Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Rottenburg is Rotten!

Just kidding. It's not. It was actually wonderful. This post is continuing the travel log I wrote while on a vacation in Europe with Garrett and my mother.

Day Four
Aug. 22, 2012

*The following section was written by Garrett as if he were Allison:
So we got up to leave Brugge after a delicious breakfast with cheese and bread and cereal. Who knew that all you eat in Europe is cheese and bread… but hey I’m down. Then we left the hotel and went to pick up the car. And once again we speak English and everything else is in a different language. Some nice Belgian ladies helped us figure out how to pay for parking and about 15 minutes later we left the parking lot. Yep, that’s right 15 minutes later. Between using the wrong ticket (the first one wouldn’t fit in the slot because it was not the right ticket. It was the one we used to park with the day before in a completely different lot. The other ticket, the correct one, was on the dash. Oops. Luckily Garrett was there to save the day again. Anyway we left for Germany. After many conversations about hair, fashion, weddings, baby clothes, and hair again, Garrett was pretty much asleep. I wonder why?

After about 2 hours on the road the monster emerged. That monster is my stomach. I was hungry. After many yelling matches, tears, lots of tears, and a lot of estrogen Garrett finally asked why I was being so mean and I finally admitted the real problem… I was hungry. He gave me some cheese and crackers and the rest of the 4 hours was spent apologizing (probably the words “I’m sorry” were said literally about 1,473,342 time Garrett counted…1,473,443 I said it again) for the previous two because I felt guilty. Add in many wrong turns, hard brakes, and increased heart rates we made it in one piece.

*End Garrett section
Thanks for that Garrett.

Anyway, and this is actually Allison speaking, we got in the car and headed to Rottenburg. Maybe there was a little drama in there, but Garrett is such an over-exaggerator. 

We were planning to spend two days in Rottenburg, so it was okay that when we arrived everything was closed. I mean, it was kind of crazy. What kind of tourist town closes shop at 5?

We checked into our super, super nice hotel. Garrett did the searching for this one and it was 180 degrees different than our last places. Our earlier hotels were both very European — the rooms were small, the bathrooms smaller and everything was sectioned off into separate little rooms. This place, however, was huge. There was a porch we could sit on (but we didn’t because EVERYONE smokes here) with a little garden beneath it, the bathroom had a full size tub in it, there was a little sitting area and mom got a real bed (have a mentioned that mom is super nice and lets Garrett and I sleep in the big bed while she sleeps in the single bed?).

Here’s my one qualm though — Europeans do not know how to make showers. Do they just not take showers here? (That was not a “Europeans don’t shower” joke… I’m assuming they take baths.) Let me describe to you a typical shower. The faucet is one of those bendy, moves wherever you want it to, ones. I actually don’t mind this except for the fact that they don’t allow you to store it in an outward facing direction — it’s straight down or in your hands. Usually, it is in a bathtub, however the curtain never goes the length of the bathtub. The furthest we’ve gotten one was halfway down the tub. This allows water to splash out, so you have to waste one of your precious towels (which aren’t even big enough to cover a normal sized person) to mop up the floor.

I know, first world problems.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Belgian Waffles in Belgium... and a giant slide

Here's another travel log from my trip I went on with Garrett and my mother.

Day Three
Aug. 21, 2012

This was the day we planned for Belgium — Brugge to be exact. Mom woke us up early this morning to get ready and go to the hotel breakfast. I love European breakfasts. I mean, I will never — and I mean never — get used to UV milk. It is warm and nasty. However, I am quite a fan of little Babybel (or what I refer to as moo cow) cheeses smushed onto French bread. Yum!

May I just mention that, like Coca-cola, apparently, water is thought to be Gold here? Trying to get a large glass of water is like trying to get… I don’t know. But it’s hard.

After grabbing mini-Nutellas (it’s not that I like it, but other people get so happy when you give them a baby Nutella), cheese and some cute little jam containers, we got on the road to Brugge.

First, I’d like to reiterate my belief that the French are INSANE drivers. I probably said 15 million prayers while driving through traffic. I honestly think we only survived unscathed because of those prayers.

Lucky for us, we finally made it to the freeway when our GPS told us to “Continue straight for a long time.”

While going straight for a long time (because we’re very obedient people, you know), this white van decided to merge into us. Let me paint you a picture. We have driven most of the way to Brugge in the center lane on a three-lane freeway. In the back, left-hand blind spot there was a white van — like the ones with meat carcasses in the back (yes, we saw one of those. No, it does not make me want to be vegetarian. At the same time, no, it does not make me want to eat meat.). As I looked out my window, I noticed his blinker on. Please note, I noticed his front blinker — not the back one. I was about to tell my mother he was merging when I noticed him getting dangerously close to our car. So close, in fact, that the wind created from his car pushed our car a little bit out of our lane. Luckily, mom is an awesome driver, so she didn’t swerve. The van then proceeded to slow down, switch to the fast lane, speed up and get even with our window. I didn’t pay him much mind until I noticed he was paying us quite a bit. There were angry words yelled in a language I didn’t understand (thank goodness!) accompanied by some hand gestures I really hope weren’t inappropriate (shouldn’t he have been paying attention to the road?). In the States, if I had know what I’d done wrong, I would have apologized with some sort of half-sympathetic hand gesture and my best attempt at a sorry face. However, I was completely bewildered. He had almost slammed into our car and he was yelling at us. I chose to instead shrug my shoulders in “Where’s Waldo?” sort of way and shake my head. In hindsight, I really hope I didn’t do something offensive. Garrett hopes I did.

So here’s my request: If anyone knows the traffic laws in France, what the heck did we do wrong? I’d really like to know. Thanks.

We made it to Brugge (Hooray!) and got to our hotel. I’d like to first say that if our hotels keep getting larger at the same rate they are, we’ll be living in the Taj Mahal by the time we leave.

Anyway, Brugge is a really cool city to walk around in. That’s pretty much what we did. Garrett is a little disappointed we couldn’t see the peeing boy statue, but we’re pretty sure that’s not in this city.

One site I would like to focus on was in the middle of one of the busiest squares in the city. For some reason, they have these huge bleacher things in the middle and people were sitting on them. However, this one couple wasn’t just sitting. Oh no, they were making out — and they were getting at it. I couldn’t help but stare — who does that! I know I’m Mormon and should be encouraging people to wait for marriage and all, but come on! These people needed a room.

Anyway, here’s the food rundown: 

We ate at this chicken place in the square, Garrett had chicken, Mom spoiled me with mussels and she had a salad. 

We got Belgian chocolate at a shop. 

Haagen-Dazs ice-cream at the Haagen-Dazs store (can you believe they don’t have peanut butter here!?) 

Belgian Waffles in Belgium, with strawberries and whipped cream. 


Okay, here’s the best part (not really, but I liked it), as we were wandering around the city, we came across this GIANT play place in the middle of a residential area. The kid in all of us (including Mom!) came out and we all took a turn sliding down it. It was pretty sweet. 

(Oh my goodness! I just realized I never got a picture of the slide! Sorry!)

We’re now back at the hotel, sweet and sound. My feet are killing me, but this has been great. Now off to bed before adventures in the morning!

Monday, August 20, 2012

France — The City of ???

Love? Lights? Fashion? Romance? Really Expensive Soda?

How about the first stop on our journey through Europe.

This entry is from the travel log I made for the trip I made with Garrett and my mother.

Day One and Day Two (thank you time change)
Aug. 19-20, 2012

So now it is Sunday. Garrett and I need to be in Heber by noon in order to get to the airport in time to sit for five million hours. My mother was insistent. We decided it would be best to go to a little bit of Church, so we woke up, got dressed and I may or may not have attended with my hair wet. But hey, at least I was there (did I mention that because of my little mishap we didn’t get home until practically one in the morning — Church starts at nine).

After about an hour in Church, we realized we had to leave in order to finish packing and get to Heber. Pretty much everything until the Airport went according to plan, so I’ll fast forward a bit.

So, we’re in the airport, right? Enjoying some Cafe Rio (yep, they have one of those now) and then heading over to get on the plane. The airplanes leaving for France for the past month have been wide open — like Texas wide, not Utah wide. Mom kept fretting, but I was in my “We’re already at the airport, what are we going to do anyway” mode, so I probably wasn’t as empathetic as I should have been.

Anyway, Mom made me go tell the desk guy that Garrett was in our party — really this just makes it so that we don’t get to go unless his priority gets to go. But, hey, at least I have my husband. I always think this is kind of dumb, but I do it anyway because that’s what I learned to do. Here’s where the story starts getting cool.

About 30 minutes before the plane should have taken-off, a flight attendant came to announce some bad news.

“We have some weight problems,” he said drearily to the rest of us standby passengers. “This means we might not fill any more seats on this airplane — it will probably leave with empty seats.”

No. Way.

Now, please keep this in mind. This flight normally leaves with empty seats — because they’ve put everyone who could possibly want to head to France or the outlying areas on it already. You don’t leave people in the airport for flights to France.

About this time, Mom started to get really worried. You see, our trip is kind of planned out to allow the maximum number of locations in the minimum number of days. We couldn’t afford to lose a day (I mean, we probably could, but how would that country feel knowing it was the first on the chopping block?). We waited as they called the names of paying passengers who had somehow forgotten to come to the airport for their flight to Paris. I mean, really? How do you miss that plane?

Finally, as if a call from heaven, the deskman, who I had talked to earlier about combining Garrett and I, calls our name.

“They told me they were going to open up four seats,” he said with a slightly heavy accent. “I looked at the list and was like, ‘How about five?’”

Garrett was number 5.

I was shocked. I mean, I haven’t ever had too many problems with these people. When you’re getting bounced from flight to flight, they normally treat you really well. But, for one of them to slide us on like that meant a lot. And I know my mother was pleased. 

In a hurry — as if he was going to change his mind — we rushed onto the airplane and into our Business class seats. Yep, Business. I know, spoiled. I’ve already told Garrett that I don’t know how I’m ever going to travel in the back when we start having to buy the tickets. After that flight, I don’t think he will ever be able to fly in the back either.

The flight in itself was awesome. The plan was that we would buy a hotel and rental car while in the air. There was just one little hiccup to the plan: The 767-ER300, one of the most advanced planes in the air, did not have wireless. I know, terrible.

Regardless, we were on our way. Mom sat behind Garrett and I and she slept. She had to sit next to the pilot seat, so she wasn’t allowed to talk or make loud noises. Garrett and I sat next to each other and watched “The Avengers.” Pretty cool movie, I must say. We both had different screens and headphones, so we pressed start at the same time and tried to make it match as best we could. I think we’re cute, if I do say so myself.

Did I mention that we got to eat? Eat and eat and eat and eat and eat. Really. Did I also mention how much I like food? Okay, to be honest, the food was kind of gross. Not in the “Of course it’s gross, it’s airplane food” sort of way, but more in the “what the heck is this thing on my plate? I think it’s gourmet” sort of way. It was still pretty delicious and I got fruit and cheese for dessert. How could I go wrong?

Well, pretty much the rest of the time we slept. Garrett watched another movie because he is nocturnal, but us normal people chose to get a full night’s rest.

We landed in Paris around 11:00 a.m. Paris time. As soon as we got off the airplane, I realized how blessed I was to live in America. Really, just how blessed I was to live somewhere I knew the language. Everyone around me was blabbering in some sort of tongue I couldn’t understand. At one point I heard Spanish, but that’s about as close as I got to understanding — and I didn’t.

While going through customs we reserved a car. After customs we reserved a hotel room. Thank goodness for the Internet. How did people do this before then? (Just so you know, I know the answer to that question. I’ve done it before. This is way less scary.) 

Well, we got the car without a hitch. Okay, that’s not totally true. They wanted to give us this cool Golf convertible because they wanted it dropped off in Italy, but after a million years of waiting (like, an hour) they decided they didn’t actually want to give it to us and gave us another car instead. But it’s okay, because we finally made it.

The next trial was getting to our hotel in Paris. French people are CRAZY. Okay, I shouldn’t make any judgments about the people, but their driving skills leave something to be desired. Okay, again, that’s not totally true. They have to be good drivers or else they’d all be dead. I don’t know how they don’t hit each other, but every three seconds I was sure I was about to witness a terrible accident between a couple Jay Walking pedestrians, a scooter, a giant bus and a too fast car. Not to mention the bicycles. 

On a side note: I'm not teaching Garrett and my children how to drive.

Now, when we finally made it to the city and into the parking garage (which was an adventure, let me assure), we had to park the car. I’d like to describe these parking stalls by first having you picture the ones in America. American parking stalls are large enough to park and H2 with room to spare. That means that every other car in the world can slide right in and out of those with ease. French parking stalls are the exact same size as a small car. As in, if you are perfectly in the center, the edges of your wheels hit the line. They are then jam packed together so that if you don’t pull in perfectly you end up slamming into the car next to you. The first one we tried to park in was a nightmare. I mean, absolute disaster. A kind gentleman tried to help us for a bit, but it was a lost cause. The car may or may not have been touching the concrete support beam at one point or another. If anyone asks you, the answer is “may not.”

Don’t worry though, we found one that kind of work. And by kind of work, I mean Mom was about in tears, so if she had been ten yards from the intended parking stall, it would have been good enough.

We eventually got around to touring France. It was fun. We got on a tour bus and saw all the sights. We walked like pioneer children. We ate pizza at this place with a really mean waiter. P.S. the place charged 15 Euros for ONE liter of soda. Okay, Coca-cola is not gold. Or silver. It’s SODA. 


I have one bit of sad new to report. We could not find any tarts. Not-a-one. Well, not a tart I wanted. There were these baked fruit tarts, but who wants baked fruit tarts? Not me. I mean, who bakes their fruit anyway? (Anyone who chooses to bring up pies right now can stop reading this post… or fritters, don’t bring up fritters).

Overall, the day was wonderful — but I am tired to the bone. Here’s ‘til tomorrow!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

The Raiders Game... and a hospital visit...

Now, I'm going to give you some background about the next few posts. This is my travel log from a trip I recently took with Garrett and my mother to France, Belgium, Germany and Italy. That's why it's written kind of different. However, it starts with the Raiders game Garrett and I went to with his family in Arizona. Okay? Ready? Go!

*  *  *

Day Negative One
Aug. 16-18, 2012

This travel log is going to have to begin with the story of why we almost didn’t go. I guess I kind of just ruined the drama for you by telling you the almost part, but I think you’re going to survive. You see, Garrett and I decided to go to a Raiders game in Arizona the Friday before we left to go to France. This seemed like a good idea at the time — probably just because Garrett loves football and so anything football related is a good idea.

Here was the plan: leave Provo Thursday around 6:00 p.m., arrive in Arizona Friday around 6:00 a.m., go to Raiders game Friday at 7:00 p.m., leave Arizona Saturday around 8:00 a.m., arrive in Provo Saturday around 8:00 p.m., go to France Sunday afternoon. Everything went well until the Raiders game on Friday. We were tired, but everything was going to work out perfectly. However, at the beginning of the Raiders game I began to notice something weird. It seemed like smoke was coming from the top, right-hand-corner of the stadium. I looked up — the smoke was still in the top, right-hand-corner.

I leaned over to Garrett.

“Honey, I think my contact is fogging up,” I intelligently deducted.

“Take it out,” he practically said.

“I can’t. I don’t have anywhere to put it.”

We were at an impasse. I had a foggy contact and nowhere to put it. It bothered me a bit, but I’d been having problems with my contacts, so it wasn’t that big of a deal to me. For the rest of the game I chose to suffer in silence. No one likes a complainer.

When the game was over (Raiders lost — boo.) we walked back to the busses to get to our car. Garrett noticed I was starting to fall behind.

“You okay?” he said.

“Kind of. My contact has completely and totally fogged over, so I really can’t see out of my right eye, it’s dark and I think the Raiders fans are going to kill us,” I didn’t say.

Sorry, I’m just not that smart. Instead, I took the martyr approach.

“My contact is a little foggy,” and so I suffered on.

By the time we made it home I honestly could not see out of it and I had some pain in my eye, but, in my stupidity, I thought I could just sleep it off.

(Side note: when a took out my contact that night, I might have needed to pull to get it off my eye. More on that later.)

Fast-forward to sometime the next morning when it was still dark outside and everyone should have been sleeping. I don’t remember much, but Garrett told me he woke up to me rolling around in the bed while moaning and crying. I do remember that my eye hurt. A lot. I was pretty sure that by the end of the day I would be blind in one eye — and who really wants to be blind in one eye (Sorry Grandma!).

Garrett went and told his parents, who offered to let me use some drops John had prescribed to him. I don’t normally use other people’s prescriptions, but I was extremely desperate. When that didn’t work, John and Garrett gave me a blessing. I was able to fall back asleep, but it seems God’s plan for my getting better was for me to get worse. By the time everyone had woken the next morning, I couldn’t open my eyes or move them in any direction. After calling my parents (who told me to go to the ER), Garrett’s brother, Justin — a doctor — examined my eye.

It was confirmed — I needed to go to the hospital just to ensure it wasn’t something really bad. A bit later, Garrett led me out to the car and Connie, Garrett and I went to Justin’s ER.

When we finally got there, the lady (I assume, I couldn’t see her) asked me to open my eye. Though I tried to tear my eyelids apart with my hands, I couldn’t handle the pain of opening the lids. Once back (no wait!), I met the doctor.

“My hands stretched out, if you’d like to grab it,” he said.

In order to examine my eye, he put in some super cool numbing drops called tetracaine (it’s like lidocaine for the eye). Don’t worry, this part is important. It was wonderful to open my eyes again. He then looked at everything. It turns out I had ulcers on my eye. To me, that sounds really, really gross. It doesn’t look gross, but ulcer is just a gross word. Who wants them on their eyes?

The doctor was a really cool guy. He had talked to me a little bit about my CRPS and had found out that I don’t take pain medicine. When it came time to leave, he told us he felt conflicted. Normally, he would give me a prescription for some sort of pain medicine to help with the eye pain. Since I couldn’t take pain medication, however, he didn’t know what to do.

“Here’s how it is,” he told us. “Every ER book you’ll ever read tells you never to give a patient tetracaine. It can slow down the healing process. However, since you can’t have pain meds, I’m just going to leave this bottle of tetracaine right here and we’re not going to know what happened to it. It just seems inhumane for me to let you leave with nothing with how much pain you were in when you came. Please, do not use this more than twice at the very most.”

I really feel like this man is a good doctor who knows how to read his patients. Because of our discussion, he knew I was someone who wouldn’t abuse pain meds. Yeah, it was a gamble for him, but I still haven’t used the drops. They’re just with me in case I get back to how bad I was.

Anyway, moral of this story is, don’t get gross ulcers on your eyes. If you do, you’ll have to drive for 12 hours from Arizona to Utah with your eyes closed while your husband leads you from place to place. Oh, and because you can’t do the final look through of your room, your husband will almost forget all your clothes and your camera right before your trip to Europe. 

And one more thing. I hate having to wear glasses all the time. Boo.

So that’s how we almost didn’t go to Europe.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The Journey Continues

Garrett got another medical school interview!

The Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine is "pleased to invite (Garrett) to our campus for an interview." He'll go on October 19th.

I'm so proud of him. He's worked very hard on the applications, and all his hard work seems to be paying off. It's kind of weird, but this whole medical school thing is starting to seem kind of real — I wonder where in the world we'll be living in just under a year.

For those keeping count, the current tally is:

Primaries: 32
Secondaries: 26 received, 20 sent
Interviews: 2
Acceptances: 0... the soonest we'll hear is Oct. 15th