Saturday, 29 August 2015

Dilemma of Standby Travel

Hello All….. My fellow travelers are my sister, her hubby, my hubby and ME! (However, it is NEVER about ME)

As I write to you, we are sitting in the United Club lounge in Washington, DC and I am freezing.  I digress…..  We decided to leave on Friday at 2PM and so I frantically ran around getting all the last minute items done and then realized that we have never parked the car in employee parking for 2 weeks before.  The longest time was a week.  So we decided that we needed to move our departure time up as we needed to park the car at Den’s work.  When we arrived at the airport, we checked in and checked our bags.  I doubt that Mike will ever do that again.  We waited for both flights to leave without us, met an amazing couple (he worked for JAL) and they were trying to get to Florence, and then we went to get our bags and rebook to DC or EWR.  The baggage claim guy said our bags were not there but he would rebook them with us, fixed our tickets and told us IAD was the best way to go.  We made the flight, but just before we left, I decided to check the bag tags…… ooops!  Michaels bag tag was gone, replaced by somebody else’s bag tag and nothing we could do because we needed to board the plane.  We were all in middle seats.  So, off we went to Washington, DC. on the last flight of the night. 

When we arrived we went to Customer Service Agent #1 to see if we could figure out where Mike’s bag was and what the bag tag number was.  We were informed that not only was Mike’s bag missing, but Liz’s bag was still in San Francisco.  Only one person stressing here and it is me…..  Agent #1 would see if she could find out Mike’s bag location while we wait for the flight to FRA on United.  We decided the best place to chill was in the United Club….YEA!  Comfort, food, beer and FREEZING!

So, while Agent #2,3 and 4 tried to help with the bags, Liz is wrapped up in every blanket we have and sleeping on the floor, and Mike is researching his bag …. no information on Mike’s bag, but guess what!?  ALL of the other bags are in SFO. Oh Well….. Agent #5 comes to work (used to work in baggage claim before she promoted to the United Club) found Mike’s bag, and is hopefully routing the bags to arrive a couple of hours after we do in Frankfurt.  Oh, yea!  forgot to tell you… United looks terrible so while Mike was trying to find out where his clean underwear was, I was rebooking us on Lufthansa that looks so much better.  We are having so much fun and after 2 free glasses of wine I’m relaxed!  Our saga will continue!  Fingers crossed.


Bagless and Beautiful!

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

A Bloggers Dilemma

There is a problem in my blogger world. I decided to move to England and regale you, the reader, with stories of my adventures.  I was excited and expected that this new adventure would take on its own life.  Life has a way of throwing curves that need to be accepted and rejoiced in because it lends itself to new possibilities.  The new curve was a transfer to Germany and the new title to my blog was born.  Obviously after 3 years in Germany, another new curve presented itself and I found myself going back to California which created a "blogger's block". The title to my blog is limiting in the fact that I no longer live and fly out of Germany or England.  I have gone back to San Francisco and now I want to write about all my trips.  I need a new title. One that will encompass all of my journeys.  So, while I am contemplating this dilemma I will continue to blog about my trips and hopefully come up with a new name.  Be aware that my first trip ever was to England, which became a home over the years and Germany fell in there because it became one of my second homes.  If you have any suggestions, I am open to a name or an idea.  

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Waterford, and Cork; Day 2

We were on our way! I must make a couple of notes here. Before we left the U.S. I called my sister for advise on whether or not we should rent a car. She said that if we did it should be an automatic because driving a stick with the gear on the wrong side and trying to remember what side of the road you are on is way to challenging. I would like to take this opportunity to thank her for the VERY wise advise. Also, to my Mother who told me the story of her friend losing the car in the car park when they went on their trip. Also, please note, I am usually too busy to really "plan" a trip in the conventional way and like to make every day an adventure. So, you will have to ask Katie if she liked the spontaneity of it all. We took off and found our way out of Ballymun and on the way to Waterford. Had I done a "little" research I would have discovered that the factory in Waterford visitor center shut its doors one last time on January 22, 2010 and would not reopen until June, 2010.

I digress: Our day started out very sunny and we took off in the direction of Waterford. The roads were fine and well marked and we only got lost.... or rather, went too far, Once! Back on track we came upon a small village called Gowran and there was our first Church, St. Marys. Surrounded by small homes and sitting in the center of the town with the sun shining down on it, we had to stop. The poem "Leisure" written by William H. Davies is on a tablet in the fountain and reads:

What is this life if, full of care,
We have not time to stand and stare.
No time to stand beneath the boughs
and stare as long as sheep and cows.
No time to see in broad daylight,
streams full of stars, like skies at night.
No time to turn at beautys glance
and watch her feet, how they can dance.
A poor life this if, full of care
we have no time to stand and stare.

Built in the 13th century, it was a church built on the site of a previous monastery and served by clerics who lived in a community but did not abide by monastery rules. It was not open for visits when we stopped so we pressed on to Waterford.

Our next stop was Thomastown, Kilkenny, Ireland. Located on the banks of the River Arrigle. It is another quaint 13th century village and worth a stop.

We arrived in Waterford and it was a very sad, downtrodden looking city. A lot of the doors to business were closed. There is a castle there and we tried valiantly to follow the signs, but to no avail. Round in circles we went and finally decided to stop and eat. A much better option when you cant find what you are looking for. We stopped at Fitzpatrick's Manor Lodge Restaurant. It was a buffet that served European and Irish cuisines and ranged in price for $14-$36. The food was good, that atmosphere was friendly and it was warm inside. All very important to weary travelers.

At this time, we were still not aware that the crystal factory was closed. A young lady from New York, married to the buffet chef, informed us that the factory had closed. She had moved there after 9/11 with her Irish husband and children and was glad that she was there.

Katie and I decided to press on to Cork, so after our late lunch we continued our journey.

Once we were on the road again we followed the signs to Cork and ended up in a round-about with red lights. Who puts lights in a round-about? When your checking all the little entrances, who has time to notice there are lights there? Katie quickly let me know about 5 seconds before the angry motorists! No mishaps and on we went!

Cork is a lovely town and we found an information center right next to a parking garage. A little maneuvering and I should be able to manage the garage. WRONG! I got stuck right in front of the pole separating the two sides and two lanes of cars behind me. A nice man (not bad looking!) jumped out of his car and offered to drive mine through for me. I guess he figured it would be faster than waiving me back and forth. He jumped into the car and quickly pulled through one of the gates and left me to find our own parking space. Wish we could have taken him with us as our driver! We went into the information center and got a bit of information from the girl, used the bathroom and went to walk around the town. It was closing up time but we got to see a bit of the City and liked what we saw.

Our next goal was to find a place to stay and sleep. Our lodgings for the evening was the Victoria Hotel on Patrick Street. Built in 1810 the Victoria Hotel is the oldest and most historic hotel in Cork City. Many leading Irish politicians frequented the hotel including Charles Stuart Parnell. The Landlady gave us directions for parking the car, so we headed back to the other car park to get the car and drove it to the new one.... no mishaps! Another good day for the car and it's occupants.

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Ireland, the dream and the reality.

I have always wanted to travel to Ireland and this year, I finally made it! I brought my niece, Katie, for her dream adventure, St. Patrick's day in Ireland.

Katie's trip began in Phoenix. She then flew to San Francisco to meet up with me. From there we flew to Frankfurt. When we arrived in Frankfurt we ran for the next flight to Dublin. Not going to happen! Our flight in was late and we missed the flight to Ireland, so we made a small stop at my apartment in Walldorf. We had a nap, dined at my favorite Italian restaurant, Pizzeria La Tettoia, Kelsterbacher Straße 14, 64546 Mörfelden, Germany06105 75398‎. This is a family owned business and they are the best! The pasta is homemade and the food is delicious as well as reasonably priced.

Rested and fed, we continued on our journey to Ireland. There was a 10 PM flight to Dublin on Lufthansa.
Now, my reasoning was this. If we did not arrive in Dublin to pick up the car on Saturday, the rental fee for the car would almost double on Sunday. The 10 PM flight would get us into Dublin before midnight and the price would stay the same. Now, I needed to find a place to stay the night. So, I got on line and found a travel lodge (after all, we were only going to sleep here) in Ballymun, County Dublin, Ireland. As a side comment, there is a reason that only the top half of the hotel shows in the ad. When we arrived in Ireland, we headed for the Hertz rental to pick up our car. This was just getting better and better.

At the Hertz counter we met Sheamus. I asked if we could be upgraded to a car with GPS and he said he upgraded me to a larger car.
Later I figured out that this is not necessarily a good thing. We are talking about a lady that drives a Mazda getting a Sherman tank to drive in Ireland's very narrow parking garages. He then informed me that I did not have CDW on the car and therefore I would not be insured should I have an accident. He related a story about a woman that had not purchased the insurance and had an accident within 30 minutes of renting the car. I said I should probably get it as it was protection against other drivers and he said it was rather protection from me. HA! Did you know that collision damage waiver is more than the weekly rental price? And you probably need it as your U. S. Insurance and or your credit card does not cover any damage. When I asked for directions to Ballymun, Sheamus said "at least your vacation can only get better". Hmmm. At least I remembered to get in the car on the right side.

Our first stop in Ireland was Ballymun and this is a seriously bad looking area. Especially at midnight. When we found the hotel we couldn't find the parking area. So, I had to pull up in front across from the front door as there was a large truck in front of the door. Katie got out and walked across the street. She had to waive at the door in order for it to open so that she could get instructions to the parking garage. I waited in the car for her to return and kept watch on the area. All around this hotel are vacant lots, run down buildings and broken windows. We were going to leave here very early! She finally came back with instructions and we drove around the block, past the derelict buildings and the wild horses and into the tiniest parking garage ever. However, the poles in the garage are the biggest! With Katie's help, I managed to maneuver the garage without incident and we checked in for the night.

The hotel room was clean, the price was reasonable but the bathroom had an odor that would knock you over. So, we closed the door, went to sleep so that we could begin our adventure in the morning.

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Walking Tour, Rain or Shine!

It was a blistery morning with a prediction of rain, but I didn't see any. So, Edna and I headed down to the train station to take a walking tour of Frankfurt. What a fabulous way to get a sense of the city, hopefully get your bearings and see some wonderful sights. I am a great believer in positive thinking, so I am thinking "I don't need an umbrella"! Besides, I hate carrying a lot of things.

We were to meet our guide in the Romerplatz, the hill where the original town of Frankfurt stood. It is also the center where the Justice Fountain once flowed with wine, the Nazi gatherings, the book burnings, a visit from JFK,the finish line for the Frankfurt Marathon and the center for the Annual Christmas Market. We met Dave, our guide, and headed out to see "the Dom", St. Bartholemews Cathedral. The Cathedral is a must see! Strictly speaking it is not a cathedral at all, since it was never a bishop's church, but it became a cathedral because it served for 300 years as the site of coronation for the Holy Roman Emperors. The church has a relic of St. Bartholomew, his skullcap. It is elegant in its simplicity. I want to go back there to attend Mass and listen to the organ. It is supposed to be a powerful experience.
We also walked through the Archaeological Garden, I love that term and it is amazing and beautiful. This is where the roman baths were discovered after WWII. Here is another life lesson: Out of chaos comes beauty and discoveries of treasures unknown.
The "garden" is located just before going into St. Bartholomew's. The Romans were the first to have "hot tubs". They built stone "tiles" that were below the floor level and on the outside they built the fire that would heat the tiles and then the water. In the second photo you will see a drain. That is post Roman (just in case you weren't sure)
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This is the Holocaust Memorial Wall. We visited this unique Memorial that the city of Frankfurt has chosen to honor the memory of its' 11,133 Jewish citizens who were sacrificed during World War II. Anne, Margot, and Edith Frank are included on this wall of remembrance. On the wall are small memorials with the persons name and the dates they lived and died. I found this a very touching and potent reminder of our history. Inside the walls is the oldest Jewish cemetery garden dating back to 12th century. It is only open to visitors and you must leave your passport to get in.

Next we went through the Jewish ghetto area where a wall was first erected in 1180 as part of the city defenses, this became one of the walls that surrounded the ghetto built in 1462. It was covered up and forgotten until the bombs of 1944 destroyed the houses surrounding it, revealing the wall, still standing intact. The Germans surrounded the area with stone walls that are there to this day. The guards would walk along the top of the wall to make sure no one left. In many ways, it is a reminder of how easy it is to enslave people and to make intelligent, sophisticated people believe that you are doing what is best. Small changes can incur HUGE consequences even in today's society.

Then Dave took us to the most amazing market where you could purchase sausages and beer, stand among all of the fruit stands, coffee bars and wonderful spice shacks. It is indoors and the sights and colors are vibrant. A chance to get something good to eat (sausage sandwich was my choice) and get out of the rain. Yes, the last 1/2 hour of our tour..... IT POURED! Thank you to "Frankfurt on foot" by There were many other stops on this 3 hour walk that were awe inspiring and rewarding. Take a moment, be there at 10:30AM and have an inexpensive but fun tour of the city; in English!

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

A woman's in the first space

The German's know how to treat a woman. These are the first parking spaces in the underground parking garage in Mainz, Germany. How cool is that!
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Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Foraging in Germany

Tonight I went grocery shopping. Now I know you don't think that is very interesting or courageous, but trust me, it is a task for the undaunted. First I will tell you that you might think that the food, looks like the food and probably taste like the food but you have to know that the thing that looks like cauliflower is the thing called blumenkohl and it is going to cost 0,95 and that is not the weight. So, I wandered down to Aldi Sud (the grocery store that looks more like the Rite Aid with a grocery section around the outside edges and sale items in the middle) for some food for this evening.

When you are heading to the store, make sure you have a shopping bag to bring home your purchases. There is a charge for each plastic bag you need and if you are going to use a shopping cart while in the store you have to have a euro for a shopping cart. When you return the cart you get your euro back (San Francisco, are you listening? This might solve your problem). I have learned one thing in my travels. Never, Ever, get a cart if they have small baskets (unless you have a car). You will never be able to carry all the stuff you manage to stuff into a cart. Try it sometime. Go to Whole Foods or Trader Joe's and buy your evening meal with a cart. Now try to carry it all home! You would be amazed at how good you get at not buying that extra item!

First item in the store is a machine that spits out a brezel when you push the little blue button. This is not just any brezel (pretzel), it is a warm, toasted pretzel. I grabbed a bread bag so I could show it to the clerk (remember, I do not speak the language yet), because as we all know, I cannot have a warm pretzel just beneath my nose and get through the whole shopping experience without.... you guessed it... eating it! It definitely makes shopping easier and makes the load lighter on the way home.

I digress. Now, I have eaten the brezel and I have found the salmon (Pazifik Wildlachsfilet) because there is a picture on the box. I also got der rosenkohl (brussel sprouts) and I knew what they were because they were in a bag with rosenkohl written on the label. But the tomatoes in a tube (is it tomato paste?) or the other items with long labels will have to wait for another day.