Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas with a Cold 26/12/08 Day 162


Day 162 (Slide show)

I almost thought about leaving this period out but I can’t do that. I am having a very hard time right now. The Holiday’s are not my favorite time anyway but this season I caught a bad cold or the flu I’m not sure which funky thing it was. It was bad though. I only went to one party and that is where I started to feel poorly. Maybe the morning of the party I don’t know. It’s kind of a blur. So I don’t have much to say about the last few days except I’m glad there over. I’ve had a hard time keeping up on my log but I’m trying. I still don’t feel good but I hope it is over. There are a few pictures here but nothing to speak about. Let’s move on.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

“The Joker” 21/12/08 Day 157



Day 157 (Slide show)

It’s that time of year, the holiday parties are popping up. It seems like there will be a few to choose from. I’m not a big party fan, I much prefer smaller gatherings but I will see what happens. One thing about Prague right now is that is very cold. I said before that I don’t want to get stuck out after midnight. The transportation is very limited after 12:00 and I’m not going to get caught walking to my flat because I went for that last beer. Saying that, I did go to Cameron’s flat the other night and it was quite nice. There was a lot of conflicting events that night but I stuck to my policy and was glad I did.

I received an email from a new CS friend named Jared from Santa Barbara, CA. I meet him a couple of weeks ago. He said he was stranded in Poland and needed a place to crash for a couple of days while on his way to Paris. I haven’t had any surfers due to my situation here in the flat but I didn’t want to leave him out there so he is coming today. During the holidays it is tough for surfer’s to find a host because the host’s have other plans. I was happy to help but he will have to sleep on the floor. I have some camping gear he can use though. Jared is the first surfer I’ve had here and I hope it works out alright for him.

Not too much going on right now. As you will see in the pic’s there was a nice gift exchange party that I took Jared to. It was a lot of fun. This nice CS gal named Kate put it together with Vitek. Everybody had a great time. The rules were a bit vague though. It seemed that you were to pick a number out of a hat. That determined the order to pick a gift from the table. In the hat was a joker, I guess you know who got that. So I was able to see everyone pick a gift then I could ruin it for someone by talking it away and make them draw another one. All I can say is that the JOKER got his gift but in the end Kate didn’t like the way I did it. I said the rules were rather vague and I took Rui’s gift but gave it back to him a few days later. The gift was some movie disks and of course after I watched them I felt that Rui should have the chance. He still has them.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

“Flash Mob Pillow Fight in Prague” 18/12/08 Day 154


Day 154 (Slide show)

The last few days have I’ve been in recovery mode. I did get back to get the cucumbers though. I decided to shop somewhere else. Most of my time is spent working on this blog. I can’t believe how much work it is. (Special Note: I’m trying to catch up but I can’t seem to stop time. I need to solve this problem.)

The holidays are coming and I’m already looking forward to them being over. I know that might sound strange to some but I can’t remember the last good season I’ve had so the sooner there over the better.

On the Couchsurfing site the other day there was a post about a thing called “Flash Mob.” The announcement was about a “Pillow Fight” being planned for the Old Town Square tonight (Staroměsté náměsti). This is a web thing and is quite amazing. It is only planned through various low level web sites like CS. The idea is to all meet at a designated place and at a specific time, in this case the pillows come out and everyone starts swinging. Another one I heard about was in Grand Central Station in NYC. This one was a little different and the idea was have everyone freeze at the same time and don’t move for three minutes no matter what happens. It’s very funny to watch the reaction on You Tube.

The pillow fight in Prague went on I guess for about 15 min. I would see people start to leave and then it would flair up again. A small group would start up and it would spread I guess until all the pillows were ripped up. The poor tourists that were caught in the middle probably though they were in a riot.

Afterwards I walked around the city for a bit with some friends and discovered this library with a great piece of book art. When you see the pictures in the slide show you will be amazed.

I’m just chilling out these past few days waiting for spring to come. I fear it will be a long time from now.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

“No Cucumber’s for you, move along” 14/12/08 Days 149,150


Day 149-150 (Slide show)

Our goal last night was to be packed and leaving the condo by 10AM so it would give us a nice daytime drive back. I was looking forward to seeing the countryside and maybe get a few pictures. This didn’t happen though. We were slow and tired so it was 11:30 before we got packed and ready to leave. Cleaning the condo took a little longer then expected too.

In the winter there are only two ways to get into this valley. From the South you enter from Italy and from the North through Switzerland and the “La Mute” tunnel.

Sometimes even in the winter there is the ‘Bernina Pass” which comes in from the East but is often closed during winter storms like the ones we have had all week. This pass is 2000 plus meters and has a lot of switchbacks. On the map it looks like a nice scenic road. So this leaves the tunnel as our only option. Because it is only a one way tunnel it closes so the other side can come in and we neglected to check the timing of this. The openings for our side are 10AM and 4PM. So we missed our opening and had to chill out for the afternoon. We decided to hang at a café where I could use the computer and catch up some writing. It wasn’t so bad but I missed my chance to see the Swiss countryside in the daytime.

Soon we were on our way and the line of traffic to get to the tunnel was very long. We were on the road by 3:30 but way back in the line. It was starting to snow again and the roads where bad. It was very slow going. After getting through the tunnel and over a pass, going very slow, we made it to Garmish about midnight. The roads became better about this point.

Somewhere along the way we headed down a canyon and the moon started to pop out. It was a full moon too. As we came around this bend in the road there was this castle looking thing on the mountain right in front of us with the moon behind it. It was amazing so we stopped to take a picture. It was very cold and hard to stay out of the car for very long. I took the shot you see on a 15 sec. time exposure and even then my hands and face were to cold for another one. I’m not sure about the name on the place. Andrew looked it up later but I don’t think I got the name right. He said it is the Chapel in Kronberg I think. Anyway if anyone out there knows anything about this place, send me a comment.

We made it back to Prague at 4AM and I crashed until noon when I became to hungry to sleep any more. I had nothing in the flat to eat so I jumped on the bike and headed for the market. It was a drizzling rain and cold but I was hungry. No since walking I thought. When I got to the market I forget to put my shields up. I wanted some cucumbers for a salad but as I have said before you need to weigh your fruits and vegetables yourself. I can’t always tell what the picture is for the item I’m trying to buy. I tagged it with what looked like a cucumber and proceeded to shop. When I reached the checkout the “Old Bag” started to yell at me and pointing for me to go to a scale and do it again. I did and came back and she continued to growl so I went back and couldn’t see any other picture that looked like a cucumber so as I returned she took them away and totaled the bill. I paid and went away without my cucumbers. Welcome back to Prague.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Last Ski Day, Livigno, Italy 12/12/08 Day 148


Day 148 (slide show) (Video)

Well the last day of skiing here in Livigno, Italy. Today it’s snowing and a white out but as I have said, I like it like this. There was another 6 in. was I left the condo this morning. The temperature is a bit colder again, it’s about 6 C for the daytime high but last night it got down to 12 C. The snow removal folks are having a hard time keeping up with it all. Andrew and I were skiing on the same side today but we split up for a few hours during mid day. I am very tired but having a great time. Andrew isn’t happy it’s over but I could use a few days of rest. That’s what happens when your old I guess. I like this "Piste" off the gondola because it is so long. As long as there isn’t a line on it I think it gives you more time on the slope. Andrew likes some of the chairs but the best chairs are still closed due to avalanche danger. So we decided to meet up for lunch. I made 8 or 9 runs before we meet and I was exhausted.

We went in for lunch we sat next to a big party of Polish folks. They were a lot of fun. We talked about many things but they were getting a bit loud so we took off to make our last few runs of the trip. I asked Andrew to get a few shots of my form so I could get a look at what I’m doing. After 23 years away I feel good about how it’s going but I still have a few problems with my weight transfer. I feel like I’m not sitting enough. That’s always how it goes; you figure it out on the last day.

I needed to return my skis to the rental shop so I called it quits at about 3:30. They were very nice there and the charge was 115.00€. That’s about 20.00€ less then expected. I like that.

After a long walk back to the condo I found Andrew cooking up the last of our food. He likes to cook and we had a nice pasta dish that was very good. I’m starting to pack up some of my things now and we will be heading back to Prague tomorrow. It was a great day to end a great ski trip.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Heavy Powder, Mashed Potatoes. 11/12/08 Day 147


Day 147 (Slide show) (Video)

It’s still snowing and now there is over a meter of new stuff. On top there could be 4 feet and on the bottom about 3 feet. I got on the mountain at 9AM and was in the 3rd or 4th gondola car. Before anyone arrived I had 4 runs behind me. I skied on the Mottolino side today while Andrew took the Carosella side. The new snow is a little heavy and this resort only has a few runs that are steep enough to keep you on top of it. Of course those are closed due to avalanche danger. The best skiing has been the groomed slopes from the day before because now there is about 15 to 20 inches on them and you don’t sink so deep. Over here the runs are called “Piste” not runs. I am corrected all the time on this. I’m pretty tired so I only stayed out until 3PM today and made my way back to the condo. I might be able to do some computer work if I’m up to it.

As I’m righting this Andrew is walking in so there goes the computer work. It looks like we might go into the village and check out a few things. Maybe have a dinner out tonight.

Fun day but I’m getting very tired. It was a workout today. I’ve got one more day of skiing left. Better make the most of it; I might not get another chance.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Livigno, Italy “Powder Day” 10/12/08 Day 146


Day 146 (Slide show)

Sometime during the night the storm that everyone new would come showed up and started dumping. This wasn’t a small one either. It was very beautiful to get out into the village early. Everyday I would walk to this market up the street and be ready when they opened at 8am. It was the best time to see the mountains and the village. I think most people party too late so even at 8am no one is up yet. Anyway at this market they have some great bread that’s fresh. This is a great snack on the mountain and it goes well with my Irish coffee.

I skied on the Carosello side (right side of map) on the resort today. I think I like it a bit better. When I got to the top of the mountain there was about a foot and it was still snowing hard. Of course in these conditions you can’t see a thing. It was a pretty good white out. I like skiing in this weather. After about 8 or 9 runs I stopped into my favorite Refuge/restaurant. It’s a nice place to hang and get warm.

My ski equipment is so much nicer. It’s a lot easier to get my form and balance back. I still need a bit more time but I can fell it all coming back to me. I was pretty tired and sore so I called it quits at about 2:30. As I was heading back to the condo I got on the wrong bus. It was nice because I saw a different part of the valley and some of the lodges on the hillsides. I like this place, its set up pretty good. The transportation is a bit week but I’ve seen worse.

Andrew cooked up a nice dinner for us tonight. It went well with the good wine I found at the market.

A great powder day but my old body is very sore.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

“Do you want a Job” 9/12/08 Day 145



Day 145 (Slide show) (Video)

It’s another great day in the Alps. This is the third beautiful day in a row. There is blue skies and great snow. The temperature is about 5C and that makes the snow pretty light but not as light as Utah snow. I am starting to get the feel of the boards now. I made it to the ski shop this morning and changed the Telemark equipment for some pretty good downhill boots and skis. A funny thing happened this morning at the ski shop that I need to tell you. I arrived at 7:40 and the owner arrived at 8am. He’s is a nice guy and has been really trying to help me get a good fit with the boots. I stood around waiting for him to arrive for about 15 minutes and as I’m standing there I happen to push on the door. It was open. OOPS! Someone had forgotten to lock it the night before. I didn’t go in and just stood out front waiting. Within 5 minutes he showed and greeted me then walked to the door and put in the key. Something’s Wrong (Junior Watson, Bluesman)

He was very surprised and a bit embarrassed. I told him I noticed and was standing guard for him. He laughed and we went inside where he went straight for the work schedule to see who closed the shop the night before. “Do want a job?” he asked. I had already told him of my travels so I knew he was joking but I not so sure I should have told him no so fast. It would have bee fun.

I’m on a mission though and nothing is going to keep me from finishing my quest. I can’t get let myself get distracted, I have to stick to the plan.

The mountain is very nice now. There are now lines at all. The restaurants are great because you can find a seat anywhere even at lunch time. I always try to ski during the lunch time of 11:30 to 1:30 but today it didn’t make any difference.

I’m excited about the new snow coming, everyone is talking about it. Andrew went to a bar/restaurant tonight to check out the village. The prices aren’t too bad and we got a table right off. Just a nice day all around.

Monday, December 8, 2008

It’s just like riding a bike 8/12/08 Day 144


Day 144 (slide show)

Well I couldn’t make it in to the ski shop last night or this morning. The shop is on the lower side of the valley and I’m staying on the upper side of course. The only thing about this place that needs some help is the bus system. The traffic clogs things up so the buses don’t really have a schedule after 8am. I’m getting used to the Italian language so maybe after a few days I’ll figure out this transportation thing. Besides other then having a sore ankle bone on my left heal I’m getting used to this equipment. It all starts to come back to you pretty fast.

The weather report has the new snow coming tomorrow now so I will change after skiing today. I meet some Yankee’s from Vermont yesterday and we were talking about this mountain as opposed to the resorts in the states. We all liked this place but it got me thinking about all the different resorts I’ve been to. The Vermont folks had only skied in the East and my experience was only in the West. It was interesting that we all liked this place. I think the snow has a lot to do with it. We all caught a great week to be here. If there wasn’t much snow then I’m not sure it would be as fun.

Today I skied on the other side of the valley, called Mottolino. I think I like it a little better. The elevation isn’t as high but the slopes are facing more to the north. The snow is just a little crisper even late in the afternoon.

Today is Monday and it seems there is a school holiday today but the weekend people are leaving and that will make for a nice week. The word is this storm that is coming is going to drop a lot of snow. I am going to change this equipment for some powder skies.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

You ever heard of “Snow Snake’s” 7/12/08 Day 143


Day 143 (Slide show) (Video)

When I went to the ski shop yesterday I asked for some Telemark skis and boots. I thought if I used this type I would keep it slower and stay under control. It’s been 23 years I think since I have been skiing and I don’t want to jump into it to fast. Yesterday I was trying to remember the last time I went and I had a hard time remembering when it was. I keep thinking I had gone somewhere in Utah or California but I hadn’t. It turns out that the last time I was skiing was in the four corners area of Utah. I was the golf pro in Moab and had a chance to go helicopter skiing in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado. That was a great day but it doesn’t seem that long ago. Oh well its hell to get old.

Now back to the Telemark issue. This equipment isn’t like I was hoping for and the boots are very painful on my left foot. So because I can’t get them to work properly I have to ski with them in a downhill mode. The skis are swimming all over the place. But I think the problem is the boots. I’m making them work.

On the first run I traversed across some powder to another run and after a few turns I got my tips crossed and ‘Down I Went” a header. “Damn snow snake.” I was very pretty surprised. It seems I landed on the right side of my face and smashed my sun glasses into my check. At the time I was a little shaken but didn’t know about the blood until I got to the bottom and Andrew saw me. I had a handkerchief but the blood was frozen by then and so the only way to see it was to have Andrew take a picture. The whole thing was a bit funny and so I thought I had better head too the summit. I needed to get to a sink and wash up. By the time I got there, maybe 30 minutes, I was surprised to see the right side of my beard red with blood. No wonder I was getting all these funny looks on the gondola. There was a lot more blood then in the picture by then. It’s just a small scratch but a war wound none the less. The bad thing was I lost a piece of my Jilbo “Glacier Glasses.” I will have to get in touch with them to see if I can secure another one.

The day was great though, the mountain is nice and the snow is great. For a Saturday the lines were non existent. The run selection is all right but there isn’t quite enough black runs. The place is very large though with mountains on both sides of a valley floor. (Trail map) It’s fine with me though because I would be on them and that’s not a good idea until I get my ski legs back. After such a long break it will be better to take it slow and easy.

Andrew says we will get some new snow tomorrow afternoon so I’m going to go back to the ski shop and trade in these skies and boots. I’m not very happy with this equipment. The boots, the ski’s and the bindings are all too sloppy for me.

Hell, it has to be the equipment it can’t be me.

The weather today is -10c and last night it was -16c.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

The fiasco in Livigno 6/12/08 Day 142


Day 142 (Slide show)

A few days ago I mentioned I had a chance to go skiing in Italy at a resort called Livigno. After talking with a few folks these past few days I found out that this is a nice resort that is near St Moritz, Switzerland. I’m going to be driving with a guy named Andrew who is a Snow kite adventurer and snowboarder. He is 23 and lives for the snow. He reminds me of myself a bit when I was that age. Even though Livigno is in Italy we will have to drive through Switzerland to get there. I’m very excited and a little nervous since I haven’t been skiing in such a long time. But I know it is like riding a bike, it will come back to me. Andrew had another friend who was to go be he dropped out so it is just the two of us.

I was to meet him at a bus stop near his house here in Prague at 9pm. That was a tough haul using the metro, trams and buses to get there with all my bags. I made it and he was waiting there for me.

We drove all night arriving in Livigno very tired at around 7am. As we passed through Switzerland we had to go through a one lane tunnel that was very interesting. Also right at dawn we came across a castle ruin that looked like a good photo but when I got out too take the picture it was so cold I couldn’t get to the car fast enough. But for the most part the ride was long and hard. Another problem was Andrew’s car is an old Toyota and has a cassette player. He only had one tape, the soundtrack to Pulp Fiction. I got rather tired of that.

Upon arriving in the village and finding the right condo complex where this Polish group was to meet us we found them already there. It’s now 10am and I wanted to get there first but Andrew disagreed so we took our time instead. This was a major mistake. We were the last to too sign up with this outfit of 98 Polish students and we didn’t ride in the bus to protect our spots so when we meet the two guy’s running the group they had our bed for us. We were to share a fold out couch in the kitchen of a two bedroom condo with four other guys.

Something’s Wrong (Junior Watson, Bluesman)

The two morons from Poland running this fiasco had way over booked it and we weren’t the only ones to have a bad situation thrown at them. The whole thing was a joke. Rooms set up for 3 to 4 persons wee being crammed with 5 to 6 people. And then we found out that their friends got separate rooms.

So after about 5 hours of yelling and swearing by many folk’s including me I was telling Andrew that we should go back to Prague. We had paid 100€ as a deposit but I was ready to lose it. The roll out bed was in the kitchen next to the front door and I knew there would be no sleep there. After about 4pm the morons quit talking to us. This didn’t sit well with me. I told Andrew that we should check with the Ski Information office and if that didn’t work we should go somewhere else, maybe another resort or something.

It was a bad time to get in this kind of a spot because the village was booked out for the weekend. Our hope was that the information office could find a cancellation. Well there is a lot more to the story including Andrew begging at one point but at about 7pm we were in our own condo which was much nicer and in the end after loosing the 100€ deposit we paid about the same. It showed us how much those two Polish trip organizers were making. This was a very long 48 hours. But a good nights sleep and I’m skiing in the Italian Alps tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

David Černý’s “The Pissing Boy’s” of Prague Day 139 3/12/08


Day 139 (slide show)

Strange things happen when you least expect them. A couple of days ago I was hanging out waiting for a small break in the weather. Sure I was trying to work on this blog but I’m very bored. At about 2pm I was able to go for a short ride and while I was out I couldn’t help thinking about how confined and trapped I feel. I decided that the next day I would start looking for some place to go. I will just get on a train and head out for a few days. Well when I woke on Tuesday morning I checked the Couchsurfing site and there was a post by a lady I knew saying that she was having to cancel her ski trip because of work. She wanted to see if anyone would go so her brother wouldn’t have to pay for everything. Martina and her brother Andrew had planned to go to Italy skiing for a week and now they needed someone to help with expenses. Andrew wants to leave on Friday. I just about pissed my pants; this was just what I needed. I couldn’t respond fast enough. The resort/village name is Livingo and it is very close to St Moritz. They had 3 feet of new snow two days ago and more expected. The cost was cheep because it is still pre-season. I’m very excited about this chance. I can’t even remember the last time I went skiing. I will have to think about it later, there is so much to think about. Lot’s to prepare.

Later that night I decided to go to a pizza party with some other CS’ers. I really didn’t have time but I had promised a few days ago that I would be there. I hate to fade on friends who invite me to something so I went. I ran into a guy named Jared who was in town for a couple of days. He is from Santa Barbara and as we were talking he wanted to see the city tomorrow and no one else could go with him so I stepped up. I have so much to do before leaving on Friday but I volunteered and so tomorrow I’m meeting him at my favorite meet up spot, The Bohemian Bagel for a walk around the city. I hope it warms up because it is very cold.

So today I’m going to tour the city with Jared. I have my favorite places to go and I figured I could be out until 4PM I sent a note to Andrew telling him I would be out until then so we can hookup at that time. Jared is a nice guy and he showed on time which I like. I took him to the usual spots like the Metronome where I saw a nice piece of graffiti of a couple of pirate’s. Then we moved around to the Castle area. (Panorama view from the Cathedral of St. Vitus at the Prague Castle) I hadn’t actually been inside the walls yet so that was fun. We were there at noon so we got to see the changing of the guards. It was so cold though. I was getting a headache from the wind. Of course I didn’t have the right hat on ether.

There was a place down by the Charles Bridge that I haven’t seen yet and I heard about the exact location the other day. It’s called “The Pissing Boy’s” I was told. I see though that he just calls it “Piss” which seems incomplete. It’s a crazy piece of art by the famous Czech artist David Černý. He did the Babies on the TV Tower and many others. It’s very funny and if you send a text message to a number and wait for a few minutes the boys will piss the message in the pool. I typed in George Bush. Very appropriate I thought. I would love to meet this guy and have a beer. I’m sure it would be a fun night. Wouldn’t it be fun to get a couple of actors to dress up as the Moron and Darth Vader and play like children in the pool while being pissed on? That would be a good UTube moment.

Just after 6pm I found out that there was a small meet up where I could see Martina, Andrews’s sister. Jared took off about 4pm and we planned to meet again later. I went to a cybercafé and got in touch with Andrew.

It turns out the plans have changed slightly and we will be tagging along with a Polish student group of 98 people. They will be in busses and the two of us will drive. So that makes 100. I asked him if there might be a problem that we weren’t with the group and he said “No problem.” It sounded alright and we could save on the lodging. The resort Livingo is about a 9 hour drive and we would leave on Friday night. Things seem to be falling together and I was happy to be able to talk to Martina about her brother and the trip.

When I arrived at the restaurant she was there but as I was asking her questions so many people started to show that we didn’t get to talk long. As it turns out she hasn’t ever been to this resort anyway. She wasn’t able to give me very much information but I was able to see some folks I haven’t seen for a while. Daniel, my friend from Prague who helped me with the customs was there. So was Alexey, both of these guy’s I haven’t seen in awhile. Cameron from Chicago and Pavel from Russia were there. Had a good time but I new when to leave and was back at my flat by 11:30. I have so much to do. I will leave in two days.