Thursday, April 25, 2019

Euro trips - Euro tips!

Although I haven't reached Rick Steeves status yet I'm proud that I'm on my eighth trip across the pond and have learned a great deal about travelling in foreign countries (now 27 of them) and I'm happy to share some tips here.

First off - 'do your prep.'  If you're going to a brand new company learn a bit about the culture and history of that country.  Europe is draped in history and their customs and various systems are often 100% different from North American norms so it's wise to be prepared.

Wikipedia and YouTube are your best friends and now Podcasting is a huge help.  A simple search of the City or area you're going to will yield a goldmine of information - and video - and help you get to know a few of the landmarks you'll be visiting.

Once you get to your destination you'll be shocked at how much you DON'T know and my common line upon hopping the plane home is "if I'm ever reincarnated and come back to life I'm going to pay attention in History class next time."

Currency is different all over the place....and even though the Euro was supposed to cover most of Europe there are a few countries that don't accept the money OR take it 'hesitatingly' and often you will get short changed in the exchange.

We travel with very little cash as there are bank machines everywhere - but again some do NOT have English on them so it can be a bit challenging getting cash out when needed.

We also carry two different credit cards - American Express and VISA for use - because you can run in to merchants that won't accept one or the other or for that matter credit at all.

A hotel Concierge is your best friend and can be of huge assistance for everything from giving safety tips or calling a cab (or Uber in some cases) as well as helping with any language issues.

Many hotels have airport pickups as well...which can be extremely helpful after a long tiring trip.

There are several apps that do the conversion for currency all over the world and it's wise to have one of those on your smartphone.

Ditto 'language' conversation.  Even knowing a few key terms can be helpful.

Most countries it's very easy to get along with just English - though France has had a few challenges for a waiter picking up the menu and walking away when we asked for an English one. He never returned.

Speaking of smartphones roaming is incredibly expensive.  I put mine on Airplane mode and rely on wifi (which is readily available throughout most of Europe - except in some small towns) and use my SKYPE account to call back home after I've checked messages on my phone.

Electricity is different all over the world too so you'll have to be a plug that adapts to the various countries you are visiting.  Be careful though as you need multiple units.  The UK, for example, has their own unique system and it's different from most of Europe.

Caution at airport arrivals.  Many cities have 'rogue' drivers who look like any other cab driver except they are IN the airport and grab you at the luggage area and aggressively direct you to their cars.  They are not licensed and some drive like madmen.  On a Paris run with my daughter one was going over 200 kph as we screamed at him (in English) to slow down.

Heathrow has a high speed link from the airport/downtown - Paris has their Metro (subway) that can save you money and avoid congestion.

UBER can be gold especially in cities where language problems can occur.  Simply order your ride share in the hotel lobby - take the ride without worrying about any 'lost in conversation' problems.

A few safety tips:

1.  Tell your security system provider you will be away and give them two 'contact' people in case of any needs.

2.  Give a copy of your itinerary to other family members mrs so that they know where you are at all times.  Give them hotel names, your travel agents name, (if applicable) in case anybody back home needs to contact you.

3.  Put a business card in your luggage with all your contact information as well - including phone, email, etc. - so that there are multiple ways of getting hold of you.

4.  Pickpockets are huge in Europe - many travel in teams.  One distracts you or bumps in to you and bingo you're hit.  Watch your purse or bag when you put it on the floor at a restaurant or where you stop.  These are 'pro's' and if you're not careful that bag will be gone in a blink.  On a plane or a train loop your arm through the straps on the bags because they also unzip a bag and quickly grab anything they can while you sleep.  I 'somehow' lost an iPod on a train without a trace.

5.  Group tours are the best so that you can all the local info - try to stay close to them - and especially at night be aware of your environment.

Set up a special Facebook site so you and your travelling companions can upload photo''s free.

REMEMBER to use the 'check in' button feature as it geo tags the photo to the exact spot you were standing when you took it.  After a long tour, believe me, you'll have so many pictures you'll have a hard time remembering the city/town/area you took that picture especially with trying to remember a remote locations name.

6.  Travel light. Leave your expensive jewellery and watches at home.  No need to have them on hand  'just in case.'

7.  Pre book as much as you an ahead of time.  There's nothing worse than getting to a location you wanted to see and there's a long line up to get through.

8.  If you're going to London download the Metro guide - it's the biggest subway system in the world and is several levels deep.  

9.  If you're going to the LOUVRE Google 'secret entrance' - and you'll find a set of stairs across the street from the building(s) that is used by the locals and those smart enough to find it.  No signage - and it leads directly to a tunnel and shopping area inside the Louvre with machines to buy your entrance ticket.

10.  Buy a cell phone package - again - just in case.  There's lots of free wifi available for phone/ipad use but if you get separated from a group - or lost - it can be a life saver.  Plus 'text' where possible and let your friends back home know your location of destination in case they need to reach you.

Take as many tours as possible.  The Red/Blue double decker buses are cheap and circle the city stopping at various tourist attractions.  It's hop on - hop off - and you can make the most of your time using them.  Some have dual routes so check out what the best one is for your desires.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Defining a successful career....Forbes style.

When your Father is a legend in the business - and your two brothers have a 3 and 6 year head start on you - you obviously have to be pretty inspired to 'be the best' at your craft and especially if you carry the Forbes name.

Double that if you HAVE your Fathers actual name and you think that the Jerry Forbes Centre for Community Spirit is named after 'you' - but they just spelled it wrong.

Brother Ger is hanging up his headphones at CJAY in Calgary shortly - after about four decades of success at some 'legendary' radio stations across Canada working with 'nothing but great people'.

Being a Morning Man is one of the toughest gigs in the world.

Insane hours.  Pressure to get up at an ungodly hour and entertain and inform your listeners - often at minus 30; or after a long night out;  and to make sure you are fully prepared (every day) with the craziness of the world factored in to your prep.

As well "serving the community" isn't a cliche to anybody in the Forbes Family.

Our Father started a great radio station and an even greater charity in the mid 1950's that are so powerful that this year, 37 years after he passed, a building is being named for him in Edmonton.

How's that for 'pressure to perform?'

Ger got it.  Early in life.  Growing up listening to 630 CHED and 1050 CHUM...with a goal to be as good as or better than some of the finest broadcasters "in the world."

It's a long list but he will tell you - among them - Wes Montgomery, Bob McCord, Jungle Jay Nelson, Norm Edwards, and to be humbled...'his brothers.'

There isn't enough room here to list Ger's accomplishments. 

The WAB |Hall of Fame; the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee for Community Service; and even in a fun way I believe he holds the record for the most CBSC 'complaints' ever for a broadcaster - which, when you're in rock radio, is truly a badge of honour if you're doing your show properly.

But above all - day one - and on his last day - I'm pretty sure that Gerry will tell you his absolute greatest accomplishment is what he did to pay his success forward with community service.

For some in the media that means the odd mc gig - or hosting an event.

For Gerry it means day after day giving his entire focus to helping out in the city that treats him so well.

If we could go back and count the actual CASH that has been raised through his charity work it truly would be immeasurable.

Big cheques to big projects - but even more meaningful little checks or little gestures to help somebody out.

I know of many many times when Ger quietly visited a home to help somebody out who was 'challenged' with a problem.

It could be a stolen bike.  It could be helping out a blind kid.  It could even mean helping out another employee of the radio station and Ger somehow magically made something good happen for those people.

I'm not going to dwell any further at this point - as I hope to write a tribute to him for one of his (likely) many retirement gatherings and I'll post that.

Ger, I've been proud of you from the very first day you headed out to CHNL Kamloops to start your career - and even though you had to steal the stations toilet paper to survive those first few years - your move to CHUM, CFTR, CHQR, CHFM, the The Bear and eventually CJAY - all help to define an amazing career at the biggest and best companies in Canada.

 I simply can't tell you how much I respect you.

The Forbes boys got their start by hanging around Dad's "Family" room - the fireplace going with real logs; a hefty glass of Cutty Sark scotch on the table; Dad's legendary aromatic pipe smell - and a few words of advice that the three of us have never ever forgotten....

"Don't ever forget the power you have in your hands with your radio station."

Worked for him.  Worked for us.

Thanks for making me laugh all those years too Ger.  We paid the price often for people who didn't understand our unique relationship working together - and many of those folks have fallen by the wayside with their careers - but I can safely tell people that even after 40 plus years in the business that you and I still text other daily - OFTEN - and ALWAYS about one thing.


(OK there was the ODD time we may have crapped all over the other guys favorite sports team - but just the odd time eh)

We were so damn blessed by Dad and by being in a business that truly rewarded all three of us with wonderful careers, families, and 'true' friends.... and all three of us enjoyed success in entirely different areas of the business.  Not many other radio families that I know can say that!

We were also blessed by a Mother, and Step Father that were behind the three of us boys all the way too - never under estimate how much of a huge influence they were on your career - many many times we needed them to prop us up during those down times.

Now bro...sleep deserve it!

Calgary's losing a gem.

Love ya!


Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Seeing the sunset...and remembering Family and Friends...

I have to admit.  I'm struggling lately - with 'death.'

Don't be shocked by that's just that I've lost several good friends over the past few years, most younger than me, and these are all people who have had a huge impact on my life.

As each friend passes away it's now taking me longer and longer to 'get over' the sadness of their loss.

Everybody, including experts, say this feeling is normal as we age but none the less it doesn't soften the loss in any manner.

First off I've lost my Father, late step Father, Mother, Aunts/Uncles and those close friends of my Parents that we called 'honourary' relatives.

My Dad's brother was 47 and left 7 kids when he died.  Dad's folks were just 61 and 62 when they passed away.

My Mother made it to 87 years old, and most of her side of the Family made it to their 90's.

I'm 67 and have outlived several of my elders in the Forbes clan.

Recently I decided to make a major change in my lifestyle that is reflective of the losses of my Friends and Family members by deciding to sell our Arizona condo, which we have held for the past decade.

As I explained to my friends - who I all adore down there - there are no guarantees in life and each of these losses have had a combined profound affect on my psyche that leaves me with an overriding desire to be around MY family and friends back home in Edmonton - Alberta - Canada.

My brothers are in Toronto - Calgary - and Vancouver.  I don't get there often enough to see them and, as time flies, know we MUST plan better to spend some time's...too...late!

Yeah sitting in a blinding snowstorm - or chipping snow off my windshield certainly magnifies the effect of the move - but - each year over the past few years my Days in the USA have been falling significantly meaning I'm funding a place that is two thirds of the year 'empty' at an inflated cost due to the Canadian/US dollar exchange but more so when I see '100 days' as my track record I can't help but think I'm missing some pretty good family moments every year.

Birthdays away.  Anniversary away.  Those magic moments that only Grandchildren can provide - like watching 18 month old Liam mimic everything that Mom Rayanne does and receiving a video of him walking around nude in the living room with a kids size vacuum cleaner 'helping' Mom simply breaks my heart.

To help cheer you up your friends and Family - and I guess the experts - tell you to focus on the qualities and impact those people you lost had on you while they were still alive - and for that it works temporarily because the quality of people that I hang out with are all 'top notch' and I applaud what they did while they were here on earth - but the true story is I'd really like to spend more time with them and 'grow old' together - somehow celebrating the fact of what we did here on the planet while we were blessed with our lives here actually meant something.

Is there a heaven?  Are we going to hook up again?

When you hear your Fathers voice on the radio 37 years after he passed away.

When you drive through the Riverbend area and see the road signs named after him.

When you're part of a group that is opening a synergy centre called the Jerry Forbes Centre for Community Spirit.....

|It only reminds you of how sad it is that Dad missed seeing his three sons achievements in the broadcasting business.

Dad...we all did 'pretty good.'

|It reminds you of how sad it is that he didn't get to meet my daughters - and eventually his grandchildren.

Proud as punch and honoured at such recognition - but you know what - I'd love for him to have little Liam sitting on his lap - tugging at his Pipe - or grabbing at his ears just once in my life.

58 was way too young to leave us - but you can imagine the sheer pride I have watching 25,000 toys scoot out the door of Santas Anonymous every Christmas.

Nothing makes me prouder than seeing them help out at Santas  events - or selling 50/50 tickets at an Oilers game to raise funds for the cause.

The list of those lost is way too long to properly honour those friends of mine who have passed away over the past decade especially.

I have been so blessed to have been able to enjoy almost ten years of retirement allready with the lifestyle that I enjoy.  A nice car - motorcycles - place in the Sun - travelling to some of the most exotic countries of the world.

Some good gigs too.

I don't take a day for granted any more - and my entire focus for the past ten years while I have time on my hands is to "tangibly" give back to the City of Edmonton.

That's why I work so hard at the projects that I get involved in - and they too are numerous - and the people inside those organizations are the reason I work my butt off because each and every one of those people enrich my life, greatly.

So as I write my Edmonton Sun goodbye column about Tommy Banks this morning I'm just feeling a little sorry - not for myself - but for those great people I was so blessed to call friends over my six plus decades on this crazy planet for not being around anymore.

I miss each and every one of you and thank you for the pleasure of knowing you in my lifetime.

|I'm a product of the amazing people I call friends - and Family - and I just wish that they'd gotten to enjoy the 'sunset' a little more like I'm planning to do.

I'm hoping for a fire alarm to be pulled on my 100th birthday as the candles set it off in my home.

Bless every one of you for whatever small moments we spend together - and I hope you realize how much each of those moments mean to a guy who is ageing and missing his best friends and family members.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

...and Sunday Morning Coming Down!

 I hope the weather is good this Sunday morning cuz I plan on having my butt placed firmly on the Yamaha FJR 1300, pointed west, and on a long stretch of highway doing a little 'reflection.'

Sunday is one of those rare calendar days where my Fathers birthday falls on the same day as Mothers Day.

Both are gone now but 'not really.

Dad's voice is heard every Christmas through 630 CHED's Santas Anonymous and his life is very much celebrated by having a building named after him - the Jerry Forbes Centre for Community Spirit.

Mom left us on Remembrance Day, which will forever have a double affect on me.

My favorite answer these days to the question "how're you doing?" is a simple one.

"I'm the luckiest guy in the world" - and mostly because of the two people I will be honouring on Sunday.

Dad was one of the most dynamic people in the world.

Tall.  Debonair. Smart. Talented.  Respected.

An amazing sense of humour and a heart as big as West Edmonton Mall for the 'community of Edmonton.'

Mom was just that.."Mom"...the rock of the family and especially after our world fell apart at "1:30 on July 15th, 1961" when Gord, Gerry and I boarded the plane with Mom to head to Toronto without our Father.

Divorce.  It's ugly and I guess it's why I have always had a huge compassion for 'single Mom's' and what they have to go through in life trying to raise their children.

I use the term 'we lacked for nothing' because Mom (and Dad as well) made sure that we had as normal lives as possible throughout this separation.

We'd spend summer in Edmonton - the school year in Toronto - and as silly as it sounds I apologized to Mom just before she passed away because it took me far too long to understand that, through the divorce, we had 'robbed her' of our summers together. 

She never complained.

Everything we learned....everything we became in life was because of these two people. 

I've made sure I passed along their teachings and guidance along to my two children as well - and I'm pretty damn proud and happy how they turned out too - and how lucky I am to have them in my life too.  
Lauren (Noreen) Forbes

Dad used to say "now you know the circle of life!"

And with that 'circle' thing the introduction of little Liam into my life is simply 'immeasurable"  ..."luckiest guy on earth."  
Liam Boychuk
Not to make this an epic blog but suffice to say once I hit the lakeside park this Sunday, sitting on a little park bench, I'm going to crack out a big cigar and spend an entirely too short of a time remembering Murray McIntyre (Jerry Forbes) and Noreen Elizabeth Mooney (Sheehy) and thank the big guy up in the clouds for whatever role he/she had in making them my parents and simply for everything I have in my wonderful world because of them.

Happy Birthday Dad.    


Happy Mothers Day Mom.    

                                                    Damn.  I sure miss them.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Alberta Motorcycle Safety Society - we're here for You!

I'm extremely proud to be part of a great group of motorcycle riders in Edmonton, Alberta lead by our dynamic leader Liane Langlois, called the Alberta Motorcycle Safety Society.
Our AMSS Executive and Media Team

It was Liane's personal quest to help other riders a year or so back when she contacted me for some assistance with getting her message out to the media in Edmonton.

Liane Langlois - President

One thing led to another and the amazing domino effect of positivity resulted in one of the finest multi media campaigns I've ever been involved in - and the building of a great team with other team members Terry Bleau, Doug McFayden and Mike Schmidt who each bring their own skill and expertise to our group along with the same message of 'passion' for safety on the roads.

That being said it's 'pre season' and I thought I'd send out a few thoughts to people either thinking of getting into our glorius sport this year or for 'relatively' new riders anxious to get out again on their particular choice of motorcycle or trike.

First off "wait" for the roads to warm up.

NOTHING is worse than cold tires on cold tarmac.

So when we get those nice fresh warm days in March or early April please hold off for a bit and let Mother Nature take her course.

As well the road crews need to remove all the sand & gravel and repair those vicious potholes that sneak up and bite you when you least expect it.

Our logo

For new riders buy the proper bike for your riding skills and style.

There is a huge variety of motorcycles available and each is designed for a particular type of riding.  City.  Highway.  Long distance.  Off Road.  Partly off Road.

You know what I mean.

Start with a lower cc bike and get the feel for it.  Ride as often as you can with 'seasoned' riders to get those experienced rider tips that could save your life.

Most of all ride 'confident' - because if you're afraid of that bike or the drivers around us you're going to run in to trouble.

Second, it doesn't have to be your last bike - so 'progress' through the riding season(s) and when you find out your real riding style move into a bigger bike in the proper category for your skill level and riding style.

Next, take a proper riding course.  There are some very good ones available and the folks that teach it simply will NOT let you get your licence without knowing that you are 100% ready to hit the roads

Wear the proper gear and trust me/us when we say... flip flops and shorts aren't 'proper' gear for the rider OR passenger.

And PLEASE don't use the city streets or surrounding freeways to race or show off.  There are track days at Castrol Raceway for that several times a year.

If you're a returning rider after not being on a motorcycle for several years take an upgrade course.

Many 'veteran' riders left the sport years ago to raise families and when they return to riding find out very quickly that motorcycles/trikes have changed 'dramatically' over the past decade or so and you really do need to learn how to ride again with these upgrades - like ABS, lower weight bikes, gps, etc.

I've had my licence since 1966.  I ride year round in Edmonton in the summer and Phoenix Arizona in the winter.  I ride in every weather extreme possible.  I ride with some of the most experienced riders as possible.  I still learn from other riders and there is a wonderful team feeling when helping teach another rider a new safety tip or style on the road.

There isn't a day nor a ride that goes by without me being 100% aware of my surroundings - and in a world of Cell Phone/Texting and Distracted Driving you have to be fully cognizant of your surroundings at all times and to be ready to react to pure stupidity at a moments notice.

I've had drunk drivers try to run me off the road.  People have thrown things at me riding.  I had an elderly man try to spray me with a hose simply for riding on his street one day.  I've had furniture fall off the back of a truck on a highway.  I've dodge Coyotes, Moose, dogs and cats.

Every rider has had a close call and especially with those left turn scenarios OR with a driver looking 'past' you on the road and pull out in front of you.

Throughout it all simply remember that a MOTORCYCLE can KILL YOU.

I repeat - a MOTORCYCLE can KILL YOU.

So.  Be prepared.

Constantly upgrade your skills and knowledge.  Ride ride ride to get more confidence and experience.

Last years Alberta Motorcycle Safety Society was launched with a multi media campaign on television, radio, newspaper and digital.  We are on Facebook and Twitter sharing as many good articles and advice as we can possibly can.

The campaign was highlighted and endorsed by some of Edmonton's finest media guys - like CTV's Daryl McIntyre, Global Televisions Gord Steinke, Alberta Prime Times Michael Higgens, CKUA's Cam Hayden,  CFCW's Sean Burke, Capital FM's Shane Michaels, K97's Terry Evans, 630 CHED's J'Lyn Nye, The One's Steve Zimmerman, and this year we are also getting our message in to Calgary to help spread our message Province wide.

If you'd like to support our cause please go to the website  You will be able to view our television spots and to buy some of our swag or a membership in AMSS.

We are 100% non profit and all proceeds to to help us purchase more media and to assist us in participating in shows and causes around the Province where we spread the good word on motorcycle safety.

Your AMSS team looks forward to meeting you this season - #motosafety

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