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.