Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Four days and counting

Since Marc returned from his Kayaking trip, I have tried very hard to purchase only fresh fruit and veggies, in order to use up everything in the fridge and freezer before we leave. It has made for some creative meal planning to say the least. Now four days before the movers arrive, with all of my pots and pans packed, and the fridge almost completely empty, I took a look in the freezer to see what I could come up with for dinner.

Craisins and white wine for appetizers and frozen blueberries and green peas for the main course ... humm

But seriously, this is kind of indicative of my state of mind. All sense of order has disappeared into brown cardboard boxes. I guess the good sign is, I feel I have time to blog today. Things must be calming down whether I have realized it yet or not.

There have been many experiences I wanted to write about over the last couple of weeks. Emotional ones. I even imagined how I would capture in words the feelings I am having. But there hasn't been time to sit still long enough — and I haven't been relaxed enough (Marc will certainly attest to that) to get my thoughts down until now.

My cousin Sheila who lives three floors above us, made us a fabulous dinner last night, and as she was preparing cocktails she turned to us and asked,
"How does it feel
With no direction home
Like a complete unknown
Like a rolling stone ?"

Marc and I both looked at each other and burst into laughter. For those of you who are not Dylan fans, or do not know that Marc is an EXTREME Dylan fan, this may not seem so significant. But last week, when we sold our last large possession (my car), Marc turned to me, and in a Dylanesque tone, recited the same chorus! We can always count on Dylan, to hit the nail on the head! 

We don't yet really know "how it feels". Even though we have a fairly detailed "direction" planned, there is a lot of "unknown" in our future —and at the moment, the idea of "home" is fairly illusive. But the one thing we do know for sure, is that it REALLY feels right.

In many ways we have come full circle. 36 years ago, we left Winnipeg for Jerusalem with only the backpacks on our backs and a small crate of wedding presents, packed and ready to be shipped to us once we were settled in Jerusalem. In four days time — all of our worldly possessions will again fit into a small crate. A little larger than the one we shipped to Jerusalem in 1975 — but not by much.

Our wedding pictures are not accessible, but I think this one will do the trick. Marc and I in Egypt 1977. The first of many travel adventures of the wandering Broudos!

We will be suited up in state of the art travel gear this time around — and needless to say we are a full 36 years older. But other than that, the details are surprisingly similar.

The difficult part is saying goodbye. I have had my share of those this week, and there will be several more before we fly out on September 8th. We will be back for three days in October, but those will be days filled with appointments and tying up loose ends. The real goodbyes and the emotion attached to them are happening now. In all the weeks leading up to our move, I was sure I would be fine, but now I am feeling the loss.

25 years in Vancouver has been an incredible experience. Aaron grew up here, Marc and I had successful careers here. We made incredible friends here. And this is where both of my parents are laid to rest. So much to celebrate and so much to mourn. A fullness not easy to describe. You all know who you are — friends and family who have made the past 25 years so rich. All of the leaves on our tree that continues to grow. Thank you all for being such a significant part of our lives. We take you with us where ever we go.

To make this a bit easier, let's not say goodbye, but simply "until we meet again".

I am all geared up with my new macbook air (that I love to pieces!!) and I promise to keep you all informed about our travels and the amazing (and not so amazing) things we will be experiencing. Please continue to leave comments here or on facebook every once in a while, so I know you are there. Otherwise I will be missing you all too much!

Just a reminder that the Broudo's will be unplugged as of September 4th. No phone number and no real mailing address, but we will be looking forward to your emails!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Contrasting views

This awesome view of Vancouver is from our livingroom. (pictures were taken when we moved in.)

A quick look at the calendar confirms that we have three more weeks to the day, until the movers arrive. I feel way ahead of schedule until I remember that my calendar is filled with appointments and reminders about all of the tasks that have to be crossed off the list before we leave!

None the less, I am taking the day off from all packing related activities, to contemplate for nearly the last time, what a magnificent year we have had here at 1425 West 6th Ave. When we walked in to view this apartment last June, we both knew immediately we would love living here. A couple of weeks of a rental bidding wars, and nail biting later, we signed the one year lease. And now a whole year has gone by and here I am packing again!

From the day we moved in, we have loved it here.  The views from every darn window in this apartment are awe inspiring. This neighborhood is nothing less than awesome. Our pick of running and walking routes in every direction. A seven minute walk to Granville island, and a 15 minute walk downtown. South Granville and West 4th shopping a hop skip and a jump — and so much more.

When the sun shines, we agree that there is not a better spot in the world than 1425 West 6th Ave. A year from now, after we have been around the world and back, it will be interesting to see if our perspective changes!

Taken today. The view out our bedroom window.

Right now, looking out my window at the  beautiful scenery, helps me live with the  very contrasting views inside the apartment!

Three weeks and counting!

The view inside, in every room ...

Friday, August 5, 2011

Returned from the land of Shalom Alechem, directly into a Seinfeld episode!

I wish I had had my camera with me this morning so that I could have documented this hilarious experience. A video of what I am about to describe would have really been a treat to replay when we return from our 82 day trip to India ...

... I heard Marc rustling around at 3:00 am. Jet lag – don't you love it? He explained that he was going to pack for his kayaking trip, which begins, tomorrow. Great idea, since he was up and so was I, so we together went through the packing list and had it all pretty much organized by 6:00. We thought about going back to bed, but I thought, I would get an early start, and prepare for my trip to the India visa office which opened at 8:00 am.

I had printed the forms out prior to our trip to Eastern Europe, and filled out my form. I had just to go through Marc's form, have him sign and print out the photos (that Devora took of us), which I meticulously sized to the specifications on the form. I had reviewed the check list twice and was feeling quite smug, that I was crossing yet one more item off my to do list.

Before printing the photos, I thought I would size the ones for the Israeli passport that we need to renew and while I was at it, make copies for eventual visas for Nepal and Vietnam. So I left a bit later than expected and arrived at the visa office at 8:30. As I got out of the elevator on the 6th floor, I was a bit unnerved, not seeing a line out the door of applicants, but I heard friendly voices on the other side of the door, so I turned the knob and walked in.

A very friendly gentleman with a full beard and a turban greeted me. The room was empty accept for one young man waiting to be served. "Apply for a visa?" he asked (or I think that is what he asked) in a very soft and comforting tone. "Yes", I said smiling. He motioned to the envelope in my hand, and I graciously, handed him the forms for review. Marc's forms were on top with the carefully trimmed photo glued in the appropriate spot. A quick glance at our forms, and his expression changed from one of friendly greeting to one of deep sadness. shaking his head slowly back and forth, with his head leaning to one side he said almost in a whisper, "ohhh noooo".

I assumed he was trying to tell me that I couldn't apply for Marc, so I removed Marc's forms to reveal my photo on my form. His expression changed momentarily to positive anticipation, but when he saw my forms, the head shaking continued and he whispered again, "ohhh noooo...". "You see", he continued patiently, you must submit online. I was really confused at this point. I tried to explain that I had printed the forms from the website and filled them in. "So sorry, you see, the policy has changed". More head shaking and then he motioned to the young man sitting in the empty reception room. The young man came forward and showed me his forms that had been filled out online full of bar codes and other things unfamiliar to me.

A completely different form – completely different photo size.

"but I printed this form from your website(!)" I said, knowing that it was a futile argument.  More head shaking, "This is old form" He said again with deep sadness. "It changed very recently". More head shaking, arms in the air.

How recently you ask? As soon as I was back home, I looked it up and if you can believe it, the policy changed on August 1st! Get used to it, I told myself shaking my head back and forth. Welcome to India!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

All Castled out … and on our way

We arrived back in Vienna on Monday afternoon. There was something comforting about being back in a city we had already spent time in. We knew the currency, knew how to use the transit ticket machines and knew our way to our hotel! We let ourselves into the Pension Sacher with the key Claudia had given us when we left Vienna nearly three weeks ago.

Interesting fact about the Pension Sacher; the Sacher Torte, which is a chocolate concoction found in all bakeries, here in Vienna, was actually created by the first generation Sacher that opened the original Sacher hotel! We feel just a little bit famous, now, knowing that we are hob knobbing with a relative of the creator of this Viennese dessert!

Once situated, we lost no time and headed to the Kunsthistorich Museum, which houses a collection of Renaissances art that can compete with the Louvre. We had only two hours, so we really did not do it justice, but having at least a taste, was worth the price of admission. There were several artists with their easels and palettes, copying the great masters just like you see at the Louvre.

Without Doug and Devora to guide us to the perfect restaurant, we were a bit lost, but muddled our way through (much less systematically I might add) and managed to find a popular Greek restaurant, which did the trick. We wandered a bit out of the tourist district and like to think we found a local restaurant with local people. We can pretend anyway!

Our last day was spent at the Schonbrunn Palace, which is a few subway stops from our hotel. When we arrived, there was a line around the block leading to the ticket counter! To add to our chagrin, there was a menu of options for tickets that took a rocket scientist to figure out. We decided to just go for the full meal deal, hoping it would be worth it. The residences were very impressive, but we soon realized that the rest was fairly accessible without a ticket … oh well. Our last day and our last castle. I for one, can safely say, I am castled out!

We hit the sack early (I am purposely skipping our dinner choice as D & D would have been appalled, and frankly they would have been right!), since our wake up call was for 3:45 am. We managed to sleep fairly well, and catch our 4:30 bus to the airport from SwedenPlatz (had to get at least one platz in this post!), just a few blocks from our hotel.

A somewhat disturbing experience at the very end of our stay in Vienna, was a brawl that took place at a gas station just in front of the bus stop as we boarded the bus to the airport. A group of young men, congregated there and started, what looked initially to be, a play fight of sorts. Within a couple of minutes there were more than a couple of guys and the fight took a more serious turn. Our bus driver called the police as well as apparently a few other bystandars, and as our bus left the station, three police cars arrived to break up the fight. So Vienna is not a prim and proper as it may seem from the centre of the tourist district!

We are now safely on our flight, with only 14 hours to endure in these outrageously cramped accommodations, before arriving home to our topsy-turvy apartment.

More on that in the coming days!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Budapest Highlights

We are sitting on the train in the Keleti station in Budapest; waiting for it to start chugging it’s way back to Vienna. Three full days of touring in Budapest flew by, and I have yet to summarize our experience.

It has been our habit to leave the Jewish Quarter for last. Not on purpose, but it seems to end up that way. As we sit here, with three hours to write about our time in Budapest, the things we saw and heard yesterday make it hard to find light subjects to write about.

We visited the second largest Synagogue in the world, which is here in Budapest. I guess that makes it clear that the Jewish population in Budapest and in Hungary in general, prior to the war was one of the largest in Europe. Even today, after all that has happened, it remains one of the largest Jewish communities in Eastern Europe. Compared to other places we have visited – there is Jewish life here – Jewish schools and active places of worship. Yet for me the visit has been the most difficult. But l will not dwell on that. I left off last post as we all crawled into our berths on the train from Krakow to Budapest….

Our train arrived on time, around 9:00 am. Again, slept like babies (need I say more?) … Groggily (or at least some of us), we walked from the station to our modern Hotel Residence Isabella on the Pest side of the Danube. It seemed impossible, but Devora had outdone herself once again. Our suite has two bedrooms with ensuites, a comfortable living room, full kitchen, and – a washing machine! We felt at home instantly. The hotel is situated on one of Pest’s main thoroughfares, with buildings circa 1880, grand on one hand, crumbling on the other. Marc and Doug led us on a walking tour of the area including the large City Park, SzĂ©chenyi Baths and past some Art Nouveau buildings, before starting our search for a restaurant for dinner.

On most days, we are surviving on two hearty meals a day. So our choice of restaurants for dinner is taken very seriously. We have several criteria. First and foremost it has to have vegetarian offerings. Secondly it has to have good reviews. Doug usually takes a look in the guidebooks we have with us, and then Devora, checks them in trip advisor for current rave reviews. Then we figure out where they are and if they are easily accessible. I should also mention, that Devora had already done some research for each city and had a short list of possibilities (I know –There is nothing she has not thought of!) This process has proven infallible and our dinners have been as outstanding in Budapest as they have been in all other stops on our trip. Our first night we dined at a Hare Krishna restaurant with Asian/Indian food, our second night, a Hummus Bar (amazing falafel) and the third night at a kosher restaurant in the Jewish Quarter. All quite different and equally delicious.

On this trip, each city has the obligatory Castle district. Budapest is no exception. We spent the second day in Buda, visiting the sites. We made the decision (which may have been difficult for Marc and Doug), to skip visiting the museums. We would have needed another week to do that justice. We stopped along the way for our daily strudel at Retesbar (billed as the best strudel in Buda – and we have confirmed it!). We were not disappointed – delicious fillings, both sweet and savoury. We also managed to fit in a quick dip at the Gellert Thermal baths before dinner.

Doug managed to find us a restaurant that was minutes away from the Folklore performance that we had tickets for that evening. And what a performance it was. The talented musicians, and dancers carried us away, treating us to the best of Hungarian folk music and dances. Devora and I were clicking our cameras continuously trying to get a clear image in a dark theatre with dancers moving quickly with costumes swirling! I don’t think we really succeeded, but you get the idea.

We took it easy the third day and started out at a leisurely pace, covering the Jewish Quarter and the Opera House with a stop for pastry and coffee.

We decided to have an early dinner at the Hanna restaurant, and spend the evening at our hotel sipping palinka (a local alcoholic beverage), finishing the two bottles of wine we had open in the fridge and the last beer! It was our last night together, after all!

Devora and I stopped at a grocery store and bought snacks, to keep anyone from passing out from too much alcohol! And we were set.

We sipped, and giggled, did laundry, and nibbled. I don’t think any of us wanted to think about the fact that our trip together was almost over. In the morning, Doug and Devora would be on their way to Dubrovnik, and the rest of their trip (another 10 days), and we would be off to Vienna for two days and back to Vancouver.

As we sit on the train now by ourselves, we are wondering how we will manage with out them!

This has truly been a dream holiday. Thank you Doug for being our fearless leader, always knowing how to read the map and get us where we needed to go (even in Vienna when we were platzing over the pronounciations of the street names!), and for being our tour guide along with Marc in each city, reading descriptions of each stop on our many walking tours. And thank you Devora for organizing the most perfect trip, with such an interesting itinerary, superb accommodations, and impeccable transportation reservations. Not one glitch. Truly, truly amazing!!! And of course your language skills! Nishikot v’chibokim :)

The train is nearing the station. Two more days in Vienna and then we will be Vancouver bound!