Sep 29, 2011

Trigger: Day 244 - 8 months in review

Its Day 244, roughly two/thirds of the year on the road.
To commemorate this milestone I'd like to share snapshots of a memorable 8 months.
Note: For best effect, click on the links for expanded stories

Day 30 - Venice, Italy
The only time I've worked in the past 8 months was in Venice during Carnevale. It was organised via crafty networking at the hostel I stayed at as a traveler, I returned 2 weeks later working for someone I hadn't intended to. My time here was more educational than social. I learnt about enterprise, hard labour and the goings-on behind hostels. The "Venezia: Vice City" souvenir shirts began to make sense the longer I hung around and met people who lived in this iconic tourist destination.

The city was an inspiration. I took no photos but wrote many poems trying to contain the frustration, fortunes and dreams the city evoked.

Each day in Venice followed a familiar template - hard renovation work by day then hitting the town at night, usually solo. Today I cleaned the attic then met some American travelers at the only night club in town 'Piccolo Mondo'.

Day 60 - Barcelona, Spain
Barcelona was the first city that compelled me to overstay. I would find excuses to hang around, skipping town on the weekends allowing me to return with a renewed energy.

On this day I met with a friend of a friend of a friend. On my last night in Venice, I attended a dinner party hosted by an enterprising Mexi-Can I befriended. The person I was meeting with enjoyed a similar dinner experience on Guidecca Island and it was suggested we get in touch. We had Tapas and Cervesa by her hip neighborhood in Gracia, then solo for live music at 'De Dues' and 'HelioGabal'. Earlier that afternoon I read a captivating book on life lent to me by an American Artist.

Day 90 - Granada, Spain

The overlook at Puerta Monaita
Half of my time in Spain was spent in Andalucia, with a base in Sevilla through family connections I also visited Córdoba, Malaga and Granada. My travels and interest in the arts has invariably led me to several hippies, vagabonds and free-spirits. Of the places I've been to, Granada has best typified this lifestyle.

On this day, with the help of a Vietnamese/German we found entry to a nice lookout from Puerta Monaita overlooking Granada. It was cool finding this spot but more lasting was spending a day with this bohemian who had been "traveling" the last 7 years, learning languages and living around Europe. It was interesting, picking his brain on the pitfalls, joys and freedoms of the drifter way of life.

Day 120 - Coimbra, Portugal

Coimbra Nights
This day was a nexus marking the abrupt end of an unforgettable roadtrip and the triumphant return to Lisboa.

The day previous felt like the Twilight Zone. We were on no sleep and had spent the morning filing a police report after goods were stolen from the front seat of our vehicle (colleagues lost camera lenses and a GPS navigator, I lost my passport and External HDD). We threatened to make a repeat visit to file a Missing Person's report after our running mate was unresponsive and hours late from our agreed rendezvous time.

Coimbra was a student city, the fact it was populated largely by young Lindas initially charmed me. On this day it took an eerie 'Children of the Corn' vibe. I started to believe there was a force exterminating the Adults of the town, suspicious of the constant police sirens. When a motorbike raced past with a blowup doll 69-ing the rider, I completely lost my sh!t.

The following night I was on a bus, returning to my home in Lisboa. Without missing a beat we partied at Bairro Alto for Chilejobs and shot-thieving.

Day 150 - Porto, Portugal
My time in Porto is best summed up by the word 'Comfort', in the best possible sense. I stayed in one place for a month, blanketed by the warmth of 'Familia Feliz' and flanked by 6 Brazilian brothers. We always had guests, countless 20man dinners and had a varied itinerary. As I joined the group for the final month of their Erasmus experience, it was also an emotionally charged time.

Like most of my milestone days, it was quite low-key. I did a night crossing of Porto's iconic bridge for the first time with some German Couchsurfers we were hosting.

Day 180 - Rotterdam, Netherlands
I spent my European Summer in the Netherlands, right in the heart of Festival Season. My impromptu itinerary for the month was governed by the many events taking place around Holland. It was here that I tried the much-raved about CouchSurfing for the first time as some of the Festival cities didn't have hostel accommodation.

On this day I was in Rotterdam, voted as '2010's Best Festival city in the world'. I participated in that evening's 'Wednesday Night Skate' with some Aussie roommates. It was a shambolic performance, thankfully we were all equally hopeless and we fell, got lost and soaked in the night together. The best part is always the afterparty anyway.

Day 210 - Brighton, England

Photo via Todd Geasland
Traveling alone at length, you meet many people. Most times you'll share just the one day - Running mates Du jour.

On my journey I've only really had two long-term running mates, an American in Holland and the incomparable TG in Portugal. I first ran with Todd, ego-tripping from Lisboa, roadside cooking (me: eating) and urban camping. This was the first time I'd reconnected with a fellow running mate and the sequel was just as fun. It's good to hang with someone you have a shared history with, touch base and share adventures had in the interim.

We hit the English countryside in a Triumph, decked in suits and Flat caps. On this night we had a memorable time hanging with street performers, getting tips on the best 'skipping' spots and learning a few umbrella tricks. We closed the night longboarding and some 2 on 2 basketball with three charming lesbians.

Day 240 - Vilnius, Lithuania
One of the standard questions I ask when I've just met people is "How do you guys know each other?". I've found that most times, people really don't know how they're relationships began. I find the most interesting connections are created through an elaborate but ultimately trivial chain of events.

The friendships I formed in Lithuania were achieved this way. Though I stayed in hostels for the most part, the Lithuanian people were so hospitable I had no trouble collecting an amazing set of friends in the cities I visited. I spent this memorable night watching an orchestra, visiting the contemporary Art gallery, watching a Goat burning and daungas žibintas (sky lanterns) being floated.

Other milestone days of a Memento year:
- Day 200
- Day 150
- Day 100

Sep 25, 2011

Hair, There and Everywhere: Haircut days in Europe

Got my "hair did" today. Below is an account of the 4 times I've cut my hair on this Trip:

Day 51 - Barcelona, Spain
It was time for my first haircut in Europe. I was advised the cheapest cuts would come from the immigrant district off Las Ramblas, not too far from my hostel. The iconic strip is sketchy on its own but Carrer de l’Hospital is something else, It was here I would witness my first and only mugging.

Whilst looking for a suitable barber, there was a loud scream nearby. As I looked towards the offending shriek I saw an older lady on the floor as a young man in trackpants, handbag in tow running further from sight. The lady regained her composure, stood up and dusted herself off. She returned to the comfort of her partner and walked away, never once looking back at the scene of the crime. The street reset to its normal hustle and bustle. It felt like a performance art piece.

I got my haircut the following morning on Day 52.


Day 115 - Obidos, Portugal
My hair was getting unwieldy and I was looking to shave my head. Fortunately as my running mate lived out of the van we were roadtripping in, he had a pair of hairclippers. With the device sorted it was just a matter of finding the right venue to cut it. I had remembered there was an abandoned kitchen behind the small town's main bus stop, right beside the Tourist Information center. The space had large sinks, was open but offered decent privacy and crucially had functioning electrical leads.

I used a Sevilla map to collect my hair, I had my admonished my friend earlier in the morning for scrapping it. "Hey you might never know when you'll need it", I remember being quite pleased with myself when it came to good use. With the haircut underway, the only concern now was being interrupted by disgruntled neighbors or the owners of the space.

To our surprise the person that walked in on us was someone we knew. She worked at the hostel where I had met my running mate, located 90km (56miles) from Obidos in the heart of Lisboa. It was a startling but pleasant surprise to find a familiar face in these unlikeliest of circumstances, bewildered she announced "What the f*ck?". We paused, looked at each other... then laughed our asses off.

She was daytripping with 3 hostel guests visiting the Capital's neighboring towns, we insisted they join our merry band for the day and we were off. The front seats had two Americans, the back housing a Frenchman, his Romanian girlfriend, their Dutch guide, a New Zealander and myself. Together with our bags and the van owner's worldly possessions it was a tight squeeze, it looked like we were people smuggling. A visual that didn't help when we were stopped by "Federales".

It was a tense situation, the Federal agents spoke no English and none of the backseat passengers had seat belts. We were saved by a kindly police officer who impressed upon us that we were lucky to get off without a fine this time, their priority was finding vehicles using illegals fuels. The eventful day ended with a leisurely picnic at surfer's beach Peniche, it was a perfect day for windsurfing.

Find photos of that day here -
Trigger: Ego Tripping in Portugal (Sintra, Obidos, Ericeria, Coimbra)


Day 137 - Porto, Portugal
I'd been wanting to get a 'B Diddy' cut for a while. I was in a house with 6 Brazilian brothers and the person who owned the only set of clippers was soon departing. As I was his "replacement", I wanted to honor this role by adopting his haircut.

He was a charming and interesting character, being hirsute and Brasilian it was not uncommon to see him cutting his hair and walking around the house fully nude. My brothers all took turns shaping my new look, a ceremony officially welcoming me as an honorary Safado in Casa dos Gauchos. During a camping trip in the proceeding days, the haircut was dubbed the 'Guinazu'.

Day 240 - Vilnius, Lithuania
An unforgettable night.

Sep 21, 2011

Road Music: Songs to be happy to (EuroBasket edition)

>> crossposted on the '30 Home Games' blog

To commemorate my time in Lithuania during EuroBasket2011, here are a collection of "Songs to be happy to" celebrating the game of basketball.

VIDEO: 'Manu Key' by Quai 54 (Feat. Booba, 16ar, Zoxea, Oxmo, Dany Dan)

A French streetballer introduced me to this song in Kaunas, Lithuania. Its an ensemble song featuring France's finest MCs made for Quai54, the iconic International Streetball tourney held in Paris.

VIDEO: 'Celebrate Basketball' (Eurobasket 2011 Lithuanian version)
by Marijonas, Mantas, Mia

This is the Lithuanian language version of the EuroBasket Theme, this song was on high rotation during the tournament. At first appearances the song may seem corny but it actually gets me quite emotional, the clip works because it beautifully captures how basketball is embedded into the fabric of Lithuanian society.

- Find the entire 'Road Music' Track listings here

Sep 20, 2011

Balancing Basketball and Travel in Lithuania (2 of 2)

>> Crossposted on '30HomeGames' blog

I've met many incredible people in Lithuania, fellow travelers and hoops heads. I've always been interested in hearing and sharing stories. I believe that a man's journey can be measured by who they've met and spent time with.

Below are a collection of "storytellers" I've encountered:

John of England
links: @johnswisshobbs,
UK Freelance journalist. I met him at the Fans Campsite in Panevezys, during my time there the many British Fans were valiantly supporting a hapless team. Upon leaving Great Britain defeated Portugal and stung Poland to salvage some pride and shake up Group A.

We bumped into each other in Vilnius and Kaunas. It was a treat picking his brain and watching him sniff out stories, busting out his trusty recorder when moments called for it.

Syra of France
links: @ladyhoop,, Syra4 - YouTube Channel
French journalist I met in my hostel in Vilnius. She is an inspiration, starting out as an independent blogger she now works for French Basketball Mag 'Reverse'. We shot hoops and talked about the reality of "living the dream". We coincidentally found ourselves in the same hostel in Kaunas. Apart from her passion for the game, what I'll take from her is the discipline and professionalism one needs to maintain a lifestyle of Basketball and Travel, negotiating the perils of converting a hobby into a job.

Tim of Holland
links: TimToTango
We started chatting on the busride from Klaipeda to coastal Nida. A charming and thoughtful guy in the opening leg of his 1 year of travel. Departing from his home in the Netherlands, he had been traveling through the Baltic States via CouchSurfing and Hitchhiking, it was his inspiration that made me try the latter for the first time.

We shared a lot of overlapping thoughts and it was pleasure to reunite with him in Vilnius and meet his ragtag crew of friends and new associates. I will be sure to follow his many coming adventures on his blog.

Ramon of Spain
Ramon was one of the many Couchsurfers I met through Tim on a memorable night in Vilnius. We reunited a few days later as he was typically snapping the sights, he joined our assortment of newly-made friends for a coffee.

Ramon is my kind of photographer, shameless and prolific. Shooting first, asking for permission later. When I first met him, he fearlessly took a bucketload of photos of every social interaction in sight. Inexplicably his passion project is documenting the gorgeous but overlooked locations of the world.

Ieva and Dominkya of Lithuania
links: Kombajns' - YouTube Channel
Quirky, fun-loving, social and creative. These gals had just returned from a month hitchhiking, CouchSurfing and camping around Europe. They have an amazing spirit and thankfully because they document their travels by Video you can live vicariously through their many adventures.

We met after dancing Dubstep with them in Kankles bar in Kaunas. A few days later we hung out together with a Spaniard and Frenchman driving to the city's local gems, picking mushrooms for that evening's Dinner and movie.

VIDEO: Challenge accepted ;) Eurotrip, done.

Romain of France
He was a French superfan Couchsurfing with the girls, my preferred supporter having backed them from the start. We actually had a brief encounter the night previous in a nightclub as he was with the Les Bleus fans celebrating with the French stars. In the name of social etiquette, I'd promised an embargo after 3 weeks of non-stop basketball talk, I couldn't resist as he was so knowledgable of the game and had a few French connections that gave him access to the team and even tickets to Game 5 of the NBA Finals.

Nil of Spain
links: CargoLTreuManya.blogspot (Catalan)
Though his nation was victorious, Nil wasn't in Lithuania for the Baloncesto. Just a stop as he did a short jaunt around Europe on his motorcycle. He was being hosted by the girls after he was poached from another Lithuanian person he was CouchSurfing with, they met on the street a night after I had met them.

Nil was my partner in the mushroom picking challenge. He was the MVP as we bested the girls in Mushroom presentation as voted by our French critic.

- Read Balancing Basketball and Travel in Lithuania - Part I

Sep 19, 2011

Balancing Basketball and Travel in Lithuania - Part I

>> Crossposted on '30HomeGames' blog

There are two types of Nightspots, the kind that's down-to-earth, welcoming, a place where you can really get to know someone. The other type is sexier, more glamorous but image-conscious. The former is the type of setting where you can connect with authentic, local people, the latter is the type of place where groupies and fans might gather to rub shoulders with celebrities. Both have their own distinct appeal.**

This sums up the dilemma I've faced in Lithuania for EuroBasket2011 and something I imagine I'll have to contend with for my 30HomeGames ambition. My love for Basketball is what brought me to Lithuania but its merely been a pretext, the amazing hospitality is what will remain with me.

Day 231
In an upretentious bar in Kaunas I met some open-minded girls who were happy to welcome me into their lives. They had a travelers' spirit, very open people and not surprisingly were on the CouchSurfing network. The second time we hung out I was invited to to celebrate the return of their dear friend from the UK, we picked her up from the airport and enjoyed a gathering at the house. This particular night was Lithuania's final match, a battle with Greece to claim 5th place honors. As the night progressed I realised that the dozens in attendance had no interest in watching the game. Surprising in hoops-mad Lithuania, Blasphemous even?

I was torn, I didn't want to disrupt this amazing local experience but on the other hand I was interested in the game. I excused myself and quickly ran to the nearest bar to watch the closing minutes. The game went down to the wire but the Lithuanians hung on, the proud fans jubilant but also philosophical, mindful that it was an underwhelming result for the proud host nation. I returned to the party thinking about the balancing act I'd have to negotiate for 30HomeGames. Basketball serves as a pretext but it could also compromise authentic local experiences.

Pleasantly on the walk back, I crossed paths and high-fived my favorite International player along the dark, empty streets. I smiled. Maybe everything just works out.

Day 232
It was the day of the Finals, the end of a vibrant 3 weeks for basketball fans and Lithuanians. The upstart Macedonians came up short against the Russians and the French proved no match for the Dominant Spanish in the Gold Medal game.

That night, I went over my budget to attend an image conscious bar that had been tipped to host the players. Players from Macedonia and Russia were in attendance. Tony Parker arrived much later than anticipated, I left the club by the time the rest of my favored French team joined him. I'm fascinated by superstar glamour but the experience is limited when you're too detached from it. I spent the night with Serbs from my hostel, interestingly they had a lanky colleague who would happily oblige groupies who suspected he was a basketball player. He used the specious line "I play basketball but not for the national team". Genius!

Day 233
I reconnected with my new Lithuanian friends to spend a day picking mushrooms and enjoying Kaunas. We were joined by a Spanish viajero they had collected the other night and a French supporter the girls had been hosting. We were all Couchsurfers, the Frenchman the only one connected the formal way. We'd actually made brief contact the night previous in the bar full of fans and groupies. Closing my EuroBasket experience by spending the day with a Spaniard and French superfan, being hosted by Lithuanians - Could it be any more poetic?

My time in Lithuania has largely been a basketball experience but I've had many unique experiences unique to my time here
  • Befriending locals in Panevėžys, I spent the day in a leisure center, went paragliding, enjoyed a game of 1-on-1 whilst waiting for a restaurant dinner. Capping the evening with Wii Tennis, a sauna and fine wine in their lavish home
  • My first and only time hitching, I was picked up by the service manager of a lavish nightspot in Vilnius. We've reconnected a few times for Shisha and chats, spoilt at the club with free entry, complimentary drinks and great company
  • Started chatting to a charming Dutchman on the bus to Nida. Enjoyed a day sharing travel adventures and musings. Reconnected with him in Vilnius in the company of fellow CSers and friends at a down-to-earth bar in Vilnius. It was this evening that led to complimentary EuroBasket tickets the following day
  • Hitting the night with cool kids met in hostels and basketball courts. Revisiting fun-loving Slovenians in multiple nightspots in cities across Lithuania
  • Picking the brains of international journalists, traveling and finding stories involving basketball
  • Talking basketball and life with the manager of the English Basketball team. We hung out several days in Vilnius and shared a tent in Panevezys, we met on the flight from London to Lithuania
My love for the game has been connecting me with locals all over Europe. Its simply been heightened in Lithuania, as hosts of an international tournament and krepšinis being their religion. Basketball and Travel - balancing something I love with something I enjoy, that's the mission for the 30HomeGames project.

** The down-to-earth bars were 'Play Club' in Vilnius and Kanklės in Kaunas. The "glamour" spots which hosted EuroBasket talent were 'Salento' in Vilnius and BarBar’a in KaunasPramogu Bankas in Vilnius is also worth a look

Paragliding on a Basketball rest day. In Panevėžys

The Mushroom picking presentation. In Kaunas

Concerning the overlook. In Kaunas

An evening with Lithuanian locals
(showing no interest in the basketball)

- Read Balancing Basketball and Travel in Lithuania - Part II

Sep 16, 2011

Trash Talk: News and notes on Lithuania and EuroBasket2011

cross posted on 30 Home Games blog

On Lithuania
  • Basketball is their first religion. My mormon running mates tell me Catholicism is their second. I would argue Foosball is their third
  • Its a tourist cliche, "[Insert Country] has the most beautiful women" but the Lithuanian women are fine and more importantly the people are friendly
  • The Spanish seem to be doing well on and off the court in Lithuania
  • Lithuanians are great hosts. I've been invited by strangers to their universities and homes to watch Lithuania's marquee games.
  • Gedimino, the main street of the capital Vilnius is decorated by Basketball ornaments, Non-basketball tourists tell me "its lit up like its Christmas". I concur smiling, "It is".
  • Haven't figured out whether its because I love Lithuania or I love basketball, but the EuroBasket 2011 theme gets me quite emotional. Lithuanian version here.
On EuroBasket2011
  • I Keep forgetting to google why Serge Ibaka is on the Spanish Team
  • It seems I'm not alone in thinking Macedonia's Pero Antic looks like Carlos Boozer
  • Spain's Juan Carlos Navorro doesn't know how to miss
  • As much as I want to like him, apart from his off-target shooting Ricky Rubio's game is nondescript
  • Lithuanian TV is mindful not to keep showing that heart-breaking turnover but it seems you can find all sorts of EuroBasket torture videos on the net. Who ever made this video must be some sort of Macedonian version of the bad guy from 'Saw'.
  • My France Finals prediction came through, shame for everyone the Lietuva leg didn't hold up
  • France's Nicolas Batum probably has the most impressive highlight reel of the Tournament
  • Batum's white makeup of the Crazy Light's gets my vote as Sneaker of the Tournament
  • Second best sneaker goes to Darius Songaila's Lithuanian colorway of the Kidd Zoom Flight 5's
  • My initial love for Serbia's Miloš Teodosić dropped as his turnovers piled up (highest of Tourney). I would guess NBA scouts felt the same way, though people tell me he prefers Europe anyway
  • American-Born Bo McCaleb is likely to have more desire to play in the NBA and has the most calls to return as his stock rose together with his Macedonian team. A case has been made that he was a smarter fit for contenders The Magic and Lakers
  • Despite the final day not featuring host nation Lithuania it provides the most compelling matchups. Featuring the 4 Group leaders, each team dropping no more than one game in their respective pools. Both games promise tantalizing rematches, the bronze medal game gives Macedonia a chance to avenge their buzzer-beater loss against Russia. Headliners Spain up against a full strength French team in the Gold medal game, the two favorites ready to treat the fans with the barn-burner they withheld in the qualifying stages.

Sep 13, 2011

Introducing the new 'Loz in Transit' blog -

<< crossposted on the '30 Home Games' blog

If I had to describe the 'LozinTranslation' blog, I would call it a 'pursuit of happiness' journal. It's not a travelogue per se as I started it a year before I began my Euro Trip. Its more an "experience" blog in that its less about what I've seen and where I've been but more about what I've done and thought about.

The blog is sectioned by themes and passions, from art and movies to triggers and quotes. I've also set missions for myself, when I was in Sydney I made it my goal to go out everyday of the year leading up to my EuroTrip. Whilst in Europe I've tried to have a basketball experience and stay a month in each Country I've set foot in. The missions are often organically set and arbitrary but they provide a great foundation for experiences to take place. In fact I've always liked the idea of having a journalistic pretext to do things. I'm a big fan of Documentaries and am inspired by works like that of humorist Danny Wallace.

So without further adieu I present to you my next endeavour:
- A mission to attend 30 home games for each NBA team

nba map, teams, cities
"The Road to Glory" - A map of NBA Teams I plan to visit
The new blog isn't about basketball necessarily, its simply a pretext to visit the many featured States and Cities of the United States. It will feature a similar documentation style found in the 'LozinTranslation' blog, from tangential pop cultural references to the experiences shared with people I've met.

You can expect:
Quotes from conversations with people met
- Cultural tangents: ArtMusicMovies and Books
Photo essays
Trigger posts

As its a Basketball themed blog I imagine an uptick in sports analogies and puns but I intend for it to be as accessible as possible, in so much a personal blog can be.

At this early stage its all hoop dreams and goal-setting. I write this from Vilnius, Lithuania. Still very much in the midst of my Eurotrip experience, normal life awaits me at home in Sydney and there is the small matter of the looming NBA lockout. So clearly there is still a lot of uncertainty to contend with.

30 Home Games Division maps
Most of the logistical planning will be found at the new '30HomeGames' blog. There will be some cross posting when necessary but for the most part the blogs will stand alone.
Enjoy! I love this Game.

Find the complete collection of 'LozinTranslation' Basketball posts below, obviously it has been my European Bball experiences that have inspired this new endeavor.

Sep 12, 2011

Live EuroBasket results: Lithuania, September 2011 (Pt 2:Vilnius)

Day 226 in Vilnius, Lithuania
Final day of 2nd round play for Groups A & B

Serbia def. Turkey (68-67)
This game was unnecessarily close as Turkey were playing horribly, shooting a putrid 16 of 29 (55%) from the charity stripe. Despite this, the Turks had a chance to win the game with 4 seconds remaining of an inbounds play but Ilyasova's clean attempt didn't connect. Turkey ultimately didn't deserve to win and its openly known their will be a major reshuffle in the team.

Teodosic was back to the form that had won me over early in the tournament. Mostly connecting from outside, he had a modest 5 assists with some sloppy turnovers. He was arguably the most jubilant after the narrow victory, Serbia crucially recovering from three Straight losses at the hands of power teams they hope to leap frog in the Quarter Finals - Spain, France and Lithuania. Their recent play and this unconvincing elimination game performance doesn't inspire confidence for this talented team moving forward.

I was able to score free tickets valued at 1638LTl (400) through a random series of connections which led a to a member of the Turkish PR staff. I was promised access for only the first two games as the coveted Lithuania game was reserved for a local supporter.


Spain def. France (96-69)
I had a French journalist in my hostel who suspected their might be some gamesmanship between the two favorites of the Tournament. Both were already guaranteed places in the Quarter finals, this game ultimately only deciding matchups and scheduling. In some respects it was better to lose in order to gain an extra day of rest.

Spain ended up playing their usual star-studded roster whilst France sat out NBA stars Joakim Noah and arguable Tournament MVP Tony Parker. The game was close entering the 3rd quarter as France's B-Unit managed to stay within one-point at the half, 38-39. Rudy Fernandez single-handedly tore the game open in the third scoring where he scored 13 of his 15pts, including a succession of steals that lead to fastbreak layups.

I had put money on the game, Pau scoring under 20+ which I achieved but failing miserably on the prediction of a French victory. Considering Parker didn't play, betting he wouldn't score 20+ would have been a luxurious bet. Gambling is bad. After the game the Spanish coach had some stinging words about France's sportmanship.


Lithuania def. Germany (84-75)
I hadn't expected to see the Lithuania game but was pleasantly surprised when a no-show opened the doors for me. All Lithuania games are highly coveted, especially so in the later elimination stages. It was quite the honor to see the the passionate green sea of support for their National team. The atmosphere was electric, I was able to witness the cheers of every Lithuanian point and change in possession inside the arena that I'd been accustomed to hearing from watching the outdoor big screens.

The game was tied at 75 a piece with less than 2min remaining. Lithuania were unable to break away as the Germans nagged them with timely threes. Lithuania's young NBA prospect, Jonas Valančiūnas would counter with some thunderous Alleys to keep their noses in front. The game was ultimately decided by 9pts. I was unaware at the time that Germany had to win by 11 to deprive the host nation of a Quarter Finals berth, this ignorance heightened the tension of a game that was actually well in hand. Superstar Dirk Nowitzki played a lacklustre game whilst fellow NBA big man Chris Kaman topscored, he posted a convincing 25pts but his last attempts were two missed free throws with the game within reach for his German side.

VIDEO: Valančiūnas Highlights VS Germany
(15 pts, 4 rbs, 2 blocks in 18mins)

>> Check out my Basketball & Travel blog -

Big announcement: New blog coming soon...

One of the first things I ask fellow travelers is how they document their experience. I had a recent discussion with a new buddy who was worried about his blog because a friend had told him it was too procedural. I countered that perhaps your first instinct in writing is probably so for a reason. I feel how you choose to tell your stories is a reflection of your personality, as much as the stories themselves. I for instance like to get meta.

I've written a few audits of various live sporting and musical events I've been to, some are procedural whilst others transition into the usual lameness I write about. Whilst I'm here in Lithuania I've been fortunate to attend a few games of the Euro Basketball Championships in the various host cities. I will write reviews of the games I attend, mostly as an exercise to practice journalism and auditing. In particular for basketball games. This will be the basis of a new blog project I will soon unveil that I hope will be the crux of my next big endeavor.

Drumrrrrrrroll please...
VIDEO: All Lithuania is dribbling
Stay tuned.

>> Check out my Basketball & Travel blog -

Sep 10, 2011

A question answered with a quote: Lithuania edition

This concurrent with the UK Edition will likely be the last collection of quotes exclusively from one country. I set an arbitrary mission to stay a month in each country I've set foot in, this is likely to change as my funds dwindle and my focus changes.

Lithuania has been amazingly hospitable. I've met some incredibly engaging people, from fellow travelers to welcoming locals. I've definitely been spoilt over here.

Find the collection of quotables here:
- A question answered with a quote: German + Italian edition
- A question answered with a quote: Spain edition
- A question answered with a quote: Portugal edition
- A question answered with a quote: Holland Edition
- A question answered with a quote: UK Edition
- A question answered with a quote: Lithuania Edition
- A question answered with a quote: Latvia + Estonia edition
- A question answered with a quote: England edition
- A question answered with a quote: Germany Revisited edition
- A question answered with a quote: Turkey edition
- Listen to my Podcast inspired by AQAwaQ: Lets's Get Real podcast

With that I present to you 'A question answered with a quote: Lithuania edition'

Its only a problem once you realise the truth,
cuz as soon as you start thinking you're fucked

Past the point of no poems

(complaining) Shit! I'm popular

You're own food doesn't taste as good

You're a young man, entertaining will come later

The very joy of discovery is what matters

Did you have sexual intercourse or just intellectual intercourse?

I'm not jealous of your stories, I'm jealous of your happiness

Everytime you open your mouth it creates an opportunity,
it really can be an art

We're just thinking happy but we're forgetting everything

Do you want to cut the sky?

I didn't have time to... (correcting himself)
I didn't take the time to...

First comes the measure of faith, then the witness

If we were launching balloons, you'd have asked us for condoms

A connection is based on the conditions and the moment,
sometimes it can happen on the first encounter and never again

When I'm in the city I'm inspired by nature
but when I'm in nature I'm not inspired by anything

Every game requires a different type of woman

Sep 7, 2011

Marc Maron with Doug Stanhope - "Happiness is For Stupid People"

I don't own a working Mp3 player and I rarely listen to music these days. 10 years ago I downloaded plenty, bought lots of comps and went to shows 4 times a month. It started with punk rock then later to underground hiphop. The last few years I've been listening to podcasts almost exclusively.

A good podcast is like overhearing a good conversation with a close friend. A great podcast makes you feel as if you were having that conversation, so much so I've referenced it in real life mistaking it for an interaction I actually had.

Happiness is a constant theme of my travels. Its something I think about and a subject most people I meet gravitate towards. Comedians Marc Maron and Doug Stanhope talk "music snobbery" then segue into the topic of happiness.
WTF with Marc Maron: Episode 204 - Doug Stanhope (52m)
MARC MARON: Do you really feel that at this point in your career that somehow or another, that people that like that type of entertainment are fucking morons and you hate them
DOUG STANHOPE: No, Well I don't really hate them... No I understand them... I do hate them initially and then the logical part of my brain says I shouldn't...

MARON: (agreeing) Who gives a fuck?
STANHOPE: ...Why would I do that? If they're getting joy from something why would I be the guy who shits on it. You wouldn't do that to a child - Like "Timmy what are you doing that's making you so happy in the backyard, are you playing with an imaginary unicorn?

MARON: (anticipating) You fucking idiot!
STANHOPE: You fucking - There's no unicorn there you stupid asshole. Think about it! Be rational and reasonable and be as happy as I am, you fuckin asshole

MARON: Look at you crying, see what happens when you believe in unicorns. I dunno but as you get older, I mean honestly...
STANHOPE: Less matters
Find previous Maron podcast references here
- Marc Maron with Adam Carolla - On being sedentary
- Marc Maron with Doug Stanhope - On happiness
- Marc Maron with Norm MacDonald - On being in the moment
- Pete Holmes with Marc Maron - A question answered with a quote: Comedy Podcasts

Trigger: "A moment in time" Panevėžys, Lithuania (2011 m. Rugsėjo 7)

Soundtrack for the "A moment in time
'This is the moment' by David Hasselhoff (Jekyll & Hyde)

Its amazing what adventures can be unlocked just by striking up a conversation, for one night this Pauper was treated like a Prince. I also found that being "down to earth" is a state of mind and has nothing to do with how much is in your bank account.

The Lithuanian people have been incredibly hospitable, sometimes I wonder if I'm getting red carpet treatment because of the Basketball championships. As people have affirmed, its about providing a good energy which people will meet in return.

Find the other trigger days here:
- Trigger "Farewell in Unison" Sydney, Australia (June 22, 2013)
- Trigger: "One hell of a night" Rotterdam, Netherlands (Juli 26, 2011)
- Trigger: "A moment in time" Panevėžys, Lithuania (2011 m. Rugsėjo 7)
- Hair, There and Everywhere: Haircut days in Europe
Trigger: Day 114 - An NBA day in Portugal
Trigger: Day 244 - 8 months in review
- Find other Memento Triggers here

Sep 5, 2011

Live EuroBasket results: Lithuania, September 2011 (Pt1: Panevėžys, Šiauliai)

VIDEO: Official song of EuroBasket 2011

Day 216 in Panevėžys, Lithuania
Spain def. Portugal (87-73)
Turkey def. Great Britain (90-61)

NBA Players: Rudy Fernandez, Marc and Pau Gasol, Serge Ibaka, Ricky Rubio, Juan Carlos Navarro, Luol Deng, Hedo Türkoglu, Ömer Asik , Enes Kanter, Ersan Ilyasova

I knew the games weren't going to be competitive but to be honest it was mostly an exercise to witness NBA talent. As 'Group A' features host nation Lithuania, the day tickets only provide access for the first two games. Lithuania always play the night cap, with tickets understandably highly sought after. Despite showcasing top-flight NBA talent the games attracted a sparse crowd albeit with some vocal support, particularly from the Turkish faithful.

The first round is the best avenue to see the talent affordably. Ticket holders are often interested in simply seeing their National teams play and may not have the patience to sit through a full day's worth of games. Tickets are sometimes offloaded by departing spectators, pockets are also created in the crowd which allows willing fans to vie for a better view. I bought cheap seats for 70Ltl (€21)


Day 219 in Šiauliai, Lithuania
Israel def. Latvia (91-88)
France def. Italy (91-84)
Serbia def. Germany (75-64)

NBA Players: Joakim Noah, Nicolas Batum, Tony Parker, Boris Diaw, Marco Belinelli, Danilo Gallinari, Andrea Bargnani, Chris Kaman, Dirk Nowitzki, Nenad Krstic

Though I'd never heard of Serbia's Miloš Teodosić prior to today, he's no secret. He is considered "arguably the best point guard in Europe". Tonight he delivered a line of 12, 9 and 9 in 28 minutes, impressing with his playmaking including several "no-look" dishes. His accuracy is questionable but I fully expect to see him lacing his sneaks for the NBA in the near future. I like his game.

It was an honor to see current Finals MVP and Mr Congeniality Dirk Nowitzki in action. We were treated to glimpses of his greatness, hitting some Ri-Dirk-ulous shots as Germany teased a comeback early in the fourth. But Serbia are simply the better team. As my German colleagues noted, "Dirk probably misses his Dallas teammates".

"The Group [B] of death" features 4 superstar teams and neighboring Latvia so understandably the stadium reaches capacity. I scored my tickets through a scalper, paying with my last 150Ltl. Three-quarters of its stated value, it was a home printed E-ticket. The scam is quite simple, person orders a ticket online then prints and sells multiples of said ticket. As long as the purchaser is the first one to scan their ticket at the start of each game, they're golden. I watched all three games.

Highlight of the game: Bargnani over Noah and Diaw


Day 220 in Šiauliai, Lithuania
France def. Serbia (97-96 OT)

This was a fitting curtain call for a day packed with nailbiters and a week of entertaining European Basketball. It was a game against the two unbeatens of Group B. I was able to score cheap tix for this possible Finals preview off some Latvian fans. Seeing it in person was my only real chance to see this barn-burner as it was competing with a Lithuanian TV game. Ticket holders had already been treated to two exciting games each decided by a point. I haggled the price down to a bargain 20Ltl.

The result was practically a coinflip. Serbia's star point guard was missing for the crucial stages of the game, fouling out with 40 seconds left in regulation and France was saved by a missed shot off a "gimme" in the dying seconds. It simply sets up a tantalising rematch if both teams continue playing to form. My prediction still looks good but am unsure if France and Lietuva are on the same side of the pool.

- Read Live EuroBasket results: Lithuania, September 2011 Part II

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