Monday, February 28, 2005

Filling in my calendar 

According to the really cool timetracker that Fred sent me (which you are going to be able to see only if you have Excel on your computer), we are almost done with day 286 of this deployment. Unfortunately, we also have somewhere in the neighborhood of 128 days (or 11,078,539 seconds) left. It's hard to be precise, because we don't have a set end date yet.

When I looked at the timetracker for the first time, I was rather shocked. I guess mentally I was much further down the road than we really are. How is it possible that time can fly, when it comes to seeing everything we want to see in our final months in Europe, and drag simultaneously? We're doing our best to stay as busy as possible while we wait.

Saturday I'm taking the kids and flying down to Rome. I was sitting on the couch the other night messing around on the Ryanair website, and I found tickets for the 3 of us for 260 euro roundtrip. Not a bad deal at all! So I booked those and set to work looking for a hotel. Ultimately I decided on Notti a Roma, which my neighbors recommended. I've booked us a triple room with private bath for 100 euro per night.

Our plane leaves Saturday evening, and our first order of business on Sunday is to take a daytrip by train to Pompeii. (We're going to visit the Reiss Museum in downtown Mannheim on Wednesday to whet our appetite with their Pompeii exhibit.) We will have all day Monday and most of the day Tuesday to explore Rome before our plane leaves Tuesday night to whisk us back home to Germany.

After Rome, we'll have 3 days to rest up and get ready for our trip on Saturday, March 12, a 10-hour train ride to Copenhagen. We have friends from Texas who are living there, so we thought we should make a visit before they return to the States. We'll return to Germany on Thursday, March 17, again by train. I'm considering taking the train up to Stockholm on Monday and Tuesday, but it might be a bit much to add yet another 10 hours (round trip) to our train time.

Once we return from Copenhagen, my calendar is more or less empty until April 14 when my sister arrives for a 12-day visit. We will be driving to Holland that first weekend to see the tulips with my friend Amy and her daughter Rebecca. Sometime that next week we hope to make a trip over to Poland for some more pottery shopping.

Sometime in early May, my friend Sandra is coming over with her son and a friend of hers. We're still undecided about what we'll do then, but some destinations that have come up for discussion are Paris, Switzerland, and Prague. At the end of May, my friend Gretchyn (of last May's 2-day, 700-mile, 5-country driving tour--part 1 and part 2--as well as November's Austrian adventure in Vienna and Salzburg) will come back, and we will venture forth to discover the secrets of Belgium.

I guess that just leaves me with June to get through, and then Fred will be home, and we will have 30 days to travel with him before we move. I've asked everybody to make a list of 3 Things I Must Do Before I Can Leave Europe. Fred's 3 things are: visit the area of England his grandfather came from; see the beaches at Normandy; and touch Africa, preferably Egypt. My mother just loves this last part, as she's convinced that we will be blown to little bits by terrorist bombs. Annabelle meanwhile is worried that she might come home with some horrible parasitic disease. Thank you, Discovery Channel, for that lovely show Eaten Alive featuring 101 disgusting things that might take up residence in your body should you ever dare to visit Africa!

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