Not much downtime the last few days, but I art this very moment I am finding time to eat one of those cheap Party Pizzas. You know the ones. Used to be round but now they are square, red package…the one many a poor student has survived on. I have not had one in quite some time so I fixed that.
Meghan and Addy came in yesterday and left this morning – can’t mess around with the weather. She was picking up another dog for her breeding program. He was a pretty nice looking dog. She brought her guardpup – a giant Russian dog that will get to 140 lbs. Some even get to close to 200. It looked like a bear.
After dark we took Addy to see some holiday lights and found some really nice displays. Some of the businesses were really lit up. The pictures at the top of the post are from last night. Looking at these pictures it is just amazing how far a camera on a phone has come the last few years. I actually got this phone right before going to Europe for this very reason. I guess the latest iPhone is even better.
So after they left I started getting some personal business things done; renter’s insurance, P.O. Box, updating my address with the places I do business. This is somewhere around the 18th or 19th address I have had in the last 8+ years. That game is getting a bit tiresome truth be known, and with the changes in the world at the moment it is probably the best thing to do.
Speaking of mail, Meghan had brought my mail so I went through it this afternoon and one was actually a check for $140 from a credit/overpayment after my last cataract surgery. SCORE!!! Don’t know how that happened, but maybe it’s a quantity discount. If I were a cyclops I bet that I would not get a refund.
I was really thinking of staying home today since I have been on the go but everything else I had to do today was dependent on getting renter insurance and then the P.O. Box so I did the insurance over the phone and the mailbox I did mostly online but I did have to make a trip to sign the paper, get the key and box number. Took me maybe 20 minutes total with driving. The rest is more tedious, but I wanted to get it done. Not because it is Friday, but because I just wanted it done and off the To Do list. It was a nice day out but I had stuff to do indoors. I got outside as much as I could.
Tomorrow I am thinking of getting out for a walk before I get a few things done. I would rather do the walk afterward but I believe the weather is thinking differently. We will see what ends up happening when I get up. It was an early one this morning – five a.m. – and I have not been up that early in a while. I may be able to get to sleep earlier than I have been lately so I can get an early start tomorrow. Lately I have been sleeping really good but getting to bed after midnight and waking up around 8:00 a.m. It has been a long time since I have slept in like that.
I do like getting up early to see the day in with a leisurely cup of coffee, and tomorrow I can do just that while I try some of my new coffees I got today. I got several in this shipment that I have not had before and a few reorders of some I really liked. I am anxious to try some but it is a bit late and I do want to sleep. And it is still odd to me that I drink less; I find the flavors and richness are very satisfying so I usually drink half or less than what I was drinking (sometimes a decaf sneaks in there in the evening). That really helps to offset the cost of the pods but the tradeoff is so worth it and I drink less so much less caffeine.
I’m wrapping this post up. Gonna go play with the dog.
Stay safe everyone!
After a very sleepless night (go figure!) we left KC early this morning and flew to Atlanta. Atlanta is a five hour layover so we will need to find something to occupy that time. First Class, a couple of cocktails, and we are on our way in grand fashion!
I finally decided to just stay up all night. I am trying to adjust my schedule to get in sync with where we will end up. I fell asleep for about 20 minutes and figured it was breakfast again when I woke up.
The guy sitting next to me showed up fairly late and we chatted a few minutes about destinations. He was a really nice guy and asked where we’re headed so I told him our plans. He said it sounded like a great trip. We then put on our headphones and watched some TV. It was a fairly short flight so I got about a 20-minute nap.
I got coherent again after my nap and ordered another drink. I looked over and noticed a big ring on the finger of my seatmate. It sure looked like a Super Bowl ring but my eyes were so tired I couldn’t focus on it completely.
We were preparing to land and he asked me “You watch much football?”. I said “a little” and he then proceeded to introduce himself as we shook hands. “My name is Willie Lanier and I was on the 1969 Kansas City Chiefs Super Bowl Team.”. My jaw hit the floor and I looked at Chelsea and Angie and mouthed the words “Holy shit!”. It really WAS a Super Bowl ring! He had been in KC for the parade. We talked until we deplaned. He was an incredibly nice man. He told us to enjoy and have fun on our trip. We shook hands again as we got up to leave.
I seem to have this uncanny knack of running into people I may know personally or a few celebrities in the most unusual places. For instance, I once ran into long-time family friends from Kansas at Little Big Horn of all places.
We got on the train in ATL to go find food. We found a place that had delicious wraps and sat and watched planes while eating. We got back on the train to get to our gate. Lo and behold…ANOTHER celebrity looked to be standing right behind Angie. I believe it was Oliver North.
The next leg of our journey takes us from Atlanta to NYC and from First Class back to Coach. This is a shorter layover (thankfully).
Then there was a problem. The last of the flights over had a few issues. I had received an email from Delta just as we got on the plane out of ATL saying our last flight over was delayed three hours. This means getting to our first destination close to noon. It also meant having to change plans and miss out on seeing stuff the first half of our first day. And the other flights they offered were ON SUNDAY!
Well that was absolutely unacceptable. We have used a day for all of the travel and an overnight flight across (hence the dates in the title of this post). We are NOT going to lose an other day or even a few hours.
To make a long story short, I raised absolute hell with Delta and got us on another flight with Aer Lingus. Our original flight had issues due to the weather and it caused many people to reroute. This meant we each had a row to ourselves on the flight over! We actually got in over an hour before our original flight so we hit the ground running…in Dublin, Ireland!
The first order of business after landing and going through Customs is finding our rental car place. Yes, we are renting a car and none of us have driven in Europe. That means that none of us have driven on the opposite side of the road intentionally.
From the pictures of our car it looked to be about the size of a shoe. Turns out it was a little bigger – more like a boot. Good thing we are traveling light!
At the car rental booth we were told the weather was really bad and to be careful. Major storms were going through and it was not looking good. So much for an escape to better weather. We arrived in Dublin and the weather was horrendous so we figured we knew what to expect. The winds were ferocious when landing and it was raining torrentially hard.
We got in the car, a Peugeot Clio with a manual transmission, and took off into Dublin airport traffic. I was chosen to drive first by a majority vote. It’s really not difficult driving a right-hand drive car. The difficulty comes in driving on the other side of the road and your reflexes in an emergency.
We drove southwest toward Limerick then northwest through Shannon. Along the way we saw a castle on the side of the road so we stopped for a look.
It was the Bunratty Castle. We did not go in since were were trying to get to our destination, but we stopped for a look.
We then took off to Galway where we stayed at The Western. We got cleaned up and relaxed a few then went to find good. Just down the street was a pub we went to called McGettigan’s and had dinner, where we tried fries that had been cooked in duck fat. Oh man. It went great with the obligatory pint. Then we went for a short walk. We were not only beyond exhausted but the weather was, as they say in Ireland, shite.
Yeah, I was wanting better weather but it is far from that. We are well-prepared for the conditions and are staying warm and dry. Then again, we are on vacation…IN IRELAND! Small price to pay!
We were jet-lagged badly and fell asleep about 8:30. Sleep was going to be good.
Last night we decided that our next destination would be Köln (Cologne), Germany after some recommendations from the girl who helped us yesterday and my friend Kevin, who had been there before. We got up this morning and decided to skip going into central Luxembourg so we could get an earlier train to Germany.
We went downstairs and had a delicious complimentary hotel breakfast consisting of meats and cheeses, bread, yogurt, coffee and fruit. We are really enjoying these continental breakfasts here in Europe.
We made our way to the train station about 9:30 and got on the train to head out. We are getting pretty good about finding our way around for two guys who never really dealt much with public transportation before the trip started. I must say that Google Maps has helped quite a bit and help from the numerous strangers who have shared their knowledge along the way has been even better.
The trains are very smooth and they go everywhere. It is really an incredible system capable of mobilizing masses of people. They are smooth, quiet and comfortable and can get you virtually anyplace you want to go. The scenery is beautiful and it is really neat to see the little towns and villages in isolated areas.
Along the way, just before Köln I saw something interesting that may be tied to family history. I saw a Winniger Winery along the tracks. Perhaps they are some distant relatives!
We stepped out of the train station to be overwhelmed by an incredible sight…the Köln Cathedral.
Words cannot describe the enormity and architecture of this building, and pictures cannot capture it – it must be seen to be believed and experienced. I could not stop looking at it the entire stay; the details of the details is just unbelievable. Gargoyles, statues, spires…it is really something to see. You cannot fathom what the inside of the place looks like. Think about this: this building started being built in the 1200s and wasn’t completed until the 1880s.
And the nighttime view from our hotel window inspired me to go for a walk…
While out walking around I stopped for some local food (no surprise there!). I went to a shop selling a sandwich called a döner. It is a type of shawarma, except the bread was more of a crusty/chewy pita that was split and filled with delicious goodness.
After, of course, I had to have dessert so I went by a bakery and grabbed this delicious item:
Earlier in the day Jim and I had some curry wurst mit pommes frites. It was a very filling snack and carried us through for hours. I just find something that looks interesting to eat or something I have heard of and want to try. One caveat – no mayo, which is globbed all over several foods in Europe (especially frites).
Tomorrow morning we are off to our next destination. As I write this I cannot help but look at that magnificent cathedral…what an experience.
Our hotel was in a central area near downtown so the train stops were not very far apart for where we wanted to go. The area we were in was very interesting to see in the daylight. Most of the buildings were not what I expected – modern and minimalist. Function over form.
We cut across a botanical park and it was a very mice park. Even those things it was quite cool and blustery there were roses in bloom and I saw something familiar in Washington…rhododendrons!
The Grand Place, however, was what I expected in Europe and much, much more. Grand centuries-old buildings, ornate beyond belief. It was breath-taking to walk into a square hundreds of years old surrounded by some incredible architecture.
Grand Place has been used as a gathering place for centuries. It is ringed with chocolatier shops and restaurants. It has been used as a public market and is a massive plaza.
For breakfast we stopped by this waffle shop and grabbed something to eat. Jim got the white-and-milk chocolate churros (which were nothing like we are used to in the States). I got a waffle with cherries on top and a coffee. It was a great way to start the day in a gorgeous place.
We made our way to the train to head out to our next destination. We finally found the correct train platform but asked a local guy to make sure we were in the right place. He spoke very little English but a girl walked up to get on the train who spoke it and she helped us out.
We climbed aboard and settled in for a three hour train ride. We got to see some beautiful scenery on the journey – small villages, cities, rolling green hills, estates and vineyards.
As we pulled into Luxembourg the girl that helped us out earlier came back and talked to us. We talked about our travels and she gave us some ideas. She even showed us to a hotel and helped us get checked in with Reception by speaking French. She also gave us some ideas for food and some things to see.
Unfortunately we did not get her name, but she really helped us out. In the odd chance she may see this at some point we would like to say “merci” from the two Americans you helped out. Best of luck with your law school!
We went out for food and took a stroll around. Tomorrow we’ll set an alarm to get an early start with sightseeing downtown then it’s back to the station to catch another train!