Once again…

Thursday, April11   Flights and snow

I mentioned my luck(?) with flights. Well… it continues. I was scheduled to leave Cincinnati Thursday at 4 pm, giving me time to visit with my cousin. A major snow storm had other plans for the Midwest, and my connecting city of Minneapolis was snowed in. So Delta added waivers to the flight allowing me to re-book with no penalty. I got the last seat on a flight connecting thru SLC leaving at 8 am. It will give me more time to get to know my roommate and hopefully we will get to experience the suspension bridge in Vancouver on Friday before we meet our trip mates.

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Get me out of here! and here I go…

I suggest that you go to the bottom to read about my trip 6 years ago. Click on March, read them bottom up then April the same. 

In my travels, it seems that I don’t always have luck with my flights, they are canceled, diverted, delayed for hours, struck by lightning. some say they shouldn’t fly with me for that reason. Well, as I headed to Cincinnati for a company meeting, the flight went perfect. As I got into a cab from the airport and tried to buckle my seatbelt, it wouldn’t; the unit in the seat was broken and wouldn’t accept the piece. As I told the cabbie it wouldn’t work, it was broken, he offered to pull over. Finally it clicked and off we went. When we arrived at the hotel, I discovered that I could not unbuckle. Yes, it was broken.

As he realizes that I am serious and cannot get out of his cab, he crawls into the backseat to attempt to get it to release with no success. Then he gets out, and comes back with a very small wrench which does nothing. I suggest that maybe we should cut it. He crawls back out and after rummaging around up front, he comes back with nail clippers and proceeds to try to cut it (I promise I’m not making this up). My teammate who was with me was hysterically laughing and taking photos. I finally suggest that he go into the hotel to borrow scissors. He does and finally I am released.

That was the beginning of my trip: three days in Cincinnati then on to Vancouver where I will meet my roommate/teammate Karen Rubin and we take off around the world with Global Scavenger Hunt for 23 days. Yes, I am again going on the mystery trip. Stay tuned as we start Friday,

 

gates 88-98 – 7 minutes walk from this point

That’s what the sign said as I walked toward gate F93 in Toronto’s airport.  Where’s the cart? Where’s the moving sidewalk? My carry-on is getting more and more heavy.

It all started at 9am when I decided to get to the airport early for my 12:20 departure connecting thru DC for Hartford, arriving at 4pm. There was a marathon in Toronto this morning and traffic was only going to get worse. I waited for boarding and took my seat on the small airplane. We left the gate and sat while we idled. Then the pilot announced that there seemed to be a problem with an engine and so we would return to the airport. We all head to get off, one unhappy group of people. It’s now 12:45. As the gate staff struggle to get all the people who were connecting onto other flights (me too), time marches on. I am put onto a direct Air Canada flight leaving at 5:30, arriving Hartford 7:15. Okay.  US Air gives me a $5 voucher for my troubles.

Then I decide to head for the gate. A really long walk (more than 7 minutes) down halls, and stairs. I guess the plane is REALLY small, holds 18 or 20. Oh boy. On the way, I look at the monitor and NO! see flight delayed, now departing 8:40, arriving 10 something. Can you say I’m tired? I talk the Air Canada desk into a voucher, $10 for dinner. But no luck talking the lounge into letting me sit there and the American Express lounge would charge $45 for 3 hours! So I buy a glass of wine ($13) (because the vouchers cannot be used for alcohol – are you KIDDING ME!?) and here I sit at a table.

Remember the flight out to LA? Baltimore closed, rain storm, lightning strike, delays? Okay, we had no problems with flights around the world, but my getting to and from home has been challenging to say the least. Thank heavens I have Monday off!

where in the world…?

My blog hasn’t always been in order, so here is where I’ve been for the past 22 days:

LA, USA; Shanghai, China; Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Viet Nam; Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, Cambodia; Kuala Lampur, Malaysia; Kathmandu, Nepal; Doha, Qatar; Frankfort and Hamburg, Germany; Copenhagen, Denmark; Stockholm, Sweden; Oslo, Norway; Iceland connection, Toronto, Canada.

Many of us expected to fly out of Paris or Amsterdam when we hit Frankfurt. Going north into Scandinavia was a surprise. While I was hoping for either, was pleased to have a chance to head north. However, I found northern Europe to be very expensive, especially Norway. The train from the airport was reasonable, the cab from the train station, maybe 7 minutes was $50. Meals were just as ridiculous, $200-400.

Other than North America, everything was new for me. I would go back to any (well, maybe skip Norway) and would move to Cambodia, Nepal or Viet Nam if I could.US money goes far and the people are so gentle. At breakfast, a fellow GSHer suggested Cost Rica for retirement. Haven’t done Central America at all, maybe that should be where I head next.

This trip has given me new ideas about travel and “seeing” a country. I did choose to take some tours, but a lot of interaction with locals made it more meaningful.

I’m sorry to say, I have misplaced my camera on my journey from Norway. Am hoping it will turn up, but fear I may have lost all my photos. Will be able to get some from others, but my focus was not “doing” things, but rather people and nature. I was lax about downloading each night, thus only have a couple ‘legs’ of the trip on my tablet. I can’t explain how I feel.

Hamberg

 

Her I sit in St. Michael’s Church, Hamburg Germany, listening to four magnificent organs playing at noon on Tues. I arrived here late last night after a tour of the Mosel valley and visits to Eltz castle and  Coche castle. (google them) Two lovely and very different castles. E is still family owned after 850 years, with original furnishings. C was rebuilt, but still incredible. I traveled courtesy of Sean and Angie who rented a car. They, like me, are not competing, thus could take any mode of transportation they wanted. I am taking a city tour to get a feel for the city before leaving for Copenhagen this afternoon. I will take a 5 hour train ride, arriving about 8pm. It is light here until 9pm, so have long days.

I am sad to realize that the trip will soon be over, back to reality. This has been such an incredible adventure and opportunity to meet and see the world. My heart has been touched in so many ways. Listening to this noon peace service of music just crowns it. (You would love it Jim)

I will finish here with a climb up to the top of the tower (452 steps) to view the city.

Okay, so maybe I didn’t climb, but rather took the small elevator. It was a great view…on a clear day, you can see…

flowers, fashion and food

 

I have been pleasantly surprised by the flowers I’ve seen in my travels. Daffodils and pansies have been blooming everywhere. Pansies seem to be especially popular, used on tables in cafes, boxes on the street and hotel grounds. My daffs were blooming when I left, so I expect I’ve missed them, maybe tulips also. What has surprised me the most are the cut flowers. Floral displays at the hotels have been spectacular! Even more are the flowers at the airport immigration desks. Not florist arrangements, but flowers seemingly from gardens. A cheery note when standing in que waiting to be examined by a stern looking official.

Clothing choices are certainly dictated by culture, religious beliefs, options and weather. Again, the range has made for some interesting people watching. Staying at 5 star hotels gives one a very different perspective than on the streets or in train stations. As I have used trains, I’ve seen the backpackers, dreadlocks included. A variety of luggage, carts, packs and fashion have paraded by. In the hot climates, clothing has been loose, flowing, long and light colored. Umbrellas and hats are used. What amazed me were the Muslim women dressed in all black with hems touching the ground. I have been told that they make the choice how much to cover up and what color to use. Baseball hats are a hit everywhere. Sorry Ryan, but no Red Sox in sight, plenty of NY Yankees tho. Europe has also surprised me. Lots of short skirts, short-shorts, layers, all with tights/leggings. Finding a sweater has been difficult, as spring fashions are now in stock. Did finally locate one on sale, grabbed it.

Food has been wonderful. I like to try new things (did skip tarantulas and beetles) and made a point of eating local foods. Bill incorporates that into our challenges, making food the mandatory items (still many to choose from). Breakfast has been included with our rooms. But the buffets have included foods for many different nations. Miso soup, salad, omelets, antipasto, baked beans, wonderful fresh fruits and many things I can’t pronounce or describe have made breakfast an adventure all it’s own.