Sunday, November 30, 2008

I Have not Fallen Off the Face of the Earth...

It’s time for an update again. First of all, let me welcome two new additions to the family – Siena and Jayan Victor. I offer hearty congratulations to their respective parents Jay & Alvie, and Ron & Donna. I can not wait to see both babies. I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving in Poulsbo. I also offer best of birthday wishes to host of family members with birthdays in November – to Mng. Bong, Mng Edgie, Sonya, Steve, Payton, Grace, Mia, Neil, and Salia. I am sorry that these b-day greetings are all a bit late. Let me know if I have missed anyone. I also received a nice note from James providing an update from Holy Cross. He seems to be having a ball and getting ready for his last semester of college studies.

I hope all is well with everyone. As for me, everything is going well – not great. Work is a bit more manageable with the passing of fiscal year end, but there is still a lot to do. It’s still somewhat busy at work – from one day trips all over Germany and weeklong trips in and outside of Germany, as well catching up with administrative work for my projects when I am in the office. I take advantage of my weekends and days off as much as I can, by getting away. If I don’t take off for the weekend, I will probably show up at work.

I had been a bit under the weather with coughing fits a couple of weeks ago. I have been traveling quite a bit, for work and personal vacations. A friend and I checked out Trier, a German city near the Luxembourg border, during the Columbus Day weekend. I was in Turkey near the end of October for work, but I managed to spend a day exploring the old part of Istanbul. I am still going to different parts of Germany managing my projects and meeting with customers and program sponsors. I traveled to Porto, Portugal in search of good seafood and port wine with a couple of friends from work during the Veteran’s Day weekend. I just returned from a five day trip from southwestern France visiting Carcassonne and its famed preserved fortress; Castelnaudary and Toulouse in search of cassoulet – in short a bean and meat (duck, sausage and pork, mainly) stew; and Nimes, to see the Roman ruins in the city and nearby Pont du Gard. Next week, I will be going to Rota and Moron, Spain to survey several schools. After I finish my work, I will be staying for the weekend to see the sights of Sevilla.

I did get my new car – the red with black stripes Mini Clubman. It’s been a month and a half since I had it. I really have not had a long road trip on it yet. But I drive it around during the weekend, when I am in town. I had managed to get by in Germany without a car for 15 months without really any problems. But you know, having a car gives your more options and flexibility.

The photos are of the new car when I picked it up at the dealership and with a small build up of snow from last week. It’s a fun little car.

My new MiniClub

First snowfall of the year

I promise to fill you in on my trips to Istanbul, Porto, and southwest France before the end of the week. As a teaser, the following are photos from the various locations.

In Istanbul, in front of the Hagia Sophia:

Istanbul, Turkey

In Pont du Gard, with the Roman aqueduct in the background:

Pont du Gard

In Porto, tasting port wines with friends:

Porto, Portugal

The Roman amphitheater in Nimes, France, now being used among others things, as a bullfighting arena:

Roman Amphitheater, Nimes, France

In Porto, during a boat cruise along the Douro River:

Douro River Cruise in Porto

A magnificent sunset bathes the Mediterranean waters in Montpellier, France:

Montpelier, France sunset at the beach

I am finalizing plans for my holiday trip back to Seattle. I should be in Seattle from 20 December to just after the new year. I am planning on visiting a US city in the east coast for a two or three day stay on my way back to Germany.