Page 4 of bsktcase Travel Blog Posts

Europe » Austria » Vienna » Vienna April 4th 2009

We now resume this travel blog after a ridiculous blogging hiatus that there was no good reason for. Welcome back! Pretend it's April in Vienna.... Today we spent an inordinate amount of our day sitting in the hot (!) sun waiting for the High Speed Catamaran To, it turns out, Nowhere. Where we were trying to go, and perhaps this was our first problem, was the city of Bratislava, capital of Slovakia, just down the Danube River (yes, that one) from Vienna. Why Bratislava? Rick Steves has this to say: "Conveniently located Bratislava — the capital of Slovakia, on the Danube between Vienna and Budapest... read more
Breakfast of Champions
Dixieland Band

Europe » Austria » Salzburg » Salzburg April 3rd 2009

... tired old Sound of Music jokes when talking about Salzburg? Actually, much credit goes to Greg for "going native" and appreciating Salzburg in the proper European manner: as the first home of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. At the end of our trip, he even commented that were it not for Mozart, tourists might not visit Salzburg at all! Meanwhile I'm humming "Edelweiss" (hint: not a traditional Austrian tune) and trying to remember where-all the von Trapp children danced during the "Do Re Mi" montage. OK, I only did that a little bit. :) ÖBB offers a high-speed direct route, under three hours from Wien (Vienna) to Budapest, Hungary on their RailJet line. We seriously considered making a day trip there, but ultimately decided that such a large cit... read more
Mozarts Geburtshaus

Europe » Austria » Vienna » Vienna April 2nd 2009

As Germanophiles know, the German language often builds words by mushing together several small words into one big long word. Students of German are frequently advised to tackle intimidatingly long German words by looking for smaller pieces that might themselves be words the student can recognize. For this reason, I found it very curious that the German word for cemetery is "Friedhof", because I am all-too-well acquainted with a Bahnhof, which means train station, and all its many variations (Hauptbahnhof, U-Bahnhof, Busbahnhof, Flughafenbahnhof, and so on). I couldn't figure out what a cemetery would have in common with a train station to make them both "-hof", so I looked it up. It turns out Hof means "yard" or "court", so a train station is a "rail-yard", and hey, we have those in English too. And Greg ... read more
Great Composers
Greg and Schönberg
Soviet WWII section

Europe » Austria » Vienna » Vienna April 1st 2009

It snowed back in Seattle today. Online in the afternoon, I witnessed a flood of Tweets/Facebook stati from home proclaiming it "Mother Nature's April Fool's Joke" (all by people who don't know each other). Here, our 1. April was utterly free of Aprilscherze (April Fool's Jokes), even from my pun-loving sweetheart, for which I blame residual jet lag. :) We set out this morning to visit Greg's #1 destination, the Haus der Musik interactive museum. It's very much like Seattle's Pacific Science Center but devoted to sound and music. I was surprised when Greg rated it so highly, because it seemed more like a hands-on learning center and more for kids, which is great and all but is not something to which grown-ups necessarily want to devote precious Vienna time. The first few floors of the ... read more
Beethoven's hearing

Europe » Austria » Vienna » Vienna March 31st 2009

Grüße aus Wien! (Greetings from Vienna!) Reason #1 to take fewer, longer trips to Europe: 15+ hours of travel, mostly in coach class. (This is of special concern if you are a fat American and don't fit well in coach seats.) Miserable. We were in really rough shape upon arrival in Wien (Vienna). Fortunately for us, two nice things happened as soon as we got here. First, a delightful gentleman (who looked and sounded a lot like a professor) saw us studying our map inside the U-Bahn (subway) station and offered to take us with him to the Universität Wien (University of Vienna), then marched up to a Polizei (police) van to ask them in German for directions to exactly the street beyond the Universität where our Pension is located. (We didn't bother to tell him ... read more
Beethoven schlief hier
Rathaus bei Dunkelwerden

North America » United States » Washington » Seattle February 15th 2009

It all started when I created a low-fare email alert for Seattle-Frankfurt am Main. I set it at what I figured was a ridiculously low threshold and didn't think about it again. Until last week, when it triggered. $450. LOLwut?! Just wrapping up a brutal month of 60-ish hour workweeks trying to deliver a software product, looking for a way to relax and reward myself, and airfares to Europe in this shoulder season are crazy low thanks to the economic downturn. On the other hand, I still haven't fully paid off the credit card from the last trip and that is not OK. On the other other hand, ZOMG $450. (Last summer was $1,500.) At the end of last year's trip, I started thinking that off-season or shoulder season might be good enough for me rather ... read more

North America » United States » Washington » Seattle » U-District August 21st 2008

And the medal winners are: GOLD - Sony VAIO VGN-TZ340 (rosé) My best-ever impulse purchase, for an accidental reason. I had no idea how helpful the built-in webcam would be, but free ooVoo video calls home were a lifeline for LG and her parents and thereby also for me. Plus, the every-other-day video calls provided a neat justification for me to have the laptop and WLAN (wireless internet) in the first place. "This? Oh, this is for LG and her parents, you know. Me? Maybe just a little Facebook/Travelblog/Flickr/CNN between calls...." The built-in SD slot made it quick and easy to upload my day's photos to the laptop. I wish I had switched over to the Flickr desktop Uploadr sooner; it was much better than the standard web uploader over slow/less-reliable connections. I was seriously annoyed ... read more

Europe » Czech Republic » Prague August 16th 2008

I'm surprised and impressed that LG is having any fun in Prague at all. It's been cold, windy, and raining hard since we arrived... utterly miserable for sightseeing. And still overrun with tourists. We can't even have the fail to ourselves. Yesterday, we got stuck in a rainstorm while standing in the queue to get into the Katedrála svatého Víta, Václava a Vojtěcha (great big cathedral of some holy dudes) in Praský hrad (Prague Castle). No rain gear of any kind. I don't even remember there being a queue when Drea & I were here in 2005 and no way was I going to step out of it over a little rain. Ugh. We were wet, cold, miserable, and generally extremely Catholic by the time we got inside the doors. The Katedrála is worth it, though. ... read more
Weeble suits
OMG what??
Praha in rain

Europe » Germany August 13th 2008

I am finally starting to figure out the German showers thing, and with it, kind of having an epiphany about the foreign cultures thing. I particularly value my showering experiences, so it was a particular concern for me that I, and I think Americans in general, have a thousand different kinds of trouble with German showers (and British showers). For one thing, they're tiny, like so much else in Europe. I, like so many Americans, am not tiny. I had a serious problem with how slippery the shower/tub floors are, and apparently so did my American expat host in Nördlingen, for she had installed little anti-slip suction-cuppy things, but they didn't work. The floor was so slippery that even the suction cups slipped. It was precarious. In Ettlingenweier, I re-discovered the joy of shower curtains/doors that ... read more
Somebody else's Prague shower

Europe » Germany » Saxony » Dresden August 8th 2008

We're hosted in Dresden by friends-of-a-friend's-parents, wonderful people whom I also visited for a few days in 2005. I had heard that they were excited to have me back, but I didn't expect Herr S. to be jumping up and down, totally literally, on the train platform when he spotted us. We were greeted with a huge smile and hugs and kisses. Back at the apartment, zwei köstliche hausgemacht Kuchen... two delicious homemade cakes, one Erdbeere (strawberry) and one Pflaume (plum). LG got drei Stücke Erdbeerkuchen (three pieces of strawberry cake) and is very happy to be back in the company of Großeltern (grandparents) again!! We took a ride around the kid-operated Mini-Parkeisenbahn (cute little miniature railway) on a 5km (2.5ish miles) tour of Dresden's Großer Garten (great big garden), just a short walk from our ... read more

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