Flo’s Birthday July 2016- Part 3

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

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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)

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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.



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……..


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

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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!)


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!


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!


Berlin,Germany November 2014

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And my final stop, Berlin. I had visited Berlin this summer, so I had done the “major” sites. I enjoyed it enough to want to go back to visit.  And well you already know of my love of Christmas Markets.

I arrived in Berlin by train from Dresden. Again with the laziness, I took a taxi to my hotel, Grand Hyatt Berlin.  That lucky taxi driver is now the owner of my Ipod. Yes I still carry an Ipod and all I have to say on the matter, is mind your business. (Yes I mean you, Whitney and Kevin)

This summer I used the Hop on Hop off bus for all my transportation needs, because it was easy. This trip I decided to walk around because according to the map the sites were close by. Which was probably true, but it was COLD.  So first stop? Yep, you guessed it, Gluhwein and a Bratwurst.

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There are over 100 Christmas Markets in Berlin. There was no way I was going to hit 100, but I figured I could visit some of the majors.  I started in Potsdamer Platz as it was right next to my hotel. It’s claim to fame is that is has snow hill for tubing.

I then headed over to Weihnachtszauber at the Gendarmenmarkt, which is probably my all time favorite market.


Gluhwein, Langos, Hot Belgium Waffles….. Magical…….

I did manage to do some actual siteseeing, in between eating and drinking.  I booked a early tour of the Reichstag. And given that I still had not mastered the train/tram/bus system, I walked.  It was cold, but I got to see a not crowded Brandenburg Gate. IMG_2783 IMG_2786

I checked out the Topography of Terror and then the Jewish Museum. They had a interesting special exhibit on circumcision, Snip/it!


And finally back to the Christmas Markets, I finally had to breakdown to get a tram/train ticket. I visited the markets at Alexanderplatz,  Kaiser Wilheim Church and Charlottenburg Palace.  They were all quite nice, but the winner is still the one at Gendarmenmarkt.

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I will be heading back again, no question. And with that I say Auf Wiedersehen


And back to Germany I go

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After a brief visit to Copenhagen, I headed back down to Germany to visit Berlin. I had an early morning flight so I was thankful that my hotel was so close.  I wisely went to the Star Gold line and had no problems checking in my bags. Security was interesting, much nicer then stateside. So off I go to find my gate and I had the strangest encounter. I was walking to my gate, it was early so it was not too crowded, and a older and younger man are walking towards me. All of sudden, the older man body checked me. WAIT, what? We were not near each other at all, in fact I had moved even further away from him because he was older and appeared frail. Nope, he came right into my path and socked me in the ribs with his elbow, hard.  I’ve always said that I am not afraid when I travel because I am from Chicago, and they just don’t know who they are messing with. Well the reality? I stood there with my mouth open shocked that some old dude just tried to take me down. As I stood there processing, I am thinking maybe that did not just happen, until the younger man started screaming at the older man in some unknown language. He then looked at me and said “So sorry”.

Hmm, I started to wonder should I be worried about traveling to Berlin?

Again this trip was not normal for me, so after collecting my bags, I went outside to catch a taxi. I stood, in what I thought was the queue, which actually turned out to be a bunch a people just standing around. A Danish couple had me the mistake of following me, so we all walked back to the proper queue. Enter the obnoxious Americans.  You know the ones? The ones that make you keep your mouth shut as to keep the fact your American a secret? The Danish couple need a taxi with a car seat, so while we patiently queued, one rolled up and the Loud American, jumped the line and said he had to have it because he had 3 and they only had 1? Seriously? Travel karma is a bitch………

Given my love affair with Hyatt, I booked in at the Grand Hyatt Berlin. It was in a nice location, close the S and U trains as well as the Hop on Hop off Bus.  After I had checked in, I asked the concierge about sightseeing tours, etc. I had read online about taking the City bus around as it covered the same route as the tourist bus. But after what happened in the airport in Copenhagen, I was going stick with my people, fellow tourists, that is.

Berlin is a great! The hop on hop off bus was perfect because while some sights are close to either other, others require some serious walking or train.

There is now a Starbucks overlooking the area known as CheckPoint Charlie. I know because I stopped in for a latte. I admit it, I drink Starbucks outside the US, and while I am at it sometimes I eat McDonald’s too..

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There is some amazing architecture, a mix of old and new and some seriously cool embassies in Berlin.  Of course I did not take a lot pictures, because at this point in the trip, I was tired and being lazy.  And since I’ve already started admitting my weakness, I should also state their might have been too much of this



I also blame the wine for the next part of this adventure. I was in the lounge, surprise surprise, and they put some snacks out for happy hour. Well I was hungry so I decided to check it out.  I was told it was veal.


It might have been veal, but it was veal with fish. At this point, if you know me, you know where is this headed.  For those of you who don’t know, I have a fish problem. If I eat shellfish, my throat starts to close. Or if I eat something that has been near shellfish, I get sick. But it usually takes 20 minutes. I have a fantastic allergist, who has schooled me on the dangers of traveling alone, in a foreign country and eating mystery food, but yeah that did not stop me. So I ate it, and it was good, so good I went back for another round.  Only at this point, the lounge attendants say NOooooo, there is fish in that. Oops. So I look at my watch and said oh we have about 20 minutes. What type of fish? I am eerily calm.  Everyone in the lounge is looking at me to see what’s going to happen.  I drink some more wine and look at that it’s been 25 minutes, it was not shellfish. More wine please.

While I am laughing now, I should realize it was probably not funny to those around me.  For the record, and this part is really for my Dr. who might be reading this, I am really pretty good about avoiding all things fish when traveling. When I do travel to countries with languages I really can’t speak or decipher, I bring printed cards that state no fish. I don’t bother to explain, because outside of the US, allergies are not as bad.  And sometimes, even after you explain, no fish, they still give it to you because they think you just don’t like it.  So, usually, if there is any question, I just avoid. And if it’s a buffet, I won’t touch anything.  Maybe I am paranoid, but I rather be alive and paranoid, then fighting for my breath in some funky country where they don’t understand what is wrong with me.