Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Country #40 - New Zealand ๐Ÿ‡ณ๐Ÿ‡ฟ

Alright I’m falling behind as usual on my blogging duties and it’s a good thing I don’t get paid to do this or I probably would lose my job , over the years if you’ve followed my travels you would know this as I do tend to go missing for days on end . So this all happened two days ago and not yesterday , I will try to play catch-up today if I can squeeze in the time to . So.... when we woke up crazy early to get our shuttle to the airport a few days ago we were pretty groggy from our walking tour and little pub crawl , I dusted off my pork crackling and showered up and we went downstairs to grab a quick coffee and wait for our shuttle to arrive which we pre booked and paid for . Now when we arrived we took a taxi and that cost us $60 and this option cost us $15 each so $30 for both which is half the price ! The person at the front desk at the YHA in Sydney told us it usually takes the shuttle around 1 hour to get us to the airport so we planned for a 730 am pickup to get us to the airport around 830 am to catch our 11:05 flight . That should give us enough time to drop bags , check in and board flight . We were the first people on the pick up route and the shuttle driver then had to weave around the CBD (central business district) to pick up others .... at a couple stops there were no shows and they just get left behind as we are told to be at the meeting point 15 minutes before pickup and the shuttle is on a tight schedule ! As we weaved around the CBD the clock began ticking loud in our ears and we finally arrived around the airport and the first stop was at the domestic departures and we started to get a bit nervous because now it’s 9 am leaving us with what we thought was 1.5 hours and when we finally got dropped off it was nowhere near the actual airport so we had to hike it at least 15 minutes . I know you are wondering how we didn’t get dropped off curb side beside the airport and that baffles us so I have no response but to our surprise when we entered the airport we checked the board for our flight and Kathleen must have made a dyslexic type error because our flight was not at 11:05 am but in fact at 11:50 am which gives us plenty of time to drop bags and take it easy ๐Ÿ™‚when we drop our bags I made the lazy decision to not contact New Zealand Air beforehand and that’s my bad because it cost me $160 to take my sticks which I’m donating ! Yes you heard me correctly , now if I booked it online earlier it would cost me $75 and here is the kicker about travelling to play hockey like I do .... when I flew to Australia I was allowed two 23 kilo bags and my sticks and hockey bag equaled one bag and now for the rest of my flights here that magic second bag is now paid for so please don’t make the mistakes I make and just travel with one bag . I have to call New Zealand air before my next flights to hopefully pay less and there is no doubting I’m paying ๐Ÿคจairlines globally should adopt a policy of allowing the baggage on initial flight to be carried on all flights . Here’s the kicker for me ... the person after me is allowed to bring their 30 pound baby on the flight for absolutely nothing but my sticks which are less then 7 pounds cost me $160 , and my sticks don’t cry ,scream or disrupt others on the flight . You may think I’m a dick for saying this but so be it .... truth is this is explained as a weight issue and in fact I call bullshit on it ! 

When we get on the flight after eating some delicious McDonalds in the terminal (I don’t care what you think) we get on our half empty flight and it’s always the same shit with people all wanting to get on the flight before everyone else , nobody knows what a queue is and people lose all instinct to be humanps and instead act like cattle rushing to the door , ugh ๐Ÿ˜‘ I kept my cool we got to our row and there is this guy sitting there talking into his phone to send text messages .... the flight is half empty but for some reason he opted to sit beside us and I can tell you just looking at him annoyed me and I wanted to kick him into an empty row of seats . The flight takes off and the seat belt sign goes off and he gets up to go to the washroom and we both press our buttons to call a stewardess over to tell her we are moving a row in front ... now why didn’t he want to move ? So now I am in my window seat with nobody sitting behind me because this dimwit chose an aisle seat so i don’t feel bad about reclining and then I feel him pushing on my chair ? I’m not going to jail for this mother f$&ker so I just opted to watch The Incredibles 2 and zone out .... by the way it’s a very entertaining flick . And we arrive in Auckland we are supposed to have a shuttle pickup from our airport motel which we chose to save a few bucks and it is close to the rink I’m playing at tonight . I even emailed the motel a few days before to remind them of my flight arrival but of course when we arrive there is no one there ? I get some money out and bought a SIM card and we called the motel which is a ten minute drive away and the person on the phone says the shuttle will pick us up in 20 minutes ? Is that the way it’s supposed to happen ... I don’t think so ! And we waited , the friggin guy showed up 35 minutes after we called and took us to the rats nest of a motel that we immediately regretted staying at lol ๐Ÿ˜ yeah I can laugh about it now but this place must have had permanent residents , bed bugs and other creatures of interest . The beds were probably better for the prisoners staying at the barracks in 1885 hahaha . The 70’s styled bedsheets were a big hit and I’m so thankful that I got to leave ASAP to play some puck . I struck a deal with the shuttle driver to drive me to the rink for $30 as an Uber would have cost me the same price except I would have had to deal with a possible argument over the size of my bag ...this was just easier as I could clearly tell that cash rules with these guys here at the Gold Star Motel ๐Ÿ˜œ

When I got to the Paradise Avondale Ice Rink I was greeted by this beauty pictured with me above ! Cam Green is truly a hero here as he runs a league called the NZBHL here ... let me get into this , so this league has franchises that also have farm clubs that play in the front yard and players from the backyard don’t get to play in the front yard but players from the front yard can get called up to the big league and play in the back yard . Hold on this only gets better and better ! To play in this league you go to the draft where they announce picks and everyone gets dressed up in suits and they hold this function at stadiums and big venues and when you have your name called by the announcer you walk up to the stage get your jersey presented and sign a contract just as though you were getting drafted into the NHL . How fuckin’ awesome is that ???!!! I’m absolutely blown away by the work that Cam puts into this all . It’s unreal and I’ve never seen anything remotely close to this . This league is awesome and it makes me want to move here to play in it and let me tell ya that the guys in my change room are all hyped by this also . It sounds more fun and prestigious then playing for the actual pro team here ๐Ÿ˜›I ended up in a room with only a couple guys but they were all good guys ... Gary Goodall , Aaron Somerville and Logan Gillard shared a room with me and I was really happy to meet all these guys as we spent the whole time before and after our skate talking hockey .... who doesn’t want to do that eh ? Here’s the kicker , three of the 4 guys are Canadian fellas .... sorry I didn’t get the name of one of the guys and I’m pretty sure he is friends with Misty Miyagi who I share the distinction of being a world record holder with . We had some good talk .

Now let’s talk about the actual ice time ... I am gonna be very blunt when I say I got lit up like a Christmas tree by these guys and the level of hockey here is way way higher then what I played in Sydney and honestly this is not meant to offend anyone anywhere but the majority of the skaters at this ice time were Canadian boys , even Cam is a Canadian hailing from St.Catharines and now lives in a town here called Hamilton ๐Ÿ™‚they played true Canadian style of pickup hockey where defence doesn’t matter and as I told the fellas after that I got a lot of practise working on my 3 on O’s hahaha ! No shit Sherlock . Guys coming in and you square up to the shooter and he drops the puck and you square up and the puck goes to the backdoor and you slide across and then he drops the puck to a guy with an open net and even though you dive across you have absolutely no chance .... the goalie at the other end seems to have more practise at this or better d and something in my mind tells me the boys did it on purpose to fuck with me but I got smoked ... good workout though and afterwards the guys weren’t on me about it as they all knew I gave it a go but it didn’t feel great hahaha . 

After the skate there are beers flowing and they were so yummy just as they always are when you drop 5lbs of sweat on an ice pad . We then head out to the parking lot for another and then the rink closes and closes the gates and we move onto the street where we continue to all share stories ... Cam kinda feels bad he didn’t contact me earlier or I would have the chance to play in an actual league game but I already have shit booked so I can’t and as I’m told the parking lot becomes a party after games . What Cam has built here is a community for hockey players and even one of the fellas in the room told me that since he’s joined the league here he hangs out socially with other players all the time . As an expat it would be something to really integrate one’s self . Cam is humble about it all though as I bush on about how awesome this is . After the fellas disperse from the road Cam offers me a ride back to my rats nest aka motel ๐Ÿคชthat ride home took forever as we decided to stop and shoot the shit some more and we really got along and if I was living here I wouldn’t only want to be a part of it all but I’d want to help him out as much as possible . What he has going here is something really special and if it wasn’t for Justin Daigle messing up my booking schedule we might not have had the chance to meet .....

FYI - Justin runs a hockey school here and I was scheduled to go skate with them but he messed up and thought I was supposed to be here in December and in fact was on a plane heading to Iceland on the day I landed here ! If it weren’t for Cam picking up the slack I would have not had this amazing opportunity to skate here and Justin if you’re reading this I just wanna say that your friends here wanted me to throw you under the bus hahaha ! I always knew things would work out and hopefully I get to meet you some other time , best of luck with the junior squad over in beautiful Iceland .... I heard nothing but good things about you and based on what I’m hearing you would have put the star on top of the Christmas tree in my lighting ๐Ÿ˜› one last thing I want to mention about this league here and probably one of the coolest things is that the picture above is of a couple beers , those beers are the leagues beers .... do I need to say more ? 

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