The work trip to Seattle initially started off well enough. Because my flight left so early on Tuesday, I had decided to go to Vienna the day before and stay with the Sonnwebers. Got to the train station, it smelled like dog crap, but it always smells like dog crap. Got on the train and took my seat. Being in the last car we were the first to have our tickets checked. I showed my ticket on my phone to the conductor and he grinned and appeared to be searching for words. I thought he was about to complain because he couldn't just stamp my ticket like the others. Being about the most outwardly polite and friendly Czech national I had met, he told me that once we cross the border, the Austrian train crew would not accept my electronic ticket (seems backwards to have the Austrians be behind the curve). Additionally I had purchased my train ticket for the wrong day. This meant that I had to purchase a Czech ticket on the train, then get off and purchase an Austrian ticket at the border. His friendliness did not help ease my frustration with myself. At Breclav I jumped off the train and ran to the ticket office, dragging my suitcase. Ran back and got on.
Arriving at Wien-Meidling I purchased a ticket for the underground and proceeded downtown to meet up with Toby. It was immediately apparent how much easier to learn public transportation was in Austria compared with the Czech Republic. Knowing Toby had said his family would not be home until later, I walked around and got a coffee. I eventually ended up at a Croatian cafe that looked nice. I ordered a tall beer and the specialty for the day: sausage with goat cheese and tomato sauce. After finishing I ordered another beer and pulled out the copy of "The Sun Also Rises" I have been trying to finish for the better part of 2 years. I find it difficult to finish, as I see where the plot is going and I don't really like it. Anyways, a street cafe in Vienna with a beer seemed like the ideal way to enjoy the book, and it was. All afternoon the weather was teetering between decent and rainy with a breeze; weather that I appreciate. Eventually I met up with the Sonnwebers and managed to have a great meal of smoked fish and asparagus (with breadcrumbs).
The public transportation system in Vienna does not wake up early, so I had to take a cab to the airport at 4am. I didn't actually book my tickets so all I knew was that I was flying Lufhansa to Frankfurt to Seattle. I did not realize the first leg of the flight was through Austrian Airlines. I walked up and down the terminal looking for the Lufthansa check-in counter but only saw Austrian. I tried opening a door which promptly set off an alarm. I walked away as nonchalantly as possible. At about 5am the check-in counters were manned and it was apparent that I was flying Austrian. Made it to Frankfurt and spent most of my time watching the flight line. Of note was the fact that in this airport, apparently 2 toilets per gender per every 10 gates was thought to be sufficient. Maybe....if the gates were regional, but these gates were handling 747's, 777's, A330's, and A340's, all with over 300 passengers aboard.
I was in the center row, not in an aisle seat, so it wasn't exactly comfortable. The seats in front of me were occupied by 3 mothers and their infants or toddlers and one business traveler. Until the flight attendant asked the business traveler if he would prefer an aisle seat. Thinking she was going out of her way to help him, he said no I'm fine. She tried again and said he would switch seats with a mother and child. He again said, no I'd rather stay here and work. At this point it was obvious that she was not giving a favor, but asking for one. It was the 3rd or 4th attempt where the attendant finally said, "I am sure you will not get much work done here as there will be children climbing all over the place for 10 hours." He reluctantly agreed. The rest of the flight was uneventful, I watched American Hustle, The Wolf of Wall Street, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, and The Most Exotic Marigold Hotel. I had thought the latter movie was a Wes Anderson Film, but apparently it wasn't. Either way it killed a few hours.
Got off the flight, grabbed my rental and drove to Redmond. I don't remember much after that. Wednesday I hung around Redmond for dinner trying to re-aquatint myself with the food I ate before I moved to Europe: Thai, Mexican and Chinese. I also had a list of things to do in the US: ship winter clothes home, buy summer clothes, get a haircut, make sure my new phone works in the states. Got the haircut because I was anxious about getting one using Czechglish to communicate. Bought some short sleeve shirts that I could wear to work or on the weekends and a pair of shorts. Shipped the winterweight clothes home. My new phone, the Samsung SIII Mini was supposed to work on the Verizon network, however apparently there are 2 versions of this phone and mine would only work with T-Mobile (WCDMA Network).
Thursday I went to downtown Seattle to see Pikes Place Market. I walked up and down the shore taking photos and looking for a place to eat. The view was spectacular to the West. The sun was setting behind windswept cumulus clouds. I finally found a shooting location on top of a convention center. There was another photographer shooting with a Nikon right at the ideal spot, so I did my best to shoot around him and wait for him to leave. After realizing he had been here for a few hours and probably wouldn't leave until it was completely dark I conceded to the fact that I had gotten the best out of my wide angle lens and let other people take photos. I ate dinner and walked towards my car. On the drive back I realized that there was a parking ticket under my wiper blades. Despite the fact that I purchased a spot for the entire evening, I was given a ticket. Apparently I did not display the ticket (I thought it was an automated process- some computer somewhere would let the ticket person know I had purchased a pass). Eventually I sent a photo of my pass and the ticket to the parking office and the ticket was dismissed. I don't remember what I did Friday other than do work.
Saturday I drove around Redmond and Bellevue to explore, but was frustrated by the constant traffic. It appeared to me that these towns were not built for such high volume of traffic. I eventually went home after sitting around at a model airplane field watching some gas powered model aerobatics.
Sunday I woke up and took the ferry to Bainbridge Island. I chose Bainbridge because it was the first place I saw I could go. Had some coffee after I got off the ferry then took a walk around town and on a trail. Had lunch and visited the local historical museum. Apparently Bainbridge Island was one of the first places to have Japanese families relocated after WW2 started. A shocking artifact was the senior class photos taken in September 1941 and 1942; the latter being half the size and entirely comprised of people of European descent. I found the museum from a poster advertising an Ansel Adams exhibit, although it did not exactly pan out that way. The Adams photos were those taken in the internment camp and were not printed in the highest quality (not original prints). Afterwards I drove around the island and got lost. The scenery was green, with only a few hints of the spectacular horizon to the North and South of the island.
After my last day of work I decided I couldn't live without getting to fly a seaplane, so I went to Kenmore Air's headquarters in Lake Washington and took an introductory flight.
It was great to be in the cockpit again. Especially on a beautiful day. Did a couple of landings and takeoffs on Lake Washington and Lake Sammamish. It was the clearest day since I had arrived and you could see all the surrounding mountain ranges. Loved every minute of flying that Cub.
The trip back was uneventful except for some sudden clear air turbulence and a toddler who screamed and cried most of the flight. Took a bus from Vienna to Brno and saw the countryside. It reminded me of Iowa and brought back great memories.
I think that's it. I'm sure I could talk more but I wont.