Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Going Back To Egypt

This project to help my Egyptian friends is far from over . There were plenty of skates and sticks but they need more protective gear . Right now my goal is to keep my GoFundMe page going and continue collecting as much as I can to collect some more gear from friends around the globe to help get the sport going over there . More then likely I will make another trek through England to visit my friends there and collect more gear to take over . I would also like to pick up some goalie gear to leave for my friends there to finalize the kit I left .... the skates didn't quite fit and I didn't leave a goalie jock and the pants also didn't fit my friend Ahmed there who is now The Egyptian Goalie ... I dubbed him with that moniker . Man do I miss it over there . At the moment I am looking at trying to make my way over there later this year but I might have to push it back a few months pending on how things go . I am hoping to get another 100 kilos of gear again to take over and I'm pretty sure i can get it easily from what i heard and i do know there is a full kit waiting at my buddy Karl's place in Birmingham which will surely disappear next time ... hopefully Karl is around next time too and lets me crash at his pad again , really i wouldn't mind sleeping on that couch if you have a tenant next time :)

Now you are probably wondering how safe it was over there right ? I know a bunch of people expressed concern over me travelling to a country that our Canadian Travel website says to exercise extreme caution ... that freaks people out . Here's the thing ok ... if you are scared to go somewhere then the terrorists win . I wasn't scared but I was cautious and I was lucky to have the opportunity to stay with my Egyptian friends but that put me in areas where I didn't see any other "tourists" . That all being said it is what I actually prefer as I'm not a tourist loving person and I rather be with locals over tourists ... I mean I can be with Canadians every day of my life so why bother when travelling right :) Back to the safety of it all and I would say I felt 100% safe all the time except for when I thought I was gonna get punched in the face by the "professional photographer " near the Sphinx . That is the only thing I would warn people to steer clear of is the leeches that are around historic sites waiting to make a buck off you .... don't let anyone take pictures of you and try your best not to respond to anyone , seriously pretend you are there alone and ignore people ! Aside from that everyone I met was very friendly and it seems the norm for us Canadians to be referred to as AHH Canada Dry but when you ask for a ginger ale they have no clue what you are asking for so don't bother hahaha !!! Obviously don't put yourself in bad situations like getting drunk publicly or doing anything to sort you out as a stupid westerner . And the main thing to remember when in Cairo is to get used to dodging cars as you are crossing roads and basically walking on roads all the time .... yes there is a sidewalk but for some reason people don't use them very much ? don't ask cause I couldn't figure it out :)

Before you do decide to go to Egypt if you are Canadian don't bother buying a visa through the Egyptian consulates website !!!! They have a link on their site that leads you to a private company and the one in Toronto had told me that I must buy a visa before flying over and it was over $100 CDN ... I was told by my friends in Cairo that I can get one upon arrival for $25 USD and that is a big difference in cost . When I arrived I received my visa as was told and you have to have USD as they won't accept anything else not even Egyptian Pounds . So don't fall for the scam . When you arrive all you have to do is hit one of the banks in the terminal before you get to security and you can buy your visa there and it is very easy , just give them cash and they give you visa and the customs officer will stick it into your passport so don't try to stick it in yourself :)

This all being said I really hope that more people start going back to Egypt  , I am definitely going back as I have so much more to see ... there are another 8 or 9 rinks across the country that I have yet to visit and I'm hoping Ahmed and Ayman will take me on a road trip the next time I'm over and we can share some good stories about more of Egypt . Definitely some of the wildest most historic jaw dropping stuff I have ever seen and I really want to see more . The Egyptian pound is really low now which makes everything really cheap so now is the time to visit if you have ever dreamt of visiting .... if you are a hockey fanatic like myself you should contact or look up and they will definitely help get you some ice time .... the guys there skate at least 3 times a week at 3 different locations my favourite so far is the rink at Maadi Family Land . If you have any questions just leave a comment below and I will do my best to help you get in touch with the guys over there   . The sport is growing there and hopefully it will grow to the point that someday we might be cheering for an Egyptian National hockey team at the Olympics .... I am hoping to see this in my lifetime . But for now the guys really need help developing the sport so if you want to help then please get the guys equipment or some money for protective netting or actual glass for their boards ? At the least go there and leave your gear for them after skating with them . And don't be shy to make a donation to my GoFundMe page :)

Do yourself a favour and go to Egypt ... its amazing .

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Keep Your Cool

Man that last night at Karl's I just couldn't sleep because I probably fell asleep by 8 pm or something .... regardless I was up at like 3 am and I packed my bags . Not so many bags with my goalie bag left behind in Cairo ,Egypt . I'm only carrying a duffel bag with a few bits of my personal gear and some clothes in a backpack and of course my stick bag is packed in my other bag . Gonna leave a stick at Karl's to use in future and hopefully I won't have to travel with sticks home anymore .... leaving Toronto with Air Canada allows me the sticks for free but coming home from Europe with another airline means money πŸ’°.... like $100 for a stick that might cost less .... not worth it . 


I've had such a great trip spending time with family and hockey buddies and my Villa family and making new friends and when I tried to get back to sleep I just couldn't so I stayed awake until I had to get ready and leave . I called myself a taxi and locked the door and tossed the key into the mail slot and I was off to BHX to catch my flight to Frankfurt with Lufthansa . For once I booked a later flight and didn't have to leave until 1 pm and I was at the airport quite early which was great .... it's nice to not be in a rush right ? Well .... that was the only moment of peace I had . No I didn't have some crazed woman eyeballing me again lol πŸ˜‚ 


The plane boarded on time but then the delay came .... I didn't notice how long we were delayed but I do know I had 1.5 hours between landing in Frankfurt and boarding for Toronto which is standard . The flight was decent , food was crap but I ate before the flight so I was good to go ! When the plane landed in Frankfurt we got off plane and onto the bus to the terminal .... there was free wifi and I logged on , that's when I realized I had 15 min to get to terminal , switch terminals , clear security and get to my gate . I'm not stressed . I'm cool , just walk fast .... got to the train that transports from one terminal to next and I got through doors as they were closing and I was feeling confident . Kept walking briskly and got to security and two women came by freakish out .... we are gonna miss our flight it's boarding now !!!! I said are you on the flight to Toronto ? They said yes . I said yeah don't worry we will catch it and I will even have time to shop duty free :) they looked at me like I was insane !!!!! Hahahaha .


Cool as a cucumber I went through security , let them know it was my puter belt buckle that is going off in their sensor grabbed my stuff and by this time those two gals were long gone . They went running like the wind lol . I'm not nervous .... went by duty free and got me a nice bottle of Johnnie Walker blue and got to my gate just in time . I knew there wouldn't be any problems . I had a window seat that didn't have that concave indent to lean into :( that sucked and the movies were still same as last time but hey I'm on my way home . The guy beside me pulls out his laptop and doesn't give me an inch of the armrest but oh well .... I napped a bit and then realized the plane hasn't left yet ???? Wtf .... 


Keep cool 😎 and it will all be over soon . Flight was good aside from the screeching baby two seats behind me and the person that used my back as a foot rest . I'm still happy 😊 then the plane approached and circled Toronto forever and we landed and sat forever then finally we got off the plane .... only an hour and a half delay and I was just a bit agitated 😑. Got my bags and headed out for a taxi , when I got in I put my two equally sized bags in back seat and the driver argued that one bag needs to be in the trunk . I had it at this point and got angry and told him that this is bullshit . He said it's the rules , now he could be right but I wasn't interested in his rules ..... when I got home I gave my girlfriend the perfume I bought her and she said it was the wrong one ..... FML ! Hahaha .... one day I'm gonna win . Life is never what you expect of it and travel is just as intricate . Can't wait to experience stuff like this again , hopefully sooner then later ! Even though it sounds rough the way I write about it , trust me these are all fun experiences . 

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

One More Drink

When I woke up I was sharing a room with Chris Fetters aka "Darth Vader" and we were in Manchester . It's been strange that I haven't had a hangover this whole trip ? Is it that the beer here is poured from cleaner taps or is it that I'm just drinking quality beer like BrewDog ? I'm not sure but every day I wake up after those hazy nights and I don't feel like death is a blessing ! This day was one of those days .... I jumped into the shower and made sure to have my Kiddy Lions badge upright and left the room to meet the other 6 lads . We met in lobby and went to a Wetherspoon's for breakfast , that's the name of the chain that takes on menu and food at most pubs across U.K. Standard pub grub and cheap and cheerful breakfast which is always better option then paying hotel for their food . I gobbled my food and we headed for the train but not before we said our good byes to Fetters who is heading to Scotland .... safe travels my friend ! And see you in Seattle next month 😜


When I got on the train someone was sitting in my seat and she looked like she was enjoying a hangover ... NOT ! She shifted over and grunted a bit .... this didn't seem like it was gonna be a pleasant trip but I was with the Kidderminster Lions and these guys know how to brighten up someone's day . Debbie had a motorcycle helmet with her and Adrian is into racing so he sparked conversation with her and then the Jaffa cakes came out and Debbie smiled ! We got to know Debbie over the train ride to Birmingham and had a few laughs with her . When we got to New St. we made our own ways but unfortunately Debbie went the wrong way and went to Scotland instead of Leicester 😳 we made our way to Indian Brewery and I have plans to meet a few friends and have a few farewell pints . It was great chatting with you Debbie ! 


Reece and Alexia came to meet us at Indian Brewery and I had a good 3 or 4 pints of their yummy IPA and we had some garlic and cheese naan with some other yummy Indian snacks . This brewery is an Indian themed brew pub with Indian movie posters on the walls and some great curry . Try it if you ever visit Birmingham , it's right near Snow Hill train station . You won't regret it . Kidderminster lads had to boogie and they ordered an uber back to Kiddy instead of train as it was cheaper and faster to split a ride . The three of us went to another pub which was closer to where they parked . 


Things got interesting when we got to The Actress & Bishop on Ludgate Hill . Soon after we sat down and grabbed a pint these rugby wankers came in . They weren't bothering me but they seemed to find a way to make themselves look like dicks to everyone else . They were doing an end of season hazing type session where they had to do things off this list . I saw them trying to get these girls to tie their shoelaces and they were chugging milk while flexing their muscles .... all super cool . Then one of the guys asked if his buddy could steal my beer and they would buy me another one .... I said sure why not it will be funny . The guy hesitantly grabbed my beer and chugged it . Then they all looked at the ground and scurried out the door like a bunch of little girls  . Yeah you guys were pretty brave lol . Anyways no bother and no chase . The barman saw what happened and gave me another pint and as this happened Ritchie and Amy showed up ... 


It was Amy's bday a few days earlier so they were on their way to dinner . When she heard what had just happened she wished she was there to tear them apart hahaha she's a feisty one . Love it ! Reece and Alexia bounced and we had another quick pint before heading off ... it was great seeing everyone for some farewell pints . On my way back to Smethwick in taxi I stopped off at McDonalds and honestly I don't even remember eating it but when I woke up it was all gone so I'm assuming I had a good ending to my night ;) I'm already waiting to plan my next trip back but for now I have to pack to head back to Canada πŸ‡¨πŸ‡¦ . I'm actually in Toronto now so don't be confused lol πŸ˜‚ this is just part of the story . And almost the end .....

Monday, May 1, 2017

Blackburn Away

When I got back to Karl's place in Smethwick I had to do my laundry and repack my bag for my trip in the morning to watch Aston Villa play Blackburn away . Didn't get to sleep until 2 am and had to be up round 730 am to grab a taxi to go to Halesowen to meet the Kidderminster Lions bus . That was a bit of an adventure as I was told to get off at a pub and cross the road and walk to a lay by which is basically a gas station . When I arrived there I saw a gas station right beside the pub so I messaged Harry and yeah I'm not good with directions lol ! I found myself crossing the road and seeing that there was no sidewalks so I was a bit leery about walking on the road like everyone does in Egypt . I'm not sure if that would even be legal so I just waited near the Audi shop for the bus and it arrived in due time with me running to get on before  causing any ruckus on the road way :) 


Of course I bought a bunch of beers before catching the bus and I bought a bottle of Johnnie Black for Elvis as a thank you for hooking me up with tickets for the Reading match . A small token of my appreciation and really these guys always take good care of me . He was really happy with the small gift . I sat beside Chris Fetters on bus for the first 15 min then made my way back to the back of the bus to cause some trouble with the Kiddy Youth ( YOOF!) the banter was really good and the pints were yummy . We stopped in a pub on the way and did a few rounds with Fetters and Pete Aston and then we got back on the bus but where were the Yoof ? Rounded the corner and there they came running after the bus lol ! Apparently one of the lads became a bit ill and the lads did the right thing by not leaving him behind .... mates should always look out for each other right ? Anyways they got a bit of an ear full from the people that were worried about losing em and that's understood but I fully agree they did the right thing and everything worked out and we carried on to the match . 

When we got to the ground the atmosphere was electric with almost 7,000 Villans singing and dressed up in costumes . Last away day is always dress up day but I didn't bring a costume or anything . It's a bit of a carnival atmosphere and everyone is having a good time . We bolted to find a pub or shop to get hopped up a bit . Ran by some guy selling 4 beers for £5 and he lied and said the shops were all out of beer so I bought them . How desperate is someone to do that ? He made a whole £1 off me with his elaborate lie . Seems like a waste of his time isn't it .... I wouldn't bother doing that even if I was broke . I went into the shop and they were selling beer and I bought some ciders to hand out to everyone as it was my round . 


The match started and it was a crazy atmosphere but there were a few idiots in our stand who were actually cheering for Blackburn ???  Some wearing their tops and a bunch of them even cheered when they scored against us which really upset me and I don't think a single person that travelled with Kiddy lads were cheering . I made some eye contact with 2 guys jumping up and down and after the game those same 2 guys didn't seem to be cheering anymore???? Didn't you want us to lose ? How can anyone dare say they support the Villa and then cheer for the opposing team to score and beat us ! I'm appalled by these so called fans . Yeah it would be great to see them Bluenoses go down but do it with honour . Don't just roll over for another club to go down . Not a sportsmanlike attitude if you ask me . Imagine how the players that you came to cheer on felt ? Yeah they are pros getting paid but you know they didn't seem to be interested in playing after that . Absolutely pathetic display by the people that call themselves supporters .... if you were one of them then you're not Villa . I'm VTID , no excuses . 


We lost and to be honest I'm glad to be going home instead of wasting more money to watch this showerof shit . Love the Villa but roll on next season . Let's get some new faces into the club and shed the money grubbers . This was one of the worst performances I've ever seen from the Villa and this trip I watched us play 4 shit matches where we got lucky once and beat Small Heath (scum) .... I did 7 matches this season and saw 2 wins 3 losses and 2 draws . Not bad for a supporter that lives in πŸ‡¨πŸ‡¦. 


After the match there were 8 of us that grabbed our bags off the bus and we hopped on the train to Manchester for a night out . Gotta love these away days ! When we got to the Premier Inn just round the corner from train station, we dropped our bags and washed up and met in the hotel bar for first pint 🍻 
I was happy to see BrewDog punk IPA at the bar and bought one and chugged it . We then decided to put £20 each into the kitty for our night out . 8 of us makes £160 , this was nobody gets ripped off on buying rounds at a more expensive pub when moving about . We went to the Patamount next and then hit up the BrewDog pub and then the big boxing match was on and a few lads wanted to catch it but every pub showing it was full to the max and we had to settle for watching it on a phone in the pub next door . I think we hit up 4 or maybe 5 puns before a couple of the guys had to leave . We had another pint and decided we should go for a sit down Chinese . 


I have no clue what the name of the place was but the food was fantastic . Adrian and Gavin left early apparently to go sleep but when we walked into the restaurant there they were ordering take away lol ! We got them to come sit with us and the staff there didn't want to let them sit with us so I spoke to them and told them we are together . We can all go somewhere else and they brought seats for them :) we were a bit loud and I could see some other tables eyeing us but hey we are just having fun not causing trouble and honestly I laughed my ass off for most of our stay there . We had some duck to share and I ordered a lovely beef plate . All the food was fantastic and I really wish I knew the name of the place .... they did kinda rush us out of there , I'm guessing to make their other patrons happy . We pitched in £30 each and I thought it was worth every penny . Being with this group I would have paid twice as much because we are all good friends having a laugh and that for me is priceless . 


After we all had a hot towel we went off to find another pub .... unfortunately it was 1 am and our only possible choice would be the casino . I am very happy to say we didn't go in because if we did I have no clue what would have happened but I'm guessing it would have gotten very messy as we were already Good from the amount of drink we had all day . Remember we started drinking in the morning and only stopped because they wouldn't sell us alcohol at Ewood Park . That little break from when kickoff until round 6 pm was a blessing in disguise . I'm still tired from the amount of travel the last few days and I'm looking forward to some rest when I get back to Toronto . Once again great night out with my Villa mates . Thanks for organizing everything Paul Harris , great being your room mate Chris Fetters and always a laugh being with Mark Byworth, Pete Aston and Steve Woodward .... last but not least it was gray meeting Adrian and Gavin Sabel . You're all top lads , see you all in the morning :)