It's been a busy last few days but we are finally settled into our rental home in Klagenfurt, Austria. And in case you didn't know - we are in Europe!
(I apologize now for any typo's or sentences that do not make sense. As you will read - I am still a little sleep deprived but slowly adjusting!)
We started planning our European Race-Cation last June after Karel and I registered for Ironman Austria. We had such an amazing experience in 2014 when we raced our first international Ironman together and seeing that we combined it with visiting Karel's family in Czech, we couldn't wait to do it all over again.
But this time we brought my mom to share this race-cation with us!
On Saturday evening, I had a little scare as I called Delta/KLM for the third time in the past 3 months to remind them once again that we would be traveling with our bikes and that I would need a vegetarian (lacto-ovo) meal for our flight. When the Delta agent on the phone told me that they needed 48 hours notice for our bikes and that they didn't have any record that we were flying with our bikes (according to KLM - our 2nd flight from the Amsterdam to Vienna) and we wouldn't be able to fly with our bikes. Say what??!! I nearly had a breakdown as we were driving to Atlanta at 9:30am on Sunday and I had called Delta twice letting them know about our bikes.
Finally, around 9pm on Sat evening I received a call from Delta that we were ok to fly with our bikes. My heart nearly stopped for a few hours but even with the good news that we were good to go with our bikes, I still had trouble sleeping.
After our 2.5 hour drive and a bit of stress with all the things that we had to do before sitting on the air plane, we finally arrived at our gate around 1:30pm for our 3:10pm flight to Amsterdam. We prefer to minimize the layovers when we fly with our bikes and many times, it's cheaper to fly from ATL and to either rent a car or do off-site parking.
We grabbed a late lunch (salad with tofu pictured below and a mozzarella and veggie sandwich - not pictured) and by 2:30pm we were boarding our plane.
The check-in with our bikes was smooth and we just love our new Scicon bike bags. Seeing that Karel is always the one to pack and assemble our bikes, he found it super easy to use and all he had to do was remove the wheels - yes, that easy! The bag came with a lot of accessories for keeping the bike secure and padded in the soft case. The case is extremely easy to move around which is nice when you have a lot of luggage. We typically go to the hourly parking when we check-in with our bikes as we can just bring in our checked bags and bikes and then go park and head straight to security. It makes for a less rushed experience.
Karel was super excited to see his family for the firs time in 2 years.
The flight was uneventful but relaxing. I can't remember the last time I had 8 hours to just watch movies/TV - I enjoyed every minute of it. Karel and I both prefer aisle seats but this time around there were no two aisles open for us to sit next to each other so Karel sat in front of me (to the right) and my mom and I sat in the middle row of seats.
I have to say that my lacto-ovo vegetarian meal was delicious. I had cooked kale and carrots with a black bean patty, along with a salad, fruit, a roll and cheese. It was not salty or heavy/greasy so it felt nice in my tummy.
Seeing that we left ATL at 3:10pm, we arrive in Amsterdam around 5:45am (or 11:45pm EST). I had yet to sleep which not a good thing because by the time we headed to Vienna, I had gone over 24 hours without sleeping. We were served a light breakfast before landing in Amsterdam and once again, I enjoyed my vegetarian breakfast of orange juice, a banana and a tofu and tomato sandwich.
We have traveled through Amsterdam twice before in route to Prague but never have we flown into Vienna, like we were this time around.
Thankfully, I was able to take a short 1 hour nap on our 1:25 hr flight to Vienna but I knew my body was not happy being so sleep deprived.
Karel had one of his friends from Znjomo pick us up at the airport and sadly, it was rainy outside so we couldn't enjoy the ~80 min drive to Karel's hometown.
Of course, as soon as we arrived, Karel's mom was ready to serve us lunch (their biggest meal of the day) and we were ready for her delicious home cooking.
We started with the traditional soup before the entree and this time I had vegetable soup with homemade noodles and Karel and my mom has the same soup but with beef broth.
And for lunch, asparagus sauce with dill, an egg (beef for Karel and my mom), a dumpling and boiled potatoes. Oh so good!
And of course, there's always something more in Karel's mom's kitchen - homemade apricot bars with fresh apricots from the garden. I must say, I love the treats in Czech because they are not overly sweet or salty - a big difference from the treats in America.
After resting at Karel's mom's, we then walked over to Karel's dad's flat so that Karel could catch up with his dad. Neither of Karel's parents speak Czech so Karel is our translator. I often feel bad for Karel because it is a lot of work to translate and sometimes his brain forgets to switch (he will speak to his parents in English and to us in Czech).
Of course, no visit is complete without some treats.
After visiting with Karel's family, we took my mom to her hotel/penzion where she would stay for the night (I joined her) - super cute. I absolutely love Karel's hometown as there is so much charm, history and beauty. Although this is my third time here in the past 4 years, I still get excited when I walk through his historic downtown.
We had a light dinner (which we picked up some of it at the grocery and then Karel's mom made a meat and cheese platter) of couscous, asparagus, fresh bread and cheese.
And one of Karel's favorites - rice and apricot cake (it's not sweet like cake so think non-sweet rice pudding).
And she keeps on baking!
Homemade oatmeal, raisins and dried fruit cookies and gingerbread cookies (once again - the cookies are not sweet - just perfect. Honestly, it's hard not to feel great when you eat them - especially since they are prepared with lots of love).
It was an eventful night on Monday as our hotel was filled with kids who were being super noisy all throughout the night. I was so exhausted and tired and tossed and turned in bed for hours until finally, around 3:30am I kinda fell asleep for a few hours. Needless to say, my mom and I didn't sleep as well as Karel (at his mom's flat) who slept 12 hours! Oh the fun of traveling internationally.
Karel and I had plans to run in the morning (Tuesday) to wake-up the legs but with him sleeping until almost 10am and me not sleeping, a workout was not in the picture.
So we ate instead :)
Fresh bread from the grocery and the most amazingly tasteful scrambled eggs (seriously, the eggs in Czech are amazing!)
After packing up our rental van, we made a stop at the local grocery in Znojmo (the food is much less expensive in Znojmo, Czech Republic compared to Klagenfurt, Austria) and around 3pm, we finally hit the road for our 4.5 hour drive to Klagenfurt.
Did you see our passenger van that we took to the ATL airport? Well, this one is even bigger...and a stick shift. Thankfully, Karel can navigate that big fan through the tiny streets of Europe :)
The last time Karel and I drove to Klagenfurt, it was cloudy and rainy. This time, it was beautiful and sunny so we watched the mountains grow until they finally turned into the Alps.
Now you may be wondering why I am so excited to be at McDonald's. Well, when was the last time your McDonald's looked like this??? (see below)
If you didn't know, you have to pay to use the restroom at many places but here, we got a voucher to buy more coffee at McCafe.
This will be the ONLY time you will see Karel smiling over McDonald's coffee.
Mr. Czech here is very picky with his coffee!
Here are some of our pics in route to Klagenfurt.
We finally made it to our airbnb in downtown Klagenfurt (right near the town center and only 2 miles from EuropaPark - race venue) around 7:45pm to check-in to our 2 bedroom flat.
After a late dinner and some unpacking, we finally went to bed around 10:30pm. Although I am still adjusting to the time zone, I think I fell asleep around 11:30pm and had a good 6 hours of sleep (the days are long here - the sun goes down after 10pm and then rises around before 5am) - slowly, I am finally getting on a sleep schedule and hopefully will feel more rested by race day on Sunday.