The intellectual equivalent of a ham sandwich.

Posts tagged ‘trip’

OK Travelers, Vienna – Part 1

December 27

I had thought our trip would involve trains and the fast-paced sightseeing that comes with a window seat, but when I looked up the travel time from Lucerne to Vienna on a train I realized that may have been a whole lot of just staring out a window. We debated an overnight train with a sleeper car (something I’ve yet to experience and that sounds glamorous but in reality is probably uncomfortable and irritable-inducing).

Thankfully, it’s not too much to fly from one city to another when they’re close by.

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That night I took a walk from our hotel and one of the nearby museums had a different things projected on it.

The lady and I woke up and left our grand life of Lucerne, heading to Zurich airport to fly to Vienna. Our flight was through Swiss Air but fulfilled by Austrian Air. When we boarded the plane my wife and I were both taken aback by how nice it was. It wasn’t as though it was a fancy plane or a glamorous seating arrangement – it was a regular old flight that was just nice. Like a nod to what flying must have been many years ago. There was classical music playing (probably an Austrian composer), the flight attendants were in beautiful red suits/red jacket and skirt. And they were attractive at that (one of them I think my wife had a crush on, a woman with black hair, pale skin, and strikingly blue eyes).

The flight was short and uneventful except for the wife playing the role of the hero. The woman sitting to my left, at the window, had lost her glasses. She told me this and we both glanced around but did not find them. As soon as the plane landed and the fasten seat belts sign was taken away the hero of the day got off her seat, got to the ground, and spotted the woman’s glasses under her seat. Phew. I’m sure that woman heaved a big sigh of relief. Not a very important event, but it’s always good to be a good American ambassador and do something kind.

From the airport we took a train straight to the central station, and from there it looked to me like a not very far walk (pst: mistake). The lady had started down the path of a little cold and she was being a trooper, but was less full of energy than she had at the start of the trip.

 

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Same building, different view, different projection. Sorry I’m not a better photographer – it was really neat in person. (But I did spare you from how chilly it was.)

We walked the 3/4 mile or so to the hotel and experienced our first very cold weather of the trip – the wind was strong and laughed at our jackets, scarves, gloves, and hats. It seemed to find every possible crevice and use that to remind us that winter is no joke. (Up til then the lack of cold had been surprising.)

We got to our hotel and checked in, and we asked about the possibility of seeing an opera. The clerk informed us that there was one the next day but it was sold out, and we could pay extra to get tickets from a 3rd party. The Viennese Opera? Sure, we’ll pay a little extra. The amount she stated was fine, and we were well on our way to being classier and more sophisticated people than ever before.

One little hang up was wardrobe – the clerk informed us skeptically that I could get by on slacks and a button up shirt for me, but a tie would be nice, oh and also a jacket. Right, sure.

With the lady of the house rocking her bit of cold, and our frigid walk to the hotel, soup sounded mighty fine. Our kind clerk let us know about two different spots nearby that had good soup and after dropping our bags and relaxing for a minute we made our way there. With the early flight and walk to the hotel we were treating ourselves to a later lunch, it was maybe about 2 pm.

The cafe where we ate was fantastic (we ended up going there twice in our short stay). The waiters wore nice suits, but it was not a fancy restaurant. There were coat racks right by the door and it was a seat yourself deal that once again drew looks of agitation and judgement from the wait staff when you asked about seating. We both ordered a sausage appetizer plate and soup, and both of us couldn’t have been happier with our meals. I decided that a lot of Bavarian and Viennese classic dishes were like a great burger place – there may not be a huge range or a lot of variety, but what they do, they do really well.

There was a pharmacy next to the cafe, so we popped in and got some cough drop type drugs from the pharmacist who spoke English. Come on drugs, work your magic!

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From our late lunch we walked to the opera house to look into a hop-on, hop-off bus line. The tickets would be good for forty-eight hours, and there was a bus leaving just then that would take us toward the Sigmund Freud house (a goal destination of the Mrs.). With little delay we were on the bus and on our way to dear Dr. Freud’s house/place where he saw patients. My wife is a psychotherapist which is why this house had much more meaning and relevance and importance to her. The museum itself was small, it was his house after all, but it had a lot of neat items (his couch that patients used, for example). I would recommend the museum, BUT I think it’s worth reading about Freud first because the museum seems almost oriented towards Freud geeks. It explained things well, but it explained them as though you already knew the first half of the story.

After the museum it was dark out, and the weather had gotten colder. We ducked into a coffee shop to get some drinks to warm ourselves up and scheme on what to do next. I thought walking back to the hotel would be just fine (but remember, I’m ok with a couple miles of strolling) … the wife was less keen on the walk (and remember, she had that bit of a cold) and then when the rain began to fall from the sky chilly as you like, we decided maybe walking wasn’t best.

We managed to find our way, moderately accurately, to a subway station. And after a little bit of confusion we were back at the hotel, happy and warm. The day had been long, and we were wiped out, so we decided dinner at the hotel would be ok. The restaurant attached to the hotel seemed a little fancy, but thankfully without the fancy prices, and I would say definitely without the fancy taste. I had a chicken dish which was bland, but hey, you can’t win them all. I think Europeans in general seem to be less keen on spices than I am accustomed to. My wife was very amused because my plate had a ‘little sachet of lemon.’ It was a lemon slice wrapped in something, and I saw the little wrapping and thought, ‘there must be cheese in here!’ so I untied it only to discover a half a lemon. Talk about a crushing blow. The chicken and my taste buds were happy with the lemon, though.

 

Attn: Ellen (1/18/17)

Front

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Back (apologies for my handwriting!)

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The text of the postcard is

Dear Ellen,

Another trip has come and gone and what do I have to show for it but wonderful memories, stories, experiences, and trinkets. Oh. That’s actually pretty good … I need to tell my brain to quit whining and embrace that I’m back home.

Sincerely,
DumbFunnery.com OR @DumbFunnery

Why am I doing this?

Perfect Preparation Makes Blah Blah

My wife and I, by the time you are reading this, will (hopefully) be back in Houston after a challenging but enjoyable 5 day hike. Or perhaps four and a half. But five sounds more impressive.

One of my wife’s concerns for this trip is the showering situation: there will be no showers.

For this trip my wife and I did lots to prepare. We drove to elevation in Texas (that’s no small feat), Big Bend National Park and we did a 15 mile hike that involved elevation gain and loss. The next day, in lots of pain, we settled for a four mile hike.

We’ve also got bug wipes, wet wipes, quick dry towels, fancy backpacks, giant water containers, and … cleaning wipes. These will be the substitute for showering. But what my wife doesn’t know is … I’ve been preparing for a lack of showers all my life:

  • After working out, even if it is drenched in sweat inducing, I will saunter about the homestead making dinner, chilling out, sometimes even going to sleep, all before showering (my wife has put a stop to that last activity because it is “gross”)
  • If, again, before marriage, I would come home and my apartment would reek I would be grossed out … and impressed
  • The summer my parents bought a house with a pool in the backyard I didn’t bathe for at least a week, possibly two … When the longest time between being in the pool and not being in the pool is 7 hours, who needs bathing? (Note: I was 18 at this time)

So, hopefully soon you’ll see some pictures from our trip, and hear about our adventures.

Mumbai

Previously:

And Now …

Mumbai

In the wee small hours of … the morning, we boarded our plane in Udaipur and headed to Mumbai. It was time for the last stop on our grand India tour / honeymoon. (And thank goodness, because we were worn out at that time and I’m sick of writing about this. You know it’s going to be a good post when I start off with whining.)

The funny thing about the airport experience was that a woman, an Indian woman, walked up and asked me if she was at the right gate for a flight to Mumbai … you’re going to ask the white guy? Lady, thanks, but I’m not fountain of knowledge. We were at the right gate though.

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You wouldn’t know it to look at the place, but it was very nice.

When we landed in Mumbai we did one of the most American things you can thing of … we went to a Starbucks. Lauren and I had left very early in the morning, too early for breakfast, but by the time we landed we were more than ready for some food. A blueberry muffin and coffee for each of us and what a thing it is to eat foods you know after two weeks of new foods. I was sad that it was something so cliche as Starbucks, but blueberry muffins are delicious.

Our hotel lobby was so hip there was a no geriatrics sign hanging (hyuck hyuck). There were a few tables, a kitchen area, and almost constantly one or two employees hanging out. The rooms were all right off the lobby so it was quite small, but very modern and cool.

Cruising around town.

Cruising around town.

The one downside to the hotel … there was construction going on. The kind of construction that made it sound as if one of the construction workers was going to accidentally put a hammer through our room wall at any point. In fact, from our room, if we opened any of the shades we stood face to face with the construction workers on their bamboo scaffolding (which appeared to have been constructed on a dare).

In the early afternoon our guide came and met us in the lobby. She was, well, first off, a she, and secondly she was a bit loony in a fun way. For Lauren our guide reminded her of a good friend of hers – the kind of woman that not only takes no ish (that’s the PG word for shi*) from no one, she proactively takes no ish from no one.

One of the dabbawallas

One of the dabbawallas

She understood, partly from us telling her, that we were wiped out feeling. Message received, she had us covered. We did a bit of a driving tour of Mumbai, getting out to view the dabbawallas (the amazingly accurate and low-tech food delivery system), the Gandhi museum, and the public laundry area. Toward the end of our driving tour she told us a number of places to try that were walking distance from our hotel, including a delightful tea room. Lauren was feeling a bit off so we opted for that. We bid her goodbye, enjoyed tea, and then mostly confidently (me) but also full of fear (Lauren and I) we depended on our sense of direction to get back to the hotel. We made it!

The public laundry

The public laundry

Due to the lack of full energy/wellness feeling we had a very low-movement night at the hotel.

The next day we met up with our guide and headed to Elephanta Caves on Elephanta Island which features religious carvings dating from the 5th or 6th century AD. The carvings were beautiful.

View from the boat ride.

View from the boat ride.

On the boat to the island we chatted with some Swedish students who were working in India for an internship/semester abroad kind of thing and they had enjoyed quite the experience thus far. Two of them were very stereotypically Swedish looking – very blonde, very light blue eyes, pale skin. They said they had taken a tour of some slums in Mumbai and a woman literally shoved her baby into the arms of one of the girls for a picture. Lauren and I’s brown hair perhaps kept us from more unique encounters.

One of the carvings.

One of the carvings.

Well … I’m wrapping this trip up in a hurry because, as stated previously, I’m ready for a different kind of thing to write about on Fridays. Telling true stories gets boring – it’s time to go back to oddball nonsense.

High: The carvings in the caves were beautiful and impressive, it is a shame so many were destroyed.

Low: The next “morning” our flight left at 3 am, the driver was a friendly fella who chatted with us and was happy our visit to India went well. The agent was an absolute punk who looked like a very angry, mean, Indian Burt Young.

Our mean-spirited guide, ol Indian Burt.

Tips for Recent Grads – Your Big Trip!

Here we go, recent grad, as I stated earlier I will now be throwing unwarranted advice your way. I debated not posting this because it is obvious and who am I to give advice? But, I had written it up and didn’t want to just throw it out (i.e. I didn’t want to write something else), so here we go!

Done with college! Done with dense books! Done with learning!

Ok, maybe not all three of those … But at least for a while two of the three may be very true. And what better way to celebrate than with a big trip? ESPECIALLY a trip overseas!

Turns out, we (U.S.A.! U.S.A.!) aren’t loved nearly as much as we love ourselves. Fret not, my friends. On an individual level, there are a lot of us who are very likable people. As a recent college grad you are, hopefully, somewhat intelligent. Put that big brain to use.

Here is some advice (again, apologies if it is obvious or you already know it, you world-weary wanderer):

1. Get a Toronto Raptors sticker and throw that on your backpack.

2. Get a Toronto Blue Jays sticker and throw that on your backpack.

3. Say please and thank you.

4. Imagine yourself going to a friend’s house. You hang out and watch movies and you end up crashing there. The next morning he/she says, “you want some cereal?” and you happily say yes because of course you want cereal, cereal is delicious.

Your friend says “please help yourself” (note the please) and you get to work. Your friend ends up keeping their silverware and bowls and cereal boxes in the LAST place you check for each item. You started logically, “where would I put the spoons if I lived here …” and eventually you gave up on that approach, blindly checking.

Now, does the confusion in a different setup you’re used make the cereal any less delicious? No, don’t be silly. Does the different setup make you want to say, “wow, this is really weird” (but the way you say weird makes it seem like you’re implying crazy or stupid)? No, because you’re not a jackass.

(Note: For dudes, you may say things like this just to be a jackass … Hopefully you know that you can call yourself and your best friend an idiot, but no one else.)

Ready for the shocking jump in my little analogy?

When you go to a foreign country where the culture is very different from what you are used to … Things may seem weird to you. But they are weird in fascinating ways. Your friend has his or her own logic for the spoons being in the drawer closest to the fridge, while you keep the spoons closest to the bowls.

You may meet some people who are cool with the fact that you’re wide-eyed and bushy-tailed. The world is an amazing place and far too few get to see enough of it. These cool people you meet may understand your fascination and you can ask them, “so why DO you keep the spoons in that drawer instead of that drawer?”

Good luck, globetrotters!

What a Fun Trip!

And then I said “wow what a trip!,” and mom said, “that was a fun trip,” and I thought, “holy cow mom’s on acid!” and she said, “no I’m not on acid I meant the family vacation,” and then she turned into a dragon and ate dad and I thought, “maybe this isn’t a fun trip.”

Uhhh … What?

A guy I work with uses the word “dragon” as a synonym for a problem of any kind.

“Get to work on this and you’ll find some dragons!”
“I bet there’s a whole box of dragons once you get into that.”
etc.

I had a meeting with him and he talked about dragons, and I tried to focus while thinking about my upcoming trip – and voila – that piece of weird up top came out.

International Language of Dumb

 

 

*That’s a children’s book – and I was at Copenhagen University. So it’s funny, see?

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