Tony Bilby in Bavaria


Throughout the year I would visit my grandparents in Germany.  They didn’t speak English.  I spoke only German to them during the times we would visit or they would come to the United States.  I was fortunate to experience my American culture living in the US as well as my old-world German culture by my mother and grandparents.  Grandfather, Opa, was Bavarian and my grandmother, Oma, was from the Black Forest.  They lived in the old family home in Denzlingen, in the heart of the Black Forest, which was purchased and passed down generations on my grandmother’s side of the family.   My great grandfather had made his fortune building greenhouses after the war and purchased half the village real-estate, but unfortunately my great aunt married a scoundrel who squandered the family fortune racketeering and a mishmash of lousy business dealings.

Opa was a very gentile, giving, loving man.  He was Bavarian and if you know Bavarians, they are proud of their heritage.  He’d wear his lederhosen around the house and town, but as Oma emphatically shared in her stories, he never donned underwear beneath his hand-made leather shorts.  This allowed views of his manhood shared with whomever he was sitting close to at the table during drinking or dining.  This infuriated my grandmother who, I must assume, didn’t like him to share it with the public.

Opa, like most Germans, was open about most things including the sexes and sexuality.  Germans expose nakedness and sexuality at a young age, often inviting their teenage kids and girlfriends or boyfriends to spend the night with the family.  “Better at home under a safe roof than secretly in a car or in some back alley,” my mother used to say.   As a young boy, during sunny days, my grandfather would detour our frequent walks through the English Gardens in Munich.  In the Gardens, German women were topless exposing themselves while sunbathing and relaxing.  As a young boy, my face would flush bright red when I saw such women, but my grandfather would just smile and shrug his shoulders as he walked slowly with his hands rested behind him.  Sometimes Oma would find out about the detours and scold Opa blaming him for exposing me to nakedness and debauchery at such a young age to which my Opa would simply chuckle.  Oma was loud and animated in her stories about Opa and his alleged escapades.  She’d raise her voice recalling times when Opa would frequent the lake, without her, to go boating and sailing with other women, obviously naked and in an orgy of fun, to which Opa always denied such foolish tales.

Oma spoiled me rotten.  My memories of her are as fond as they get.  She fixed me traditional German dishes whenever I asked.  She was warm and loving.  Oma spent significant time in the kitchen and when Opa got too close to her business of cooking or cleaning she would bang her pots and pans and rattle insults to which Opa seemed oblivious.  Oma often told me as I got older “the best days of my life were when you and your sister came into this world.”  She would call me a “nettes bierbly” which was Denzlingen slang for little doll.

I spent more time with Opa.  He was a skilled carpenter and could fix anything around the house.  His favorite times were canoeing, swimming, and sailing.  Watching Opa go to work was always fun.  He kept himself busy with various projects around the house.  I would speak to him in our German Bavarian dialect and he would tell me story after story.  His stories about the war were the most interesting.

Opa shared that he was raised by women and although they were very poor growing up, he was an athlete who spent his time outdoors.  On sunny days he played soccer.  Food was scarce, but he learned to live meagerly and worked labor jobs starting at a young age.  He told me that when he was a young man he was “stein hart,” which means hard as a stone.  Then he would growl amusingly and pound his chest and abdominals.

When he talked about the war he shared his basic misunderstandings of most things involving what was going on in Germany.  According to him, when first enlisted, he left the barracks at night to go dancing with women.  Upon his return his company commander would discipline him with calisthenics which included running, push-ups, sit-ups, and a movement involving the entire body called “hase hupfen” or rabbit jumps.  He said he was in superior condition so any exercise that he was forced to endure was easy considering his upbringing involving hard labor jobs and meager food rations.  He said he would yell loudly “Ich kahn nicht mehr, ich kahn nicht mehr!” which means “I can’t do anymore!” to his company commander, but this was a ruse as he could have continued exercises throughout the night with ease.  His unruly and carefree conduct continued during his early days in the army, he asserted, after all, being raised by a bunch of women, he simply didn’t know better.  As he revisited his stories he shared that his foolish and unwitting behavior, behavior that certainly didn’t match the behavior expected of a German Wehrmacht soldier, could have had him shot or killed.  Opa believed it was sheer luck that his company commander had been such a good man; a man that didn’t shoot him personally given my grandfather’s insubordination in Hitler’s army.

It wasn’t long into the war that Opa met Oma at her village of Denzlingen in the black forest.  There was a brief courtship followed by a hurried marriage in the back of a truck while stopping temporarily on a logistics supply run.  It was war time and chaos was the norm.  My grandfather soon deserted the German army and he and my grandmother made way to the snowcapped Alps.  Opa, a master outdoorsman with knowledge of the terrain and surroundings, was able to lead a small group of families through a mountain impasse that was considered unattainable or unreachable by most.  Overcoming the impasse, traveling to higher elevations, and through the thickness of the pined black forest they found refuge.  There, my grandparents along with a few other couples and families stayed in hiding for the remainder of the war.

My grandfather said on more than one occasion he was “captured” by American forces before he and his wife made their escape to the mountains.   Once he was put on a truck with other POW’s and as the truck started to drive he jumped out and ran to the cover of woods.  Nobody bothered to chase or shoot him.  Another time he was forced into a POW building, but he walked out the back door, grabbed a bike, and pedaled off.  My grandfather carried natural ease and contentness about him so the stories he told me as a child I never questioned.

Tony Bilby

Travel + Benefits

Tony Bilby, Map, Travel, Benefit, Healthy, Psychological

Map of the World

When one travels it often leads to a different perception of the world that we inhabit. When closed off without ever having the good fortune to experience how others live, we can find ourselves in a locked  cage of naivety that simply doesn’t represent the way the rest of the world thinks. Frankly, I think travel could have a tremendous impact on reducing bigotry, racism, and judgmental ideologies. Of course, to implement any sort of program where everyone is forced to travel is a utopian fantasy that will never be accomplished. However, the rationale stands, or so I believe it does, and it is for that reason that hereafter I will extoll a few of the benefits I have personally encountered over the course of my own travels. Of course, all I say will be backed with scientific evidence from this academic study done at the University of Tennessee.


In regards to a group of students who studied in Japan, it was written that “the overseas group increased in flexibility and independence and became less conventional.” The students themselves then claimed more positive side effects including “personal growth, increased tolerance, improved self-understanding, greater openness…” (page two). It keeps going. With increased flexibility and independence came the ability to be less conventional. The students developed a stronger personality that will now impact the way they live the rest of their life. Rather than be frightened into societal normalizations that can all too-often force people to behave as someone else, these students have been exposed to the fact that there is an entire world out there that does not live the way they do, that does not hold the same judgements that they do, that does not fear the same things they do. With greater understanding comes greater acceptance, and greater understanding comes with greater exposure.


Even Nolan Bushnell, the founder of the Atari corporation, agrees and claims “a significant number of my big-money ideas have occurred to me while on vacation or on foreign travel. At work, you’re on automatic pilot…But you go to France…you have leisure” (Page 3) It this ability to get away from routine, that ruthless mind-numbing routine, that gives your brain the space it needs to formulate new ideas that it simply wouldn’t have otherwise. So it is not just acceptance that becomes more prevalent, but creativity as well. I strongly encourage you to take a look at the academic journal linked so that you can see for yourself the way the journal quantifies these seemingly abstract concepts that at first glance, are difficult to, for lack of a better word, quantify.


The authors mainly substantiate their claims by drawing upon previously done research and exploring the meaning of “culture shock” and what its true impact is upon individuals entering different regions or psychological arenas for the first time. Regardless, travel is good for the soul. It is good for the mind. It is good for the world.

Also, check out “StampAbout Jake and Chad’s” video regarding travel benefits:



Tips for Munich Travel

Munich is potentially the most beautiful metropolis in all of Germany. Boasting history stretching back over half a millennium while simultaneously showcasing innovative technology in the way of the famed BMW museum, this cosmopolitan paradise beckons hordes of tourists to experience its one-of-a-kind personality every year. Between countless facets of entertainment and the intriguing history prevalent on every street, there is honestly no place I’d rather be. It is for this reason I’ve decided to put together a quick and easy guide so that you may truly take full advantage of the city.

Take Public Transit

I know in America, this can often seem like a foreign (pun intended) concept unless you live in one of the major cities. But the fact is that the public transit here is precise, pristine and quite frankly, nearly perfect. Don’t waste your money on overly expensive cab/car services when a perfectly functional public transit system exists to cater to the city’s inhabitants’ comfort. Clean and on-time, I really can’t say enough, but you get the point.

Visit Museums

So much history beats as the lifeblood of the city, driving the metropolis’s perpetual ambition to improve, which is perhaps evident in the the fact that Munich is constantly on the brink of emerging and exciting technologies. That said, you should pay a visit to the BMW museum. Filled with the latest luxury models and boasting all sorts of technology, the museum actually necessitates two separate buildings in order to house everything it has to exhibit. One space is reserved for a more car-oriented theme while the other area is often used to showcase different artistic creations. By infusing culture and luxury with friendly customer service, the BMW museum has been one of the most enjoyable exhibitions I have ever witnessed.

Take advantage of the nightlife.

Munich nightlife is an absolute blast when you take into consideration the fact that the city is quite young (mean age of 29). This leads to a vivacious electricity that immerses the streets when the sun goes down, as laughs and smiles parade around town in palpable euphoria. This said, do be sure to check out the original Hofbrauhaus bar. This venue is literally over 400 years old and boasts a remarkable atmosphere that is simply unparalleled. Get to know the residents of Munich and mingle with other tourists doing the same as you as you sip some of the most delicious beer available in the country. Although the options are fairly limited ranging from the darker dunkel to a lighter option, there is still something for everyone; and even if you think there is nothing for you, just risk it and give it a chance. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

I hope this helps during your Germanic travels. Godspeed and Guten Tag!


Tony Bilby, Beer, Munich, Germany, Travel

Munich Beer

Also, check out this video by

The Ninth Planet

The Cosmos


These past few years have seen some wild shifts in the way we perceive the empty space around our planet. Out there, swimming in the unwavering stillness of space, a new planet has joined our Solar System. Beyond the recently re-incorporated planet of Pluto, spins a frozen giant three-times the size of planet Earth. This super-Earth or mini-Neptune is a frozen giant, drifting so far away from our sun during its orbit that until now, we had no idea it was a neighbor.

With a revolution around the sun taking an estimated 20,000 earth years, this cattywampus trajectory is not only responsible for it’s until now secret existence, but that it’s surface is nearly entirely frozen through. Though it’s gotten plenty of names from admirers, “George’s” appearance has caused quite an upset in the science community.

There is still so much we don’t understand about the space around our world. Endless in all directions, to start calculating the infinity of space is to spend your life hunched over figures and equations. Predicted to travel along an egg-shaped orbit around our sun, scientists are trying their best to study “George” before it slips past us and won’t be back to visit for another few thousand years.

Signs of this giant have been around for years. Pluto was first discovered when astronomers noticed strange gravitational anomalies past Neptune. Initially confused how such a small planet could be creating such a distortion, scientists were puzzled yet pleased that pluto, the then latest addition to our roster of celestial bodies, was found at all. This latest planet has finally put those mysterious questions to bed while simultaneously opening the floodgates to new and wonderful mysteries to explore.

Uber and Business

Once thought of as a passing fad, Uber has grown roots and taken hold. Now a full-blown means of mass transit,  Uber has given the centuries-old Yellow Taxi a run for its money. In just a few short years, Uber now accounts for 41% of the total ground transportation all over the world. With more affordable prices, the ability to make your own hours, and no overhead, Uber is recruiting drivers faster than they are getting people to their destination. But what new service is Uber offering its business clients?

regarding UBER


Analysts attribute the rise of ride-hailing services to several factors. Chief among them, Uber is usually cheaper. Prices, however, aren’t the only contributing factors to Uber’s rise. On average, Uber riders are ranked very highly on online forums, where Taxi drivers languish near the bottom. This is not to say that Taxi drivers are notoriously mean, but the experience of hailing a ride from Uber’s free app cuts so much hassle out of a trip that they naturally appeal to the consumer.

Uber has become the go-to for business professional looking for a ride. The business of renting cars and waiting for Taxis is a dying, and quickly. Uber, along with their drivers are too free to handle their business. Uber represents the millennial-side of business, the freedom afforded by modern technology and the willingness to be your own boss. How could any Taxi service compete?

Holiday Travel Tips



The holidays are upon us, and the flurry of flights and family trips means that airports and roads are clogged with traffic. Oftentimes, airlines will increase the price of their most desirable tickets, ensuring that you pay the price when visiting your family. But what are some ways to beat the holiday price hike? How can you turn holiday stress into a way to save some spare cash? Below are some quick tips to ensure that your money goes to your family and not the travel agent this season.

Flexibility: During the holiday seasons, it’s important to avoid traveling before or immediately after the holiday in question. Ticket costs spike on these days because airlines know how eager families are to see each other, and then to escape when the initial charm has worn off. Be flexible when setting your holiday travel schedule. This means that spending the holidays with your family either a little before or after the actual date can save big dollars.

Bundle Up: Though it might be cold where you’re traveling, I do not mean to layer up. The more you can group together when organizing your vacation, the better. A flight bundled with a rental car and hotel can save you hundreds if done correctly. Don’t be afraid to invest a little time in your price hunting. Your bank account will appreciate the extra effort.

Air Miles: Did you know that thousands of airline miles go unused every year? Don’t be afraid to break open your cache of free flights and use them during the holidays. Some credit card customers don’t know that with each swipe, they’re accumulating miles that could save them even more. Failing to take advantage of such an excellent program will only cost you money and frustration.

Following these tips will guarantee a happy holiday if travel is in your midst. For more information on useful holiday travel tips, click here.

Top Hidden Hotspots in NYC

New York is home to hundreds of fantastic bars and restaurants. You could spend a lifetime scouring the city for the best places to eat and drink and still never stop adding names to your list. Though not a wasted life, I may be able to shorten your time spent pounding the pavement with my list of favorite places to visit when I’m in the Big Apple.

Cleverly disguised as a retro barber shop, The Blind Barber is charming as it is subtle. The shop window reveals two small barber chairs complete with trimming tools and all the necessities for a fresh cut. A passerby looking through the window would see little more than a relic of a bygone age, and not the bar hidden just beyond the door at the back of the shop. The name, Blind Barber, harkens back to the days of prohibition when speakeasies were often given the name “Blind” to motivate policemen to turn a blind eye to the goings on. To whet your thirst, The Blind Barber offers a bevy of classic drink selections from beer to cocktails.

When walking the city streets, it’s easy to grow accustomed to closed store fronts with their metallic shutters. It’s precisely this assumption that allows uninitiated passerby of Nubulu to keep walking. Shuttered and spraypainted, there could hardly be said to be a better camouflage in the city than this. Opened a space to practice music, the owner acquired the liquor license to legally offer alcohol to bandmates during practices. Carrying the musical spirit forward, patrons can expect live music from any number of genres when spending the night at Nubulu.

If you’re looking to satisfy your appetite as well as your thirst, then the hidden Glasserie in Greenpoint, Brooklyn will be perfect for you. Marked solely with a neon-green “G” and nothing more, this once bustling glass factory has been repurposed, but not entirely remodeled. Large portions of its over hundred-year-old architecture remain. illustrating its rich history dating back to 1870. Through the massive kiln doors that once held a belly full of fire, you can fill yours on rich Mediterranean cuisine freshly prepared with all the spice and flavor of owner Sarah Conklin’s heritage.

New York City

NYC Bars

Though only a piece of what New York has to offer, these locations are delightfully hidden and well worth the pursuit. So the next time you find yourself in New York City with an appetite for good food and adventure, look no further than this list for a rollicking good time. For more of The Big Apple’s hidden goodies, click here.




And check out “Andy’s Awesome Adventures” video:

Travel Without Fear

In light of the recent and horrible events of Friday the 13th, many are reconsidering traveling outside the borders of their native lands. In a world where borders are becoming more like dividing lines than simple demarcation on a map, do we choose to venture beyond or stay within the relative safety of the familiar? Below are some ways to combat the ever-growing sense of unease that comes with travel, and remember that the world was meant to be seen, not feared.

Be Aware: You’d be surprised how many people arrive at unfavorable conclusions because they didn’t take the time to familiarize themselves with where they were going. It’s not enough to purchase a ticket and pack a bag. A smart traveler does research on where they are visiting if there are any dangerous elements, and how to avoid them. This goes for anywhere you can visit, from Colorado to Columbia, so keep a level head.

Be Understanding: Though it’s pertinent to be aware in this day and age, the same can be said for being understanding. Assuming that everyone around you is a potential threat will only ruin your vacation and weigh heavily on your mind when you should be relaxing. Keep this in mind while traveling. You may not have control over what goes on around you, but you can certainly manage your reactions.



Be Realistic: While the attacks in Paris were utterly deplorable, it’s important to be realistic when traveling. Statistics show that, at least in the United States, you are more prone to catch a stray bullet from an act of gun violence than be involved in an act of terrorism. Now, I’ve listed this as the third thing to remember because the above two are vastly more important. Statistics cannot replace alertness and will not substitute understanding, but they can offer some sense of truth in a time of concern.

Regardless of where you choose to journey, be safe. The world has been many things over the years, but one thing that never faltered is it’s beauty, and we owe it to ourselves to see as much of our home as we can.