26. Scotland holidays in a nutshell

Siegen, Germany, 02.11.2016.

After three beautiful weeks in Scotland, I am now back in Germany to prepare for my upcoming Canada- adventure. However, this blog entry will not be about my preparations but about the holidays we had. Let’s review briefly what happened and lets see some pictures of the last part of the trip.

On October 10th, I drove from Gravesend to Aberdeen to pick up Glenn and then we went on to Aviemore in the Cairngorms National Park. We spent a few days there before we headed up north to Achiltibuie for my half marathon and to Ullapool. Unfortunately, we then only spent two days in the spectacular area north of Ullapool (Assynth). In hindsight, we should have stayed there longer. But what can you do when you plan a trip? After Ullapool, we drove south to Portree, Isle of Skye. We stayed there for four days and drove into each direction of the Isle once to see its most important attractions. Our next stop was Duror, next to Loch Linhe, where we probably chilled the most during our trip. But that was also necessary and we enjoyed that as well. After that, we spent some time in Arrochar which is in the Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park. There, we had our most memorable mountain climb at Ben Lui, which became known to us as the “Fog and Mud- Mountain”. Could have been more fun. 🙂 Finally, our last stop was Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland. We spent another two days there before Glenn flew back home on October 30th and I drove down again to Gravesend.

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23.10.: The hot Seafood platter at the Seafood Café, including: Scallops, lobster, crab, langouste, oyster, mussels, clam and razor clam.
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24.10.: Dunstaffnage castle.
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24.10.: McCaig’s “Tower” at Oban.
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25.10.: Ben Lui (1130m, left) and Beinn a’Chleibh (916m, rechts), both in clouds.
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25.10.: Muddy way up to Ben Lui. Very uncomfortable way up to the pinnacle.
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25.10.: One of the very rare moments in which the pinnacle of Ben Lui was NOT in clouds.

 

Now, what was really nice and enjoyable about Scotland? Actually, very many things of which I will now only mention the most outstanding. We had truly amazing food at the scorrybreac restaurant in Portree and the Seafood Café at Loch Leven. Of the many mountains we climbed, the Sgurr na Banachdaich (Cuillin, Isle of Skye) was the one we enjoyed the most. The whole way up was already great but the view on top of the mountain was unbeatable.When it comes to the landscape, the Assynth area was outstanding with the Achmelvich beach being an absolutely amazing sight in the middle of the Scottish Highlands. And what castle was the best one? Probably the Eilean Donan Castle but Sterling Castle was also really nice. Finally, the city of Edinburgh was also really amazing and the Old Town as well as the many sights of the city (especially the Scottish National Museum) are absolutely worth seeing. But these were only the absolute highlights. Overall, we have seen very many beautiful things on the trip which cannot all be mentioned here.

Okay, and what was not so nice? First of all, my car trips up and down from Scotland were a nightmare. On each way, I lost between 2 and 3 hours in traffic jams, really bad. Then, our accomodations in Portree and Arrochar were far away from beeing great. Food- wise, we really tried to get a good apple-crumble but despite several attempts, we could not get one. The apple- crumbles we got were between 2 and 4 on a scale of 1 (very bad) to 10 (greatest ever). Also, we were a bit disappointed about the Isle of Skye. The Isle is always advertised as being especially beautiful, having the greatest landscape in Scotland, etc. Yes, there are very beautiful spots on the Isle, including the Sgurr na Banachdaich. But overall, we found that the Assynth- landscape was a bit rougher, diverse and more colorful. Overall, in our mind the Isle of Skye is not bad or anything but we felt that it its beauty is overrated in the public opinion. Thus, we should have spent less time on the Isle. But all in all, there were only very few negative aspects on our trips. Interestingly, the often chastised Scottish weather was not too bad during our trip. We only had 3 days of rain during our time while it was mainly at least dry if not sunny. So we were really lucky in this regard. 🙂

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25.10.: Ice buildups at the top of the Ben Lui.
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25.10.: Pinnacle of the Ben Lui in clouds. While we were there, it never cleared up.
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25.10.: While climbing Ben Lui, we could witness how new clouds formed continuously and moved towards the pinnacle.
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25.10.: Ridge between Ben Lui and Beinn a’Chleibh.
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27.10.: Wallace Monument at Sterling.
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29.10.: View from Calton Hill onto Edinburg City. Edinburg Castle is on the right.

 

And what did we miss on our trip? What else is there to see in Scotland? Well, first of all we neither saw the Orkney- nor the Shetland- Islands. Also, we were told that Harris- Island north of the Isle of Skye is really nice. Then, we had no chance to see the regions way up north and east of the Scottish mainland. There are no more bigger cities up there but for someone who loves nature, these regions may be worth seeing. When it comes to the major cities, we were not able to see Glasgow and Dundee. Glasgow is said to be less beautiful than Edinburg but as tastes are different, I would rather see the city for myself before judging here. In the Highlands, I would love to spend more time in the Cairngorms National Park and in the Assynth- area. Finally, we were also not able to see the Scottish Lowlands as we spend most of the time in the Highlands. So visiting the Lowlands could also be an option during another Scotland trip.

Our trip to Scotland was just beautiful and I am very grateful that I was able to do it. In Glenn, I had a great companion with whom I had a lot of fun during the whole time. Thanks for coming with me and being part of this magnificent trip, Glenn. Hope to see you next year in Canada as well. Wherever we will be there then, East Coast, West Coast, Yukon or somewhere else.:-)

Today’s musik advice is a piece of good old punk rock. I especially like their older albums. Here’s a classic, already caricatured by Weird al Yankovic.

Offspring – Come out and play

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25. Job Perspectives in Canada 2017

Arrochar, Scotland, 26.10.2016.

When telling people about my plan to go to Canada next year, one of the first questions they ask is usually: “Do you already have a job over there?”. Well, I do agree that having a job is very important in life but no, I don’t have a job yet in Canada. Am I concerned about that? No, actually I am not. Should I be? No, I don’t think so. There are several reasons why I am quite relaxed about that: Firstly, I am well qualified and I think it is not too hard to get a proper job quickly if I really wish to get one. Secondly, I am doing a Work&Travel year and that means I also want to travel and not only work. Why not start with the travel-part of the year and see what comes my way while travelling? And thirdly, I was able to save a bit of money in the last two years so there is no great pressure on me to start working right away.

Well, to be honest, this is just one part of the truth. Everybody who knows me a little will probably suspect that I have already done some research and planning concerning job opportunities. Very true, indeed. Although I do not have a job yet, I have already spent some time thinking about the topic and making up my mind what I could do in Canada and what I also WANT to do there. Let’s take a look at my thoughts while also enjoying some impressions of my current holiday in Scotland:

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19.10.2016: On top of the Sgurr na Banachdaich, 965m with view on other mountains of the Cuillin.
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19.10.2016: View on the Isle of Soay (left), Isle of Rum (middle) and Isle of Canna (right), southwest of the pinnacle.
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20.10.2016: Old Man of Storr on the Isle of Skye.
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20.10.2016: Quiraing- area, Isle of Skye, view to the east.
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21.10.2016: The picturesque little village of Plockton near the Isle of Skye.
  1. In the last 26 months, I have been working in the retail business as an area manager, managing multiple stores of a renowned supermarket chain. Although I really enjoyed many aspects of the job, I now feel that I want to do something different. This does not mean that I would categorically rule out working again in the retail business but just now I am looking for something that leaves me a bit more time for myself and that also involves working outdoors.
  2. My first thought was to start working as a Park Ranger in one of the National- or Provincial Parks. In some aspects, this job is pretty similar to what I have already done in my time in the military. Beeing outdoors, getting in contact with visitors and preserving wildlife sounds like a good thing to do to me. However, there are quite a few qualifications you need for the job. First Aid certificate, Completion of Law and Administration course and possession of firearm license for example. Nothing impossible to get but definitely qualifications I do not yet have but which I would have to acquire in Canada. This should be doable for me in between January and April next year but I do not know if this would be okay for my future employer. The job positions for Park Rangers open up in early December so you need to start applying for these jobs exactly then. In early December, I can only send an application to my future employer saying that I do not yet posess most of the qualifications needed for the job but that I am willing to acquire them once I arrive in Canada. Now, I have not worked in HR much but when I got job applications while working as an area manager, I nearly always discarded incomplete applications. I think this is just natural. Why should any HR boss consider imcomplete applications if he also has complete applications of well qualified applicants on the desk? Time is limited and at first glance it is more likely anyway that someone who handed in a complete application will be more qualified than someone who could not do that. That is why I am a bit sceptic about my chances of getting this job. As of now, I have not  decided if I will apply for a job as a Park Ranger or not. Probably, I will make up my mind about that sometime in November.
  3. While watching TV in September, I saw a CEO of a small german company doing a pitch in front of a bunch of investors in a popular German TV-show. He did not get the support from the investors but his story caught my attention. His company has designed an app that makes the management of lumber in the forestry industry a lot easier than it is now. This idea alone is already good but it was his statement that he now wants to expand to the Canadian market that really made me listen up. I then contacted him because I thought we could very well work together and I could be a good addition to his company. Now I have not yet signed any contract but we will continue talking in November and I really hope that we can work together. However, as we do not yet know anything about the Canadian market and its characteristics, this endeavour could very well be doomed from the start. If the Canadians have other ways to measure the amount of logged lumber than we do over here in Europe, there may not be any need for the company’s app and thus there will be no sales potential. But if the Canadian forestry industry has a use for the company’s app, I would be delighted to sell it to them and teach them how to use it. In any case, the forestry industry seems to be a very interesing business and I am already eager to learn all the necessary things about trees, growth rates, forests and so on. The most important upside of this job would be that I could organize myself and work mostly independently which I like very much. It would also be a great challenge to develop an unknown market in an unknown industry in a foreign country. Not easy, yes, but with my background, I think that I have a good chance to succeed. Thus, my hope is that the company’s CEO will contact me in November and we can start talking about the details of this endeavour.
  4. In case I can’t take any of the above options, I still have some half-baked work-related ideas what I could do otherwise while I am in Canada. But for now, I will focus on either becoming a Park Ranger or selling forestry apps for the small German company. We will see what happens…
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21.10.2016: Eilean Donan Castle, on the way between Portree and Duror.
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Cloud reflections on a lake.
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22.10.2016: Buachaille Etive Mor (1022m. left) in clouds before we climbed it.
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22.10.2016: View on the second pinnacle of the mountain massif while not in clouds.
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22.10.2016: View on third pinnacle of the mountain massif.
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22.10.2016: View from the top of Etive Mor through a rare hole in the clouds.

As usual, the blog entry concludes with a music advice. This time, it is a good piece of alternative rock, performed by an American Band. Enjoy.

Hoobastank – Just One

24. Why are you jealous?

Duror, Scotland, 21.10.2016.

As announced in the last blog entry, I will focus more my upcoming Canada- adventure in the next blog entries than on my current holiday in Scotland. However, I will add some pictures with descriptions to these entries to give you an idea what it’s like in this country.

In the last weeks, I have told many people about my intention to go to Canada and leave Europe for at least a year. And how did most of the people react to that? Well, many of them were surprised about my plans but they almost always said that they were happy for me and thought that it is a good idea to do that. However, many of those people also said something like:

“I must say I am a bit jealous. I would also love to do that.”

At first, I did not comment statements like this at all. Then, after having heard this kind of statement several times, I started to think about it and eventually I also began to discuss it with people when they “challenged” me with it. I think this statement touches one of the most sensitive and important subjects of our life: The fact that our life mostly depends on the decisions that we make each day. Decisions like: Where do I want to live, in which job do I want to work, how do I want to spend my money, etc. So why is this relevant for the above statement, what has this got to do with people’s jealousy? Well, my argument is that these people may feel that they are missing out on something and that they may have made the wrong or suboptimal decisions in life. But life is really a result of very many and different decisions and most of them are a product of current circumstances and preferences. In the end, the sum of these decisions lead to the current situation we are in. Thus, everyone is more or less responsible for their own current personal situation. The problem with this is, that many people are probably rather unaware of this. How often do people really think about their personal situation and about the options they have in life, no matter how strange or unrealistic they may be? I would argue that many people may not be overly happy with their job, their apartement or their relationship but that they rather continue as usual instead of considering a more radical change. Problems with the current boss? Well, we will survive his reign as we have already outlived other stupid bosses, right? It is always easier to keep doing what you are doing instead of considering other options that may entail a greater risk but that also promise to provide greater levels of happiness. I think that this behaviour is a product of our fear to lose something and due to the fact that most people are rather risk- averse. Thus, most of the decisions that we make are focused on conserving the status quo or to make improvements to the current situation while maintaining what we already achieved. Basically “adding-on”. But I do not want to criticize this as it is a reasonable behaviour that probably suits a lot of people’s way of life pretty well. Once you settle down with your partner, found a family and buy a house, it does absolutely make sense to protect and maintain your current status in life. In the long run, you will be greatly rewarded by doing this and you will probably experience a lot of happiness by doing so. However, this behaviour also comes with a cost: You lose flexibility and the chance to experience something new and different. Maybe you could be happier in another job, maybe you would rather live rurally than in the city, maybe you would rather like to travel regularly instead of staying at home to watch the children or pets? Anyway, the point is that you are the master of your life and that your very own decisions led you to the situation that you are actually in. However, most of the people do not realize that. Thus, I always respond to people telling me that they are jealous somehow like this:

“Look, there is no need to be jealous. You have made decisions in your past that led to the situation you are currently in and they were reasonable and good decisions in the moment you made them. You probably already own a house or apartment, you are happy in your relationship and you possibly also have wonderful children. So why are you jealous? You simply decided to take a different way in your life and you have done pretty well so far, haven’t you? Yes, you won’t go to Canada soon but you have all the other things that make you happy, right? If not, you should simply sit down, ask yourself what would make you happy and do exactly that. As strange as it sounds, but you can change your life every day. You can hand in your notice today, move out of your apartment, get in your car, drive somewhere and start completely new in another country, city, job and/or relationship. So if you are jealous now because you won’t be able to go to Canada, I can only respond: You could also do it but you simply don’t want to. Thus, as this is your decision, there is no reason to be jealous.”

It is possible to radically change your life but most people do not consider this. I think that people fear the unknown and do not want to lose everything that they already achieved. Leaving behind all of their friends and their family may be the biggest challenge if you want to change your life radically. Yes, that is not easy, true. But this is just one side of the coin. On the other side, you can always meet nice people wherever you are. I have met many interesting and friendly people wherever I went. If you are open, interested and friendly, you will not have greater problems meeting new friends and people you can trust. But instead of considering bigger changes in life, most of our daily decisions will be somewhat like this: ‘I will go to my office today and do my job, I will return home after work, I will not look for a new apartment, etc.’ These are rather unconscious decisions but they nevertheless give direction to our lives: In most cases, they manage how we live in our accustomed environment. However, we should not forget that it is possible and sometimes also necessary or advisable to break out of the daily routine and do something completely different as this could lead to an overall happier life. Bottom line of this discussion: Be aware that you yourself are responsible for what happens in your life and that you are able to change it every single day. Don’t be afraid of change as it does not only entail sacrifices but it also opens up new chances and opportunities.

Now let’s have some pictures of our Scotland trip:

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14.10.16: Fort George, big military installtion north of Inverness. Biggest Fort in England. Impressive.
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15.10.16: Start of the Coigach Half Marathon. 39 runners overall. My time: 1:44 in light rain and strong winds. Pictures: https://www.facebook.com/CoigachHalfMarathon/
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16.10.16: Hiking tour to the top of Stac Pollaidh, 612m.
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16.10.16: View from the top of Stac Pollaidh.
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16.10.16.: Achmelvich Beach. Never thought that I would find such a beach in Scotland.
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Water was really really cold. Still, Glenn jumped in. Must be wonderful in summer.
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The 1000 faces of Scotland. Beautiful country, undoubtedly.
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17.10.16: Landscape on our way to the Isle of Skye. Contrast between sun, shadow and clouds.
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18.10.16.: Neist Point on the Isle of Skye.

Initially, I also wanted to write a bit about my personal plans for the Canada trip next year. But as this blog entry is already long enough (too long?), I will write about that next time.

The following German song is about finding out and doing what you want in life and about one’s willpower and identity. Thus, it concludes the topic that was dicussed in this entry.

Böhse Onkelz – Wenn du wirklich willst

23. Scotland – up in the north

Aviemore, Scotland, 13.10.2016.

After a long car drive on Monday, I arrived in Aberdeen in the evening to pick up Glenn and then drive together to our host Andrew in Aviemore. Now it is already Thursday evening and we have had 3 wonderful days. Let me review them for you.

On Tuesday, Glenn and I decided to do some extensive hiking on a mountain ridge next to Loch Morlich, a lake not far away from Aviemore. In the first place, we wanted to climb Ben Macdui, the highest mountain (1309m) in the Cairngorm National Park and the second highest mountain in Great Britain. Unfortunately, the weather conditions were unfavorable and the clouds were very low on that day and on the days afterwards. Although it would not have been overly dangerous to climb the mountain, we decided against it since we wanted to see the nature around us. We figured that would be difficult while walking in clouds. So walking on the mountain ridge next to Loch Morlich was clearly the better decision as we were rewarded with amazing views and a good portion of “up and down” hiking when climbing several peaks and decending again.

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View on Loch Morlich from the way up to the mountains.
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View from the first mountain. Aviemore is behind the hill on the left.
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Way up to the next mountain for Glenn and me. Steep “road”…
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Wonderful An Lochan Uaine on the way back to Loch Morlich.

After the great hike on Tuesday, we decided to see some of Scotland’s castles on Wednesday. What we did not think about was that there could be a season to see castles. And for most of the castles, this season only goes until September 30 each year. But finally, we found a castle that was still open to visit: Braemar Castle. A beautiful place with an interesting history and many different things to see inside. Interestingly, there were still people living at the castle 10 years ago and they left most of the furniture and interior inside when they left the place. Seeing the rooms almost in their original state was quite a new and interesting experience to us.

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Braemar Castle from the outside.
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Braemar Castle inside: The tea room.

Today, Glenn and I decided to do some more hiking and to also see some more of the sights near Aviemore. First, we drove to Loch An Eilein and did quite the long hiking tour over there. While doing that, we found fields of blueberries plants that still had sweet sweet berries on them. Possibly the last berries of this year as temperatures will continue dropping towards zero degrees in the next days. Again, the walk was very scenic and we had to stop quite often to capture the beautiful landscape with our cameras.

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Last Blueberries of the season at Loch An Eilein.
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Mountains and Clouds mirrored in the water.
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Colorful Landscape with Sun and Shades at Loch An Eilein.

After we had a very relaxing lunch at the side of the lake, we decided to leave this truly beautiful place and see some more of the nearby sights. So we drove to the sculpture trail near Feshiebridge to see all of the wooden and stone sculptures shown there. They were sculpted really artfully and it must have been a lot of work to do them as most of them were also really big. After having walked the trail, we continued to the nearby river and again discovered a really scenic piece of nature. But see for yourself below.

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First sculpture on the Sculpture trail.
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Rapids on the river next to the Sculpture trail.

The last real stop for the day brought us to the Ruthven barracks, situated close to the village of Kingussie. We were lucky to see these ruins while the sun was still shining and it was a beautiful sight to see the contrast between the sun on the barracks and the dark rain clouds at the sky. Unfortunately, no camera can really catch 100% of that beauty.

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Ruthven Barracks near Kingussie.

These barracks were built in the 18th century to prevent further turmoil in Scotland after the 1715 Jacobite uprising. And although these barracks are ruins today, visitors can still get a good idea of their function and the life of the soldiers in there. Plus, the view from the barrack’s hill is really nice.

After visiting the barracks we drove back to Aviemore and got a nice Highlander buffet at the Cairngorm Hotel. A lot of different and scottish meals were offered and we enjoyed trying all the different things such as roasted black pudding, Haggis, Skirlie, Neeps and Venison goulash. However, I must admit that I did not try the Haggis as I have bad experiences eating organs in the past.

Now what is the plan for the next days? Tomorrow, we will drive to Inverness and see the city and its sights. Then, on Saturday, I will try to run a Half Marathon up in Achiltibuie. I already contacted the organizer via E-Mail but he would not answer. So we will just drive there and see if I can get a last chance entry. If not, that will not be the end of the world as we can always put on our boots and go hiking in the Assynth which looks like a very scenic and beautiful region. So we will be alright however things turn out…

As this blog was originally about me and Canada, the next blog entry will be about that topic again and I will not continue to blog about my holidays in Scotland in greatest detail. I will mainly write about the two following issues:

  1. What do I think about people telling me that they are jealous of me going to Canada soon?
  2. What job perspectives and plans do I have for the future?

As usual, I will give a music advice at the end of the blog entry. Today’s advice is a tribute to Glenn, who is currently travelling with me and who is undoubtedly the “Big Boss”.

Kollegah – Big Boss

 If you like German Rap, look out for Kollegah’s new album, “Imperator”, which will come out sometime in December.