Monthly Archives: May 2013

Very Bad Trip 3 and Other Musings

The afternoon (since I missed the morning) is rainy: at times drizzly, at times pouring, and at all times briefly so.  Our Rue de la Liberté is sparkling.  19th Arrondissement, Paris, France, street  Just as quaint, street, Paris, France, 19th Arrrondissement or even more so, when crowned by overcast skies and soaking wet by the previous downpour.

We have come to Paris to film a movie.  Well, maybe that wasn’t the only reason, but it was one of our motivations and we are going to meet with the cameraman that Dean will be working with.  He is going to the movies and will meet us outside the theater.

So we take the Metro for the first time.  Paris, Paris metro, France

I get a kick out of the fact that Hangover III (a movie that two good friends are in) is called Very Bad Trip 3 here.  A Very Bad Trip 3, Paris metro

Paris It’s almost 8:00 pm and it’s still bright outside.

We have dinner at a restaurant that seems to be part of a chain:  Hippopotamus.  I would probably compare it to a Marie Callender’s (for my American friends).  It’s back to drizzling so we don’t walk far when we separate and go into the next Metro station (Denfert Rochereau) that we find.  Metro Denfer  Each station has its own personality.

 This one had sayings and signatures projected on the wall.  As I took the photo I got the reflection of a rider on it, giving it a ghostly feel.  Paris, France, Parisian Metro, metro

Ad  Another billboard reflection just made me smile.

A transfer.  Paris, France, Parisian metro, metro Did I mention that there are tons of steps in the Paris metro?  I shouldn’t complain; they are a good workout for me.  Which I will probably need since there are vending machines in the metro just in case I have a sudden urge for unhealthy snacks.  Paris, France, metro, vending machine

I am starting to be quite enthralled by the subway.  Parisian Metro

But I must awaken from my trance since the exit sign is ahead.  Exit, Paris, France, sortie

And we come up to our neighborhood once again.  Parisian Metro night, Paris, France      Paris, France, metro, night metro

Nighty, night.  Tomorrow will not only be another day but one that will bring us some iconic images of the City of Love.

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Going 298 kph (186 mph). Today Je Suis Parisienne!

We arrive at the St. Pancras International Station in London (railroad) from where the Eurostar departs.  I am super excited to go on it. The waiting area is ultra modern St. Pancras International, London train station, Eurostar, London, England while the upper area, train, train station, St. Pancras International, London, England from where the train actually departs, gives you an “I’ve been here longer than you.” feel.  Customs/immigration is a breeze.

Our destination (another reason why my inner child is doing somersaults):  Paris!  I so love Paris.

The Eurostar Eurostar is set to depart at 3:31 and it leaves at… (drumroll please) at exactly 3:31 pm!!!

Tutu wants out and promptly takes over what is supposed to be my seat.  koala, train

I promptly put him in the front seat’s pouch.  He’s not too happy about this.  koala, train

The Eurostar goes up to 300 kilometres per hour (186 mph).  Super fast. Eurostar speed, mph, kph, London-Paris And takes the Channel Tunnel between the United Kingdom and France.  I find the speed mind blogging but the fact that we are underwater also blows my mind.  It will get us to Paris in 2 hours and 15 minutes.  Oh but wait, I blinked and we are here!!

Gare du Nord, Eurostar, Eurostar station, Paris, France

We get into the line (queue) to get a cab.  We are headed to the 19th arrondissement (district) to an apartment in an area that is very un-touristy and where we will probably become locals for the next 6 nights.  Love the woman in black. Very Parisian chic.  Paris, France, Gare du Nord

I am still hesitant to practice my French so I ask our taxi driver (in French) if he speaks any English.  Nope, sorry madame, I do not. (In French) And so my journey of embarrassing myself in French begins.  🙂  We manage to understand each other and actually have a bit of a conversation.  So engrossed am I in my French that Dean has to point out the taxi’s sunroof which is all glass. Paris, France, taxi, sunroof

We arrive “home”.  pied a terre, Paris, France, 19th Arrondissement, 19 district  It’s tiny but charming, quaint and cozy. Worth the climb up two stairs.  Paris, France   “Tres charmant!”  We seem to be in a red-mode here, as in London.  pied a terre, Paris, France, 19th arrondissement  pied a terre, Paris, France, 19th arrondissement  pied a terre, Paris, France, 19th arrondissement

It is a beautiful day. The first, it seems, according to the owner, -who came to greet us- in a while. We settle in.  Check out our view (and our neighbors) who have two of the cutest and biggest Newfoundlands I’ve seen.  sunset, Paris, France  Newfoundland, Paris, France,

British Flag  London, I will miss you but Paris… je t’aime!  Our first sunset in Paris is divine.  sunset, Paris, France

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Visiting the Queen

Today we bid London good-bye.  As I sit at the breakfast table The Gore, London, England, Kensington I feel a tinge of sadness to leave this town, which I had not loved much in previous visits and to which I have warmed up considerably in this one.

 We have hardly done any touristy things but thought it necessary to at least visit Buckingham Palace before we leave.  Buckingham Palace, London, England, sign Our aim is to get there for the Changing of the Guard. We take the bus. Another sunny, beautiful day. We take a pathway in the Mall (not the shopping kind) towards it. The Mall, walkway, London, ENgland  The Victoria Memorial in front of the Palace is swarming with tourists.  London, England, Buckingham Palace  We’ll come back to it.  Let’s see the Changing of the Guard… Buckingham Palace, London, England  or not.  Today, there is no Changing of the Guard ceremony, but that doesn’t stop them from marching.  London, England, guards  guards, London, England  Buckingham Palace guards, England, London

Buckingham Palace

Back to The Victoria Memorial monument in front of Buckingham Palace, Queen Victoria, London, England dedicated to Queen Victoria, of course. Victoria Memorial, London, England

The monument has a nautical theme with mermaids included and did you know there were mermen?

I think the statues on the sides Victoria Memorial, London, England were donated by New Zealand.  From here I see the London Eye (does it see me?) London Eye, British flag  After I catch some rays, P1000639 we say farewell to Buckingham Palace BuckinghamPalace and since we are in the tourist mode, head out to Westminster Abbey where Big Ben and the London Eye get closer. BigBen.LondonEye  First a visit to the inner courtyard.  Westminster Abbey inner court, London, England    Westminster Abbey, London  But since we are running out of time (we have a train to catch) we must content ourselves with an outside view of the Abbey itself.  Westminster Abbey, London, England I realize, as well, that I have not photographed one iconic London phone booth, so I do so Iconic London phone booth, London, England before going into the very industrial-feel of the Westminster tube (aka: metro, subway). London metro, London tube WestminsterStation2

We return to the back alley of The Royal Albert Hall Royal Albert Hall back alley and take a last walk through the side street of the hotel, The Gore Hotel, London, England have a last cuppa (cup of tea) in the Green Room GoreLeave and go to the train station where we are taking the Eurostar Eurostar to Paris!

Categories: Buckingham Palace, Kensington, London, Royal Albert Hall, The Mall, United Kingdom, Victoria Memorial, Westminster Abbey | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Clapton is Phenomenal the Second Time Around!

I look out the window and see the sun shining brightly.  Sunny Day, London, England, Queens Gate Road, KensingtonWe have a corner room so I go to the other side just to make sure and, indeed, the sun shines brightly.  Kensington, London, Queens Gate Road, sunny day

No time is spared to go out to enjoy the sun.  First the belly must be fed and in honor of the fact that we are to be tomorrow in lovely Paris we duck in an alley where there is a Parisian bistro, Cotê, to feed ourselves.  Love the little Coke bottle. Cote, parisian bistro in London, London, CokeMy plate was so good and the baguette gives me a taste of what Paris will offer.  chicken, salad, food, Cote, Parisian bistro in London, London

At the end of the alley on the main street is a TK Maxx – the equivalent of TJ Maxx in Los Angeles – and a Zara.  Two places I will hit since the psychiatrist I am portraying in Paris needs an outfit.  So, I, who rarely shop when in a foreign country, am doing so here.  The sizing is completely different but I manage to figure it out.  Done. Now off to Kensington Kensington Gardens, map, London, Kensigntonwhere Kensington Palace is. Kensington Palace, Kensington, London

The Brits are out in full force.  Rare are these incredibly beautiful and mild days.  Today is Sunday and what a gift it is for them to be free on a day like this. Tomorrow is a bank holiday too.  Kensington Gardens, Kensington, London park, London, England  Kensington Gardens, Kensington, London, England, gardens, sunny day

The Palace is shrouded in scaffolding so I’m concentrating on the gardens.

Kensington Gardens, London

The pathways are paved with shadows and so inviting.  garden arch, gardens, Kensington Gardens, London, England

The animals also attract my attention this duck is one of a select few chosen to reside in the fenced in pond. duck, Kensington Gardens, London, England

Kensington Gardens, pigeons, London, EnglandAnd these two pigeons seem to be pondering why that would be and stating that they could reside here if they so choose! 🙂 Or maybe they are just chilling.

We have to head back.  Time for the second Eric Clapton concert Eric Clapton is nearing.  And speaking of it, I am approaching it from an angle I had not seen it before.

Royal Albert Hall, RAH, London, England, Kensington     The Royal Albert Hall, London, England, concert venue, Kensington   Getting closer.   Royal Albert Hall, Kensington, London, England, concert venue

Majestic!  Royal Albert Hall, Kensington, concert, London, England

And here in all its glory!  Royal Albert Hall, Kensington, London, England, concert venue

A few more steps, into the hotel,London, Kensington, England up the stairs to change, The Gore Hotel, London, England, stairs back out – through a back alley- Royal Albert Hall, London, England, concert venue into the Royal Albert Hall again and inside the RAH!!

On Friday we had a sky view, today we have a choir view.  Royal Albert Hall, London, England, concert venue, RAH     Royal Albert Hall, London, England, Kensington, RAH

Eric Clapton's opening act  Gary Clark Jr., Eric’s (yeah, we are kinda close by now) opening act impressed me a lot on the first night.  GaryClarke  Today, closing night, he is just as amazing.

And then comes Eric Clapton!  “Hello Old Friend”

Eric Clapton, Eric Clapton at the Royal Albert Hall, London, England

Eric Clapton, Hello Old Friend  Eric Clapton, Eric Clapton at the Royal Albert Hall, London, England

Close enough to capture his song list.  Follow along. Eric Clapton, Eric Clapton at the Royal Albert Hall, London, England, song list

“Tears In Heaven”  Eric Clapton, Eric Clapton at the Royal Albert Hall, London, England  Eric Clapton, Eric Clapton at the Royal Albert Hall, London, England

And “Cocaine”   Eric Clapton, Eric Clapton at the Royal Albert Hall, London, England   Eric Clapton, Eric Clapton at the Royal Albert Hall, London, England  People are on their feet.  Eric Clapton, Eric Clapton at the Royal Albert Hall, London, England  Eric Clapton, Eric Clapton at the Royal Albert Hall, London, England

He leaves.  Eric Clapton, Eric Clapton at the Royal Albert Hall, London, England An empty stage remains.  Eric Clapton, Eric Clapton at the Royal Albert Hall, London, England  Until he returns.  Eric Clapton, Eric Clapton at the Royal Albert Hall, London, England

Gary Clark Jr. and Eric Clapton.

 Eric Clapton, Eric Clapton at the Royal Albert Hall, London, England  Eric Clapton, Eric Clapton at the Royal Albert Hall, London, England  Eric Clapton, Eric Clapton at the Royal Albert Hall, London, England

WOW!!!!!!!!!

What a way for the last night in London to end.  The concert was even better tonight!

Paris tomorrow, only two hours away on the Eurostar.

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I Have an Eye on London and a Golden Ticket

After the rainy and cold two days we have had, I firmly believe we are due for a wonderfully sunny day.  Do they exist in London?  Yes! They do.  Though the cold has not left, the  morning shows no clouds with the sun actually out.

The hotel is on Queens Gate which leads to the Queens Gate entrance to Hyde Park. only half a block away.  Queens Gate, Hyde Park, London

I have grown used to the the red double-deck buses but this old one in a gray that reminds me of and Airstream makes me smile widely. Double-decker bus, London, England

Destination today will be Portobello Road Portobello Road, London, England where there is a world famous market on Saturdays and Sundays. Portobello Market, Portobello Road, London, England

It gives me a bit of nostalgia to see all the antiques. Antique market, Portobello Road, London, England  Antiques, Portobello Road, Portobello Market, London, England I used to have an antique store and I found much joy in discovering treasures to sell.  Today I am not a buyer.  I am one of the thousands who visit from all over to listen to music, to browse and, if lucky enough to get good weather, to enjoy the sun that so rarely comes out.  bicycle, mews, London, England

Back on the bus double-decker bus, London, England because again the weather rules our steps and there is not day better than to visit the London Eye.   First Big Ben welcomes us.  Big Ben, London, England Big, bold, beautiful, regal, imposing and so very iconically London. Big Ben, London, England

There are seas of yellows and red everywhere.   Two German soccer teams are playing the final game in London today.  You see them all over catching the sights before the game.

German soccer team

 And here is the London Eye.  London Eye, ferris wheel, London, England  A huge ferris wheel where I will put my fear of heights to rest so as to be able to enjoy a bird’s eye view of this city.

First, a look back at old Big Ben.  Big Ben

And after the tickets are bought an hour wait before going to the line (cue in Brit English) so a walk around, seeing performers perform and kids and adults enjoy, is to be.  Street performers, bubbles, London, England

The London Eye has little space-like capsules London Eye in which it takes you up to give you an incredibly wonderful view of the city.  Vertigo does not hit me at all.  The capsule is stable and they don’t pack too many people in London Eye  so no claustrophobia either.  It’s a well run machine.  Don’t think that even Disney could do better.  And now I will quiet so you can savor the view.

But first, let me introduce the competitor of the Eye:  The Shard.London Eye, The Shard  And now I really am going to let you enjoy the view. P1170106

Hey, they are higher than me for now!  London Eye capsule   London Eye, London Eye view, London

London Eye  Big Ben from London Eye  London Eye  Back into the tube (Westminster Station) and to a very industrial feel.  Westminster Station

All sorts of transportation are used today.

I am now going to hold my breath, make a wish, count to three and be a child again.  I want to view paradise so I will simply look around and view it.  Does chocolate give away were I will be next?

I present my Golden Ticket Willy Wonka,  at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane.  Royal Drury Lane Theater, Charlie and the Cocolate Factory  Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Magic it was.  So well staged and engrossing .  Funny, sweet and the vessel through which I regress to a time where only a few things matter.

Dinner at an Italian restaurant -continuing our Italy themed English vacation- and headed back to The Gore where a warm four-poster bed will cocoon me until morning.

Tomorrow will be epic so please come with me.   Would love to share.

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Sleep, a Move and Eric Clapton Sings!!

Flat Departure  We wake up (if you can call it that) and hear the rain fall.  Great reason to go back to sleep.  There’s the excuse of jetlag  -which we don’t have- but I will go with the fact that a lazy day was in order and that the weather provided the perfect excuse.

I’ve been wanting to see The Great Gatsby in 3D so once I get cabin fever we bus it rainy day, London, double-decker bus out to Covent Gardens to see it.  Turns out we had the wrong theater but ended up seeing it in a huge screen but not in 3D.  I wanted to love it.  I didn’t. But I didn’t dislike it.  It had good and bad.  A bit disappointed in the visuals.  Not an explosion of color and movement as Moulin Rouge was.  Some elements were a bit overused.  Leo did a great job.  Bit slow and then rushed on a resolution.

Next day is moving day and the weather still a bit yucky.  It has been unseasonable cold in this part of the world, or at least in London.  I take a walk around “my” neighborhood of Fulham and buy some things that will keep me warm.  By the time I arrive at the flat it’s check out time and the cleaning lady is already there.

Off we go to The Gore, our next residence in London.  We chose The Gore Hotel because it is a block and half from The Royal Albert Hall where Eric Clapton is playing and whose concert we are attending twice.  More on that later.

Our room 208 (Miss Ada) is not ready yet so we wait in the Green Room, not the anteroom before a performance but a much civilized tea room.  The Gore, Green Room,  A coffee table book of Jimmy Choos’ shoes and a cup of tea entertains me.  MsAdaSo does my computer.  The hotel is 150 years old, the building it is housed in is 200 years old.   We are in old London, in Kensington and a residential area.

The room is a corner room.  The Gore, London, Miss Ada, Room 208 All is old The Gore Hotel, London, Miss Ada, Room 208 except for the double pane windows which shields us from any traffic noise.  In the bathroom a surprise.  The Gore Hotel, London, Miss Ada, Room 208 A “throne” for a toilet with pull chain and all.  throne, The Gore, pull chain toilet,   The Gore Hotel, London, throne, toilet I laugh when I use it the first time (and do so every time thereafter).  The room has such a proper English feel to it.

Tutu finds his spot. TutuRoom

We get a handwritten welcome along with a tray of fruit which I devour. The Gore Hotel, London, Miss Ada, Room 208  The Gore Hotel, London, Miss Ada, Room 208

The weather hasn’t improved by the time of the concert but I still wear my highest heels, get a hotel umbrella and off we go to see Eric Clapton!  A snack in one of the RAH’s bar sets the mood for the night.

The Royal Albert Hall is a grande dame.  The Royal Albert Hall, Eric Clapton, London  Beautiful and plush in red and gold.  The Royal Albert Hall, RAH, London, Eric Clapton  So much has happened within its walls. Eric Clapton, The Royal Albert Hall, RAH, London

And then there is Eric!

 Eric Clapton, The Royal Albert Hall, RAH, London Eric Clapton, The Royal Albert Hall, RAH, London

Tears In Heaven.  I’m in heaven.  Eric Clapton, The Royal Albert Hall, RAH, London  Eric Clapton, The Royal Albert Hall, RAH, London

An acoustic set that was to die for! Eric Clapton, The Royal Albert Hall, RAH, London

The departure Eric Clapton, The Royal Albert Hall, RAH, London and the short one and half block commute to the hotel where I have desert, a creme catalane (basically a creme brulee), that was really good.  Tea from the green room and upstairs we go.

I am liking London much more than I have ever liked it from my previous trips.

Nighty, night.  Come with me tomorrow… we are going to be kids all over again and the day after we will have more of Eric Clapton.  We’ll have fun.  You’ll see.

 

 

 

 

Categories: Kensington, London, rainy day, United Kingdom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Being a Child Again

Today we start off late.  We walk around the neighborhood, which has Fulham as the closest underground, and head off to Covent Gardens.  My pancita (belly for all you non-Spanish speaking peoples) is kind of grumbling so I must go to the closest eatery before I get cranky and unbearable to deal with.  First, however, we take a look around.Covent Gardens, London

 

And then literally dive into the first restaurant we find which happens to be an Italian one.  Bella Italia. BellaItalia1  Bella Italia, Italian restaurant, Covent Gardens, London  Food was excellent.  My salmon delicious. Dean’s spaghetti bolognese as well.

So now with pancita llena (full belly) we venture off to explore Covent Gardens.   There are all sorts of performers around.  People that look like statues, musicians, street musicians, street performers, Covent Gardens, Londonclowns, and Charlie Chaplin.  Charlie Chaplin, Covent Gardens, street performers, London    I’m liking this area.  It’s thriving.  Paella -which I am sure is cooked purely for my delight in the biggest paella pan I’ve seen. paella, Covent Gardens, London  Full of life and craziness. Business mixed with tourism.  Work and play cohabitating somewhat harmoniously.  Covent Gardens, London

 

Taxis (London cabs) waiting to whisk those that can’t handle it away.  London Cabs, taxis, Covent Gardens, London   London cabs, taxis, Covent Gardens, London

Theater is next!  How I love it.  Today I will be a child again.  Matilda is on the itinerary.  We go towards the West End where it is showing.  The Broadway equivalent of London.   Love the area.  WestEnd  West End, London, Matilda, theater district

 

Yay!

Matilda

 

I really think it clever how they have the directions to the seats and the cast written in chalk.  Stalls is the equivalent of orchestra in the States and that’s where we are headed.Matilda, theater, London, theater district, West End

The theater is smaller than expected which makes it quite cozy.  Matilda, London, theater, theater district, West End

We leave refreshed.  Matilda started slow and then was just perfect.  Left a smile on my face.  Walking around the area at night is fun.  Bicycle, West End, London   And what is London without Agatha Christie?  Agatha Christie, London, West End

But it’s unseasonably cold so a stop at a café is in order.  And since we are in the Italian theme a pseudo Italian café is in our path.  café, Caffe Concerto, West End, London, theater districtcafé, London, West End, Caffe Concerto

 

Back to the underground Underground, tube, London, Leicester Square metro   underground, tube, London metro, London  London, underground, metro, tube, Leicester Square metro   where even the locals are tired. 🙂  Earl's Court, London, underground, London tube, tube, metro

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London Bound is London Arrived!

London BoundI get on my last airline in 24 hours and am so grateful that it is because I don’t think I could go on a fourth and conserve even a modicum of saneness.  British Airways is flawless in its operation.  British Airways BA also excels in service.  The planes, however, show their age.  Lots more room is a plus.  But the leather seats are cracking and the overall feeling is that of an aging woman who tries no longer to fix herself up.   Miraculously I cannot keep my eyes open any longer and fall asleep for most of the hour and twenty minutes from Berlin to London.  London Map

At the airport again my custom protocol is incredibly painless with smiling agents and super helpful people.  I’m really enjoying being an española!  The EU passport is a blessing.  Thank you abuelito!  I was his favorite – or so I was led to believe – and with this gift of nationality I know that it was true.

And it seems they know I’m coming… the camera crew is here!  Oh, not me, huh?  Someone is holding a Phelps sign.  Could it be the swimming medalist they are waiting for?  No.  They wouldn’t need a sign.    Waiting for me?  But some things do welcome me to London.  Welcome to London       Welcome Too

Heathrow ExpressI take the Heathrow Express which is beautiful, new, clean, efficient and free to terminal 4 where we will reunite.  Heathrow Express Train     Heathrow Exp. Inside

I have to transfer and now I realize how huge Heathrow is.  Again, everyone is super helpful.

I go to the ladies’ room and the only reason why I mention it is because I had the most frightening of encounters.  There, staring at me unflinching is death worn over!  It cruelly stares me down.  No amount of make-up will fix this so I don’t try.  I put some lipstick on though, some mascara and look at the mirror again.  She hasn’t left, but this reflection does not reflect how I feel!  I don’t try any more and leave towards our meeting point Costa Café.

I pass an exchange place and do a double take.  Yikes, $1.79 will buy a British Pound.  How can it be more valuable than the Euro?   But it is.  Normally (when not going to an exchange place) I can buy a British Pound for $1.51 and a Euro for $1.29 Wow.

Costa CafeSo at Costa I buy an Emmental cheese and mushroom toasted sandwich, my first British tea, and a bottle of water.  8 pounds.   About $12 which is starting to sound reasonable to me.   Costa Meal

 

I need to plug my computer.  Running out of battery and I realize I have forgotten a very important thing: a plug adaptor for my electronics.  Will probably buy here at the airport otherwise will have to go running around town in search of, which I don’t want to do.

I also have tried to get internet and bought a Boingo Hotspot thing.  It didn’t work.  Mac doesn’t seem to like it or there is a conspiracy against me going on-line once more.  I almost welcome the disconnect.  Oh bullocks, as the Brits would say, I don’t.  I want to get on my mail, my Facebook, my online Klout. 🙂  I also learned another word on the plane today.  They are not potato chips, they are crisps.

I’m starting to not think straight again.  Dean’s plane has arrived I think half an hour ago and he still isn’t here.  Hope he gets here soon or I may curl up in this comfy sofa and close my eyes  and forget where I am.  Jet lag you are not welcome here!

4:45 and still no reunion.  I have the address of the flat we are staying in so I take the Heathrow Express to Paddington and from there have no energy left to find this place on my own so I take a taxi.  I ask for his phone and call the person that is renting us the place.   Leave him a message.  He calls back (on the cabbie’s phone) and will meet me at 6:00.  He’s there when I arrive.  Lets me in and I have the pleasant surprise of a charming flat.  Flat Living Room   Flat Kitchen   Bedroom Flat    Tutu finds his spot.  Tutu Shelf  Tutu Upfront

And as an extra good surprise I get an email from Dean saying that he has not found me at the airport and he is on his way.  Only a few minutes later we reunite.

Nice start to our Europe trip.

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Not London, Not Yet, Almost and Soon

 American Airlines, Chicago, airportAA (not Alcoholics Anonymous) leaves with a very tired me inside of it.  I hope to pass out and get some rest.  I don’t.  Flight is pretty full.  I am wide awake.  So I write and read and write again and land in Chicago.

Pilot mentions that it is windy in Chicago, which sounds about right.  Guess it’s appropriately named the Windy City.  35-40 mph winds give us a safe but rather bumpy ride.  Bette Davis and “fasten your seat belts we are in for a bumpy ride” in All About Eve comes to mind.

We have a delay in Chicago and I lose my Priority Access.  Both events unrelated but both highly important to me.  Air Berlin portion is next.  Air Berlin, Chicago O'Hare, Chicago airport  So I board with the rest and a lovely older woman sits next to me and I am immediately smacked by the smell of perfume.  So much so that I go to the male flight attendant and ask to please move.  He is extremely sympathetic but says there are only 3 empty seats and he will check if any are on the window.  He later comes back as I am fanning myself to be able to breathe and tells me that.  The lady is extremely sweet and asks me if I am hot and I decide to tell her I am highly sensitive to strong smells and her perfume is a bit much.  She says it’s her body lotion.  She is so sweet and friendly I automatically regret having said anything but I ask her to please not take offense but I will be fanning myself a bit.  She doesn’t take offense, understands, apologizes and we become friends.  I still can barely breathe though.

The service is amazing.  The flight attendant can’t do enough for me and as he passes by he checks on me every time to see if I’m okay.  I am.   But the seat in coach on Air Berlin is the smallest I have experienced even on domestic flights.  Almost to the point of claustrophobia.  I passed First / Business and it wasn’t much better. Review of AirBerlin in Life Live and Reviewed.

So I watch Hitchcock and am not that impressed.  The make up distracts me though it was nominated for an Oscar on that category.  Performance is great though.  I love Helen Mirren in anything and everything.  The sound on the entertainment system not the best so that reduces my enjoyment.  I watch videos, listen to music, watch a doco and don’t sleep much. 

We land in Berlin.  Tegel, Berlin airport, Air Berlin  I head towards the EU passport line and am greeted with a smile a good morning and a “gracias” from the official.  Best and easiest passport control I have ever experienced!

The airport is small though not quaint. Tegel, Berlin airport, Air Berlin  Air Berlin, Tegel, Berlin airport  Tegel, Air Berlin, Berlin airport  Everybody is uber nice and helpful except for the AirBerlin check-in woman who I ask where is the British Airways check-in counter.  She shrugs and says she’s AirBerlin.

We arrive at 7:00 am.  By 7:15 I am out of passport control, have picked up my bag and have found out where I have to go.  I try to purchase a pass for the lounge but can’t do it here so I buy a Red Bull and a pack of gum which costs me 5.95 Euros.  What?  I have just paid almost $9.00 for two non-nutritious items!  And they don’t take dollars.   I go to the exchange desk and give them $141 which gets me, after the 2% commission and 5 EU transaction fee and $1.41 dollars to a Euro, only $92!!  Okay, I really am in Europe now.

P1160930I go out and the temperature is a delightful 60 degrees F.  It doesn’t feel cold.  But then, I also have a coat on.

I’ve taken Tutu out so he can breathe a bit.  Tutu, koala  I swear I saw a twinkle in his eye and that I am forgiven for not taking him to Desert Hot Springs.  I put him in the side pocket and he elicits a smile from the security check.  He doesn’t see me seeing him smile.  I take him in my arms when they check my passport the control guy looks at me, at him and smiles.  Does he have a passport too?  A lady hears that and tells me that a woman traveling with a stuffed toy dog had a special passport around his neck and that when her passport got stamped, so did her dog’s “special” passport.  Don’t give me any ideas lady ’cause I just may do it and then I can’t fault anyone for finding me weird!

I love airports, I love traveling, I love, love the infusion of energy it gives me.  Or is it just the Red Bull working its effect?

 

Categories: Berlin, Germany, Tegel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sing To Me Eric Clapton…

SuitcaseIt’s 3:30 am and the rooster sings.  My alarm clock is a rooster crowing.  I think it takes me back to times in my grandpa’s house where often I was awaken by one.  I have packed almost all night.  Fretted about just about everything.  Do I have my passport?  Should I take this dress?  How much of this and of that will fit?  Do I have my passport?   My permanent resident card?  I am now officially a Spaniard I have the passport to prove it!  Will it present problems?  I have a European Union passport! Passport Am I going to be okay?  More packing.  No I don’t need this much.  Is the suitcase too heavy?  Do I have my passport? Ay!!!

My flight leaves at 7:30 am.  Pick up by cab at 4:30 am.  Unreasonable times to be awake.  So worth it to be able to be London bound.    Dean’s flight leaves at 7:00 pm.  His is a direct flight.  Mine stops in Chicago.  Change plane to Berlin.  Change plane and airline to London.  I arrive a mere two hours before he does.

A cab picks us up.  The fare ends up being not the $50 or $60 they estimated but $75 plus tip.  Next time we take a car service.   We are both groggy.

My first flight is with American Airlines.  American  My next one with AirBerlin. Air BerlinEverything is self check now and I would rename it as all-confusing.  What happened to the civilized way of doing this?  But we get it all sorted out with help by personnel there for that purpose, and after over more than 40 minutes we are all set.  I get Priority Access thanks to my AA frequent flyer status.  I like.  They say that with Priority Access I can enter the Admirals Club.  Don’t believe them.  Dean gets a day-pass; I get a smile and “I’m sorry but either you pay or can’t come in.” Then it dawns on me that I have a Klout score of more than 55 which allows me to go in, right?  “Yes, mam.  Let’s see? ”  I show them, way higher… yay!  Buuuuut there is no barcode.  Huh?  Barcode.  Yes, please send to your phone.  So I try and it doesn’t happen.  Sorry mam.  Ugh!

So we go to breakfast in the only crappy sit down restaurant/bar in the terminal.  Have a lovely conversation with a couple returning from Kuai.  Then I head to my gate where Priority Access is once again a good thing and I board first.  But before that I say goodbye.  We will meet again in a Costa Coffee -ground floor, Terminal 4 in Heathrow.  Seems to me that this past year, and even the one before has been a whirlwind of departures and arrivals.  Sadness and joy, laced and inevitable interconnected.

And what does all this have to do with Eric Clapton?  What awaits us in London is two nights of Eric Clapton at the Royal Albert Hall along with many other adventures which you and I will be taking together.  See you in London!

Categories: Ramblings | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

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