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Living Abroad - Year 1

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FC: Living Abroad 2006

1: Edinburgh

2: Stories Home: We Finally Cracked I spent the first 28 years of my existence sure on one thing. Cell phones are stupid. You see people at the gym on the phone, you see people hiking on the phone, I even see guys next to me at the urinal on their cell phone. This was a sub culture that I wanted no part of. It even stared to become part of my identity. People would say "There's Steve, he's the guy who doesn't own a cell phone." I took great pride in this part of my personality... And then we moved to Scotland. It took me all of 6 days and I have gone back on everything that I believed in. Yes, we are now cell phone owners, or "mobile" owners as they like to call them over here. In my defence, the idea was my lovely wife's, who was quite persistent that it would be kind of a good idea. Jo used to be of the same opinion as me and then something changed. I think it is the phone that we currently have in our apartment, you see the phone that we have in our apartment is a pay phone which is mostly just a black hole that eats your money. If you feel like pissing away some money, then this is a great place to do it. It's kinda like a wishing well, but instead of making a wish, you just kind of yell at a phone. I guess it's actually nothing like a wishing well. Anyways, these were the factors on why we bought the cell phone. I'm not proud of it, but I must does make life easier. Who knew? Other than the entire free world I guess. So I guess you guys aren't really reading this email (if you still are) for "Steve's views on cell phones", you probably want to know how we are doing. Well first things first, we have found a hockey bar in Edinburgh. It took some doing to say the least. I spent two evenings wandering the streets looking for any sign that a bar might be showing hockey. Usually Jo would go on these walks with me, but on this quest I was on my own. Each place I walked into, I was mostly met with blank stares, then people asking me if I was serious, then finally people laughing and saying no. So finally I referred to some advice given to me from a friend in a bar before I left. "There's nothing the internet can't do, man." So with that, I found my hockey bar in Edinburgh. They are showing all of the Olympic games (which are actually on at a normal time here) and once the NHL commences they will be showing Hockey Night in Canada starting at 6am Sunday morning, which is definitely not a normal time. Now that my biggest concern was taken care of (I don't think Jo was as concerned as I was), I had a little thing called employment to worry about. This was actually much easier to come across than finding a hockey bar in Edinburgh. They are showing all of the Olympic games (which are actually on at a normal time here) and once the NHL commences they will be showing Hockey Night in Canada starting at 6am Sunday morning, which is definitely not a normal time. Now that my biggest concern was taken care of (I don't think Jo was as concerned as I was), I had a little thing called employment to worry about. This was actually much easier to come across than finding a hockey bar in Edinburgh. I actually landed a job within 6 days of being here, which I think I was pretty lucky to get. On several occasions I have been asked "Bloody hell, how did you manage that?" The name of the company is called Scottish Widows. Yes, I am destined to work for companies with strange names.

3: Backpacking took us to many beautiful verdant places. Our granola bars kept u alive during long walks.

5: They are actually a huge Investment bank over here, so I think it was actually a good company to get in with. It is only a 3 month contract, but I'm hoping they may want to bring me on full time. After all I am the embodiment of a true professional, I have a cell phone for god's sake, they would be crazy not to keep me. The first week went as good as can be expected. The usual feelings of, boredom, anxiety, over confidence and feeling totally useless were all there, so I took those to be signs that this will be a pretty normal job. The best part about this job is that I start at 9am and I work until 5pm with an hour lunch. Who still works these kind of hours. Not that I am complaining, I'm sleeping in until 8am everyday. In fact I'm sleeping so much that my eyes are getting kind of puffy from sleeping too much. I may have to take up drinking in the evenings, so that I get a normal amount of sleep. As for Jo, she too has found work and started on Monday as well. The job isn't quite in her field, she is actually working for a surveying company, but they are paying her pretty well so she isn't complaining. Jo actually has an army of recruiters looking for design jobs for her, so it is only a matter of time before she is redesigning Europe. On the plus side, Jo has made a few friends at her work ( I have not quite figured out how to do this yet, I may be lacking that gene) and we might be joining a coed rugby team. I don't think it is very serious, they just get together and have fun, so that might be up our alley. So we'll see if that pans out. Jo has a much more grueling schedule than I do. She starts work at the crack of dawn (actually it's 8:30am and she works until 5pm). Seriously who works these hours. As for our living situation, we have found a new two bedroom suite which we will be moving into on March 1st. The main reason we picked this place is because it was the only one that the landlord actually showed up for. Every other place we went too didn't have anyone show up, so when the landlord showed up, we took that as a good sign, so we jumped at the chance. Actually the place is pretty good. It is a two bedroom place, that is fully furnished. So when we get visitors (hint hint), you will actually have a place to sleep. Well one of you will, there is only a single bed in the spare room. Don't worry we also have two couches as well. As for what else is new, we are trying to keep busy. We went to Stirling and Glasgow last weekend. Stirling is the place where William Wallace fought his battles, so there is a huge Monument to him there and also a really cool old castle. They actually have the William Wallace sword there as well, he was obviously not a small dude. The sword was almost as tall me. I also got a great picture of me pretending to fight an English Nobleman, while I am protecting Jo's honour. It's pretty funny, I'll have to send it you guys. That's about all for now, we are both doing well and we are having a great time. We are actually off to a Trainspotting tour this afternoon...nothing like going on a tour of drugs, alcholics and whores. Talk to you guys later Steve If anyone cares our "mobile" is 07971958924, I think you would also have to dial the country code prefix 44 and the area code of 131. So if you push the numbers 4413107971958924, you might get to talk to us.

7: London

12: Well we have now had our first visitors and I must say we had a lot of fun. Our friends Marilyn and Hopper (AKA Scott Hopkins, but no one ever calls him that) have been backpacking through europe for the past few months and they managed to grace us with their presence for 5 days. This may not sound like a tonne of time, but these are the same people that blew through Rome in 3 days and wrote off the whole country of France (and all French people I might add) in a mere week, so we were overwhelmed that they were giving us 5 days. For the most part we did a lot of hanging out and they went and saw the sights while we were at work. I also think they slept a lot. Ah sweet unemployment, how I miss you. So after a couple of days, the weekend came so we could finally go do something together. We figured in honour of our friends visiting us all the way over in Scotland and the fact it was Friday night, we thought that was a perfect excuse for a good old fashioned pub crawl. This wasn't one of those fancy Bust Loose pub crawls with buses, costumes and loud obnoxious jerks, this was just 4 friends out on the town looking to get drunk...well maybe there was one or two loud obnoxious drunks. The first stop on the crawl was a quick pint of beer and Scotland's national cuisine...Haggis, Neeps and Tatties. Haggis is a bunch of liver and guts cooked up in a sheeps stomach, tatties are potatoes and Neeps are Turnips. I'm not sure why they don't just call it Meat and Potatoes, I guess that would be a pretty crap name for your national dish. For as much hype as there was about haggis and how scary it is, it is actually a pretty good meal and a good base for getting wasted. As a side note: More people in Edinburgh should eat a good meal like Haggis before going out on the town. Far too many people hit the town with empty stomachs and the side effect of this is loads of barf on the streets. Usually you will see one big puddle, then a smaller one and then usually one more little one. If you find barf kinda funny like I do, then this is quite entertaining. In fact, just last week there was a girl barfing outside of our window. Some people get the sound of birds outside their window, not us, we get the sweet sounds of some chick puking her face off at 4 o'clock on a Sunday afternoon. Jo said something like "Did you just hear someone puke." No sooner did she say that, we heard another loud splat and a faint groan. So of course we rushed to the window and sure enough, there she was chucking up her guts and I almost fell over I was laughing so hard. Unfortunately for that poor girl, our window was open so not only was she puking behind a dumpster on a Sunday afternoon, now she had some stranger laughing at her. Jo recommended we close the window and leave the girl in peace. I think she sympathizes with these type of people ever since she barfed in front of that nun. | Stories Home: Half Pint & Jambo

14: So after a couple of days, the weekend came so we could finally go do something together. We figured in honour of our friends visiting us all the way over in Scotland and the fact it was Friday night, we thought that was a perfect excuse for a good old fashioned pub crawl. This wasn't one of those fancy Bust Loose pub crawls with buses, costumes and loud obnoxious jerks, this was just 4 friends out on the town looking to get drunk...well maybe there was one or two loud obnoxious drunks. The first stop on the crawl was a quick pint of beer and Scotland's national cuisine...Haggis, Neeps and Tatties. Haggis is a bunch of liver and guts cooked up in a sheeps stomach, tatties are potatoes and Neeps are Turnips. I'm not sure why they don't just call it Meat and Potatoes, I guess that would be a pretty crap name for your national dish. For as much hype as there was about haggis and how scary it is, it is actually a pretty good meal and a good base for getting wasted. As a side note: More people in Edinburgh should eat a good meal like Haggis before going out on the town. Far too many people hit the town with empty stomachs and the side effect of this is loads of barf on the streets. Usually you will see one big puddle, then a smaller one and then usually one more little one. If you find barf kinda funny like I do, then this is quite entertaining. In fact, just last week there was a girl barfing outside of our window. Some people get the sound of birds outside their window, not us, we get the sweet sounds of some chick puking her face off at 4 o'clock on a Sunday afternoon. Jo said something like "Did you just hear someone puke." No sooner did she say that, we heard another loud splat and a faint groan. So of course we rushed to the window and sure enough, there she was chucking up her guts and I almost fell over I was laughing so hard. Unfortunately for that poor girl, our window was open so not only was she puking behind a dumpster on a Sunday afternoon, now she had some stranger laughing at her. Jo recommended we close the window and leave the girl in peace. I think she sympathizes with these type of people ever since she barfed in front of that nun.Anyways, back to the pub crawl. Now that we had some Haggis, Neaps and Tatties in our belly's, we were ready for some serious drinking. We went to another pub, knocked back a few beers and then we decided to keep the crawl going. The next bar had some live music which was a real treat. They recently introduced a no smoking law indoors in Scotland, so guys like the fiddle player seemed to be having a really tough time with his Nic fits. Everytime he finished playing a song he would run over to his fake cigarette, have a few puffs of his smokeless device and then run back over and play another song. At this point in the crawl we decided to have another one of Scotland's national dishes...Whisky! I figured it was about 2 ounces of Scotch they gave us, Marilyn figured it was about an ounce and a half and Hopper with his scientific background determined it was one unit of Doot N' Doot. This seemed to make the most sense at this point in the night. Regardless, it was just the thing that started to push Marilyn over the edge. When we got to the next bar, Marilyn only ordered a half pint. For the rest of the evening, Marilyn was known as half pint. We even have a picture of her pretending to be a half pint (whatever that means). Anyways, that's the story of how for one evening Marilyn becamse known as half pint. For those of you that know Marilyn, feel free to call her half pint when she gets home... For those of you that don't know Marilyn, sorry you can't have those last 5 minutes back that you spent reading this.

15: As for Jambo, if you have good skills of deduction, then you probably figured out that Hopper is Jambo. As for why he is Jambo, I don't really know why. Yeah, you would think that I would wouldn't you. Basically, the other really big thing that we did while they were here was we went and saw a football game, soccer style. There was actually a really big game on while they were here. It was the Hearts vs. the Hibs which are the two Edinburgh teams and they were playing to see who would go onto the Scottish Cup Final. So think Flames/Oilers; Sens/Leafs type caliber. Jo actually had to get tickets off of E-Bay because the game had been sold out for sometime and the other weird thing was that the game was in Glasgow. Glasgow has Scotland's National Football stadium so that is where all of the big games are played. So basically all of the fans from Edinburgh hopped on the train/bus to Glasgow. The segregation was actually pretty crazy, they wouldn't allow opposition fans on the same train and you weren't allowed to get off at the same station. They had a Hearts train stop and a Hibs Train stop. They actually had the G8 Summit here a couple of years ago and they used the same police tactics for this game as they used for the summit. That shows you how concerned they were that violence would breakout. Even the horses had face shields on (yes, they actually brought in horses to calm down the crowd). So we got to the game without a problem and the day before we learned that the Hearts (the team whose section we were sitting in and the team that represents our part of town) and Hearts fans were nicknamed the Jambos (I know it is all very strange). So when Hopper and I learned this new funny word, we were like babies speaking for the first time. We were like Jambo this and Jambo that. Unfortunately when actual fans of the team heard this, you could just tell they were thinking "Idiots". Despite being a football idiot, Hopper really got taken with the team and even bought himself a scarf. In the end our team won, the crowd went insane and from that point forward I think Hopper will always be a Jambo. I'm still not really sure what that means, but if you ask him, he'll tell you he's a Jambo. That's about all I got for today.

16: Copenhagen

18: Let's forget for a minute that game 7 didn't just happen. Let's pretend it's still that oh so glorious summer of 2004. A time when a young flames team made an improbable run to the cup final, "Ricci was ugly", "Jovo was a homo" and it was all "Shirts off for Kipprusoff". Things were much simpler back then. Fastforwad to last night, 3 - 0, what the F, how did that happen. Just because I am on the other side of the ocean doesn't mean this doesn't pain me just as much as you guys. Anyways, we just got back from a trip to Denmark, so here are the highlights. Plus some other non-sensical ramblings at the end (as usual). I had never been so excited to arrive in a new country as I was when we got to Denmark. Not because we were going to see one of my good friend’s who I hadn’t seen for nearly 2 years, or because of the history and beauty the city shows as soon as you get off the plane.Those were good too, but the thing I could not get over upon arrival wasthis city has SLURPEES; 7/Eleven Slurpees!!! Jo and I do love the taste of those sweet slushy drinks and we've been in total withdrawl ever since we moved to Scotland. This was a good start to a good trip. After we downed a couple of slurpees (Jo got a brain freezerookie) Christian took us to the restaurant that he works at and promptly spoiled us to a $300 to $400 dinner accompanied with many many beers, a bottle of wine and after dinner liquor. It felt pretty good to live like richies, even if it was short lived. Some of Christian’s Canadian friends and a girl he was seeing met up with us. We continued the party onto another bar after we officially over stayed our welcome at the restaurant. Once we left the cost free sanctuary of Christian’s restaurant, reality really started to sink inDenmark is expensive. $10 beers is the norm. This didn’t deter us from staying at the next bar until about 3:30am though, at which point I was starting to think the night might be coming to an end, since we had been drinking for 10 hours. It’s been a while since I partied with Christian, so of course the night was not coming to an end at all. | Stories Home: Something Rotten in Denmark

19: We arrived at a nightclub at around 4am and stayed until about 6am. Nothing like leaving a nightclub to the sounds of birds chirping and the sun rising. Jo, who finally got to go dancing (I think she has been wanting to do that since we got to europe) was quite pumped from cuttin a rug, suggested we go for breakfast. I believe I promptly shut this idea down by saying "I need my bedand a hotdog." The next day we went on a canal tour (accompanied with beers of course) then Christian played tour guide and took us around the city. Another really cool things about Copenhagen is they have bikes that you can use all over the city to get around on. You basically take them out like you would a grocery cart (insert coin) and then you can drop it off at any other bike stand and get your coin back.. It is a great way for getting around the city since everyone there rides their bike (even girls in skirts and high heals and men in business suits). After a big day of sight seeing, it was time foryou guessed it, more drinking. Jo’s stomach was feeling a little bit "off", which was probably from the mass consumption of beers over the last 24 hours. Or it could have been the thought of going out with 2 dudes fully dressed in Calgary Flames Jersey's (this was probably closer to the truth). Needless to say, she decided to call it a night and we were off to find the Flames game. We got to the bar around 10pm and found out the Flames game didn’t start until 4am. Christian figured we could make it, I had my reservations but I was willing to give it a go. The one driving force was that the Canadian Bartender put the Oilers game on for us, which would lead us into the Sens game, which would take us to the promised land of the Flames game (Game 5). Once we settled in and got a few beers under our belt, I started to think maybe we would make it. As the night wore on, people became quite intreged by the Jersey’s we were wearing and they turned into a great conversation piece. We probably met 20 different people that night who were either curious or wanted to come over and watch some hockey. I couldn’t believe how many people recognized the logo. If Calgary ever had an international symbol, I would have to say it’s the Flaming C. After sitting at the bar for 7 hours and firmly establishing my ass groove in the cushion, the flames game was ready to start, but the strangest thing didn’t start. Now this may be attributed to some historical Danish law that says no more than 2 hockey games can be shown in a pub at any given evening, but proabably more likely, was the bartender wanted to go home and wasn’t really looking forward to 2 drunken idiots sitting in his bar until 7:30am chanting Go Flames Go.

24: At this stage in the evening we were actually okay with this and accepted our fate. The last people we met that night were three americans who actually knew a thing or two about hockey, so we chatted with them for a while. The female Yank took a bit of a liking to old Christian, who quickly shut her down by telling her he a had a girlfriend and that she should leave him alone. At which point, he stood up, knocked the table and promptly dumped a freshly poured beer all over her lap. It was one of those ones that kind of happened in slow motion. You could almost hear some guy in the background going "Damnnn..". As time seemed to stand still Christian and I slowly looked at each other, made that "ooooohhhhhh" face that people tend to do in situations like this, attempted to keep a straight face and then completely broke down in hysterical laughter (which people usually don’t do in situations like this). We declared that at this point it was time to go home. I think one of us even gave it the old "Let’s roll" and pointed to the door. At which point we hopped on our bikes and pedalled home (of course we had to stop at Seven Eleven for "One more beer"). We got in at around 6am (stupid sun always coming up) and caught Peter Mahr calling the end of the third. At this point it gets a little sketchy, but a very sober Jo had no problem finishing the night off for us. She said "You guys basically came in, turned on all the lights, described in detail how much you both loved Peter Mahr and thn promptly passed out, in my bed. Then that's when the snoring started..." So yeah, in case you were wondering what was rotten in Denmark, I would have t say in no certain order it is definitely our livers, our brains and my ass (that draught beer is tough on a man, possibly a girl too, but Jo wouldn't say). There was much more to Denmark than these two evenings, but for more info you will have to look at the pictures, which we will hopefully be posting soon. In the end, it is a great place to visit, especially if you get Christian as your tour guide.

25: Some people have been asking about work, which is going really well for both of us. But it's the little differences that you notice: One of the stranger things about working in Scotland is that it is standard practice to answer your co-workers phone, which can be pretty freakin annoying. Basically you are sitting there doing your own work, when suddenly your co-worker’s phone starts ringing. If they aren’t at their desk, you are supposed to stop what you are doing, punch in a code that allows you to answer their phone and then take a message. Most of the time, people just say they want to leave a message, it seems like a bit of a waste of time, especially since we have voice mail. To make matters worse, I’m still not great on the phone, what with all of the crazy accents and all. Mostly people say "Hi, can you tell so and so that Donald called" Which usually follows with me going, "Sure no problem.uhhhh Wingfield" in which he usually reply’s "No it’s Donald". "Oh sorry about that Ronald" and it goes from there. In fact just recently I took a call for my co-worker and just as I was about to ask the name, she came back to her desk so I said I would just transfer the call. Before I transferred it, she asked who it was, so I knowingly said "Some guy is on the phone for you, but I didn’t get the name." Happy that I finally gave a good message, I successfully transferred the call and went back to my work. That pride lasted about 3 seconds until I heard her say "Oh hi mum, how are you." I just assume everyone thinks I’m an idiot by now. Well that is about all for now. Jo is starting to train to do one of those "run for the cure" races, so everyone wish her luck. I'm doing my best to help her with her training, if you consider sleeping in while she is out running help. Actually, they have a gym at my work and they have classes everyday at lunch and after work, so I joined a spinning class, which is a pretty kick ass work out.

27: Croatia

32: IDisclaimer: Here is another long winded, rambling monologue of our trip to Croatia and Slovenia.For those of you that don't feel like working for the next 10 minutes, read this. It may not be pretty, but hey, it's better than working (barely). When we first arrived in Croatia, we stayed at this dudes place. Most people stay at dudes places (they call them sobes, which probably means dude in Croatian, but I can’t be sure). Some places in Croatia aren’t really set up for tourists, so people just rent out rooms. Anyways, the dude that we got was either really lazy or really cheap. Since we were staying at his place, we stayed in the room next door to him. Croatia is a fairly hot country, so Air Conditioning is definitely a must. Unfortunately for us, he didn’t want to splurge on two air conditioners, he figured it would be just as effective to cut a hole between our two rooms and stick half the Air Conditioner in his room and half in ours. This meant that there wasn’t much privacy between our rooms so we got to listen to him spend the night watching MTV and smooch with his girlfriend. I actually had to go knock on his door at one point and tell him to knock it off. He was like "What, am I bothering you." Uh yeah buddy, your kind of disgusting actually. I can hear the shit your saying to your girlfriend and it’s freaking us out. If I was a little ballsier I probably would have said that, but as most of you know, I’m kind of a pussy, so I politely asked him to keep it down. Fortunately for mehe did. After the shared air conditioning place, the trip got a lot better. From Split (our starting point) we headed down the Dalmatian coast to Dubrovnik. Dubrovnik was a really cool city to visit. It reminded us of some of the Morrocan bazaars that we had been to in the past, but without all of the dodgey bastards trying to steal your shit. We actually felt very safe and comfortable the whole time we were there. The evenings were quite nice there as well, which allowed you to go for nice long walks around the walled city and then have a picnic with a bottle of wine where ever you wanted. No one ever came by to hassle you with crap merchandise, nor did they tell you to put your wine away. Some nights we enjoyed this more than sitting in the many nice restaraunts. The other thing we really liked about Croatia is that every place there has a patio, so there was always a great place to sit down, have a beer and watch the people. Some people have asked if there are many tourists there or if they were still scared off because of the wars that were there in the past. I would definitely say that it is starting to get quite touristy, but not with English speaking people. It is mostly Italian and German tourists. Now is definitely a good time to go, as it has a great buzz but it isn’t totally mobbed with people yet. There are definitely still signs of the war though. We went to one monastery and they circled this part on the wall that had a bunch of holes in it and there was a sign there saying that those holes were from the war in 1995. I think they keep it there as a reminder. After we left Dubrovnik, we decided to go hit the islands for about a week. We set sail for the island of Hvar. We had booked our accommodation ahead of time (I think we are getting wiser in our old age) and there was actually a girl there at the ferry terminal who met us with a "Steve Power" sign. I had Jo take an awesome photo of me giving that the old thumbs up. I don’t see my name on a sign very often and if I do it usually says something like "Hey Power, you’re an asshole", so this was a nice treat. | Stories Home: Creepy Perverts

33: We did a bunch of day trips from there and at night we would usually go chill out on one of the many patios with some people from our hostel. Actually one night when we were out wandering around, we bumped into one of the people that we had done the "Commonwealth Camping" with, which was totally random, but it was nice to see a familiar face. She was with a couple of friends so we all went and watched the England vs. Sweden game (man, it’s taken me awhile to write this email). A couple of other highlights from the islands were we took a day trip out to these crazy cool caves. One was called the green cave and the other was called the blue cave. The green cave was amazing for swimming as it was so clear it felt like you were flying. The blue cave was just crazy. I have never seen water that colour before. It was really, uhhhblue? Unless I’m talking about poo, I can’t describe stuff worth shit (har har), so I would say just check out the pictures (pics 97 - 103). The other memorable experience was when Jo and I played the roll of creepy perverts in the bushes one day while we were on the beach. The whole time we were in Croatia we kept hearing that this is a big place to come if you are a Naturalist (fancy term for letting your junk hang out in public). We kind of bounced the idea back and forth as to whether we would be game for this. We figured if nothing else it would be an interesting experience. The only problem was they were actually quite elusive. Those naked little bastards are tough to find. One day though, we saw a sign that said FHH with an arrow. FHH is the symbol for nude beach, so we thought we would go check it out. We wandered down the path and then poked our heads through the bushes. Yup, those are some nude people alright, we found what we were looking for, but why weren’t we moving forward. We were just standing therestaring.. We whispered a couple of things to each other and then continued to stare. Once the staring finally finished, it was time to giggle like idiots. After the giggle fits stopped, we figured one of us should do something, this was getting way too creepy. Finally after playing pervert for far too long, we decided that "We’re North American, we’re repressed, let’s get the hell out of here." That was our one shot at the nudist beachno sun burned boobs or weiner this time. After we had been in Croatia for about 10 days, we decided it was time to head up to Slovenia. The only real way to get there was by taking a 12 hour over night bus. The thing that sticks out in my mind was when we got to the Slovenian border, it was about 3am. For some reason I had woken up a few minutes prior, so I was somewhat alert. After digging through my bag to get my passport, I looked up and who should I see but my lovely wife. Well at this point maybe we’ll drop the adjective lovely and just say my wife. Jo’s head pops up, her hair is about 10 feet wide, she has indents on her face from the seat, a little bit of dried drool in the corner of her mouth and she is wearing one of those ridiculous sleeping masks. I think she forgot she had it on though because her head kept whipping back and forth like someone had turned out the lights and she couldn’t find the switch. It was probably wrong of me to laugh but at that point in the night it was pretty damn funny. I guess that’s what those Better or Worse vows mean.

34: Slovenia

36: Slovenian Graffiti

38: Bled Lake

39: V | Vintgar Gorge

40: When we got to Ljubljana (capital of Slovenia), it was about 4am. We couldn’t check into our accommodation until 3pm that afternoon, so needless to say we had some time to kill. We had really wanted to see this city as we had heard great things, so we figured we may as well start exploring. We wandered around until midnight that night, so yeah I would definitely say we got our fill of the city. There was an hour long nap in the middle, but other than that we did about 18 hours of seeing shit. After that we were off to the Julian Alps for a few days. This reminded us a lot of Switzerland, but way less expensive. We did some great hikes and enjoyed our time in the great outdoors. It also reminded us a bit of Canada, so I think that is part of the reason it is so fond in our memories. We stayed with this Slovenian family when we went there which was hilarious. The dad was this little old retired guy, who would drive us where ever we needed to go and then he would pick us up later that evening. He really seemed to enjoy talking with people and telling them stories about Slovenia. He also liked telling us how beautiful he thought the Canadian Moose was. He continued on by telling us that he wanted to come to our country, see this amazing animal in real life and then shoot it. Nothing like killing the things you love, I would hate to be one of his children.

42: Lake District

46: I guess I should start this email by sending my pity to all of you Oiler fans out there...first the loss of the cup, then the loss of Pronger. Ouch! To my great surprise the BBC actually played the Stanley Cup finals live. So I set the old VCR recorder (since the games were on at 3am here) and I would watch each game the following day. Hockey isn't exactly a hot topic around here, so there was no concern about anyone giving away the score. I must confess though I was quite torn as to who I wanted to win the cup. Stupid Oilers...Stupid Americans. I was kind of hoping the finals would just be cancelled and I could stop worrying about it. Things have been a little bit World Cup crazy over here lately. Not in the way some might think though. The Scots failed to qualify for the tournament, so all of their energy has gone into supporting anyone that is playing the English. I think Portugal has become Scotland's new favorite country (they put England out of the tournament). They actually set up T.V's at our office so that people could watch their favorite team, it was pretty cool to watch T.V. at work. As for who Jo and I are supporting, we both have France in our Office pools...So I guess it's go France. Gotta love good old Pierre and who can forget good old Poutineuh yeah that’s it. As for what we've been up to lately, we have actually been quite busy: A few weeks ago eight of us went camping in Northern England called the Lake District. It is a really nice area full of mountains and Lakesand of course pubs. Can’t go far in England without finding a pub. We were joking that it was Commonwealth camping since their were 8 of us representing 5 of the queen’s countries (Canada, Australia, England, Ireland and Scotland). That was until the Irish politely reminded us that it was the Republic of Ireland. Oh yeah, that whole Independence thing. So we dropped the whole commonwealth thing and went back to calling it just plain old camping. It lost some of the pizazz after that, but what are you gonna do? Camping is pretty much the same over here. Drive your car to some remote destination, drink a bunch of beers, have a fire and talk a bunch of nonsense. It’s the little differences that you notice; for example: At home, we would drink a bunch of beers, talk some nonsense, go to bed, wake up and then drink a bunch more beers. Over here, it started out the same, but instead of drinking a bunch of beers when we woke up, we went for a 6 hour hike. Why didn’t anyone tell me before I drank all those beers the night before. The nice thing about doing the big hike, was there was a pub at the base of the mountain so when we got back we sat on the patio and had a few cold onesGood times all and all. When we finally got back to our campsite, Jo had made good old fashioned Yuk-A-Flux. I should mention that I bought the most expensive bag of ice ever for the Yuk-A-Fluxa cool $12CAN. It was well worth it though as our commonwealth friends (and the Irish) seemed to be quite taken by this exquisite treat. Later on that evening these 2 drunk Englishmen stumbled into our campsite and they said it was like being on an episode of Lost (we could only presume it was because of all the accents going around, not because we were all trying all to kill each other or whatever it is they do on that show). Since these guys were from Liverpool, they sounded like the Beatles. | Stories Home: Commonwealth Camping

47: So then it was an Episode of Lost featuring a couple of liquored up Beatles. It was quite bizarre really. Since they were new to the group we told them they had to sing a song if they wanted to hang out. One of the guys (I think it was Ringo) sang the theme song from The Beverley Hillbillies. I don’t think the Beatles ever sang that one, probably for good reason. It was nice to see that it wasn’t just our group of friends from home that were jerks to complete strangers, I was glad to see that was a universal trait. I think the only thing the other Beatle was capable of was farting. Seriously, all he did was sit on this rock and fart. I think that was his contribution to the group, it may have been his only contribution to society, I'm not sure. It was sorta like, "Hey do you guys want to see a guy with no shamewell here I am. "PfffttttttttttttAhhhh Excuse me." Thanks for coming by and farting buddy. You really added a lot to our party. Come to think of it, we went to a pub after our big hike and all the English guys were farting their too. Robin these guys are giving your people a bad name or come to think of it maybe that’s where you get it from (just kidding). I must say though, the fart camping was pretty good times and it was cool to find such a great place in England. We always just thought England was just one big piece of concrete, who knew they had mountains, trees and lakes. It was good to see. As for what else is going on, Jo recently overcame an ebay addiction. I know, you can’t leave that girl alone for a minute can you. Jo is typically a very responsible person, but recently I had to put my foot down and cut her off. I didn’t think Jo had an addictive personality, but I have learned that she was one uncontrollable viceE-Bay. That girl is mad. On the plus side we are going to one of the biggest rock festivals in the UK called T in the Park. This was a concert that we both really wanted to go to, but like most popular things they sell out really fast. So we were relegated to being at the mercy of those shlubs that selfishly sell things on e-bay to make a profit. (I know some of you are probably thinking “Didn’t Steve sell his Flames tickets on E-Bay”, the answer is yes, but that was uhhh totally different). Anyways, Jo suggested we try e-bay and I said it was worth a shot. After Jo started getting out bid, she became a woman possessed. The defeats just started piling up and her delicate psyche couldn’t take it anymore. She was bound and determined not to lose this timeand she was right, she didn’t. She sent me an email later that day saying I have some good news and some bad news. The concert is next weekend, so we’ll let you guys know how it was and if it was worth those e-bay prices. The concert does sound pretty cool though. Here is a link to the Line upwe will be there on Saturday. I know I said we have been doing a bunch of stuff, but that is about all I can write for today. We did recently back pack through Croatia and Slovenia though, so when we get our pictures put together, we’ll send you guys an update. We will also send you guys pictures from our recent visitors on Canada Day and the T in the Park Festival. Anyways, later dudes and don’t forget.GO FRANCE!!! Stevie P and Jo (I’m not allowed to use JEP anymore)

48: Czech Republic

54: Well I must say we didn't expect our "Food Names" to cause such a controversy at Hopper's smorg. And we definitely didn't think we would get 5 phone calls from you guys (in the middle of the night)asking why you were given the names we gave you. We actually kinda figured you guys would have turned the video off half way through and muttered something about being glad those jackasses finally left the country. Anyways, sounds like a great party, glad we could take part in our own way (even if our way is stupid). Look forward to seeing some footage of the festivities. As usual, if reading ain't yo thang, but you like to look at fancy pictures here is the latest picture update. Alright onto what is new with us: First a little background Back when I used to live in Canada I could reference any hockey related news dating back for the last 10 years and it was all at my finger tipsright straight from the can. Now since we have moved here, I have exactly one hockey magazine in the bathroomand it's written in Czech. People said culture shock can be tough, but I never expected this. You may ask why I even have a hockey magazine written in Czech. Even more importantly you are probably asking yourself "Why is Steve emailing us about his bathroom habits? " I can’t really answer the second question, but in case you haven’t figured it out by now, I can be a bit crude at times and if you are reading this email and you haven’t permanently blocked me, you are probably a bit of a sick bastard yourself (except you mom and you too mom in law :) To answer the first question, it’s easyCzech Republic is the first place we have been all year that actually sells hockey magazines or even acknowledges it as a sport. We really have to start going to more hockey countries. A little while ago a group of us decided to go see Pearl Jam in Prague, which also tied in nicely with my birthday (thank you for all the well wishes, screw you to everybody elsejust kidding, we know we have missed several of your birthdays as wellnow we are even). Jo and I were quite excited to go back as we had been there 6 years prior. Not much has changed, the city is still amazing and people will still rip you off every chance they get. They have it down to a science really, first they give you many delicious beers, then they wait until you start to get the munchies, then they bring out a huge basket of bread. If you eat the bread, it will cost you more than all of those tasty beers combined. Damn those crafty Czechs. | Stories Home: The Land of Fried Cheese

55: The one thing we did notice was that it has gotten more expensive. When we were there before you could have a beer at the bar for about 25 cents. The standard price we paid now was probably about a buck fifty which is still good, but that is some pretty hefty inflation. Oh yeah, one of the coolest things we did when we were in the Czech Repub (other than seeing Pearl Jam, which was frickin awesome) is we went and saw this crazy old bone church. When I say crazy I mean creepy and gross and when I say bone church, I mean bone church. Apparently a couple of hundred years ago there was a big plague that happened to hit this town called Kutna Hora. After awhile, the old Plague settled down, but they were left with about 40,000 rotting corpses. What to do, oh what to do when you have 40,000 rotting corpses (is that a song? Should be). Some might say bury them, but no that would have been too hygenic for this town. Some pope type dude decided these bones would make interesting decorations for his church. So he hired this artist to come in and make art out of the dead. The result is pretty freaky. When you walk in, there are two columns of skulls and femurs that you must enter through to get in. Once you are in, there is all kinds of crazy crap. The artist decided that several of the bones would make a nice Chandeliermade up of ribs and fingers, skulls and vertebrae. He also built a pyramid out of a big pile of skulls. The whole thing is quite freaky, in fact that’s about all I’m going to say about that place, it’s kind of late here and I’m freaking myself out just thinking about it. Check out the pics if you want to learn more about the creepy bone church. After we left the creepy bone church, we found a nice court yard, ate lunch and had a few beers in the sun. After that it was time to head back to the train and make our way to Prague (we were a couple of hours outside the city). We decided to get a couple of road pops for the train ride back. When I mentioned the term road pop, our Scottish friends stared blankly, they thought we were going to bust out our ghetto blaster and play some pop tunesseriously. Anyways, we got our beers and just as we were hitting our first stop on the train ride back, someone noticed the sign that said Kolin. After several inappropriate bum jokes were made (the beers may have had something to do with that), people started to bitch that we had been stopped for a long time. After a long wait the train finally started to move again. At that moment, the train conductor came in, took one look at our tickets and said in very broken English "You go to Prague." "Yes" we replied, to which he said "That is bad for you".That’s never a good sign. It turns out that when we were making all of our stupid bum jokes, they were disconnecting our car and joining it up with another train. The smart people got off, unfortunately for us we were not the smart people. We now found ourself on the "dumb train" which was headed to the Northern part of the Czech Republic. We figured that’s where they send everyone that is too stupid to figure out when to switch trains. Must be a pretty low IQ in that part of the country. That’s probably where [Insert stupid czech hockey player’s name here] is from. In fairness to us, they did stop in a town that had a very distracting name. So after taking the long way back, we finally made it into Prague safe and sound.

56: Unfortunately, things are not always so safe and sound in the capital city. When we got back we went for a great meal (got appropriately ripped offstupid bread basket), had a few tasty Czech beers and then went to a couple of Eastern European clubs to get our groove on. A few people from our group decided that they would call it a night at this point. Our one friend Laurence had used the bushes to relieve himself on the way home. Once he was in the trees he thought holly crap, that chick is giving that dude a hand job right in the park. Then, under closer inspection, it was more like "Holly crap that dude is giving that dude a hand job right in the park". Then he realized those weren’t the only dudes giving the old magic stick a tug, it was happening all around him. It was at that point that Laurence realized that this really was not a place for him, especially with his pecker hanging out, so he zipped up and got the hell out of there. The next day I had a very suitable post birthday hangover. The last thing I remember about the previous evening was this guy saying he would give us 3 free drinks if we went to his club. He didn’t tell us that the free drinks were Vodka shooters. Seriously, you couldn’t put a dash of lime or something in those buddy. Anyways, that was the capper for me that night. So back to the hangover. I usually pride myself on not getting hungover very often, but this one hit me hard. Because we were leaving that day we had to be out of our apartment quite early, so I didn’t have the option of sleeping it off. I was in no shape to go anywhere, so Jo found me a nice park to lie in until I could actually walk. Yeah I know, it really was a pathetic scene. At least it wasn’t hand job park Unfortunately after our trip to Prague, Jo had signed us up to go do a 10K run in Inverness (the home of Nessy) the next weekend. Nothing like training for a run by drinking beer, eating fried cheese and sleeping in parks 5 days before the big race. Just in case that 10 day stretch wasn’t busy enough, we also decided to move the same weekend as the run. So to re-cap, went to Prague, got back on Monday, moved to our new place on Friday, drove to Inverness on Saturday, ran 10K race on Sunday, took the bus back Sunday night, back to work Monday. I think even without the run, we would have felt like we ran 10K. Even though it was busy as hell, we really enjoyed it up in Inverness. They call it the gateway to the highlands and you can really see why, the scenery was fantastic. Plus it was cool because a few of the friends we have made here are actually from Inverness, so they could show us all of the hotspots. This is also the place where they filmed Braveheart, and apparently Ryan’s mom (one of our friends) met Mel Gibson several times while they were filming (she worked in the pub at the time and from her memory old Mel did not make any anti-semetic comments at that time). Oh yeah, we did actually run when we were up there as well. Jo and I were both quite pleased with our times and we think it is something we might try to do again. Things have finally started to quiet down for us now. Jo has some big plans for the new place, so we may be doing that for the next few weeks.

58: Bone Church

60: Canada Days

62: T in The Park

64: You guys will all be glad to know that Jo is back in the good books. T in the Park (that expensive music festival we went to) was a great concert and a bit of an eye opener to Scottish "Culture". The T stands for Tennents lager, which is basically the equivalent to Pilsner in Canada. So if it makes it easier think of it as P in the Park. Now that I write that, they should have called their festival P in the Park, since that was what everybody was doing. Seriously, you couldn’t walk more than 10 feet without watching someone taking a pee, especially the chicksdo you girls have no shame. It was kind of funny actually, they had these troughs set up for all the guys, which made good sense because a lot of people can use it at once, so it cuts down on the line ups. The weird thing was that when you go into the "Trough Zone", the lineup is quite small because everybody is pissing all over the walls. I chalked these guys up to being a bunch of classless bastards , and since I consider myself a man of great class I promptly turned and pissed into a trough. Once I was locked into the trough I thought to myself "Geez, these are some pretty tight quarters here, I hope my little buddy doesn’t get a case of the stage fright". Then I realized that not only was it tight quarters, but my Mr. Man was having a staring contest with some other guy’s Johnson. I figured since they both only have one eye and to my knowledge, they don’t blink very often, this could go on for awhile. Apparently you can pee on both sides of the trough and that’s how I ended up in this predicament. Then before I knew it, one of the guys must have challenged the other guys to a sword fight because they were fully engaged. Once you start something like that, you just have to grind it out. There is something a little unsettling about your pee touching another man’s pee while it’s still in the air. I tried to act like everything was normal and that I engaged in this sort of thing all the time. The one thing I did know was that I didn’t want to make eye contact with this guy, nor did I want to look at his partner in crime, so I stared squarely at his chest until the madness ended. I’m not really sure who won this engagement, I’d like to think we both lost a little something that day. Next time I had to go to the bathroom, I proudly marched straight to that wall and pissed all over it. Ughh, anyways back to the festival. I suppose if they called that concert P in the Park, the P could also stand for Puke in the Park. I know I’ve probably written you guys enough emails about puke, hell I could probably write a novel called the Vomit Diaries with the amount of puke stories we’ve shared, so I’ll make this quick. I’ll just leave it at, Yes there was lots of puke, some dude almost puked on me, fortunately for us I think the nice lad swallowed it. Jo and I weren’t the most prepared people for the festival, who goes to a remote field in the middle of nowhere and forgets to bring cashand pantsfuck? Fortunately for us, they had one ATM machine there. Unfortunately, it was broken. We managed to convince this nice Turkish guy who was selling socks to give us cash back on our debit card if we bought something. Jo bought the loudest, longest, scariest socks you’ve ever seen, but we got some cash out of the sockman, so we were happy. This settled the cash problem and the pants problem (at least for Jo). I think the main reason Jo wanted the Freak Socks though was because everybody else was starting to dress like weirdos, so she wanted to join in the fun. | Stories Home: Festival Season

65: They had all these old army surplus type stores there, where you could buy fatigues, berets and all kinds of weird army shit. They also had full on costume shops where you could dress up like anybody you wanted. I suppose if I was swallowing my own puke and pissing on my friends, I probably wouldn’t want people to know my identity either. By the time the concert came to an end, the whole area looked like a warzone. Well I suppose if the war were fought with beer and curry’s that statement would probably be more true, but it was definitely a disaster, there was no doubt about that. Oh yeah, there actually was music there as well. Not sure if you guys want to know/care/give a shit who we saw, but I’ll make it quick and painless. We saw the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Manu Chao, Xavier Rudd, Kaiser Chiefs, Franz Ferdinand, Ben Harper, Bedouin Soundclash, the Kooks, El Presidente and a hand full of bagpipers and fiddlers. There were more bands we wanted to see, but the problem was their times overlapped so we could only see so much. We were pretty tired by the end of it, but man it was a lot of fun and a great experience. I think there was close to 100,000 people there. So that’s it on the music festival front for this year. That being said a whole heap of other festivals are just getting under way, in fact we went to an Irvine Welsh event today and check out the attached pic I got of Jo with our new best friend. Yes I know, Jo and I are constantly in battle to see who the bigger dork is, looks like Jo won this round. We updated our website again as well with a bunch of pictures from T in the Park. We also have pictures from when Jo's friend Tina (who I have now adopted as my friend too) visited around Canada Day. Poor Tina managed to break her foot in London just before she came up to Edinburgh, but she was a real trooper and managed to perservere. Actually, I think old Tina is fairly used to these kind's of things happening to her at very inopportune times. She once told us that when she went to Vegas, she managed to get blood poisoning just before she left. This didn't stop her from going to Vegas though, but it did stop her from buyiing a coke out of the coke machine, as that was where the poisoned blood finally caught up to her and it is where she ended up passing out (in her jammies). She also told us that once when she was helping a friend move, she stuck her own thumb nail in her eye (I don't think she did this to get out of helping move, but I never did ask). So a broken foot was a walk in the park (no pun intended..well maybe a little). Anyways, it was a great visit and we had a ton of fun. Welll we hope you guys are having a great summer, let us know what you've been upto (we're partial to getting pictures if you have any). Stevie P and annahoJ

66: Return to London

70: Out Takes

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  • By: Steve P.
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  • Title: Living Abroad - Year 1
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  • Started: about 7 years ago
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