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....