Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Full Time Backup

I feel like hell today ... woke up at a ridiculously early time today . I had oral surgery last Friday and it is wreaking havoc on me . I am telling you all this as a precursor to when i get to the point . As most of you know i run a hockey team called The Ghetto Blasters . We play twice a week .. Tuesdays at Etobicoke Ice Sports in D1 division (more like C if you ask me ) and we play downtown in the DMHL on weekends . Weekends meaning once a weekend but it could be at 1 of possibly 5 rinks on either Friday night , Saturday or Sunday ( could be afternoons on the latter 2 ) .

With my travelling and my injuries i find myself always in need of a replacement . Now i don't miss too many games or i would just give up running the squad . Between the 2 teams we play about 48 games and i miss probably 10 a year MAX . If you are a goalie that lives in Toronto area and you are a decent tendy let me know as i am thinking its time to have an official backup goalie . Yeah not the most prestigious title but you will be a member of an outstanding hockey club and you will be quite valuable to me in my absence :) Still not too prestigious ? ok yeah you are right , but regardless if you are interested let me know ! Leave a comment or message me on Facebook ... you can like my page while you are on it too :)

I could use a goalie to fill in next Tuesday if you are available contact me ! 

Monday, January 27, 2014

Home ...

So here we are today i am writing in the present ... that trip was pretty taxing , losing my gear 3 times . I have had to replace my sticks , get my stick bag repaired ... now i have to get my pads fixed as i think one of the straps was cut during that pile on i encountered in Morocco LOL . Things have been going well with my squads here ... mostly everyone seems happy and we are winning . My first game back i got a shutout , what more can a goalie ask for ? I still can't believe i had gear go missing 3 times in 1 trip , just unreal !

Lately i have been planning out my next trip which was going to be a trip to South America but i have been convinced to go elsewhere ... i have to say sorry to the guys in Punta Arenas , i know you wanted me to bring a team down there but right now it doesn't seem like such an easy decision . When i travel i don't want to go to the same countries without visiting some new places and right now i have no contacts to play anywhere else in South America , aside from Quito and they are not responding so .... time to start planning for South Africa instead . Yes you heard me .... i am going to South Africa ! The plan is to start there , head up to Morocco and do a camp for the kids there again and then end up in Spain at the summer tournament in Barcelona . I have wanted to go there for a few years now ... this trip actually ends up being cheaper then what i was planning for South America which suits me better since i need to get some new pads in the near future .

I have already been put in contact with some people in South Africa . It should be good and will be great if Timo joins me on this trip . Today i am sitting at home in pain after having a tooth surgically removed , yeah they had to cut into my jaw on Friday to remove a tooth and its still sore .... missed my game this weekend and didn't work all weekend .... its a bit of a setback but i am sure i can make up for it in the coming weeks . I have to send a bunch of paperwork to Royal Air Maroc for breaking my sticks and they told me to send it to an office in Calgary ??? as far as my research goes there is no office there .... i could be wrong or blind but i need to figure out where to send these receipts as they agreed to replace my sticks and pay me back for all the unfortunate mishaps . I also have to contact the other airlines to see if they are willing to compensate me for their mistakes .... in a perfect world they would , wouldn't they ?

i guess i better get working on trying to reclaim the money i have spent to fly with these airlines ... yeah its like a job isn't it LOL ! 

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Morocco 2014

Oh Morocco ... you are a special place for me . I was a bit leery about going to Morocco as there was/is a travel warning on our Canadian tourism website , to this day i have no clue why ??? A fellow named Adil has been reading my blog for some time and has been asking me to visit Morocco for some time also , only problem is he lives full time in Montreal ... so when i had the window to go there i didn't really think that he might not be there . He has been bugging me for years to do this too , unfortunately to this day we have not met but i still would consider him a friend . So Adil is not going to be there , i have booked my flight and i am a bit nervous because of this kinda stupid website ... mostly it is helpful but you can't always believe what the press tells you . During my trip through Europe i was noticing that nobody was reading my blog from Morocco and that kinda sent up some red flags ... remember i don't know anyone there at all , usually i have a contact there and i would see tons of people reading from the country i am visiting . ( yeah i know when you like my posts on facebook and you are not even reading it ! , chumps ) 

On my way there i had been put in touch with Khalid Mrini whom is the President of the Moroccan Ice Hockey Federation ... and yes they are recognized by the IIHF . I emailed him and really had no clue what to expect . Really i have to write a whole blog just about this special man .... for now i will try to keep it short . So when i arrive in Morocco my sticks are missing , story of this trip ! Who else has lost their gear 3 times in one trip ??? this was the 2nd time .... first time was gear bag lost in Paris and this time its my stick bag lost in Munich . So when i arrive i am not in the happiest mood but meeting Khalid changed everything . This guy was the calmest guy you will ever meet , what i mean is he calmed me down really fast . 

Khalid is one of the best hosts i have ever encountered and yeah i have encountered some really really amazing people on my travels but this guys like i said was special . Remember i have had a few booze filled weeks of travelling and at this point i was a sponge , ready to be ringed out . So here is the craziest most unbelievable part of this story .... i was sober the whole time , yes i spent 5 days in Morocco and did not even have 1 beer . Did not even bring any home ! In retrospect i should have and next time i will . Khalid took me to see everything i could possibly see in Rabat/Sale and meet everyone i could possibly meet like the Chief of Police and the Mayor and all these other high ranked officials . It was very special for me to be absolutely sober meeting and seeing first hand how things are done there . 

As most of you know i am not big on trying new foods but Khalid calmly talked me into trying so many new things . I ate new fruits , had couscous with sour milk , ate tajine and i even think i tried some lamb at one point (yuck) , i was also shown traditional ways of eating without cutlery .... bread in hand and dip in ! yes this is not me really but being sober i guess brought out the best in me . And for the record this is the first country i have been too and not had a single drinky drink . Trust me i was not bored ! Along with all the traditional foods i still found the time to go search for a McShwarma or a McFalafel but that was to no avail as McDonalds has the same menu they basically have around the world .... yeah i had a Big Mac :) I ate at Pizza Hut too which was the only place on my whole journey where i found my coveted favorite drink ... Mirinda , ah Mirinda where have you been .... this orange pop produced by Pepsi was everywhere last time i was in Germany , for some reason she has been hidden from me . Thank you Pizza Hut Morocco for carrying my favorite drink :) Aside from fast foods i ate at Khalid's families houses and at a Vietnamese restaurant , had a road side tajine and also had a great chicken kebab .... but the best of all was the last meal i had at Dar Naji . I mentioned this before , if you are there check this place out . As i have said before food in Morocco is fairly cheap . The service is beautiful at every establishment , they love tourists and thrive off them .... you should all go and experience their world class services !

Ok now here is the news about the hockey .... the rink is in a mall called Mega Mall . Its not as big as you would think but it has the most important element to this whole trip ... an ice rink ! The ice rink is not very big and doesn't have all the lines painted on so they don't play with offsides . They have a real zamboni that is fully functional unlike most countries that will have a tractor or maybe 6 kids pushing shovels , this is a definite plus in maintaining their rink . The ice is great , not too many divots and the edges are nice and flat around the boards . The rink is enclosed properly and the temperature in there is spot on ... the guys that built this ice pad built it the right way and i would sure hope to see a larger rink there in the near future . I actually was supposed to skate with some diplomats there on one of the first days arriving but they never responded to my emails ... yeah i contacted the Canadian Embassy in Rabat and never to this day have gotten a reply !!!! good thing its not for something serious eh ? so i didn't go skate with them , which apparently i was supposed to as one of the kids mentioned it to me ... not sure how these guys communicate but mind reading isn't one of my forte's :) Anyways the main reason i was there was to skate with the Rabat Capitals . These kids were fantastic , all full of energy they made me feel like a kid and it felt good . I actually felt like one of them after our 2 skates together and will always feel that way with these kids . They aren't as bad as you would expect either , skating skills are there with most of them ... shooting and passing skills need a bit of work but not too much , and from what i saw they like to play a bit rough :) good ol' Canadian Hockey style . No fighting they all respect each other and all seem to be pretty close friends .The Moroccan Ice Hockey Federation is doing a very commendable job at bringing their youth into their systems and will definitely have a good squad of kids coming through their ranks in the future . I look forward to following their progress over the next few years .... and will be back to see it through !

Some crazy stuff happened while i was there . Not very highly publicized in the media but there was a small tsunami while i was there , what you see above is the latter effects it had on the land scape . The air was filled with moisture and rocks and trash from the ocean was washed on shore . Some houses were flooded and even a tunnel nearby was closed down due to flooding . As far as i know there were no casualties just some damages to some unfortunate houses ... all in all i hope everyone got through it ok ! Khalid's uncle who is in his 70's was saying he had never ever seen the water so angry in his life . Moroccans were all amazed at what they were seeing and i was amazed too :O 

It is really unfortunate that i was only there for 5 days ... i really should have been there much longer as there are so many great cities to visit like Casablanca, Fez and Marrakesh and from what i had heard Rabat was supposed to be the boring lame city out of all the big cities in Morocco ... well based on what i experienced in the "boring " city,  i can't wait to see the rest because Rabat and Sale were amazing ! i loved it there and i am already planning to come back Khalid ! just as i promised :p The craziest part of the trip was that my sticks actually arrived before i left ... both of them cracked , bag torn open and destroyed ...  i survived the trip using loaner sticks that were way too small for me . Hoping to have my sticks with me next time LOL . 

I would highly suggest everyone goes to Morocco to visit some of the most beautiful people i have ever met ! The food , the service , the people and most of all the prices are all beautifully amazing :) I would like to thank Adil for talking me into doing this , i would like to thank Mr. Khalid for being the most amazing and wonderful host that he is . i would also like to thank the Rabat Capitals for letting me on the ice with them , there are so many people i would love to remember all your names ... it is such a special trip for me .... i can't forget my buddy Sayid , you are a true friend thanks for dragging my bag around ! you deserved the tip i gave you buddy :) ... there are only a few people that will understand this last statement .... who the heck is mike ???? LOL ! 

Take care Morocco i will see you again soon .... Shokran ! 


Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Augsburg 2014

Ok i have been to Augsburg before but the last time i was there it was in the evening and really i didn't see much ... that was when Timo rescued me after losing Rainer in London . The morning after we just woke up and he drove me to the airport . So when i was planning out the trip i was keen to go there to watch an Augsburg Panthers game with Timo ! Timo is a hard core fan of this great hockey club so we looked at the schedule and saw that we could go watch them on Jan.3rd and i could fly to Morocco on the 4th ... done booked , but not only booked .... Timo got us a table at Bob's Terrace . I have no clue how much it cost him but he showed us the Augsburg Panthers home in style . As i have mentioned before Timo is consistent ... consistently AWESOME ! 

We arrived in Augsburg on the night of Jan 2nd and we had ice time there in Konigsbrunn , there were a few guys i knew from weeks past and from trips past . Got to see Andy who i met in Plzen and Tobi who i met a few weeks back at the Eisschlampen game i played in . This time he was playing and he was the other goalie . The ice in Konigsbrunn is really nice and well kept but as usual its a bit dark in the evening and the lighting seems a bit off . Regardless it was the best ice i saw on this trip or at least comparable to the ice in Peissenberg ... big olympic size ice pads all over Germany , i personally like playing on the big ice over those small 3 on 3 pads i come across in my travels .... but the bottom line is you get what you get and if you live in a country with a small rink , then use it . Use it a lot and hopefully some day that rink will grow :) At the skate we mentioned that we were going to see the Panthers play and a whole bunch of guys started saying they would be there too .... Tobi ended up jumping on board with us for our trip to Bob's Terrace . 

So finally i got to see Augsburg during the day light ! Its a really beautiful typical small city , with a population around 150,000 it is a University city which is bloated during the school year and less populated in the summer . Big beautiful cathedrals , a newly set up transit system ! Toronto take notes , these guys even separated their transit from the rest of traffic .... trams run on their own paths and from what Timo says traffic sucked during the construction but what they did made traffic much better in the long run . Imagine driving in Toronto and not having to stop at every intersection to wait for a streetcar to drop passengers without being able to pass the street car ? can you imagine , it's brilliant ! That wasn't the only beauty of Augsburg ... they have a wonderful hockey shop filled with Canadian flags called Ziegler Sport . Check out their website . The staff their were absolutely fantastic and they are probably one of the biggest hockey shops in and around that part of Germany . Loved it ! 

Melanie Blume also joined us , she drove for something like 6 hours from Nuremberg ( i think ) and we all went on our merry way to meet Tobi on the tram . We got to the arena early and met some players as seen above with Steffen Tolzer who is an injured player . When we got inside the party was on ! Beautiful rink , the whole Bob's Terrace idea was really awesome and somehow we ended up with the only table with a Jaegermeister table cloth ... to this day i am not sure if that was planned LOL ... Rainer loves the stuff if you didn't know :) but they don't sell it here . Free beer ,free food , and good times were easily earned ... what a night ! We met up with Michael Wolf who was in Toronto for my tourney last year , good times buddy !!! Augsburg was playing Dusseldorf , game went to a shootout and Augsburg one a tight one ! Couldn't have asked for a better last night in Germany . After the game things got really messy , ended up in a sheesha bar and i think another bar and a bottle of wine with stickers all over the place at Timo's ... pretty sure when i got on the plane to Morocco i was totally drunk , yeah that was like 8 hours after my last drink hahahaha .

Augsburg is a cool city , i would highly suggest it as a nice quiet stop over if you are ever travelling through Germany . There are a lot of nice little restaurants , even breakfast joints near the University and it is very clean and not so noisy as some bigger cities in the region . If you are into strolling around having a coffee at a cafe and looking at some historic buildings and cathedrals then this is a perfect place ... seems to be a good city to pull up a chair and draw or write poems or just relaxing . I don't blame Timo for living there , its really nice . Timo buddy , THANK YOU so much !!! This wouldn't have been so awesome if it wasn't for you , you know how much i respect you as a friend ! I am happy to say i got to see where you live ( in the daylight ) i will be back , so keep that spare room ready for a weary traveller LOL . 

Monday, January 20, 2014

Liechtenstein 2014

Just like Switzerland , Liechtenstein is a country i just drove in and out of basically . Yeah i drove through it to go to Grusch but that wasn't the longest stay :) The big day for me was New Years day . Now remember some of my friends told me that there is no way to play hockey in Liechtenstein ... well i proved them wrong and did it in the most beautiful way . I am pretty sure some of them just didn't believe me and even on New Years Eve when i left earliest telling them we have to skate the next day i don't think they fully believed me . I booked ice on my own at an outdoor rink in a ski resort in Malbun ! I contacted a fellow named Christoph who was very helpful and we get us some ice time .

What a better way to start the year ? Outdoor hockey with your friends from Germany and England playing in Liechtenstein ...on the side of a mountain !!!! I think for everyone this was a treat ... only problem was that Timo and Rainer were in comas when we were ready to leave LOL ... somehow i talked Mr.Consistency Timo into waking up and driving us to Malbun  . Buddy thanks for making it happen . At least this time driving through this area we got to see the country during the daylight and yeah it was really beautiful . Liechtenstein is not heavily populated . It is quite quiet to be honest as i was told , i was not about to test that theory because there is no way i can afford a night of partying here .

This was my 22nd country that i have played hockey in and it was somewhat special being with the people i was with and it being the first day of 2014 , the view was inspiring . The ice was eh not so good , it is natural ice and from what i was told it was the last year they were going to have this rink there :( have no fear they are putting in pipes for the new rink which will hopefully be there next year and it will be at a higher elevation ! Did i mention i got changed in a garage next to a tractor ? Getting naked practically outdoors is nothing new to me LOL ... please try not to picture me naked on a tractor in the winter , or do it and have some permanent scars :P 

I should mention that we skated at Engelbert's Eis Platz ... we met Engelbert , he was the one that told me to change in the garage . I think they were confused when i rolled up with my gear . People were coming out to take pictures of us as i am sure they don't see too many goalies there . Its a shame the guys from Vaduz don't use this ice , they should ! I would suggest everyone goes to check out their new rink next year ... here is a link to contact them if you want to go , seriously you all should ! 

We skated around for about an hour , as i said the ice was a bit rough so we didn't play a game . It was a light skate with the guys and gals shooting some pucks at me , we gave some hockey lessons to our non hockey playing friends that were with us and it was really a lot of fun skating around with no pressure about winning or losing or letting in a goal ... it was like when i was a kid and that is really why this was special . I have to mention that the staff from the ski resort Christoph , Moni and Engelbert were all super amazing . We had a beer with them in the lodge there and then headed on our merry way back to Austria . I can't babble on enough about how amazing this place was , just look at the pictures and figure it out yourselves !

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Switzerland 2013

So this is what the whole trip was planned around ...going to the Spengler Cup Final . Now as soon as that idea popped up i jumped all over it as i have always mentioned that i wanted to go play there , i mean its so close to Germany and i am always there so why is it that i haven't been there yet ? Well , its expensive ... and i mean this made some countries in Scandinavia more appealing . Yes its expensive up there too :) I don't think any of us were really willing to temp losing our wallets staying here so Switzerland was more of an in and out thing . Our first run in with the prices and the country was for a late game in Grusch so driving there was pitch black and i couldn't see anything . Timo kept mentioning how beautiful it was around here but its too bad we are always travelling at night . This was planned as we all knew we would be pissing the night away LOL .

Rainer had a game set up for us against EHC Vaduz as you can see we were in room 3 under the name AC Rheinmann hahahaha !!! Seems like everywhere we go people are challenged to spell Rainman All Stars out ... no joke i have seen some many variations of my beloved travel clubs name . The guys from Vaduz took this game a bit more serious then we did and it seemed a bit dirty but in reality they were just trying to beat us , we didn't clear the cobwebs until the second half but it was too late as we lost by 1 goal :( technically it was a pickup game but in reality these guys took it serious ... good on them , they played well and it was nice to play against them . Originally we were hoping to meet some old friends here to play but none of them showed up and only 1 replied ... as i said some times i meet people and they move on , as sad as it seems that's the way it is . And then i make new friends . Thanks to the guys from EHC Vaduz you all were great sports , and it was nice chatting with a few of you outside after ... hope to see you all at some tournaments in the future !

Rainer was on a bender .As you can see above he is trying to feed me his stick and he already ( possibly still ) has a beer in his hands LOL ... the guys that drove him were the last to leave the rink and i am sure they had fun trying to get him out of there . He loves to sit in his equipment and drink LOL ... i don't blame him . Good job organizing this trip for us buddy ! When we left we stopped at a McDonalds on the side of the road .... we found out how expensive it is there , now i am not sure if this was Liechtenstein or Switzerland we were in but we had the choice of paying in Swiss Francs or Euros . Kathleen and myself had a meal each and i added McWings ... yeah i had to , over here in Toronto that would probably be about $15 or something like that ... well there it was $45 !!!! OUCH ... but at least the wings were good :) 

So when we started organizing this trip we were talking about the rink seen above ! That rink is just outside the Valiant Arena in Davos,Switzerland , unfortunately it was fully booked and we could not organize this . Also it would have been a royal pain in the ass to drag my gear on the train to go there , yeah we took a train and we overpaid as we all forgot we didn't need to pay full fare with our Spengler tickets ... oh the humble hangover strikes again . Whatever , we didn't skate on that ice and we paid extra to get to Davos ... it was really beautiful but mainly it was a ski town . Yeah they are pretty much all the same except not many have anything quite as prestigious as the Spengler Cup . Now for those of you that have been hiding under a rock for most of your lives :) the Spengler Cup is an invitational tournament that has been held since 1923 around the Christmas holidays with the final being held on the day of New Years Eve ... pretty good way to start the party ? Yeah unfortunately we had some problems getting some of our group in as Rainer went missing , well we left without him as he was sleeping/trashed LOL . So when we got in it was rammed , we should have entered earlier ... also Kathleen went missing !!! yeah she didn't watch any of the game at all with me , she was in a tent outside ... don't get me started . 

Of course the big wish for me was to see Team Canada vs. CSKA Moscow ... unfortunately Team Canada lost in semis to Geneve-Servette which if you ask me were the underdogs going into the final playing a KHL team . The KHL is regarded as the second best league in the world behind the NHL ... in my mind that is all arguable and Geneve-Servette proved that theory right as they won the Spengler Cup . They beat CSKA Moscow and to be fair they looked tired as they have been flying back and forth to Russia to play league games during this tourney .... it was a pleasure to see the likes of Sergei Fedorov and Alex Radulov and a whole other host of former Russian NHL players playing right in front of me . As you can see above there is proof of Fedorov playing :) 

I didn't buy any memorabilia from this event , everything was being sold at a ridiculous cost and in fact i didn't even buy a beer or any food on this foray into the country . It was great going to Switzerland and making it the 21st flag on my hockey bag ( which yes i did get back finally ) but its super expensive and i highly doubt i will go back ... going to the Spengler Final was somewhat of a bucket list thing and i am glad i experienced it , the first period was hard as i couldn't see anything as i was in a standing section in the corner . I had to wait there until someone left then i squeezed my way into a spot to see ... the whole time i was worried about the whereabouts of my girl friend , and to make it all worse i was sick .... going there was great i would suggest it to everyone but for me it was rough and i was happy to travel back to Austria , where it was much cheaper and i had a bed to sleep in . 

I would like to thank EHC Vaduz for playing us in Grusch ! sorry i couldn't make it back to the bar , some of us were really tired :( this crazy trip took a lot of energy LOL !!!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Feldkirch , Austria 2013/14

Most of this part of my trip i don't remember ! This was the highlight and the main reason i organized this last trip . Some time ago Rainer came up with the idea of us spending New Years Eve together and go to the Spengler Cup which is in Davos,Switzerland ... along the lines of organizing this trip we figured that Davos was way way way too expensive and it is ! So first Daz had booked us a place in Liechtenstein , which in hindsight we wish we took because it was right near the beautiful rink we played on . We decided Austria was a safe haven for our wallets and it is much cheaper then Switzerland and Liechtenstein . 

When i got to our hotel in Feldkirch i was already drunk , after my game in Peissenberg,Germany i did a little celebrating which Timo kinda started me off . He encouraged me to drink a few for the ride when we took some extra beers from the rink with us . Hey if the beer is just sitting there nice and cold guess what , I'm gonna drink it LOL . So yeah the first night was an utter write off , i got smashed ended up drinking in a casino with 2 of my best friends on this planet and really its nothing new with any first night . Yeah i know i just saw Rainer 4 days ago , and Timo a week ago but we were together and yeah it was the beginning to another part of this adventure . I went to bed at 8 am :) 

Really we didn't spend the majority of our time here in Feldkirch . It was kinda like our home base as we were there for 5 nights and in that time we went to Switzerland twice and once to Liechtenstein .... technically 2 times as we had to drive through it to get to Grusch , not too sure if the train went that way . Of course i was really hungover on that trip too :P Feldkirch is a nice town , pretty quiet for the most part . Its tough to get a good meal there . Most restaurants don't open until 5 pm which we learned on my first hungover search for food ... and there is no McDonald's or any other typical fast food joints , which is a good thing but at times like these i will take greasy junk food in a heart beat ! The one night we had a really good meal there was on New Year's Eve , we had a reservation to eat dinner at Castle Schattenburg ( ) check it out . I had the ultimate schnitzel , biggest one i have ever come across and i have to thank my buddy Timo for asking them to slap some slices of bacon on top ... that was cool buddy :) 

I didn't drink much on NYE but my friends did , honestly it was one of the best and most memorable New Years of my life and it was totally worth being there with the group i was with . Watching the city explode into a fireworks bombardment was the most surreal experiences , i think all of us that stuck around to watch that from the castle's bridge knew we saw something extravagant . After midnight we didn't have to go far to find the rest of the gang they were at the closest bar :) which was in the town square outdoors. Everyone was having a good time . It was cold and i was feeling sick , i think everyone caught the same cold unfortunately everyone felt rough by the time we left .

As i said we didn't spend all too much time in Feldkirch , really we spent most of our time sleeping off hangovers there . It was a good home base , the hotel we stayed at was great too since it had a casino in it that we could drink at all night LOL . Check out the hotel we stayed at , it is good for travellers like us :) . The staff and the rooms there are all excellent ... we weren't bothered at all even when we were partying until the wee hours of the morning . Hotel Baren gets 2 thumbs up ! 

At the end of it i would really like to thank everyone that was there with me , making this stay here absolutely memorable ... well what i can remember was great LOL :P I am still surprised that we never encountered or were contacted by the Feldkirch Chiefs , i played for them in 2011 in Cortina , Italy ... you would think they would want to at least say hi . Oh well , that is the life of travelling meeting people and moving on . I try not to move on but i can accept that others do . Feldkirch is a nice quiet town , if you are in Austria check it out but try to see all the other great cities in other countries near here to make your trip a little cheaper . 

Friday, January 17, 2014

Birmingham 2013

Most of you don't know this , or don't read my blog enough to know this ... i am a huge Aston Villa fan ! Yeah football or as some of you call it soccer :( I got into it when i was stranded in Birmingham way back in 2004 . Spent 3 weeks with my family in Birmingham and my cousin took me to Villa Park and bought me a bunch of Villa gear , i had to become a fan . So on most of my Euro trips i usually try to plan a stopover to see my favorite football club . I just really love going to sporting events . That is my aunt there with Kathleen . Another reason that i had to go there .... when i was planning my trip i looked up Villa's schedule and saw 2 games in 3 days and both in Birmingham so obviously i made plans to go to these games and visit my aunt on the day off .

We left from Stuttgart and flew to Paris ( yup ) with Air France ( yup ) and it was not the greatest plan . I was smart enough to leave my gear in Germany with Rainer as i was gonna meet up with him when i returned , so you guessed it lost gear , only part of this trip it wasn't lost LOL . We met with a buddy of mine living in Birmingham , Karl McNelly . We used to play in the same hockey league for years and he is living out there now , i am sure he is always happy to see familiar faces when someone goes over . I was initiating him as an Aston Villa fan ! He came to both games and i introduced him to a lot of my friends there that are Villa Supporters . When i went to Chicago to watch Villa i met a whole bunch of people but there were a few that stood out ... the Kidderminster Lions ! . So obviously i contacted them for tickets and they sorted me out with no problem , just like they did last year when i lost Rainer after the game at Craven Cottage home of Fulham ... of course i was treated really well these guys are top class . I had my first visit to the Lions Lounge , New Adventurers Pub and met a lot of new Villans like the Belgian Lions . Wow these guys were a wild bunch , loved 'em thanks for the Vodka tasting again Tom !!!! Another shout out to Cosmik Vodka :) try it if you see it ... Belgian Vodka , yum !

During all this i went on a shopping spree at the Villa shop in the Bullring and even at Villa Park , there was a hoodie i wanted so badly that wasn't in my size at the first shop . Don't ask how much i spent , it was all worth it though . We also did end up meeting my family for a few hours out in Chelmsley Wood , took a bus out there and had no problem finding there house . Remember i did spend 3 weeks there before and have been there many times , its a rough neighbourhood so we decided not to stay late . In hindsight i wish i stuck around longer , i really love them for taking me in when i was in need 10 years ago and hope to see them next time i am in Europe . Anyways enough of the sappy stuff LOL . 

Villa lost the first game and tied the second one but all in all i had a great time , our hotel was in the heart of everything on Broad St. the room was decent and we really did not spend much time in it so for the price it was great so if you are in Birmingham i would suggest trying to Novotel there . We only spent 3 days there so really i don't have all too much to write about ....  all i know is i can't wait to go back , and i would highly suggest everyone goes there to at least watch a Villa game ... UTV :) 

So i really have to thank some people for my amazing experience in Birmingham ... thanks Paul , Elvis and Ben ( Kidderminster Lions ) for sorting out my tickets and being the amazing hosts you are ! Thanks to Tom Gillis and the Belgian Lions for making my stay a bit rowdier then i expected , you guys are great i hope to see you all in the future . Thanks to Karl for putting up with my complaining LOL ... i hope you keep following the best football club in the world ! What a great time we all had . Hope to see everyone again to raise a pint to the Villa , Up The Villa !!!!