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We made it to Stockholm!

2015-06-28-01-36-10_deco 2015-06-28-05-22-47_deco 2015-06-28-08-42-47_deco 2015-06-29-01-10-50_decoThe time is 01:17 on Tuesday, June 30th, and Day 3 of the European Spread a Little Aloha Tour is lingering in my mind and in my heart.  We checked in to our hotel room at Zum Erdinger Weissbrau.  For our beer drinkers, this is a treat of a hotel, as it is the world’s largest wheat beer brewery whose history and brewing tradition reach back to 1537.  My body is aching from the 9 miles we walked today, and my eyes are struggling to remain open from the sleep deprivation and jet lag, yet my heart longs to share our journey thus far.

We are at the close of day 3, and this is our 3rd hotel, and so far, my favorite.  We are greeted at the front reception desk by a lovely lady dressed in Bavarian attire.  The hotel has a Bavarian beer hall, and our rooms are large and traditional in décor with modern amenities.  The lights are out in my room, with only the light of my laptop. I am tuning out the zzz’s of my roommates thanks to my ear buds and the sweet harmonies of the new friends that sang for us earlier today at lunch.

So much has happened in the last 72 hours!  Let me go back to the start of our huaka’i.  This past Wednesday, while traveling home from our US tour with the 10-18 year olds, the last reservations were being made between Florida and California thanks to wifi while flying!  Our European tour members met on Thursday night to pack costumes, review the itinerary and get in our first practice with dancers and musicians together.  Friday came too quick, and I didn’t get the chance to do a super clean up of my house, but I should be grateful that we were packed, and made it to the airport in time (our Super Shuttle driver was 25 minutes late, and we hit major traffic on the way to Oakland!).  Check in was simple!  We boarded, found our seats, had some Norwegian “nice and tasty” meals (Craig, Sherrel, Melody and I got a kick out of the cake in a jar, and the cute triangular milk containers). Most of us stayed up watching movies, while the other half slept almost the entire ten and half hour flight.

We arrived in Stockholm, and all of our 28 bags arrived, and we loaded the hotel shuttle.  Just across from our hotel was the Jumbo Hotel, which is an old airplane that has been converted into a hotel.  In the evening, we saw a few people sitting at tables on the wing of the airplane.  Speaking of “evening”, there hardly is any!  We took the Arlanda Express train to the main city area of Stockholm and had linner (lunch/dinner) at a Swedish restaurant.  We explored the open market where we bought some of the sweetest strawberries I have ever had (and they weren’t hard!).  We split up into small groups, and had “Spread a Little Aloha stickers, pens, sanitizers ready to hand out…the fashion girls, the pastry loving ladies, the drinkers, and the couple always in search of  great craps table.    Try to figure who was in each group.  Melinda attracted a new friend while looking for the entrance of a church, Leiola was amused with her new balloon from MAX’s fast food, the drinking crowd had a great time in their borrowed furry coats drinking cold drinks in ice glasses in an ice room….with their rubber slippers!  They even met new friends from the SF Bay Area while having drinks in the Ice Bar.  We went to check out the casino, but barely made it through the front doors because we didn’t meet the dress code!  Imagine us…Uncle Bill with his uwangy hair, most of us in t-shirt shorts and slippers and Taylor the only one with pants and shoes, but with a tank top, and hat.  They were nice in throwing us out, and of course I had to ask what kind of games they played inside…ha, no craps!  What kind of a casino is that???  Nah, it was probably better, and I didn’t feel so bad that I might be missing out on the longest roll!  We all made it back on the Arlanda Express train.  We picked up some snacks before going back to our hotel, and Rory found some Swedish fish…fyi…they don’t call it “Swedish” fish in Sweden.  Sherrell wondered about Swedish pancakes and massages, we assume the drop the “Swedish”.  So, we made it back to our rooms, and were grateful for the beautiful sun coming through our windows.  We were tired, and needed our rest for our early morning flight….except that the sun didn’t go down!  It was still bright like daylight a 10 o’clock, or what they say in Europe, 22 o’clock…oops, I mean 2200.  I love how the group likes to tease me about now knowing how to say military time, but at least I’m on time!

Day 2….OMGoodnessGracious!  Mahalo Ke Akua, we somehow made it to Munich!  Let’s start by saying that the included breakfast buffet was the best I ever had!  Fresh fruits, multiple yogurts, and cereals, eggs, bacon, “Swedish” pancakes, loose tea, juices etc…it was great!  They even had the perfect water/juice dispenser for our Silicon Valley techies, like Lora.  You press your selection on the ipad next to a faucet, and your glass is filled!  So we were doing pretty good…started our day off right with a good meal.  Then, we didn’t all make it on to the first shuttle, and had to wait for the next one.  The airport was crazy at 5:30am, and check in is primarily self-serve including printing of tickets, as well as tagging, scanning, and loading your own luggage.  It would be fine, if there were no glitches!  So, we almost didn’t make it on to the plane, but thank fully it was delayed by 18 minutes.  Anson, Uncle Bill, and I stayed back to take care of luggage while we sent the others through the security check.  Thank goodness Leiola was with us because by the time we sent bags through, the security line was horrendous, and they didn’t care about the flight times.  Fortunately they did have a line for those traveling with children, so it was Anson, Leiola and I as well as grandpa Bill!

I must admit that I was a little nervous when we exited the baggage claim and  still didn’t see our ride!  There are many logistical mistakes that could occur, small things that I may have over-looked, and I wasn’t sure if our driver was coming. I had kind of expected that there would be a person standing with a sign.  I am glad that Anson agreed to the extra phone plan for out of country calls.  I was so relieved when our driver answered the phone and said that he was waiting for us in the gold colored Mercedes Bus!  Yeah!!!  We had a bus just for our group!  We loaded up, and hopped on! Anissa needs the front (she gets motion sickness), the middle section of the bus are the sleepers!  As soon as the bus turns on, we turn off.  Sherell and Craig need the back row (they have their own music, they have interesting conversation, and they don’t seem to need any sleep.  Since I’m talking about sleep..whoa, we have some crazy looking sleepy people on our bus.  Taylor can be engaged in full conversation and fall asleep mid-sentence.  Anson is sleeping before everyone is loaded into the bus, and is LOUD, and startling.  Cayla is kind spooky, like she was frozen right after she said “OH”, eyes and mouth wide open.

Tony, our driver, is amazing.  He is patient and friendly, even when he found out that the entire day 1 itinerary had been changed.  He is actually from Croatia, and was excited to hear that we would be going to Croatia to perform.  I don’t know how he can maneuver the huge bus, but he does.

From the Munich airport, we drove directly to Nuremberg where we met up with our American guide, Kevin.  We walked though the castle, and the old town area.  From there we drove to Rothenberg Ob Der Tauber, which was magical……..

There is so much to share about our adventure in Nuremberg, Rothenberg, and our special Day 3 with our new friends, but the time has escaped me.  It is now almost 3am, and we are to meet for breakfast at 7:30am.

Stay tuned, and please continue to pray for our safe travels.


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