Sunday, March 31, 2013

Easter Weekend Tournaments

Man i am beat up ... got lit up for 16 goals over 3 games , we escaped with a tie in our last game ... well actually we coughed up the puck with 30 seconds to give up the lead we had but regardless it was another crazy Easter Weekend . Pretty sure this has to be the biggest hockey weekend of the year world wide . We were at a tournament at Chesswood Arenas , bunch of friends were at a couple other tournaments here in Toronto then i had a whole gang of friends out in Bangkok playing . Basically Facebook was a giant tournament update page this weekend :)

My Ghetto Blasters had it rough though , we were in the second division and all the teams had great skaters . We had a lot of rookies on the squad and it was kinda a warm up for our summer season . The first game was pretty rough but eventually as the weekend went on we began to gel and play a bit better ... still some more things to work on but we have a few ice times over the next month to make that work as our summer seasons don't start until May ... i say seasons as we have 2 teams on 2 different nights in 2 different leagues :)

I am hoping and wishing that all my friends are out there having a great weekend and hoping that all of you are playing safely ! Last year we had a few injuries , this year 0 ... which is great as we are still in the playoffs and have a game on Tuesday ... GO GHETTO !

If your team is ever in Toronto on Easter Weekend and you are looking for some stiff competition check out the tourney we enter . Its' dirt cheap and good hockey . My body is still aching ... i better go get some ice on some of these bruises LOL . Happy Easter !

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Maltese Passport

Finally i got my Canadian passport renewed , well i have just sent it in yesterday so it should be back in a few weeks and then i have to send it out to get my Brazilian Visa . My German buddies were telling me they don't need a travel visa for Brazil and i was hoping that i could save some time and just finally follow through and get my Euro passport since i have duel citizenship ... i am a Maltese citizen :) i gained my citizenship in 2006 after my attempt to move to Europe .....

This is going way way back ! In 2003 i applied for my Maltese citizenship and i think a billion other people did too ... probably much less but it swamped the officials that handled these issues there . Malta was going to become part of the European Union so everyone and their mother applied . No joke i had to get my mothers citizenship back so i could get mine LOL at that point i was planning to move to Europe and in 2004 i moved to Amsterdam with the hopes that i would get my citizenship and be able to work there ... it was my first venture away from home and really it was a huge learning process with absolutely no planning at all .... yes it was a disaster !

In Holland i could not get work and i was constantly contacting the Maltese Embassy there and they were no help at all .... in 2005 i went to Malta , to play for the Malta Pirates in Dubai and on my stop over i decided to visit the offices to see if my citizenship had gone through . I was i had a photo ! Just picture a sweaty office filled with filing cabinets with boxes on top of them and fans barely pushing the sweat filled air around the room , on top of those boxes are stacks of paper and everyone in there looked like absolute office zombies . Regardless they couldn't find my file :)

1 day out of the blue i finally got a letter from the Maltese gov't and it was really not clear at all . I took it to the consulate general and sat down with him and he said congratulations you are now a Maltese citizen .... that was in 2006 .... so when i went in yesterday the consulate had moved and it had more security , things have changed . Regardless i approached the counter and said i would like to get my Maltese passport and the nice lady told me that it would be $120 for a 10 year passport  , i had to ask if i would need a visa to enter Brazil as a Maltese citizen and unfortunately i still would need a visa :( i was there anyway with all my paperwork in hand so what the heck .... finally i am getting my Maltese passport , which i expect to use when i head over to Europe in December . Yes i am going back to Europe this year .... hahahaha !!!!

After i did all that and went out to get a new hockey bag at my favorite hockey shop Goalie Heaven :) then i came home to contact the Brazilian embassy .... they assured me that i should have no problem getting this in time so i should not be so stressed out . The funny thing is the only reason i got off my ass was because i was paranoid that i would not have time for this passport to get renewed and come back with time to send it out again to get visa  ... so i ended up getting another one LOL . Sometimes the things that get me to do things makes my life a little more interesting ... it must be the same bit of crazy that makes me stand in front of pucks .

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Ice Hockey Tournament in Chile

To be exact this tournament is way way way at the south point of Chile in a city by the name of Punta Arenas . Yes where is there a better place to find and arena in Chile LOL ! That is what i thought too when i first found that there is some ice hockey there . My friends in Ushuaia,Argentina told me about it and hooked me up with Alejandro Trabas . Now i have not met Alejandro yet but from all the conversations we have had i already know this guy bleeds ice , he really loves the sport and sounds like a party animal like the rest of us hockey travellers .

Alejandro is trying to get a big rink in Punta Arenas and needs to impress the gov't officials there to get them to help him achieve his dream ... they really want an olympic size rink ! When we first started talking i suggested we start a tournament there , he took that idea and ran as fast as he could with it ... next thing you know i was getting an offical invite :) My team name is the Ghetto Blasters , the ice is a 3 on 3 rink so all i need is 4 more guys to make 2 lines .... of course Andi and Timo are on my team , i will try to add 2 guys from Argentina and 2 from Chile to make it an interesting experience . If anyone reading this wants to join let me know as i have a great deal for guys playing on my  team !!!!

The tournament will be 4 teams ... Los Nordicos ( Chile) , Killer Puck ( Chile ) , Club Andino Ushuaia ( Argentina ) and Ghetto Blasters whom they claim is a Canadian team but from the looks of it i might be the only Canadian ... there might be another fellow joining that has contacted me , if anyone else wants to join please let me know soon LOL check out the video they made

Originally i was going to get there on July 11 but now i am arranging with my friends to fly there landing on July 8 ...Yesterday Alejandro let me know that me and my team mates will be put into the best hotel in the city , and have all our meals paid for ... yeah for free !!! BUT he really needs us to do some press stuff like TV interviews and newspaper articles , so we will have a schedule but nothing comes for free :P we will be there to help them get to where they want to be , it will be an absolute pleasure being in Punta Arenas making new friends , helping to promote the sport , and at the same time having lots of fun !!!!

My printer died yesterday , so my attempt to get my passport renewed and fill in my tournament forms for Ushuaia were thwarted :( I know you guys down in Patagonia are reading this LOL give me a few more days and i will get you all the info you require :) I am hoping to have most everything booked by the end of next week .... until then i have to start doing some more research on Punta Arenas , if i am there for a week i might as well do some sightseeing etc .... more then likely that means i will drink in every bar in town ! 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Still Smiling :)

An old hockey buddy of mine works for this huge , huge , huge charity tournament called the Scotiabank Pro AM for Alzheimers they aim to raise $2 million from this weekend tournament ... and i don't doubt they will . Rob Weir gave me a call a couple days ago to see if i would go skate in this promo for the tournament . Many of you know Rob from his work with Hockey 4 Heart , he is The Man when it comes to charity work ! I didn't know Rob was working with this tournament and i am sure for most of you that know Rob you didn't know either ....

Anyway he tells me they built a rink inside of Baycrest Hospital ?!?!? Really ??? Yeah they built a rink inside of a hospital , no friggin joke ! It is synthetic ice , very small pad and its to promote the tournament , there will be press and it will be fun .... and there will be NHL Alumni there too . Ok so i have the opportunity to kill a whole flock of birds with one stone :) I get to play on synthetic ice ( never did that before ) , inside a hospital ( really who has done that ?) and hold your breathe ... i get to skate with NHL Alumni including Marcel Dionne and Wendel Clark ??? COUNT ME IN !!!

I drove out there yesterday and as i was told i called Rob when i arrived at the Bathurst entrance dropped my gear and drove to the back of the hospital to park . The hospital is for patients with Alzheimers , the tournament is for undeniably a great cause and if anyone out there wants to make any donations or help out then check this website . The rink they built was probably the smallest pad i have ever played on and when i arrived i met up with good buddies Craig Gagnon and Ron Fine ...Craig was there to help out and Ron was the other goalie ... we all go way back ! So we go in the room and Marcel Dionne is there being interviewed , he was so awesome ... i have to say i was giddy like a kid near him , 5th on the all time scoring list the guy is a LEGEND !!! and he carries himself like one , he spoke to everyone and was laughing and smiling the whole time . and i am the lucky one that gets to play hockey with him today WOO!!!

I got dressed and Marcel Dionne sat right beside me , yes i am still giddy about all this LOL ! and beside Marcel sat Dave McLlwain ... Ron sat on the other side and Craig stood around taking pics for us (thanks pal ! ) There was a bunch of introductions and we all sat in the room chatting about things , mostly us asking Marcel and the others questions about hockey and life ... Marcel is intent that we go visit his restaurant in Niagara Falls check it out if you are ever around there , great reviews ... i am probably going to drop in some day and hopefully talk him into going for a skate :)

As i said this was a charity game so it was NHL Alumni vs. Doctors . When we stepped on this synthetic ice nobody could skate on it ... yeah it is just like i thought , not ice LOL . regardless it was interesting and we all toughed our way through it . Ron had to play for the doctors so had more opportunities to get lit up by the NHL'ers , and yeah they all still have their hands . Denis Maruk , Mark Napier and Kevin Maguire were also there and man was it a treat to play with all of them ... i would love to see them with a real puck on real ice , yeah we used an orange puck so nobody would get hurt . Still somehow i managed to put one up high on Wendel Clark and i am pretty sure i pissed him off , and you wonder how i know this ? well after the puck hit him in the chest he turned around and rifled one at my head :) Yup what can i say i am a dumb ass LOL .... still managed to get an autograph from him ! i forgot to mention the superstar doctor that lit me up ... Bryan Muir i had a feeling you weren't a doctor LOL !

Pretty sure nobody kept score , everyone was a winner ! There were smiles all across the board , in fact i am still smiling ... i know everyone was there for Wendel Clark and yeah he is awesome , but i was really happy to meet Marcel .... we spoke quite a bit as all the media attention was for Wendel so we hung back and let me tell you , i hope that the kids coming into the NHL meet a guy like Marcel and figure out how to be professional . I got that autograph from Wendel Clark for my friend Phil , and i got an autograph from Marcel Dionne for myself ! Maybe someday i will get the picture below framed with Marcel's autograph ....

Thank you Rob Weir for such an unbelievable day , with such great experiences and ultimately for an amazing cause , i know you are aiming for $2 million but i hope you get 4 !!!! Keep up the great work :)

Monday, March 18, 2013

So much to plan , don't be a hater :)

Didn't get anything done yesterday , i wanted to but my couch was calling ... and i was fully into being with it :) Today i wake up and i have been asked to be in Punta Arenas on July 9th , this makes things a bit different for me as i only had planned to be in Buenos Aires for 3 days in which i would try to get on the ice in that time . Now i might only have a really really small window of opportunity , pretty much might have to jump on ice the day i arrive if at all possible ... it would be a shame if i couldn't get on the ice in Buenos Aires but none the less i will play in Ushuaia , Argentina to earn my flag :) ... i will still try my darnedest to get on their ice in Buenos Aires .

One of the guys i am travelling with is not too keen on driving both directions from Ushuaia to Punta Arenas , i looked at flight possibilities and i don't think i am willing to pay the extra few hundred dollars to fly there ... now i have to find out when my friends from Ushuaia will go to Punta Arenas for the tournament . Also i need to find out if there is room for 2 or 3 of us with all our equipment . This is gonna be crucial , if i can't get us a ride there then we have to arrange to catch bus and the bus schedule there is a bit dicey with early departures , this means we will have to land in Ushuaia the night before to catch the flight .... If all goes well we will have room to travel with the guys from Ushuaia ! Fingers are crossed :)

Today i really have to get my shit together , gotta clean myself up ( shave chops off) and go get a photo taken for my passport .... if i can get that in today i should have my new passport within 3 weeks . I also have to get a VISA for Brazil , not sure if i can attain this with old passport and/or if it will be effected by a passport # change ??? At some point i have to stop by my local politicians office to pick up some Canadian lapel pins to hand out to friends i meet on my travels , i have never done that before and i think it would be nice for me to give out some small gifts to people ... i have seen others do it and i always said i should , so now i will :)

The flight i book today will have us travelling from Rio de Janeiro to Iguazu Falls then from there to Buenos Aires .... after this flight i only have to book our flights from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia !!! only thing left to organize after that is our hotels ... decisions,decisions ! 

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Brazil Will Be My Next Flag

The other week i finally booked my flight to Rio de Janeiro :) i leave Toronto with my good friend Timo on June 27th and arrive in Brazil in the morning on June 28th .... it is not a short flight , connecting in Houston but total travel is something like 15 hours !!! I fly back on July 24th from Buenos Aires,Argentina :) So the ball is rolling now ...

This week i got confirmation from the hotel we are booking in Rio , Hotel Entremares in Barra di Tijuca which is a new area not too far from Copacabana and really close to the arena which we will play at . Funny the confirmation i was given doesn't really have a # or anything , it is just a letter with all our names and the dates we are staying there .... yeah i know this is probably not a 5 star hotel but it was suggested to me by my contact over there in Rio . He lives near there so hopefully it will make it easier for us :)

Today i have to book my flight to Iguazu Falls to see one of the new 7 wonders of nature , should be amazing and Andi will hopefully organize our room there while i begin looking for rooms in Buenos Aires and Punta Arenas ....  our friend in Punta Arenas has already begun sending us places to stay but i don't think any of us really want to stay in hostels on this trip so we will probably opt for the Best Western that is there and apparently is the cheapest option for us aside from the $21/night hostel . Don't get me wrong i don't mind staying in hostels but i think we are planning to go a bit more posh on this trip seeing how we are spending a bundle to go there anyway LOL *sidenote* i need a sponsor , anyone know anyone that can hook me up with flight for future ? HAHAHA! yeah i know you probably would be using that connection already if possible !

I just can't wait for this trip to happen ! Things have been pretty hectic for me here lately with a crazy work week , playoffs for hockey , organizing my Ghetto Classic etc.. i haven't really had too much time to write blogs or plan my trip but it is good that i am ahead of the game at this point seeing how i have already begun booking flights and rooms .... i am sure all will be booked within the next few weeks . Hopefully when Andi gets home as i am sure he is bouncing around the south Pacific right now with his gear :) we can get some things done faster as it is hard to get a hold of him right now ... yeah i know you are reading this :P

Can't forget to give a shout out to all my Irish friends today !!! Happy St. Patty's Day Lads !!!!!

better get back to researching hotels ....

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Meeting People

Morning ,

So travelling is amazing i just wanted to say that ! Sometimes you meet people and you get attached to them and know that they would be really close friends if they lived back home near you ... i have met a lot of people like this . And then sometimes these really awesome people that you meet have things happening in their lives that end up not working out so well :(

Over the years of doing this i have unfortunately met some really really amazing people that have passed away , and i will never forget them ! I kinda wanted to talk about them and i hope the people that introduced me to these people understand that i miss them .... i will never forget going to Indonesia meeting this crazy guy name Jusuf and his gf ... they took me out for a night of karaoke and showed me a great time there , unfortunately she passed away from some illness later that year . Another friend i met on that trip brought me to his apartment and his amazing wife Sinta ( i think that is how it is spelled ) made me this amazing dinner after watching a Leafs game with Stephane the Habs fan ... sadly she passed this past year from an illness as well :(

When i was in Germany i stayed with my good friend Nate at his grandparents and i will never forget getting driven to the airport by his grandfather who didn't speak any English and i didn't speak any German but we had a fun time together ... sadly his grandfather passed away .... i am not sure where to go with this i can go on and on and it just makes me more and more sad to think about this .....all these awesome people that i have asked about and are not around any more !

This past week 2 of the most amazing people i have had the privilege of staying at my house travelling from Argentina had a really really bad car accident ... i am hoping right now for their speedy recovery , they were lucky to have gotten away without serious injury but were hurt none the less .

Travelling can be an emotional experience , i am sure those of you that enjoy travelling think about somebody they have lost every time they land in a new country ... for me it is my long lost best friend Chris Brzezicki , every time the plane lands i always think that he would be with me when i land somewhere .

i didn't mean for this post to be so somber but at the moment i am thinking about this and it is not the first time i have thought about all this ... i just felt today , now was the best time for me to talk about it :(

I hope Javier and Anita get well ASAP !!!!