Thursday, June 15, 2017

To Krakow: Getting this show on the road!

The first question we’ve gotten from everyone about our trip to Europe has been “What about the girls?” Don’t worry, guys. They were well taken care of. Both sets of grandparents rose to the occasion magnificently and took turns caring for the girls. We began our journey by traveling to Tennessee to drop the girls off with the Boswells, who they stayed with for 6 days before meeting up with my parents and heading to Alabama for the remaining 6 days. THANK YOU, Grandparents! You made this incredible opportunity possible and gave the girls the time of their lives. We are so grateful! Also, all the grandparents took excellent pictures and saved up stories, so I’ll do a post about the girls and their wonderful summer adventures, too.

After dropping the girls in TN, Brad and I set off for Atlanta, which was a little less than a 5 hour drive. We didn’t quite know what to do with ourselves on a roadtrip with just the 2 of us! We sat quietly for a bit just because we could! It’s such a different experience. (We did miss the girls…we just also enjoyed finishing every sentence we started.)

Before our trip, Brad found a very reasonably-priced lot for us to park the car ($70 for almost 2 weeks!), and we got through security and in the air, headed to Amsterdam with no problems. It was a stress-free departure, which is always nice for those of us who usually struggle in the Travel Drama Department. I watched Moana (does anyone have thoughts on that one? I’m still trying to decide what I think.), and Brad watched Beauty and the Beast (I occasionally paused mine and watched with him at my favorite parts (we could talk about that one, too, but I’ll go ahead and call it: Brad and I both loved it.). After those initial movies, we did everything we could to sleep for most of the flight…but alas. I slept about 45 minutes, and Brad slept none. BOO.

We had a long layover in Amsterdam and intended to get into the city, but after talking to one of the information desk ladies, we changed our plans (mostly due to my concerns about getting back in time based on what she said about airport security) and instead found some lounge-y chairs and attempted to sleep some. I slept about 45 minutes again, and again, Brad slept none. We tried SO HARD, but it just wasn’t meant to be. We did enjoy walking around the airport and snacking some (when we weren’t semi-horizontal and trying to sleep). Some helpful things to note about Schipol (Amsterdam airport): it has a couple of little areas (off the beaten path) that have lounge chairs shaped kind of like the chairs you find at pools and are great for resting after a trans-Atlantic flight; there’s a huge climbing/play area for children in the upstairs food court in the international terminal; there is also a wonderful baby center/lounge that is made up of little curtained-off alcoves that contain cribs, changing tables, and seating for mothers; there are also charging stations for phones periodically throughout the terminal. I’ve flown through Amsterdam many, many times, but I’m noticing different things about it now that I’m a mom. Playground! Baby space! Hooray!

Look at us! So bright-eyed, so bushy-tailed. *so caffeinated* We were sitting at a charging station, consuming caffeine and trying to look awake. And also matching...accidentally. Bless it. We met up with Griffin, Brittani, and Susan shortly after this, and I could not believe the first time I met these folks was the one time I was matching Brad. 

Something I learned when I lived in Ukraine: when you are headed to a former Soviet-bloc country from western Europe, you will almost always have a departure gate in the bowels of the airport. You will also have to take a bus from the terminal to your plane. You will also discover that lines don’t exist anymore, and it’s every man for himself. Yep. Flights to Poland are apparently the same. We met up with 3 others from the Lilly group, and one of them said, “I can’t quite find where the line is…” so politely while my muscle memory kicked back in, and I started muscling my way into the crowd. Some things can’t be unlearned.

We got to Krakow safely and with all our luggage and made our way to the hotel not too long after. Brad and I got our room assignment…only to unlock the door and find someone in there! It was the wife of one of Brad’s cohort members (her husband was in the shower, which could have lent the whole situation to even more awkwardness!), but we didn’t know her, so it took a minute to figure that part out. Poor Ashley... We went back to get our room sorted, and it crossed my mind that I really hoped no one else ended up with a key to our room. That would be a lousy surprise…

The whole cohort (minus one who couldn’t make the trip) met up for dinner, and that was my first experience with a Lilly dinner. Guys, we were there for about 3 hours. It was excellent food and conversation.

Oh! And when one of the girls from the cohort poured water from the common carafe into her glass, she made a valuable discovery: rather than finding a carafe full of water, she found a carafe full of VODKA. So much vodka. She didn’t even have to taste it to figure this out; it was so strong a lit match might have set the place on fire. A couple of folks tasted it just to verify (because it was such a crazy discovery; who finds a carafe of vodka on the table??), and they nearly choked. We found out later that the restaurant keeps both their water and their vodka in plastic bottles back in the kitchen, so when they were filling the carafes for the table, they mixed up the two. OOPS.

Brad ordered a traditional Polish dish at this first dinner: beef cheeks. It was yum. (I got a burger that was also yum but less exciting). Photo credit: Piotr

Dinner was really helpful for me to start getting to know Brad’s cohort, and I thoroughly enjoyed it! You know what else I enjoyed? Finally getting to go to bed after two days of not sleeping. That was a good end to the day, for sure.

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