Runin DC

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Europe on a Whim

So I came to Barcelona on a whim.  I was on the National Mall running when I realized that if I needed to go someplace nice to work during my Christmas break.

I had no reason to go anywhere. On my laptop,
I would need to do it like right now.

So I got on the phone and called Andrews (Air Force Base).  A C-9 was leaving that night with a roll call of 2210.  I rushed home and started packing.

Normally I need a couple days to pack for these trips.  But today, I only had a couple hours.

I made the flight. That was only because a family of four had to rush home to grab something they needed in Germany.

There were no more seats available. But if they didn't come back in time, I would be guaranteed a seat.

I never flew on Christmas Day.  And I forgot how cold these planes got.  I've never felt colder. My sandwich literally froze.

Spent Christmas Day in Ramstein. The thing about arriving in the winter is that there were actually rooms available.

Sometime around 3:00 AM (when it was still night back home), I found a flight to someplace warmer and exotic for only 150 Euros.  What a steal, right.

Catch this: It was an Air France flight from Frankfurt to Paris.  I was fortunate to have an overnight, 9-hour layover in Paris -- the only catch -- it was in Orly, an airport an hour and a half from CDG.

What a weird concept -- it was like having an overnight layover in DC but having to transfer from Reagan to Dulles on your own.

Orly was about as dead as Pompeii.  The airport was closed but several of us managed to catch some ZZZs away from the cleaners and the security guards.

The next morning, caught a puddle jumper from Paris to Barcelona -- should be excited, except I was dead tired.

Checked into Kabul, smack dab in the middle of Plaza Real in the center of the old city.  With a name like that, how could I resist.

Hit the sack -- didn't even care about grabbing a bite.

Bright eyed and busy tailed by 6 pm.  Got showered and checked my email. Mosied down the steps to see what was cooking out in bustling La Ramblas.

On the way down I met some nice vacationers: Brazilians, Canadian and two American sisters.

"Where're you going?"

"Marsella, the oldest bar in Barcelona."

It took us a while to get there.  It was located in a far-away corner where working girls roamed the streets  on a mission.

"Hemingway went there. So did Picasso."

We walked in, and the walls were stained chocolate brown from years and years of cigarette smoke.  The whiskey bottles that lined the walls must have been a century old.  Thick clumps of cobwebs lined the ceilings and chandelier, creating an ambience of character and age.

And what was the treat?  Absinthe -- an acrid tasting glass of alcohol that burns if you swallow too fast.

You place a small fork over the glass, place a cube of sugar and pour water on it, until it dissolves.

That was the trick and it made the entire drink quite pleasing, albeit still strong.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Family Reunion of a First Kind

"Sometimes life brings you pleasant surprises -- it's not scripted or orchestrated, but just right. Life can be charming, like that, if you let it."
It was a family reunion -- one that has never happened at this scale before.

True, I spent nearly 10 days with Rio at the Chiswick flat.  During this time, I was also able to spend some quality time with Luke and meet his father, Derek who inspired me with his abstract paintings.

I was also able to go running with Luke a couple of times (take great satisfaction in his tremendous progress) as well as Chris (we ran down to Richmond together).  In fact London has been a great running city and what I personally dub "the fittest city in Europe".

It was ideal that Luke worked at Apple, since he was able to hook me up with an appointment at the Genius Bar in Westfield Shopping Center.  I had an issue with iMovie, and Apple gave me a free upgrade. (Note: It's amazing that Kim, Kae, Rio, Luke and Chris all use Macs -- I've never seen so many exclusive Mac lovers in my life)

Sunday, August 8, 2010

A Bike in a Bag

When I arrived in London and boarded its renowned Tube train, I noticed something different right away. No it wasn't the faces or the accents -- I already was expecting that.

The Difference

There were no bikes.  No regular bikes at least, just foldable ones.  The ones that could almost fit in a gym bag and slide underneath your seat. Come to find out only foldable bikes were allowed in the Tube, rush hour or not.  I could see why the trains were compact and very crowded, even before rush hour.  I finally understood the meaning of a poor, helpless sardine packed in a crushed tin box.

Interesting Features

The bike was interesting. Not only were they compact, providing for flexibility in transportation, but they were virtually thief proof.  It seemed too good to be true.  How come I hadn't really seen them in DC.  Oh yeah, we are the land of the Big and Bountiful while London was tight and tiny.  Still, I had to check one out for myself.  Yeah, it folds, but how does it ride and most importantly of all, how silly do I look on it?

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Giants Causeway Limerick

Giants Causeway Limerick

Here we are in Giant's Causeway
Where 40,000 columns of basalt rock stand today
The volcano erupted
The larva cooled
But before there was science
There was the Legend of Finn McCool

It is called the Giant's Causeway

It was made by Finn McCool
It's really just the start of a stepping stone tool

To get across to Scotland
To fight with Bennadonner

Through many disagreeements
They pulled each other asunder 

He took the cloth much 
And try and try as he may
He never his his target
But he made us our Loch Neagh
The mud landed in the water

And with all the might he can
He only then succeeded
In making the Isle of Man



So he took to playing the organ
And over here are his piples
He played the Sash,  Derry's Walls and Billyboys
And started loads of fights

Cause the Scottish giant thought that this were his tunes

Little did he know that the music for Ireland bagpipes
 Come from across there Near Dunloe

Friday, August 6, 2010

The Imperial War Museum, London

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Running in Budapest (8 August)

The Lake Zurich Swim

Operation Welcome Home