Friday, December 30, 2005

planes, trains and automobiles

The flight from Dublin to Chicago was good. I happened to sit next to a couple from Northern Ireland. The woman was a speech language therapist who trained in the states but moved to Northern Ireland to be with her husband. It was interesting.

On the 16th, John and I took the train from Chicago to Columbus WI where his brother and sister-in-law met us. That sounds uneventful. It took us about 45 minutes on the EL to get to the train station. Then we had to wait for the train to leave. While waiting to get on, there was an Amish family in front of us trying to give the ticket taker their tickets. Problem was that they didn't buy a ticket for their four year old son. Apparently they were told that the son didn't need a ticket but the lady wouldn't let them on. They got sent out of the line. On the train we saw three of the 5 so we don't know what happened to one adult and the boy. The train also left about half an hour late. They were waiting for another train that had people trying to connect to this one. After half an hour, the staff decided not to wait any longer. Once we finally got moving, the train got behind a local passenger train so we had to go really slowly. Then we also had to stop if a freight train was passing in front of us to let the freight train go first. Apparently the US government has determined freight trains have the right of way over passenger trains. We got to Columbus an hour late. That also made what would be a 2 1/2 hour car ride a 6 hour journey in total.

While on the train, the employees made periodic announcements. Some were relevant to people, others were them talking to each other. I guess Amtrak can't afford a private employee intercom/walkie talkie system. All the passengers get to hear whether doors are secured or if they are ready to stop, who is supposed to do what task, etc. It made the ride more interesting.

The train seats were OK. They had a lot of leg room, had some psuedo leg rest things that came out from the bottom of the chair to make it more like a recliner leg rest, and the seats were wide. You'd think with this design they'd be comfortable. Wrong. They were not. I don't know how the girls going all the way to Seattle were going to stay comfortable.

So in Columbus, John's brother and sister-in-law were waiting with John's old Mustang. The mustang does not have very much trunk space. Well, it doesn't really have much space of any kind. We got one of the suitcases in the trunk, the other his brother and I had on our laps in the back seat while we rode the 15 minutes to his brother's house. I guess I should have actually packed light for the week at my sister's.

Monday, December 12, 2005


On the way to Germany, I rode in a very nice plane. The seats were wider than most planes and had some sort of leather type seats. It was very comfortable. They also had a good amount of leg room. On the way back from Munich to Dublin, the plane was old. The seats were narrow, the leg room was lacking, and they looked worn. The seats also had a little hook for a coat! Hopefully I will get a nice plane on the ride to and from Chicago.


In Munich, they serve a beer called Radler. Well, it is sort of a beer. It is lemonade mixed with beer. It is surprisingly tasty and we had it at the oldest pub in Munich. It was quite tasty. The Hofbrauhaus also has really big and tasty pretzels. John wanted to take my picture with a whole pretzel and the litre of beer (yes, I drank the litre) but I was too hungry and started eating the pretzel. :)

Thursday, December 08, 2005


Munich is a beautiful city. It has really tall buildings and quite a few of them are pretty ornate, like the city hall. Here are a few pictures of the city.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005


In Ireland and the UK, quizzes appear to be very popular. The last two trainings I was on, they used the quiz format to test our recall of information. Pubs also have them on a pretty regular basis. Some pubs that is. Here is how they work.
1. Get into teams of about 4 people.
2. Either one team or all teams are asked a question.
3. If all teams are asked, each team writes their response down on a piece of paper. Usually about 10 questions are asked at a time in this format. The papers are then collected, scored, and answers given.
4. If each team is asked a question, the team members confer and then a spokeperson gives the team answer. If they get it wrong, usually another team can try to answer for fewer points.
5. There seem to be at least 5 round of questions per quiz. If the teams are writing down answers, there seem to be many more. Basically, they can go on for hours with a break in the middle (these are the ones at the pubs).
6. A variety of questions are asked during the quiz on a variety of topics but usually there is a theme. For example, the one at the pub I went to had a lot of Irish history and geography.
7. People really get into the quizzes and quibble over points and correctness of the responses.
8. Oh, there is an official "quizmaster" who asks all the questions. Usually at least one person (not quizmaster) is the judge.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Lions in Munich

A few years ago Chicago had decorated cows all over the city in the summer. This winter, Munich has lions all over the city. I didn't get a picture of the one in a big tank of bubbly water. The picture wouldn't turn out. :( These are some of the lions we found interesting.

Monday, December 05, 2005

dogs in Munich

I got back from Munich today. It was a good weekend. The flight was a couple hours late leaving Dublin because there was a "blizzard" in Munich. By blizzard, I think they meant it was snowing and they didn't know what to do about it. By the time we got there it was raining and the majority of the snow was gone.

As we walked around, I noticed lots of dogs. Big dogs, little dogs, all kinds of dogs. They are allowed on the trains and in stores! Today when shopping, I saw a couple dogs in stores. I even saw a guy walking his dog and holding a briefcase so he may be allowed to take his dog to work. How cool is that? I suppose not so great for the people who have allergies but they probably wouldn't be able to breath due to all the others smoking anyway.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

doctor's visit

On Monday I went to the doctor because I have been sick for about three weeks. I asked a couple mates for names of their doctors to figure out who to go to since I don't have insurance yet and haven't gone to the doctor here. One mate gave me the name of her doctor who has an "extended absence" greeting on her voicemail so you can't leave a message. I guess she must have gone out of practice, changed practices or is just on a really long vacation. Hmm.

Another mate recommended the practice he goes to and it is close to work. I called and got an appointment the same day! It was for 5:45 and since John is in London, I had to go home from work and walk Caineal and then catch the bus back to the doctor. So, I am waiting for the bus and take one of the 4 my mates told me would take me to Glasnevin. Well, at 5:43 I asked someone on the bus where we were because I didn't recognize the area in the dark. They told me I was in Drumcondra. Drumcondra is a little east of Glasnevin I think but busses do not go to both. So I got off the bus and started walking and looking for a taxi. I turned left on a street that seemed to be a major street. It wasn't for long. It was long and windy but headed in the generally correct direction.

Since I didn't have the doctor's office phone number with me, I called information to get the number and then called the doctor's office to tell them I was running late and was lost. The lady on the phone asked me where I was and what street I was on. I tried to explain to her that I didn't know: that was why I was lost. Finally, I saw someone in their car so I asked them what street I was on. They lady told me (I think she was a little freaked out but people tend to be helpful when they hear my accent). The lady at the doctor's office gave me directions from where I was and I got there about 20 minutes late. The doctor still saw me. The visit cost 50 Euro (same price citizens pay).

The doctor was very nice and looked younger than me. She asked me a few questions, asked if I had a fever. I said I didn't know since I don't have a thermometer. She didn't take my temperture, though. She then asked if I had been pushing on my cheeks because they were all red and swollen. I explained, no but I was walking outside for 20 minutes and they hurt a lot. It hurt to eat anything, even bananas! So she pushed really hard on my sinuses and agreed I had a sinus infection. We then discussed which antibiotics I was sentitive to and tried to figure out what they are called here. She prescribed a "really strong one that will get the infection out of the bone." It doesn't look seem as strong as others I have taken and I will be on it for 10 days. She also gave me a script for my migraine medicine since mine expired.

So I went to the pharmacy to get my drugs. They gave me the antibiotic just fine and asked how I usually take my Imigram (Imitrex). Apparently the script was only written for one dose! I told the pharmacist that sometimes I need two doses and am used to getting the whole box of 6 at a time. Since everyone except the poor pay for their own prescriptions, he gave it to me after a bit of convincing. He was concerned about the price: 19.50 per dose. I explained it was cheaper than in the states and it was fine (about $25 per dose). He also told me that there is a scheme in Ireland that no citizen has to pay over 85 Euro a month for medicine. If you do pay more, you fill out some forms and get your money back! I may not qualify since I am not a citizen, though. However, a mate told me that if I don't qualify for that scheme, I can get tax back for the cost of medicine over 85 Euro a month!

Today I am home sick. I am feeling better than Monday but it still hurts to eat food that requires chewing and I am getting tired of eating soft foods. My cheeks aren't constantly burning anymore but still hurt. I realized my mates were probably right that I should take a couple days off work to rest and get better. After all, I am going to Munich early Sat. morning and need to feel better for that. :)