Sunday, January 31, 2016

Settling In

Came home sick and on my first skate i blew out my knee ... to this day i really don't know how bad it is , and no i haven't been to a doctor yet . Why do i want to know that i shouldn't play hockey and shouldn't be working ? That is my problem right now ... I'm not playing hockey but I'm still working and on my feet all day and I'm not sure what is better at the moment . Do i go see a doctor find out the truth of it all and end up staying home with no work for a few weeks thus dashing my dreams of my next hockey adventure OR do i keep working and hopefully it just miraculously heals itself :) . I don't think in the long run the option i want to take will help . Now don't get me wrong ... this isn't as bad as it sounds but it could be , I'm just not sure .... i am definitely not a doctor but i do know what i can't do and that is playing ice hockey .... yes this is truly and seriously killing me and rotting my soul !

It's crazy that i get hurt on the first play in the first game that I'm back home isn't it ? Is that my luck or is it karma or wtf ! Not gonna get too stressed over it though ... i have a day off on Thursday and i plan to take a trip to the hospital and spend the day there playing Angry Birds while waiting to get some proper care . Living in Canada we have this thing called free health care , well yeah we pay for it with taxes but it gives me the right to go to a doctor or hospital free of charge . Well here is the thing though OK ... i don't have a regular doctor , i am kinda stubborn and like to self medicate and such hahaha! If i did have a doctor it would not do me any good anyways because the doctor won't have the proper machines to scan me anyways , so the trick is to just go and sit it out in the hospital ... yeah i might be there for like 8 hours BUT i will get everything done instead of having 3 or 4 appointments before figuring out the problem . I am glad that this didn't happen on my travels ! I mean how crap would it have been to not be able to skate in Spain,Portugal or Andorra !!!! c'mon i woulda lost my shit if that was the case ... i shouldn't even dawn on the idea of that as it makes me stress lol .

At least work is busy , and that is the problem also . If it was dead here and i was sitting at home i probably would have gotten my knee checked out but because i am a freelancer that means i have to work when there is work available or miss the gravy train to my next destination which looks more and more like i will be returning to England on my way to mother Russia :) yes i really want to go there and i have been working on making it work ... main thing is that i need money , which means i have to work , which means i can't sit at home if the doctor tells me to ... which ultimately means i can't play hockey :( now through all this i am staying positive but inside the thought of all this is kinda upsetting me so yeah ... I'm settling in ! I guess time will tell right ... and maybe a trip to the doctor won't hurt ? Some days are better then others but right now my leg is kinda locked up , today will be a day of icing and elevation .... tomorrow i go back to work . Argh ! 

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Really ... I Have To Say Thank You !

Alright I'm home now nursing a sore knee , got some bad luck in my first game back on the first play of the game when i over extended my leg and went down hard ... i finished the game and we got smoked , badly :( Not a good start to 2016 at home ... feeling sick still from this nagging cold we picked up over seas also but today i have mustered up the gas to say thank you to a lot of people that helped me make this trip so friggin cool !!! First and foremost i want to thank Kathleen for enduring the painful task of hopping from country to country non stop , she's a trooper and I'm sure she had a good time too ??? 

First stop was good ol' jolly England where we met up with our Villa mates and got properly on the piss ... as usual the Kiddy Lions were the culprits of choice to get all liquored up with not only once but twice on this part of the trip ... oh yeah lets' get on a bus with 'um too and head off to Norwich for an away game ? Nothing out of the ordinary thanking Mr. Paul Harris for picking us up at our hotel at 7 am to go back to Kidderminster to get proper drunk LOL ... and as usual Mr. Ben Mitchell pulls the rabbit out of his hat this time the rabbit was apple pie moonshine . Yes thank you for the awesome hangover from that stuff Ben :) I really can't forget to thank my family in Chelmsley Wood for having me over for Christmas dinner ... that was a really nice day for both myself and Kathleen .

When we went over to Benalmadena,Spain Richard Pilkington met us at Malaga Airport as usual with a big smile and the inviting warmth of the south to back him up . As usual a big thank you goes out to our friend warmly known as Don Rickardo for putting us up in his awesome pad down near the beach , planned us a nice NYE and always has great ideas for things to do like going to see a C.F. Malaga game with a bunch of British expats called The Guiri Army ... i gotta thank those guys for being a fun group to travel to Malaga with and introduced us to fellow Villan Dave Wordley who gave me a fantastic Lerner Out! scarf LOL ! The big part of my travels is hockey though and i can't forget to thank Rickard Astrom for setting up the fantastic mini tournament that i played in ... really this tourney was more about play then anything and i really had some good bonding moments with everyone that went through the whole day with me , more then anything those of you that came out to paintball :) what a cool first experience ... definitely think i want to do that again . Hopefully that becomes an annual event for my friends in the Costa Del Sol Ice Hockey League . What a great way to start 2016 eh ? Spain , down south with a bunch of really awesome people to drink with , watch football with , play ice hockey and go paint balling with too !!! C'mon really thank you everyone but this is all because of Richard Pilkington so muchos gracias Don Rickardo :)

And then we ended up in Portugal ... Lisbon to be exact , and things were confusing as i did not know if i was playing ice hockey in Lisbon or in Elvas or wtf was going on ? Yeah really i had my hotel booked in Lisbon up until the weekend because we "might" be going to Elvas ... Anyways that all didn't matter in the end . What mattered was the crazy amount of rain we had while we were there which kinda hindered a lot of tourist stuff , it was crappy out but Portugal is a special place whether rain or shine and once i finally hooked up with the President of the Federacao Portuguesa de Desportos no Gelo ( which in laymans terms is the IIHF representative for Portugal and things got much clearer ... i have so many things to thank Mauricio for ! To begin with ... thanks for clarifying that we were to stay at your place for the weekend in Oeiras and thanks for getting me on the ice in one of the most amazing places I've skated :) right in the square in Praca do Comercio dead smack in the center of Lisbon in the heart of Portugal . Also a huge thank you for getting me on your NHL broadcast of the Devils/Habs game , that was a first for me and a very cool experience ... i look forward to meeting you again someday Mauricio , thank you so much ... obrigado ! 

Next up was Andorra which is another new country flag for my stick bag ... country #33 :) it was not easy getting here and there is only one rink that i know of in Canillo . Thanks to my good friend Adil El Farj from the Moroccan federation once again for putting me in touch with the Andorran IIHF representatives ... in particular the guy seen above having a beer with me for you Adil ! That is the coach of the national team and basically every team ( i think ) he is a big part of the federation there and his name is David Vallecillo Peiro' and the major unfortunate thing is i was sick when i was there so i never really got to give this guy a big hug ... yeah i get emotional sometimes for the smallest things ... we stayed in Andorra la Vella which is the main city in Andorra and Canillo is about a 15 minute drive away from where we were . The first time i went up i took a taxi which was 15 euros and i can live with that , and i was gonna live with it to get to where i got to get to play . That is just how i roll ! David lives in Canillo and offered me a ride back then picked me up for the next skate and dropped me off again and was so hospitable but as i said it was really unfortunate that i was not well at all . David wasn't the only one that treated me so well ... i really shouldn't forget to thank the Andorra Hoquei Gel ( ) and particularly the President Mr. Andreu Ferrer for allowing me to skate with him and all the really nice people of Andorra that honestly have a great facility to call him at the Palau de Gel d'Andorra ( ) the ice was really well taken care of and the facility is really really nice ! I won't forget the hospitality i received in Andorra and thanks to these 2 guys i would really suggest others go there to play and really honestly if you go try to leave some gear for the kids to use . 

Then we end up having a night of debauchery in Barcelona with my buddy from Argentina who i warmly call boludo :) Pablo Diaz is living out there and he is always up for a cerveza or 2 or maybe around 10 ... that was just me wasn't it ? Ah well ! It's always nice when you or me or anyone travelling for a few weeks runs into or plans to meet up with a familiar face and Pablo is quite familiar enough to chill out with ! Somehow someway that night became better and better , i guess it was the cheap beer at Milans  ( ) where we met super cool barman Ivan Cresimati who i am gonna thank again for being such an amazing bartender .... yeah i know it was your first night and i would hope you made as good an impression on your boss as you did on us . I would highly suggest anyone heads over there for a good beer or a mixed drink as they have a huge list of cocktails ( not that i drink cocktails ) but we all know women like them :) hehehehe ! If we didn't hook up with Pablo we wouldn't have had so much fun , and it's a shame that we were only there one night but we did make the most of it even somehow ending up at your place to meet your gf Camilia and your roommate Ugo (?) or Hugo ... not sure how to spell it , sorry in advance LOL ! I needed the practise drinking that night to tune up for my trip back to Birmingham where well ... i tend to get smashed ...

Getting smashed and on the piss usually includes an Irish person and my token Irish drinking buddy is top Villa fan from Dublin ... Aideen Quinn ! She somehow looks sober all the time but can drink the best of us under the table :) And .... and ... she totally almost made me burst into tears when she gave me a Villa mug with the words Travelling Goalie Villa Legend on it ... yeah in front of the Kiddy Lads at the Aston Tavern . I know its posh in there ... and there i was fighting back tears  . Thank you Aideen . That last Villa match and last days of the trip were fantastic ... my new Villa mate Dave Wordley also gave me a cool scarf and to be honest i was kinda in shock all day at how awesome my Villa family treat me ... this whole blog is really a lot of thank you 's , when you travel and go home after the trip you usually think about the cool shit that happened to you and the first thing that pops in your head was oh i was with so and so and yeah that happened in this country and then you realize that if you weren't with that person at that time then that time probably would not have happened . So as much as you might not be wondering about these moments that i do cherish i wanted to let you all that i have thanked and those that i didn't forget to mention but just couldn't drag this on too long ( you know what i mean ) that i will always and forever be thankful for the time that we spent together ... now I'm getting all sappy and shit so I'm gonna stop and hope that we all get to have a few beers again together sooner then later 

Thank you , gracias , obrigado ! 

Thursday, January 21, 2016

The Flight Home ...

Another early flight but not too early ... yet early enough to have me waking up at 5:30 am :( basically jumped into the shower and kissed Kathleen good bye as she doesn't fly back for another couple days and she doesn't have to get up ... which she didn't ! So its off into the sunrise i guess as i headed down to the lobby i called an Uber which i am hesitant to do thanks to their amazing service here in Birmingham ( remember the bastards left me road side yelling at my car as he stormed by and still billed me 3.50 pounds !) regardless my funds are low and i rather use my credit card and at the cheapest rate possible . Taxi will not charge so little will they , and they won't learn to lower their prices so Uber it is :( 

The reason i have decided to take this flight to Newark , USA which i hate flying through the States because they are overly suspicious of everyone . Oh yeah sorry the reason is to find this bottle of Bombay Amber Gin i found there a few months ago for Kathleen to bring her home . Good idea yeah ? i thought so ... well when i tried to check in online with United Airlines it wouldn't let me . So when i got to their lineup to get to their counter i was read the riot act and asked 20 questions ... this is before i even reached the friggin counter !!! OK so i get to the counter and I'm telling ya , out of all the airlines i have dealt with on this trip these guys are the cheapest bastards ! As soon as my bag went on the scale ... you realize you are overweight ? Yes ! If you can take some weight off we might not have to charge you ... OK ... as usual i have a bag already packed into the bag with stuff i can carry on board . That's great as now i have to carry an extra bag onto the flight . The question i have is ... so what is the bloody difference if i carry it onto the plane or if the baggage handler does ???? its on the same plane , same weight and everything ! how bloody ridiculous is this United ???? Is it that big of a deal , really ? 

I had more questions asked at the counter then i did going through security LOL ! Once i get through i go through my usual routine in BHX ... grabbed a burger at Burger King and sat myself down to write a blog while i waited for my boarding time ... Once boarding began i got into the next area first and got in the prime spot to be one of the first people on the plane . Nothing worse then being one of the last on and finding that all the overhead bins are full . I heard so many people coming on at the end of boarding bitching , i laugh at these idiots ! HAHAHAHA ! At this time i start thinking about the pain i might be in with my ears popping so much lately on the last few flights i was on ... i cringe at the thought . 

When i arrive in Newark it seems a bit different there :( usually i have to take a bus from one terminal to the other but now they have their train link working which is better because it saves so much time . Of course in the USA you have to collect your luggage and clear customs then put your bags back in then clear customs and security again . Yes it seems like quite a bit since i have just got off a plane and had really no time to do anything aside from clear security check points ... its honestly good they are doing their best to secure their country but maybe they are overdoing it a bit , don't you think ? Ah well hopefully that bottle is around ? And i should be positive in saying that my ears did not pop for some reason so all is good ! When i arrive at my terminal i go to find the little duty free kiosk and its not there ??? OK WTF ! i asked someone and they said its not there anymore and i would have to clear security to get it ... well that's great ? Now i don't have the time to do that and it looks like i just flew here for absolutely no reason at all :( I'm disappointed but then again it was a risk i took right . Things aren't exactly going my way today and it was not gonna get better ...

When i boarded my Air Canada flight to Toronto it was not full and when i booked my seat i had my window with no one beside me . When i got onto the plane there was a guy sitting in the seat beside me ? so maybe the plane is full ? When we were about to take off i realized there were 3 empty rows beside us , so you would think the guy in the aisle seat would move right ??? wrong !!! the bastard just sits there as i cough , sneeze and look like a bag of shit this guy just didn't want to move ... i already started my movie and didn't want to move either so this is when the battle for the middle arm rest began ... it was a silent battle that i won !!! i took it over and fully positioned my arm there as i felt the man trying to nudge my arm but i wouldn't budge .... in my head i kept saying "just f#cking move! " but he wouldn't and i could tell he was getting upset as he started to tap his feet .... why wouldn't this guy move ??? OK screw him i am gonna take up more leg room too :) yeah i know i can be a real prick but what do i have to do to get this idiot to move to one of the empty friggin rows ? do i have to climb over him and let him win ??? NO ! NOT A CHANCE ! I'm just as stubborn as the next guy but I'm also enough of a bastard to assure his flight would be shit hahaha ! Honestly when we were getting off the plane the only thing i could think was that i hope he catches this cold i have and i hope he enjoys his stay in Toronto with it ... yeah if you are the little American shit eater that sat next to me on this flight i hope you are sick as a dog by now :) regardless , he annoyed me and I'm sure he was wishing death upon me . Whatever hahaha ! 

Cleared security , got in a taxi and got my ass home ... when i arrived i found a note to go pick up a package at the post office ... i know its my Macedonian National Team jersey so i run over to grab it and that made my day ! This travel thing is not as easy as it should be with so many idiots on this planet ... but i get by . If you are ever the guy in the aisle seat that realizes there are empty rows , do everyone a favour and friggin move ... that is the moral of this story . And so ends my trip , already working on the next one so stay tuned . 

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

A Fitting Last Day in UK

This is it , the inevitable last day of my trip ... the day i never look forward to :( i mean i am happy to go home but sad that my trip is ending and at this point i am fearing the flight home due to the massive ear popping i have been experiencing over the last couple flights and the whole time i was in Andorra . I think it has to do with this illness i am carrying with me that is heavier then my goalie bag ... yeah i think i have got my point across . This sucks ! But it is what it is and my flight won't be delayed for a few more days or anything crazy like that and i sure as heck hope not because i do have a game the day after i arrive back home with my club the Ghetto Blasters . 

It was the morning after the Villa game and surprisingly i didn't have a hangover ??? yeah i am surprised too . Aideen is still around and we usually meet up for a bite to eat before she leaves and we have eaten at the Briar Rose before so we decide to meet there and boy oh boy what a mistake ! It is full as usual and our breakfast is cheap and cheerful , well maybe not so cheerful as its burnt but not burnt as if overcooked . Its burnt as if something was burnt onto the pan or grill prior and was not scraped off ??? The food was gross and i can still taste it days after ... i was hungry and gobbled it all anyway even the fried egg that came with no whites ??? yeah the egg was just the yolk part with most everything else cut off , guessing the next person got the better part of that deal ! Regardless to say i won't eat at this shitty place again ... YUCK ! After we ate we walked over to Second Cup to kill some time and have a coffee ... i started to feel sick :( barfey sick ...

Kathleen said it was probably my hangover but i still believe it was food poisoning of some sort . We headed over to New Street Station where Aideen bought her ticket to get to the airport then we all said our good byes and went back to the desk to get Kathleen's ticket for her trip down to Bournemouth . I wasn't feeling well and i knew something was up . I was not going to abort my mission of going to do my last minute shopping that i usually do .... so we went to the Villa Shop on New St. and i grabbed the pillow case and hat that i wanted then went to Poundland to get some Galaxy bars and McCoy's crisps to take home and stopped in at a shop to get groceries ... while i was in the Villa Shop i almost puked but fought it off ... it wasn't good . Somehow i made it all the way back to Jury's Inn and made it up to my room as fast as possible then SPLAT ! Yup .... i barfed hard ! Thanks Briar Rose :) it tasted just as shitty coming up as it did going down and thankfully i bought a bunch of fruits to refill myself with ... oh that was so gross ...after this i passed out , for a while ...

When i woke up i was hungry and i had made plans with Karl McNelly to go watch his team the Birmingham Rockets play . Before that i had to go eat one more meal at Turtle Bay which is this Carribbean joint on John Bright St. down near the New Street Station . I love the food there and it is a good atmosphere to have a last sit down meal with Kathleen ... just the 2 of us :) I had the steak and Kathleen had some chicken dish which we both enjoyed then rushed back to the hotel to get my Rockets jersey on before meeting Karl . When he arrived i jumped in the car and off we went to the rink in Solihul . Its funny because the game isn't until 830 but we headed over at 7 which got us there roughly an hour before game time ... i asked why ? apparently people enjoy hanging out before games not like back in Toronto where people show up with seconds to spare then take off as fast as they can ... its more like a community then an exercise session LOL . I try explaining this to guys back home and they just don't get it :( sad but true . Anyways it was great seeing the Rockets play as they went on to pound a team from Milton Keynes who drive out for the day then drive back home again hanging out and having fun together for the most part ... strange isn't it ? nope ! kinda wish my team would do stuff like this . 

At the game the guys that aren't chosen to dress and play show up anyways to hurl insults at their own team mates ... in a joking manner . I told them we don't do that back home or people get upset , but over here in the UK taking the piss is joking around so if you can't handle a bit of the truth then stay home hahaha ! Best one i heard was Hey HANDS ! KEEP YOUR CHIN UP AND KEEP YOUR OTHER CHIN UP TOO ! apparently the lads think that he's put on a few pounds as of recent and the chanting at their own goalie HAZEL ! HAZEL ! was kinda odd too until he gave up a barn burner goal from center ice :( i had a chat with him and he got his shit together to eek out the win which Karl scored the winning goal in ... again the joke for Karl is that he does his best work on the ice is from his knees LOL ! During the game i had a few beers with Ritchie Longmore and his missus Amy Harris who are both Baggies fans (ugh!) we had fun though and i wouldn't have wanted a better way to end my trip off . After the match i had a beer in the room with the guys then we were off to drop me off back at my hotel ... when i got back Kathleen was sleeping , it was after midnight and i have to be up at 5:30 am ... that's that .... trips pretty much over aside from the flight home . 2 more ear aching flights ... boy i can't wait :( 

Villa vs. Leicester

Oh my beloved football club in the city i call my second home ... Aston Villa , the things i will endure to come see you . Yeah I'm a bit mental visiting Birmingham so much but here's the deal OK . Really its because of this club that i got to meet all the fantastic people that i get totally hammered with every time i see them hahaha ! On a serious note they are not just piss heads , everyone i know in Birmingham that are Villa fans are class . They all do everything they can to make me feel welcomed . Whether its buying me a pint or letting me crash on their couch or dropping me off from an away game , i swear things go so swiftly when I'm there ... well not all the time hahaha ! 

So yeah I'm catching up on my blog today as much as i can and this happened on Saturday :) yes i got totally demolished . The game time was a 5:30 pm kickoff when most games are 3 pm which means more drinking and that is exactly what we did . First i had to meet up with Aideen who flew in from Dublin again ! And Dave Wordley who was taking the train in from Redditch , we met in Benalmadena for that Malaga FC game i went to ... he was the token Villa fan from the Guiri Army :P As i said earlier the things my Villa mates will do . Dave came in just to spend the day with me ! Awesome ? Yes .... Aideen knows most of the same people i know so i won't take the credit that she came to see me , but that being said ... she flies over whenever i am out there !!! We met near the Villa shop on New St. then hopped in a taxi to go to The Aston Tavern which i really like . It has posh prices though as i was paying 14 quid a round which is closer to $30 for only 4 drinks :( yeah our canuck buck really sucks LOL now I'm a rapper hehehe . But as you can see in the photo the place is nice , with chandeliers and such ... i like it there . 

After spending bundles of Canadian dollars switched into pounds we all decided to head to the Lions Club Lounge which you need to be a Lions Club member to be able to enter . I am a Toronto Lion /Kidderminster Lion and the guys i always meet up with and who i actually met up with at the Tavern are the Kiddy Lions ... in particular Paul Harris and Ben Mitchell as the rest were meeting us in the Lounge for 3 pm . By this point i think i have had roughly 5 pints .... when we got to the Lounge the other regulars were there . Gotta mention Mark "Elvis" Byworth and Pete Aston :) the rest of the gang were there too with way too many names to mention ... regardless Kiddy is always well represented ! We stuck around in there drinking up until 5;15 and i think i had another 4 or 5 in there as well before heading to our seats in the Lower North End . If you are a Villa fan it is in that little corner spot in block R7 . I've never sat there so i decided to give it a crack , and i was told the seats might be a little smaller . Kathleen and myself are sitting there on our own so it was kinda nice except it was kinda rain/snowing and our seats were not covered :P doesn't really bother me but the missus isn't too happy if you know what i mean . Regardless she's a trooper ! 

I didn't mind the seats aside from being so close to the pitch that we couldn't really tell what was going on in the other end without watching the video screen :( when the action was in our end though it was pretty cool . All in all it was worth trying it out and Villa put in another good effort on the day which is a bright spot in an otherwise bleak season which i am almost certain we will be relegated but it still doesn't change my desire to go back at least one more time this season . Villa had their hands full playing to surprise top club on the season Leicester City . The Foxes at this point last year were in our position which is dead last but have made some very fortunate signings ... alas i don't think they were 10 points a drift as we are now and at this point we need to get wins instead of draws . As i said the lads put in a good shift and pulled out a 1-1 draw even having the ref pretty much wearing a Leicester top . The away fans were opposite where i sat and i can say they were loud in the first half but they were pretty quiet by the end of the 2nd half .... it was a great game with a big penalty save for our new keeper Mark Bunn and we did get a bit of luck when big Rudy Gestede scored a goal that was obviously a hand ball but that is the luck we need to keep rolling on i guess and i will take that . During half time i necked 2 pints and had a Pukka Pie ... standard .... on to the next beer . 

So off to the Lounge to meet the Kiddy Lads and then pops out Tom Gillis ... oh no ... we are all fucked now ! When this guy is around people forget things for days because of the amount of drinking that just follows his good spirited manner . He doesn't force it on us , you just tend to want to drink more for some reason when he is around as if he were some Belgian sorcerer . Always greeted with a FUCK YOU ! with the reply FUCK YOU TOO ! it was definitely the beginning of the party now .... i think i had 2 or 3 pints then we headed to the Aston Social Club which i am really not a fan of but fuck it ... I've had some shitty experiences there before like when they refused me entry after Man U game at beginning of season :( I'm hesitant but didn't want to call it a night . Its the regular scene there , every one's getting pissed and we join in ! We met up with the Northern Ireland Lions and had a really good time actually drinking and dancing and honestly i don't full remember how long we were there but i reckon we were there until at least midnight .... now remember , we were in the Lions Lounge for an hour after the game as that is usually how long you can stay there and the game ended at 7:30 pm so from around 8:30 pm until midnight we were in the Social . I have no clue how many beers i had in there but i would say i had about 20 on the day and when we were asked to leave ?!?!?! 

OK here is where it gets sloppy ... the bouncers came over and said they are closing and there is a row of taxis waiting outside for us and out we went . When we got outside there were no taxis at all ! Wow that was polite ? Ok so we are asked to fucking leave and now we are standing outside in the bloody snow , most of us are already sick and not only that .... we are the only one's asked . Doors get locked and they carry on ... thanks ! We waited outside for about half an hour for taxis to show up , i know i was totally drunk but we are not in the posh part of Birmingham and its late and we are drunk and sick and getting soaked . It didn't bother me so much at the moment but now in hindsight it doesn't sound so cool does it ? My girlfriend was livid over the whole situation and she said there was one fellow that realized we were still standing outside and called us a taxi so there was some comfort knowing that somebody inside there gave a shit about us . I passed out in my taxi after we dropped everyone off and didn't have much trouble falling asleep in my nice big bed at Jury's Inn ... I highly doubt i will ever even remotely consider going to the Aston Social Club again , that is twice I've been burned there and it won't take me three times to say never again . 

Monday, January 18, 2016

Back to Brum

Woke up in Barcelona still feeling I'll effects of this nasty cold that I am still trying my best not to pass on to anyone as I wouldn't wish this shit on my worst enemy ... Ok maybe I would but you know what I'm talking about , you get thie jist of it don't ya ? Now the night before I got pretty ripped and I still woke up at a decent hour and there is one thing Kathleen and myself should do and that is walk over to Segrada Familia ! It is probably the most magnificent structure I have personally seen and just coming to Barcelona and not seeing this would be a pity :( so when we got our wits together we decided to make the trek with my iPhone open and google maps mapped out we used the GPS tracker to find our way there ... Piece of cake ! 

The 2 km walk from our hotel took about half an hour and Kathleen was not in good spirits because she was hungry . Now I gotta tell ya , the night before we both knew that we wanted to do this and I knew time would be limited so I ate late in my drunken state and bought her something but she didn't want it and didn't eat , this only leads to her being hungry but as I said more then once that our time was limited ! There was no way I was gonna stop and risk my phone turning off and losing this map and we didn't really have the time too either . When we got there we were both in amazement and much to my shigrin there was a Starbucks next to it . Yeah we went there and I got on their wifi and mapped out way back which was not hard to navigate as I took mental notes on our way over as Kathleen just looked for places to shop and have her coffee :( 

When we got back to the hotel we got a taxi and headed off to the airport for our flight to Brussels , she's still hungry and still complaining though ! Fu$k !!!! Now she won't eat the fast food and is hoping for some ultra boutique meal in Brussels airport but once we arrived the cruel reality was that there wasn't any time . Why she doesn't take my advice baffles the shit out of me ? Our flight leaving Barcelona also was delayed which threw a wrench in her plans .... When we arrived one hour late we had to boogie to clear security and get on our next flight to Birmingham ... My home away from home ! 

Upon arrival in Birmingham we decided to take the train into the city even with my massive goalie bag which sucks but saved a whole bundle of loot . Kathleen is still hungry . I have a craving for KFC and immediately upon landing we checked into Jury's Inn then went down near the bull ring to get our bounty .... When we got there it was closing and we could only get take away and we were lucky to get the last pieces of chicken :) bolted back to the hotel and gobbled food and that was it .... The moral of this story is listen to the guy that does this all the time and don't be stubborn because in the end , I'm always right :) 

Still love ya Kahleen , just wish you would take my advice more often lol ! 

Saturday, January 16, 2016


When I left Andorra la Vella I ran into a strange circumstance at the check out in the hotel I stayed at (Tulip Inn Andorra Delfos Hotel) ... Usually it's pretty standard that you hand back keys they say thank you and you leave right ? I mean I've stayed at enough hotels around the 5 continents I've travelled to and that is pretty much the norm ! Well this hotel had other plans , you ask what ? Well ... the rude older guy at the desk asked me for my booking voucher , I said sorry I don't print out stuff and he got upset and said how are we supposed to charge you ? Wtf ? Umm yeah I was speechless and cobfused . How is this possible . I said I booked through rocketmiles and he said I must print out voucher and give it to we him ! Kathleen said well we aren't travelling with a printer and we have to catch our bus . The guy got more upset as if we were his employees ?!?!? He then said how we checked in ? Ummm you have my name on file and I guess I have an email . By this point I was getting angry ... He told me to email it to him and I said listen this is weird , he said why ? I said this never happens and I travel a lot , he retorted that he has been in this business for 30 years ... Ok now listen up , I don't work for you ! I paid to be here and I have to leave . He uttered some shit in Spanish or Catalan and tried to give me the email address to send this to then and I said listen this is not my problem ,I'm on my holiday this is your job ! Has anyone ever dealt with anything like this before ? Honestly I am still confused ... 

Ok that was that , we left and the only email I will send will include this blog post lol ! Hope the old bastard learns not to treat guests like animals , you would figure his 30 years experience would have taught him that I am a paying guest ! We took a taxi and got to our bus on time to head to Barcelona . Shitty way to end our stay in Andorra ... Highly suggest nobody goes to this overpriced 2 star hotel at best lol . Good thing I was meeting up with my hockey buddy from Argentina who I met years ago in Toronto then me in Argentina and now meeting in Barcelona ;) things get better as I need a drink . We met Pablo Diaz at a tapas bar called Bilbao Berria had a quick beer and realized it was a bit pricey so we decided to wander and found out about this bar called Milans Bar which was fantastic ! The bar man was super cool ;p , it was his first day and we ended up chatting quite a bit . Thanks for hooking us up Ivan ! Beers are €1.50 and I had quite a few lol . Sometimes when I drink I become Mr. Social and this was one of those times as my good side came out , or at least i thought so hahaha ! 

Not really sure why we left but we did and honestly all this good cheer made me forget about the crazy check out . We hiked over to Pablo's place to meet his girlfriend Camillia and his room mate Ugo , hope I'm spelling names properly (?) . Camillia is a fashion designer and Ugo is a music composer so you can only imagine that when I showed up all lit up and ready to entertain that we would have some fun :) 

We had pizza and more beers ! And I'm sure I probably did a dance or two for them then we had to leave and of course this is Barcelona so I put the address in on my google maps and used the gps . For those of you lost in other countries this is a little trick ok , with or without internet your phone always has its GPS on ! So when you put in an address and map it out your GPS will follow it , even as a drunk I can make this work so any of you can too hahahaha ! Just don't let it close and you will be fine, trust me . Wish I knew this in Novi Sad last year :0

It was my only night in Barcelona but hooking up with Pablo was well worth the stop over ! He is still the same old boludo :p next day I have to fly back to Birmingham ... My second home . 

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Andorra Hoquei Gel

What a day :) for the most part I stayed in bed as I was having dizzy spells and I'm not sure if it's associated with the medication , the illness or the altitude but regardless rest is dearly needed to keep my shit together for my 1.5 hour ice time tonight . The Andorran Ice Hockey Federation is taking good care of me by picking me up and driving me back and the last thing I want is to get anyone sick . That is a concern for me and it should be for anyone else feeling sick at any time . 

David is the national team coach here and is picking me up at around 7 pm . As I said not much happened during the day aside from a little hike around the city which is nice but not really much to do aside from looking at mountains and visiting the leisure center called Prat del Roure which is a fantastic building that looks like it's a spaceship . 

Ok so back to the hockey :) we drive up the mountain to Canilo where the Palau de Gel is ( ice rink) and we have a quick coffee then head to the dressing room where my gear has been drying for the last 2 days . Love it when I can leave my gear at the rink :) nobody had even touched it and my gear is at a whole new level of super dry ! Too dry lol . All the guys that I met on Monday where there an even federation president Andru was there to test my skills :) they don't see too many goalies here and in fact they never have 2 goalies out for the same skate so everyone was pretty excited . The first half hour was drills .... I hate practise and at this altitude it was like suicide , I was really dizzy ! Gagging and gasping for water while I stopped most of the shots in the first but then I became a sieve but didn't want to disappoint so I carried on and didn't abandon my goal . Yeah a bit stubborn and I'm sure everyone noticed my lack of physicality towards the end but thankfully the last drill was just skaters taking slap shots from just inside the blue line ... I regained my composure and stopped everything . There were a few youngsters with good shots that seemed a bit flustered knowing that they couldn't cash in on me . The level was not bad at all and I took notice to a female skater that had really good skills but had the tendency to sky shots at my head hahaha ... When she took her last slapshot I took position with my glove in the air above my head , she stopped thinking I needed a time out then realized I was playing with her , she then put another at my head and we both laughed :) everyone here had a great time during the practise ... Then the game kicked in . 

I had the honour of competing in their Tawa Cup which breaks down to individual points as teams are randomly picked from the skaters that participate and at the end of the season the skater with most points wins the trophy :) pretty cool thing to do as they don't really have enough skaters to have teams here . When the game started Andru had a glorious opportunity on me but I stopped him with a nice blocker save :) the game is 2 periods at 23 minutes each . Every time I had to make a move I got dizzy and shook it off so really I don't know how I made it through it all but I did and j made some nice saves on the way to earn a shutout . So for the win I get 7 points and the shutout is another 3 .... Doubt I will win the cup but it is definitely something they will talk about here for a bit at least lol . The shutout felt good but something inside me tells me I should have let a couple guys score , I guess it's my competitive side that wanted the shutout even though my conscience said otherwise .... 

We got some group photos and as I skated off the ice I gave the federation my goalie sticks to use in the future and no word of a lie they were glowing with happiness over this gesture which is not much for me as Oxelo Hockey sends me sticks annually through Hockey Community as what I call a sponsorship . I just wanna help make it easier everywhere for kids too play the game I love so dearly and if someone gets to use them then I have done good . So thank you Hockey Community and thank you Oxelo Hockey for helping me help other countries towards the mutual goal we all seek together and that is to make ice hockey more global ! 

We went up to the bar after and I chugged a few pints as the federation asked me to autograph the sticks I donated ... Yeah it's cool being asked for my John Hancock ! As your average guy it's totally an honour being asked for such things ;) I wish I had everyone on Facebook so I could remember names but there was one fellow that is a pilot and I'm sorry I forgot your name but I wanted to thank you again for buying my beers for me ! After the match we all bid each other adieu then David drove us back to our hotel in Andorra la Vella ... I was a bit sad saying bye but as The Travelling Goalie I must move on but as a human I will never get over the emotions of saying bye to new found friends :( I wish the Andorra Hoquei Gel the best in times to come and hope to meet you all again . Thank you ! 

I think Iron Man is your next opponent :) 

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

I'm sick :(

Holy shit I woke up yesterday with this water fountain that I call my nose and yeah I felt it coming but being the macho idiot I can be I refused any drugs to battle this . First thing I did yesterday ... Went to the pharmacy ! Got me some pills and started chomping away ... They didn't work immediately and it was rough but I battled through and thank goodness yesterday was a down day . We just wandered around drinking coffees , eating some found and constantly blowing my nose which I kinda feel embarassed doing but what else am I to do ? At least I'm not spreading germs like some people out there ! 

Main objective yesterday was to find a laundromat ... Not as easy as you think ! Even concierge at my hotel didn't know where to go ! Honestly don't travellers coming here wash their clothes ? Might be a good business to start yeah ? Well it took us forever but we finally stumbled across this place off the beat and path and they were about to close for stupid siesta :( so we chilled out and went back at  4 to drop our stuff off ... If not it was the old shower wash which I am not opposed to doing but a nice wash and dry is much better .... It cost us €13 which isn't bad but it still leaves me wondering if all the rich people visiting here do their own laundry or maybe it's true that their shit don't stink , well mine does ! Stinks like roses lol :) 

Now that laundry is dealt with there is a bigger thing to figure out ... Where to watch the Aston Villa match today ? Hmmm ... I browsed online an found this place called Tic Tapa so we went over there and asked if we could watch the game , they said yeah ! So we went off to eat ... That was a bit of a struggle too as Kathleen wanted to go to this Mexican joint which we got lost looking for then when we found it , it was closed . I'm stressed , sick and hungry ! We opted for the safe option at Forest Cafe again and I had chicken wings which I could not even taste . A few pints should cure me though right ? 

When we got to Tic Tapa the guys were sorry to say the Villa match was not on but there was a mixed game on tv with the channel flipping between the EPL games ... A bit disappointed but I understood the problem so we had a pint . The guys working there were amazing ! Seriously !!!! One of the guys found the game online on his phone brought his phone to our table and let us watch it on there while the mixed game was on too :) really how nice is that eh ? Solid . Another cerveza please :) and another and next thing you know Villa gets the W and I was happier then a pig in shit ... Some celebratory shots are in order . We tried some local schnapps and got our bill . Now I had 4 beers an a shot while Kathleen had a glass of wine , cafe con leche , ice cream and a shot also ... We thought it was gonna be like €30 but much to our surprise the bill was only €15 !!! We thought it was wrong so we asked as we don't want to rip anyone off and they said no it's right , and the shots are on us ... Wow how nice ! We left a nice €5 tip and if you are a Villa supporter ever travelling here in Andorra la Vella I would highly suggest going to Tic Tapas to watch the game :) 

I got pretty buzzed an it was time to crash out ... Took my last pill of the day and went to bed . Really hoping to feel better for tomorrow as its my last day in Andorra and my last ice time of this trip .


Alright so getting over to Andorra is not as simple as it seems ... There is no airport here and the closest international is in Barcelona . I have to be on the ice at 8:30 pm and basically the sooner I get there the better right ? My flight left Lisbon at 7 am :( so we got a ride from Mauricio and arrived at the airport without a second to spare ... Had to wake up at 5 am to leave at 5:30 and get to airport for 6 ! We did it . At the airport we boogeyed to get to our gate and s we were approaching we were already boarding ... I'm a star alliance silver member so I get on before the other suckas in coach ! Again I'm thankful to have Kathleen tag along as my sticks ended jul being her checked luggage and we don't pay extra fees ;) once we boarded I crashed , out cold back to lullabye land ...

We land in Barcelona at 10 am get my gear from oversize and head to the bus terminal at airport to catch the 11 am bus to Andorra . It was a bit confusing but it all worked out and next thing we are on our 4 hour bus ride to Andorra ... Kathleen was moody as we haven't even had a coffee yet , and honestly I don't blame her ... Again I passed out LOL ! She can't sleep in transit :( oh well ... 

It was about 3 pm when we arrived and immediately we jumped into a taxi to get us to our hotel , The Tulip Inn /Hotel Delfi ... Not sure why it has two names but whatever . Room is nice and big with basics , nothing above the norm . We headed out to eat and found an American style burger joint called Forest Cafe (I think ) and we ate then went for a coffee ... Kathleen is happier ! Andorra la Vella is basically a ski town . Same shot like Ushuaia or Whistler with a lot of rich assholes roaming around ... They are all the same ! The view is beautiful and nobody really speaks English ? People speak Catalan here and for some reason don't try to speak English even if they can ... Not sure what the deal is with that but it's no bother as I'm used to finding ways to communicate ;) after eating and doing a quick surveillance we head to our room to crash . 

When I woke up I packed my gear and jumped in a taxi to Canilo where the rink is which is further up the mountains . My ears were popping and I'm now getting the flu :( yeah symptoms popped up and reared their ugly head :( shit ... When I reached the Palau de Gel Andorra (the ice rink) I had to go to reception and they were expecting me thanks to Andorra's national team coach David Vallecillo Peiro' who I have been in contact with through my Moroccan friends ... Particularly Adil El Farj , thanks buddy ! David is on ice teaching children when I arrive and there is another guest skater tonight from Russia named Mikhail (Misha ) we had spaces reserved for us in the dressing room . And beside Mikhail was the fellow seen in the above photo wearing a Humberview Huskies jersey !!! I played against that team when I was a kid so it was cool to see one of those jerseys all the way out here :) 

Mikhail spoke English so we chatted a bit ande didn't bring his own gear :( the guys hooked him up but the skates well ... They were those blue ones you see at public skating with no laces :( yeah pretty crap but he gave it a go ! The ice time was 45 minutes and it was a mixed group of guys. Unfortunately I was the only goalie as 2 of the local goalies also play out as skaters ... They were both ther but both opted to skate . My opponent was a piece of wood with a goalie painted on it , his mask looked like a luchador wrestling mask lol ! The skate went well and I robbed a few guys who were quite impressed by my skills ;) and after as usual guys started asking questions about me . Do you live her ? How long will you stay ? Why do you do this ? Etc ... Oh and Mikhail didn't score on me. Sorry buddy , but he came close and I'm sure if he had his own gear he probably would have sniped me a few times . In fact during the scrimmage I only had 1 goal against as someone scored at the last second . 

David invited me to the restaurant next door as the Andorran Federation were having a meeting that I was invited to sit in on ... I was sick as a dog :( had a couple beers and a spaghetti bolognese as everyone else are this yucky fish stuff , no clue what it was but yuck ! I hate fish . David and myself were the last ones there and he gave nd a ride back to my hotel ... All in all it was a great adventure getting to Andorra to play in my 33rd country . I have another ice time on Wednesday then I head back to Barcrlona on Thursday ... My trip is starting to whined down :(