Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Honeymoon....well not so fast.....

It has been three weeks since my last posting so I figured it is about to time to write. I think I was hoping that my next post would pick up with our honeymoon travels but those plans have taken a little longer to materialize. I'll get into those details a little later. I'll start off by highlighting what we've been up to over the last few weeks.

About the time of my last post I was helping Doug pack up his stuff for his move out to Los Angeles. For those that don't know Doug took a job at the University of Southern California. His position at Georgia Tech ended in May. He moved his stuff up to Nashville for the summer. He spent most of the summer up here in Nashville with the exception of a side trip up to the northeast and Canada. He also spent a month in Colorado working, sort of.... It was nice having Doug around this summer especially since I hadn't seen him in probably about a year. Alethea and I enjoyed his company. He came in handy as the unbiased observer when we were wedding planning. He was usually paid with beer. Good thing he works cheap.

Another activity that we did was go up to the Campbell's for a few days. The primary purpose was for a cookout that we had on a Saturday. It was an opportunity for my mom and dad to spend time with Alethea's mom and step dad while checking out their place in Orlinda. They even got to see the goats! Amy Johnston and her two daughters joined us as well. Alethea and I went home up a couple days in advance. We spent nearly all of our time working on travel research. I was glad we were able to spend time with everyone before we began our post wedding travels.

moving Doug's stuff out of storage, it probably wasn't legal or safe to drive a truck packed this way
The majority of our time over the past few weeks has been spent either on honeymoon related travel research or working on our legal checklist. The legal checklist consists of adding each others names to various accounts and updating beneficiary information. We have also updated our health care proxy forms and our wills. About the only things we haven't completed are for Alethea to formally change her last name. She is waiting until we are done traveling and get out to Portland since her name needs to match what is on her passport, driver's license, credit cards, and other key documentation. We didn't have time to complete these changes without jeopardizing our travel plans. I would hate to have to leave Alethea outside the US due to issues with her identification documentation although she might like that idea depending on the country :).

Alethea getting hungry @ Publix while shopping for dinner
ow let me get to the honeymoon travel plans. We've spent quite a bit time researching the individual countries that we want to go to over the last couple weeks. We first plotted out what we would like to do in Ireland, Northern Ireland, and Scotland. We then researched Scandinavia (Denmark, Norway, Sweden, & Finland), the Balkans (Slovenia, Croatia, Montenegro, Bosnia), and the Baltics (Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia). One aspect of research we did was weather related. Since we were going to be in parts of Europe outside the times of year in which they have the best weather we wanted to make sure this would not be too much of a hindrance. We know in some countries like Ireland we're going to get wet no matter what time of the year would be there. In other countries we wanted to make sure that it wouldn't be to cold. Based on our research it will be cold but shouldn't be too bad overall. Hopefully, we will be correct in this assessment.

me getting drenched @ the Cliffs of Moher, Ireland (Dec '07)
The plan we came up with is as follows. Our first stop will include spending about a month in Ireland and Northern Ireland. We'll then fly over to Vilnius, Lithuania to make our way through the Baltic countries of Latvia and Estonia. We'll then start our tour of Scandinavia by ferrying over from Estonia to Finland. We'll continue on by vising Sweden, Norway, and Denmark. This will take us into the 1st week of November. Our plan at that time is too either came back to the US and spend a few weeks in a warm weather location just relaxing and doing pretty much nothing. Our other option is to stay in Europe a little longer and head down to the Baltic region. It will depend on our budget, how we are feeling, and the weather.

During the course of establishing our route we decided to drop Scotland from our itinerary. The reasons were that it was going to be too expensive and that what we would see in Scotland would be very similar to what we would see in Ireland. The Scottish may not be happy with that statement. Also, Alethea has been to Edinburgh before. I hope to get to Scotland some day but not on this trip. Our honeymoon should be an interesting adventure. I know I am looking forward to it. The only items we have pre-booked are the flight to Dublin, the 1st two nights in a Dublin at a hostel, and our flight from Dublin to Vilnius, Lithuania. At this time we haven't even booked a return flight to the US. We plan on flying back on standby on Delta from somewhere in Europe.

We actually have attempted once to start our honeymoon travels but encountered some challenges. Our plan was to fly standby on Delta to either Dublin or Shannon, Ireland starting on the 29th August. Unfortunately, a hurricane named Irene got in our way. We were going first fly down to Atlanta and try to fly business class to Dublin. Our back up option was to fly to JFK the following day. At JFK we would have a much better shot of flying to Shannon, Ireland. Due to the hurricane closing the city of New York we decided to fly out a day earlier on Sunday the 28th and try our luck in Atlanta. Atlanta was as far we got. A lot of paying inconvenienced passengers made it impossible for us to get to Dublin. We then targeted anywhere in Europe with the idea of taking a flight, train, or even ferrying over to Ireland. We tried three flights (Dusseldorf, Brussels, and Manchester) Sunday afternoon. The attempt to fly to Brussels was probably the cruelest attempt of them all. At the last minute we were cleared for the flight. We boarded the plane, put our bags away, and buckled our seat belts only to be pulled off the plane because a passenger they thought was not on the plane was actually on the plane but in the bathroom when they paged her earlier. This meant that at least I wasn't cleared for the flight. The Manchester flight wasn't handled too well either. It ended up leaving with two empty seats in business class that Alethea and I should have been seated in. We then regrouped and looked at two flights to London and one to Dublin but the seat availability numbers looked far worse for these flights. We decided after a long day to take the next to last flight back to Nashville. Flying to Atlanta and trying to fly to Europe was worth the chances we took and didn't cost us too much since we were using Alethea mom's passes. I was a little upset though because employee incompetence probably cost us a seat on two of the flights we tried to get on.

Once we got back home and had a good night's rest we evaluated our flight options and ended up with Alethea cashing in her frequent flier miles on Continental. We'll be flying on a confirmed ticket to Dublin on Sunday the 4th. If it wasn't for the hurricane we more than likely would have made it to Ireland either on the 29th or 30th of August. It is kind of hard to plan for a scenario that has New York City being closed due to a hurricane.

That pretty much wraps up this blog post. We're both taking it easy this week before we travel. We're doing a little more travel research and working on some miscellaneous projects before we leave. We took the time to research our Portland options and purchased our plane tickets for January 4th. Once we get on the road I plan on posting more often. This will depend somewhat on what all we are doing and the level of internet access we have.