April 8, 2017
It looks a lot bigger in real life. There wasn’t a ramp from the gate to the plane, there was a ramp to a 3 way intersection (First, Business, Economy), then stairs, then another ramp then OMG. It’s bigger on the inside than I expected. Four across seating allowed for ‘seats’ (pods would be a better name) with this between the seat part of the pod and and the aisle:
For the first time there was more – far more – storage space at the ‘seat’ than I could use. One of these holds the full length sleeping pad and pillow, the other is for, uh, duty free purchases?
I put that pad and pillow to good use, getting 5.5 hours uninterrupted sleep on the way to Sydney.
Return flight was scheduled for 7:30 pm. We left at 9 pm. Is flying Business Class worth it? Good question. Maybe if I could barely afford it I’d have a good answer. I do know time passed quickly and comfortably in the Emirates lounge. But the best part, after walking about 5 kilometers on the warmest day yet, was my first stop in the lounge:
In 2015 I flew biz class for the first time, on a flight to Vienna. It was a 60th birthday present to myself and an experiment to see if it would reduce jet lag and travel fatigue. It did. Flew biz class again last year to Amsterdam to verify my findings (HA! I don’t even believe that justification). Thought about a quote I’d read decades earlier: ‘A luxury once sampled becomes a necessity.’ Wasn’t concerned because I’d long since learned that when I did splurge it was balanced by my pervasive living beneath my means.
After my third trip with long biz class flights I’ve realized it’s probably time to switch to another quote. Last year I read about the discovery of a walled off section of a NYC subway line. It contained the deteriorating remains of one of the best known and most opulent private subway cars from the era when the system accommodated them. The author found a quote by the owner from the period she was using the car. When asked if a private car was an acquired taste, she replied, ‘No. One takes to it immediately.’
March 19, 2017
So far, it had a been a fun day in Melbourne. I went to Luna Park, an amusement park that opened in 1912, for a photo shoot. As expected, on the way there and back I followed distractions, which had me heading back to the hotel later than expected. Not a problem.
Then I kept eating up time. When changing trams, I got on the correct route going the wrong way. Realized that after one stop but waiting for the right tram took a while. While waiting I saw a big banner advertising a stage play touring company now in Melbourne. Googled for tickets, but, as expected, they’re sold out until late April. While my face was buried in the phone, I missed the next tram.
Once on the correct tram I soon saw something worth photographing and hopped off. After 15 minutes, checking Google maps showed 2 options back to the hotel: tram or train. Had yet to take a train in Oz, so I took the longer way home.
Walking from station to hotel I passed a theater. The one hosting the sold out play. An open door had a small sign saying box office open. The stated hours open had started 5 minutes earlier. Walked on, then, in a moment of non-pessimism, turned back and went in.
There was one ticket left for a matinee the next day. She asked my price range. I asked first see the seating chart. Wow. Decided to buy before hearing the price. Why? Sometimes SLADS (Spending Like A Drunken Sailor) seems like the best thing to do.
The view from my seat:
Front row in the first balcony. The show was excellent:
If I remember correctly, this is the third live musical I’ve seen. First was A Chorus Line by the UC Irvine Drama Department in the early ’80s. Second was Reefer Madness in a 99 seat theater in LA in 1998 or 9.
March 25, 2016
My forearms were hurting a bit from too much mousing but the trip ideas were flowing so I stuck with it for a few days. The result is a plan with my ‘must sees’, interspersed with unscheduled days.
Some destinations could not be left to whim because of price and availability of desirable lodging. Why? Spaniards away from home for a spring weekend affect supply and prices. Old towns sell out before the new part of town. On hilltops, the upper old town sells out before the lower old town. By ‘sells out’ I mean in the range I’m willing to pay.
The Map of The Plan:
#1 Fly to Granada. 3-? nites
#2 Between #1 and #3 with some or all in #2 Seville. 0-6 nights.
#3 Arcos de la Frontera, a hilltop walled town. 2 nights
#4 Somewheres inside the magenta loop. 5 nights
#5 Cáceres in the old town. 2 nights
#6 Salamanca on a weekend. 2 nights
#7 Not on map – #8 Segovia – #9 Not on map. 7 nights.
#10 Cuenca in the upper old town. 2 nights.
#11 Toledo in the old town. 2 nights
Last night in Madrid then fly to Stuttgart.
I’m glad I found the advice to book lodging in Amsterdam before buying airline tickets. There was precious little availability for my preferred flight dates. Because I have 11 hrs and 15 mins between arriving from Bangkok and departing for Granada, I chose to stay in the airport in a… well… they call it a ‘Standard Cabin’.
A gatekeeper prevents optimists from bringing anything larger than a carry-on bag into their Yotel (that’s the correct spelling). One must use airport baggage storage or be checked through to the next flight.
March 2, 2016
Last fall, in anticipation of a then as yet unplanned second trip to Spain, I started studying Spanish again. I quit in 2014 after dutifully practicing almost every day since 2008 with my electronic flash card deck. Don’t remember why I quit and don’t care.
It took a month to catch up on the overdue cards. After that I expanded the deck with useful items from word frequency lists and irregular preterit (past tense) forms for the most common verbs. Next I changed most of the sample sentences from present tense to preterit. I applied every memory trick and learning tool I could to getting over the pronoun hump. Finally, I found a good source of connecting words and phrases, e.g., ‘In that case…’, ‘blah blah, however, blah blah’, etc.
Then I stumbled across a placement test for Aula Virtual de Español, or Virtual Spanish Classroom. Such tests are heavy on the grammar. Twice since 2008 I’d taken such a test. Both times was classified into one of the bottom two categories. Bleep grammar because for now I want to increase my ability to get by. But I was curious if the concentrated and expanding studying had helped.
The possible outcomes:
“Test finished. According to this test, you can carry out the levels A2.1 – A2.2 of AVE. Consult with your center to be located in the most appropriate course”.
Whoo hoo! You bet that helped motivate me.
February 20, 2016
Not enough Americans visit Hua Hin for bakers to cater to their tastes. My urges for sweets are weak and far between so it doesn’t matter, or it can be filled by ice cream or gelato.
There’s a new baker in town. One who does both European and American goodies (at least for now). With the best coffee I’ve had in Hua Hin. Then one day there were brownies. Displayed to show the cut side so one could conclude that just might be a real brownie.
It was. And it was goooooooood.
December 31, 2015
Stuff that didn’t merit its own post…
Ripples met reflected leaves and created a face. Didn’t notice it until editing photos.
This is dinner 2 – 3 times a week. Part of living with my stomach acid problems while taking as few drugs as possible is a small dinner of easily digestible items. Thirty baht (~ $0.85) at the Thai market within walking distance for sweet potatoes and 4 pockets of really wide rice noodle containing greens. That it’s a days worth of fiber and vitamins A, C and assorted other goodies is a bonus.
Happy New Year.
November 19, 2015
My balcony faces a mountain 2 miles away. Watching the clouds boil off it, slide in front of it, and build in the background is like a slow motion light show.
The top floor of the building has a large sliding window in the stairwell. I’m not the only one who shows up to watch for a while.
As a former pilot, I understand why the clouds generate. As a spectator I couldn’t care less.