I typically do this entry a mere week before leaving, but I’m feeling the need for a little distraction this morning: a combination of tired of politics (oh-so-tired) and delaying the inevitable of absolutely needing to work today.

Getting my vacation time cut in half with the new job has been a bigger adjustment than I thought it would be. We now focus our travels around holidays to maximize the number of days we can be gone and minimize the number of vacation days I have to take. It wasn’t that important before because we both had plenty of time. But that’s what brought us here: a 2 week trip ending on Labor Day weekend. While we agreed after the first couple of trips that 18-19 days was too much, the 8 days we did in Italy in January was a little more packed than even we like, but that was, again, about maximizing my paid time off. Two weeks is what we did on the Barcelona/Helsinki trip last year and it was just right. And since neither of us have taken any time off since January to speak of, We Are So Ready For This Trip.

So where to this time? “I’m meeting Dan in Vienna in August.” I put that in quotes because that line has become a bit of a joke within certain circles, usually preceded by “I love saying this.” How did this become my life? As a good friend said yesterday, “unicorns and butterflies should fly out of your mouth after you say that.” There’s a weird juxtaposition of surreal-ness and matter-of-fact-ness to that statement. Surreal in that – who gets to say that, seriously? But the reality is this is our 6th international trip and the 4th time I’m meeting him there. Traveling together is the exception with us. And we really just have Bayer to thank for the fact that we get to keep going. So keep taking that aspirin! Well, more like: keep using that pesticide :)

We’ve had a great year. Challenging since Dan’s been living in Raleigh literally since the day we got back from Italy in early January. I’ve been there once since, he’s been here three times. Once to get married on June 30 if you missed that! Work has been challenging for both of us, albeit in very different ways. And at some point in 2017 I will move there. This will likely be my last trip abroad for awhile where I’ll be leaving from the West Coast, so that will cut the travel time by at least 5 hours once I’m an East Coast guy.

On the evening of Monday, 8/22, I fly out of SFO to London. I was supposed to meet Dan there but my flight time got pushed back and he would’ve had like a 10 hour layover to wait for me. So I meet him in Vienna instead, which sounds ever-so-more-romantic than “I’m meeting Dan at Heathrow.” Although I wouldn’t complain about that either.

We will have 3 days on the ground in Vienna, then take a side trip that Saturday to Bratislava, Slovakia. Then it’s 2 nights each in Prague, Czech Republic, and Dresden, Germany; then 3 nights in Berlin and home.

I’m very excited about this trip for reasons I can’t quite put my finger on. We will get lots of WWII history, which we love, but there’s something just about being in that corner of the planet that is very back-to-my-roots for me. Many years ago a sister-in-law put together the Haas genealogy and I’ve certainly looked at it before, but not as closely as I have recently. The vast majority of my ancestors come from that specific region of Europe: southern Germany and, depending on the year of birth and who was in power at that moment, some combo of Czechoslovakia/Bohemia/Austria. I remember “bohonk” jokes as a kid directed at Granny, my mother’s mother, intended to be a playful insult since that’s considered s slur. While her grandparents aren’t listed – the only missing generation from the records – her in-laws both came from Czech/Bohemia, a point I’d missed all these years because we never knew our mother’s father, so haven’t thought much about his background.

The big shock was: I never realized that my father’s maternal great-grandparents all have Bohemia listed as birthplace. Back when Bohemia was a place, not just a state of mind. It’s sort of coming back to me: my paternal grandmother was the “bohonk”, which is probably why Granny wouldn’t have liked the reference very much :)

My mother was first generation American and all of her ancestry was from the Austria/Bohemia/Czechoslovakia region. All this time I thought my heritage was mostly German. By current boundaries, our great-great grandparents break out this way: 50% Czech (includes old boundaries of Bohemia and Moravia), 25% Austrian, 12.5% German (Bavaria), 12.5% already American (KY & TN). Mind you, that whole region including all of Germany, not just Bavaria, occupies a plot of land smaller than the state of Texas where I was born.

I don’t have any expectations about any of that manifesting in any particular way, it will just make it more interesting somehow to be there.

And I’m ready. Now, to work…



  1. […] of the trip between Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia – those regions that showed up in the Pre-Departure entry related to my heritage. I didn’t find any long lost relatives; still, it was satisfying […]

  2. Steve Haas August 7, 2016 at 10:06 am - Reply

    Granny's birthplace in what Shirlene put together is referred to as Moravia/Austria, 1910. Yes, Pawelka, and Oma's maiden was Zindler/Zennler. And yes, according to Wiki at any rate, the Moravia region is now the SE area of the Czech Republic. Bohemia, according to the same source, was the western half of the current Czech Republic. So next door at any rate.

    Yes, Nancy and I are FB friends and have been keeping in touch. I'm hoping to be there no later than March so that timing should work!

  3. Ken Haas August 7, 2016 at 9:27 am - Reply

    If memory serves, Granny came from Austria, but after WW!, that section was annexed by Czechoslovakia. I always found it strange. Wasn't Granny's maiden name Pawelka. Sounds like Bohonk to me. Hope your trip goes well and good luck in Raleigh. Diane's little sister Nancy (was in the twins class at SGH) lives in Mount Airy, which is about 140 miles from Raleigh. We may visit her next summer, so hopefully we can get together……Kenny

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