Saturday, August 22, 2009

We Say Goodbye to our Niece and Our Friend and Hello to the Marathon Runners

We got an early start to the airport to get Colleen all checked into the Continental Airlines for her flight home. She is flying as an “unaccompanied minor” which requires special assistance and allows me to stay with Colleen at the gate til the plane leaves. We asked each of the kids “What will they miss most about Colleen?” Pearse said “the jokes”, Seamus said “ How we did everything together!” Dad said”the fun loving and easy going personality.” Mom said “having another girl around who likes to shop like me, get in and get out.” and Eamon said “someone that likes to sleep as much as me.”
It was a fun 3 weeks. I think we have the country count at 6 (Austria, Germany, Slovakia, Poland, Czech Republic, and Sweden). We saw Churches, castles and old cities mixed with fun “tours” and not so fun “tour guides”. We visited great museums and royal palaces. We saw a band on horseback and a changing of the guard. Team Glavin agreed that the changing of the guard at The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington, VA is much better no matter how romantic it might be to see one done in Europe!
We had many meals in many different places and some were great and some not so great. Note to visitors to Krakow, don’t get nachos with “dill cheese sauce” it went right to the trash can. We looked for internet in 6 different countries and we had some success but many failures. You can’t assume a nice hotel has good internet. We exercised in 5 of the countries so running shoes weren’t packed for naught.
It was a sad goodbye at the airport but I think there was a late night in room 374. When I ask, “What time did you guys go to bed?” I get the blank stare and quizzical look from all 3 kids and an answer in unison “I don’t know.”
We will miss our travel mate! Now we are off to see really skinny guys run really fast for a really long time!

Friday, August 21, 2009

OMG by Eamon

Oh, my, and God, the three most common words that were spoken over the last two days. The World Track Championships were the most wonderful experience to endure and to appreciate. The first day our seats were in the “A” section, the finish line tickets. These seats were simply astounding, and when the athletes finished they walked right near us. We felt accomplished when we were acknowledged when the Americans athletes walked by. We were screaming to get their attention while waving the American flags we purchased. The people around us thought we were completely bonkers. The couple to the right became our friends after they realized how fun we were. (How long it took them, the world may never know).
The second day we had seats in the upper level, near the start of the 100-110 meter races, the high jump, and the decathlon’s discus throw. We all talked about how watching track and field was a good place for A.D.D. “Hey look he just cleared the pole vault, oh look there goes the 1500 meters, WOAH LOOK HOW FAR HE THREW THE JAVELIN!!” We just had so much fun, and when Trey Hardee won the Decathlon I was shown on both jumbo-trons!

Memories of a Lifetime by Colleen

Amazing and crazy! I would have never thought that I would be going to the world track championships. The first day we had seats right by the finish line and behind the press box. We got to see all of the athletes right after they finished when they were getting interviews. We even got some of the American athletes to wave at us. I was thinking “I do not think things could get any better from this point,” but day two we had more in store for us. We got to see Usain Bolt run the 200 in 19:19 to make the new world record! We even got to see the American Trey Hardee win the men’s decathlon. The past two days I have had memories that one could only dream of having.

200 World Meter Record 19.19, USA Decathlon Champion and Awesome High Jump Competition

Day 2 of the World Track Championships was, as expected, filled with amazing successes on the track. The Decathlon Day 2 included 110 Meter Hurdles, Pole Vault, Javelin, Discus and last but not least 1500 Meters at 10:00 PM. My admiration for the athletes is at the top of the charts. We watched a fantastic women’s high jump competition between Croatia and Germany and it was just below our seats.
The highlight of the day was undoubtedly the 200 meter finals. Usain Bolt brings a dynamic personality to the track. He is electric and humble at the same time. The crowd that numbered about 70K waited with anticipation for the start of the race. Our seats had us on the first turn of the 200 meters. As the gun sounded the stadium erupted in applause and screams of encouragement. We looked as they whizzed by us with the USA runner shoulder to shoulder with Bolt. By the 190 meter mark it was clear that this was Usain Bolt’s race as he pulled away and the hushed crowd waited for the official word. The track officials checked the “windage”, the clock reads 19.19 and then the official announcement “A NEW WORLD RECORD IN THE 200 METERS”. Pandemonium ensued as Bolt circled the track to the delight of all. Our team enjoyed the festive mood and waved our American flag vigorously as a show of support for exceptional effort.
The remainder of the evening was like a good party that no one wants to leave. Great competition mixed with medal ceremonies, national pride and fantastic technology throughout the stadium. The orchestration of the event was 1st class and a pleasure to experience.
The energy on the way home was like New Years Eve on Time Square. It was a long, crowded wait for the ubahn, there wasn’t enough room on the platform for the sea of people but the mood was still one of “we witnessed excellence” and a few more minutes in this atmosphere was a “bonus”. I reminded the kids that they should remember this the next time we are waiting after an Eagles game!!!
We say goodbye to Colleen tomorrow but will carry this day’s memory of team Glavin-Eccles at Berlin Olympic Stadium forever.

Autographs by Pearse

O my gosh, I got to go to The World Track Championships. The first day we had awesome seats at the finish line. The 2nd day we had okay seats - we were in the sky deck. The 1st day I got a shirt and I got 3 autographs and 1 was from the silver medalist in the woman’s Javelin throw. The 2nd day I also got three autographs. Today, at breakfast, I got the Germany decathlon champion that we watched yesterday. This is the best autographed shirt in the world.

Bang by Seamus

Day one at the world track championships was a great start to our two day adventure. Our seats were right where they interviewed all of the athletes from the different countries. As athletes from the USA went by the media center we went insane waving our American flags. We were easily noticed by many of the USA track and field athletes and they when they saw us they would do a wave, a fist pump or a ‘thumbs up” motion as acknowledgement of our “fan support”. Hey it’s nice to see American fans in Berlin! I thought it was going to be hard to top Day 1, but we did.
BANG! They were off then again BANG, false start it was the Frenchman! Two more jumps by the woman’s high jump, then they were back at the line again for another start of the 200 meters. When they started I could have sworn I heard a whistle as they went by our seats. Everyone was one on their feet cheering to see if this marvelous event was going to happen right in front of our very own eyes. The waiting was intense and everyone fell silent. When the official number came up on the jumbotron. A roar from the crowd and a huge cheer from the full stadium… Usain Bolt beat the two hundred meter race record and took the gold because he ran 19.19 seconds to cross a finish line.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

We Got This One Just Right!!

The U-Bahn said, translated into English, Olympic Stadium. It is a direct shot, 7-8 stops, so we don’t have to change anywhere along the route. The car is full to the brim with people as if we were in the New York Subway at morning rush hour but the fervor isn’t like we are on our way to work. The excitement is building for Team Glavin-Eccles as we rise out of the subway. It is a short, tree lined, walk to the stadium and in the distance you can hear the crowd roaring and the ever present sound of the plastic bugle horn reminding you that most of these folks are “futbol” fans turned “track and field” fans for the week.
The first sight of the huge stadium reminds any athlete that this will be the place where hard work and off season preparation will be rewarded. The added sense of history and the fact that this was the sight of the 1936 Olympic Games make it even better. The original rings and the stanchions that hold them in place are original. I try and share the historical perspective with the kids but I get the ‘Yeah yeah we know history blah blah blah. Oh well, perhaps those moments of understanding will come one day in a future history class.
The security is tight and the German’s have their infamous organizational strengths on display for all to see. Everything is done with precision and a “first class” attitude. Each opening is dotted with orange bib wearing security personnel.
Our day is filled with Day 1 Decathlon competition, 400 meter opening rounds where we see the American Jeremy Wariner and Ann gets great photos with her new camera (story for another time). We see Usain Bolt and the opening round of the 200 meters. He is a special man that electrifies the crowd. Our seats are perfectly placed for the “media run” that all of the athletes must take as they exit to et back to the locker room. It is perfect. We buy a USA “stars and Stripes” Flag and hold it up for all of the races with Americans and call put as the “Americans” exit the track. The kids are “whoopin and holleran” and the folks in our section are enjoying the unbridled fun of Family Glavin. There’s dancing singing, eating and just plain fun. The finals to the 1500 meters are especially exciting. It is “the race” of the day and the roar of the crowd is intoxicating. It is an added bonus that the American, unexpectedly, finishes 3rd to a fella from Bahrain and Ethiopia. You just can’t get this feeling on TV.

I think our walk back to the UBahn will be etched in my mind forever. Pearse said “I want to throw the Javelin and run the hurdles and some day you’ll come and see me at the World Track Championships”. He came home and did push-ups and sit-ups!!!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

What Would Mozart Think?

It was an early day for Team Glavin as we were “out of the rack” at 4:15. We took a special train to the airport. It reached speeds of 220 kilometers per hour. The flight was easy and the trip into Berlin simple and straightforward. It helps when you’ve been here before. There are folks all over the UBahn with tickets hanging from their necks as proof they attended the Track Championships. We made our way to the hotel. As we closed in on the address, 6 folks with backpacks and the rumble and rat a tat tat of the suitcases along the streets of Berlin, we noticed a few changes in the neighborhoods as we walked a few blocks. Ann, with map in hand and a reservation form with street address on top says “It’s right around here somewhere, I think.” We knew we were in trouble as there was an adult store on 2 corners and a go-go joint on the other. The reception for the hotel was on the 6th floor and the entrance to the hotel shared a doorway with one of the clubs. I am pretty sure when we looked at the Internet pictures we missed these photos. I am still trying to figure out the “5 star rating” it received on the Internet. I mean come on now how could the Hotel Amadeus be a bad place to rest one’s head? We managed to find a beautiful hotel across from the Zoo, no not that Zoo, the Berlin Zoo! All is well and mom and dad are resting comfortably, crisis avoided and as an added bonus we got our money back from hotel #1. We even get slippers in our new hotel!!
Carpe’ Diem

Did that Ship (not boat) Sink?

Seamus, “Why is it so cold?” “It’s the North!!!!” I yelled back. Three nights in a row, we (the kids) had the coldest room in the hotel for some unknown reason, and boy was Dad jealous. After we got over the cold and finally slept we had an awesome time out and about the city of Stockholm. One day we visited a museum of the famous shipwreck, the Vasa. The Vasa sunk on its maiden voyage on August 10, 1628, due to terrible weight distribution. It was recovered 333 years later, renovated, and placed inside of the Vasa Museum.
That night the kids went and hung out in the Old Town. We went to Ben & Jerry’s and got amazing Belgian Waffle Sundaes. They toasted a Belgian waffle to a golden brown, placed a ball of Chocolate Ice Cream on top drizzled with chocolate sauce. As Homer Simpson would say, “MMMMmmmmmmm………. Belgian Waffle Sundae….AAAAGGHHHHH…...”

Swedish Fish in Sweden by Colleen

We had an amazing few days in Stockholm Sweden. We had the chance to visit many amazing places such as the Vasa museum the houses a boat that had sunk on its first time out due to a weight distribution problem and was then found 333 years later. We also got the chance to see the changing of the guards at the Palace and the Nobel Prize museum. Also while in Stockholm we found a 7-eleven and we got some Swedish fish because you cannot go to Sweden and not eat any Swedish fish before you leave…

Restaurant Hopping

Our 3 days at Stockholm were awesome! We found Seven Eleven’s all over Stockholm. We also found our new favorite candy. The 1st night we had dinner at O`Leary’s because we could not find a table at The Hard Rock Cafe and because there was this contest where you made the coolest car in the city. There were some amazing cars to see. The photos can be seen if you “go to” photos and click August then go to sweet cars and press play at the top right corner and see them from there, play it and watch it. At O`Leary’s I saw that to go to the bathroom we had to know a code to get in. That was different, a lock on the outside of the toilet. The next day we went to the Nobel Peace prize museum I got some chocolate coins there that looked like the Prize metals. They were huge, awesome chocolate coins. That evening we went to The Hard Rock CafĂ© and later that night we went to Ben and Jerry’s. The last day we went to a famous shipwreck that was called the Vasa. It set sail August 10, 1628 on its first voyage and sank. Wow a bad day for the ship builder!

Now I am going to Berlin to see THE WORLD TRACK CHAMPIONSHIPS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Seamus,Sweden, Girls, fish ....OH MY!!!

I got to Stockholm Sweden and the first thing that jumped out at me were the GIRLS. My dad said that they are the most beautiful girls in the world. I didn’t believe him but after we walked half a mile, boy was I surprised he was right. Also, I saw a 7-11 and then another. It had the best Swedish fish ever, I wonder why? One thing that was really cool was when we saw the Noble museum, which had a bunch of different facts about the Noble Prize and the people who received the award. I learned that they award the Noble Prize for literature, chemistry, physics, peace, psychology or medicine. I learned one of the awards is not given in the country of Sweden but in Norway. Can you guess which one? Email me if you know the answer or you need me to tell you!
Right now I am in Berlin just in time for the World Track Championships!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Stockholm Sweden beautiful in and out

We arrived in Sweden on Saturday morning. It doesn't take long to get a sense that it will be different in Stockholm. The train from the port is clean and smooth. We befriend a fella from Mexico who is wearing a University of Maryland t-Shirt. He is well traveled and gives us some advice for our trip to Israel in October. He is a great help as we didn't know we had to change trains to get to Stockholm city center. The kids are doing great job moving from city to city and country to country. Many folks enjoy seeing "Pearse the trooper" with his backpack, 2 water bottles on each side and his rolling suitcase. He muscles the suitcase up and down train platform and subway platform like a real seasoned pro! We manage our days pretty well, planning for the museums and the "must do's". One never knows when Stockholm will be on the list for travel again. "Old Town" is a delight and we still get a kick out of the fact that there is a 7-Eleven in "Old Town" and we also mange to have ice cream at the Ben and Jerry's. Eamon photographs some 45+ Classic cars which makes his day and gives him more than a few selections for the "wallpaper" on his "I-touch". We took a nice run along the ocean and realized that Sweden is a very "fit" nation. Folks were running by like we were standing still. The temp is exquisite for us that hate the heat and summer in Sweden has a nice ring to it, doesn't it? We heard it was hot in Phila., PA and Wilm., Delaware so on your behalf we visited the Ice Bar. I'm Mr. Cold Miser I'm Mister Fun.....

Carpe Diem