The Grossglockner High Alpine Road

Posted in Uncategorized on August 11, 2013 by Lee

Here’s a video I took of my descent down the north side of the Grossglockner. A friend loaned me a GoPro camera which I attached via a suction cup to the windshield.

Note all the traffic ascending…cars, motorcycles, bicycles, old cars…even motorcoaches! Quite the busy (and narrow) road. Also notice that the “guardrails” consist of small stone pillars. I don’t think they’d stop anything from going over the edge. But it was a beautiful drive.

 

Europe 2013 photos

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on August 11, 2013 by Lee

Here’s the link to my Europe 2013 photos.

https://plus.google.com/photos/118234166307261161620/albums/5910967714101977537?authkey=CLSSzbamy8vo9gE

 

The Grossglockner

Posted in Europe, Travels on August 10, 2013 by Lee

Here’s a short clip of the Grossglockner that I drove in Austria. It has some scenery, some commentary, some singing…and sheep! I’ll blog and post longer videos later.

Montreal Day 3

Posted in Uncategorized on June 8, 2013 by Lee

Didn’t sleep too well. Went to bed at 11:30 and woke up at 6. Suck.

We had breakfast with Daniel and Petra again. Pleasant folk, they are. Monsieur Petite is a cute little beggar. He would put his paws on my leg while standing on his hind legs, repeat the same thing on the other side, and then pop his head up right between my legs (crotch). Made it look like I was giving birth to a poodle. Daniel saw it and about fell on the floor laughing.

As we were still pooped from yesterday, we decided to relax the schedule a bit. We will not overdue the walking! Decided to go to Olympic Park.

We took the subway a couple stops as the Park was very close to the B&B, so it didn’t take long. The Olympic stadium is HUGE. It is the tallest inclined tower in the world. Montreal residents seem to be proud of that fact, however I don’t think anyone outside of Quebec knows about it. Also, the Olympics were held here in 1976 and were just paid off a few years ago. Nothing like taking 30 years to pay off an event that was held for 2 weeks! (side note: Anchorage is forming an exploratory committee to host the Winter Olympics. Please, for all that is sensible and right in this world, be against it. Anchorage does not need to go a quadrillion dollars in debt).

After the Games, the velodrome (where bike races were held) was turned into a biodome. We thought it might be interesting, so we went inside. Admission too expensive. We kept walking.

Went to see about taking the elevator to the top of the tower. Too expensive. Looked around the building. Discovered a pool one floor down. We were looking through glass in the ceiling so the occupants of the pool were not aware that we were observing. And this is where one of the most amusing things of the trip happened.

We watched swimming lessons for little kids.

Terrified kids.

Screaming kids.

There were 8 or 9 of them probably ages 5/6 all holding on to the edges of a floating mat. Most for dear life. Their parents were holding on to their legs. Most of them didn’t like it. I’m sure it’s not funny to those of you who have kids, but it was to me. My lessons as a kid came flooding back. They were not pleasant. At all. Especially the part where I did NOT want to jump into the deep end and that Nazi swim instructor picked me up, walked me down to the end, and THREW me in.

And my Mom watched the whole thing happen. I AM SCARRED FOR LIFE, MOM!

If I was a kid taking lessons right then, I probably would have joined as a terrified participant.

Afterward, we walked to the botanical gardens, but as spring hadn’t yet sprung, we had to play pretend to see the flowers. I liked to look at a patch of dirt and say “this sure is future beautiful!” Didn’t really work that well. Lots of laughs between John, Deborah, and me.

We came across the “Chinese Garden” complete with pagodas. As we sat down to take a break, we saw a little boy across the pond perched on a rock splashing in the water. Really close to the water. Precariously close. I had my camera poised for an action shot just as the kid fell in. Unfortunately, it never happened. It would have been awesome.

My feet and legs were sore by this point. J&D wanted to see an IMAX movie, so we took the subway downtown. I decided not to go, so I headed off to get something to eat. As there wasn’t a big selection of restaurants in the area, I got on the subway and headed a couple stops north to see if there might be more of a selection.

I exited and started walking. Saw a sign hanging from a lamp post that said “Homophobie”. Hmmm. Interesting. Kept walking. Saw 2 guys talking to each other uncomfortably close. Very interesting. Walked past a bondage shop. It hits me. I have stumbled upon the “Gay Village” of Montreal. Didn’t plan to come here! But in any case, kept walking.

I found a restaurant and had the most terrible, horrible nachos ever. It was like someone took tortilla chips, dumped Pace picante on, then tomato sauce, some chicken, and a few peppers. Absolutely terrible. Why in the world did I get nachos someplace where they have French cooking? I don’t understand myself.

Afterward, I headed back to the B&B and took a nap. J&D arrived and we went to a French restaurant around the corner. Great dinner. The waiter didn’t speak English (although I highly suspect he really did), and Deborah did a fantastic job with translating.

All in all, it was a superb trip. I hope to be able to meet J&D again soon in another location. Thanks, guys!

Montreal church

Montreal church

 

Old Montreal

Old Montreal

John and Deborah

John and Deborah

Olympic Stadium

Olympic Stadium

Swim lessons from hell

Swim lessons from hell

Pretend wishing

Pretend wishing

It's got me!

It’s got me!

I'm a giant!

I’m a giant!

At zee French dinner

At zee French dinner

Daniel, Petra, Deborah, Monsieur Petite

Daniel, Petra, Deborah, Monsieur Petite

At the B&B

At the B&B

Montreal Day 2 Part 2

Posted in Uncategorized on June 8, 2013 by Lee

After the pub, we walked toward Old Montreal. It was a spectacular blue bird day. The sun was shining, it was warm, and I was with good friends. It was terrific. So we walked. And walked a bit more. And walked into a protest! We discussed amongst ourselves and couldn’t figure out exactly what the protesters were protesting (as everything was in French, even though Deborah did some translating), but some of their (very large) banners and (much smaller) picket signs had Stephen Harper plastered across them. For those of you who don’t know, Mr. Harper is the Prime Minister of Canada. So here was a crowd protesting something (down with capitalism?????) and they were having a rock concert at the same time. There was some French speaking band on the stage, saying stuff in French (imagine that), that had to do with protesting Mr. Harper (maybe?). And there weren’t a TON of people, but there weren’t NOT a ton of people. Maybe a thousand??? Perhaps we came too late to see the real action. Well, in any case, it was a very tame rock concert protest by any standard (although I’ve never been in a protest so I don’t really have anything to compare it to…let’s just say it wasn’t anywhere near the riot after the Rodney King beating in L.A. in the 90’s). I can’t imagine any protest by French Canadians getting rowdy unless it had to do with hockey.

Kept walking. John states (out of the blue), “Look! It’s the embassy!” Deborah and I both look up. Only partly correct, John. It was Embassy Suites. Not the same thing. We all had a good laugh.

Finally made it to the old city. I’ve heard from multiple sources that Montreal is a very European city. Especially true of Old Montreal. All that was needed to make me think I was in France was one of those cop car sirens that blare “dee-do-dee-do-dee-do-ew-wee-ew-wee-ew-wee” (think Bourne Identity).

Walked around and explored a bit. Drooled over more fancy cars. Got some gelato. Deborah pointed out a hilarious umbrella for sale. “Merde il pleu.” Best umbrella ever. If my mom used them, I would have got it for her and told her it says something like “Jesus loves you”. What did it really say? “Shit, it’s raining”. LOL.

By this point, we were all sore. John and I didn’t have an excuse (other than we’re soft). Deborah had an excuse because she’s pregnant.

Decided to head back to the B&B as it had been a very full day of awesomeness. Rode the subway/bus back to the neighborhood and ate at a pub down the road. Good beer. Great company. Then went to a cafe after dinner and ate some of the best apple pie I’ve ever had. Thought America had a corner on the apple pie market, but apparently I’m mistaken.

Made it back to the B&B. All were pooped. Very thankful for a shower. Being clean has to be one of the best things on planet earth.

Loads of fun with J&D.

A Ferrari!

A Ferrari!

Downtown

Downtown

The protest!

The protest!

An Audi R8

An Audi R8

Montreal Day 2 Part 1

Posted in Uncategorized on June 1, 2013 by Lee

Slept like a rock last night. Went to bed at 11:30 and didn’t stir until 7:30. Flying across country and leaving in the middle of the night doesn’t help the fatigue. I was glad to have a good 8 hours of sleep and also glad J&D aren’t early risers.

The B&B owners Daniel and Petra made craps…oops, I mean crepes, for breakfast. I guess it’s only appropriate since we’re in a French speaking area. They were delicious. Daniel made them with ham and cheese in the middle. Thought crepes had to have fruit? Apparently not. It was an enjoyable breakfast. Daniel was a crack up and Petra very pleasant and bonus, she’s a native German, so I was able to practice a little of my German. They own a small poodle: Monsieur Petit. A male dog. Cute as a button. He thought John’s hands were a sucker because Monsieur almost licked his skin off.

After breakfast, Petra gave us directions to some sights and stuff to do in the city, then off we went. First stop: getting a city transport card to get around. We walked to a local neighborhood drug store where J&D got their cards. I thought that the cashier ran out of cards and we were going to have to find somewhere else to buy them, so I was all “l’Crap” to myself, but it turned out not to be an issue.

We got on the bus and headed to Mont Royal which is a big hill pretty much right next to downtown. I’m sure it’s the best view in the whole city. Quite spectacular. We took a bus to the top because none of us really wanted to climb the hill. While there, J&D had a random encounter with some friends from New Hampshire. Pretty random,

After the view, we decided to visit a museum in downtown, so by God’s grace and omnipotence, stairs had been mercifully constructed from the top of Mont Royal to the bottom. As we descended, we passed people who were RUNNING up them. You. People. Are. Crazy. (and in shape, but I won’t go into that).

On the way, we walked by McGill U. which, according to Deborah, is the Harvard of Canada. There sure were lots of nice cars parked on the streets in the area. They must pay professors pretty good in Canada, eh?

We made it to the art museum and by this time, I was sweating a bit and think I could smell myself. Inside were paintings by some pretty famous guys: Renoit, Picasso, Matisse, etc. Am sure they are worth some cha-ching, however, way overpriced if you ask me. I don’t understand art.

Afterwards, we hopped a bus to a pub down the street.  I.P.A. city. Not a fan of the I.P.A., but was able to get on that wasn’t.

More of day 2 later.

Viva la Montreal!

Posted in North America, Travels on May 29, 2013 by Lee

It’s been a few weeks since I met my friends John and Deborah in Montreal. I didn’t blog sooner because a couple days after I got back, I went to work for 3 weeks. And working 12 hours a day for 3 weeks doesn’t exactly get the creative juices flowing. Really it doesn’t get any juices flowing, other than the get-back-to-one’s-room-and-veg-until-bedtime juice. But anyway, I am back to civilization, so let the blogging begin!

John, Deborah, and I haven’t seen each other for awhile so we decided to meet up in Montreal for a weekend. They drove up from New Hampshire (sans kiddos) and I flew down (across?) from Alaska and got there on a Friday afternoon.

Flying out of Anchorage almost always sucks because it’s almost always the middle of the night and the flights are almost always packed. Mercifully, the Lord saw fit to give me an ENTIRE row to myself from Anchorage to Seattle. Score one for being able to stretch out. From Seattle to Chicago, the Lord reversed his mercy and instead revealed His punishment (okay I don’t really believe that, but it makes it sound funnier, eh?). I was wedged between a fat guy and the window for 3 hours. 3 hours of absolute, straight-jacket-esque misery. Really wishing at that point I had upgraded to first. Then, on the flight between Chicago and Montreal, the plane was one of those smaller regional jets. We started down the runway for takeoff, but at about, oh, 2 mph shy of liftoff, the pilot hit the brakes, we decelerated rapidly and turned off onto a taxiway. All I could visualize in my head was that the pilot saw a jumbo jet landing on the same runway and had to abort at the last minute. I braced for a sudden, horrible (albeit spectacular) death by being run over by a 450 seat 747. The pilot (who had to have only been in his mid-20’s) came on the intercom and said one of their windows up front had popped open, but that they closed it and we would be taking off shortly. It didn’t really make me feel any better.

I landed in Montreal and made it through the Customs line that had to have had 15,000 people in it. Also, somehow there were some people using another “special” line to essentially cut in front of us peons who were using the “regular” line. What the flip???? Wanted to shove granny to the back.

To get to the B&B, I decided to take the faster, more direct route, so I hired a taxi. The driver was very friendly and knowledgeable and we chatted about a wide range of topics during the 30 minute ride to the B&B. We pretty much solved world hunger right then and there.

Made it to the B&B. J&D had already arrived. So great to see them! Deborah found the B&B online which had a completely separate 2 bedroom apartment so that is what we rented. It was in a really great spot too…only half a block from a lot of restaurants, pubs, and shops.

So I put my stuff in my room and we went for dinner. We had to do a little bit of a search and even sat down in one restaurant, but they didn’t take credit cards (whaaaa? it’s because they hadn’t been open long and their machine was broken), so we found a pretty trendy, modern restaurant that came complete with its own DJ. Yes, a DJ. No, we did not go to a techno, disco, dance club, or nightclub to eat. In fact, the said DJ was quite out of place. Nothing like toasting a glass of wine and hearing “nts nts nts nts boom boom boom” coming out of the speakers. It must be a Montreal thing. Apart from that the service was great and the people were friendly. Good food too.

That was the majority of the evening. We then came back and caught up until 11 or so, then we all went to bed and zonked out.