Saturday, June 21, 2003

Honeymoon Day Eight- Sorry I'm late...

Ok, several days away make writing very diffilcult with the Internet cafe about to close in 20 minutes. Ach!

D?lsach was wonderful. A week's trip packed into 2 days and 3 nights. On Tuesday, we hiked Ederplan, which is mountain that is about 6,500 feet at the top. When I was 15, I climbed and it didn't seem so hard, but now. Very hard. It's basically steep switchbacks all the way up. An elevation gain of maybe 2000 feet in 2 miles. In America, we call this hard. In Austria, even the non-hikers call it easy. Apparently, a hard hike requires ropes. Folks, back home we call that mountain climbing. And my favorite part, the german word for hiking is wanderen. It's just wandering for them... for the clueless, they speak german in Austria.

So Jane and I were pathetic sweaters and panters all the way up, but the nice thing about Austrian mountains is that there are big log cabins at the top called huts, which sell food and drink to the sweaty (or non-sweaty if you're a local) hiker. Jane, Christian, an old friend Gudi and I had lunch at the top and the sausages were great. It was at this hut ten years ago that I was peer pressured (by 60 year olds) to try hard alcohol in the form of local favorite, Schnapps. This time was not so bad. Schnapps doesn't burn like it used to.

Anyway, we hiked down Ederplan and laid about in the afternoon. In the evening, we ate dinner at my friend Nicole's mom, Edith's. house. It was super. A salmon pasta. Very good. We stayed there late into the evening, sipping Schnapps, and telling stories about people. I tried something call Fehnert which is supposed to be some healthy kind of liquor mixed with herbs. It tastes like crap. Well, grass and crap. Don't try it if ever offered. Run, and fast.

The next day, yesterday, we woke and visited Mama Brunner. Mama Brunner is the 87 year old mother of Edith, grandmother to Nicole, and host mother to my mom when she came here for a summer at the age of 17. She was very sweet, talkative, humorous, and complimented me on my german, which was flowing ok at that point, but was still very rudimentary. She cried at the end of our visit because she doesn't know if she will see us or especially my mom again before she dies. So Mom, I promised you would visit in the next 2 years, so start saving...Apparently, you can fly within Europe now for like 20 bucks on this Irish just fly to London and then hitch it on the other plane.

In the afternoon, Jane and I played a lot with the two kids of the family we were staying with. Andreas is five and Hannah, six and a half. Both of them were the cutest kids ever, even though they hardly understood anything we said. Jane also went shopping with their mom, Annelies. Around 5 pm, Christian and I met Jane and Annelies at a local Schnapps brewer (the town of D?lsach with 2000 people has 60 local brewers of Schnapps!) and we tried Pear schnapps and raspberry schnapps and elderberry schnapps (YOUR MOTHER SMELT OF ELDERBERRIES!) and you name it, we probably tried it. Too much!

After that, we had a bbq at Gudi's family's house which was awesome. I had never met her family and they were wonderful. Jane said to me within five minutes of meeting them, "I love them." And as we walked home from their house, she said, "You don't have to speak the same language to know if you really like someone." It was a very fun evening of more stories and sadly, even more Schnapps.

The one minute left on time moral of our story in D?lsach is that you will never eat so much or drink so much Schnapps in your whole life as you will in several days in D?lsach...bye.

Monday, June 16, 2003

Honeymoon Day 7- Hallo Osterriech!

A very quick blog tonight people. This keyboard has the y and z keys reversed so it is crazy already. Too many ys!

So we made it to Dolsach, Austria, where once upon a time my mom was an exchange student at 17 and has somehow kept in touch with half the town since then, so we always have a place to stay and people to see. Tomorrow we hike a mountain and then dinner with like 15 people. It's nuts.

But the family we're staying with is wonderful. The two kids are 6 and a half and 5 and are beautifully adorable, if not understandable at all. They, of course, speak no english and my german is withered and sad.

Anyway, we got in around 6 this evening, had dinner, hung out, told stories, and then went into the big town (Lienz, pop. 10-15,000) for ice cream. That's two servings again today. We love it. And our host Christian has offered to take us to a local Schnapps distiller. Very cool.

That's all to report today. I won't tell you about the experience of waking Jane up on the train. It was funny, to say the least.

With love...

Sunday, June 15, 2003

Honeymoon Day Six- Ah Venezia!

So today was one late morning+train ride into the late afternoon. Something about european curtains leads Jane and I to believe it is still 7 am when it's really 10:15. So alas, we missed breakfast at the hotel, had to pack up, and headed for a brief stint at the outdoor market. Jane was looking for a skirt. She found two. Brilliant!

So, that didn't take any time longer than most trips to Old Navy and we were back to get our luggage and head for the train station. The train station was a hurry up and wait situation, as I did not understand that some of the trains we could not just hop in with our Eurail pass. No way were we going to stand in line to pay extra, so we waited an extra hour for a train to Venice. Jane bought us some McDonald's and we spent the time showing off our gin rummy skills to one another. I'm proud to say I won a lot.

The train finally came and well, I goofed. We got onto a second class car when I did pay the extra dough for 1st class passes, and sadly there was not much air flow. This made us both quite sticky in an uncomfortable way.

Arrival in Venice was pleasant as we discovered it was 5 degrees cooler here than in Florence. Just a little cool makes a big difference. As it was 4:30 PM upon arrival, we needed to get our act together for a place to stay and our walking tour. A hotel was procured, the Dolomitti (the Dolomitten mountains are where we head tomorrow so it was fitting), and we headed over to the Basilica of San Marco. Apparently, Mark the Gospel writer happens to be buried in Venice and there's a big church on top of him. They moved him here from somewhere else, but he's here nonetheless. We got there too late and couldn't go in. Bummer, but when you see too many over decorated churches you start getting uncomfortable in your protestant pants.

We then proceeded to get lost in the city, find a nice restaurant, and then do the kicker...the much anticipated Gondola ride at dusk...thanks to a very generous gift from our good friend Debbi Ricks. It was a little piece of heaven. Certainly one of the highlights of the trips thus far, and by far the most romantic. Our Gondolier sang and pointed out landmarks, including Marco Polo's house. This city is old! Plenty of pictures from the Gondola ride for all to see. Jane got off and said, "I feel like I just got a massage..." She was happy.

Once over, Gelato and the internet cafe called. And here we are again, typing for you all.

Oh, no idea about the internet capabilities in small town Austria, so maybe this is the last entry for several days. A pleasure as always...