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!!!!