Saturday, August 8, 2009

Itinerary for next 2 weeks

Some folks have asked us for the itinerary for the next couple weeks. No moss under the feet of Team Glavin in Europe. Tomorrow Sunday Aug 9 we head to Poland. Our first stop is Krakow where we will visit the castles and Churches and take a day trip to Auschwitz on Tuesday. We will head out by train to Warsaw and visit the home of the labor solidarity movement of Lech Walesa and the successful effort to overthrow communism. We leave Warsaw by train on Thursday and head to Gdansk and the shipyards of the Baltic Sea. We take a Polish Ferry across the Baltic Sea for Stockholm, Sweden arriving Saturday afternoon after a 19 hour ferry ride. We have a sleeper cabin lest you are afraid we will be on the deck of the ferry all night freezing our American keesters off!! We spend a few days in Stockholm to get a feel for the city that we are sure to revisit when the Nobel Prize is awarded to some Glavin in the future, economics, literature, Peace who knows???? We leave Sweden after 3 days and fly to Berlin Arriving Tuesday. We will finish up Colleen's vacation in Berlin with 2 days of World Track Championship fun. We hope to see a World Record in some event so Pearse can update his report on track world records. Once Collen departs :( we head out to Innsbruck and then onto Bolzano Italy to look for housing for ski season :-) Then it is back to Vienna for a bit of rest before we visit Hungry and Russia in Sept.

Carpe Diem

Friday, August 7, 2009

If you’re going to take our money… by Maurice

What a day. I looked forward to the “day trip” for some time. I kept telling the kids “It’s like going to Baltimore to watch lacrosse.” Bratislava is only 75 minutes away by boat. We took a 2 hulled catamaran called the Twin Cities Hydrofoil. We cruised down the Danube at 50 kilometers/hr and into port at Bratislava. There is a unique draw to the “former Communist countries” for people and we are no different. I find the history fascinating and the drive towards democracy through capitalism refreshing. The economy is somewhat immature with respect to industry and that is apparent in the aged and somewhat decrepit buildings. It is clear that tourism plays a significant role in this small “former Czech” town. We learned it was a peaceful separation from communism and that the ties to the Austro-Hungarian dynasties were quite important. Bratislava was the center of the coronation of many kings. As usual there were lots of Churches and the required castle on the hill. We did manage to find the Irish Pub in town and have lunch, some things never change. The kids had a great day and laughed for hours about almost everything but I leave those stories for them to tell including our tour guide that had a habit of saying “Hey English I’ll have more time to talk with you in town!”

The Funniest Day by Seamus

The day didn’t start out so well. Eamon was sick all day and could not go on the day trip with us to Slovakia. So my parents, Pearse, Colleen, and I went on the hydrofoil, which is a really fast ferry that seats one hundred and twenty-six people. The ride was nice and easy for the start of a very easy going day… or that is what we thought. As soon as we got off the boat, we saw the tour guide. She looked nice and peaceful. She told us to go over to our driver because his car was the audio tour. We got in and listened to a very detailed history of Bratislava. At our first stop it started to go downhill. She called us over and said, “You speak English right? Where are you from, America or Britain?” We should have said Britain because then maybe she would have been nicer to us. She told all the Americans (the 5 of us) to go to the corner and that the Germans would catch up to us. We did as we were told; it took the tour guide twenty minutes to get over to us, and then she says two sentences, “This is the church where there is a crown on a pillow. Also the pillow is two meters by two meters.” She was done. It took her five seconds. We then go to the tour mobile and wait for another ten minutes, while the Germans go to the St. Elizabeth statue. We didn’t even get one sentence from her and she finally says “we will have more time for you in the town. Don’t worry if I don’t get to you.” My dad gave her the Glavin I don’t care wave while she was looking at us. It was funny to see her reaction.
When we get to the town, we turn around to hear the following question from the tour guide: “why do they call this hotel the Carlton?” She stares at Colleen with her cold death stare and Colleen just shrugged. The tour guide told her and the group, in German, the answer. Then my dad says out loud: “Do you think he knows Will Smith or is related to him.” “The Americans” (us) started to crack up. We were right next to the tour guide in front and all the Germans when this happened. My mom actually had to tap her on the shoulder to ask her why it was named the Carlton.
We had to be wearing the brightest colors of all the people on the tour. I had my bright red Phillies hat on. Colleen was wearing a brightly colored flower shirt, and Pearse was wearing his bright yellow Haverford shirt. Every time we stopped, though, she would say “Where are my Americans,” even if we were right next to her. Then she would just say the names of what we were seeing, speak for ten minutes in German and then move on. When we got to each stop, she said “Americans we are waiting” and would start her routine over again. She once caught me looking the wrong way and she personally turned me around and told me to listen even though I didn’t understand anything she said. Colleen thought that this was really funny of course. At one stop at a fountain, we were sick and tired of the guide so we sat down next to the fountain and listened. Colleen and I heard them laughing, so we joined in, but it was unenthusiastically. Ten of the Germans including the Guide turned around and stared at us. As you can see in the picture we started to laugh really hard. After that event happened, we saw an Irish pub. Everyone thought that I was kidding about going to it but I just sat down. The rest of my family followed me like I was the leader. We had lunch there and ditched the rest of the tour. I had chicken wings and we called my Aunt Catherine. After, we had the rest of the day to ourselves.
Auf Wiedersehen or in English Good-bye

Soldiers & Boys Peeing!

Our trip to Bratislava was okay. Eamon did not come because he had a very bad fever. We walked so much that my legs died. The funniest part of the day was the tour guide. The tour lady kept on saying “Americans, where are my Americans?” even though we were the same people the whole time and no one else spoke English. The very best and funniest part of the day was the “pissing fountain.” There were 4 statues of boys around the fountain peeing. Our boat was 5 meters wide and 60 meters long. I thought the coolest thing of the day, was the soldiers guarding the palace. I took the coolest picture of them.

Jamming on the Hydrofoil

Colleen :
Our day trip to Bratislava did not start off so well. For two reasons one because Eamon was sick and could not join us to Bratislava and second because we had to get up very early to get to the hydrofoil on time. The hydrofoil was an easy hour and a half trip in the morning. Once we finally arrived in Bratislava we meet up with our crazy tour guide. She did not seem to like the fact that only 5 of us were American on the tour so she had to talk in German then in English. She seemed to like the Germans more because she would talk to them for about 15 minutes then she would make her way over to us say 2 sentences and say “okay were moving on”. After a while it was just annoying and she kept forgetting who the Americans were. I do not know how she was forgetting us since half the time we were standing right next to her! Finally Seamus, Pearse, Uncle Maurice, and I left the tour and went to the Irish pub. Aunt Ann finished the tour and then joined us for lunch. After lunch we went around town for a little bit. In the afternoon we finally got back onto the hydrofoil. Now that was the funniest thing ever because me and Seamus went onto the back deck listening to his iPod and were singing to each other. Ice-Ice baby came on and that is the song me and Seamus always sing to each other and by this time we were in a full on jamming out mood. While in the middle of dancing I turned around to see this guy staring at us and just looked at me and laughed and walked upstairs. Then a little bit later we were still singing and we turned around again to notice that the whole upper deck that is about 15 were staring at us. We both started laughing hysterically and walked inside. All in all it had to be one of the funniest days of my life.

Not anything for me to say except that being sick really stinks.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Does Medevil Mean Old?

Into Prague, we arrived to a more aggressive “hawkers”, a more difficult language and a tougher understand ubahn situation. On the subway ride we made our first mistake and wound up at the wrong Marriott. Who knew there could be 2 in this well preserved “medieval city?” A “hawker” by the way is someone trying to get you to eat at their restaurants or book at their hotel or ride their tour bus. It wasn’t a New York City aggressive style confrontation but a more genteel “suggestion”. We are getting comfortable with the Café lifestyle and managing to eat well. City Centre Prague is bustling and we marvel at the commerce and the effort to appeal to tourists. The merchants stay open late and are logging long days on the weekends. We made a trip to Old City across the famous Charles Bridge to see St. Nicholas Church and The Church housing the Infant of Prague. I remember growing up with the Infant of Prague Statue in our house and to be in the presence of the original with its history and significance was inspiring. We visited the museum and saw the many outfits from all over the world including beautiful miniature garments from places like China, Vietnam, and Russia to name a few. An added bonus, we attended Mass in the gaze of the statue which was simply wonderful. Mass was said in Czech but no matter as Mass the world over is a well understood orchestration.
Monday allowed for a visit to the Largest and Oldest castle in Central Europe. It is a working castle as the President of Czech Republic lives and works within its walls. The Cathedral , is enormous and a testament to the amazing talents of man, sculptures, painting, stained glass and architecture harnessed for God. The train ride back to Vienna approached quickly, but the return trip to the train station was flawless. We even had enough time to readjust to a platform change at the last minute. We had reserved seats and Ann did the “kicking out” this time. Nice to be the “kickee” instead of the “kicked”

Snatches of History

Over the last 5 days, we visited two very different cities, with two very different feels – Berlin and Prague. Berlin was hustling and bustling and a very large city. It felt more modern with snatches of history intermingled with the liveliness of a business and cultural center like New York. There was history in many areas with sections of both the Western and Eastern Walls and the Brandenburg Gate nearby. However, we were also close to many theatres and the Sony Center which can be seen from many directions. Prague, on the other hand was old – old buildings, old streets (uneven cobblestones everywhere), rich in traditions. However, it has turned into quite the tourist mecca and everywhere you turn there are tour groups, souvenir shops, and hints of the 20th century (McDonald's, KFC, Starbucks, a Hard Rock Café). We actually saw and tasted more Western food in Prague than anywhere else on our trip – lays potato chips, blue Gatorade , a “real” Irish breakfast, nachos, chicken wings, Guinness… I enjoyed both cities more because of their differences, though for me, it was easier to navigate Berlin than Prague. I guess I have gotten used to the German language. Czech took me a bit by surprise and I was not ready to deal with another currency just yet. A good test before our extended trip to Poland!

Seamus's "First" Blog About Prague

The past five days I have experienced things that I thought were only in movies. During the five days I went to Berlin and Prague. While my family was in Prague, we saw the biggest working castle in the world, the Charles Bridge, and we went on a tour of the city. While we were in the castle my brothers and I thought that is was pretty much its own little town. Colleen agreed with us. While we were on the grounds, we took an audio tour that looked like an extended old fashion cell phone. We spent a couple of hours, I thought that the audio guide was going too fast because I felt like it was "fact over load," but it was still really cool to see all of the visuals instead of just reading it from a book. That was all very cool, but knowing my family, it couldn’t possibly be the funniest that happened to us in Prague. The funniest thing was when Colleen and my family took a tour.
It was ninety degrees in the shade, we were in the bus where there were windows in the roof with no air conditioning. My family felt like we were ants under a magnifying glass throughout the forty-five minute ride. Also, we were listening to the headset tour and every place that we visited was “The first ________ in Central Europe.” It said that same line repeatedly, it was annoying but funny to make fun of.

Colleen's blog from Prague

The past 3 days we spent in Prague were amazing. I’ve gotten to see some amazing and very historical things such as going to see the largest working castle in central Europe from the Charles Bridge. We also got an hour tour of the city and got to listen to all the history that is all around the city. On Sunday we went to mass at Our Lady Victorious where I heard Mass in Czech; also in the church is the Infant of Prague and all 10 of the outfits the statue gets changed into throughout the year. On Monday we got to tour the largest working castle in central Europe. This castle was like a little town, it was crazy.

The 3 P's "Pearse Posting Prague"

Prague is very different from all the other countries. it is hardest to find food. The day we got to Prague we got to go to the Hard Rock Café there nachos were great. We took an hour bus tour through the city it felt very long. Today we went to the castle it is the biggest castle I have ever seen in my life. The castle had many statues, but I liked this one best.
Now we are going back to Wien, aka Vienna.

From Prague to Wien

It is 6:52 p.m. (our time) while I write this on the way home from a great 3 days in Prague. When we entered the strange new city we realized one thing right off the back, old. We went to on an hour long bus tour/ride that gave us quick glances at the city in a general perspective. Later that day we went to mass that was in Czech at the Church of the Victorious. It housed the famous Infant of Prague (infant of Christ), a statue that gets special garments to be clothed in, which are changed about 10 times a year. We journeyed out to the Charles Bridge at night to see the Largest and Oldest castle in Central Europe lit up across the river. It was a spectacular site.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Berlin, "I Don't See a Wall"

Pearse posting his first blog:

My favorite part of Berlin was Eamon's birthday present. Seamus, Eamon, and I got to go to see the Blue Man Group. We also got tickets to go and see the World Track Championships. We have seen many different tourist areas like the Brandenburg gate and the Sony Center. The very best part was I got to pick Colleen up from the airport. "The end of that blog"


Written by Colleen on the train to Prague,

I have only been here for about 2 days and it has been a very interesting time for me. To start my 3 week adventure I first had to get onto the plane and for me that was a very hard thing to do. Finally when the plane got on the way to Berlin, Germany I was settled in watching movies and listening to music knowing that once I landed I would be welcomed by my family and not be missing home very much. We got to see the Sony center, the Brandenburg gate, and the Berlin Wall on my first day; and the second day we got onto a train to Prague. Now I cannot wait to see what other new things I will get to experience while on my adventure.

The Start of Month Two

Today is Eamon’s birthday. We started it just the way he likes...NOT!! We got up early…he hates the mornings. It’s nice to have a teenager on the move in Europe and now we have 2 with Colleen with us for 3 weeks, way cool. Off to the train station this AM. We are headed to Prague. Ann booked tickets and are we glad. The train was loaded with folks and we got “tossed” from a cabin as we weren’t in the right place. You know me, I’m not leaving this family car "for 6" unless you prove to me I am not in right spot, I don’t care in what language you yell at me. Ann is a fast study and we learned our “car” was further up the train. Colleen, she was literally “just along for the ride”. It’s 4.5 hours to Prague and we anticipate a great few days. We are fast approaching 1 month in Europe, unbelievable. We got the train thing down, load up, get moving, get situated, bring food, relax, love life thru the window of the train!! Carpe Diem.

My Birthday

Today is one of the best days of the year, MY BIRTHDAY!!!!! 2 days ago my dad gave me an early birthday present, front row tickets to see the Blue Man Group. These guys were hilarious and really creative. They had comedy skits, interactive points in the show, and really cool musical instruments. Now as most know, teenagers like to sleep, and I got to start my birthday by getting up BEFORE 7 AM to catch a late train. Are you kidding me?!? However, I now have someone my age to talk with, Colleen, so it’s not a total loss. We picked her up yesterday and got to show her around Berlin, and at this very moment we are on our way to Prague, a beautiful city we have heard, for a three day trip. Our train ride was mayhem, but you will hear more about that in the other blogs. Colleen seems to be enjoying herself thoroughly and she makes our day even better with her jokes (usually of me).