I really don’t have any excuses for this close-out post being so late. We got back almost two weeks ago, then immediately launched into prepping for the moderate-sized (90 people projected – I think we did a bit better than that) family reunion. Then the reunion. Then moderate cleanup (I love that my family is so diligent about picking up; about the only thing was the literal truck load of garbage to go to the dump), then back to work. For two days. Then July 4th, one day at work, then a weekend, then more work, and now you are up to the present. Plenty of time to hammer out a blog post; sorry I’ve been such a deadbeat.
OK, trip report… The day train to Munich was nice except for one major issue. The car has giant windows that let in lots of sunlight and the AC was barely keeping up. Then, I guess to move the engine from one end of the train to the other (‘cuz we changed directions of travel), the AC was off for 10-15 minutes. It quickly turned into an oven. Keep in mind that these are normal summer temps, we got out before they had those record heat waves, so I can’t imagine what it would be like during the heatwave. The car had only managed to get back to bearable by the time we got back to Munich, well over an hour, perhaps two.
On the taxi ride back from the train station to the hotel I remarked to the driver that the two (long) train rides I was on were both a half hour late. He made it clear that late trains was a fairly regular thing, so I’m guessing the EU is resting on its laurels now and letting things go to hell. I never actually checked the time for the shorter train rides we were on, but Mara, our guide at the time, was diligent to ensure we were always at the train/bus before it was to arrive.
Our last night in Munich was spent in a local restaurant at another hotel. The service, unlike reported here previously, was OK. Granted there were 18 of us (Mama’s brother and wife joined us) and we were pretty much the only customers, so the staff was probably overwhelmed, but the food came out fairly quickly given the circumstances and was very enjoyable.
Some random thoughts on our trip, since the rest of the post diverges from the trip:
- Cleaning elves. We sort of joked about this, because most places were really clean (caveat below), but we rarely saw anyone doing anything about it.
- Tiny glasses. What the heck is it with these one-sip glasses? I’m used to the ‘small’ glasses everyone else in the US has (I drink from quart-plus glasses at home), but they felt gallon-sized compared to these tiny things. In a couple of places I got my wife coffee and me drinks in a soup bowl.
- F-ing cobbles. God, do I hate cobble stones! So easy to trip over. And don’t get me started about pushing a wheelchair over the damn things, particularly when the gaps are the exact size of the wheels.
- So much water per flush. I guess they don’t consider water a valuable commodity there, or we got (un)lucky, but man did their toilets use a lot of water for each flush. I’m used to the gallon or so here in the US and sometimes it seemed like 5 gallons were going down.
- Handicap accessibility. I mentioned this before, but it was everywhere. I guess they either don’t have handicap people in Europe or they don’t give a damn about them, as the problem was everywhere.
- Unmown grass. I mentioned the ‘cleaning elves’ above, but there were many places where the grass was completely unmown and it looked trashy. On a jog around Zurich, though, I came up with the idea that these were set aside for wild flowers and pollinators. Or I’m making excuses for them, can’t be sure.
Our simple trip to the airport wound up not being that simple. First, we follow the wheelchair people to their own checkin desk, which only had a single person in front, just about to leave, while all the rest got in the long line to checkin there. Yet _all_ the others managed to get through the checkin while we were still standing around. Supposedly there was some element of haggling over seats, but I really don’t understand why these things always seem to take longer for the group I’m in.
Then we went through security, largely painlessly. Then only had to go through customs and find our gate. Except it seems there are at least two ways to get through customs and our party fissioned. NATURALLY our son goes with the other party and we lose track of him. I believe it was almost an hour and a half before we were able to finally get word where he was. He was just outside another customs entry way, playing on his phone like there was nothing going on. I did my best not to jump all over him, though I’m sure he felt put upon. Of course, just about everyone else had to give him a dig at some point, as it seems he was somehow the only one that didn’t realize we were frantically looking for him. Well, my wife was frantically looking. I stood in one place so there’d only be two of us lost in the airport.
Our biggest worry was he did some Home Alone crap and followed someone else through customs and now we would be split on both sides. We had no idea about the multiple customs entry (why?) or we might have thought to check the other(s). Anyway, instead of a relaxed hour or two at the gate, it was stress filled and I had barely got to relax before we started to board the plane.
The bulk of the flight was without incident. We were three abreast in the middle of the plane, which meant I didn’t have the window to lean against to attempt to sleep, which sucked. Plus, we were ‘chasing the sun’ and it never got dark the whole ride and there was never a period where people calmed down and relaxed. I did try to sleep (I really tried!) and my wife tells me I snored, so I must have been unconscious for a half hour or so. However, I didn’t feel I got any rest at all.
I watched Captain Marvel, since I had 9 hours to kill. I liked it and will want to get the disks to watch the behind-the-scenes. I really found it amusing that after she had mastered her powers, she’d giggle as she flew back and forth through a big ship, tearing it to pieces. I watched another movie, but can’t remember what the heck it was. I started to watch Jumanji 2, figuring I wouldn’t mind it being interrupted since I’ve watched it several times and have the disk.
Then we came in for the landing. Some little kid (girl, perhaps, but they all sound alike at that age) seemed to be feeling some pain from the change in altitude. Except not just crying, but screaming. The ‘interesting’ thing was it (what else should I call the child if I don’t know the sex?) had a fairly substantial vocabulary and spoke in whole sentences, so I really felt it was a temper tantrum rather than crying from the pain. I got very close to homicide.
Naturally it took a long-assed time to get everyone off the plane. The oldies prefer to be back near the bathrooms, plus wheelchairs, so it was a good long while before we got to the main terminal. My family and a couple of others had got the Global Entry thing to get through customs. It was just a couple of minutes, no line, and we breezed through. Only to learn that the mob moves at the pace of its slowest member and we probably sat for at least a half hour, perhaps even close to an hour, before everyone else made it out of customs. At least we had all the luggage by then.
The trip home was almost anticlimactic, except for how tired I(we) were. We finally managed to get to bed around midnight, or around 6 AM Munich time, for a vvveeerrryyy lllooonnnggg trip. We did nothing the next day (Wednesday) except drive out to Shen, all the party prep was left for Thursday and Friday. And after doing that I was pretty wiped out from the sun and physical labor. It seems the mysterious ailment that has been nagging me for several months now is still not finished. Around six weeks ago ago I visited a cardiologist because I had been dragging for over 6 weeks (this was on referral from my GP, who ad no idea what’s up). He couldn’t find anything either (seemed a bit disappointed that I was otherwise healthy), so scheduled an ‘echo’ and a ‘nuclear stress test’ for July 11th. Some 6 weeks away at that time. I figured I’d be cured or dead by then. And, wouldn’t you know it, just a couple days later I started to feel much better. Even started jogging again.
But my jogging energy (I seem to be able to walk without too fatigue) would ebb and flow. I felt good jogging in Europe, until the last day in Munich. I really dragged and probably only did an honest jog for about a mile. The fatigue from the prep for the party felt like part of it, but it was hot as hell and I was doing physical labor, so I sort of chalked it off to that. Didn’t really have any time to go jogging until yesterday and I was dying before we got a mile and didn’t even manage to finish jog/walking to the two mile halfway point. And was so wiped out when we got back I didn’t have the energy to shower, then woke up with the alarm. So maybe the tests on Thursday will tell the doctor something I can act on. Hopeful, but not optimistic.
I managed to finish my screenplay, or, at least, got all the elements in my synopsis written into screenplay format. Only 60 pages though – when I was aiming for 90-100. Traditionally, screenplays are considered one minute of finished on-screen film per page, though that’s violated probably as often as it’s honored. My first feature, Shenandoah Treasure Hunt (shameless plug), was 84 pages, yet edited down to 62.5 minutes (including the begin/end credits). I’m somewhat less worried about my bike racing movie as there are quite a few pages where I have brief descriptions of what I feel strongly will wind up much longer on the screen.
I got absolutely nothing done on my budget or energy idea. Regarding the latter, in discussions with a brother-in-law (once removed), he suggested I curtail my cigars and use them as a reward to getting progress on the energy thing. I was skeptical at the time, but have since started to think it might be worth pursuing. That being said, so far I’ve only managed to do some design work while smoking exactly once, but at least that’s further than before and I am slightly optimistic I can do this at least a few more times.
Now I have to try and focus on getting prepped to film the bike racing short in August. My lovely wife is helping by doing her Shopping Queen thing, but I have to build a greenscreen wall as well as a dolly track, then try and organized the crew to spend at least a few hours practicing with the setup, so when we start filming we can (hopefully) blaze through and get it all done on one weekend.
My wife would like to collect our trip and reunion pictures and display them and I will, no doubt, be involved in that. I may create a post with those links and let my reader(s) know. Or, probably the most likely, dilly dally until everyone has forgot, then blow it off. I never put any pictures up from our trip to the Philippines last year, though I had every intention at the time.