I'm sitting in an airport waiting for my plane to Athens. I'm used to taking a relatively straight path through any region. If it's not straight, at least it's linear. Try pulling out a map and plotting this route: Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Berlin & Munich (Germany), Amsterdam & Eindhoven (Netherlands), Halle (Belgium), Vienna (Austria), Budapest & Visegrad (Hungary), and then my next leg: Athens (Greece), Rome (Italy), and Carnoules (France). Then making my way to Turkey. It's like you've handed a map and a marker to a three year old after having it drink three red bulls.
The method behind the madness is the people. Thanks to my jog into Belgium, I got to see my brother, sister-in-law, and oldest niece for the first time in exactly one year. I wrote that last post while we stayed with family friends who made very sure we got to try all the best Belgian beer, chocolate, french (not really-- they're from Belgium) fries, and waffles. So many waffles. We had them for dessert one night, our hosts Walter and Lutgard making them in the kitchen and bringing them out in batches and they just. kept. coming. and coming. and coming. They packed me three more for a lunch for my bus ride to Vienna, along with more chocolate, three sandwiches, two apples, and a tart. They were concerned it wouldn't be quite enough.
Before that was a quick jog into Eindhoven to meet up with a good Portuguese friend of mine I met in Siberia (you might remember him actually, Gareth showed up in the post on the Trans-Siberian rail), while he showed me around, the two of us careening around on one bicycle to a party hosted by a Chilean, attended by people from all over Europe. After that was visiting a good friend in college who's just moved to Austria for grad school, and then running off to Hungary with an English teacher I met in Laos. I almost threw in a leg through Spain to Portugal instead of Vienna to meet one of my oldest friends from grade school and more of the Portuguese crowd, but the costs just got too high.
And in fifty three minutes, I will board my flight to Athens to meet my parents.
The last I saw of them was Sept 23rd, 2008. My father had to get the car out of the drop off-lane. I remember one of the last things he did before that was to just look at me and say "Gosh. You're really doing it."
So if you'll excuse me, I'm going ahead and making this a shorter post than usual, because I want to get ready to see my family. If you want to hear good stories about this latest leg of my trip, drop me a line and ask about things like finding ducks for Happy Thursday, a rock concert underground (literally) in Hungary, Dr. Freud's home videos, "liberating" flowers for a housewarming gift, or my time sleeping on a chair, a three-foot loveseat, and a cardboard box lined up end-to-end. It's been an interesting week. Just like all my weeks these days.
Time to fly.
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