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Week 6 – Bread and Yogurt

19 Sep 2008 Leave a comment

Super (and hyper) markets here are more than well stocked. They remove any arguments most people have about “missing” anything from “home” by providing pretty much everything you would either find at “home” or really wish you could buy. I am actually amazed at the variety of organic and non-GMO products available, even eco detergents are everywhere. For the Brits amongst us it is easy to find PG Tips tea and even Brown Sauce, something that is not always easy to find closer to the UK.

It is with much sadness that I must report, however, that the US does not do bread, nor does it do yogurt. Bread falls into the UK’s “cardboard tastes better” category; yogurts are fat free and lack substance.

I will not write much about bread because it saddens me to think that with so many people from all over the world the generally available bread takes its influence from the UK.

You can, if you are lucky, find normal, ordinary, full fat Greek yogurts that are like an oasis in a desert of matterless pots of white, puss like liquid that claims to be “yogurt”. Why, of all things that are pure and naturally full of fat for a reason, do manufacturers insist in removing all the taste and “goodness” from a product that has fat in it for a reason – good, natural fats, not bad fats that are added to make the thing taste better than it is.

There is hope. There are a few places (not many) that do sell real bread and real yogurts, but you have to know where to look – essentially they are speciality shops. The bottom line is you need to shop at a special shop to get real products, how does this describe products found in “normal” shops.

Categories: Journal, Travel Tags: , ,

Where I’ve been

25 Aug 2008 Leave a comment

Yes, I am a Facebook user. One of the applications I use is “Where I’ve been”; for who do not know, it maps where in the world you have been to, either visiting or living. One of those places I have been to is Austria where they sell T-shirts stating “There are no kangaroos in Austria” together with an Aussie road sign showing a kangaroo. It is with this in mind that I am amused to see the “Where I’ve been” application showing that in fact Austria does indeed have the Australian flag, whilst Australia has another flag that I can’t identify. At least they got Belgium right.

Categories: Entertainment, Travel Tags: ,

Cowboy Coffee and Bagel Cutters

22 Aug 2008 Leave a comment

I never knew there was such a thing as ‘Cowboy’ blend coffee; it doesn’t smell of horses and certainly not cowboys (unless they have taken to wearing coffee essence after shave). But there it is sitting on top of the coffee machine “Cowboy/Bold Blend”. I guess at this point I need to at least point out that the coffee machines we use at work are of the cartridge system, not Nespresso I hasten to add, very much an inferior version.

Fridays are also Bagel day. Every Friday there are several boxes of bagels put in the kitchen area together with a variety of spreads. The toasting machine is fired up and queues form to get a bagel a toast it. Not being a fan of bagels (they, for some reason, don’t agree with me) I have never been a bagel groupie, but today I did notice a device that looks to have been specially created just for cutting bagels, perfectly, in half. I guess bagel Fridays are the comparatively healthier version of donut Fridays – although this is an entirely objective argument given that donuts tend not to give me stomach issues.

If travel is all about understanding culture and society the world over, and at the same time opening the mind (at least one hopes it does) then today I am all the richer from finding out that there is such a thing as cowboy blend coffee and perfect-cut bagel choppers.

Categories: Journal, Travel Tags:

In praise of the A340

29 Apr 2008 Leave a comment

I am currently (not) enjoying the chilly winds and freezing temperatures that Chicago is throwing up. Fabulous, it is meant to be “spring” but it feels like a winter’s day in Prague. What brought me here? An Airbus A340-600! Operated by Lufthansa, these are bog aircraft with almost as many seats as a 747. Why am I bothering to write about such things? Simple, it was THE best flight I have ever taken.

Firstly the aircraft itself. Economy seating is comparatively spacious. For my height the seat in front of me is usually there to remove the kneecaps. Not this time. This is also the first Lufthansa flight I have taken that uses the new generation of in flight entertainment, a touch screen panel in front of you provides on-demand entertainment. Need to go for a walk but don’t want to miss the movie, no problem, just pause it. Talking of going for a walk, the lavatories are downstairs, literally. This is novel for those people who have never flown upstairs on a 747. The service itself has changed dramatically since I last flew Lufthansa. Food was excellent, and they even wished me a happy birthday (for which I got a glass of Champagne and a cake).

So this post is to eulogise the A340-600; it is spacious; it is economy class friendly; it is fabulous. Lets just hope it is the same going home 🙂

Categories: Travel Tags: , ,

Fly First Class

18 Mar 2008 Leave a comment

The Times is suggesting that flying First Class is a good idea for reasons of:

  • Environment – you can’t afford to fly all that often (most people anyway)
  • Self esteem – you are not treated like a scumbag, back of the plane flyer
  • Food – is actually food and not reheated muck
  • Departure – can actually be a great experience

Yes, I will buy into this, so I’ll be next flying in 20 years time, maybe.

Categories: Travel

Traveling Babo at Easter Island (Rapa Nui)

8 Nov 2007 Leave a comment


Traveling Babo at Easter Island (Rapa Nui)

Originally uploaded by travelbabo

The Flickr blog is running an article on travelling companions and photographing them in front of places. Beats seeing people in front of buildings, in fact this is much better than photographing people with dumb looks on their faces in front of the pyramids I guess, or peace signs – then again I really don’t like photographing in tourist spots.

But I love these photos. Fab.

Categories: Flickr, Photography, Travel

Customer Services – again

22 Oct 2007 Leave a comment

It takes just one week away from Prague, and a Pizza delivery, to put into perspective the poison that is the cult of a bad attitude “service” workers have. It contrasts greatly that even the, albeit somewhat superficial, attitudes that store clerks or waiters have in Chicago compared to Prague, I can even compare the attitudes favorably in the Western parts of Czech Republic, those areas that are directly under the imported, pleasant attitudes that influence that German tourists demand (i.e. in the Spa Towns). My point is the simple fact that it is so refreshing to experience a pleasant attitude when parting with my hard earned cash.

The waitress in the restaurant deserves the tip, she works hard for it, the store clerk has a pleasant two minutes passing the time of day, the people in shop don’t have the dejecting “I’d rather you weren’t here” look on them. This is what you get outside of Prague, so what is it about this place that makes them conform to the rigid requirement of general unpleasantness. The highlight of my first day back in Prague is the Pizza delivery girl muttering at me in disapproving terms because she had come to the wrong floor and had to go up one more floor to deliver the pizzas and in some way it seems to be my fault because I answered the door.

There is simply no need for this. It isn’t like this everywhere you go in the country so it is not a social attitude of the people as a whole. Yes, the day might be crap, but there is no need to share this feeling with everyone else. It doesn’t even apply to all major cities in the world – at least in my experience. So why does it have to be this way here. I take a deep breath and move on. It doesn’t have to be this way, stop it now people!

It looks like its not just me who has noticed the lottery based customer service experience, The Prague Post has a fabulous article all about this – so its not just me 🙂

The Prague Post (via Capharnaum)

Categories: Opinion, Travel