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