Flo’s Birthday July 2016- Part 3

Comment 1 Standard

Spotted some Qantas Roo’s eating Dello Mano brownies  on a United flight heading to Germany. Something is off with this picture…

File_000 (1)

Thank you to the fantastic flight crew working UA 907 on July 8th. We had a blast on the flight!  Yes, I am referring to United Airlines, close your jaw. I , myself, was quite surprised. Graham, the purser was fantastic.  I was horribly sick when I returned from Scotland. Since I still was not feeling well when were heading out, so I opted to upgrade myself to business class. (Yes, only me, myself and I) To keep it classy, I made sure I had the last row,  which is rear-facing, so I could wave to my friends while I enjoy my business meal. (It’s a wonder I had any friends willing to travel with me with this type of behavior, SMH)

File_000 (2)

Unfortunately, we all had a little too much fun on the flight so there not much sleeping. There was a rapper, The Game, and his entourage were on our flight.. They arrived late and there was a problem with the rapper’s seat belt. So we were delayed departing Chicago,  we arrived in Frankfurt with about 30 minutes to get our connection. Of course, we came into a remote gate, so we had to be bused to the terminal. We made our flight to Berlin, but our bags did not. The lucky ones that were traveling with carry on’s were able to refresh while the rest of us were sporting the latest in eau du travel funk.

We had a free afternoon and some of decided to do a bit of site-seeing.  The sun kept trying to hide behind the clouds, but it was quite pleasant when it made it’s appearance.

BBFEFD8B-6500-47DC-BC00-6309323F485C

 

That evening the majority of the group headed over to Borchardt for dinner.  We took a stroll after dinner and enjoyed the fact it was still light out at 9pm.Our missing bags finally showed up at midnight. I was so excited I tried to hug the delivery guy.

Sunday morning came too quickly. 1/2 the group went on a bike tour of Berlin with Fat Tire. And well some of us were just lazy

On Monday, the original plan was to go to the Porsche Factory in Leipzig. But it was closed for summer holiday. So option 2 was to take the train out to Potsdam. Well that did not happen. So option 3? Just walk around. The group met up again in the early afternoon for a boat cruise along the canal that runs thru Berlin. Really it was a reason to afternoon drink.

I liked to say we did something fantastic on Monday night, but it appears we were too busy playing on our phones……..

DSC_0452

Photo by Alexis Eckersall

Just kidding, sort of. We hung out the lounge at the Hyatt for a bit before heading out to a nice beer garden for dinner.

This was the last night in Berlin. A few friends were heading back to the States and the rest of the group was heading up Bliestorf for the next part of the trip.

You may have noticed the fantastic photos. I, of course, did not take them. Alexis, was the party photographer.  Thanks again, Alexis. The pictures are amazing.

Stayed tuned for the next part of this fun adventure, which includes dirndls and lederhosen.

 

Flo’s Birthday July 2016- Part 2

Comment 1 Standard

I am solo traveler. I do what I want when I want to do it and well frankly I kind of of prefer it that way. I was little worried about traveling with 20 of my friends.

So how where we getting to Berlin?  Well before moving to Australia, I was very loyal to United Airlines. So I had a healthy amount of frequent flier miles. (If you want to learn more about earning miles, check out The Points Guy.)    Add in my 1k status and the choice was easy, Chicago to Frankfurt on United connecting to Lufthansa to Berlin.I was one of the last one’s to book my ticket. It was primary because I was not sure if I would be coming from Australia or the States.  After booking 6 friends on  one flight from Chicago, I realized it would make sense for me to book myself on that flight. Fun Fact: Lesley was the first one to book.

I’ve been fortunate to be able frequently fly in Business Class, alot. Most airlines provide a in flight amenity kit, some like Qantas and Virgin Australia give pajamas. Since part of this trip was for my friends to experience a “Flo” trip. I made special amenity kits for them. I was even able to include pajamas from Qantas. ( Thanks again Qantas!)

FA367282-0E2B-4F52-805E-00F9A8C115C5

You probably already know about my love affair with Flight 001. So it should not be a surprise that I choose a Seat Pak for my amenity kit. I included stuff that I found to be helpful on flights. A pen, tissue, toothbrushes, hand lotion, lip balm, electronic glass cleaner, antibacterial wipes and in some cases a battery pack. My friend, Michelle made amazing travel cards that included the itinerary, contact information for the other travels, so Flo travel trivia and a crossword puzzle. She even wrapped them in vintage maps!

4C6B03B8-07D5-4494-8E72-DAD0E2984039

As with any trip, not everything went according to schedule. Apparently the Porsche factory was closed the week were going to be in town. There goes my dream of doing hot laps on the track in Leipzig.  Someone got a new job and had to cancel, another had to change tickets due to a wedding etc. Lots of shifting and organizing up until the last minute, including a last minute cancellation that had me sweating. Let me be very fair in saying, I was very clear to my friends that I would completely and totally understand if they were unable to attend, for whatever reason.  So when one friend, who had been making excuses for months, said that maybe they could not go about a week before, I made the decision to cancel.Only because if we are all being honest, said friend never had any intention of going on the trip.  I had to cancel the ticket, rearrange hotels, update transportation lists, etc. It was not a 2 minute fix. Fast forward to day before departure and I realized, I had no heard from that friend. Oops. Luckily the cancellation text message came in at 28th hour. Whew. That would have been a bit awkward at the airport.

I used my points to book most of us into the Grand Hyatt Berlin. Hyatt has this amazing program called Be My Guest. It allows diamond members to use their points to book rooms for friends and family and they get your diamond status benefits.  So everyone was upgraded to club rooms and given access to club lounge. Which was just ideal given the number of people traveling together. It gave us an opportunity to get together and just hang out. DSC_0052

I had coordinated with the hotel to ensure that everyone’s names where on their rooms and that everything was sorted ahead of time. Then I got an email the morning we were leaving confirming my reservations, minus a few rooms. Nothing like last minute panic. A quick email sorted everything out. And on our way we went.

We were all so excited that we headed to the airport early.I told the group that was traveling with me, that I would meet them at the gate. I was excited but not excited enough to give up my TSA Pre-Check. Stay tuned for the next part of the trip, actually going!

 

Flo’s Birthday July 2016-Part 1

Leave a comment Standard

In 2013, I made my first trip to South Africa. I LOVED it. So much so, that I remember asking my sister how old would my nephews have to be for me to take them on safari. I said maybe for my 40th?  That is how the idea of having a destination party came to be for my birthday this year.

I sent out announcement with Christmas cards, warning everyone to save the date and start saving pennies. I even started hoarding my airlines miles and hotel points.

Fast forward to July, 2015 and the questions started. Where are we going? What’s the plan?
The original list included, Maldives, Thailand, Seychelles, Russia, Alaska, Haiti, Italy, France,  Germany ,Australia.

My cousin, Natasha and her husband, Jan, were just tremendously supportive in planning this party.  I can honestly say it would not have happened without them. Jan become the official Party Secretary. I highly recommend his services for staying on task. I am pretty sure I would still be thinking about where to have this party, if had not been for him.

There were lots of phone calls, emails, texts, facetime and even in person meetings.  It was at one meeting, where Party Secretary 2 and 3, Christianne and Norbert, assisted in narrowing down the location. We were all in Boston, visiting Natasha and Jan.  At that point, the party was leaning towards Russia. Why Russia? Well, Katy wants a Faberge Egg Pendant.  As one does. Haha.  You can just imagine that conversation  Wait? Who’s Katy? What is this Faberge egg? And why Russia?   Thank you, Norbert, for pointing out that maybe going to Russia was not the best idea. (FYI-Faberge Egg Pendants are not available for purchase in Russia)

My friend, Will, had been helping me search Airbnb, VRBO and HomeAway, for house rentals. We had found a manor house in Bliestorf, Germany, Herrenhaus Gut Bliestorf. It fit the bill. So the decision made we were going to Germany.

DSC_0565

Then came the fun part, how does one handle the logistics of getting everyone to Germany?  Very carefully.  Ironically the timing of my decision, coincided with my decision to move to Australia. I had some fun conversations. “Hi Lesley, how are you? It’s been a while. So my birthday trip location has been locked to Germany, and by the way, I am moving to Australia”

So passports were renewed, tickets were booked, guidebooks were purchased. And then we had to wait. Oh the torture, it was almost like having kids on a road trip ” Are we there yet?”  The months turned to weeks to days and then next thing you know we were heading to Germany!

  823B2E81-8BD8-4A03-AB65-03B3D5AA995C

Stay tuned for Part 2 of this crazy adventure.