Pink Trash Travels

Ep. 2 Recap In their quest to find a dog and cat sitter, Dave and Chris rendezvous with Emily Flechtner - a former Northwestern student now residing in Munich. Dave wasn't sure about using to locate someone to watch over the family when they travel. But after meeting Emily (a former Northwestern student and now kindergarten teacher), and performing a simple google search to uncover any oddities (it's their kids after all), both Dave and Chris are excited about having Emily join the family.

Newest Cast Member:
Emily - Northwestern graduate teaching Kindergarten in Munich. Dog walker and housesitter extraordinaire.

What's Your Birthday Story?

In the upcoming weeks, I'll be asking for your help. I'll give more details later, but for now, I'd like all of you who follow along every week (and friends of yours and so on and so on...) to start thinking about your birthdays growing up. We all have good memories and bad of our special day. And even though you may not think it's a "story," it is. Someone, somewhere can identify with your comedy or tragedy - and that's the IDEA. But it can't happen happen without your help. So again, start thinking. I'll be back soon with more details.

Summer in Munich

The Road 2 Oktoberfest

They may be called beer tents, but they're so much more than canvas huts filled with beer wenches and drunk patrons. Instead, these Oktoberfest residencies are well constructed party spots with elaborate decorations.

New & Noteworthy

Monrose won Germany's version of Popstars in 2006 and have enjoyed substantial success throughout Europe. One Hot Summer, their latest single released in June, has since hit the top of both the Austrian and German singles charts as well as #2 in Switzerland. The pop/dance track is in English so you'll understand every catchy word. Check out the video below.

BOO! on Berlin

McDonald's entry into Berlin's Kreuzberg neighborhood is causing quite a stir. I understand the capital's quest to keep the local flavor in tact. But don't try to block the arrival of our bread and butter with the excuse that they'll "tempt local students with fattening food." If you compare the calories between a traditional German meal and liter of beer with that of a number one, two, three or four on the McDonald's menu, the house of Ronald's offering will come off like a Weight Watcher's meal everytime!

Dave's Faves

It's called Rührei Nudelpfanne (scrambled egg noodle pan) and it's delicious. The casserole-like side item is like Kraft Macaroni and Cheese but only better. It's less salty, more flavorful and the perfect dish to accompany hamburger patties.

United Sale

For those of you wanting to visit Munich during Oktoberfest, United is having a sale! Unfortunately, we're all booked at Chez Lutman/Young. Other hotels are filling up fast as well. But maybe if you're drunk enough, you wouldn't notice that you're sleeping on a street corner with others in a similar pickle.

Saturday, July 28th

Unfortunately, "Dolph" didn't return to the gym today. I assumed he wouldn't as he was there the past few days performing total body workouts. Oh well. There was, however, a new gym hottie with a giant dragon and Koi tattoo on his back and thigh. I got to see them up close and personal as "Koi Boy" was changing in the locker room by Chris. Sure, he was about five feet tall, but it was all solid. And I usually don't look for more than a second (very American compared to Europeans who have no problems with appreciating the human body), but today I changed my tune and gave a good stare. From there, I even asked "Koi Boy" if I could more closely inspect his tattoo. It was bold on my part but I'm slowly realizing you must seize the moment. Afterwards, Chris and I discussed whether he was a "ding ding" or not. My opinion was yes as he seemed to follow Chris downstairs into the locker room. That, and he stood and somewhat "posed" for a few minutes as he very slowly got undressed. Chris, on the other hand, said he was watching the women upstairs, not the men, so that made him think otherwise. I guess we'll have to wait until next Saturday to find out more about "Koi Boy." Now, if only I had a camera. Pictures sure would be nice. But that, I'm afraid, would be creepy - too creepy.

Spice Girls Promo Shot

Looks like a print ad for Dove Soap's "Real Woman" campaign to me. Of course, they're all smiling except for Victoria. Her show flopped in America so maybe that's why she's frustrated and mopey. Come on get to go home to this!

What I Find Creepy

Why do these "Comfort Creatures" creep me out so bad?

New & Noteworthy

She's Stephanie McIntosh from Australia. Just like Kylie, she launched her career on the soap opera Neighbours. And just like Kylie, she's trying to make it big in the music business (though Kylie doesn't need to try anymore - she's on her third or fourth comeback). Check out Stephanie's Mistakes video below.

Friday, July 27th

Today, "Dolph" returned. I saw him for the first time yesterday. Let's just say this - he's huge! He has that Eastern European look. And because of his build (muscular but not "veiny"), I try not to stand next to him. He makes me look like a dwarf. Not that I don't mind watching him do pull-ups. And today, I was surprised to see him standing in front of me as I made my way out of the shower and over to my locker. Again, no complaints. But why did he give me the "once over?" I'm hoping he's there tomorrow so Chris can be introduced to "Dolph." If not, he's motivation for me to return to the gym on Monday.

Breaking into dance music, any music for that matter, is difficult. Millions of dollars are spent on promoting the Rihannas and Duffs of the world (both original and dance mixes), but little attention is given to those acts on smaller labels. They don't have the funds nor manpower to make a big splash. And because dance music is such a small percentage of overall physical or download sales, life for these emerging talents is even more difficult. Don't get me wrong, I love the more popular tracks remixed by superstars like Rauhofer and Bermudez. But when I find a song that comes out of nowhere, that's pure F-U-N.

With that being said, one could argue sharing links to files for download hurts the artist because you then don't buy the record. I however find it quite the opposite. The more people who hear the music, the more they'll be interested in finding more from the artist - eventually leading to a sale. Emerging artists in the UK are a perfect example of this strategy. Many feature their music on MySpace or other forums, available for sharing, then release the single to huge numbers. The problem with dance music is that a single is rarely released (unlike the UK where they buy tons of the stuff). In that regard, highlighting such tunes on websites like PTT is a viable grass roots marketing campaign for their labels.

Now that I'm down from what could appear to be a soapbox, let's make note of the first single by Lite Lovers featuring Joanne. Going Crazy (Extended Mix) is nice, vocal house music. I love the piano riffs in the chorus along with the melodic background instrumentation. For the link, go here. Up next is Sensual by PhonJaxx and Cosi Costi. With a title and artist name like that, you'd think it might be some obnoxious, trance track. Wrong. The whispy vocals (think Dannii Minogue) and funky house with hints of electro are hot. For the link, go here.

Last but not least, in recognition of Suzanne Palmer's upcoming performance at Chicago's Halsted Market Days on Sunday, Aug. 12 at 6:00 p.m. on the Addison Stage (for more information, go here), check out Free My Love (Offer Nissim Mix) by going here and Luv 2 Luv (Cevin Fisher Mix) by going here.

Please note: the songs featured on this site are notices to links only (and mostly unavailable for purchase). I do not upload any music - I merely share the links to tracks I find interesting and noteworthy. Should you care to have the material removed, simply send me an email.

What I Find Funny

I find it funny that, considering how advanced Munich is in terms of a city, they chose fluorescent bulbs dangling from spindly wires as their street lamps. Don't they know the artificial glow isn't flattering for anyone?

Smoking Theme Week?

Where there's a niche, there's money to be made. Smokers International Airways, based in Dusseldorf Germany, sees a bright future with smokers. Good luck with that...

Speaking of Nasty Butts

Considering my feelings towards smoking, I find it ironic that we have a cigarette vending machine on the front of our building. Like the old days back in Kansas where bowlers would buy cigarettes from vending machines inside the bowling alley, Germans have the ability (of age or not) to purchase packs from wall units - that or locked cages at retail. I've never witnessed anyone buying smokes from the machine outside. The only activity the nicotene dispenser has seen is an old, homeless man scraping a promotional sticker from its front.

Something 2 Look Forward 2

It's official. Beginning January 1, 2008, Chicago bars, restaurants, clubs and other public places become smoke free. Following suit will also be Paris and Munich. Honestly, it can't come soon enough. No seriously, it can't.

Like sands through the hourglass... Bavarian Days takes place in Munich with a varied cast and wide assortment of rotating guest stars. Filled with adventure, mystery, comedy and drama, Bavarian Days follows the Lutman/Young household as they live in Munich and travel through Europe.

Ep. 1 Recap Xavier arrives from New York to join Dave and Chris for the weekend. That night, they head to a German restaurant for dinner where it was over 100 degrees inside. Feeling as though they were going to pass out, they quickly leave after wiping their plates clean only to walk home in the rain. The following morning, Xavier, Chris and Dave start their day at the gym where Xavier experiences a unisex sauna (but fortunately not the mice), followed by a day of biking through Munich. Around 8 p.m. the three join downstairs neighbors Molly and David for dinner at Schmock - a Kosher restaurant in Schwabing. After enjoying a cocktail outside, the rain chases the group inside where it's once again unbearably hot. As everyone sweats, they enjoy a delicious meal of hummus, veal meatballs and lamb. But the heat becomes too much - forcing the party of five to exit before dessert. Sunday, because there's nothing open in Munich, Dave, Chris and Xavier venture out to the royal castles of Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau. After a long day of ladywalking, they return in hopes of ordering pizza from a local mom and pop restaurant. Unfortunately, after Dave rides around their neighborhood, they realize their options are limited so they order from a flyer they found in the hallway. One hour later, with no pizza in hand, they call only to learn their pizza never was made. Frustrated, they walk to a "Delicious" pizza stand on the corner (one Dave and Chris had suspicions about in terms of quality). Turns out they think it truly was delicious. Because of a busy weekend, Monday morning Xavier and Dave slowly worked their way to the gym around 11 eventually meeting Chris for lunch at Kranz - an unexpected tasty surprise in the gay neighborhood not far from 27, Zenittistrasse. With bags packed, Xavier then hops in a cab destined for the airport. As he waves goodbye, he knows it's not for long as he'll be seeing Dave and Chris again in Greece Aug. 29th for some fun in the sun in Mykonos.

Introducing the cast:
(1) Dave - Small town boy in big city world. Writer of Pink Trash Travels.
(2) Molly - One of two downstairs neighbors and chairman of welcoming committee. Transplanted Canadian. Non-profit communicator and expert with Rose Water.
(3) Chris - Midwestern charmer in bed with Ronald. Handy with a skillet and the ingredients that go inside.
(4) Xavier - Good friend of Dave and Chris. Fur wearing French designer now living in NY. Discovering all America has to offer including comfy cargo shorts and tennis shoes.
(5) David - The other downstairs neighbor and German boyfriend of Molly. Full of stories. Purveyor of information.

The Road to Oktoberfest

Watch every week how the Oktoberfest festival in Munich comes together - just four blocks away!

Of Boobs and Mice

It seems as though I'm always writing about the gym. But when an experience presents itself like it did today, how can I not?

I walked into the unisex sauna to stretch a bit after my workout. After only a few minutes, I exited to shower. To my left I saw large boobs, to my right I saw a gray mouse - three things I care not to see bobbing or running around the sports club.

Fat Girl Interrupted

It's Sunday, and because Xavier is in town from New York, we spent the day running around visiting the castles outside of Munich. So our usual Fat Girl routine was interrupted by an early departure for the mountains and late return back to town. As a result, we didn't have anything ready for dinner.

"Let's have pizza," we thought. But because Chris usually makes the pies, we didn't know who to call or where to go. So I jumped on my bike and rode around the lower portion of Munich trying to find a pizzeria. No luck. We did have a few flyers in hand but when a pizza place also makes Chinese food, you have to assume the worst. After some more searching, we found an advertisement that looked tolerable. And since we didn't have any other options, we gave them a call.

We ordered two pizzas but they never arrived. After an hour, we called the restaurant back only to confuse them even further. Sadly, they couldn't even understand how to spell our street, let alone deliver our pies to us within two hours. So, we hung up on them and vowed never to call them again.

Who knew it would be so difficult to order a pizza? I guess that's why we never do - and most likely never will in the future. We'll stick to those pies made by Chris. They're 100% better anyway and no translation is required.

The Saga Continues

Today I returned to the Russian Consulate to obtain my Visa for entrance into St. Petersburg. I arrived at 8:45 a.m. thinking I might beat the crowd. But, as I've learned, the Germans are quite prompt and don't wait for anyone.

It took about one hour to work my way to the front of the line only to be told I need to leave, go to the bank, pay 155 Euros for a processing fee and return. When I came back, the line was even longer. I wasn't sure if I could move to the front as I don't speak German and those around me seemed unwilling to help. So there I stood.

I watched as others squirmed their way to the front - some cutting in line, others who had done as I in going to the bank and returning. But again, since I don't speak German, and they most likely would have looked at me like, "Too bad" if I spoke in English, I stood with bitter lip.

That was until I made my way almost to the front and one gentleman who had cut once before decided to do it again. I stood my ground only to hear some story about him leaving on a plane on Monday. I argued but it was pointless. Finally, a woman behind me provided backup to the cheating stampede. Because behind her were two buggers bucking the system also. I can understand an old man needing through but I drew the line with a woman and her small child. She should have brought a stroller.

Needless to say, my passport now is in the hands of the Russian Consulate. I'll wait 7 days before returning with a number to collect my Visa. As I told Chris, this trip better be worth it. It was his idea to go to St. Petersburg so I hope he enjoys it. Not that I won't either, it's just dealing with such idiotic procedures pinches my last nerve. Why these people like to wait in line after line baffles me. It's a bit French. I'm sure they'd love to hear that.

Sex Again and Again

I've lost count how many times I've seen the entire series of Sex and the City. But night after night, beginning at midnight, I sit down and laugh with Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte and Miranda. And when the play the series finale, An American Girl in Paris, my giggles always turn to tears.

Of course I first chuckle when Carrie steps in dog poop and smile when the Parisians give her attitude. But when she begins to get lonely, and miss her friends back home, I empathize with dear Ms. Bradshaw.

No matter where we are, where we've been or where we're going, nothing can replace friends, family and the comforts of home. So though our time in Paris and now Munich has been amazing, I can honestly say home is where my heart is - and always will be.

Kylie Pulls a Madonna

After the release of her last album, Kylie Minogue stated she wanted to record a more jazz infused record. Gay men everywhere gasped. Now it's being reported that Kylie has enlisted superstar dance producers such as the current "it" boy in the UK, Calvin Harris, along with Groove Armada (the team behind the amazing Song 4 Mutya), Hot Chip and the biggest one of them all - Madonna's go-to-guy Stuart Price. Gay men everywhere again gasped. This time, however, it was a pleasurable response. Not only for the hopes of Kylie having an amazing comeback, but also for the impending juicy response by Madonna.

Cruising in Berlin

According to USA Today, filming started today in Berlin for Tom Cruise's new controversial movie Valkyrie. The German government didn't want him shooting the film in German due to his beliefs in Scientology - which politicians compare to totalitarianism. My biggest question is this: will they still be filming at the end of September when my friend Paddy and I are in Berlin for the marathon? Now that would be exciting. Not that I'm a Cruise fan. He lost me on the couch. But to be part of the hoopla would be fun. Either way, I don't know if I can take this picture seriously. He looks a bit goofy, no?

A Breath of Fresh Air

It's been a week since I saw my first film in Germany - Shrek 3. In short, it was air-conditioned, clean and didn't smell like burnt hair. In fact, the digital experience was quite pleasant. Better yet, I found out you can go to the theater and reserve your seat up to five weeks in advance. Which means for films like Harry Potter or other big summer blockbusters, I can select my time, my seat and not worry about arriving early for prime viewing spots. And if I go before 5, the price is under five euros! Sure, there may be only one screen, the movies rotate every showing and some films lag America by months, but with a little planning, I'll never have film anxiety again - and that's priceless.


Because we're going to St. Petersburg in August, I need a visa to enter Russia. So today I ventured over to the Russian Consulate with my passport, paperwork, and wallet in hand.

I jumped on the train and made two connections. I scrutinized a wall-size map to locate the street. I toiled through extreme heat to find the address (as what's noted on the internet was wrong). After just 25 minutes, I arrived a sweaty mess. Of course, it was closed. As a result, I'll have to try again tomorrow. This time, I'll go early, on my bike, and with a spray bottle for refreshment. This should help keep my sanity in check.


When my friend Dave asked me if we had tent reservations for Oktoberfest, I replied we don't - yet. We tried sourcing through Chris' contacts but found out tents book full around the first of the year. So, instead we'll continue asking for favors over the next few weeks.

In the meantime, I decided to look into reservations via the Oktoberfest website. Not only did they also post pictures today about the launch of construction (with a much better picture I might add), but they make note that the grounds are officially "a construction site" and visitors are banned. Now where will I go for my "sun and run?"

New & Noteworthy

Groove Armada teams up with Mutya (former Sugababe) for an 80s inspired piece of funky dance. Columbia Records releases Song 4 Mutya in Europe July 23 (which means the US won't see it for at least another six months - if ever). Check out the official video below.

So It's Begun

Preparation for Oktoberfest 2007 has begun. Just four blocks away, men swing cranes while others dig giant holes - uncovering what I can only assume are thousands of beer taps. It all begins in just under 10 weeks with opening ceremonies scheduled for September 22.

Bad Translations

Not exactly the word I'd want to see as they loaded me inside a German ambulance.

A First 4 Maddie

Germans love dogs. As a result, they can go almost everywhere - including the metro. So Maddie went for her first subway ride when we ventured out to meet Chris after work to buy an umbrella for the rooftop terrace.

She was a bit skittish as she stepped on the escalator. But for the train ride, she couldn't have been better. If only she would have had a towel to sit on. Not that the German subway system is filthy, it's just I don't like her getting dirty considering she just had a bath.

Crazy Expensive

Because I'm going to London next week for business, I booked a room at the Marriot. What's crazy is the room costs over $700! We all know London is expensive, but that's ridiculous. Good thing I'm reinbursed for travel expenses. Otherwise, I'd be sleeping in the street.

Muffins Saved Heidi Klum

Heidi Klum, Germany's top supermodel, announced muffins saved her from developing anorexia. Heidi admits pressures to stay thin during her catwalk days were intense. But as she states, "I was never a skinny, skinny type - the more I tried, the worse it was."

She also reveals that when those in the industry would ask her to lose weight, she'd reply, "All I can think about is muffins!" She should have said McDonald's came to her rescue. After all, she is a spokesperson for the house of Ronald and gets paid millions of dollars to eat burgers. Oh well. Maybe next time.

The New Bionic Woman

This is FOR SURE on our list of Apple TV shows this fall. Like DUH! Can't wait!

My Poor Geraniums

Keep in mind the average temperature for Munich in July is 72 and that very few have air conditioning. We have one small unit on the second floor that does a fairly decent job of keeping the flat moderately cool, but at night, it's torture. There's an end in sight, however, as this week the temperatures will flip once again to 15 degrees BELOW average. Shorts. Sweatshirts. Shorts. Sweatshirts...

So Long Uma!

Our friend Francesca, who resembles Uma but with brown hair, left yesterday to return Stateside. She was to remain in Munich until the end of the year, but work decided she was needed a few months early. So long Uma! We'll miss you!

As Bad as a Hangnail

Since moving last month, there hasn't been much to complain about in regards to living in Munich. I believe the only topic that gets my goose is Leo's Sports Club. And sure enough, again today the gym irritated me like a badly pulled hangnail.

I forgot my towel as I decided to go for a "run and sun" in the park when I returned home. So, as I was working out, one of the trainers approached me and asked if I had a towel. "No," I replied. Nicely, he informed me of Leo's policy that all members must be in possession of a towel while working out. "No problem," I answered back. He was nice about it, and he's kind of cute, so I smiled and went to the front desk to rent a sweat rag (because at Leo's, you rent a towel - they aren't given to you free of charge).

I thought it would cost me maybe €.25. But when I went to check out, I found out it was €1.00. Yes, €1.00 for towel rental. Besides that, I was under the impression you could charge items to your account. Again, I was wrong. Luckily I had spare change with me to pay for the silliness.

I'm sure it's expensive to wash towels. Not only do you have to pay for soap and water, but somebody is needed to fold and stack them properly. But for the premiere sports club in Munich, providing a towel should be complimentary. No wonder they've had to reduce their initiation and membership fees since I joined in June. Such craziness is driving members away like bad Paco Rabanne cologne.

Further Proof

When we decided to move to Munich, we were told the cost-of-living was lower than Paris. "Of course," I replied. "But, it's not as far off as you think."

So when the Mercer Cost of Living Survey for 2007 announced Munich is the most expensive city in Germany and the 39th most pricey city in the world (up from 61 last year), I of course forwarded the information to Chris to manage up, up and away. I don't want our ex-pat allocation recalculated on some faulty data. That, and I want to ensure nobody touches my yearly "sun dress" allowance. It's mine I tell you, M-I-N-E.

POP! Goes Some Fun!

On Saturday night we had dinner with Filippo, Eric and their two friends Minzy and Tino whom we met a few weeks back. We sat outside, talked and laughed about everything including: someone's incoming call to request a gay sauna in Milan, a short phone conversation with Donatella Versace where, as I heard her voice, all I could think about was the fashion maven's numerous parodies on Saturday Night Live, and the movie Music & Lyrics and the accompanying video that draws comparisons to Eric and Filippo's friend George Michael (whose Sunday night concert was unfortunately cancelled in Germany where we would have been VIP guests - Boo!) Check out the Pop Goes My Heart video below that kept us singing all night long. The song is actually getting airplay in Europe - like at the OBI (think Home Depot) yesterday afternoon. Never in America. Too bad.

Auto Toilet Revisited

For those of you new to the blog, you may have missed the automatic toilet I featured last year in Berlin. Now that we're living in Munich, we find them everywhere. And if the toilets don't have a self-cleaner, the Germans place spray antiseptic next to the stool so you can wipe it down yourself. Amazing I tell you. Check out the moving seat below (from a truck stop on our way from Paris to Munich in June).

Fortunately, Chris activated the toilet as someone made a bit of a mess. Not that he used it. But if he would have, the toilet would have been nice, clean and ready to go!

Big Brother 8

My friend Val called me the other day to ask me if I know the two gay guys (who used to date) on Big Brother 8. Apparently, they're from Chicago. So I checked out their pictures and profiles on For starters, they're babies. They just became of legal drinking age so they sure don't hang with our crowd - hence why I don't know them. Better yet, however, is the hottie ex-football player Nick. He's reason enough to watch the show - especially when I saw the clip below of him getting a rub down by Dustin. I'm sure the gay shoe salesman loved that! I wonder if I can subscribe to Big Brother on Apple TV. Nick is worth the $32 season pass.

Welcome to Club Fridays! And, oddly enough, it's actually on Friday! This week, because I was out of the loop for a while, it was difficult to select songs for Club Fridays. Not because there aren't any noteworthy songs available, but because there are too many amazing mixes currently out. As a result, I focused on one remixer in particular who has delivered numerous summer anthems. His name is Jody den Broeder. Sure, it's a bit difficult to pronounce. But you'll recognize the songs he's worked on (and I've featured) on Club Fridays including He's Alive by Jane and, of course, Umbrella by Rihanna.

Up first, if you think his version of Umbrella is amazing, check out Don't Stop the Music. It's not the official second single, but Jody has jumped the gun to deliver a "goosepimply" remix. Love it. Love it. Love it even more. For the link, go here. The second featured single is Hillary Duff's Stranger. For this go around, Jody flips his traditional sound to deliver a mix with an 80s vibe reminsicient of the Pet Shop boys. For the link, go here.

And if that wasn't enough, I'm throwing in a third dance remix (non Jody) by Ultra Nate for Evan in Portland. I haven't featured Automatic (Digital Dog Mix) on Club Fridays as it's not a favorite of mine, but knowing it was a big hit this past weekend for him and our friend Dave in Portland, how can I say no? For the link, go here.

Please note: the songs featured on this site are notices to links only (and mostly unavailable for purchase). I do not upload any music - I merely share the links to tracks I find interesting and noteworthy. Should you care to have the material removed, simply send me an email.

Seasons of Change in Lisbon

Because we couldn’t be with our friends over the 4th of July holiday, I initiated a trip to Lisbon. I thought if we were somewhere cool, I wouldn’t think about what I was missing back home. And because the capital city of Portugal looked amazing on the MTV European Music Awards last year, it was on my list of must-sees for this summer. So on July 4th, we departed for Lisbon for five days.

Our travelling day was longer than expected due to the delayed arrival of our aircraft and headwinds. So a four hour excursion turned into eight. Needless to say, by the time we arrived in Lisbon around 8:30 p.m., we were tired. But because the car service from the Four Seasons was there to greet us and whisk us away to the hotel, it improved quickly.

That was, until, we actually arrived at the Ritz Four Seasons hotel. We’re not prissy queens. But when we saw the condition of the hotel and the rooms, it wasn’t what we anticipated (because for those of you who’ve stayed in a Four Seasons, there are certain expectations you have regarding the facility). The rooms were dated. The hotel was unfortunately off the beaten path. And the so called upscale hotel was filled with old people and suburbanites getting married (it could also double as a convention center in Florida). So after settling a bit, we decided to go walking for dinner as well as to find another hotel. As a result, the next day we left the Four Seasons for the Bairro Alto Hotel located in the heart of the city. Change is good. And in this case, change was really good.

Time 2 Sleep

We first stopped by the Sofitel along Avenida da Liberdad (modelled after the Champs Elysees but not as nice – too many trees and not enough shops). We love the Sofitel in Munich (breakfast buffet and all) so we thought it was a good starting point. The décor was modern with a French twist. And the three hot male models standing in the lobby made the hotel that much more appealing (we assumed they were models as they were all gorgeous and tall – dwarfing me in the process). Even better was the price. For a double room, the rate was half that of the Four Seasons. It was smaller, but assuming we weren’t going to be spending that much time in the hotel, we booked a room for safety measures before heading up the street to the Bairro Alto hotel (noted in our Louis Vuitton travel guide).

As we crawled up steep hills to reach our second destination, we realized the Bairro Alto neighbourhood was more of what we were hoping to find. It was bustling with a hip and trendy crowd – not senior citizens wearing generic white sneakers. And upon entering the hotel, we both smiled and agreed the Bairro Alto Hotel was where we wanted to stay.

Converted in 2005 from an 18th century building to a modern boutique hotel, the Bairro Alto Hotel has 52 spacious rooms (a mixture of singles to suites), a rooftop terrace overlooking the Targas River (perfect for drinks and a light snack), a very small but effective fitness center (one of two features that pail in comparison to the Four Seasons), and a breakfast buffet (the second). First and foremost, however, was the hotel’s location. It’s perfectly centered next to both the Metro and Tram systems that gets you everywhere from monasteries to pastries.

Time 2 Sightsee

I’m not a big fan of constantly running around sightseeing when on vacation. You need downtime to enjoy the pool (when there is one – and in Lisbon, there isn’t except for a giant public pool most likely filled with urine). In addition, museums are good in small quantities. So before leaving for Lisbon, I identified just a few must-sees including: Mosteiro dos Jeronimos (Monastery of St. Jerome), Museu do Azulejo (Tile Museum), and Castelo de Sao Jorge (Castle of St. George). Two were amazing, one was “eh.”

Monastery of St. Jermome lies just west of the city along the river. Many say it’s Portugal’s most important historical monument. Built in the 16th century, the opulent church and cloistered garden has to be the cleanest tourist attraction I’ve ever seen. Of course, it’s beautiful. And its well-kept appearance and grounds added to the monastery’s allure. But there’s more to Belem than the monks’ house.

Right next door to the monastery is Pasteis de Belem. In 1837, the sweet shop began making the original “pasties”, or custard tarts, from an ancient “Convento dos Jeronimos” recipe. It’s apparently still in use today. You can find imitations around Lisbon, but nothing compares to those warm “Pasties” right out of the oven. We sat and enjoyed six in the park accompanied by a Coke Zero from McDonald’s across the street (we must always support the local McDonald’s no matter where we go). In fact, they were so good, we returned Saturday night for one more round of the Portuguese sweetness after dinner.

In addition to the monastery, there are other attractions in and around Belem including the Tower of Belem and Chapel of St. Jerome. We saw both from afar but didn’t further investigate. We opted instead to see what I believe was the Maritime Museum with a spectacular view of the Targas river. It commemorates the point in Belem where ships sailed for the new world. It also features a movie on Portugal that you can see for an additional euro above the four-euro entry fee. Personally, I’d skip the movie. It was, however, air conditioned so it’s a good place to rest.

We spent another day at the Castle of St. George and random churches you find on your way down the hill. The Moorish castle sits high above Lisbon so it provides truly the best perspective of Lisbon and its geography. Fortunately, there’s a tram (#2) that also takes you right to the gates so no walking is required. Otherwise, with the warm temperatures, you might be a sweaty mess by the time you reach the top. But once there, you’ll find beautiful grounds and gardens, along with an amazing view. Oddly, I found similarities to my hometown’s very own Coronado Heights (in Lindsborg, KS). It also rests atop a hill in the country with a small castle at the top. Sure, the scale is different, but trekking through St. George’s castle gave me flashbacks to when I was kid climbing the steep “mountain” to reach the top – only to burn grass and create dangerous fires that drove my grandma crazy.

On Sunday, as we waited for our flight later in the day, we decided to visit the tile museum as Portugal is known for it’s clay baked squares. Unfortunately, the museum is off the beaten path so it’s only accessible via a short cab ride (or connecting buses). Looking back, I’d mark this one last on my list, as not only were they in the process of completing the museum, it wasn’t that particularly interesting. It was free, however, as most museums in Lisbon don’t charge on Sundays from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. We soared through the monastery in about 30 minutes before heading to another hot spot on Sundays – the Corte Ingles Superstore with an open grocery store and movie theatre (unusual for Sundays).

We grabbed some bread, cheese, chips and drinks and made our own lunch before seeing one of two movies we caught in Lisbon – Transformers and Fantastic Four. With every moving playing in English (with Portuguese subtitles), we took advantage of the state of the art cinema to be part of Transformers opening weekend on Saturday. We also saw Fantastic Four on Sunday, as it’s not scheduled to open in Munich over the next two months. The popcorn (sweet mixed with salted) offered by the concession stand was delicious (and free as we purchased tickets in the Vonage VIP section), the sound was amazing, and it felt as though we had our own private screening as nobody was there. Sure, the ice cubes in the soda were too big, but we both enjoyed the movies – something many might consider strange as we were in another country with so much to do and see. But for us, sitting in a foreign movie theatre provides the right balance of sightseeing activities with something more low key.

Time 2 Shop

Between hiking up hills to tourist hot spots and stuffing our face in the cinema, we also spent time shopping. We hit many small shops in the Bairro Alto, but didn’t find much except for the sale at Diesel and tiles at Sant’Anna right behind the hotel where we purchased 20 tiles to place in our house once we return to America (it’s very difficult to compose a tile picture when you have no idea where you’ll put it). Most of the other retailers in the area seemed to cater to skateboarders. As a result, we moved down to the Chiado where more high end and specialty stores are located like our favorite shop in Lisbon, A Vida Portuguesa (formerly known as Uma Casa Portuguesa).

The “new” Chiado shop features “genuine and touching products of original Portuguese Design.” From soups to ceramics, the store is filled with an eclectic mix of all things interesting. I purchased a gift for someone’s birthday (unable to identify as they read the blog) as well as candles (we’re a sucker for good scents). Besides that, Olga, the semi-blonde gypsy working that day made it all worth the while. She was perfectly quirky and fun – just like the store.

In continuation of our tradition to stock-up on smells we like, we stumbled across giant incense sticks at Emporio Casa. The store is somewhat filled with knick-knacks you’d rather avoid, but within the plastic accessories lays a few hidden treasures. Of course, Hermes, Benetton, Zara, Luis Vuitton and others are all located in Lisbon also, but we find small shops that offer local flair the best (hence why we ventured out to Portugal’s biggest mall to find one-of-a-kind stores only to find Portugal’s biggest mall with the littlest stores ever constructed). The same applies to dining.

Time 2 Eat

Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for stopping at McDonald’s, Ben & Jerry’s or Subway (especially when they have my favorite “squirrel shit” ice) for a snack or when we’re on the go during the day. But when it comes to eating out while travelling, we believe you should experience what the country is known for serving – and for Lisbon, it’s fish (which posed a problem as the only fish I like is albacore from a can or the kind found in fish sticks).

For our first dinner in Lisbon Wednesday night, we followed the recommendation of our soon-to-be hotel, the Bairro Alto. They suggested as Salgadeiras. Considering we had been travelling all day, I couldn’t think of swallowing a fish dish. So, against my own advice, I ordered veal stroganoff. Chris had some fish (cod perhaps?) The service was nice, the restaurant adorable, and the food just above average. But at that point, we didn’t care really. We both just wanted to go to bed.

The following night, after enjoying a cocktail on the roof of the Bairro Alto hotel where we met Jonathan and Ryan, a Swiss and Canadian now living in NY, we all went to Orange. Interestingly, the concierge recommended it to us all (as well as everyone else at not only our hotel but the Four Seasons as well). And since our seating times were just 30 minutes apart, we decided to combine dinners (as they had been alone on an island for almost a week and Chris and I spend enough time together in Munich). Besides that, it was good to be surrounded with some “gayness” as it’s not that apparent in Lisbon (as we soon found out later that evening).

Both Jonathan and Ryan couldn’t have been any sweeter. They’d been together for 11 months while Chris and I just celebrated our 11th year anniversary. Good thing the company was good as the food at the restaurant wasn’t very appealing. Being a fan of stew, I selected some dish made of fish and bread (so did Ryan). In short, it was horrible. Think of it as bread “mushed” with fish with some type of brown sauce. They called it “poor man’s food.” Apparently the Portuguese created it first only with bread - adding fish at later date. Either way, it wasn’t tasty. Dessert was better but nothing to write home about. But as we all started to fall asleep (around 11 p.m.), we convinced ourselves to push on with the evening and venture out to the gay scene around the Bairro Alto.

Jonathan had a map torn from a Spartacus guide. So with paper in hand, we searched for a bar worthy of our visit. It wasn’t until the third stop on our list that we realized not only was it hopeless, but nothing short of a miracle would present a happening place filled with eye candy. So, we parked ourselves at Ceu. It wasn’t particularly interesting, but with more than five people inside, it was our best option. After one drink, a few pictures and some good laughs, we all decided it was time to return the hotel. With the boys having an early flight the next day and Chris and tired from walking the hills in Lisbon, midnight was late enough for us crazy, party kids.

I can always rely on MTV Europe for some useful information. Not only do they have a channel devoted to pure dance, the music television gives me some helpful hints on where to travel in Europe – like our upcoming visit to Copenhagen (featured in this year’s awards show). I never would have picked Lisbon had it not been for MTV. I truly didn’t know much about the Portuguese city. But what we found was a cross between San Francisco and Madrid. It’s a beautiful city where people are nice (and speak helpful English without hesitancy), cultural activities are plentiful and desserts are unimaginably sweet and delicious.

PTT Picks: Lisbon

Tile Store: Sant’Anna
Address: 96, Calcada da Boa-Hora
Phone: 351.21.363.82.92

Portugeuse Eclectic: A Vida Portuguesa
Address: 11, Rua Anchieta

Smells: Arquitectonica 2 Emporio Casa
Address: 62, Rua da Ivens
Phone: 351.21.340.54.50
Web: www.arquitectonica.pot

Sweets: Pasteis de Belem
Address: 84-92, Rua de Belem
Phone: 351.21.363.74.23

Sights: Castle of St. George
Address: Rua Costa do Castelo
Tram: 2
Bus: 37

Sights: Monastery of St. George
Address: Praca de Imperio
Phone: 351.21.362.00.34
Tram: 15
Bus: 28, 43, 49, 51

PTT Tips:

1) Don’t stay at the Four Seasons Hotel unless you’re specifically looking for a nice fitness center and breakfast buffet. Otherwise, find another hotel that’s better priced and closer to the heart of the city.

2) Stop by the Bairro Alto Subway for a cold, refreshing Coke Zero with “Squirrel Shit” ice.

3) Don’t expect to find an outdoor pool in Lisbon. There’s only one, it’s public and in the suburbs.

4) On Sunday, the Corte Ingles grocery store is open along with the movie theatres. So, if you have time between your check-out time and flight departure, and you’re tired of museums, go wander the aisles to see what crazy foods you can find.

5) The biggest mall in Portugal isn’t worth seeing.

6) The Bairro Alto doesn’t ask for your room number at breakfast. So, if you want to be cheap (really, really cheap), walk in between 7:00 and 10:30 and act as though you’re staying there.

7) By a public transportation pass at the metro for the tram, bus or subway. It’s only three euros a day and gets you everywhere.

8) Don’t wear sandals. The hills will shred your toes.

9) If you want to experience the party scene, don’t expect to go out until 2:00 or 3:00 a.m.

10) Beware of those who pick-pocket – especially on the trams. With you being stuffed inside those rail cars, it’s easy for some little squirt to snatch your wallet.

Pure Motivation

Reason #112 for getting a tattoo. Besides that, he's motivation enough to forego my continual hunt for muscle mass. Lean and thin is in! Now, if only they could airbrush out the fembot. She's distracting.

The Amazing Apple TV

Now that I have my Mac back, not only am I getting caught up on music, we were finally able to connect our Apple TV. And let me say's frickin' cool.

I'm not a tech geek, but Apple made it simple to use (that is if you have an LCD or Plasma TV). We literally plugged Apple TV in, connected one cable to the back of our LCD and away it went. Chris was even amazed as he sat and played with it for a few minutes. Now, all of the shows we download from America (no more missing must-sees like Project Runway), in addition to our photos and songs, can be played on the TV. Even more cool is how the album artwork scrolls on the screen as songs play.

I guess we won't need to pull out the slide projector to bore our guests with our travel photos when they're readily accessible with the click of a button. Run, visitors, run.

Back with Mac

All is good in the world again now that I have my Mac back in hand. The power connection wasn't working so I sent it in for repair. So, for the past two weeks, I've been using another computer which made some things a bit difficult - like Club Fridays. But now that I'm back online with my Mac, I'm able to catch-up with music I've missed. And let me say, I've found some doozies for Club Fridays. So many, in fact, I'm not sure what to post! I'm like a kid in a candy store. Quite honestly, sharing great dance music links I locate is one of my favorite aspects of the site. So, look for some amazing music this Friday!

Hard 2 Avoid Song

You can't escape Ville Valo and Natalia Avelon's version of Nancy Sinatra's Summer Wine. The song plays on every channel, every hour, across Europe. We heard it uncountable times while driving from Paris to Munich. At first, it's a bit odd. But, it grows on you - especially with the instrumentation reminiscent of Belinda Carlisle's Circle in the Sand. Watch the video below.

Summer? What Summer.

While many of you back home are melting, here in Munich we're running around freezing. The daily highs over the past week have been around 58 degrees. And with those temperatures forecasted until the end of the week, there's obviously no worries of my geraniums wilting under the summer heat.

Trend Alert - Lisbon

Boat shoes are back! I've heard the rumblings. But after five days in Lisbon, I know it's a reality. I suppose, if paired with the right jeans or shorts, they can work. However, for me, boat shoes are staying where they belong - in the 80s.

Barf Bag Game

Now that we're back from Lisbon, look for a PTT Tale this week. In the meantime, make your air travel more fun with the Barf Bag game. It's easy and fun to play! Besides that, it makes flying more enjoyable (if that's even possible).

I thought of this one as we had 30 minutes left in the air last night on our way home from Lisbon. It came to me as I realized the barf bags stuffed in the seat pocket in front of us are a good size for poop bags. And since the only plastic bags you get in Germany are those flimsy ones for fruit and vegetables or the ones you buy, I thought it was the perfect way for us to collect at least a few weeks worth of morning and night disposables.

Here's how to play: as you're exiting the plane, see how many barf bags you can collect on your way out. It's that easy. No learning required. Stop along the way to grab a whole aisle's worth. Or, if you're concerned about the people behind you, swiftly pick them up as you make your way to the exit. Once you regroup outside the terminal door or at baggage claim, count your bags to see who's one.

Last night, I snatched 13. Chris hoarded 11. That's not quite two weeks worth of poop bags, but it's close. See how many you can collect next time you fly. If anything, it gives you something to focus on besides the non-stop talker beside you. And if you don't have a dog, they make good hand puppets.

It's not Friday. Heck, it's not even close. But because of the holiday weekend, and the fact that we're going to Lisbon on the 4th of July, Club Fridays is relocating to Wednesday this week.

One could assume I love Beyonce. I've featured almost every song from B'day in one mix or another. In truth, it's not about her but the remixing teams behind the dance hits - especially Freemasons. And because of their success with Deja Vu, the record label once again asks the dance production team from London to remix Beyonce's latest Greenlight. The only version available for promotion is the radio mix - and it's genius. Besides, sometimes the shorter version is better as the hook kicks in that much faster. For the link, go here. And for lovers of Stevie Nicks Stand Back, I stumbled across the Starkillers' new mix of the 80's hit. It's much better than those versions I found a few months back (I might be biased as the Starkillers are one of my favorite remix teams). Their mix retains most of the original but splashes it with some progressive house sounds. For the link, go here.

Please note: the songs featured on this site are notices to links only (and mostly unavailable for purchase). I do not upload any music - I merely share the links to tracks I find interesting and noteworthy. Should you care to have the material removed, simply send me an email.

The 4th on the 3rd (and Beyond)

Many of you will be celebrating the 4th of July holiday on the 3rd - just like I did today in Munich. Mine, however, was void of anything flammable. The Consul General (Eric) here in Munich invited Chris and I to the Embassy to celebrate the birth of our country. Since Chris was out of town, I ventured to the affair alone.

So there I was, standing amongst the suits and ties eating a McDonald's cheeseburger (it wasn't b-b-q but close). The only two I knew were Eric and his parter Filippo. But oddly, that was ok. I didn't mind hanging to the side watching as Eric spoke in German about something I obviously couldn't understand. Instead, I looked around amazed at the opportunity I was having.

And to further celebrate the 4th, Chris and I depart for Lisbon, Portugal tomorrow. Because I couldn't be with everyone back home on the holiday, I said we needed to go somewhere fun. And since Lisbon looked amazing on the European MTV Music Awards last year, I thought, "Why not?"

Happy 4th of July everyone!

Why We Love Erika Jayne (Even More)

Club Fridays is all about me featuring music I love. And a few weeks back, I highlighted Erika Jayne's Rollercoaster. It was my favorite track that week - and still is. Apparently my selection made its way to Erika's website and is now listed under the Media & Press section. So cheers to Erika for making great music and noting Pink Trash Travels on her webpage (as well as reaching #5 on Billboard's dance chart).

To check out her site, go here. If you want to see the Pink Trash Travels reference, click the Media & Press (the PTT note will load afer a few minutes to the right). And if you want to check out the original PTT entry, go here.

Umbrella Etiquette

The weather in Munich is a bit odd this summer (just as it was when we moved to Paris a few years ago). Today it was 60 degrees and raining. So I was forced to walk around with my umbrella propped open - which made me wonder. Is there umbrella etiquette? Specifically, when you approach a fellow umbrella user on the street, are you required to lift, lower or angle your umbrella? Or, are they?

Lesson Learned on FGS

The whole point of Fat Girl Sunday (FGS) is for you to eat anything you want - essentially making yourself sick so you won't want to eat bad again for another seven days. Well, after our wiener wrap feast last night, I can honestly say I'm done being glutonous on FGS.

After four, possibly five wiener wraps, baked beans, and followed by a brownie dessert to celebrate our anniversary, I could barely sleep. I tried stretching excercises before going to bed, thinking this could better distribute the food lodged in my belly. Unfortunately nothing worked. So I was up about every hour trying to calm my stomach. That's what happens when your body is used to eating small portions of chicken and salads and you stuff it full of turkey brats wrapped in croissants filled with cheese and accompanied by beans smothered in brown sugar.

Next FGS, I've told Chris we're going to control the portion size. One plate. One serving. No seconds. That's how I feel now. We'll see how I control myself after another six days of eating like a bird.