One Night in Warsaw

If there is one thing I can say about the Poles, they are hardy. And they have to be to live in this country!

Ha, well, as you may have guessed, no matter how much I rag some countries, there is ALWAYS lots of good things, even if those things (such as churches and fjords) don’t matter a whole lot to me.

Actually, it is probably about time to reproclaim my disclaimer. Many of the places I travel to I ONLY visit for 1 or 2 days, rarely more than a week or two, and almost always to the main city in the country. OBVIOUSLY if I spent more time in any of these places, and saw more of the country, I would undoubtedly find many beautiful things about it. And, I’m sure, more things to dislike. But my disclaimer stands as this: I am just commenting on my own experiences and full well realize that they are extremely limited. But this is my blog and, in one of the very rare moments in life, that means that I get to do as I damn well please. And so I will.

And so, in regards to Poland, I was in Warsaw for 2 days, 1 night. However I did live like a King, unfortunately I did not get the opportunity to coronate a Queen, or princess, in my brief time there.

Similar to all the places I have been in the last two weeks it was a windswept, chilly place. WHY DOES ANYONE LIVE IN NORTHERN EUROPE???? But unlike all the previous places, the English language is barely understood here. It took me five minutes to explain to my taxi driver to go to the most famous square in all of Warsaw, thank gawd I didn’t stay anywhere lesser known!

I booked a room at a place called the Castle Inn… Trip Advisor told me it was a decent place. What it didn’t tell me was that the cute Polish receptionist would take a liking to me and upgrade me to some sort of royalty room for no reason. She even walked in, without knocking, at 11am… I was unfortunately too hungover to take the hint or I would have yet another great Penthouse Letters story.

The hotel is actually great. It is really nicely situated, literally 10 meters from Warsaw Castle and a nice square with requisite sculptures etcetera. The area is very throwback. You actually feel like you are living in the Soviet Union in 1938 here.

But after I got upgraded to the Austin Powers super-room (pics below), with 30’ ceiling as is normal in these parts, it took on an even more cool feel.

Austin Powers Room 1

From my home base, basically living in the pimp Austin Powers room right at Warsaw Castle I entered into the night.

I went to three places in a row that were recommended by the antiquated internet, which ended up being closed, before I arrived at a place called “The Underground�, somewhere in Warsaw.

As per my experiences in Finland and Latvia I was then inundated with horrific music. The 3 hottest tracks there were Footloose, C&C Music Factory’s “Everybody Dance Now� and the place exploded when they threw on Michael Jackson’s deplorable, “Black or White�. I drank some horrible brand of tequila as quickly as I could to numb myself to the experience. Although there were a fair amount of passable females there and, in actuality, I appear to be of interest to many I couldn’t seem to get fully past the cheesiness.

But if there is one thing northeastern Europe has taught me it is that no dance move is too terrible to do in public

Europe is where old songs go to die but unfortunately they don’t die, at all! Like undead zombie sentinels they roam this so called continent (how is Europe a different continent than Asia?? Oh yes, because “those peopleâ€? look different than “usâ€?… PLEASE… ridiculous scholarly thinking as per usual) even gain strength in this region, becoming more than stupid candy pop tunes from two decades ago and becoming the coolest thing ever. Apparently the only criteria for absolutely loving a track here is that you have heard it before… 20 or 30 years ago. If you are a DJ and you are terrible, go to Poland, Latvia or Finland. No one will ever know! You will be a superstar! You play music??!! AWEEESOMMEEE!!!!

I do have to give them credit for one thing though, when the people here go out they do have fun… Whatever music is played they are laughing, smiling and popping and locking! RAISE THE ROOF!!! WOOF WOOF WOOF DOG POUND!

Maybe it’s the food. Going back to my earlier theme, the food here is hardy food. I am sitting at a café in Plac Zamkowy square right now and just had a plate of perogies with a cup of borscht as chaser. I didn’t really know this before, but borscht is just basically beet soup. I don’t know why, but I love beets. The perogies were flour and potatoes, with some cheese. So basically they eat potatos and beets. They probably need this food to get through the winter considering how terrible the summer is. Every time someone walks into the café, someone quickly rushes to close the door behind them before the bone chilling wind freezes out the place.

As an interesting anecdote, I grew up in northern Canada in a place called Edmonton which had a large Ukrainian population, likely drawn to the place by its barren coldness. It was so Ukrainian there that the biggest tourist attraction, besides ridiculous West Edmonton Mall (the biggest mall in the world at the time, recently surpassed by 85% empty and unoccupied South China mall) was a GIANT Ukrainian Easter Egg. The world’s largest! Hazzah!

Point being, likely because of the proximity to all these Ukrainians I grew up on a fairly steady diet of perogies, kielbasa and the enticing sounding, cabbage rolls. Mmm mmm cabbage!

But, interestingly enough, everywhere I go in the world I run into Ukrainians. They are providers of prostitutes to the world. If you are anywhere and there is a white girl trading money for sex, she is likely Ukrainian. So, whenever I happen upon an Ukrainian I always say, “I love perogies and cabbage rolls!�… to which they always look at me like they have no clue what I am talking about.

So, final point being, even though I always thought perogies and cabbage rolls were TOTALLY from the Ukraine, I think it is more precise to say they are more from, or near, Poland. Especially considering that I am at a Polish restaurant right now and eating perogies. They didn’t bring sour cream with it, though, which is what I was raised upon and I didn’t want to ask, to be the stupid “American� in the room who thought perogies were to be eaten with such a strange sauce. Nonetheless, it was excellent. I do love perogies. And if I lived here I’d definitely eat them all the time to get me through the cold winters AND summers and the bad music.

The girls here are generally quite cute though. If I had to subject myself to ONLY white girls I’d most certainly stay in Eastern Europe or South America. Parts of America have, of course, some amazing and cute girls but the majority have been victimized by their fascist government and a school system intent on dumbing down the population to make finding an enlightened girl there a challenge. And the majority (not all.. but most) Canadian and western European whites are so puffed up with a sense of self-importance to even bother.

I am now heading westward to Brussels. There is an outside chance I may have to go BACK to Norway. If I do I will not be in a very good mood at all and the people I am dealing with there will be in for a very difficult time. If, however, they do as they said they would do, I think I will VERY, VVVVERRRYYY quickly head back to one of Earth’s great regions, Mexico. I miss tacos and the spicy Latinas. Ay mami, Latinas!

In the meantime, the girl I fell in love with in Tallinn sent me some pics and vids, so here ya go:

Jana 1
Jana 2
Me, Jana, her friend and two tag-alongs
Video taken at Hollywood nightclub in Tallinn (Large file: 12mb)

Timewarp to the 80s in Riga

Well, one night was enough in Riga.

As with Tallinn, Riga has a neat, nice old town area. All “old towns�, almost anywhere in the world, are great. In the old days people knew how to build a city which is walkable, comfortable and enjoyable. Most modern cities are just concrete jungles with no sense of style or livability.

During the day the old town is very nice. It’s quaint. And there are lots of beautiful girls everywhere. Where they go at night, however, is the mystery.

But other than Riga’s old town, I didn’t like Riga much. Tallinn is better in every way I can think of. The people are much friendlier in Tallinn. They are also better looking. And the nightlife scene is much better there too.

It was rainy and cold on the Wednesday evening I was here, which of course did not add to my perception of things. A nice sunny day can make even the dreariest of cities seem just a bit better, and vice versa when it is cold and rainy.

I tried to play poker at the casino at the Reval hotel downtown but they only had a small tournament running and even at 12:30am they only had an ‘interest list’ for a cash game. So, again, Tallinn is superior in this regard too.

I walked around the Old Town for a bit but not much was happening other than a few escort/strip clubs which had their girls out on the street trying to entice you in with their nicotine induced raspiness and super strong, Russian sounding accents.

So I then hopped a cab and went to a place the taxi driver recommended, called Essential which is downtown.

Essential was terrible. It is small and has an awkward layout with too bright lighting and the crowd there was ultra goofy. In fact, when I try to picture some of the breakaway Soviet states and how they must’ve been right after the Soviet Union dissolved, this club is what I picture. The guys were dressed really badly, like they still lived in the communist Soviet Union. Many were “dressed up� for this big night out at Essential in their grey, poorly fitted, cheap looking suits. The few girls who were there weren’t that attractive. And the dancing was hard to watch it was so bad. And to add even more to the assault on the senses, the place smelled of wet popcorn. Musty! But everyone seemed like they were having a great time though, which just made it more confounding.

Chinese people have the least rhythm of any group of people but white people come a close second and the Latvians at the clubs I visited proved it. I quickly left Essential and ended up at a dive bar called “Pulkvedim neviens neraksta� which translates to “Nobody writes to the Colonel�. Which wins my award for oddest named disco, ever.

The people here were a little younger and had slightly better style, but it was still terrible.

The music everywhere was so bad it was laughable. But much like in Helsinki, everyone seemed to just think this was AWESOME music… they were going crazy raising the roof and doing the running man and roger rabbit. I felt like I had been time warped back to 1992.

Some of the tracks played included “Ghetto Superstar� and I nearly did a spit-take with my vodka-redbull when they put on “Shoop�, one of the worst tracks of all time, by Salt N Pepa. There was this, sort of, break dancing guy there who was really, really bad but everyone thought he was awesome. When he started going buck wild when they put on “Shoop� I literally put my drink down and headed straight for the exit. I wish I had videotaped it, just for humors sake, but if I want an evening of laughs I’ll go to Yuk Yuks, not the local disco!

And so ended my night. My hotel, which is nice enough, called Radi un Draugi was right around the corner from the ‘Colonels’ so I walked home in the drizzle and immediately loaded up Expedia and booked the next flight out. Which happened to be Warsaw, Poland.

I really have no expectations for Warsaw… but much like how I was when I left Oslo, I find myself thinking that it can’t really be worse than where I currently am, so it’s got at least that going for it.

But I’m starting to get tired of being around all these white people. White people, in general (BIG generalization of course, there are obviously millions of exceptions), are a style-less, unhappy, unfriendly and, when drunk, obnoxious people and between Norway, Finland and Latvia they are starting to get on my nerves. As usual, Europe is always a disappointment with Estonia being the only oasis I have found yet on this entire continent. I may have to bust out south, west or east at any moment in search of sun, flava and pigmentation if this keeps up much longer.

Helsinki…

It was only a 1.5 hour ferry ride on Nordic Jetline from Tallinn so I decided to sail across to Helsinki for a few days. The ferry ride was nice and easy. The ferry itself was quite nice with a cool, loungy layout. Probably the best part about it is that you essentially leave from downtown Tallinn and arrive right in the downtown Helsinki harbor. No taxis required.

Finland is small, in terms of population (5 million) and Helsinki is smaller with approximately 500,000 in the city itself and a total of one million if you include outlying areas.

Before visiting Sweden, Norway and Finland I always kinda grouped them all into one. I figured they were all very similar but my recent trips to Norway and Finland disproved that theory.

The three countries, while similar, have quite a vast range of differences. If I had to live in one, god forbid, I’d definitely choose Sweden and then Finland after that. If I had to live in Norway I’d just kill myself.

Sweden is very cosmopolitan and trendy and nice… and everyone smells really good. Norway is very small and odd. Finland on the other hand is sort of in the middle.

One very nice thing about this entire region, including the Netherlands as well, is that everyone speaks perfect English. They all prefer to speak their native language but once they detect that you are not a local they instantly switch over to English, so that makes things nice and easy.

Finland, like most of the countries up here is a country full of rules and regulations. And people really love the oppression. Even if there isn’t a car for miles in any direction they will stand there, blank-faced and serious, waiting for the little green man to tell them to walk. When they saw me barely even look for cars as I crossed freestyle I could tell I was really testing their whole world. If someone can just cross without the green man, what’s next? Pure chaos!

I partly came here because I was aware that the Finnish national poker championship was happening this week. As per my MO, though, I slept through the entire day on which the tournament started and therefore missed it. But I did go to Grand Casino Helsinki on my last evening there to check out the poker action.

The casino itself is one of the nicer, more upscale casinos I’ve been to. As well, they had 2 of those electronic poker tables that don’t have a human dealer and all bets are made via touch screen. At first I didn’t like it, which is a first for me. Normally I like ANY new technological innovation… maybe I’m turning into one of those old people now who “just don’t like these new fangled gizmos�. But after about 30 minutes I became used to it and didn’t mind it at all. The pace of play is a bit faster and having some of the stats right in front of you is quite nice. It’d be cool to see a table with a live dealer and real cards which utilized some of this technology… hmmm, perhaps a new business venture for me. Nah. Too lazy.

I then went to the main room where actually the final table of the Finnish poker championship was being played out. The poker room itself is really nice. BUT, I have to say, the competition is VERY good. It actually seemed like I was one of the least aggressive and dominant players at any of the tables I played at! If you want to beat these tables you have to bring you’re A game… I’d put it on par with Sydney’s Star City casino as one of the toughest poker rooms I’ve played in. I ended up losing 600 euros but not due to playing too badly. I put in a great bluff on one hand and the guy called me with an unbelievably small hand. Whether that call was REALLY good or REALLY bad I’ll never know, but he seemed to make the right calls most of the time… I give him the benefit of the doubt. I bet every street and it turned out he was only on a flush draw the entire time with K6 suited. By the river he had missed his flush. I had ABSOLUTELY nothing and sensed weakness so I put in a half-pot size bet, which would normally be enough to scare off most people. But the final card that was dealt was a 6, giving him a pair of 6s on a dangerous board (A Q 9 J 6) and he apparently felt that his 6 was good, even though I had bet strongly every street. Again, not sure, might have been a terrible call or a genius call.

And then I lost the rest when I held K J and the flop came J J 6. I went all in and someone called with A J. So, that was that.

I then ventured out, even thought it was a Tuesday night and almost bound to be poor. But a place called Baarikarpanen, right next door to the casino was decent. Although the crowd was pretty lame, in my estimation. They were playing hip hop, which is fine… although their choice of tracks was odd, including tracks like “Welcome to Miami� by Will Smith, which everyone seemed to think was just great.

All the guys in the place were African and all the girls were white Finns who were obviously there to meet a black guy. When girls go out looking for black guys, and you aren’t black, you might as well be invisible. And so I was.

The lame part was all the Africans were trying so hard to act like American blacks. And all the girls were trying to act like American whites, even though it was very obvious by the way they dressed and the way they danced that they definitely were not. And I saw way too much “raising the roof� than I was comfortable with! So, basically, everyone was posing trying to act like old rap videos on TV. Lame. And so 20 years ago. Embarrassingly I used to be a rapper but I quit in 1991 for two reasons. One: I sucked. And Two: rap was already dead by then.

Helsinki is almost as expensive as Oslo, if not more so in some ways. The taxi meters in Helsinki START at 7 Euro ($11!) and you would think for that price it may not just start ticking away right away, giving you a minute or two of value for your $11, but no, the SECOND the taxi starts driving it begins ticking away at mind boggling speed!

I only ended up staying two days in Helsinki because it sucks and it is expensive and so I am at the airport right now on my way to Riga, Latvia. I’ve heard conflicting views on that place so I thought I better take a $100 Finnair, 1 hour flight there and get the scoop for myself.

I’m getting really tired already though. And this cold (14c or less) weather I’ve been putting up with for the last week is really starting to get to me. My nice Mexican tan is turning grayish already and I feel really sluggish.

If I could snap my fingers and be in Mexico in a moment I definitely would. But as is it’ll be a 20 hour journey from here and so I am thinking to maybe go to Minsk after Riga and POSSIBLY to Ukraine and Moldova after that, but I might just snap and head back to Mexico after this weekend… or at least start heading in that direction. Ah Mexico, how I love you.

But first I will go play some poker and harass some girls in Riga. If it is anything like Tallinn I may get a boost of energy and carry on my Eastern Europe poker tour. If not, vamos.

Ballin’ in Tallinn

I escaped from Oslo and flew into Tallinn, Estonia on Estonian Air on Thursday.

I stayed at the Reval Park Hotel & Casino close to Old Town. The hotel was nice enough for the price and the poker action was very good. A lot of drunken, all-in playing. I saw people go all-in after a raise and re-raise with AJ offsuit on more than one occasion! Scarily, on both occasions, the other person called and the AJ turned out to be the best pre-flop hand! The stakes aren’t huge, but a lot of the players had up to $1,000 in front of them on a $5/$5 no-limit game, opening up lots of opportunities for big profits. I actually only played a total of two hours during my entire 5 day stay, however, but that is much more to do with the women and nightlife of Tallinn, and my jet lag, than because I didn’t want to play more poker with that kind of action! I would have loved to play more but more important things beckoned, including Estonian women and sleep.

I really feel sorry for young, single men who live in places like Canada, Australia, England, Scotland, Ireland etc. Those places are as inhospitable to young men as Mars is to, well, young men. I only thank gawd I discovered Asia, Latin America and places like Estonia before it was too late.

Tallinn is a pretty small town, so the nightlife isn’t super crazy or anything, but the guy/girl ratio is pretty amazing. And the girls are, well, I’d say from what I’ve seen so far, the hottest in Europe.

I walked into one disco called Venus on a Saturday night and felt like I was walking into a trap. There were about 150 people inside, almost all of them on the dance floor. It was about 130 girls and 20 guys??? It’s like bizarro Oslo where everything is opposite… and that’s a good thing.. And the girls, as stated above, are for the most part tall and very beautiful. The girls actually all seem to be really cool, classy and nice and quite open to talking with people who talk to them. Interestingly, the guys, on the other hand, are in general kinda goofy and don’t have much style. Many of them dance like it is a retard competition or something… you just have to see it to believe it.

Anytime the guy/girl ratio is so heavily skewed to the female AND the girls are exceptionally beautiful AND the guys are in general, dorks, well, that’s a recipe for happy Jeff. Combine that with relatively cheap prices and good poker action and you are just asking for me to hang around! In fact, I was going to leave on Saturday but ended up staying longer. I am leaving today (Monday) for Helsinki but would have no problem staying here longer.

The only bad thing about Tallin is the weather. It is similar to all those other frigid northern spots such as Oslo. It was quite chilly while I was here although I hear it is possible to be warm during the summer… some people I met spoke about how they brought their swimwear and were going to go to the summertime beach city of Parnu except the weather was so poor.

On Thursday night I saw this girl dancing who was one of those girls that EVERYONE, even subconsciously, just ends up staring at. Beautiful, blonde, blue-eyed and a really nice body and moves well. There was already lots of eye candy in the building but as I scanned the crowd my head reflexively snapped back the second I saw her. She was at a bit of a crazier-club called Hollywood. There were more guys at this club… about 50/50 and she had literally a ring of guys all encircling her, just staring. I actually had to fight through them like dense forest to get close enough to talk to her.

She had guy after guy going up and talking to her… and she was actually really nice to all of them, not telling them all to get lost or anything which I find is very common amongst the Estonian women. I wait in line for a while but then finally got my turn and introduced myself… she showed quite a bit of interest which surprised me, given the onslaught of competition.

I ended up losing track of her that night but saw her again Saturday night and got her info and met up with her on Sunday night. The girl is really stunningly beautiful. And not just that, but she is beautiful inside as well. She is 20… named Jana (pronounced Yana), doesn’t drink… doesn’t smoke…. Doesn’t swear, but only in Russian she told me. She’s too young to remember Adam Ant, luckily for her, but it left me kinda asking, “what do you do?� too!

She was actually born in Tallinn but moved to St. Petersburg when she was younger. Interestingly, in the meantime, the Soviet Union collapsed and so she is now a Russian citizen who needs a visa to visit Tallinn.

She plans to return to St. Petersburg today and after Helsinki I might go visit her there.

So, after only a few days in Estonia I had already met one of Estonia’s most beautiful girls and actually one of the classiest girls I’ve ever met. What a country.

For any guys that don’t know it, if you live in any of those aforementioned anglosphere hellholes, but want a nice, beautiful girlfriend, go to Asia, Latin America or, if you prefer the European continent: Estonia. Or be like me and have girls in all 3 ;). Not sure where I’m going next but I may check out Latvia, Belarus, the Ukraine, Moldova, Romania and Poland before I regress either West to Mexico or East to Thailand, TBA.

Besides, this may be the last chance to get into countries such as the Ukraine, comfortably, for a while. I already had to scratch Georgia off my list after the US backed terrorist attack of South Ossetia was, rightly, resisted by Russia who is none too happy that the US military industrial complex is placing missiles all around Russia’s borders now, including Poland and soon, possibly, the Ukraine. It’d be like Russia placing nuclear warheads in Mexico and Canada, pointed at the US. They tried something like that once in Cuba in the 60s and that almost ended up blowing up the world. Yet, Americans are yet again fed propaganda that this was a Russian aggressive action – if they are even aware of it at all. As we speak the fascist evil American empire has placed a warship at a Georgian port. All it will take now for massive open warfare will be for the usual American orchestrated false flag, fake attack on one of its own ships to draw Russia into a battle that could have many building nuclear shelters, yet again. Meanwhile America tunes in to the NFL and slips further into ignorance. I hate to say it but many in the US deserve what is coming to them. I just hope they get that wall on the Mexican border built fast to keep them out of Mexico once Homeland Security begins rounding them up for their work camps. I don’t want to be bothered by the broke, bankrupt rabble that may try to escape from the north while I am relaxing poolside in the land of the free, Mexico.

Anyway, who knows, maybe I’ll hang around in St. Petersburg with this Estonian beauty, eat homemade borscht and learn some Russian. Not for too long though, that Siberian winter looms not far off.

In the meantime I’m on a ferry to Helsinki as we speak. It’s less than 2 hours away and I hear this week is the Finnish Poker Championship so I thought I’d sail across and see what’s up. As a point of interest, every country on my prospective travel list above all appear to have some degree of poker action. So I am considering this my Eastern Europe late summer poker tour. Now that I have escaped from Amsterdam and Oslo things appear to be looking up!

Amsterdam to Oslo

I had to get to Oslo on some business and was so, so, soooo happily nestled in Acapulco it was tough to tear myself away, but I did it.

I flew through Mexico City to Cancun, staying for one night in Cancun where even just a few hours there reminded me why Cancun is the only place in Mexico I dislike. It really might as well be in Florida, it is nearly impossible to tell the difference. At the airport I had lunch before my flight. It cost $12 for lunch and I gave him the equivalent of $20 in Mexican Pesos. He blank-facedly asked me if I wanted change.

I looked up at him, looked down to the bill again, then looked up. Yes of course I want change you disgusting POS. Or do you desire I tip you 80% for your fine airport café waiting service??!! Yeesh. Then he asked me how much change I wanted. I was almost gleeful at this question now. “All of it,” I replied. He was noticeably very unhappy about this. Too bad. Shouldn’t have asked, dick.

He begrudgingly gave me my change in USD, further showing how American this enclave has become.

Anyway, after one night in Cancun I flew direct to Amsterdam where I saw an old friend. Amsterdam hasn’t changed since I was last there a year or two ago. The bars are still all gay bars as far as I am concerned. Anytime less than 10% of the crowd is women, that’s a gay bar. And all bars in Amsterdam are like that.

So I spent my two evenings there in the casino. In two brief evening sessions I won 1,000 Euros the first night and 2,000 Euros the second night. I played very well and the competition was pretty loose and they were not used to my aggressive style of play so I got lots of action as they figured I was always on the bluff. So, at least the majority of my trip was already paid for just after a few hours of poker.

Amsterdam is an interesting town, I will give it that much. It is very unique. And there are some things I like… especially how nearly everyone rides bikes, a far more healthy and happy mode of transport that automobiles. But for a man with a taste for the nightlife, Amsterdam is a disaster. It is best to spend a nice evening with friends over dinner before stopping in to a weed café for a puff or two and then either to the casino or home. It’s actually a lot like Vancouver, in that way… best to do dinner with friends than to bother going out trying to meet new people.

So I then moved on to Oslo. Ugh, Oslo.

As you can tell, already, I didn’t enjoy it much. Norway is a really small country in terms of population but it is actually one of the most well off countries in the world, per capita, thanks to plentiful offshore oil reserves.

The city… town really, of Oslo, is very small. I was there in August and it was rainy, cold, dark, dank and depressing.

The people/tourists who go there all seem to be outdoorsy types. Content to sip on a coffee at a street café and hit the sack early to venture out to the museums and fjords.

One backpacking American girl who I spoke briefly with regaled me on all the sights she had seen. “Today I saw a church that has unique architecture, it has a slanted roof!�. I tried hard not to yawn or let my eyes glaze over too much. Or to point out that everything she is saying is word for word from her Lonely Planet, isn’t it. She clutched her lonely planet as though it was her lord and savior. She then told me that, “tomorrow I am going to see xxx fjord. It is supposed to be the biggest in the world!�. I tried to feign excitement. The biggest? Really? Wow. I then asked her what is a fjord anyway. Isn’t it just sort of like an inlet? And if so, at what point, when a fjord is big, does it not become a fjord and is, just basically, the ocean.

She clenched her teeth. I had blown her mind. She began rifling through her Lonely Planet to find the answer to my question as I walked off into the drisly Oslo evening.

I wasn’t there over the weekend, but judging by the weekdays, I can’t imagine it is anything special. On the only evening I went out I asked the waiter where is a good spot to go. “There’s Andy’s Pub. Andy’s Pub is always good. And TGIFâ€?. TGIF I asked? “Thank God Its Fridaysâ€?, the American chain restaurant, he replied. I couldn’t help but let my eyes roll back into my skull.

Andy’s Pub had 15 people in it. 14 guys and 1 lady bartender. Again, if the percentages are less than 10% girls, that’s a gay bar. We then went to TGIFridays… it was actually better than Andy’s Pub, but only in relative terms. In real terms they are both depressing.

So, there really isn’t much in Oslo of interest. It is a very northern (on the same latitude as the Yukon) small, cold, boring place. There are some cute girls around and I actually got some eye contact from some… they were probably surprised to see a non-gay guy.

To add to the horribleness, Oslo just may be the most expensive city I’ve ever been to. If not, it is darn close to London and Moscow for most expensive. I took a 5 block, 2 minute taxi ride. The meter showed $18. I already was irked at that, but then he hit the ‘stop’ button and it added in the 25% sales tax. Yes, TWENTY FIVE PERCENT sales tax?!? It instantly jumped up to $25. For a two minute taxi ride! The same ride would cost $4 in Vancouver and $0.80 in Bangkok. And don’t get me started on whether I’d rather be in Oslo or Bangkok!

Plus, Oslo really has hardly any hotels and so, naturally, during the ‘busy’ summer season EVERY single hotel was full. It was so bad that one night, after calling and going to more than half a dozen hotels I ended up having to stay at a hostel in a 6-people shared room!!! They told me it was a ‘mixed’ room (meaning girls and boys) which was the only hope I had for a decent evening but, of course, I had 5 guys from Sweden, or somewhere, in my room. Funnily, they were all friends, traveling together and I was the only other person in the room. When we woke up in the morning all the money from one of the guys wallets was missing. Obviously they all peered over at me. I just gave them the, “hey, don’t look at me, I hate Oslo and hate this place and I even hate you guys but I’m not here pickpocketing backpackers!� look. It turned out someone had broken into a lot of rooms that night and stole stuff so the heat went off me. Super. Nice town.

If there was one saving grace, and I am scraping for blue linings here, there are actually a fair amount of Thai girls in Oslo. I’ve seen quite a few Norwegians in Thailand and I CANNOT BLAME THEM ONE BIT for going there, but I figure a lot of them must take Thai girls back, considering there are no girls here, that I saw.

Actually I did see a few cute girls. They are all blonde here and all have white, white skin… but some of them are really good looking. If there is one good thing I can say about how people look here, it is their eyes. Everyone has glowing blue or emerald eyes. Other than that, the only hope for girls here is that there is quite a large population of African girls. I actually ended up with a girl from Togo on my one night out. My first Togan! Togoan? Ah who cares.

I got to the point where I nearly snapped and almost drove direct to the airport and took the next flight out but my jet lag hit and I ended up staying at an airport hotel for the night.

I just woke up and found a flight in one hour to Tallinn, Estonia. I’ve heard a lot of good things about Estonia. But, and this I can almost guarantee, sight unseen…. There is NO WAY it can be WORSE than Oslo.

Get me outta here!

Acapulco / Transformations *tips for shy people

I am STILL in Acapulco. Remember how I said, don’t worry, just cuz I got a little place doesn’t mean I’ll just stay there all the time and be boring? Well, maybe I lied a bit!

I am not sure, but I think I’ve been here for nearly 2 months now!?! Why, you might ask? Because it is fricking awesome!

I spent 4 years traveling the world, looking for the places that really suited me and I definitely found them in Acapulco and Bangkok. In fact, Acapulco is so good, it may even overtake Bangkok as my favorite place.

For those that don’t know much about Acapulco: find out! Do some googling. It is pretty much the most beautiful city in the world and is turning into the hip place to be again… but even if it wasn’t the cool place to be, it is still great.

Here are a few pics from this week:

Me at Mandara nightclub
My houseguest this week (more on that below) – pic taken from the pool in my building
A pic of the beach in front of my condo
A pic taken from patio on my condo
A pic of Acapulco Bay

I am, however, taking off next week for Europe for a bit. Not sure exactly where but am starting out in Amsterdam and will go from there. Thinking Estonia, Ukraine… was thinking Georgia, but that may not be such a great idea right now.

So, the travel updates should resume in about a week or two. Truth be told, if it was solely up to me, I’d just stay here in Acapulco for another few months. That’s how much I love it. But I have a few things I need to do.

Now that my Spanish is improving a bit more I have really been able to meet a lot of interesting and cool people here. And this is part of the thing I want to write about today.

For all those people who are kinda shy or not great at meeting people in social situations, I have some insights that i recently discovered. The results of which shocked even me.

As prologue, I am certainly no hermit. Most of the time I am traveling the world, making rounds in various restaurants, bars and clubs, meeting people. HOWEVER, much of this is done using alcohol as a medication. Without it, I tend to stand there, look kinda angry and really, just want to go home.

And even if I am drinking, it is still very difficult for me to be really social. It is only after many drinks that all of a sudden I am chatting with everyone.

Because of this, I have spent many a night going home, alone, wondering what my day/night/life would’ve been like if only I had been able to meet that cute girl.

Well, I figured it out.

I recently had a houseguest for a week here in Acapulco. This girl is, by far, the most social, flirty girl I have ever met. She can’t walk outside for more than a few minutes before someone is chatting with her and in many cases, she just walks up to random people and starts talking to them. She is very cute, and that obviously has a lot to do with it, but I began to watch what it was that enabled her to engage so easily socially. And I asked her a lot of questions about it too. It was kinda funny because she looked at me like I was from outer space, wondering HOW could I NOT just walk up to just about anyone and start talking with them.

Things didn’t work out that well with her as I was having a hard time walking along with her and having her just walk off, start talking to some guy and even grabbing his hand and be on the dancefloor with him within seconds. I was a bit jealous, obviously, but instead of getting too jealous I just decided to learn from her.

I kinda spent the week thinking things over and thinking about all the things she told me and seeing if I could make myself be like her and see if I had the same results.

The results were UNBELIEVABLE!!!!! Apparently, everyone is just dying to talk to you (especially in ultra-social Mexico), but you have to give them the right signals. And the signals are really simple and easy.

As example, I have been in Acapulco for a few months now and, partially because my Spanish isn’t/wasn’t that great, I felt even more awkward than normal trying to strike up a convo with new people. I had been hanging around a few bars that employ some REALLY cute girls, but mostly just sat there, not saying a word. They didn’t really ever say anything to me, either, which made me just feel more awkward to try to strike up a convo.

There is one place, in particular, that employs a girl who I like so much, she was the original reason I first took Spanish lessons 4 years ago, when I was here on my boat. But I never get much beyond, “hola, como estas” with her.

Well, after my houseguest left I woke up the next day and decided, “ok, let’s try this. Try to force yourself to be how she is and just see what happens, no matter how silly/stupid it feels”.

Here is all I did… they are all so small, almost unnoticeable, but apparently, everyone notices:

1. look relaxed, calm, happy
2. shoulders back, good posture (this comes just natural if you exercise…. if you don’t you have to fake it)
3. smile a bit
4. if there is any music playing, anywhere, kinda bob your head and even move your body around to the music a bit
5. look to make eye contact with people and when eye contact is made, give a nod, wink, “hola”, “hello” or some form of acknowledgement.
6. Instead of avoiding people, look for any situation to engage with people

Doesn’t seem like much, right? But compared to my usual blank, almost angry looking, face and an almost unconscious desire to remain detached, it is a big change.

So, I started by going down to the pool. It was just the first few minutes and I was just getting the hang of it and already two of the lifeguard guys came up to introduce themselves (I later saw them at a disco, with all their girlfriends, so this already paid off). I got many nice looks from girls at the pool but was still a bit uncomfortable to fully engage in convos with them.

Then I walked up to my condo. You really aren’t going to believe this. I swear I am not lying or even exaggerating. In fact I am holding back on a lot details here…

I walk in my condo, feeling kinda happy about my experiment. Then, outside of my condo, I could hear some maids talking loudly. They were out there for at least 5 or 10 minutes. So, normally, I would never open my door and see what is going on, but I thought, with my new style, why not open my door, and just see what is going on.

I open my door, and it is 4 of the cuter maids in the building. They giggle at me standing there in my towel, straight out of the shower. I say, “hola, que paso?” and give a sly grin… they respond and then I kind of give them the “want to come in” look… they were shy for a second, but 10 seconds later 2 are sitting on my bed and 2 are sitting on my couch.

As the minutes go by, I keep smiling and nodding my head to the music and make small talk and acting interested (which, actually, strangely, I was). They get more and more comfortable. Soon, they are all taking turns taking pictures with me, ogling me, touching me. It really was very close to getting out of control. It really was all I could do to keep my towel on… I was getting kissed, groped, fondled and grabbed as they went on, “ay papasito… ay mi guapito!”…

This went on for nearly 2 hours! Finally once I had given them all my phone number and promised I would see them again they finally left.

So, by this point it was only mid day, and I already had some very interesting results from my very minor character changes.

I was in a great mood and headed out for the evening. Just walking in that way, down the street, everything changed. I was getting whistled at by girls on the bus… the guy at the 7-11 told me I was very handsome, and I am pretty sure he wasn’t gay… then I walk into the first bar where I normally go and sit in silence for an hour.

I walk in… there was no one in there except the 3 really cute girls who work there and who never talk to me. I bobbed my head to the music, look up at the them, throw my arms out to the sides and bellow, “muuuuy tranquilo!!!!” (very quiet here). They giggle, get me a drink and then all crowd around me, taking my picture, touching my hair… we must’ve chatted for a half hour straight, ending in an open invitation for later this week for them all, yes all, to come to my pool for the afternoon!?!?!

So, rather than sitting there for an hour, kinda feeling bored, I had a great time. So, I then went to the place with the girl I love.

I walk in, hadn’t even done anything yet, except the bobbing of the head and the half-smile and she walked right up to me and gave me a hug and kissed me on the side of the face. The kissing part isn’t too special… Mexicans do that with pretty much everyone they know, but that was the first time she had done it with me!!

We went on to have more of a convo than we normally would, but then the lights went out and she had to run around and I wasn’t able to talk much more with her. But I REALLY got the impression that this convo was leading somewhere and I bet if the lights hadn’t gone out, I woulda had a phone # or something that night!

So, anyway, despite the electricity glitch, I was still super stoked about my entire day. So, I headed off to a disco.

Inside the disco were the lifeguard guys, so I hung out with them and some of the cute girls they were with for a bit and then I decided to go to a different club.

I walked outside and these 2 cute girls were standing there. It’s getting repetitive now, but I did the little head bob, smile and gave a ‘hola’. A ‘hola’ came straight back. So, then I gave a, “so, what you doing?”. Two minutes later I was walking into another disco with each one holding one of my hands. After 20 minutes of dancing (another thing I would never do, but my houseguest friend just told me, all I really need to do is stand there and bob my head a bit and just let the girls dance around me, which is all I did, and it worked) we were off to my apartment, where they both stayed most of the night! (here is a pic of one of the girls in my bedroom)

So, how many girls is that, total, that I either ended up with phone numbers, dates or actually ended up in my room? Nine!!! Coulda been 10 too if it weren’t for electrical technical difficulties! And I had two new, cool friends who seem to know all the cute girls in my building! All in just one day!

All because of a few very, very slight modifications to the way I acted.

And, even more great, whereas I normally would have drank a lot in order to get up the courage/desire to meet new people, I barely drank anything that night. It just seemed like alcohol would have taken away from the fun of meeting all these new people rather than adding to the enjoyment!

So, with a head bob and a smile, my night changed from a night of fairly heavy drinking and, quite often, not meeting any new people, to meeting tons of people and barely drinking much at all and having way more fun than I regularly do.

I’ll have to keep this little head bob and smile going! Who knew!

*disclaimer: Mexico is a highly sociable, very energetic, curious and open place. Whether this stuff works in other places will be subject to further testing in the weeks ahead. *bobs head, smiles and nods*, ciao!