Friday, September 28, 2007

I Will Always Find You

We arrived in Venice by train, just before sunset. The water buses (vaporetti) to Venice proper depart from a dock just in front of the station exit. We purchased our tickets and then walked onto a floating platform for the boat to San Marco, along with several other travelers with large suitcases.

The #4 express vaporetto to San Marco arrived, and Rowdy and Jordan pushed to the front of the line. The boys and I stayed back, because I didn't want to be one of those people who can't queue. R and J boarded the boat, the mate closed the gate, and off they went without us. As I waved goodbye, I could see Rowdy's stunned face and gesture of "why aren't you on this boat???"

Keiler and Max were a little bit concerned, but we were able to get onto the next vaporetto within about ten minutes. Our boat, however, was not an express. We were on the leisurely tour of the industrial part of Venice, the Guidecca, and the Accademia, with a lovely view of the sunset. I told the boys that I was not going to let their dad get away with it if he decided to be mad at us for not getting on the boat. After all, I was the one who had been to Venice before; I was the one with the hotel name, address and directions.

Our boat finally docked at San Marco, but not the same San Marco stop where Rowdy and Jordan disembarked. The boys were nervous, and pleaded with me to "just call Dad and find out where they are." Unfortunately, my cell phone had no service whatsoever in Europe. (What a rip! Rowdy's did, and we have the same service and the same type of phone. But I digress....)

I said to the boys, "You guys are lucky you have a smart mom," and proceeded to show them that we could go to the map and see that boat #4 had a San Marco stop just a short walk away, and I was sure that we would find them there. As we walked along the canal, I told them that they were also lucky to have a mom and dad who had faith. I knew that Heavenly Father wouldn't let us get lost, that I had a husband who would have actually listened the million times I said that we needed to stop in San Marco, and who was an Eagle Scout who knew to stay in one place when he was lost.

As we approached the "other" San Marco stop, we heard Rowdy yell, "Max!" Rowdy walked up to us with a big smile, Jordan in tow. He said, "I told Jordan that the first rule of being lost is that you stay put. You don't go wandering around." Then he turned to the kids and said, "Your mom and I--we have a thing between us. We will always find each other."

And with that, we headed as a family to our hotel.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Notable Quotables From Our Trip

"The expenseeviest....Take a look."--see prior post.

"Three bucks for a Three Musketeers bar? That's a dollar a Musketeer!!"--Keiler expresses his outrage at the ridiculous gouging of coach passengers on American Airlines domestic flights.

"This is a crazy place! The sink is lower than the toilet!"--Max's reaction the first time he saw a bidet.

"Fuenf?!?!?!" said our waiter at the Olympic Village, his eyes goggling. "Ja. Eins, zwei, drei, vier, fuenf," said I as I pointed to each member of our family, assuring him that, yes, all five of us wanted hot chocolate with our lunch. (Sorry to the purists, but I don't know how to make umlauts.)

"The Bridge of Sighs...(heave deep sigh)."--Not only did we see the outside of the Bridge of Sighs (sighhh!), we walked through it on the way to the dungeon of the Doge's Palace.

"I dunno. I put my stuff down and she started talkin' all Europe to me. So I gave her my money, and she gave me back twenty Euro-cents." --Max's first experience with shopping in Munich went well. However, it took him almost a week to realize that you didn't have to say "Euro-cents", you could just say "cents".

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Spanning the Globe

We just got back from a terrific week in Europe with the kids. Three days in Munich, a day train ride through the Alps, then three days in Venice, with layovers in London and Paris. Everything went very well, and we have tons of stories to tell.

The Highlights:

1) Jordan loved just being able to walk around Munich and take in the sights. She was able to use her German skills to buy things and find her way around.
2) Keiler says that his favorite part was taking boats everywhere in Venice. He'd love someday to be able to live somewhere where that was his primary means of transport. He also did very well with his first-year German. He successfully negotiated commerce and room-key-getting.
3) Max loved to be able to ask for the bill after meals in Italian. He especially loved this because Rowdy snuck him enough money or a credit card to be able to put down when the bill arrived, much to the amazement and amusement of our waitstaff.
4) Rowdy and I loved introducing the kids to two beautiful cities, spending time with them and each other and having things go so well. My favorite part was taking the train through the Alps. I don't think that there are more beautiful places in the world than the Alpine regions.

We arrived to find Munich in the final stages of preparation for Oktoberfest. I tried on trachten or traditional Bavarian dress that was available in all the stores. Jordan and the guys couldn't be persuaded to do the same, sadly. Our first night, we had dinner at the famous Hofbrauhaus. Definitely a fun experience, even though we were drinking Sprite rather than bier.

One of the things I really wanted to show the kids was the Deutsches Museum, which is a large science and technology museum. I remembered it from my last visit 15 years ago as a totally fascinating place. Well...I guess it was still pretty neat, but not as neat as I remembered it. Isn't that always the way?

We picked up some rolls, bretzen, cheese and salami at the Viktualenmarkt and some sodas at the grocery store, then walked over to the Englischer Garten for a nice picnic. It was a beautiful, sunny day, warm for this time of year, and the Munchners were enjoying the outdoors. I guess when you live in a northern climate, you want to expose as much skin as possible to the sun whenever you can, because there were several nude sunbathers along our path. Avert your eyes, children!!

Christina, Manahi and Samuel, friends of mine from NYC, are living in Munich until March. We had dinner with them our second night, which was very convivial. Samuel was born after I left New York, so it was my first meeting with him. He is as beautiful, intelligent and charming as I had expected him to be. Samuel seemed to fall in love with Jordan. Sorry, Sweetie! She's 15 years older than you!!

Our second day in Munich was our only bad-weather day. We thought about going to Salzburg on the train, but had a bit of a slow start with jet lag trying to overtake us. The hop-on-hop-off tour bus was a great way to see the city instead. We went out to the Olympic Stadium complex and had lunch in the revolving restaurant at the top of the tower there. Apparently, it is quite unusual for their diners to order hot chocolate to go with their lunches on cold, rainy days, because the waiter acted like we had asked for five cups of bile or something. Once he got over his heart attack, he served us delicious cups of hot milk with the chocolate sauce on the side. It was perfect for the chocolate-adverse Rowdy. I wished that I could stick my tongue into the little chocolate pitcher and lick it clean.

One of the bus tour guides gave us our "jumbo/large" catchphrase for the trip. As we drove down the Maxmilianstrasse, she said, "This is the most expenseeviest street in Munich. Take a look." So everything thereafter was "the most expenseeviest" (which wasn't hard to do, given that the dollar had fallen to 1.40 vs the euro).

And speaking of the Maximilianstrasse, Max was delighted to find that every other memorial or street in Munich seemed to be named after him. Too bad they spelled it wrong. Didn't they know that it's supposed to be spelled "Maximillian"?? It just goes to show that it's Maximillian's world, and we're all just livin' in it.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Rootin' Tootin'

This was only my third time shooting. The holes in the orange square are mine--nine out of ten shots. I feel pretty good about that!

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Rise and Shout!

After a few years of neglect, I am trying to renew my enthusiasm for BYU sports. Back in the day, I had season football tickets and went to basketball games fairly often. Once I left Utah and attended the University of South Carolina, my investment in the Cougars diminished considerably.

The Cougs beat AZ today in decisive fashion, which was a much better way to get my Cougar Spirit back than the drubbing the basketball team took when we watched them play SDSU earlier this year.

Having been away, I have a few observations:

1) I much prefer the "new" Cougar Blue. It's much prettier than that royal blue version from years past.

2) Coach Edwards will always be the One True Coach.

3) What the heck have they done to Cosmo? What's up with his little slits for eyes?

4) Interesting how I can still sing the entire fight song after all these years.

5) I could really go for a big chocolate chip cookie and scoop of mint chip ice cream from Heap's.
My Rad Life!