Plans For A Milestone Birthday

When it comes to birthdays, turning 13, 16, 21, 25, and 30 are the birthdays that seem to get the most glory.  Once you reach a certain age, many people stop making a big deal out of them.

I remember, as a teenager, thinking people who were 30-years-old were over-the-hill.  Once I hit 30, and then 40, I began to think much differently about those ages being ancient.  While I’m one of those people who don’t make a big deal out of each successive birthday, this year, it’ll be different for Ray.  Later this month, he turns 50 and we’re planning on celebrating it in style this fall.

Turning 50 is a big deal to me.  Think of all of the great people who never made it to 50:  my mother and her mother (47 and 48, respectively), Whitney Houston (48), Judy Garland (47), President John F. Kennedy (46), Elvis Presley (42), John Lennon (40), Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (39), Princess Diana (36), Marilyn Monroe (36), Jim Morrison (of the Doors) (27), Janis Joplin (27), Jimi Hendrix (27), James Dean (24), and Ryan White (18).

Ray Youth 002

Raymond Patrick Forsythe was born at Mercy Hospital in Fort Dodge, Iowa, on August 25, 1963.

Ray at 2Little Ray Ray 1969

He remained a little cutie growing up and even in those awkward teenage years.

Teen RayCollege Ray

While I always wanted dirty blonde hair when I was younger, these days I wish I was a ginger.  And, looking at Ray’s curly hair, I’m envious that I’ve always had boring straight, brown hair.  But, then again, I’m just thankful that I’m in my 40s and I still have hair!

So, when thinking of his upcoming 50th birthday, I thought about a surprise trip to Cancun, Mexico.  I was there in 1993 and I loved it.   I’ve been wanting to go back and I know that Ray’s never been there.  It’s a good thing I asked him before buying the package.  While he said it would be fun, he had other ideas and he’s the one turning 50!!!

However, I didn’t give up on Cancun.  Since I had some vacation time left over, we got a great deal and we’re going to Cancun for five days this weekend.  This is a picture I took of Cancun 20 years ago.

Cancun 1993 001

So, Ray thought about it, did his research, and he made a decision.  While both of us have been to Mexico and Canada (before passports were required), this trip was international and it required a passport.  This map is from the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade and luckily, the trip he planned is “green”, which stands for “take normal safety precautions”!  Red is danger!

Safe Travel

So, obviously since the green locations on this map are in Europe, that must be the destination for his golden birthday celebration.  If you guessed that, you’d be correct.  Ray decided he wanted to take a cruise on the Danube River!  However, the timing for the trip didn’t work out for his birthday.  So, we’ll be taking it in October.

The cruise on the Danube River is on the “MS Sound of Music”.  Could the name be any gayer? 🙂

In October, we’ll drive from the Quad Cities and take an overnight flight from Chicago to Europe.  The original trip itinerary had us on an overnight flight from Chicago to Budapest, Hungary, and boarding the cruise.  However, I didn’t feel comfortable leaving the U.S. and arriving in Budapest to board the cruise on the same day.

While this is Ray’s trip, I’ve always been fascinated by Switzerland and it didn’t cost us anything extra for the flight changes to make it part of our vacation.  For the same price, we now fly from Chicago to Zurich, Switzerland, a global city and one of the world’s largest financial centers, and arrive Saturday morning!

Zürich

We get to spend almost 24 hours there!   We then fly from Zurich to Budapest and board the “Sound of Music Cruise Tour” on Sunday, where we’ll travel the Danube River from Hungary to Germany with several stops in between in Slovakia, Austria, and Germany.

Sound of Music Cruise

The cruise departs Budapest Sunday night and after sailing all night and in the morning, we’ll arrive in Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia, for an afternoon tour.  It’s one of the youngest capital cities of Europe, yet its history dates back more than 2,000 years.

From there, another night of sailing will be followed by an all day visit to Vienna, Austria, known for musicians Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Falco (“Rock Me Amadeus”).

After another night of cruising the Danube, we arrive in Durnstein (wine country in lower Austria) and another short cruise will take us to Melk (in lower Austria), where the historic Benedictine Abbey is located.

The next day, we arrive in Passau, Germany, which is also known as Dreiflüssestadt, the “City of Three Rivers”.  And, being a city of so many rivers posed a major problem earlier this summer when central Europe experienced some of the worst flooding in decades.  These pictures are from Passau in early June.

Passau Flooding 1 Passau Flooding 2

Since our cruise is more than four months after the flooding, it’ll be interesting to see how fast Germany responds to a natural disaster and how much of the city is flood ravaged and damaged.

The next two days will feature stops in Regensburg and Nuremberg, Germany.

When we awake after the last night of  the cruise, we’re driven two hours to the Munich (Germany) airport for our flight back to Chicago.  Once we get through customs, we’ll drive the three hours back to Moline just in time for me to go back to work — jet lag and all.  Crazy!!!!!!!

While Ray’s milestone birthday trip of a lifetime is still two months away, I’m already planning the trip for my 50th birthday in the fall of 2014!!!!

Happy Birthday early Ray!

Anthony

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6 responses to this post.

  1. Thanks for sharing! AWESOME Hope you guys have a JOYOUS time!

    Reply

  2. Posted by Cathy Johnson on August 14, 2013 at 8:13 am

    It will be an amazing trip….Have a terrific time and stay safe! Im jealous lol

    Reply

  3. Posted by Connie Huizenga on August 14, 2013 at 1:44 pm

    Hi Anthony, When Dale and I take our international flights, we contact R. C. Smith in Morrison for transportation to and from the airport. They come and pick you up at your house and then drop you at the front door of O’Hare. They meet the plane when you get back and drop you off at your front door. It is not horribly expensive and worth 10 times the cost. No driving. Just sit back and enjoy, relax, no worry. In the meantime, I have relatives in the Munich area. Say hi to them for me. Germany is not one of the places that I have been, … yet. I am so happy for both of you. And a big HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Ray.

    Reply

  4. […] If you missed the details of the trip, here’s the blog I wrote about it back in August:  https://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2013/08/14/plans-for-a-milestone-birthday/ […]

    Reply

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