Germany-October 2018

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I used to be convinced that once I visited a city, that it would be better to go somewhere new, versus returning to places I have already been. Well cities evolve, so that is just dumb thinking on my part. I LOVE visiting Germany, especially for the Christmas Markets. Since I was attempting to learn the language, I thought what a better way to force myself to speak, then to spend a week immersed.  So Hallo Deutschland! 

First stop was Koln or Cologne.  I had flown to Frankfurt and took the train to Cologne. Which sounded like a good idea when I booked it, but the reality I should have flown. I was traveling for 30 days, so I had 2 suitcases and a laptop bag. And they were heavy. Lifting them onto the train, was interesting. So yeah, trains are not the best idea if you have lots of bags!  But Cologne was just beautiful in the fall. 

This is the part where I should tell you all the great sightseeing that I did and culture I took in. Sorry nope. I walked a lot and just enjoyed the beautiful fall weather. I caught with a friend Laura, who lives close by.  Apparently this my new way of traveling, just not making plans and going with things.  Fun note, I saw Shania Twain in the hotel lounge. 

We took a day trip to Dusseldorf. With the amazing weather, it was great to just stroll around. I would like to visit again in the summer, as the river front looks amazing. 

After spending a week in Cologne, I attempted to head south to Frankfurt. There was a fire on the train line, so I was told to go main train station and take the regional train. And then the adventure began, I had to take a train to the other station, found the regional train that was chocked full, and it was going to Mainz, not Frankfurt. While the train ride was scenic, along the Rhine, it was not ideal to stand for 3 hours only to arrive in Mainz, and find that the trains to Frankfurt were still having issues.  I gave up and took a taxi!  By the time I arrived in Frankfurt, I was pleasantly surprised.  I had been once before, but only vaguely remember walking over a bridge. I really enjoyed walking around and taking in the varied architecture.

I really only headed back to Frankfurt, because I was scheduled to fly out of there on Monday night. Rather then stay all weekend, I headed down to Heidelberg to meet up with some friends, Kevin and Lisa. I had met Kevin while living in Brisbane, so it was nice to meet up in his home country. I continued to be super lucky with the weather. Heidelberg is an idyllic college town. Perfect for a weekend visit. 

Too soon, I was on the train, heading back to Frankfurt. In hindsight, I should have just gone straight from Cologne to Heidelberg. Or even better, try not to cram in some many cities into one trip. But it worked out in the end, lesson learned. It was worth getting to catch up with my friends.  

I’ve normally try to visit Germany in late November because I love Christmas market. But now having visited in the Fall, I think I may need to make this an annual thing. It was just a magical!

Stay tuned…. next stop back to Australia! Until then Safe Travels!

30 day Trip- October 2018

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When I first started traveling, I would take really short trips. Mainly due financial and time restrictions.  But now I am older, I am just not in a rush. I really enjoyed my trip to Paris in June, in which I had no agenda other then to just enjoy. I recently started to learn to German, so I thought spending a week there would force me to actually speak. (It did not). Most people I interacted with preferred to practice their English. And honestly native English speakers will rarely corrected a non native speaker because we are used to a million different ways to say the same thing. However native non English speakers prefer their language spoken exactly the same way they say it. So while you may think you are saying it correctly, they will correct it.  Go ahead test this theory out…….

My original plan was to fly to London, buy some boots and then head over to somewhere in Germany. I had found a free ticket to Gatwick, using Qantas points for only $8.  Which was a surprised because Heathrow charges a hefty fee to arrive there. I was also able to find a free return on United from Frankfurt.  Luckily I am frequent flyer and was able to cancel those flights with no fee.  No sooner had I finished booking, did I get a text that Oliver and Rowan had finally set a wedding date. Great, since I was going to be in Germany. Oh the wedding is in Australia……

I do have a job and I had a conference to attend in Tucson, Arizona in the beginning of October and one in Las Vegas at the end of October.  So Flo logic decided to spend the entire month on the road, as it did not make sense to keep changing time zones. Note I said “FLO Logic”. I was able to throw in a side trip to San Francisco to see my friend, Madison’s video premiere. So what was meant to be a week in Europe, morphed into a 30 day trip.

  • Chicago to San Francisco- 2 nights
  • San Francisco to Tucson -2 nights
  • Tuscon to Houston- 1 night
  • Houston to Dallas to Frankfurt to Cologne- 6 nights
  • Cologne to Frankfurt- 4 nights  ( including one night in Heidelberg)
  • Frankfurt to Dubai to Sydney- 8 nights
  • Sydney-Brisbane-Sydney-Day trip
  • Sydney to Dubai to Frankfurt- 1 night
  • Frankfurt to Dallas to Houston to Las Vegas- 4 nights

It sounds as awful as it reads. I tried to fly non-stops as much as possible.

But here are some fun facts:

  • I had too much sugar on the 1st flight. Which then made me make better choices the rest of the trip.
  • I only ordered room service 4 times in Tucson, Cologne and Las Vegas.
  • I DO NOT recommend Uber in Tucson. One of drivers were too busy texting to see oncoming traffic.
  • I had the best night of sleep at the Marriott Houston Airport. I actually complained about the quality of the bed, I mean who has the most ridiculously comfortable bed at an airport hotel?? Seriously I had to set an alarm to make sure I was awake for my 12pm flight!
  • I was in Sydney during the Invictus Games, and I stayed at the same hotel as the athletes.
  • The Bellagio in Vegas allows smoking in the casino. You have to walk thru the casino to get to your room.  It was gross.
  • I have a lot of friends all over the world and was lucky to catch up with them in various cities, all over the world.
  • I fly thru Dubai airport, wear your joggers, I think it rivals Heathrow in terms of walking at least a mile to get anywhere.
  • I had a migraine in Tucson, which I think was allergy related, but other than the sugar debacle, I did not get sick.
  • I did have to buy a new suitcase in Frankfurt, to get the goodies I had accumulated home.

In the end it was not ideal to travel like that for 30 days, but it worked.  Stay tuned, more details to follow!

Australian Goodbye-July 2018

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After 2 and 1/2 years it was time for stay goodby to my Australian adventures.  In the ideal world, I would have stayed but pesky things like needing job got in my way.

This trip started in Melbourne. My friends, Carrie and Nick, were over visiting from the States. Jenny and John flew down from Brisbane to join us as well. One of my favorite things to do when visiting Melbourne is to go down the the Mornington Pensinula. We got lucky with the blue skies.

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We ate cheese and drank lots of wine!

We then headed up to Brisbane, where we took a trip out to the Sunshine Coast. Where Carrie and Nick were able to partake in fresh from the ocean seafood.

And it was time for Carrie and Nick to head back to the States. I attended my graduation from QUT and said goodbye to all the lovely friends I had made during my time in Brisbane. I took a few days to recover from everything and headed out Broome. Which clear on the other side of Australia.

Cable Beach has been named one of the best beaches in the world. I can see why. But outside of that, there is not a whole lot to do in Broome if you don’t like outdoor activities.  When the moon is full, you can watch it rise on the water, which gives this look of a staircase to the moon. You can also watch the sunset and it gives the same look. Just note, the moon viewing involved going to local cemetery… not sure who I felt about that.

Broome is home to lots of pearl farms. I took a tour with Paspaley, a local Australian company.  It was quite cool to see how pearls are cultured. We even got lucky and spotted some whales.

After Broome, I headed to Darwin. It was interesting. I am going to leave that there.  It was great way to end my extended time in Australia. I really enjoyed getting explore the land, the people and the culture. A piece of me will always remind.

Until next time…… safe travels!

 

 

Paris, France-June 2018

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When I first started traveling seriously, I would research what I was going to do and see and then plan jammed packed days. It like I was worried I would be bored wherever I was.  Silly Flo. Bored is state of mind. You allow that to happen.  Now as I am older and more experienced, I am less inclined to plan stuff because I usually don’t end up doing what I had planned on doing in the first place.

I booked 5 nights in Paris, because I was at the mercy of availability of frequent flier seats. While Paris had gone on me, I had been so many times before that I wondering what I would do for the 6 days.  I booked a side trip to Luxembourg and some jewelry classes at L’Ecole  Van Cleef & Arpels.   But it was colder that I had anticipated and I was tired, so I skipped my trip to Luxembourg.  Instead I just wondered around the streets of Paris. Discovering new neighborhoods, and taking photos.

I was super excited by jewelry class. I LOVE gemstones. So I signed up for two courses, Discover the Gemstones and Recognize the Gemstones.  So great for anyone that loves gems. So informative and hands end. I was taught how to use proper jeweler tools. If you love gems, I highly recommend checking out their course offerings.  I am sure there will be more classes in my future. It’s very well taught.

I could not be in Paris and go do some cultural. The hotel recommend a Klimt exhibit, so off I went. I know of Gustav Klimt, his most famous piece of art is The Kiss.  The Atelier des Lumières  is a digital art museum. So the art is display on the walls, the floors, you.
It’s cool, but it could easily give you a headache.

After 3 weeks touring around, it was time for my final flight. I am so thankful for the check in agent at UA that ignored the fact my bags were grossly overweight. And for the fantastic flight crew for laughing at my “situation” as I struggled to get it all in the overhead bin. The best part? Seeing a familiar face, Claudie, who I had met 6 years before on flight from Brussels to Chicago.  But if you’ve ever meant Claudie, you would know she’s got a smile that you never forget!  I even trekked to the back of the plane, something I avoid doing at all costs, to see chat with during the flight. It turns out we will be neighbors here in Chicago! And Beth, another flight attendant and her friend, who was working the flight as well happens to love Champagne! It was like it was fate, United bringing me home and helping reunite with old friends and introducing me to new ones.

Stay tuned for the next adventure back Australia for graduation.

Lisbon, Portugal- June 2018

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Something I had to consider when I was planning this trip was limiting the number of stops and connections I made because I was at maximum capacity with my bags.  Originally I had planned on going to Porto, but it required a connection so instead I opted to fly direct to Lisbon instead.  I was meeting up with friends and after 8 days in practical seclusion, I was looking forward to social interaction.

Ironically it was pouring rain the first few days, I ended up just giving up on site-seeing. , including skipping my trip to Porto.  I made the mistake of leaving the hotel and got into shopping trouble. More like I discovered Vista Alegre. Which would have been fine had I been heading straight home, but I had one stop. Oops. I could not resist.

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Luckily the sun finally came out and we were able to do a bit of sightseeing. But first we ate. We had asked the hotel for a recommendation and they suggested A Gina. I was intrigued by the Secret Black Pig. It was SO good. So much so that we went back for seconds the next night.

After a very filling lunch, we decided to walk around town  and burn it off.

It a little chilly for June in Lisbon.  And having walked too many of the 7 hills the day before, we decided to do a Tram Car Tour. It was hilarious. We had seats right behind the tram driver and it added to the enjoyment. First all the streets are narrow in Lisbon. They have to fight with pedestrians, cyclists, motorist and stupid people.  At one point a cyclist was riding in the middle of the street.  No amount of bell ringing was making the guy move. Finally at the red light, the tram driver told the guy you have to share the road. The guy started arguing “Why? It’s Saturday, I want to enjoy my bike ride”…even though this exchange was in Portuguese, it was obvious the guy was not going to give in. After a 2 minute exchange, the Tram driver just said enough and resumed our tour. We hit another snag, with a car blocking the the tram tracks.  The driver kept ringing the bell, which brought out some on lookers. They then proceeded to yell at the driver that he had plenty of room to clear and why wouldn’t he just try.  5 minutes later a harried van driver arrived and we were on our way.  45 minutes on the tram, who knew it would be so entertaining.

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We did so more walking around, more eating and just enjoyed our time in Lisbon. Frequently stopping for drinks and food.  If it only it had been a little warmer.

Its always fun to discover new places with friends.  Soon it was time to head off to my new and final stop, Paris.  But first I had to figure out how I was going to sneak my new purchases on the flight, since they clearly were NOT going to fit in my suitcases.

Travel tip- look for a friendly business man that has only one carry on. Ask him nicely if he wouldn’t mind carrying your 3rd carry-on because you are over the limit……..

Stay tuned for Paris!

Mallorca, Spain- June 2018

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While most of the world has heard of Ibiza, due to it’s party place reputation, it’s actually one of the islands that make up the Balearic Islands. The others are Mallorca, Menorca and Formentera. After Malta, I headed to the bigger island of Mallorca.  Why? Simple there as a new Park Hyatt. Talk about brand influence….

To get Mallorca, I had to fly thru Frankfurt. Before moving to Australia, Frankfurt airport was my 2nd visited airport after Chicago.  I could complain but Lufthansa has some pretty nice lounges.  I had to rent to a car to get to the result, as it’s located on the east side of the island.  It was so worth the hour drive…..

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I had originally thought that I would finished with my finally assignments before I got Mallorca, so that I could relax. I was not, but it turned out to be a blessing. It was a little colder then I thought it would be for Spain in June. So I was able to enjoy the blue skies while cranking away on finishing my assignments.

The location of the hotel is optimal for relaxing and recharging. It’s quite close tot he local beach and the town of Arte.

I am happy to report the mountain air did wonders for me. Not only did I manage to finish my assignments, I got top marks, which was bit of shock.

I did not get to see as much of Mallorca as I would have liked. But I would definitely go back, if for no other reason then to recharge my batteries.

As this is the never ending trip, next stop Lisbon!