Monday, December 31, 2018

New Year’s Eve in Sydney

Just waking up from New Year’s Eve here .... feeling a bit fuzzy as everyone should but have this weird feeling that it’s almost 11 am here and the rest of the world is just starting to celebrate πŸŽ‰. My friends in Europe are just messaging me now with their New Years and my friends in Toronto will be celebrating when it’s 4 pm here ! It’s crazy how far we are from home and how big this planet is , we all know this but you don’t realize it until you experience it . We are experiencing it now 😊! 

So.... yesterday we started our day hoping to meet my buddy Jenny but she had to meet some friends she didn’t get to meet the day before so we altered our plans pretty quickly and went on a free walking tour . We walked over to Sydney Town Hall to meet the group and find the people wearing green shirts . We were one of the early birds and met one of the guides whose name was also Adrian , always nice to meet another Adrian as we are a rare breed . We chilled for a minute then got split into groups as there was pretty much a mob of tourists by the time we were to head off , no joke there was easily 200 people for 5 guides to wrangle . When we were getting split we just went to Adrian , obviously πŸ™„ and began our tour by introducing ourselves . There were a few North Americans and one in particular was wearing a Leafs cap which is always nice to see even though he spoke in broken English and was from Thornhill but I have no qualms with that . First stop was the QVB ( Queen Victoria Building ) and we soon found out that everything here with 3 words or more would have short forms . We then walked over to Hyde Park and saw the Archibald Fountain and then checked out the Rum Hospital which is a very interesting story if you have time to look it up . We saw the Sydney Tower and got some good tips on how to visit it on the cheap ! Apparently it’s $29 if you walk up and like $26 if you book in advance online but if you go up to the bar you only have to spend $20 so that is the cheapest option . Our guide was really good about showing us some good spots to visit while having a drink and getting a good view .... he told us there is a roof top bar at Sydney Square which is actually a round building and in fact not square then told us about all these hidden little specialty bars that are kinda like speak easy‘ sand we asked for the gin bar and he said to look up the Barber Shop which is a barber shop until 8 pm , I think we are definitely gonna do that ! 

Adrian (our guide) also showed us the artsy side of the city and this one particular one seen above is an alley with bird cages and on the floor there are  names of all the birds that no longer inhabit this region and there are speakers playing the bird calls of each one .... pretty cool stuff eh ! We also encountered a Salvador Dali statue we saw in Andorra about 3 years ago which was pretty cool to see again . I guess there is a travelling exhibit that hopefully we can find the time to go visit . Our tour winded through the streets until we reached the harbour where the one thing I really really wanted to see is .... the Sydney Opera House ! It’s fantastic to see in person , as a traveller it’s one of those things I’ve dreamt of seeing most of my life and as the travelling goalie it’s one of those monuments I hope to get a picture in front of with my gear on .... fingers crossed 🀞 our tour ended and we headed back down George St. to hit the spots we wanted to grab things , we passed a Woolworths that we know have these Fantastic Noodles we were told to try so we stopped in and it was chaos but they had everything . We grabbed a bottle of tonic for our evening drink and I picked up some beef biltong and kangaroo jerky which I didn’t really like ☹️ had to try it though ! I did like the Fantastic Noodles though . 

When we got back to our room it started raining ...really hard ! We took a nap and then showered up and got ready for the evening festivities which we paid a bundle for private spots . We booked spots at the Royal Botanical Garden and they have multiple events , some are geared towards families and some are more formal with actual reserved seating and the one we chose was less formal with picnic tables and no table reservation so we could sit with any random people . Doors are open between 5:30 pm -  7:30 pm and we decided to get there for 6:30 pm . When we left it was not raining and we took an Uber over to maximize chill out time here in our room 😏 our driver put in a good effort to get us as close as he could to the gate and when we walked in we were given our picnic meal to start the night which had a couple salads and healthy snacks and we started to look for a spot , we then realized that everyone probably got here for 5:30 and some people were hogging tables and we did a full lap of the event before seeing 4 gals at a table which Kathleen approached to see if we could join and they were friendly enough so we jumped in . Now did I mention that I paid $400 per person for this event ? Yeah not cheap but it was supposed to include buskers as entertainment (didn’t see any) there was supposed to be a palm reader (we looked and we didn’t find them ) and about a week ago on their Facebook event they asked us to post a song to hear during the evening which would be announced as our request , well I never heard Daddy Cool by Boney M ☹️ we also were sure that we were supposed to get complimentary champagne before midnight and when we asked for it nobody knew what we were talking about so we bought some . It was nice being there but when you pay this amount for anything you should get what you pay for ! And let me tell ya .... a beer which was like half a can was $9 so I battled to catch a buzz all night with Heineken half cans at least we got free ponchos to keep dry during to rain which just didn’t let up all night . Don’t get me wrong as I don’t want to bitch too much , we had a great view which we didn’t have to claim the morning of and the food we got was really good but all in all it was an expensive day out which I would finalize by saying was worth the view and experience ! The gals we sat with were all friendly nice people and we really got to see a spectacular fireworks display with no obstruction at all so if you ever plan to come to experience this then look into booking a spot early for this ! This one particular event sold out within a couple days and months in advance . 

As soon as the fireworks ended everyone charged the gate to get out of there and we started to make our way back to our hostel and on our way back we tried to get some ice for one last drink before bed with no luck .... we opted to get a cold bottle of tonic instead so we can have a gin and tonic and then called it a night . We survived New Years in Sydney and let me tell ya .... what an experience it was ! Happy New Year πŸ₯³ I know as I’m writing this my friends in the UK are now celebrating and I’m sure later on I will receive messages from home . Until then I’m gonna hide in my room until I figure out what to do today . 

Sunday, December 30, 2018

The Long Journey


And this is how it all began , my longest trip ever to the 5th continent that I am going to play ice hockey on . On Friday morning in Toronto we had to wake up at 2 am to get ready to get a taxi to the airport for our 7 am flight to Houston . Of course we ( myself and Kathleen ) went to bed mega early the night before but I couldn’t sleep as I was too excited , it’s been a while since I’ve left home ! These big trips are far from cheap and I was paying for that India trip for a long time after it occurred ☹️ so work had to take a bigger part of my life and then I started looking at this trip which is even more expensive but I came prepared and should be able to do more trips in 2019 ! Anyways back to the story .... we woke up , washed up and headed to Pearson International Airport and checked my bags in with United Airlines who now accept my goalie bag with my sticks as one piece of luggage which is great because I won’t have to pay any extra baggage fees but I’m sure I will run into that wall on my next flight(s) . It’s all part of my life as a travelling goalie . When we cleared customs we ran into one of Kathleen’s friends named Liz and the both of them caught up until the point that Liz almost missed her flight with her husband to Newark . If you guys are reading this I hope your trip is going well ! We got onto our flight soon after hitting up Tim Horton’s for a bagel and a coffee , make mine a double double please . When we got onto that flight I crashed out and when we took off almost immediately hit bad turbulence , not the worst I’ve experienced but it wasn’t great . Kathleen was freaked out a bit and she says she didn’t wake me up but she did lol ! It felt like the back end of the plane was gonna break off but all I kept thinking was that if we had to make an emergency landing it would just cut into our long layover in Houston so it wouldn’t bother me one bit hahaha πŸ€ͺ

That flight made it to Houston on time and we had to deal with a ten hour layover which we contemplated leaving the airport t o do something and honestly no offence to anyone I know from there but there is absolutely nothing interesting to do in Houston .... I know because I’ve been there before and trust me we did all the research looking for excuses to leave to go into the city to do anything remotely “cool” but instead realized that we were not about to spend upwards of $100 USD to go eat food and drink beer when we could do that in the airport .... let me ask you a question now , what would you have done ? Post it in my comments please ! Houston airport is massive and we got our steps in wandering around checking out stores and menus before deciding on our first meal which was at a place called Ember , we started off with a couple nice local IPA’s if you like IPA’s you should try Saint Arnold Elissa’s IPA we both enjoyed it and then dove into a couple burgers with some nice Idaho potato fries which were yummy but just one small problem .... the restaurant ran out of ketchup ? Yeah isn’t that odd ? Whatever , we got some mayo instead and gobbled our meals then had to walk it off . I felt so bloated , gotta lose weight and the older I get the harder it is ! I feel like I’m gaining weight by breathing these days ☹️ all this walking was making us sore though and Kathleen needs to stretch out and we found a nice quiet area that nobody was sitting in and we stretched out and got to use a low traffic bathroom which is the perfect place to “chill for a minute “ don’t ask I think you should know what I mean :) after all this we had a couple more hours to kill off so we went to use a couple of those massage chairs which are $5 for 30 minutes , honestly ..... so worth it ! Even the guys beside were talking about how awesome it was . So now I’m not feeling bloated and my body is feeling decent so the only thing to do now is eat again ? Wtf is wrong with me ? Ok I blame Kathleen for wanting this sriracha bacon Bloody Mary at this restaurant called Ruby’s Diner which is fashioned like an old school 60’s diner with good old school music and milk shakes on the menu . When we sat down my plan was to only have a Coca Cola but then the bartender showed me the menu so I ordered some chicken fingers for us to share and then added onion rings , no wonder I’m getting fat right ? Jeez! It was a good thing we ate though as you never know what you’re gonna get on a flight and this next flight is from Houston to Sydney ....17.5 hours !!!

We sat down near our gate and watched some Netflix that I have downloaded on my new iPad and waited ..... we met some Australian ladies who were nice but got almost angry when I pronounced Melbourne Mel-born and said it was Mel-bunn ... ok whatever just don’t get your panties in a knot hahaha ! Move along and we get onto the plane and Kathleen has the window and I get the middle and a nice woman named Claudia sits beside me and when I repeat her name I pronounced it Claw-dia and of course she corrects me , no shit eh ? Whatever , so I repeat her name and it sounds more German like .... ok time to pass out , have you ever passed out on a plane ? Jesus it’s fucking horrible ! You wake up and feel like someone hit you in the neck with a hammer .... ugh and then you realize you only have 14 more hours to kill ? Kill me now , please do it ! At that point Kathleen offered me the window and I had something to lean my head against and I guess I slept but in the most uncomfortable positions .... in between sleeps I watched some movies , The Meg and Venom were the two I didn’t sleep during but I have many flights ahead of me to watch others on . I slept during all the meals served except for breakfast which was pretty good to be honest , I had the scrambled eggs which came with potatoes and yogurt and a nice little cake . Good enough to give my fat ass the energy to drag my bag around Sydney airport πŸ˜„. Our flight arrived on time and my bags made it , we cleared customs with no issues and then I was on the hunt for a bank machine that I could get some loot out of .... I bank with Tangerine , and the bank machines at the airport don’t comply with my card ? In fact to this moment I have yet to find a machine to draw money out of 😑it’s ok , most places accept credit and thankfully my next stop which was to get my SIM card accepted credit so all is good . We grabbed a taxi to our hostel which is the Sydney Central YHA and of course we arrive around 8:30 am and their check in is 1 pm .... our room was not ready but they let us drop our bags and we were allowed to take a shower , I had some awful stank on me blah !!! I found a Puma store which was about a half hour walk to from our hostel and off we went . We encountered birds laughing at us and it is really hot over here , like 30 c ! So glad I put my shorts on but I desperately need a new pair of shoes as the ones I have are definitely not made for walking . When we got to the Puma Store we found out there is a 50% off sale !!! Damn , that’s good as gold ! I tried out a few pairs of kicks and settled for a nice grey and black pair that cost me $35 πŸ€‘ kinda wanted to buy couple pairs but I am almost at my limits already with this goalie equipment . I didn’t even hesitate to put on my new shoes and put those other shoes in the box and as we were making our way back to the hostel with hopes of checking in even a few minutes early I received a message from my buddy Jenny who I work with back home in Toronto . If you work in the same industry as I do then you know Jenny Sisko is one of the best food stylists in Toronto , small blonde gal with a kick ass attitude 😜we always have fun when we work together ! Anyways she’s here in Sydney and wants to meet for a couple beers , ummm yeah I’m down for beer but I gotta get checked in and wash this funk off my body before taking an Uber to her pub of choice . Let’s hope the hostel checks us in when we get back ....

We get back to Sydney Central YHA around 12:30 pm , yes check in is 1 pm but you know we’ve been waiting since 8:30 am and it would be so nice if you cleaned my room out when the people in here earlier checked out at 10 am which is checkout time ? You would think in a super organized service industry driven world that you would have our room ready by 12:30 right , wrong ! You made me wait until 1 pm and only for the reason that this is check in time right because magically my room was cleaned at that moment correct ? Ugh ! We had to get our bags from storage and then finally got into our room which I’m gonna be bold enough to say wasn’t thoroughly cleaned .... the floor in bathroom was sticky and there’s a stain on the blanket on my bed , I’m not gonna complain but I call bullshit on the room not being ready when we asked for it . I know I’m bitching but I’m not pissed off even though I may add there is no fridge or ice buckets in the room so I’m not sure how I’m supposed to keep my booze chilled for NYE . #firstworldproblems lol ! Took my shower and jumped into an Uber and headed to the Nelson Hotel to meet Jenny and Rich who is her really cool bf , when we arrived they were already there drinking beers and the atmosphere was nice . Got a couple nice local IPA’s which I think were Founders Brewery , I could be wrong but they were good and not too strong .... only 6.5% πŸ€ͺ . 

The woman pictured above was the local entertainment and I didn’t get her (their) name(s) but they were great ! They were taking requests from the beer garden patrons and even played a David Bowie song for Kathleen but all the requests they took were played with their own spin on the song which was really nice and original sounding but the time was coming where my beer buzz and my jet lag were taking over and as hard as it is for me to admit to this but I even was offered to play hockey last night when I received a message from Justin Harrison and I turned it down , don’t hate me but we just went back to grab some KFC and I passed out by 7pm .... this ice time was 7:45 pm and there was no way I would have made it alive especially after drinking a few beers . Don’t fret though as it looks as though we will be hitting the ice on Friday here and who knows , I might even get another emergency call to fill in between now and then . Looks like Australia πŸ‡¦πŸ‡Ί will be country #39 on my list of countries played in . I should get back to reality now and start getting ready to leave my room , tonight is New Year’s Eve . I hope you all have a happy new year and expect a very hungover post to kick off 2019 . Peace ✌️ 

Friday, December 28, 2018

The Hockey News

Didn’t want to release any pics of the actual magazine out of respect to the publisher but I think at this point it’s been out long enough for you all to have gone out to get your own copies 😊 anyways I’m sitting on a plane flying to Houston now and I figured it’s time to share the story of how I ended up in one of the if not the biggest hockey magazines on the planet ... no offence to my friends at the Eishockey News in Germany but this is huge and something most of us have dreamt of as I did when I was a young man , I used to get the paperback delivered to my mom’s place back in the day and I never though I’d make it onto the pages of this magazine and then I met Ronnie Shuker who wrote this well written article about me . 

We first met in Ladakh, India where together we set a world record with a group of hockey players from around the globe , I travelled there with the Rainman Allstars but unfortunately never had the chance to play for them and as fate would have it I was asked to play for The Hockey Foundation team which was one of the two teams that played in the world record setting game for the highest altitude . To this day I still think it should have been a tournament since so many people from around the world travelled there to take part in this event but this is out of my control . Before settting the record we were approached by Ronnie who was there writing an article about the event for The Hockey News and he was intrigued with my story , it is kinda interesting isn’t it ? I guess he thought so , enough to stay in touch afterward and pitch the story ! During the world record game Ronnie went on to score the opening goal in our historic win and I was the goalie on that same winning side filled with friends ( and some others ) 😜

When I got back to Toronto I was contacted by Ronnie and we met for the first time at a cafe on Danforth in the east end of Toronto , he pulled out a recorder and we chatted for hours and caught up with each other . I had way too many cappuccinos and then we had to go our own ways but I felt as though I didn’t say the right things and I think Ronnie was looking for more also .... he pitched the story and was told to pit together a two page article and all I was praying for was that they didn’t spell my name wrong like they did in the first article where I was quoted as Adam Mizzi hahaha . We continued to stay in touch and planned another day out and I was itching to get him back on the ice but Ronnie doesn’t have his gear in tow like I do and has many projects on the go such as the one where he got to interview Phil Esposito which was interesting for me to hear about , apparently he is quite intimidating it and those of us that know of his lore from the days of the Summit Series should not be surprised . How cool is it that a guy interviewing these legends is interested in my story ? We planned to meet once again but this time at Cafe Diplomatico on College St. which is more central and again I drowned myself in cappuccinos before we went to grab some wings with Adam Sherlip who was the main organizer of the world record setting game where we met and I had a new friend tag along from out of town who happens to also be a hockey related author who recently wrote a book called Hockeywood and goes by the name Garret Oppenheim , he was driving around the continent selling his books at rinks and book fairs and I met and bought his book in the foyer of De la Salle Arena before one of my Ghetto Blaster games .... yes I’m being a bit long winded but for me it was an impromptu meeting of some respectable hockey people that combined played 0 NHL hockey games . Good conversation and some good wings washed down with some cheap beer made for a nice day out but again I left feeling as though there was more to share to contribute to this article . This is about me and could be the ultimate article about me so I want it to do me some justice and hopefully lead to some other fantastic opportunities.

So once again we planned to meet but this time at Fran’s which is an all day breakfast joint down the road from where Maple Leaf Gardens used to be , it’s just off Yonge St on College or Carlton whichever you wanna say as I’m almost sure the street changes names at or around Yonge . Ronnie was craving breakfast and I think I had a club sandwich and we started yapping away and by this time the comfort level was there and we didn’t record this conversation so there was no pressure to perform or say things or key phrases that I though in my dreams I should be saying just like my nhl heroes did coming off the ice between periods of the big game lol ! I know I’m so corny but put yourself in my position all giddy knowing I am being interviewed for an article in a maagazine I grew up bewildering . On this day I found out that The Hockey News wanted Ronnie to put together a 4 page story and it would be in the goalie edition ... boy oh boy was I pumped hearing that I could be in a magazine filled with stories about Fleury , Luongo and other great goalies .... I sat there wondering if they would peruse the magazine thinking who is this Travelling Goalie guy ? Hey who knows maybe they did .... maybe they didn’t but I’m sure just like any other Canadian boy there was a time in their lives where they looked in that magazine and dreamt of being there also .

When the magazine came out I had friends and family contacting me about it and it’s a well written article so I would like to thank Ronnie for his efforts event though I never got him on the ice with me I’m still hoping to drag him out at some point and I hope to meet up with him again for another adventure . Thank you Hockey News for making the dreams of a young boy come true !