Friday, March 30, 2012

Feeling A Little Wild

Well, not much to report on the running front. I don’t know about you, but the spring pollen has been absolutely kicking my butt. We had some record counts here in Atlanta, with counts over 9,000 last week.

To avoid the green haze of death pollen, I’ve been keeping most of my workouts indoors. I’ve run about 30 miles total in the past TWO weeks.

Seems that for every year I keep running, I become even less tolerant of the treadmill. To keep my sanity, I’ve mainly been doing 20-30 mins of HIIT on the treadmill, followed by another 30 minutes or so on the elliptical or spin bike, to reach my self-mandated hour of cardio.

Adding Advair back to my Claritin/pre-run albuterol routine has helped a little. I like spring, but it doesn't like me.

This past weekend we attended the wedding of some good friends. The guys go all the was back to flight school together.

It’s not often that I get to dress up and put on heels these days. Same goes for another good friend of mine (her husband and dad are both commercial pilots, so she's been doing this longer that I have!)

We had babysitters and our husbands were in the same time zone as us. Old ladies gone wild, lol.
Much like this picture, everything after dinner is a bit blurry.

I was a little surprised the couple didn’t add any pilot/airplane related touches, but it was kind of refreshing. After having been in this industry for a few years, I guess the novelty has worn off.

Do people give you gifts related to a hobby or interest and you just think “Gee thanks, another mug/magnet/knick-knack?”

Do you have springtime allergies? How are you coping?

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Beer in Bruges, Chocolate Truffles in Brussels

Friday morning 4:45am: Our alarm goes off. We give it the smack down. We’ll catch the next train.

5:45am: Alarm goes off. Mumble and roll over.

So are we going to Belgium, or spending another day in Amsterdam? If we’re going, then we have to make a move now...

Yes, we decide we’re going for it.

7:15am: Board train to Antwerp, where we’ll connect to Bruges.....

11:30am: Leave our bags in a train station locker. Rent bikes again. You can see the look of tired on my face.

This little girl was so cute, I couldn't resist taking a picture. 

The overprotective American mom in me thinks, where are the helmets? Eek.

Tool around the city for a couple hours. Eat the most delicious waffle with ice cream and hot fudge in a cafe. Chase it with fries from a street vendor a little later.

Bruges was once a capital city for European trade during medieval times. Now it's a cute, quaint little city catering to tourists. It would have been nice to slow down the pace and spend the night, but he saw most of the highlights.

Pick up some souvenirs. Talked with the shop owner who makes all this incredible lace by hand.

Ride closer to the coast to see the windmills.

4:00pm: Tour the De Halve Mann Brewery

We thought it was going to be your typical brewery tour. They talked more about the brewery's history, rather than the generic beer making process itself, which made it more interesting.

Tasting the Brugse Zot. I'm normally not a beer drinker, but this was really tasty.

After the beer break, it was time to get moving again. We rode our bikes back to the train station, picked up our bags and boarded a train to Brussles.

7:15pm: Arrive in Brussels

The Mannekin Pis Apparently, this little guy is a famous landmark.

We window shopped all the candy stores. We found a great one where the salesperson let us taste-test to our hearts' content. We assmebled this nice little box from their truffle buffet (!). See the top two on the right an left...Biscoff truffles, but with a lighter, praline-like filling.

9:30pm: Had a lovely, traditional dinner. Anything with stew or gravy in the decription normally scares me, but this was perfect. Not too heavy, very flavorful, and full of falling-off-the-bone meat. Mr.B had beef, and I had rabbit. Our sauces tasted very simmilar, except mine had raisins and chunks of potato in it, and his was served with fries on the side. I didn't think to take a picture until we were done eating.

11:00pm: Stopped in a pub for a nightcap. I skipped the beer and went for a cappucino. They topped it with shaved chocolate and an extra square on the side. This was a no chocolate left behind mission.

6:30am: Check out of the hotel.

These tennis-ball sized muffins and 10oz drinks cost us 12.50 euro, which translated to approximately a $20 USD charge on our Mastercard. Unfortunately, this is one of the reasons we don't do these oversees trips as often as we'd like. It adds up fast!

7:30am: Catch another train. At first we thought we thought we were getting on the B Train by mistake. Luckily took us to Brussels International for our flight home, not the Bronx :)

10am: Board flight and pass out until we arrive in NY.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Quick Eurotrip

Last week was a light mileage week (and consequently, the start of this week as I was recovering)

My workouts looked like this:

Sunday: 8mi run (1:04:44, 8:05/mi)
Monday: 9mi run (1:15:02, 8:20/mi)
Tuesday: 4mi run in the rain (32:53, 8:11/mi) moved inside for 2.5mi treadmill (@7.0, 1% incline) 15 mins elliptical
Total: 23.5 miles run, 15 xt

I have a good reason though, so let's get to the good stuff. We decided to use the last few days of Mr. Blondie’s vacation to take a quick trip.

It was a whirlwind time. We were on a mission to cover as much ground as possible.

Originally we’d talked about doing something tropical. However as the date got closer, I couldn’t shake the desire to do something more adventurous. On Monday, we surveyed our direct flight options of out of JFK. Amsterdam, Prague, and Brussels all piqued our interest.

Wednesday morning we played the eenie, meenie, miny, moe game. Amsterdam. Yes, Amsterdam it would be.

On our way to the airport, we stopped at Barnes & Noble to pick up a travel guide. Rick Steves' did us well in Spain last year, we were counting on him to guide us again this time.

We met up with my inlaws in NY to drop Emily off, then boarded a 4pm flight out of JFK to Amsterdam.

We cracked open the guide book and started plotting our plan of attack on the flight. The travel guide also included info about Belgium. After reading it was only a 3 hour train trip to Brussels, and another 45 minutes to Bruges, we’d decided to do them all.

We landed at 6am Thursday morning (Amsterdam time), and the race was on!

7:45am: Walk to a small hotel recommended by the book. No one is there yet. Wait until someone rolls in around 8. Check in.

9:00am: Rent bicycles. You’re not really experiencing the city unless you do it by bicycle, so says Rick.

10:00am: After many wrong turns, navigate our way to the Van Gogh museum. Great time of year to go, no line or crowds.

1pm: Sit down at a café to have lunch. Spend an exorbitant amount to have tasty, but euro-tiny, baguette sandwiches and espressos. Thank you weak dollar.

2pm: Tour the floating Flower Market. Marvel over the million different varieties of tulips and seeds.

4pm: Visit the Anne Frank House.

I thought this was absolutely fascinating. Seeing the conditions they lived in, along with other artifacts from the holocaust up close….it’s even more mind blowing that something like this took place.

6pm: Canal boat tour around the city.

8pm: Fulfill our curiosity and quickly stroll through the Red Light district.

9pm: Dinner at Japanese Pancake World. Not classic Dutch cuisine, but still something new to us.

Could've used those chopstick to prop my eyelids open

11pm: Pass out in bed

Our alarms would be going off again very shortly……