Thursday, September 30, 2010

From the Dizzying Heights of Austria to Studley, VA

It's been a great trip with memories that will last a lifetime. We've met some really nice people, walked the ground where so much history was made, and learned a lot. This little town of Igls is really charming, and we can just imagine what it must be like under a foot of snow with some of the best skiing in the world just a short ride away. On our 17th day of the trip, both of us have awakened "under the weather." I don't know about you but for me when I'm not feeling well, I want to be home, not facing a 5 hour car ride, overnight in a hotel, and 13 hours of air travel. But that's not the case and we are going to make the best of it.

Thursday - September 30, 2010

What a difference a day makes. I awoke in a cold sweat at about 3:00 am in a pitch dark room that was spinning round like the teacups at Disneyworld, thinking I was going to be sick to my stomach. That's the bad news. The good news is that I've had this experience before (in fact twice before), so panic didn't set in. It's all about these little calcium crystals that break loose and float along in one of the little tiny fluid filled ear canals that tell your brain when your body is in balance. As you move the fluid moves little hairs in the canal and the brain then interprets how to move the body to keep you in balance to the floor. Gravity works wonders. When a crystal starts bouncing around whacking those little hairs all hell breaks loose, and you're in for the worst roller coaster ride of your life (and I hate roller coasters). The medical term for this is Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV). It's idiopathic and just one of the potential joys of getting older.

The key to not having the symptoms is to keep your head as motionless as possible and seek medical therapy. Like a statue I counted the minutes until the alarm went off at 7:00. On the other side of the bed Kat awoke with a full blown head cold, poor kid. I commiserated, she commiserated, and together we figured we would make the best of our situation until we got back to Virginia. With me walking like a robot, and Kat doing all the bending and turning, we checked out, retrieved the car, and went for a test drive. Our little VW had good seats, good mirrors, and great visibility, requiring very little head movement. Enough about the bad stuff, we were on the way home.

Down the hill from Igls we went, and fifteen minutes later we were in Italy. It was a gorgeous day with bright blue sky and big puffy clouds floating by the mountaintops. We stopped for a snack and gas (about $90 if you're interested) and settled in for a pleasant 3 hour drive south. Traffic was really sparse on our side, really dense going the other way, much of it large trucks. Does that mean Italy exports more stuff than they import from the north? Something to Google when we got back.

The approach to Venezia was easy, finding our hotel for the night: NOT. We wanted to be close to the airport, but didn't want to spend the big bucks at the major hotels for what would be about six hours of sleep. So we found a little hotel (The Feel Inn - I liked the name), in Compalto, which is part of greater Venezia and only 3 kms. from Marco Polo airport. I defy anyone to find this hotel, ever. It took us three tries by car, asking directions twice along the way. It is tucked in a building that is on the side of the town park, next to the church. There is no sign outside. Good luck.

Our room (Mare) was modern, clean and comfortable, and decorated in a nautical motif with a Murano glass clock (that was not inexpensive) and an interesting wall light that gave off fish shadows. It's not as tacky as it sounds, though it made me think that I was in an aquarium and felt a little seasick. With our bags (and Sacher-Torte) safe in the room we headed to the local pharmacy for some cold pills then on to Marco Polo where we returned the car. They didn't seem as glad to get their Italian car back as Mr. Azevedo in Berlin was to get rid of it. They nicked me another 25 Euros and I didn't even feel up to complaining. That's a first. The only thing left to do was to find the bus number that would return us back to the airport at 5:00 the next morning. Have I mentioned we'll never do a 7:00 am return flight again?

Right next door to our hotel was a small cafe where we ate dinner and chatted with the proprietor. It is small town at it's best. About the only thing we felt up for was a stroll in the park to watch the little kids play soccer. As we get older, we find this simple experience of watching kids to be very enjoyable. The pick-up game was co-ed and it was a scream watching the boys pick the girls and the girls showing the boys that they were the better players. Give them six or seven years and all the rules will change.

Friday - October 1, 2010

In the very cool dark of 4:30 am. we rolled our suitcases to the bus stop. The way they click-clacked over the cobblestone sidewalks we feared we would awaken the whole town. By the time the bus came, there were about 10 of us waiting, and we wondered if this might not be a bad place to stay if you were visiting Venezia and didn't mind a bus ride in. It clearly doesn't compare to the Lido, though.

The airport was crowded, the flight full, we were tired. Flew to Amsterdam. The airport was crowded, the flight full, we were tired. Flew to Philadelphia. Same story, you get the picture. At 5:15 pm we arrived in Richmond, very glad to be home again.

Monday - October 10, 2010

We are enjoying a beautiful early autumn day in Virginia. Kat's cold is much better and I've just returned from physical therapy with a clean slate on my "ear rocks." They have apparently settled back where they belong and now I just have to do my habituation exercises twice a day. Last time it took about 3 months for all the symptoms to disappear. Thank God we don't work.

This morning we had our first discussion about our trip and agree it was one of the best. Germany was such a pleasant surprise. The sites were interesting the scenery beautiful, and the art great. We would certainly return. We enjoyed everywhere we went, but doubt we would return to Venezia unless it was to accompany someone who had never been (like the grand kids). We cherish the time we spent exploring Venice with Rich and Lu and our stay on the Lido. They are so generous. Berlin has a nice feel to it. We were surprised how empty it became at night.

We tried some new food - Kat in particular. She may be developing an appetite for Bavarian white sausages, flame cake and Nuremburgers. For me, the tasty beer did the trick. We'll remember our discussion with the ladies on the train from Dresden and the kindness of Angelika in Igls.

More than anything we'll remember the time we spent together.

One last picture. This is the view of the "other" castle up by Neuschwanstein (it's called Hohenschwangau) - not a bad setting.

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