Thursday, September 28, 2006

Finally...Some Pictures

Finally...I get to a place where there is an internet connection: the Catania Airport in Sicily. Below I've got a bunch of pictures that I wanted to post, but didn't have an internet connection to do so. Tony and I are just waiting here in the airport to check our bags for our 3:30pm flight to London where we'll spend the night in an airport hotel and fly to Vancouver at 7:05pm tomorrow. We had a really great time with all of our family on the bus tour...there were 25 of us in all. They are a riot to be with...very spontaneous...very loud...and very enthusiastic. I hope to be able to go visit them some time in all of their respective cities: Sioux Lookout Ontario, Toronto, Winnipeg, Honolulu, LA, and Edmonton.

Anyways, take a look at some of these pictures....I think their pretty cool.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Italy has begun!

What a great day! I really had a good time and I got to see some amazing sights today. One place that I’d love to come back to is a town called Revello….which is south of Rome after Naples on the way to the Amalfi Coast. Crazy place! It’s pretty much on the side of a mountain about 1200m above sea level but only about 300m away from the sea. The view of the coastline is probably the best I’ve ever seen. The road to get there had a breathtaking view, but it was a tight steep windy road and we were driving it in a tour bus….needless to say I was pretty impressed with the driver. One thing I wish could have happened was that we would have more time to take in the scenery. The tour guide always had another place to go, so we seemed to arrive at something really cool, take a few seconds to look, a few more to take a picture or two, and then we were off to the next place. I guess the guide was getting a bit of pressure from most of the group who wanted time to shop as well as see the sights, so it might have been the reason why he was rushing everyone. Anyways, I would have loved some time to sit and relax and think….and enjoy….and be amazed. It’s the introvert in me who likes to be lost in my thoughts. I hope to find some time in the next few days to just relax and take things in without feeling rushed. I’m sure it will happen.

Anyways, we’re just driving back down that ridiculous hill and I’m getting a bit car sick, so I better stop for now. I’ll take a look and see what I should post for pictures.

I have some pictures...but the computer I'm on is free and does not allow me to attach my jumpdrive, so I'll have to post the pics later...


Sunday, September 17, 2006

Filthy McNasty's

Ok, so I’m going to start off telling you about our last day with Roberta and Brian. We left the bed and breakfast and headed downtown to meet Claire at the Scott Monument. The Scott Monument was dedicated to Sir Walter Scott the great author. The monument is said to be one of the largest monuments for an author ever built. There are actually stairs to climb to the top of the monument, so we decided to pay the 3 euro’s to climb the 287 stairs and see the amazing view from the top. I think it was totally worth it…and climbing the stairs was an adventure in itself. Firstly, the stairs spire straight up the inside of one of the supporting columns and you feel like you’re getting a bit dizzy the curl is so tight. And then there is the amount of headroom….it starts to decrease as you get higher and as we began to reach the top I was bending over to be about ¾ my normal height in order to make it through the opening. Another thing that only really happen near the top was the passageway got very narrow to the point that I (the skinny guy) had to turn my body a little bit to make it through without scrapping my shoulders on the walls. The view from the very top was amazing….right in the middle of downtown Edinburgh…scenery out every angle and cool structures off in the distance. I took a bunch of pictures. Oh, that reminds me….I wrote on an earlier post that I was going to staple my camera to my hip so that I don’t ever forget it again…well…apparently that isn’t enough. I remembered my camera…of course, but I managed to leave the memory card still in the slot on my laptop…I was a bit disappointed. But, Brian is an intelligent man and realized that I usually take about 10 times more pictures than he does (and most are pretty good pictures), so he decided to give me his memory card to take pictures on and made me promise to give him a copy. So everything worked out.

I have been taking lots of pictures though. I got a message from my laptop the other day to say that I was running out of disk space….who knew pictures would take up so much space. But, I managed to find a bunch of things that I could delete in order to free up some space.

Anyways, after the Scott Monument we went to another cool monument/building that had some huge columns and a tower as well. See pictures below.

After that we went to one of the streets that only pedestrians can go on and walked a long ways down to try and find a good place to eat. On the way, we came across some very interesting pub names. Take a look below to see a collage of some of the pictures.

My favourite was “Filthy McNasty’s” but everyone else wanted to eat at the “Bad Ass” pub. At the pub I decided to eat like a Scotsman and try some:

The haggis was actually quite good….I would definitely eat it again.

After lunch we departed company with Claire since she had a train to catch back to her house, but it was really great to see her again and see how she’s enjoying her life here in Scotland. So, then we jumped on a tour bus (because our 2 day tickets were still valid) and headed toward the Royal Yacht Britannia for the last of our tours that came with the 2 day ticket. It was pretty cool to think that we were walking in the footsteps of royalty as we toured the boat. And of course, the boat was absolutely amazing…with elaborate rooms and decorations, an excessive amount of silverware, and a plethora of artifacts from around the world. The yacht traveled over 1,000,000 miles over the course of its life and is now a permanent tourist attraction in Edinburgh.

The rest of the day was rather uneventful other than the fact that we ate, drank, and had a good time downtown before heading back to the bed and breakfast to watch an episode of Lost before going to bed. It was a pretty productive day I think.

Oh, ya…and I have a video from when we were in Ireland. I won’t explain it…you’ll just have to watch it.


Friday, September 15, 2006

The next leg in the journey

Well, we’re in Dublin airport waiting for our flight to Edinburgh which should start boarding within the next few minutes. Tony was overweight in his checked luggage by 4 kilo’s and had to give me three of his shoes and put another 2 and a half pairs into his backpack so that he wouldn’t be charged the 8 euro per kilo for having his bag so bleeding heavy. Mine came in at 19.7 kilos…so I’ve got about 300 grams that I can add to my luggage and still be ok .

Ok, I’m writing the rest of this from our bed and breakfast in Edinburgh.

I’ve got a few pictures from Ireland when we went to some old ruins and the Guinness Brewery and then a couple pictures from our trip to the Queen’s Palace and the Edinburgh Castle. One thing that I noticed about things here is that most things cost about the same number as it would in Canada except it’s in pounds instead of dollars….so really, everything costs about twice as much. But, I guess it doesn’t really mater that much…I’m here to have a good time.

We’re heading out in about 20 minutes to head downtown to meet up with my friend Claire who lives here in Edinburgh and is a nurse. I haven’t really seen her since highschool, so it will be great to chat with her and catch up on old times.

Anyways, the four of us bought a pass yesterday that lets us into the Palace of Holyroodhouse, Edinburgh Castle, and the Royal Yacht. It also came with a 2 day bus pass to ride the tour busses at any time during the day…we’re allowed to get on and off wherever there is a normal bus stop. It cost 34 pounds, but we already made up for the cost yesterday from the Palace, Castle and bus rides, so the visit to the Yacht is pretty much free.

Anyways, we need to go soon, so I better finish up. Hope you enjoy the pictures.

Monday, September 11, 2006


I woke up in a really good mood today which is quite the accomplishment in itself because I was woken up in the middle of the night by a text message arriving on my cell phone (that I quite inconveniently left powered on). But I woke up very rested and feeling good. We had some French toast and bacon for breakfast and then took off for the internet café so I could post the previous post, do some checking up on emails, and book a short flight from Dublin to Edinburgh….it seems that Jenn won’t be able to get the extra time off work to go to Scotland with us, so we’ll just fly there and maybe rent a car. Right now, all we know is that we’ll arrive in Edinburgh this Wednesday at around 4:30pm….but the rest is up in the air. I think we’ll look online tomorrow for some B&B’s to stay in….maybe some cheap hotels…we’ll see. We were also thinking of renting a car for a few days as well to get around…but that’s up in the air as well…it all depends on how much it costs. My friend Claire from highschool lives 30 minutes from Edinburgh, so hopefully we’ll be able to meet up with her and hang out for a while. I’m actually a bit worried about the whole thing because of the lack of organization and planning for this particular section of our journey….it’s just the way I am though…I get nervous about those kinds of things. And I didn’t really look into anything when I was in Canada, so I guess it’s my own fault.

Anyways, after we went to the internet café we went to a Chinese Garden and Stud Farm…I know it’s a weird combination but there you go. The garden was very nice and I’ve got a few pictures below from when we were there. The first one is just a picture of me that I thought was cool, the second is a picture of me running to try and get into the picture after hitting the timer on the camera, and the third is a picture of all of us in a rock igloo kinda thing…you can see a woman who walked into the picture and then realized we were taking a picture on a timer and quickly jumped back out of the picture.

After the gardens we went and got a Starbucks coffee and headed to the airport to pick up Brian….his plane arrived on time and we didn’t thanks to a bit of a traffic jam…but we picked him up and headed back to Naas (where Jenn lives) so that Brian could have a shower and we could make some supper. After we got the roast in the oven we took off to a traditional Catholic Irish mass (which was only 30 min long) and then came back to have some supper (and some Guinness for me).

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Adventures in Ireland

The evening we arrived in Dublin we got picked up at the airport by Roberta and Jenn and managed to make it to the pub for a Guinness before last call. We got a chance to catch up on a few things and do some planning for the next few days. We’ll also need to plan what we’ll do in Scotland as soon as Brian gets here tomorrow.

Anyways, today was a super long driving day, but I think it was a productive day none the less. We drove from the east coast to the west coast to try and catch a ferry to Aran Island, but it took longer than we thought to get to the ferries so we missed the ferry. But, all was not lost…there was a road nearby that follows the coast line south and brings you to the Cliffs of Moher (see pictures below). These cliffs were amazing! I was really impressed….they’re the kind of cliffs that you would see on a postcard or in a movie like Lord of the Rings. We also got to see a lot of the Irish countryside which is littered with small farms, sheep, cows, and pastures separated by fences made from stones. It was really cool to see.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Czech it out

Well, Tony and I are just waiting in the Prague airport to board the plane to Dublin, so I’ve got time to write down what’s happened over the last few days. When we arrived in Prague, Maggie and her mom’s boyfriend Carl were waiting for us. It was so great to see her again…and she was really happy to see us as well. For anyone who doesn’t know Maggie, she loves to talk…and Tony and I were pretty tired, so she was talking a lot on the way from Prague to Brno. Tony and I didn’t mind very much…it was good to hear what was going on in her life. The next day, we did a little sightseeing in the city to a cathedral and then we drove into the countryside to see some caves. The caves were pretty amazing…I really enjoyed it. I got a few good pictures and a movie clip from the boat portion of the tour through the caves. I guess the name of the cave system is translated as Stepmother because there is a fairy tale that a young boys stepmom tried to throw him off a cliff and into the cave, but he grabbed onto some roots hanging down and survived (she didn’t know he survived). The next day when some hunters found the young boy and rescued him, he told them the story and the villagers through the stepmom over the cliff instead. Ever since then the caves have been called Stepmom.

Here’s a link to the boat tour.

After the caves, we went to Maggie’s grandma’s house in the countryside for a traditional Czech meal. It was really great. The house she lived in was over 100 years old (she’s 80 and is still living on her own). Later that night we met with some of Maggie’s friends at a pub and had some drinks. They were pretty nice guys and both were good at English…Michal was a bit more talkative though. We slept in a bit the next day and then went to downtown Brno to see a few cool things that Maggie wanted to show us. A lot of the downtown monuments were under repair, so we didn’t get to see them as they should be. But, then we went shopping and Tony (in his usual fashion) bought 2 pairs of shoes within the first hour. The first pair are a sweet pair of leather yellow/black Dockers that I wouldn’t mind wearing, and the second pair is a pretty amazing pair of blue and white Adidas volleyball shoes that make you feel like you’re a star player. I bought a really nice blue Lowe Alpine jacket that has a lifetime warrantee on the zippers and integrity of the fabric. I paid the equivalent of $70 for the jacket and I’m pretty sure it would have cost me about $130 in Canada at Coast Mountain. We went to lunch at Maggie’s aunt’s fitness center/restaurant and got to play some squash after lunch as well, so Tony got a chance to try out his new court shoes. Maggie’s aunt thought we were pretty good for beginners. After lunch we went shopping again in a big mall that was downtown, but Tony and I didn’t really find anything really exciting there.

We had a really great supper at Maggie’s house that night and got to meet her notorious brother who really does talk more than she does. He has also studied English and was very articulate. He told us that if we come back he’d love to arrange a hike in to see some other caves that his friend knows about….I thought that would be really cool because it would be more remote and less of a “tourist trap.”

Today we went to Prague for the day before we caught a flight to Dublin. It’s a very beautiful city with lots to see downtown. There are tons of historical attractions and several places to see some breathtaking views of the city. I was pretty happy with what we accomplished for the day…we probably walked about 10 km’s during the day. Below are some pictures.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

And away we go

OK, let me catch you up to speed for what’s happened over the last couple days. Yesterday, we went to a mass in Wiesenfelt (Julie’s dad’s hometown) that was at the tennis/beach volleyball tournament. The tournament is called the CAN-Cup and it’s in memory of three young ladies who were from Wiesenfelt who died in a car crash on their way to the disco in Wurzburg. Their names were Christina, Andrea, and Nena (for CAN). Anyways, the mass was pretty interesting…we didn’t really understand anything except that it was a Catholic mass, so when knew when to sit, stand, kneel, shake hands and say the ‘Our Father’. After the mass Julie’s dad Harry was in the final match for tennis along with his partner Yuda. They were playing some a couple of adults that were young enough to be their children. It was a pretty amazing match though…they played very hard and smart, and won the tournament. It was actually pretty exciting to watch. I’ve got a video of the winning shot and crowd cheering that can be found here. After the tennis match, we had a snack in the beer garden (biergarten) and waited for the volleyball finals to start. We watched the finals, but they weren’t as exciting as the tennis match. Then we went back to Lohr for dinner at an Italian restaurant. Tony and I each had some pizza….I opted to get the spiciest pizza they had and it was pretty darn good….and pretty spicy too. Tony went with the tried and true pepperoni pizza and loved every bite. After supper we went back to the CAN-Cup for the evening party and live music. Now, I have to tell you about the most excruciating experience that I’ve had to endure in a while. The bands that were playing were very good…..and I was impressed at how well they were at reproducing English 80s and 90s music….but the one band decided to use their artistic license to change one of the songs to be in a different genre. Now, for me, AC/DC is as Rock as you can get….so when I heard this band playing “You Shook Me All Night Long” like it was a country song, I just about fell off my chair. It was quite possibly the most wrong thing I’ve ever heard…I kept looking up at the stage trying to find the banjo. And then, just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse, they played “Highway to Hell” like a country song as well! Even Julie’s parents and friends were cringing.

Anyways, I writing this on the plane while flying to Prague…it’s a short flight…only 45 minutes. But, we’re about to land, so I better finish up. I’m excited about spending some time in Prague and seeing Maggie again. It should be a great time.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

The disco and some pictures

I have a short movie clip that I took while we were at the disco the other night (Tony really wanted to go...and I actually had a good time). We were out really late (4am), but it was a pretty good time.
Here's a link to the video:

Next, I have some pictures from the last couple days.
#1 Me standing next to a maple tree that was planted in Pflochsbach last year when I was here with 20 other Canadians for World Youth Day.
#2 Julie's dad pouring me a beer for a BBQ we were having that afternoon. Pretty good stuff.
#3 We went for a drive to a castle in Julie's parents convertable (it's an Opel). She was pretty sure she'd be cold, so she wore here winter jacket. I'm wearing my new North Face jacket that I bought in Nunberg.
#4 A great picture of the Castle in Mespelbrun. You could pretty much take this picture and use it as a postcard. It actually looks exactly like the postcard that I bought.
#5 This is a great shot of Julie's dad and his tennis partner during a game. I'm pretty happy with my camera...

Friday, September 01, 2006

Our first full day

I’ve finally got some time to write on my blog now. It’s Thursday night and we just got back from a day in Nunburg. It’s about 1.5 hours away from where we’re staying right now in Pflochsbach. On the way to Nunberg, we stopped at the Puma factory outlet to take a look around. Anthony (in his usual shopping fashion) spent 157 euro’s in about 30 minutes, but he got a nice pair of shoes, jogging pants, sox, t-shirt, and some sweat bands. I found myself buying a nice pair of hiking pants because I managed to convince myself that the one’s I have at home are ripped and don’t count. Their nice pants though. After that we continued on to Nunberg and found a parking garage downtown in a very central place. There are lots of old buildings and churches in Nunberg that we got a chance to take a look at, but most of them are replicas of the originals from before World War II. As much as 90% of Nunberg was destroyed in the war. Oh, I almost forgot….Of course, there are many nice things to see in Nunberg and it would be a good idea to bring a camera to take some pictures….but I, however, did not. Somehow I left the camera on the coffee table back in Pflochsbach. We ended up buying a disposable so we could at least take a few pictures during the day and have to deal with developed pictures instead of digital (a hard thing for me to do). Needless to say, I won’t be going anywhere without my camera and wallet from now on.

For lunch we went to an authentic Bratwurst restaurant to have some Bratwurst and Sauerkraut. It was pretty good….I really enjoyed it. We also had some Weisser beer which is a typical kind of beer to have when eating Bratwurst. Nunberg is known around Bavaria for its Bratwurst.

In the afternoon we went walking around the town to do some sight seeing and some shopping. We first went to a castle that overlooks the city…it was pretty cool and I hope the pictures turn out from our 5 euro camera. Later on when we were back in the town we went shopping in a store that was celebrating 125 years of being open. I found a really great hiking jacket for only 50 euro….in Canada it would have cost about $130! It’s a North Face jacket, very lightweight, and (of course) it’s red….one of my favourite colors to wear.

After that we went to the fair that was in town and Tony went on a few rides. The first ride was a long bench that is lifted in the air and swung forward, backward, and upside down. Just watching Tony, Julie, and Christina (Julie’s friend) on it was making my stomach uneasy. When they got off, they looked pretty white in the face. The second ride Tony went on was one of those freefall rides where they bring you up really high and then let you fall to the ground and stop you before you crash except this one flew you up in the air extremely fast first and then let you freefall. It looked pretty crazy to me!

Then we went to supper at a Greek restaurant. Tony and I both had Calamari, but I couldn’t finish mine….my appetite is not so big right now….it takes a little while to get my stomach over the Jet Lag. Anyways, it was a good meal and we had a good visit with Julie, Julie’s mom Simone, Julie’s boyfriend Michael, Christina, and Christina’s parents.

It was a pretty great day….and I’m really tiered. I’ll save this post and try to get an internet connection in the morning so that I can post it. I hope everyone is doing well. Good luck to Roberta who is flying to Ireland on Saturday.



PS: My plan for skipping Jet Lag worked very well...I was a bit tired in the afternoon but still felt great.