Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Hvar, Croatia

I was in Croatia a couple of weeks ago and I liked it so much I decided to go back. But this time I had to bring some reinforcements. Our friends Heather & Craig from New York joined us as did my cousin John and his wife Sheri.

The trip started off on a rather sour note. Heather and Craig arrived in Prague last Friday afternoon but, unfortunately, someone forgot to tell this to Czech Air as they left their bag in Brussels. This lead to 24 hours of the worst customer service that I have ever witnessed. Craig called Czech Air and Continental at least a dozen times and, not only did they have no idea where their bags were, but they refused to offer any sympathy, answer any questions or even let Craig speak to a supervisor.

Since we had a flight to Croatia the next day, they had no time to wait around for their bags. Heather and Craig went to the local Tesco and bought the necessities (underwear, bathing suits, a dozen T-shirts for 10 dollars, etc.). Fortunately, they are roughly the same size people as me and R, so they were able to borrow many of our clothes for the trip.

Although the trip had a very bad start, I'm happy to say that the rest of the week was fantastic!

We started the trip by spending a night in Dubrovnik. The highlight of this day was the hottest walk in my life - 1.5 hours going around the outer walls of the city in the unbearable sun light. It takes a lot of effort to be in an Eastern European country and be embarrassed by your own smell, but I think I accomplished it that day.

After Dubrovnik, we made a 2 hour drive up the coast and hopped on a ferry to the Island of Hvar. We started the trip off on the eastern end of the island in a tiny fishing town known as Sucarej. One of my colleagues has a house there and he let me use it for the week. The town itself probably has less than 100 American tourists that stay there all year long, so it was a very unique, local experience. When John and Sheri joined us later than night (from Denver, via London) - we had one of the largest American congregations that town has seen in years.

The highlights from Sucarej were on Monday when we rented a boat and took a tour around the island of Hvar. Our captain - Frano - was a man of little words but he did a good job guiding us around and letting us play on his tube.

On Tuesday, we went to a local beach near Sucarej. When we drove in, the guy at the booth told us to go right if we wanted to go to the regular beach and to go left if we wanted to go to the nudist beach. We took the right. Of course, curiosity go the best of us about half way through the day and we swam across the beach to get a closer look at the nudies.

Now, don't get me wrong, I'm all for being naked and I respect people that can let it all all hang out in front of others without a hint of embarrassment. BUT... for the life of me I can't understand why you would want to be naked at the beach. First off, I can't even imagine the pain that accompanies a sun-burned penis. Secondly, sand is an abrasive material. The last thing I need is something abrasive rubbing between my butt cheeks. Finally, I imagine that a penis floating in the water looks quite a lot like a minnow. Since big fish eat small fish... you get the idea.

On Wednesday, we made the drive from Sucarej to the town of Hvar on the west end of the island. The difference between Wednesday and Tuesday is the difference between good naked and bad naked. The town of Hvar is loaded with some extremely beautiful people and, since it is located Europe, topless sun bathing is highly encouraged. Good times all around.

There aren't enough good things you can say about the town of Hvar. The town is surrounded by crystal clear water, docks some of the biggest yachts in the world, has a great party scene and, as I said before, has an abundance of beautiful half-naked girls. If you're looking for a non-traditional place to spend a week on the beach, I highly recommend Hvar. Call Jay.

Here are some pictures from the trip...

See the slideshow.

P.S. Craig and Heather did eventually get their bags after they came back to Prague. The funny thing was that when the bags were first lost, Craig told the customer service representatives that he need the bag that day because he was going to Croatia. So, when they found the bags two days later what did they do - well they randomly sent the bags to Zagreb, Croatia of course. This would have been find had we actually been staying with 200 miles of Zagreb or if they would have called us to let us know. But, it wasn't a total loss. Through this whole experience Craig picked up a shit load of cheap T-shirts from Tesco that should be a staple in his wardrobe for years to come.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Czech Fashion

One of the best things about living in Prague is that I'm usually one of the best dressed guys walking down the street.

This was not the case in New York. While I'm certainly not a bad dresser and can dominate any consultant in a blue shirt and pleated khakis - I also don't have the editors of GQ banging on my door.

But in Prague, I stand out like a sore thumb. It's nothing over the top, just the little things. My shirts are ironed, my belt matches my shoes, my socks match my shirt, etc. These type of things that are taken for granted in most major metropolitan cities seemed to have passed over Prague.

I don't know how to exactly describe Czech fashion. It's similar to the 80's but minus the comedy of Jams and leg warmers. It's just a bunch of random object thrown together and called an outfit.

The reason that I mention this is that I think the Czech culture is starting to rub off on me. For example, I was in a meeting yesterday and was starting down out the floor when I noticed what awful condition my shoes were in. They needed a shine like nobody's business. In the US, I would have been embarrassed to wear those shoes to the office. But, when I looked around at the rest of the shoes in the meeting, mine were in the best condition by far. As the saying goes, in the land of the blind the one eyed man is king.

I've also been having a problem with my pants lately. For some reason, a couple pairs of pants that fit my just fine for the past year have suddenly become too long for. I have no rationale way to explain this other than to suggest that (a) I am shrinking or (b) the gravitational pull is different on this side of the ocean. Either way, the pants are way too long and look like crap when I put them on.

I put on a pair of these pants today and realized that they were elongated just before stepping out the door. In a different city, I probably would have taken the 2 minutes to change into a pair of pants that actually fit before leaving the house. But today, I just shrugged it off and went to work as is. No one else cares what they are wearing, why should I.

I have to cut this blog post short because it is time to walk the dog. I'm sitting here in my boxers and an undershirt right now. I'm probably going to put something on a little more appropriate before leaving the apartment but, if I went out as-is, my outfit would still be int he top 50% of the people on the street.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Pozzalo, Sicily....

Well... I just returned from a week of sun, amazing food, historical ancient towns and my parents- the town I went to is Pozzalo, Sicily. Pozzalo is about 1.5 hours SW from Catania.
My parents are spending a month there along with another couple of their friends and so I decided visit, or "mooch" off my parents for a week. I can truly say that I had a great time!
Grazie Mama e Papa!

Life in Sicily especially during the summer months is quite easy......
1. Wake up
2. Go get your daily fresh fruits, veggies, fish and breads
3. Go to the beach until 11:30-12noon at which point you go home & cook a huge lunch and then
4. SLEEP.... yes, literally... the towns pretty much close & are pretty much dead from 12noon-5pm!
5. Go back to the beach for an hour or so and then get back home & shower for the night
6. DINNER of course! (8-10pm is the norm)
7. Walk around the main piazza, gelato of course and shop at the small boutiques which are open until 11pm

I followed the #1, #2, #6, #7 and #8 practice but we spent the whole day on the beach which was basically empty as all the locals were at home eating lunch & then sleeping. Instead we snacked on fresh fruits and assorted Italain foccacia breads right on the beach- the beach was litterally ours! In the afternoons at about 3-4pm. we would go home refesh and then go site see a specfic town. PERFECT, if you ask me.
Nothing beats a day of sun, a good beach chair, clear blue ocean water and a good book!

We saw a number of towns such as:
Boccaro, Noto, Caltagirono, Massara and Ispica. I am amazed at just how old Sicily is in terms of the way so many Italians are still living.... super old buidlings, old widow ladies all in black sitting on thier balconies with a lit candle praying. In one town that had 2000 people- each night the teenage girls walk in the "piazza" literally strutting thier stuff in their best outfits in hope of luring one of the other young men/adults of the town in hope of marrige!

Caltagione was my favorite city. While it's not on the beach, it's the most famous city in Italy know for their ceramics... and what charm it has!

However- the best part of Sicily is in fact the FOOD.... never have I tasted tomatoes, eggplants and figs as good as in Sicily. The seafood was as fresh as it gets and overall- all the food there is just so TASTY! I assume it's because it gets picked/fished and then served immeditealy.
If you can't tell.. I enjoy eating good quality food and so now that I am back in Prague which you may have read from earlier blogs- food here is just soso, I already long for that fresh Italian fresh flavor!

If you get a chance you must visit Sicily! Ciao Ciao!

Monday, August 06, 2007

Dubrovnik, Croatia

I just got back from a quick 3 day weekend in Dubrovnik, Croatia. My friends Gregg, Jeff and Brian were there for the week and - since I now live so close - I had no choice but to go join them.

If you would have asked me 10 years ago, Croatia ranked somewhere on the "to do" travel list between Uganda and Gary, Indiana. The only thing I knew about the country was that it had some war issues and produced a couple of good basketball players. That's about it.

Now that the war has been over for more than a decade, it has become quite the tourist attraction. Some people say it has the best beaches in all of Europe. Dubrovnik ranks right up there with the most scenic cities in the world. Beautiful old town (surrounded by a stone wall) right on the crystal clear Adriatic Sea. The quality of the water doesn't get much nicer. The only downside is that the beaches were rocky - no sand at all. You had to crawl in and out of the water like a Salamander.

One lessons that I learned again while in Dubrovnik is that I am, in fact, getting old. All of my friends are very single and used to going out drinking until 6:00 AM. I, on the other hand, am a morning person and usually struggle to stay up past midnight. Fortunately and unfortunately, the town of Dubrovnik has plenty of Red Bull on hand. It's a powerful drink. I was able to stay out until the sun came up but was paying for it come Sunday. Like I said, I'm an old man and need my sleep.

I am now home again and am living the bachelor life. R is in Sicily for the week visiting her parents. It's just me and B. We go out every night looking for girls but have had no luck so far. B gets too aggressive - every time he sees a girl he likes he immediately starts wagging his tail and licking her toes. He doesn't know how to play it cool at all - talk about amateur hour. Oh well, I guess I'll just have to survive for a couple more days until R gets back.

Friday, August 03, 2007

B Update!


Just called the vet to hear the results and YIPPPPPPEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE -B will get old and gray with us after all!

His results from both tests came back 100% normal and the vet thinks that his allergic
reaction was a bad one that really made his blood counts and bio acids skyrocket high!
B is healthy and all is good!

Bio acids range from 0-30 as being the normal scale and after the allergic reaction B had a count of 185 but from yesturday's blood count B had 5! Wonderful!

I am off to Sicily tomorrow and am quite happy!

R & B