Our Blog - Trip Over

 

This is the "detailed" trip over blog. Our thoughts right now are to have a summarized section in the main page of the blog and then expand into the details in a separate page. While this is a bit different than most blogs we've seen, the fear is that the main page will get too long any other way,

 

So our trip over! We left Austin and headed back East, going through Raleigh to meet with friends, finalize our resignations, and doing a few other pieces of business. Then we went to Hampton, Virginia to see Susan's brother, Rich. We spent the afternoon hanging out, then went into Downtown Hampton for a drink, and then out to a restaurant on Fort Monroe called the Deadrise. Fort Monroe is no longer an active Fort, having been decommissioned in 2005. The fort dates back to 1609, originally named Fort Algernourne, when the colonists saw the strategic importance of the location. After the War of 1812, Fort Monroe was designed as part of President James Monroe's plan for a network of coastal defenses. Interestingly enough, it was designed by a Frenchman, Simon Bernard, who had been banished from France after the defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo in 1815. Dinner was great .. we sat outside to watch the sunset and then moved inside as it was getting a bit cold!

Then Donna was nice enough to grab a picture of my brother and I together! We are the eldest and youngest in the family.

The next morning, we headed North, through the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel and into Delaware. The Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel is quite interesting in that it is really long (23 miles) and is one of only ten bridge–tunnel systems in the world. Three of them are located in Hampton/Hampton Roads area in Virginia, and we drove over ALL THREE the same morning! It is made up of two tunnels, four high-level bridges (two each direction N/S), 4 artificial islands, and approximately 12 miles of low-level bridge. We snapped a few pictures as we went over the Chesapeake and through the tunnels.

And now through the 2nd of the two tunnels. Then another great picture of the sun on the Chesapeake Bay, and then to one of the high bridges near the end.

We visited with Tom’s dad and brother, having dinner with them on the first evening (Monday night). Tuesday, we did a bit of last-minute shopping in the morning before letting the “kids” out for a round of golf with Tom’s brother (Tom and Susan also got to play!!)

The last day, we drove up to Newark and took the PATH train into NYC, coming into the new Transit Hub under the World Trade Centers. We had seen it in various stages of construction on our previous trips into the city, but hadn’t ever actually been inside. It is very bright and airy, very wide open.

We started walking around and as we were just strolling around Tribeca, we saw the Cary Building. We thought it was a great looking building, and Susan thought it was “a sign” since we had lived in Cary, NC for so many years, and now this was the linkage between our “old home” and our “new home”. Yea … Tom thinks it’s cheesy! Anyway, the Cary building was build in 1856-1857 in an Italian Renaissance revival style, originally for a dry goods firm named Cary, Howard & Sanger. It is now a residential building … can you imagine coming home every day to this lovely building??

Then a bit more walking over to Little Italy, where we had to take a bit of a siesta and have an espresso and a cannoli. And yes … we repeated the famous line from The Godfather, “leave the gun … take the cannoli”! The little cafe that we had our cannoli-break was decked-out for Easter with some Easter Bunnies.

At 121 Mulberry is a red brick building with a sunburst at the top with the name Anna Esposito. Supposedly the Esposito family had it built in 1926. I wasn’t able to find much information on the building, only that the Esposito’s were one of Little Italy’s leading families.

A landmark of New York, construction on Old St. Patrick’s Cathedral began in 1809 and its as dedicated in 1815. It was enlarged in the 1830’s and 40’s but then was almost totally destroyed by fire in 1866. It was rebuilt and reopened in 1866 and was the main cathedral until 1879 when the new Cathedral on 5th Avenue was opened. This then became a “parish church”. It has lovely stained glass windows, as you can see.

 

Another church, this one Grace Church, which was started in 1843 and consecrated in 1846.

We then walked (what seems like forever) all the way up to 39th Street to meet Tom’s sister Judy for dinner. As we left the restaurant to walk to Madison Square Garden to catch the NJ Transit train back to Newark, right there in front of us was a Lehigh athletics bus. No idea why they were there really, perhaps to watch the basketball game. But of all the college buses that we could have seen in NYC that night, parked basically right outside of the restaurant that we had dinner at … was a Lehigh bus! Tom went to Lehigh for his undergraduate degree, and still follows their school sports.

So I bet you are wondering by now “when are they actually going over?” Well, here we go … we drove to Newark Airport and got all checked in, sat in the Priority Lounge for a bit, and then caught our flight. We took TAP Portugal, the national carrier for Portugal, from Newark to Lisbon and then changed for our final flight into Toulouse!

We then arrived in Toulouse’s Blagnac airport.

Now, so far, everything has been quite easy and even we’ve had a couple of “signs” (the Cary building, the Lehigh bus). Then, our first glitch. We had booked a car service called MyDriver to pick us up at the airport, since we didn’t think a normal taxi would have enough room for 2 big suitcases, 2 little suitcases, 2 backpacks, 2 golf bags, and 2 people. We got through customs and immigration and then hooked into the airport wifi to get the driver information (which was supposed to be sent to us an hour ahead of our pickup time). Instead of the driver information … we got an email saying “your reservation has been cancelled”. WHAT? CANCELLED??? WHAT??? So we called them (in the UK) and it seems that they did not have a driver available. Hmm… I booked this thing over a week ago. You couldn’t have told me before I landed that you didn’t have a driver? So we started walking towards the rental car places trying to see what other options we had. We came upon the desk for Eco Navette and asked them (in our I’m sure terrible French) that we needed a ride to the city center but that we had (as they could see) lots of luggage. They called someone and then said they could, we just needed to wait about 15 minutes. No problem, about 15 minutes later came a nice gentleman who gave us a lift to our Hotel.

We had booked 1 night in a Best Western hotel, which just happened to be directly next door to our 1st apartment (very convenient). It was a nice little room and they have a happy hour each evening where you can sit and have wine and sample some of the local specialties.  Tonight, it was some sausage, smoked duck thigh, and some ham (probably like. serrano).