Friday, November 6, 2009

Bourbon v. Scotch

What is the difference between Bourbon, Jack Daniel’s, Scotch, and Whiskey? This question came up last night at Ken’s birthday party. Of coarse, I had already had a few glasses of Courvoisier (cognac is a type of brandy, from the Cognac region of France, made from very specific grapes, and made in a very specific way, by French law… however this will have to be for another day), so my answer was not as clear as it should have been. So, for further clarification…..

Whiskey is a type of alcohol made of fermented grain mash. Grains may include barley, malted barley, corn, rye, and wheat. Usually, it is then aged in a cask. It retains some of its grain characteristics, differentiating it form a neutral spirit like vodka.

Bourbon is a type of corn whiskey. The name of the spirit originates for an area of the United States - Bourbon County. This county was originally part of the state of Virginia, but eventually became part of the new state of Kentucky (founded in 1786). The county seat is Paris, Kentucky, named out of respect for the French government for supporting the American Revolutionary War.

On May 4,1964, the United States Congress recognized Bourbon Whiskey as a "distinctive product of the United States." The Federal Standards of Identity for Distilled Spirits (27 C.F.R. 5.22) state that bourbon must meet certain requirements, which include that bourbon must be made with a grain mix of at least 51% corn and must be aged in charred oak barrels. In addition, it may not be distilled above 160 U.S. proof.

Technically, Bourbon can be made anywhere in the USA, however 95% of all the world’s bourbon is made in Kentucky.

Old Crow is great – it come in a plastic jug, is cheap, and tastes great. Doctor James C. Crow was a Scot who invented sour mash. We thank him.

So what is Jack Daniel’s, besides pure deliciousness? It is a Tennessee whiskey, made in Lynchburg, Tennessee. It is NOT bourbon as defined by Title 27 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Chapter 1, Part 5, Section 5.22. It is a sour mash filtered through sugar maple charcoal prior to aging in barrels. The ingredients are water, corn, malted barley, and rye. The sugar maple charcoal gives it that sweetness and the aging in oak barrels gives it color.

And Scotch? It is a whiskey. By international law, it must be distilled in Scotland. It is made with different grains and blends, distilled 2 or 3 times, aged in different casks, and sometimes treated with peat for a smoky flavor. There are many, many, many different kinds: blended, single malts, oak cask flavored with wines etc…etc…etc…

Thursday, October 29, 2009



(Please note – none of this liquor was purchased for this blog entry; inventory was spontaneous.)

On October 28th 2009 I found the following liquor in my home:

Wine – Challis Lane 2007 California Merlot, two bottles of Vanel 2008 French Merlot, blanc de blancs Grandial French brut sparkling wine;

Beer – MacTarnahan’s Brewing Co. Lip Stinger farmhouse ale made with peppercorns;

Junmai Ginjo Premium Sake (14-15% alcohol by volume ABV) from Trader Joe’s market, Sho Chiku Bai classic Junmai sake from Berkeley, CA, a few blocks from my home and Koshu Plum rice wine with plum (12% ABV), made in Berkeley California;

Dekuyper Peppermint schnapps, Potter’s Peppermint schnapps, and Bols Butterscotch schnapps, Potter’s Triple Sec, Potter’s Crème de Cassis, Potter’s Blue Curacao;

Martini & Rossi bianco vermouth, extra dry vermouth, and Gallo sweet vermouth for making Manhatten’s, Quarles Harris Ruby Porto;

Hill’s Absinth from the Czech Republic 70% ABV, Swiss Kubler Absinthe (53% ABV) and Trenet Absinthe (with an “e”) (60% ABV) from France. As you may know, Absinthe with an “e” is made with wormwood, while absinth is made without;

Romana Sambuca, both Classico and Black, Irish Mist liqueur, Drambuie, Agwa coca herbal, Austria’s Stroh jagertee liqueur, which Hugh loves to serve to guests blended with black hot tea, Becherovka, a Czech liquor that is also very popular in Slovakia (but I find tastes like eating pine tree sap);

St. Elmo Rum;

Scotch and whiskey– two mini bottles of Tobermory 10 year old, very petey, Laphroaig 10 year old, Glenlivet 12 year old, Glenfiddich 12 year old, Finlaggan Islay single malt, J&B blended scotch, 2 bottles of Jack Daniels, Maker’s Mark, Black Horse Schwabischer Whiskey, Clontarf Irish whiskey, and last but not least my favorite scotch single islay malt 18 year old Bunnahabhain. Currently we are out of Glen morangie – normally we always have a bottle on hand, however it disappears quickly.

Hungarian Slivovitz 3 year old, homemade slivovica form Slovakia bootlegged into the USA a few years ago, homemade slivovica form Slovakia brought to the USA this year, and Maraska Slivovica from Croatia and Maraska Slivovica from Serbia;

Bunratty Potcheen from Ireland. The label on this bottle claims that this liqueur is made in Ireland legally for export only, and is illegal to sell or drink in Ireland. Now this has to be a ploy…. for American sales – like it is too gross to sell in Ireland; they only get the good stuff… this stuff is only good mixed with lemonade;

Hennessy VS, E&J brandy, Domino de Villasanta Cream Sherry (sherry is Hugh’s mom’s favorite go-to drink);

Gross booze – Campari and Villa Massa Limoncello. I should love both of these; I am a huge fan of bitters and lemons. Why I don’t like these two liqueurs is beyond me.

You will note an absence of vodka and gin. Why? One – vodka is my favorite spirit so I drank it all. I usually keep a jug of Stoli in the house. Next payday I will buy a new jug. Stoli is very flexible; it is great out of the freezer straight up, and it also works well in a dirty martini with extra olives. As to gin…. I am not the biggest fan. Please send me your favorite gin and maybe I will be converted to gin.

Next up... drinking accessories....

Monday, October 26, 2009

New Blog Theme

So now back from Europe.... I want to continue blogging; I think that the theme may have to change form travel to something else. The 2 things I know about are kung fu and alcohol. They seem a bit contradictory at first, but everything in moderation....

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Searched at the border

So I have been to 9 countries in 3 months, and the only country that told me that i had to be searched in a private room and swabbed all the items in my carry-on was the USA, the country i am a citizen, the country of my birth. got my boobs and crotch searched cause i was chosen at random...

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Last day on road

yesterday we flew from odesa to prague, then to munich. today i hang in munich and fly out to toronto then SFO tomorrow. 5 airports in 2 days - john still has me beat when he flew to malia's wedding...

going home to hugh and new cat family!!!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Last day in Odesa

The japanese guy turned up safely. he just spent the nite int he village cause the busses stopped running. not too exciting after all.

today we are going to the opera. i forgot which one - i know nothing about opera. this may be my first real opera, if you dont count andrew loyde webber plays. I have seen cats! I think this is going to be a real and proper opera. (I will be seeing Devo in 2 weeks...)

we leave tomorrow on Czech Air to Munich - i can't wait - i am soooo hugh home sick it hurts.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Life in the Hostel

So since I am sick all I do is hang out in the hostel. We have a small adventure going on here.... The hostel is a very nice flat. Pete and I are in teh private bedroom. The hostess is very nice but a bitye skiddish.

She bakes us an apple cake yesterday, and also made me a home remedy for my flu, a mixture of lemon juice, honey and glycerin drops. It does not seem to be doing anything, but it tastes good.

The adventure is with the other room mates. We have 2 other people in the hostel, a russian tourist and a japanese guy. the japanese guy does not speak russian and does not appear to have friends in the city. he left yesterday afternoon to go to some village 180 km north of Odessa. he tolds the hostess that he was leaving for kiev in the morning,a nd would be back. well. he never returned. his bags are still in the hostel. we have not yet called the police, however the hostess called the owner of the hostel - but he lives in kyiv.... the guy is an adult.... we are not sure what we need to do. call the japanese embassy? the police? I do not want to be a witness to the disapperance of a japanese national in this hostel.... weird.....

Still sick

I have spent the past 2 days in bed.... have bronchiatas and I am coughing up a lung...

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Odesa animals

There are cats all over the streets of Odesa!!!

Odesa Ukraine

We took the night train from Kyiv to Odesa two days ago - I am loosing track of the days and nights.... We got a first class sleeper - private and comfortable. just for 2. But I was too sick to really enjoy the luxury. I just passed out for 10 hours.

When we got into Odesa, Yan, a friend of Hugh's from Also was there to pick us up and take us to our hostel. Our hostel is right near downtown, walking distance from everything. He then ahs to go to work - I spend the day in bed sick.

At 8pm we went to a German Beerhouse for dinner with the Aldon crew - we had a great time, lots of meats, beer and vodka. the we toured the city on foot, sing the famous Potomkin steps, the moving bridge, Pushkins stature, the optical illusion wall.

Today I found the internet cafe and book tix for a flight to Munich on the 19th, air Czech. this hostel does not have a computer - only wifi....

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Last day Kyiv

On the last day in Kyiv I was horribly sick. however Nastia made delicious hot breakfast again - omlet and tortilla. Niegel and I made it over to the Chemist and after loading up on vodka and flu medicine I made it out for a 2 hour walk in the rain and cold. I made it to the Golden Gate, to St Sofia cathedral, and another cathedral - blue, and lastly, to by Nastia a gift for all she has done for us.

Tonight she is making another fabulous home made Ukrainian meal, then we head out on the 11 pm train to Odesa!

Really Central Kyiv

Thank you Nastia for the best Hostel ever. You are a great cook, and are the best hostess I have ever met. I do not know how you have the enery.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Roasting Chestnuts

So today I was slow and sick - have a bad headcold. i did buy a bag of raw chestnuts on the street from an old Ukrainian lady for 10 hv. I took them back to the hostel, got out a fry pan and roasted them - they turned out pretty good! There was one grub/maggot mixed in the bunch, but we did not eat him - Bev rescued him and tossed him out the window. This is what you do when your sick....

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Killer Kyiv

Things that may kill you in Kyiv:

walking because the cars go very fast and reckless
old ladies who sell tickets
packs of wild dogs (not really - they are friendly-ish)
the wet cold
high heels and cobbelstones
too much great food and vodka
your brother's snoring
footballers (not really - they are quite nice guys)

i am getting quite fat.... i put on a bit of weight here....

Walk around Kyiv

Today was a crappy cold rainy day in kyiv. So I took a long walk. The path i took is the following:

Past the Shevchenka Opera house, right at mykhayla kotsyubinskoho street, past the botanical gardens, down komintternu to the train station, got yelled at by mean old ticket ladies when trying to purchase tickets to Odesa, back down the main street to the botanical garden, in the garden, down Tolstoha to the Monument of Taras Shevchenko, past the Russian Museum, yelled at by another men lady selling me a fanta, and back to the hostel.

It must have been at least a 4k walk. again our hostess is excited to cook an authentic ukrainian dinner for us so i needed to burn off the calories!

Walking Kyiv

So after we settled into our hostel, Bev, myself, Neigel, and my brother took the metro to the center of kyiv. Neigel left us at the Chernobyl museum. Bev had booked a tour of the actual chernobyl for today. (I wish I had booked the tour, however i was not organized enough). Afterward, we walked to Kontraktova Square, where we met an odd Slovak guy named Andre, who was a history nerd. He latched onto our little posse and started to give us a narrated history tour of the area (for free). We walked the whole of Volodymyrska Street, from bottom to top and then back down. He lectured us on how this street was the veins of kyiv, the aristocrats on the top of the hill and the market square on the bottom.

halfway up the street is the Bulgakoc Museum. Both Bev and I are fans of Bolgakov - I loved The Master and Margarita (bought a new copy in Prague and shipped it back 2 weeks ago in fact). so she and i attempted to tour the home/museum. the price was psoted 20 hv, however the museum woman was a bitch and tried to charge us 75 hv for the tour. we said - no - and snuck around th back and gave ourselves our own tour.

we climed a hill behind Bolgakov's home to see the view of the 3 hills of the witches. stories say that witches gathered on these hills to celebrate their craft and influenced the writings of Bolgakov.

lastly we finished climbing the street and toured St andrew's church at the very top, a beautiful baroque church done in golds tourquois and reds.

we went back to the center of town, Independance Square, where in 2004 the Orange Revolution took place, insuring that Ukraine was no longer under the influence of the Russian government. we again at at the Ukrainian cafeteria for more borsht and beer. we finished the evening with a vodka walk around midnight, to the sounds of fireworks.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Kyiv, Ukraine - the Hostel

today was our first day in kiev - kyiv - i love love love kiev!!!

we took the night train from lvov. we splurged for first class. we shared a 4 person car with a ukranian grandmother and her granddaughter. (who my brother noted is very cute). i slept very well - aparently i snore and kept my brother awake. the 2 of them were traveling from lvov to kiev to attend the birthday party of an aunt, who was turning 36. the grandmother showed me pictures of her brother who once lived in Minnisota - he has since died - she had pictures of the funeral to share. she was very happy to meet an american on the train. it gave her moments to share with oterhs the love she had for her brother.

we got to kiev at around 7:30 am - we found a taxi driver - i handed him a note of where our hostel was. he took us there right away. however the address was just a sketchy alleyway that was unmarked. we were getting used to this - hostels in many ukranian cities are unmarked except by maybe a little bit of english on the side on a paper print-out at best. he was getting pissed that this crazy american girl was wondering around an alley without paying him first. so i paid him and he left us in the alley. however after about a half hour 2 girls emerged from a door to smoke. we snuck in and found the hostel on the second floor. we were buzzed into an apartment full of birtish footballers who were visitng for the english/ukraine world cup qualifyer match (set for today in a city 8 hours form kiev). (oh, england lost, however they have already qualified for the 2010 world cup in south africa).

the hostel is HI Hostel Really Central. The hostel is "based in a great Stalin-architecture flat with 4 meter high celings, offering dorm beds and 2 private rooms and two large toilets". The hostess Nastia, is a wonderful cook, who makes omlets every morning, and cooks ukrainian dinner every tuesday, thursday and saturday. (and, yes, boys, she is young and cute, born in Minsk Belarus.)

We made friends in Lvov, and 2 of them, Neigel and Bev, met us hear the first night. Neigel had a bit of bad luck - he was pickpocketed shortly after arrival on the Metro, and then when he got to the flat, he got a bloody nose from his illness.

Another flatmate is a woman form Poland who now lives in oslo, who has given me much in polsih history and contacts to look up family members.

Friday, October 9, 2009

L'wow, day 2

In the first day in L'wow, Pete and I only toured the Old Town and walked the Castle Hill Park. We hung out with other travelers in the hostel, and I made us a pasta dinner.

On day 2 I found that I had indeed caught pete's head cold. I took a morning walk, did our banking, paid for our nights at the hostel, found our path to the railroad station, and bought night tickets on the sleeper train to Kyiv. I splurged for first class since I am sick. Also it appears that a few of our new hostel friends will be on the same train. We all decided to book beds at the same hostel, since the hostel has free ukrainian dinners, and it appears to be pretty nice and cheap. (also this means that our roommates will be cool)

Sick people don't do much, but we did go out to eat. there are a chain of Ukrainian cafeterias which have delicious ukrainian food super cheap. These cafeterias had foods that my grandmother used to make, including golabki and pierogis. We ate 10 different dishes, including pork on the bone, red beetroot borsht, chicken Kyiv, and salads.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

L'viv, Ukraine

Today we took the train from krakow to L'viv Ukraine. I was very hung over. The night before we, at the hostel, watched the Big Lebowski and drank 2 bottles of vodka. not the smartest move....

The train was very basic, however we got our own private sleeping compartment, so I was very comfortable. Border crossing went smoothly, but did take 2 hours since they have to change the wheels of the cars to accomodate a different type of rail tracks.

WE got into L'viv at midnight, so we found a "trustworthy" taxi driver, wo took us to our hostel - which was closed for the season... He recommended the Kosmonaut Hotel, which was also in our guidebook,a nd they were open and had a room. Perfect! The driver knew spanish so we communicated in spanish. (because we don't know ukrainian or russian and he did not know english) he did greatly overcharge us, but we were still happy since we were same with a bed.

The Kosmonaut is a hostel, not a hotel, despite the name. it is soviet rustic, however kitches it up and it is homey. WE are also just blocks form the center of town - WOOT!!!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Auschwitz & Birkenau

"Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it."

-George Santayana

"The Holocaust is a central event in many people's lives, but it also has become a metaphor for our century. There cannot be an end to speaking and writing about it. Besides, in Israel, everyone carries a biography deep inside him."

- Aharon Appelfeld

"We shall solve this problem, and afterwards Warsaw as the Capital and the pool of intelligentsia of that nation will be destroyed."

-Heinrich Himmler- August 1944

Monday, October 5, 2009

Polish Mad Dog

So last night was vodka tasting night at the hostel. the first was a mixed drink called a Mad Dog. In a shot glass you first fill it halfway with vodka. then you carefully float raspberry liquor into the glass. then you place one shot of tabassco in the center of the drink. if you look at the glass you will see the Polish national flag, which is a red stripe on the bottom and a white stripe on the top, and the Polish eagle made by the drop of tabassco. I thought this was very cool - i will be doing this at home - hugh - get me some vodka, raspberry liquor and clear shot glasses!!!!

krakow day 2

So we decied to go to Auschwitz today - the weather is good, and Pete is feeling better. We leave in an hour. Which gave me time to go explore the city a bit.... and I bought SHOES!!! Shooes is Europe are cheaper and better than USA shoes, especially since I am a size 40 1/2. It is very hard to find proper fitting shoes in teh USA for us girls with larger feet - the better to kick you with my dear. I got a cute pair of flat brown booties and a cute pair of heeled brown booties - both for perfect winter wear. I did plan for this - the only shoes I currently ahve with me are a pair of Keen sandals, and teh weather is becoming wintery here - so i actually needed the boots...

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Krakow day one

Poor pete is sick. So I booked a second class train tix to Krakow form Warsaw so we could get him to bed and not have to jump from plateform to plateform .. he could just relax in the train. Fast and direct. I had reserved beds at the local hostel the night before, on the recommendation of the staff at the Oki Doki. We are staying at mama's hostel, and it is cute and right in the heart of old Town. The place is very cozy and friendly, relaxed and clean. And there is free vodka tasting tonighjt - bonus! No weirdo killers and no electrical wires hanging form the walls.

Pete took a nap and I went out and enjoyed the town. It is a very university town, also filled with 20 something clergy - tons of Catholic monks and nuns in full gear in their 20's wearing sandals and rocking out to guitarts on the streets. Today it appeared to be a music festival for young clergy members. It made the whole town seem like a dreamy safe nook away form the real world. there were more catholic clergy partying in the streets than there is in the whole protestant USA.

tomorrow we will most likely just hang in the town, then take a tour of Auschwits/Birkenau the next day.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Walking Warsaw

Today we walked Warsaw. we first had breakfast with 3 Canadians. One was a teacher who was returning to north american after years of teaching in china, and touring russia; the other 2 were a married couple who were on a three week holiday. we then walked to the warsaw ghetto - where the famous uprising took place in 1944.

we started off on Pope John Paul II street, and headed to the Pawiak prison 1835 - 1944. This prison was originally built for common criminals in 1830's, however it was taken over by the gestapo in the 1930's, and became infamous. 10% of Warsaw's population was imprisoned here. noted for americans, they used interrogation devises such as waterboarding and dogs. what we do not learn from history we are doomed to repeat. some of the waterboards were preserved, such as rubber tubing... asso to be noted was an elm tree, now encompased with bronze. in 1944 the nazi's bombed warsaw and the elm survived and is now a monument to those who died in the prison.

we then walked the warsaw ghetto. those who have seen roman polanski's film "the pianist" will be familiar with the recreation of these streets. of coarse the buildings were all razed by bombs, so now the ghetto is marked by stone tablets. we passed many hebrew tour groups on the path. a new historical museum is in the process of being built in this area.

we ended the day walking tthe old town, were we stopped for lunch on teh street Madam Curie was born. I are pig knuckle and wodka, pete had duck mmmmmmm.

we watched break dancers in the main square, and passed the dedication to copurnacus. we finished the day going to an old car show, with citrions from the 1930- present.

tomorrow we leave for krakow!!!

Friday, October 2, 2009

mmmm Food

Last night, after we settled into the clean, no Taxi Driver Robert Dinero guys, we went out for some real Polish food. We went to a cute place called Zapiecek, which specialized in perogies. We got a plate of meat perogies, a plate of cabbage and mushroom ones, fried chicken livers with apples and onions, beetroot soup, and I had a Detroit breakfast = a shot of Jim beam and a beer. The waitresses were wearing cute red checkered maid outfits with blue corsets - i think it was supposed to look country old timey. the reseraunt was all woodwork, like a cabin (but set in the middle of a big city...). the dinner helped shack off the memory of the scary Hostel Tamka that we ecaped.

Scary Hostel in Warsaw....

So today is our first day in Warsaw. It ended well, but started kind of rocky. We got to the central train station after an easy ride from Poznan. our car was full, but we were entertained by a father and his 2 year old daughter, who was super cute and talkative, and watched Kung Ku Panda in Polski.

We got to the central train station and called and made a reservation at a hostel that we got a nice brochure on, that was not in the guide book. we got there and the outdoors should have warned us.... you had a gated window and spray painted outside. we got buzzed in and the reception looked fine, nice 20 year old girl at the front desk. she had told us on the phone that she was very booked but could squeeze us in. she squeezed us into the basement. we got to our 10 bed dorm, and it smelled of piss. so we opened the window to air it out - the window opened up to the dumpsers...

we started to unpack and pete noticed there was shit on his sheets. so i went up to go=et us a different room. so we got out of the basement and to the second floor. the last room of the second floor, room 12, was ours. in there was a 40 year old creepy guy in an army jacket with a grease pony tail. i plugged my phone into the jack - the jack was hanging off the wall in wires. there were no curtains. the girl at the front desk explained that the prior resident ripped the curtains off the window in anger because they did not like the accomodations.

so again we started to unpack. at that pont the creepy guy engaged us in conversation. i atempted to say we spoke english, but did so in slovak. he then proceeded to rip me a new one since i apparently should have not attempted a foreign language and should have spoken only english. at this point i told pete that we needed to discuss food in the hallway....

so food - pete was to guard our belonging from the creepy guy while i go score a new bed for the night. so i went out into the street and tried to score beds at the hostel we passed on the way called the Hostel Lemon. it was on teh 4th floor of a sushi resteraunt. i wiated and waited, but no one answered the reception. so i then found anoterh one a block away that was in our guide book called the Oki Doky. the price was 3x that of the scary hostel, but well worth it. free internet, a bar with happy hour lots of students, loud happy brit pop, and roommates from canada, who have even scarier stories than ours - he was in a hostel in krakow where the scary guy was drinking a 5th of vodka and pulled out a knife.

right now they are blasting Queen at this hostel - another one bites the dust. this is a good hostel!!!

Thursday, October 1, 2009



So the boys were in a Prague bar. DEVO came on and the bar cleared out in seconds.... the boys kept bitching about how much they hate DEVO, but continued drinking and listening.... I have tix to see DEVO in SFO when I get back form this trip - I can't wait!!! Love DEVO!!!!

Poznan thoughts...

so Peter is listening to Polish hip -hop = Wyll, album Normalna ( i think....)(hard to tell.....) We visiteed the gas company to find our father's birht records - we of coarse were in the wrong department.... but it was an adventure. We saw a very beautiful cathedral,a nd another one which was on cathedral island which was form the 9th century, and was the founding city of Poland. Also it was visted by pope JP2 in 1983.... we ate street keilbasa and peirogi... we went to a farmers market... we went to a mcDonalds with leather chairs... we drank micro-brew....

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Poznan, Poland

Yesterday me and Peter took the 9 hour train from Prague to Poznan, Poland. We were lucky and got a Hogwarts style cabin to ourselves for most of the trip, so we could sprawl out and sleep. At the Polish/Czech border we were passport controlled 2x, but the police were very nice, and young too. The conductor helped ous out with our transfer in Worclaw. A german/polish professor also trapped us for an hour lecturing us on what we should see in Worclaw - even though we were not planning to stay there. It is an up and comming college town and vacation spot that was not destroyed by the wars. We just don't have time.

So here we are in Poznan. Today i plan on goping to city hall and look up our family birth records. As you all know our father was born here. i want to see who else is from here. And I am ballsy enought to call people out of the blue for dinner if it is possible.

generally everyone here in Poland is very helpful and nice. we have had no difficulties. however since this is a college town, we cannot find traditional polish food - mostly spanish and italian. students like pasta and tapas.... we will have to wait for warsaw for perogies.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


So today I went to go see the new film Janosik. I have a mixed review of this film....

First, I did enjoy most of the film. I am a language student, so, as such, this film is easy for an English native speaker to follow the plot and its characters. That may tell you that it lacks a little in the character development department, or not... I don't know.... The main character/hero Janosik comes off as a more gonady/forced-hetero Orlando Bloom, who is Slovakia's Robin Hood. Except here he robs from the rich to get laid by the local county gals. A few of their fathers may get some of the wealth too, but that is an after thought....

Second, this is a chick flick. Even though all the movie posters show a bloody hook (which kind of spoils the ending) this is NOT a bloody fighting swash-buckling film. No. This film is for the Ladies. There is kissing with honey during a wedding fully clothed, that is sensuous wedded bliss by Janosik's best ginger-headed friend and his ginger-headed bride. (of coarse Janosik is cursed by a dark eyed gypsy chick who is very hot...)

Lastly, there is NOT ENOUGH FIGHTING AND ROBBING!!!!! Too much kissing. The first sword fight is one hour into the film and is half assed with an Austria fop. of coarse Janosik kicks his ass in a humiliating way.

Bottom line.... the film is very pretty, and the costumes are super cool. We like Slovak woodcutters with mini axes in tight cream woolen pants and black hats. Not just like... LOVE !!! However, you need more than sexy kisses to keep that going. Give us either violence with Yuen Woo-Ping kung fu/sword fights, depth of character a la Scorsese, or art direction that is mind-blowing. (the art direction was dobre, however I wanted one more element)

I will watch this again on DVD, mostly to study language. And wish for more blood.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Kutna Hora

Today we took a train to the village of Kutna Hora, about 1 hour from Prague. This village as an ossuary - a Catholic chapel made out of the sculls and bones of over 40,000 people who died form the Black Plague. Once I am able I will download and post the photos - think of the cambodian killing fields made into religious artwork. It was insane - literally. I have never seen anything that grotesque in my life.
Afterward we spent a wonderful day walking around this village. There are many beeautiful cathedrals, shops and cobblestone paths. Today was also a state holiday that of Saint Wenceslas. The weather was warm and sunny, perfect for walking.

Yesterday we took it easy. WE slept in and then went to Ian's school to see a photo exibition. The photos were all world events form 2008, from award winning photographers. The subjects included Obama's election, the earthquate in China, the Olimpics, and the Mumbai attacks.

Tonight I am taking it easy alone while everyone else is going to a regga concert. I am just too tired.

We leave for Poland in 2 days - on Wednesday morning. Pete and Ihave a 9 hour trian to Poznan. Joe is staying with the 2 CAnadia gals and going to Berlin.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Pope Benedict spotted

So today is our second day in Prague. We took the night train from Munich, Germany, after about 4 hours at Octoberfest. We did not party at Octoberfest proper - no costumes, no ticket to a big beer hall. We did it on the cheap; we bought beer on the street and ate street meat and walked around the carnival for 4 hours. It was pretty awesome, but I need to come back and do it right. We just ran out of time and money.

So after hitting Octoberfest we did the night train to Prague. It was a Hogwarts style train - cute compartment that we could lock ourselves into and sleep. Once we hit the czech rep it felt more like home. i do not know why...

we got to the main train station and called Joe's high schoot friend Ian to come get us. he has been living in Prague for the past 5 years. He is a poliSci guy, who took the LSAT 2x and decided not to go to law school. currently he is walking with crutches because he broke his heel jumping of of a step while intoxicated. guess what - he and i are now goot friends!!! drinking and law = good slluurry drunk talk.

at the train station i went to the info booth to find out about local stuff and etc. right behind me were 2 cute canadian gals. one had a tattoo of a lotus on her foot, which i commented on since Joe has the same tattoo. 2 new drinking buddies!!! tonight the 6 of us hit the town, discussing canada, booze, travel, law, beer, wine, the Pope, and tomorrows plans. the 6 of us plan on hitting a cathedral made out of human sculls. One of the canadiana is also a martial artis 8 years of karate. like minds drink wines.

the boys spend the day with the girls while i stalked and photographed the Pope. Ina has a broken leg so he had to spend the day at hoem - which does suck. I'll post the Pope photos when i get back to the USA - i do not know how to transfer them...

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Sybian Table Tennis

Last night we went and watched Ruth play her first league game of the season in her table tennis club. Ruth used to be professional. Think Forrest Gump or the chinese. Lots of head games as to how to serve the ball, and to return. Lots of back spin and top spin. Lots of kung fu horse stance and footwork.

I videoed her first match of the evening. It was against this guy who was a bit of an ass because he had to go against a girl. This is a mens league and Ruth the only female. And Ruth kicked his ass in a close finish. Then Ruth got her game on and won every match, the last one a clean sweep.

Her whole team did well that evening. Visitors 8, Home 3.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Ukraine in Germany

So today I spend the day alone shopping at the outlet malls in the nearby village of Metzingen. It is where Jennifer likes to buy leather handbags. However I was not as lucky. I saw many leather handbags I liked, but they were all for 200 EU or more, so i did not buy any. Instead I bought a little makeup .... yes.... i know... i know.... buy hey, it is small and alot less than 200 EU.

Ruth took me to the train station on the back of her scotter = I WANT A SCOOTER!!!!! OMG it was so fun to zip around the village on the scooter. You can buy them in Berkeley for $700, all electric. It would be perfect for going to kung fu and the grocery store, which is what i do most of the time anyway.

i had to find my way home. the train was a piece of cake, however i think i bought a senior fare.... the bus was a little mmore difficult - the sign Ruth told me to follow was not posted on the regular board, but when the correct bus pulled up it was obvious. And the bus driver and I communitced well. But in Ukrainian. He knew no english and I knew no german. we figured our common language was a hobbled together mix of slovak and Ukrainian with a little russian mixed in. He taught me the proper way to say Lviv and Ukraine - it is not how you would think in the USA. But of coarse I cant remember it now....

the bus driver had been in germany for 10 years and his main family is now here. he has 3 kids. he wanted to know why i did not have a german/english language book. i told him because this was not where i was mainly to travel. this was all hobbled together in Ukraine/slovak. I think I did ok!!! and he dropped me off 1 block for Ruth's house! Woot!!!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Oh yeah...

we also hit the castle Luximbourg spelling off... it was very different fromt he other castles we have hit. much smaller and more tubular and pointy, on top of a very steep cliff. georgous.

and we are living with Lux the cat, a very friendly loving boy with a bad allergy and cough. he loves us and sleeps with one of us every night.

More Deuchland

We are still partying in Germany... the place is too cool to leave - Ruth and her family are too cool to leave. And we still have not even made it to Octoberfest in Munich yet. We have continued partying in Tuebingen.

2 Days ago we toured the countryside. We hit the old Bear caves, which were larger than the ones I have seen in Lassen CA. WE attemped to go bobsledding at 2 different places, but one was closed on Mondays and the other was waiting for the safety inspector. Lastly we had dinner at a place tucked away in a hamlet, called the Rose. WE treated ourselves to the full treatment, and got the best stuff on the menu and bottles of wine and shots of local whiskey aged in oak barrels that had also been used to ferment pears. Mmmmmmm.

Yesterday we hit the Mercedes Museum. That was one of the best museums I had ever been to, and we could not do the whole thing in one day. So much history, not just about cars, but how cars have shaped the 20th century. being that 3 of us are from detroit, this museum was especially interesting. Lastly, Ruths parents took us out for an italian dinner - again perfect homemade pasta and grappa!

On my downtime, on trains etc, i made Ruth a rastafarian beret. it turned out very well - professional quality. probably one of the best hats i can make. looks store bought.

today ruth and the boys are going out hiking while i hit the hugo boss store adn other leather goods stores. then i plan on attending ruths league tabel tennis match. this is the pro stuff - ruth used to be a professional table tennis player. think chinese style, or forrest gump.

oh yea = i have another soccer jersey for the collection - Stuttgurd, cacau number 18 - he is a hotty defensive lineman.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Tuebingen, Germany

Tuebingen, Germany-

Currently we are living at Ruth's aunt's house. Her aunt is on vacation for 3 weeks in Corsica, France. The house is very sweet - 4 bedrooms, a courtyard, big dining room table.

In Salzburg, I scratched the rental car, 4 hours before the car was due back at Avis. I was doing sooo well - no damage, no tickets, despite 3 police stops, in illegal eastern european counties. But in a parking lot in Salzburg I scratched the door in a parking lot. Avis noticed it right away. They want to charge me 800 US dollars for the damage. i did not fight them - I called american express and is disputing the charge that way on the back end. 800 is excessive. 200 may be reasonable. so i have a legal fight going on. i feel like an idiot for not getting extra insurance. also ruth has me scared fro not buying travel insurance. as an american i am so used to not haveing coverage. the boys have no health insurance in the Us, why would you think of buying it oversees???

From Salzburg we drove to Munich, where we returned the scratched car. Ruth called, and for once my phone worked. WE hopped on the train to Stuttgart. The trained in Germany do actually run like clockwork - we had to run to make our train and connections.

Ruth picked us up and we made the introductions. We had a few beers and walked with her mother and dogs, chilling. We settled down in Ruth's aunts house - it felt great, just like home.

The next day we went to the Tuebingen Market - a huge event that attracts over 100,000 people. me and Pete bought rings, kick ass chuncky brass and stainless steel rings. I also bought yarn, no surprise. We hung with Ruth and her parents, who are super cool. I cooked everyone a chicken and veggie dinner, and we drank many bottles of wine.

Today we just walked around the city. there was a city fun run going on, but we missed the actual run. we toured the city and drank lots of beer.

tomorrow, who knows..... bobsledding and caves and maybe a castle. we love tuebingen.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

salzburg day 2

today was great. we checked in to a very nice hostel called the JUFA jugend and familiengastehauser. clean, inernet access, seperate dorms for girls and boys on request, lockers, bookings for tours etc... 20 EU a night, right in old Salzburg.

we met an american girl named alex in the lobbie from LA who loves films. she and my brothers booked a Sound of Music tour. i would have gone except i needed time alone, and i wanted to take a boat tour of the river - no surprise to all who know me and my love of boats and water.

the river boat tour was fun - they sell beer on the boat and give you a history tour. of coarse Salzburg is named for salt - the famous salt mines are very nearby. the river has very strong killer currents and the boat was specifically maide for this river and is unique.

i regret we could not take a tour of the kehlsteinhaus - eagle's nest - where hitler had his famous mountain retreat. oh well next trip. the weather is not good for it - rain and fog. also it costs 50 EU. too much for this budget.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


We are spending 2 nights in Salzberg, since 1) if we get to Munich a day early we will not have a place to stay and 2) it is very beautiful. The first night we splurged and stayed at a 4 star hotel - the Hotel Wolf. It still was not too expensive - 110 EU for a double. I needed some clean from the futbal situation. today we find the hostel in town. they are not easy to find hear. this is an old person's town - my kind of town!!! early to bed, quiet and peaceful, beautiful, no one under the age of 45, a wonderful yarn store - which I will be hitting this morning. opens at 9am!!! love old people towns. I will be coming back here for sure.

tomorrow is munchen!!!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


ok followers - i will not be checking my spelling or grammer - internet costs money for time and all the keyboards are totally different everywhere we go. cant wait to see ukrainian keyboards!!


So last night we dropped Andrea off at the Wien airport. Since the boys have never been to Vienna before, I told them we would spend the night here. I hate hate hate driving in vienna so as soon as we hit the main city center, I parked in a pricy lot for overnight, and we would walk-metro everywhere.

Pete and I dropped Joe off at the cathedral, drank a beer, read a map, and interneted the locations of the hostel district. We hoofed it over there before they got filled up.

We stayed at the westend city hostel. clean sheets. polite staff. internet access. laundry facility. But I did share a dorm with 6 futbal guy who trashed the bathroom... YUCK!!!!

My boya and i got a great italian dinner and then I went to bed while they explored the city at night.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Octoberfest 2009

So today I spend 2 hours booking a hotel for Octoberfest - yes this is very last minute. Yes we are dumb. But i did good. We are going to be at the City Hotel Ost am Ko in Augsberg, about 40K from Munich. was only 146 EU for the whole stay - kick ass!!!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Poland for petrol

Today we drove to the village of Babin, to visit our friend Peter L. He is a close friend from Slovakia, who we got to know while he was living in San Francisco a few years back. Currently he has a job that keeps him on the Polish border. He also practices Akido.

He took us to the Oravsky Hrad. Hrad is Slovak for fortress, however a hrad is also a "castle", much nicer than just a fortress. (Zamok is the typle of castle that would have a princess, all fancy etc... Think France or Austria.) This hrad was first built in the 13th century, and was never overtaken by armed forces. It has a drawbride and windows to domp hot oil on intruders. The weapons rooms were awesome - love an old axe or mace.

Afterward we visited an old village - the opposite of the castle, where the serfs resided. It looked like Hobbiton - I loved it!

Peter then took me to me his Sensei. This may have been the highlight of the day for me. Martial Arts in the tiny towns of northern Slovakia - very cool!

We finished off the evening with halushkys, fried chees and bacon. Mmmmm bacon! Sunca!!!

I can't forget to mention... We went to Poland to purchase gas/petrol because they are not on the Euro yet and it is way cheaper in Zloty. On the way back we were pulled over by the police. WE were fine and polite, no problems. But then, after we dropped off Peter, we were pulled over again, near Zilina. This was a random drinking pull over. We have German plates so we look suspicious... Andrea was driving, because she needs practice. I also have violated the contract, allowing my car into Slovakia (not allowed to have it go into any Eastern Block counties... (I this there are some EU harmonization violations with this contract, but oh well...) We only had tea for dinner, so this was not the issue for us either. The worry was that this was the first time Andrea has ever been stopped by a police officer in any country. She played it cool - no tickets! She used my technique I had told her about, act polite and a little scared, like "I am from out of town, and a little lost etc.." This works in any country if your a cute girl. She did and it worked! (I did not want a ticket since it may give away my contract violation....and cost Euro...)

Tomorrow we leave Nova Dubnica and the family. I am sad about this. But we will start a new adventure - Off to Germany!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Meeting the Mayor

Yesterday - dateline 9/9/09:

The weather was totally aewesome - clear blue skys, around 24 C, (80 F?), swam in the pool 2x, went for a hike in the mountains, took a nap....

Andrea's father is very good friends with the Mayor of Trencin, so he and his wife came over for a casual dinner. They speak a little English, but not alot. I practiced my Slovak with everyone. I am pretty ballsy and hate being quiet so I got into the mix. We discussed the USA economic crisis and Detroit gang violence and crazy meth-heads in England.

Andrea's father has a fish farm in the back acers, so we had freshly caught and killed trout, grilled...mmmm...

Then we finished the day with home made apple slivovica and the futbol game. If you did not hear - Slovensko 2:0 N. Ireland = WOOT!!!! Slovensko is number one in their grouping for the first round of World Cup qualifiers. (If you are not following - the World Cup will be in South Afrika in 2010)

Today my 2 brothers (brat in Slovensko hahaha) arrive in Trencin. We have to pick them up. My brother Joe told me he did NOT get a haircut before the trip, so I have to take him to the salon - he needs to look metro before we go out to the bars. The girls here are very pretty, so he cannot look like a scrub.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


Last night Andrea and I went for vecera in Stare Mestro Bratislava, at the Rio, a brazilian resteraunt across from the American Embassy, with her aunt and cousin.

We ordered the largest meat/meso platter. Ribs, sausage, beek steak, more ribs, more beef, corn, veggies, all on a big wooden plank. It was a meat fest!! I also had 2 Jack Daniels to wash the beef down. Heaven! And all of this was on the patio, in 78 degree summer weather with a beautiful sunset.

The American Embassy is stupid. They have a very ugly stupid iron gate wall, making it all look war-like. While the French, Japanese, Greece, Canada Embassies are all friendly facing a beautiful fountain and church square. The americans wanted a big ugly brick wall but the Slovak city government refused to permit that. So the iron gate is a compromise.

Slovensko Futbol!!!!

Today the boys are supposed to get to Munich. Then take a vlak to Vienna. Then Andrea and I are going to make them take a vlak to Bratislava and Trencin to save je a ty about 5 hours of driving. It is dumb for me and her to drive all the way there and back again, for 20 year old boys. They speak english in vienna and bratislava so the boys should not have a problem. Today we relax by the pool.... all day!!! The weather is 80 degrees and sunny. Yesterday and the day before we spend the day in Bratislava, and spent time with Andrea's cousin and aunt - her father's sister. Her aunt is a dentist, her husband is a surgeon, and her cousin is a pharmasist. We discussed american healthcare. They have a nice apartment by the hospital where all 3 of them work. Andrea and I also spend the afternoon shopping - I bought a Slovensko futbol jersey - there is a big futbol game for world cup qualificaitons tonight against north irland - booo north irland!!! Yah Slovensko!!!!

Sunday, September 6, 2009


Today we take the boys to Vienna - they have to fly back to the USA and work.... sucks.... However me and Andrea are going to go visit friends in Bratislava - FUN!!!


Yesterday was Andrea's sister's wedding - it was awesome! We danced and drank slivovica until 3:30 am. The reception was at our hotel so we staggered only a few meters to bed. Today we just take it easy and have a family dinner in the backyard.

September 4th, the day before the wedding we also just took it easy - touring Trencin, eating pizza.

The boys (hugh and john) both fly out of Vienna on the 7th. Andrea and I will drive them there and then go visit friends in Bratislava.

Joe and Pete arrive in Vienna on the 10th via train from Munich.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

A week on the road...

For the past week we have been on the road. Now we are finally in Slovensko and it feels like a homecoming. We are in Nova Dubnica, a village outside of Trencin, Andrea's hometown. The wedding of her sister is on September 5th.

August 28th we arrived in Munich, rented a car and drove to Metz, France. I posted that story, so.....The next day we drove to Normandie and had a wonderful family dinner with Isabelle's aunt, uncle, cousin and various spouses, and slept. They live in a large home in Caen. Her uncle has a beautiful fruit garden.

The next day we toured Normandie: Mont St Michel, D-Day beaches, Bayeaux (tapestry city), and a delicious dinner of duck and red wine.

My grandfather Cutts fought in WWII and stormed the beaches of Normandie, specifically Utah beach. We made a pilgrimage to the beach. He was wounded on the day he fought, but he is alive and well today, living in Hawaii!

August 30th we toured Caen, and more of Normandie, Cabourg, and the village of Deauville, an American Cinema city on the beach. It was an unusual sunny day on a warm Normandie beach. Everyone (except me cause I tan) got a sunburn. We then drove to Paris and played pin bowling with friends on the canal.

September 1 we toured all of Paris. In one day we hit the following: Eiffel Tower, Passy Cemetary, Arc de Triomphe, Champs-Elysees, McDonalds, Louvre (outside only), St. Germain Fountaine, Notre Dame, Sacred Heart and Montmartre area. We drank red wine, ate pate and foie gras, and kissed in the dark. We started and ended the day in Bry-sur-Marne, where Isabelle's parents live and where we slept. Her parents assisted the fight against communism behind the Slovak borders, and told us scary exciting stories, hiding behind bureaus, sleeping in flooded tents in the Tetras mountains, and feeding us very well.

September 2 - we drove day and night to get to Slovensko. 15 hours from Paris to Trencin.

September 3 we are in heaven! Slovensko, Slovensko, aya, aya, aya Slovensko!!!!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Day 2.5ish....and a half....bottle of wine...

So our second day in France started out really well.... I ate a pile of ham and 5 sausages for free at the hotel, and all were delicious!!!

Hugh and I then went for a walk around Metz, which is a very beautiful village. hugh said it looked like a huge Trencin (Slovakia), a very euro village with a cathedral.

We went to the Office of Yourism and bought a driving map of France, walked the farmer's market and bought homemade tartes for a lunch later, took photos, window shopped...

We bought a euro telephone so we did not suffer from excessive roaming charges on my USA phone - which was working fine! We talked to our family and friends who were in Paris and arranged to meet up for dinner in Caen..... then things got uncomfortable.......

First, I got cramps, the female blood I want to die cramps. I took a pill. Then we hit Paris traffic. Then we drove around Paris 2x - we saw the Eifffel tower 2x - that clued us in that we missed our exit. Then I started bleeding in the car, in bumper to bumper traffic. Then the toilet had no paper, and the automatic floor cleaner (because this was a traditional hole in the ground toilet) started flooding the stale, and the door was open so all could see me sticking my finger up where the freeway should not see, while dancing on one leg, and throwing my other pants across the stales to not get wet...

Thank god that I brought wet-wipe hand towels to clean all the debris....

And then we ate our tartes and my new euro phone worked perfectly, and we meet up with our family and friends and had a fabulous 5 wine dinner!!!!!

And tomorrow we are going to Utah Beach and St. Mont Michel!!!!

Friday, August 28, 2009

I am in France

So Huug and I spend 10 hours in flight, 4 hours form SFO to Toronto then another 7 to Munich. Not so bad - slept most of it with the help of Jack and Ambian. But.... we picked up our rental car from Avis (they were very nice) (and the car is nice to) and we drove for 10 fucking hours!!!!! The far as we got was Metz. Very nice city. We did not get farther because we both were stincky, hungary, grouchy, need to stretch, sleepy, wired, insert loud scream here OOOOOOOOOOO. No human beings should be kooped up in a tin can under pressure for more than 10 hours. and then to do it 2x in a row is asking for trouble.

no trouble came - Hugh ate a pizza, and I drank a whole bottle of red french wine. we are now sidated.

now we must sleep so we can drive to normany tomorrow!!!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Leaving in 16 hours!!!

We are flying out of SFO in 16 hours for Munich/Munchin. I have a fever of 101. Sucks.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Addicted to bags

I am addicted to bags - handbags, suitcases, backpacks, daypacks, duffel bags, purses. For our trip we are traveling light. I have 2 carry on bags, a Go-lite backpack and a Sampsonite carry-on. I got Hugh a duffelbag, and he will want to use his Timbuk2 as his second carry-on bag. However at Costco yesterday I saw an awesome carry-on bag that had wheels, and straps to tighten to make the bag compact, with seperate shoe compartments, and the same size as Hugh's duffel bag. It was only $40. The reason we have crappier bags is because a nice bag like the one at Costco usually goes for $150 at REI. Damn it!!!! I want that travel bag from Costco!!!!

But we don't neeeed it.....

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Loose Itinerary

Here is a loose version of our travel itinerary:

August 27th - September 3rd, 2009: Hugh and I fly to Munich from San Francisco. We will then rent a car and drive to Strausburg and visit the Margenot line. We will arrive in Paris August 29th and visit with Isabel for about a week. We are hopeful that the visit will include a trip to Normandy, Utah beach, Caen, Mont St. Michel, and the Paris sights - Louvue, Eiffel's Tower, Sacred Heart Basillica, and the Catacombs.

September 3 - 8, 2009: Slovakia: We will be driving from Paris to Trencin, Slovakia. We hope to arrive by the 4th. Andrea's sister's wedding is on the 5th. Hugh flys back to the U.S.A. from Munich on the 8th; he will need to fly to Munich on the 7th. I intend on keeping the car for a month, returning it to Munich on the 19th. During my stay in Slovakia, we will be visiting Peter in the North, and having family fun!

September 9 - 18, 2009: Slovakia with the family!

September 19 - 21, 2009: Germany: Me and my brothers will be partying at Octoberfest in Munich, Germany!!!! We will be dropping the car off once we get to Germany. The rest of our travels will be by vlak/train.

September 22 - 24, 2009: Czech Republic - We will hit Stare Maestro and all the famous landmarks. We will drink pivo in the beer halls.

September 25- 30, 2009: Poland - Krakow sounds like the highlight of Poland, but we must see Warsaw and Poznin, our father's hometown.

October 1 - October 8: Ukraine - I am very excited about visiting Lviv, Kyiv and Odessa! I want to see the Black Sea.

October 9 - 17, 2009: Croatia - We will hit Zageb, Split and Dubrovnik. We will be hanging in the Adriatic Sea, swimming in the waters, climbing over old roman ruins, drinking and eating and having a relaxing time.

October 20 , 2009: Munich, Germany - fly back to the U.S.A.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Sleep Sack

Today I bought a sleep sack at Wilderness Exchange. It cost $6.75. So I will not have to sew my own, which is nice. At REI the sleep sacks were costing between $35 - $55 and were very fancy, made of silk etc. My $6.75 sleep sack is nylon and functional. Not pretty but will keep the bed bugs off.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Airfare pt.2 - Lietadlo

Today I bought our flight tickets. I got a great deal on Air Canada - 2 round-trip tickets from SFO to Munich for $513 per ticket. Their "change return flight" policies are very liberal. You pay $150.00 to change your return flight, and you have one year to use the ticket. The tickets are also partially refundable if you need to cancel your trip.

So Hugh and I will be flying out of SFO on August 27th on flight #758; transfer in Toronto to flight #846. He will return September 8th on flight #847 and #739. I will stay on and return in October.

This means Hugh will have time to see France and go to the wedding parties in Slovakia!!!

Camera pt 2- fotoaparat

Hugh's new camera arrived yesterday. It is huge!

Airfare - Lietadlo

This week I contacted the travel agent that assisted my family with airfare to John and Andrea's wedding. I am also tracking airfare on the internet. My research has lead me to believe that Munich is the cheapest airport to fly in and out of, as well as the airport with easy connections and central location.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

New Camera

Hugh bought the camera today. Therefore, I plan on buying our plane tickets this week.

Thursday, April 30, 2009


Hugh and I plan on flying to Paris, prior to my travels with Pete and Joe. We must see Sacred Heart Basilica of Montmartre and l'Ossuaire Municipal - the Catacombs. Hugh is preparing by practicing French with Byki, and buying and a new camera. He is eyeing a Fugi film S1oofs. (I don't know what that is.)

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Couch surfing

I have not looked into it yet, but I plan on becoming a member of If we can surf some couches, it will help us save money and help me with my language skills.

Packing - Balenie

Since we will be traveling by foot, train, plane, car, and bus, we are going to pack lightly. (Not to mention that the airlines now charge an arm and a leg for each bag you take.)

I have a Go-lite backpack. It is an "internal frame" backpack, however it does not really have a frame. It is the most comfortable and strong backpack I have. It is also pretty roomy.

As for shoes, I plan on taking a pair of Keen sandals and a pair of leather flats. The sandals can double as hiking books for light hiking, and the flats can go with dresses, and are closed toe for touring churches where open toes shoes are not allowed.

I plan on 3 pairs of pants: jeans, shorts, and a pair on long black (polyester) slacks. I want to take 7 shirts, but we will see how much room they take. In China you can buy disposable underwear, but I never saw anything like than in Europe, so I guess I'll have to bring handwashable underwear. I am bringing one dress and a bathingsuit.

Now the fun stuff: camera, check. iPod, check. international adapter, check. Phone with international card, check. Other fun stuff: notebook and pen.

Essentials: sleep sheet, limited toiletries, medication, ATM card and credit card, identification and passport, and itinerary. Oh, and cash.

I need to remember to tell the boys to make sure they xerox a copy of their passports and flight information and leave the copies with loved ones, just in case someone looses something. I have traveled alone abroad before, but these two boys are greenhorns.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Eastern Europe Trip

This August me and two of my brothers (Pete and Joe) are going to travel Eastern Europe. We have been to Slovakia before; we have in-laws in Trencin, and our father is from Poland. However, I have never had the opportunity to really travel the land of our heritage. This trip is one of my lifetime goals.

My brother John has been all over Eastern Europe, and has recommended Crakow and Prague. These are two of his favorite cities. He knows beautiful cities; he lives in San Francisco now. 

To prepare for the trip I am trying to learn Slovak. Slovak, Czech and Polish are very similar, and those three countries will be our main focus. However we will also be traveling in the Ukraine, Croatia, Germany, France, Hungary, and maybe pass through a few other places.

The goal of this blog is to keep my husband and our mother up to date on the trip.