Transsiberian Rail road – Day 1: Arriving in Moscow

So finally the day had come! The trip we’d been planning for years was going to be realized. Men and my brother took a flight to Stockholm to meet up our dad. We checked in the day before, so the only task we needed to do was drop off our suitcases at Aeroflot’s check in counter. Checking in and clearing security went by in a breeze!

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We took a seat at a ridiculously overpriced café  to have something to drink. It was almost noon and we were also hungry. Glenn bought a bagel, and I pulled out my prepared lunch – a very filling portion of salmon quiche that I’d saved for the occasion. I find it to be a perfect food to bring on a trip, since it’s very easy to make, transport, pack, and eat. It’s also stuffed to the brim with protein, virtually carb-free, doesn’t take up a lot of space, extremely delicious yet healthy, and doesn’t require utensils to consume. We proceeded to our gate and hung out there for a while until boarding time.

Landing in Moscow went well despite heavy winds. All the passengers formed a cue at an escalator to avoid the misery of walking up to the main arrival hall. I was probably the only passenger who used the broken escalator on the side, as a staircase to walk up. I’ve never understood the sheer laziness of people in general. You’ve been on a flight for a few hours, and still you want to stand in a cue to avoid walking up a few steps? The body is meant to be USED, but most people treat everyday exercise as a plague and happily let their body slowly deteriorate by a combination of inaction and bad diet. Stupidity. To me, standing on still an escalator is completely unacceptable, I always walk them up. People seem to jump at any chance, however small it may be, to avoid spending energy. In my opinion, it’s doing yourself a huge disservice. Keep your body young, fresh and in shape instead by using it!

The immigration took ages. The officer in charge of our lane was extremely slow. She carefully examined all passports on every single detail and did extensive typing into the system. I’ve always been very curious about what kind of information shows up about passengers when immigration officers look them up. Maybe there’s some you-tube video about the topic.. Our officer seemed to be having a bad day. I gave her my biggest smile, but she didn’t so much as flinch a smile back – total stone face. The sun was also shining straight into the hall through a glass ceiling, and there was no AC to be found. It turned the environment into a virtual sahara desert, and I could see a lot of arriving passengers with sweat rolling down their faces. All passengers on our flight got cleared before us, simply by randomly standing in another line at immigration, and when I finally reached the baggage claim, the only three suitcases left there were ours.

Our driver was waiting for us, and took us to our hostel, which was conveniently located in central Moscow with walking distance to the big attractions. He didn’t speak English, and the only thing he said to us, what so ever, was a short “Jo.” when Glenn successfully pronounced the Cyrillic letters on a street sign. The trip from the airport took about 45 minutes due to bad traffic jams, and our driver did his best to cut the time by speeding through blocked off construction areas and changing lanes more often than Trump tweets a lie.

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We arrived at the hostel, which was named The Red Kremlin, and checked in. The lady who received us did speak a few words of English, but still needed google translate to help my understand what some guy told me when he came to the counter. Apparently, he said “Welcome my friends, I’m a bit drunk”. I understood the word priat, which is friend. The receptionist showed us to our room, which was a steaming hot dormitory of 3 wrangly bunk beds. It turns out that she herself was living in the room, and shared a bed with a skinny emo guy there – they even had a guinea pig. How they managed to live like that in a small bed which was barely large enough for one, exceeded my comprehension. The remaining guests at the hostel seemed to be only Russians who were in Moscow temporarily for travel or work. There was a crew of construction guys, and many guests left early morning wearing their work uniforms.

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The hostel itself was located in a back yard and shared the area with a barbershop, tap room, jazz & blues café, and hookah lounge. The crowd that hanged out there can best be described as progressive young punk commie rebels. If you’ve ever seen the movie Police Academy 2, the gang that Mahoney goes undercover into, would be a fitting visual stereotype to represent the Moscovites around the hostel.

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We took a walk to get some dinner at a Siberian restaurant that Glenn had localized in the vicinity. Walking there, our first impression on Moscow continued to grow. Impressive governmental buildings, a lot of gorgeous old alrchitecture, and people driving SUV’s like crazy cowboys. The city was clean, and seemed to have a good traffic infrastructure with big lights and countdowns with waiting times at intersections. The restaurant definitely exceeded our expectations! It had a nice interior, the waiter gave us great service and the food was very delicious. On the way back, we walked through a park which seemed to boast some type of historical military exhibition. We saw old cannons, people dressed up as soldiers, and a lot of communist propaganda posters.

We decided to hit the sack after a long day of travel and new impressions. The room was very warm, but none of us had trouble sleeping.

Review: Stephen R. Covey – 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People

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Great. Another book review among the thousands that already exist for this book. This happens to be one of the top 10 self improvement books of all time, so if you are interested in personal growth, it’s a must. My girlfriend (who happens to be the only person I’ve met that has a higher interest in self improvement than me) has been snagging me to read it for some time, and I finally got around to it. Here’s my take on it.

What type of book is it?

Practical type of self improvement book that is packed with author anecdotes and real world examples.

Who should read it?

I think everybody would benefit from this book. It’s deep, long, contains so much good quality information that it would take a lifetime or more to master it, and several re-reads to understand it.

What’s bad about it?

Well, to be honest, it bored me quite a lot. The second half of the book took a long time to get through. Maybe I didn’t find the information there as useful as the first half, or maybe I just got tired of all the information. I’m not sure, but it just took a massive amount of effort to finish.

What’s good about it?

It’s just so incredibly full of good information, tactics, and lessons to learn. The first half of the book I found much more interesting and useful than the last. Especially the part about time management. That’s pure 100% gold material and should be a mandatory read for everybody.

Final verdict

Definitely a good read, but be warned. This heavy hitter induces reading fatigue like crazy. That was my experience at least. But in the end, I got a lot of good things out of it.

Irritating things that stores do

Sometimes shopping can be a less than pleasurable experience. I’ve personally come across three very irritating things that I find is common in many stores and outlets.

Hiding the price tag

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This really infuriates me. Don’t you just hate when you are shopping for a nice watch, and the price tag is hidden on some small sticker in a place you can’t see? The staff could have easily put the tag outside the wristband holder, but NO! The hid it on purpose. It also seems like the norm these days, especially for men’s shirts. Stores like to button the shirt and then put the price tag hidden inside the buttoned shirt so that you have to take the time and unbutton it and search for it – often a nearly impossible task with one hand, since many people shopping are already carrying one or two items. You try to do it with one hand, but end up making a mess of the store by accidentally bumping other clothes off the hanger. It’s happened many times that I prefer to just not look and leave the store, rather than to take my time and put my stuff on the ground to free my hands for the stupid find-the-price-tag-game. My advice to stores: STOP DOING THIS FOR F*CKS SAKE! You SHOULD be making shopping as EASY and CONVENIENT for customers as possible. This is the complete opposite. Hang out the price tag so the customer can see it without having to lift a finger. The hidden price tags is actually costing you many sales opportunities, just sayin’.. I don’t know who’s idea this was but it should stop.

Too loud music

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Here in Singapore, a store that frequently does this is Giordano. I think that some of there clothes are actually quite nice. They have some good polo shirts and shorts. But I can’t stand even a minute in there, and I cross to the other side of the mall corridor when walking buy their stores. They blast the music in their store so ridiculously loud that I can’t even think, and on top of that, the speaker system is too weak for the volume which makes the sound distorted and unbearable to listen too. I really must question the intelligence of the person who decided that this is a good practice for creating a pleasurable shopping experience. Really? I feel so bad for their staff who have to work in that environment. I’m sure they have a very high turnover rate of staff. My advice to stores who blast music too loud: It’s been proven in many studies that music affects the purchasing behavior and decisions of customers. Your’re doing it wrong. Get it right.

Hoovering staff

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I realize that this is a cultural thing, but I don’t like being bothered by staff when I’m shopping. In some parts of the world, for example Turkey, It’s considered very bad service and rude if a staff member doesn’t approach you. In other countries and regions, people don’t like it. I’m one of them. I often wear headphones (even without music) when I look for clothes to signal that I’m not interested in having a conversation. If I want help, I’m perfectly happy asking for it. The worst moments are when staff stalk you around the stores and hoover over your shoulder. That stresses me a lot and I prefer to just leave. I would advise stores to pay attention to the customer and only approach if he or she tries to make eye contact or clearly displays a body language that is open for an approach.

What kinds of store behavior don’t you like? Something I forgot here?

Review: Hello Kitty Orchid garden

It’s no secret that I’m a fan of Hello Kitty. I have a HK pillow, a HK bracelet, a HK onesie pajamas, and I even tried to get HK to sponsor me for a fitness competition. My plan was simple. I made an Instagram video where I dead lifted 200 kg wearing my HK pajamas, and then sent in to HK. They didn’t respond.
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Landing in Singapore, one of the first things that caught my eyes at Changi airport was a luxurious looking Hello Kitty Orchid Garden! I just had to try it. Recently I made that wish come true. Here is my review of the establishment, from the perspective of a well traveled foodie with a long experience as an international bar manager.
Interior design
They’ve definitely pulled out the stops here. The place is lavishly designed. Marble tables. Lots of flowers. White picket fence and even crown moldings! Right up my alley. Approaching the restaurant, it’s clear from the beginning that they are gunning for the upper middle class customers by using high quality interior.

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Sound levels
One of the most important aspects of a restaurant for me. I stand firmly by conviction that all restaurants should have a 12 years age minimum requirement, but that’s obviously not going to happen to a place like this that is as attractive to little girls as honey is to bees. The sound levels were quite good, even for an airport! Only a few short annoying screams from a table.
Menu
Quality, quality. Easy to understand menu, good variety of food and desserts, good description of the dishes. Ironically, there are a lot of similarities between the HK menu and the Hooters menu, despite the places probably being each others polar opposites. They both know what they are and play it up very well as a strength. The language used in the menu is warm, playful and slightly humorous. Good copy writing.

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Pricing
Let’s face it. The HK orchid garden is expensive. They set the bar high with the nice interior, and apparently they set the prices higher. 9 dollars for an ice tea – not counting the service charge and tax! Main dishes about 20 dollars. I can imagine that many parents find it distasteful, considering that their kid perhaps really really wants to eat there and the parents will have to turn them down due to financial reasons. This is not a food court fast food joint. It’s more like a rolls Royce cafe. I think it’s even more expensive than the New York Palace Cafe in Budapest Hungary (highly worth a visit, BTW). I was very curious to find out if HK could deliver after setting this impression high.
Service
I was helped buy a friendly waiter who I had a lot of difficulty understanding. I had to walk myself over to cake counter to see what kind of selection they had because it was just impossible to make out what he said, even after asking him twice to repeat himself. I went back to my table to have him take my order but he forgot about me for about 10 minutes while carrying out other work. I sat there trying to make eye contact with the other staff but none of them came to my table.
He finally saw me and quickly came, and apologized for letting me wait. I ordered a carrot cake and frozen yogurt. The waiter informed me that it would take about 10 minutes since it was a busy night. The restaurant was less than half full and it didn’t look busy at all. Having worked in the bar and restaurant industry myself for over 16 years, I wondered for myself why it would take 10 minutes to get a piece of cake and fro-yo? I hadn’t ordered any warm food, and could see the cake counter with my own eyes. I approximated that it would take me about 10 seconds to go and get it if I was asked to get it myself.
After about 10 min, my cake was delivered by a food runner. She also gave me a glass of warm water. I don’t know why really, none of the other restaurants in Singapore had done that. She also told me that the fro-yo was unavailable, and wondered if I wanted some vanilla ice cream instead? I asked to see the menu again before making up my mind. It would have been much better to inform me about the fro-yo before serving the cake since that could have made me change my order. In this case though, I decided to just skip having anything else. And even if I wanted to have had ice cream instead, I didn’t get the chance to order it. She never came back to to my table to check, and neither did my first waiter. Needless to say, I didn’t tip them.
Food
So, did HK deliver food wise? I’d say yes! I know my carrot cake, and this one ranks high up there among the best ones I’ve had. It was dense, moist, and creamy. Jackpot! The back of the piece was packed with nuts and it was garnished with strawberries (not completely ripe though). It could possible have done better with just a tad more frosting, and for 11.50$ it was on the verge of scandalously small. But definitely delicious.

It would have been interesting to try the food as well, but honestly – I couldn’t afford it.
Conclusion
Well worth a visit, if you have a thick wallet and can stomach the mediocre service. I base that conclusion on the assumption that the other food in the menu is as good as my cake was.

I never wear underwear

Yes – you did read that correct. I never wear underwear. At least not underwear of the traditional type such as briefs or tighty whities. And definitely not boxers.

I’ve hated boxers my whole life. Not the garment itself, but rather the manufacturers extreme incompetence in regards to producing a boxer short that stays in place, is comfortable, and breathable.

You’ve all seen the ad..

The fit hunky guy with PERFECTLY fitting boxers.

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Ladies and gents – that image is nothing more than a big fat ILLUSION!

Why?

I’ll explain. When you put on your boxers, they actually do stay like that – for a few short seconds. The moment you start moving around, you’re screwed.

As any guy can confirm – it only takes a few minutes until they’ve wedged themselves high up into the creek of Niagara falls, if you know what I mean.

Don’t be fooled to think that you can circumvent this by forking out your hard earned dough for a more expensive brand. Nope. This universal law of nature applies to ONE AND ALL brands of boxers.

I know this from personal experience. A few years ago, I was so sick and tired of this phenomenon that I set out on a mission to find the perfect boxer brand that would rid me of the problem.

After trying brands from the whole spectrum of price ranges and materials, I had to face the hard conclusion that proving the Riemann hypothesis seemed a piece of cake in comparison to manufacturing a good pair of boxers.

So what to do?

The obvious solution unexpectedly appeared during a hard workout. Under my workout shorts, I had, like always, a pair of compression shorts.

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Compression shorts are a piece of workout gear that is made of a thin, very durable material with outstanding breath-ability. They are a bit longer than boxers, and designed to stay in place and never wedge. So I asked myself, why not leapfrog the boxer use and go straight into compression instead? I workout almost every day, and that means putting them on at some point during the day anyway. The optimal solution is to completely “cut out the middle man” and go 100% compression the entire day.

No more wedging.

Breathable.

Light.

Stays in place.

Very comfortable.

Creates no lines that can be seen through the pants.

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Since that revelation, I’ve been using compression shorts instead of boxers and I haven’t regretted it a second. And the list of benefits is even longer!

I found that boxers have an average lifespan of 1-2 years. Wear them any longer, and they start looking like something you’ve fished up out of the water close to the Fukushima power plant meltdown. Compression shorts on the other hand, have a life span of AT LEAST 6 years. I still have and use all of the pairs I bought 8 years ago. After 6 years of use in both sports and every day life, the seams on a few of them started to come undone. It was an easy fix with my moms sewing machine, and since the fabric itself was still intact with no holes, I kept them.

I also found that with boxers, they would start to smell less favorable as their age approached 1 year. With compression shorts, this isn’t the case. None of mine smell anything what so ever, even after 8 years of service.

 

Another important difference is the price. Let’s face it – boxers are quite expensive. A pair of nice looking Calvin Klein or Björn Borg’s sets you back a bit. When the short life span is taken into account, this is a very poor investment. Consider compression shorts instead. The price for a pair is in many cases close to half of what you would pay for a pair of boxers. It’s a no brainer gents!

Lastly, I’d like to share another important benefit and that is that the material dries EXTREMELY fast after a wash! Compared to heavy, water soaked boxers, the light and breathable fabric of compression shorts feels almost dry straight out of the washing machine.

And they tolerate higher temperatures of washing. Try to wash any pair of brand new boxers in higher temperature, and they come out looking like your grandpa’s. The color has lost it’s punch completely and they feel old to the touch. Not so with compression shorts. You can wash them in the highest temperature like bed linen, and they’ll still look brand new.

And they take up less weight and space, so good for traveling.

So there you have it!

ps. Eastbay is currently selling compression shorts for 11.99$ a pair..

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They even have 21 colors!

Workout program fall 17

If you didn’t know, I’m writing this post in a state of total drunkness.
It’s probably the first post I write completely shit faced, but hopefully it will contain my true goals, ideas and thoughts. Enough rambling lol.

I just finished watching magic mike XXL while drinking rakia out of a plastic bottle. It made me miss my friend Vladimir who is usually travel with a couple times a year. Anyway, if I’m serious about mounting a come back to male stripping (which I am), I’ll need to be in shape. So in my present drunk state I created a fast logo for the fall program which will get me back into amazing shape. Here it is (the first image I ever created in photoshop while drunk):

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It continues my “fall theme” of male stripping. I haven’t made out all the details of the program yet but since I’ve been working out for 16 years and have a background as an elite athlete and fitness competitor – it’s more or less in my back bone and I know what I’ve gotta do and what my body responds well to.

I’m really looking forward to getting back. I’m not necessarily in bad shape now but I have some work to do. Anyway, I’m working tomorrow and have to be at the university at noon to get help with a programming assignment, so I’ll go to sleep now. Just one more sip of rakia lol. Sayonara..

 

Want to work in a club in Greece/Spain/Bulgaria/Cyprus?

I have been asked by old employers if I know anybody who wants to have an amazing summer of memories, working in a club on any of these charter resorts? So if you do, please send me a mail at Dannyboy@bartender.net or call me at +46735111198

Bartenders, waitresses, DJ’s wanted..

The recruitment process for the summer has started!