Scotland-June 2016

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I am super lucky to have amazing friends in all over the world. One of my favorite friends, Katy, lives in Scotland and well it’s just not that easy to get to from Australia. I had planned to be back in the States in June and had this insane idea to drop off my bags in Chicago and continue on to Scotland. In theory it made sense, in actuality I was tired! But getting to hang out and chill with Katy and her friends (my friends), was worth flying to the moon and back.

I flew British Airways, well because I had a coupon. It should have been a simple connection in Heathrow, since it’s their hub. It was a NIGHTMARE. I only made my connection because the flight was delayed. The worse part is I normally avoid Heathrow at all costs. I arrived on the day that United Kingdom voted to exit the European Union. And the day the pound dropped to it’s lowest value against the dollar in over 30 years. It was interesting to be there on that day.

Katy surprised me this time at the airport. Even though I knew she was picking me up, it was nice to see her at baggage claim.  The Royal Highland Show was right by the airport, so we decided to check that out.

I think Katy just wanted a excuse to play with the tractors….. And I don’t recommend eating a burger in front of the cows. I got some pretty ugly stares and moo’s.

Then there may have been some drinking, dancing in the rain and pakora…

There were grand plans to go the Highland Games the next day, but it got called on account of rain.  So we did something unprecedented for Katy and Flo Adventure, we just chilled out. We went and saw the movie, “Me before You”. I warned Katy to bring tissues, man did we cry.
The next day we headed off to the Gleneagles Spa . I was always hearing about how Katy and Helen would go to the spa. I wanted to spa too! So I got to spa with Catherine, Helen and Katy. It was AMAZING. I could make a annual spa trip. It was just as I imagine including getting kicked of the quiet room.

I am so thankful to have had that weekend away. I needed a break and a break is what I got. And I finally got to meet people who I’ve only known virtually,Catherine and Helen,who are just as awesome in person.

The pre-birthday celebration was pretty fantastic!

Now it’s time to prepare for the big birthday celebration in Germany.  Stay tuned.

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Adventures in Australia-April 2016

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Before deciding to move to Brisbane, I had only spent 3 days here.  The first day I arrived I went to Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, the 2nd day I went on a tour of Gold Coast, and the 3rd day I did Hop On Hop Off bus.  So basically I did not do much.  When friends would say oh I am going to come visit you in Brisbane, I said ok, not sure why there is not much to do. OOPS. I have not even began to scratch the surface of all the things there are to do in Brisbane. My friend, Katy had a trip planned to Perth to see her Dad, so she added on a side trip to see me.

Even though Katy had been to Australia numerous times before she had not taken her requisite koala photo, so off to Lone Pine we went. We were there for about 2 minutes and my fearless friend was making new friends.

After a tiring morning of avoiding getting attacked by random animals, we took a cruise along the river. By cruise, I mean we hopped on the river bus for a scenic tour of the Brisbane. For a $1.25  it’s a great way to spend a few hours.  Even if your friend is wearing Koala ears.

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We got off the bus boat at South Bank Parklands  It’s a quite enjoyable area with a man made beach. ( Totally reminds me of Centennial Beach in  Naperville). It was quite surreal to have been in the “wild” in the morning, out to “sea” for lunch and then be transported to another world by the afternoon. And we never even left Brisbane.

The more I discover around Brisbane, the more I am enjoying it. There is just so much to see and do.
Now this blog post would not be an official adventure of Katy and Flo without some craziness.  On Friday, we innocently got into the elevator at the Hilton, with a really tall guy.  Apparently, I was quite obvious in my attempt to read what that logo on his clothing said. I said Rugby? Yep, New Zealand Highlanders. Then 2 more of his team mates go on the elevator. And we did what anyone in our situation would have done, selfie…..

IMG_0224The whole team was quite lovely and friendly. I perhaps see a trip to New Zealand in my future to catch a proper game. I will say this riding the elevator in the Hilton provided quite good entertainment.

Until the next time, safe travels……

 

 

London, England January 2016

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Fare Sale, London, Done.
I love me a good coupon. What I can I say, I am a sucker for bargain. So last October, when some airline started a fare war, I jumped on it. I showed restraint and only booked 1 trip to London. I figured I would pop up to Edinburgh to see my friend Katy. Lucky for me, Katy was willing to pop down to London ( I am not sure I would have survived connecting international to domestic at Heathrow).

I was scheduled to fly out of O’hare at 4:10 pm. I boarded the plane at 3:55 pm. I did a “Flo-Jo” thru the airport.  Not sure what my issue is as of late,but I’ve been cutting it close for boarding.  I was flying United, which I was oddly excited about since I had not flown them in months. Well that excitement disappeared as soon as the grumpy flight attendant offered to hang my coat. He asked me for my ticket, I said I don’t have a paper one, I used my phone. I got a weird look, I think he thought I was a standby.  The flight was fine, until I landed. My phone would not turn on. When it finally did decided to cooperate, it had a factory reset. COMPLETE RESET. I have no idea why. I could not get it back to normal until I was able to get it on wifi. Luckily, United has an arrival lounge in Heathrow.  I was able to refresh while my phone was restoring.  I checked my email on my iPad and had a message from my bank. My credit card had been stolen. Great it was the credit card I had brought to London.  ** My American Express card had been stolen earlier week and their crappy customer service took 5 days to replace my card, so I had a Chase Visa with me.*** Chase customer service as 5 stars. They left the card turned on for me to use in London and sent me a new card, overnight to Chicago.

I had originally planned on going a museum while I waited for Katy to arrive, but when I arrived at the hotel my room was ready. So I took a nap.  We spent the afternoon tooling around London, drinking and just enjoying the sights. I would post some pictures but honestly we are just had some much fun, I would hate to make others jealous.

I like to collect art on my trips, specifically street scenes with umbrella’s. I thought it would be fun if Katy and I were the “art”. So I hired a photographer to take tourist shots of us. I found Andrew with Simpson Shoots via google. I was able to connect with him over email and get everything scheduled.

I decided to make it a surprise for Katy. I originally started to tell her, but she said no a surprise would fun. For about 5 minutes and then she asked me again. I refused to tell her anything, but I did ask her friend Helen for help.  As the time got closer, she was trying to guess her surprise. She kept asking for clues. Helen had told her to bring accessories. I kept throwing out random things, like bring a pen, maybe some snacks, oh and some Ziploc bags.

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Katy and her Ziplocs

We had an absolute blast taking pictures for 2 hours with Andrew.

If you happen to be in London and looking for something different, call Andrew.  It was a priceless experience.

The weather was fantastic, it was sunny for our photo shoot, which was ironic given we had umbrellas. When were done, we had a coffee outside in January, in London. So bizarre.

We had to head back to the hotel to change our shoes. And then I made the mistake of introducing Katy to Ted and Muffy (formerly Duo Boots).  Oops…..

We met up with with my friend Michael for tea on Sunday. Katy asked how me met, and he was like oh we met in Germany, in fact I am going in July….. yes Michael that would be for my birthday in July.

As always the visit was too short. I love that my many adventures have brought me so many wonderful people all over the globe.  I am so blessed to have such amazing people in my life. From the pool in Dar Es Salaam to the Jetty in Hamburg, life is sure interesting.

Stay tuned for further adventures. Next up, a weekend in New York with Whitney and Jana.  Not sure if the old lady can hang……….

Budapest, Hungary September 2015

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I sometimes think I need to record the conversations I have with my friends. My friend Katy and I were talking about meeting up to hangout for a weekend. Katy originally offered to fly to the States and then I offered to fly to Scotland. We talked about meeting in the middle and yet somehow, we ended up in Budapest…….

We stayed at the Hilton Budapest in the Royal Castle District on the Buda side. It’s an amazing hotel, a great location on the Buda side.I had arrived early morning after having taken the early United flight to Frankfurt. I took the Hop On Hop Off Bus to get a feel of Budapest. I should mention, it was really hot that day, 33 c or 90 f, so the bus was really my only option. I was quite surprised about how spread out Budapest is.

Buda and Pest make up Budapest. They are divided by the Danube river. During World World II, a lot of the bridges that connect the 2 sides were destroyed.  Budapest has an amazing history.

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I headed back to hotel to do a little work and wait for Katy. Lucky for me, the hotel received the memo of my arrival and had my favorite snacks waiting with an nice view as well……

IMG_5262I personally think every opportunity to celebrate life with friends, should be marked with champagne. Well champagne and Garrett’s Popcorn…..

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We had quite an enjoyable evening in the lounge at the Hilton. I would like to say we behaved and went to better early, but that’s not how the adventures of Flo and Katy go….

We met a lovely couple, Erin and Jake, from Portland, Oregon, who were on their honeymoon thru Eastern Europe. It was great fun talking with them. As it turns out Erin is a photographer,check out her work here.  We tried to convince her that she should be the photographer at my birthday party next year. Poor Jake and Erin mentioned the hotel had sent some champagne to their room. Of course, they had Katy and I at champagne, so we crashed the honeymoon suite. Another epic night in adventures of Flo and Katy.

I would lying if I said it was not a bit rough getting up the next day. Thankfully it was not as hot as the previous day. Katy has this silly idea that we are going gorilla trekking, so we need to train. And by training she meant, we had to walk down the lovely mountain our hotel was on top of. It was not as bad as I thought it would be. We walked and walked until we reached the Central Market. Where we enjoyed the one thing I specifically said I was forbidden to eat, Langos…..

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It was well enjoyed. I think the trick is not eat a whole one yourself or at least not after gallons of gluhwein.

Our next stop the Icebar. Which was great because it was starting to warm up a bit. Basically you pay to go into a freezer with ice furniture to drink out of glasses made of ice.

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By the time we came out of the deep freeze, we noticed how warm it was outside. So we decided to check out the famous thermal baths at Széchenyi Thermal Baths. It has 3 outdoor baths and 15 indoor ones. It was an experience. I am glad we tried it, but I can say I don’t think I need to try it again. I am every so thankful that we went during the day. I know that I would not have been able to handle the evening event, Sparty Hedonism. We entered the first pool, which was full of a somewhat older crowd. We soon found out why. It was one with jets.  I never seen older people move so fast or be so agressive over jets. We learned our lesson and moved to the side, or so we tried until an older lady decided she wanted to stand where poor Katy was standing and just pushed her out of the way. The whole situation was just so bizarre. The highlight was probably the little old man that was eyeing me. I just laughed it off at first, until he was standing a little to close to me. That was my cue, pool time over.

That evening we headed out on the Buda side for a traditional Hungarian meal. Ghoulash and Stuffed Cabbage and of course more Hungarian wine and beer.

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We then ran off to catch a boat cruise along the Danube. We timed to perfectly to catch the sun set.

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And then it was time for me to head home….  I had a fantastic time, as always, with Katy. I am sure there will be many of adventures ahead. I am happy to report my wallet survived with very little damage, my liver on the other hand, well…..

Until next time… Safe Travels

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