Austria Bound – Part 2

Train Travel – 2/22/14

The Koln Train station was enclosed by a arched roof.

The Koln Train station was enclosed by a arched roof.

I was awake at 6:30am on a Saturday morning knowing I had a train to catch.  I took my bag on a 10 minute walk to the train station which was directly next to the infamous Dom.  I paid 175 Euro for a train ticket to Innsbruck, Austria which was a 7 hour ride with 2 transfers.  I got to the Koln train station and had to wait about 25 minutes for my delayed train.

When I boarded the train I sat in a seat that was a single by itself next to the window.  I was comfortably reading Bram Stoker’s Dracula when a woman tapped me on my shoulder and started speaking German.  I looked at her like she was from another planet, shook my head no which felt like a reasonable response,  and then in English she told me she had reserved this seat.  I was not one to argue so I stood up and looked for another seat.  Everything was taken so I started standing in between the two cars.  After a few minutes someone who worked for the train knew I was a foreigner and offered me a seat in first class which I spent the duration of the trip in.

A view of the town in Innsbruck, Austria.  Population 100,000+.

A view of the town in Innsbruck, Austria. Population 100,000+.

I got to Munich and had missed my connecting train so I had to figure out what to do without having much guidance.  I ended up getting on the right train and had the same situation at the next station with missing my connector because my first train ran late.  I was able to successfully get on a train that made about 20 stops to Innsbruck.  When I arrived I met with the person who invited me to Innsbruck and he showed me around the city and we drank a few beers.  There was a huge glass tower with a bar at the top floor which was a sight to see.

Notice there is only a glass pane on the right side.  Huddled shower anyone?

Notice there is only a glass pane on the right side. Huddled shower anyone?

The scenery is unbelievable and it was like nothing I’ve seen before.  We then drove about 25 minutes away to a smaller town which was the home of the manufacturing facility that I was visiting.  The hotel I checked into was incredibly Austrian.  The shower was a bit unique as well (picture aside) but the room was very nice.  I showered up and got ready to meet up again for some dinner.  We went to a laid back bar that served burgers so that was convenient.  We drank a few beers and called it a night at about 11.


Skiing On The Glacier- 2/23/14

Amazing views from the Alps

Amazing views from the Alps

This was the day that I was most fearful for, skiing on the Alps.  I’m not much of a skier and my last trip resulted somewhat poorly  so needless to say I was a bit worried going 10,000 feet up.  Fortunately the person I was going with was a ski instructor so that helped.  He took care of all the normal procedures like rentals and we were set to go.  With his thoughtful tips on holding the poles, putting on the skis, and general movement tips, it was nice to finally have some guidance.  By no means was I good, but I was able to get up and down the mountain successfully on runs.

An outdoor bar in the middle of the glacier.  Bumped EDM and was awesome.

An outdoor bar in the middle of the glacier. Bumped EDM and was awesome.

The views were unreal and I was having a blast.   There was a bar in the middle of the mountain that had an open roof and was blasting EDM.  It was freaking awesome and we were having a great time.  This scenery produced by far the best pictures I had from the trip.  After skiing we had a drink of hot wine at a place that blasted German polka music which wasn’t the friendliest on the ears.  I was back at the hotel at 7 or so and fell asleep for an hour before I got up and walked around the small Austrian village a bit to get a feel for the area.  It gets quite cold at night.  I went to sleep at around 10pm.


Touring the Town – 2/24/14

Today was the day where I went touring some of the manufacturing plants in this Austrian town.  There was a slight language barrier but everyone treated me with the utmost respect.  I learned a whole lot and will take this knowledge back to the States and hopefully do something with it.

A neat pic I shot with a plane and gorgeous sky backround.

A neat pic I shot with a plane and gorgeous sky backround.

I went for a run into the mountains after the day’s work and sensed that my trip was coming to an end.  At a high point in the mountain there sat a bench and this bench overlooked the entire village.  At that point I realized how different my States environment is compared to this one and just took it all in.  I wish I had my camera because it was the best scenery I had witnessed.  I went back to the hotel and ate an Austrian meal at the hotel and headed to sleep because I had a 6:30am flight from Innsbruck the next day.


Travel Torture – 2/25/14

That skier is a bit small comparatively.  Swiss and Italian borders in the distance.

That skier is a bit small comparatively. Swiss and Italian borders in the distance.

This was a pure travel day.  I was up at 4:45am and showered up and had all my items prepared.  I had a cab picking me up at 5:20 and when I went to get him, the front door to the hotel was locked and there was no one around.  This wasn’t good.  I ended up going out an emergency exit and traveled to the airport.

Security was simple in Innsbruck and an hour long flight arrived me in Frankfurt.  I spent a few hours in the Frankfurt airport before getting on a plane to Newark.  I watched Captain Phillips, We’re the Millers, and Bad Grandpa on the plane to pass the time.

Once in Newark, I ate some food and felt relieved to be back in the States where I could communicate once again.  My plane arrived on time and I was off to Vegas.  This 5 hour flight was tough because I wasn’t tired and I did my best reading Mark Twain’s Prince and the Pauper to pass the time.  I touched down and was completely exhausted.  I got to the Luxor, checked in and fell asleep at 8pm.


Viva Las Vegas – 2/26/14

Las VegasI woke at 4am feeling energized and decided to go for a run.  I ran about 3 miles down the Las Vegas strip and then 3 miles back feeling great.  I was a little bit early for sunrise but there weren’t many people on the street which was nice.  I showered up and had a nice meal at the hotel before walking around a bit to the other hotels.  I finally got a chance to see the Aria which was a first.  I also visited a couple Vegas stores in the Mandalay Bay shops and was feeling like an American tourist once again.

The roofing show in Vegas went as expected as I’ve done it for about 5 years now.  After the show I ate a burger and had a few beers and a shot which hit me harder than I thought.  I got back to my room at 5pm and fell asleep until about 9.  I woke up and decided to play some poker at the Bellagio until 3am.  I also managed to drop 250 bucks playing blackjack in a session that had me crying mercy after about 20 hands.  I ate late night McDonald’s nuggets and went to bed.


Pooped – 2/27/14

A small victory against the house.

A small victory against the house.

I woke up feeling fine but not my finest.  I couldn’t tell if I was hungry or not so I walked out to the strip and ate an overpriced slice of pizza and chugged 2 bottles of water.  My flight was at 3pm and I was ready to go.  I went to the show for a few hours and headed to the airport.

I was supposed to get a flight from McCarran to Denver and then to Philly but an hour delay of the Denver flight caused me to miss my Philly connector.  This made me change my plans and my only option was to get a midnight flight to Philadelphia.  It was 3pm.  I spent 9 hours in the airport which was highlighted by a slot spin that netted me 329 bucks.  I forgot to tip the cashier but felt pretty happy because it made up all my losses from the previous night.


Philly Finally – 2/28/14

philadelphia-skylineI was getting stir crazy in the airport but eventually got on the plane to take me home.  I arrived at 8am in Philly and kissed the ground.  I was pretty excited to be back because I had just had so much travel time that I was looking forward to some relaxation.  I slept for a few hours and am making some attempts to get back to a proper schedule.  I suppose it will take a few days.


Final Thoughts

After leaving the country for the first time I think it will make it much easier to do it again.  You realize that it’s not that difficult and it’s an invaluable experience.  I’d like to spend more time seeing more places.  I received many invitations to visit other businesses around Europe and I hope to travel again in a few months.  I would make a greater effort to learn the language because you feel like an outsider without it.  3 months of off and on learning was not enough.  Either way, I had a great time and thank all the people who made it possible.

By |2014-03-05T15:18:52-05:00March 3rd, 2014|My Life|1 Comment

SideWindered At Blue Mountain


Blue Mountain

I decided to go to Blue Mountain to get some experience skiing because the plan when I head to Austria was to go skiing in the Alps.  I think I’ve gone skiing about 3 times over the course of my 30 years on the planet.  Needless to say, I would be mince meat on the Alps without some warm up.

The weather attempted to deter us but Jeff, Evan, and myself woke up early on Friday morning and headed off to Blue Mountain in the Pocono’s.  We made a pit stop at Wawa on the way their where I downed to Sizzlis and they were delicious.  We were one of the only sedan’s making the way up the mountain but we made it safely.  For $99 dollars, we were able to purchase tickets and equipment.  We were ready to go a half hour after we arrived which was pretty good.  Only noteworthy story at this point was that I put my boots on the wrong feet and when the guy who was handing out skis looked at them, he asked me, “are those comfortable?”  Type I skis for me.

Tc and Evan at Blue MountainJeff is a pretty experienced snowboarder and Evan had gone a decent amount when he was younger so we had a decent range of talent.  We started off on Burma Road which was green.  Unbeknownst to me you are supposed to wrap your poles around your hand, I got one planted in the ground and lost it on the first run.  This also caused my ski to fall off which got us off to a rocky start.  A little girl, maybe 6 years old, handed me my pole as she came up behind me.  I didn’t feel embarrassed at the time but in hindsight, this is pretty pathetic.  Getting my ski back on took forever as well so Jeff was down the mountain while Evan waited for my tard self to get it together.  We eventually made it down as things improved.

After a flawless run down Burma road, we decided to tackle a few intermediate hills.  I was getting better after each run but would still probably bite once or twice depending on the situation.  After a non spill run on a blue square, I was flying high.  We met Jeff at the lodge and ate a bit before getting back out again.

The lines for the lifts were non-existent which made this the perfect day to do it.  Also the weather was perfect as it wasn’t too cold.  The 3 of us actually did a few runs together which was pretty fun.  Jeff and Evan had a little bit more balls than me and did some freestyle hills which had a few tricks.

At one point I didn’t want to go down a freestyle part of the course so I went to the right in unknown territory.  These decisions usually don’t work out and I was confronted by the steepest hill I’d ever encountered.  I basically fell down the entire time it but I made it safely.

Sidewinder is the middle blue that goes back and forth

Sidewinder is the middle blue that goes back and forth



At that point I’d probably give the day a high 8 fun factor if we quit there.  Naturally we decided to do one more run and decided on the course Sidewinder.  We had done it earlier in the day and I fell a time or two but it wasn’t horrible.  For whatever reason this time was different.  There were some bumps to start it and I gained too much speed too fast and bit it.  My ski fell off and I was unable to get it back on.  For what it’s worth, I wasn’t even lifting up the part on the ski that had to be down so no wonder it was impossible.  Jeff hits me right in the head with a snowball during this process which was a complete dick move but he did help me get the ski back on after feeling bad about it.  After I got the ski on, I fell again but this time I hurt my ankle and the ski fell off again.  This was turning into a nightmare.  I ended up walking down the hill and basically feeling like a pussy and it pretty much ruined any good feeling leaving the day.

Either way I’m glad I did it and for about 90% of the time it was a great time.  Fortunately I’m not seriously injured and we made it out and back with no issues.  My one remark from this trip is, “if your ski falls off while your on a hill, you’re gonna have a bad time.”

By |2014-02-15T09:52:52-05:00February 15th, 2014|My Life|0 Comments

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