29 September 2015

76 days around the world

This is our first email newsletter! Notre premier courriel!
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Hi everyone!
During our trip we'd love to share photos and updates of our travel adventures. I figure a quick newsletter with a photo or two would be a good idea! 

Thank you!
Sophie and Richard

Bonjour a tous!
Pendant notre voyage nous souhaitons envoyer des nouvelles et des photos de nos aventures. Un joli email avec quelques photos me semble une bonne idée!

Sophie et Richard
Here's the link to our travel map. You'll find all the details of where we're staying, which airline we're flying, which hotel we'll stay at. Basically more information then you require!

In English:
(click on the left side for more details for each place or things, remove or add layers to visualize at your leisure)

11 June 2010

Group A - Third games

Mexico vs. Uruguay

In a battle of the uglies, we decide the ugliest Group A country.




0 points (wow, the only girl I know from Uruguay is actually pretty cute, and now I have gone and given them 0 points in beauty for people!)

2 points (the french stand up as a group of pretty sex men and women)

Natural Beauty

1 points (although I took away points for this earlier, if 90% of the population live in Montevideo, the countryside must be pretty nice, and well, they do have a coastline along the Atlantic ocean)

1 points (for all I ragged on them, you do have the mayan pyramids, copper canyon, coasts on both the pacific and atlantic ocean, so a pretty beautiful place)


½ points (I have a feeling like we may end up with quite a few of these Spanish on Spanish showdowns in the games to come)

½ points (we have to stop this spanish on spanish violence)


1 point (it is a shame that the sexiest dance known to man will not survive the first round)

0 points (Mexicans like to wear masks)


0 points (outside of Uruguay, who eats Uruguayan food?)

1 point (pintos and rice finally prevail!)

Final Score – Mexico 4.5, Uruguay 2.5

Mexico leaves the tournament as a beauty in training – looking to grow up a bit. Uruguay needs a name change if it wants to win any beauty pageants.

France vs. South Africa


South Africa


2 points (The President is married to a hot model)

0 points (their previous president looks like a hairless mole – cute maybe, but not beautiful)

Natural Beauty

1 points (a PUSH here, as both countries have great natural beauty)

1 points (wild natural parks couldn’t quite overtake so much coastline, mountains and rivers)


½ point (alors, voila!)

½ point (in Namibia, they have clicks in their language, how cool is that? And Namibia is close enough to count for the host country!)


½ point (the French know how to dress themselves, so at least they look good while dancing)

½ points (tribal dances like to dress down, but a little more athleticism in their movement, so I give them a push!)


1 points (even though Uruguay’s food is based on European, there is just no way anybody is scoring any points against French food)

0 points (ya, foie gras may not be beautiful, but there is a reason that French cuisine and haute couture go hand in hand)

Final Score – France 5, South Africa 2

Both advance, but now France has a better draw for Round 2

Final Standings after Round 1:

France 9 points, South Africa 6 points, Mexico 3 points, Uruguay 0 points

Group A - second games

South Africa vs. Uruguay
Well a win by the host country in their second game would ensure that they advance. As we saw in the first round, other than dance, Uruguay is not so strong in the beauty department.


South Africa


1 point (90% are of European decent)

1 point (you have the Dutch settlers mixing with various tribes to give us such celebrities as Dave Matthews and Steve Nash!)

Natural Beauty

0 points (what of note is in this country? I did a project on it in grade 8 and even I have not remembered much of importance!)

2 points (elephants and lions)


0 point (I have already demonstrated that Afrikaans > Spanish as it has this romantic, gruff tone that women love)

1 points (sorry spanish, too much passion ruins the beauty at this point)


1 points (tango = sex in motion)

0 points (no sex for me, I want to avoid HIV)


½ point (um, wikipedia lists some Italian sandwhich as a national dish….this one is a draw pretty much because neither country is too strong here)

½ a point (when is the last time you went to Steers? It is the South African version of McDonald’s….taste pretty much the same)

Final score – South Africa 4.5 to Uruguay 2.5

With the win, South Africa advances to the 2nd round!

France vs. Mexico

I think the real battle here will be about the women and the food!




1 point (girls, girls, girls)

1 point (filles, filles, filles)

Natural Beauty

0 points (Mexican Riviera)

2 points (French Riviera, you take your pick)


1 points (Mucho gusto)

0 points (Sacré bleu) once again, Spanish proves to be a more beautiful language than French


1 point (Spanish is a language that translates well into dance – sex on the dance floor)

0 points (attitude is not enough for lack of creativity vs. other European dances)


0 points (I actually love Mexican food but it is being held back by its relative street grub reputation)

1 point (“I’m Julia Childs, and I say French cooking is da bomb”)

Final score – France 4, Mexico 3

Our closest game yet, sees Mexico eliminated – I will miss the beautiful Mexican women, but the men are too ugly, and driving a camero is not getting them anywhere in the world of beauty.

Group A - First games

Mexico vs. South Africa

Bafana Bafana, as the South African’s side is dubbed, are hosting this year’s instalment of the grand ball. But if you think I’m going to be lenient with them, think again. I mean, when you think of beauty, surely Mexico has to be one of the countries that come to mind immediately? Montezuma’s revenge, overpopulated mass urbanization, pollution, drug smuggling. Ah yes, beautiful Mexico. Um wait. Mexico is also the home country of her:


while South Africa is the home of “her”:


Hmm, beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, so this may be a tough exercise. Ok, so let’s break this down by category shall we? In fact, we’ll be using this approach regularly throughout these entries

South Africa



0 points – Leonardo DiCaprio in Blood Diamond does not count

2 points – hot women, suave men

Natural Beauty

2 points (Krugger National Park, Cape of Good Hope)

0 points (diarrhoea inducing water and all-inclusive resorts)


1 point (Afrikaans rocks)

0 points (Mexican Spanish is like saying that Québecois French is beautiful)


½ point (tribal Paul Simon inspired movements)

½ point (Mexican hat Dance alone is worth this one point!)


0 point + ½ for steal from Taco Bell loss by Mexico (combine Dutch, Indian, and Khoishan culture and what do you get? I don’t know, but it is better than Mexican inspired fast food)

1 points for tacos, nachos, burritos but for Taco Bell inspired penalty = ½ point

Final score – South Africa 4, Mexico 3

A WIN for South Africa!!!!!

(Mexico encourages men to start trimming ½ moustaches, while encouraging more Mexican women to take center stage for their next beauty contest)

Uruguay vs. France

Somehow, a small South American country that claims to know of my sexuality (no, you’re gay, stupid country), has more World Cup trophies than all of North America, Asia, Africa, and Oceania combined. In fact WAY more trophies (2 to zero). But how beautiful is Uruguay? Well, the snobby French are ready for them.




0 points (I’m tempted to give them a point as South Americans are generally pretty suave, but come on, against French girls???)

2 points (2 words: filles françaises!)

Natural Beauty

0 points (from Wikipedia: rolling plains and low hill ranges)

2 points (Paris, the city of lights + the Alps, um, no contest)


1 points (Mucho gusto)

0 points (Sacré bleu)


1 point (tango, enough said)

0 points


0 points (even though Uruguay’s food is based on European, there is just no way anybody is scoring any points against French food)

1 point

Final score – France 5, Uruguay 2

Les Bleus come out on top as expected

World Cup Travel Bracketology

Well the first game of the 2010 FIFA World Cup is in the books – not surprisingly, it was a tie. As the world’s most watched sport takes center stage again, my creative juices have begun to spark. I realize it has been a slow blogging year, but I’m hoping to spice things up with my second annual “Travel Destinations” bracket buster. Last year, the NCAA’s March Madness tournament was the inspiration for a 64 entry single elimination tournament to decide which tourist destination was the world’s best. With a little bit of creative fiction, it turns out that the Trans-Siberian rail came out on top.

Last year’s set up was much more geared towards destination, as opposed to the countries themselves. Yes, a few entries were actual countries (i.e. Nepal), but for the most part it was monuments, parks, cities and places across the world. With FIFA’s World Cup, we now have a chance to crown a new “Travel Destinations” champion for 2010. The catch for this year will be that the competition will be between the 32 countries in this year’s World Cup Finals. They will compete against one another in the same order they find themselves at the World Cup (Groups A through H). Two winners will move beyond the group stage to the round of 16 and then in single elimination until we reach the finals.

I have thought long and hard over how to determine the winners. In the end, I decided that since football is the dubbed the beautiful game that the winner would be chosen based on its beauty. But beauty comes in many forms, so I have come up with 3 measures of beauty, as follows: a) the beauty of the people (worth 2 points); b) the natural beauty of the country itself (worth 2 points); and finally the beauty of the culture (to measure the beauty of culture, we will use language, dance, and food, each worth 1 point). I hope you will be encouraged to comment along the way. Much like last year’s entries, I have no predetermined winner in mind – we’ll simply see how the match ups go! So, let’s get beautiful!

26 April 2010

Destination Party!

I recently returned from Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. My week in the sun was to mark a good friend's wedding. These destination weddings have become quite popular of late, allowing newlyweds to spend a week's worth of vacation with their friends and families, enjoying food, beach, alcohol and all the specially folded towels an Olympic swimmer could handle.


It got me to thinking, with such a large industry dedicated to weddings, why not other destination events? I mean, surely other people than newlyweds can benefit from some fun in the sun? Indeed, here is a short list of destination parties that travel agents can feel free to steal!

1. Destination Funeral
If you can celebrate the death of single life in the Caribbean, I don't see why you can't mark the passage of human life by imbuing all you can drink liquor? I mean, you are going to be depressed and angry drinking at home, why not do it on the beach? Sure the black outfits are not exactly swimming and sand attire, but the sunburn won't be any worse for the wear.

In fact, I think a destination funeral would be ideal. Bring friends and family together, celebrate someone's life, and then spread the ashes on the beach. Who wouldn't want a bikini glad hottie lying on top of their remains for the rest of history? If anyone is reading this who has ultimate responsibility for me later in life, I command you to have a destination funeral!

2. Destination Bris
Jewish tradition really knows how to mark a boy's beginning to life - let's cut off part of his penis. Well, I'm all for it - why not celebrate the slicing by doing it on the beach! Sure there is a small risk of infection from having sand get in the way, but nothing a little tent can't protect! Plus, all you can eat kosher food does the body good.

3. Destination Birthday
Ok, so this one is obvious. In fact, I'm sure it already takes place - but, when I was in DR, it was a young boy's birthday (8th) and it was pretty difficult to get some cake. So these hotels really need to up their dessert quotients; I mean, sugar grows in forests down there, can't they come up with a decent chocolate brownie. So here are some tips to the hotels: weddings need photographers, flowers, champagne, and a gazebo. Birthdays need board games, pin the tail on the donkey, cake (lots of cake!) and of course, live music!

4. Destination small claims court
How much more interesting would Judge Judy be with a Pina Colada in her hands and a sombrero on her head? Yup, the cost may be prohibitive, given it is "small" claims court, but what witness wouldn't want to show up on a beach to tell the judge how his neighbor was helping him fix his car and not at his sister's stealing $1200 on the night in question. Lawyers fees may be a bit exhorbitant, but they probably could use a vacation anyways, right.

5. Destination dentistry work
Who wouldn't want a crown replaced on the beach? Well, I may be wrong about this one, but you usually need to eat from a straw after these events, right? Why not replace all your meals with all you can drink slushees? I mean, even if you are not into the alcohol, the lemonade, jello, and virgin margaritas should help you recover pretty quickly from all that oral drilling!

Really, the possibilities are endless: destination prom, destination, lobodomy, destination halloween party, destination bar mitzvah, and of course, do not forgot the destination mother's day gathering!

25 February 2010

Worse Country at the 2010 Olympics

Checking out the men’s giant slalom today, it became very apparent that a number of skiers were just plain awful. Now absolute atrociousness is more a hallmark of the Summer Olympics, where many more countries compete. In the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, there are 82 countries competing. To date, the games have broken the record for number of countries receiving medals for a winter Olympics – that number would be 26. In the last week of the Games, this number will probably not change much. So approximately 2/3rd of the countries at these Games will not win medals. In comparison, the 2008 Summer games had 204 countries (or rather national Olympic Committees) competing, with 86 winning medals, which represents a little over 40%. In the first winter Olympics, there were 16 countries in total, 10 of which brought home medals.

Without going through a whole statistical history lesson, I think it is safe to say that fewer countries win medals in winter Olympics than do summer Olympics, in terms of both absolute numbers and as a percentage of those entered. Until recently, with the addition of more and more countries to the winter Olympics, this percentage has only worsened. With the exception of a few rare cases, no countries in the southern hemisphere win medals at the winter Olympics, and the only reason why “more” countries are winning medals nowadays is that a) Yugoslavia and Soviet Union splintered into many countries and b) random athletes move from true winter countries to countries that adopt them (i.e. Dale Begg-Smith from Australia, who is Canadian).

All this talk makes me ask the question, who is the worse country at the 2010 winter Olympics? In order to determine this “prestigious” title, I will use the following quantifiers: 1) number of athletes (a low number means you suck more); 2) poor results from your athletes; and 3) did not finish from your athletes. The model of outright suckiness would be a country with very few athletes (between 2 and 5), all of whom failed to complete their events. Note that having only 1 athlete will not hinder you if that athlete competes and finishes “not last”, vs. a country with 5 athletes, all of whom suck balls. So let’s see, who wants it the least?


Nearly all of the following countries have less than 5 athletes at the Olympics. Surely the “worse” country must come from that list? Well, as you will see with our first candidate, that is not necessarily the case.

Argentina – One could argue that Argentina is the world’s greatest soccer nation (with all due respect to Brazil and Germany). Although that is probably not true, we can certainly agree that they are one of the best countries at a sport that is played by everyone. Yet, they absolutely suck at winter sports. Case in point, there were 40 athletes in men’s singles luge – the Argentine athlete finished 38th and the only 2 athletes that he “beat” were from Georgia. One of the athletes he defeated tragically died and the other was DNS (i.e. was too afraid to do the event). Oh yeah, that athlete from Argentina was 48 years old. Their only cross country skier finished 82nd out of 95 finishers. Remembering that they have a major mountain chain in their country, they did have 5 skiers in alpine ski – the best finish they have is 26th, which is respectable. Two of the 5 skiers had either DNS or DNF in one of their races. It remains to be seen how badly they perform in the remaining events, but for now, the mantle of worse country at the 2010 Olympics seems destined for another place.

Bermuda – it seems like taking candy from a baby, but I mean, this is the country that walked into the opening ceremonies with shorts on!!! Right away, they lose major points with the jury. Bermuda has 1 athlete at these games and he finished 88th in the 15km cross country ski. There were 95 people who finished. If he had finished last, Bermuda would be a shoe in for worse performing country, but thankfully the men’s 15km freestyle race had a few other chumps in the race (that we will revisit later on).

Cayman Islands – Again, another islands with no snow, yet 1 skier at these Olympics. Even worse than Bermuda, there are no mountains and this guy is in alpine skiing! Fortunately, he finished 75th in the first run out of about 100 skiers, so the Cayman Islands are safe from mockery.

Ethiopia – 1 athlete. 1 event. He beat 2 people. Again, the men’s 15km freestyle cross country ski rears its ugly head. The Ethiopian athlete was over ten minutes behind in a race that last a little more than a half hour. From his Wikipedia profile, Although he has lived in the US since the age of 9, he has founded and heads the Ethiopian National Skiing Federation, and still speaks fluent Amharic. Fortunately for him, he did beat 2 athletes, thus raising the Ethiopian flag proud.

Ghana – The “snow leopard” has been the talk of these games. With the men’s Giant Slalom on today, I expected to see him, but I guess it is difficult to see a leopard, even if they are spotted in the snow. Actually, he did not enter the Giant Slalom, thus leaving him only with the slower, easier, less technical slalom to enter. If he finishes last, which he has vowed not to do, then Ghana will definitely be the worse. He actually has a great story, and in all due respect, he is what sports are all about. The “spots” on his leopard jacket are names of his sponsors, and he has stated that he will return to Ghana to train tomorrow’s Olympians. He is either the world’s smartest con artist or a man with a huge heart; for now, I’ll chose to believe in his dreams.

Hong Kong – They have one athlete. She is in short track speed skating. In all 3 of her events, she did not advance out of the heats, although she did beat a few athletes. I mention her simply because of her story at the opening ceremonies. Due to sponsorship contracts, she had to wear a light jacket during the ceremony and not her usual winter jacket; because of this, she caught a cold. Wow, I wonder what happened to the guy with shorts on? Good thing for her the Games were not in Siberia but rather in the deep freeze of Vancouver. Ha!

Iceland – All four of their athletes are in alpine skiing. And they are not the worse performers. They may actually get a top 30 finish. However, the very fact that they are called Iceland means they need to pick up their socks. I mean, if a country was called swimland you would think they would do well in aquatics at the summer Olympics. And since there is no country called snowville, or skitown, Iceland really has to either change their name, or start better performing in winter Olympics. I mean, come on. They don’t even compete in skating and they are called “ice” land. I think they should change their name to geyserland or just stop showing up.

Ireland – if you have been watching any of the sliding events, you know of all this controversy between Ireland and Australia, as to which descendants of English prisoners should be allowed into the Olympics. The aussies claimed that the Olympics should include all the continents, ipso facto, they should be in there. The Irish said, we’re drunk, let us go tobogganing! So the IOC let them both in. Of course, the Irish promptly finished 25th in men’s skeleton (out of 26) and 17th out of 19th in women’s 2-man bobsleigh (beating the Aussies, take that you thieves from down under). In the famous men’s 15km freestyle cross-country ski, Ireland’s competitor (I refrain from using the term athlete here) was 91st out of 95. It remains to be seen how their two skiers do in the slalom, but given that they finished all their races, Ireland can stand tall at these winter Olympics.

Israel – I was all ready to make a bunch of anti-Semitic remarks, but low and behold, the Israeli ice dancing pair finished 10th! Mazaltoss! (um, I have no idea how to spell that word)

Kyrgyzstan – Ok, now we are really getting into the heart of the possible candidates. First of all, I’m sure you do not know where this country is located, but I can guarantee you, it is in the Northern hemisphere. Moreover, it was once blessed with funding from a central Communist regime, namely, the Soviets. So they must be good at winter sports right? Um, wrong. First of all, I’m sure they are dirt poor, living in their huts, in the vast central asian steppes. They have 2 athletes at these games. In the women’s cross country sprint, their athlete was 54th out of 54 athletes in qualifying, finishing nearly 1 minute out of first place, and over 10 seconds behind the before last place competitor (this race takes about 3:45 minutes for the average Olympian). In the men’s giant slalom, their athlete did finish the race, which is what will save this country from title of worse at the Olympics, but he was in 76th out of 81 finishers. We’ll see how the slalom goes on Friday.

Mexico – Yes, they compete at the winter Olympics. I have to share this story. They have 1 athlete, and he is descendant of Austrian royalty. How freaking cliché is that. Oh yeah, he competed at the 1984 winter Olympics. You now, those Olympics when Regan was President? What the shit. Needless to say, he is not good (now) and is old. He finished 78th out of 81 in the men’s giant slalom – but again, he DID finish. Finally, their hockey team tried to qualify for the Olympics, but were eliminated by hockey power house Spain (damn colonialism, they conquered us but they forgot to leave elbow pads for hockey!)

Mongolia – a friend told me a funny story about Mongolia. He said that a number of years ago they had a census for determining people’s names, as no one had family names. As it turns out 90% or so of the population wanted the name Kahn, as in Gengis Khan. Well instead they got names like this Khash-Erdene Khurelbataar and Erdene-Ochir Ochirsuren (the first one is the man). They finished 87th in 15km cross country ski and 68th in 10km ski respectively. So they both finished, not in last, and went home to ride horses, I’m sure.

Nepal – This is a country with the highest mountain chain the world. Plus they all pray a lot. Combine those things and you would think they could have a decent alpine skiers. No, they do not. They had a guy named Sherpa (I’m not making that up), who has indeed climbed Mount Everest and he then finished before, before, before last in the famous men’s 15 km cross country ski race. Oh yeah, he also runs marathons. Jeesh.

Pakistan – One man, on goal. Do not finish last in the men’s giant slalom. Amazing how many people have this goal. He finished before, before last. But yet again, he did indeed finish! He was the first Pakistani ever in the winter Olympics. And I should just state right now that although I am making fun of all these athlete, I could probably not make it down that mountain myself. So in all sincerity, congratulations.

Portugal - Ok, I meant that for the Pakistani athlete, but not for this Portugese guy. He was the only athlete from his country and he finished last in the 15km Freestyle men’s ski race. I mean, it was close, but a guy in shorts (Bermuda), a guy from India, and a guy from Ethiopia beat him. Portugal is the reigning world champions in soccer, are they not? They have really good athletes. They are fairly well developed. I know it is not the winter capitol of the world, but come on. You suck Portugal. 1 athlete entered, 1 last place finish. Officially the worse country at the Olympics.

San Marino – Wait, the San Marino athlete finished before last in the men’s giant slalom. Luckily for him, he beat a guy from India, something that cannot be said for our aforementioned friend from Portugal. San Marino also only has 30,000 people. So they get off easy. Oh yeah, that Portuguese athlete was born in New Jersey. What the shit winter Olympics.

South Africa – 2 athletes, one did not finish, one did not advance out of the heats. DNF in, what else, men’s giant slalom. Did not advance, men’s sprint cross country ski. The cross country skier beat one person. Oh, I don’t know, South Africa may have just taken the title of mediocrity away from Potugal. You be the judge.

Senegal – No surprise here, their one athlete also has Austrian citizenship. Well of course, what else would a senegelese athlete be doing in alpine skiing. I’ll tell you what, not qualifying for the Austrian team, but rather finishing 73rd for Senegal, luckily there were other Africans in the race for him to beat up on.