Every once in awhile, I refrain from correcting people. Even when I know they are wrong… or stupid. Instead, I prefer to select sarcasm as my weapon of choice, and see how far I can go with it. Not too long ago, somebody overheard me talking about my upcoming trip (at the time) to Europe. Something like “blah blah blah Germany… yada yada yada… Austria… yickety yackety castles and beer… “ Then in all its glory came the comment I will never forget – “Did you say Austria? Oh man, are you gonna see some kangaroos? Always wanted to see one up close. Austria’s like super far, right?”
Although sarcasm is just one of my many skills, sometimes the prey is soooooo easy, that it makes it overwhelmingly difficult to restrain oneself. As the corners of my mouth began to curl to a warm grin, all I could think was “where should I begin!?”. I was about to make the error of actually correcting the individual, and clarifying “no no no… not Australia. Austria.” Unfortunately for them, my friend sarcasm took over. Granted, we were in a bar, it was late, and a bit loud; however…
you can see a kangaroo in most primary zoo type establishments, right here in the USA. Or, if your name is Oprah, then I’m sure a kangaroo would willingly come to your estate.
unless you are Jamaican, named Usain, with a last name of Bolt, and you happen to have a couple of pieces of gold laying around your home that you got in China during your Summer 2008 visit… it’s not likely you’re going to get “up close” and personal with a kangaroo in the wild.
Maybe I did say Australia instead of Austria. Who knows! But, Australia isn’t even IN Europe. In fact, last time I checked an encyclopedia… or Googlefor that matter, it was a continent.
My 3.5yr old is scared to death of kangaroos (don’t ask me why, I have no idea) so why would I be going to see some kangaroos up close and personal?
It was so stupid that I questioned a few more things while I prepared for my sarcasm.
Why am I scared of clowns?
Does it really need to be so hot in TEXAS?
Why is there a GIGANTIC gold ball with a mannequin looking man on top of it in the middle of Salzburg, Austria?
These are the frightening things that keep me up at night.
Regardless, the whole experience brought back hilariously fond memories of an all-time classic movie,“Dumb & Dumber” (1994):
After sorting through the buffet of sarcastic responses, I chose to go with “Yeah, you’ve gotta love those Australians in Austria”. Don’t remember anything else from the conversation. What I DO remember… is my time in AUSTRIA. I’ve blogged and blabbed about Germany and our time we spent with The Bavarians, and I apologize to all of my friends in Austria; because, I’ve gotta tell ya… I absolutely LOVE those AUSTRIANS in AUSTRIA!
We made our way from Munich through the Bavarian Alps via the Deutsch Alpenstrasse up to SalzburgerLand and made our stay in the beautiful city of Salzburg. I did a LOT of research (too much mind you); but, well worth it, because we found a super cool hotel just outside the Alstadt (old town) called Hotel & Villa Auersperg. If you’re thinking about heading to Salzburg, save yourself some time, and book this place. Clean, updated, nice size rooms, good service, clean, GREAT breakfast (get the package), and did I mention clean? The only thing they didn’t have was air-conditioning in the rooms. It’s Austria… not Austin, Texas. You can survive over there without AC. Just open a window. Besides, we were a nice, safe, casual 5-10min walk to the center of Mozartplatz– Mozart Square; however, what I really appreciated were the recommendations by the staff. 1st night, we were tired after driving in from Germany. I know… a lot of you are saying “but, Germany is like an hour away!”. Not when you’re going through small villages, stopping for coffee and hiking up and down the Bavarian Alps lookin’ at castles. Continue reading Austria! Well, then… G’day mate!→
It’s 11:o3pm in Austin, Texas – which means it’s past midnight in New York City, and the Monday morning blues of another work week are about to hit my “7hrs ahead” friends in Germany. But, it’s Father’s Day, and I couldn’t quite hit the pillow without acknowledging that my mind’s been on my wife… and the everlasting knowledge that my father-in-law isn’t here for her (or me) to say “Happy Father’s Day”.
May 11-15, 2006 – 31 family and friends got together in Nassau, Bahamas for 5 days of what can best be described as fury, sun and fun in the Caribbean. On the 5th day, May 15th at 5pm, my wife Anna and I got married. It was an absolutely beautiful wedding service in a lush garden setting at the Sandals Royal Bahamian Resort & Spa – Nassau, Bahamas. Perfect. Most definitely one of the Top 3 events of my life. Just in case you’re wondering… the other 2 were the birth of our sons – Cameron (Sept 2007) and Jordan (Nov 2009). So, what does that have to do with Father’s Day? My father-in-law wasn’t with us for the celebration. I keep picturing myself the morning of our wedding day – standing on the pier, looking out to sea, thinkin’… “I wish he was here to walk her down the aisle and give me his blessing”. I have that same thought on many occasions (wishing he was here); but, just seems a lot more piercing on Father’s Day.
Wedding Day - Sandals Royal Bahamian - Nassau, Bahamas - May 15, 2006
This morning, as my boys came barreling into the room to wish me “Happy Father’s Day Daddy!” I looked at them and realized… my father-in-law IS here. I see him in my boys EVERY day. Because of him, now I’m a father. And no matter what… we’ll make sure that the boys ALWAYS know about their Grandad Seaberg.
So… Happy Father’s Day… EVERY day. NOT just on the 3rd Sunday of June each year. To my old man – The Big Jamaican – Arthur Cooke, and my father-in-law – Charles Seaberg. Thanks for being great Dads. And to my boys… Cameron and Jordan – Thanks for giving me the opportunity to be your Daddy; because I’m havin’ the time of my life and lovin’ every minute of it! CHEERS!
(Yes, I know… I didn’t ramble on and on this time. You’re welcome.)
Many years ago… In a galaxy far far away… Just kidding. But seriously. Many years ago I created a self-inflected rule to “NEVER live anywhere that gets colder than your age”. An absolutely brilliant theory if you’re 12. I’m 41, which pretty much means by the time I’m 60… I’ll be living down in Boca Raton, Florida playing bocce ball with Frank and Estelle Costanza.
I’m really working hard (not really) to achieve a “glass is half-full” mentality; but, when it’s 8:30am on a Sunday morning in Austin, TX, with a projected high for the day of 103F (40C), and you find yourself saying (to yourself) “it’s too bloody hot to drink coffee!” then that’s a problem. For 2 reasons:
You’re talking to yourself. Cuckoo! Cuckoo!
It’s never too early, never too late, and there’s ALWAYS time for coffee in my world, so it sure as hell should NEVER be “too bloody hot to drink coffee”.
If I can be random for a minute… I’ve never been a fan of bumper stickers. Just not my gig. Sure, I’ve got my Texas A&M University – Association of Former Students sticker on my back windshield; but, that’s a sticker. Plus, it looks decent. Go ahead and roundhouse kick me in the head if I ever put a “my child is better than your child” type sticker on my car, and I certainly don’t ever have the time (or energy) to advertise how much a political leader stinks. Now, after saying all that, I had to laugh out loud (LOL as the kids say) at my friend Janeen’s current Facebook profile picture. It’s the bumper sticker of my life! “DRINK COFFEE. Do Stupid Things Faster with More Energy”. Yeah, that’s me.
So now that we’ve gone around the block to go next door… IT’S HOT! Not Africa hot. TEXAS hot. We’re talkin’ 103F! That’s about 40C for my friends around the world on the metric system. I could easily go off on another tangent about “why America isn’t on the metric system with the other 95% of the world” but, I’ll spare you the boredom. Plus, that would mean I’d have to actually know the answer. Which I don’t.Wait… yes I do. MONEY. Costs too much to change everything out for 300 million people. Done.
Getting back to the “glass is half-full” conversation… I tried to look at the positive side of life. Unlike the temporary coma conversation with the Canadians (see Archived blog entry – AUSTIN: Hometown Cravings!), this time… I was fully aware of my surroundings. Primarily due to a 3.5yr old asking me “Daddy why don’t you have hair?” and whether or not he could have pancakes for breakfast. So as I’m “listening” to the boy discuss why he’s the fastest runner in his school, and how he doesn’t care too much for the way that research is currently being conducted on sub-atomic particles, I went to a place called VENEZIA. For my fellow English speaking brothers and sisters… VENICE, ITALY.
May 16th, 2011. The day after our 5yr Wedding Anniversary. My wife and I drove from Lake Bled, Slovenia to Villach, Austria. 3hrs later via first class coach bus… Venezia, Italia! If you ask me – What does a “perfect weather day” look like? Without hesitation… my first answer will now always be – Venice, Italy – 72F (22C) – May 16th, 2011. Perfetto!
This is typically where I try to think of something witty and intelligent to say. I’ve got nothin’, so I’ll just shut my mouth, stop blogging, and let you enjoy the photos of what I consider my “perfect weather day” in Venice, Italy. Or as I like to call it my… “glass is half-full” Significant Achievement Award. Austin 103 – Venezia 72. Score may not reflect it; But, today… Venice wins!
What does a “perfect weather day” look like for you?
Texas State Capitol Building – Austin, Texas USA – “Don’t Mess With Texas!”
The name of my TRAVEL blog is Austin GlobeTrekker; yet, all I’ve blogged about so far in my one month of existence is the “GlobeTrekker” portion. Time to get LOCAL and talk about AUSTIN! This might very well be one of the most conceited and arrogant statements I’ve made in the past 24-36hrs; however, I must say… I live in a BAD ASS city! Austin, Texas might very well be one of the coolest places to call your home. And I rightfully call Austin my hometown, because even though I was born in Leicester, England, I’ve lived in Austin for over 30% of my life; Texas for over 70%. As much as I love to travel… Texas IS home. Don’t worry… I’m still going to ramble on about other countries too.
I recently met some folks from Canada during a training session in Round Rock, Texas for my “real” job that I actually get paid to do. You’ll rarely hear me talk about “work” on this blog, because… we’re here to share stories and experiences about TRAVEL. Things I like to do when I’m NOT working. Sure, I’ve been to British Columbia (Vancouver, Whistler) and Alberta (Calgary, Banff, Lake Louise, Jasper) and met hundreds of Canadians (ok, like 10); But, it’s not so often that you meet them right here in your hometown and hear them say “I’ve ALWAYS wanted to visit Austin!”. That TEXAS PRIDE kicks in, and an uncontrollable Southern grin crosses your face, and all you can think to say is “WELCOME TO TEXAS!”.
Like most tourists (including myself), you do your research and have your rough itinerary of things you want to see in the city your visiting. About halfway through our conversation about the downtown Austin live music scene, the bats under the Congress Bridge, partying at the bars on 6th Street, eating real Texas BBQ (his words, not mine) and indulging in some authentic Mexican food (her words, not mine), I drifted off into a coma and started talking to myself about the things that I like to do in Austin. I started to tell them that if they REALLY want to see some live music… come back in September (16-18) for ACL – Austin City Limits Festival 2011at Zilker Park. Back in 2009, I had the pleasure of watching one of my legendary favorites – Pearl Jam put on a spectacular show. This year promises to be incredible too. Stevie Wonder, Kanye West, Arcade Fire, Coldplay, and so on and so on. Skipped it last year… but, I digress.
Unfortunately for them, they were staying at The Marriott – La Frontera, in Round Rock, Texas. I had to gingerly explain that this is NOT Austin. Saying you’re “staying in Austin” when you’re really in Round Rock, is kinda like the time one of my managers told us we were “staying in Manhattan, New York” when our hotel was really in Secaucus, New Jersey. True story. Similar… but different. It’s close enough that you can get there. But don’t fool yourself thinking it’s a 10min walk. More like an expensive cab ride. In honor of my new Canadian colleagues, I’ve added a photo of one of my favorite hotels in the world – The Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel – Alberta, Canada. Once again – Similar… but different to Round Rock, Texas. I’m just sayin’.
Naturally, it wasn’t long before I realized… our “Austin Agendas” are just a tad different. In a traveler’s defense… It’s hard to know a place in 2 days. God bless ’em for tryin’ though. For example… The best bars in Austin (in my opinion mind you) are DIVE BARS. I’m embarrassed on the borderline of sheer pride that MOST of the Dive Bars in (and around) Austin, Texas know me and my group of idiot friends we like to call “The Dive Bar Crew”. For the past 10-12yrs, we’ve frequented some spectacular joints like Ginny’s Little Longhorn, Lustre Pearl Bar, Poodle Dog Lounge, Buddy’s, La-La’s, C-Hunt’s, G&S Lounge, Dry Bean Saloon, Horseshoe Lounge, The Hideout, Deep Eddy Cabaret, Shoal Creek Saloon, The Water Tank, Dog & Duck, Posse East, Nasty’s, Crown & Anchor, Shannanigan’s, Draught House, Canary Hut, The PLT (Parmer Lane Tavern) Carousel Lounge, and my favorite dive bar in Austin, Texas…Donn’s Depot – just to name a few! Oh, and if you’ve got the time… and the courage… take a short trip just outside of Austin to an old biker bar in theTexas Hill Country called The Devil’s Backbone . CLASSIC!
I then started to get thirsty. Then I just got flat out hungry after drinking all that cheap ice cold beer (in my mind), and could NOT get BOMB TACOS out of my mind! It was driving me crazy! So, I mentioned Lustre Pearl Bar. It’s a really cool laid back Texas style beer garden at 97 Rainey Street over by the Austin Convention Center. BOMB TACOS is a camper. No lying. It’s not a building establishment. It pulls up to the side of the beer garden in the back of Lustre Pearl Bar, and serves a Bad Ass Burrito. LITERALLY. It’s called the “Bad Ass Burrito”. Check the sign and menu. All Tacos – $3. All Burritos – $6. All Quesadillas – $6. And it’s fresh-cooked, TexMex heavenly cuisine when accompanied by an ice-cold cerveza! I recently got my Bomb Taco fix on my birthday party weekend (May 7th) before heading to Europe (May 9th) – Germany, Austria, Slovenia and Italy. Sometimes… you’ve just gotta have it!
Which leads me to another quick story (not really). My friend Sal lives in Munich, Germany. LOVES it there, and I can clearly see why. FANTASTIC city, culture, people, food, beer and overall scene. BUT… Sal told me how he was craving Mexican food like a banshee! Not really sure how a banshee craves food; however, dude was clearly desperate enough to get into an altercation with a Bavarian over the definition of Mexican food. Sal ordered a quesadilla. Dude gave him a burrito. Similar… but different. Sal’s response – “Hey man! I’m FROM Texas… I know Mexican food!”. So I said, “Sorry you didn’t get your Mexican fix! I wish I could package some TexMex and send it over for you.” His response… “Oh, I ate the burrito! And it was damn good too!”. Hmmm… me thinks NOT! He’s been away from Texas too long. They don’t know TexMex food; But… The Bavarians KNOW beer! PROST!
So, I’m still stuck in this freaky coma of complexity, dreaming about my local palette, and it leads me to ice cream. While we were recently in Venice, Italy, I think I may have had the BEST mint chocolate chip ice cream in the world! Seriously. No exaggeration! OK… maybe a 3.742% exaggeration. Sometimes, food is just about location. location. location. Ice cream in The Rialto Market on a warm sunny May day in Venice, Italy… that’s almost perfection for location. It was sooooo good, that after completing the generously portioned scoop… I wanted to go back and get another one. If you’ve been to Venice before – good luck getting back to where you were in The Rialto if you never knew where the hell you were in the first place.
But, back to local. As great as that ice cream was in Venice… there is almost nothing like a true frozen dessert experience at Amy’s Ice Cream here in Austin, Texas. These artisans are like Wizards of Dessert. I remember a few years back when my cousins Roger, Amanda, Polly and Ella came over from England. Music blaring, “Keep Austin Weird” signs around the place, college students on their laptops (pretending to study), and an ice cream server who looked like his beard should have had a hair net on it for health code reasons. BUT, that’s Austin my friends! After getting all kinds of candy bars and fruit crushed up in her ice cream, my cousin Polly was shocked, yet excited like a cast member of GLEE, when they threw her ice cream over the counter for her to catch in a bowl. Like I said… it’s a true frozen dessert experience.
By now, I’m starting to come out of the coma, and I realize that the Canadians are still talking. Probably something about hockey and asking “why is it so bloody hot down here in Texas!” 103F today. Well, I’ve been drinking beers at dive bars, eating bad ass burritos at Bomb Tacos, and eating Amy’s Ice Cream. It’s like I was in The Matrix. Plugged in… but, more like a robot of “yeah”, “sure!”, “oh definitely”, “you don’t say?”, “uh huh”, “you go girl!”. I’m just ready to go to bed by this point; but in “coma land”, it’s late night 2am in Austin, Texas, so I started thinking about blueberry pancakes at Magnolia Cafe on Lake Austin Blvd. This place is so good! And it’s a true local Austin diner. Like they say… Everybody Knows – Everybody Goes! I had a ridiculously fantastic strawberry syrup with ice cream pancake at The Pancake Bakery in Amsterdam, The Netherlands a few years ago; but, it still wasn’t the same nostalgic experience as a late night closer, or morning hangover remedy at Magnolia Cafe. Ironically, less than half a mile down the road from my favorite dive bar – Donn’s Depot, and across the street from yet another one of my favorites – Deep Eddy Cabaret.
As I’m now fat, full and drunk… I join reality once again, only to hear the Canadians closing comments: “THANK YOU! So I guess we’ll see you tomorrow night!”. As of right now, I have absolutely no idea what I signed myself up for (or THEM for that matter). I guess we’ll find out tomorrow now, won’t we! If they truly want to hit 6th Street… I’ll take them to WEST 6th Street. Who knows… maybe we can grab a slice of good ol’ late night pizza from Roppolo’s Pizzeria!
OK… I’m done rambling. Stay Tuned for more adventures of Austin GlobeTrekker. Until then… Join the Conversation!
I remember somebody once telling me… “Sometimes it’s good to be alone. As long as you never feel lonely.” I’ve been alone for the past few days. Home sick with bronchitis and a nasty sinus infection. Sorry for the ugly visual. But that leads me to my point. At no point do I ever feel lonely, and yeah… it has been good to be alone. No wife. No kids. No work. Very little stress (other than being ill). It has allowed me to contemplate on the importance of life. Love, family, friends, health (not so good right now), a place to call home, a job, and no matter what… you’ve GOT to have a hobby. Me? I have three hobbies. Dreaming of the next travel destination (if you haven’t guessed this by now), pretending to be a writer, and attempting to be an amateur photographer. A valiant effort on all three, because I’ve done what I’ve always set out to accomplish… I’ve joined the conversation. That’s how you start.
So, as I lay there alone, contemplating the world… actually just trying to figure out if I wanted a cinnamon raisin bagel, or a bowl of frosted flakes for breakfast (I went with the bagel), I thought about my recent travels through Germany, Austria, Slovenia and Italy for my 5yr wedding anniversary with my wife (Anna). I couldn’t help but laugh to myself about “the little things we remember”.
Our first night in Slovenia, we took a walk around Lake Bled before dinner. The sun wasn’t even close to setting; but, it had this magical glare across the lake. The Pletna boats had docked for the evening, the wind was calm, the clouds mysteriously eerie, and the waterfront was an evening stroller’s paradise. I took my camera out to capture the lake and Bled Castle (Blejski Grad) perched upon a cliff’s edge in the background, and that’s when it happened – My favorite moment – “Schnauzer vs. Swan”. A Slovenian man, walking his miniature German Schnauzer was dragged into my frame. No worries… I have an 18-250mm lens, I can just zoom past him. A swan calmly approached the bank, then ding! ding! the match was on! Yeah, I’ve gotta get a picture of this! What you see above this text is the before shot. I didn’t feel like shooting pictures of an undersized dog picking a fight with an over sized white bird. Plus, sometimes you have to come out from behind the camera lens and enjoy the reality of the time and space you are within. SO, that’s what I did.
In my previous blog, I wrote about the morning I woke up entirely too early, and watched the Sunrise on Lake Bled. I completely forgot that I had my old beat up Canon Elf digital camera lodged in my pocket, and actually captured 30secs or so of that incredible moment – alone down by the Pletnaboat dock. Like I said, the great thing about TRAVEL…“the little things we remember”.
The thing about SLOVENIA… It’s one of the most beautiful places in the world that most people don’t even think about… or even know about. Each year, we try to find a travel destination that makes our friends and family say “Where?” or “Why?”. The kind of backdrop that tells me, Jason… you’re not in Austin, Texasanymore. May 2011 – Slovenia was that destination.
We learned about this fascinating small country in Central Europe through National Geographic Traveler Magazine. Bordering Austria, Italy, Croatia, and Hungary, this small country is packed with unbelievable beauty, incredible people and culture, captivating history, and a surprisingly amazing cuisine.
Mountains, lakes, wine country, farmland, rivers, coastline, forests, and caves. Slovenia has it all. There’s a reason the word LOVE is in the middle of sLOVEnia! Truly a place to be discovered.
I’ve also uploaded all the photos from our Europe – May 2011 – 5yr Anniversary trip to Germany (Bavaria), Austria, Slovenia, and Venice, Italy on my Flicker page. If you have more time on your hands than you know what to do with, or your stuck in a waiting room at a Dr.’s office or the DMV, then check it out: Europe 2011 – Austin Globetrekker
I’m sure I’ll have more MURE – Mindless Useless Random Entertainment about my travels for you soon. Stay Tuned! Until then… TRAVEL| EXPLORE | DREAM | DISCOVER