Thursday, December 31, 2009

Grays on Trays or Old People Snowboarding

You could hear the snickering, sense the loss of independence and see the eyes rolling in all the kids when I announce “I’m going to learn how to snowboard while we’re in Europe!” Ann’s immediate reaction is a quick check of the life insurance policy and the healthcare power of attorney. Talk about a real vote of confidence for the hubby. Hey at least my midlife crisis doesn’t involve a convertible sports car, fantasy baseball camp in Florida or a blonde bimbo named Bunny, so I got that going for me.

The first trip into the “board shop” is like a walk into a mix of psychedelic Jimmy Hendrix meets SpongeBob Square Pants. The music is loud the clothes are louder and the “sales clerks say “Dude” and “like” so much I have trouble piecing together a sentence. The ages of the 2 sales clerks added together don’t equal mine. Naturally, the first question from the “board dude” is “Like, do you free ride or freestyle?” Sensing a moment to blend in with the herd I say “Like, maybe both!” He says “Well then you’ll need a board with some sick flex and a tight camber.” One look at Eamon and I know he’s thinking “Please don’t say anything stupid.” I am reminded at that moment of Mark Twain’s quotation “At 14 I couldn’t believe how dumb my dad was and at 21 I couldn’t believe how much he learned in 7 years.” The questions continued to be confusing “How many centimeters do you want for your board, shoe size 41 or 43 cm?” and my favorite “Are you regular or goofy?” I always sucked at the metric system; darn it I should have paid more attention to my 5th grade teacher Miss Yezzi. And as far as the last question, definitely “goofy” ask anyone who knows me.

I leave the snowboard shop called “Backdoor”, honest you can’t make this stuff up, with a 159cm board, rental boots and a “let’s make it happen attitude.” The gondola ride is beautiful and I am observing Eamon and Seamus as they make adjustments to their rental equipment and test boards and talk about stuff that is as foreign to me as the German the guys working the Gondola speak. What in the world is “switch riding?”As the gondola ride surpasses its 25th minute straight up the mountain I am thinking, “Maurice, you need your head examined.” Here’s to hoping it is still attached by the time I get to the bottom of the hill.

After the gondola ride there is a short walk to the next lift called, Oberjoch, which takes you to the peak. Now the fun begins. Up til now you walked in your snowboard boots. The first heartbeat raising challenge is to “strap in.” You can hear the commitment you’re making with each spine tingling sound of the ratcheting of the plastic strap as it tightens on your toe and around your ankles. One boot secured and now the fun begins as you inch your way to the lift on your flat epoxy clad wooden board with “sick” graphics. My board brand and model is called the Solomon “Answer” and I chuckle at the irony as Solomon was the wise man from the Bible and honestly I feel like the dope from Edgmont.

Getting “on” the lift is much easier than getting “off” the lift. I’ve been snow boarding a few times but not in Switzerland and certainly not above the tree lines. I know what I need to do and as we raise the bar, heart pounding and sweat dripping, I take comfort in knowing that the 3 person pile up that is sure to happen at the bottom of the lift will be all Glavin’s. Seamus and Eamon made the courageous decision of taking the first ride with their midlife crisis dad and some folks, especially my kids, just like to be close to the accident so they can see all the blood and guts. It won’t be “Call of Duty 4” blood and guts but it could be close. I think I see a bit of joy in their faces at dad’s unsure demeanor and less than perfect balance. What’s the saying “Payback’s are a B----!”

The moment of truth is upon me, as I “strap in” the left foot making a total commitment to myself and the mountain. Hoisting myself up proves more than difficult probably the result of too may pastries in Vienna. I get my first lesson in snowboarding as Seamus demonstrates the “roll and pop up.” Was that my shoulder cracking? And did he say “Just pop up?” The last time I just “popped up” there was an insect with 8 legs and a bed sheets involved. Did I know that “roll and pop up” was going to be the order of the day? Pearse is strapped in next to me and he seems much more confident and I quip to myself “He doesn’t have as far to fall.” He’s already had a lesson and he looks the part of the “little dude” and is already a fan favorite with folks all over the mountain.

“The first 20-50 feet are always the hardest,” that’s what I keep saying to myself. I am not sure what to take from all the people clearing away from me as quickly as they can other than they sense that the Red Coated freight train obviously has breaking problems. The look of terror on my face and the flailing arms might be another sure sign that anything in a 50 ft x 30 path is in serious jeopardy of becoming a Volvo Crash Dummy! As I make it to the first plateau I am relieved and grateful that all appendages are still attached and I’m not too concerned that snow grooming machine was following me rectifying most of my divots and replacing the snow that is now located in every hole in my jacket, pants, helmet, and body orifice created by God! Only 3 more plateaus to go and one is after the change from beginner trail to a “medium trail” and I wonder "Why is the 'medium' trail marked in the color red?”

Team Glavin streaks off down the mountain, the “dad entertainment factor” has officially worn off. I continue to assault the hill and my body but take comfort in knowing “roll and pop” is much easier after 30 times or so. I approach the steep incline, littered with bodies making it a human obstacle course. As I begin the descent I am pretty sure that the path is cleared not out of respect for the “Red Bullet” but more a survival tactic for kid, boy and woman alike. I am an indiscriminate collider. The hill is icy; it is mogul filled and changes direction 2x. It is a cruel trick to play on a guy making his first run down the mountain.

Fear is a funny thing; it can be motivating and paralyzing but I’ve never had both happen at the EXACT same time. Gravity took care of my issue, as a slight lean and 205lbs sent me hurtling down the icy sheet they call a trail. Since I don’t know how to stop without an all out body assault, I point the board down the hill and hope for the best. I don’t remember the first thump but I remember the last one as I clearly heard my mind and mouth say “Glad I wore a helmet.” The thud was loud and the screams from the chair lift above me were less than complimentary, “Dude, Bodmi is at the bottom of the mountain.” Bodmi is where they teach the 2-6 year old beginners. I look up at the moving graffiti on the chairlift and shoot them the international sign for “screw you,” too bad I’m wearing mittens, it’s like, a lot less effective.

Who says prayers don’t work, I make it to the bottom of the hill, legs burning, shoulders blistered from the “roll and pop” but essentially in one piece. I make my way to the lodge, board tucked under my arm getting a few nods and a few “What’s up dude?” and “Way to go.” So far so good and no one has called me the dreaded “poser”, the ultimate insult. I am not sure but I think folks are looking at me and giving me the “thumbs up.” Maybe just maybe they respect the effort. I get a spring in my walk and hobble up the steps to meet the family. They are having French fries and a coke for the bargain price of 22 francs. That’s 1 coke and 1 portion of french fries. As I turn the corner, feeling victorious, Pearse yells “Hey dad you okay, your nose is bleeding!” Now I know why I was getting the” thumbs up.” Nothing says commitment more than the red stuff. I look at Eamon and Seamus “Hey dudes, like, can you hand me a napkin!”

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas in Switzerland 2009

An old Glavin tradition was revisited on Christmas Eve. Clearly the Christmas spirit was lacking for Team Glavin and something needed to be done. We walked through town, looking right and looking left with the hope that there would be a tree somewhere. Unlike the United States there isn’t a parking lot full of Christmas trees on every corner, no fire departments, boy scouts or schools looking to draw in that last customer on Christmas Eve. There are 3 trees in front of the supermarket and you first thought is “surely there are more pine trees than this in Switzerland.” A quick glance to the Alps behind us and one’s confusion is well placed, evergreens everywhere. Where’s a timber saw when you need it? Didn’t I see a few candidates on the cold, hilly, walk home last night? We’re on a mission, we need to pick one. This isn’t the Bazaar in Istanbul, no hard bargaining like in my youth when I watched my dad, on Passyunk Avenue, say “Mister, you can sell it to me for $10 or burn it tomorrow with the rest of the one’s that didn’t sell.” We pull the “bar code” off the Christmas Tree and head into the clerk and they “ring it up” like you just bought block of cheese.

Ann, Pearse and Seamus stand at the bus stop, tree in hand laughing at the picture unfolding in front of us. Here we are, tree in hand, no car to speak of and skiers waiting to get on the bus. More than a few folks look and wonder “Are they actually getting on the “free” ski bus with a Christmas tree?" Aunt Mary would be mortified but I suspect that the pop-pop’s would be proud. Seamus is grinning, a bit unsure but knows this will help with his early morning concern, “Dad it doesn’t really feel like Christmas.” The tree is not exactly White House material, actually it isn’t exactly Charlie Brown material. I’d say that it is a tree that requires some imagination and creativity to pass as a yuletide decoration as it is as skinny as any actress in Hollywood.

Our Christmas Eve, believe it or not, is marked by rising temperatures. Is it possible that Edgmont, PA is having its first White Christmas while we are watching the Alps turn from white to green/brown before our very eyes? Pearse sums it up best “That’s just not fair!” His disappointment is short lived as the smell of the 3 kilo turkey roasting with mom’s stuffing is wafting through the house. The tree is trimmed, the kids are showered, the food is on the table; the Christmas spirit has been resuscitated.

As we make the walk from the house to the Church everyone is giddy. It feels like an old Christmas movie as we walk down the mountain, past the train platforms, through the quaint little town giving a wave of the hand here and a nod to a passerby there. Merry Christmas, in English, translates to almost all we pass. It is 10:45 PM and the windows to the stores are subdued with ambient light and signs that say “closed” yet they still seem festive as they are still cloaked in Christmas cheer. The road to the Church is tucked between the Coop, the store where acquired our “pine scrub” called a tree and the clothing store, Mont-Bell, that requires a credit score of 750 to shop there. Naturally it is “uphill” to the Church. The big melt that is taking place minute by minute makes the former “icy walk” to Church less challenging than last Saturday. There’s no click, click, scratch, tap of the special ice shoes that are worn by the older women making their way to Church.

The 3 boys are slightly ahead of Ann and me. As we open the door to the vestibule the entry door to the Church has been “down sized” to mimic the actual size of the door to the “Inn” at Bethlehem. Eamon looks at me, a smile creases his face, and he says “Dad we’ve walked thru the ‘real door’ in Bethlehem, remember?” I think to myself, “This is a moment I won’t forget” as my eyes water with a sense of appreciation for the opportunity to share in such a moment with my oldest son.

The small Church is crowded and Team Glavin needs to split up. Eamon and I head to the balcony. Projected on the wall behind the Altar is a picture of the actual door in Bethlehem and a wonderful focus point for this Christmas Eve Mass filled with music, unique decorations and the celebration of the Mass in German. Good thing I loaded the readings onto my Blackberry so Eamon and I could read them and get a feel for the liturgy. I am pretty sure that the folks behind us thought we were reading e-mails during Mass. We probably made the conversation in their house and they will have a Christmas story forever filed under “Ugly Americans do Christmas Eve Mass in Grindelwald.”

The Mass was beautiful, I think, and from the balcony I could see Pearse’s head bob up and down a few times. It surely wasn’t the toe tapping melody of the German Christmas hymns. I suspect it had more to do with the late hour and the tired little body from 3 hours of sledging earlier in the day. His Christmas Eve is over as the hour struck 12:00AM. His first Christmas wish, as we exit the Church “Dad can we take a taxi, back up the hill?” Funny but I am pretty sure his mother’s first Christmas wish was the exact same request. As we come down the hill from Church we make the right onto the main drag and peer intently thru the fog, looking towards the train station. “Is that a yellow bubble on top of that van?” “Does it say taxi?” “Could the first Christmas prayer be answered so quickly?” The 5 of us climb into the taxi grateful for the leg sparing walk up the mountain.

Pearse climbs into bed beckoning Seamus to make the commitment to sleep too. Pearse is excited hoping that Santa can find him in Switzerland. He is at the age where he wonders but doesn’t want to make a “verbal commitment” one way or the other about the man in the red suit and white beard. His intellect tells him one thing but his little heart tells him something different. And so goes the age old question “Does he or doesn’t he?” As the last bit of light squeezes from his room Pearse yells out “Good night dad and don’t forget the milk and cookies for Santa!” What can a Dad say to that?

6:45 AM arrives early and Pearse declares “I got my snowboard and bindings!” The rest of the morning is a blur as Eamon, Seamus and Pearse open gifts and i-Touches, black berries and computer games begin to come to life from their hermetically sealed packages. There are smiles everywhere and loud laughter as Seamus opens his “chocolate” Swiss Army knife. He was hoping for a “Huntsmen” Swiss Army knife, the one with the corkscrew. I asked “Why do you want a knife with a corkscrew?” and Seamus replied matter of fact “Dad, you never know when a party might break out and we’ll need a corkscrew!” How do you argue with that logic?

The 2 peaks of the snow covered Swiss Alps, visible from the living room windows, are the backdrop to the wonderful Christmas scene unfolding in front of us. If you look at the peaks just right they look like a craggy, capital “M” as if they approve of our Merry Christmas in Switzerland.

Team Glavin says “Merry Christmas to everyone," and "Yes Pearse there is a Santa Claus!”

Snow is falling in Grindelwald!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Hi-Ho Hi-Ho It’s Off to Grindelwald We Go

As we get ready to depart, the darkness of the early morning still envelops the city of Lisbon, the Christmas lights can’t even cast their candle power onto the few passersby. The café’s are closed up tight and the tables and chairs chained together lest some city urchin make off with them under cover of darkness. The dorm room like fridge is close to empty as we pour the final litre of milk onto the last bowls of Chocolate Krispies and into the last steaming cup of hot tea. All of the 5 AM action this morning reminds us why we love to be in an apartment. The last few electronics are unplugged and begin today’s long journey on battery support. We tuck the last i-pod, phone charger and extension cords into any space that will have them in the rolling suitcases and we are ready to make the descent, 3 flights of stairs, no elevator. By the time I get to duffel bag #7 having made 4 trips already I am thinking more about Dante’s levels of hell than what a joy it is to traipse across Europe during the 2009 Christmas season.. Good thing we are headed to Switzerland today as I’ll need the cool weather and the snow of Grindelwald to refresh Team Glavin.

Off to one of the many squares around our apt in search of a TAXI. We’ll need 2 cars to get us to the airport, a trip we usually make via Metro but here in Lisbon the Metro doesn’t start early enough for our trip and another SMALL draw back is that it doesn’t actually go to the airport. One benefit to the early morning start is that the taxi can make its way to the front door of the apartment as this is usually a “pedestrian only zone.” Ann meets with the real estate agent as he “walks the apartment” checking for damage and we hold our breath hoping that the security deposit will be returned “in full.” We always worry that the errant scratch on the wall or the broken pane of glass “pre Team Glavin” will result in a 500 Euro charge. We get the “all clear” and it’s off to the airport for our 19th flight and baggage check in.

I don’t know why but when you know you are headed to the airport to check in with an airline called Easy Jet you feel “uneasy”. Perhaps it is the constant warnings about the # of bags “permissible” or the “ungod-like” charges for “extra weighted bags.” The warnings are so common that Pearse even asks “Do they charge you for oxygen?” As I hoist the bags, one after another, the folks around us glance at us and chortle “Are they really checking 7 bags?” Little do they know these bags have seen some miles, ridden more airport conveyors and logged plenty of track time. There is the pregnant pause waiting for the Easy Jet check in agent to speak; will it be “We need a credit card” or is it to be “Will that be all for today?” The guy beside us has 2 suitcases open in full view of the airport trying to make the weight balance; he’s over the limit and looking at a 50 Euro charge. His wife is not happy that her underwear is on display for Lisbon’s entire airport to see. The kids chuckle as she smacks him and says “it’s not too much!” The gate agent looks at us and says “Gate 9 you board at 7:50!” We feel relieved and the ebullient boys lead the way to the gate and past the flight board marked GENEVA. They know we are one step closer to the ski slopes of Switzerland.

Easy Jet is to flying what generic mayonnaise is to a ham and cheese sandwich. It gets the job done but you’re not exactly “livin large” you know what I’m saying? I managed a seat next to the understudy of the large boy from Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. He ate for 2.5 hours and spent most of his time yelling at his mom across the aisle about how hard it is to be him. He felt pretty confident that he bought ½ of my seat too as he spent the better part of the flight up and down and in and out of both seats. I asked if he could read English and he said “yes”. I only asked because he spent the rest of the flight reading my computer screen as I typed.

As the Easy Jet lands Ann prepares to make the mad dash to the train station. We have 40 minutes to buy train tickets to Bern Switzerland and we want to get the tickets booked for the remaining 2 trains. It is rare that Team Glavin is “off the plane” first but we manage to disembark to the cool blast of Geneva air and to our delight the discount airline isn’t on the other side of the planet from baggage claim. Eamon and Seamus camp at the bottom of the luggage conveyor, staking out valuable real estate after confirming that the bags go “counterclockwise” in Geneva airport, another lesson learned. 7 bags accounted for and off we go in search of the train platform and mom. It is awesome that the station is right at the airport. The difference between catching the 12:36 vs the 14:00 is the difference between arrival in Grindelwald at 16:40 and 21:30. 5 hours doesn’t sound like much but with 3 kids on the go since 5:00AM the difference is a finish that is more like “Thanks for the help” than “Because I said so.”

The first class accommodations of SBB Switzerland Rail are a perfect start to the 3 train day. It is a Double Decker train with world class views of Lake Geneva and the farmlands of Switzerland. The first stop, Bern train station, is a mere 2 hours away but we won’t see much of the station, we hope. Everything breaks just right and we sprint though the station from platform 7 down the stairs and over to platform 3 and up the stairs. Did I mention we have 7 bags and 8 minutes to make the train? We are tested but ours is an experienced team and they jump the train like kids used to “riding the rails”. We pull out of Bern headed to Interlocken and are treated to panoramic views of the lakes with the snow trail covered Alps erupting behind them. Seamus says it best “Eamon, could you just rip down that travel poster covering the window?”

Click clack click clack though the towns and the mountains we go. The sky is threatening snow and the kids are giddy with anticipation. It brings new meaning to the song “Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!” As if on cue the clouds oblige and it begins to snow, coating the grass and the trees in the valley between the lake and the mountain. The small train from Interlocken to Grindelwald looks like something out of a 50’s Christmas movie. As it pulls away from the station we pat ourselves on the back knowing that in 55 minutes we’ll be at the destination that we actually picked in February 2009 in response to the question, “Where do you want to spend Christmas while in Europe?” As the train ascends the mountain, doing a real rendition of the “little engine that could” and the green valley landscape changes to a blanket of white snow, we look at each other and marvel at our good fortune.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

“And the Word Became Flesh” December 8 and 5 Glavin’s at Fatima

The bus rolled away from the curb in Lisbon headed to Fatima. We wondered to ourselves “Do you think we made the right decision going it alone?” Many Pilgrims make the trip to Fatima as part of a tour group but Ann and I decided to experience the day with no schedule and an open mind.

The kids tried to get comfortable on the hour and half bus ride, hoping to recapture the precious few minutes of sleep that were stolen by the predawn call of the drill instructor aka Dad. We need to do 2 Metro’s to get to the bus stop by 8. No problem from a logistics standpoint, we’re seasoned PT users, just a bit challenging considering its 3 kids and as far as they are concerned we aren’t headed for a fiesta. Pearse summed up the youthful sentiment for his brother’s “a full day of religious stuff.” How can we be so mean to these lads we call sons?

The bus eeks to its first stop 80 minutes later. It is a bit unsettling as it’s not a terminal, nor one of those plastic and steel shelters to protect you from the elements. There isn’t even a sign that says “bus stop.” I suppose the bus driver saw my quizzical look or perhaps heard my clear direction to the kids “don’t move until we know this is really Fatima.” He shouts back to Ann and me “FATIMA,you GO!” and points to the road. I wonder as we disembark “why do humans insist on yelling louder and slower in a different a language when they think you don’t understand them?”

Anyway, we get off the bus, take a mental picture of the stores and any landmarks to make sure that we return to this exact “unmarked bus stop” and look for a sign. No, not a sign from God, but one that points to Fatima or the Basilica. We amble up hill and after a few blocks the path becomes clearer and the retail shops with everything from rosary beads to glow in the dark Blessed Mother statues lined the streets. The crowds were hustling along, coming in from all side streets like tributaries. Team Glavin gets in line like it’s the June Alaskan salmon run and we don’t want to miss our chance.

I’d like to think that I am well schooled in the traditions of the Catholic Faith but today there are so many things going on it is hard to know where to begin. So naturally Pearse and I head to the water close (bathroom) and Ann heads for the kiosk that says “info.” She returns with a map of the facilities and 3 candles. The tradition is to pray and toss the candles into the huge pyre. As we make our way down the path, the boys are drawn to the flame like moths to light. There’s something about fire and boys and I say to myself “a good start to the day in Fatima.” I feel confident that all 3 boys will remember the moment they tossed in a candle for the Deely’s, the Glavin’s and the “family and friends.” It is a visceral feeling as the candles melt quickly from the heat and you are moved both spiritually and physically as 100’s of people are making there way to the pyre. It is indeed a special day for many including us!!

Today is the Holy Day of Obligation, the Immaculate Conception. We chose to come to Fatima on this day hoping to bask in the glow of the appearance of Mary to the children of Fatima. We stand at this most reverent of sites where the apparition appeared to the 3 simple shepherd children of Fatima. The public address system is booming with the praying of the rosary in Portuguese but you know the prayer by heart so the language doesn’t matter. The people are streaming in from the parking lots by the busloads and the Chapel of the Apparition is filled with religious awaiting the start of the procession for 11:00 Mass. There is plenty of time til Mass so we avail ourselves of the wonder of this site visited by 4 Pope’s and millions of pilgrims. The 3 boys see things unique to this amazing place including woman crawling the entire length of the marble path in the esplanade, some 2 football fields long. They pray the rosary privately, inching their way to the statue of the Lady of Fatima. Their faith is so clearly on display, their eyes streaming tears and the boys looking and wondering “How can one be so moved in prayer?” As I watch them young and old, slightly infirmed and apparently healthy, crawling inches at a time I find myself tearing and praying that their prayers are answered. It is not lost on the boys that I am emotional.

The Basilica is lovely. Inside there are lines of pilgrims looking to see the grave sites of Francisco, Jacinta and Lucia, the shepherd children. The building is beautiful with wonderful paintings and stain glass unique to this Holy Site. The “papal” plaques, commemorating the visits of the Pope, are all over reminding us of the significance of Fatima. There’s only 20 minutes until Mass and we make our way to the large space in front of the amazing outside altar. As the music begins the energy in the crowd, which has grown to 1000’s in the last hour sings, in Portuguese, a combination of May Procession hymns of yesteryear and Christmas songs reminding us of Advent. We happen to get a spot close to the barrier and we can see the Statue of Mary lifted to begin the journey from the Apparition Chapel to the Altar for the celebration of this Dec 8th Mass. It is 60 yards or so to the Altar and the pace is deliberate and careful. Pearse worms his way thru a couple of senior citizens who look at him excited that he is happy to be here. The older couple looks at Ann and me and gives us a gentle head nod, seeing the other 2 boys, and the nod says “good for you to have them here.”

As the Statue passes us by, four men holding the flowered platform tightly, there is amazing feeling of calm and a warm satisfied, sensation pulsing through your heart. It is a feeling of comfort that is ever-present when you are near your Mother.

For video of Lisbon wit Fatima footage visit the youtube video:

Monday, December 7, 2009

We Did that all in One MOnth?

One of the months on our journey my family pretty much just relaxed in Spain. Our family’s first trip outside of Valencia was when we went to Madrid. We went to Madrid, not only to pick up Sam and Mom-mom, but also to see one of the most famous cities in the world. In Madrid my family saw the “bear and the strawberry tree”, which is a very famous Sculpture in Puerta Del Sol square. My family met with a Priest that we know very well from Delaware. We had dinner with him and he was jokingly, “recruiting us” because he is Vocations Director in Wilmington.

One day we took a day off from seeing Madrid to go to Toledo. While we were there my family saw the biggest Cathedral I have ever seen. It was B-E-A-U-T-I-F-U-L; it was almost as big as the Blue Mosque in Istanbul Turkey, it might be even bigger! We spent three hours on a bus tour and inside the Cathedral. Last but not least we spent an hour eating food. My family wanted to catch the 5:15 P.M. train back to Madrid. There was a mad dash to catch it. A day trip taken, it was back to the Madrid airport to greet our cousin Sam and Grandmother at the gate. Sam and Mom-mom arrived in the Madrid airport, for 10 days of fun. In the week that we enjoyed Sam and Mom-mom’s presence, everyone went to the Cathedral and the beach. While we were at the beach Sam, Pearse, and I tried to build a sand pyramid, but it wasn’t finished because we had to leave and go back home. I think what Sam enjoyed the most was the skate park, which was right outside our apartment. My family’s apartment is on the 29th floor and has the best view of Valencia. We could follow Pearse and Sam from above while they made their way to the park. I am sure that what Mom-mom enjoyed the most was having her brother, and sister in law Andrew and Doreen. They came for around 3 days; originally the plan was to meet at a town named Alicante, but Andrew and Doreen had not seen Valencia yet, my parents decided it would be better to have them come here. Uncle Andrew, Aunt Doreen, Sam, Mom-mom, and my family went to the biggest aquarium in Europe (at least that’s what they said it was).

That was only two of the five weeks. We stayed in Valencia for 10 days with Sam then went back to the Madrid airport for his departure. After Sam and Mom-mom went though security, it was back to the five of us, the traveling gypsies also had a train to catch that day. The first night we really didn’t explore Barcelona all that we did was, just went to a small shop and got two pies of plain pizza ate them then went to bed. The first day was a late start, but we did get to explore a little bit. My family chose to do a city bus tour it finished around 5 o’clock. We went to the Hard Rock Café Barcelona for dinner. Then it was back to the hotel to get some MORE slept. Day two was a little more interesting I felt sick all day long; we did a different route on bus tour. I laid down in our hotel room at 8 o’ clock and went to sleep, this is very strange for me because I usually go to bed around at 11:00 P.M. Day three in Barcelona was “touring day”, that’s what I like to call it. “Touring day” is the day that a museum, church, cathedral, basilica, palace, and or castle, and is unavoidable. We go to the biggest tourist attractions in that city or town and take photos, or maybe even “learn” about something. While my family was on the Metro, a random fat guy with scars kept asking my dad “is this your stop?” He replied with a simple “no” then when the doors opened, it all started… it was a mad dash to get off the subway. During the middle of the craziness someone stole my dads wallet…yes you guessed it the fat guy with scars and his partner who was behind my dad. We cancelled the credit cards in front of the Sagrada Familia Church. All that the pickpockets really got was some worthless plastic, and leather to hold the worthless plastic. We went back to Valencia for the last time, only to end up even more frustrated. We have to pack our winter clothes that haven’t even arrived yet. You need your winter clothes to pack them, don’t you? All is well and now we go to Portugal for a week.

Spain, in a Couple Paragraphs

Valencia: On November the 2nd, we journeyed out of our familiar apartment in Vienna and took a plane to Valencia. As soon as we stepped off the plane we saw orange and palm trees. From all those years of watching TV I have realized the palm trees means water and oasis. We soon arrived to our location. Seamus, Pearse, and I looked up to a 33-story building. With our mouths catching flies we walked into one of the tallest structures in Valencia. As we waited the 41 second ride up to the 29th floor we had to pop our ears a couple of times. As we walked into the apartment we were immediately drawn to the patio. The site was mesmerizing. We have a view of the Science Centre, the park (which was where the river once was), and 180° of Valencia. 3 of the 4 bedrooms had “observation points” (a tiny patio that one person could fit on) which added to the excitement.
Along the 19-bus line, there is a cathedral, which we venture to for church, the Bull Fighting Ring, and the large train station. Once my mom and dad went to get dessert and found a medieval/renaissance fair being held at the bullring. Another time it was used for a concert. That’s is after we found out the bull fighting season was OVER!

Madrid: After a few days of bus tours, LATE night dinners, and meeting up with Father Cocucci, we come to the day everyone was expecting. The day Mom-mom arrived. Now there was going to be surprise of Sam coming with Mom-mom. However Denis Kennedy let it spill to me and me only a couple days before arrival. Nonetheless I was still overjoyed with Sam’s celebrity arrival. I had fully charged the video camera and was ready at any moment to start filming the grand entrance. We got back on a plane to Valencia. While Seamus and Pearse caught up with Sam, Mom-mom and Dad talked while the human compass/map got our bags checked and got us to the right gate.

Valencia with Sam: While we were in Valencia with Sam we went and did MANY things. Pearse made sure Sam got plenty of time at the skate park. Aunt Doreen and Uncle Andrew came up to visit (Mom-mom is the older sister of Uncle Andrew). We all went to see the Valencia Cathedral and the Basilica, St. Vincent's arm, Museum Fueo, the Oceanographico (Aquarium), the Renaissance Fair, Rodin, the Science Museum, MANY souvenir shops, and the BEACH. Everyone got a kick out of the Aquarium’s Dolphin show. Flipper’s friends were flipping, hoisting their trainers, dancing, and hula hooping. Uncle Andrew made the sacrifice to get a large beer because you get a free straw hat for every one. After a few days, Sam decided to start shopping for family. We got hats, scarves, key chains, fans, and miniature Salsa Dancers.
After many days of fun it was time for them to go home, so we all sucked it up to get up early and transport Mom-mom and Sam to the Madrid airport. We all said by 100 times, hugged goodbye 100 times, and took goodbye pictures 10 times. Finally Mom-mom said the words, “Don’t you have a train to catch?” And they left, after 10 short days they were gone. 

Barcelona: A high speed train into the city, a church, over crowded Metros, bus tour, hotel, Gaudi church, a stolen wallet and a chase perusing, a mega soccer store, and a high speed train ride back to Valencia for the last week in Spain. Is it possible I just summed up Barcelona in one sentence? I think it is! The main story was a robber pick pocketed an old wallet filled with worthless plastic. We took 10 minutes to cancel cards that could have cost us months to stop. However we loved Barcelona notheless. 

SummaryWe, the family, have decided we are going to miss Spain, because of the warm weather, our "fancy livin’" apartment with the great view, and Disney in English. Oh and Mister Thompson (next door neighbor), please reset your internet that we have been using, it has become slow.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

3 Boys and a Dad meet Fagin’s Understudy in Barcelona

The day started like many others for Team Glavin in Europe. The hotels grip was strong and the warm comfort of the bed even more intoxicating. Long gone is the 6 AM wakeup call replaced instead by the alarmless morning punctuated by the late sunlight of the beautiful Fall November day that awaits us in Barcelona. The streets of this Spanish city are narrower than most we’ve encountered, if that is possible, as we make our way to a patisserie looking for croissants and a coffee/tea. We pace by retail shops and apts. mixed together like odd couples.

It is a successful late morning as we find a place that actually makes real bacon and eggs (scrambled for Eamon) and instead of a croissant we opt for the “whole 9 yards” and get to do the breakfast/brunch thing. We lay out the plan for the day to the “sighs and eye rolls” of the kids which is a tell tale sign, to the trained eye, that we are headed to a few Churches and “tourist” attractions. First visit on the list is the Barcelona Cathedral.

Narrow alleys and streets and tall city buildings hide the direct sunlight and facade of the Cathedral but the flow of pedestrian traffic and the multiple languages, including English, is forensic evidence that we are on the right path to the Cathedral. As expected, the Cathedral is picture postcard perfect. Its exterior facade is under construction/renovation like so many religious and government buildings in Europe but its interior is a testament to man’s ingenuity. There are magnificent statues, stunning paintings and Religious relics preserved by kings and queens. The Monstrance is only second in beauty to the 10 ft high one we saw just weeks ago in Toledo’s Cathedral. As you kneel to pray one wonders, quietly, “How many prayers have emanated from within this building over the centuries?” A quick check with the boys on this question and Pearse is probably closest with his estimation “probably a cagillion!”

As the kids slide down the railings outside the Cathedral, to the dismay of some and the delight of others, we begin the search for the Metro. I always notice a difference in demeanor when we leave a Church of such magnitude. It is hard to put into words but for Catholics it’s like the feeling you get when finished Confession, your feel good to your core and you have a jump in your step. I’m not sure that is the same feeling for the kids, just yet, their excitement is more related to the fact that there can’t be that many more Churches left in Barcelona, “Can there?”

The pain is visible when we tell Eamon, Seamus and Pearse that Sagrada Familia the next stop on the agenda is a CHURCH too. It is a Gaudi masterpiece and certainly a “not to be missed” item on anyone’s agenda visiting Barcelona, unless of course you are under the age of 16. Seamus tries to talk us into renting bikes to make the trip to the other side of town but 5 Glavin’s trying to make it around the city on bike’s would be cause for alarm for the pedestrians of Barcelona. No, instead we search for the red “M” and ask a few folks “Donde esta Metro?” A few points of the fingers from Spanish strangers and we’re descending the staircase into the subterranean.

The mood is mixed for Team Glavin, as is often the case with 5, some moodier than others. The platform is crowded and the conversations confusing to the American ear. There is a noticeable change in the air as the subway car approaches, pushing out the old air and replacing it with the man made wind from the front of the streaking Metro car. The Yellow line will take us right to the Gaudi Church and it is clear that many many tourists are using this line. A quick scan of the platform before the doors open and you see backpacks and tourist maps in hand, like cotton balls blooming, from one end to the other. It is as crowded as any platform we’ve been on in Spain.

The ping of the bell and the “dance begins”, the door slides sideways and folks stream out, you peer in quickly trying to define the path as you make the dash with kids in tow to find a place to stand. The car is packed and the best you can hope for is rail to hold or steady feet so you don’t run into too many people. The kids enjoy the mashing of bodies in a weird sort of way and Pearse looks like one of those pink snooker balls on the table bouncing from side to side a mixture of delight and panic on his face.

A short, pock marked faced Spanish guy is chatting me up. A lady says she is from Southern Georgia and asks “Are you on vacation?” She sees the boys and the backpacks and corrects herself. My newest Spanish friend is asking “This you stop?” I shake my head “No”. He persists, “You sure not you stop?” I tell him I am sure a bit miffed that my head shaking “no” didn’t translate to Spanish the first time. The car jolts to a stop and most of the standing passengers lurch backwards from the force. The dash to find seats and readjust as the “ping” signals “door open.” There’s a woman standing outside the subway car “arms flailing and knocking on the window.” I think to myself “Welcome to the city, a nut for every Plantar’s Jar.” She raps the window and points to her purse. Naturally I giver her the international sign for “I don’t understand” a shoulder shrug. She is insistent and pointing at me and then her purse and BANG, it hits me. I scream to team Glavin “Off the car, now” the subway door pings giving all notice that the doors are closing. I squeeze out the door, adrenaline rushing like the feeling you get when the school yard bully tells you “I’ll see you at recess.” The lady points like a statue and says something along the lines “that way.”

“How could I be so stupid?” All the signs were there, crowded platform, tourists everywhere, “yellow line” that takes you to the famous Church and multiple exits and Metro lines? I’m a city guy, kind of. I am jumping the steps 3 at a time, heart racing and mental gymnastics, trying to get street side so I can look at the 3 other exits. I know who I am looking for and am hoping he will pop up thinking the “car is gone, I’m home free” As I look vigilantly, Eamon, surprisingly, comes up behind me. He says “Dad, you okay?” I look at him a little hurt and a lot pissed off and that’s a combination he has never seen in me. I ask him “You know what’s going on?” He looks at me “Yeah dad, you got PICK-POCKETED, he got your wallet, right?” I respond “Yes” a bit surprised at his accurate conclusion. He said “I know what he looks like it was the little fat guy with ragged clothes, right?” I tell him “it’s usually a team” Keep looking at people coming out of the exits. I already know that the thieves are long gone but I still hold out hope that they are “stupid criminals.” Eamon is angry and Ann is corralled with the other 2 boys in the subway station. She doesn’t want to burn 3 more subway fares by leaving the station. You gotta love that about her! Eamon and I descend the stair case from the street, Barcelona Cathedral in the background, dejected and unsuccessful. We will huddle and discuss the “plan.” We make quick calls and type in some quick txt messages to the United States and start the process of acquiring the numbers to have all the credit cards “turned off.” We grab the metro and head to Gaudi’s famous Church. The information is popping on our cell phones and in the shadows of the grand Sagrada Familia Church we make calls to cancel personal and business credit cards and reissue new plastic. The sum total of the damage is NO money in the wallet, no charges to the credit cards before we “shut them down”’ and a lost PA Drivers license and healthcare card. We all look at each other grateful that no one was hurt, no money lost and 3 boys learned a valuable lesson, life has its challenges.

Later in the evening I think to myself, what a bizarre feeling Barcelona Cathedral, a pick-pocket and Sagrada Familia Church, an evil sandwich!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Happy Birthday Aunt Mary

Military Warfare Equipment by Pearse

Yesterday my dad told me, after his run, that there was a bunch of military equipment at a place about a mile and a half away. It was a 300 year celebration of the Spanish Cavalry. My dad said it would be pretty cool if we went and about a hour later we did. The 1st camoflouged tent we went in was the coolest one of all because you got to hold a training gun and a real gun! The teaching gun, made of plastic, was heavy about 5 to 8 pounds but it wasn’t a real gun. It was designed to teach the soldiers how to use the real gun. The difference between the 2 guns was that the real gun had an interchangeable grenade launcher and was made of matte black metal. The other equipment in the exhibition were awesome tanks, armoured assualt vehicles and communication vehicles. I especially enjoyed learning how to use the turret gunin the assault vehicle. I learned how to turn the gun and about the special aiming mechanism that included a mirror and how the ammunition gets loaded. It was a cool experience here in Valencia Spain.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Why Should I Be Thankful.......? Hmmmmmm..........

I am thankful for…….

H omes away from home, Vienna, Valencia, Ortesei……. And not hotels.

A family to travel with.

P op-pop Glavin’s daily comments/emails/feedback.

P earse, and all his randomly funny comments.

Y ou who are reading this!

T he random moments of bliss we experience every other day in the streets.

H appy street performers who do the act for joy and not money.

A nn Glavin, the human compass.

N ever getting kicked out of the hotel.

K ids speaking English that are my age.

S eamus and his unique personality (which usually gets on my nerves).

G lavin family skype session.

I talian pizza, which we will eat a lot of.

V ideo cameras, so that we may show people pictures in motion of our trip.

I nteresting dinner conversations.

N ever having fish.

G etting comments/emails/feedback from people that we meet in Europe.

E xit signs out of a museum.

V endors who try to get you to eat their food.

E xact change, so we can get home a little bit faster!

R eading. NOT!!!!

Y ou don’t think I forgot about the Deelys did you? THEM TOO!!

O wning a business (parents at least).

N ever getting up before 9 unless there is a flight/train.


Where's the Thanksgiving Turkey?!?

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. My family has gone to 12 different countries already and we are only approaching month five (December 5th). We have definitely had our ups (world track championships) and downs (dads wallet gets stolen on subway), but all 5 people are still here. We may have turkey, but most likely chicken will take the turkey’s place this year. My family will be on SKYPE and ICHAT all day so we can talk with people from home. Christmas is around the corner too; my family will be in Grindenwald, Switzerland. It will be a lot of fun; I have never skied on Christmas before, I hope that I can this year, should be interesting to see whether or not we actually do. I am thankful for many things like a healthy family, people who care about me, a whole year in Europe! For meeting new friends and keeping old ones, Mr. Morris my tutor over the sea, and most of all… my parents for taking us on our adventure. Good night BACELONA! Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukah! Have a Krazy Kwanza!


Thanks to Dad, we are in Europe for a year
Happy Thanksgiving
A lot of metros in a lot of cities
Never travel without peanut butter
Knowing how to pack light
Scooters we bought in Vienna
Glavin family
Inviting people to Europe
No school alarm clock
Going to the World Track Championships

Reading Pop Pop’s daily emails
Once in a lifetime chance…
Chocolate Mozart everywhere
Kindles Rule
Skyping with Family & Friends!!

The Glavin’s Have So Much For Which To Be Thankful

T he trip of a lifetime with my family to Europe

H ealthy and happy children as we traipse all over 2 continents.
A nn Deely Glavin’s amazing organizational and map reading skills.

N ight train experience from St. Petersburg to Moscow with a real Russian in our car

K ind and considerate strangers who take pity on weary travelers arriving in a new city.

S imple moments like dinner with a priest, Fr. Cocucci, from home

G od’s many blessings in our lives

I srael pilgrimage in October, a “trip of a lifetime” inside a “trip of a lifetime”

V alencian visitors Sam and Mom-mom from America and mtg. Andrew and Doreen

I talian Alps visit in August to secure the ski house for the winter

N on Alcholic beer in Germany, Poland, Israel, Spain…..It’s almost real, honest

G lavin’s and Deely’s who stay in contact on SKYPE

D enis Kennedy for his willingness to lead Total Scope, Inc while we travel Europe.

A ustria, the first home away from home

Y ears of memories and stories with the 3 boys

2 hotel rooms in most of the cities visited, “Is Pearse with us or his brothers?”

0 regrets on embarking on this amazingfamily adventure

0 Hard Rock Café’s missed

9 million “yes” responses to the question “You know how lucky you are?”

Monday, November 23, 2009

“I’m Leaving on Jet Plane” and “Burnin Down the House”

Well “Glavin Party of 7” moved into their Madrid Hotel rooms Saturday night just in front of the Maria Lopez Wedding. The Bride looked beautiful and the groom had already begun taking orders as he responded to “Honey could you move out of the way they are trying to get by!” The last hours in Madrid included a walk into the Plaza where street performers worked the crowds for cash and coins and Sam’s hurried walk reminded me of the early days of our trip into Vienna. I assured him that the sights and sounds of the city would wait for him to arrive but his nervous and yet exploratory energy is what makes sharing our European adventure all the more enjoyable. Mom-mom on the other hand is pacing herself knowing through the wisdom of age that the “Madrid Bear and Strawberry Tree” will be ready for the “photo op” in 30 minutes or in 3 hours. Frankly, if the statue fell over from too many tourists pushing on it I’m confident mom-mom would just say “Oh Well.” Such is the patience that comes from seeing a world though 70 year old eyes.

Sunday is travel day for our Broomall Glavin and the Coopersburg Glavin. Sam is ready to “hang” just a little longer and Mom-mom is ready to reassume her role as caretaker of so many. We’re surprised she didn’t adopt a charge in Valencia since she was there for over 8 days. Surely there was an old person or an infirmed person that could have used the caring and loving touch of Sarah. You don’t need to know Spanish to understand love!

We descend the Metro steps, hand bags and roller suitcases in hand. There are 7 of us but we have 5 roller bags on the move. The collection looks like the original box of Crayolas with bags colored orange, green, red, black and brown. No one is confused that we are Americans on the move. Pearse is excited to see that we have “escalators going down this time” and I am grateful that the platforms aren’t filled with folks as it makes for easier entry and exit from the cars. Seamus and Eamon are tired because the Lopez wedding was just outside their room. “Apparently”, says Eamon, “You can’t leave a Madrid wedding til you here ‘We are family, in Spanish 50 times (estamos familia)’” Its so hard to be his age!!!

Mom-mom marvels at the vast metro system and how we navigate it with apparent ease. Ann shows her the map and the route and mom-mom looks and says “Might as well be in Greek, Ann.” Ann shoots me the look as if to say “Now I know where you get it from.” Sam is busy playing with the boys and guessing which way the next car will come from “left or right?” The kids do anything to avoid the inevitable truth that if the airlines cooperate the Broomall and Coopersburg Glavin’s will be gone in a few short hours.

After the 3rd metro and the tricky passing of the bags and the Glavin’s thru the turnstile we are in the Madrid airport with 2.5 hours til “wheels up”. The long walk to Terminal 1 is filled with 1000’s of meters of terrazzo tile and moving escalators which we learned, mom-mom hates. I decide I’ll spare her my “tragic escalator story” that my friend Mr. McTaggart just told me about seeing as how it involved an 80 year old woman, a casino and a future prosthesis.

The energy is palpable as the UsAir agent takes the passports from mom-mom and Sam and orders me out of the line for “security reasons.” I quickly glance right and left and think “oh yeah we really look like terrorists” more like a Norman Rockwell painting called “Goodbye at the Airport.” There was a mad scramble by Eamon to locate his i-pod that wound up being in Mom-mom’s “like new” red bag. (long story) which he recovered in a nick of time as the bag was just headed down the conveyor. He was relieved and I was grateful. Can you imagine 6 months with a teenager without his i-pod?

The moment of truth comes quickly as mom-mom utters the simple sentences “you guys need to catch a train, its time we go to the gate, and we’ll be fine.” We pose for the last pictures, watery eyes on a few and we watch as Sam jostles for his plastic bin at security, quizzical as he shoots a look at the agent. I can’t help but yell “Sam you don’t have a water bottle in there do you?” He laughs and waves back as the security pass thru gate reads “green” and he’s good to go!

As John Denver pined “I’m leavin on a jet plane?” We’ll always remember the days that Sam and mom-mom came to Madrid-Valencia-Madrid and shared some time with team Glavin and our Uncle Andrew and Doreen.

As we exited the high speed train at the Barcelona, 3 hours further into Spain, we marveled at the 305km/hr speed it reached. My cell phone rings, the number unrecognizable, and I hear “Mr. Glavin, there’s a fire alarm at the Edgmont House and the Fire company has been dispatched!”

Tune in tomorrow for an update on what we hope isn’t the talking Heads version of “Burnin Down the House.”

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Oceanographico or Aquarium You say “Tomato” and I say “Tamato”

We collect ourselves at the elevator, on Piso 29, and the need to “split up” is apparent as 9 bodies is a number too difficult for the small metal carriage called the “lift.” Naturally, Pearse reminds us of one of his early observations in European travel, “If the elevator goes ‘up and down’ how come they call it a lift, isn’t that just ½ the job?” Kids are so smart these days. We let the folks that lived in England answer that one for the eager “ginger haired” Pearse. Pearse, Doreen, Andrew and mom-mom ride the “lift” to the ground floor and Pearse emerges happy and excited with a bit of a doubtful air of “still doesn’t make sense to me” shoulder shrug. It is a slower but no less enjoyable walk for Team Glavin.

Today’s quest for fun and educational content is taking us to the aquarium. It is the largest in Europe, making the kids chuckle when they hear that fact. They chortle as that is a favorite line of many “tour guides” and as they have become “tour experts” they are a bit suspicious of the lines that start with “First ever, best collection, only one of its kind etc.” Here’s to hoping that their cynicism is tempered for times that are appropriate as sometimes there are scientific facts, theorems and corollaries to back up such statements. You know E=mc², and stuff like that.

It is a pleasant walk to the Oceanographico, down the “main drag” of the Arts and Sciences Ctr. of Valencia. The temperature is fittingly warm for a walk to an aquarium and mom-mom roars with laughter when I quip “At least I’m not making you go to the zoo when it’s 90 º and 90 % humidity.” This walkway used to be a river that ran thru Valencia but after many floods the engineers diverted the river and now the entire riverbed is home to amazing buildings, and a beautiful park and greenway that bustles with activity like runners, walker’s, bikers, and the occasional guy practicing his “bar bottles” juggling act like Tom Cruise in the movie “Cocktail.” Don’t pretend that you haven’t seen that movie!

As we approach the gates to the modern and architecturally stunning buildings, we see the signs “no flash photography, no food/drink, no chewing gum, no ______.” Eamon blurts out “I guess you’re allowed to have guns here”. As he shared with Andrew, “In Israel” they were clear on their signs “No guns, no hats, no bikinis, and no flash photography.” Oddly, in Israel, it didn’t appear that one “no” was more or less significant than the other. Naturally team Glavin had a back pack full of Gatorade, water and the well hidden bag of M&M’s. Leave it to us to be standing in front of the entrance gate chugging a ½ gallon of Gatorade. We weren’t wasting it since that Gatorade powder traveled across the ocean to get to us. As we placed our bags into the x-ray machine, yes I said x-ray machine, the jokes were flowing. “I guess they are looking for the guy with a harpoon”, a Moby Dick joke or two since there is a white Beluga whale here and we manage to “pass security”. Just as I lift the bag off the conveyor Sam yells “Hey, Uncle Maurice, they didn’t find the water bottles in the bag?” Sam still needs some travel seasoning and Seamus and Pearse usher him quickly ahead whispering something along the lines of “not now big guy.”

And so in we go and see the “fish”, thousands and thousands of “fish”. Everyone’s favorite is first on our list, the shark tank. The menacing beasts are gliding by increasing your heartbeat even though you know you are safe. We’ve all seen too many movies and as a result you tap on the Plexiglas just to signal your brain “yep, plenty thick” There are all different kinds of sharks some more fear invoking than others. A few go by the overhead tank and glide past ever so slowly as if he can sense the fear through the glass and with a quick snap of the tail reminds you that he’s the real deal, fast, agile and mobile. Is that the soundtrack from JAWS? Just kidding!

There are several buildings with all different displays. There are placards everywhere with educational information about the genus and species of fish. The colors are as plentiful as any artist’s palette. The fish are sized from the miniscule to the amazing Beluga whale and the sea walrus in between. The Dolphin show was at 15:30 hrs. I’m still a bit fuzzy on 24hr clock thing but in the end we managed to be seated in the arena in time to watch “Flippers” relatives amaze the crowds, pirouetting, jumping in unison, hula hooping, and acting like jet skis for their want to be fish, wet suited, trainers. The crowd “ooohed and aaahed” and that is universal as we didn’t understand a Spanish word anyone said during the show. The dolphins didn’t seem to mind that there was a Yank or 2 in the crowd.

So we leave the aquarium, happy to say “we saw the biggest oceanographic edificio” in Europe. Naturally we couldn’t finish the day or this blog without our top 10 list of things we thought funny about the great Aquarium

1. We couldn’t seem to find any cats around.
2. Why did they have a bird exposition (pelicans, flamingos etc. etc.)?
3. They give you a red brimmed straw hat if you buy a large beer.
4. Why can’t you bring in bottle of water to an aquarium?
5. There’s chewing gum under my seat at the Dolphin Show, what X-ray machine?
6. Is there a 1000 Asian in every aquarium, museum, Church waiting for us to arrive?
7. Aquariums are just easier on the nose than the zoo.
8. We looked and looked but didn’t “Find Nemo.”
9. Come on everyone knows that man is the biggest threat to the ocean!
10. Our favorite “How come the cafeteria doesn’t have filet of fish sandwiches?”

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Sam’s Blog Valencia…The land of…Stuff

When I got off the plane Seamus and Pearse couldn’t believe it. Eamon was taking the video of me coming through the door. While we where waiting we slid down a steep floor. Eamon made a video of it. It was GREAT!!!! We got to Valencia and went to the skate park. When I saw Eamon do a 360 I felt small. We went back to the apartment. The next day we went to the skate park again. Then we went back home and just relaxed. The next day we went to the beach. Seamus, Pearse, and I built a “ half finished” sand pyramid right next to the Mediterranean. The next day we went to the aquarium. It’s the biggest in Europe!!!! That’s all I have to say…. For now.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

If You Can’t Go Home Bring Home to You!

It’s a cool crisp morning in Madrid, Spain. The anticipation is high and the boys have no idea what awaits them at “arrivals gate” but first we need to traverse the city on the Madrid Metro. 3 trains and a mountain of stairs between lines “Why don’t they have escalators going down?” asks Eamon, curiously. Porque, porque porque????

Madrid is a city known for its night life but not its morning commute. We’re grateful for the easy path to the Metro and our human GPS, Ann Glavin, is pinging like a Tom-Tom, “go right here”, “go left here” and “go 50 meters”…”Did she say meters?” As Abigail would say “The bossy lady said “go right!”

The wait at “International Arrivals” is, as expected, long and tiresome but we’re within 60-75 minutes to springing the surprise on the kids. Like the Navy said in WWII “Loose lips sink ships” and we’re so close to keeping the secret for 5 months. We wonder “What they will think?” and “What will they do?”

The doors to “passport control” are cloudy and there is a cold aluminum railing that keeps the arriving passengers from those already on Spanish terra firma. As the door splits like a banana every few seconds we peer longingly into the space hoping to catch a glimpse of the arriving “packages” from the USA. With each open/close sequence of the opaque doors a group is happy to see their loved ones and many are sad as they must wait just a few more minutes that seem like hours. The passengers that arrive through the door smile at the eruption of joy from their waiting family, boyfriend/girlfriend, aunt or uncle. The smile is usually brief as the dog tired face returns from the overnight overseas trip.

Seamus and Pearse look wantonly and you can see them almost crest fallen as the door slams shut time and time again. “Where is mom-mom?” “How come all these people are in front of her?” I suspect that a few passengers would have let her go in front of them if they knew that the grandkids were waiting 5 months to see their mom-mom. Everyone knows that feeling. A “mom-mom hug” is like being wrapped up in a warm blanket next to a fire.

I stand behind the boys as the magical moment arrives, Pearse yelps “There’s mom-mom” and Seamus still unsure that the 8 year old has it right after a few “false alarms” Within seconds, Sam Glavin pops out from behind his mom-mom and Pearse and Seamus look shocked and dare I say bewildered. They bolt from their crouched positions slightly below the Aluminum railing, barely missing their heads on the 3 tiered bar and they rush to see their cousin. In the blink of an eye mom-mom is playing second fiddle to the new surprise arrival. Like a celebrity Sam hugs his cousins as if to say “What you’re surprised!”

A warm embrace for mom-mom and Ann makes a quick exit to see if Ryan Air has an early flight to Valencia. As I hold my mother close and whisper “it’s great to see you here” I think “This is why mom’s aren’t allowed to visit soldiers!!!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Episodes Gone Wrong

Due to the inability to retrieve the videos from Istanbul Turkey, and Israel, I regret to inform you that there will be no videos from these locations. I am sorry for the inconvenience. I will be picking up the series from Episode 4, Budapest, Hungary.

Again sorry for the other videos not being put up.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Goodbye Vienna and Hello Valencia

The walk to the u-bahn was cool and crisp like any Fall day. It seemed like a good idea to dress for the warm weather in Spain this morning but the goose bumps on Pearse’s arms suggested otherwise. We dragged everything we own in Europe, 2 full duffle bags and 5 rolling suitcases, up and out the door to the corner of 11 Schubertgasse and Sobieskigasse. We’d walked, run, scootered, and ambled by this corner of our apt 1000’s of times, but this morning it will be the last time. It is bitter sweet as we know the great adventure that awaits us in Valencia Spain but it is here that the expedition first docked. There is a magic about your “first” anything like First Communion, first pheasant from the cornfield, your first “A” in College (I think), your first job or your first car. It was here in 11 Schubertgasse that we first gelled into Team Glavin. We will miss this apt and its quirky windows, skinny laundry room, fickle radiators and ever-present landlord. We’ll remember that it was “home” and where all the travel fears of both the parents and the kids were replaced by the knowledge that if we stuck together we could do anything. “Yes” 11 Schubertgasse you will be missed.

Up Nubdorferstrabe we go, dad with 2 duffels fittingly colored orange and blue Pearse’s and Seamus’ favorite colors. Seamus tows 2 roller suitcases behind him and everyone else with one and the miscellaneous small pillows and carry-on bags etc. We’re glad it is a short walk of 4 blocks or so to the station. The ADA could do some consulting here in Europe, not so “handicap friendly” and the only elevator to the platform, you guessed it “out of order” or least we think that was the case 5 minutes of “button pushing” and no glass encased car arriving. Up to the platform we trudged. We’ve had lots of practice at this but the added duffel bags change the calculus just a bit. The sweat beads pop on my just shaved red face and a quick look back and I see Ann wishes she purchased lighter books. Seamus and Eamon work as a team on their 3 bags and Pearse, already at the top of the staircase platform, looks like the smug guy in the weight room that can’t understand why you think benching 2 plates per side, 225lbs, is so difficult. As I reach the top of the platform I am grateful that I won’t have to lift these bags but one more time in Vienna. Ann is equally grateful. Of course we still have some work to get to the Air Berlin counter.

We wait patiently for the u-bahn and we’re silently glad we “just missed” the last one. The recovery time is needed by all. The extra time gives all those on the platform time to readjust their car selection too. One look at our bunch with bags, loud excited kids and sweaty parents and folks get the “oh no not this early in the morning” look. It’s like watching Moses part the Red Sea. As the subway car pulls to the station ready to stop we adjust quickly looking for the “emptiest” cars and make the mad dash to get all bags and kids on the car, no easy feat but one that has been perfected these last 4 months. We have 1 stop and then change u-bahn lines for the last 6 stops of our Vienna experience. Eamon polishes off the last of his apple juice, Pearse mimics the overhead loud speaker to the delight of the old folks riding with us in our car and Seamus tweaks Eamon as is the wont of the middle son. Ann and I plot the moves for the next 40 minutes “you buy CAT (city airport train) tickets and I’ll get the bags weighed in and get us checked in etc.” says Ann. The only tough part left is ascending the stairs at Landstrabe station which, naturally, is under construction. The staircase is temporary and reminds me of those loud metal stadium steps found at high school football fields all over America. Clackety clack clack go the wheels of the rollers on the suitcases once we get to the top of the 3 turn, 9 risers each, staircase. It is a cacophony of aluminum meets urethane noise like nothing you’ve heard that would make the almost deaf wince. I can’t wait to get to the asphalt that will lead us to the CAT building and the convenient “city check in” for Air Berlin.

Bags checked and time left to catch our breadth before the lime green and black CAT whisks us the 16 minutes to Vienna Airport. We chuckle as we recall the time I had the whole CAT train sing “Happy Birthday” to Seamus as some folks did it in German and some did it in English. Eamon burrows into the seat for the precious nap, it’s been almost 4 hours awake and he’s “teenage exhausted” and Pearse pops his thumb and forefinger on his iTouch making it and him dance. Seamus wonders aloud, “Dad you think the Phillies got a chance?” All is well as we finish these last minutes in Austria.

The touchdown in Valencia, after a brief stop in Mallorca, is easy if not slightly late. We got a great view of the city from the plane and the Mediterranean Sea has special allure. It is said to be the Sea of Culture and I have no doubt it will add to the adventurous storyline of Team Glavin. The warm air of Valencia is invigorating and it reminds me of the first hours of a winter vacation to Florida. As we exit the airport, grateful for possession of all the bags, we saunter to the “Taxi stand.” With 7 bags and 5 people in a country that doesn’t believe in Ford Excursions we’ll need 2 gas efficient cars. The kids spot the palm trees and orange trees exiting the airport and they are delighted, knowing that where there are palm trees there are beaches.
We stop in front of the huge white 32 floor apartment that we’ll call home for 5 weeks. The kids love the fact that we’re on piso (floor) 29. Eamon jokes “it has a balcony doesn’t it? A quick way to get Pearse out of his life” he chortles. We’re a bit apprehensive as this was an “internet find”. Here’s to hoping that it’s clean comfortable and efficient. As the “puerta” (door) marked “139” opens you can feel the high rise wind rush in and wrap around you. The kids quickly explore the bedrooms and get to marking them like animals in the wild sans peeing on them. The apartment is just grand. A wonderful view of the city of Valencia and the Arts and Sciences canal, the Mediteranean off to the left and in the distance to the right the Spanish mountains. The sun is setting over the mountains as we make final arrangements with the real estate agent and Pearse hits “on” for the flat screen 32" HDTV and to his delight the Disney channel is in English. He looks at us and says “Best apartment yet!” Where’s Vienna again?

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Goodbye Wien by Pearse

We started in Wien and finished in four very short months. These are the things in Wien I will miss…
• The food was great
• Our very, very big apartment
• The HAM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
• The breaded turkey
• The great gouda cheese
• The English book store
• The money is easy to understand
• The U-Bahn and Tram they’re both easy transportation
• The pizza from PIZZA MAN
• And mostly the Schoenbrunn palace TRAMPOLINES!

These are the reasons I will not miss about Wien:
• All the stores close on Sunday
• It is cold during the fall when you are not prepared for it
• The people don’t speak English
• They don’t have I-Tunes gift cards
• NO WAWA’s!!!!!
• No Football; their football here is Soccer
• No Baseball
• No Halloween!!!
• The time change is six hours more than the United States
• NO CHEETOES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Those are the best reasons I have… <[^^,]>

Wien is the best city to get Mozart chocolate. It is everywhere. There is the best internet in our apartment. WOOHOO internet ROCKS!!!!! Wien: the land of IKEA merchandise.

This I my blog that I wrote on my new MACBOOK PRO 2009 Edition By Seamus

Vienna has many things that I will miss, but I enjoyed every minute of being here. The first of many things that I will miss about Vienna is the PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION. While I was in my home in PA we had to drive EVERYWHERE and when I say everywhere I mean EVERYWHERE. In Vienna it was very different, we took the public transportation everywhere the Tram (trolley), the U-Bhan (subway), or Bus (bus). It was easy to get tickets for the public transportation and while you were on any sort of public transportation you felt safe and never threatened. My parent even let us go on it by ourselves many times. Another major thing that I will miss about Vienna is that people helped you if needed it, and almost all of the people spoke a little bit of English. BTW, I don’t speak any German! Almost everyone who we asked to help us, they said “ok”. The apartment we stayed in was “city center” so we were really close to St. Steven’s cathedral, which is the main square, aka platz. One thing I will not miss is some parts of our apartment like IKEA things are everywhere and as Uncle Gene says “IKEA is Swedish for Junk”. I won’t miss the people upstairs, who constantly seem to have a stomping contests called, “let’s see who can stomp the loudest and annoy the Americans.” Well at least that’s how it feels for me on the first floor when laying in bed. I won’t miss the “drunk” people walking by the window who are trying to talk to the whole world and not just the person right next to them. Before we came to Vienna we planned, as a family, which city was going to be our so-called “home base” and I think that picking Vienna was a “Home Run”. I will miss Vienna, but at least it successfully carried us through 4 months (1/3) of our vacation, excursion, travels, or whatever you want to call it.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Vienna, the Land of the Missing Glavin's

Vienna, Austria was the best city for a home base and there were plenty of reasons; these are just a few.

1. The transportation system was simply incredible and very kid-friendly. We were impressed at how easy it was to get tickets, and get from one side of the city to the other. The U-Bahn and tram were always on time, and they were straightforward. Anyone could find out how to get to Stephensplatz from Waringer Strasse. The Trams were just small subways (that were above ground). Trams are useful when you were in between U-Bahn stops, and especially trying to not become Closter Phobic in the U-Bahn. Also there was a useful “Hydro-Foil” for people traveling to Bratislava on the Danube River.

2. Vienna was really clean and was beautiful. The streets were cleaned almost every night. The only litter was the millions of cigar butts in the sewers and corners of dark allies. The city of Vienna had great architecture, from churches to government buildings. The St. Stephens Cathedral was our home church and it has the best saying, “Anyone can find St. Stephens.” Which is true to its title because of how large and well know it is. There is scaffolding on the outside of it for reconstruction; therefore they put a tarp over the scaffolding with a picture showing what is underneath.

3. It had a lot of history. Mozart lived in 85 apartments there; the Hapsburg’s dynasty was located in their two overly humungous palaces; the Lipizzaner stallions are raised, trained, and originated there; the Vienna Boys Choir (who are amazing); all in the city if Vienna. They have a museum quarter with ancient rocks (fascinating), animals, art, and documents. In the court yard there is a large statue of Maria Teresa, a Hapsburg Queen.

4. Our landlord, John, was hilarious. He always seemed to overbook apartments. That’s why we went to Budapest, Hungary and Istanbul, Turkey, AND why an 80 year old man stayed with us for a night. He always seemed to pop up during our nightly sessions of 24© or 5 minutes after we have arrived back from a trip.

Experienced and Well Travelled

I came to life in Shanghai, China, unbeknownst to so many Americans. I am sleek with a shiny, silver uni-body and I purr like a new Porsche if you just hit the “on” button. I have many unique features but we’ll talk more about that later. Mine is a journey that will move me thousands of miles through the Far East and into the great American frontier that spawned a failed vice presidential bid in Alaska and from there into the land of smoked ribs and the Blues. I’ll leave the Smokey mountain state after a short stay and its up in the pressurized hold of the purple and orange chariot of the sky and into the land that is the Keystone State, home to the signing of arguably the greatest document in governance history, the Constitution. How cool would it be if I was there some 225+ years ago? Guttenberg who?

The tough legs of the journey are but ½ through but I am close to connecting to my first stop within my new family and as I make the way up I-95, “Is that a sign?” “Does it say The First State?” “Yes, yes” it is and I couldn’t be happier. I saw that DE was on the “shipping label.” I wonder if my new owner will be kind, gentle and smart! You know how these things go, sometimes it’s all about the e-mail, and watching movies but I have depth going for me. I am special and capable of doing so so much more. I hope you’re not one of those that think ½ a terra-bite storage is just for document management. Lassiter made Pixar’s Toy Story come to life during my grand pops hey day, it’s in my genes to make things come together, look I have iLife. As grand pop always says “You got a friend in me.”

I am whisked away from DE, as fast as I arrive. I take a quick glimpse through my iSight as the Toyota van filled with kids, Mary and Catherine, and someone, I think, Catherine asked “Mommy, where are we taking him?” She replies “The Company is sending him to connect with his new owner.” “Is it far?” asks Catherine rocking and swaying to the music. Mommy says “I’ll say, it’s all the way in the Middle East at a place called ‘Israel’.” “WHAT!" is my surprised reaction. Do you know what they use computers for in the Middle East, I think to myself? I’m a lover not a fighter. If I only had legs, I’d be outta here.

After the drop off, I’m waiting on a 6” ledge marked “shipping” while holding on for dear life at a place called “Total Scope Inc”. I remember “processing” stuff about companies like this, filled with big black computing antiquities, and my fast as lightening RAM spits out the image that says “DELL”. Do people still use these things? I guess the “blue screen, please reboot” has some kind of power over corporate people. They must like “pounding the desk” and using words that get guys like me locked in a brief case and labeled “for personal use only.”

Things really get busy around me @ 5:30 and I’m sitting next to some funky stuff, 6ft black bodied snakes, mostly medical things that have eyes on both ends, and I hear that they get used at both ends too, YUK! I hope they’re not in the box with me. As I get moved around from here to there I see the lady in the Toyota was right, the label says Scot’s Hotel Tiberias Israel. You know Shanghai ain’t that far from Israel. You couldda made it a much shorter trip, ya know, but like most things my age “we do what you input.” Just before they close up my box there’s an argument and some kind of tussle. Who is this Denis they speak of? I hear the dreaded words “It’ll be cheaper if we ship’em together” All I can think is “Please, no food or drink in my box, they must know that I’m allergic to shipping peanuts!” In comes another box. I am panning with my iSight just like everyone on a plane hoping the last guy doesn’t take the middle seat next to you and if you have to give up the room you hope he’s not one of those 50” flat screen LCD’s. You can never get comfortable with those gangly things next to you especially on such a long flight. I hope he has some personality but not too much if you know what I mean. He takes the spot next to me, sheds his brown box and what do you know, I knew him at the factory in Shanghai China. Hey, “What are you doing here?” My boxmate says “Headed to Israel” I say “Hey sparky, they put us in the same box I know you’re going to Tiberias.” These 13” guys just don’t have the same processing speed or memory but they have lots of personality. I’ll have plenty of time to get to know this fella, its an 864 mile connector to Memphis and then 6,500 miles to Israel.

It’s a cold trip at 30,000 feet and we make a brief stop for more ribs and music in Memphis, Tennessee. A couple guys, one named FED and the other EX, looked over at us and said “We remember you, weren’t you here 2-4 days ago?” I quip “I just go where they send me fellas and if everything breaks right I’ll have enough frequent flier miles for a free mouse or World of Warcraft game or something”. Into yet another plane we go, boxed in with packages of all shapes and sizes, some to going Tel Aviv, Hebron, and others to Jerusalem. It’ll be cool to “come to iLife” in Galilee, pretty ironic don’t you think?

Israel customs, like passport control for humans, is lots of waiting with a few tense moments as guys in uniform look over all my paperwork. They don’t just let anyone into the country. I’m not an expert but something doesn’t seem right. In China they just scanned and stamped me and in Anchorage they passed a wand over me and I was good to go and was on my way like the “nothing to declare line” that always moves so quickly. There seems to be an issue, first there are 2 guys and then 3 and now a guy with a gun joins them. Hmmm, if I was a marvel cartoon character my “spider” senses would be tingling. I hear the dreaded words “We gotta call the recipient.” I am not an expert but that can’t be good. 13” is sitting beside me, nervous and quiet. “It’s always the little ones that get picked on”, he says. Relax little guy those Total Scope Inc guys are experts. We’ll be fine. I am in ear shot of the conversation and I relay it to 13”, “Something about a VAT and 2 computers in the same box is a security threat.” What do they mean when they say “He has to have an import license to get 2 computers into the country?” We sit a few days and watch everything known to man pass us by and the customs guy just saying “yes”, “yes”, “yes” “yes”. We just need to hear those 3 letters and we’ll be in a van for 90 minutes an then springing to life. "We’re so so so close 13” I can feel it." Glad this warehouse is air conditioned, “Did you see all those guys sweating out there?”

The customs manager and a bunch of guys huddle next to me. Its times like these you’re glad you have a “state of the art microphone.” The burly guy with the olive skin and a 2 day beard says “Put’em back on the plane!” “They don’t want to pay the tax and play by our rules.” 13” looks at me, and I think, did he say 'back to the plane?' So i asked "Come on, did he really say 'back on the plane?'” 13” says let me talk to them “We came from the USA, we’re the best damn friends Israel has in the world.” Nice try kid but we’re headed back to the USA. “Buckle up, turn on your Garage Band and make some tunes. I'm switching my iPod on putting in my ear buds and chillin. As the saying goes “Israel, nice place to visit but wouldn’t want to live there.” I wonder if the Department of Israeli commerce knows how many times this story will be told? I wonder if they care.

My friends FED and EX look at us a bit quizzically as we slide by on the conveyor. The red spiderweb scan alerts them “Priority”. Fed looks at EX and says “There must be some pissed off folks at Total Scope Inc.” We never ship for FREE to international. Let’s get it sorted and on the way to Boothwyn.” 13” says to me “Please tell me we’re no going to be sitting at TSI staring at the black snakes again, they give me the creeps.”

We don’t sit to long and my sensitive Mic picks up passing bites of information “Screw customs,” “If Fex Ex can’t deliver find someone else.” “Call UPS and get it right” I don’t know who’s directing all this but my iSight can see his head is red and he has no hair. 13” needs some air and his prayers are answered as they take him out of the box. He’s a good kid, plenty strong and fast but needs some attention and guidance.

I get jotled and turned around 5-6 times and hear the labels being ripped off like old scabs. “No signs of Fed EX on this box” gets yelled. A new label is coming at me. It starts with an “A” ends with an “a”. Maybe I’m going to Alabama? Hold on “Does that say international? Please not Africa!” I hear they have power issues there; I only have 7 hour battery life. Whew it says “Austria.” I hear great things about Austria, music , architecture, strudel. Wait please tell me, “What about my buddy 13”?” Some guy Jimmy yells to Joe “Make sure that 13” gets the same label. They leave in 15 minutes and we don’t want them to miss their flight. They go to Louisville and then Austria." A quick calculation on my 2.8 gigahertz processor and I yell to 13” across the shipping bay 501 miles to Kentucky and 4396 miles to Austria. Keep your “Control” and “Command” buttons crossed but don’t touch delete." These 13” kids get rammy sometimes and then you get the whole “reboot” thing going.

The “brown guys” pick us up and away we go. It’s Philadelphia to Kentucky and then to Austria. I’m well traveled and glad I’m packed so tightly with a nice foam rook and custom made seat for travel. The UPS guys are “all business”, no chit chat and you see why they are famous for their precision, no movement wasted. Bang bang bang and off the plane in Louisville with a brief wait til we load for Europe. I strike up some small talk with some baseball bats headed to New York. I ask “Who’s Alex Rodriguez?” He’s got his name signed on all these bats. One of the bats says “Plays for the Yankees but we’re not worried, he misses most of the stuff he swings at in the World Series” So that’s what all that stuff was in the boxes in Philadelphia. NLCS Championship clothes. I hope they’re not sending any of it to Israel I thought to myself.

UP we go, no pun intended, with BIG BROWN to Austria. 13” is in the same container. He looks a bit tired but that’s because they didn’t have time to charge him up like they did for me. He’ll be fine once his long life lithium battery gets some juice. Hope they’re ready with an electric converter in Vienna. I noticed a few things got stuck in the box with me at TSI. Sounds like maracas. One says Tylenol and the other says Advil. I’m not a Kindle so I’m glad they gave me something to read on the trip “The 39 Clues; The Black Circle.” Awesome, a mystery book to pass the time and I can connect to the internet with my fast as heck connection for clues to solve the mystery.

Into customs we go. 13” looks good. We wait for Austrian customs, a bit apprehensive given our last experience. I wait pensively and hear the magic word “Cleared”. Down the belt I go, sorting to the pile marked Vienna. Wait “Where’s my buddy?” We’re traveling together. "Hey Mr. Brown guy! Lift me up so I can see my buddy 13. Hey wait a minute! Why is he in the cage marked “HOLD.” “Say it ain’t so?” Down I go to 11 Schubertgasse. No muss no fuss. The air is clear and the lights a welcome sight. Wait a second “Why am I getting put in the closet? Are you kidding me? Where’s 13? Come on someone answer me!" Maurice and Ann are scrambling, I hear them say “Customs issue on the 13.” We need to “declare more value”. I sense that “Oh no” feeling. I smell the tax man again. There’s 20 emails, and 3 trips to Mailboxs Etc 2 faxes and a bunch of phone calls. Please release my friend 13”. The days go by. I hear Ann say 1 more shipping day left or we miss the shipment because we leave Vienna to fly to Spain. I don’t think 13” can make it to Spain, his battery is weak and we all know that you make mistakes when you get tired.

It’s 9:00 PM Thursday, if 13” doesn’t arrive tomorrow, I hear that Team Glavin will be in Spain, flying Monday. The cell phone pings, I can hear it clearly. Maurice jumps at the pause button and some guy named “Jack Bauer” will need to save the world a bit later. Maurice is beaming as he forwards the note to Ann “Package released for Delivery.” 13” is on his way, I’ve missed him. The Friday AM hours tick by 9-10-11-11:30. Rap rap rap on the window, the apartment bell doesn’t work. UPS delivery it’s 12:00PM. Some kid named Eamon signs the notebook computer log. Bitte, bitte, bitte! (please please please) be my friend 13!” The label says from “TSI” USA. He emerges from the corrugated brown box, no worse for wear. He notices that I’ve shed my brown travel skin as well. Now the 2 of us are gleaming, well traveled, white shiny boxes.

“What next?” is all I can muster. “Why aren’t we being opened?” In comes the 8 year old Pearse. He lifts me up stunned and exhilarated, “Are you kidding me?” He is instructed to bring us into the kitchen and say “Look what I found?” He rushes, almost gliding into the kitchen and explodes his quickly rehearsed line “Hey Eamon and Seamus, look what I found” holding me and 13” up as high as his little arms will allow. For the first time I see my new “owner”, his name is Eamon and a wave of excitement hits each of us as I can see it is “’love at first sight.” I was hoping for a partner that was ebullient, smart and multitalented. He’s whopping and hollering “’you’ve got to be kidding me” “Is it really mine?” 13” is looking at Seamus his new owner, excited to have someone that shares his personality and fun loving view of life.
The future is as bright as my Apple symbol when it comes to life. I traveled the world to get here, some 28,515 miles. and I am glad to finally be home and I’ll stay paired with my 13" buddy for as long as Eamon and Seamus travel together, hopefully for iLife.

MacBook "15 Inch" Pro