Thursday, October 30, 2014

Back to the Old Country: Day 4 (Thu. 01-Oct-14)

*** This is a postponed post ***

I guess we eventually got our sleeping pattern back. It was disturbing and distasteful. Today was basically spent on more administrative stuff but surprisingly the bank service was really good. The Lady wanted to pay for her passport renewal and we went to this branch of Melli Bank in Saadat Abad St. where we received professional and prompt service. Not surprisingly most of the services work half-day hours today as tomorrow, Fri. is the weekend, unlike West which Sat. And Sun. are the off days of the week. For lunch today the mother-in-law prepared Sweetbread in traditional way which was pleasant. The weather is remarkably mild and I even wear a running suit when I go out because I don’t want to be exposed to extreme sunlight.
We went to this confectionery across from the street, called Sogol in the afternoon and purchased a box of pastry (around 1 Kg) for approximately Rls. 155,000 which equals to almost CND$ 5. Pastry is a very common desert in Iran and regardless of its bad effects on health because it is full of sugar and made in unsanitary shops, mostly, it is very tasty in a way you want to finish the whole box. This one was not that very appealing. It was OK though. One important factor in enjoying a nice piece of pastry is that they should be served chilled and since they were kept in a sort of window refrigerator I thought they were cold enough but they were not. Of course I kept the remaining in the fridge for the next use. 
After that, and I think it was around 08:00 PM that I noticed I could not keep my eyes open any longer and simply went to bed right around that time! Jet Lag affect is still in effect!
(Photo: Sweetbread Meal pot in its traditional way before it is put in the slow cooker. It is very tasty but you should go easy on it)

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Fury: The Most Stupid War Movie Have Ever Seen

One thing for sure I did when I returned from my trip was to check what's on the big screen. I realized a few movies and added them to my schedule to watch them all. Fury was one of them which I caught today but DO NOT WASTE YOUR TIME AND MONEY ON FURY. IT IS A TOTAL DISAPPOINTMENT! 
This is supposed to be the story of an American tank commander who leads his crew through the WWII and promises them to keep them alive. The story has a very slow beginning and is nothing but a few soldier talk full of profanity and that is it. Then there is a battle scene almost after 45 min. which reminds the audience he or she is watching a war movie. 
At this point the Americans reach a small town and capture it with not much difficulty and then settle down for a rest. I forgot to mention that before this scene, the Sergeant, the commander tries to man one of his new crew up, the one who's a young fella and has no war experience and for that he forces him to shoot a captured German soldier, a POW, from behind! So I really don't know what this idiot writer of the movie is trying to say but at the same time I know Americans killed many surrounded Germans. One of the obvious ones happened in Dachau Concentration Camp.
Anyways these guys are shown at the captured town and the Sergeant notices a woman looking out of a window. He goes up to the house with his new guy and discovers two women. He then orders the young guy to go to the bedroom with the younger and more beautiful girl while asks the other woman to bring her hot water so he can shave. Meanwhile the entire crew of his come and they all sit at the dinner table. The woman serves them all fried egg and they say a few nonsense word, make fun of the young guy and then leave the house. Absolutely nonsense! Pitt's performance during the entire movie and particularly when there are exciting moments, is almost average. 
As I said the guys come out of the house and this is shortly before shrapnel land in that area killing the young girl!! The American soldier who had sex a few minutes ago tries to help her out but one of the crew, the very same one who were making fun of her and were also annoying the girl, avoided him!! I don't really know what this fucking stupid write had in his mind by extending the movie with these meaningless scenes! 
Then there's the best scene of the movie and that's when the column of four American tanks are attacked by Germans. A German tank successfully destroys all the tanks except for Fury, the Sergeant's tank and eventually is hunted by them. I have to say this is a only good scene in the movie which still has more fiction to reality into it! 
This good scene is completely ruined, as well the movie, when the tank hits a mine and cannot move. The young fella realizes a German battalion is marching toward them. So runs and tells the Sergeant. He orders his crew to run but they stay with him and set an ambush for the Germans. That ambush leads to killing of the majority of the Germans(!!) and at the end all of the crew get killed except for the new young gut who gets out of a hatch and lies on the ground underneath the tank! I could not stop looking at my watch every 15 minutes and was bored out of my mind and offended by this much stupidity and lie! A German SS finds the guy under the tank when he lightens there with his flashlight but does nothing to the guy who is showing his palms as a sign of surrender!!!!
The next day the same guys shown at the beginning of the movie find the fella and rescue him!!! Thank the Lord that the movie is ended! I am a big fan of war movies and there's barely any war movie that I haven't seen and don't have its DVD but this one is a total waste and nonsense. I would give only 1 out of 5 stars and strongly discourage to watch it. 
(Photo: Film crew and actors at the set of Fury)

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Back to the Old Country: Day 3 (Wed. 31-Sep-14)

*** This is a postponed post ***

I woke up once around 02:30 AM and went back to sleep. Woke up for the second time at around 06:30 AM and noticed The Lady was up as well. She said she had been up since 02:30 AM! Obviously we both still are struggling with jet lag phenomena.  So we both went for breakfast. We had our breakfast finished by 07:30 and decided to go to another shopping spree. My mother-in-law’s idea was to take BRT (Yes BRT and that is the exact way they write it on the buses, stations and announcements, in English!) while The Lady insisted on taxi. I didn't know Esfahan even had BRT and to this day I do not know what BRT stranded for. I have seen buses with BRT sign in Calgary but all I know about them is that they were a kind of fast service bus with limited number of stops because I do not take any sort of public transportation service and intend not to do that ever! BRT in Esfahan though, l have to admit its excellence: first of all you have a card which by scanning it you go past a gate and get to the station. So the driver does not have to check your ticket or you do not have to purchase ticket every time you want to travel because the cards are rechargeable. 
Different types of pickled vegetables with different tastes. You can find anything from olive to cauliflower pickled here. They are strong and intense in taste but good. I have a box now in the refrigerator. 
The system reminds me of Toronto Subway. The bases are equipped with air conditioning so although we were traveling in a not very hot morning of Oct., the temperature was controlled and desirable. It should not be forgotten that we did not travel in rush hour. In that case the trip would have not been as pleasant, most likely. Our shopping did not get as exciting as I had imagined. Regardless of the fact that we were able to purchase what we wanted and the prices did not bother us much, I thought that shopping did not have the same joy that it had when I was here more than 6 years ago. Dried and fresh fruit, pickled vegetables, olives, bread and baked goods were among the items we purchased. We got on the same bus and went back in the same convenience. 
Updated today: BRT stands for Bus Rapid Transit which does not sound very English to me! 
(Photo, top, A BRT Station in Esfahan with glass walls to protect from cold in winter)

Monday, October 27, 2014

What Has Canada Done to Itself?!

With these all recent terrorist acts in the country, I hope Canadians open their eyes and ears and understand this is not 70s and 80s anymore. The Government has let many people in that they simply do not belong. All they care about, and they are people from Pakistan, Iraq, all other Muslim countries, etc, is making money, go around the law and skip income tax, buy a property and scam the Government and charity organizations and get money from them. And of course every now and then, show they hatred by killing a soldier or shooting a bystander. 
Do you really think the Muslim community does not know what is happening with its members?! Do they not know who goes to Syria and Iraq to join ISIS and who is planning for the next attack on a CFB or Parliament Hill?! They all now about these plans. They get together more than once in a week and review things together, whether in a mosque or a community center or simply someone's residence. I really don't know what the Government was thinking when they allow all those people in the country?! Is Canada short in workforce? OK. Does that mean they have to open the doors and pour people in, expose the country to risks? 
Now there is a sense of suspicious in people and it will get worse every year. The society is so departed and hatred is growing. Would that be a day that people fight each other in this country? That does not seem to be very unlikely but I hope it never happens.
The other thing is the role of the US and other Western countries in ISIS activities in Iraq and Syria. The US and its allies wiped out the Iraqi forces quickly in 2003, went all the way to Baghdad and ousted Saddam. He got captured and delivered to the so called new Iraqi government shortly after the so-called Iraq's liberation, tried and sentenced to death. How is the US and its allies, including the motherfucker bastards of Turkey cannot take care of a small force of probably 20,000 to 40,000 fighters of ISIS?! Isn't that because they simply don't care what's happening in there?!
In the meantime the country which used to have the highest standards of living and was a very safe and quiet place to live, Canada, has turned itself to the nest of extremist who come here, relax and get themselves ready to either go and nourish their homeland or join extremist who actually kill Canadians, either in Afghanistan, Iraq or Syria!! What kind of logic this people of CIC were following when they accepted these people in the country? I have no idea! I wrote about this problem long time ago and my writing truly proves that I am right and the Government is blind. My only hope is this time they wake up. 

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Weaselhead Park

I went to Weaselhead Park for the second consecutive day! It might sound stupid but the second time was for two reasons:

1- I could get enough exercise for my Fitbit monitor.
2- I could take a few photos.

Both of them took place but it was not as exciting as yesterday. My yesterday's plan was to go to Glenmore Park and walk for 1 hour and then 1 hour back. Over there when I was simply walking Elbow River Pathway I realized Weaselhead Park as an extension to Glenmore Park, its south part. I went until the I reached a pond and a bridge beside it. My guess was as Google Maps shows the park or Natural Area extends further to west so I decided to go again today. For that reason I started earlier compare to yesterday, garbed my camera and put warmer cloths on. I had reached the pond in about 01:04 hour but this time I don't know if it was tiredness or boredom that caused me to reach there in 01:20 hour! I then realized that the pathway turns and becomes maybe a loop around the pond. I had seen animals swimming in pond which they looked like Beaver to me especially because I saw their home but today when I paid more attention they looked to be Water Rats! They looked that way because when they were diving and their bottom was exposed I saw a long, narrow tail, instead of a short and wide one! It was a disgusting feeling because I hate rat and mouse. 
This looks like a house that a beaver build after he makes its dam and I hope I'm write about Weaselhead Park because I still think what i saw could have been Water Rats!
So I didn't follow the loop and took a gravel rood when was going to west. I could hear the passing cars and even saw one or two before I reached another gravel road which was going north-south and that seemed to be the end of the park. This is actually what you see in Google Maps and the north-to-south road is called Weaselhead Road in the map or at least this is what I want to believe! 
Anyways there is a kind of plant or business there when you cross the road which is called Sarcee Asphalt. That again is not seen in the map but it's expected because not all of the business are shown in Google Map. I headed back to the parking lot after I learnt that there was any other road rather than the loop around the pond. It started snowing when I was half way to the car and got really bad when I reached the reservoir part of the pathway. There was barely anyone in the Park but I made it to the car by 18:40. 
A few signs similar to this warns the people from touching the military unexploded object that they may face
I could not feel my hand when I reached home and was trying to make myself a sandwich. I had an Avocado cut and I wanted to peel it but I was not able to grab the skin with my fingers! Right now I'm very tired and have to brush my teeth and maybe even take a hot shower and go to bed. Weaselhead Park is an extension to Elbow River Pathway of Glenmore Park with a few benches to sit and garbage cans! I didn't see anything else. Maybe if I take the loop there are more to the park. The other thing about the park is it used to be a training center for Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) and there are a few signed which warn people about Unexploded Explosive Ordinances. That could be an exiting part to find mortars or similar but also fatal! 
(Photo, top: You may see a scene such as this anywhere in Canada but I took it during my today's walk!)

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Back to the Old Country: Day 2 (Tue. 30-Sep-2014)

*** This is a postponed post ***

I woke up around 03:00 AM or something and couldn't go back to sleep. Spent a little time on writing and then headed out for a little walk. Then purchased a pack of whole wheat breakfast biscuit lightly sweetened by Date Syrup. Really good, made by the old company of Minoo. I will probably purchase a few to take with me. Each Rls. 10,000, some US$ 0.36. I also purchased a long distance card so I will be able call my buddies before joining them. After breakfast we got out together for bunch of administrative stuff. Iranian women need to obtain approval of either their fathers or husbands every time they want to renew their passports. There are other restrictions similar to this that the great religion of Islam has dedicated to women!! The Lady wants to be given the freedom of renewing her own passport without my permission and presence. We went to a Registry to ask about this. Our next destination was a different type of registry, this one specialized in passport, driver’s licence, etc.  I wanted to renew my driver’s but when I saw the list of required documents, I changed my mind! It was similar to being qualified for a NASA astronaut going to Mars!
We did a good selection of shopping in between visiting the two registries by buying fresh vegetables and dried fruit. The temperature was not very high today. However it is very dry and dusty. Zayandeh-Rood which is the main life vessel of the city, is dried out. The river bring humidity to the environment and that is gone. 
In the afternoon The Lady’s plan was to open the suitcases and distribute the gift and purchases which covered the whole half part of the day. We managed to bring four big suitcases each at least 21 Kg! The majority of them were the parent’s gifts and souvenirs. I took another walk and gave rings to two buddies of mine.
(Photo: A fruit stand in Esfahan's Sabzee-Meydoon. Although this is not an official name, that is where you can get good vegetables, fruit, meat and almost everything else in reasonable price but not in luxury, modern shopping centers. The name literally means Vegetable Market in English although as I said they don't only sell vegetable there. This one sells imported Coconut and type of Date which comes from south, Khuzestan Province)

Friday, October 24, 2014

German Trip (8): Munich Olympic Park

The Olympic Park where the 1972 Summer Olympic Games were held is close to BMW so I visited it right after I finished that. The Olympic Park is beautiful and has different facilities. They also offer tours of the facility but I only went on the top of the Olympic Tower. The tower is only 180 m or so and comparing to Calgary Tower it's almost the same size. The view is nice from the top. besides you can go out on the deck without paying extra. There's also a little exhibition of Rock music. After the tower I went around and see a few other places of the park. 
The Olympic Park is the place of the 1972 hostage taking of Israeli athlete, the subject of the movie called Munich but I didn't have the direction to the Village. Rather than the people who were in the park just to have a walk and see it, I mean tourists, there were not many athletes, more specifically runners, around.  
(Photo; View of Olympic Village from the Olympic Tower. This is where Israeli athletes were taken hostage in 1972 and then they were killed. There is a memorial site for them in the park)

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Germany Trip (7): Hike to Kehlsteinhaus (Eagle's Nest)

My main destination in the state of Bavaria was Kehlsteinhaus in town of Bertchesgaden in southeast of Munich, some 3 hours on the train. Kehlsteinhaus, a chalet at the time of construction, was built in 1938 as a gift for Adolf Hitler's 50th birthday but it was barely used by him.
In order to get there I left my hotel early morning and got on a Bahn train and just shortly before Bertchesgaden the train stopped at town of Bischofswiesen and we got on a bus to get to the town due to track's maintenance.
The hike starts from this area of the town called Obelzakzberg which is the place of another property of Hitler, Berghof. Unlike Kehlsteinhaus, Hitler spent quite a long time in his private residence of Berghof, according to what I read in the area, one third of his time in power was spent in this residence which is gone now. Allies have different plans of bombing all the buildings in the area. While they find Kehlsteinhaus not a very prominent target, or maybe not very easy target based on the technology of the time, they instead heavily bombed Berghof. Hitler at the time was not there of course and didn't get hurt. The SS ordered to building to be burnt the day after the bombing just to be sure nothing is left to Allies, in case they arrive.
Anyways there's this little museum at the area called Dokumentation Center (it's German so that's why you see K instead of C) which provides information about the area as other high ranked Nazi officers also had property in the area. So your best bet for hiking up Kehlsteinhaus would be getting on the bus which goes to this Dokumentation Center.
The beautiful trail in autumn days of Oct. I took this on the way back
When I arrived there I saw a few signs but since they are all in German I didn't find the trail-head. Eventually I asked a lady in a souvenir shop as how to get to both Kehlsteinhaus and Berghof and when she told me I asked her which one she recommends to do first. She recommended doing Kehlsteinhaus first as the weather was nice, she added. I headed for that while I was still not certain how to go. I then find the bus stop which was going to Kehlsteinhaus but my intention was only to ask someone about the path. I, this time, checked with another souvenir shop lady and she kind of directed me: Go on the main road for 200 m. and then turn right. That is almost what I did and my guess at the time was that I had found it. I saw a few people going up the not very steep trail and walked faster to reach them and check if that was the trail. I found that they barely spoke English but when were asked they all confirmed that was the path.  
The route was uncrowded and easy but I had this problem with thirst. I had a bottle and finished that so when I reached the elevator level I was very thirsty. I guess it took about 2 hours to reach there. This is where the buses stop and people can get in to the tunnel and get on the elevator to take them to the top, Kehlsteinhaus. I'm not sure if there's a fee for elevator ride of not but I waled the last 20 minutes to the top after getting a €2.5 water bottle. 
The restaurant area was crowded. All those people who had come on the bus were either drinking and eating or taking photos. The views were all excellent. I didn't even get into the restaurant. Just take a few photos from around and headed down. 
My next destination was the souvenir shop to buy something that I liked and also help the helpful lady although I didn't even know if that was her own shop. The lady even got out to find out about the last time the bus goes back to the town and then made a phone call to bus company information line!! Some people you find there are just amazing. I eventually select a book about the history of Kehlsteinhaus which cost €10 and I didn't want to break a €50 or €100 banknote and the lady said a credit card is not normally accepted for low price items. I told her that i had €9.70 almost and showed a few Canadian and Iranian coins that I had on me. She accepted the Canadian ones but said Iran was too far away! 
Not much is left of Berghof. The building was first bombed by the Allies and then set on fire by SS. It eventually was blown by the Americans in 1951. I was too tired to go up and take more photos but I'm sure there are more interesting things to see.
I realized that I still have time until the next bus comes and my return ticket is not before 19:20 hours so used the opportunity and checked the area that Berghof used to be. It was only 20 minutes from the souvenir shop. The only issue was my tiredness that didn't allow me to spend too much time in there.
The Eagle's Nest from far below. This is the name that American, British and Canadians have given to the place although might not be the exact translation of the German term Kehlsteinhaus.
I had missed the 16:39 bus so I took the next one and went back to the town and there I checked that I was allowed to use my ticket for the departure of one hour earlier. It was OK and I got on the train and returned to the city. By the time I reached the hotel I was so tired and it was passed 22:30, If I can remember correctly. I had 3 bottles of water, a fistful of almonds and a few, maybe 2 small candy but that was an unforgettable experience. 
(Photo, top: This is taken from the chalet's [today a restaurant] area looking east. You can see one bus down where the elevator tunnel is located)

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Germany Trip (6): Inside BMW in Munich

BMW Complex in Munich comprises of three departments: BMW Welt which in German means BMW World and is a free showroom of the latest BMW models in a big 2 story building with cafe, restaurant and gift-shop as well as interpretive center, BMW Museum across from the street which has the history of BMW and it's models as well as motorcycles, concepts, plane engines and similar and finally BMW Plant which is its assembly plant adjacent to the museum.
A wonderful old model of BMW from 1939, displayed in BMW Museum. The design, the colour and the style are all beautiful. 
I was able to see the first two but was not aware that a BMW Plant tour requires advance booking so missed that. The good thing is I started early and was able to see the different sections and take photographs before it gets crazy crowded. I have this plan of buying a BMW Sedan in 2015 but it depends on many factors. The least expensive BMWs come from 1 and 2 series. 1 Series are not available in Canada and 2 Series are coupe which doesn't suit me. So my best bet would be 3 Series which starts at around $39,000.
BMW has purchased Rolls Royce and have vehicle manufacturing affairs of that under its control. This magnificent model was being displayed among one more in BMW Welt. Also Mini now belongs to BMW. Not that it has been part of BMW family recently but I notified of that during mu visit. It has its own display section but I didn't visit as there was no interest. 
Anyways both BMW Welt and museum are worth watching. The admission for the museum is €8, I guess. The key to have a pleasant and informative visit is to start early and avoid weekends. BMW Welt is open until 23:00. So a good visit could be scheduled from 21:00 hours. The gift-shop is awesome but like everywhere else in Germany expensive. I bought a key-chain and a BMW pin and I guess that cost me around €12! You can buy awesome jackets and all other stuff there or have a meal or snack in its wonderful cafe or Bikers Lounge, if I recall the name correctly. 
The place is also a dreamland for a BMW purchaser. Prices are much cheaper in Germany but you can not purchase and export to Canada. The guy I was talking to had a price list which was supposed to be given to me but got lost in the conversation.
You can also book a test drive or rent a BMW there. I didn't try. BMW is easily accessible through U-Bahn like any other place in Munich.
BMW facilities were severely damaged during the WWII but was rebuilt later of course. Also similar to other German industries BMW also used prisoners to do work for them. There's a good history of the company available in the museum for the ones interested.
(Photo, top: BMW Welt (World in German) at left, which is a big, two-story showroom, cafe and office, adjacent to it an interpretive center which looks like a funnel, at the other side the museum and in the back the headquarters tower. I could not get the logo clear in this shot which was taken from an overpass going over a highway and connects to Olympic Park)

Monday, October 20, 2014

Lone Survivor: Based on Clear, True Lies(!)

In my last day in the old country I was on the way to Aunt M.'s while right in front of the bus station I noticed this guy selling bootleg movies on the sidewalk. I don't know what the exact situation is at the moment in the society but bootlegging is quite common but street vendors for good such as this are usually nocturnal. So I decided to check him out. There were a few movies that I knew I had wanted to see but waived them away due to high possibility of being bullshit Hollywood crap! This specific on, Lone Survivor was a bit tempting when the trailer was being showed on TV but still not tempting enough for me to spend my dollars on it. Here the movie available at a very cheep price, I decided to buy it but could not trust the guy. He claimed that he had been a known vendor in the neighbourhood for a long time, everyone knows him and trusts him and he will be here tomorrow again and I would be able to talk to him if there was a problem with the disk and introduced a local guy as a witness. I didn't care much because the price of the movie was nothing so I bought it and watched it eventually yesterday. 
The bootleg copy of movie. It has Persian subtitle too. Not that I needed to understand!
While I liked the firefight scene with Taliban guys and also the soundtrack very much, I must say that the movie generally is considered a crapy fabricated untrue events which would never occur under real life situations of Afghanistan. Here's why:

1- An Afghan man fights Taliban for an American and endangers his entire tribe and family for a foreigner!! Everyone with a little brain in the skull knows that is a big lie. Taliban has shown Barbaric brutality for decades now. Now matter how American-lover the Afghan guy is, he would not like them more than his family, his village and his tribe. Stop being either a fucking stupid or a disgusting lair! 

2- The Taliban man finds the American soldier lonely and destroyed on the floor and instead of finishing him off with a shot of his Klashnikov, kicks him in the guts and then the Afghan boy hands the American a knife and he kills the Taliban guy with it!!! Even a five-year old kid would never believe that, if he was allowed to watch a violent movie like that.

3- The Afghan old man endangers his life and walks miles in the mountains to find the Americans, hands them the map and direct them to the village without even speaking a word of English!!!! I hate you fucking lairs with your stupid stories! 
4- The guy has shrapnel pieces in his legs and walks easily for miles until he reaches a stream!!!!!! What a fucking goofball he is the one who believe this nonsense.

What you fucking idiots, the assholes who made the film, do is degrading the courage the people, Americans or others, show fighting Barbaric Taliban. Everyone with a little degree of sanity, a functioning brain and a sense of understanding, would ask him or her, after watching the film, this question of how all this story could happen???!!!! You even displease people after the movie and make them spend their time and money somewhere else, not a movie full of nonsense. I'm glad that I didn't spend a dime to watch this Afghan-American fiction in a theater! 

(Photo, top: Street vendors for the bootleg movies usually emerge at night when municipality patrol is off.  I bought a few films, including No Country for Old Men in the previous trip, more than 6 years ago and that was early evening but completely dark. One of them didn't play. This one has a small collection and sells on a busy street of Tehran and it was around 10:45 AM or so. he might not be the Lone Survivor. I bet there are many more!)

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Bell at McDonald's

I wanted to get a coffee from the local McDonald's and also check the damn Canadian Embassy website for mother-in-law's embassy so I'm writing from there. While the internet connection is good this damn Surface regardless of all its positive sides, is very hard to work with when you're to work with websites and make notes.
I'm thinking of buying either a Microsoft Pen or Keypad just to make it to easier to work with. I'm going back home to continue my notes and reading over there. I need to send it as soon as possible.
(Photo: I used the built-in Camera of the tablet to take this photo and later edited the post on my PC at home. The quality seems not be very clear but I will have to try it in other light environments and see if there is any setting. This is good though for stealing photographs)

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Disasterous Return

I'm writing from Frankfurt Airport using the 24-hour free Internet. It was a trip full of stress and anxiety from Munich to here and I will not be eased until I land in Calgary.

***Update in Calgary (05:54 PM)***
I finally reached home. It is so good to be back. The plane touched the runaway at exactly 03:39 PM. I ran to passport check and then CBSA desk and got my luggage. I didn't have anything important on me but a small package of Pistachio and they didn't even open my bags. The entire landing and exiting the airport didn't take more than 20 min., maybe but cost a few cents more than $168 to get the car our of the so called Economy Lot
Air Canada's flight started with a 50 min. delay which was about to piss me off but then continued with good entertainment system, food and beverages and felt OK. I sat at the window this time but didn't bother much. There was just this giant goof sitting besides me who I don't know where the hell was from and looked like that was his first time on a plane! 
The funny thing was this flight was my first from a foreign country to Calgary since I originally landed in 2001! A landing after almost 13 years!
I'm going to get some rest, see the family and then will write more later.
(Photo: Passengers lined up to get to Air Canada flight to Calgary in Frankfurt Airport gate B-43)

Friday, October 17, 2014

Germany Trip (5): Hofgarden (Court Garden or Court Park)

The original plan for today, not actually specifically for today, the only one left and not done, was first to go to Salzburg, but I decided to cancel that the day before after struggling with myself for a few minutes! Part of me was urging to go because this would be the last time I'm in this region. The other part was resisting and denying for the following reasons:

1- I injured the back of my feet on my trip to Bertchesgaden and hike to Kehlsteinhuas.
2- Tomorrow will be my departure time so I have to be prepared (something happened which I will explain later and in fact it was good that I didn't go).
3- Cost would be too much. I have already spent a lot:
a. There would have been a €22 admission to the caves.
b. Ticket from Munich to Salzburg would have been between €25 to €30.
c. There would have been the cost travel from Salzburg to Werfen.
d. I should add cost of food and beverage as well. The last time when I went to Kehlsteinhaus, I only bought two bottles of water and that cost me €2.5 each!! The funny thing is each bottle of same water, same brand, same volume cost €3 in Frankfurt Airport.

So this is how the trip was cancelled and I decided to spend a little time in the town and do some shopping and photography. The first ting of course was not performed due the cost of the things I wanted to purchase and they were very high. I checked a few souvenir stores for Munich or Bavaria pin and one didn't have what I wanted and a few others had unreasonable prices. So I gave up. Then I came across a small shop which sold medals and pins. I saw a few military medals belong to the Nazis but didn't dare to ask their prices. The guy, a man with white hair and clear English accent was not friendly but I bet anyone else would have been able to get a deal for the items he wanted.
Then I headed for Hofgarten which is a big park close to the Residenz. It took me several minutes to find the damn bus for route 100. I even asked the Tourism Office but the woman just pointed at a corner and said: Get number 100! When I reached there and finished my walk and photography, I realized it was adjacent to the Residenz! Hofgarten had a café in open air which was a favourite place for Adolf Hitler to enjoy a meal or drink. The café still is up and running. The tables and chairs were put outside but nobody was being served due to the weather.
I then walked Ludwig St. up to the university and went back and caught a train back to the Central Station. The University did not seem like a university in the first glance, at all! It is located in an old building which is completely different from the universities I have seen everywhere else.
Then I wanted to book a cab for tomorrow in the hotel so when I talked to the front guy he told me that Bahn people might go on strike tomorrow so I better to check and he gave me a number after finding it on the net. I tried the number a few times and got nothing but busy signal. So didn't waste any more time on the damn phone and walked quickly to the nearby station, Giesing, to get myself to Bahn information desk in Central Station. I saw lines everywhere when I got there and in fact that was the same scene in the morning and as I hate waiting and lines I didn't check. I was told after a few minutes of waiting that my trip to Frankfurt through Manheim is cancelled and instead I should go either one hour earlier or later directly to the same destination. This earlier train is much better for me because I do not have to change which would be a disaster with two heavy suitcases. Secondly I will have enough time for checking in and rest before the plane leaves the ground.
So now I'm here and writing this lines. I have set my wristwatch for 06:00 and the Surface for 06:01 in order to catch a cab at 06:30. I'm hopping everything goes well to the last minute. This will be the last time I travel by myself!
(Picture: This is showing part of Hofgarten beside the Bavarian State building. A memorial site is also here which commemorates the lost one of Munich during the WWI which I hopefully will write about it soon)

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Germany Trip (4): Dachau Concentration Camp

I woke up around 06:55 from the noise of the next-door neighbour. I think that is sort of shipping company. I look out the window and saw it was raining and went: Shit! Then I said to myself: The life should go on. So I dressed and got out. My destination today was the little town of Dachau, around 20 min. away from the Munich City Center to see what is left of Dachau Concentration Camp. The Nazis had established few of the similar camps in GermanyPoland and Ukraine, if not in any other country. Dacha, alongside with Auschwitz are probably the most notorious ones.  
My intention originally was curiosity and then spending time in and around Munich, of course, especially because there is no admission and I paid only €8.4 for a return ticket on S-Bahn and that alto included the bus ride from the train station to the camp.
Whether anyone would go, if there was a fee, I can't say but in West normally the schools are the first customers of such sites and they get breaks especially because they are continuous customers. There's no doubt in my mind that governments have spent millions to keep up and running this site and preserve and even modify it the way they want but the entire story is what is seen.
The site is very clean and well-maintained but does have a few staff only. Reading all of the material and seeing all of the documentaries requires probably more than 4 hours but that was out of my league especially because it was crowded with German youth in the barracks and information centers.
I guess if the governments, particularly American, German and maybe Israeli would have spent the, same money on educating their youth, telling them to stop hating foreigners, the result would have been much better. However racism and hatred could not be stopped, unfortunately. This is what is seen in the world in the past decade. People show less tolerance and tend to depart. Former Yugoslavia, the recent elections in Québec and Scotland are good examples. People have more tendency to fight to become friends these days and this truly proves whatever was the intention of memorial sites such as Dachau, has failed.
As per visiting the site I should say it is recommended and worth one trip. You should spend as much as 2 hours in there. I personally knew many stories myself but they are documented and in more detail which is good for someone who prepares a report or investigates about a family member. There will be similar sites to this, in different shape only, one day in Iran!
(Photo: Part of the camp's wall, its fences, barbed wires, ditch [or maybe moat] and watch towers have been preserved to give a sense of environment once many have to live in their last few months of their lives)

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Germany Trip (3): Nymphenburg Palace

There is this vast residence of the former Bavarian rulers in western Munich which I visited today. I started a almost 09:05 AM and couldn't go further than 15:30! There is so much to see. It's a big palace, Nymphenburg. All of the people who started with me left minutes, maybe hours before me as I saw none of them at the end or during the last hours! The visit cost me €15 and that includes admission to all of the exhibitions and an audio guide. The palace is easily accessible and that is due to availability of public transit everywhere in Munich. You need to get Tram # 17 from the Central Station and will find yourself there quickly.
The visit is poorly managed though. First off there are rarely any signs in the big palace's garden and premises and a map costs €2! I was about to say to the guy if she was kidding! The map should be part of admission. Second of all the people barely speak English or are unwilling to, although there is a good population of foreign visitors. This problem with the map was also seen when I went to Tourism Information Office beside the Central Station. They asked for €0.4 for the map! The other problem like a few other places I've been too so far in Munich is aggressiveness and hostility, although I have to mention that I've seen super friendly and helpful people that I will write about them later.
One of the numerous items displayed in Nymphenburg Palace. For these you have to go to the second floor of Carriage section which fortunately is not crowded. In fact there are only a few people go there as mostly are either tired or no fan of sculptures and porcelain! Unlike most I like spending hours there looking at the artifacts and take photographs. 
One other issue in this tourism attraction place is lack of information about the places and objects, at times even in German! My guess is you would be able to find anything, if you paid a full price. Overall Nymphenburg is a nice place to visit which requires at least 5 to 6 hours if you like to see everything, take enough photos and read the information. Both of my cameras ran out of batteries and I  guess the only place that I could charge them would have been the restaurant but I didn't even got close, knowing how they charge for food here!
(Photo: View of the garden looking west. a few of the sculptures were covered and were being cleaned, maintained at the time, as seen)  

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Germany Trip (2): Viktualienmarket

I got myself incredibly tired in the past few days in a way that I realized that I could no longer walk easily after 15:30, almost. So I headed back to the hotel after a short tour of City Center. When you compare the Downtown or City Center of cities such as Calgary, Vancouver and Toronto, where I've been to all, you see differences, big ones and similarities. The similarities are the luxury and poverty, two great contradiction you see everywhere, although Canada's are more visible and bigger (Vancouver Downtown East-side, Calgary's, etc) but the big difference is the richness of City Center in Munich in terms of history, and luxury and of course public transportation is incomparable which I will assign a separate post to it, most likely, later.
Today's destination originally was this ancient market of the town which is held outdoors and called Viktualienmarket. Many words are combined together and create a long work. So here this word is created by the combination of two words of Viktualien and Market which consecutively are a name and of course the word market.
A kind of Shrimp Salad or Taco is served in a restaurant in Viktualienmarket. The restaurant was busy and has other awesome things but this is the only photo I took and of course I didn't eat anything there! 
The market is unbelievable compare to the other farmers markets I've been to. The variety is great and of course most of the items expensive. It's the ultimate place for the food lovers but you need to have big cash. For me, who used to be a big eater and still enjoys a good meal or tasty snack and a healthy drink, Viktualienmarket could be a dangerous place! I walked around and while enjoyed the scenery and took photos, tried different foods. While I didn't eat much, the following is a price list of the items I tried, as far as my memory allows to remember things:

1- Large freshly squeezed Orange Juice: €4.80 It was really good and I was ready to have two more but I realized my situation! The glasses could be a health hazard because it's hard to believe that they sanitize the glasses. Carrot Juice here is the worst because the old woman pushes the pieces down the throat of the machine with the same hand she gets money from the customers!

2- One hundred g. of flavoured Olive: €1.75. I tried two different kinds. One with tomato and paprika which was great and the other one with mild garlic and a kind of vegetable. This stand is great and I'll visit it again once before I leave Munich unless I find a place which offers the same product but the guy, a tall young beard fella, I'm quite sure rips everyone with his scale, especially if he doesn't speak German, or is a foreigner. It's hard to believe that what he gave me was 100 g. but I didn't want to argue over a few cents.

3- I also checked another shop which as soon as I stepped in a mid-aged lady introduced their products in a sort of understandable English. At times she had to pause to find the right word and I would help her. They had different types of pastes such as Pesto and different types of breads and cakes. Their claim is their, for example Garlic Paste is made out of wild garlic and their Apple Cake is made without sugar. I tried a sample of that cake and it was unbelievable but very expensive, if I remember it correctly a little bit more than €4 for a small piece. I eventually but a small jar of Garlic Paste which I ate it with two pieces of bread which I bought later on from a supermarket.

That was all I tried but there are much more to it. There were lines in a few of the restaurants and of course the most popular drink of Bavaria, it's Beer hasn't been tasted yet.
(Photo: A good crowed seemed to be enjoying themselves in the market area)

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Germany Trip (1): Munich Residenz: Incredible and Magnificent

I'm so tired now. I spent almost 6 hours in Munich Residenz today. The day before I saw BMW Welt, a free exhibition and Olympic Park where the 1972 Summer Olympic took place. I have to get ready for tomorrow that I'm going to Bertchesgaden, some 2.5 hours in south-eastern Bavaria. I will have to wake up at 06:00 AM and I've set the clock for that. I will post everything with necessary detail later.
(Photo: One of the many entrances to Munchen Residenz, a sort of palace for aristocrats of Bavaria in early 17th. More detail will be posted later)

Friday, October 10, 2014

Bold Hotel (Munich/Munchen)

 Getting to this webpage for the first time in a few days I'm writing from Bold Hotel in Munich. It was not very hard to find it but was hard to get in with this two damn big heavy suitcases. I had a nap after taking shower. Don't know what to do now. Might go out for a walk. Giesing is the closest train station but I have to be careful not to get myself lost or engaged especially because today is Fri.! There is no telephone in the room so even if I buy a phone card, I will have to make the call through a public phone! An option would be contacting Cousin I. but I don't know what his reaction would be if 1 did. In the meantime I don't want to spend my whole day in the whole!
(Photo: This picture is taken from the room's window looking north)

Sunday, October 05, 2014

Back to the Old Country: Day 1 (Mon. 29-Sep-2014)

***This is a postponed post***
Arrived at the in-law’s at around 06:45 AM after a little more than 4.5 drive from I. K. International Airport. The driver, a short man in his early 60s, was not driving so badly, considering the driving habits of a Third World country. Common driving consideration and cautionary tips were being ignored constantly. At the beginning when we just left the airport and we were headed for Tehran-Qom freeway, I noticed a small speed sign which ordered a limit of 50 Km/h. We were being driven at the speed of minimum 110 Km/h at the time (!) while a modern car, a Hyundai or Toyota perhaps, as these are common cars here, passed us at a speed of approximately 150 Km/h, I would say! I had to keep the guy company to prevent him from sleeping. So I had to listen to lots of bull while many other things he said made sense and I was surprised at what he said about negative sides of Iranian culture that I hated them for years and still dislike them a lot and discourage them. The lady was worried a little during the trip. She had this fear that we might be driven to a no-place and get robbed and even killed by him! The poor guy was so physically weak that there was no way he could force us to give out our valuables. But being armed and having people ready for us at a rendezvous, would make the story different. Of course it never happened. Otherwise I would not have been writing these stories. Fortunately this country have not come to the point that mugging becomes a very common violent act despite all of the issues that has been facing in-law’s the past 15 years or so. I didn't want to show any sign of affluence so when somehow we got to the point that when we were coming from, I fabricated a complete story of how I worked in Turkmenistan as a technician who checks the soil and rocks geologically, for the active mining projects of the country and added stories about how I work hard every day in desert under burning sun! The guy totally bought it and that encouraged me to pile on with more stories about language bearer, the Turkmenistan’s dictator, Imam Ali Rahmanov and his family, other dormer Soviet Union states and there current issues and the conversation carried itself on.
One problem in renting vehicles that everyone knows is agreeing on the fare before getting in to the car. We had four big suitcases and four small ones and we had an estimate as how it would cost to get to Esfahan. So when the guy approached us, The Lady went in to a barging conversation with him. When was asked how much he would charge us he said that the fare was Rls. 4000,000, something that we kind of expected but having that much language could automatically add another 500,000 to the bill. The lady, being an expert and experienced negotiator in buying and selling stuff, both here in Iran and abroad talked him to Rls. 3,500,000 eventually. For someone who doesn't know what has been happening to the country, these fares should be shocking. To clear, in case some is interested to know, every Rls. 28,000 make an American Dollar. So I. K. International to Esfahan which is a distance of approximately 450 km could be traveled by paying roughly US$ 143. Since I haven’t done much ground travel involving rental cars in North America, I can’t say how they would charge but not that cheap, off course.
Anyways we stopped once for a short break outside Qom. We went to a store for a hot drink and a little snake. The guy paid for what I took an extremely sweet drink which according to the sachet should have been Instant Coffee but all I tastes was sugar! The road was relatively well-maintained and mostly well-lit. The guy’s car, a standard Peugeot station was not a very modern and comfortable vehicle but was not very bad either. There was not excessive noise and the doors were sealed. We were a bit surprised that we were able to fit all of our luggage in but the car is roomy. Another thing which I had no clue was gasoline price. It is Rls. 10,000 for a litter now which make it roughly to US$ 0.36 per litter. The driver had a little in his tank and then purchased 35 litters before reaching Qom which was supposed to take him to Esfahan without refueling again, making his total cost of fuel some Rls. 72,000 which is approximately 22% of his earning.
The whole day then was spent on napping and eating, watching a little nonsense TV (Turkish garbage TV serial while dubbed in Persian!!!). I went for a walk in the evening and it was a surprise for me to see many of the businesses that I had seen more than 6 years ago in the neighbourhood, they didn't exist. I wanted to a little shopping but left it to time that we go together. I smelled a very good coffee aroma in a small coffee shop, something you never smell on Canada and I guess that’s a different way of brewing a different bean. We will try it later.
(Photo: There is a Fig tree in the small backyard, full of fruit. Only a few of them are ripen. I tried a few and they are really good. The rest either are ripping or are birds' daily meal)