Saturday, January 21, 2012

When in Rome (or Germany in this case)

Sitting here sipping a bottle of Becks in a cafe near my hotel this evening here in Bavaria.  Started writing with a coffee drink they call a “White Mac.”  I call it coffee crack, my second one today. #justyum.
THE White Mac
This morning started nice. Indeed, quite.  That is if sleeping in until 11am on a snowy Saturday morning in Germany sounds good.  It did to me.  I was up pretty late last night hitting a few bars here in Weiden, so relinquishing myself to the blissfulness of the cozy hotel bed was, well, blissful.  As I lay ensconced in my prone position under the comforter I thought about the day ahead, and how I should create my Saturday story.  I thrive to create my Saturday stories on the fly, finding the best things usually come in unexpected doses. 

I’ve been making a habit of reading from Meditations From The Mat every morning, and today was no exception.  Today’s reading was about Satya - Commitment to truth.  The reading started with this quote from Almost Famous.  “The only true currency in this bankrupt world is the truth that we share with one another when we are being uncool.”  That, my people, is simply wonderful. 
The reading goes on to say “...moments when we come out of hiding and allow ourselves to simply be truthful with another human being.”   I simply adore the things in these pages and look forward to peeling back a piece of the onion each day; more than in these pages, in myself.

Goodies for coffee
Time for something to eat, and I knew just the thing(s).  A White Mac, first of the day, at the Beanery Cafe next to my hotel.  This is no ordinary cup of coffee, no sir.  The White Mac is a beautiful thing!  Then it was time to grab some Breze mit Kasse (pretzels with melted cheese).  They are so dang good, and hit the spot before I headed off to the Thermenwelt for my swim. 

Bread Heaven
The snow/rain mix was coming down for most of the day which meant I wasn’t going to venture out too far, but that’s quite okay with me; plenty to do, see, and experience right here in Weiden. 

Swimming laps in German pools is not like it is back in the states.  Of course not, that would be disappointing.  The hardest thing to get used to is the way the Germans pretty much ignore something I value called “lane integrity”.  They obviously draw a quite distinct and separate line between driving and swimming habits.  Superb and attentive drivers fall victim to zig-zagitis in the pool.  Anyway, it’s all good.  I finished my nearly hour long swim and decided to take myself up on a little of that truthfulness, unabashed and fresh, a new experience. 

Life, dive in!
I lived in Germany for several years and never visited one of the saunas they are so famous for.  Figured no better time than now, as there is one in the facility where I have been getting in some laps. Let’s put it this way, a towel is about the most bit of 'clothing' people wear in the saunas here, and that’s (optionally) for brief periods while going from section to section.  Personally, I'm not a creature of public nakedness, so it was a bit outside my comfort zone. After experiencing this, I can say it’s really not a big deal in the grand scheme of things.  First stop, a 70 degree Celsius (158F) sauna room infused with Eucalyptus!  It was amazing!  After sweating quite a bit I headed to the next room, a 100C room that wasn’t as invigorating.  Then I discovered an indoor/outdoor pool... I seriously think they put ice cubes in the water because it was super cold.  I can now say I have done a January polar bear swim naked in Germany as snow was falling.  It really took my breath away, literally.  For a minute there, as I was hyperventilating in the North Atlantic ocean temperature water (expecting to strike an iceberg any moment) I thought my lungs were going to up and quit on me.  So, that’s that, I’ve done the sauna thing.  It was okay, but at the end of it I don’t see the big draw. 

Otherwise known as "Sex Soundtrack"
Next on the agenda was finding a new iPhone case.  Mine went, as they say here, “kaput”   I remembered a store I used to go to all the time called Media Markt.  Great place for electronics, not much different than a Best Buy.  There is one not far from where I’m staying so I decided to head over and find a new case.  One of the coolest things in Media Markt is being able to listen to CD’s in the store at the listening stations. I used to spend hours checking out new stuff in the days before I was as much into downloading digital versions as I am now.  Find a CD that catches your interest, any CD, and simply take it to the counter and they will rip off the plastic for you and you can then check it out.  Pretty cool, perhaps Best Buy should take some tips from them.  I’ve always loved the compilation CD’s they put out in Germany, and Europe in general.  I found a handful of interesting titles to sample ~ Titles like Minimal House Classics, Public Chill, Late Night Sessions, Pure House, and a couple others.  In general I simply take note of tracks/artists I like and go back to my computer and find YouTube or MP3 versions.  Anyway, it brought back some good memories as I stood there listening to music and not having a worry in the world. 
Walkabout in Weiden Stadtmitte

Back to the hotel and I decided to set out on foot.  All bundled up for the rain and cold weather I head out and take in the city in the evening as things start to slow down.  Such a crispness in the air that went beyond the chilly weather.  I think it’s just that my senses have been fully invigorated today, and quite a bit overall lately.  The subtlety of life is enormously beautiful.  The best part yet, it keeps going.

From Rome, with love.
Coolest Mailbox ever!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

GPS to Jeff: Continue on This Road for a Long Time

Potatoes, like realy good ones
Last night, after being awake for what I am guessing to be 36 hours, I went to bed around 2 am (I don't recall exactly, as I was decidedly intoxicated). Nonetheless, I managed to take the advice of people who told me to not go to sleep right when I got to my hotel. After getting settled in and accepting the fact that internet access is going to be challenging, I proceeded to venture out, making it all of 100 feet from my hotel when I spotted a quaint little place called Cafe Frieden. Decided it was time to do what one must do in Germany, and went in for a beer. 2L of Pilsner and an interesting conversation with a local later and I was off to find food! While walking I stumbled upon an American diner aptly named The Fifties. Decided it would be interesting to experience the German interpretation of the theme and went inside. First things first, more beer. Second, order food. I am not a big burger and fries guy, so I ordered the chicken breast with melted Swiss cheese and mushrooms, which came with a side of delicious potatoes with bits of real bacon and green onion.  The ambiance  and food were pretty good, but not on par with Johnny Rockets take on the theme. I did enjoy the 50's diner style swivel stools, and the art deco jukebox looked really cool, but the music played on the flat panel TV's strung on the walls was more the Jay-Z and Justin Timberlake variety.  Based solely on the number of diners, I'd say it's a hit here.
The Fifties

Random fashion trend thought...To me, folding up the bottoms of your blue jean legs is really saying "I found 30/34 pants on clearance when I really wear 30/32's"
One of my adult life goals is to make a really worn out pair of jeans without cheating. 

When I asked my server where good nightlife options were, she told me about a place adjacent to my hotel called the Edelweiss (which is a flower, btw)
Here I go, on to the The Edelweiss
I walked in and BAM, it was pretty packed! Everyone was dressed fairly nice, as it was Saturday night. This will totally not matter to you, but I was wearing my black Lululemon Work to Play pants, blue A&F button down L/S shirt, black Kenneth Cole sneakers, and my tan Kona Brewing Co. military style hat. Not bad, but not clubby.
Edelweiss fun
But I digress... Drink order, Red Bull & Absolut, or as ze Germans say, Vawd-ka Red Buul (VRB).  Got that good jet lagged buzzed and delirious party night feel in my bones... Could tell it was going to be a fun night, so I thought a wardrobe change was in order for later hours. Walked the 50 feet to my hotel, ditch the hat and shirt, opting for my favorite white Lucky Brand Tee.
Didn't really talk to anyone in great length, but the people watching was great. Wish I spoke German, because then I probably wouldn't appear so strange to people here.

Intoxicatedly unfucked after too many VRB's,  I head off to my room to crash, and crash I did!!
I literally could have stayed right there in that comfortable cocoon of a bed all day, but knew better than to do that.

Today I finally ventured out, and on the way to the pool ran across a BMW dealer, stopped and gawked at a few cars, X6M, 1M, and an M carbon fiber bicycle... (holy shit cool)
I have not found a Yoga studio here, but did find a swimming pool place (a term highly unrepresentative of 'pools' here)

Funny how everyone has had food and beer tips, but not one, nien, on anything fitness related. I did find a great pool/sauna facility, and thankfully don't have to lap swim naked. If I get fat in Germany I am blaming all you bastards  who were happy about me going

Sundays in Germany are very quiet on the commercial shopping side, but on the Schwimbad side they are jumping!  I have been to several German pools before, but this one was  definitely the most interesting! 

I got in 50 laps, but must preface that Germans, while although impeccable drivers who can vault safely down the Autobahn at ridiculous speeds, apparently don't know shit about staying anywhere close to "in their pool lane."  Anyway, after laps I decided it was time to explore the massive facility...this pool complex is huge, several areas to check out, including an outdoor steamed section that included a waterslide I could not resist.  It was connected to an enormous indoor swim area via water bridge with a plastic divider 'thingy', separating the two areas. #awesome. Really cool! Waited in line on the stairs for 20 minutes to get a ride down the slide and it was totally worth it! Pool was amazing, and I will be back many times for sure. I didn't venture into the sauna area (#nudity) so that was not a factor in my impression of the place. If you've been to a beach/pool/sauna where nudity is accepted you may appreciate my sentiment that it's normally the people with bodies that definitely should definitely remain covered who seem to be the ones to take part.

From my Yoga reading, this was the best thing today: We must find within ourselves the maturity to tolerate the duality of our nature, while allowing the possibility of victory over our darkness. So true, accepting ourselves for what we are and striving for be better, to be who we know we already are...

Tipping in Euro is so messing me up once again.

And I'm thinking that's a good enough summary for today.  Yes, enough to recall the memory of what it was, and that's all i got...
One Love.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

The audacity of brilliance is muted by the notion of a doubt.

Life, nobody ever followed the instructions and had a great story to tell about it later...

I made it to Germany, and through a couple hundred fun-filled kilometers on the Autobahn, in one piece. Yay! 
Those who've been fortunate enough to be able to drive on these famed highways know the moment of truth at the airport doesn't come with landing, nor with getting through passport control and customs.  The moment of truth, my friends, comes when it's rental car assignment time. Yes, it's that moment when you find out what you will ride into the Autobahn battlegrounds.  Therefore, tact and good behavior must be tapped into for this.  I flashed a nice smile and said something random I don't recall right now, and with that the female Hertz employee said "Oh, I'll go ahead and upgrade you since you're 5-Star Gold Member (No, not from Austin Powers)  So then I made my way to the aisles of cars and walked past Mercedes C-Class's, gorgeous Range Rovers, Jaguar XJ's, BMW 730d's (only available in Europe), and for a moment was embarrased for the USA as I (thankfully) passed a Chevy HHR, simply shaking my head in pity for the vehicle obviously shipped to the wrong continent. My chariot for the next 3-weeks is a VW Passat Wagon; not bad at all, and thankfully not a Ford Escort or Chevy HHR. The drive from Munich was absolutely gorgeous, reminded me how much I love driving in the German countryside. Speeding along, I passed farms stretched out for miles over the lightly covered snow dusted hills, AGIP gas stations, Ausfahrt signs, and had some fun in the ever calling, ever respected, left lane. An opportunity presented itself and I accelerated to 200km per hour for a stretch, which brought back that wonderful seat of the pants feel I've not experienced since leaving here in 2006. Ah, what I wouldn't give to have my M3 Coupe here right now...

Although sucking the big time jet-lag frozen corn dog, I’m in good spirits and all settled in to the Klassik Hotel am Tor in the Bavarian city of Weiden.  My room, #61 if you’re keeping score, happens to be in the tower of a building constructed in 1466.  Like many other things in Europe, it’s old, like really old. Based on another photo in my room, Richard von Weizs├Ącker slept in good old #61 in 1988.  I did a quick “Google” (yeah, it’s a verb) of him and learned he was the Mayor of West Berlin and the first president of a unified Germany who had a ten year term in office...So that’s sorta cool. More on that guy
The room is large by European standards, a suite really, and possesses a large bed with two separate twin sized mattresses.  I never understood why they don’t simply have more queen and king size mattresses in Germany, but think it’s probably because there are few vehicles here you can fit a king mattress into when bringing one home from the store. No, I don’t really think that’s the reason, but that’s not a bad initial presumption, and may just work in a drunken trivia battle sometime.

On the flight here I watched two movies, Crazy, Stupid, Love (sweet soundtrack btw) and Black Swan.  The first was fantastic, super funny, and an overall ‘feel good’ flick with a super cool twist at the end.  Black Swan, in a nutshell, is about a bat shit crazy ballerina who is about to burst into tears the entire movie and subconsciously scratches the shit out her own back at night when she’s sleeping.

Some random things I thought of and jotted down during the flight...
They paused Crazy Stupid Love to tell me about the great duty free sale they have on Marlboro Lights (in two languages)... Am sure that really helps those who may have just resolved to quit smoking... Like telemarketers, there outta be an "opt out" for lame airplane announcements.

In other news, I bought a six pack of Bud Light on the plane for $42. #beerisexponentiallymoreexpensiveat39000feet.  Oh, and you just did a doubletake on the word sex...  Wait a tic, now that I think about it I could have simply purchased a bottle of Gray Goose Duty Free for $35 and bribed the flight attendant to let me open it early.

Lastly, in my zombified state I was watching that map of the route they show on the large screen over the front of the center aisle.  Those things are like the CNN Headline News of the skies, but soooo interesting you have to buckle in for fear you just might burst out of your seat with excitement... The info includes some useful details, like the time of arrival (#setmywatch) and temperature (#findmygloves) at the destination... Yet somehow I think the folks who came up with what to tell passengers on these neato screens ran out of good ideas fairly quickly.  Between showing the actual useful stuff just mentioned, there were also some not so useful details, such as...Cruising altitude: 39,000 feet... Um, okay, next... Outside Temperature: -94F. Yikes! Okay, I'm stupid, Spill it US Airways, and explain again why you would tell me this? Is there something I should know about where you send people who get caught “tempering” with the lavatory smoke detecter.  Yes, the sticker in the lavatory actually reads tempering.  Oops...

And so my 21 days in Germany begins, Guten Tag...

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Because I can.

I tried the online dating thing for a while about a year ago, and other than a handful of dates it wasn't too successful.  Since then, I've focused on being active in things I love doing, and sticking to that regimen on a continually increasing level in my life.  

Might as well, it's free :)
That said, thought I'd like to capture the dating profile I posted some time ago, and have tweaked and bended numerous times.  Anyway, here ya go...

Hi there! I’m outgoing, funny, attractive (your call really), witty and fit. I’m told my smiles and laughs are contagious. I take care of myself and workout at least 5x per week, I love Hot Yoga, swimming laps, cycling, skiing, MUSIC. My 2 children, 18 & 20, do not live with me.
Her (You) Attractive, spontaneous, passionate, witty, sexy, good with PDOA, puts words to action, loves travel (planned or spur OTM), live music, healthy food, cold beer...okay, so those are a contradiction, but life needs balance, while an occasional imbalance serves to keep things spicy  :), flip flops, sand in her toes as the tide goes out, Saturday afternoons, body rubs, scented candles, bubble baths, unplanned trips, witty and a notorious smart ass, inspired, enjoys the outdoors and getting her hands dirty, doesn't go to bed mad, helps others just because they need it, is easily approachable, outgoing, thoughtful, and curious about understanding people and things, is sensual, pretty and confident without "needing" others to know it. That said, she rocks the no make-up look without stressing. Loves to laugh, can have a few drinks without trying to forget something, appreciates art, talks issues through rather than storming off angry. She appreciates being spoiled by her man, which does not equal being smothered. She is totally trusting and trustworthy. Takes time for her and knows she can give more to US when she feels good. Is comfortable taking charge, but also w/ being led at times, doesn't prioritize petty matters over the things that are most important as a couple. Makes her man feel special with little surprises just because (and it will be SO reciprocated). Isn't craving marriage, but could (maybe one day) with the right person. Basically I want an all-around girl who treats her man like there is nobody more important in her life and who wants to be the most important thing in his.
About him (Me) I change gears in a heartbeat, (lots with music) am very fit, go with the moment, love my few close friends, am structured...but very un-stiff. Friends tell me I’m pretty hilarious. I just retired after 20 years in the Army. That said, my favorite music includes the following and so many more…The Cure, Broken Bells, Thievery Corporation, Bob Marley, 311, Maroon 5, John Mayer, Sublime, Deadmau5, Imogen Heap, Lady GaGa, DJ Tiesto, Bassnectar, Dido, Adele, to name a VERY few and give you a glimpse into that part of me.
My fav “out and about” hangouts lately have been The Oceanfront – Waterman’s, Catch31, Crocs…up near me I like Bennett’s Creek Marina and Riverstone Chophouse.
Anyway...I have pretty much ditched TV and don't miss anything there. I love movies and a few series (Seinfeld is the best ever, but I also dig Dexter, 24, Weeds, and Nip Tuck) . I have always been into fitness and have a BS in Exercise Science...have an extensive background in endurance sports. Love sunrises/sets, photography ~ and am usually one who says "Wait a minute, gotta take a picture". I am content exploring places alone, but it's much better with a friend. Enjoy the simple pleasures in life. Quiet Sunday mornings on the porch, cycling the oceanfront on my cruiser, driving with the top down, a cold one post mowing the yard, the sound of crickets and smell of fresh cut grass on a summer evening, relaxing with music. Love things heartfelt and to surprise a woman with something out of the blue. Valentines’ Day doesn’t mean much because if you need to wait for a special day to celebrate your love...sorry, you obviously aren't very passionate. I love spontaneity and drives to nowhere in particular with the music jammin are more precious than expected. To me first dates...are an interview really. I’ve had some really good ones, and some not so good ones. Attitude is the key.

I have learned a lot in life, but each day am learning how much more I have yet to discover.  The journey alone is special, but I imagine the journey as a pair can be pure magic.