Mar 28 2016
Archive for the 'Travel' Category
Sep 25 2015
Walking up the brow this weekend and going haze gray and underway. No wait a minute, the ship is white.
How about , "Bright white and out of sight!"?
Either way posting will be non-existent for a bit. ( again).
But I could not let the good news / bad news of the day pass unnoticed. Because the Pope has to be a powerful guy.
John Boehner is resigning Congress and that's what I call an effective Pope speech.
— John Fugelsang (@JohnFugelsang) September 25, 2015
I admit, I did not see that coming. I mean wow-I never would have thought that would happen.
But here is the problem-there are any numbers of blatantly deranged psychopaths that are waiting in the wings to take his place.
And in news pretty much guaranteed to fuck up my world-I think it pretty much guarantees a government shut down.
Just one more reason to buy that unlimited drinks package , I guess.
See you on the other side!
Jun 20 2015
Well, not really. Rather, it is an early morning ride to the S-Bahn station, and then a hike up the non-running escalator to await the arrival of my ride to the main train station. Its traveling time again, and even though I had very little sleep last night, the thought of travel makes my senses tingle and excitement courses through my veins.
Boarding the S-Bahn early on a Saturday morning is always something of an interesting sight. There among the silent or sleeping passengers-heading to work or home from a long night-lays the remains from the carnage of a Friday night. In the trash bins along the side of the car are empty beer bottles, a lone empty bottle of vermouth, and just forward of my seat, a Stolichnaya bottle that evidently had given its contents to the service of someone’s heavy intoxication.
Arriving at the Hauptbanhof only adds to the assault on the senses. Rising from the deep tracks where the S-Bahn arrives, one is immediately able to see, hear and smell the variety of the station’s underground. Passengers and tourists, some with suitcases, some without, scurry in all directions. From the bakeries the smell of fresh bread and pastry, mixed with smell of brewing coffee wafts in and around my nose. The noise of both trains and people is every present, but because it is still early in the morning, its still rather subdued. Come the late afternoon it will rise to a louder crescendo-but for now, it’s a rather peaceful and contemplative sight.
Having traversed the length of the underground concourse, a turn left is needed and onto yet another escalator, this one heading up to the heart of the main station with the high stone ceiling so common among European train stations. A quick stop at Starbucks halfway up and then it’s on the main lobby area. As I ride the second and last escalator up, behind me, a man is wailing, possibly drunk, definitely having had better days, holding plastic garbage bag full of bottles and cans. A homeless man perhaps? Hoping to score enough in recyclables to buy a meal or more drinks I think. Departing the escalator, he is quickly accosted by the Polezei, who I assume put an end to his scavenging ways.
The Stuttgart Hauptbahnhof currently has a lot of construction going on. The beginning of the platforms is moved almost half a kilometer down from the station lobby area. I’ve got just 15 minutes to traverse to my platform and board a high speed train that will whisk me up to Frankfurt airport and flying.
These sights and sounds are one of the things I really love about being in Europe and being lucky enough to have a job that allows me to travel the way I do. Had I been still in Shopping Mall, the morning would have been a slower start, but with none of this excitement. For all the things that I have to complain about, they all tend to recede into the background on a morning like this. I’m a lucky man indeed. Right now, for a bunch of reasons, the future here is uncertain-but those worries are for another day and time. For today, I can relax and enjoy the movement of the traveling man. And that’s enough for me today.
Apr 12 2015
On the road again-and today I hit the jackpot airline wise. Lufthansa took pity on me and gave me an upgrade. Upper Deck Business class. WHOO-HOO!
Now I just hope my next door seat companion looks like this:
Nov 23 2014
Back yesterday from a very busy week in Tel Aviv. Experienced at least one or two near death experiences on the Ayalon Expressway-where I expect it, and one in a place where I did not expect it at all. There was a lot of tension due to the murders in Jerusalem at the Synagogue. So much so, my plans to visit Jerusalem had to be scrubbed when my employer placed the Old City off limits. Which was indeed a disappointment.
And then there was that one night in Mike's bar on the beach, when this happened:
Seems some patron finished his beer, grabbed his keys and walked out to the car-and then promptly put it in reverse and gunned the gas. The beer had nothing to do with that I am sure. (sic).
Inside the place felt like a bomb had gone off-it made a really loud noise. since Mike's has been the recipient of a terrorist attack-the idea of it being a bomb is not out of the realm of possibility. Its lucky there were not other people on the other side of the window.
Mike's being Mike's-they pressed on and continued to sell drinks. IN fact by the end of the week I was there-they had the damage repaired. As for what happened to the driver-I have no idea.
Tomorrow it is back to the normal grind again.
Jun 23 2014
United Airlines this year-decided to say a cheery "fuck you" to its loyal passengers closing in on Million Mile status ( and thus lifetime Gold Membership) like me. They decided to f*ck me at the drive through:
Alas- the critics may be right:
May 03 2014
It is Saturday and doing errands today for the S.O. while she is out shopping for pottery. ( Like she really needs any more of it!). So a stop at the library seemed in order. The great internet drought may be ending next week, Vodafone is supposed to install a line next week. Just in time for me to go on the road for a couple of weeks.
Speaking of being on the road, here are a few more Berlin pix. First up, if you have to get around this fairly large city, why not do it not in style, in a crappy East German built car-that smoked and was underpowered? Come to find out there are evidently a lot of people willing to part with 75 Euro for a day of doing just that. There is an outfit called Trabi World (NO Curtis, it is not Tranny World) that will provide you a Trabant and you can scoot around town in a caravan of 5 or 6 of them together.
What is the Trabant, you ask? As I said, it was car built in East German back when it was a Communist zombie state. As a car it was small and as I said generally sucky in the get up and go department. Especially compared to its counterparts in West Germany. But now it is something of a novelty:
At least they are colorful.
I was surprised to find a rather long stretch of the Wall remained. It is now called the east gallery. On the Western side it is just German Grafitti, on the Eastern side it has been painted with art and images by various artists. ( and also defaced from time to time with graffitti). Here are couple of panels.
Here is a shot of the Western Side of the wall:
There is also a section of the wall that is preserved as a monument. It is called the topographie of terror, and it details the rize of the Nazi's and what it did to Germany. I was very surprised to read on one of the panels that Germany was ultimately to blame for the wall. By allowing the Nazis to come to power, it created the sequence of events that brought the Russians to the heart of Europe and to the heart of Germany. Not to mention losing lands that are and were historically German. It still does not excuse the excesses of either the Germans or the Russians-but I was surprised to see it admitted. In Japan you would never see such frankness.
And finally because the S.O. just called wanting to know where the hell I am, a shot of her by the East Gallery:
More to follow on the Tier Garten, a beautiful place.
May 02 2014
I have to admit, I thoroughly enjoyed my trip to Berlin-and I am ready to go back and do some "prowling". Berlin as a city-has much to recommend it, especially now that those pesky Russians have been gone for a generation, and the city has been able to once again develop normally in both East and West.
Thanks to the joint US, British, and Russian remodeling program between 1941 and 1945, the city has a lot of modern buildings and designs. Its public transportation is superb. While we had driven from Stuttgart to Berlin ( something I really would not like to do again), the entire time we were there we left the car parked at the hotel. We used buses and trains-and they never let us down.
In what used to be the "East"-there are still scars, and the buildings bear that tell tale "Soviet" style of row apartments, even though the Germans are doing their level best to make the city look lively and modern. There is a lot of construction going over there.
That said-its got a lot to see, and you could spend a full week there and still have lots to do. The gardens and parks are many, and because the terrain is very flat ( I am assuming it is an extension of the Polish plain-ever so helpful for the periodic invasion into or out of Russia), you can ride a bike very easily around the city. There are a lot of places to rent bikes around town.
Checkpoint Charlie-once a place of high drama and high stakes crossings-now reduced to a cheap tourist attraction. The irony of a McDonalds right next to it is rich.
Here is what it used to look like "back in the day".
I took a lot of pictures-but because I still depend on my coffee shop wireless time, I have to stop now and get back to work. More to follow soon.
Apr 26 2014
When you are depressed, what is the cure?
Currently in Berlin, seeing the sights and admiring the construction on going in the "East". This is a city undergoing loads of change. Since it was off limits to me back in the Cold War era-its nice to see it now.
And there is a part of the wall that has been preserved.
Pix to follow when we get back.
Apr 23 2014
Scott Adams has to be spending his days at our office:
There is a serious point here. Travel always is the first thing that gets cut-even when its not the root cause of the financial problem. Our new, erstwhile, masters don't see that problem as well as they should-even while they spend travel money for the preferred customers, while lecturing the herd on how we need to save money. In reality-you can save money and still travel.The devil is the details-and stop being penny wise and pound foolish when it comes to travel. Trust me, I ran travel budgets for over 15 years.
But now that's a big part of my ongoing frustration. Knowing-and I do mean knowing-I am right, and not having my concerns listened to. They may choose not to listen.
But it does not mean I am wrong.
And besides-those frequent flyer miles are not going to earn themselves.