Rewind to the Saturday morning on the day of our departure… Before leaving for our trip to Europe, Keith and I decided to run in a little 5K race. The race was the Art Festival 5K, and it is one of my favorite races because it is so challenging. It goes over the Melbourne Causeway bridge and back, so having any sort of uphill in Florida makes it a toughy. When I ran the Downtown Melbourne 5K a few weeks ago, I ran through the pain of my cramping calf to the point that once the race ended it knotted up and I wasn’t able to walk regular for a week. Needless to say, I was a bit afraid to try running again even though I knew this Art Festival race was coming up. I did get on the elliptical once, and tried the treadmill only to start cramping up again. The day before the race, I went to our local running store to pick up our race packets and see if they had any suggestions. I ended up with new running shoes and “leg sleeves”. The leg sleeves are like knee-high compression socks without the feet. One or both of those things (combined with taking my vitamins with extra magneseum, eating lots of banans, drinking gatorade, and staying very hydrated) must have done the trick because I was able to actually run the race with no cramps! Keith and I both did really well in the race too… he nudged ahead of me and finished the race with a time of 26:09, while I finished 11 seconds later at 26:20. We both finished in the top 25% of 1500 runners! Also, when we ran this race about 5 years ago when we were in super-shape, we finished the race in 27:00… I guess some things do get better with age!
After the race ended, we immediately began another race: the race to the airport. We had to get home to shower and do last second packing, get a little more quality time with the kids, then head right over to the Melbourne airport. Thanks to the great job that we did packing ahead of time (it’s amazing how much easier it is to pack for just yourself and not 2 kids too!), we weren’t too terribly rushed.
In Atlanta, Keith and I found my sister, Kelly, at her gate from Huntsville. My brother, Kyle, lives in Atlanta, so he met us for lunch since we had a 3 hour layover. We had an interesting lunchtime conversation followed by killing some time taking pictures before getting on the plane to Amsterdam for an 8 hour flight.
My mom’s BFF (and Kelly’s godmother), “Aunty Paula”, was the lead flight attendant on our flight, so we got the total hook up. Unfortunately, first class filled up at the last second so we didn’t get upgraded, but we got every other perk you could possibly have without being in first class… including ice cream sundaes, extra biscoff cookies, and getting to actually sit in the captain’s seat! The plane itself was awesome! Each chair had it’s own TV with touch screen capability. They had on-demand movies and TV shows (I watched Benjamin Button, Kelly & I watched Slumdog Millionaire, Kelly watched Yes Man, and Keith watched Frost/Nixon), games (we played trivia, poker, and some tetris-logic type game), music, and you could track exactly where the plane was graphically. Even on this overnight 8 hour flight, the tv kept me so entertained that I only slept for maybe 20 minutes… and I’m usually a plane sleeper!
Our flight left Atlanta at 5pm on Saturday and arrived at 8am on Sunday in Amsterdam (due to the 6 hour time change). We met up with Keith’s co-workers, Jeremy and Jen, at the airport, then found our way to the hotel via train and foot as fast as we could. None of us really slept so we were ready for our beds. Unfortunately, when we arrived at our hotel, they told us that check-in wasn’t until 3pm, so we all set up camp on their couches in the lobby. After a little sweet talking and some help from the conference coordinators, we managed to get into our rooms around 11:30am. Since Kelly was sharing a room with us, we had requested a room with 2 beds. When we opened the door to our room, there was one king-sized bed (which was actually 2 twin-beds, but there was no way to separate them anyway). We were so exhausted that we decided we’d deal with that later, and it didn’t take 5 minutes for us to all crawl under the covers (with me in the middle), close the curtains, and fall asleep! We didn’t wake up until about 7pm.
Many of Keith’s collegues from out of the country arrived on Sunday so a large group of us went out for dinner at an Indonesian restaurant that night. Kelly wanted a traditional Dutch meal, but we found that there really wasn’t such a thing. The guidebook told us that because of Amsterdam’s location, they’re acutally known for importing food from other places so they don’t really have a food that they call their own. So… Indonesian it was!
The food at the Indonesian restaurant was amazing! Even a picky eater like me was able to find something that I loved! Kelly and Keith split a sampler entrée that consisted of about 10 different items, and they loved every bit of it too. Kelly even got a “lemon squeezer” souvineer to take home (she swears that the waiter told her to take it home when she was raving about it, but he didn’t really speak good English so I have my doubts).
After dinner, everyone else was still tired so they headed to their rooms to prepare for the next day, but we hit the fair that was going on in Dam Square right in front of our hotel. We didn’t go on the rides, but we checked them out and partook in a huge bag of cotton candy. And no, cotton candy doesn’t taste the same as it does in America. It’s not quite as sweet and a little bit more cottony. :)
We ended the night walking around the area and found a good coffee shop that we visited a few times during our stay, then stayed up way too late watching some really bad British television.
And this… is only the beginning…
Enjoy the pictures from before we left the country!