Thursday, November 29, 2007

We love Switzerland!

Our couchsurfing hosts were amazing (Lukas was not pictured)! Stefan, Jan, Stephanie and Colette

Colette and I arrived at next destination, via train of course, in the late afternoon on Wednesday. Lukas, our host, said while he might not be present, his roomates would be. Sure enough we arrived to meet Jan. Luckily for me, Jan loves hockey. So Jan and I spent the next hour boring Colette to death with all things hockey. Not to be outdone by the fact that Jan´s girlfriend Stephanie plays hockey. She mentioned that she had practice in 2 hours and that her team could use extra players.

To my extreme glee Stephanie called around and found some gear that would fit me. I was on the ice 2 hours later with a bunch of German speaking Swiss players.

video

My try out video for the Swiss Elite Team

There are some things that transcend language barriers such as the international sign for choking and hockey is no different. The drills are the same and the body language follows suit. The look for "that was a shitty pass" can be read in any country you are in and Switzerland proved not to be the exception.

It takes a lot to shock me. When Stephanie took me to the ice rink she warned me that the men and the women change together. Thats really not far fetched for me as that is the way we do it in Montana. In Montana, when the women change in the prescence of the male players they are very reserved and often timid. It might have something to do with the fact that a majority of the players are in their 20´s and frankly we are all perverts. I am very comfortable with nudity. In fact it wasn`t too many years ago in which I dabbled in nudity on both a recreational and professional level. What I saw in the lockeroom even through me for a loop. The female players stripped down to absolutely nothing. To further drop my jaw even more ... they showered with the men. Just part of the game I suppose. Crazy eh?

The next day we went out walking around Zurich to hit the sights. Downtown Zurich is wicked expsensive. In fact, all of Switzerland is wicked expensive. Did Colette and I dine at an upscale resturant? No, that would be rediculous. This was the cheapest thing we could find ... McDonalds. We both got one cheeseburger for 2.50 Swiss Franks each (2.30 US Dollars). A number 1 value meal you ask? 11.30 Franks (10 US Dollars)!

These dudes were cool as shit. The guy on the chair is drinking a beer. I think it was all of 11 am.

Colette and I

Switzerlands claim to fame - the largest clock in Europe

We then rolled over to Lucerne. Yes, they sell swiss army knives everywhere. They are quite proud of that actually. This is a sample of only about a third of the knives they have.

The Swiss truely thought of everything when it came to the knife. Yes, this one had a USB drive.



No garretthohn.blogspot.com post would be complete without a shot of a car. This was a 3 wheeled, one passenger electric car. Not sure of the brand or top speed but it said "Maxima Batteries" on the side of it.

This little beast had batteries but had two seats in it. Both equipped with bike peddles. It seems to be an updated model to the Flintstones rig. "www.eff-energy.com" was its only marking. Perhaps Kirk will be able to provide us with a little more info ....

Anyways, we are off to Munich this morning. Peace

Innsbruck, Austria and so on ....

Remember the previous post in which Colette and I went to Budapest? Most of it was because our hosts were exceptionaly rude and made us feel very uncomfortable. In the same vein, we ended up cutting our Vienna excursion a day short in favor of an overnight retreat in Innsbruck, Austria. We are really glad we did because the scenery was absolutely stunning.

The ride to Innsbruck within the train. This is the view from 1st class mind you.

Colette and I had dinner at an Italian resturant in Vienna. The shop owner didnt speak German, nor did he speak English only Italian. Conrad and his girlfriend Marion came to our aid by translating for us and then invited us to have dinner with them. We spent the remainder of our evening with them drinking Grapa and Gühlvien. This is one of the gühlvien tents. It was absolutely freeizng yet the clusterfuck worth of bodies and copious amounts of sweet alcohol kept everyone warm.

View from the hostel in which we stayed. Price for one person in one room was Euro 34 if you add another person it jumps to Euro 63 for the same room. We opted for the first price by sneaking me in.
A bridge in Innsbruck.


Another train shot.

Downtown



Vienna

I dont have a whole lot of time to post, but here are some pictures from Vienna, Austria.

Amazing phallec photo

Again

We took a break from Kebaps. These slices were 1.50 Euros each. Mine had spaghetti and tunafish.

More beautiful photos

Pictures of city hall





Monday, November 26, 2007

Fuck it dude ... lets go to Budapest.

Yeah, hey, it's Garrett, Garrett from the future. Yeah, it's Wednesday but I think it's Tuesday for you. I dont't know though because in the future, we don't use calendars. The future is pretty cool though but honestly I was kind of hoping for more flying cars.

I'm Hungary for money ... ha, get it?

We arived in Vienna, Austria Sunday morning after a 10 hour train ride from Florence, Italy. As expected, the money grubbing nickel-and-diming assholes wanted a collective € 75 from us to sercure a sleeping berth. We decided to forego the bearth and instead brave our chances in a shared 6 person seating quarter. When we boarded the train, inluding Colette and I, there were 4 people. Luckily one of them left so we each had 2 seats per person which is really convient because staring at the person across from you, whom you don't know, can get horribly akward. The most annoying part about not sleeping in a berth is that we were asked for our tickets at varying hours of the evening. You are almost asleep and somehow forcefuly slides the door open, turns the light on and says "tickets" or "passports" in a stern manner. The vocal force of the ticket collecting man can be liken to that of something between a pissed of high school principal and the gestapo.

Upon arrival, we boarded a tram and made our way towards our hosts for the next 2 days. When we arrived, we were buzzed into the hotel room and met with Isa, our host. There were 2 fellow surfers sleeping on the floor of a studio flat. For those of you keeping track at home that amounts to Isa, her boyfriend, 2 other couchsurfers and Colette and I. Yeah, 6 people, 1 room. Colette and I dropped off our bags and went out for coffee to kill some time since it was 10 a.m, and still, no one was stirring at the residence.

We walked around the city for 20 minutes, just long enough to be substantially chilled by the harsh Austrian winds, and then wandered into a Starbucks much to my displeasure. We were looking for something to do or see for the day but the sheer absence of life on the streets on this Sunday morning had us much discourage.

We began flipping through our Eurail book to see if there were any short trips we could embark on. You see, if you use a pass for an overnight train that departs after 7 p.m then you can still use the train the next day without losing a day. A couple of places in Poland were mentioned but that deemed to be too far. Finally, someone mentioned Budapest. It was only 3 hours away and the train was leaving in 50 minutes. Now there are several saying in which I am pretty sure I will never utter in my life. "Do you have this in fuscia?" "Does that cable package include Lifetime?" not to be outdone by "I´m really glad I got my scrotum pierced." "Fuck it, lets go to Budapest" was on that list until yesterday. Colette finished her grande latte frapacinno and I imbibed the last of my hot coco and we were off to the train station ... to go to Budapest.

On the train, we discovered that neither of us knew a whole lot about Budapest. I thought Budapest was in or around Turkey, and that we could potentially visit my friend Erin. Sadly, I discovered that Turkey was several days train ride from Austria! We weren't sure if they accepted Euros, for future reference they don't. They have their own currency which is quite lovely to the eye. We weren't sure of Hungarys native tongue. That one we never figured out.

We got off the train, exchanged some money and went out sightseeing for 4 hours. This is what we saw.

Four Seasons Resort, Budapest

View from empty first class cabin. Since I am too old to buy a 2nd class ticket, Colette and I had to get 1st class ones. We definetly don't look first class with out big packbacks and tathered clothes spinkeled amongst the laptop laden bussiness folk. For those of you curious, I'm up 18 games to 14 on our trip-to-date cribbage games.

Friday, November 23, 2007

When couchsurfing goes horribly ... annoying

People tend to give you strange looks when you tell them you are going to stay with someone you don't even know. The premise is called couchsurfingand it's website suprisingly enough, couchsurfing.com. You sign up, tell the internet a little about yourself, and in a perfect world, you find a joint to stay at and everyone wins. Until yesterday, each and every one of my couchsurfing expierences have been amazing. Carol and Fred are fantastic and we hope to see them again, just as we are excited to see Kirsten and Alex in Germany. I still talk to Kirk on a regular basis but have only spent time with the guy for a collective 4 days. So much so that Colette jokes that Kirk and I are gay. She is just jealous. Anyways, we had posted a message on the Rome, Italy group requesting a place to stay. God forbid we spend money on lodging! A new member contacted us and said he would help us out. The only problem was that he lived 80 kilometeres to the south of Rome.

Colette and I were keen to the idea. It was only € 4.50 train ticket down there and it might be cool to see something off the beaten path. He agreed to pick us up from the train station and even said he had an extra room and bed for us. He almost seemed too nice and too accomedating in his e-mails and when we spoke to him on the phone.

So we showed up at about 6 p.m and he drove down to the train station about 15 minutes later to pick us up. He was a dead ringer for Woody Allen as far as looks go but he had the social skills of a lab rat. We talked to him long enough to go to bed. Even making it to 9 p.m was tough. I joked to Colette about how shitty it would have been to be killed that evening in our sleep and then have him wear our skin around the apartment the next morning. She wasn't amused. In all actuality, it may have been less painful then the mental anguish we suffered over the next day in a half.

We tried to make conversation with him but repeatedly he interupted us or bossed us around. The bus ride down to Napoli was excrutiating with him. The whole day was excruitiating. I feel like I can get along with about anyone but now I am beginnning to rethink that. Colette and I started conversations about her brother and my sister so he wouldn't be able to interupt us. He was the product of a adolecsence spent in front of the computer as the bags under his eyes showed it and his lack of conversation ettiquette or adeptness spoke it. He talked down to Colette and even went as far as to say he was racist in a shared cab with 2 Italian men and a Muslim man. Sadly, we didn't know enough Italian to seperate our physical affiliation with his prescence. Luckily, those guys were pretty cool and it would have been nice to have heard what they were saying because I am sure it was more interesting than what "Woody" had to offer.

Not all was lost though, we took a 45 minute boat ride to Capri, a small island off of the Italian coast. I nearly chunked from the sea sickness escpecially seeing the Asian women 10 feet away heave her lunch into a sack.

These little rigs were everywhere. I think they were 2 strokes because they all burned copious amounts of oil. Piggagio is the maker I believe.

A shot of the coast of Capri.

Hey Hef, the Pope called, he wants his robe back!

So after repeated email attempts, oh lets say about 20 in Rome alone, to find a joint to stay at, Colette and I settled on a hostel. We cruised down on a low speed rail from Annecy, France to Roma, Italia. We rented a sleeper cabin the night before on the train ride down. It slept 4 so technically we rented half of it while this old English guy rented one of the remaining fourths. He spotted my Zeppelin shirt and claimed to own a small recording studio outside of London that Robert Plant frequents. I questioned his veracity and he provided several facts about Robert that only a hardcore fan, groupie, or a stalker would know. I've never seen the band live myself but restraining order document suggest I reside in the latter of the aforementioned categories. After a hour talk about all things Zeppelin, we got some shut eye. We arrived at about 8 a.m. in Rome.

After we arrived, we dropped off our bags and commenced to sight seeing.


Oh the Colosseum in all of her ageless glory. Another € 13 (19 US dollars). I swear every time I turn around its € 13. I don't know if I mentioned previously but I had to pay € .75 to take a piss! How could something so natural cost money? They really get you both ways. They charge you money for water (natural), then they charge you to take a piss (also natural). Jokes on them though as I have peed on several buildings around the European Union free of charge!


This is now my defacto pose every time Colette makes me jump in a picture against my will.


Rome, Italy

Vatican City

This is the Vatican's version of Macy's Dept. store. You have to walk past these bastards to get to the Museums entrance. You can get anything you need here. Knock off Prada and Gucci bags for €10. Anything from belt buckles to sun glasses pretty much a Euro a dozen. The best part is the cops come up to them and put on their lights and the vendors scatter. As soon as the cops drive past, they set up shop again. It's a flea market Pakistani style!

I was too hungry to raise my finger in disapproval for this picture.

Some museum in Rome

This is the view from outside the hostel. It's kind of off putting for sure but I didn't see anything that said "kill whitey!" so I felt somewhat safe.

This was the inside of our hostel. It was quite sizable and set us back only € 45 (65 US dollars). The only catch was we had to share the bathroom with the floor but the bathrooms were very clean.

I have become quite enamoured with these little bastards. It is a Fiat 500. I am not sure of the HP specs but the engine itself weighs in at a beefy .5 Liter!

Ok, the guy below deserves his own blog post. So we are walking down the street and we see this dude rifling through his bag for something. The only thing different about this guy was his pants were halfway down his ass. We thought it may have been an innocent mistake. I know I have been on the embarrassing end of this a few times in my day. So we stuck around to watch other passer byers take in this ridiculous sight. For some odd reason, few people were as amused as we were by his ass and this sight alone induced painful throat laughter. Anyways, Colette and I crossed the street and looped back around to find him walking away from us, sure enough, pants still half way down his ass. Only this time he almost looked to be performing a ham string stretch. It possibly more mimicked the time wasting maneuver you have pulled off during running days in P.E. You know, your tired but you don't want your friend to think you are a bitch and your P.E teacher to say anything so you kneel down and pretend to tie your shoe? Yeah, we've all done it at least 10 times although I have probably seen it executed nearly a 1,000 times in the field. Well, here is this guy, middle of Rome, midday, amidst many a pedestrian.

So I am a couple of days behind on the blog. All is well. We are in Florence for the evening. We leaving on a midnight train to ..... Vienna, tommorrow.