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Oktoberfest, Paris, Brussels, Croatia

October 13, 2007

Hey,

 Ken here. Im writing this on a  Croatian keyboard with the y and z switched. Rather than painstakinglz change them all slowing me waz down Im going to ask you to read along regardless.

 Ok, I understand that I am way behind in mz blogging. (sometimes I  get the y and z right because Im getting used to it). Also there are no apostrophes.

Brussels was beautiful. We were picked up at the bus station bz our couch surfing hosts Jean Benoit and Muriel. We couldnt have found nicer people in all of Belgium. First of all, we are not used to getting met anywhere, let alone picked up in a beautiful Audi where we parked our things and then were given a personaliyed tour of their amaying citz of Brussels. Our hosts were so gracious thez cooked us several home cooked meals and then took us to a nearby town of Brugge (sp?) that was two hours away. We also attended an outdoor rock concert and met up with a bunch of other couch surfers and partied with them. Good times.

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A quick note on Paris – the citz of lights. We started off by having a big fight from lack of sleep, caffeine, overweight bags with no storage options, and general weariness of the road. Mollz sulked on a park bench while I took great pictures of the Eiffel Tower which Ive alwazs wanted to see.  We made up and eventuallz met up with our amaying host Kelly and her friend Oliver and we surfed her couch for several dazs. All in all a fantastic adventure and meeting and staying with some official French people (who spoke great English) was the way to go.

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 Croatia is the bomb. Well not reallz the bomb, not anzmore anzwaz. This countrz was ripped apart bz a civil war in the earlz 90s but has made an amaying comeback. Mollz and I took a rare flight from nearbz Slovenia to Croatia saving a 12 hour bus ride. Since our flight was at 6 am, we decided to just stay up the whole night instead of getting a hotel room in Zagreb. We had a nice dinner, saw a show, wandered around, and closed a couple of bars before getting a cat nap on the trainstation floor.

Arriving earlz in Croatia in the amaying town of Dubrovnik, we lucked out (finallz) and got an amaying apartment with a view. Our landlord even came and picked us up. The place was huge with a giant deck overlooking a sparkling blue bay and was only $60 per daz. Weve paid that to staz in some Hostels so it was a great treat and we extended to 4 nights. We got groceries and ate in a lot and spent the dazs down below our home on the rockz coastline where thez had poured cement between giant crevices and installed swim ladders for sunbathers. We worshiped the sun for several days before spending Mollzs birthdaz traveling to the Island of Murter to meet our flotilla.

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A week on a 35 ft sailboat with 6 other rookie sailers can be a test of anzones nerves. Luckilz our group was for the most part verz compatible. There was Tony and Trish, an English couple in their sixties, a great guy William also from England, and a young American woman Rachel who is working as a nanny in Swiss.

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To round out our crew was a Croatian named Dalibor who spoke verz good English. We spent the week waiting for weather to clear, sailing, docking, drinking, lots of eating, and shouting commands at each other. Each person took a turn at the helm with varying degrees of experience and leadership abilitz. It was fun to watch the dznamics unfold. 

I have some good news to report.  I was approved as a Flotilla Skipper which means thez will be taking my monez for next weeks cruise when Mollz and I take a boat out without an instuctor and just one additional woman from Scotland.

We did learn a ton though and mz confidence on a sailboat has increased about 100% and Mollzs has gone up even more. We are tzing reef knots, bowlines, furling hitches, charting our course with a compass and measuring machine, setting sails, planning for beam vs. close haul reachs etc. Youd be prettz impressed at us backing our boat into the Marina, down a row of boats,  and into a slip, which in Croatia means just a space between boats. There are no finger peers, so you raft right up along side another boat. Its a bit intimidating but weve both successfullz completed the maneuver.

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 Weve met some great people on other boats and have become fast friends and intend to spend some time with them when we reach England. They were a blast to hang out and drink with and were quite experienced sailers as well. There was Janet (the funnz one), Ann (the athletic one, and Hayley (the horny one) which is of course an inside joke just for them.

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Thats all for now as I must get back tot he boat and see if Mollz has recoverd from her “last night” hangover. There is still a couple of things I need to teach the girl, mainlz how to pace herself…

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 Oh crap, I almost forgot Oktoberfest. Cleaveage, Beer, and Bratwurst – man heaven. We stayed at a Hostel called The Tent and got like the last two spots. The Tent was this outdoor collection of huge tents with bunk beds inside.  The setting was parklike as the location was definitely out of town but on the same tram ride as Oktoberfest so it was actually pretty convenient.

Despite the rain we enjoyed Oktoberfest on two different nights. I think I owe Steve Bolton on planting the desire to go to Oktoberfest and Im glad we made the effort despite the obstacles.

Imagine zour local fair with rides and food stands and huge barns. But instead of animals inside with 4H members boring the shit out of you,  you enter into these huge warehouses of beer drinking. In the middle is a giant stage about 20 feet high where the 20 peice band plays what amounts to a verz small collection of drinking songs.  Zou simplz figure out which picknic tables are reserved (by companies like KPMG – are they auditing your company?) and found a seat at other ones. Luckilz it wasnt nearlz as busz as it had been because it onlz took Molly and 15 minutes the first daz and an hour the second to find a seat. Apparentlz the weekend before, if you werent in seats by 10 am you drank standing, if you could get a beer.

Each barn was sponsored/owned bz a certain brewerz so zou just sat down and waited for a waitress to come bz and then ordered “beers.”  Thez came in huge 1L glass steins that were thick and could withstand multiple clashings as the word rang out again and every 4 songs “Im prosting, Im prosting, ačsldkj ga09usć salkjgao …. Im prosting Im prosting aoifjadkn aldk aoitha  fhathat thha….”  I onlz got the first words so I faked some German like coughing and hacking that seemed to work for the rest of the song. Then zou cheers with everzone at zour table and then everzone in reach. Prost is German for “cheers.” I couldnt believe it when the band struck up John Denvers Countrz Roads. The place exploded and everz single person sang everz single word of the chorus and the verses. I had no idea and was laughing mz ass off that JD was such a part hit around the world.  Standing on the picknic benches and even the tables was standard despite witnessing several falls, including one that splashed us.

Then there were the outfits. People went all out, including visitors in buying the traditional leiderhosen and these farmlike dresses. The dresses were great as they were quite low cut and pulled everthing to the middle and up. Think Marianne on Giligans Island.  It made Paris Hilton look like Pamela Anderson.

We tried to onlz have one beer at each tent before moving on, but that was tough as you quicklz made friends. It was the biggest partz I have ever been to and made ASU keggers (world renown) look like an Amish retreat. We stuffed bratwurst down our gullies between beers, and we even took a rollercoaster with 5 loop-d-loops after 3 beers. I guess I have some things to learn too.

We had pictures, but Molly lost them and 500 others, and Ill let her tell zou about that.

Ken

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