Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Under the boardwalk, boardwalk!

Mike didn't have practice until 7pm yesterday so we slept in (of course) and decided upon a rare lunch outing.  Typically he gets back from his morning practice around 1pm and the afternoon is spent lazying (spellcheck didn't correct me on this one, so I'm going with it) around the apartment, but with a shift in the schedule we took the opportunity to get out during the day.  As great as Gdynia is, I am really falling in love with Sopot.  I can only imagine what this little resort town is like during the summer months!  One day, I'd love to come back to Poland in like July, August.  It's supposed to be gorgeous and the little ghost towns we often reside in during the winter months turn into bustling cities.

We grabbed a delicious lunch at a new little spot.  Michael had chicken, sun-dried tomato and truffle pasta.  I had a delectable salmon salad.  No, I did not snap any pix of our food.  After eating close to 100 meals out in Honolulu and being completely annoyed by the Asian tourists spending 30 minutes on their cheeseburger photo shoots, I try to avoid getting my camera out in restaurants.

Afterwards we had time for a quick stroll on the boardwalk, snapped a couple of pix and headed home. Nothing too terribly exciting, but a lovely little afternoon none the less.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Oh, przepraszam, did that joke not translate?

For all of my friends and family back home who are reading this here blog, that P word up there means "excuse me".  To any random passer-by who I might not yet have had the pleasure of meeting (I know, don't flatter yourself Chels - you're members list just today hit 6 people) I ask of you this...PLEASE, pleeease take this blog with a grain of salt!  Know that it is not EVER my intention to offend local folks or poke fun at my surroundings.

I respect even the wackiest of your mascots...

...admire your cleverly crafted graffiti...

...enjoy your enthusiastic fans (this guy was New Years Eve wasted on a Tuesday night in March, I might add)...

...truly love having lunch with your restaurant kitties...

and can I just say, your discounted denim is TO DIE for!

During our European travels there have been some not so fabulous experiences...

Nearly breaking my wrist tripping on sidewalk garbage, the very same afternoon that I was backed into an alley in an attempt to steal my camera - not sure how this picture depicts either of those things

...and also some beyond incredible, there are NO WORDS, memories for life moments...

Trust me, this was an epic evening...

Good, bad, beautiful, hideous, funny, awkward...I want to be able to share all of these things.  And since I can't spend an hour on the phone with each of my loved ones from back home every day, putabirdonitpoland seems to be the most sensible platform.

However, just this week one of my American girlfriends living abroad took some flak for her honest, sarcastic, witty and bright blog.  Some local villagers misinterpreted her sharings as rude and braggadocious (just one of my favorite words - and yes, it's really a word).  I know that was not her intent.  She is most definitely a "glass half full" type of person and finds the lovely in even the most...well...unlovely situations.

With that being said, I beg you, Mister, Miss or Mrs. Reader...please don't take any of this too seriously.  I wake up every single day happy to be out here in this wild part of the world, well outside of my comfort zone - mostly spending my time walking around like some kind of a wide-eyed idiot.  While I'm proud to be an American, I don't claim to know it all and I'm not going to fight you over whose country is better.  I'm lucky to be here and I know it.

So thanks.  And party on.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Go big or go green?

The Kueblers have an interesting decision to make...continue to ride dirty in our spacious mini-van (see below)

or downsize to the ever-popular, European Smart Car? (if you squint hard enough, you might be able to see it pictured below)

Each have their pros and cons...

The upside to downsizing is first and foremost, saving HUGE on gas!  It costs us over $150 to fill up the ol' mini-van and we burn through that full tank in less than 2 weeks.  Supposedly, Mike's teammates who drive Smart Cars only need to dish out $50 when they fill up about once a month.  Once a month!  Unreal.

Another pro to driving a smaller vehicle is the ability to navigate the narrow European roads (and park, of course!) with greater ease.  My little car back home (s/o to Sadie!) is a piece of cake to park.  I've gotten used to cruising around like a speedy, silver ghost and managing to fit in the tiniest of places.  You should see me try and parallel park the Red Beast (as I've started to fondly call him...oh yes, it's certainly a him).  Needless to say, it's not pretty nor is it a quick process.

***I have to insert a quick story here...it's not really relevant but could bring back some funny memories to a few folks back home.  About 10 years ago my family took our annual trip to Miami.  I brought along my friend McKenna and my sister brought our good pal Ashley.  Hi guys, if you're reading!  The "cool" SUV that my dad picked out ended up being a burnt sienna colored Astro Van.  Ken Pfau got a kick of yelling, "Nice ASS trovan!" at every...single...opportunity.  Embarrassed us nearly to death at the time but now looking back, I kind of get a kick out of it.

Onto the cons - they are simple and potentially minute, but still worth considering.  First off, trunk space. Neither of these words really apply in the case of the Smart Car.  We would no longer be able to offer up rides and a hefty trip to the market could result in us having to hold bags out the window.  Also, there is no radio/CD player.  We've made due without music in the past, but it makes for some potentially boring road trips.  Lastly, and I'm still not really sure what this means, it would be a manual/semi-automatic...wait, that sounds more like a gun description.  I guess it's that there isn't a clutch to kick but you still have to shift gears somehow.  I don't know.  It sounds strange but potentially manageable.

So that's where we are at with it.  I personally think we'd be smart to go with the clown car.  I've been wanting to live and drive greener for years.  I'll update once a decision has been made.  Till then, a warning to drivers all throughout the 3 Cities, be on the look-out for an apprehensive blonde behind the wheel of a red Dodge Caravan.  My "guess and check" method of parking hasn't failed me yet, but I'm not making any promises for the future...

The Ducks clinch the platypus!

Ducks win!  And the coveted golden platypus trophy stays with us for another year!  What a gorgeous day at Autzen Stadium.  What a great game!  So glad we were able to catch all 4 quarters.  I love my Ducks!

Oh, the wild times we've had at Autzen.  One day we'll be settled back in the NW and attending Duck football games will again be part of our fall routine.  Till then, here is one of my favorite game-day pix...Olsen and I celebrating on the field after a MAJOR win against USC 2 years ago.  Such an epic night!  Miss you, Ames!


Saturday, November 26, 2011

This Duck flew East for the winter...

Just because we're across the pond does not mean that we've forgotten the importance of this day.  Had you bumped into me at the market this morning, you would have thought I was either A) completely nuts B) green with envy C) dressed up a month late as Kermit the frog or D) (had you heard of the great land of DUCK NATION) you would have known it's CIVIL WAR DAY BABY!

I'm in the process of preparing our Poland-style tailgate.  Shockingly, no Polish dogs.  Already sick of 'em, if you can believe it.  Wings are in the oven, chips and dips have been poured into bowls and some frosty Budweiser Originals are coolin down in the ice box.

More pictures to come once Michael gets home from practice and it's game on!!  GOoOoOOOOoooo Ducks!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Turkey Day...in Turkey

If you ask LeBron James, Kobe Bryant or Nike Sports Marketing about it, they'll be sure to tell you "Basketball never stops!".  Well, that is certainly the case within our tiny family today.  Mike is on the road - playing in Istanbul, Turkey tonight.  He's out there fighting for a W and inadvertently leaving me to fend for myself on this chilly Thanksgiving Thursday. 

I'll tell you, it's pretty strange being abroad during an American holiday.  Back where I come from (great Kenny Chesney song, by the way) people are presently surrounded by friends and loved ones...taking down deviled egg after deviled egg and raising their Crate and Barrel wine glasses high, toasting to the good life and remembering what they're thankful for. 

Regardless of which coffee shop they visit, everyone back home is being greeted with a "Happy Thanksgiving!", potentially handed their festively spiced latte and sent along their merry little way.  Not trying to throw myself a pity party here but thank goodness for skype or I wouldn't have received a single Thanksgiving greeting today.  To people here in Poland, today was just one more day until the weekend.  Just your typical, pre-blizzard, mundane Thursday.  Knowing I'd be flying solo and trying with all my might to keep from getting home-sick, I put on some mascara and ACTUAL pants (with a zipper and everything) and decided to make the day special, none the less!

After a quick skype session with my family (hanging out in Lincoln City and loving every second of fall on the Oregon coast) I ventured out in hopes of tracking down Christmas decor for our apartment.  Shoot, if I couldn't really celebrate Thanksgiving I was going to at least get a jump on the holiday next in line. 

So you know how sometimes you get an "artsy" vision, but 9 times out of 10 it amounts to a heaping pile of garbage?  Well that was ANYTHING but the case tonight!  After getting my heart set on hanging Christmas stockings this year, I found myself inquisitively humming an old tune..."On what shall I hang them, dear Liza, dear Liza?  On what shall I hang them, dear Liza, on what?".  Tell me you remember that stupid ol' song!  Anyway, decided our fireplaceless apartment needed just that, a fireplace.

So I constructed one...

Crazy what a little crate paper and some pinterest inspiration can do for a person.  I might add here, that this will be my first official UPLOAD to pinterest.  So far I've just been "liking" and "repining" but today will mark my very first original, quasi-creative idea!

So this Thanksgiving I'm thankful for...

- this genius brain sittin' just behind my eye sockets
- a healthy and happy heart and soul (again, just a great tune)
- a family that keeps letting me say good-bye, without holding it against me
- a husband to navigate this crazy world with
- friends who you just can't hold a candle to (what does that really mean, anyway? what I'm trying to say here is that my friends are the hands-down greatest!)
- and of course, good beer

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

It's Always Sunny in Polandia

Well, actually, that is not usually the case.  But today it sure was!  I spent the clear and crisp afternoon wandering around our city's centrum (center) in hopes of finding potential employment (English language schools) as well as locating a Post Office (does that really need to be capitalized?  it just felt right) so that I could send Mike's old teammate George some quinoa that we found in a local shop.  George is a vegetarian, see, and he has a tough time tracking down the stuff in his Polish town.  Shout out to Koszalin!!  And the Reese fam, of course.

First, I guess I should post a pic of Gdynia's bright blue sky and waters...pretty great, huh?

Secondly, well, I never found the Post Office...and the two English schools I visited did not need my services (was it my moon dance entrance that came off as trying too hard?) so after a bit more exploring, I ended up back in our apartment...where I decided to make myself a dirty martini and catch up on some shows.

This brings me to the topic at hand.  No, I'm not really trying to highlight the uncharacteristically lovely weather Poland handed us today.  Let's talk about the REAL sunny...It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia.

This, my friends, is the best thing TV has gifted us since back in the day of TGIF.  I love the script.  I lurrrrv the cast.  I've referenced it in business meetings, SE Portland bathrooms, heck, I'm pretty sure I quoted from it in my wedding vows.  But I have to come out with something...and it sincerely pains me to say it...this new season just isn't quite doing it for me.  Now DON'T GET ME WRONG!  I still like it.  A lot.  But something is a tad bit off.  My sister, Carli, was the first to point it out (after episode 1, I might add) and as good as some of the episodes have been (see Frank Reynolds' Little Beauties and Chardee MacDennis) something isn't quite right.  I don't know if it's that they are paying too much attention to the whole "Mac is fat thing" or that Charlie just hasn't been given the lead role in enough episodes?  Whatever the case might be, it is still one of the best shows on television.  But my fellow Philly fans out there know that the best, surely, is yet to come.

So this post really had nothing to do with Poland.  More geographically relevant posts to come over the next couple of days!

Till then, enjoy one of my favorite intros from season 5.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Where are we?

I was going to play it cool and wait until tomorrow to add another post...

BUT it's only 11PM here and we're about 2 hours from lights out.  Oh, that is one thing I should mention upfront.  We stay up super late here.  It is not unusual for me to hit the hay around 2AM, with my wake-up call (AKA the sound of Michael coming home from morning practice) not sounding until noon or later.  So don't be alarmed if most of my posts show up during what-should-be "last call" hours.  I haven't turned into an insomniac and I won't always be belligerently blogging.  I've just adjusted my sleep schedule for the time being.

Ok then, where were we?  Oh that's right!  Where are we?  So below is a map of Europe.  Poland is bigger than you would have thought, huh?  I've yet to venture East of Poland but have hit up a few of the countries to our left.  For those of you who might not know, this is my 4th year living in Poland (Michael's 5th).  The only other country I've lived in over here is Israel, which is just below Turkey (not pictured).

We've lived all over Poland but this year Mike's playing in my favorite city to date, Gdynia.  Gdynia is part of a trio of towns, known around Poland as the "Three Cities".  Sopot (a resort-style town) is a mere 10 minute drive with Gdansk (the largest of the 3) another 10 minutes out.  Each city sits along the Baltic Sea, located in the Northern/Central part of the country (see map below).

Having only been here a couple of weeks, I truly haven't gotten out that much to explore.  That's all about to change over the next few days though.  Michael hits the road tomorrow and my Thanksgiving plans involve grabbing a map of my own, lacing up my Dora-style explorin' shoes and seeing this place on foot!  Just wish I had a little monkey friend to tag along.

Did you read?

Hey, did you guys read that thing on my facebook wall about me starting up a blog?  Did you read it?  Did you read it?  Well, it's true and here it is.  I'm really wondering how this all will go down.  I will be the first to say that this blog might implode in T minus 3 weeks.  Two things could happen here...

A) Nobody will care.  Oh mom, I know YOU'LL care!  But will others want to hear about my escapades in Eastern Europe?

2) I might get lazy.  If any of you have seen how I like to spend my Sundays back home, be forewarned that most days are likely to be a Sunday here in Poland...and the only thing I like to do on Sundays is not move.

Also, I'm only known to be "semi-witty" about 13% of the time.  Thanks Michael, my sister, my dog Maggie, my old co-worker Peter (the list could really go on and on) for reminding me of that on a daily basis.

But here goes!  While I'm living on the other side of the world for the next 7 months, I'll only be a mouse click away.  Bingo, bango, bongo.