Friday, July 25, 2014

landed

The flights went well and the kids did great on both of them. They were really too tired for the in-flight dinner and both fell asleep - for good around 9pm. We landed at around 3am, so that gave them 6 hours of solid sleep (minus a bit of turbulence) and Evan and I probably got about 3 hours each. 

This made for a tired crew trying to navigate the subway and the then the train to Fussen.  Between us we had 12 bags and they weighed over 300 pounds, easily. And a little girl who wanted to be held and a little boy who wanted to be a helper but couldn't quite figure out how to maneuver the suitcase on a cobblestone road. 

Our hotel in Fussen was really beautiful and I truly wish we could've stayed longer (they squeezed us in since we lost our reservations with our lack of visas earlier in the week and they only had room for us for one night). We ate in the main city center and all of us were asleep by 8. We were exhausted. 


Our hotel: Hotel Wiedemann.
That's our room on the tip top right of the peak (4th floor),
with the flowers hanging over the balcony.
View from our balcony of the Alps

Oakes kept calling it Big Ben


The lovely town of Fussen.

Oakes was intrigued by the statue and asked "Did it used to be a person?"  This was an unprompted hug for the little girl statue from him.
And this was Wren, copying him and cheesing it up.
The kids were hilarious this morning as they slept through a half hour of Evan and I having normal conversations, packing, and getting ready for the day. We had to wake them up and their sleeping positions were too good to pass up, especially with Wren's toe in Oakes' ear at one point.




Today we are in Munich. We took the noon train - it's a two hour ride - and our hotel is just a few blocks from the station. We became travel-smart (I think the sleep helped) and used the luggage lockers at the train station to hold about 3/4 of our luggage making our walk to the hotel manageable. 


All of these are ours.
Plus a few more bags that were on the top luggage rack. Plus two kids.
Today is Evan's birthday and with no more room in our luggage, he's gift-less. Sadness. But with the promise of some gifts and a nice celebratory dinner tonight, I think he's okay with it. Wren sang her baritone version of Happy Birthday to him multiple times today and Oakes did try to pick out a gaudy gold watch on the streets of downtown Munich today. So I think we can say Evan's already coming out ahead. 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

visas in hand and new flight details

To catch you all up:

Ev and I spent Saturday morning doing the final packing of our house. We called about our visas and FedEx said there was no way they would be there on Saturday, so we left Asheville knowing we were going to miss our flight on Sunday morning. This all led to a very hectic 24 hours including a 6:30am wake up call from India regarding rescheduling our flight we were to miss. I've said it before, but we truly feel like we are in good hands with our school. They bent over backwards for us and more than that, they were all very relaxed about the situation and solving it.

With hopes of receiving our visas on Monday, I left Evan and the kids on Monday morning to drive back up to Asheville. My plan was to finish touching up some paint, clean a bit, and read as I waited on our FedEx delivery. When I arrived in Asheville, I called FedEx to get an approximate delivery time (we still did not have a tracking number) and was told that I wouldn't receive the package until Tuesday. Ugh.



So there I was with no change of clothes - not even a toothbrush - making plans to stay overnight in Black Mountain with Doug & Mary (let's be honest, I was really there to love on Baby Will). In the meantime, Evan was at his parents' house with the kids and Oakes decided a 24 hour stomach bug would help the stress levels a bit.

This morning I was out of Mary & Doug's by 7:10am and heading back to our empty house to get food from the fridge, etc. I wanted to get to the FedEx office at 9am, when I was told they opened, as they agreed to hold my packages for my pickup. Unfortunately, they don't open until 9:30 and even when I was in the office at 9:30, was told that there would be an extra 20-minute wait on held packages today. 

Here's the whole picture: I'm in dirty clothes (including some baby spit-up) with messy hair/no make-up and we've had delay after delay after delay on these elusive visas. I'm keeping Evan up-to-the-minute with texts as he's got a sick kid doing all sorts of nasty sick stuff. So when he told me 20 minutes, I just started laughing out loud in the FedEx office - 20 minutes was nothing in the scheme of this whole wait we've had, but it was also the last little punch. In reality, it only took about 10 minutes and when I opened my envelopes at 9:42am, the sarcastic side of me wondered what our next step would be if the passports in said envelopes contained someone else's identity. 

Of course, they didn't. And by 9:44 I was back in the car, getting onto 240 to head back to my worn-out husband and kids.

We aren't sure why Evan's is flagged.
Actually, I feel sure it's because of his beard.
He says it is flagged as awesome.

Our flight leaves tomorrow with a nice layover in Chicago - we should arrive in Munich by Thursday morning and plan to stay around southern Germany until we depart for Delhi next week. I'm calm now but I imagine I'll become a little tornado of nerves tomorrow morning as I run laps making sure we have everything packed and we are ready to go. Goodnight.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

delayed plans

I expected to be writing a farewell post right now. You know what I'm talking about, the kind of thing like you hear at the Emmy's or what-not where we thank our family and friends and talk about all of the good times we've had here and how much we will miss everyone. 

And while all of that is true (and the post may still happen), this post is not that.

This post is to tell you all that we are not leaving tomorrow, as planned. To tell the story of our past week, where we've made phone calls to the Embassy and to the company that handles visas, emails to our school, and called in so many favors from friends that it isn't even funny.

We thought the visas would be in our hands shortly after the kids' visas arrived (mid-June) as we submitted them in late May. And by the processing time offered on the company's website, it really should have been in our hand in early July at the latest. 

But I also feel strongly that things happen for good reasons. I've run into people this week whom I never run into who only served to strengthen that mantra. And when we finally reached our tipping point of stress on Wednesday afternoon, we decided the stress wasn't worth it: we would make it to India, just maybe not with our German vacation plans intact. So we relaxed. And you know what? Things turned out okay.

We found out that our visas had been cleared late on Friday afternoon. Too late for them to be overnighted and way too late for us to hop in the car and drive to D.C. to get them by hand. Today was spent doing the final packing of our house and now we are at E's parent's house, about 2.5 hours from home relaxing on furniture items that we sorely missed this past week - like a couch.

It's likely that the visas will be delivered Monday or Tuesday, so we will stay at E's parent's cabin which is an hour from home and is an easy drive to/fro each day. It's also likely that the visas will not be mailed at all, due to the confusion, and we may be making a quick trip up to D.C. to pick them up by hand. Who knows. 

We still don't know when we will fly out, and again, we are sort of okay with that. We've already cancelled hotel reservations in Germany with plans to be back visiting in December if we can't see the family now. And if this experience has done anything positive, it has taught us - me, particularly - to begin to relax a bit more and just take things as they come. It's also reinforced that we are going to be working for a really great group of people who have been incredibly patient with us this past week.