Tag Archives: Amsterdam

Amsterdam… or Austin? Decisions. Decisions.


I’ve spent the past week or so trying to figure out why I had a dream (albeit nightmare) that I was in the 80’s rock band Whitesnake’s “Still of the Night” music video. Yeah… got some great Facebook responses over that one, and NO… I was not rolling around on the hood of a Jaguar. That was actually the “Here I Go Again” video. BUT… I was shirtless – sportin’ a leather vest and a pair of acid washed Guess jeans. It wasn’t until today, the 2nd birthday of our son Jordan, that I realized exactly why.

Amsterdam, The Netherlands - May 2007

As the 7 of you who actually read this blog know… I’m a real fan of looking back at where I’ve been, so I can see where I’m going. During my Senior Class Presidential speech at graduation, I said “Remember the past. Look to the future. But always live in the present.” In Fall 2001, exactly 10 years ago, I knew where I had been, the present sucked (just had 9/11, my grandad died, and I was unemployed); therefore, the future wasn’t looking too bright either. I’m not going to bore you with my woe is me story; but, let’s just say I found myself overseas in Europe looking for jobs in London and Amsterdam. So how does a Texan wind up in Amsterdam? Good question.

I amsterdam

Kind of funny how the whole Amsterdam thing came up. In 1994, I was given the most spectacular college graduation gift ever from my college friend Andy’s father. 4 Tickets to World Cup 1994 Quarter Finals in Dallas, Texas. For those of you who are also fans of football (aka soccer), you will recall that the legendary match was The Netherlands vs Brazil. Two of the most loyal and passionate football fan bases in the WORLD. Yes, I said WORLD. There we were… sitting at the half field line, singing with the Dutch, drumming and doing the Samba with the Brazilians, pinching each other to see “is this real?”. It was at that point that I made the lifelong rewarding decision that I would become a GlobeTrekker, so I could travel the world and meet people like THIS! Given the opportunity, I knew that I MUST visit their perspective countries of The Netherlands and Brazil before my life on this planet reaches its conclusion.

Canal Boats outside Centraal Station - Amsterdam

Opportunity #1. It was 1999 and I was in London on business. My British counterpart Biggin said “Hey mate! You’ve got some time before you head back. Let’s go to Amsterdam!”. Sounded fantastic to me! That was before we met up for a “few” pints down in SOHO/West End with our crazy Irish counterpart – Rory Kelly (how’s that for an Irish name?). “To hell ya arrrr! Ya comin’ back with me tar Dublin! It’s World Rugby Championship lads!”. His words… not mine. Needless to say, we never made it to Amsterdam; however, Dublin was… EPIC! I’ll never forget that journey; but, I’ll save that mayhem story for another episode.

vacant tables in the Leidseplein - Amsterdam

Opportunity #2 pleasantly presented itself just 2 years later in December 2001. So there I was, with an appetite for travel, staying with my 1st cousin Roger and his family in Northampton, England. From time to time, I would visit other cousins and family members in Leicester, Brighton, Derby, and London; but, after being in England for about a month, I had the chance to visit my Aunt’s husband’s brother-in-law in The Netherlands. How’s that for a stretch down the family tree? A tall, blonde-haired, blue-eyed Dutchman named Tomas. I think I was closer related to my FedEx driver than I was to Tom; but, family is family, and my cousin Roger and I were up for the “challenge”. Boarding the EasyJet flight out of Luton, one of my dream trips was about to be fulfilled. But, could I live there? That was the question. We found ourselves lodging in humbled circumstances at a 2 Star rated hotel just off the Leidseplein. In the words of my cousin Rog, it was “well dodgy”. Let me tell you something… I’m by no means pompous; but, unless I’m staying in the countryside, a national park, the mountains, or camping… there better be at least 3-4 Stars for a city hotel. Especially in Europe. Doesn’t really matter, because our room basically held our suitcases. The rest of the time… we were out and about.

Bicycles. Bicycles. Bicycles. Dam Square - Amsterdam 2007
What year was this bike made? 1946? Amsterdam 2007

My 2001 memories of The Netherlands… Bicycles. Bicycles. Bicycles. And then more bicycles. Good GOD those people can ride a bike! Pants. Skirt. Evening gown. Spandex. Doesn’t matter. They’ll just hop on and ride. And why are the bikes from circa 1946 post WWII? Not going to knock their preferred mode of transportation, because that’s the reason they’re all fit and healthy.

Clog Making @ Zaanse Schans - The Netherlands

I also recall watching a clog making demonstration in Zaanse Schans. Typically, not my cup of tea, and there would be nothing spectacular about this excursion, except in this particular situation… there was a Japanese tour bus that unloaded in front of us which added to the humor of the afternoon. Picture this… You have a Dutchman making clogs, while a Japanese tour guide translates Dutch into Japanese, and all the while, Tomas was translating Dutch into English for me and Roger. By the way, Tomas made up about 95% of the stuff he told us, because there’s no way clog making should be that funny. This was all before Tomas decided it would be a good idea to touch a smelly and nasty billy goat at Zaanse Schans windmills. Thus acquiring the nickname “Goat Boy”. Is it even possible for something to be smelly without being nasty? Nope? Didn’t think so.

Zaanse Schans Windmills - May 2007
Zaanse Schans - working windmills

Oh Lord, and what would an Austin GlobeTrekker blog be without me complaining about the weather? News flash… it’s colder than Christmas in The Netherlands in December. That didn’t help my probability for moving to Amsterdam. Sure, it’s better than the Texas heat; but, this is also why I don’t live in Chicago. The Winter man! the Winter! It’s just TOO cold.

Prinsengracht - Amsterdam, The Netherlands - May 2007

Self-proclaimed observation. I’m always embarrassed how few languages I know when I travel overseas. I know errrr… ONE. Pathetic I know; but, I always try to learn a few phrases. Plus, I’m a firm believer that a kind heart, friendly tone, and pleasant smile will get you quite far in a foreign land. Just watch The Amazing Race and you’ll see I’m spot on. Although, I was disturbingly surprised after asking for help to locate a cup of coffee only to be directed to a “coffee house”. Let’s just say two words and leave it at that… The Bulldog. Yeah… that wasn’t the kind of coffee I was looking for. I was thinking more like Folger’s, Starbuck’s, or a dirty NYC diner cup of joe served by a waitress named Mary Jane from West Virginia trying to get her life together in the big city. Well… “Mary Jane” was with us at The Bulldog alright. I must say though… I met some of the best people in the world that night. Three tall beautiful blonde girls from Iceland, some wicked cool girls from England, a couple of outrageously funny Scottish guys, 2 crazy ass football players from Baltimore, Maryland USA and me. Huh? Yeah, that was weird. Didn’t matter. We were living and loving life to it’s fullest! As my friend Stef recently posted on Facebook “Life is short, and it’s up to you to make it sweet” ~ Sadie Delaney. Good times. Goes down as one of the all-time greatest nights of partying. EVER.

Heinekin anyone? Amsterdam 2007
Amsterdam @ night

Before I get too boisterous about my partying prowess… It was after 3am, and I found myself being cursed by the Icelandic beauties as I threw in the towel, jumped in a cab, and told them I couldn’t go dancing with them at a local Amsterdam club. My cabbie was a kind and well-spoken gentleman from Turkey. “Where to my friend?”. And then it happened. I blanked out! All I could remember was that my hotel was on something straat. He bellowed a hearty laugh and said “My friend… ‘straat’ is like in English… errrr… the word ‘road'”. We drove around for hours in hope that I would remember the hotel name, an address, the location, something. We talked about his country of Turkey, and how he was there working to eventually bring his family over to Amsterdam. We also talked about 9/11, America, Europe, people, cultures, religions, life, everything. Sunrise, and I saw the movie theater across the street from our 2 Star hotel. The cab ride cost me 50 Euros or so for over 3 hours of drive time around the city of Amsterdam. A bargain in my book for an evening well spent, and inevitably, the night that I made the conscious decision it was time for me to return to America. More specifically, to live in Austin, Texas. 10 years later and here I am blogging about it. If you want to see a great representation of Austin, Texas and why I love this city so much, then please check out the photography of my friend Peter Tsai @SuperTsai in Austin Photo Book.

Austin Photo Book - photography by Peter Tsai

Sometimes I wonder “What IF… I had moved to Amsterdam? Or even London? What would my life have been like?”. Life isn’t made out of “What If’s”. As the great Jedi Master Yoda once said… “do or do not there is no try”. Yeah, I just referenced Star Wars. Now where was I? Oh yes. Life isn’t made of “What If’s”. For example, my childhood friend Josh (aka JR) is moving to Montana to become a fly fishing guide. That’s where JR belongs! In a river bed with a fly reel in his hands, soaking up God’s great landscape in Big Sky Country. How cool is that?

Graffiti or Art? Amsterdam 2007

It’s like my good friend Brooke (from Sweetwater, Texas).  She made the conscious decision (many years ago I might add) to move to New York City. Recently, she was here in Austin on business, and had the opportunity to combine it with a little pleasure by hanging with us – her friends. Effortless fun. As much as I’d LOVE for her to move back to Texas… she’s a New Yorker now. I’m proud of her. Happy for her. She’s exactly where she’s supposed to be. Look for an upcoming guest blog entry from Brooke on Austin GlobeTrekker soon – she’s in Iceland right now. Oh, to be a fly on the wall for THAT trip! Looking forward to hearing the adventures of the Wolfpack in Iceland. You can check out Brooke’s hysterical tales of life in New York (and beyond) on her blog  – Costly Sunglasses.

Amsterdam row house - May 2007
Amsterdam 2007. Yes... more bicycles.
Now comes the irony. May 2007. My wife(Anna) has a business trip to Amsterdam. It was during our 1st year anniversary (May 15), and she was 5 months pregnant with our first son – Cameron. I knew I could only go for 3-4 days; but, the opportunity to celebrate our anniversary together in one of my favorite cities in the world presented itself, so I was on that airplane as fast as possible. Landing at Schiphol Airport, I took the 15min train ride into Amsterdam and walked out of Centraal Station with a sense of comfort and fond memories. I walked across the street to our 4 Star lodging (Victoria Hotel) and began to tell my wife the stories of my visit in 2001.
Amsterdam, The Netherlands - May 2007

The tours of Amsterdam in 2007 were a lot different than in 2001. Sure, we checked out The Red Light District. Just one of those tourist things you have to do. But, just like Sixth Street doesn’t define Austin, Texas, neither does The Red Light District define Amsterdam. If you should find yourself heading to The Netherlands, be sure to check out Zaanse Schans for the windmills, clog museum, cheese factory, as well as touring the beautiful villages and authenticity of the Dutch Countryside. Had some of the best fish of my entire life in the fishing village of Volendam.

Drunken Sailors? Volendam, The Netherlands 2007

If you’re staying in Amsterdam, don’t be afraid to be a tourist and take a “Hop On Hop Off” canal ride around Amsterdam, witness the historical courage of Anne Frank at Anne Frank Museum, see the Van Gogh Museum, Rijksmuseum, take in Dam Square, experience The Flower Market, and eat the best pancakes in the world at The Pancake Bakery on Prinsengracht 191. YES, I said best in the world. No joke.

Anne Frank Museum - Amsterdam 2007
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam - May 2007

And if you happen to be walking around Amsterdam on a quiet Sunday morning… make it a goal to find the Begijnhof – the only inner court in Amsterdam founded during the Middle Ages (1346). Definitely a calming and moving place. One more thing… take an afternoon or early evening stroll, and have a drink (or meal) in the really cool neighborhood of Jordaan.  Notice any similarities? Hmmm… Jordan. Jordaan. Coincidence? Me thinks not.

Begijnhof - Amsterdam 2007
Amsterdam 2007 - Begijnhof founded in 1346

As I mentioned at the beginning of the blog, I’ve spent the past week or so trying to figure out why I was in a Whitesnake video; but, it wasn’t until today, the 2nd birthday of our son Jordan, that I realized exactly why. The ever-looming answer… because that’s not where I was supposed to be. God provides the map. Use it. Or don’t. But, one way or another… you’ve got to make a decision. Right here. Right now. THIS is where I’m supposed to be. That was my decision. Austin, Texas with my wife (Anna), my boys (Cameron – 4, and Jordan – 2). You’ve just gotta find your place in this world. Literally. Mine is right here in Austin, Texas… For now. Travel well my friends! CHEERS!

watch out for that tram! Amsterdam 2007

 TRAVEL | EXPLORE | DREAM | DISCOVER

AUSTIN: Hometown Cravings!


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.

Texas State Capitol - Austin, Texas USA

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!”.

The Lone Star Flag
The Lone Star Flag - 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 2011 at 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.

Austin City Limits Festival 2009 - Pearl Jam on the Livestrong Stage

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 HotelAlberta, Canada. Once again – Similar… but different to Round Rock, Texas. I’m just sayin’.

Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel - Alberta, Canada - Canadian Rockies

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 the Texas Hill Country called The Devil’s Backbone . CLASSIC!

"The Dive Bar Crew" at The Devil's Backbone - Texas USA

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!

BOMB TACOS - Lustre Pearl Bar - Austin, Texas - "Home of the Bad Ass Burrito!"

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!

Bavarian Beer Garden - Munich, Germany - May 2011 - 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.

"The Rialto" - Venezia, Italia! - BEST mint chocolate chip ice cream in the world!

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.

Amy's Ice Cream - Austin, Texas - "A True Frozen Dessert Experience!"
Amy's Ice Cream - Austin, Texas - Cousin Polly catching ice cream from "The Wizards of Dessert"

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.

Magnolia Cafe - Austin, TX - late night with my friends Robyn & Jaime

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!

Late Night Pizza from Roppolo's Pizzeria - W. 6th St - Austin, TX - my friends Cooksey and Maui Meg

OK… I’m done rambling. Stay Tuned for more adventures of Austin GlobeTrekker. Until then… Join the Conversation!

TRAVEL | EXPLORE | DREAM | DISCOVER

TRAVEL: Is it the similarities… or the differences?


So… What exactly is it about TRAVEL that makes the corners of your mouth curl north into an inescapable smile? Is it the similarities we share with the places we go? Or, the differences from the people we meet that set us apart? Why not BOTH? For me… It’s the similarities AND the differences that make me HAPPY. That’s what drives me toTRAVEL| EXPLORE | DREAM | DISCOVER

Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada

Groucho Marx said “I, not events, have the power to make me happy or unhappy today. I can choose which it shall be. Yesterday is dead, tomorrow hasn’t arrived yet. I have just one day, TODAY , and I’m going to be happy in it.” That’s my approach to TRAVEL. Whether it’s getting soaked while hiking out on the Isle of Skye in The Highlands of Scotland… Peacefully strolling along the canals amongst narrow row houses in Amsterdam… Playing “Where’s Waldo?” in Mercat de la Boqueria on Las Ramblas in Barcelona, Spain with 2 idiot drunk friends… People watching with my wife at a bar in Whistler Village, British Columbia, Canada… Or, 2:47am chillin’ with a hazelnut mocha (no whip) at Strange Brew 24 Hour Coffee Shop in South Austin, Texas. Whatever it is… TRAVEL is fuel for the heart, soul and mind. It makes me HAPPY.

Amsterdam, The Netherlands

I’m not a writer. I’m not a photographer. But… I am a traveler, dreamer and explorer. So, here I am with a novice appetite for photography and an uncontrollable hunger for TRAVEL. A state of mind I like to call TRAVEL.i.CIOUS. And still… I’ve barely scratched the surface of this vast world.

Sunset in Christchurch, New Zealand

It was November, 6th 2005 and my “girlfriend” and I were in Queenstown, New Zealand on the South Island. We found ourselves stumbling out of a frozen ice palace of absolut wonder called “Minus 5”. Yes, the pun is intended. It WAS -5 C inside, the bar was made of ice, the glasses were made of ice, and the beverage of choice was absolut vodka. They gave us HUGE thick Eskimo looking coats to wear, since nobody could have possibly prepared for the elements in that joint. No… This was not at all similar to any bar I’d ever been to back in Texas. As my “girlfriend” and I proceeded to toss back the blackcurrant vodka, we surveyed the bar with our magnificent people watching skills, only to realize that we were not the only ones in pure amazement at our surroundings. “Pretty cool, huh?” said a tall man with a German sounding accent. I responded, “Never experienced anything like this in my life. Fantastic!”.

Friends from Germany and Austria in NZ
Minus 5 Ice Bar, Queenstown, NZ

We continued to discuss the ice bar, then struck up a conversation about Queenstown, and swapped stories of our time on the South Island of New Zealand. The surprising comfort was that we were two globe trekkers talking about TRAVEL. There was no mention of “what do you do for a living?”. Only the age old travel question… “Where are you from?”. My response… “We’re from Austin, Texas”. His response… “I’m from Germany, my wife is from Austria; but, we are living in Switzerland”. They laughed about the fact that people from Texas, first and foremost, ALWAYS say they are from Texas instead of from America. Then they proceeded to tell us that Austin, Texas was on their list of “places to see”. Unbelievable! A proud and exciting moment in travel. Lance Armstrong, SXSW Music Festival, the Texas Hill Country. Impressive. They knew about my home town – AUSTIN.

Sunrise - Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown, NZ

From what I recall, there was a time limit on how long you could stay inside the ice bar, so we proceeded to make our way back to the hotel when a loud ruckus came from across the waterfront. It was already after 3am, and I had already blown nervous plans that evening to propose to my “girlfriend” and ask her to be my “wife”. That didn’t happen. Somehow… Some way… We ended up in another bar watching Tana Umaga and the New Zealand All Blacks Rugby Team playing Wales in the 2005 Internationals in Europe on TV at 5am with a German, an Austrian, and a bunch of passionate Kiwis. WHAT? 

Church of the Good Shepherd
View inside Church of the Good Shepherd - Lake Tekapo, NZ

That evening, I learned more than I ever thought I would about Germany and Austria. Inspiring info for an Austin GlobeTrekker. The All-Blacks went on to beat Wales 41-3. Three days later… on November 9th, 2005, I had the PERFECT opportunity at Lake Tekapo, NZ to ask my girlfriend to be my wife. She said… YES! On May 15th, 2011 we will celebrate our 5yr Wedding Anniversary. WHERE in the world are we traveling? Almost 2 weeks in Europe – Germany, Austria, and Slovenia.

So ask yourself the question… TRAVEL: Is it the similarities… or the differences?