27 May 2009

Memorial Day Weekend in NY

This past weekend Kelly & I had a great time on Long Island two days were spent with my half of the family (next post) then two days were spent with the ol' Haltigan clan.

A bunch of the family headed out by boat to anchor at Zack's bay and watch the Memorial Day Weekend Air Show!

Kelly & I had never been to an air show....WOW, it was incredibly impressive.

We had all day to relax and catch up with the family including our nephew Michael and great nephew Luke.

and our ultra cute great nephew Jake !

and watch planes fly over head......awesome !

It was a great place to spend the day.

The beach got the best show, with parachuters and all kinds of neat stuff.

Memorial Day weekend Rocks !

19 May 2009

Spring in Vienna !

Trip number 4 to Vienna in recent history and number 2 coaching the Austrian National team, this time I brought along Triple F (Florida friend Frankie)

For those of you who don't know Frankie, he's another Long Island (Merrick) transplant that lives and coaches in Tampa Bay. His interests are short walks, delicious things and laughing his ass off.

We had an absolute blast.

Frankie was in charge of photography, and didn't realize til the end of the trip that the date stamp was on and wrong....oh well.

Upon arrival in Vienna we did some sightseeing and met up with friends Richi & Anita as well as some of their friends for some drinks at a cool little place downtown.

Once again, it was great of our Vienna pals to show us around and make us feel welcome.

above, Anita & Richi

There were two full days of training and the weather cooperated nicely.

Below, Frankie coaching the defense.

The Austrians are a great bunch of guys and really leave it all on the field. We had some great practices and a lot of fun as well.

On Sunday night, Richi & Anita met up with us again and took us to a cool little beach bar on the Donau canal. The weather was beautiful so the place was jammed, but we found some beach chairs and our own patch of sand. A great ending to a great weekend.

Vienna really is a great city. Thanks to Richi, Anita, Frankie and all the gang in Austria for another great trip.

Stay tuned for more from Vienna next month !

13 May 2009

Flat Marley does Barcelona

by k.
Barcelona you're a beautiful, charming city...Te amo

...and so does Flat Marley!

A group of folks from work took a long weekend and went to Spain's second largest city and the capital of the region of Catalonia.
The benefit of having a Flat Friend is that you can stash her in your carry-on and she flies free!
Here she is with new pals Claire and Sinead.

Saturday morning (okay, afternoon) saw us all getting on the open top bus to see the sites. Flat Marley loved all the architecture - especially the buildings designed by Barcelona's famous son: Antoni Gaudi. His Casa Mila above.

Flat Marley in front of Gaudi's Casa Batllo. The building was designed to remind people of a dragon - the roof looks like scales!!

Gaudi left his mark all over the city, but his biggest splash is easily Sagrada Familia, a cathedral under construction since 1882, expected finish date in the next 20 years. This place is jaw-dropping, y'all. One photo can not do it justice. It is straight out of some surreal fairy tale. It is so spectacular that even your own EYES, when you see it in person, can hardly take it all in. Facades on top of facades, spires on top of spires, giant stone snails crawling up towers....
I direct you to the website if you want more info and photos.

Flat Marley loved this magical place so much she wanted to climb the cranes and start helping the workmen, but we were afraid she'd blow away so we kept her on the bus.

But we did get off the bus for another of Barcelona's famous Gaudi sites, Park Guell, showcasing more weird and wonderful examples of his genius. Meandering around this park feels a bit like walking through a life-sized Candy Land board game.
Here's Flat Marley with the entrance to Park Guell and all of Barcelona behind her.

More of Park Guell's playful fantasticalness (is that a word?)

Lest you think all Flat Marley and I saw was Gaudi architecture....here's the port where we had lunch on a lovely afternoon, then stretched out in the sun and people watched while we digested.
And the gothic quarter were we wandered in the evenings for the charm, the food and the fun.

Flat Marley even met some strange Flat Friends that were just her size at a restaurant. They are looking a little on the skinny side though - maybe they should try some of the tapas? F.M. recommends the pattatas bravas, the manchego cheese and some olives.

Flat Marley made fast friends with the work crew and we all took turns looking out for her, showing her around Barcelona, rambling up the central street of Las Ramblas, dressing her up (and piercing her ears!) bringing her for late-night tapas dinners and taking her out dancing till dawn. F.M. has 9 new Irish Aunties and Uncles that just adore her and were all so happy she was part of our holiday.

Love you Flat Marley - and hope ya had a nice trip.

10 May 2009

Munich !

Munich is a great city.

Even the city motto, München mag Dich, is great...it means 'Munich loves you"
...actually I think it means Munich likes you...but, same diff.

I haven't been to Munich since ,oh geez, here comes one of those statements that makes me feel old, ....since 1989. Yes, twenty years ago when I was in the Army and stationed in Nurnberg.

Billy and I stopped in Munich overnight so I could visit with the guys from Munich Lacrosse. Defenseman Philip met us at the train station and took us to his family's house where we could rest before practice. In a display of true Bavarian hospitality, they not only welcomed us into their home, let me work for a few hours on their internet, but Philip's Mom also cooked us a delicious dinner of Bratwurst, potatoes and broccoli.

Herzlichen Dank !

In the evening we had a great training session with the Munich Lacrosse club at their kick ass sports facilities which include a handy dandy bar/restaurant for after practice get togethers.

Munich Lacrosse is one of the oldest and most established programs in Germany. They have a lot of players and have both strong Men's & Women's teams.

The next day, Philip took Billy & I on a short sightseeing walk around downtown Munich. It's a beautiful city with a rich history and lots to see. As we rounded a corner, we came across a statue of a wild boar...much to Billy's delight, it was the German Hunting & Fishing Museum.

We did a quick walk through the museum, but eventually we had to drag Billy out of there and see the rest of the city.

It was a nice day for a walk around the old city.

The Church with the two towers is the Frauenkirche.

The Church has a nifty legend to go with it. Inside the entrance is the Teufelstritt, or Devil's Footstep. The legend goes that the devil made a deal with the builder that no windows were to be built in the church. But the devil was tricked by the clever builder who had set the columns so that you couldn't see a single window from a certain spot in the entrance hall where the devil stood. Once the devil found out he was tricked the church had already been consecrated so he couldn't enter, but left a footprint at the entrance where he madly stomped his foot.

See, no windows can be seen from the entrance (the big one at the end was apparently covered by a tapestry when the devil came to inspect)

I was expecting a scary devil footprint, but apparently the devil has a size 11 shoe...pretty standard really (said in a Dr. Evil voice)

Billy & I had to catch a train around 3pm, but we had one more stop to make.

The Hofbräuhaus

Opened in 1589 it is one of the oldest breweries in Germany, and certainly the most famous. It is state owned, as it was the Royal Brewery of Wilhelm V, Duke of Bavaria.

Its packed with tourists and has a gift shop, but its still a great place to experience some of that Old Bavarian charm.

We didnt want to leave, but had to hustle to make our train....we made the train just in time. With our bellies full of yummy Bavarian beer we waved goodbye...

Auf Wiedersehen Munich...we'll be back.

07 May 2009

SwampBilly in Europe

Sorry for the lack of blog activity people, but as many of you know, I was off on a 18 day trip and Kelly went off to Barcelona.

The good news is we'll have plenty of blog posts for ya now that we're back.

My trip started with my monthly coaching trip to Gottingen. This time I had Gibby, Drunk Dave, Bingo and SwampBilly with me as we were en route to the Box tournament in Prague the next week.

After the tournament I had a few stops to make, so it was going to be one of my longest solo trips to date.

Posts to follow about the entire trip, but needless to say...it was a doozy.

Billy had so much fun in Gottingen & Prague, that he canceled his return flight to Florida and made the journey with me to Vienna, Munich, Gottingen and back to Ireland.

Problem was that Billy had so many bags, he looked like my sherpa...which of course turned into both of us referring to him as Tenzing Norgay, world famous Sherpa who accompanied Sir Edmund Hilary to the top of Everest in 1953.

It only seemed fitting that upon our return to Ireland, I take my Tenzing out to Wicklow and let him run wild in the mountains.

Wicklow Wednesday kicked off with a Guinness filled Tuesday night, so Wednesday morning we were running behind schedule. We took the light rail down to the foothills, and then caught a cab to the Wicklow Way trail head at Kilmashogue.

We hiked up Kilmashogue, saw some neolithic tombs and then hiked over Two Rock near Fairy Castle, down into Glencullen to Johnny Foxe's pub for lunch.

The only problem was that, while Sir Edmund Hilary had his stocky Sherpa who was used to the altitude and temperatures in the Himalayas, I had a flatlander from the steamy shores of Lake Okeechobee. Although it was May, the tempartures were in the 40's, the wind & rain were lashing at us the whole time....poor Tenzing Billy kept telling me to "Go ahead, I'm not going to make it, get help"....but we persevered...together.

Ok, I'm kidding. Although it was cold and rainy it was still a great day. Besides, you can never question Billy's toughness.

He hunts gators.

Thanks again Billy, great trip.

More posts to come about our time in Prague, Vienna, Munich and Gottingen.

03 May 2009

Flat Marley goes all Neolithic on your Butt

Newgrange is a passage tomb dating from about 3200 B.C. That's older than the pyramids y'all!

It's a big earth mound, built around a stacked stone chamber, into which rays of sunshine penetrate through a special passage above the door at dawn of the winter solstice.

That plus the human remains found inside lead historians to think it was some kind of sacred temple. There are other similar burial mounds in the area marking the summer solstice and the spring & autumn equinoxes in the same fashion. Fairly impressive engineering & dedication for the Stone Age, eh?

Regardless of all that, I prefer to think of Newgrange, and its 30 or so brethren in the area, as Irish folklore has for hundreds of years....as Fairy Mounds. Irish Fairies weren't no tiny, winged tinkerbells either but scary, bad-ass muthahs. Great and terrible warriors, magical, vindictive, fierce - something dark to scare the little ones with in bedtime stories. Mwuahhaahaha.

Easter weekend was a four days long (hallelujah!!) so after three days of sunshine friends decided to check out Newgrange on RAINY Easter Monday. Sigh, Ireland, your weather breaks my heart. Knowing Flat Marley is a big fan of all things pre-historic (and not at all scared of big mean Irish Fairies), we brought her along.
And if you are wondering just who or what in tarnation is a Flat Marley you might wanna check out the previous post first.....

Marley demonstrates how it's believed the stone agers moved the giant curb stones forming the base of the mound. The white quartz and gray granite forming the outer walls come from 100 kilometers in either direction of Newgrange. Once again - impressive feats from cavemen.

E. shows F.M. how to live pre-historically.

Flat Marley enjoyed the history and the mystery of this 5,000 year old archaeological site, but it also turns out she's a bit of a Butch Cassidy to my Sundance Kid.......

...and enjoys breaking the law, breaking the law.......

C. tries to make himself as flat as possible for a photo with F.M. after a walk in the rain.

After all the culture and weather we decided to treat Flat Marley to an ice cream (with a hot whiskey for me). Thanks to E. A. & C. for inviting Flat Marley and I to join them on the day's outing.