Thursday, August 6, 2015



Although I was made to be very comfortable - and welcome - back at Kosto's apartments (the same apartment I'd rented before), honestly being in the same small town was kind of a drag.  I resolved to go somewhere new next time I'm in Bulgaria.

Unlike the USA, trains are still used as transport in Eastern Europe.  I resolved to use them while I could as they are freaky expensive in Western Europe.

From Plovdiv to Sophia (capital) there is a small local train.

While waiting for that at about two in the morning, I asked a couple cops where I could take a leak.  They showed me to the pay bathroom which was closed.  For some reason.  They then gestured to a nearby wall.  "If you don't care, I don't care." I retorted.

Eventually, I reached the under construction Sophia train station.  It looks like they are going for a 'cubist concrete' style.

I was trying to figure out how to get the train for the next leg of my journey (Sophia to Bucharest) and asked one of the ticket sellers.  She didn't speak any languages useful for a traveler.  Eventually, I was shown a TV monitor they had conspicuously set up.  Hey, I didn't have any sleep last night.

The only important parts are the first column, what train you have and the last - what platform it's on.  Red box means you'd better run.

Er - to catch the train.  Not because you're going to be hunted down and killed like a common snow leopard.

That's HIS job.

My platform came up as "83".  Quite a trick considering there were seven platforms.

I only wish I was joking.

It turned out later (after getting the police in on helping me to find out what the hell was going on) there are indeed eight platforms.  The eighth is handwritten on a piece of paper and not labeled on the "this way to platforms one through seven".

Turns out that I was, once again, not picked for wizarding school.

So platform eight?  Great - what's the three?  Oh - your local language symbol for west.  No, that's not freakishly confusing at all.  Thanks so much.

The 'west' thing is important because they load multiple trains on the same tracks (despite some other tracks not being busy) because that is not at all confusing either.

Is this why buses have been buttfucking the rail industry?

Possibly that and they haven't caught on to the 'offer free wifi on your trains'.

So we went through the border.  Though it took longer than perhaps it should have, it was one of the relaxed border crossings where the border guard came on to the train, collected the passports and returned them later.

I eventually arrived in Bucharest, got the local train to Ploiesti (we're still talking Romania here), called my hosts and they collected me from the train station.  Thanks to the nice couple that let me borrow their phone!


In the LHI tour I didn't put up pics of my hosts.  I regret that.  So, this time I am doing it.

Here are my hosts in Romania, Sorin and Diana.

These guys have an interesting job - they work for a casino!  They're high falutin' managers which means that if I go with them to their work, they leave me at the bar with as much free booze as I can stomach.

That's a nice deal.

Since the bartenders aren't doing much (summer is the slow season), we sit around and talk.

Ma-ki-hel, Logan, Kat-a-leen.  (Spelled phonetically, sorry I don't know how to spell it but it's better this way.)

Getting back to my hosts, they are super nice to me.  I consider a week to be about the max I should freeload off someone.  Last time I was in Romania, I ended up staying with them for a week.  This time they said I should come for two weeks.

Nice folks.  They treat me super well.  And, best yet, getting to meet them in yet a different town!  Yea!

Hope to visit them in a few more years.


Apparently, enough to be fucked by it...


Note on 'graphic audio'.  Those are audio books where they put in sound effects and such.  These are designed for people who have no fucking imagination.  I find such things - as well as multiple 'cast members' to be extremely distracting.  Hence, I avoid that shit.  I figure these things are a symptom of people who have been raised on TV and are incapable of forming pictures in their mind.

"Libriomancer", "Codex Born" and "Unbound" by Jim C. Hines

Pretty decent urban fantasy.  The most interesting part is the type of magic (see title of book) used.  By drawing on the collective belief and emotions of the people who have read books, the magicians can literally reach into a book and draw forth what they want from the book.  This reminds me a bit of the book "Geekomancy" which did partially the same thing, using the collective belief/love of people to get the magic but this puts a new slant on it.

The story, heroes and such are really nothing new.  The big powerful organization is way too busy to deal with what seems important to the hero.  He even had a 'turn in your badge and gun' moment with one of the bosses but was later reinstated because he is too damned good.  The hero also suffers from not being very clever and hella reckless.

The author became upset when I mentioned that with the hero getting into that much trouble (and being an extremely fast reader and great researcher) he would bother to learn a bit of 'trade craft' (spy stuff).  Apparently that isn't ever going to happen.  I would encourage anyone who is constantly put into life and death situations to bother to learn some of this.   Eventually, you just end up shaking your head wondering why this guy is still alive and hasn't gotten the people close to him killed.  If these characters were either overconfident or suicidal nihilists it would make more sense.

Note, I don't recommend contacting this author.  Normally, authors I talk to are not so overly sensitive.  No doubt there is more to the story than I know.  Perhaps he just discovered someone had raped his dog.  (If so, my condolences to the dog, contact PETA.)  I've no idea, but it is not often I need to 'unfriend' someone.

[Note, if this sounds overly harsh, rather than bitching about someone posting on your wall within that thread, delete the thread (it's your wall) and send them a PM.  If they do it again, unfriend and block them.  This isn't rocket science.]

Nothing new here but it is not a bad series either.


Books by F. Paul Wilson:  "Cold City", "Dark City", "Fear City" - early Repairman Jack books.

While these may look like three different book titles, take my word for it, they are all pretty much one long book.

Prequels are usually shit (the "Amber" by Zelazny ones come to mind) but these were different.  These were written by the same author, unlike the ones mentioned above which I begin to suspect I may be holding an illogical grudge against.

Normally you cringe when protagonists do stupid stuff.  Like in the "Libriomancer" series I reviewed above.  However, in these books they talk about the protagonist in his early formative years.  He's a bit hot headed, morally conflicted, completely inexperienced and getting some training.  Yeah.  This is exactly the right place for him to mess up without the audience screaming "Are you stupid?"  Quite a refreshing read after "Libriomancer".

This guy's story is not unlike "The Equalizer" from the ancient days of television that anyone born post internet has no idea exists.  It's not really a new concept.  In the later (sprawling) series, he solves problems.  These books are how he gets started.

Part of the appeal of the series is the guy leads a very 'off the grid' lifestyle.   While Logan leads a fairly off the grid 'alternative' lifestyle, this guy is completely off the grid.  No last name, no social security number, all payment under the table.  Good stuff.

I'd recommend these books.  They are easy to read and were made long after the author had 'sharpened his quill'.  Maybe that expression is too old.  Authors get better as they get older.  This was made fairly recently.

It may suck you into the series.  Without giving any spoilers (hate those people) I can say that there is more going on than some guy getting paid to rough up people for cash.  The series is eventually classified as 'urban fantasy'.  Enjoy.



"Cold McDonald's french fries taste like...broken dreams..."

"Electricity is what separates us from cheetahs."

Costs (Romania):

Bottle of hard alcohol, about 10 USD
Bulgarian 'fast food' (think BBQ), about 1.5 USD (yeah, not bad)

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{{2011}} London, GB | Rail N Sail | Amsterdam, Netherlands | Prague, Czech Republic | Budapest, Hungary | Sarajevo, Bosnia | Romania | Chisinau, Moldova | Ukraine: Odessa - Sevastopol | Crossed Black Sea by ship | Georgia: Batumi - Tbilisi - Telavi - Sighnaghi - Chabukiani | Turkey: Kars - Lost City of Ani - Goreme - Istanbul | Jordan: Amman - Wadi Rum | Israel | Egypt: Neweiba - Luxor - Karnak - Cairo | Thailand: Bangkok - Pattaya - Chaing Mai - Chaing Rei | Laos: Luang Prabang - Pakse | Cambodia: Phnom Penh | Vietnam: Vung Tau - Saigon aka Ho Chi Minh City

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{{2015}} Hammamet 2 | South Africa: Johnnesburg | Thailand: Hua Hin - Hat Yai | Malaysia: Georgetown | Thailand: Krabi Town | Indonesia:
Sabang Island | Bulgaria: Plovdiv | Romania: Ploiesti - Targu Mures | Poland: Warsaw | Czech Republic: Prague | Germany: Munich | Netherlands: Groningen | England: Slough | Thailand: Ayutthaya - Khon Kaen - Vang Vieng | Cambodia: Siem Reap

{{2016}} Thailand: Kanchanaburi - Chumphon | Malaysia: Ipoh - Kuala Lumpur - Kuching - Miri | Ukraine: Kiev | Romania: Targu Mures - Barsov | Morocco: Tetouan

{{2017}} Portugal: Faro | USA: Virginia - Michigan - Illinois - Colorado | England: Slough - Lancaster | Thailand: Bangkok | Cambodia: Siem Reap

{{2018}} Ukraine: Kiev - Chernihiv - Uzhhorod

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