Monday, October 21, 2019

Back Home

My flight home from Kazakhstan was absolutely horrible ! Love it when I’m travelling and find out that my flight is scheduled for a stopover in another city without any warning ? Thanks Expedia for dropping the ball on that one . When we stopped in Astana the plane opened up all doors and had us sitting on the plane freezing our ass’ off at around 4 am while the passengers leaving left and the plane was boarded then which ate up roughly two hours of my day yay ! When I arrived in Frankfurt I was much happier as it is one of my favourite airports to stop into and while I was there I grabbed a coffee and found my next flight with ease . 

Next flight was to beautiful Manchester and I don’t think I would want to travel through this airport again as I was in one terminal where I had to clear customs to get to another terminal where I had to clear security again .... and with little time I did some jogging through the terminals to find enough time to do my duty free shopping which I can say was pleasant as the ladies helping me out were really friendly and amazing ๐Ÿ˜‰ I smelled like shit though and that is always not fun as it’s hard to shower when flying so long and far . Maybe I should carry deodorant with me ? The baby wipes helped a bit wiping the stinky sweat off my armpits as I boarded my next flight . When I got to my seat I noticed some rows were empty and there was a woman sitting in the row in front of me ...someone told her she was in their seat so she moved to another seat where someone else told her to move and I’m sitting there wondering why she isn’t in her own designated seat ? Well she must be onto something because she ended up with a row of three seats to herself and I ended up with a .... hold your remarks .... a bluenose !!! Most of you know I’m and Aston Villa supporter and if you didn’t know , a bluenose would be someone that supports the team we hate the most . Small Heath Alliance aka Birmingham City aka scum ! We had a laugh and to be honest the fella was actually ok for a bluenose and we had a good chat about the state of footie today . That flight was alright too and when I got off the plane I said bye and told him Shit on The City ๐Ÿ˜ we both had a chuckle and went our ways . 

My bags took forever to arrive , so long that I went to report them missing and was told they are still en route to terminal and this was over an hour after landing . I was dying ! By the time I got home I was actually 29 hours in transit from the point I left hotel in Almaty to the point I walked in my door and all I wanted was a shower and some Swiss Chalet which for the record is a million times better then Nando’s . Kathleen wasn’t home so I got comfy and waited for her to get in so I could get my birthday presents and I was not disappointed one bit !

She got my Guinness Book of World Records certificate framed , and framed a poster I got in Australia last year which also is amazing and she also bought me a pack of really really thick cut bacon ๐Ÿฅ“ so thick it’s called Steacon lol ! And she knows I enjoy growing plants so she bought me some Maltese Cross seeds that really made me happy ๐Ÿ˜ƒ our garden was destroyed a few years ago by the asshats that maintain the lawn ....they tore out my Maltese Cross and I wanted to kill them and could never find that same plant again until now . Unfortunately not everything I got was great though .... I must have caught the flu on one of my many flights home and today more then a week later I’m still struggling with it and the stupid jet lag I’m feeling . Last night was the first night I slept over 4 hours and still was awake by 2:30 am ๐Ÿ˜ค it’s ok as it gives me time to talk to my friends in New Zealand and Australia as I’m planning my next trip . If everything goes as planned I should be somewhere in Asia before hitting up the tournament in Adelaide and then going to play in the Masters tournament in New Zealand which looks pretty awesome . Best of all is that I get to see all my friends from that part of the world .... now I have to decide where to go before ? I’m thinking ๐Ÿค”....Malaysia ? 

Monday, October 14, 2019

Last Day

Last night I was told to please come to the rink for 11 am to watch the final and if Stephan needs me anywhere for any reason then I’m there . This man has done so much for me that he deserves any time he requires from me and I am more then happy to support his cause ! So same old routine ... Walter gets up does his stairs and I get down to the breakfast area and get myself an omelette with cheese , ham and mushrooms ๐Ÿ„ a couple boreks and some plums and I am good to go ... to go run to the toilet lol ! My morning cleanse hahaha ๐Ÿ˜† I know , I know TMI (too much information) I have a filter for my filter called my brain so let’s keep it light hearted . I did have time to write that morning which is now yesterday and I am pretty much caught up with my stories that I can share ๐Ÿ˜œ some of you know the other stories that I won’t publish online and we will keep it that way . How bad would it be for me if I let everything out into the internet .... nobody would trust me . 

A bit before 11 I use my Yandex app to get a taxi that won’t rob me and head off to Almaty Arena one last time , there was a minor malfunction with the app and it sent the taxi to my location the evening before at that stupid karaoke bar ๐Ÿ˜– and the destination was wrong so I reported it to them and got no response . They work as hard as the police do in Kazakhstan to right their wrongs lol ! And no I never heard back about the thieving c#$ts , they got my money and it’s gone now . No crying over spilt milk ๐Ÿฅ›. My taxi dropped me off nowhere near the rink which seems on par with all the other taxis I’ve taken and I walked into the rink to find out that the local team that beat us in the first game went on to lose all their games after and as Lubomir told me that would have been us if we won that game and going 1-3 would have been less fun then beating the Czechs twice , and yes the lads are still chuffed over those big wins and so am I . I have a stick I’m gifting to the local goalie who plays on his knees , when I see him and give him the twig I could swear I saw a tear drop from his eyes he was so happy and as I mentioned yesterday ... that’s the best gift I can get in return when I’m gifting this stuff to my new friends even though I don’t know his name , don’t have him on Facebook and likely never will unless we get put into contact with each other which would be nice so if you’re one of the local Almaty boys please help me get in touch with the goalie in the picture above ๐Ÿ™

So the last few posts I have misspelled the team that beat us handily in the second game and they are called Karaganda and they are in the championship against a team from Uzbekistan. This game was amazing ! Both teams played solid and are both a level above the rest . Goaltending was stellar on both ends also with some big saves . There were some controversies on both ends as the teams tied the game 2-2 with the Uzbekistan team claiming a puck was kicked in but Tomas and Peter our trusty refs made the right decisions as I saw that puck go in without touching a skate or any kicking motion and the game went into shootout where teams decided who shot first by having captains play rock/scissor/paper ๐Ÿ˜ I’m pretty sure the Karaganda team switched goalies for some reason and had their goalie come off the bench to take the shootout which is strange but so was the Zamboni driver who was freaking out at the other end trying to kick us off the ice ... what a dickhead ! The shootout held some controversy also as the Uzbekistan player lost control of the puck and it kept moving forward as he reached back got control and decked out the goalie who for some reason gave up for a sec and was late in getting across the net ... Karaganda guys were flipping out and apparently pinned the blame on the refs but I saw what I saw and the refs made the right call . Didn’t see them getting upset when the call went their way a few minutes earlier ? Anyways congratulation to the team from Uzbekistan who won the game fair and square . It was very entertaining to watch and then the awards ceremony began ... on the ice with the zamboni driver fuming at the end of the rink . 

Now I was told the night before that I will get top goalie but after seeing the way the other keepers played I didn’t know if it was a for sure thing and to be honest I wouldn’t blame them if either of them won it but I’m sure at least the Karaganda goalies knew who I was from our encounter where I absolutely stood on my head . When the top goalie was announced my name was called out and I got my nice trophy from Stephan and then another trophy from Sagadat which was weird . Sagadat doesn’t run this tournament , it’s Fox Cup so why did he get trophies ? There were two trophies for everything ! Even two championship trophies and Walter got a trophy that he didn’t receive as he skipped this day to go get some dog meat .... and no I didn’t try it and probably wouldn’t ! The whole weekend it seemed as though Sagadat was acting as if this was his tournament which it wasn’t and I’m not sure about the politics of it all but really the trophy thing was definitely a first . After the dust settled and all the confused faces left with two trophies we caught a cab and I met my team mates to go to the shopping mall in hopes of finding something for my lady at home who I am missing more and more .... 

After wandering around the mall for a while I decided to hit the sauna one last time . Love it there and I’m glad I got one last chance to relax and when I got there some of my friends were there and we had a few laughs before heading out for our last dinner together and that’s when it all hit me that I was gonna miss these guys so much . I was a bit depressed thinking about it as I fought the tears away on multiple occasions as I feasted on my meal and when I tried to pay the waitress put in another order of food for me instead of bringing me the bill ? Doh ! All the guys told me to leave the bill with them and I scurried off to get ready for my 11 pm departure from the hotel and I went to my room to pack my bags , have a shower and pack my trophies and bottles in my gear which is not totally dry . 

My nerves were shot and I was pretty upset over having to leave and honestly I have never felt so close to a group of players , we really bonded and to top it all off I have 24 hours worth of flights and layovers ahead of me which didn’t help my situation ... I got sick in the bathroom ๐Ÿคฎ and left to call my cab which the hotel staff helped me with and got to see a few of the guys one last time as I left the hotel . It was hard saying bye but I’m planning to be in Bratislava in May to hopefully see them all and they are planning to visit Toronto in 2020 ... I don’t doubt we will all see enough of each other in the future and our friendships will grow even stronger . Enough of my mushy stuff ... love you guys , you’re like family to me and I definitely can’t wait to see you all again . Stay in touch ! 

Got to the airport early , my taxi driver was really nice and I gave him a tip which is not really a thing here and I was hoping to bump into the ass hats that robbed me but they are probably lurking at arrivals gate ๐Ÿ˜ค I arrived an hour early and sat down and wrote a blog and then checked in my bag which is over 30 kilos and for some reason didn’t get charged anything extra by Lufthansa who are notorious for charging for gear . I don’t know if it was my smile or something I said but it worked in my favour and I can now say this is my first trip ever that I didn’t pay any extra baggage handling fees at all ! As Walter keeps saying “ things will work them self out “ and he is right ! Now I have to sit and wait to board my flight with my next stop in Astana where the plane will be filled up with more passengers . Wish me luck and stay tuned as I have a couple more stories to be told before I end annoying you all with my adventures . ๐Ÿ™ƒ

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Day 2 of Fox ๐ŸฆŠ Cup Almaty

So my hotel room is not the greatest but I’m sure as heck happy with my breakfast options even though there is no bacon ๐Ÿฅ“ mmmm ๐Ÿ˜‹. I wake up and Walter is off doing his steps walking downstairs from the 22nd floor as he sneaks off but the door closing wakes me up and I get down to the breakfast area before he does and we sit and have some fruits and juice as we chat about random things going on around our microcosm of international hockey players . It’s a tough pill to swallow knowing I have one game today for 5th place and I’m not playing on the Sunday . What can you do ? We are all having fun and my Slovak team mates and I are growing closer and closer together as a family more then just friends . Stephan our organizer has really done a great job pulling together a group that has become so tight knit .... soon enough the troops arrive and let us or at least me know that we will meet in a few hours to take our shuttle bus to Almaty Arena where our gear is hopefully drying . I didn’t have time to write anything this morning as I was feeling a bit groggy and opted to watch a couple episodes of Disenchanted on Netflix to kill time and pick up my spirits . 

Our opponents today is a team from Czech Republic and I think you all know how these teams countries rivalry but this team is actually sharing a room with us and we are all getting along so it’s a bit weird trying to get focused on playing a team that are in the same room . The pressure is on to get the win or I might leave here and this trip without registering an official win . How crap would that be ? Still can’t shake the fact we didn’t win our first game as we find out they lost their game earlier by a similar score to our game against the same Karaganga team (I might be spelling this wrong) I thought they would get lit up with their goalie that has a tendency to drop to his knees when the opposition is in his zone which is odd but seems to work for him somehow .... don’t even know what to call this style lol ๐Ÿ˜ 

Back to the task at hand ... we gotta win or fave embarrassing ourselves . We step on the ice and go through the regular routine of warming up and do the European style salute at our blue line while facing our opponents ... the old stick in the air and ice tap before one quick lap to the crease and the guys surround me and do their little cheer and we set up for the face off . The game was back and forth as both myself and my opposing tender made the key saves and kept the score tight until we potted one to go up 1-0 before half time .... yes two period games means half time hahaha ๐Ÿ˜† at the half I could see the intensity in all my team mates faces and I personally wondered where this effort was yesterday as I could even see our elder statesmen Boshenko putting in a stellar effort and I was really hoping he would continue in the second period . Whistle blows and I skate across the ice and the Czechs came out storming but my defence was solid in stymying their attack and all the shots I faced in that second period were mostly routine saves as I began freezing the puck more and more to kill the running clock and get my team mates a rest . I’m not sure who scored the first or the soon to come second goal but I do know Walter potted one and we were all happy to see that ! When we went up 2-0 the game was fully in hand but we played without any mistakes and I kept the shutout which was the first for the whole tournament and everyone was buzzing about my big win . Heck even I was happy as we skated to the bench after shaking hands and I jumped into the shower ....only to find out as we left that there was another game ? Against the same team ! 

This is nobodies fault but my own as it is in the schedule but I never thought of this type of scheduling as I’ve never encountered this .... I was a bit flustered and I think my team mates are wondering why I’m pissed off when in fact I’m just trying to alter my mood from celebratory to focused . I sure hope I can keep up this play and I’m sure my team mates are still keen to kick ass . Putting that wet gross gear back on always sucks , cold and damp and trying to get focused I put my gear on and next thing you know we are facing the Czech guys again within an hour of beating them . Same routine and next thing you know the puck is being dropped . My team is on fire ๐Ÿ”ฅ and they are controlling the game as if they had played together for ages . It’s amazing how much we jelled from yesterday and everyone was playing way better together then as individuals and before you know it Walter is on a breakaway ! He scored !! Pretty sure that put us up 2-0 and then we were up 3-0 and then my ref buddy Tomas comes over to tell me I’m gonna get a shutout ....NNNNOOOOO!!! oh me oh my am I ever superstitious and I could feel those words cutting my ears off as I didn’t want to hear that and I never do especially during the game . In fact I don’t want to hear them ever to be honest , and before you know it one of the Czech players broke through and skated in on me on his own and instead of giving him the poke check I let him get close and I messed up by trying to pull off a two pad slide as he slipped the puck under me ... he deserved it and those guys were happy to pot one on me but that would be the only one they would score . We dominated them and won the game 6-1 and took 5th place and ended up 2-2 and I had given up 9 goals in 4 games which is pretty good but the rumours begin that I’m probably gonna win MVG . Personally I thought I was better then my opposing keepers but you never know , usually that honour goes to a higher ranked team even though I’ve probably stopped more rubber then all the others . Before I left the rink I gave my good friend Rene Koles from the Czech team one of my goalie sticks , he is the guy who is dressing up in the fox costume ๐ŸฆŠ and he is such a nice fella . He is so happy he offers me his Fox tournament hoodie which I didn’t want to take and really I didn’t want to trade and rather gift the stick but he pressures me to take it and I oblige after all it’s one hell of a sweet hoodie and I’m sure that twig was fair trade to him . I was happy that he was happy and that’s what giving is all about ! 

Back in the room I take another shower and pack my bag as a few Kozel beers fall into our hands and we have a quick drink before leaving the rink with our opposition as we pile into our shuttle bus and get evicted from our room . It’s almost a blessing that we don’t play tomorrow as I’ve got to dry this gear out as much as possible before my disgustingly early Monday departure ... 2 am flights rock , NOT !  Back at the room I decorate my room with goalie equipment and the sweet scents of sweat fill the air and we all go down for a bite to eat at our favourite place to eat next door called Noodles . We had dinner there the last couple nights and every meal I’ve gobbled has been delish ๐Ÿ˜‹ tonight we are having our tournament party and there will be a stripper there to entertain us . Apparently it was either this or go karts .... I’m good with whatever the team wants as we are enjoying spending time together . At dinner Tomas and Peter who are our amazing refs tell me the dance is later so let’s hit the sauna ... I’m so down with that and excited I bolt before them or Walter who also was interested in a little detoxing . On the way to the sauna I find out that the dancer changed the schedule and was coming earlier which gave me a little time to hit the sauna and I messaged Walter who didn’t respond immediately and when I came out of the sauna I received the message telling me that he had left ??? 

I’m not really down with travelling around alone as taxis don’t drop you exactly where they are supposed to so frantically I message everyone and find out that some of the guys are still in the bar and the refs are now opting out of the strip show so I rush downstairs meet the boys and off we go ... we went to this karaoke bar called Aura and our taxi is 400 tenge which is about $1.50 CDN lol ๐Ÿ˜ makes me feel more angry about this scammer taxi driver I had the pleasure of being ripped off by grrrr ๐Ÿ‘ฟ! When we get there it’s just our team and the Czech team and we begin to drink and I order some sheesha to share with everyone which I was told was 2,000 tenge . I order a round of gin tonics also and the dancer comes out and shows us her boobs and leaves within minutes ... I was disappointed because she had a snake in her photos with her and I really wanted to see the snake ๐Ÿ but she didn’t have it with her boo !!! Where are all the other teams ? Talk about anti social . Oh well fuck em’ , we are gonna have fun on our own anyways and guys begin singing karaoke and dancing and we really had fun until I got my bill of 37,000 tenges for 6 gin tonics and sheesha which is about $130 CDN . Yeah wtf , so I botch for a moment then I swallow my pride and pay up and walk away defeated as the guys all are shaking their heads . What’s with the scams here , that’s twice now . 

The guys gave me our 5th place trophy to take home and I got this sweet bottle of Jameson’s from Stephan and his family for yet another birthday gift ๐ŸŽ. Unbelievable how generous they are , every minute we grow closer and closer to each other as our bond is strengthen with positivity in the eye of despair ... I’m saying that because we both paid a kings ransom at that bar . Oh I forgot to mention that the stripper gave a quick lapdance with her clothes on and then left and we definitely didn’t love that . What a money grab that was .... shoulda went go karting but that’s water under the bridge now eh . We opted to walk back to the hotel and we got cozy with some well poured gin tonics at the upstairs bar as we all hung around telling jokes and watching dirty videos together . It doesn’t matter where we are or what we are doing , we are always having fun as long as we are together . Who says team bonding sucks eh lol ๐Ÿ˜ 

Time to hit that slab of bed or is it a rock ? Definitely questioning the piece of cloth that looks like a pillow .... at least it smells nice in here hahaha ๐Ÿ˜‚ 

Saturday, October 12, 2019

A tournament in Kazakhstan on my birthday ๐ŸŽ‚

Gotta play catch up as this actually all occurred two days ago now as things have been pretty hectic as they always are when travelling and playing hockey and most important making new friends . So thankful that we don’t have the early game and it’s a good thing that this tournament is organized well enough not to torture players with disgustingly early ice times to save money which has been an issue before and those of you that have experienced that know those tournaments end up being complete shit shows . The night before I did stay up to have a drink at midnight when my birthday began and I did stay up dancing in the club next door until 2 or 3 am with a gin in tonic in hand but I still managed to get up early as my bed in this hotel is worse then any nightmares I’ve ever had and by this time I was already dreaming of being in my own comfy bed back home with real pillows instead of this one flat pillow that I have to fold over to make it feel like half a pillow argh ๐Ÿ˜– 

We have a bus that shuttles us to and from the arena and we all meet up and jump in when it arrives which was a few hours before our game since traffic is so unpredictable here . First we all met in the dining area to eat breakfast and then I packed up my gear and off we went . My team is the Fox Cup mixed team and is mostly made up of Slovaks with a couple locals and myself and another Canadian named Walter Epp who is my room mate and we had previously met in India when I helped set that world record . We have two games today with the first one against some local club that I still don’t know the name of as they are listed as Kyrgyzstan in the tournament booklet and the second team is called Karaganga White Bears who are also a local club . Our games have one hour rest between which is good . When we arrive at the rink we are greeted by Stefan and his lovely family who put their heart and soul into these tournaments ! The front foyer has all the trophies and some advertising and it makes me wonder how painful it is flying with all this stuff compared to what I drag around ? Must be hard .... 

We are sharing a room with the team from the Czech Republic and we can leave our gear at the rink which is also another bonus as it sucks dragging gear around and having to air it out beside my bed in my hotel . When we are getting dressed I get my new Fox Cup jersey and try to slip it on but it does not slip on and is more like a really tight condom on me .... I can’t move ๐Ÿ˜ข . I’m sure every organizer I have ever dealt with has heard me complain about the jersey sizes and this is the reason why I’m done buying jerseys because this will end up in my closet full of jerseys that I have never even worn ... I’m a bit disappointed that I won’t look like my team but at least someone will be using it since Walter didn’t buy a new one and brought the wrong colour so he is using mine for the tourney . Why don’t jersey making companies know what a goalie cut jersey is FFS ? Anyways I have my trusty Ghetto Blaster jersey with me and it’s a good thing I didn’t leave it behind in Israel which I actually did consider doing . 

Team meeting before we hit the ice and off we go . We are playing at Almaty Arena in their practise facility and not the huge rink where the pro team plays . We have our warmup and then the puck is dropped and the tournament has officially begun for me and my team mates . This is a must win game as the word on the streets is that the second team is much stronger . The first period was close and the game went back and forth and the goalie at the other end for some reason goes down on his knees when we enter their zone ? Not in a butterfly but flat on his knees with his gloves in front of him ... never seen this before ! Should be easy to beat him , just shoot high and we did and we scored and then our defence fell apart as we were not positioned right and a few of our skaters are obviously not familiar with each other and at the end of the first period we were tied 1-1 . We get a 5 minute break between periods and the game is 2 long periods and the game is the same length as any other game which is the better part of an hour which I know some of you purists don’t like but this way actually works as well as the regular 3 periods so keep your bitching to a minimal . The first goal scored on me was a pass to a wide open player that was uncovered and I just couldn’t get across quick enough ๐Ÿ˜ค on the bench I continually tell the guys to shoot high and I wish we would have because that one goal was the only goal we scored on possibly the worst goalie I have ever faced .... that doesn’t bode well for a team that hasn’t yet jelled . Second period was close also but I knew in my heart that our bubble was going to burst at any moment and sure as shit it did when a player got to a puck before my d man off a rebound and they scored the eventual winner . The match ended with me yelling and waving for an extra attacker on the ice to push for the tie but nobody was paying attention to my screaming so I rushed over and gave them hell . What is it with teams that can’t hear the goalie or see him waving his arms like a madman ? We lost that game and I was pretty pissed off that we couldn’t score on a goalie that can’t even stand on his feet . I played a good game but as some of you know .... I play better when I’m pissed off ! 

I grab myself a Mirinda orange drink between games ... I love this stuff ! And head back to my dressing room where all my team mates are discussing line changes to even our squad for the next team . We are going to have to pull off a miracle to win this match and get to semi finals . Everyone is angry and disappointed with the way we played and I’m pissed I lost to a far weaker goalie then I am and that’s how goalies think or at least I do . When we hit the ice we hardly need a warmup and the other team has three full lines , two goalies and coaches and apparently most of them have formerly played in the first division here in Almaty . Somehow , someway the game starts and we go up 2-0 pretty much on two shots and then the rest of the game was in our end ... I made some INSANE saves ! Paddle save diving across net , glove save sliding across net , and many many others until they broke the egg and continued to press hard . By the end of the first we were tied 2-2 but haven’t got into their zone since we scored on our two chances .... we were getting tired and the other team were getting warmed up . Second period was just a mess with our guys beginning to screen me on shots and I really hate when guys try to be goalies instead of playing proper defence but it happens and as the game went on the score started to add up even though I kept making save after save and I have no clue how many pucks I stopped but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was over 50. The game ended up being 6-2 for Karaganga and our dreams of playing in semi final were washed away as we only had one chance in their end in that final frame with the remainder of the period in our end aside from the few times we iced the puck . 

Damn I was hoping to walk away with a win or two for my birthday but instead I walked away with my new friends and now it’s time to go celebrate my birthday which is a good excuse for everyone to have a few drinks . We took the bus back to our hotel and most of us went to the spa for a sauna and my aching body needed that so badly then we all went to the restaurant next door to the hotel called Noodles which has amazing food and we have already ate there once . Tonight I am starting off with a glass of scotch and I’m eating a massive tomahawk steak ๐Ÿฅฉ... I don’t care how much it costs , I just want to enjoy my special day ! Everyone was there with me aside from the local players that never ever go out with their teams in any country I’ve been to ... with a few exceptions I should say but here they are nowhere to be seen . Really I had such a great day and Stefan and his family gave me a nice bottle of brandy and a bunch of fox cup swag that I really love . I can’t say enough good things about this organizer and his tournament and also my team mates who have made me feel like one of them . Tonight I have committed to joining them in Bratislava next May and they will be bringing a team to Toronto where we will set up some exhibition matches between them and my Ghetto Blaster squad . 

It’s so good to finally find an organization that cares and will put the effort in to make sure everyone is welcome and happy . If you or anyone you know are ever looking for a tournament to play in I would highly suggest looking up Fox Cups ๐ŸฆŠ and sending Stefan a message or just ask me and I would be more then happy to put you in contact with them . My birthday was amazing and I couldn’t have asked for more . 

Friday, October 11, 2019

Team Building

Yesterday I got to spend the day with my Slovakian team mates that make up the better part of the Fox ๐ŸฆŠ Team that Stefan has put together to play in his tournament here in Almaty,Kazakhstan . The plan for the day is to go up to the mountains in Medeu where I’m pretty sure the Asian Winter Games took place at some point . First things first and I need some breakfast and I have no interest in any horse meat at the moment so some fried eggs and borek will do quite fine . Just so you know ... borek is a pastry filled with cheese or spinach or meat and I like them all ๐Ÿ˜† after my belly was filled I went up to my room and got ready . Had a shower and contacted the concierge asking if my laundry was ready . Had to get a load done since I don’t travel with a luggage full of clothes since my one checked bag is my goalie gear which is above the weight limits . Backpacks full of clothes don’t last long ๐Ÿ˜ข the hotel is nice but the service is lagging a bit . It took them two days to come pick up my laundry and thankfully my room mate Walter had a tshirt to give me .... 

When I got to the lobby I was wearing shorts and everyone else was wearing winter gear ? I guess I’m going to a ski resort lol ... I actually thought it would be like my visit to Kok Tobe the other day where it was nice but I was quickly told it would be much colder and there will be snow where we are going so I ran up to my room and got changed ! When I got downstairs and met the team we called taxi to get to Medeu and from there we had to take a bus to Shymbalak (?) which I’m possibly spelling wrong but it is the name of the ski resort but before we do that why don’t we drink a bottle of Slivovic which is always a great way to start the day ๐Ÿคช once we caught our bus we had to then take the ski lift ๐Ÿš  to get to the top where we searched high and low for some beers ...

I am pretty sure the pic above is just the height of the first platform we reached and the peak was roughly 3200 meters which is about 1000 meters lower then where I helped set a world record for highest played hockey game . 3200 is no joke either and all of us were labouring as we walked around up there . We were really lucky because the weather was fantastic and the views were amazing . I told a couple guys that where I live there are no mountains so seeing these amazing natural giants is always an eye popping experience for me . As we wandered from bar to bar that don’t serve beer we came across a yurt ⛺️ where there was this little old lady and a bunch of beautiful huskies chained up outside that were so friendly so we had a tea and she let us try on the local garb and take pictures and we all had a good laugh . After a while we had decided to head back down to grab some lunch , I had a pasta with chicken and mushrooms . It was nice to be able to order what I want as the last few days someday has been making those decisions for us ๐Ÿ˜ค 

The guys were all giving their best effort to speak English with me and I honestly am having such a good time with this team . We were all joking and messing around throwing snowballs when we were at the mountain peak . When we went to catch the bus back down there was a massive lineup so we waited for a bit and when we got down to Medeu we found out that our taxi app was not working in that area as no taxi wanted to make the 15 minute trek so we had to take the local guy who is charging double the price which still amounts to nothing when exchanged . The guys have all caught on that it is my birthday and all these small gifts like not paying for bus and taxi start popping up and it’s beginning to make me blush a bit and it’s so thoughtful of my new friends to be so giving . Our driver was a maniac behind the wheel and squeezed that car into every nook and cranny he could to get us there as fast as possible ... thank god we didn’t crash . 

When we got back to the hotel a few of us hit the sauna ๐Ÿง–‍♀️ and oh it felt sooooo good ! We were joking around there also and really wanted to have some more beers , too bad they don’t allow alcohol in there . After sauna we went to the Asian restaurant next door and everyone came by and we feasted and then a birthday cake ๐ŸŽ‚ arrived and it caught me by surprise !!! Then another cake showed up ๐Ÿคช wow ๐Ÿคฉ! Of course the guys wouldn’t let me pay for my dinner as it seems my birthday has begun a bit early and now it’s time to go up to the bar to drink more but our captain put the idea of switching to gin and tonics in my head and we switched it up and began enjoying our evening as the live music kicked in . The tunes were good and the drinks were strong and overall the mood was excellent and next thing you know we are on the dance floor enjoying the surroundings . I had so much fun last night ... and to think it’s not even my birthday yet lol ! 

Today the tournament starts so I should finish off what I’m writing and thank Stefan and the whole team for being just simply amazing people that made this Canadian boy feel like one of them for the day . Hopefully I can return the favour with some stellar saves , wish me luck ✌️

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Fox ๐ŸฆŠ Cup Arrives

Slept in this morning , missed breakfast although I was in no need of any more food after last nights feast so without any despair I just sat in my room and wrote my blog . I am writing this now in present time , this is actually about today rather then what I did yesterday . That tells you how I feel right now but let me get you caught up on what went down to bring me to this point . 

After writing about yesterday’s drama I decided it was time to go get a coffee from Starbucks and on my way out of the hospital I got to meet Stefan who is the tournament organizer and his Slovakian friends as they all arrived this morning . They were finishing off their breakfast and I probably could have joined them but I opted out of eating and carried on my way to get my coffee after meeting my team mates who for the most part don’t speak English . I am going to have to bridge that gap somehow to find out who is playing defence so I can let them know not to stand in front of me during our games . It is one of my biggest pet peeves about some players trying to play d .... I need my d to let me see the puck and cover the open man lurking around the edges rather then tipping pucks or setting up a screen for the other team . If you play defence please take note of this and cover your man ! 

Somehow at Starbucks my name which is Adrian ended up looking like this ☝️? Not too sure if that’s my name or if it just says douchebag in the local tongue .... regardless I took it and enjoyed it . Back in my room , chugged my coffee and showered up and got ready to meet my team mates to go to the Batyroff Burger Gold again . Apparently there is no uber here but that’s discussable even though when I open my uber it directs me to Yandex.Taxi so I call my taxi and get my ass in gear with two of my Slovak companions in tow . Same as yesterday in the sense that when we arrived we had food and drink ordered for us and I had another horse meat burger which is damn good and I gobbled it up but I think I’m done with burgers for the next few days and I’m pretty sure I’m going to begin ordering what I would like to eat rather then being forced into certain food and drinks . Not sure how to do this without offending anyone as I’m not too sure about local customs and I always enjoy being in happier surroundings . The beer and liquor began to flow and some gifts were exchanged between Stefan and Tsiggy . The Slovaks were tired and looked ready for bed and left me and Walter with Tsiggy and we continued to eat and drink stuff that we didn’t order ๐Ÿ˜† . I even was offered a hand fed piece of meat that I declined for sanitary purposes and I think I may have offended Tsiggy without knowingly doing so ... or at least that is what Walter told me . He’s been playing devils advocate whispering things about local traditions and making me a bit paranoid , not sure whether I should take him serious or not but regardless we are having fun . 

I had the urge to smoke sheesha and that was a huge mistake ! When I began smoking it tasted a bit off and had really no flavour and then I almost puked ๐Ÿคฎ... I got the spins and next thing you know I was out cold in the suv on the way home . When we were dropped off at the hotel I bee lined it to my bed and fell asleep for two hours . I woke up and was receiving messages to go downstairs and pondered if I should or not , couldn’t sleep so I decided to go meet Walter in the grand ballroom downstairs where there was a cultural event happening with some traditional dancing . I watched it for a bit and got bored and wandered back to the hotel where I met the Slovaks and there is only one of the guys there that speaks English and honestly I felt a bit left out as we went to the bar next door and when we were in there the Czech team was hammered out of their minds ... I’m sober and apparently this bar has a dress code so off we went . My team mates were standing around outside talking in their native tongue and I decided this is the perfect time to leave come upstairs and write about today before hitting the sack . 

Grabbed myself a twix bar and a Coca Cola and headed up to my room .... today was really not too exciting and I’m hoping tomorrow I get to see more stuff here . Really need to put a good foot forward with my team mates tomorrow and bridge the language barrier . Let’s see what tomorrow brings and hopefully I have something more interesting to write about . 

First Impressions

When I landed in Almaty, Kazakhstan ๐Ÿ‡ฐ๐Ÿ‡ฟ with absolutely zero sleep I had to clear customs which was like a zoo ! People here do not respect the actual art of queuing up and as crazy as it drives me I opted to keep my cool in this country and not say a word as a few people decided they were too good to wait in any lineup . Cleared without a problem after about waiting in line patiently for half an hour and then the harassment began . Do you need taxi ? No ! Do you need taxi ? No ! Never ever take taxi with any of these pieces of shit . I had this chubby bastard following me around persistently bothering me and I tried to duck and dodge him and then I left the terminal with him in hot pursuit . He pointed to the parking lot and said his taxi was there and I said I want meter taxi and went to a car which I could swear on my life was a taxi .... this bastard yelled to the driver and next thing you know I have the guy following me helping the taxi (?) driver put my bag in their trunk . Then they both jump in the front .... what the fuck ! All I can think is that my gear is in the trunk and I’m in for the ride .... please don’t take me to the middle of nowhere and kill me . The ride to my hotel was like 10 minutes and I asked the driver to put the meter on and he did it on his phone and then they began distracting me as that meter disappeared . When we arrived at Hotel Kazakhstan they got out and asked me for 25,000 Tenge which is like 10 times more then what I was supposed to pay ... I said no that’s crazy and I saw the fat cunt that followed me around reaching into his jacket and I could swear he was gonna pull a gun on me and with my bag still in their trunk I opted to offer less money and they said ok ....20,000 Tenge and I said that it should be 2,000 and they said no that is what they pay for parking . What the fuck do I care about how much you pay for parking ? I wasn’t going to win this fight , I’m tired , my bag is in their trunk and I think they have a gun . I wasn’t going to pull out my phone either so I just gave them the money and they gave me my bag and sped off . Fuck ! 

I walked into the hotel defeated and checked in and went to my room ... it’s 6 am and my room mate is Walter Epp who I can only assume is sleeping so I didn’t want to bother him . When I got upstairs my key didn’t work so back down I go to ask for it to be fixed and the guy at the front said Walter is in the room and I said yes but it’s 6 am and he is probably sleeping and before you know it the guy at the desk was calling Walter ๐Ÿคฆ‍♂️ he answered and I went upstairs to the 22nd floor and dropped my bags and explained my taxi ride as it began to fester and I got angrier and angrier . Walter then suggested we go for a walk so we walked down from the 22nd floor and meandered around the area and I was just exploding with anger !!! I decided I wanted to report this and call the police .... surely the hotel has this all on camera as there are cameras posted at every entrance and in the lot . I’m not gonna get my money back but if I can I want to fuck these bastards day at the very least with a visit from the po po ! Hotel calls the police and they arrive around 1 pm . This is after we walked up the stairs to the 22nd floor and showered up and finally got some sleep . 

Wouldn’t you know it ... when the cops arrived there was like 6 of them and I had a translator and explained the whole ordeal and they were actually really friendly and that’s when I found out the hotel cameras are not working (how convenient) . I was a bit nervous thinking that this might be all tied in and the police asked if I would like to go to the station to look at pictures and I said I had plans and couldn’t and all I could think were bad things .... can’t trust it ! The police left and I went to meet Walter at the top of Kok Tobe which means Blue Mountain and I had to take a gondola ๐Ÿš  up the mountain . When I arrived the whole area seemed to be a place that communism had left behind and forgotten . It was pretty quiet up there with Russian children’s music humming in the background . We had lunch and then headed back down to our room to take another rest . 

Almost forgot to mention that there is a Beatles statue up there and all I could think about was giving peace a chance as I was still possessed with anger ๐Ÿ˜ค gotta put it aside and the best way is to get on the ice which is what I did ! Walter has a good friend here that goes by the name of Tsigy which I might be spelling wrong ... sorry my friend ! He is quite the character and picked us up in the lobby in his massive SUV which he drives like he is Mario Andretti .... the streets are littered with car accidents everywhere and there probably is a good reason since driving here seems pretty mental and I’m not even sure if there are lanes and the whole concept of queueing for anything is just a fairytale here . We probably saw at least 7 collisions in our travel to and from the rink last night ! 

When we arrived at Almaty Arena I was blown away with how well maintained it is ! It puts a lot of rinks back home to shame and is a really beautiful
facility . We will be skating with a mixed group and playing some shinny .... I’m on the old boys team and we are playing guys that on average are 20 years younger or more ! They wiped us off the ice lol ๐Ÿ˜ it was frustrating but good exercise as this team constantly swarmed us and my d was well not playing d .... I even had a 3 on 0 breakaway which I watched go into the net . Honestly I gave up a lot of goals and I can’t say I’ve taken this kind of beating before when visiting a country or better yet even at home .... I don’t ever remember giving up this many goals . But in the end it was fun and the guys were great even though they couldn’t speak a lick of English . I can now say I’ve played in 43 countries . 

After our skate our gracious host took us to Batyroff Burger Gold and the whiskey began flowing and with every drink we had to make a speech and raise the glass and I’m sure we drank a full bottle and chugged back a few beers ๐Ÿป and while this was all going on we feasted on everything under the sun including this amazing burger made from horse ๐ŸŽ meat ! It was delicious and now I know where the term I’m so hungry I could eat a horse comes from lol ! I would eat another horse if I could and probably will again during my stay here as it is a huge delicacy here . I know some people think horses are beautiful but so are cows and plants and and and ... you get the jist . Heck my buddy Walter even spooked a lady when we went to lunch on the mountain while we were looking at the menu he asked if they served dog ๐Ÿถ no joke he asked while I was looking at menu and she said dog as if she was questioning if that was what she really heard ... he said yes I want to eat a dog and she had this look of horror in her eyes . He was joking and laughed at her . Honestly I would eat a dog if I had to ... I hear it tastes like chicken ๐Ÿ”.

We got back to our hotel and passed out in our rooms and that was the roller coaster for an introduction to Kazakhstan ๐Ÿ‡ฐ๐Ÿ‡ฟ I can now say I’m not angry about what happened when I arrived , I’ve let it go but I do hope the two cockroaches get some bad karma .... I’m still waiting for this good karma to happen to me on this trip . Maybe it will come in the form of a breakaway save or something ? Oh and before you go screaming demons about my diet here ... please enjoy what you’re eating because I probably don’t like your diet but I won’t bother you about it and keep your dogs on a leash hahaha ๐Ÿ˜† and if you take me too serious you might not really know me . 

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Day at the airport

Last day in Istanbul and I woke up in this amazing room we booked at the Ramada and it was that sad moment when I had to say bye to my great friend Andi Tanzer as his flight leaves in the early afternoon . We hopped out of bed and in the blink of an eye he was gone . What an adventure we have had together and I’m sure there will be many more . Wiped the tear from my eye and went back to my room and began rearranging my bags for the next flight which is much later in the evening at 8:30 pm . I requested a late checkout of 1 pm and still got a phone call asking when I was checking out from the front desk ? Don’t they communicate with each other or put it on file ? Anyways I figured I would stay until the last second then head to the airport to  do some stuff . 

When I got to the airport in my taxi which was a pleasant ride , I went through security to get into the terminal and went straight to the Turkish Airlines office to see if there was any compensation for the over 4 hour delay the day prior . They kept asking if I missed another flight ! Why does it make any difference ? You fucked up my day ! Doesn’t that mean anything to these airlines ? Anyways final outcome will be an email and possibly a phone call when my trip is over , just another thing to deal with when I get home ugh ๐Ÿ˜‘ after that I did some writing and killed some time before grabbing my bags from the baggage locker at the airport which cost me around $10 to leave overnight and I didn’t have to drag it around and honestly I think I will be doing this more often for these quick stopover days that don’t include hockey . Now it’s time to check in and drop bags off ... I’m always holding my breath when this moment comes . Will they charge me for baggage ? I got in line and went to the woman who barely spoke English and she weighed my bag which was 26 kilos and then looked at my sticks and tagged them both without any questions ! Wow ! Why can’t all airlines do this ? This is my first trip ever that I didn’t have to pay for any luggage so far ... one more flight home and that should be free baggage also as I will be heading from Asia to North America and I will be leaving my sticks to a lucky goalie in Kazakhstan ๐Ÿ‡ฐ๐Ÿ‡ฟ 

Dropped my bags at oversized and headed to clear the passport control . No problems there and now I’m scott free to relax and kill another 4 hours before boarding .... I’m hungry so I went to Popeyes to have some chicken and spend my last 70 liras and after that I just wandered around taking pictures of sculptures and looking for some more stuff to bring home... particularly socks or Christmas ornaments as I enjoy collecting socks from cities I visit with the city obviously printed on the sock and ornaments that say the cities name or countries name . No luck ... oh well , I kept wandering and then watched some Netflix then did some more wandering ....

Through my wanders all the seating areas were filled then I decided to go to the end of the terminal where I found this nap zone , hmmm ๐Ÿค” it’s not even a quarter full and there were plenty of reclining chairs to pass out on so I set my alarm and passed out like a baby . Oh it was so awesome , I loved it so much and I’m sure some of the other people didn’t love my snoring because when I woke up I had a few people looking at me with that wtf look on their faces . Oh well I don’t care and I will never see you again ๐Ÿ˜ now it’s time to board my flight ✈️ .... But I want to say that every airport in the world should have a nap zone and if they do why didn’t I ever encounter this before ? 

Finally get to my gate and of course ... my flight is delayed ! Don’t get too overly excited as it’s only 20 minutes and this time there are actual Turkish Airlines answering questions instead of dodging them . All is good and when we boarded I got my window seat with nobody sitting beside me and I got comfortable and out on the new Spider Man movie and that was my day .... let’s see what happens when I arrive in Almaty , Kazakhstan ๐Ÿ‡ฐ๐Ÿ‡ฟ 

Before I end this I want to say that Istanbul is one of the absolute most amazing cities I have ever visited . I had no problems with anything whatsoever and if I could talk you into visiting any city on this planet I would seriously suggest Istanbul . I wouldn’t doubt that I will be back someday ... maybe with Kathleen . Adios Istanbul ! 

Is this Good Karma ?

Let me start by saying UGH ! We have to catch our flight no matter what and Andi is tired but thankfully I’m wide awake so just before checkout at our hotel I had to go get our rental car from the parking garage at the mall ... seems easy ? And the hotel would pay 20% of our cost if I can bring back a receipt . So I drop my bags at the front desk and walk to the mall and find myself in the parking garage . When I get to the machine to pay which is not in English I pay for my parking and begin searching for the car . It only took me 20 minutes to find it ! Yeah I was sweating buckets as I kicked into I’m not missing my flight mode and became a bit agitated when I left the garage only to be lead down wrong streets by my map on my phone which also took me 20 minutes to get back to the hotel which I may add is a 5 minute walk . As I said before it is a bit crazy navigating these narrow streets filled with scooters and bicyclists and pedestrians absolutely ignoring all signals to stop and I’m shocked I didn’t run anyone over and trust me I came close ! Finally got to the hotel and thankfully Andi was there waiting and wondering where the heck I went .... he told me he thought I left him until he realized my bag was there and I wouldn’t leave the bag lol ! 

Next mission is to find a gas station and I know there is one at the airport so we begin our trek there only to be sidetracked by horrible maps on my phone AGAIN ! At this point that agitation is becoming more of a fury . Got back on trek after pulling an illegal u-turn and found my way to the airport . At the airport my trusty google maps messed up again and took us out of the airport instead of leading us to the garage that we could clearly see ... it said there was a round about up ahead and failed to say to stay on one side of the forked road . Thanks ๐Ÿ™ this is when fury turned into the friggin Hulk and I began yelling and honestly I feel bad for Andi because I think I freaked him out a bit as my foot became heavier on the pedal as I ranted in a way nobody should ever rant and all of this was because I just wanted to get out of the car and stop driving . I knew we wouldn’t miss our flight but you never know with all this extra nonsense , the what if’s were popping into my head . Finally we got back to the airport didn’t make the same mistake again and got to the gas station and through bad navigation we already knew where the car rental return lot was so that was the easy part and when we finally arrived I could feel the tension release as we didn’t have any extra vehicle issues upon surveillance and the fella at EuropCar checked the car and we got the green light . 

There is a shuttle to the airport from the lot and we were first in line and over my stay here I’ve realized that absolutely nobody respects the fact that there is a queue , we were first and I’m making damn sure I’m first on the shuttle even if I have to be a dickhead to another dickhead and sure as shit when that shuttle pulled in I forced my way to the front of the newly formed line with zero fucks given ! Thankfully everyone was going to the same terminal 3 . There was always that thought of missing the flight going through my head and Andi kept making fun of me for being so stressed which he was right about lol ! (Sorry buddy ) Now we have to clear Israeli authority with all the questions like have you received any gifts which I just said no to and then they asked Andi about his visits to Malaysia and UAE which just seem ridiculous but I guess that’s the bullshit political issues in this region since all Muslim countries pretty much hate Israel . It is what it is and we danced the dance and got to our baggage check in and didn’t have any issues or extra payments until we were told to drop our sticks at oversized baggage where one of the security officers was eyeing all the flags on my bag and we had to give our bags to the authorities to put through . Even the people at oversized were confused by this ... again more political bullshit . Now we have to clear another check point and we were pulled aside for an additional search ... this is ridiculous . Thankfully I didn’t get the colon search and now we just have to clear passport checkpoint and that was probably the least painful out of it all and we have time to eat and catch our flight still .

When we get to our gate on time for boarding we find out our flight is delayed ! No warning ! No email from airline ! NOTHING and we are greeted by two employees from TAP not Turkish Airlines and we are told the flight should leave by 7:15 pm and originally we were due to leave at 4:30 pm . There goes our night in Istanbul ๐Ÿ˜ข we chilled and waited and the first couple hours passed by as I watched Disenchanted on Netflix and Andi took a much needed rest . We got a voucher to eat and were told the departure gate had changed and we never saw the TAP agents again who I felt bad for as they were thrown into the fire with little to no information for all the disgruntled customers . Of course the voucher was for the same place I ate at earlier which was a pizza joint but immediately I began regretting not getting a burger with Andi now that I get to eat the same food again which was good but now I want a burger ๐Ÿ”. First world problems ! While we were at the pizza joint Andi had realized our flight was now departing at 8 pm without any notice once again and when we finally went to our new gate the Turkish Airlines agent was nowhere to be seen so we retreated to our seats and waited for one to show up , when she did I lined up again and to my surprise all the people there decided their questions were more important then mine so they didn’t wait in line and I did the same as I forced my way into a conversation to get my Aeroplan points card put onto my ticket . While this was all happening I overheard the agent saying that the flight has not arrived yet . Honestly Turkish Airlines needs to step up their customer care and keep people informed instead of hiding behind curtains hoping we will all be happy . Finally boarding started and we got on .... I ended up in a seat beside where the crew sits and Andi was in an aisle seat a few rows in front . Andi’s seat had two people claiming it ?!?!? Never seen that before and I ended up with an Asian woman beside me .... there was not another row filled with people and we were the lucky ones and the whole flight I was wondering why this Asian chick couldn’t move somewhere else so we could both be comfortable . Ugh why don’t people have common sense , anyways since I had the middle seat I should have the right to both elbow rests and when she put her arm there I pushed it away and ignored her like she was trash and she still didn’t leave WTF ! The flight left at 8:45 pm and landed 2 hours later ๐Ÿ˜ค

Now we are at the airport in Istanbul and all we are hoping is to drop our bags at the storage facility at the airport and get a taxi but there is one problem . Where are our bags ? We went to the office to report them missing and they arrived late but why ? Finally leaving secured area we had nothing to declare and of course we were pulled into additional baggage check ! Fuck fuck fuck ! Now we get through with no issues because how the fuck could we put anything illegal in our bags in a secured area ? How ! Yeah I’m getting angry just thinking about this again hahaha . Finally we find the storage area and I open my bag and it’s not arranged the way I left it which means that it was opened and fully searched and that is why it was missing for a bit or at least I can assume this . Why does travel have to be so difficult ? Why ! To drop our bags cost us 53 Turkish liras and we then took a taxi to our hotel which as karma would have it , is the nicest room we have had by a mile and of course we don’t get to really enjoy it because we have to both check out in the morning . It’s as if karma was playing a long cruel joke on us all day and that what we get for being nice to that server in Tel Aviv instead of pocketing the 100 Shekels . I guess the moral of the whole story is karma is a bitch ....ain’t that the truth ! 

We grabbed a couple drinks and a nice kebab and went to our room and passed out in our super comfortable beds ๐Ÿ›Œ let’s see what Turkish Airlines will do for us in future to compensate all this nonsense . They really should be embarrassed but probably don’t care . Oh well life goes on and so does my travels .