Thursday, July 30, 2009


We are forwarding to Brno, the home of the famous ZKL BRNO hockey club. Here the Czechoslovakian hockey legend Jaroslav Jirik played for 12 seasons.
A talented right winger with a natural scoring touch, Jaroslav Jirik was the first player from an Eastern Bloc country to play in the NHL. When he suited up for three games with the St. Louis Blues in 1969-70, Jirik was an experienced international competitor who was granted permission by the Czechoslovakian authorities to sample the NHL.

OK, Now let me introduce the city of BRNO.

Brno is the second city of the Czech Republic, and the capital of the ancient state of Moravia (the modern-day Czech Republic is basically made up of the states of Bohemia and Moravia). The city's written history dates back to the XI century, but there has been a settlement on this time for considerably longer than that. In the 19th century rapid industrial growth, especially in the textile industry, lead to Brno being known as "the Manchester of Austria". Seeing as though I'm from the Manchester of Manchester I thought I'd better have a look at the place.

Today Brno remains an industrial city with a sprawl of ugly suburbs made of factories and high-rise housing. However, at the centre of everything the historic old town, made up of a combination of baroque churches and palaces, and art nouveau apartments, has survived more or less intact, and this is where we spent most of our time.

Brno is a history of science (Gregor Mendel developed his theory of genetics here) and culture (the composer Leos Janacek spent most of his working life in the city). We found plenty to see and do, and it remains considerably cheaper and less hectic than Prague. Give it a try!

The Old Town is where you'll probably spend most of your time in Brno, and namesti Svobody (Freedom Square) is at the heart of the Old Town, so that seems as good a place as any to start. The square, which used to hold the city's main market, is a strange affair. For a start it's triangular. And while it has plenty of interesting buildings surrounding it there's nothing so distinctive as to give the square any sense of special identity (as the town halls in the main squares of Prague and Wroclaw do, for example). It's still a pleasant enough place though, especially for an al fresco beer or two in the summer.

At the centre of the square, now marooned on a traffic island, is the late 17th century plague column, an ornate affair dotted with guilded statues of some obscure saints. It looks very attractive, and is a popular meeting point

The cathedral is the source of another of Brno's many legends; in 1645 when the city was besieged by the Swedes (what they were doing in this neck of the woods is a long story...) the Swedish commander, Tortennsen, was getting a bit frustrated that it was taking so long to break down the city's defences and so he decided that he'd give it one last go, and if he hadn't taken the city by midday then he'd give up and go in search of an easier target. The city's defenders got wind of this and when the Swedes final attack was looking like it might do the job they rang the church bells for midday an hour early. Tortennsen fell for it (d'oh!) and called off the attack, the city was saved, and to this day there isn't an Ikea in Brno. Sounds a bit unlikely but in celebration every day at 11 o'clock the cathedral's bells ring out 12 times (presumably just in case there's a Swede with a long memory and a grudge in the area).

There are some more attractive art nouveau buildings on Rasinova (like the Sherlock Holmes bar). A bit further up from St James is yet another church, St Thomas (sv. Tomase). This big, white baroque building dates from the 1660s and replaced a 14th century church on the same site. Inside there are more white-washed walls, but a rather decorative gilded pulpit and a collection of side altars, while the ornate main altar, a collection of marble, gilding, statues and paintings, stretches all the way up to the roof. Attached to the church is an Augustinian monastery, part of which was later turned into the palace of the Governor of Moravia (Mistodrzitelsky palac), and which now holds paintings that are part of the collection of the Moravian Gallery (Moravske Galerie). (The rest of the Moravian Gallery is in the UPM and the Prazkuv Palace, both on Husova). While the palace was still the Governor's home Napoleon Bonaparte stayed here a couple of times, while he was looking for someone else to fight (short men are often like that).

At its northern end Rasinova opens out into Moravske namesti, a rather tatty park; there's a fountain here (although it didn't have any water in it while we were there); plenty of benches, making it a popular meeting spot, and a good place to pick up a granny if you're into that kind of thing; and the Soviet War Memorial is round here somewhere, although we didn't see it.

Heading southwest down Maresova (part of the ring road round the Old Town) will bring you to one last church (actually, there are plenty more churches in Brno, but this is the last one I saw) the late 19th century Cerveny kostel ("Red Church"), which obviously takes its name from the red bricks it is built from.

Jaroslav Jirik

The Ice hockey stadium in Brno, also known as the „Za Lužánkami“ ice hockey stadium, is one of the oldest in the Czech Republic, and was given in the Brno Master Zoning Plan as early as the 1930s. Its construction was held up by the beginning of the Second World War, and in 1946 work started on the stadium, which was opened in 1947. It was the second of its kind in the country to have an artificial ice surface. It became the centre of ice hockey in Brno, especially RH Brno, today known as Kometa, which was established in 1953. This was followed by Spartak ZJŠ Brno, TJ Lokomotiva Ingstav and at the end of the 1990s also HC Ytong. The uncovered stadium was provided with a roof in 1964, and the stadium´s appearance has remained the same to the present day.

Friday, July 24, 2009



BERNE – Are you a national team coach wondering what to do with your players between games in Berne? has come up with five tantalizing tourism options that will not only educate and entertain, but also put your team on the road to success in the picturesque Swiss capital.


Perhaps your players are taking too long shifts, or they keep misfiring on their passes and one-timers. What better place to restore their sense of timing than the Berne Clock Tower (Zytglogge)?

Starting in the 12th century, it served as the medieval city's first western gate, and is famed for its elaborate clock covered with astronomical symbols. The mechanism dates from 1530, and each hour a group of mechanical figures (including a knight, jester, and bears) come out and move while the bells ring.


Unfortunately, not all hockey players are geniuses. Do your guys take bad retaliation penalties or lip off at referees? Try to boost their IQs by taking them to the Einstein House and Einstein Museum.

The Einstein House (Kramgasse 49) is located near the Clock Tower in the Old City (a UNESCO world cultural centre), and includes the original furnishings and copies of scientific documents that belonged to the world's most famous physicist. Einstein scored his biggest triumph here when he came up with the theory of relativity.

The Einstein Museum (Helvetiaplatz 5) is part of the Berne Historical Museum, and offers audiovisual displays that describe Einstein's life and take visitors through the universe.


Some teams lack the animal intensity to get physical. There's no bite to their play. Such teams could learn a lesson or two from the Berne Bear Pit (Bärengraben). Since the bear is the heraldic animal of Berne, this enclosure at the east side of the Old City has long been a popular place to observe European brown bears.

Sadly, Pedro, the last surviving bear in the pit, died on April 30. But a brand-new Bear Park on the shores of the Aare River will open on October 25, featuring a natural landscape where new bears brought in from the Berne Zoo will swim, play, and fish.


Is your team aiming to make a splash at this tournament, whether by winning gold or merely staying in the elite division? Get them in a splashy mood with a visit to Bernaqua (Riedbachstrasse 98), a giant water park and spa inside the new Westside shopping centre, designed by renowned architect Daniel Libeskind.

Three big waterslides, 18 pools, and luxurious spa and sauna facilities are among the highlights.


Usually, no points are awarded for artistic merit in hockey, but the shootout is a great situation for innovation. Maybe your players are having a hard time coming up with creative moves for game-winning shots competitions. If so, stimulate their synapses at the Berne Museum of Fine Arts (Kunstmuseum, Hodlerstrasse 8-12).

More than 3,000 paintings and sculptures and 48,000-plus drawings by artists such as Pablo Picasso, Wassily Kandinsky, and Switzerland's Paul Klee bring in the crowds.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009



Scott Gomez was born and raised in a modest one family home in Anchorage, Alaska. His father, Carlos Gomez, a native of Mexico, moved there from San Diego in 1972 so he could take a construction job. It was in Alaska where Carlos met and married Dalia, a native of Colombia, who moved there from New York where she lived with her aunt.

Carlos and Dalia Gomez life story sounds like something straight out of Hollywood and is part of the reason Scott's talent has been given the support to strive.

When Scott Gomez was five years old, his father Carlos took him to a hockey game at the University of Alaska. He liked what he saw so he wanted to give it a try. "It was fun and fast and I wanted to play after that."

He family couldn't afford hockey equipment, so when the local Boys and Girls club handed out free equipment his father made sure he was the first on line.

His infatuation of playing hockey soon turned to hatred because he couldn't skate. When his father signed him up to play in a league, he did horribly. He was always offsides and the parents and coaches were always screaming at him. "I hated hockey so much," recalls Scott. "I didn't know how to skate."

He told his mom he wanted to quit and his mom, Dalia said "Yes, sure." But his father said "No" and told Scott to finish up the season and he did.

Scott then learned how to skate and soon thereafter, hockey was the only thing on his mind.

By the time Scott was thirteen years old his was earning praise from his play in hockey. As a 16-year-old, he finished second in scoring at South Surrey high school. He was named league rookie of the year and helped his team to finish runner-up at the Canadian Junior A National Championship.

Far from any site is the small town of Anchorage, the place to enter one of the last unspoiled regions of the planet. One hundred thousand glaciers, herds of caribou and Kodiak bears are the claim that this part of the world offers to those who love adventure.


In Anchorage, one in 58 inhabitants is the airplane pilot, a proportion that is comparable to that of motorcyclists in Naples. Not surprisingly, small planes are the means of transportation helped to walk the vast state of Alaska, only equipped with roads and with a population rate of less than half inhabitant per square kilometer.
Most of the few people in Alaska live in Anchorage precisely (approximately 40%), a city well equipped and adapted to the needs of modern life, but obviously depends largely due to its proximity to the Arctic. The winters here are long (October to May) and very hard, and spring and summer are short and explosive, in return, the city is surrounded by a spectacular nature, which makes it the ideal starting point to discover his abundant wildlife and some of the most exciting landscapes on Earth.

Part of this wealth can be seen from Anchorage, surrounded by a ring of mountains which include two active volcanoes, the highest peak in North America, Mount McKinley, visible only on clear and six other champions of the altitude, These include the mountains and hills Tordrillo Aleutian.
Among the wonders located in the vicinity of Anchorage is the Portage Valley. A 80 km south of the capital of Alaska is the depression in which it is possible to enjoy the magnificent Portage Glacier. Only the way to this valley, where there is a modern welcome center for visitors, and is an unforgettable experience, as it passes along a landscape dominated by fjords. Other glaciers can be seen just on the road are the conventional Twenty Mile, the Explorer, the Byron, the Exit Glacier and Matanuska.
Few places in the world offer such a close contact with wildlife such as Alaska, and Anchorage is a great place to watch the legendary animals of the vast Arctic. In the vicinity of Anchorage you can enjoy the view of elk, black bears, bears Grizzlies and brown bears, caribou, mountain goat species, hundreds of bird species (including the sea birds and woodpeckers), wolves, lynx, marmots … And that as far as the terrestrial fauna: with marine fauna species such as beluga whales, which can easily sight on the bay overlooking Anchorage, humpback whales, orcas and seals.

We can not forget that these lands were inhabited for thousands of years before the white man for a handful of people including several tribes Inuit (Eskimo) and Indian. Eleven different cultures and 20 languages make up the universe native Alaska: Aleut, Alutiiq, Atabascanos (with 11 different languages), Tlingit, Haida, Eyak, Tsimishan, Yup’ik, Cup’ik … A good place to get an idea of the cultural heritage of all peoples is the Alaska Native Heritage Center, a cultural and educational complex located northeast of Anchorage, in the midst of a thick forest and surrounded by the majestic Chugach Mountains.
The discovery of Alaska from Anchorage can be a thousand ways. One of the most popular among families of the town, once summer arrives, is to go out to collect wild fruits, especially blueberries. This is a tradition inherited from the Indians, for which the collection of these fruits implied admission of the smallest in maintaining the household economy.

Hunting and fishing activities are rooted among the people of Anchorage, as well as camping in the countryside, walking, gathering mushrooms, found in lakes and rivers by canoe or kayak, to travel with sledges pulled by dogs or plane … The possibilities are so broad here as a desire for adventure of all.


Monday, July 13, 2009


Today I want to invite you to visit my friend - Red Wings Def, 2006 Olympic Champion Niklas Kronwall. His home town is the capital of Sweden - the old and ever-beautiful Stockholm.

Stockholm is an unique Scandinavian capital, spread across 14 islands between Lake Malaren and an archipelago with more than 24,000 islands, islets and skerries. It’s easy and enjoyable to explore the area on foot or by boat.



Native-born actress Greta Garbo surely found Stockholm to be a friendly city with an enviable standard of living. Today Sweden ranks high in modern technology and industry, and offers visitors a wide range of tourist opportunities, including numerous parks, palaces and museums as well as great restaurants, fine design and superb shopping.

When sightseeing, even Garbo’s quest for drama may have been quenched by a visit to Millesgarden, a sculpture park and museum with a dramatic location on Lidingo in the hinterlands of Stockholm. Or perhaps she would have enjoyed Drottningholm Palace, home of the Swedish Royal family and often referred to as the Versailles of the North. On the other hand, the Viking in her soul might have relished the ancient ruins on the island of Bjorko.

You certainly don’t have to be a film star to be enchanted by Gamla Stan – the Old Town – and the tiny adjacent island of Riddarholmen, where you will find the Royal Palace, the Royal Armoury (Livrustkammaren) and the Royal Treasury (Skattkammaren). After watching the Changing of the Guards in the Outer Courtyard, stroll the historic and picturesque streets of this oldest part of Stockholm.



Perhaps most beautiful in summertime, the Archipelago is a dazzling expanse of some 24,000 islands, only 1,000 of which are inhabited. In addition to offering travelers beautiful memories and unequalled photo opportunities, the Stockholm Archipelago presents an exquisite array of shops, restaurants and accommodations throughout the region.
And if thoughts of Sweden conjure memories of ABBA, did you know that Sweden ranks third in the export of music (after the US and the UK)?
With a country larger than the state of California, stretching north of the Arctic Circle, flights to Stockholm mark only the beginning of exciting explorations of Sweden, with interesting connections to the rest of Scandinavia.