Peter Lyons

Europe Trip

September 30, 2018

Pardon the Delay

OK so this post covers July 2018 put it took me until October 2018 to post it. Sorry. Also I ran out of both steam and memory for some of the last few days so it starts to get pretty sparse.

Saturday Hippocampus

Saturday before my Europe trip I drove up to the Hippocampus (a friend's mountain property) for their first annual big group campout party. Most of Gora Gora rolled in during the afternoon. We had a birthday party for their daughter who turned 2. Josh had strung an anchor cable high up between two trees and we used that to belay people during a crate stacking competition. In the evening GGO hung out next to JJ's classic VW bus which amazingly made it up the mountain to the Hippocampus.

I had a tight schedule the next morning which meant waking up at 5 AM and very quickly throwing all my camping gear into the car and hitting the road toward Boulder. I grabbed my luggage and headed toward the bus station. I had to jog a bit carrying my suitcase overhead, but I made it there with 4 minutes to spare before my airport bus took off. My hops on the way out were Pittsburgh, Reykjavik, then Stockholm.

Monday in Stockholm

In Stockholm I took a nice Volvo bus from the airport to my airbnb neighborhood Fridhemsplan. I found my airbnb and got settled in. I showered since there was no time in the previous morning. I felt super guilty about taking a trans-atlantic flight without a fresh shower, but that's how it had to be. The shower was really tiny. I know European showers are smaller than in the US but this was like coffin-sized. I could not lift my elbows to horizontal without them both hitting the wall and could not bend forward so there was a lot of yoga tree pose type washing going on.

Then I walked around my neighborhood a lot and got a latte at espresso house, which is a chain coffee shop but seems to be the only game in town with decent hours and wifi. In the evening I walked over a bridge to an adjacent neighborhood and got some Swedish meatballs and lingonberry jam at a popular and hip restaurant.

Tuesday in Stockholm

Started Tuesday with coffee and blogging at Espresso House. I walked past Stockholm Central Station and up through the shopping strip through Normalm up to Vasastan then back home. I ate lunch of Pasta Carbonara heavy on the fresh cracked pepper at a tiny Italian restaurant. Then jet lag hit so I slept and rested for almost three hours.

In the evening I went to a guided meditation meetup group around the corner, which was really nice. Then I walked around Gamla Stan, ate a meal of mussels and got ice cream for dessert.

Wednesday in Falun

I started Wednesday with a bad cafe breakfast and some rust coding at Espresso House. Then I went to the train station and took a train to Börlange when Henrik picked me up. Henrik lived with my family for a year as a foreign exchange student when I was in the 6th grade or so. He had his son Fredrik with him who is 14. We toured the area a bit, which is a forested valley full of trees and lakes surrounded by rolling hills and small mountains. We picked up a bunch of specialty provisions at the grocery store then went to his house for dinner. I met his wife Camilla and daughter Tilda who is 19. Henrik grilled a big chunk of sirloin on the grill on the dock and we ate outside in the long evening light. After dinner we had a quick swim in the chilly lake water then straight into the hot tub to recover. Fredrik told me a lot about motorcycle racing and took me to the garage to show off the stable of racing bikes. He competes at the national level for team Kawasaki and Henrik coaches and serves as team tailgate chef.

I slept in their cute little guest cottage which them let as a B&B.

Thursday Adventures

In the morning Henrik made bacon and eggs on a big griddle on the dock. We drove to the copper mine that is a centerpiece in the town and toured around a bit. Then we did a tour of the Lugnet athletic facility that was Henrik's big work project for several years building and renovating ski jumps for the 2015 world championships.

We did a long car ride into Stockholm and visited the Vasa Museum, which is pretty fascinating. Then we drove to the outskirts of town where Henrik's brother Daniel docks his boat. We took the boat through the narrow waterways around Stockholm looking at the interesting waterfront homes there. We had a slow cocktail at a restaurant called The Old Smokehouse and a leisurely dinner into the evening. Then back on the boat and slowly made our way into the heart of Stockholm by 5-knot speed waterway. The lights reflecting on the still water were spectacular. It was past 10PM by now. We went through a lock up into fresh water and dropped me off in the neighborhood of my airbnb.

It was a super amazing day packed with awesome stuff. I hadn't seen Henrik in about 25 years!

Friday Travels

Friday I did some more exploring of Stockholm in the morning and visited a liqorice and chocolate shop to get some gifts for Mom. Then I took the bus to the airport and flew to Zagreb, Croatia.

I took a shuttle from the airport to the Zagreb train station. I waited around a long time for a streetcar/metro that never came then I just decided to walk about 35 minutes to the airbnb.

I arrived around 1 AM and rendezvoused with Chris who had been in Zagreb most of the week already. We are attending the World Saxophone Congress. We went together in 2006 (it was in Ljubljana, Slovenia that year). Chris went once on his own when it was in France, and we were going again this year. The event is held every three years.

Saturday World Saxophone Congress

Saturday we slept late, walked around a bit, got a nice big fancy lunch with risotto and gnocchi. Then we visited some of the sax congress. We played some Selmer saxophones and chatted with several folks. We heard a concert in a church with a premier of a piece for sax quartet and choir. We also heard a saxophone ensemble piece in the music school building, then the final evening concert in the main concert hall of several concerti played with the Zagreb Philharmonic Orchestra.

Sunday Train

Early Sunday morning we walked to the train station and managed to get on our train departing Zagreb heading toward our transfer in Villach. Once on board the train, deciphering our train tickets was a real puzzle. They were in German since we bought them from the Austrian train company since Vienna was our destination. I remembered paying a few extra Euro for reserved seats, but for the life of us we could not figure out how to map the words/numbers on our tickets to these little strips of paper above each booth and seat on the train. We had all of our luggage with us so Chris just sat down in a car and I dropped luggage to go explore. I eventually realized that "wagen 273" was the car number and we were in wagen 271. I went 2 cars down and eventually found seat numbers 101 and 103 which then explained that "Fenster" and "Mitte" meant "Window" and "Aisle". I went back and got Chris and got us into our proper reserved seats in the 2nd class car.

The ride all the way across Slovenia was pretty. We made our transfer and started heading for Vienna. We arrived in the afternoon, took the underground to the Innere Stadt old city neighborhood and found our AirBnb, which was really nice and in a great location.

We were starving since we basically hadn't eaten anything that day and it was 4 PM so we ducked into an Austrian restaurant with a basement dining room and ordered a huge meat plate and feasted. We walked to the Belvedere Palace and walked around the gardens in the evening.

Monday Belvedere

Monday Chris and I toured the Schloss Belvedere both the gardens and the interior which houses a museum with a nice variety of galleries. I think we ate dinner at the Indian restaurant directly in front of our apartment.

Tuesday Castle

Tuesday we took a regional train out a small way into the country to visit the Kreitzenstein Castle. There's a path through the woods you can walk up which is a great way to visit a castle. The castle itself was really cool and interesting to visit. We ate lunch there then headed back to Vienna. In the afternoon we walked the gardens of Schloss Schonnbrunn and then out to see the Danube.

Wednesday Castle

Wednesday morning we took another train ride and bus ride to another castle, which was also great. Our tour was only 4 people which was nice. Chris did the interior of Schonnbrunn in the afternoon back in Vienna. We got really good cakes for dessert at a cafe close to our apartment.

Overall it was a super awesome trip. Definitely the boat trip through Stockholm and cakes in Vienna were the highlights for me.

Here's some photos.