Tag Archives: travel

Deciding where to next…

Do you know what I tend to struggle with?  Having decided to go away for a night or more, and after we’ve worked out where we want to go, the biggest issue is – where should we stay?  I have to say I’ve done quite well in the past, but that just adds pressure to continue to do so.  I thought I’d share a couple of tips (and websites) which many of you will already know about, but just in case…

So, first port of call is booking,com.  Dee and I find that it has a good range of hotels and guest houses at all sorts of price points.  The descriptions on there are always accurate, and we found (by accident) that after several bookings we qualified for extra discount – I won’t complain about that!

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As we’re looking at the various properties, we look at Trip Advisor to see what other people have thought of the place. Again, the reviews tend to be pretty accurate, though you do need to be a little wary.  Some people seem to like to complain about the smallest things, but those people are easy to spot in the reviews.

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The last thing I do is – after we’ve been away – generally I’ll add a review on Trip Advisor myself.  I try to focus on the good things, and even try to report on the positives if something isn’t quite right.  I’ve only left one bad review – with photos to back it up – but on the whole we’ve had nothing but good experiences.

Apologies if you knew all this already, but if you didn’t, I hope you’ve found it helpful!

A month of firsts – Image #134

As the title suggests, this has been a month of firsts for me.

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At at the beginning of the month, Dee and I had our first holiday abroad together, to Prague, which neither of us had been to before.

A few days after that, I started my first new job since 1995, and as a result of that I have added a new first today: I’ve set foot in the USA for the first time ever!

To cut a short story even shorter (because I’ve been up for over 21 hours today) I walked into the office yesterday, my boss asked what I was doing the rest of the week and asked if I’d come here for a meeting. So I’m here!

The flight was great, really comfortable though a bit turbulent coming down past Maine. Passport control was quick and easy at both ends of the trip, and I got straight into a cab with no wait when I left the airport. The place was in darkness when I landed, so I’ve not seen much: looking forward to taking in my surroundings tomorrow.

Oh, and next week I get to represent my company on a trade stand, something I’ve never done before either!

 

50 years young – Image #125

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Tomorrow will mark the first day I’m closer to being 100 than being born. And if you believe the teachings in the bible, I only have a score of years left of my life.

I guess both of those statements lead one to be a bit philosophical. I’ve made a lot of changes in my life, and probably the biggest and best in the last 18 months or so. New relationship, new house, new job, new lease of life: I’ve never been happier!

I’ve been celebrating with a few days in Prague. Today Dee and I took a couple of tram rides, visited an armoury / jewellery workshop and store, chilled out at Hard Rock and generally kicked back and enjoyed the city and the weather. Oh, and I shouldn’t forget the complimentary glass of fizzy with my breakfast!

I’m not sure how we’ll top this trip for future birthdays: the bar has been set incredibly high. Time to get my thinking cap on!

Another spiral to climb – Image #124

Today’s our first day in Prague – we only arrived at our hotel around 0200 this morning – and we already love the place. So much to see and do, with beauty and astounding buildings around nearly every corner.

As is my usual style, I looked at the map for a bit and had a rough idea where we should go, but then left the map in the bag and wandered where my nose took me. Fortunately Dee was happy with that approach. With one minor course correction we found ourselves on the Charles Bridge (Karlov Most): it was awash with traders selling jewellery and souvenirs, some musicians playing different types of music, and a big selections of artists waiting to do portraits or charicatures.

We stopped on the other side for lunch, spent in a restaurant beside the river and almost in the shadow of the bridge, then crossed back into the Old Town. After detouring through part of the Jewish Quarter, we made our way to the Old Town Square.

The Astronomical Clock in the Old Town Square is rightly famous, and is a thing of great beauty. Dee and I decided to climb the clock tower, and this was the view on the way up.

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Its not so much a spiral staircase as a spiral ramp. There was a narrow spiral staircase at the very top, complete with traffic lights, to give access to the top of the tower and the balcony there, which gave clear views across the rooftops of the city. Yes, it was very busy with other tourists, and yes, we’d had a bit of a wait to see the views, but it was well worth it. I’d definitely recommend climbing the tower to anyone!

Mountains of fate – Image #121

 

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Back in February I wrote a little bit about why people would want to climb mountains, and the effect their actions had on their loved ones.

In today’s news, the bodies of two climbers killed in an avalanche in Tibet have been found, emerging from a glacier. They’ve been found by other climbers, which is quite appropriate I think. It must be a comfort to the families to finally have bodies to bury, and my thoughts are with them.

Never lose again – Image #112

I saw this while browsing Facebook earlier, and thought it was pretty cool. It doesn’t quite cover losing loved ones when they pass away, but in general I think it’s right.

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I think you can see examples of this in nearly everything. How about this – please bear with me. Several years ago I was on a business trip to India, and to say it was hectic is an understatement. We left London on the Sunday evening, landing in Mumbai around lunchtime on the Monday. After a shower and a bite to eat we headed for the office, then back to the hotel for dinner. Next morning, it was on to Pune for a day of meetings then a flight to Bangalore in the evening, arriving at our hotel quite late. One of our party was by now suffering from having eaten something that didn’t quite agree with him. Bangalore office the next day then another evening flight to Delhi, which was delayed by two hours then, after having circled Delhi in a thunderstorm with lightning flashing across the sky all around us for over an hour, we were diverted to Jaipur to refuel before heading back to Delhi, to get to our hotel about 3am. After work the next day we got back to the hotel to find out they’d only recently opened and had no bar, so we checked out and moved to another hotel, where we only just caught happy hour, then home the next day.

On the flight back, my boss asked what I’d thought of the trip, the delayed flights, the storm, the stopover in Jaipur, the hotel without a bar,  the “Delhi belly” etc. I replied that for me it was all about the experience. We did what we set out to work wise, which was good, and the rest of it all made for an unforgettable trip.

I know of people who would have complained bitterly about every little setback, every minor change to plans, every inconvenience, ill health etc, but that’s not me.

Life is not a dress rehearsal, and I’m determined to make the best out of mine, taking in and rising above any “learning experiences” which come my way. I want to embrace life and all it has to offer, and am very glad that I now get to do that with Dee by my side.

At home abroad – Image #109

Near my work a Bavarian Beer Keller opened today, coincidentally on the same day that a colleague from Bavaria was visiting the office. I know some colleagues were taking him out tonight, and I think they resisted the temptation to go there.

But it did set me thinking: why do people go abroad and then seek out places that serve the same food as they have at home?

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On my (relatively limited) travels, when I’ve been to Spain, Greece, India or Portugal, I’ve almost always seen a Red Lion (or similar) pub or somewhere else serving roast beef and Yorkshire pudding, real ale or fish and chips.

To me, when you go on holiday, it’s usually to get away from all that is familiar, to experience something new, to try the local cuisine and find out about local customs. I actually see business trips as an opportunity to do the same. So when I see “British” type establishments I head off in the opposite direction.

Speaking to another colleague earlier, he was telling me about a visit to India he had recently. There were two restaurants in the upmarket hotel he was staying in. There was at least a half hour wait for a table in the one serving pizza and hamburgers, yet the one serving high quality local dishes was practically empty.

I know that people worry about having upset stomachs etc, but that’s just as likely whatever you eat, since all the ingredients will be washed in the same water. Of course you have to apply some common sense, but in general I think if you’re careful then you don’t have to be limited to what you know.

To me, going somewhere else and not trying local produce seems rude. What do you think?