Monday, September 27, 2010

London and Amsterdam

We spent two days each in London (planned) and Amsterdam (unplanned).

London is a vibrant city, even though they mostly all wear black! As I wandered around, the first day with my husband, the second day without, I found the people to be lively, friendly and quite in the rush. They do not stop much but constantly seem to be going from one place to another.
We got to tour around the popular sites a little:

We rode The Eye which was really fun:

and just enjoyed the feeling of a big city.

I loved taking the subway and finding my way around while looking for warm clothes, coats, gloves, etc....getting ready for our upcoming move. We bought so much...even though it will still probably not be enough to get us through the whole winter in Atyrau!

and it ended up costing us in the end! Why?
Well, we were fine, weight wise, if we flew directly from London to Atyrau, with just a change in planes in Amsterdam.
But did you really read the first sentence of the post well?
We didn't get to do that! We ended up not having all the paperwork in time for the flight between Amsterdam and Atyrau. So, we waited for the paperwork and flew to Atyrau on Sunday. What does this mean?
We had to pay for the baggage because the local airlines limitations are MUCH smaller when you check in in Amsterdam.

So, we stayed an extra two days in Amsterdam.
We had both been to Amsterdam, but not together. It is an interesting city that thrives on a true European feel. The streets are filled with people walking, talking, shopping...we got to enjoy a delicious cheese and meat fondue, stroll through the streets together hand and hand.
It was a lovely stop over, even if unplanned!

We took a boat ride through the canals, were charmed by the architecture and enjoyed our time exploring this city of canals, together.

All in all, it was a beautiful 4 days. We rushed around and strolled along. We visited and took pictures, made memories and bookmarked where we would take our children!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

So much to fill you in on....Where to begin

Well, how about we start at the very beginning....
as Julie Andrews told us:
It's a very good place to start! (from The Sound of Music)

The Key West house was first on our stop...
notice the luxury my husband's company spoils us with when on a pre-assignment trip, or what we all call the "look-see".
Yup, when you can use this little device,

that means you are in business class.
It is such a different experience than flying we never pay for, but are gifted by the company on certain occasions. Being able to lay almost flat, have a comfortable pillow and blanket, and actually eat the food that is served...
what a difference it makes when going on these long trips.

So we spent about two and a half days at our house. We always have so much fun and wish we could retire already!
I think the funniest part of Key West was when we went to Sears one day. We had just walked into the store, and there comes an announcement on the speakers...
for all people in the store..(at which point I was glad that I was near an exit in case something was wrong!)...but was I mistaken.
On came this gentleman describing some free giveaways near the flashing light.
So, why husband and I wander over and the man begins his presentation. I will spare you all the details, but he was a seller for Mr. Sticky....
They were only going to have this deal for all 10 of us there and only for this limited time...
so what am I getting at?
Well, we got a deal...on the whole Sticky Family.

For this limited offer, we were able to purchase Mr. Sticky, Mrs. Sticky and Sticky Jr for a much discounted price...over half off what they will be selling it for on QVC (and it will not be available in stores people!).
Let me tell you, they work. We took the Sticky family home and tried it out on the floors in our house. It picked up everything...little dust particles that I haven't been able to pick up with the sweeper, little crumbs, hair, gunk...everything!
It is really sticky, and yes, all you do is wash it off and dry it with a towel, while massaging it a little...and it is sticky again.
The whole scenario was making me laugh so much, but truthfully, I am so glad we "stuck" around. ;)

So, I won't overload you with the whole trip at once (plus my Steelers are on!)
On tomorrow's episode of my Roller Coaster Ride:
London and Amsterdam

Friday, September 24, 2010

Wind Farm

Check out this article from CNN

I saw this "farm" while flying between London and Amsterdam. It is a beautiful sight to see really...they just sit in the middle of the ocean.

I find it so encouraging that our world is finally trying to harness Mother Earth's natural powers.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

In transit

So here I am sitting in the airport in Amsterdam.
I have been for quite some time and still have about 3 hours to go.
I know that I stil need to fill you on our new surroundings in Atyrau, and let me tell you,
there is a lot to tell!
Let's leave that for its own post though. I was not able to connect to
Blogger from where we were staying. That worried me because I was
on the camp. I'm really hoping that Blogger is not somehow blocked there!
Let's not worry about that bridge until we have to cross it!
I just find this airport so funny and interesting. I can shop for clothing and shoes,
buy tulips, live and in bulb form, chocolates, food and drink,
cameras and electronics and even visit a smaller version of the
Rijksmuseum! What a great place to be in transit for 8 hours!
The natural light where I am sitting right now is abundant and lovely.
I plan to stay here for quite awhile...

Saturday, September 18, 2010

More thoughts and a snafu

Well, I really enjoyed London.
The second day we were there I was alone most of the day to wander around the city, trying to find a warm jacket for Atyrau for my little girl, and just to spend the day meandering...
and that is exactly what I did. I wandered first through the neighborhood we were staying in, Covent Garden. Lovely part of the city and quite charming; all the English accents and their helpfulness in directing me around!
Then, I bought a ticket for the Underground...the Tube.
And I fell in love with big cities that have subways that really work all over again. I always have enjoyed the feeling of switching lines, riding the escalators deep down underground and finding out which way to go by the signs showing all the stops.
There are stops above ground I felt the cool wind kissing my cheeks...
There are languages surrounding you, some I know and recognize, others completely foreign.
London felt homey to me...a city that I could really get used to living in.
After meeting back up with my husband once he finished his work related calls, we walked around Big Ben and the Palace...rode The Eye and took some fabulous pictures!
Once I am back to my home computer I will download them and post them for you all to enjoy.
Alas, it is nothing like where we will be moving. We were supposed to fly through Amsterdam on Friday and directly on to Atyrau. They told us to fly to Amsterdam, and then check with them on whether they had the paperwork ready for us to enter the country...
(can you guess where this is heading?)
Yep, it was not we are in Amsterdam for the weekend. The letter arrived 2 hours late and therefore we missed the flight to Atyrau. I quickly booked us a hotel in the center of Amsterdam and here we are enjoying this enchanting city. We have both been here before, though never together. I was here over 15 years ago, but still find it quite similar...
romantic canals, beautiful sunny days and chilly nights..
quaint restaurants and sidewalk cafes.
The only downside to not making the flight...
having to pay for our extremely overweight baggage!
See, we were fine for KLM and since we were booked straight through to Atyrau the bags would not be re-weighed, just put onto the next plane. Well, now that we have to re-check in with our 115 kilos of suitcases...
well, the local airline to Atyrau only accepts 30 kilos per passenger...
do the math..55 kilos to pay for..
not pretty..
but we are having fun and enjoying ourselves so far!
As my Grammy always used to say:
Stay positive!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Quick thoughts of London

We arrived in London early this morning (Wednesday).
Being in our home in Key West was fabulous, as always...there are a few stories there, but I'd rather wait for those to upload pictures to go with them.

We are now in London for a few reasons....first is so that my husband can meet his new boss who is based here, and second, to do some winter clothes shopping.
We were able to accomplish that but the styles are definitely different here.

In Rio, clothes are in color. There are swirls and paisleys, stripes and polka dots...
hues of pink, red, and blue...
tangerine orange, seafoam green, sunny yellow...
ok, do a 180 degree turn and welcome to London.
Everyone (almost) is dressed in various shades of black and gray. There are black pants with black shoes and black shirts with black jackets on top.
They have black trousers on with black sweaters...
of course there are a few girls with purple, hot pink or green hair...but they still wear black.

We sat at a cafe this morning until our room in our hotel was ready. I could not believe the sight of so much black with a touch of gray.
Then there was me...
all in browns :)
and enjoying every minute of it!

Friday, September 10, 2010


So, the adventure begins....
Tomorrow my husband and I will head out for what our company calls a look-see trip.
This is where we have the chance to check out the new location and see if it
really will work out for us.

I'm not sure how you do that in a span of 4 days, but I'll give it my best shot!
When we moved to Venezuela I didn't go because our kids were too young to leave. We both came to Rio, partly to look and partly to just have a few fun moments for just my husband and I!

This trip...I think I am planning on a deep, hard, LOOK-SEE!
I have about a million questions that I am hoping some of the current residents can answer for me. No need to list them all not, but they consist mostly of questions about bringing my dog, what foods need to be brought in, what is available/not available, check out the school....

My in-laws arrive in a few hours to help out with the kids while we are away, but even though they are with family, I hate to leave them.
I like to be alone with my husband and it will be a fun trip...seeing as we are stopping in the
Key West house, 2 days in London and then 4 in Atyrau....
but it will be hard on them and us to be away for so long.
Actually, even harder on my husband because he stays in Atyrau a few extra days and then goes on to meetings for another week in Venezuela!

Ah...wish us luck, a safe journey and I will try to keep you updated, hopefully with some pictures :)

Monday, September 6, 2010


Rio is full of sounds...
there are always cars driving by, horns honking....
there are waves crashing, toucans and parrots chirping.....
there are people laughing, shouting, singing....

It is amazing how different it is when you do not hear the familiar sounds, whatever they are.
At our house in Florida, though it is on the water, you do not hear it....there are not many waves.
There is the breeze rustling through the palm trees and the birds chirping, but mostly there is silence.
We are all different in our comfort levels of sound.

I enjoy the silence though sometimes it unsettles me a little. After these last 7 years of constant sounds, it seems strange to me when I do not hear the cars or the people. I like it quieter. It helps me to settle down and calm my thoughts. I like to hear just the sounds of nature. I like the relaxation it provides naturally.

Yet, as we are getting ready to move onto another country where I'm not sure what to expect, I wonder what sounds will become familiar. I will miss the large ocean waves slamming against the sand that I go to sleep to every night and wake to every morning.
I will miss seeing and hearing the toucans and parrots at my children's school.

Yet, I know that what awaits me will be the beauty and silence of snow.
I always enjoy watching the snow fall and the beauty of the silence. I know silence is not seen, but somehow, when I watch snow, I feel like you can see the quietness of the air....feel the silence surrounding you.

What sounds surround you?

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

What's next

Now, the craziness begins.
We will begin our journey to this new, foreign land.

We are excited about going to Atyrau, Kazakhstan. It is something completely different than these last two assignments in Maracaibo, Venezuela and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
We are going to a land of extreme weather, camp life (as opposed to apartment living), and a small school. The kids are looking forward to a winter with snow, finally...
I'm just not sure they realize how cold it gets there!
I have seen pictures of kids throwing snowballs and ice skating, so that is good enough for them!
I just have to find all the right gear.

My husband and I will be making a trip to visit and see what we are getting into. We actually can turn the job down after this trip, but I know we will not do that.
I'm anxious to go and actually see this camp life living situation.
I hear it can be a great resource and fun times because the city offers not much else. At the same time, I've heard it is like living in a fish bowl...good thing I know how to swim ;)

We have to separate a shipment from our current location. Most of our belongings will go into storage in the US. The townhouses are furnished there in Atyrau. Oh yea, that's another high point...a townhouse!
We are finally free (at least for a few years!) of apartment living. We are all looking forward to this...just being able to walk outside your front or back door with no elevators to wait for!

So, I'm trying to remain calm. I am ready to be there and get things started and settled. I'm ready to have the kids begin their new life amongst new friends and new teachers.
The school is extremely small. It really is only for those crazy families (like us!) that are working for my husband's company and a few outside contractors working for them. this translates into either a lot of attention for our kids, or the fish bowl feeling of claustrophobia.
Our kids are highly adaptable, so I think they will thrive with the attention. Let's see...more to come on this as it happens...

Oh, this is like my favorite TV show...24!
Coming to you in real time...hehehehe
I will keep you updated on when we are going on the look-see!