and the tour guide was really energetic regardless of the overcast sky, rain, and overall cold. After the walking tour, time was limited before we had to catch our final train back to Zürich, so we found ourselves some souvenirs and headed on home.




As far as I can recall (some of the trip was so rushed it blurs together), that sums up the vacation. As a sneak preview into future posts, I will be taking part in the James Bond bungee jump in two weeks. Don't know what I mean when I say James Bond bungee jump? Click here to check it out. I'd hope that medical insurance covers it, but I think life insurance would be more suitable.

And for the newbie blog readers out there, if sending an email isn't your cup of tea, feel free to leave a comment at the end of a post. Also, if anyone wants to receive an email update whenever I post something new, let me know and I can add your email address to the mailing list... That being said, I will no longer be harassing people on fb whenever a new post is up because spamming just isn't cool.


Ciao,
Steveo