Prague, dental work, upcoming plans…and on the world going to crap (part II)


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prague crazy bastard and friends

Above: Crazy Bastard and the friends he’s picked up since leaving Split last June. Posing in Prague.

April 5, 2016.

The last week have seen us crossing 3 borders: from the Czech Republic to Germany, through Austria and down into Italy. In the aftermath of the attack in Brussels you can see stepped up security in all public places. We saw it in shopping centers and at the train station in Prague. Crossing the border into Germany police stepped on the train, 3 officers with bullet-proof vests and guns on their hips. They went down the aisle looking at ID. It’s the first time I’ve seen that within the Schengen zone. They were friendly but you could see feel a no-nonsense kind of attitude behind the façade. Times are changing in Europe. Back to that a little later in the Newsletter.
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Crazy bastard and booze friends

Above: We’ve also been collecting booze from the different places we’ve been over the last few months.

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Germany and Prague and on getting dental work done

On our last newsletter I detailed our adventures and tribulations getting from Cape Town to Budapest via Bucharest (Romania). We spent 3 weeks in Budapest and then took 2 week vacation in Germany in late February (In case you missed it, I recently posted on Bamberg and Wurzburg. We love travelling in Germany). March was spent in Prague, catching up on some dental work and enjoying a city we love (we’re still split between Prague and Budapest and could honestly live in either). I had off-handedly mentioned that we would have dental work done in Prague on our newsletter and was surprised by the number of emails I received from readers asking about the costs of getting work done in Prague. Well, after long overdue checkups and cleanings, as well as having a couple of old cavities repaired, I can tell you it was worth it. Overall costs came to slightly less than half of what we would have paid in Canada. Service was also excellent, we were very impressed. Anyway the link again: Dental Office H33 (I don’t get any credit or compensation for recommending them). As I’ve said to a few people, you can probably take a 2 week vacation – while fitting in some dental work in Prague – and it’ll end up costing you the same as if you would have stayed home and gotten the work done there (minus the vacation).

Below: Easter in Prague

easter in Prague

 

Upcoming plans

After our 3 months in South Africa coming back to Europe was a homecoming of sorts and we’ve revisited a few places we’ve used as bases in the past. Sometimes you just need to slow down and take a little break. I think we’ve got that out of our system and have some exciting plans for the next few months. April will be spent where we are right now, in the small city of Padova in Italy – 20 minutes from Venice, 40 from Verona, and 1 ½ hrs from Bologna. We’re also going to visit Rome, Lissette has always wanted to visit the Vatican. The only thing that makes me nervous about Italy are the tourist hordes. We’ve encountered it in the past but the number of tourists everywhere seems to increase every year it seems…or maybe we’re just getting less tolerant of mass tourism.

May will be spent in Rovinj, in Istrian Croatia, an area we haven’t yet explored. Some people say that this area is the most beautiful in Croatia. In June and July we’ll be in Split, our base for several months last year and one of our favorite places anywhere. I’ll be leaving Lissette there for a couple weeks while I visit my mom in Mexico.

In between all the above I hope to do a lot of hiking as well as some adventure activities. We even bought a GoPro in Prague and hope to be able to shoot some video in the process.

We’ve got some even cooler plans from August on but I don’t want to divulge too much as plans sometimes have a way of changing…

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lego darth vader, prague

Above: “Use the force Luke”.

 

On migrants, Europe and the rise of right wing politics

I’ve had people writing me privately asking for my thoughts on the matter, telling me that they’re thinking of not coming to Europe because of the migrants. For those and others worried about that: the only place we’ve seen migrants are in Germany and here in Italy where we just arrived. Are they a danger? I don’t think so generally. But I do have one story – when we arrived here last Friday it was around 9 pm in Verona. Lissette went to the bathroom. It was one of those bathrooms that had a security gate, you pay 80 Euro cents and you go through. Just as she went through I saw a flash of movement – a guy in his late teens/early 20’s had run to follow her into that bathroom and was halfway through the gate. It was closing and he was stuck halfway through. Lissette yelled at him, telling him that this was a woman’s bathroom and to get out. He did but reluctantly. He and his friend, two Middle-Eastern types, swaggered past me into the main lobby of the station where they met up with a bunch of other young Middle-Eastern types. Was he just looking to use the bathroom? Maybe. Was he looking to do more than that? Maybe. But no woman likes to see a man trying to get into a woman’s bathroom, especially when there’s nobody around. Unlike in Germany, we haven’t seen any police here at all. In the short time we’ve been in Italy we’ve seen them hanging around the train stations walking swaggering like thugs looking for an opportunity. In Nuremberg (Germany) we saw migrant men at the main train stations hanging around or drinking coffee in packs. I didn’t sense a threat. As I say, here in Italy their demeanor has seemed much more menacing.

As a European I would be very upset. For those of you thinking that I’m anti-migrant/anti-Muslim for saying that, I actually support the idea of European countries (all countries in fact) taking in Syrian refugees. But it wouldn’t be these aggressive young men, it would be families or women and children. It would have been done in an orderly fashion. European leaders invited the floodgates to open, they exacerbated the migrant crisis. I wrote about here in September. A lot has happened since then and I was right on everything. I’m not a brain surgeon and I’m certainly not Nostradamus –  it just points out the ineptness of the EU in dealing with issues that were entirely foreseeable.

On the terrorism issue: Paris and now Brussels happened and people don’t seem to be realizing that Islamic radicals are bringing a religious war to our doorstep and that they hate us and want us to die. It’s not much more complicated than that. Meanwhile, Obama and Hillary Clinton can’t even say the words “radical Islamic terrorism”. Political correctness and not facing a problem are EXACTLY why people are turning to right wing politicians all over Europe and the US. And that, in the end, might be the worst thing that can happen. A couple of really good articles I’ve read lately:

Written by a Muslim, a journalist in London. I could not agree more, I think this is a great article: Enough with the Teddy Bears and Tears: it’s time to take our civilization back.

We’re talking about what’s happened in Europe. But I was especially sickened by the suicide bomb targeting Pakistani Christians in Lahore over Easter which killed mostly women and children. This article  also addresses how politicians are dealing (or not!) with it: Western Chauvinism and Lahore.

More on Islamic Extremists and why they don’t just hate the West. Great article. Islamic Extremists don’t just hate the West.

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You’re probably thinking I shouldn’t be writing politics and should stick to travel. We don’t live in a bubble, what goes on around us affects everything we do including travel. I wouldn’t be writing about politics if I didn’t feel this intense frustration with what’s happening and how both politicians and the media are handling it.

Below: Want to fight radical Islam? Drink beer and eat pork sausages…

beer and sausages
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Upcoming Posts

My next few posts in include a photo essay on Prague (we took some great photos on our most recent visit) as well as a post on how we’ve saved a lot of money on our current Airbnb stay in Italy. There’s a few tricks to using Airbnb that can save you a lot of money and I’ll explore that. On that note – use our link below to sign up with Airbnb, you’ll save USD 35 (or $46 CAD) off your first stay. You’ll notice that the amount has gone up from the previous USD 25.

bbqboy-airbnb35

 

 

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Comments

  1. Thank you for voicing your opinion on the refugee situation in Europe. I often feel like a minority in the travel blogging community as the politics tend to swing so far to the left. That being said, I do agree exactly with what you said. Inviting refugees in wouldn’t have been a problem if done properly, but it’s a madhouse now in Germany especially. The Germans are mad about how it’s been handled, and now the political pendulum will swing too far to the right. We can see that in the US with Trump’s supposed popularity. He is nothing more than a demagogue, and I think comparisons to Mussolini are not too far off. The same scenarios may arise in Europe, especially as more and more terrorist attacks occur. The left refuses to acknowledge it, the right does, but the people are so angered that they’re leaning towards the worst candidates possible. I could rant more, but it’s probably best that I cease before I, too, become an incoherent madman!
    Katrina recently posted…Europe 101: Saving Money (And Time) While SightseeingMy Profile

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      Thank you Katrina – I always appreciate your comments because you don’t shy away from giving your opinions on controversial subjects. Everyone we’ve met around the world dislikes Trump, Europeans especially (but we got a lot of questions in South Africa as well, basically asking if he’s ‘for real’). I don’t think he’ll become president for the simple fact that demographics are against him and the Republicans. But I guess there’s always a chance, depending on who goes out to vote on a given day…
      Yes, I know Germans are upset. I guess you know about all that having family in Germany. We don’t hear much about German opposition and when we do it’s those “East Germans”. I’m sure many ordinary Germans are against all the migrants and the media seems not to be covering that. But that first article makes a good point, what are European societies going to look like in 30 years if you continue with mass migration?
      Right wing politics are making a comeback all through Europe and people are putting up walls. And Eastern European countries are starting to align themselves more with Russia than western Europe (Poland, Slovakia, Hungary…). It’s not good and I totally agree with you that it’s swinging too far to the right.
      Thanks Katrina for taking time to comment, appreciate it :)

  2. Frank,
    I’m fairly new to your blog and posts on Facebook and have been following you for a few months now. I really enjoyed your post. We are Americans that live in a suburb of Wiesbaden and we are also making adjustments to the new “situation” that has emerged in Germany. Our fairly quiet town is one that is host to approximately 150 “new residents” living in a communal building which used to house seniors. And we have noticed a definite change. We have a beautiful view on our street that overlooks parts of Wiesbaden with the Main River in the distance. There is a bench where locals stop to enjoy the view. In the past you’d find mothers pushing strollers, older folks out for their daily constitution stopping to rest, or people stretching and warming up before they start a run. Now it has become the place where (for lack of a better term), a pack of Middle Eastern young men hang about the bench drinking and talking loudly sometimes well into the evening. We don’t get enough sun for my taste here in Germany, and now it feels like we are in a perpetual shadow. Contrary to what the news broadcasts state, the locals are not happy with Ms. Merkel’s decision. They are concerned for their safety as well as their property values. I don’t know what the answer is, but I will say, that what I don’t see are the women and children. I would like to be optimistic, but I fear what might be ahead. We truly are living in interesting times.
    By the way, we just returned from 8 wonderful days in London. We had not been back there for over 9 years. What a contrast! The city has really cleaned itself up. Litter and graffiti seemed almost non-existent. Diversity (at least on the surface) seemed to be fairly harmonious. And police were out in force all over the city. We actually felt much more at ease traversing the streets of London at all hours than we now do in our small hamlet in Germany. We love our traveling, but I must admit some of the shine has dulled a bit.

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      It’s great to hear from someone directly affected and really appreciate the feedback. I remember last year the reports were that 70% of migrants were young men. It was obvious from the news, you would always see these young men and few women and children. I’m hearing that this year it is the opposite with a lot of women and children coming. But the point is that these young men came and nobody thought it was suspicious or undesirable. And after all we’ve gone through in the west with security at the airports and borders they were allowed into Europe unchecked. I’m also curious how it’ll go sending the ones that don’t qualify back, that alone will be a huge job because you know nobody will leave willingly.
      What a mess.
      Thank you Nick.

  3. Crazy Bastard has been collecting friends…better watch your booze Frank lol.
    Paula recently posted…Slow Travel….By SailingMy Profile

  4. Frank, I would like to commend you for speaking the truth about these Muslim radicals!! Here in America, the politically correct are out of control. The liberal media attacks anyone who states a view different from their own. They don’t cover or down play big stories, like the mass rape by the migrants on New Years Eve in Germany. I believe they called it “sexual jihad,” The politically correct officials in those German towns blamed the victims!!
    I live in an area with a high Muslim population, near a mosque. A few blocks from where I live, on 9/11, the Muslims celebrated on the corner, dancing in the streets when the towers fell. Horrified non Muslims came out and tried to stop the celebration. They were arrested and told the Muslims were exercising their right to free speech. People were absolutely astounded, horrified and stunned at the deep seated hatred these Muslims had for Americans. America had opened her doors for them, had taken many in as refugees and immigrants, had given them a better life, had provided generous welfare assistance, and this is how they showed their gratitude for their adopted host country.
    Many Muslims have lived under Sharia law in their homelands and continue to live that way, in their own separate communities, in their adopted host countries.They make no effort to assimilate. They have many Sharia courts in England. Europe has been changed forever, and Merkle’s career is over. Soon, these migrants will demand that Europe change and submit to Islamic rule, as the goal is world domination. It’s only a matter of time before there are more bombings.
    I hope someone has notified the police about the menacing middle eastern males who are predators at the train stations. The man that attempted to follow Lissette into the bathroom knew exactly what he was doing and his intent was to harm her. They have no respect for women and shouldn’t be allowed to harass, loiter and commit crimes. There needs to be a strong police presence to keep them away and keep the area safe. Thank God she noticed him and yelled, as that showed confidence and they prefer to prey on the weak. The fact that he’s an idiot and got stuck also worked to Lissette’s advantage and kept her safe. Frank, you would have stepped in if he got through, but you were out numbered and they may have had weapons. I’m so glad no harm came to her or you, because things could have turned violent very quickly. If these gangs are allowed to continue, it will affect tourism in a very bad way. They should be in classes, trying to learn the language of their adopted host country or be doing something productive, not preying on people in train stations. All migrants that commit crimes need to be deported.

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      Thanks Dee. Wow, that’s quite the story about 9/11. You’re from close to Chicago, right?

      Assimilation IS a problem, I’ve seen it in Montreal where there’s a sizable North African population. Their grievances are much the same as in Europe and it mostly stems from high unemployment and equal opportunities. I actually had a few Muslim friends who went through just that and they became angry. Some ended up leaving. I guess you can look at it from the glass half full/half empty argument. Some are happy just to have a chance to live in a developed and safe country while others resent the new country for not accepting past education or experience. They basically have to start all over. I think it depends on who we are talking about. Past generations of refugees (not economic migrants) were just happy to be in Canada. And not just Muslims – Canada accepted a lot of Vietnamese, Chinese, Somalians, Latinos, Haitians as well as Muslims. It’s not them the problem, it’s their children and it’s strange how the problems arise mostly in 2nd generation Muslims. All the other groups I’ve mentioned above have integrated well in Canada but we, like many European countries, have a problem with newly radicalized 2nd generation Muslims. Really it comes to religion, that’s the differentiating factor. I think Muslims really have to look into their own communities and figure out what’s wrong.

      Here’s another thing that gets me. What’s the definition of a refugee? It’s someone who flees their own country because of persecution, fear, or violence. They’ll go anywhere to escape that and I remember when we were young the Vietnamese refugees that Canada welcomed. These poor people went through hell and we welcomed them and they’ve integrated themselves very well into Canadian culture. Good people. Compare them to some of the refugees that you’re seeing now, people who demand to go to Germany (since when did refugees demand where they go), throw rocks at police or vandalize the property of private citizens. There are honest refugees who just want out of Syria, but I think there are many more who just want to improve their lives – those, by definition, are not refugees but economic migrants. Last year the statistics had 70% of refugees being solo young men and 50% of all refugees coming from Syria (or claiming to come from Syria). So how many of them do you really think are real, bonafide refugees? We’ll never know because most walked into Europe without ever getting processed.

      I think there IS a “Muslim problem”. Most Muslims are not radical but we rarely hear non-radicalized Muslims speak up. This radicalization happens within their own communities yet it continues. Everything is always the West’s fault, whether we intervene or not. Whenever they’ve had democracy they’ve always ended up voting for radical Islamic parties. Democracy has failed in the Middle East (by the way, I’m talking about the Middle East, there are many Muslims the world over who don’t have the radicalization that occurs in the Middle East). I think the day all this ends is the day Muslims look within and fix their own communities (religions all over the world have gone through the same thing at one time or another, Christians were pretty damn crazy a few hundred years ago).

      Anyway, yes there will be more bombings and as long as that happens hatred on both sides will intensify. It’s ugly. Dee, I remember when I was in high school in Ottawa and I had Muslim friends back them too. And back then the whole Muslim world was a LOT less religious. Whenever religion makes a comeback anywhere the world gets to be a much more violent place.
      By the way, you should have a look at this post if you’re interested in knowing what I think of religion.

      As far as that Muslim guy at the train station? If it had come down to it Lissette would have kicked his ass. Spanky looks and acts sweet but she’s from the South Bronx – she’s tough as nails and he would have received a kick in the nuts that he would never have expected :)
      Frank (bbqboy) recently posted…Lady, can you please shut the F*ck up?My Profile

      • Yes, I’m in the southwest suburbs of Chicago, less than a mile from a mosque. I’m starting the process of moving out of this town but staying in the general area. The news recently reported that radical Muslims have threatened to commit violent acts in the middle class suburb of Orland Park, which is about 20 minutes from here. It seems no place is safe anymore.
        I agree with helping Syrian refugee families, women and children, if there is a way to prove these people really are from Syria and not migrants fleeing their native lands for economic opportunities. Fighting age males, like the ones in the train station, should have been refused entry. They should be fighting to save their country, not fleeing, then committing crimes in their host countries. They’re staring fires in the refugee camps, raping women and children and making demands on their host countries they have entered illegally, Those who commit crimes should be deported.
        The liberal media here reports the Paris and Brussels bombings were carried out by Frenchmen, which is misleading and basically a lie. The attacks were carried out by men of middle eastern and Moroccan descent, not by Frenchmen. Whether they immigrated there or not, the liberal media identifying them in this manner is very misleading. I’m of French descent and I find that to be very offensive.
        I found an interesting facebook page of Dennis Michael Lynch. A video was posted of Muslims in America, living in closed communities practicing military moves, holding long guns that look like automatic weapons. The women were doing the same things as the men. Our gov’t knows about this and is doing absolutely nothing about it. He tried to enter the community but was denied. The whole thing is very frightening, and this in not the only Muslim community like this.

  5. Great post, looks like you had a great start to the year and I’m looking forward to reading about all your upcoming adventures.

    I’m far from thinking that you shouldn’t write about politics on a travel blog – after all, political situation greatly affects travel and travel choices. In the UK the situation with the migrants is still relatively stable (but it may well change in the near future), but the stories from Germany, Belgium and other European countries are very worrying. My sister has recently visited Berlin and one thing that struck her were the groups of aggressive young migrant men, hanging about squares and stations in big groups, seemingly looking for trouble. I’m very much in favour of taking in refugees from Syria and other war-torn countries, but the priority should be for women and children, or perhaps whole families, rather than these young men. Simply because I’m sometimes scared of them, even though I know that, more often than not, I shouldn’t be.

    I like your idea of fighting off the radical Islam with beer and pork sausages though :)
    Agnieszka (Wandering Owls) recently posted…The Three Beinns Horseshoe on Isle of ArranMy Profile

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      “the priority should be for women and children, or perhaps whole families, rather than these young men” – exactly, exactly, exactly Agnieszka! That’s what I’ve been saying all along.

      Interesting about Berlin.

      Thanks for taking the time to comment!
      Frank (bbqboy) recently posted…Lady, can you please shut the F*ck up?My Profile

  6. Michael says:

    Good to know about the dental work. I hear Bucharest is another destination for dental tourism. Did you look into it there at all?

    Cheers,

    Michael

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