So earlier this year I applied for Global Entry. If you don’t know what global entry is it is a privilege that you pay for as a frequent flier. After you pay the application fee you get checked for a criminal record and fingerprinted then you can go by the global entry kiosk when you enter the country and don’t have to wait on the long line at customs. The first appointment I had needed to change because we had a trip that day. So this morning I had to get up at 4:30 in the morning to fly to Philadelphia because I thought my husband would be up there but unfortunately he was home. I flew up and had my appointment. Luckily I was able to go early. Then I had to fly back home. The flight back home mostly full so I had buy a first class seat to get home. I was happy to get the Global Entry as it also comes with pre check. This means I don’t have to take out my computer or take off my shoes or even take out my liquids. Flying will be wonderful now that I can go through security easier.
So normally when I book flights I know the airport codes and just book that way. You know AMS is Amsterdam, CDG is Charles de Gaulle which is Paris. Well my mom was flying to Daytona and I was booking her. Well I booked her on the Daytona flight and for some reason the flight got delayed. Well I called the travel hotline and asked them to rebook her. Well I found out while making this change that I had actually booked her for Dayton Ohio (DAY) not Daytona Beach (DAB). Ooops. Thankfully I was able to book her to Orlando (MCO) instead. Which ended up being a nightmare for her. The weather was pretty bad and the flight to Orlando kept getting delayed. When we fly as non-revs we automatically get pushed to the next flight well I as watching the flights and she wasn’t pushed to the next flight. Her name just disappeared entirely. Thankfully she was able to get listed on the next flight and did end up getting to Orlando though it was almost 2am by the time she got here. Had I known my airport codes I would have had her fly to Orlando first thing in the morning. Which may have been quieter since she was flying on the Mickey express with all the kids.
So a few weeks ago I mentioned that I was stuck in Zurich. I’m skipping the trip between Greece and Zurich and going right to Zurich. I will go back to the trip in between and the other lessons I’ve learned. The trip started the night before when my husband got a call to go to Zurich. We were out with our friends and I was able to check and the flight out there looked great but the flight back looked a little iffy. We were out as I stated and my friends were like what’s the worst that can happen. Now the last time I went to Zurich it was cloudy so I didn’t get to see the Swiss Alps off of Lake Zurich. So I figured what the heck. I also decided to bring my DSLR. Typically my rule is if I have been there before I will bring my smaller Olympus EPM3. So we woke up early on Sunday and headed to the airport. All is well. We got on the first flight fine. No issues. We then landed and Philadelphia and headed to his crash pad. On the way to the crash pad we each found a penny. Both pennies were face down. Now my husband is Dutch they do not believe that you pass any money by. My mother has told me not to pick up pennies that are face down. So needless to say we picked them up. As we were sitting in the crash pad it began to rain. Not to badly at first for then it started to come down. Now there really isn’t a good way to get to the airport without walking. My husband changed out of his uniform (because he would have been soaked) and we headed out. It’s about a 20 minute walk to the airport and by the time we got there we were soaked. My bags were soaked and everything in side was soaked. Thankfully my computer and ipad were in cases so though the case was wet the devices were not. My camera was fine but my poor ipod which I have had for years was not doing well. It had been sitting in the bag where the water had pooled. It still turns on but the touch screen does not work. All of the clothes in my bag were soaked so I had nothing to change into. Thankfully his uniform was dry. So we were waiting at the airport and had to change gates, no big deal. Then the computers went down so we were not able to board the plane. After about an 45 minutes we were able to board. Feeling drenched I purchased a first class upgrade hoping to not be squished next to someone being soak and wet and hopefully being able to dry out. We then pulled out towards the runway which was packed. I looked out the window and there was quite a bit of flooding in the grass and where you cross the runway. We were just about ready for take off and they stopped takeoff for all flights due to weather. So we sat and sat and sat. Then we got the ok to go. We took off and I was like yay we are on the way. I took off my wet shoes and got under the blanket and tried to get warm. The view out of the window was amazing and when we were able to use our electronic devices I took these pictures.
The flight itself was uneventful. Which is a good thing. We then landed in Zurich where it was guess what, raining. Yes raining and not a light drizzle but a steady rain (just like when we left Philadelphia). So we went to the mall by the hotel and decided not to go into town to Lake Zurich because we would not be able to see the Alps. This is the first time we have ever gone to a foreign country and just stayed in the hotel. After a nap for me, I woke up in time for dinner. There is a place that’s a short walk away that has the best garlic soup so that’s where we went. We headed out with the umbrella’s it had stopped raining by now but you never know. You can walk through the woods to get to the restaurant. So we headed out. This is the path through the woods.
We then ran into this little guy.
There were a bunch of them so we had to be careful not to step on them. It was a really nice walk
I love the buildings here. We also went by the lake where we saw some berries
This is the back of the restaurant
When we went inside we saw that everyone had their umbrella’s with them.
After dinner we headed back to the hotel taking the scenic route.
We found another guy roaming the fields. This cat reminds me of one of ours. He was just watching us as we went by.
They have some large streets to cross and they have these underground walkways that you can use to avoid the traffic.
I love this door and all the old charm.
This church was just waiting to be photographed by me. Especially since there weren’t any people walking around.
It was a lovely walk back. To bad the rest of the trip would not be the same. I always check the flights before I go to bed and I when I did there were no seats on the flight going home and it was overbook by three. Well I tried to sleep but could not. In the morning we discussed the possibility of me not getting back on his flight. I then booked myself (standby) on a United flight back just in case. We went to the airport and I upgraded to first class again that way I would take priority over other passengers. My husband gave me his credit card and we went to the plane. He had to get on the plane ahead of me and he let the gate agents know that I was out there. Then the moment of boarding arrived. People kept coming and I waited and waited and waited. They called some people that were standby but they were the ones that were overbooked. Then I got the news. There wasn’t a seat available. He had to stay on the flight since he was working it and I was all alone. Ok I was booked on a United flight no problem. I went over to the United flight and I was not checked in. They managed to check me in and then the waiting began again. There was a guy and his friend there and one of the guys got on but his friend did not. Actually, I was the next person to be called when they ran out of seats. Well ok now what do. I booked myself on a seat to San Francisco but they could not get me checked in. Alright panic mode set it. I could stay in this airport.
But the flight the next day was overbooked by 5. Ok so my brain starts thinking what places can I get to that I can fly out of. I start checking flights. Munich no seats, Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Madrid all booked and over book. Lisbon wait Lisbon. There were 6 seats in first class and coach was overbooked by 4 but that left two seats total on the plane still open. Either way I would be good. I had a first class upgrade just incase one of those seats was open and I was first on the non rev list unless someone senior jumped on at the last minute. Ok now I had to get to Lisbon, Portugal. I check and for $700 I could go from Zurich to Hamburg then stay the night in Hamburg and fly to Lisbon in the morning. Ok I can do this. So I booked myself on the flights. After waiting several hours I walked over to the gate and (for the first time in 3 years) had a seat on the plane. No stand by but able to get on without having to wait. Here is the plane on the way to Hamburg.
After landing in Hamburg I asked one of the gate agents if I could stay in the airport overnight. He said there was a waiting area downstairs that people stayed and waited and there was a small pastry shop that was open 24 hours also. So I headed in that direction. As I was walking in that direction there was an entire wall of advertisement for my favorite car rental agency (yeah right) Sixt. I had to laugh and take a picture.
This is the waiting area in the Hamberg Airport
It wasn’t to bad. There were couches and also charging stations for your phone or electronic devices. I was able to watch some movies I had on my computer and in the same time I was watching the availability on the Lisbon flight making sure no one jumped in front of me. This was thrill of my night. My bags were heavy (that damn camera) so I didn’t take to many pictures. Though it’s weird seeing and empty airport. In the morning (the airport opened at 4) I got on line and was able to get back into the airport. The flight to Lisbon took off at 6am. Now I didn’t take a picture but if you look up the uniforms for TAP Portugal Airlines. Their uniforms are great. So off to Portugal I went (my first time). We get to the airport and really it is a madhouse. People don’t know where to go and there are lines everywhere. After waiting on line for about 15 minutes I was able to talk to someone and found out I could just go through passport control (I did not have a boarding pass). I went to the gate and they were checking people in there and then you had to wait on line after you were checked in for another check it. It was crazy. The non-revs were told to stay off to the side as they boarded the plane so I waited and waiting and waited. Then they called my name. I don’t think I have ever been so excited to board a plane. I was in coach but I didn’t care. There was actually another non rev that made it one the plane and she was seated in my row. Then we took off. I was so happy that we were in the air. So about 2 1/2 hours into the flight they come over the PA and ask if there is a doctor on the plane. This is normally not a good thing. There was a sick passenger on the plane and I’m normally concerned with others but honestly at this point I was hoping it wasn’t bad enough for them to turn the plane around. Please remember I hadn’t had any sleep and just wanted to get home. Thankfully they didn’t turn the plane around and the person was somewhat better. When we landed in Philadelphia we had to wait until the medical people took the sick passenger off of the plane. (in case you were wondering there were at least two doctors on the flight). I then headed to passport control. We landed at 1:40 and the flight home was at 3:30. The line at passport controls was about and hour and 15 minutes long. I was supposed to get my global entry in June but had to change the appointment and it was rescheduled for the Saturday after this trip. So I waited on line and finally made it through. Then I got to the get for the flight home and actually got a seat right away. My husband was home the day before so he had to come and get me from the airport since we drove in one car. Thankfully my boss was really understanding also because I ended coming home a day later than I had originally expected. The real kicker of it all was that when I checked the Zurich flight for the day after I was stuck it left with 10 seats open. Had I stayed put I would have gotten on the next day. The thing is you never know what each day holds which is why it is always an adventure. We joke about it now and we blame the pennies we picked up in Philadelphia for the bad luck. Will I travel again of course (I had to the following week to get my global entry). I might be more cautious with the flights being so tight and maybe next time I will wait until the next day.
We started out the morning headed to Philadelphia. See post of people missing flights. We left for Greece on my birthday and my birthday dinner was airplane food. Here is up waiting on line to board the plane
The flight out there was uneventful. When we got to Athens we decided to take public transportation to the hotel. The train ride was very easy and the signs are in both English and Greek. I got the hotel off of price line and it was supposed to be a 3 star hotel. The hotel was not in what appeared to be the best of areas there was grafitti all over the place in Athens in general not just where we were staying. We had an ok view from our room but the tv in the room was smaller than my laptop. After getting settled in the hotel we hoped back on the subway and headed to the Acropolis. They have a pretty good deal where you can get tickets for all of the things on Acropolis for about 12 euro each. Here is a picture of the Parthenon from the bottom of the Acropolis.
Here is the Theatre of Dionysus. It’s amazing that this has been around since 530 BC
The seats have writing underneath them. I’m assuming these are names of people that sat on them since the seats appear to be in the front row.
This is the Odeon of Herodes. It was built in 160 AD but redone in 1955.
Headed up the Acropolis was very crowded. Be sure that if you go up there you wear sneakers. One of my husband’s friends for warned me. It is really slippery up there as the ground is all marble.
It was an amazing place to visit and
The view down to the city was amazing it’s no wonder they built this up here.
It was very steep going up and down. Here are several pictures.
There are pieces of stone everywhere. They all appear to be numbered in some way. It also looks as if they are trying to put missing pieces in to stabilize it. There were people working inside and cleaning and taping marble.
This is in the corner of the Parthenon. I didn’t see it until I zoomed in
There were just scroll pieces everywhere. There was a stack of these
You can see where the pieces have shifted.
So as you can see I took a lot of pictures this is an amazing place to see. I will continue to go through our day next week.
Ok so there will be no pictures with this blog post sorry. I just want to talk about people who miss their flights. I completely understand if your connecting flight is late and it is the airlines fault that you miss a flight that’s understandable. I even understand getting stuck in traffic and missing your flight. Yes it happens or even getting stuck in security when you get to the airport. Though really you shouldn’t cut it that close. What I don’t understand is why if you are sitting at the gate why you would miss the flight.
We were on our way to Athens and there were two flights leaving at about 15 minutes apart. Well we were getting ready to board the flight to Philadelphia when this woman approaches the gate where the flight to Charlotte just pulled back. She says I’m here for the Charlotte flight. The gate agent said it’s just pushed back. She said it doesn’t leave till 10:25 and he says it’s 10:31. She says I was just over there. Now my thought is what you were sitting their and you didn’t hear them call your flight. They only called each zone. You know now boarding zone 1 flight XXX to Charlotte. They only go up to zone 5 plus first class and military. So the gate agent being the nice person he was put her on our flight. No charge.
Ok so you are thinking this doesn’t happen that often. Well it happens all the time. I was waiting for a flight home one day and there were several employee standby passengers waiting. The flight was done boarding and the gate agent was about to give a flight attendant a ticket. Well this woman sitting right next to her said did they board this flight yet (you would think the mostly empty gate area would have given it away). Oh I’m on it. So she walks up to the gate and gives the gate agent the ticket. That’s it no more seats. The flight attendant had to wait for the next flight, we decided to stay the night and fly out in the morning. So just remember that when you are waiting for your flight pay attention, most flights board 30 minutes before take off. Take off the headphones and don’t miss your flight.
So we started the day and we were going to go to Vieques. We actually went out there and bought the ferry ticket. While waiting for the ferry we realized that we would need a car on the other end and that the ferry that did carry cars across had already gone. While talking to others it was about $30 for a cab ride to the beach. Well we nixed this plant and went to the beach instead. This is the Conquistador Hotel we did not stay there but there is a vernacular that goes from the hotel to the beach. This is by the ferry.
Saw this boat by the ferry. I guess they won’t be using it for a while.
Have I shown you a picture of a coconut tree. Here is one.
After deciding that we didn’t want to go to Vieques we went looking for the Nature Reserve but it was closed. So, we headed to the beach instead. On the way back from the beach we ran into this guy near the condo.
Thank fully I have a good camera and was able to catch him (with my camera that is). By the way I didn’t take any pictures at the beach.
The Nature Reserve is interesting because you have to buy your tickets ahead of time and they only have certain times that you can go. When we got there (it’s kind of a hidden driveway) we pulled in behind one car. It is gated to get into the Reserve and the gate was closed. We were there a little early and cars started pulling in behind us. They actually do not let you into the gated area until the tour is getting ready to start. You can go in as a walk in but you take your chances that it’s not full. Here is my husband on a giant rope spiderweb.
While waiting for the tour to start we saw this Iguana in a tree he was just lounging.
At first we didn’t notice him.
We then got in a Trolley type vehicle and they drove us around the Reserve. The Reserve has seven different ecosystems. There is a beach, a bioluminescent bay, offshore coral reefs and a mangrove area. The first thing we saw was another Iguana and then our guide (here he is) informed us about the different areas around the Reserve.
First we went to the lighthouse. Inside we got to see different creatures that are around Puerto Rico. I’m not sure how many of you are aware but Iguana’s are not from Puerto Rico they were brought in.
Here is one of the creatures from around the water. I wasn’t going to touch them but I actually held one in my hand.
The coral was amazing. There are so many different kinds and I could have spent hours here taking pictures.
This was the beach by the coral. The rocks were a bit slippery.
Here is the mangrove area.
And here is the gorgeous beach. I wish we had brought our bathing suits.
This is the Bioluminescent Bay. They do tours here at night. You cannot swim in here like in the tour we took in La Parguera
Here is the lighthouse as seen from the Bioluminescent Bay.
This is the tree the Iguana was on.
This is an amazing tour and well worth the money. This was also our last day in Puerto Rico. The next morning we got on a plane and headed home without any real incident. We ended up having to change our flight to a later one because the earlier one was full. We landed in Philadelphia without any issues but had to stay the night in Philly because there were not seats available on the flight home. All in all it was a great vacation. If you would like to go to Puerto Rico and need to find any of these places feel free to ask me and I will get you all the information I can. Also, if you would like to stay in the condo we stayed in I can give you that information also.
So the year began with a vacation to Puerto Rico. We were originally going to leave on Thursday the 17th of January but the flights started filling up. I was able to talk to the woman we were renting the condo from and she was able to let us come few days early so we arrived Tuesday evening instead. The place we rented was called Casa Valeriana in Luquillo. I found it on Trip Advisor. It was a really great place to stay very private and in a gated community and about 5 minutes from the Luquillo Beach. Below are some pictures of where we stayed.
The owner was very nice because we flew in around 10:30 pm and by the time we got the car rental and drove over there it was almost midnight. She waited for us and gave us a quick tour and all we needed to enjoy our stay.
The next day we went to Old San Juan. I had not been there since I was 15. Actually, I hadn’t been to Puerto Rico since I was 15 either. The first thing we did was eat. We went to El Jibarito it is a small place and the menu’s are handwritten but the food was really good and not very expensive. We then toured the town. This guy below was a decoration in El Jibarito.
I love the colors of the houses in Old San Juan.
We then headed in the direction of the Fort El Morro.
I didn’t know that the City of San Juan had so many cats but there were many of them lounging around.
We didn’t stay to late in the city and left before 7 and our parking was not even 2 dollars it was great. No bull. Speaking of bull here’s a picture of my husband and my sister with a bull.
Puerto Rico is port for cruise ships. As we were driving by I quickly snapped this picture of one of the ships.
We went to El Yunque the Rainforest on our second day there I will post those pictures shortly.
I figured I would give a quick recap of the places we went to in 2012 and then give a list of the places we hope to get to in 2013.
We started the year on a family vacation in February with my mom, husband, daughter and I going to Paris, France we were there for about 5 days or so and though it was very cold and we froze our butts we still had a blast.
In February I also went to my cousin’s reception in NY (technically New Jersey)
Then in April my husband and I went to Rome for a quick trip.
On the way back to Rome the plane landed in London for them to take a bag off. My husband says that counts as me being in London but we never got off of the plane so I don’ t count it.
Our next trip was then to Madrid. It was completely unplanned as I had no luggage with me when he called and said he got a trip to Madrid. Somehow I made it up to Philly and on the plane in time.
Our next trip was to Frankfurt in May, where we rented a car and drove to Stuttgart. The trip was great the rental car was a disaster but all in all well worth the trip.
Then the 3 of us took the Megabus back to NY and we went to a street fair that Saturday.
We then went back to Frankfurt on our Anniversary. This wasn’t exactly the way we wanted to spend our 1st anniversary but at least we were together.
Our next trip was the ideal anniversary trip, we went to Venice and had a romantic two days there.
Then my husband picked up a trip to Munich which we had been hoping to get to all season long.
I then flew to Denver Colorado to visit my friend Natalia
Then for my daughter’s birthday we went to NY. She had a hard time getting out there but thanks to my great husband that waited for the kids and drove them to NY from Philadelphia she was able to be with us for her birthday.
As the year was winding down I was coming to my last 3 trips of the year each a week apart. It was a lot of travel and almost too much for me. We started in the Netherlands for 3 days the first weekend of October.
Then it was back to New York the next weekend for the Scott Kelby World Wide Photowalk on Roosevelt Island with my mom and sister
Then the last trip of the year was to Zurich, Switzerland.
It was an exciting year and hopefully 2013 will be just as exciting. Our first trip is to Puerto Rico for vacation with my mom, sister and husband next week. The other places we are hoping to get to are as follows: Athens Greece, Aruba, St Maarten, Amsterdam, Belize or Costa Rica, Brussels, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Zurich and Munich again, Barcelona, London and San Francisco.
Hopefully we will be able to visit most of them. Wish me luck and I hope to be posting a lot this year.
Things were looking pretty scary for a little while there. I was originally scheduled to fly out of Charlotte but there were so many non rev on the fligt I panicked. I changed my flight to fly out of Philadelphia and then that started to look scary too. I was non rev number 8 and there were only 3 seats on the flight. Well I took off from home and worried the whole flight. Then we landed.and 8 seats open on the plane. So happy I will be able to rest on the fligt and not jave to worry till its time to go home.
A most uneventful journey so far. The only thing that happened was that we got a free lunch. We ordered some wraps and sandwiches from an eatery in the airport and proceeded to consume them. I was 90% done with mine when my daughter found mold on hers. I just about freaked out. What the heck!!!! Well I stormed back to the eatery with my husband (he had finished his already also, as had my mom). I promptly requested to speak to the manager and told him we had just paid $40 for these sandwiches and this is the shit I get. Well he offered to give me my money back. I will not mention the name of the eatery as they were very apologetic and took care of it right away without any argument. My daughter is under the assumption that she did not eat any mold but she will probably be sticking with McDonald’s from now on. Well I will get back to you with another post shortly and hopefully with some pictures of Paris.