From Jamie's Philippines Pics

We have also had the opportunity to travel to some amazing places in China, Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam, the Philippines, and Bali. We have archived all of our travels and living experiences abroad; and if you wish, you can read about our adventures by finding the archives on the right of this page and by checking our Photo Album.

We appreciate all of our family and friends who have stayed in touch and emailed us with encouraging words throughout the year. We hope you will continue to keep us in your thoughts as we continue our adventure of living abroad teaching at an international school. For those who have stumbled upon our site, check out the "About Eric and Jamie" section on the right for more information.

Thanks for checking us out!

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness."
- Mark Twain

"Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends."
- Maya Angelou






Skype: "ericandjamie"



Monday, February 17, 2014

Vienna Day 3

Beethoven's Final Resting Place
After another great night's sleep, we again ate a yummy breakfast downstairs.

Our first stop today was the Zentralfriedhof cemetery, the 2nd largest cemetery in Europe.  I have a thing for cemeteries and always want to go to a major city's largest.  The large on in Paris was pretty neat, the one in downtown Hong Kong was cool too.  Of course there is Arlington, perhaps my favorite in many ways.  Even small town cemeteries I find fascinating because you can learn so much about the population.

Zentralfriedhof didn't disappoint.  It may be my new favorite cemetery.  We didn't have a map but knew there were some famous people interned here.  We actually stumbled upon the headstones of Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, and Strauss.  All of these men were actually buried somewhere else, exhumed for research purposes, then reburied in this cemetery all next to one another.  There were some also some of the strangest headstones you'll ever see.  Some indescribable as you'll just have to look at the photos.

We took the tram and metro back to the city center and ate lunch at a busy sandwich shop.  Next up was the Rathaus city hall; however it was closed because it was sunday.  An impressive building but what came next was a highlight of the trip.  Just outside the building, they had built a winter carnival, complete with food stands, an ice skating rink, a separate one for toddlers and young ones, and a "track."  Music was playing, food was eaten, and beverages were consumed.  Very fun!  It apparently only runs during the last week of January through the 1st week of March, so we caught it perfectly.

We then headed over to check out the fine arts museum which is located in the Museum Quarter, a several block area that has the Natural History Museum as well as others.  The kids were exhausted, so we didn't spend too much time there but was delighted at the architecture.

We quickly made it back to the hotel because it had started to rain.  Luckily, we used the metro to stay out of the rain and then walk was only a few blocks in drizzle.  We were back snuggly at 6:00 where everyone was asleep by 8:00.  Jamie was able to finish her Baileys and I worked on my Jack.

I'm placing Vienna at the top of the list for my favorite European city.  I love the architecture, history, and city planning.  Everything seems to run smoothly here.  I would love to live here.

Vienna Day 2

After a great night's sleep, we went down to the hotel breakfast.  They had a great assortment of cheeses, hams, yoghurts, jams, teas, and breads.  Great start and I would stay at this hotel again for just this reason.

Traveling with both James and Alex has been pretty easy, but we couldn't decide on whether or not to take our double stroller.  We knew the hotel rooms in Europe would be small. We didn't even know if the elevator would even fit the double stroller.  We opted instead of taking the singer travel stroller we have taken everywhere with us and the Mobi wrap.  If you young couples with little ones or little ones to be don't know about a Mobi wrap, they are awesome.  Light weight, easy to use, versatile, and great for traveling.  So, James mainly stayed in the stroller or walked while Alex stayed in the Mobi wrap and sometimes the stroller.  It worked out well.  Now that we are here, we wish we had decided to bring the double stroller.  Live and learn.

We walked up the main pedestrian street by St. Stephen's Cathedral looking for some gloves for James.  We did find some, but he wouldn't even try to wear them.  He also would not put a blanket on top of him.  We did convince him to at least put his hands in his pockets.  He figured out that helped with the cold.  Traveling with Alex means Jamie is stopping to feed him every few hours.  This is pretty easily done, but slows you down. Luckily, this trip to Vienna is the perfect opportunity to take things slow.  We will no doubt be back in this wonderful city again, so we don't mind missing some things. 

Our first stop was to the old Hapsburg Palace, which they have converted into several museums.  The palace itself if large, taking up several city blocks.  We hadn't done much research on what to see, so we were up for anything.  We decided to check out the National Library, and we are very glad we did.  The library itself used to be the entrance hall for the royal family.  Now, it houses several thousand books in what is easily the most beautiful library I've seen.  It is like walking into a cathedral except the walls are lined with volumes and volumes of books with those cool rolling wooden ladders.

Next was the Imperial Palace apartments, the Sisi Museum, and the national Silverware collection.  The silverware collection was impressive as it was the collection of all the silverware throughout the centuries of the Hapsburgs.  The most impressive part was a gilded mirrored bottomed candle place setting that spanned the entire length of a 20 person plus table.  

The Sisi Museum was in memory of the last Empress of the Hapsburgs, Elizabeth, a dark and lonely woman of whom they have created dark and gloomy exhibition for her.  She was eventually assassinated but was the longest running Empress of the dynasty.  They had her collection of just about everything you could think of, even her dentist's records.  

The Imperial Palace apartments were interesting and rivaled those of Versailles, except not as elaborate or outlandish.  We skimmed through there and then went back to find a place for lunch.  We were originally searching for this little finger food sandwich place, but after finding out it was "family friendly" opted for a restaurant called, interestingly enough, The Chattanooga.  It was good enough food to get us through the rest of the afternoon.

Next up was the papyrus museum, a collection of Egyptian, Greek, and Arabic papyrus documents.  Most of it wasn't in English, but what was was interesting as they were primary source documents of land deeds, debts settled, some dating back to the ancient Egyptians.  Our last stop was to the Esperanto and Globe Museum.  

We didn't even know what Esperanto was, but according to wikipedia, Esparanto is the:

"most widely spoken constructed international auxiliary language.[3] Its name derives from Doktoro Esperanto ("Esperanto" translates as "one who hopes"), the pseudonym under which L. L. Zamenhof published the first book detailing Esperanto, the Unua Libro, on July 26, 1887. Zamenhof's goal was to create an easy-to-learn, politically neutral language that would transcend nationality and foster peace and international understanding between people with different languages.
Estimates of Esperanto speakers range from 100,000 to 2,000,000 active or fluent speakers worldwide, including perhaps a thousand native speakerswho learned Esperanto from birth as one of their native languages., the most popular online learning platform of Esperanto, reported 150,000 registered users in 2013, and has between 150,000 and 200,000 monthly visitors.[4] Esperanto has a notable presence in over a hundred countries. Usage is highest in Europe, East Asia, and South America.[5]"
They had a nice little video that was informative too that even James enjoyed.
The globe museum was what you would expect and was pretty neat to see the terrestrial, celestial, and lunar globes from the ages.  
A busy day concluded with some pretty bad Austrian fast food.  Seemed yummy at the time, but we barely ate half of it.  
James literally put himself to bed after his bath and didn't even want a story or a song.  A first for him! We were all in bed by 8:00 pm.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Vienna Day 1

James in the streets of Vienna

Jamie and I had originally scheduled a trip to Germany for winter break 2013.  My parents and niece were going to meet us in Germany for the break.  We booked our tickets in March 2013, way in advance which got us a better deal.

About 3 weeks later, we found out Jamie was pregnant and the due date was very close to our winter break.  With the baby to be born in Saudi, the paperwork for birth certificates, passport, and exiting and re-entering the country would take too long, so there was simply no way to go to Germany.

Mom and Dad switched their tickets and came here instead.  I frantically searched for a new location to use our tickets.  Turkish Airlines said that we could use our tickets, but had to travel before March.

So we decided to go to Vienna, Austria for this 4 day weekend in February.

It is the first time Alex was out of the country and his first flight.

We packed pretty much the night before, but we had a 2:55 am flight.  We left for the airport and had some trouble issuing an infant ticket for Alex.  Dammam airport has to be the worst airport in the world.  No other airport comes close.  The man running the counter simply just did not want to issue the infant ticket.  He had to go take care of something else and said it was his choice to "refuse" us.  While we did arrive a little later than usual for check in, this is something that they could have done quite easily.  Plus, none of their other check in agents were trained in how to issue an infant ticket. I finally convinced the guy to do it, but he would only give Alex and I a boarding pass for the trip to Istanbul.  Extremely frustrating.  That airport has become progressively worse and worse each year we have been here.

We made it to Istanbul and only had about an hour or so layover before continuing to Vienna at 10:00 am.  We took a bus straight to city center and walked a few blocks to our hotel, Hotel Austria.  It had great reviews on Tripadvisor, and we are very pleased.  It is very close to everything downtown.

We checked in quickly and headed out to a quick Austrian lunch of wienerschnitzel. We headed back to the hotel and refreshed and napped a bit before heading out.  We finally walked around about 3:00 and headed toward St. Stephen's Cathedral, the most popular attraction in Vienna.  After roaming around a little more, we decided to try to find this little Italian restaurant that had great reviews.  It was early, so they place hadn't opened yet.  Nonetheless, they were full for the evening. We decided to eat at this little pizza place we had passed and it was pretty decent.

Everyone crashed that night and we all received about 10 hours of sleep.  Yes!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Eric and Jamie's Last 2 years!!!

James and Alex January 31, 2014

We're Back!

It has been almost 2 years since our last post which was about my study trip to Korea with a group of students.

Quite a bit has changed since then, including the birth of our 2nd son, Alexander.  With a toddler and a newborn, it has been difficult to blog.  I have written a few articles for TIEOnline, but nothing for this blog site.  We have received numerous emails from people inquiring about our jobs in Saudi Arabia or just teaching positions internationally.  Most of these people stumbled on our blog and just want some questions answered.  I ran into one particular woman on a 2 day conference in Oman I had been corresponding with 2 years before about a job in Saudi Arabia.  Her family had taken jobs at Aramco.  We hope that this blog has been a way for teachers in the US or abroad to gain a better understanding of living overseas.

With that said, being so busy as of late has not provided us with the opportunity to post any information concerning life abroad or about ourselves personally.  Our blog was a way for us to keep in touch with people back home.  Sure, we've done so through Facebook and email, but the blog seemed more personal.

Lastly, living in Saudi Arabia isn't exactly as exciting as living in China.  There simply isn't as much to do or blog about on a day to day basis.  However, Jamie and I both have taken active roles in our schools.  I have coordinated the switch to a standards based grading and reporting system by chair our grading and reporting committee, taken 2 study trips with students to Korea, Prague/Budapest, with an upcoming one in Switzerland, helped with basketball at school, and switched from chairing the listening committee to helping with professional development.

Jamie has been very active in her school by teaching two AP classes, Psychology and Economics, leading as social studies department head, helping IB students as an extended essay advisor, and AFG coordinator.  She also has helped with MUN leading a couple of trips to Istanbul.

Jamie also graduated with her PdD last August, so we have been working very hard to pay off student loans.  Because of that and the birth of Alex, we aren't traveling much this year, with the exception of our quick 4 day trip to Vienna.

Here is a list of places we've been in the last 2 years since our last posting:

Spring Break Italy 2012: Italy
Summer 2012: Visiting family in US and a trip to Tampa for Jamie's AP training
October 2012: Jamie's leadership conference in Dubai
Fall Break 2012: Paris for James' 1st birthday!
November 2012: Eric's conference in Dubai
December 2012: Jamie's MUN trip to Istanbul
Winter Break 2012: USA for Christmas
February 2013: Jamie's student study trip to Bali, Indonesia
March 2013: Eric's student study trip to Prague/Budapest
Spring Break 2013: Thailand for Phuket and Bangkok (Jamie's conference)
Summer 2013: USA visiting family, Dallas for Jamie's conference, Minneapolis for Jamie's graduation
November 2014: Eric's conference in Dubai
December 18, 2013: Alexander Laith Brown born!
January 2014: Eric's conference in Muscat, Oman
February 2014: 4 day trip to Vienna, Austria

Whew!  That's it and it took some time remembering.  We haven't included our trips to Bahrain periodically throughout the year and 4 of those for a training for Jamie.

I'm hoping to start posting on a regular basis and discuss a little more detail about life in Saudi and our roles at our respective schools.

Glad to be back!  Hope everyone has been well!

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