My One Year Wedding Anniversary

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Posted by Juliane | Posted in Travel | Posted on 08-11-2010

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In my absence from my blog many things have happened; I have been many places, celebrated several accomplishments, and, yes, shed some tears. To get up to date, I must take you back and recap some of my summer. This blog was created as an online journal of my life after being married; how then could I not go back far enough to add Andrew and my one year anniversary?

Dinner:

Andrew and I are inevitably separated during important dates. We’ve missed birthdays, holidays, graduations, and even our one year anniversary. Although we were not together on the actual date of our anniversary, June 27th, we did celebrate it together the week before. Our celebration: dinner at Fogo de Chao (Chao pronounced shown) with our wedding cake topper for dessert. My darling father has been talking about Fogo de Chao for years. He has incessantly been the restaurants personal advertisement since he’d happened upon it years before.

The simplest way to explain the dining experience at Fogo de Chao is to have their website do it for you, http://www.fogodechao.com/menu/dining-experience/:

Dining Experience

Step 1: Sit down, relax, and enjoy a drink while we explain the Fogo® dining experience.

Step 2: Visit our gourmet salad and sides bar. Enjoy over 30 items including fresh cut vegetables, imported cheeses, cured meats and Brazilian side dishes.

Step 3: Turn your card green side up, signaling that you are ready for our gaucho chefs to begin tableside service.

Step 4: Choose from the 15 cuts of delectable fire roasted meats that are brought to your table, sliced, and served by our gaucho chefs.

Step 5: When you are satisfied, flip the disc to the red side until you are ready for more offerings.

Step 6: If you wish, end the meal with one of our delicious desserts.

To be honest, this restaurant has the most scrumptious filet mignon I have ever eaten. I now refuse to order steak anywhere else since there is no possible way that it can stand up to the steak served here. To profess how marvelous it truly is I will ashamedly admit that not only did we have our anniversary dinner there, a few days later we had our anniversary lunch there as well. Delish, that’s all the more I’m going to say.

*A tip for those wanting to try Fogo de Chao: go for lunch, it’s much more reasonable.

Dessert:

Our gorgeous wedding cake came from City Café & Bakery in Fayetteville, GA, http://www.citycafeandbakery.com/. With our three layer wedding cake, we also got a one year anniversary cake. Basically an additional topper incase our whole cake got eaten, which it didn’t. Our wedding cake was dessert for a week after the wedding and my birthday cake a month later. So, almost a year later out came our wedding cake topper – not the one year anniversary cake, the topper – from the freezer and we patiently anticipated its thawing. Over the course of four days Andrew and I ate it all. No, we didn’t just eat the obligatory bite; we ate every last crumb, every last drop of icing. And it was just as good as it had been the year before. The true test, however, will be our now two year anniversary cake. Can cake stay good for two whole years in the freezer? You’ll have to check back next year to find out. If you don’t hear from me after June 27th, 2011, you’ll know not.

(Photo by Katie Snyder)

Related post: Wedding Day.

Day 357 – A Modern Day Helen Keller

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Posted by Juliane | Posted in Travel | Posted on 22-06-2010

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Tuesday June 22nd, 2010

I sat in the airport watching everyday people go about their airport business when a Reagan National Airport employee led a blind man into the gate. It, of course, made me stop and watch for a moment. Both were silent as one led the other and the other trustingly followed. Just by looking one could see how focused the blind man was as he followed a stranger by the arm. It wasn’t until minutes later when the blind man tried to convey his concern that I realized he was also deaf and mute. When hand gestures couldn’t get his point across to the employee, the man began getting a paper and pen out of his bag. After writing down his thought, he handed it to the employee. He must have shared his need to know the location of the ticket booth, because that’s where the employee led him. His hand gestures were then crystal clear to me. It hadn’t been sign language like I had originally thought, but motions to shape a counter. After the man was seated and the employee left, he went about his normal airport business: reading Braille.

Later the man walked to the ticket counter but no one was there. While walking back to his seat another Reagan employee intercepted him and tried to communicate with him to no avail. The blind, deaf, and mute man then reached into his pocket and pulled out a laminated piece of paper. After reading the paper the Reagan employed began writing letters with his index finger into the man’s palm. The man nodded his head in comprehension responding by writing a question onto his pad of paper. Their conversation continued as such for several minutes until the blind, deaf, and mute man had his questions answered and the Reagan employee walked away. The man then continued reading his book.

It is so easy to take life for granted; to not recognize the gifts you’ve been given. I’m sure this man has many more than I could witness on our brief encounter, but the ones I could recognize were trustworthy strangers as well as acceptance. This man did not let his circumstances – albeit difficult – to restrict his life. No this man didn’t have sight or hearing or voice, but he was enjoying his time at the airport like any other. While the young woman who sat directly across from him watched a movie with her ears and eyes, he enjoyed a story through his fingers. And I thought that if this man can manage to travel while being blind, deaf, and mute, we can all accomplish things seemingly impossible.

Day 342 – Coach – dun, dun, DUN!

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Posted by Juliane | Posted in Travel | Posted on 07-06-2010

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Monday June 7th, 2010

When it began, I knew it was going to be the longest flight ever. One would think that knowing it would somehow lessen the pain, but that knowledge in no way made the fifteen hour flight from Dubai to Atlanta any more tolerable. Being assigned a seat in coach was disappointing enough, but having been given an E seat about sent me into suicidal depression. The middle?! THE MIDDLE?! I’ve been given the worst seat available on the plane. I should’ve known when the Delta ticket agent handed me my ticket looking as though she was passing a kidney stone. It wasn’t her kidneys that produced her “I hate life” expression, but the knowledge that she was sending me into hell for the next 15 hours.

I rejoiced when I arrived to my row and found two empty seats in my section. Perhaps my misfortune wasn’t all that misfortunate after all. No quicker had those thoughts entered my mind than another young man trudged down the aisle and stopped at that glorious vacant seat. It was then that I knew there would be no stretching of my legs, no laying my head against the seat next to me, no peeing without awkwardly harassing the co-travelers next to me, and no sleeping.

It was then that I decided to order Coke with dinner and watch those complementary movies for as long as I could bear. But, seven hours later, I could feel the veins emerging on my eyes. I was not going to make it. I slumped forward onto my open tray and luckily fell asleep. I relished in the thought that I could pass at least two hours of this awful flight asleep. When I awoke later, I excitedly looked at my watch to see how many beautiful hours had passed as I slept: none. Twenty measly minutes, one thousand and six hundred pathetic seconds was all I had managed to accomplish. Well that and severe stomach pains from curling my long body into an awkward fetal position.

I then sat there staring into oblivion talking myself out of crying. Both of the men next to me were fast asleep; the man to my left had his beanie cap pulled down over his eyes while the man on my right had his head leaned back with his mouth agape. I’ve always been amazed at people who can lean their head back against their headrest and drift into an unrestful slumber. I have never been that person. As I sat there contemplating life, the man on my right jerked forward thrusting his fists into the air and blurted out a mouthful of unintelligible garble. Then, like a comical scene in a movie, his body went limp and his head fell back to the headrest where he was peacefully sleeping again. He later told me that he was having some crazy dreams and had a tendency of talking in his sleep. It’s the little things in life that make life entertaining. If I had a compilation of all the hilarious accounts in my life, I would have a #1 best seller of something, a script, manuscript, skit, something.

Between standing and literally stretching in front of the bathrooms, watching movies, taking powernaps, and chatting, I did manage to survive the seemingly longest flight of my life. Since then, I have been fervently praying that I do not receive a B, E, or H seat; for those truly are the worst seats on the plane. The truth is I didn’t have the only worst seat on the plane.

Day 285 – Philip Stein Watch

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Posted by Juliane | Posted in Travel | Posted on 12-04-2010

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Monday April 12th, 2010

As I mentioned in my “Amman, Jordan” and “Mt. Zion Hotel” posts, there were not clocks in the rooms. I wake up at least once a night and glance at the clock to relish in the amount of time I have left to sleep or scowl at the numbers informing me I’ll be getting up soon. Doing that without a clock is rather pointless, unless, like me, you have a fabulous watch.

For my college graduation my sister gave me a Philip Stein Watch. The watch is wonderful for several reasons: it has two faces making it easy to know the time in both Kuwait and Georgia and it glows in the dark. I usually don’t wear a watch at night except when traveling so I haven’t known how well it glows until this trip. After being in complete darkness for over five hours the little hands were still glowing strong. I refrained from waking Andrew to show him – somehow I don’t think he’d be as impressed as I was – but he was informed of their majesty that morning, after the wakeup call arrived.

Day 284 – Crossing the Allenby Bridge

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Posted by Juliane | Posted in Travel | Posted on 10-04-2010

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Saturday April 10th, 2010

Crossing the Allenby Bridge (King Hussein Bridge) from Israel to Jordan was much the same as crossing it from Jordan to Israel. After going through the numerous lines, dropping off our luggage, boarding the bus, and stopping at our first security checkpoint, our passports were checked one by one for a Jordanian visa. If you do not have one, you are escorted off of the bus and put on another bus back to the gates where you will have to get a taxi to the Sheikh Hussein Bridge that is two hours away and obtain a Jordanian visa there. This was the case for one weary traveler trying to get to his reserved hotel in Aqaba. He was not a happy camper having to travel four hours extra to get his visa but there was nothing he could do about it. I, again, thanked Andrew for being so thorough in his planning.

Crossing into Jordan was a much quicker trip than getting into Israel. We exited the bus at the King Hussein Bridge gate and shared a taxi with a fellow American headed to the Queen Alia International Airport – Easy peasy Parcheesi!

Day 283 – Mt. Zion Hotel

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Posted by Juliane | Posted in Travel | Posted on 09-04-2010

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Friday April 9th, 2010

The Mt. Zion Hotel was absolutely gorgeous! It had a spectacular view and beautiful gardens. The people, for the most part, were obliging. The decoration was elegant. It was an oasis, except for the twin beds pushed together to form a double; and the fact that the pool closed at 5:00 because it was a holiday; and that dinner cost 265 shekels. Because of Shabbat, all surrounding restaurants were closed, but, they all assured us, tomorrow the pool would be open a bit later and the nightlife would be abounding. Yes, but that doesn’t help us one day Jerusalem visitors.

Andrew and I spent an hour, after resting our tired little legs, roaming around the city. It was an astounding sight to behold; although it was nearing 9:00pm there were multiple people out strolling as well: a father followed his two daughters riding their bikes down a cobblestoned street to a park and a newborn slept in her stroller while her mother and grandmother enjoyed the brisk evening air. No one rushed or turned to glance behind – no one but me that is! The park was full of children swinging and playing as their guardians stood watch. It was absolutely peaceful. Although our legs were burning again, we were hesitant to retire to our room.

The room, again, was lacking an alarm clock so we were awakened at 7:00 am by the ringing telephone. (I’ve always hated waking people up with a telephone call, imagine if that’s in your job description!) We packed our bags and ascended to breakfast, which ended up being the best meal of the entire trip. Our cab picked us up at the door and after many nos and no thank yous, dropped us off at another cab where we could split the fare with three other riders. Split isn’t the appropriate word, but we were given a reduced price for sitting in the backseat with a Japanese man while an Israeli woman sat upfront. We were dropped off at the entrance to the Allenby Bridge: the Israel side of the King Hussein Bridge, just after 9:00 am.

Day 282 – Jerusalem, Israel

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Posted by Juliane | Posted in Travel | Posted on 08-04-2010

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Thursday April 8th, 2010

Jerusalem = busy, busy, busy! After dropping our luggage off at our hotel, we walked the twenty minutes back to Old City Jerusalem. Just like Amman, Jerusalem was hilly and green and gorgeous. In several ways it reminded Andrew and I of New York City: food stands, pushy/rude people, and people trying to make a buck or two or five or ten depending on what they could take you for; instead of hotdog and pretzel stands, there were bread and shish kabob stands; instead of yellow taxis, there were white ones; instead of New York accents, there were Israeli ones; but a bustling city just the same.

ATMs were difficult to find but “money changers” were everywhere – the exchange rate we were given varied from place to place. The prices, as well, varied from customer to customer. Inside of the Old City was a large market similar to China Town except filled with Jerusalem souvenirs instead of knockoff purses. We purchased a map of the Old City that was published in the 80s but got the job done. We were able to get near the Dome of the Rock, Pool of Bethesda, and Zedekiah’s Cave but for multiple reasons couldn’t go in them. Visiting Jerusalem for only one day that is Shabbat, results in a lot of things being closed and inaccessible. The Western Wall or the Wailing Wall was open for wailers and there were a plenty.

We were cussed out several times throughout the day, which I didn’t appreciate. We shopped and walked and ate and walked and shopped and walked and drank and walked and rested and walked. By 5:00 pm our legs and feet were sore and we headed for our haven from all the Holy City bustle. Because it was a holiday, the cabs were more expensive so we opted to walk the twenty minutes to the beautiful Mt. Zion Hotel.

Day 281 – Crossing the King Hussein Bridge

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Posted by Juliane | Posted in Travel | Posted on 06-04-2010

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Wednesday April 7th, 2010

The taxi from our hotel to the King Hussein Bridge was roughly an hour trip. I enjoyed watching the hills sprinkled with houses, shepherds, and flocks of sheep, goats, and camels camouflaged in the shrubbery fly by our speeding vehicle. When living in a flat barren land, a variant from that is always welcome and glorious. The terrain was a pleasant surprise for me. Andrew, not so much; he took a snoozer trying to prepare for our long day. In his defense, he’d already visited Amman previously and took in the sites; I had not.

Our taxi delivered us to the entrance of the King Hussein Bridge just after 9:00 am where we proceeded through the gates and onto the bridge. Once inside, there were several buses and a little building where people collected our passports along with our money in order to cross the bridge. After boarding the bus behind Europeans, Americans, and Middle Easterners, our tickets were collected and our passports given back. We then began our trek across the King Hussein Bridge and into Israel.

If I have not mentioned before, I’ll mention now that Andrew is a wonderful traveler; he gets and prints out all the information we could possibly need before every trip we go on and it always helps us get where we are going. On this trip, as well as all our airline and hotel information, he had printed out several written accounts on personal King Hussein Bridge voyages. We knew, then, to expect at least a two hour time period for crossing and many stops at checkpoints. We did see all of the check points but for some unknown magical reason, we only had to stop and be checked at one. As we drove by the trail of awaiting buses at each check point, we received angry looks from not only the passengers but the drivers as well. I don’t know why we were privy to such privileges, but it was awesome. At our one check point a man literally checked every single one of our passports; they take this crossover very seriously; there are guards with guns and tanks and mirrors to check the vehicles – the whole shebang.

Once near the middle of the bridge, everyone exits the bus, finds their luggage, and unknowingly wonders from line to line attempting to figure out where to go. Where we went was to a line, and when I say line I mean a herd of very pushy people: most Middles Easterners are just pushy and then you have all the tourists attempting to fit in with their fair skin, loose clothing, and pashminas struggling to hold their place to little avail. We again offer up our sacred passports and our luggage for inspection. Our passports are quickly returned – except when sat down somewhere and forgotten and then found again – and we continue to an actual line; and then another; then another; and another. Our last line is to board a shuttle that will take us off the now Allenby Bridge and drop us near the Damascus Gate at Old City Jerusalem.

Day 280 – Amman, Jordan

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Posted by Juliane | Posted in Travel | Posted on 06-04-2010

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Tuesday April 6th, 2010

Our flight left Kuwait International Airport at 9:50 pm on Saturday night, Easter eve, putting us at Queen Alia International Airport in Amman, Jordan at 1:00 am. Because we live in Kuwait, we cannot fly into Israel so we flew to Jordan as a means to cross the King Hussein Bridge into Israel. On our way to the airport a man called to inform us that the Ibis Hotel, where we had booked a room, was oversold but that he transferred our reservations to another hotel of equal caliber: the Sadeen Amman Hotel & Suites (http://www.sadeen.com/). After getting our visa, that looked like the equivalent of letter stamp, we were greeted with a beloved “Haleys” sign – just a little glimpse into stardom, although a star would be recognized because of their stardom leaving the sign as simply a formality rather than, as in our case, a necessity – but I digress.

Our chauffer – or shuttle – driver attempted to sell us his tour guide services for the following day. He made a superb attempt but sadly it fell on very tired ears and was given absolutely no response; often, however, no response is the only form of no some people understand. We arrived at the hotel and were awaking to our scheduled wakeup call at 6:30am – not much sleep for two very sleepy people. As I croaked out my own mashup of “Christ the Lord is Risen Today” and “Worship Christ the Risen King”, we got ready for our Easter day.

The room was nice but a bit dated, and lacking a clock of any sort. Breakfast was adequate as well, but nothing phenomenal. The lobby, however, was beautiful with a portrait of the current King and Queen: Abdullah II and Rania.

After breakfast we were escorted by a taxi to an ATM and then the King Hussein Bridge.

Day 182 – Marco Island

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Posted by Juliane | Posted in Travel | Posted on 20-01-2010

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Tuesday December 29th – Sunday January 3rd, 2009/2010

Marco Island is a beautiful place on the Gulf side of Florida, designed to resemble Hawaii. My parents having lived in Hawaii and LOVED it – I mean who doesn’t – loved Marco as well. For two days the weather was warm enough to walk and layout on the beach, which we did the entire two days. On New Year’s we went to a little restaurant down the beach and rang in the new year with fruity drinks and a live band.

While there we went to the theatre to see The Blind Side. The theatre was relatively small with 5 shows playing, but was a dinner theatre with tables and chairs instead of regular seating. It was fantastic, something we’d never been to before. So doing what any first timer would do, we order lots of food! We had mini corn dogs, my favorite, chicken tenders, potato skins, cheese sticks, and probably other things we mindlessly ate while staring at the screen. IT WAS FANTASTIC! Of course it’s now a tradition we will keep for every trip. Who doesn’t want served greasy food while watching a show? It’s like being a kid again! And I will relive my childhood any chance I get!

When we weren’t lying in the sand or watching movies we were selling out gas stations of their Mallow Cups! These helped spark our spirit for our 9+ hour car ride home! And spark our spirit it did as we sang along with the Glee soundtrack and played Uno in the backseat of my parents’ car. Who knew Mom wanted to learn the words to “Bust a Move”? What’d we tell her? You want it? You got it?

Later, when the giggling and conversation didn’t stop, we were forced to play the Quiet Game. Mom apparently is still the mom.