My European (mis)Adventures

One Flash Light, A Passport, and Two Credit Cards, How much trouble can I get into?

The Feds hate me….. May 8, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Josh Green @ 10:48 am

There is a running joke amoung my friends at the office that every time they say that they have discovered a new place to go and get things I always end up saying “ hey, that’s right down the street from my house” and they all make fun of me but its true it always seems to be right down the street from my house. The weather here has finally been good and by good I mean like San Diego good, 23 degrees (Celsius) sunny and not a cloud in the sky. Last weekend since most of my friends were out of town, I decided to take a walk about around the city of Munich, I had to go down to the Hauptbahnhof to get my monthly subway card so I decided to walk it. Keep in mind I don’t have a map of the city so I figured that I would just follow what I thought was the line of the Subway and use the stops as my guide. Fantastic idea or so I thought. About 20 minutes into my walk, I cant find the next subway stop to use as a marker, I don’t even know which way I am going or if I am going in the right direction. But then it dawns on me that I can stop at a bus stop and look at the maps posted and be on my way. No problem right, except that when I finally find a bus stop map, I discover that I am going the wrong way. I finally get on the right track and wouldn’t you know it, its not as difficult as I thought it would be. It sort of funny because Munich is such a large city it seems like everything is o far away but the reality is that I was able to walk to the places I wanted to go in about 45 minutes all a while seeing new and interesting shops but knowing in the back of my mind that I’ll never be able to find these stores again. I found the used English language book store, which is just down the street of my house so I stopped in and got a few books to read, the only problem I have is that I read both of those books in 4 days and now I have nothing to do and I cant really go and get any more books because I am trying to save my money for the last few trips while I am here. While I am in the store I notice that there is a bagel place across the street from it. I haven’t been able to get a decent bagel in this country the whole time I have been here and my first thought is “of course you can’t stupid because there are no Jews in Germany” probably not the best thought to have if you know what I mean. So I ask the guy at the book store about the bagel shop across the street and he says to me “ Well I am a bagel snob” I couldn’t even concentrate on the rest of what he was saying because I the first thing that popped into my mind was the Seinfeld Soup Nazi episode only it came out “No bagel for you!!” So I got some for breakfast and realized that if you put enough “Philadelphia” on it, it tastes just fine. So the next day I pack my backpack with water and a book and take a ride down to the Zoo, I decide that the Zoo is too expensive right now so I start hoofing it down the bank of the Isar river and I have a blow out. Well actually my sandal had a blow out and I cant exactly replace them here because that would cost like 50 euros and honestly I would not pay the equivalent of 70 dollars for a new pair, so I guess I am out of luck. So as I am cruising down the Isar there are people grilling, sunbathing naked down by the river. Sweet naked chics down by the river. NO! naked fat old men, needless to say I am thoroughly disappointed and find a spot on the river with no naked fat hair men in my view and read for a few hours. It was glorious.

With the realization that money is tight, partly because my internship does not pay that much and partly because my house is right around the corner from everything I decide to fill out my Federal Aid forms so I will have money waiting for me when I get home. Well let me tell you, the U.S government doesn’t value education. How can I say that? Well I made less than 3000 dollars last year and they have the gaul to tell me that I don’t qualify for Federal Aid. I have to rely on a Pell Grant and Aid from my University. This really torques me off because here in Europe they pay a stipend for their students to study abroad. My old roommate, gets 5000 Pounds Sterling to study abroad and he gets another 5k during his internship. All my friends that go to North Eastern get a stipend which makes up the difference from what they make to 1000 euro, so most of them are getting like an extra 400 euro a month. You might be saying that they pay 40,000 a year to go there and that’s where the money is coming from. I say if its required for me to have an internship to graduate, I should be getting the same deal from my University. But I am not bitter at all, seriously, I’m not. I’m just torqued that I can’t get money from FASA, I’m a safer investment than the stock market right now. WTF?? In two weeks I am going to France and I hope to god that we all make it back in one piece, why wouldn’t we you might be asking yourself? I don’t know, four Americans in an Audi A4 rent a car on the Autobahn and 2 days in Canes, its bound to get out of control. I was also invited in June to go white water rafting with some of the French girls from work in Austria, and you know it, I am going to go for sure. The last part of my 100 days here is going to involve a trip back to Sweden for a week to visit a friend of mine, and to quote Good Will Hunting “ It’s about a girl” sort of odd for me right? How often can you say that you are going to Sweden because “Its about a girl” but more about that later. I gotta go prepare for the Ultimate Frisbee in the Englisher Garten don’t want to pull a hammy but then again its all good because I’m pretty sure an authentic Swedish Massage is in the works, and  by authentic I mean  a hot Swedish  Broad….

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Trust me, I’m a Ninja? April 22, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Josh Green @ 6:24 am

Next week marks my one month anniversary at work well I wouldn’t really call it work. (If anyone from work has stumbled upon this JUST KIDDING). Anyhow, I haven’t had much time to update my blog because I have been taking the last few weekends off and going back and forth from Reutlingen trying to get all of my stuff. Let me just say, I have no freaking idea of how I am going to get all of this stuff home, All I know for sure is that I am going to be sending some home and then I am going to be buying a new suitcase. I guess I was a little idealistic thinking that I could get my entire stuff home in the one and a half bags that I brought with me. I still don’t internet at my house at the time of writing this so in order to be caught up, I am going to start writing them and saving them. Although I suppose that I could upload them at work but I just feel weird about this even though it doesn’t seem like work. So more importantly, why don’t I have internet, Well, it is because my roommate is a retard (if you are reading this, I am NOT JOKING). The problem is that even though he is an IDS (computer major) he seems to believe that the WI-FI key is something that each and every individual users of the router can use. Now let me say this, I am not the smartest person in the world, I think we can all agree on that but as many WI-FI networks I have put together and what not, you are always SUPPOSED to use the key that came with the router. I have even gone as far as to print out the instructions in German. How do I know I am translating them right? Let’s just say that I haven’t forgotten how to use a regular dictionary and besides you don’t need a dictionary to translate the pictures, well I guess if they were Egyptian hieroglyphics then you would need the Rosetta stone. So this apartment I live in has no individual house numbers so the only way that you get mail is by putting your name on the mail box out front. I need to ask him when he gets home the proper way of doing this because I am sure, like most things in Germany, if it is not done properly, they will take it down and “forget” to tell you that you need to re-do it. Let me just announce officially, the myth of German efficiency has officially been dispelled.

Last weekend I went to the Cann-Badstadt Fruelings fest or more precisely the spring beer festival. It was a good time, much smaller than the Oktoberfest but isn’t it always a party when you have a few of your closets 1000 friends stuffed together in a beer tent for 8 hours. What made this one so special was that pretty much all of the people that I went to school with last semester and who have internships in Germany travelled back for this fest. That is the ones that were not too faraway and could get back easily. There were about 50 of us overfilling three tables singing, dancing and drinking the night away. This is the point where I edit for content, my friend Ben asked me once why I edit for content and my answer has always been “what are you crazy, my mom reads this” have no fear, the pictures are worth latterly one thousand words. Just like the Volksfest, I wore my “trust me I’m a Ninja” t-shirt. I guess it’s sort of a tradition or more like that if I drink enough I might actually pull off some pretty sweet Ninja moves. My friend Barry’s sisters were over from Ireland just for the beer fest and they kept trying to get me to give them my shirt so they could take it back to Dublin. You guessed it, I didn’t. Why? Because when I bought it, the person I was with said they hated it and it seems to me that everyone I meet when I wear it loves it and wants it. Maybe I should add to the back of it in block letters “I told you so”.

On a side not, if you all read or have a bunch of blogs to keep track of like I do, I would suggest using Google reader. Once you get everything set up it automatically updates when ever someone posts a new blog entry and just makes it easier to keep track of everything. I guess I’ll just leave you all with one last thought that I have been thinking about the last few days. Would you really trust some one who was a ninja?

 

Munich and What Not

Filed under: Germany — Josh Green @ 6:23 am

I know I promised a blog entry about my Irish experiences in Germany but it has to be edited for content because honestly even though I am 30 years old there are certain stories that like classified government documents must remain sealed for 50 years. Wait, crap, that would make me 90 when I start to tell these stories and by then you can guarantee that 1. I won’t remember them how they happened or 2. All the details will finally be clear.

So I have had two weeks of work since coming to Munich. The first week was defiantly rough for me because I slept on the floors of one of my Irish friends and in true Tom Hank’s fashion in “Castaway” it is taking some time for me to get accustomed to sleeping in a proper bed again. Finding a place to live in Munich took longer than I had expected, I know it seems impossible that it was harder to find a place here than it is in San Diego, but it was. Luckily, I was able to find one. I suppose it is not too expensive, about 450 euros for everything included and at the current exchange rate I guess that equates to about 600 USD. The area I live in is called Schwabing, and it is a pretty central location, all the new clubs along with all the old school bars are with in a 15 minute walk, a pretty cool and eclectic place to be. The Englisher Garten, Europes largest public park is about a 20 minute walk. The park is bigger than Central Park in New York and in the summer it is clothing optional but somehow I’ll stick to the beaches of San Diego. I take the U-bahn (subway) to work and the stop is 48 steps from my front door (Yes, I actually counted them.) And then walk about 10 minutes to work. I haven’t figured out the bus to work, but if you miss it, it takes about the same amount of time to walk as wait for the next one. My roommate also has a dog, which I was so excited about, when I was talking to a friend of mine, I managed to say “I have a god and you don’t” which didn’t go over to well. I can’t imagine why…..It’s sort of weird here because in our whole building, there is only one washing machine and you have to reserve a time to use it and I swear the dryer down there is from the 40’s and will catch fire if I try to use it. I believe that the whole crappy dryer thing is promoted by the fabric softener business to buy more so that your clothes won’t be scratchy when they air dry. Or the fact that it’s their way to conserve energy. You chose but I am going with A. My roommate is an interesting guy for sure. He is from Istanbul, or is it Constantinople? And he studies Information Decision Making Systems. He doesn’t speak much English so I have to use my fabulous German skills to talk with him, and you guessed it, he dog doesn’t speak English either. He is still on holiday break so needless to say I am pretty jealous he can go out and what not in the evenings. Then again, when has working ever stopped me from doing the same? The second night I was here I awoke the next morning to find him and two Bulgarian girls in the kitchen making breakfast/dinner. I had thought that he had randomly meet these girls at the club and brought them home. Yahhhtzeeee !!! Nope, they were friends of his from school. To hear him tell it, most of his friends are foreigners here and he doesn’t have very many German friends. I think some of it has to do with the latent racism that the Germans have towards the Turks and the fact that the Germans are very hard people to get to know. It takes them awhile to make friends; I found that to be true last semester. I don’t think that of all the Germans I met, that I will be friends with them once I leave here. Then again I got to know only about 4 of them really well. The Irish on the other hand, I think we’ll be friends for ever.

Work is going well for me; I mean it is easy enough and somewhat interesting. I mean come on, all the databases we use are named after Harry Potter references and Wizards! Freaking Techies I swear. I think the one thing that I have found out so far, is that I need a job where I can actually interact with people. Although it is pretty cool having chat sessions about work and video conferences with the office that is in Romania. So the more I learn about websites and content development, the larger my virtual book of knowledge grows which is always a good thing. Blog entries might be a little sparse for the next few weeks due to the fact that working sort of keeps things under control and I also need to start to save some money. I get paid 600 euro a month and after rent and my monthly U-bahn card, I have a bout 100 left for food and what not and in the end of May, I will be looking for Private Ryan. Go ahead and try to work this one out…….Just kidding, my friends and I are renting a car and driving to Reims, Paris, and Normandy for a 4 day weekend. I can’t wait, it’s going to nothing short of Epic.

 

HAPPY St. Patricks Day! March 17, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Josh Green @ 12:55 pm

It’s been a while since I have taken the time to update you all on what I have been doing.  It’s not that I have been super busy or anything seeing that school has been out since mid January, but it is more like I sort of fell into a routine of not being motivated to do much of anything. Well that is not entirely true either.  Between the breaks I have successfully found an internship in Munich working for a company called Ciao.  They are Europe’s largest online shopping comparison website and have just launched a US division.  So needless to say that I will be working on the US website helping to get it up and running in terms of content development.  It is sort of funny, because as I was reviewing my goals that I set out for myself with regards to finding an internship, I realized that I really have only really accomplished one of the two. 

The first being finding an internship and moving to Munich which I am proud to announce from my balcony as I wear my standard navy issued flight suit “Mission Accomplished”.  However the second goal I set out for myself never really materialized.  Now I am sure all of you must be thinking it has to do with something with some sort of Eastern European hottie or something like that (BTW Mission Accomplished) but that is not what I am talking about.  Goal number two was to find an internship in a consulting firm and that one didn’t happen.  Not for any particular reason but the closest I got was a company telling me that from my resume and experience I appeared to be more suited for strategic planning instead of operational planning.  I have to admit I scratched my head on this one, now I know I think differently than most people but doesn’t it seem to follow that to be good at Operational planning you should also be good at  strategic planning? I mean how can you put things into action if you do not or can not see the big picture?  Defiantly weird, I knew I should have worn pants to the interview!  Relax people, it was a phone interview, but somehow I think they knew I wasn’t wearing any pants.  So where does this leave me, actually right where I need to be.  Although working for a consulting firm would have been amazing, I think that the skills and the experiences I am going to learn about content development and web site optimization is going to better for me in the long run and help me to get to my overall goal of working for a consulting firm.  Now the problem I face is actually finding a reasonable place to live in Munich before my job starts in two weeks. 

I want to wish everyone a Happy St. Patrick’s day and happy Easter.  I am off to dye my hair green and start a 10 hour shift (5 of actual work and about 6 of drinking) pulling Guinness for the throngs of Germans who wonder why we drink green beer and what exactly the words to all those Rebel Irish songs mean (Go on Home British Soldiers Go on Home, Fuck off home!) and to perpetuate the myth that every Irish Bar in Germany is supported by the IRA. Coming Soon, My Irish German experiences or in the words of the Godfather “My kraut mick friend”.

 

Is it Buda or pest January 29, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Josh Green @ 3:49 pm

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect upon landing in Budapest, especially since the last three days in Stockholm had defiantly been three of the best since I have been traveling this whole semester.  Since I had already been to Prague, I figured that Budapest would be very similar both historically, culturally, architecturally, and weather wise. It pretty much was except that when I got in to the cab from the Airport and gave the name of my Hotel to the driver sort of sent the tone for the next few days:

 Him: Where to?

Me: Greedbridge Hostel

Him: Is that Buda or Pest

Me: Umm its Budapest

Him: I know that but which side?

(This is all in broken English)

Me Thinking to myself: what the hell kind of cab driver is this.

Me:  So do you speak German?

Him: Yes, Why?

In my best German: You are the freaking Cab driver and should know which side it is on.

Him: Silence…..Excuse me but I just wanted to know if you knew which side.

Needless to say at this point I am so torqued off, not because I am thinking that I am going to be kidnapped and sold in to Slavery or worse yet, end up on a farm sleeping with a donkey ( Simpsons episode where Bart goes to France) No, I am pissed off because he has the nerve to ask me what side it is, like we are playing “Who wants to be a Millionaire” and the answer will determine if I get humiliated on national TV at such a seemingly easy question.. Grrrrr.

 

I finally make it to my Hostel which incidently is on the Pest side about two blocks from the Danube.  This hostel was amazing, the staff was amazing along with the people I met there.  Now here is the thing that I didn’t expect, from the 23rd-26th pretty much everything was closed, so needless to say I ate at the same place for three days straight and it was a son of a bitch trying to find a store open to buy some snacks in the middle of the day.  The way that it was explained to me was if the Hungarians are not busy, they pretty much close up the store and go home. Hey, it makes perfect sense to me right? Except that I am vacation and want to see all the sights!  The first day I grab my camera, scarf and gloves and head out to do my best impression of a Japanese tourist and take as many photos as I can.  The weather was so bad, all fogy and dark that I ended up taking a lot of my photos in Black and White to make them turn out better. I was a little put out by this because I had heard about the beauty of Budapest and wanted to see it in all of its glory, but oddly enough, the deserted streets and snow covered buildings made me think about the way life must have been behind the Iron Curtain: Dark, Dreary, Lonely, and Miserable, but yet somehow Beautiful, Vibrant, and Peaceful.

 

    Walking the bridge from Pest to Buda was a truly magnificent sight, all of the Castles lie above Buda overlooking the banks of the Danube, very breathtaking.  Buda and Pest were two separate town, Pest the Industrial and Buda the more affluent and artesian.  The two towns came together only after someone had the foresight to actually build a bridge connecting the two.  Budapest actually boasts a few firsts, it was the first city in continental Europe to have a Subway (1850 I think) and more recently, it was the first country to open its boarders with Germany in the 1990’s contributing to the fall of the Iron Curtain.  The main church which surrounds the imperial palace in Buda has an interesting story in its self.  It seems that when the Muslims conquered Buda, they had turned the catholic church into a mosque, which is what was typically done.  However, the Story goes that a mysterious explosion at a ammunition dump close to the church caused a statue of the Virgin Mary to be exposed within the mosque in the middle of afternoon pray. Needless tot say that the appearance of Mary inspired to Maygars to rise up against the Muslims and the Muslims naturally took it as a bad omen and didn’t want anything to do with that church again. 

     Anyways, on Christmas day, I ended up meeting 5 Brazilians who were on holiday, I know what you are thinking, but three study in England and one in Stockholm, so it makes total sense.  We managed to find a place that was open and ate and drank wine all night long until they kicked us out. It sort of reminded me of my Christmas Eves back in San Diego where I usually gather with friends and we all have a humongous dinner followed by wine and drinks. So it was a comfortable situation for me to say the least and the highlight was definitely on the trek back watching the girls experience their first snow fall. High Comedy for sure.  I was at a loss for what to do on Christmas day so I did what anybody would do in my situation, I went and got a 3 hour long Tai massage, it was so cheap, I think I actually made money on the damn thing!

     The next day, I faced a dilemma.  Budapest is know for it’s thermal baths but I also wanted to go Caving with my friends that I had met in my hostel and I knew something had to give, so me being me rationalized that since I already had a three hour Tai Massage, then what the heck did I need to go to a thermal bath for?  So 5 of us decide to go and make the journey to just outside of Buda and see what kind go trouble we can get into.  After getting suited up, we outside and follow the path down to the cave where we are greeted by a giant metal door.  To put this in perspective, its pitch black outside, the only lights we have are our caving lights, its cold and these doors look like the entrance way to a satanic cults sacrificial alter. It actually wouldn’t have surprised me if a Vampire appeared out of nowhere and started battling with a Werewolf. Into the cave we go, we wind up about 40 meters beneath Buda and all is going well until I GET STUCK. Yep, the fat man got stuck. I felt like Poohbear stuck in a honey pot.  I’m not going to lie, I panicked for about a second, then cooler heads prevailed, well sort of.  I get the instructions to “Breath in and Hold On” WTF?? Breath in an Hold on, whats this crazy Hungarian going to do to me? I knew I should have gone to the baths.  Three hard tugs on my jumper and I go popping out like the timer on a perfectly cooked turkey.  Good times, Good times.

     So Budapest, what can I say besides I would like to go back and see it in the summertime when everything is opened and the scenery is perfect. Because honestly, after being in eastern Europe in the winter time, it is easy to figure out why they never smile but then again it might be because the People that oppressed them for 50 years are now the lifeblood of the tourist industry. What a mad mad place we live……..

 

My Stockholm Syndrome December 30, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — Josh Green @ 1:55 pm

I think that my first exposure to Sweden must have those classic 90’s Bud-lite beer commercials featuring the Swedish Bikini Team and then again when they made an appearance at the end of the movie “Dumb and Dumber”. As the time for my departure to Stockholm came nearer, I began to wonder just how accurate these portrayals were.  On my flight up there, I ended up sitting next to my friend Mitch who I know from the University here and who is also from Stockholm, his departing words to me were, “Yes, the women are really that beautiful.”  Needless to say I was really excited to experience this whole “northern culture” seeing how I have always wanted to travel to Scandinavia and in true Josh fashion, I didn’t do that much research before hand and decided to just roll with the punches and see what happened.  This is what I did know about Sweden before going.

1. It is the home of absolute Vodka

2. Tiger Woods’ wife is from Stockholm

3. it’s expensive to buy stuff there,

4. They don’t use the Euro,

5. They still have a constitutional monarchy. 

I thought I had all the bases covered you know? I mean what else was there to learn.  Upon checking into my room at the hostel, I met a fellow traveler passing through on his way to Croatia for New Years. Turns out he was from Encinitas and also attended SDSU as well as knowing some of the same people I do. What are the chances right?  Well the next day we ran into a girl at a coffee shop and it turns out that she was originally from Stockholm but had just returned home from living in Encinitas for 10 years. Finally it made sense to me, all the beautiful women in SoCal aren’t native Californians, they are all Swedish transplants! Mystery Solved.

Stockholm is an entire city made up of many islands; Stockholm actually has more water running through it than the entire city of Venice.  In addition to all the canals, there is an outer archipelagos’ ring where a lot of people have summer vacation homes, and according to Mitch, if it was summer time then we would defiantly be spending some time at his family’s vacation home. (Note to self: go back in the summer time)  The Swedes themselves are a very friendly people and they all speak really good English,( at least the ones I met)  the reason for this is because apparently, unlike Germany where all American shows are dubbed into German, the Swedes run the original programs in English but subtitle them into Swedish. That’s not to say that they don’t have any Swedish shows, because they do, but they also have a lot of English shows. 

Stockholm is a beautiful city in the dead of winter, still very alive and vibrant even though all the trees are dormant and the canals are frozen over.  They also have many beautiful museums.  Of the two Museums that we went to, the Vassa Museum must have been my favorite.  The Vassa was a Gunship that sunk in the Stockholm Harbor in the 1600’s and wasn’t rediscovered until the 1950’s.  It was salvaged and resorted and now sits in a museum on one of the many islands as a tribute to the Swedish Naval Prowess in the 1600’s.  The second museum that we went to was the Nobel Museum.  Truth be told, I had high hopes for this one because of the grandiose size of the building, but once I entered, I was severely disappointed, it had only 4 rooms downstairs and not many exhibits. There was a small exhibit featuring the current winners from 2007 and yes when I walked by the Al Gore part, I shook my head in disgust.  Then they had two rooms where they showed bio-docs on past winners and an additional small room that housed a brief history of Alfred Nobel. Very anti climatic and not very impressive considering all of the good that man kind has reaped as a result of the works of the winners.  Although, they did have all the winners on banners and what they won for on a rail system that would move across the ceiling but the only problem with that was that after 10 minutes of looking up my neck got a cramp in it.

Johnny and I had just about all of the tourist things taken care of except for the Absolute Ice Bar.  The bar is constructed entirely out of ice, even to go as far as have all the cups for the cocktails made out of ice, a totally cool concept. Seeing how the bar is kept at a constant 23 degrees, we were outfitted with shiny blue parkas with furry hoods and gloves (I sort of felt like Luke Skywalker wearing mine in Empire) and were only allotted 45 minutes in the deep freeze.  So my buddy and I being bartenders decided that we would ask the bartender (do I really need to say how beautiful she was) if we could have pictures made with her but we needed to do it in such a way that it wouldn’t come off as creepy. So I decided to tell her that we were bartenders/students back home just like she was (truth) and we traveled a lot together (lie) and every bar we went to in a new country, we would take pictures of us with the bar staff (truth) and put them up in the bar back home (an almost truth)  I am not sure if it was the thought of having her picture up in a bar back in SD appealed to her, or that I looked like Han Solo in my parka, but she obliged and well she will now have a place with the Waitress from Prague and the Go Go dancers from Budapest on my screen saver. 

So in a nutshell that was Stockholm, and I keep on coming back to two thoughts, 1. The most beautiful women in the world live there and it is a consolation prize for living in such a cold place in the winter and 2. The city has captivated me and I can’t wait to go back in the summer.

 

Himmel auf die Welt (Heaven on Earth) December 18, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — Josh Green @ 9:56 pm

I didn’t know what to quite expect seeing how as usaul we were not given alot of information about our destination; just a meeting place and time with minimum gear requirements. All I knew was that I was going to Switzerland to go snowboarding and that’s all that mattered to me after a stressful week of classes. Seeing how Switzerland is not part of the E.U. were asked to bring our passports and well, they didn’t check them (that’s right, I am a boarder jumper, let the jokes begin) We made it to the resort just in the nick of time because like good German Students, we all bought beers at the rest area to help us enjoy the ride. But here is the funny thing about Germany in the Winter, the buses don’t have working bathrooms. Something about freezing or something. What ever….

 

 

As we wound our way through the little city, I began to wonder if our hostel would be close to the slopes or on the outskirts of town where we would have to take a bus for 20 minutes to get to the snow. Luckily we pulled up into the parking lot close to the high speed gondola and started loading the gondolas for the assent to mid mountain where out lodge was located. Somehow and I don’t known how, I ended up in a gondola full of gear and all by myself. It wouldn’t have been so bad but it was 10pm dark and windy. That was just about the longest 10 minutes of my life. We found our rooms and tried to settle in except that the beds were bunk style with 7 across the top and 7 across the bottom. In my infinite wisdom I thought that I would choose the top bed because it would have more head room. Umm that’s a negative Ghost Rider, I couldn’t even sit straight up in bed, and to top it off, the first night I slept with my head barely hanging over the edge and lost two pillows while my feet kept slamming into the wall, the second night, I though I would change my position but I kept hitting my head on the wall and my feet fell asleep and then there is the Canadian bear, or more bluntly, the guy that snored and kept everyone up, I though my buddy Marcello was bad but this dude was way worse. But then I looked out the window and was truely awestruck. After a breakfast of cereal, and what I assumed was Swiss cheese without the holes, I ventured outside and strapped my snowboard on to head towards the lift. The weather could not have been better, it was sunny,-5 and clear out side. It had just snowed three days prior and it was opening day of the lifts so we were treated to Virgin snow. I can’t begin to explain what it was like being up there, it felt as if I could touch the heavens. As all lifts rides tend to be, it was absolutely quiet and serene to the top of the mountain. The day that ensued was one of total comedy, between me not boarding for over 4 years and a lot of my friends just learning it seemed like there were “yard sales” at every corner and some poor soul running into someone else. The lowlight of my day had to be after 5 hours of non stop boarding, I was cruising down one of the easy slopes, caught an edge and fell backwards hitting my head on the ice which sent my hat and goggles fling about 20 feet from me. As I am laying there, trying to laugh but not very successfully because I had the wind knocked out of me, I hear this old guy next to me speaking in something other than German, at that moment it could have been the African Clicking Language because I couldn’t understand a word he was saying, partly because it was Swiss Deutsch and partly because my head was still ringing but all I can remember saying was “Alle ist Klar” over and over which pretty much means “It’s all good”

The next day after popping 2 advils, I attempted to do a few runs but I was so sore I could barely move, so I decided to do a few sledding runs. These sled were so fast and the only way to steer was to use your feet, needless to say, I ran off the edge a few times into chest high powder and even managed to run into a few safety nets. After my last run I decided to call it a day and bask in the sun on the sun deck trying to relax my aching body. It has always been a dream of mine to go boarding in the Swiss Alps and they took more than they gave, and if I could figure out a way to live there for ever, I just might do it. It was just that awesome!